Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mabel & Eunice and the Freakin Frickin Coyotes

Well, it's been a while since there's been any news fro Mabel & Eunice's place. But like anything else there, it's always momentous. I hope you enjoy the story.

Mabel and Eunice and the Freakin’ Frickin’ Coyotes

Things had been pretty quiet out in the country for some time; so much so I figured the old gals had retired. Me and a couple of coyotes should’a known better. Well, you don’t go pokin’ a sleepin’ tiger with a sharp stick unless you’re on the other side of a very strong fence now do you? I knew that much but apparently there’s some creatures in God’s creation that are just a little too curious to pay attention.

Things had been pretty quiet around the old home place for a while. All the young sparkplugs had grown up and left the nest for the city and things were just a bit eerie around there, what with all that quiet goin’ on. Mud, the goofy old mutt had got really old and eventually passed on so that all that was left moving in the house was the ghostly cats. Things was just too quiet for anybody’s liking.

Of course, this was now a subject for discussion – lively discussion. That was one thing that hadn’t changed. Them two were still at each other, hammer and tong. The one thing they agreed on was that things was too quiet for their liking. Well no, that’s not entirely true either. They also agreed that some of the brats coming home the odd weekend was about as much as they were prepared to put up with too. I mean, what the bleep was phones for anyways? Jeez, they all come around with their adult opinions and there was never no end to the arguments. And they was too big and too old to tell them to just shut up. Least wise, on the phone you could just hang up and that would be the end of it. But it still left something short. Something was missing.

As far as Eunice was concerned, they needed another dog. She missed old Mud somethin’ fierce. She’d had her since she was a wee pup, and every time she though of her, she kind of choked up. “We’ll go to the freakin’ dog pound,” she declared emphatically. “We can pick up a dog there that needs a good home.”

Mabel spied down over her glasses – she was wearin’ glasses nowadays. “Eunice,” she said thoughtfully. “Eunice, you ought to know better than to call it a dog pound. There ain’t no such thing no more as a dog pound. You got to keep up with the times, old girl.” There was a faint twinkle in her eye.

Of course, Eunice took the bait before she realized she was being put on. “Well then,” she more or less roared, “what do you call them places where the dog catcher takes the dogs to be put down?”

“They’re animal shelters Dearie,” said Mabel, kind of snooty. “They’re run by the SPCA, and that’s what they do – they shelter animals, they don’t put them down no more neither. It’s not a frickin’ abbatory, you know. Kind’a classy, don’t you think?”

Eunice still didn’t catch on. “Well I don’t care what you call them places, classy or not, we better get our sorry arses down there and check them out. Who knows what we’re goin’ to find.”

“Talkin’ about your classy,” Mabel continued slyly, “I was kinda’ thinking more along the lines of one of them Korean Pot Bellied Pigs. Not many people got them you know. Everybody and his dog got a dog!”

“Is your brain froze up Mabel?” Eunice ripped off. “What kind of nit-wit ideas you get into that head of yours? Classy indeed! If you’da mucked out as many pig barns as I have you’d soon get to know that a pig – any kind’a pig, belongs in the meat section of the supermarket!”

Mabel had hit a nerve, maybe even overstepped her bounds. Eunice was just getting wound up.

“And if you think, even for one bleepin’ second that I’m goin’ to step in pig shit in our kitchen or living room or wherever, you’re gonna want to re-program your brain DEARIE!” She smiled that stupid innocent smile of hers.

Not willing to concede her obvious loss, Mabel convinced Eunice to go to the ‘Animal Shelter’ on Saturday to see what they could find. True to form, they went excitedly to the place, arriving there just after it opened in the morning, intent on an adventure. They didn’t leave there until late in the afternoon, and then not by themselves either. No, they had not one, but two dogs in tow. On the way home, they of course stopped off to pick up a carload of dog food, dog toys, and everything else dog they could get their hands on.

To say the rest of the weekend was something akin to a riot would not be overstating it. For one thing, the ghostly cats threw a fit, such as ghostly cats do. They’d just got over being rid of Mud and had the house to themselves when these two intruders showed up. You never heard such a lot of growling and hissing. The dogs, oblivious to the poison being spit on them by the cats were busily exploring their new digs. They sniffed and snorked every nook and cranny and before long had everything memorized and labeled in their minds.

