Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Icy Angel Wing

Photo Credit: Michael R. Ritt

Icy Angel Wing

By Michael R. Ritt

An angel’s watching over me.

I found the proof in a cedar tree

That grows outside in our front yard,

Its limbs upraised majestically.


He must have been there through the night,

From setting sun to morning light,

To see us through our slumbering hours

And put our enemies to flight.


The biting wind and snow did sting,

And to the cedar he did cling,

And faithfully remained on guard,

Although, alas, he froze his wing.


He had to leave it where it froze.

Went back to heaven, I suppose,

To get a new one in its place,

And left the one to decompose.


The morning sun will warm the breeze

That’s blowing through our cedar trees,

And melt the wing that’s hanging there

To make a bath for chickadees.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Winter Contemplation

A poem by Michael R. Ritt

(Dedicated to Drea Marie, because we both miss the winters of our youth.)

the snow fell…

i stood at the door and looked

   out across the corn field

   and out to the road where the plow

   would have to be coming by

   when the snow let up some

a plow got stuck last year

   trying to plow the road

   out in front of our house

   but there was just too much snow

another plow came by

   to un-stick the one that got stuck

together they got all of the snow

   pushed off of the road to the sides

   to form huge mountains of snow

   to attract boys who would conquer

   and reign over them

   and hold them for their own defense

   against invading armies of other boys

i never knew a snow mound

   that wasn’t a battle ground

but I never knew a boy who

   needed a mound to battle on



Monday, November 7, 2016

A Special Request...

I’ve never done this kind of a post before, but I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to a wonderful musician by the name of Mark Wells Cheadle. Mark is a friend of mine from Nashville, Tennessee who was diagnosed with stage four cancer earlier this year. Mark has been unable to work at his job as a result, and has been subsisting on his social security and whatever money he can make from the sale of his music. Below is a video of his song, “Sumer Solstice,” which is a favorite of mine.

Mark is selling CD’s of his music, and I want to encourage everyone to check them out. They are available for $12.99 each, and I understand that he will give you a discount on bulk orders of five or more (Christmas is approaching and they would make great gifts).

Order CD’s By Emailing Mark at: rocknroll.me@outlook.com

Even though he is in need of our help himself, Mark is such a great guy that he hasn’t stopped thinking about the needs of others. Mark has told me that, “…10% Of My Gross Receipts On Sales Go To A Really Great Little Non Profit Thrift Store In My Area That Helps Very Many Struggling People Called The Joelton, TN Hope Center.”

Consider ordering one (or more) of Mark’s CD’s, then sit back and enjoy the beautiful, relaxing music that he creates.



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Waterslide

As a writer, I consider
myself a champion of
good communication. So,
things like this shouldn't
happen to me...
I work as a Consumer Safety Inspector with the USDA. My job is to monitor food processing plants to make sure that they are in compliance with all of the federal food safety regulations. Several years ago, I was stationed at a large beef slaughter and fabrication plant that slaughtered around 4,500 cattle each day.

One day near the end of my shift, my supervisor asked me if I had been on the “slaughter side” recently, meaning that part of the plant where they slaughtered the cattle as opposed to the part of the plant where they cut up and processed the meat. I totally misheard him and thought he asked me if I had been on the “water slide.”  I said, “Since when do we have one of those?”

He stared at me like I had just spoken to him in Klingon. “Since the day they started business,” he retorted.

“Well I’ve never seen it,” I responded, equally confused. I think he might have thought that I was joking with him.

“Seriously,” he replied, “have you been over there recently?”

“Honestly,” I answered with all of the sincerity I could muster, “I don’t even know where it is!”

My supervisor was a rather matter-of-fact, right to the point kind of guy who didn’t have much of a sense of humor even on his best day; and this wasn’t one of his best days. He was getting a little upset with me by now. “Then how in the hell do you do your job?”

I couldn’t understand why he was getting angry. I wondered if he had been drinking on the job. “Just tell me where it is and I’ll go check it out.” I tried to ease the tension by being conciliatory. It didn’t work. His face turned a purplish-red color, and I could see the big vein in the middle of his forehead start to throb.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Ritt? It’s in the same place it’s always been. Go down the hallway, past the break room, down the stairs. You’ll find a big room with a lot of dead cows hanging on a chain!!”

About that time I realized what had happened and I had a good laugh over our miscommunication. But my supervisor stomped off into his office, cussing, and slammed the door shut behind him. I heard him rummaging through the file cabinets, looking for aspirin, which just confirmed my suspicions about the drinking.

