Thursday, September 09, 2004

Mama Will Never Know

Some of life’s most important lessons come from curious circumstances it seems. We grow up expecting our parents to lead us along the way, holding our hands and doling out the typical warnings and adages as we venture throughout the perils of childhood. Those we seem to acknowledge and accept as the gospel truth until we reach an age where we can formulate our own opinions and make the correct choices when differentiating right from wrong. But, once in a long while, a situation comes along that nothing in a child’s experience will cover, no words of parental wisdom or cautionary advice ever voiced could have forewarned of the consequences about to occur to a poor unsuspecting child.

Living as a child in a rural area had many negative aspects in a lot of ways, the distance to town being one of several. ( Another was telephone party lines - but that’s a different tale altogether).Even if families could have afforded a second vehicle, many women of an older generation just never learned how to drive. This being so, during the daylight hours while most husbands worked a public job, these women were tied to home, with no way to go shopping or anything else. In order to survive this obstacle, neighbor women borrowed from another neighbor women, everything from flour and sugar to help get dinner on the table to different types of non-prescription medicines that were needed by their families. My family was no different. My Mom and the old lady across and down the road a bit often utilized borrowing as a way to make it through the day. A fact that I lived to regret…

I was about ten, and the eldest sister at home, Vicki being off some where on an overnight with a cousin (not real sure where…but we only got to stay with relatives in those days). The older lady down the road had sent her tiny grandson with a note bearing a request for my Mama to allow her to borrow………..something. Sure enough, my Mama had the required article - medicine (I know this because she went to the closet in the kitchen and dug behind the curtain where she kept ALL the stuff we weren’t supposed to mess with or even know about!) My downfall began when Mama came to the conclusion that the little boy wasn’t competent or trustworthy enough to deliver the goods to his Grandmother. Unfortunately, being the oldest daughter at home, I was recruited to venture down the dusty gravel road, dragging my next younger sister behind me. I should have just stayed at home.

As I think back, being the lofty age of ten seemed to have given a gal thoughts of her own superiority over those of a lesser age. A feeling of grandeur if you will. As the two ‘youngsters’ sped along several feet in front of me, I recall ambling along at a sedate pace, my bare feet kicking up little puffs of dust with every step, and the sun beaming it’s golden rays on my bare arms and legs. Soon they were several yards in front of me, nearly to the driveway of the other house, but still in view. And, I must admit it here, my curiosity was aroused by the tiny blue and white box clutched tightly in my sweaty palm. What could so small a box contain that was so important that a little boy couldn’t possibly make it just a short walk down the road with it intact? I had to know, so I peeled open that pretty little box and there inside was something wrapped in tin foil. I peeped back over my shoulder to see if Mama was watching - no - I was safe, the barn blocked the view of our house. If I couldn’t see her, she certainly couldn’t see me. The kids had ventured into the driveway of the neighbor’s place, and again, I was blocked from sight, this time by tall weeds growing along the narrow ditch at the edge of the road. Now, I could open that shiny tin foil package and discover what was such a deep, dark secret. Much to my surprise - IT WAS CHOCOLATE!! My Mama was hoarding chocolate!

My Mama was a true southern lady, fairness was her motto - she preached it at us all our lives. How dare she hide this beautiful chocolate from her five darling daughters? As I began to examine my booty, I realized the squares were teeny tiny and a few were missing. There were only four of the blocks of candy left. Someone had been into this luscious dark chocolate candy. And we didn’t get any! I gave Mama the benefit of the doubt when I saw how few remained of this treasure, only four, and with five starving children--- well --- my first thought was that she was being fair-minded when she decided that none of us getting a treat was better than one being left out of the goodies. But wait, that meant that at some point, her or Daddy has snuck a bite when we weren’t looking! That was even worse. How unfair life seems when you are a child….

A golden opportunity was presenting itself to me - a chocoholic from birth - this was most definitely NOT the best time to taunt a candy deprived little girl! We got weekly installments of sweets from the country store a few miles away most every weekend, but Mama was pretty strict about rationing it out to us. So here I was, chocolate malnourished---and with that sweet looking candy sitting right smack in the middle of my perspiring little hand. Only four small squares, not a lot, but in my adolescent mind I reasoned that the borrower didn’t know how much the lender was
sending….so if I ate one or two…who would be the wiser? There would surely be less in the box when it was returned that what there was when mama sent it. Logical…right?

