Tag Archives: marriage

Pecked to Death by Ducks©

With the summer season just around the corner, most people are making vacation plans. I, on the other hand, have been busy stressing about all of the things around my house that need my attention.

I’ve been thinking about what to do with all my “stuff” in the attic. Emmaline runs a trim ship.   I sail a kind of garbage scow.

It’s time to get the wet leaves out of the roof gutters, put fertilizer on the lawn, fetch some sacks of pebbles for the rock garden.  On a more personal note, I wanted to rescue a couple of my favorite shirts from the church donation box sitting by the front door.
Whenever I think that I have too much to do, my stress rises. When that happens, it’s like I’m being pecked to death by ducks.  Its as if I were tied hand and foot and lying on wet grass with a raft, team or paddling (see Google) of ducks pecking me.  Their blunt beaks don’t break the skin on my head like the peck of a woodpecker would, but the sensation is still painful, and
emotionally draining.

The feeling comes when I think I have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. I often get relief by day dreaming about decades past when I traveled a lot—to Latin America, the Caribbean, North and Central Africa, Japan.  But if I day dream too deeply while I’m doing something like trimming the hedge, and I mess it up, and—out come the ducks.

I’ve been thinking Emmaline and I need to go back to the Caribbean, or Latin America. But then I realize that what we really need is to go back to our good old rental cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I always love our days on the river there, floating downstream on inner tubes, drinking steins of root beer with my friends, the little old colonial Dutchmen.
Back in March I got in touch with my humor column friends and colleagues at The Enchantment, that dingy roadhouse on the edge of town where so many of them congregate. I told them to meet us at the cabin. Then, what with the ducks in my head and all, I nearly forgot about the trip to the cabin.

So today, I got the word out—on Internet, by smoke signals, by homing pigeons, by mental telepathy–and by a few other means of communication that I won’t elaborate on here. I invited everyone

to meet us at the cabin.  The invitation to my  robot friend KB11.2 (Kaybe, for short) went zinging  through outer space to his home planet that’s just a few parsecs from our nearest star, Alpha Centuari.   And I asked Kaybe to stop by Cuba on his way andpick up Kate in the jungle down there.
Emmaline thought we couldn’t go to the cabin right now because there was too much to be done here: paint the shutters, plant a garden, clean out the garage, etc., etc.

“And What about Ginger?” she asked.  Ginger is our dog.

“I promise to paint the shutters when we get back. The weather will be better then, anyway.  It’s been a late spring, so we can put in the garden after we get back.  Ginger always comes with us, remember? Her carrier is just inside the front door, next to that donation box we’re taking to the church.”

I knew that Emmaline wanted to go to the cabin all along, but we needed to tie up loose ends.  After she went to pack, she called down to say she was including a variety of ceramic root beer steins.

She had chosen one for everybody. A few days later as we got ready to leave the ducks in my head took a nap—a nice long one, I hoped.

When I lifted Ginger into her carrier, she nestled down on top of my favorite dear old (not to be discarded) shirt. It was folded neatly underneath her.

I put the church donation box in the car to drop off on the way out of town.

-30-

 

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor, turned humor columnist. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Minnifred & Winnifred (c)

 

 

This tale requires an explanation of how Ed and Jeanie Morningside
got the millions of dollars that their daughters inherited.

Although they had been respected Letongaloosa citizens for decades,
Ed and Jeanie never had two nickels, much less a dollar, to rub together.  They needed every penny that came in to pay the rent, put food on the table, and buy clothes for the family.
Then, against 14-million-to-one odds, they won $378-million
in the national lottery.  Suddenly, accompanied by a whole lot of fanfare, Jeanie and Ed and their two daughters, Minnifred and Winnifred were rich.

***********

At 7:15 a.m. every morning Minnifred Morningside-Suggs sat at her desk grading papers and sipping tea from her favorite artesian mug. Unless she had an early morning appointment out of the office, nothing in Minnifred’s life ever changed. This Tuesday morning was different.

Instead of going to her 8 a.m. Tuesday staff meeting, Minnifred said “hi” to Hanger Duggins and his crew at Letongaloosa International Airport and then flew to Kodiak Island to visit Winnifred and to enjoy some much needed time away. That’s when things got, well, freaky.

