Tag Archives: travel

Pope John Paul II in Central America 1983

 

 

I was in Costa Rica and Pope John Paul II visited Central America. As a stringer for several news organizations, I was impressed by the tight security surrounding his Eminence. I was assigned to cover the Pope’s night speech at a youth rally in a suburban soccer stadium.  The Pope’s procession approached the speaking platform by driving along a rutted road that ran along the soccer field and in front of the bleachers. Suddenly the stadium lights went out. The whole place was dark for several minutes.  When the lights came on again (whew!) the procession proceeded. Calm and unruffled,  the Pope gave his scheduled address to the youthful crowd.

Dr. Larry Day is a retired journalist and KU  J-School professor. He is working as a humor columnist and is the author of Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon.

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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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Friends We Meet Along the Way

I’ve written a humor column every month for the last 16 years. That breaks down to 192 columns—134,400 words. The columns go by many titles and most of the ideas for them come at times when I am not sitting at my desk,  vis. while I’m  walking the dog,  having lunch with my Emmaline. My, ideas–it’s a stretch to call it inspiration—pop up wherever I may be.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is telling about some of my  adventures (real and imagined), and in letting you, the readers, meet some of the people who inhabit those adventures.

In many stories, from exploring the Cuban jungle with my colleague, Kate, to meeting with my long-distance pal from outer space, the robot KB-11.2 (Kaybe),  I have taken Life on some curious journeys. And I’ve share them with you. It’s never been boring, and as I write this month’s column, and  as I think about all my friends,  my pals, the little Dutchmen come to mind.

I haven’t really been out to the Smokies to see them lately. As a result, we’re thinking about making a trip there especially since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. I first introduced the little guys in July 2014 in a column titled Man in the Mirror.  It was about my first encounter with a curious-looking gentleman, a kabouter. Most people would think a kabouter as a leprechaun.  Kabouters wear  long beards and antique Dutch-looking clothing including  tri-cornered hats.

I was standing in front of the mirror in a vacation cabin back in the Smoky Mountains where Emmaline and I  frequently stay. The Dutchman was staring at me from a mirror that hung in the bathroom. I was startled. After I calmed down and got my bearings, the Dutchman and his friends took me tubing down the stream that flows alongside  the cabin. We drank root beer from large steins, and had a rip-roaring afternoon.  I’ve written a couple of columns about our adventures with the Dutchman and his fellow Kabouters.  But I haven’t given you readers much detail about them.

Here’s some background:  The Dutchman in the mirror is named Jurriaan. It’s Jurriaan Lievin, as a matter of fact.  Jurriaan and his friends live in a mushroom village located in the woods just down the one-lane road from our family’s Smoky Mountain cabin.  These guys, according to Dutch folklore, are shy of humans. Stories say that they play tricks on people who try to catch them. For whatever reason these little Dutchmen men were more curious than shy when it came to me, Emmaline, and our family  well before wrote about them. They’ve been a part of our family celebrations ever since.

Folklore also mentions that some Kabouter love the off-stage limelight. They have been the focus of countless fairytales, but the stories always mention the tiny men slipping away after performing their good deeds. We  all  know the Legend of the Wooden Shoes.  And on television we’ve all seen the gnome in that travel commercial. That’s Jurrriaan’s cousin, Nicholaas. He, wasn’t shy like the other men in the forest, so Nicholaas decided  to head for Los Angeles and try his hand at acting.  He’s become quite successful.

Emmaline and I are planning to go to the cabin soon. We need adventure, and our friends the Dutchmen are all about adventure.  They always have been.  In that vein, I’ve decided it’s time my best friends meet each other.

I contacted Kaybe and Kate and told them to meet us at the cabin this spring. Kate is excited to get out of the jungle for a while and to meet everyone.  I asked Kaybe drop by and pick her up in his spaceship. It’s not out of his way.

Emmaline is excited, too. She’s planning a party and has already bought  root beer steins for everyone. And there’ll be plenty of inner tubes too for the river float.  Oh, that reminds me, I need to get some lubricating oil for Kaybe.   The humidity at the cabin sometimes plays hob with his metal joints.

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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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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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It’s So Cold…

Colder than a witches’  up here.  Clear blue sky, not a cloud.  Cold enough to freeze Ginger’s pee as soon as it hits the grass (well not quite).   

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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Let Down Your Buckets

In the mid-1800s two sailing ships were becalmed miles apart off the coast of Brazil.  The ships were located far from sight of land, where the Amazon River joins the Atlantic Ocean.  One of the ships was out of water and the passengers and crew were dying of thirst.  Sea water is poisonous.  The captain sent a flag message to the other ship:  “Send us water.”  The other ship sent back the flagged message, “Let down your buckets where you are.” The desperate captain sent another message:  “Send us water.”  The message came back “Let down your buckets where you are.”  The first captain ordered the crew to let down buckets. They came back filled with fresh water.   The Amazon is the largest river in the world.  The confluence of the Amazon River spreads miles out into the Atlantic, far from the sight of land.  So the water that the people needed was fresh Amazon river water.   The holiday message: “Let down your buckets (help others) where you are.”

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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