Well, if they hadn’t been royal classy dogs before, they certainly were now! The boy dog was a Corgi/Border Collie cross – one of them favorite dogs of the Queen, so they named him Charles – after Prince Charles. Seemed fitting. And the girl dog; she was a pure bred Basset hound, a little bit older than Charles and totally laid back, as Basset hounds are prone to be. She couldn’t very well become a Diana with that sort of personality. Eunice took to calling her Camilla, much to Mabel’s chagrin.

Well now, the little country home took on a sense of normalcy; in other words, a constant state of upheaval. Both Mabel and Eunice were in their glory amid the chaos. They were barking orders at the dogs and the dogs were barking in delight. It was pandemonium in paradise. The cats just skulked around and hissed.

The yard outside was a whole different story. Mud’s kennel had already been taken down so there was no place to safely put the dogs. Undaunted, the girls bought a whole lot of electric wire and ran it around the yard as a perimeter, hooking it up to a plug-in. It was one of them electrified buried fence contraptions where you put a collar on your animal and as they crossed where the wire was buried, they’d get a shock. It’s very effective if you’ve got the collar on and great to keep your pets in a confined space. It doesn’t take account though the other critters that don’t have a collar on – like skunks, foxes, coyotes, deer and bears that criss-cross over the yard as it pleases them. And that was the problem. Over the years, the bears and foxes had got used to the place and pretty well minded their own business. But now a large pack of coyotes had moved in to the area and were wreaking havoc with the neighborhood. In fact, one night just after dark, the dogs had been out and the girls heard a squabble going on. It seemed they called the dogs just in time. Otherwise they’d have been a couple of morsels for the coyotes. As it was, they were pretty well beat up.

This was not good. It was obvious that the old girls had a dilemma on their hands. They loved to see the animals that frequented their place. But they didn’t love to see them destroying their beloved dogs. “Hmph,” Mabel muttered. “We sure as bleep ain’t gonna put up that bleepin’ kennel again. We just got the yard lookin’ decent and ain’t nobody gonna bleepin’ change it.

“Well now Mabel,” Eunice started. But Mabel set her jaw in the way she did when not even a bulldozer would budge her an inch. “We’ll come up with something. We always do.” She finished, having no idea of what it was they were going to come up with.

A glimmer of an idea began to form in Eunice’s mind though. She was your basic farm girl at heart, used to animals and livestock. There wasn’t much that would buffalo her for too long. She pulled on her boots and went outside, walking away from Mabel without another word.

Outside, Eunice romped around the fence line, checking every post and the barbed wire in between. A couple of the posts needed replacing, and the fence could use another string of wire. The front gate too could use replacing. An idea was forming in her mind. Damn! She’d have to get the brats out on a weekend to help but it’d be worth it. Having made up her mind, Eunice jumped in her truck and took off to the lumberyard. On the way home, she stopped off at the old McClintock’s place for a cup of tea. These old folks were in their eighties and no longer farmed. They still lived in the old house and the only animal they had left was old Queenie, the donkey who had become a family pet. John McClintock just hadn’t had the heart to sell her off.

Well naturally, that was the idea that was growing in Eunice’s mind – was the donkey. They’d had one at home amongst the cattle when she was a kid. That critter could kick the snot out of anything that got too close to her cattle any day of the week.

When Eunice broached the idea that she and Mabel could take care of Queenie at their place, and that Queenie could earn her keep by guarding against wolves, both Sarah and John were almost relieved. It was getting harder and harder to look after the animal and if Queenie could live out her days close by, they’d be much obliged.

Mabel was obstinately curious about Eunice’s mysterious activities. Eunice would only smile her infuriating smile and sweetly say, “I’m fixin’ to fix them bleepin’ coyotes without you havin’ to do your stupid dance with not shootin’ them. Remember how you screwed that up with the skunk. Why don’t you give Howard a call to come over and give me a hand for a day?”

The easiest way for Mabel to find out what was happening was to pretend it wasn’t happening. She sat in her big chair watching TV, totally ignoring Eunice and her activities. It was maddening. All week long they played the cat and mouse game, neither one giving in. Even on Saturday when Howard and his girlfriend showed up, Mabel pretended not to know anything. By this time Eunice was fit to be tied. “For God’s sake woman,” she lamented, “don’t you even care what’s goin’ on?”

“Didn’t know anything was goin’ on,” Mabel retorted, blank faced.