I stopped walking and stood dead still in the middle of that narrow country road, out of sight of both my destination and home. Should I? Who would know? Would I be sent straight to Hell for just one teeny taste of chocolate? I couldn’t resist the temptation of that little box. I had to have a bite! I just had to! I carefully pulled out the flap stuck into the end of the box, being very careful not to make any tears on the edges. As I eased the small foil wrapped package from the box, I was hopeful that no one could tell that it had been tampered with. Peeling the tin foil gently away from the treat, I delicately broke off a small section to taste. Realizing how truly tiny the piece of candy was, I decided that two was more generous, after all it was late afternoon and I was hungry. It also evened the remaining sections out. I popped that wonderful smelling candy into my mouth, expecting the sweet gooey rush of chocolate heaven to flood onto my tongue and fill my mouth with a fantastic sensation. What was this? It was bitter! No heady rush of sensual pleasure! No taste buds tingling with the burst of sugar straight into my system! I had been conned! What kind of chocolate looked like a child’s version of heaven and tasted like dirt?

I was trapped with that nasty fake chocolate melting into a viscous ball of foul tasting gunk inside my mouth. And I couldn’t spit it out! If my little sister saw on the ground on the it on the way home, she would surely tell Mama and I would be busted. I had to make myself swallow it, no matter what! Finally I forced it down my throat, gagging and nearly heaving with every swallow. My teeth felt like they were coated with mud and the top of my tongue was so gritty and disgusting I could hardly bear it. I had to have water and soon! So I did what any red-blooded American kid would do - I meticulously re-wrapped the tin foil around the remaining blocks of chocolate and painstakingly replaced it inside the tiny blue and white box and closed the flap. Then I slapped on my “WHO ME?” innocent face and hurried on my way.

As I got to the neighbor’s driveway, my throat was so dry I could hardly croak. Added to that, the neighbor lady met me on the porch waiting for the ‘medicine’ and talking a mile a minute. I was going to choke to death any second now! Being raised to be polite to my elders was a curse that day--near impossible to carry on a conversation interspersed with “Yes, Ma‘am” and “No Ma‘am” while trying to keep your lips closed (chocolate has a way of clinging to the teeth and I wanted no evidence available to use against me). Finally I asked for a drink of water, anxious to be on my way home. I was saved….. A full glass of frigidly cold, clear and sparkling well water, straight from the dipper resting in the metal bucket in the cool kitchen of her home! Hurrying my sister to the door, we set out for home and safety. I was in the clear for sure. Mama would never know of my misdeed and all was good in my little world.

By the time we walked into the yard at home, Daddy was due in from work. Mama was setting supper on the dining room table as we went into the house and we and the others washed our hands and prepared to eat. As Mama ladled food onto our plates and poured our glass of milk, I sat in my allotted chair and readied myself for a feast. UMMMM! Homemade stew and cornbread, my favorite meal. As I sat there waiting for my bowl to cool, I felt a rumble deep in my belly, an ominous sign to be sure. The steam from the food and the aroma that only seconds before were so appetizing were beginning to make my forehead break out into a sweat and I began to get a salty taste deep in my throat. I was going to be sick!

I dashed from the table out the back door and bolted for the outhouse just seconds short of disgracing myself. As I rounded the corner of the shed at a run I began to pray to every God I had ever heard mention of and a few more besides. I had to make it! Finally I flung open the heavy outhouse door all the while trying to wrench my shorts down below my hips. Can you imagine running with your legs crossed at the thigh, your butt cheeks clenched so tight that your is face screwed into a grotesque grimace of severe pain and all the while trying to prevent the noxious bile that is crawling up the inside of your throat from leaping out of your mouth like a river spewing from a busted dam.I was about to die and I knew it…

Redemption came as my fanny hit the toilet seat, and not a second too soon either, for as soon as I got seated, foul smelling liquid became to erupt in torrents from my backside. The stagnant afternoon air inside that small outhouse was already rancid with the stench of…..the numerous daily deposits made by my family. All I seemed to be doing was stirring that smell to even nastier realms! I sat there for what seemed like hours, disgusted tears pouring down my hot, flushed cheeks and other less mentionable body fluids shooting from a lower portion of my anatomy. When the rumbling finally slowed to a muted growl in my belly, I cleaned myself up, got dressed and wiped my nose. Mama would surely know what I had done. Time to face the music….