I got my hearing checked the next day.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Conversation From This Morning - (Or Why My Wife Is Afraid To Leave Me Alone)

In a few days, my redheaded sweetheart, Tami, will be leaving on a weeklong trip to visit her mother and sister. So this morning I asked her, “Do I have to do the dishes while you are gone?”

My redhead has this medical condition that presents itself as follows: I will make a comment about something, and then all of a sudden, she will heave a big sigh and role her eyes into the back of her head as though I had said something stupid. It’s one of those rare medical conditions that can only be eased through the consumption of vodka (or so she says.) She started having one of her fits now (poor thing). She stared at me like I had a third eye, and slowly replied, “Yesssss.”

I sighed, trying to remember where she keeps the paper plates.

“Alright, but you’re going to feed the dog before you leave, right? I won’t have to worry about doing that while you’re gone.”

“NOOOO,” she shouted. She always gets loud when she has one of her fits. “You need to feed the dog EVERY DAY; one cup in the morning and one cup at night.”

Stroking my chin whiskers, I assumed a posture of deep concentration as a thought occurred to me.

She stared at me with a puzzled look on her face. “Are you thinking?” she asked.

“I do it sometimes.”

Shaking her finger at me, she said, “We better still have a dog when I get back from my trip.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I assured her, “I’ll feed the dog.” I decided not to tell her that her method of twice-a-day feedings was inefficient and sounded like a lot of work. My plan is to open up the bucket of dog food and put it in the middle of the kitchen floor so that the dog can just help himself whenever he is hungry. I figure a bucket should last about a week. And if I leave the seat of the toilet up, I won’t have to water him all week either. Just think of all of the time that will be freed up for me to do more important things. After all, the TV isn’t going to watch itself.

“Okay, what about the bed?”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Do I have to make the bed while you’re gone?”

I saw her eyes start to roll back into her head again. Then she started frantically opening the doors to the kitchen cabinets, looking for something.

"We're all out of vodka,” I said. You drank the last of it last night when I dropped my phone into the toilet and got my hand stuck trying to get it out.”

Although her back was to me, I could tell that she was starting to sob. I was really touched. I had no idea that she was going to miss me so much.

Finally she turned and, wiping the tears from her eyes, said, “As long as the bed is made when I get back home, I don’t care what you do to it while I’m gone.”

“I promise that when you return, the bed will be made just as good as you always make it,” I said. And I meant it too, because I was planning to sleep on the recliner all week so the bed wouldn’t get messed up.

It has been quite a while since my redheaded sweetheart has spent any time with her mother and sister. I just don’t understand why she doesn’t visit them more often.


Monday, September 26, 2016

New Book Released

My newest short story, Three Days to Pine River, is now available on Amazon in a great new hardback anthology called “Showdown.” It is edited by Spur Award-winning author, Brett Cogburn, and includes stories from some of the best western writers in the business, including Brett Cogburn, Johnny Boggs, Michael Zimmer, McKendree Long, John Neely Davis, Delois McGrew, T. M. Eaton, L. J. Fletcher, Eddie Owens and D. B. Jackson. Signed copies will be available for purchase for $25. Just send me a message via the contact form on the right. You can also click on the menu tab above for my Amazon page and order it that way.

Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Faith of Our Founding Fathers

"Were our Founding Fathers a bunch of atheists and Deists who purposed to establish a new government totally separated from the influence of religion?"

It is still a little over a month until this country celebrates the anniversary of its independence as a nation, and I always look forward to the increased level of patriotic fervor that takes place during the Fourth of July. Social media will be awash in red, white and blue; and with pictures of eagles and flags and other images designed to inspire feelings of pride in our country and in our heritage.

It is perhaps at this time of year, more than any other, that we think about the men who led us out of bondage to a tyrannical power and into the light of liberty, and we reflect upon the ideas and philosophies that inspired them. What we notice is that it was not only their political convictions which drove them, but their religious beliefs as well.

Unfortunately, at this time of the year, we will also find other images and articles and blog posts, throughout social media, which will present to us a different history than the one that we were taught in school. We will be asked to believe that religion played no part in the founding of our nation, and in fact, our Founding Fathers were a bunch of “free-thinkers” (whatever that implies), atheists, and deists who mandated a strict separation of religious life from the political process.

