Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Past: A Turkey, A Goat, Plus A Prank

My dad has had the same best friend since high school. From the simple to the extreme, they have always played practical jokes on one another. As their children aged, we often were part of their mischievous endeavors.

One year, near Christmas, we received a rather large package delivered by a local courier. We assumed it was from one of our dad’s customers. This beautifully gift wrapped box was about the size of a large television. Although the tag said, “To the family of”, we waited for our dad to return home from his office. As soon as Daddy arrived, we gathered around. He took out his pocket knife and slowly opened the box. Just as he removed the last of the tape and the top from the box, out jumped a live turkey.

This was not a domesticated turkey – it was wild! The turkey began running around the house and entered the den with the vaulted ceiling. Daddy had gone into the garage and retrieved his bass fishing net. Chasing this wild bird became quite the ordeal. We had it cornered and just as Daddy was about to net this beast – it took flight.

The focal point in the den was an antique armoire that stood eight feet high. This beautiful piece of furniture had been in my mom’s family for generations and was shipped from Ireland along with other family heirlooms. The front of the armoire was burled maple – truly a magnificent piece of craftsmanship. Wouldn't you know, the turkey clawed its way up the front of the armoire, finally resting on top. Needless to say, Mother was horrified. Not to cause any further damage, Daddy decided to let it roost there until it fell asleep – then he could capture it. The phone rang and we could hear him talking with “Uncle” Ed. There was laughter and a promise of a return surprise. My sisters and I knew it was game on.

The next morning at 4:00 am Daddy wakes me and tells me to get ready to go out to the farm. Our farm was 12 miles from town where we raised cattle, kept our horses and other assorted farm animals – including goats. As we made the drive, he told me of his plan. I thought he might be taking things a bit too far; but, he was my dad. We pulled through the gate and took one of the goats and placed it securely in the back of his truck. Daddy went into the tack room and returned with a burlap bag. I didn’t ask what was in the bag; I knew better.

On the drive back into town, he gave me my instructions – okay, now I’m an accomplice to his madness. We arrived at Ed’s around 5:30 and Daddy took a spike and drove it into the center of Ed’s freshly planted winter lawn. We then took a dog collar and placed it around the goat’s neck. A 10 foot chain was attached to the spike and, at the other end, a snap hook was then attached to the goat’s collar. Daddy used Ed’s hose to fill a bucket of water for the goat. Then we hopped back into to the truck and sped off. He was like some maniac laughing all the way back to the house.

We waited for the phone call from Ed to come and get the goat; but, a couple of hours had passed and Daddy could not leave well enough alone. He talked me into to driving us by Ed’s in my car. I agreed and waited in the car. After a few minutes, here comes Daddy wearing Mother’s blonde wig and a large pair of sunglasses. I looked at him as if he had lost his damn mind; but, I couldn’t help but laugh. We drove by Ed’s and the goat had eaten a perfect circle on the lawn. I guess this might could have been one of the first crop circles had we removed the goat. Daddy was laughing and feeling pretty proud of himself. Back at the house, Daddy was still wearing his disguise, Mother threw up her hands, “I don’t want to know!” I figured plausible deniability. About a half hour later the expected phone call came, there was laughter and a "gotcha".

Later in the week when both families gathered for some peaceful Christmas cheer, Daddy greeted them at the door wearing none other than his prank’s disguise. Several rounds of laughter went up as the two men recanted the tale of their latest escapade and stories of other pranks. Mother served dinner - smoked ham, Daddy whipped up several batches of egg nog plus we exchanged gifts - real gifts. The warmth of the season embraced us; truly, a memorable Christmas was had by all. Happy Holidays!

Disclaimer: There were no animals hurt during this prank. My dad released the turkey back into the wild no worse for the wear and the goat was returned to the farm a little fatter than when it left.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Foxy Ladies, Pink vs. Blue

It’s been rather uneventful this week here at the ranch. Thanksgiving was extremely lovely; several friends came and went. I do have a new visitor though, Molly the gray fox. She’s been making an appearance for the past week or so and seems very healthy. Her coat is thick and beautiful and her tail is bushy. I did some reading about the fox. When the fox picks a mate, they mate for life. If the female dies, the male remains solo. If the male dies, the female chooses a new mate. Interesting.

Last time I was in town for supplies, I stopped at Marie Calendar’s in Sun City for a bite to eat before making the trek home. Sun City is a community designed for retirees. The majority live there full time while the others are snowbirds taking advantage of the extremely mild winters here. I’ve never seen so many Cadillacs and RVs in one place. Needless to say, driving in Sun City is done at your own risk – look out for those tanks!