“Well if you’d pay a little attention to what’s around you instead of starin’ at that bleepin’ idiot box all day long, you’d know I’m workin’ like a dog to keep the dogs safe!”

“Well of course I know! What do you think – I’m blind?”

“Well why didn’t you just say so? Besides, you don’t even know what I have in mind.” Eunice put that hurt expression on her face as though she had been wounded by her friend and went storming outside to give Howard a hand.

Mabel didn’t really know what was up, but she knew it would be something momentous. Eunice had never let her down before and this time would be no different, she knew that much. Her and Howard and his girlfriend were outside working away at the fencing and building a new front gate. It was a real production. When they were done Howard came in the house, said his goodbyes, raided the fridge and left. Mabel thought now Eunice would spill the beans about what she was up to, but no, she followed Howard out of the driveway in her truck. They made a big production of opening and closing the new gate, and went their separate ways.

Well now Mabel was poised for some kind of surprise, but certainly not what came up the driveway about an hour later. Eunice drove up hauling the strangest looking trailer, followed by John and Sarah McClintock in John’s old fifty-seven Monarch sedan. After she closed the gate, Eunice drove to the far side of the garage and unhooked the trailer. That was more than Mabel could bear. She and the dogs came out of the house to greet the McClintocks as they got out of the old car. The dogs were all over the old couple in greeting.

“I hope this is gonna work,” said old John. He walked around to the far side of the garage. A moment later he emerged with his Queenie in tow. Well, almost everybody took a step back, including the dogs. They didn’t even bark. When they got their bearings, they slowly moved forward to sniff at the strange creature in front of them. The creature did the same. She shook her head, made a couple of grunts, and began to make her way around the yard, the dogs in tow.

“Well, I’ll be!” exclaimed John McClintock. “I never seen anything like this before. Looks like they’re old friends. By gum, I think this is gonna work out.”

The donkey made straight for the fence and everyone worried she might break out and take off home. But no, she walked up to it, sniffed it and started to go along the whole perimeter as if inspecting the workmanship. When she got to the northeast corner, she stopped and brayed several times, then moved on. Charles and Camilla of course couldn’t go that far because their electrical perimeter was much smaller. But they kept up with Queenie from within their own confines, watching her closely. Having finished her inspection, she came back to John and Sarah, nuzzling them for a moment as if to tell them they could leave, and went to grazing.

Both Mabel and Eunice were completely dumbfounded. They couldn’t believe what they had seen. Mabel brought out a pot of coffee and some dainties she had hurriedly hauled out of the freezer and warmed in the microwave oven and they sat around the patio table watching the goings on. For a time the dogs lay down at the perimeter of their electric fence, watching the donkey with interest. The donkey made herself completely at home, grazing peacefully.

Mabel’s face suddenly brightened up like a rising sun. “We’ll call her Elizabeth,” she said, grinning to herself. She’ll be Queen Elizabeth and Charles and Camilla will be her children! It’ll be just like having the real royal family at our place!”

It was that very night that Queen Elizabeth exercised her royal authority over her newfound realm. Mabel and Eunice were both rather anxious to find out how this whole situation would play out so they deliberately let the dogs out just at dusk and set themselves down at the patio table with a mug of coffee and a good supply of patience.

“Ain’t it just delightful,” said Mabel, crooking her little finger as she lifted her cup of coffee, “to watch our royal family bein’ freakin’ royal?”

“Just like the real thing,” Eunice allowed.

The dogs were playing unconcernedly and Queenie had come into their periphery to graze and be close to them. It was indeed a sight to behold. They were reluctant to bring the dogs in to the house and had left them out longer than usual. They were about to call it a night when Queenie suddenly looked up. Her ears were twitching and she was uttering little snorts. She stood like a statue.

There were moving shadows in the northeast corner of the yard. Queenie waited. As if on a signal, she bolted for the corner quick as lightening, kicking and braying and raising an enormous racket. The dogs high tailed it for the patio and hid under the chairs and the girls sat there, mesmerized. There were a couple of loud thuds and then he braying stopped. Queenie herself now walked regally over to the patio.

The girls were up and all around the donkey, petting and congratulating her. Even the dogs came out of hiding and were licking her hooves. Queenie hadn’t had this much attention ever and she basked and delighted in it, standing proud and royal and taking it all in.