******

It was a few weeks later and Minnifred and her husband, Reggie, were having dinner at the diner in downtown Letongaloosa. Reggie had just picked Minniefred up from the airport.  Reaching for the
bread, he said : “You act diff’rent.”

Minnifred had been regaling him with stories about a shiny Republic RC-3 Seabee seaplane she in which she had flown to her sister’s cabin; the ice fishing excursion on which she caught the biggest fish the locals had ever seen, and the polar bear swim she had completed in record time. Reggie thought the stories were interesting, but he had never seen Minnifred so animated.  She was usually quiet, reserved, and didn’t add much detail in the infrequent stories she told.

Reggie continued to stare, and Minnifred pretended she didn’t notice the “diff’rent” comment and the puzzled look on his face. She kept talking a mile a minute about her Alaskan adventures.  Still more puzzling to Reggie was Minnifred’s insistence on sleeping in the guest bedroom.

Something happened a few days later. It was the first round of judging in the Feature-Palooza Competition for Young Writers. There were more than 550 entries, and a group of teachers and business professionals had assembled in the newsroom of the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle to read the entries, critique them, and choose a contest winner.
Garrison Storm, Letongaloosa’s lead meteorologist noticed Minnifred’s peculiar behavior. Minnifred had always been a stickler for proper grammar, diction, usage, and syntax. Folks in town tolerated her correcting them in conversations because they were awed by her knowledge of English, and because Minnie was generous with her money.  Despite her wealth she had begun teaching public school the year she graduated from college.
Garrison noticed Minnie’s grammar goof immediately but he dismissed it, thinking he must have heard wrong. But when she goofed again and seemed actually happy about it, Garrison was perplexed.
As they heard her speak, others in town were too.

Meantime, folks in Kodiak couldn’t believe their ears.  Winnifred, the winsome spinster, who had always regaled them with bright and cheery chatter, had suddenly become terse and taciturn. Worse,she had begun to correct their grammar and  made unfavorably comments on what she labeled their “syntax.”  People in Kodiak had no idea what “sin” she thought them were guilty of.

A few days later, Winnifred and Minnifred sat together in an airport coffee shop in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“What an excellent time!” said Minnifred, who was waiting for a flight home to Letongaloosa.
“A blast!” said Winnifred, who was booked on a later flight to Katchikan, Alaska.  From there she’d catch a seaplane to Kodiak.
“We must do this again soon,” said Winnifred.

“Indubitably,” said Minnifred.

-30-

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Emmaline Speaks Up ©

Hello & Happy New Year, Everyone!!

Here is my first column of 2017. It gives a nod to my significant other and her love of college sports. She gets rather excitable to it politely and  it is that energy that makes me love her so…enjoy!!

