“Did you study for the test”, usually stated panicky, sleep-deprived, a tad depraved, and “stressed-out”, because “one” didn’t study for said test and likely wants to “peek” over your shoulder, “glance” at your work, “jot” down your answers, or straight “cheat” off of you! No worries, this story isn’t graded, but as always, participation equals an easy A. Oh, and reading all your required “materials” definitely helps; Otherwise, we’re left with “cliffhangers”! Just be glad we’re not “hanging by a thread” …
“If something is hanging by a thread, it usually indicates that it is ready to fall apart or that the situation can change in an instant. The phrase can be applied to physical things, situations, and ideas. The term hanging by a thread, derives from the banquet that King Dionysius held for Damocles, a courtier of ancient Syracuse. King Dionysius was beginning to become annoyed with Damocles’ constant flattery of his king. He invited him to a banquet, where Damocles was seated under a sword suspended by a single hair.”
“It was said to symbolize his tenuous position in the court. (I’ll say!) It was not only the sword that was hanging by a thread but also Damocles’ life. This also gave rise to the idea that someone can have the sword of Damocles hanging over them, meaning they are in a very precarious situation.” (Source: grammar-monster.com, history, mythology, my brother’s reenactment, declined invites, or sarcastic me, exploring the entire state of Texas and meeting my dad’s family for the first time. I was a lucky, wearing “goody-two shoes”, aged 13.)
“Hold on to your cowboy hat, we’re in for a bumpy ride”, but this story’s origin begins with a “Cliff”, Uncle Cliff that it is and it’s a pleasure to meet your acquaintance. A simple, “Howdy, Partner”, will do. “A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode or a film of serialized fiction. A cliffhanger is hoped to incentivize the audience to return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.”
“Cliffhangers were used as literary devices in several works of the Middle Ages with One Thousand and One Nights ending on a cliffhanger each night. Cliffhangers appeared as an element of the Victorian era serial novel that emerged in the 1840s, with many associating the form with Charles Dickens, a pioneer of the serial publication of narrative fiction. Following the enormous success of Dickens, by the 1860s cliffhanger endings had become a staple part of the sensation serials.”
However, “The term “cliffhanger” is considered to have originated with the serialized version of Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes (which was published in Tinsley’s Magazine between September 1872 and July 1873) in which Henry Knight, one of the protagonists, is left hanging off a cliff. (Don’t you hate when that happens?) According to the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, the term’s first use in print was in 1937.” And don’t say ain’t, your mother will fall in a bucket of paint and so on.
Just be warned, Uncle Cliff forbids swearing, ruckus, and unruly speech, even though he, himself can slip. “Children” are to be seen and not heard approach makes life on the ranch real quiet when those size 14 boots go walking through. Deathly quiet. You may have heard of Southfork, but this is Pitchfork Ranch, and we must mind our manners, oh and watch the ground. It moves with the rattle snakes.
“The 9 rattlesnakes that can be found in Texas are the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Banded Rock Rattlesnake, Mottled Rock Rattlesnake, Blacktail Rattlesnake, Mojave Rattlesnake, Prairie Rattlesnake, Western Massasauga, and the Desert Massasauga.” (Source reptilejam.com and my righteous fear of snakes and stepping on them! They “blend” like camouflage with the ground!)
“Area-wise, Texas is the second-largest state in the United States, behind Alaska. In Texas, rattlesnakes have 268,596.5 square miles, 3 different climate zones, and many different ecosystems to live in. Therefore, there’s no surprise that 9 (or more!) different types of rattlesnakes can be found throughout the state!” Arizona has 14 species, but that’s another day of writing about sweet raspberry iced tea, college sunsets, Hopi Indians, balloon rides, underground advanced reptilians, Godly created air-conditioning, cramming final exams, and ghostly “lost” highways.
“Most rattlesnakes all have many things in common such as the infamous rattles and their venom. However, each species of rattlesnakes may prefer a slightly different diet or habitat (likewise). Some may even behave completely different from other rattlesnakes in Texas.” Didn’t stick around long enough to find out! This “drop-out” “dropped it like it’s hot”, and “booked it”, home! Someone’s gotta “live to tell the tale”!