“Y’know Mabel, we ought’a send a letter to the Queen herself. She might just give our Queenie a frickin’ medal. She deserves it, don’t you think?”

“Naw, just give her a bit of oats. She’ll appreciate that more.”

Well, there’s really little else to tell except the girls went out the next morning to see what damage had been done. They found two coyote carcasses where the kafuffle had occurred, one with his head bashed in and the other with crushed ribs. Eunice loaded them up on the truck and took them to the dump. When she stopped by the McClintocks and told them about the adventure, old John wasn’t at all surprised. “She’s just doin’ her job and glad of it. Them coyotes are still out there, but as long as she’s around, they know the rules now and won’t bother you or the dogs.”

Mabel snickered when she heard what John had said. “Well it looks like anybody tries to horn in on our royal realm is going to get their arses kicked. That’s the way a Kingdom, or rather Queendom ought to be freakin’ run.”

# # # #

Saturday, February 4, 2012

New blog page coming

The View from the Top Shelf

The last project my friend and I worked on was far from the fanciest bit of woodwork we had ever done. But it pretty well summed up what life is all about. Quite amazing. We made a number of little tripods on which a picture could be placed, and the whole business then put on a shelf somewhere. Amazingly, each of our children who had received these as gifts, immediately placed them high up on a book case shelf from where our picture pleasantly looked down at them. I saw this as a metaphor, several, in fact.

Firstly, we were put up out of harms way so we could no longer interfere in the particular family’s business, while still harmlessly in view. The perpetual smiles on our old faces in the photograph would gaze down approvingly on everything that went on in that household.

Not bad. But I read something else into that positioning. It kind of looked like we had outlived our usefulness and thus we were put up on a high shelf, out of the way to gather dust. That took a bit of getting used to. It was sort of like cutting the apron strings all over again, except that this time, it was our children doing the cutting. Well, you have to get used to your own reality, and once having done that, you can make your own choices.

Not one to say the glass is half empty; I chose the one that is half full. I suddenly saw our place in the family from a whole different perspective. Perched on this high plateau, I had an amazing view of everyone’s activities; their successes, their failures, their mistakes and screw-ups. Of course we’ve seen all that before. We had in fact been part of it all. But now it’s changed. Now we are only observers, footloose and fancy free. What a spectacular view! Our children and grandchildren have become part of the general population and we are free to do whatever the hell we like. Aside from the odd obligatory visit or phone call we are, for all intents and purposes – dead. Hallelujah! Let me tell you there’s nothing like being a healthy dead. Mind you, one must take things into account like the effects of gravity, wear and tear on the body, degeneration of this part and that, and even replacement parts that don’t work near as well as the originals. But that aside, this kind of dead ain’t so bad.

Having the benefit of hindsight of about sixty years, give or take, we can pick up where we left off at the age of seventeen or so when all that hormonal activity forced us into adulthood and all its attendant foibles. This time we can focus on enjoying ourselves to the degree that our aging bodies allow without the worry of consequences. If, in the course of following our own pursuits, we happen to cause a bit of embarrassment or even concern to our now middle aged children, let them worry about it. We’ve done our fare share of worrying over them. Turn about is fair play.

We can no longer be held responsible for knee-slapping laughter every time one of their children puts a dent in the family car, or plays hooky from school, or becomes unreasonably unruly and runs away from home. Aw - - - Tee hee; not our problem. That’s funny! Well it wasn’t so funny thirty years ago when we were going through all these problems ourselves, but now from our lofty platform, it sure looks that way.

Well that opens up a whole new vista of possibilities! If I look around, I find that most of the movers and shakers in the world around us are either the same age or younger than our own brood. And mostly, they aren’t any smarter either. In fact, some of them are a whole lot dumber. (I could name some examples) Why should I only pick on my own brood when there are so many targets to entertain me and fill in my time? Well, don’t get me started. I think I’ll open another blog page and start firing in some anecdotes. Who knows, if I do enough of them, it could turn into another book. Hm. So look for a new page in the next week or so. I think I’ll call it “View from the Top Shelf”. Should be an adventure.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Pissed in the Measuring Cup

Well I never thought I'd print this story. I never even thought I'd write it. But situations come up you know, where one thing reminds you of another, and the first thing you know, your imagination takes over and you find yourself doubled up laughing at the possibilities. That's exactly what happened here so I actually put it up on You Tube and within an hour, twenty other people were laughing at it as well. So I thought I'd share it with you.

