Preamble to the ramble: Sometime there’s just no way to begin a story. Or even to establish a theme. And sometime ya just wish you had the last one back so’s to edit it one more time before it hits the street, but with a futile “it is what it is” one just lets go and lays it aside. After all what to expect from a column titled ‘”View From The Bottom Rung.”

The easiest way to a timely column is to find an emotional theme that really tugs at the heartstrings; things like hearth, home and motherhood. Or religion and politics. The emotional elements of religion and politics often surface as a position or philosophy in a culture, association or cult where the debate is a cut and dried, black and white issue of evil vs. good. where evil lurks in the shadowy associations that are obstinate enough to disagree in some fashion or other with your own “values.” To a hellfire and brimstone firebrand, politics and religion are soul deep and as personal as family: A plateau where right or wrong is never a part of the equation, rather, unquestioning loyalty to the “faith.”

Never ever give in to the ethical temptation of reprimanding your own however warranted, on the precept that frailty within the bloodline is non-existent and that human orneriness never crosses the party line. Keep within the box: Subscribe to partisan literature or indoctrination sites that cater exclusively to one’s own view; create an archive of complaints, read only newspaper articles, magazines, news letters (cut and clip) that support your own ideological thesis and party interests. Be consistent: Curse Trump and ignore the egregious habits of Ms. Hillary. (Or vice versa for that matter.) Research the negatives of others and if the proper negative can’t be found, evade—or distort the positive. Work it right and one’s “work” may be a loosely arranged treatise copied from the treatise of others that can be quickly thrown together sans the cerebral strain.

Oh, but enough of the prelude to the attitude. Here sits I on the lower rung of a high reaching ladder, meditating, contemplating the folly of it all, whether to take the easy emotionally charged road of blathering partisanships, the column virtually written for me by political strategist and activists within my own political alignments or ignore the dottiness of it all and find refuge within my own thoughts and philosophies collected through the years; from confound to profound.

Playing on a well-worn biblical verse we shall venture that Man (or Van) does not live by politics alone but by every observation, memory or zany experience of a considerable lifetime. Endeavor to engage a list of less controversial ideas with which to entertain my fancies, even though awakening or stoking actual creative processes becomes a more searching and time-consuming brain-strain.

“Sophistications” of the upper rung tower far above my head anyways and darned if I’ll tolerate a crick in the old arthritic neck from constantly tilting my head back’ards looking up at urbanity’s bottom side. And son from what I’ve seen, envy isn’t a part of the game we guarantee.

All this to say, via a bit of philosophical discourse, that View from the Bottom Rung articles aren’t written overnight, rather in a series of fits and starts as the spirit moves, according to momentary inspiration and the ability to apply attention and focus. And though birthed small segments at a time, they can be long. Gosh awful long, I’d say, though it’s never really intentional; the more distractions, the more times returning to the task, the lengthier the script. Hindrances compass me ‘round and about. There’s a mandolin and guitar languishing in the closet anxiously waiting to be exercised, BBQ Bill Rogers and the Smokin’ Chickens, Harley and Dr. James, a bunch of laid-back old string-twangers all, demanding much of an old mans limited time and energy; there’s little chance away from my vast social duties, including weekend breaks and a serious addiction to social media.

Mind you I’m not complaining but there’s a marriage to cultivate, my bride (of a year already?) has more family and friends than anybody I ever ‘knowed, attends church every Saturday afternoon plus a tradition of chilling out up at Branson Town. I’m expected to participate. The latest excursion to Branson found the internet addicted fellow suffering a state of withdrawal, disconnected from the world wide web three days running with nary a jot or a notion thereof assigned to next article due.

If I were a suspecting sort, just might suspect the gal conspired with our lodging host to disrupt the wifi connection to our hotel in the interest of companionship. Not that I didn’t have a wonderful time mind you, chauffeured ‘round town by the best looking gal ever, consorting with the stars at various entertainment venues down town Branson, and on up to Silver Dollar City. Pulled to my feet and forced to dance with a cute young female performer, offering banjo lessons to Buck Trent, and being invited to sit in with Silver Dollar City’s in-house entertainers, those good old boys ‘down home’ ‘Homestead Pickers.’ The latter setting, an historic log cabin next to a lot where a bearded old gentleman busied himself hewing logs with a broadax. (And yes I’m at the stage that I’m referring to guys younger than me as ‘elderly gentlemen’) Anyways, just like home, can’t get much closer to 1933 than that; living in a log cabin and my father hewing railroad ties off there in the canyon.

Yet, may I suggest to those that would travel to Branson Town the place is a maze of roads up hill, down hill crosswise and back again; hire a chauffeur, go with someone familiar with the place or precondition yourself by weeks of practice with a Rubik’s Cube.

At least, in a season with a seeming endless series of storms rolling up tornado ally we only got rain late the last afternoon we were there; but cool. Yet, a welcome relief from the summers heat and not the bone chilling cold as our last visit there, Christmas 2016. And whist I have been totally lax in positioning the landmarks of Branson, Silver Dollar City was a cakewalk; in hopes of capitalizing, I’m printing up a guide to every outhouse in the facility.

Thunderstorms have always frightened me, and this continues a persistent season for them. From the time as a wee kid growing up out on Burkett Ridge back in in the 1930s and 40s, I refused to stand up and face them down like my father did standing on the front porch watching the wall clouds rushing up White Water canyon to pour across the small weather channeled swale where sat our quaint little cabin.

Rabid hounds from the abyss of hell. Refuge was deep ‘neath bed covers as the lightning flashed, the wind tore, and giant thunder claps shook loose the roof’s wood shingles. No radio or television to track the buggers as now, survival left to pure chance. Arkansas storms have driven me underground four times since my moving to the Southland in 2006; one, a wind and hailstorm that did 15 thousand dollars worth of property damage, wrecking its onerous vengeance to sidings, windows and automobiles at my home in Alma. Not a pleasant experience by any means: large hail rattled the cellar door, punctuated by yet larger ice balls that threatened to smash it through. Afterward, roofers invaded the neighborhood, the rattle of their frantic industry provoking imaginative scenes of a forest invaded by hoards of giant drumming woodpeckers.

The bride and I were at Duncan, Okla., when Alma’s last major hailstorm blew through. Pushed for time, we departed our front door for a bluegrass festival at Duncan in predawn blackness just as the jarring front of an intense storm hit town. Not, good, not wise but a show to do at Duncan AT 3 in the afternoon. Yet, as they say, we “weathered the storm” in fine fashion, arriving at our destination without incident. Alas, however, the adventure would be continued.

Next morning weather fronts rolling up from Texas produced a giant wall-cloud south of town with forecasts of large hail in our very vicinity. Looking down from the hotel room onto the roof of the gal’s automobile, we fully expected a wipeout, but a few small pebble-like pieces and that was it. Shortly thereafter came the afternoon sun hot and bright, the festival grounds were somewhat soggy but the shows went on as scheduled.

Next day I contacts my sister Ms. Pluma at Mountainburg and informs we’re heading home when she sez, “you know there’s been a big hailstorm at Alma?” The second automobile I’ve lost to hail damage since 2008. And I wonder, did that storm wander always here from Oklahoma just to search me out for missing me at Duncan. Well, no persecution complex here: t’wasn’t my house that caught the brunt of the last hard storm, Ms. Barbara’s roof took the hit. And, at this writing, flood warnings are up for the river just a ways over there at the lock and dam in Ozark. One thing about the South, the weather here keeps it interesting.