“The first and most important thing to do is get away from the snake, as they can strike again if they feel threatened. Don’t waste time trying to catch the snake but try to remember its size and color. This may help your medical team (stranded out in “no man’s land”, a good couple of hours till the nearest gas station, emergency medical hospital, clinic, doctor, or human contact; felt and looked like “Mars”) identify which species it was that bit you and locate the correct antivenin.”
There are too many misconceptions, folklore, and devilish chants for me to charmingly stick around this topic. “Once bitten, (twice not shy) the venom takes only seconds to travel from the rattlesnake’s retractable fangs, through your skin, and into your bloodstream. You’ll begin to see symptoms immediately but will worsen over time. Ideally, you’ll reach medical help within 30 minutes of being bitten. If the bite is left untreated, your bodily functions will break down over a period of 2 or 3 days and the bite may result in severe organ damage (kidney failure) or death.” (Expert advice and medical wisdom provided from healthline.com, and father time is tickin’.) Let’s “rattle” on back to the story and far away from venomous “critters”. “Some” even believe, snakes, make great pets out yonder or in a ginormous terrarium. Either or, better behind glass.
I’ve almost been bitten a few times and gone over a few cliffs, sheer, and jagged as they come. Been “left” hanging from a few, and a time-or-two “rescued” in the nick-of-time by my uncle Cliff’s wisdom and unique perspective, luckily, not all in the same day. Let’s keep a good grip or “spur” on this story with track shoes or a sturdy pair of cowboy boots and avoid scaling those rocks, slippery and spiked, most assuredly deadly and terrifying for this “small minded” or small-town, not-so-city girl. One of those terms aptly apply and to my defense, I was much younger then. No, my names not Pollyanna, but close enough and I most assuredly am wearing my rose-colored glasses.
Looking for extra credit, then CliffsNotes are your “go-to”. “CliffsNotes study guides are written by real teachers and professors, so no matter what you’re studying, CliffsNotes can ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams.” Pertaining to this story and my Uncle Cliff means we’re headed to Texas for one Texas-sized cowboy’s tale you wouldn’t want to miss or “test”!
We’ll fly this story’s friendly skies and airline of imagination by way of “jetting” through the ether and traveling by awesome, gloriously, blue and pink (fire) clouds of wonderment and inspiration. “The total flight duration from California to Texas is 3 hours, 8 minutes. This assumes an average flight speed for a commercial airliner of 500 mph, which is equivalent to 805 km/h or 434 knots. It also adds an extra 30 minutes for take-off and landing. Your exact time may vary depending on wind speeds”, turbulence, and hours of “checking-in”, or “sitting” on the Tarmac reflecting upon one’s life thus far. (Source travelmath.com and many a flight to and frow, back and forth, and on the 4th of July) That’s another story about more uncles, more wars, other snakes, ufo’s, parades, psalms, and fireworks all month long and till early dawn.
Nobody does the 4th like Texas or BBQ’s! Still won’t eat meat, but ever tried BBQ corn, the “right” way will melt your face, so yum. Delectable and heavenly fruit salads and scrumptious pies that will have you on your knees, blessing the good Lord to keep. Oh, and no littering! “Don’t Mess with Texas is a slogan for a campaign aimed at reducing littering on Texas roadways by the Texas Department of Transportation. The phrase “Don’t Mess with Texas” is prominently shown on road signs on major highways, television, radio and in print advertisements,” and you thought it meant something else. Shh, so did I. I’m super respectful, especially when chainsaws are in my presence.
“Texas is the top crude oil and natural gas-producing state in the nation. In 2021, Texas accounted for 43% of the nation’s crude oil production and 25% of its marketed natural gas production. Texas has the most, crude oil refineries and the most refining capacity of any state. The 31 petroleum refineries in Texas can process a combined total of almost 5.9 million barrels of crude oil per calendar day: 32% of the nation’s refining capacity as of January 2021.”
