So Much to Live For

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said “Stop! Don’t do it!”

“Why shouldn’t I?” he said.

I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!”

“Like what?”

“Well … are you religious or atheist?”

“Religious.”

“Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?”

“Christian.”

“Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?”

“Protestant.”

“Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”

“Baptist.”

“Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?”

“Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!”

To which I said, “Die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off”

Bad, Good,better

The day after his wife disappeared in a kayaking accident, an Alaskan man answered his door to find two long-faced Alaska State Troopers.

“We’re sorry Mr.Jones, but we have some information about your wife,” said one trooper.

“Tell me! Tell me! Did you find her?” Jones shouted.

The troopers looked at each other. One said, “We have some bad news, some good news, and some really great news. Which do you want to hear first?”

Dreading what was coming, an anxious Mr.Jones said, “Give me the bad news first.”

The trooper said, “I’m sorry to tell you, sir, but this morning we found your wife’s body in the Bay.”

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Jones. Stammering, he asked, “what’s the good news?”

The trooper continued, “When we pulled her up, she had 12 twenty-five pound king crabs and 6 good-size Dungeness crabs clinging to her. In all fairness, you are entitled to a share in the catch.”

Outraged, Mr. Jones demanded, “If that’s the good news, what’s the great news?”

The trooper said, “We’re going to pull her up again tomorrow.”

Photo by Summer Li on Pexels.com

No Fool Like……

Things didn’t go well from the start on Croc’s last visit to the vet. My half mastiff, half lab doggy boy weighs one hundred twenty-five pounds and pulls like a tractor. Desperate to sniff a steaming pile of poop, he snatched me down the instant I stepped out of the truck. I sprawled elegantly across the pavement, knocking my nose on the curb. I’d foolishly worn a skirt, so passersby were treated the view of my new undies as I struggled to grab the leash and avoid a greater disaster. Fortunately, Croc was fascinated by a steaming pile of dog poop and hadn’t escaped into traffic. He pondered sampling it as I struggled to my feet, felt around to find my glasses in another mess, and staunched the flow of blood from my damaged knees. He showed no sympathy for me as we made our way in, choosing instead to attempt a friendship with a five pound Yorkie. The tiny beast and her dainty mom were traumatized at the slobbering beast dragging me toward them. My muddied, bloodied countenance did little to reassure the duo, despite my assertion he only wanted to play. Happily, the teeny dog was the original mean girl. She tore into Croc, teaching him a lot about little, mean dogs. The staff got us in a room straight away. No waiting!

Four hundred and fifty dollars later found us checking out. By now Croc was happily munching his cookie. Once again, I was sobered at the cost of well-dog care, despite having experienced it only six months before. Incidentally, I had another dog at home scheduled for a pricey visit the very next day. I definitely can’t handle both at once. I’d made that mistake once, a sad story for another day.

Mean Doggy and her mom stood between my behemoth and the exit. Meany snarled maniacally at us, terrifying Croc. I enjoyed that. Momma was crying to the staff, “Can you find a home for her. I’m sick and I can’t take care of her no more.” She sobbed piteously. It was heartbreaking so I hurried out. After I got Croc, also known as Meatball, in the truck, I called Bud.

“Can we adopt a Yorkie? A sick, old lady has to get rid of her.” I went back for the poor dog. Miss Ann, her mama was delighted she’d found a sucker and pulled out her tattered checkbook to pay for Meany’s visit.

On learning her bill was ninety dollars, Mama paled. “Can you hold this check till next Tuesday?”

“I’ll get it. She’s my responsibility now.” Miss Ann took my number. True to her promise, she visits Biscuit, the little Yorkie, pretty often. She’s even taken Biscuit home for a visit a couple of times. Biscuit always seems to enjoy their visits, but doesn’t mourn for her.

More to come.

Saddle Shoes and Pointy Bras

That is me in the despised saddle shoes.  I was too young to hate them, yet.

The first, longest lasting, and most redundant misery my was frizzy, old lady perms.  Mother did this so my sister and I would be social outcasts.  Vastly overestimating our sexual attractiveness, from the time we went into puberty until we got old enough to fight her off, she maliciously inflicted home perms on us.