Returning to the house and the others still sitting at the supper table was probably the hardest thing I had ever done. Usually my sister Vicki was my culprit in crime and shared half the blame for our frequent scrapes with the wild side of life, but this time, I was on my own. I told Mama I was sick and wasn’t hungry. I was sent to bed with a cool fan blowing on me and a damp cool rag on my forehead. If doing without a meal that I couldn’t have eaten anyway was all the punishment I was going to receive I counted myself a very lucky little girl. I was so sick all night that I had to resort to many more mad sprints to the outhouse. I think I paid heavily for my sins in a lot of ways, even though Mama never discovered what I had done.

I did learn several valuable lessons from this escapade, though. They have stayed with me all my life. Not everything that looks like candy is necessarily candy. Another is that if your parent thinks you are at an age to be responsible and discriminating - then be that! The last one I know as a definite fact, and should be stressed to the fullest - NEVER! I repeat NEVER eat a candy called Ex-Lax!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Redneck Rodeo - Alabama Style

Life in the country during the summer season had it's drawbacks growing up as we did in rural Alabama, always hot and humid and usually dry when the heat of the warmest months of the year drove us out of doors in search of whatever stray breeze might choose to float across our sweaty skin. With no air conditioning and only a large electric fan and propped-open windows to cool the house, we tended to escape late every afternoon to the shaded yard behind our home. While we were usually engaged in our own homemade version of fun and entertainment, at least half of our time and energy was spent trying to avoid conflict with out parents views of what was appropriate behavior for their five hellion daughters. Daddy was, as usual upon returning home from a long day at work, messing around with some of the various farm animals we kept in the pasture. Mama was in the kitchen, as she was every day, whipping up a delicious dinner and preparing to call us all to the table to eat. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a typical late summer afternoon, with dusk painting an early twilight sunset in muted pastel shades over the western sky and my family enjoying the last of the daylight that God had blessed us with that day.

Our backyard adjoined the barn lot and pasture, with access to either gained through either a walk-in wooden entry or a large wire spanned metal gate
which allowed a vehicle to be driven inside the fence. That day, Daddy and two of the neighborhood's mostly-grown boys were attempting to ride a Pinto (black and white spotted) Shetland Pony named Comanche, much to the pony's alarm and aggravation. This pony was wildly unpredictable and skittish to the touch, he also seemed to have come to the decision that he didn't want to be a beast of burden that hot afternoon. Take one bad-tempered and undomesticated pony and two determined nearly adult males and mix them - and without fail uproarious hilarity is bound to ensue. Unfortunately that isn't all that occurred during the battle between two semi-mature-men and one single minded, obstinate beast.

These two neighbors were men nearly grown, in their late teens, all arms and legs and nearly six feet of pure testosterone and sheer brass and bravado.
They were country boys, swaggering and arrogant, their Southern accent, clean cut good looks and skin-tight Wranglers lead numerous little cowgirl groupies to cast adoring and languishing looks in their direction. And their cowboy hats and boots didn't hurt their image any either. Fortunately for us, we were too young to be intrigued by their manly charms, else we'd have toted a butt whipping from Daddy! Wyman and Clyde were good ole boys, always on the lookout for a challenge and both possessed nerves of steel. Neither would ever allow the word "Failure" to enter their vocabulary. They thought they were real 'Cowboys' and set out to improve their rodeo expertise by making use of a cantankerous and willful old Billy Goat as a practice dummy, hopefully to enhance their masculine techniques. They would hop on the back of that old goat and take evil pleasure in his never-ending effort to dislodge them. Poor old Billy also got used for roping practice, which was unfair since he was pinned up in a small lot with no chance at freedom. Looking back, it is a wonder that goat didn't die from embarrassment. So cocky were these guys, they believed that the animal hadn't been born that could outfox or get the upper hand with either of them. Unfortunately they hadn't met Comanche. That little pony took both for a ride that neither will ever forget. And in the process, gave us girls and Daddy, innocent spectators that we were, their version of an accidental bona fide redneck rodeo.