 
My wife Emmaline loves watching sports on television. People who watch sports
with us call Emmaline an “energetic” fan. She involves herself in all aspects of the
games. She expresses her opinion forcefully about the fans, the players, the coaches,
and especially about the referees.
Emmaline was never a typical “sports widow.” On the contrary, I have always
watched TV sports so I could be with her.
When she was a girl living in a small town in Utah, all of Emmaline’s friends were
New York Yankee fans. Emmaline always supported the Brooklyn Dodgers. Emmaline
and her friends used to listen to the World Series every year on the radio—often skipping
school to do so.
As they listened, Emmaline’s friends ridiculed the “Bums” from Brooklyn and tried
hard to get Emmaline to forsake them. But even during the years in which the Yankees
built its World Series dynasty, Emmaline remained loyal to the Dodgers.
Her loyalty was rewarded in 1955 when the Brooklyn Dodgers were matched
against the Yankees in the World Series. The Dodgers won that epic Series in the
seventh game. The win gave Brooklyn its first and only championship in the franchise’s
history. After the 1957 season the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
Emmaline continues to be vocal sports fan. Every time the Letongaloosa
Community Junior College team plays Emmaline can be found in front of the television
set watching the game. She cheers enthusiastically for the players. She bemoans their
errors. But more than anything else, Emmaline vehemently denounces bad calls made
by the striped-shirted referees.
The phrases Emmaline uses to denounce the refs are the kind of made-up phrases
spoken by 1950s cartoon characters like Pogo Possum. She yells things like “Blagstag the
blag-stagging blaag staggers.” Emmaline avoids the kind of expletives and curses that
one often hears at a bar when a game is showing on TV. Emmaline is often vehement,
but she is never calumnious.
She is also a full service television sports fan. She gets physically as well as vocally,
into the competition. When games are close and badly officiated, our dog abandons
her place on the couch between us and lies down on the carpet across the room. I
remain on the couch, beside Emmaline, but I often place a thick winter cap on my
thigh.
One day recently, when a game was in the early minutes of the first quarter, the
doorbell rang. Our new pastor had come to call. He was making a “meet and greet”
visit. I answered the door, and Pastor Mark, who is a large, ebullient individual, grabbed
my hand, strode through the door and was in the living room before I could get the
words, “Perhaps another time, Pastor,” out of my mouth.
Emmaline’s jaw dropped, but she was true to her mother’s teachings about
hospitality.
“Please sit down, Pastor Mark,” she said. “Would you like some warm apple
cider?”
“Don’t trouble yourself on my account.”
“It’s no trouble at all.”
Emmaline had neglected to turn off the television, and by the time she got back
with the hot cider, Pastor Mark was sitting in our overstuffed chair gazing fixedly at the
game.
“This is wonderful, Sister. Thank you,” he said. Then, “I love basketball. I played
college ball myself before I went to the Seminary. Wow, what a game!” Then he took
off his coat and leaned back, his eyes fastened on the TV screen.
It was a very close game, and for the next hour and a half Emmaline raised her
voice only slightly, saying things like “Go team.” and “Oh, no, don’t do that!” Pastor
Mark used the same tone and the same phrases.
Then in the last seconds of the game, with LCJC ahead by two points, the other
team shot and missed a three-pointer. A ref called a foul on one of our players.
“Dammit! That wasn’t a foul, you blooming idiot,” yelled Emmaline.
Horrified, we both looked at Pastor Mark.
` “Thank you, Sister Emmaline,” he said. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”
-30-

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Hunting For St. Joseph ©

My wife Emmaline is one no nonsense, “just give me the facts,
please,” kind of woman. You won’t find Emmaline running on the
gerbil wheel of fad or fashion, much less giving heed to folklore
traditions. So it was with some consternation that I found myself in the
car (with Emmaline at the wheel as usual) driving to the city to buy a
statue of St. Joseph
We had decided to put our house on the market with an eye to
moving to something smaller, with fewer stairs. Before we signed a
sales contract and way before the for sale signs went up, Emmaline
got word from her good friend Rosalie that if we were serious about
selling our house we had better seek the divine assistance of St.
Joseph.
“You have to bury a small statue of St. Joseph upside down in the
front yard,” said Rosalie. “If you do that, your house will sell fast.”
Rosalie had told Emmaline to try We Believe Books, a Christian
store on the outskirts of the city. We drove around awhile and then
spotted “We Believe,” in a strip mall.
“Hi folks,” said the man behind the counter. “It’s a blessed
day.”
“Indeed it is,” said Emmaline. “Especially if you have a statue of
St. Joseph.”
“A statue?” the man asked.
“Well, actually small figurine of St. Joseph.”
“We don’t carry figurines,” he said.” Would a book mark do?”
We have some nice St. Joseph bookmarks.”
“No. It has to be a figurine.”
“Then I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
“Is there another religious store close by?”
“You could try Light and Knowledge over on Linden Tree Road.”
Emmaline asked how to get there and the man gave her detailed
directions. After driving around for half an hour we found ourselves in
a in a rough neighborhood. Emmaline pulled up to a rundown
convenience store.
“See if the clerk knows where to find Light and Knowledge,” she
said.
The clerk was in his early twenties. He had a silver nose ring and
a nickel-sized ivory plug in each ear lobe.
“I’m looking for Light and Knowledge,” I said.
The clerk straightened up. His right hand moved slowly out of
sight under the counter.
“I’m all out,” he said.
“What?”
“I’m all out, man. Come back later.”
My confusion turned to insight. I felt a chill.
“Oh yeah, right. Okay, man,” I said. I backed toward the door.
“Did the clerk know anything?” asked Emmaline.
“No,” I said
Twenty minutes later we were in a less stressed part of town. We
passed a church. Six or seven women and a pastor were chatting on
the front steps. Emmaline pulled to the curb.
“Ask if they know where it is,” she said. “Hi, folks,” I said. “We’re
looking for the Light and Knowledge bookstore on Linden Tree
Road.” The pastor came to the car.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have no idea. But Salvation Now
Bookshop is up the street three blocks.
The woman behind the counter at Salvation Now was tall and
angular.
“We’d like to buy a small figurine of St. Joseph, “said Emmaline.
“You don’t want Salvation Now, you want Light and
Knowledge,” said the woman.
“Right,” I said, “on Linden Tree Road.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Is it far?”
“About twenty blocks. My sister Ginger owns it. My name is
Sheila.” Sheila handed me a sheet of paper with a map showing
how to get from Salvation Now to Light and Knowledge.
“You must have lots of requests for St. Joseph figurines, why
don’t you stock them?” I asked.
“Ginger and I both wanted to stock St. Joseph figurines, but we
decided to do “rocks, scissors, papers” and let the winner have an
exclusive on them,” she said. “Ginger won. I got exclusive rights to St.
Redondo figurines.”
“What does St. Redondo do for people?” I asked.
“He brings customers to yard and garage sales,” she said. “You
hide him carefully in the worst, most useless, item you have. I’ve
heard of St. Redondo yard and garage sales that have nothing left
less than half an hour after they began.”
We thanked Sheila, and followed her map to the Light and
Knowledge Book Store. The St. Joseph figurine came in a little box
that had instructions on how and where to bury him to insure a quick
sale.
We haven’t sold our house yet, but Emmaline says St. Joseph is
working on it every day. Meantime she’s planning another trip to the
city. Emmaline wants to buy a St. Redondo figurine to use in the
garage sale we’re going to have before we move.