She bought our underwear at the Dollar Store or the cheapest thrift store or fire sale around, should Grandma lag in keeping us rigged out in home-made torture underwear.  Long after pointy bras were unavailable in normal circulation, Mother managed to ferret out pointy padded bras in the cheapest stores known to mankind, never mind the fact that the stiff cups caved in if they were bumped.  I’d have loved some not-too badly-worn cast-offs from the lucky, poor kids down the street, but they laughed when they caught me going through their trash. I tried to hide when changing in gym to keep anyone from seeing my Grandma’s home-made drawers.  They were made without benefit of elastic in the waist and tended to lengthen your legs by several inches as the day went on.  Grandma didn’t worry a lot about soft, cotton fabric.  Coarse, woven prints were good for the soul.


I was stuck in saddle-shoes for years because they were durable and Mother had loved them in high school.  Never-mind the fact that no other kid would have been caught dead in saddle shoes.  Best of all, I was a total slob, not the kind of kid who would ever voluntarily polish a shoe.  Most of the time, I didn’t even remember I had shoes till the school bus driver was honking the horn outside our door and I was simultaneously looking for my books, trying to get a note signed (bad news) and looking for lost shoes.  My shoes were inevitably, wet, filthy, and most likely stinking from ripping through the barnyard.  Not a good look for black and white shoes.  A more forward-thinking mother would have dressed me every day in a slicker and rain boots, so she could have hosed me off.

I

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Child and His Puppy Have a Satisfying Morning (reposted)

  1. Let your kid eat in front of the TV.
  2.  Forget to put Vaseline on the doorknob so kid can open door.
  3.  Make sure your kid has a puppy.
  4.  Make sure your kid’s stomach and puppy’s digestive tract are both full.
  5.  Go to bathroom for a little quality time.
                                             John and Buster on a Better Day
John and Blackie

We’ve all seen articles by organized people enumerating methods to keep out lives well-organized, tidy, and rational.  Well, this is not one of those.  I’d be far more successful at writing “How to Mess Up Everything You Touch.”  My kids were always right ahead of me, making sure nothing was missed.  When John was three, I settled him on the floor on a big towel in front of the television with his breakfast on a tray to watch “Sesame Street.  Never a slacker in the appetite department, he always wanted milk, eggs, bacon, toast, and grits.  I always watched with him, ready to pick up his tray and cuddle him in his blanket after he finished eating. This worked well for months.

One sad day, I had to excuse myself for just a minute.  Naturally, I told John to sit tight till I got back.  Everything would have been fine, except the Buster the Dog wanted in.  No three-year-old could have resisted.  Buster surely thought he’d gone to Doggy Heaven when he found breakfast waiting for him, set right at puppy level.  Making quick work of my tidy layout, he spilled the milk, gobbled the eggs and bacon, and smeared the grits as far as they’d go.  In fact, it was so altogether satisfying and filling, he pooped his gratitude out on the carpet.  Sickened by the smell, John vomited on top of the whole mess. By the time I’d finished my business and got back to the living room, John was bawling at the top of his lungs and Buster was happily burrowed into the sofa, licking the jam off the toast.

I scraped up the worst of the mess and fixed John another breakfast, not because I thought he deserved it, but because it was the only way to assuage his loud and continuous grief.  Buster went back to the yard and I spent the next couple of hours catching up on some unplanned cleaning.

As a footnote, I noticed fruit flies buzzing around John’s toy box later that morning.  Digging deep, I found a rotten banana right at the bottom, but that’s a story for another day.  Just so you know, later that week I pulled a peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of the VCR.

Fifty Dollars Worth of Camper

th3EKZ50VW bus 2See this great old school bus.  It is so much nicer than the one Daddy acquired for the unbelievable sum of fifty dollars. He purchased it from his brother-in-law, who’d gotten stuck with it as payment body work.  Daddy was ahead of his time In acquiring this Tiny House.  Mother was furious.  Fifty dollars would have bought more than two week’s supply of groceries.  Though he gave Mother no end of grief about her extravagant spending at the grocery store, he wasn’t short-sighted and saw the great potential in this bus-camper.  It would be a wonderful shelter when he and his buddies went deer hunting, and oh yes, the family could use it for camping, too!  Now our camper wasn’t nearly so nice as the one pictured above.  It had been partially hand-painted bright silver and lacked a motor. The good news was, we could finish it up any color we liked and motors take up a lot of unnecessary space better used for storage.  In that special storage area, items were stored in boxes on one deep shelf or in  boxes on the floor beneath the shelf.  While the rest of us were out fishing, swimming, or just running wild in general, Mother drug boxes out and dug through them for dishes, pots and pans, and food, all this with two babies in diapers.  She complained about her back constantly.  What a whiner!