What are we to believe? What evidence does history give us? Were our Founding Fathers a bunch of atheists and Deists who purposed to establish a new government totally separated from the influence of religion? Let’s take a look.

The first amendment to our constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The rest of the first amendment deals with the freedoms of speech, the press, of peaceable assembly, and of the right to petition the government.

The prohibitions mentioned in the first amendment are all placed on “congress,” not on anyone else. This was done to keep the United States from committing the same error that some of the European nations had made by establishing a state or national religion such as existed in Germany, Spain and Great Britain. In these countries, membership in the state church was necessary for economic, social or political advancement. Our Founding Fathers placed this shackle upon congress to prevent them from doing the same thing.

Then they added the second clause, which most of the people who cry, “Separation of church and state” tend to ignore. They added the prohibition that congress could not pass any laws that prohibit the free exercise of religious beliefs. There are obvious exceptions for when a religious practice is deemed harmful to individuals or to the nation as a whole.

One example would be the practice of polygamy by the Mormons. In Reynolds v. United States (1878), the Supreme Court upheld the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862, stating that the practice of polygamy tended to violate community social norms and subvert social order. Fortunately for the Mormons, they received a revelation a few years later (1890) that polygamy was no longer approved by God.

Another example of a religious practice that would not be protected by the first amendment would be the Hindu practice of sati, in which a recently widowed woman would join her husband’s body on his funeral pyre or be buried alive with him.

These exceptions aside, neither of the prohibitions mentioned in the first amendment on congress is meant to prevent religious people from being involved in the political process, from serving in public office, or from attempting to influence public policy or their elected representatives.

Furthermore, these prohibitions do not prohibit congress from passing legislation that is favorable to religious expression or religious groups, as long as it does not violate the establishment clause of the first amendment. For example:

  • Congress has appointed congressional and military chaplains since before the constitution was ever written, and has continued to appoint them in every congress up to the present.
  • Congress has set aside national days of prayer, thanksgiving, and fasting on numerous occasions.
  • Both in the Articles of War (June 1775) and in the Rules and Regulations of the Navy (November 1775), steps were taken by congress to insure that Christian morality prevailed, even encouraging attendance in religious services.
  • On Sept. 11, 1777, Congress instructed its Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from “Scotland, Holland or elsewhere.”
  • On September 12, 1782, congress endorsed the printing of the first English language Bible printed in America. (Journals of Congress, September, 1782, pages 468 and 469)
  • In 1785, congress passed an ordinance for the disposition of lands acquired from Great Britain in the treaty of 1783. In this ordinance, one section in each newly laid out township was to be set aside for the support of religion.
  • In July of 1787, congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, which states in part, “Religion, Morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, Schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.” We see in this document that not only did the Founders believe that religion was “necessary” to good government, but they expected religion to be taught in the public schools!

These are just a few examples among many that show that the Founding Fathers were far from being antagonistic toward religion, but instead, supported it on numerous occasions.

Finally, with regard to the faith of the Founders; of the 204 unique individuals who are recognized as “Founding Fathers”:

  • Seven of them were members of the clergy.
  • There are only twenty-three of them about which we know nothing about their religious views.
  • Only six were Unitarian or Deists, who although not Christian, were theists, and were favorably inclined towards religion in general.
  • 175 were members of their local congregations.

Not only do we see the high regard for religion that the Founding Fathers had through the legislation that they passed, but we can read it in their own words. Here are just a few examples:

“…we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – October 11, 1778 Message from John Adams to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Massachusetts Militia

“We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come!” – Samuel Adams in a speech delivered at the State House in Philadelphia, August 1, 1776

“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our CREATOR, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity, towards each other.” – George Mason in the Virginia Bill of Rights, Article XVI, June 12, 1776

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.” – Thomas Jefferson, Query XVIII of his Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781 (also engraved on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.)

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are ‘indispensable’ supports”.  – George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

All of this is very difficult to understand if we are to believe what we hear nowadays about the Founders all being enlightened free-thinkers who wanted to keep religion and politics as far away from each other as possible. We see by their lives, their actions, the legislation that they passed and the words that they spoke, that our Founding Fathers not only supported and encouraged religion, but the religion that they favored was not Hinduism or Buddhism or Islam, but Christianity.

