by irene bean

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A Solid Foundation



Not Trying to be Corny

This Little Light of Mine

We Were Once Young

Veni, Vedi, Vinca

U Tube Has a New Star

Packing a 3-Iron

Getting Personal

Welcome Again

Well... Come on in

Christmas Shopping

There's no Substitute

Dressed for Success

Cancun Can-Can

Holy Guacamole

Life can be Crazy

The New Dog

Hurricane Reenie

He Delivers

No Spilt Milk

Naked Fingers


Have Ya Heard the One About?

The Great Caper


Barney's P***S

My New Security System

A Solid Foundation

I've become rather miserly about driving because of the cost of gasoline. Anyone who's been to the mountain knows that gas conservation can be easy unless one has to commute off the mountain for work. I drive very, very little. So today was a splurge for me. I drove ten miles over to Tracy with no other purpose than to take some pictures of the old courthouse. Prior to this Sunday drive on a Thursday, I was dismayed to discover no information could be found on the Internet regarding the courthouse, and I'm too lazy to do proper sleuthing.

Truth of the matter, for some reason the old courthouse hasn't qualified as an historical site. It lists and sags and if one looks close enough, it wobbles. Its paint is peeling like a bad sunburn. Its grumpy timbers and masonry look as though they want to fold and take a nap, and that's exactly what will soon be happening. The building has been deemed uninhabitable and will be razed. Sidebar: I think the pronunciation of the word *raze* is confusing to its meaning.

I know a group of people who are deeply saddened. That tired old building, which is beyond resuscitation and repair, has been the location where many lives have been resuscitated and repaired. Every Friday night for too many years to count, an AA meeting has been held in a small and dingy room on the second floor - I resist genuflecting before climbing the rickety staircase, which leads to the meeting room where unmatched chairs line up against the wall like apprehended bandits. The walls are the color gray that happens to socks that can no longer be bleached back to a clean look. The simple decor hasn't changed since the corner stone was set. There are frayed posters with AA euphemisms of all sorts: Easy does it. One day at a time. It works if you work it. Keep coming back.

Since joining the program, I've attended a Tracy meeting about once each month. It's one of my favorites, and not because it's male dominated. At first glance the group is a bit intimidating. I call it the Hog Chow Set. The twenty or so fine men who gather there are simple and good and kind and spiritual. Country folk. There's no room for talk about prissy martinis. Nope. I've heard more harrowing tales about moonshine than I ever dreamt of hearing. These are to-the-core mountain men. There are some ZZ Top look-alikes, others who must be at least 150 years old, truckers and farmers and then some more truckers and farmers. Pedigree only comes up in conversation when talking about Bluetick Coonhounds and the likes. For some, English is a second language - the first being an obscure mountain dialect closer to The King's English because it's so undiluted. Toothy and toothless smiles are plentiful, and there's one gentleman I'm particularly fond of who speaks with the tenor of a wise preacher - more riveting than Charlton Heston. All in attendance wear humility like pricey couture. (I hope that analogy is as flattering as I intended it to be. One shouldn't mess with the word *humility* too much.)

Occasionally there will be another woman in attendance with me. It's nice but not necessary.

Some of you might already know this - most of you won't: this unlikely group is dearer to me than my family of origin. They know me. They accept me. They are unconditional of my defects. They are honest. They let me cry when I want to cry. They let me laugh when I want to laugh. If I have a grouchy day they join voices to lift me from my gloom. I know they will never-ever-ever shun me, gossip about me, pass judgment on me, exclude me... or any of the other hurtful things that earth people do. I can call them at 3 a.m. 365 days in a row and they will hasten to succor my fears or sorrows, and never suggest that I call back at a more convenient time. I honestly and truly love these people.

Anyway, this crusty old group is being vacated. Trust me, they've conquered greater dangers than uninhabitable buildings, but the law is the law. In two weeks they will start meeting in a church. You would think they were being asked to visit a newly discovered Circle of Hell. Naw, I was just being a writer there. They are actually quite philosophical. They know it's all about serenity and sobriety and having each other to encourage and support. That's the foundation that really matters here... and it will never crumble. Amen.

Tracy Courthouse

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