.nice inside

See how comfortable and well-appointed the camper pictured above is.  Ours was nothing like this.  There was no refrigerator, lighting, water, bathroom, hard-wood floors, or Benjamin Franklin wood burning stove.  There was, however, an ancient gas range Daddy hooked to a propane bottle.  It had two functioning burners and a defunct oven.  That was okay, since Mother insisted it had a propane leak and she was scared to use it longer than it took to heat a can of beans or cook eggs.  She cooked with all the windows open and made Daddy cut the fuel off every time she got through.  In fact, it did have a propane leak in the line, but that’s a story for another day.

Two full-size bunk beds filled the rear of the camper.  Two sets of old army bunks were stacked along either side.  Of course, we fought over the top bunks.  The lower bunks served as seating.  A lantern and flash lights served when light was needed.

It was perfect.  I remember one wonderful camping trip when Daddy pulled it to a creek bank.  We swam, fished, swatted mosquitoes, cooked outdoors, only going in to sleep, so exhausted we hardly moved till morning.  Mother got up several times every night to spray to camper with bug killer and spray the covers and any exposed skin with mosquito repellent.  We scratched bug bites and poison ivy for days after we got home.

That was our only family camping trip.  Daddy used it a time or two for hunting, then gave it up as too much trouble.  It had a couple of other incarnations as a home for a farm laborer who confirmed the stove fuel line leak before it descended so far down the social scale it ended life as a junk shed on Daddy’s farm.

To me, that camper was worth every cent!

Poor Hungry Kool-Aid Kids

Kool

Mary was the child-bride (victim) of an old-goat in his seventies.  God only knows what kind of situation he’d rescued her from, since she clearly adored him.  When I first met them on a ramble with Daddy when I was about ten years old, they lived with their two babies on a creek bank an old school bus that had been converted into a trailer for hunters.  Two full bunks ran across one end.  Twin army cots were stacked along both sides.  A stove, powered by propane sat near the front door.  The family’s few belongings were stored in boxes under the beds.  Though I was only a kid, I could see that Mary was just a teenager.  Mother later told me she was only eighteen.  She was hugely pregnant.  I was enchanted with their trailer, thinking how nice it would be if our family lived such an adventure.

Not long afterward, the neighborhood learned of the family’s dilemma, helping them into a small rental house not far from us.  My youngest sister Marilyn was an infant at the time with rampant milk allergies.  In consultation with her doctors, Mother had tried many formulas.  Finally, in desperation, she and the doctor settled on a frequent feeding regimen, supplemented by feeding her warm Jell-O in her bottle, so she would still have the experience of sucking.  Finally, she thrived.  Young Mary, struggling with two babies under two and newborn twins and a husband averse to working, was struggling find milk for her babies.  All four of her children cried all the time.  The neighbors brought food in, but the newborns just looked pitiful.  She was visiting one morning and told Mother she had put her babies on Kool-Aid, like Mother had, thinking it would help, but it looked like the babies were starving.  Mother was shocked and explained that she was giving her baby Jell-O, not Kool-Aid, and supplementing with frequent feedings.

The church provided many cases of canned milk, as well as other food.  All the children did much better.  Social Services was notified. Mary got some help, though she did have four more children over the years before we lost touch with them.

We did eventually end up with that classy camper, but that’s a story for another day.