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Dog's Identity Crisis

I went outside this morning and was shocked to discover our Australian Shepherd, Lucky, using the cat litter box. Usually, he is a proud and prolific proponent of lifting his leg and peeing on anything that catches his fancy.
That has always been one of the things that I admired the most about him. I think that this is a guy thing and that you women probably will not understand this, but a guy’s capacity to pee standing up is one of our most cherished abilities. Lucky’s uninhibited urination, anytime, anywhere, is something that I can only aspire to. Alas, I am fettered in my ambition by the bonds of civil society and a chronically bashful bladder.

At first I was at a loss to explain Lucky’s aberrant behavior. Then it occurred to me - Lucky is self-identifying as a cat! That has to be the explanation. After all, there is a lot of this sort of thing going on now-a-days; men self-identifying as women; old people self-identifying as youngsters; even humans self-identifying as animals. And it’s a lot easier than you think. A fifty year old man only has to claim that he truly believes that he is a six year old girl and “presto,” that is how everyone is expected to treat him. Today, such a claim is called a “civil right.” When I was a kid, we called that “nuttier than a fruitcake.” But obviously, we were all ignorant and uninformed back then.

Like any good citizen, I started contemplating how I could make this self-identifying thing work to my advantage. Maybe I can self-identify as a young Native American woman with six kids and no job. I’m sure that there are a ton of government handouts, and maybe even some casino money, that I could be taking advantage of.

As I was pondering all of this, I felt something wet on my face. Suddenly, I woke up and found Lucky with his front paws up on the edge of the bed, slobbering all over me, trying to wake me up. It was all a dream.

I got out of bed to let Lucky outside. That’s why he woke me up. He really, really had to go.

With my head still foggy with sleep, I watched out the kitchen window as he walked over to one of the rear tires on my truck, lifted his leg and let it flow. I couldn’t have been more proud if I had been right there christening the tire with him.



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Fair Fight or Foul?

It was a Wednesday afternoon, December 2nd, 1896, and J.J. Groom and his associate, John Gibbs hurriedly walked across the busy San Francisco street, dodging horses and carriages as they made their way to the Baldwin Hotel. The two men were desperate and were hoping that one of the hotel’s guests would be able to help them out.

Groom and Gibbs were boxing promoters and had arranged for the Heavyweight Championship boxing match to take place that very night between Bob Fitzsimmons and Tom Sharkey. There hadn’t been a championship bout since the reigning champ, James Corbett, retired the previous year.

Bob Fitzsimmons
In the closing years of the nineteenth century, baseball was only about fifty years old; the first college football game between Rutgers and Princeton had been played only thirty years ago and a new game that was being called “Basketball” was still in its infancy. Boxing, however, had been around as a sport for thousands of years. And this fight between Fitzsimmons and Sharkey was the most anticipated boxing match in the country.

The two boxing promoters had obtained San Francisco’s Mechanics’ Pavilion as the venue for the match, and nearly fifteen thousand tickets had been sold. The only problem – and the thing that had Groom and Gibbs so desperate – was that they still did not have a referee for the fight. They had made numerous attempts to obtain someone to judge the contest, but so far had been unable to get someone that both sides would agree to. After all, not only was there a ten thousand dollar purse on the line for the winner, but as was always the case with sporting events, there was considerable money being bet on the side on each of the two participants; Fitzsimmons being the heavy favorite, drawing three-to-one odds in the days leading up to the fight.

As the two men made their way to the lobby of the Baldwin, they spotted their man sitting in a chair reading the newspaper. They had heard that he was staying at the hotel and were feeling hopeful that they would be able to persuade him to lend a hand with their problem.

He was a forty-eight year old with the unusual name of “Berry” who was currently working as a private security consultant. He had in the past worked as a miner, a gambler, and had even done some work as a lawman. But most importantly, he had officiated at a number of other boxing matches, and he had a reputation as being fearless, cool-headed and honest.

The two boxing promoters laid out their predicament to Mr. Berry. Would he agree to referee the match that evening? After a few minutes of thought, Mr. Berry related that he really wasn’t interested in the job, but he did tell Groom and Gibbs that he would be dinning that evening at Goodfellow’s Restaurant across the street from the pavilion, and if they couldn’t find anyone else, they should come and get him and he would referee the fight for them.

Groom and Gibbs did not find anyone else. So, only minutes before the opening bell was scheduled to ring, they retrieved Mr. Berry from his dinner.

As he parted the ropes and stepped in to take his place in the center of the ring, Mr. Berry removed his jacket to reveal a .45 caliber Colt Navy revolver sticking out of the pocket of his trousers.