“In 2021, Texas produced about 26% of all U.S. wind-powered electricity generation, leading the nation for the 16th year in a row. Wind power surpassed the state’s nuclear generation for the first time in 2014 and exceeded coal-fired generation for the first time in 2019. Texas produces more electricity than any other state, generating nearly twice as much as second-place Florida. In 2021, Texas accounted for about 12% of the nation’s total electricity net generation.”
“Texas leads the nation in energy consumption across all sectors and is the largest energy-consuming state in the nation. The industrial sector, including the state’s refineries and petrochemical plants, accounts for more than half of the state’s energy consumption and for 23% of the nation’s total industrial sector energy use.” (Source eia.gov)
Now this “teacher” looks more like Patrick “Ewing” or Duffy from Dallas and with less a “pencil-pushing” approach, but, more a hands-on, hold-on, horse riding, bronco buffaloing, ranching “preacher”. In regard to the term “pencil-pushing”, I am referring too, “routine office work; paperwork”, not the slang. Slang will not be tolerated or permitted in this “classroom”, nor gossip, cursing, or using the Lord’s name in vain. In fact, don’t even “think” about it! You don’t want the horns of this bull.
“The Ewing family is the fictional family of the American prime time soap opera Dallas and its 2012 revival, as well as the foundation of the spin-off series Knots Landing. In the original series of Dallas, the Ewings own and run Southfork Ranch and the oil giant Ewing Oil.”
“J.R. Ewing, a Texas oil baron, uses manipulation and blackmail to achieve his ambitions, both business and personal. He often comes into conflict with his brother Bobby, his arch-enemy Cliff Barnes and his long-suffering wife Sue Ellen.” Honestly, I believe the show might have been based on my southern sometimes not as gentlemanly as should have been family. I blame the heat! Nothing and nobody can concentrate, “think”, or get their wits about them in “hot as hades” temperatures, sweltering degrees, and suffocating humidity. I was missing California, like never before, and there’s no place like home, especially far, far from it!
Here and hear, southern drawls, with expressive philosophical sayings that are either profoundly poetic and prophetic, or blatantly and boldly “rude”, but always made me guffaw “out loud”. Mostly “one-liners”, not the talkative chap you’d think. Whose gonna “cross” him “Boo”, surely not you or me.
Now, there’ definitely some similarities amongst the epic soap opera, which was Dallas, and the drama of and in my family. Uncle Cliff was a rancher and owned miles upon miles of land used for drilling “black gold” along with other “family” members. I meet cousins with black chows (see blog post Chew-Chew on this regarding my Chow) and cousins with thrones, who sat kingly upon them. Very creepy and alternate universe feeling, but back in time, and on another planet. Nicknamed JC and lost his mother while in her arms struck by lightning.
Uncle Cliff stepping out, giant-esq at 6’5, bow legged, blue jeans, perfect white Stetson cowboy hat, and his beautiful bride, June by his side. (This is when I realized, Giants do exist and I’m related, just not as tall!) Married a couple, few times, three older-than-me grown children, two girls one boy, and some uncanny, freakishly close genetics. Just to put things in perspective, my father didn’t “find” his siblings till he was almost 50 years old on father’s fathers-side.
So, imagine our surprise that his daughters have the exact same names as my fathers. And my grandmother on me dear mum’s side’s name is also June. Maybe the reason behind this June’s post or any old reason to talk and sip about Strawberry moons and wine. Summer is otherworldly in Texas and swinging on the porch, star and sky gazing the same view as the past, the present, and the future is existential and transcendental. Always a good time to “talk” to God.
“It reached its full stage on Tuesday during a phenomenon known as a supermoon because of its proximity to Earth. It’s also referred to as the “Strawberry Moon” because it’s the full moon at strawberry harvest time,” and Strawberry wine makes you “see” everything; just be sure not to imbibe too much, the taste becomes apparently “bittersweet”, or you’re drunk as a skunk. (Source meteorology, and Deana Carter’s number one song in 1997.) More to explore, “Shortcake”, we’re in the homestretch.