Uncle Albutt Part 5

Quite often, our family and friends would gather for a late evening meal.  While the kids ran wild in the dusk and on into the darkness, the women prepared a filling meal of beef stew or chili and cornbread.  It would be near bedtime by the time they called us in, hysterical  with chasing each other in and out of the darkness.  Of course we’d been warned against running in the dark, but staying in range of the lights was for sissies.  I’d be in a delicious frenzy of terror till I stepped back into the light, where all horrors vanished.   They would be so many kids we’d be settled on the floor with our supper in a pie or cake pan.  This was before budgets stretched to include paper plates.  It was an honor to sit on the floor with the big kids.  Babies and toddlers sat at the tables where their mamas could keep a grip on them.  Two or three dinners were always dumped on the floor and there was squalling a’plenty as mamas cleaned up the mess and resettled the messy kids.  The kids finished in short order and tore back outdoors while the adults took their turn at the

After the meal, it wasn’t unusual for the men to load up their guns, flashlights, thermoses of coffee, and the dogs for a night of hunting, leaving the women and children to visit.  Mamas gave their kids a cursory wipedown with a washcloth before bed, since it wouldn’t have been possible to bathe that many children and settled them on pallets on the floor, sometimes as many as six to the bed.  Mamas rocked the knee babies and lap babies to sleep before putting them on a bed flanked by pillows once the settling down started, the women started their stories.  I loved these nights, especially if Mawmaw was there.  She believed in ghosts and could make our blood run cold.  Mother worried about nightmares, but lacked the courage to shush her mother-in-law, for which I was grateful.  I NEEDED those stories. Mawmaw thrilled us with tales of babies buried alive, girls who died of broken hearts when their dead sweethearts appeared to them, and big black ghost dog, and ball lightning rolling through the house. The kids didn’t dare move off the pallet, they were so terrified. Fatigued by their play, finally they drifted off to sleep, one by one.

As the women talked, they thought they heard an intruder trying to get in the front door. Someone else scurried to check the back door, unsure if it was locked.  .  Had there been an intruder, he’d have had a horrible shock breaking in on half a dozen  terrified women and a gaggle of children.  Meanwhile Mother hurried to the door.  Thinking she’d scare him away with a bluff, she called out.  “I’ve got a gun.  I’m gonna shoot through the door!”

Aunt Jewel stood right behind her.  Obviously terrified, she shouted out.  “Well, don’t just stand there!  Go git your gun.  You ain’t got no gun!”  Fortunately, there was no intruder, or he thought he’d better not break in, since nothing happened.

 

A Hog a Day Part 11


One of Daddy’s coworkers also indulged in the hunt. I loved hearing the stories they told.
Slim was a God-gifted liar, so well-known for his lying, that anyone who repeated one of his tales had to buy coffee for the group. One day, Slim came rushing by several of the fellows standing around at work and one of them called out, “Slim, stop and tell us a lie.”
“I ain’t got time.” He called over his shoulder. “Martin Bishop just fell in Smokestack 19 and I’m on the way to call an ambulance.” He rushed on as the other men took off in the opposite direction to check out the accident at Smokestack 19. They were breathless upon getting there and found Martin hard at work, totally unaware that he’d just been tragically killed. I guess they all had to buy their own coffee.
Slim and his wife, Ida Ruth, had a large family. Like many men of the time, his work was done once he left the job. One blazing August afternoon he came home to find a workman, a man of his acquaintance, digging a ditch that ran along the right of way in front of his place. The man was stripped down to his undershirt in the sweltering heat with sweat pouring off him. Slim stopped to talk and sent one of the kids for a glass of ice water. “Man, it’s too hot for you to be shoveling in this heat. Git on out of that ditch and let Ida Ruth finish it!” I don’t guess Ida Ruth heard about it, because there was no murder.
Mike Parsons had been raised in Arkansas and considered himself an authority on all things Arkansas. No one could mention Arkansas without getting an earful of his knowledge, experience, or connections. He must have had a hundred sisters, since he had a brother-in-law in every town. It was getting a little tiresome and Ray Marshall decided to set him up. “I’m going to come in to work tomorrow telling a wild tale about a town in Arkansas I made up. Y’all follow along and see what ol’ Mike has to say.”
The next morning at work when they stopped for coffee, Ray started his story, “Any of y’all ever heard of a little town up in the Arkansas called Catscratch? I was driving through there one time and………”
Mike Parsons jumped in. “Sure, I been there several times. My sister married an old boy from there. He raises them big pink tomaters just outside Catscratch. They got a real nice little place.”