When a horse, or pony as it was in this case, doesn't want to be ridden, they have obvious ways of letting the prospective rider know. And Comanche was no different in that, he let his disinterest be known up front, for all the good it did him. Catching him was difficult at best, and that day was no different. After much chasing and swearing (the guys, not the horse), he was finally cornered long enough to get a bridle on him. A saddle was too much to expect, getting the animal to hold still long enough to accomplish a flying leap up on his back a near impossibility, bareback was the only way to go. These boys were determined in their decision to ride him, and he was equally as unwavering that they wouldn't. It soon became a battle of wills, man against pony, a case of the winner being the one who was more tenacious and was belligerent enough to hold out the longest. But poor old Comanche
hadn't taken into account the extremely long and accommodating legs of thesetwo cowboys. And their determination to be atop that horse's back and in full command of both horse and the situation before the fall of darkness.

Being raised around all manner of animals, we knew that when one was kicking up a ruckus for whatever reason that our best option was to clear out of it's vicinity. And this was one time Daddy didn't have to tell us twice to back up from the fence and to keep quiet. While one Cowboy held the bridle tightly, the other jumped on, tightened his knees close to the horse's sides and nodded his head to let go.
Comanche was furious at the unwanted rider upon his back. He took off flying across the pasture, kicking his back heels high in the air while trying to unseat the cowboy from astride his back. He ran all over the lot, mane and tail blowing in the breeze created by his actions. And the cowboy, holding on for dear life and attempting to wrap that fat little belly with his long legs, while searching for purchase with his boots in Comanche's coarse hair. As the horse ran in a complete circle of the large lot, those same long and skinny legs that helped the boys stay on would pop loose and flop up and down with the motion of the horses galloping stride. One elbow were stuck out at their side, locked into a bent position to try to maintain their balance atop that uncontrollably unnerved horse. The other was up in the air like a bull rider waiting for the eight second bell. It looked like an octopus was on that horse's back and he was doing everything in his power to dump it onto the ground!What began as a simple session of teaching an old horse new tricks soon became a comedy of errors and an accident looking for a place to happen. And happen it did.

Before long, the horse was tiring and had slowed to a walk. They rode him to where Daddy was waiting with a lead rope, full of laughter at their antics,making wise-crack remarks at their expense. As they pulled Comanche to a stop in front of the wide gate Daddy snapped a long lead rein to his bridle so that they could have keep a bit of control and still have some distance between them and the angry animal. Unfortunately, as my Daddy was standing there amused, right beside him Comanche decided to bolt, back feet furiously flying outwards and yanking with all his might on the rein for freedom. When Daddy stepped back to get out of the range of those flying hoofs, he stepped into the discarded rear tractor tire that had been placed there as a hay ring (when hay is fed to animals from bales, it needs to be contained inside a boundary of some type, otherwise they will strew the hay and walk it into the ground and wasting a goodly portion of it). When Daddy stepped back, his leg went into a large jagged hole in the sidewall, wrenching and breaking
the bones in the bottom of his shin above his ankle. The once comical rodeo was over and pandemonium had set in.

The backward momentum of Daddy's steps carried him all the way to the ground. He fell with a twisting, spiraling action, almost in slow motion, a resounding crack ringing in the air. It was the loudest pop any of us had ever heard, Mama even heard it in the house and thought one of us girls had broken the big stick we had been warned about earlier for waving around and frightening the already nervous pony. When Daddy fell, the rein was dropped and the pony, at last free to escape the clutches of the humans who seemed determined to subjugate him, was released. The last we saw of him was his a blur of black and white, his coarse tail and mane waving like a flag after him as he took off at a fast run for the rear pastures, the leading rein dragging across the stubbly grass behind him. There Daddy lay, a tangle of legs and arms upon the grass, blood soaking through his pants at the juncture of the tire and his shin. His foot was still in the hole in the side of the tire and the usually straight line of his leg was bent at a grotesque angle, in a direction no human bone should ever be forced to maneuver. He looked up at them and quietly told Wyman and Clyde "My leg is broke". And those two dauntless bastions of manly fortitude began to panic, frantic to help and ignorant as to what to do next. How to release his busted leg from the hole it was trapped in without causing more pain or damage? Daddy calmly told them to grab him under his arms and stand him upright. And he told us girls to go to the house and get Mama. As they brought Daddy to his feet, his already pale face drained totally of color and beads of perspiration broke out across his forehead. He looked like he was going to pass out any second as he told them to maneuver his ankle out of the hole while holding him erect. When his foot was free, they placed it on the ground in line with his other foot. But one foot looked like it was heading south and the other north! His foot was facing the wrong direction! They set him down on the side of the tire, where he sat while Mama hurried to get the truck. While they waited, Daddy lifted his pants leg to see what damage had been done, and there is was.....bone, stark, colorless bone, jagged and pointed, sticking through a horrific puncture torn into what once was normal leg. The white of the bone looked demon-like, monstrous and
grizzly against the deep red blood which oozed from the hole forced into the skin and muscle, soaking into his pants leg and sock and running down his leg. Once the truck was brought as near as possible, they lifted Daddy to his feet and began to help him across the yard to the open truck door. As they held him up, he hopped one footed and the foot began to spin like a gruesome top, limp as a noodle and forced into movement with the motion of his actions.It was probably one of the most dreadful but totally enthralling things I have ever seen in my life! One of those things that is so shockingly appalling you can't bear to watch so you cover your eyes with your hands, but so repulsively fascinating that you keep peeking through your fingers for just one more look....