San Francisco Police Captain, Charles Whitman, who was watching the fight from ringside, climbed into the ring and informed Mr. Berry that it was illegal to be carrying a weapon in town. Mr. Berry promptly turned over the weapon to Captain Whitman and the fight began.

Tom Sharkey
It was pretty clear to most in attendance that evening that Fitzsimmons was dominating his opponent from the first round. He was taller and quicker than Sharkey, and he had a combination left-hook/right-uppercut that had proved devastating to his previous challengers.

By all accounts, Mr. Berry did a good job with his responsibilities as referee, making sure that each boxer adhered strictly to the Marquess of Queensberry rules.

Suddenly, in the eighth round, the two boxers came at each other with vigor; exchanging blows so quickly, and with such fury, that it was difficult to see which boxer was prevailing. Then Fitzsimmons landed his combination left-hook/right-uppercut and Sharkey went down. Fitzsimmons stood over his opponent who was sprawled out on the canvas, “limp as a rag,” as some witnesses described him.

Then referee Berry did the unexpected. He called the fight. Reaching down and grabbing Sharkey’s arm, he raised it up into the air, declaring him the winner. He said that Fitzsimmons had landed an illegal punch below the belt which automatically disqualified him.

The spectators were in an uproar. For his own safety, Mr. Berry had to quickly exit the ring and leave the pavilion before the angry crowd fully realized what had taken place.

The uproar had not diminished by the next morning. If anything, it had increased in intensity and scope. Fitzsimmons’ manager got an injunction against distributing the prize money, and the papers were calling for an investigation to determine if the fight had been fixed. Within a week, Judge Sanderson from Oakland began hearing testimony in the incident. Mr. Berry, who a few days earlier had to appear in court and pay a fifty dollar fine for wearing his revolver into the ring, testified that he was never offered money to throw the fight and that had he been asked to do so, he would have refused. He added that anyone who knew him would not doubt his word.

Finally, on December 17th, Judge Sanderson ruled that the evidence presented to show that the fight was fixed was insufficient and was all hearsay. Furthermore, as it turned out, boxing exhibitions were illegal within city limits and the city supervisors had no right to issue a license for the event. Therefore, because it wasn’t a properly sanctioned fight, it was not something worthy of the courts consideration. In the end, Sharkey was issued the prize money, but his title to Heavyweight Champion was disputed and would have to wait for some future date to be settled.

Although he was never officially found guilty of being involved in fixing the fight, Mr. Berry was never fully vindicated of any wrong doing. Furthermore, the story had been reported not only throughout California, but across the country by the Associated Press. He became a pariah and as much as thirty years later, his name became a synonym for “crooked referee.”

Not able to bear the ostracism that the un-forgetting and unforgiving public bestowed on him, Mr. Berry eventually moved to Alaska and only returned to California years later.

It’s funny which events history decides to hold onto, and which events slip into obscurity and out of the collective national conscience.

Although hurt and humiliated by the incident that first brought him into national scrutiny in 1896, most people today don’t remember the Heavyweight Boxing Championship fight of December, 1896, or Mr. Berry’s part in the scandal that followed. Instead, they remember an earlier incident from his life; a rather insignificant incident of only local importance. It happened more than fifteen years earlier when Mr. Berry was working as a lawman in Arizona. It was a mere thirty seconds of history in the town of Tombstone, when Wyatt Berry Earp got in a little scuffle behind the OK Corral.


Friday, February 5, 2016

This Is Why My Wife Doesn't Let Me Answer The Phone...

Some of my younger readers may not know this, but there actually was a time in the not too distant past when not everyone had a cell phone. The early model cell phones weighed about five pounds each and made you look like you were holding a shoebox up to the side of your face. Not everyone had the stamina for that. So in order to talk to someone, you had to call their home phone, and most people had answering machines to take messages when they were not at home to take the call.

The story that I am about to relate takes place in just such a primitive time. The emotional scars that I suffered from the ordeal still glow pink with the blush of humiliation every Valentine’s Day, but my therapist has assured me that “the only way to get over it is to get through it.” For $150 an hour, you would expect more than insipid platitudes from a licensed therapist, but whatever…he’s the one with the degree, so here I am about to spill my guts.

This probably ranks up there as the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me, but I am buoyed up by the realization that I am still in mid life and still have a good number of productive years ahead of me in which to engineer even more embarrassing situations.