I Pissed in the Measuring Cup

The rumor of what the black servant women put into the chocolate cake mix in the book “The Help” just cracked me up, given the hoyty-toyty group of women they served it to. It was the ultimate justice in my mind. Little did I know that a similar scenario would play out within my own circle of friends. It was totally precious because it involved an aging group of people. Let me tell you about it.

Larry is an aging musician who works from home. It’s a pretty good arrangement now that the kids have grown up and left the nest. He can arrange and play, even compose if the mood strikes him without a whole lot of interruption. And Maude doesn’t mind either. As long as there’s music in the house, things are as they should be. She merrily goes about baking and cooking for her children and grandchildren, hauling the foodstuffs over to them in her station wagon like any good mom and grandma would do. All in all, it’s a pretty happy household thirty days out of thirty-one.

But on the first Monday of every month Maude invites her lady friends over to what she calls her “book club” discussion group. These women get all eleganted up and sit around Maude’s living room discussing a particular book and/or it’s author whilst munching on dainties and sipping tea or coffee. Meanwhile Larry has to go out, to bed, or at the very least shut up. It’s a real burr under his saddle blanket.

Now I have to put all this into context. See, none of these people are spring chickens anymore. They’re what you call – aging. The ladies find it increasingly difficult to get elegant in the first place, and then to maintain that image through the evening takes some effort. What they do to compensate is to play soft background music so that if one of them happens to fart, it’s likely to go unnoticed. Well so far, it pleases Maude no end.

Larry normally goes over to his son’s place to jam with him and his kids – usually a good time, so it’s no great hardship. But Larry isn’t getting any younger either. He’s getting into what I call the prostate years. That definitely calls for some changes. Just because it’s not cancer doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Not to put too fine a point on it, the whole plumbing system begins to seize up. You get your exercise by running to the bathroom every hour (night and day) and then when you get there, you either can’t go, or can’t produce more than about eighteen drops. So you can well imagine that Larry can become a little testy now and then.

Well, Larry decides to visit the doctor. He’s been nursing this ridiculous condition long enough. He figures if he can get a Roto-Rooter type job done on his plumbing that should provide some relief. The doctor agrees, but has to first do a scientific assessment of the problem. “For the next three days and nights,” he says, “Measure the amount of urine you pass each time you go, and mark it down. When you come to see me next week, bring the records with you.”

Easy enough thinks Larry. It’s a small price to pay for some relief. Now he has to stay home for the next three days; no problem. He has an old log-book he can use to mark down the details; also no problem. But what the hell is he going to use to measure his output with? Musicians aren’t naturally given to logical thinking.

Maude is out buying baking supplies for her tonight’s party, so Larry is left to dig around the house somewhere for something – anything by which to measure his urine output. Then he spots it. “Urethra!” he yells, laughing at his own joke. “I’ve found it!”

He hauls the small measuring cup from out of Maude’s cabinet. She’s not going to be happy with this, that’s for sure. “Aw, piss on it,” he jokes to himself, taking the thing into the bathroom. By gum, it works just fine. He pees, takes down the measurement and the time, rinses the cup, puts it on the water closet and forgets about it.

To make a long story short, Maude comes home with her baking supplies and gets right into it. She has to get prepared for her “book club” discussion group tonight with little time to spare. Predictably, she spots the measuring cup in the bathroom and hauls it into the kitchen, wondering what it’s doing there in the first place. Larry’s out so she can’t ask him. Oh well, looks clean, so she pours some cream into it and proceeds with her recipes.

Three-quarters of the way through her baking, Larry walks in the door – straight to the bathroom. The measuring cup is missing and he’s got to go! He marches into the kitchen and with a single swoop, grabs the measuring cup out of the sink and returns to the toilet. Job done, he logs the data, rinses out the measuring cup and returns it to the kitchen, saying nothing.

Maude is thunderstruck. She is just in the process of dumping the first tray of cookies onto the counter. Her hands fall to her sides and the cookies slide off onto the floor. Her facial expression is one of bewilderment. Larry sees this, walks over and scoops a couple of cookies off the floor, shoving them in his mouth.

Maude begins to cry. There is no time to start over. In a rare fit of sudden rage, she grabs the cup and hurls it at Larry’s head. Luckily, her aim isn’t that good and the cup lodges in the drywall above the table. “You, you, you, - what were you using that cup for?” She instantly regrets having asked.