When they got him to town, the small rural hospital that served our area boasted no Doctor qualified to treat that serious an injury. (One of the major drawbacks to living in rural America, then and now.) He needed an Orthopedic Surgeon and having none on the staff, they called one to come to town to set Daddy's leg. The Doctor flew his small personal plane to the hospital, arriving in the early hours of the morning. Awaking from the anesthesia following a long surgery, the Doctor informed Daddy that he had put his leg back together with five stainless steel bolts and nuts, all purchased from the local hardware store in town. They then constructed a
heavy white cast from his groin area down the entire length of his leg and out to his toes, leaving an opening over the place where the skin was torn by bone to place a drain tube. Complications set in and overnight Daddy developed an infection and began to suffer the effects of a body temperature of 107 degrees. Not being able to bring the fever to a normal level with medication, they had to resort to placing him on a bed of ice and rubbing him down with alcohol. In that moment,
Daddy's beard and sideburns turned from red to gray due to the severity of the high temperature. I can't remember how many days he was in the hospital, but I do remember when Mama brought him home, their bed was placed in the living room so that he could watch the only television in the house. He would wear that cast for at least a year, and until it began to heal, he wouldn't even be allowed crutches to get around with. Thus began the vigil to keep Daddy entertained, for both Mama and us girls.

Being confined to bed was hard for a man who was normally on his feet and going every sunlit hour of the day. And boredom seems to lead to a shortness of temper in grown men for some reason. And our Daddy was no different than most it seemed. One of the few amusements we had access to was the television. And television in those times had only four channels, Alabama Public Broadcasting Channel offering about all that was available during the day for any entertainment value above soap operas and game shows. As a choice, PBS wasn't Daddy's first, but with little else to be had, that is what he watched as he lay there with his leg propped on pillows in the front room. As it continues to offer today, PBS had several 'How-To" programs during Daddy's recovery process. One such program was "How To Macramé". Daddy was intrigued by this demonstration of knot tying skill and he sent us to the barn for pieces of twine that had been torn from the bales and tossed to the side as it was fed to the various animals who resided on our little farm. Joined together with small knots, these lengths of twine became the material which he then tied with Macramé knots. He fashioned many flower pot hangers and bottle hangers, one such hanger was used to hold a gallon vinegar jug filled with Pepper Sauce and gave to my Grandmother Waters, his Mother. It was so colorful with the multi-shaded hues of red and green peppers that Grandmommy hung it on her kitchen wall and refused to use the sauce because it was too pretty. That hanger and jug hung there until she died in 1987. I am not really sure what became of it after that, but I assume it was thrown away. I wish I had thought about asking for it so that I would have it for the memories.

Daddy also tried his hand at drawing a pattern and sewing to combat his boredom. He sat in a straight chair pulled up to Mama's sewing machine, his good leg underneath the cabinet, with that awkward cast stuck out at a strange angle, his heel propped on a pillow on the floor to the side of machine. The main thing I remember him constructing with that machine was my baby sister, Lana, a pair of brown pants. They were probably a foot and a half across, seamed straight up the sides and the straddle was cut and stitched into a deep V shape. No elastic at the waist, no fastener of any sort. No way they would fit her, she was about as scrawny as they come in those days. But it was the thought that counted even then. Now I wonder what Mama ever did with those funny looking britches?

