Friday, August 04, 2006

Echoes and Dust

I was reading JT Ellison’s latest flash fiction piece and it got me thinking.

About Tom T. Hall.

Okay, so I have a strange mind. We all know that. But The Carroll County Accident was suddenly front and center in my thoughts, and I had to go listen to it.

Oddly enough, my sister and I used to get in trouble for lying about the house reading. I wouldn’t exactly say we were encouraged to have a love of books.

But while I was sitting here listening to The Carroll Country Accident, followed by The Year That Clayton Delaney Died, I realized that it was through music that I had a love of storytelling instilled in me. That shouldn’t really be surprising. Music was always on in our house, from the radio, from records, or live from the sound system in the basement.

Of course, what was really weird is that The Year That Clayton Delaney Died was followed by 16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought-Six because I have such eclectic musical tastes.

The other thing that occurs to me is that a lot of the songs I listened to as a child were about death. Smiley Bates singing about dead kids. Oh, and a classic. He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones. That was a bit puzzling to a kid – if they were carrying him away how could he be over her?

See, that’s what I remember lying in bed thinking about as a kid.

You know what the funny thing about kids wanting stories read to them at bedtime is? It isn’t about the books, usually. It’s just that they want the security of spending that time with their parent without distractions.

But instead of bedtime stories, I got Hank Williams, George Jones, Tom T. Hall, Smiley Bates, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn.

Deric Ruttan did a great job bringing back some story songs to modern country, particularly with Tom and Annie. And it will be celtic folk music playing at my funeral, by the same band who I used music from for our wedding. You can find some of the lyrics to Long Night here if you’re interested.

Never know. It might pop up on the trivia questions over the next week.

Or not.

I can’t believe this is Gravenhurst. Kevin came in at an ungodly hour to tell me the town I grew up in was on the news, that tornadoes had ripped the roof off the curling rink.

I took skating lessons at that rink as a child.

It’s startling, because you think you can always, eventually, get the nerve to go home. That the pause button will still be down for you to release, that things will be the same.

Except the house I lived in isn’t a Ruttan home anymore. Even Mrs. Cook’s house (my neighbour two doors over) has burned to the ground. Well, it wasn’t her house anymore. She passed away years ago, like our other neighbours. June and Nick Zorich, Ruth and Bill Alton. Ruth once made me a set of figurines for the story of Mary Had A Little Lamb – it was beautiful. I still have the 1850 Foley Bone China teacup and saucer (made in England) that June left me in her will.

But I don’t have any photos of them. Just memories, of picking apples with Nick, of staying with June after school the day my mother’s truck crashed.

Echoes and dust.

All that's left are echoes and dust. The hometown you can never really return to - the first Jack Roberts book.

You find yourself wondering how much of the past you idealize in your mind. Do you remember people for who they were, or do you strain out their faults and only remember their good points? CS Lewis talked about that in A Grief Observed, when he realized he was remembering a person who never really existed because he was only remembering his wife’s good points and was forgetting to see her for who she really was.

But then something like this happens, and everything comes back to you with surprising clarity.

Which just throws another wrench into the title debate for book #2…

Today’s trivia question for the ARC contest:
Name three of Sandra’s kittens.

Send the answer to with ARC Contest Day 2 in the subject header.

I don't even think you'd need to go to the archives to find the answer. Just last Sunday.

Not too late to send in answers to the questions I put up yesterday, either. See, I’m so accommodating, despite what evilkev says.


Angelina and Giuseppi were standing before the judge in divorce court.

Angelina says: "Your honor, we beena marry 25 years ana Giuseppi he always picka his Nose ana when we maka love he a never letsa me on topa. I justa canna taka dis nomore."

The judge listens solemnly and then addresses Giuseppi. "Giuseppi, is disa true. You always a picka your nose and you never let Angelina on top?? What have you gotta say fora yourself?"

Giuseppi says, "Well your honor, itsa true. I picka my nose a lot and, yeah, Angelina, I tella her she'sa gotta be onna da bottom. Itsa all go's aback to when
I'mma a younga boy. My poppa, he's a very smarta man. I always do ev'ryting he's a say. My poppa one day he says, "Giuseppi, I gotta tella you da two main secrets of a hava successful life: Number one, you always keepa your nose clean. ana number two, never screw up."

And the winner of the signed copy of Crimespree Magazine with my story, The Butcher, in it is….

Evilkev drew two winners. Susan Robinette and Amra Pajalic! Congratulations to both, and now I need you to email me your addresses.

Thanks to all who entered!


David Terrenoire said...

Ah, music vs books. There were no books besides the Bible in our house, but there was always music - all the old WWII standards from Peggy Lee, The Andrews Sisters, Ella, Frank, Nat Cole and Tony Bennett. Not a bad mucisal education.

I don't have time for all the quiz questions but I'll tackle one - name the 3 kitties.

Harpo, Groucho and Chico. Gummo was in the early pictures, but quit to pursue a career in yarn.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Which reminds me that someone was going to a Tom Waits concert the other day and promised a full and proper post on the event...

ivan said...

I love the Tom Waitts line:
"Was all by myself. Nothing else to do.
"Took advantage of myself."

JT Ellison said...

Sandra, I'm touched that something I wrote drove you to your musical roots. Strange how something so insignificant can trigger such powerful memories. Very cool.
And Guiseppe, well, watcha gonna do with a WOP for a friend, eh?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Ivan, that line reminds me of one from a Dire Straits song...

JT, not insignificant. Just look at the train of thought it started. And yeah, Guiseppe. Did you know my first marriage proposal was from an Italian? The stereotypical Italian guy as well.

angie said...

Italians in divorce court...too, too funny.

Re. words & music. I grew up with both. Sounds weird, but my parents potty-trained me with books, so books were *ahem* a central part of my life from a very early age. My dad's a big music buff, so there was always something playing on the stereo/radio. I evidently freaked my aunt out when I was 3 or 4 by singing along to "Cecelia" (Simon & Garfunkel). She was apalled that I knew all the words to a song about a prostitue! My parents just laughed at her - obviously I didn't know what the words meant, I just liked the song.

David Terrenoire said...

Tom Waits report due this weekend. I need time to do Tom justice.

s.w. vaughn said...

Oh, man. It must have been a banger to see that ice rink. I once drove by a mall that I used to hang out at as a kid, and it was gone. Leveled flat, nothing but a parking lot.

It is funny how the things you take for granted will never change, ignore your sentimentality and change anyway.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I'm looking forward to the report, David!

Angie, yeah, isn't it funny what we knew the words to but not the meaning? I can just imagine your poor aunt!

SW, love the way you worded that. 'Ignore your sentimentality and change anyway.' Funny that I hadn't thought about being in that curling rink in years.