“That’s my piss calibrator,” says Larry matter of factly, and walks away.

Good old Larry, never one to mince words. Well, he paid for that one. Maude phoned the bakery and Larry had to pick the order up. Cost him a hundred and twenty-four bucks. But he figured it was worth it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Echoes from the Past - NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE!!!!!

It's been a while since I showed up here. In fact, it's been a while since I've written anything. I had been so busy editing The Lost Letters for publication, I more or less forgot about writing for a while. Then the business of Attawatiskap came up and I was so incensed at the bungling of the government at it's handling, I had to shoot my mouth off. So I burned up my keyboard with as scathing a critque as I could muster, put it up on Youtube and sent it to my member of parliament. It's called "Rear View Mirror" in case you want to look it up.

Well, the upshot was that while I didn't much like to broach such a serious subject without my boxing gloves on, I did miss writing my little amusing stories. They give me much more pleasure. So I did a couple of them. Here's one I'd like to share with you. I hope you enjoy.

Echoes from the Past

“NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE!” echoed through my septuagenarian brain the other day. It was as though a voice from seventy years ago pierced right through the ages - directly at me – as though I was hearing it for the first time. I stopped dead in my tracks for a second.

Actually, I was running – in the house. Picture this: If I get up out of my chair at my computer desk, take two steps into the hallway and turn left, seven steps gets me into the kitchen. Then I do a hard left at the freezer and bolt right through the kitchen into the dining room. Passing the dining room table, I do a looping left again around the coffee table in the living room and squeeze in between the couch and the TV. The path leads directly to my desk.

My calculator tells me that if I do that one hundred times, it should amount to about a mile. HOLY CRAP! I’VE GOT A BUILT IN INDOOR TRACK – RIGHT IN MY APARTMENT! All the other old farts walk up and down the hallways, stopping to say “good morning” to their fellow hall walkers, and of course, socializing and wasting good exercising time, while I, in the privacy of my own apartment, can whiz around the house in total concentration, counting laps. Cool!

So I start: one, two, three – oh – was that three or was it already four? Uh oh. Damnation, I can’t even count anymore. Well, you don’t defeat me that easy. I go into my penny stash and haul out a fistful of pennies and stick them in my pocket. Every time I pass my desk, I’ll drop a penny on my chair. That’ll do it! When I get finished, I’ll just count pennies and know how many laps I ran.

I start again: one, two, three – wait a minute, I already did three laps and I’m not wasting them. So I throw three more pennies on to the chair. Well, my stupid game leg is already starting to act up and I need all the mileage I can muster up. Seven, eight, nine – “NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE!”

I never even noticed the wife lying on the couch, trying to watch TV while I’m looping around the living room. I can tell she’s annoyed. We’re at cross-purposes here. She’s lounging around watching Anderson Cooper interviewing his mother while I am grinding out my workout regimen, trying to stay fit and healthy for both our benefits.

Ten. “ALRIGHT!” I froze in my tracks, as I already said.

Wait, that wasn’t from seventy years ago. That was from right now! It wasn’t my mother either, it was my wife, for god’s sakes!

“And,” she opined, as if reading my thoughts, “if you really want to stay fit and healthy, wait ‘til I go down to the pool later and then grab the vacuum cleaner. Then you can run around the whole house and get even more exercise. That will benefit both of us.”

Don’t you just hate it when they come up with this strange kind of logic?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Wonderer - Robert Service

After reading about and empathising with Russell Means titanic battle with cancer, I had just come home from the hospital after visiting a life-long friend of mine. I go there fairly often. This is a man whose prostate cancer has flaired up again, but that's not why he's in the hospital. You see, he's there for his son who, severly disabled, suffered a seisure and was injured in a fall. He is in intensive care with doctors working feverishly to bring him back to consciousness. My friend keeps a daily vigil over his son, more or less ignoring his own situation.

At home, I was looking for something that my friend would enjoy reading during his long daily stays and just by chance - by total coincidence (I think), I came across this poem by Robert Service to remind us of the marvelous gifts most of us have been given for the purpose of journeying through life.

We just don't realize what we have until we see someone from whom some of these gifts have been taken. Maybe it was a lesson for me. I thought I would share it with you with the hope that you too will be able to take inventory of the gifts in your life. You can see it on Youtube at

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nestor's Mailbag New Names Department

I don't know if I posted this before, but I liked it so well, I'll do it (again).

