Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Signs of Siberia

Banana, Tomato and Aunt Kathy

A fellow who worked for Grandpa Bud in the 1990’s, Malcom Myler, found me just last week through this, the banana blog.  He was looking for an aerial photo of The Porter Company for his online resume, and landed instead on a photo of you with Grandma Montie.  Malcom writes: “I was looking for photos of The Porter Company and stumbled across your blog.  My presumption is that you are Allan’s daughter.  If this is the case, I worked for and with your father, aunt and grandfather way back when.  I hope Allan (Pop) is well and would you please pass along my greetings?”

Check out this newspaper article about Grandpa’s signs being shipped to Siberia to mark an oil pipeline that runs underground through harsh tundra.  There was no suitable font for the markers, so Nick Porter had to create a Cyrillic version.  Too cool!
Pop, Mariann with Magnum, and Nick on lunch break from work at The Porter Co.
I had a bad dream last night.  We were all in Costa Rica where civil war erupted.  Policia began dividing up groups by those that had guns and those that didn’t.  Wiley was herded into the group with guns (he’s always had a gun) and it became immediately evident that those boys were expected to help fight the rebels.  In the dream Wiley was only four-years-old; his sturdy self and big, blonde head marched into the line, courageous and determined to help.  He was immediately picked-off by a sniper.  You, me, Dave, Cashel, Nick and Jim rushed to where he crumpled in the tall grass.  We came to an abrupt halt when we saw the sniper on the ground where he lay wounded with his fallen comrades.  The sniper looked me right in the eye and I knew he would kill as many of us as he could before he himself died as the only way to honor their cause and the lives of lost loved ones.
I looked down at all I could see of Wiley in the tall grass, just the back of his handsome blonde baby head.  I realized his death was final and pointless.  It was a horrible feeling.  It is felt every day by thousands of families across the Middle East, in Africa, in some of our South American countries, and in Russia and the ancient Slavic countries that huddle near.  Many Wileys are killed every day.  It’s nearly impossible to count them all.
Wiley

Monday, June 17, 2013

Money

Grandpa Sidney and Mom at the seaside.

Time is money is money is time.
We all view money differently, a set of values as visceral as those that surround our views of sex and religion.  There is not necessarily logic to it; it has to do with a combination of our core personality and how we were brought up.  As does everything.
Money, once spent, is gone forever – like time.
Grandma Freda standing with a 1929 Dodge Sedan (Thank you Nils Erik for the car ID!)
From my upstairs bedroom I look across the room and through the hallway to the blue and white bathroom tiles that recede in perspective like the years we’ve left behind us.
But if you think of it that way, the time we have is of the greatest value and our dearest possession.
I have in hand a crumbling book titled “The Porters of Fishing Creek”.  That’s us!  From as far back as Jesus.
We’ve all been growing up and growing old together, working and surviving, with – what I can tell from the genealogical ledger – a consistent theme of joy and pride in family. 




Bird families are called flocks, and some types of birds like the Starling fly as a flock of thousands where each individual bird has an equal amount attraction and repulsion to its immediate neighbors and all the Starlings are aligned to the same direction (facing the same way).  It is stunning to watch. 
Complexity does not stem solely from complexity; it sometimes erupts from collective simplicity.   That is family.
Me, closest to camera.
I’ve reverted to the time of San Perlita.  When Dave is on his graveyard shift I wake at about five in the morning.  I’ve slept well, but at about 5 AM my mind clicks awake; it is because I hear the first birds.  I look for O.T. in the house.  I find him sleeping with Cashel in her bed.  O.T. and I slip out of the house to run.  There are no other people, like when we kids haunted the streets of San Perlita.  With the next step, my foot hits caliche.  (Is that a Spanish word?  I don’t think so, but I’ve not heard it spoken since we left San Perlita.)  We run through the empty streets.  I see snakes, a jackrabbit, a porcupine.  I love it.  O.T. looks up at me – he could be a Texas dog.  He understands only Spanish, after all (he is from Southern California).  We come home.  Our kids sleep.  They are half Texan.
With this blog I’ve captured our “lost” time.  Joy!  It’s not gone forever.  We have it here, with the photos and the stories, the great laughs and the horrible cries.  It’s ours, Banana.  Forever.  We shall call it #thebananablog.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Government Surveillance

Anna
Waking up slowly this morning I saw something out of the corner of my eye, very close to my face.  It was my nose.
We think we need our noses, but we don’t.    Uncle Ken Molten had no nose at the end of his life; he lost it to skin cancer – the doctors plain removed it and Uncle Ken did just fine.  It was Uncle Ken’s nose that triggered the idea in Grandpa Bud’s mind to invent a buried pipeline vent and aerial marker, the patented invention our family company was built upon.  Before production of Grandpa Bud’s aerial marker, Uncle Ken worked for an oil company: his job was to walk along the pipeline and check for leaks or weaknesses.  This job was performed in the searing heat – in company with venomous snakes and drug smugglers – which is how Uncle Ken got the skin cancer.  Grandpa Bud just knew there was a better way, and thus were born these signs:
As a matter of fact, one of Grandpa Bud’s salesmen, Harold, lost his nose too.  That nose was lost due to a brown recluse spider that crawled across Harold’s face during the night; he didn’t get to a hospital fast enough so lost most the nose to the flesh-eating venom.  Harold had to work in manufacturing after that.  You can’t have a salesman without a nose.
The Brown Recluse spider can be identified by the violin shape on its back.  Just so you know.  (If you have the time to identify this spider, you are lucky.  This spider hides; that is why it is called the Recluse.  It is also extremely fast.)
 Bird nose: Owls have no sense of smell.  They are the only bird of prey that hunt and eat skunk.
Me & Anna, Jim in background
Remember that kid we lost – lost a whole kid! – while playing hide-n-seek?  It was when we lived on Russell Street in Brownsville.  Her parents called her Kimberly, but we called her Kim.  She was one of a constant rotation of kids that cycled in and out of our core Russell Street group.  She probably went home mid-game to use the bathroom, and was not allowed to come back.  The family must have moved away from Russell and we just didn’t know it.  They were renters.  It’s still eerie, though, never to have found Kim.
Me & Nick on Russell St.
If you ask me what I think about the U.S. government wiretapping and internet surveillance I will tell you I think it is wrong.  When something is not right it eventually surfaces.
It is human nature to right the wrong.
The soil holds secrets, but not forever.
That’s what I like about our Tiny Books still hidden, our mini ledgers of facts carefully crafted with a Kleenex box cardboard cover and wedged into hiding under floor molding in the old homes we grew up in.  I know exactly where those original records are, written in the unadulterated and genuine words of children -- us -- that small voice that pipes up true and clear. 
You and I could go on a road trip and unearth them: start in Brownsville on Russell Street, then on to San Perlita at the old Fikes house.  We’ll drive through the Valley.  We know the way.
As I write this, I peek out my upstairs bedroom window.  I’ve asked the kids to walk OT.  It is nighttime.  They go together, tall and almost completely grown – they are in sync.  Their bond is stronger than the bond with me.  They are siblings.  There is no bond stronger than that. 
Cash & Wy