Dr. Larry Day is a retired foreign correspondent turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase on Amazon.

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Miss Minnie Gets Hitched

The invention of cell phones has permitted people everywhere to prove the adage “talk is cheap.” People talk on cell phones as they drive cars, shop, get their hair done, pump gasoline, and while they are standing in long lines at customer service in the supermarket waiting to buy lottery tickets when the Powerball gets above a half a billion dollars. All that blah-blah was nerve wracking to Miss Minniferd Morningstar who had taught English at Letongaloosa High School for the past 32 years. Miss Minnie used to interrupt people at social gatherings and town council meetings to correct their grammar. For her, correct grammar, diction, usage, and syntax were sacred. Folks in town tolerated Miss Minnie’s interrupting their conversations because they were awed by her knowledge of English and because Miss Minnie had inherited piles of money, and was generous with it. Miss Minnie began teaching public school the year she graduated from college. To teach back then you didn’t need a certificate beyond a bachelor’s degree. She went on to get her masters by taking summer classes at State University. It was at State U. that Miss Minnie first saw Reginald Danforth Suggs. Young Suggs had just been hired as a custodian at the School of Education building. Reggie owed his first two names to his mother who hoped he would rise above his working class roots. Reggie rejected those aspirations. He made his own choices about speech and career options. He and Miss Minnie clashed immediately because she walked on the floor of a hallway that Reggie had just mopped. “Lady, getcher clodhoppers offn’ mah floah,” Reggie growled. Minnie gave the barbarian a withering stare. “Are you addressing me, young man?” “Ain’t addressin’ nobody,” said Reggie, “Ahm tellin yew ta quit trompin’ on mah floah.” At that point Professor Blaine, a member of the graduate faculty, opened his office door. He had heard the exchange. “Hello, Miss Minniferd,” he said. “You can pick up your paperwork at the graduate school office down the hall.” And, “That will do, Reggie.” “Hummmph,” said Reggie, and shoved his mop bucket on down the hall. After Minnie had finished her business at the university and returned home, she realized she had mixed feelings about the encounter. The handsome janitor had acted boorishly, but Minnie somehow found herself intrigued. She made subtle inquiries and learned that Reggie had a high IQ, a gift for language, and an aversion to orthodox social behavior. The latter obviously limited his work options. But those options, she soon realized, coincided what with he wanted to do for a living–be a janitor. Reggie always told people he was a janitor–not a custodian, or a “custodial engineer.” After that, Reggie popped into Minnie’s mind at odd moments—as when she took a break from correcting papers, or was fixing a late-night snack. She dismissed the thoughts, but they kept popping up. And Reggie thought off and on about “that teecher woman” too. When they both sought his aid as an intermediary on the same day, Prof. Blaine became the expediter of their budding romance. After a short engagement the extraordinary couple married. It was a two-part wedding. The first ceremony and reception were held in the chapel and recreation room of the Custodial Workers Union Hall. A janitor, who was a lay pastor, presided. The second ceremony took place in the sanctuary of Letongaloosa’s fine old Episcopal Church under the direction of the Rev. Thomas Leon Harper, D.D. The betrothed wrote their own vows. The union hall ceremony, written by Reggie, was short. To wit: “Ah weel if you weel.” To which Minnieferd responded: “Shore.” The reception featured mounds of serve-yourself chicken nuggets, barbeque beef and pork, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, hard rolls and a huge chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting. The service at the Episcopal Church, prepared by Minnieferd, lasted an hour, and included two numbers by the choir and short passages from Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and Ezra Pound. The reception featured peach tea and little round mints. Minnie’s vows included five “I do’s,” and four “I wills,” and one “absolutely” spoken on cue by the bride and groom. Minnie and Reggie…Reggie and Minnie…are happilying it ever after. -30-