New Names Department

Dear New;

It's me, Nestor! Holy Moley, youse guys is hard to find. I betcha you play hanky-panky in the bush behind the pond. Don't play hanky-panky. Horses run away with whole hayrack while you busy fooling around. Hoy boys - then you got a big mess! Lucky for you I notice on time.

Good job I don't raise pigs no more. Now I retired I sit on my balcony and have sausage and maybe a beer, I got time to watch out for you. I could even give you some friendly advice. Don't worry, it's free - no red tape attached. I ready to help anytime.

Just between you and me, maybe you should make a couple new departments. Well you got to fix that 'Make up New Names' department somehow. Hoy boys, what a mess! They're so sneaky to make up funny names. Could be they should go to ‘Make Up Names’ university. They gonna learn something then.

You see what they done? They cancel Happy Thanksgiving. They cancel Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Easter, Ramadan - everything. Now they got one word for everything. Holy Moley I get such a surprise! They make one big word for everything - 'Happyholidaysshopatmystorecheapskate' - that's it! Where they get this from? What you gonna say to people who got to work on holidays - like store employees? They got nothing to think about except they got no holidays. They gotta put on pantyhose and war paint and a big smile. They don't want to and say to customers 'happyholidaysshopatmystorecheapskate'. Hoy boys, they get grouchy. Well you'd get grouchy too if you gotta work on your holidays. What you supposed to say to them - 'happynoholidayspoorslob'? Big mistake! Everybody talks about holidays and nobody gets holidays.

What you think about when somebody says 'Happyholidaysshopatmystorecheapskate' and you got to clean the pig barn? You think 'I got to do this stinky job and I got no holiday'. Between you and me I betcha two kopecks this is KGB from big box stores plot to hitch up 'shopatmystorecheapskate' to celebration name. How come they don't say 'Happyholidaysshopatmystorecheapskate' when you get vacation? Vacation is holiday and they don't say nothing. Hoy boys, what a mix up!

Just between you and me - it don't have to go no further - somebody got to take a big broom and clean out the New Name department. Just like my pig barn - I don't clean it out all the time, it get stinky. People got to say things right. Then everything be okey dokey. I give you example.

You go to somebody's house puffing on smelly stogie like big shot and say 'Have a cigar!'  People say 'Phoo - that stinks. We don't smoke and get outta here with that manure stick!' Holy Moley, you make big mistake! But if you go to same people's place and say, we just had a baby boy! Here, have a cigar, they understand and say congratulations. They keep the cigar to remember. They know what it means and are happy for you. How come you so surprised? You think Muslims don't have babies? You think Buddhists don't have babies? Hoy boys, everybody proud to have baby boy. How come is so hard to be happy for somebody else's special occasion?

Neighbor says to me, 'Merry Christmas'. I say thank you. Then I say to him 'Happy Hanukkah'. He say thank you. Everybody feel good. In February I say 'Happy New Year' to Chinese guy I know. He get such a surprise. How I know it's Chinese New Year? He say thank you - same to you'. Everybody feel good.

In old country they say 'Christ is born.' People look forward to have birthday party. Then church says 'putmoneyincollectionplatecheapskate!' Hoy boys, somebody always got to spoil it. Somebody always gotta stick a big fat nose in people's business. Uh-oh - you smell a rat too? Big long words again - same KGB plot. Everywhere you go - same thing.

Okay, okay. All right already! You want to say politically correct words then you got to finish the business. People should only say 'happyholidays' if you got vacation – like if you fire everybody in ‘New Names’ department. Then you could say ‘happyholidays’.

Listen, you should drop by sometime. We could sit on my balcony – maybe have some ham sausage and some beer if my boy still got some extra. I could give you lots good ideas.


Your Pal


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Nestor's Mailbag - Department of Agriculture

Department of Agriculture - Cow Department

Dear Cow;

It's me, Nestor. I hope you don't mind I call you by first name, Holy Moley - you guys got big troubles these days! I figure out maybe you could use some help. It's my pleasure, anytime. Don't worry, it's free - no red tape attached. You ask what does old pig farmer (retired) know about mad cow. Hoy boys - you gonna get huge big surprise what old pig farmers figure out. I gonna tell you little story and if you listen good, you gonna get all answers.