That Christmas, Daddy sat in the floor of the living room and helped wrap presents, an activity he always had left to Mama before. We actually got to see more of Daddy during his convalescence, not because he didn't want to spend time with us prior to his accident, the simple fact was with five growing children, he worked ever hour of every day simply to provide for us. Mama would load us all into the car, Daddy with his busted leg cushioned on the floorboard, and ride the back roads sightseeing just to give him a change of scenery. He also spent several hours each week sitting on a stool down at the neighborhood garage gossiping with the old men who spent time there. Anything to get him out of the house and back to having some semblance of a normal social life. One of his friends even came and picked him to take him coon hunting, where Daddy would sit in the truck and listen to the dogs
howl as they treed an old raccoon. He always did love that

Once the incision had healed, the Doctor cut off the full cast and replaced it with a short walking cast. This enabled him to move around a bit more, and with the added benefit of wearing a pair of pants with the denim leg split only to the knee and not to the crotch. Unfortunately as the weather grew warmer, so did the cast. It itched horribly and smelled so bad Mama took to sprinkling Baby Power down into it as far as she could reach. Daddy, not being the patient sort, demanded a wire clothing hanger which he then fashioned into a scratcher by unwinding the coiled part and straightening it completely. When he began to itch and tingle under the cast, he resorted to running the end down into the cast, thereby providing himself a bit of relief. Ultimately, though, that wasn’t a very smart idea, as the
scratching led to the compacting of the cotton underneath the plaster which resulted in the cording of his leg. When his toes turned purple because of the lack of blood flow, we knew he had gone too far. And another trip to the Doctor was eminent.

As he began to get up and about more with the aid of wooden crutches, thing
got a bit more normal around our house. He began going to work, still hopping along with the aid of his sticks and doing more around the farm. He also took that wild pony to the sale barn and sold him. When the icy blast of winter hit hard, Daddy and Vicki went to the creek to ensure that the frigid water hadn't frozen into a solid sheet of ice because cattle won't lick solid ice and will therefore dehydrate in the coldest winter months. Daddy made it to the creek, but then his crutch hit a patch or ice, Daddy tumbled into the creek, cast and all. Vicki had to help him up
as best she could and get him back to the truck and home before he froze to death. At least his crash busted up the ice that had formed across the top of the water and the cattle could drink. Another adventure into the pasture with Daddy ambling along on crutches complete with him scaling a 30 or 40 foot bluff, handhold to handhold on the far side of the water. I can still remember the sound of his cast banging off the rugged rock face as he migrated slowly across the rock. The ledges in the rock were covered with icy mush, and Daddy, being the type of man he was, was climbing to mend a fence to make sure the neighbor's cows didn't come for an unappreciated and inopportune visit.

It was a year before Daddy walked with just a cane, still with cast intact. And another few months until the cast was finally removed for good. I guess you could say that all the effects of the accident were bad, all things considered, at least for Daddy. He sports five stainless steel bolts and nuts that set the metal detector off every visit to the local Courthouse. Imagine trying to explain that to the Security Guards watching over the {?}He went from being served supper in the dining room, the main meal of our day, to lazing in an easy chair in front of the television. (The only meal after that he ate in the kitchen was breakfast.) Daddy had remote control long before it was ever invented. His consisted of hollering from his seat in front of the television to whichever child was closest to the end of the table for a change of channel or volume during meal times. He also gained
six personal maidens to wait on him hand and foot. A nice accomplishment for those lucky enough to achieve it. My Daddy is almost 76 years of age now and even thought all of us are gone from home with the exception of the youngest, he is still waited on hand and foot. It is his due, he expects it, and will likely always receive it. I guess we girls are carrying on for Mama, who, as long as she was able did her level best to make his feel like a Prince. When she left us this past June, we, as her daughters, took up the vigil of supplying Daddy's every wish, not because it is our job, but because she wanted it that way.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Blog is so Messed Up!

Forgive me, but my blog is so messed up. I had lost all my posts for some reason.I have spent a week trying to mend the flaws and finally last night changed the template. It DID finally get back up. Once again I am in gear and hopefully will get caught up on my posts.