“But we believe that “drunk as a skunk,” an American expression that originated in the 1920s, is merely rhyming slang and has no real connection with skunkdom. We say this because for more than 600 years, the inebriated have been described as “drunk as a” something-or-other, animate or inanimate.” (Source grammarphobia.com, and Wikipedia)
“Extremely intoxicated. The first expression, known since the seventeenth century and considered a proverb by 1651 (“The proverb goes “As drunk as a lord,” John Evelyn, A Character of England), is based on the idea that the aristocracy could and did indulge in drunkenness more than commoners did, presumably because they could afford to. The more recent drunk as a skunk, American in origin, undoubtedly became popular on account of its rhyme; it dates from the early 1900s.”
“Both clichés have survived the demise of numerous other similes, among them drunk as an ape (from Chaucer’s time), tinker, fish, goat, owl, emperor, piper, fiddler (because he was plied with alcohol at wakes, fairs, and similar feasts), swine or pig, devil, beggar, blazes, David’s sow (based on an ancient anecdote explained in Francis Grose’s Classical Dictionary, and current from the seventeenth century), and others.” (Source thefreedictionary.com)
Although Uncle Cliff doesn’t partake in the drink, or devil spirits, he’s a man of God and the Godly believe alcohol lowers the souls’ inhibitions and allows unsavory spirits within and out. A Bible on the nightstand for protection at all times. He wasn’t like his grandads of old or cousins with out-of-control rage issues, wielding shotguns their communication devises and decor, along with death chic adornments of animal heads on the walls. Hella spooky!
I asked Uncle Cliff, since being so many years in actual Hell, if he’d ever seen a ghost. Not those actual words, left out that I thought his home dwelled in the underworld and thought to myself and my brother, why on Earth would anybody in their right mind choose this place to live, work, worship, and create generations more. He responded in a deep, serious, but softer voice; “yes, I believe so”. He looked off to the left, like something was about to creep up.
Uncle Cliff continued; “It was a rainy dark night, and it came to my attention, one of the cows were left out and likely lost, got to round them up, can’t be left out, won’t survive the night or storm. Took off with Shadow (loyal steed and a horse of course), (my dad named his beloved dog Shadow, again spooky), and the rain was coming down hard. Couldn’t see any longer and couldn’t hear for the cows’ cries, so I snuck into a chapel for shelter. Lightning was scaring Shadow, so knew I had to stop, but never realized that I was as far out as the chapel. Quietly, entered this humble home of worship and sat in the very last pew, by the door and Shadow, would have brought her in, if she could have fit through the door.
“Wondered how long this storm was going to last and if I would find my lost calf, when lightning bolted across the Earth and lit the chapel almost as bright as day, but only fractions of seconds. Thought I saw someone in the first pew sitting and faced away from me. Am I, alone?
Real cowboys don’t get scared apparently, and I noticed my uncle trying to sound brave. He immersed us in the story with each reminiscence or moment remembered. “By this time”, he continued, “I was getting nervous and the louder the crackling of the lightning, the higher I jumped.” “Many thoughts entered my mind, yet no words were spoken, and the lightning once again “boomed”, lighting up the church once more.”
“Now, I definitely, saw someone, but this time, “they” appeared closer, not in the front, like before.” “Shadow kicked the wooden wall between us, letting me know, she’d rather go.” “I reckoned, she might be right, and the lightning crashed again, lighting up the pews and when it did, an older woman in a black scarf was now right in my exact pew and reaching out, her hand extended almost to my shoulder.”
“Bolted from the pew and ran out of the chapel, jumped Shadow who already had a running start, and blindly galloped away.” “Wouldn’t, couldn’t stop till we got to the crick, that was now a raging river and lo and behold there was my calf stuck on the wrong side, crying in the rain.” “Shadow and I, immediately jumped into action and rescued the lost calf, and the three of us were drenched, “sogged”, scared, and ready to head home.”
“The storm started to subside, and the lightning bolts were fewer and farther in between, so we “moseyed”, catching our breaths, back in the direction we had come from, when Shadow reared up!” “I saw a hazy, whitish figure come from the tall grass and just knew it was a ghost!” “We all raced home, like Hell was on our heels, and when I got back to the ranch, I was bursting to tell June.”
“Told her the entire ordeal, the search and rescue, the chapel, the ghost, Shadow, and before I could finish; June said, “I don’t know about any ghost, but you got “skunked”!