I learn this from my brother Stashu, cowboy (retired). Stash, he don't want to be pig farmer like me and daddy. He says it's too stinky. One day he sees a Roy Rogers movie and then he wants to be hotshot cowboy, just like him. He even gets fancy shmansy ten-gallon hat to show off. ‘Ten gallons!’, I yell at him. What kind o’ giant cows you got give ten gallons milk? Stash says hat is not for milk. You put it on head like this. I gotta admit it looks pretty good. He think I don't know so he got to explain hats are for heads and pails are for milk. I tell him thank you for information. He calls me bunyak.

Next day Stash comes to my farm on horseback. Holy Moley that Stash he goes whole hog. He sits in the saddle with ten gallon on his head, leather vest and chaps, big silver spurs on his fancy shmansy cowboy boots, just like Roy Rogers. He thinks he such a hot shot, I tell him, 'Hey Stash, I thought you said you was cowboy. How come you don't ride cow'? He yells at me, 'Smarty pants pig farmer, how come you don't ride pig'. I tell him calm down. It's just a little joke. Hoy boys, that Stashu, he don't get it half the time.

Anyways, Stash hears on radio they got mad cows in England. Hoy boys, they got big troubles. Lots o’ cows got to take a trip to abattory. So many dead cows they got to dig ditches and cover them up just in case. What, Stash yells - they bury them without even finding out? Somebody's nuts, he thinks. After couple days Stash keeps thinking about mad cows. He can't help it. He got cows - maybe they mad! After while he says, I gonna find out and steps in to cow pasture. Big mistake! Stash is thinking so hard about mad cow he forgot to put coveralls over red flannel gotchies. He find out right away quick he got a mad bull - catch him right in the trap door with big horns and help him back over fence. Now Stash can't sit in the saddle no more. He don't want to go back to check on cows just in case they mad too, so he calls vet.

Stash tells the vet to come and check. That vet, he such a joker. He scratch his whiskers like wise thinker and tell Stash bulls is easy to find out. All you got to do is wave a red flag and bulls get mad. Lady cows is much harder. You got to take them to the abattory and slice up brains to check. Now Stash get really upset. He think about all his nice cows with sliced up brains. Holy Moley, once you slice them up, you can't put them back together! What a mess! How come, he asks the vet. Vet thinks a little bit, rubs whiskers some more and tells Stash lady cows is like lady people - very sensitive. Hoy boys, now Stash is getting depressed.

Vet says only other way to find out if lady cow is mad without slicing up brains for microscope, you got to give them therapy - just like lady people. Example - you see your missus got funny look on her face and you ask nicely what's wrong sweetie. She makes a funny mouth and says 'nothing'. You still worried and ask again. No matter how many times you ask she says same thing. Even if you beg she screws up her face and tells you 'If you don't know I not gonna tell you'! You say if she not tell you she gonna have to take trip to the abattoir to get her brains sliced up, she says she don't care.

Same thing with lady cows. You don't just yell at her and say 'What's wrong Bossy'? That way you never find out. You got to say nicely 'Come lie down here on nice straw bed. We could have lovely chat'. Once she get settled you tell how interesting she is. Maybe she would tell you about her life from when she was young whippersnapper to now.  Hoy boys, you talk nice like that and soon she sing like canary. Everything come out like flood. She says first, farmer put her inside  stupid barbed wire fence - wrong side. Everybody knows grass is greener on other side. She get scratched up neck just get a little bit of good stuff. Then some hotshot feed guy bring stupid vitamins with sheep brains in. Where he go to school? Sheep brains are for people who play bagpipes. Everybody know that! Hoy boys, Missus cow she spills the beans on everything. Pretty soon she has good cry and then she calms down. She says she feels much better. She not mad anymore. She says maybe we should do this again next month just in case.

Stashu, he don't know how to deal with this – is too much for him. He such a crybaby. It's too much for him. He says to me do I want to trade some of his beautiful cows for some o’ my ugly, skinny pigs - even Steven. I say 'sorry - border is closed'. He calls me bunyak again. What a grouch!

See, now that was a nice story. You get all the cow answers you need from pig farmer (retired). I always glad to share. Ask any time. Don't worry, it's free - no red tape attached. You should drop by sometime. We could sit on my balcony - maybe have some sausage and a beer. I could give you some more advice.

Your pal,

Nestor Kropatnik PF (Retired)