I placed my order for the Fish ‘n Chips and my server quickly returned with my Arnold Palmer and dinner bread. I noticed a couple of tables occupied by elderly gentlemen dining solo. One nodded and smiled as I scanned the restaurant. Just as my dinner was brought to the table, two elderly ladies were sat at a table next to my booth. As they looked over the menu, a foursome of ladies was sat at the booth in front of me. I couldn’t help but stare – I’d seen blue-hair, but pink-hair? Wow!

As I munched on my delicious fish, I overheard the ladies at the table as they scoped out the gentlemen dining solo. One said, as she motioned towards the gentleman, “Bert’s available; he’s been widowed for seven years”. “His wife was from Norway, they came here from Minnesota.” “He used to drive a gold Cadillac, blah, blah, blah.” Her companion asked, “Does he date anyone?” Well, I wasn’t the only one eaves-dropping. One of the pink-haireds leaned towards the table and said, “No, not now anyway”. “You remember Myrtle, Myrtle Baker?” “They broke up when she moved to South Carolina to live with her son", then in a whispered tone, "the alcoholic.” Good grief - is no one’s life story sacred?!?

Both tables were rubber-necking to check who else was dining solo. Some conversation went back and forth again between the two tables. They were not at all shy about their motives. They all wore their casual best, painted faces, coiffed hair and, good lord, lots of perfume. I could not believe it when one of the pink-haireds got up from the booth and approached Bert. She had a flyer in her hand. She walked up and boldly asked if she could sit down. He agreed. She went on and on about her bingo as the others would sneak a peek at their friend and would giggle after a comment was made under their breath. After 10 minutes of rambling, the pink-haired lady returned to her seat. I was surprised there wasn’t a round of high-fives the way they were carrying on.

Everyone had been served and was comparing their selections and trying to decide which pie they would order later. Then one of the pink-haireds offered the blue-haireds a flyer, an invitation to their bingo night. The blue-haireds were obviously pissed-off that they had made a move on the gentleman and refused the flyer. Talk about poor losers! They were behaving like junior high girls, "I saw him first." "No, I saw him first." Jeeez!

So, like the fox, I observed the same behavior in humans. It was the unmated females looking to hook-up and the unmated males were solo. Although I wanted to stay and take in more of this competitive nature; however, it was time for me to make my way back to the ranch. Pink Hair – 1, Blue Hair – 0. Share/Save/Bookmark

Monday, December 1, 2008

Neighbor - Bloggers Unite! World AIDS Day

Stephan Jerrome

I walked daily
near the window of the house
which framed the dying man.

Saw his silhouette
sometimes seated,
usually reclined
always thinner
as the sounds of television,
muted talk of visiting friends
made shadows around his bed.
Once I caught the outline
of a nurse hovered over
his extended arm
heard a twisted groaning
as I hurried, late to work...

In the morning, light
from uncurtained windows
on the far side of his house
would shine across the hardwood floor
stopping at the
bed a whisper-reach from where I passed;
I saw highlights
on the blankets,
his young man's sleeping head
cheeks hollow, mouth agape
propped up on pillows --
later, on a rolling bed
with railings high that bound his wrists.

I hoped my routine footsteps,
the gate lock turning
would not wake him
as I went about my day
a little guilty of my health
my freedom, my mobility
speeding past the sports car
sunken, now and dust-brown
with four flat tires.

I was glad to see a cute new tenant
when Rick moved into the house next door
another artist on the hill
would be a welcome neighbor;
saw his photographs
through an open window
large color prints of high-style women
but he never asked me in.

Recently I saw him at a local bar
he kissed someone, it caught my eye
but he brushed past me
for the door.
Was I mistaken? Did he not see me?
Was there something
I was not supposed to know?

Now I watched while passing by
shadows of an ominous play,
nurses, buddies, twelve hour shifts,
hospital smells in the morning air
Meals on Wheels each afternoon;
sullen, narrow shoulders
of an oxygen tank
beside the high profile of an IV bag
dangling high like a hanged man,
lights ablaze at four a.m.
as I wake up to take a pee;
the rushing, flushing
commotions of a private war.

I said little.
Went to work.
Came home.
Made the motions
of the walking well.

His friend said in the last few days
he clung to a life
which had become unsustainable.
"Why are you holding on?"
he asked his dying friend.
They were all exhausted
aiding, comforting,
at last facilitating
an uncontestable passage;
there were no more breaths
for euphemism;
the buttress of manners
redundant as scaffold
on a finished building
so the dying man was asked
Why do you linger?
"It must have helped," the friend concluded.
"Rick died the next day."

After that the house went dark
possessions carted off and
scattered his friends all thanked me --
but what did I do?
Took out the trash on Tuesday night
swept the path and kept my distance.
They thanked me, hugged me -- why?
I didn't go to say hello
didn't want to say good-bye,
pretending we were friends'
cause we were not.
We were only neighbors.
Copyright 2000 Share/Save/Bookmark

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