 

Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School Professor from KU and author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon

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Food For Thought

Food show hosts are not at all  like Jack Spratt and his wife. The TV food hosts NEVER lick the platter clean.

Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available on Amazon.

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Man In the Mirror Redux

Last month my wife, Emmaline and I rented the old mountain

cabin where we have stayed nearly every year for the past 27 years.

The cabin is located deep in the woods. This year we also rented the

cabin (capacity 12) next door. Our kids and grandkids joined us for a

family get together.

One of the reasons we love going to the cabin is that it looks

just as did when we first stayed there back in 1989. The cabin is miles

from town. It stands above a boulder-strewn river that begins

somewhere high in the tree-covered Appalachians. A wall-sized

outside window looks straight down from the cabin onto a narrow

river. The cabin is on a single floor with partitions for the livingroom

bedroom and bathroom, which is is at the far end of the cabin.

Emmaline had gone to get groceries. I was alone and it was in

the bathroom mirror that I saw, instead of my own face, the face of

the Little Dutchman—an old man with a long beard and a tricornered

hat. I panicked when I saw him. I ran back to the front

room. But there he was, standing on the kitchen table dressed in

antique Dutch garb—a cloth jerkin strapped several times around

the waist, breeches decorated with rows of buttons down the sides

and bunched at the knees. He looked like he had just stepped out

of the story of Rip Van Winkle. That’s when my first adventure with

him began.

Back then the Dutchman and his pals, with their beer steins

foaming, and I with my foaming stein of root beer, took a bumpy

ride down the river, floating on truck tire inner tubes.

I thought later that the whole episode was a figment of my

imagination. I told myself, “If you want to avoid dreaming about

bearded Rip Van Winkle characters, then don’t eat onions and bleu

cheese at bedtime.” Little did I guess.

Last month Emmaline and I and all the family made the trip

and gathered in the front room of the cabin. We wanted to toast the

cabin and our many happy visits there. We bought a whole bunch

of plastic wine glasses and two magnums of non-alcoholic

champagne. Just as we raised our glasses there was a knock at the

door.

“There’s no one at the door.”

I had a premonition.

“Look down,” I said.

“Wow!”

“It’s the Dutchman, right?”

“And all his pals.”

I handed Emmaline my glass and walked to the door. The Little

Dutchman and about a dozen others were on the porch gesturing

and pointing down the wooden stairs. Half a dozen inner tubes were

moored to the cement landing below. The Dutchmen wanted

everyone to join them on a float.

“Come in and have a drink, first,” I said. After a moment’s hesitation,

they all trooped inside and stood in a semi-circle. Someone handed

them glasses of ersatz champagne.

“To the cabin!” I said.

“To the cabin!”

“To the Dutchmen!”

“To the Dutchmen.”

The little Dutchman touched my thigh and gestured. I

recognized the gesture immediately.

“To the River!” I said.

“To the River!”

There being no fireplace, and the glasses being plastic,

everyone simply put them on the table and walked to the door.

“To the River!” someone shouted, in an entirely different

context.

“Don’t trample the Dutchmen,” I yelled. But I needn’t have

worried. My nimble little pals were already half way to the landing.

Emmaline and I paused in the living room for a moment and

embraced.

-30-

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor and author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the  Forth Dementia available on Amazon.

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