It all started because our answering machine decided to go on the fritz. This necessitated us actually having to answer our phone, which my redhead, Tami, has made clear to me on more than one occasion that I am never to do! (You will understand shortly the wisdom in this).

I was home alone. It was the Monday before Valentine’s Day. The phone rang so I picked up the receiver.


“Hi. This is Doctor ‘blank’s’ office.”

Now, there are a couple of things that you need to be aware of before I go any further. The first is that I knew that I had an appointment the following day with my dentist, doctor “Bonder”. The second is that I had completely forgotten that my redhead had made an appointment with our veterinarian, doctor “Ponder”, for our dog’s annual checkup. I don’t want to belabor the point, but it is an important one. The dentist is “Bonder” with a “B”, and the vet is “Ponder” with a “P”. Now, back to the phone call…


“Hi. This is doctor “Ponders” office. I just wanted to remind you of your appointment tomorrow at ten a.m.”

Now, because I had forgotten about the appointment with the vet, and was fully mindful of my appointment with the dentist, I heard her say “Bonder”, not “Ponder”. Therefore, I thought I was talking to the dentist’s office, not the veterinarian’s office.

“I have it written down on my calendar,” I said. “I’ll see you then.”

“We’ll see you tomorrow,” she replied.


We said our goodbyes and then she added, “Oh, there is one last thing. You will need to bring in a stool sample.”


There was a long pause before I asked, “A what?”


“We’ll need a stool sample,” she repeated.

“That’s kind of an unusual request, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Not really,” she assured me. “It’s actually quite common.”

“REALLY!” I was incredulous! It had been a while since I had been to the dentist and I had to admit to myself that I had not kept abreast of the inroads made in dental technology.

“Well, I suppose if you really need it,” I said. “But how do I go about … uhm … collecting the sample?”

“The easiest way,” she said, “is to do what most folks do. Slip a plastic bag over your hand and just pick it up. Then turn the bag inside-out and there you have it…no mess.”

I assured her that I would be there the next day, with the required sample, and I hung up the phone.

The next morning I set about to collect my sample. I am not going to go into the details. Believe me; you will thank me for this. There are a couple of things that I need to mention, however, in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

First off, when I talked to the receptionist I failed to find out exactly how much of a sample they required. I wanted to make sure that they had enough to do whatever it was that they were going to do with it. Fortunately, I had had a huge dinner the night before, so I put forth my best effort and pretty much filled a gallon sized Zip-lock freezer bag. I chose this particular conveyance because of its size and because they have a place on the side of the bag where you can write the contents and the date. I figured that having this information on the bag would keep it all scientific looking.

The second point I want to bring up is more a matter of personal preference than anything else, and it has to do with the actual method used to “capture” the sample. Plastic bag or no plastic bag, I was not about to pick up anything with my hand. I said that I would spare you the details, and I shall. Suffice it to say that I shudder to think what will happen to me if my redhead finds out what I did with her salad tongs.

I arrived at the dentist’s office promptly at ten o’clock, sample in hand. For the sake of propriety, I had placed the Zip-lock bag into a brown paper bag. Keep in mind that this is Valentine’s Day. I knew that it was Valentine’s Day, but I never really thought much about it. Besides, it is not really that important of a day. The really important day is the day after Valentine’s Day. That is the day that all of the Valentine’s chocolate goes on sale for half price at Wal-Mart!

I walked into the dentist’s office and up to the receptionist’s desk. “Good morning,” I said cheerily.

The receptionist was early twenty-something and very pretty. She was playing up the whole Valentine thing to the hilt and had the office and the lobby decorated with red and white and pink hearts and cupids.

“Good morning,” she said, and smiled up at me as I signed the patient register, “and happy Valentine’s day!”

“This is for you.” I said, as I handed her the brown paper sack. 

Her eyes got big as saucers and she exclaimed, “More chocolates?”

Apparently, a lot of their patients thought it would be a good joke to bring a dentist chocolate on Valentine’s Day. But I thought that she was making a joke. So I said, “Yep; the best kind. I made them myself.” Then I gave her a little wink.

What happened next was like a nightmare. Smiling, she opened the bag and reached in for her “chocolates”. Her smile was quickly replaced by a look of utter repulsion and horror. The color drained from her face and she dropped the bag on the counter. She looked at me and yelled, “What kind of sick joke is this?” Then she started yelling, “Doctor Bonder, Doctor Bonder!”

The next moment, Doctor Bonder and several other people ran up from the back rooms where they had been working, and the receptionist starts accusing me of being a “sick freak”. One of the other women who came running up to the front when the receptionist started screaming (I think she was a hygienist) led the receptionist to another room to try to calm her down.

I was totally dumbfounded by the whole scene. I had no idea what her problem was, or why she had freaked out the way that she had. I spent the next five minutes trying to explain to Doctor Bonder about the phone call that I received the day before. At first he looked like he was about to call the police. Then, all of a sudden, he asked me, “Do you have a dog?”

Puzzled, I said that I did.

“Do you take your dog to Doctor Ponder on Twenty-Third Street?” he asked.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! I remembered the appointment with the vet! “OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD,” I thought to myself. Beads of perspiration broke out on my forehead as I realized my mistake.

He started laughing and soon was doubled up, laughing until tears started rolling down his face. He was joined by the others who had run out with him to see what all of the commotion was about, as well as the six or seven people who were sitting in the lobby and had witnessed the whole scene.

When he had somewhat composed himself, Doctor Bonder explained that they had had problems before because of their similar sounding names, “But nothing like this,” he said, barely able to contain himself. He assured me that he would explain to the receptionist what had happened and that there would not be any problems.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally turned to leave, wanting nothing more than to get as far away from there as I could. However, before I reached the door, I heard Doctor Bonder say, “Please take this with you.”

I turned around and saw him holding the sample bag at arm’s length. This started a whole new round of laughter throughout the reception area. I hastily grabbed the bag and left as fast as I could.

I was absolutely mortified as I made my way to my truck. After getting inside, I just sat there for several minutes. I kept saying over and over again, “It was the vet who wanted the sample! It was the vet who wanted the sample!” It became my mantra as I pulled out of the parking lot.

Now, please don’t judge me for what I did next. Remember that I was in shock. I had just had the most humiliating experience of my life. All I could think of was that it was the vet who wanted the sample. I had an urge that was akin to self preservation to put this whole thing right. I figured that if I could get the sample to the vet, then I could deny that this whole episode had ever taken place.

Before I knew what was happening, I had pulled into the parking lot of the veterinarian clinic on Twenty-Third Street. I took the sample inside and handed it to the receptionist. My redhead had just left with our dog, Pudge, not two minutes before I arrived there, the receptionist informed me.

“How did you get here so fast with your dogs stool sample?” she asked.

That’s when I snapped back to reality. I was thinking clearly again. The fog of my earlier humiliation had lifted and I was facing a brand new humiliation, because I had just handed the receptionist my sample and she thought it was the dogs! 

I fought back the urge to scream and run out of there as fast as I could. I had to keep my head. I couldn’t ask for it back. That would be too weird. And I certainly wasn’t going to tell her the truth and relive the whole ordeal I had just gone through. So I said the only thing I could think of at the time.

“Tami left without this,” I said, “so I thought I would drop it off.” I told her good bye and headed out of there as fast as my legs would carry me.

When I got home and told my redhead what had happened, I thought she would wet herself, she laughed so hard. Her idea of sympathy was to call her family back in Wisconsin and tell them all about it.

As a result of my little misadventure, I am once again forbidden from ever answering the phone. We are also looking for a new dentist and a new veterinarian. For obvious reasons I can never show my face in either place ever again.

If you want to look for the silver lining in all of this, there is a positive note that I can end this on. The veterinarian called the other day and informed me that I am free of tape worms and other intestinal parasites! That is always good to know.



Thursday, January 14, 2016

Morning Visitors

They came down the hill to check out the corn that the wild turkeys have been eating. We have a flock of about fourteen turkeys that visit us on a pretty-much daily basis. If we don't get out soon enough in the morning to throw the corn out for them, they just sort of hang around, socializing with each other while they eagerly anticipate their morning rations. Then they will follow me (at a distance) while I walk out to the shed to get a bucket of corn for them.

The deer don't visit quite as often as the turkeys, but this particular morning the turkeys must have been behind schedule making the rounds of their feeding spots. These yearlings saw all of that wonderful corn just laying there and so they had to check it out. With any luck, they will find the dining experience pleasurable and will want to come back for more. We'll see how the turkeys feel about that.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Facebook - A Poem

This is an example of a type of poem that I call a "Progressive Acrostic." If you take the first letter of the first line, the second letter of the second line, etc...it spells out a word. This is a simple example. I have written more complicated ones that spell out names or sentences. They are fun to write. Give it a try.