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Archive for the ‘Life Story’ Category

Update:  The Dog Groaned at Dusk – A German Shepherd’s Tale is a winner!

I was sitting there bemoaning the three-way tie (probably Mitchell’s fault) when a refresh showed that we had a clear winner.  I think the Taternator then Spelunking while drunk in that order come after but we’ll leave that to another poll.

****

I was a firefighter for a few summers to pay for college.  It was fun.

The Incident occurred many moons ago.  The tale is told in the oral tradition and is at times used by mothers to frighten their children about the dangers of growing up a redneck.  Or working for one.

My boss who we will call “Squatting Bear” decided that I needed a good solid native indian nickname.  One of the tribes that lived in the area I grew up in was the Calapooia tribe.  Keep the jokes buried deep inside there, palefaced readers… bury them deep, next to your inner child.  If you’re like me you strangled your inner child and buried the corpse years ago.  Put the Calapooia jokes there, why don’t you?  Don’t try to deny it, I know you well, Faithful Reader.

So Squatting Bear decided I needed a new name.  He thought long.  He thought hard.  This long and hard kind of thinking came naturally to Squatting Bear because he is one of those rednecks who is a natural-born redneck.  Nothing about his redeckedness was affected, it was all gin-u-wine, as he would say.

He would tell jokes like this daily:  One prostitute is talking to another one.  First one says “You ever been picked up by the fuzz?”  Second one says “Yes, and it sure does HURT.”

If you have placed a claim with your insurance company about damage to the hood of your truck because of a turkey, you might be a redneck.  You might especially be a redneck if your wife was throwing a frozen turkey down to you from the balcony and missed.

I am not making this up.

He thought long and he thought hard some more and slowly looked over to where I had spit a pile of sunflower seeds in a cairn shape that was about 5 inches high and 8 inches in diameter.  He grunted and then his face lit up and he said “I KNOW WHAT WE WILL CALL YOU!”

“What, boss?”

“SPITTING BEAVER!” he yelled and started hooting and hollering.

Spitting Beaver is almost certainly not a Calapooia name and I’m going to take a stab at it that there’s no literal translation, either.

I was underwhelmed but I’ve been called worse, so I let it slide.  As it turned out, later on that summer I took a spill that damaged my previously compound-fractured forearm (busted a plate – it was a really good spill) and the crew was cool enough to buy me my very own spitting beaver.  Note the leather noose that they supplied with the beaver.  “To hang from your rearview mirror,” they said.  And I did for over a year.

The particular summer I am referring to was a wet one by Oregon standards.  Very wet.  We’re talking “A Steelhead just spawned in my bed” kind of wet.  That might sound like a fun thing to do but it’s really quite gross.

Cold foggy days were spent driving around in the mountains.  Much like a mirage in the desert appearing to be water, water in the foggy forest pretended to be smoke.  We chased phantom plumes over and over only to realize that we weren’t going to have the excitement of a fire, just more ferns and sopping wet slash-piles.

Strange things happen in those mountains when the wind stops and the forest goes silent.  The only sound is the occasional drip of water onto a fiddlehead fern from the Douglas fir tree high above you.   And if you listen carefully you hear… nothing.  Right up until the boss screams in a faux high-pitch squeal “Quick!  Pull my finger!  ***riiiip***  Oh, too late!”

Some days obviously were better than others.

On the day of The Incident it had been even wetter and more miserable than any day we’d seen in over three weeks.  We patrolled for a few hours and then decided that the odds of any fire in the next few weeks were pretty slim even if we had a heat wave, so we headed back to base, which was Squatting Bear‘s home, coincidentally.

Side note… this was the summer I grew to love Rush Limbaugh because AM radio is about all you get up in the mountains.

At Squatting Bear’s home headquarters we sat and drank another pot of coffee in silence and I continued to spit sunflower seeds in my usual cairn-shaped spot on the floor next to the boss’ fridge – I was considerate, and spit them off to the side so his family could open the door without trouble.

His very nice and polite wife gently whispered something in his ear and goosed him in the ribs.  “Leave me alone, foul woman!” he screeched as he leapt off his stool.

“Come with me,” he grumbled and stalked out the back door.

Golden Retriever, the other firefighter assigned to Squatting Bear walked out with a funny look on her face that surely must have mirrored my own.  When we got outside near the back fence he handed me a pulaski and gave her a shovel.

“You’re digging a ditch so we can line it with rocks and make a little streambed for the wife.”

I mentioned how it was odd that the state would fund such a project and was told “If we’re going to sit on our asses anyway and it’s too wet to do any non-fire work then you’re not going to sit and drink all my coffee, you’re going to do this because *I* have to do this.”

“But…”

He growled menacingly, like a badger with shingles, “Not another word, you…”

Good enough for me.

For a good half hour I dug with the hoe end of the pulaski, breaking up dirt for Goldie to move.  We were going between trees and I kept hitting root after root after root.  Big enough that you couldn’t tug through them and so you had to chop-chop-dig constantly.  I hit rocks with every other swing and was really starting to get annoyed.

Then… The Incident.  It shouldn’t have happened, but it did.

I was dragging out some dirt from the trench when I ran into this extremely large and rock-solid root.   I knew I didn’t want to do baby chops because it was muddy and soggy roots twist the axe and aren’t safe in general – you lose toes or ankles if you aren’t paying attention.  So I stepped back a half step, widened my stance and sighted in on that thrice-damned root, and put my best Paul Bunyan swing into it.

Suddenly the world went white.  I was hit by a tsunami.  Water was spraying me and spraying up in the air many feet, then falling back down to earth.  Goldie squealed and jumped clear back to the property line in one hop.  Squatting Bear stood there with his jaw on his chest – frozen in place.  Surprisingly he was silent, and I always thought it would take a ball-peen hammer to the forehead to do that.

I looked at our trench that aspired to be a stream and saw that in reality a river ran through it.  Spitting Beaver River, to be exact.

Yes, I had just hacked through Squatting Bear’s main water line to his house from his well up on the hill.

Shortly it stopped and we took stock of what had transpired.  Squatting Bear’s wife came out and he asked her if she had just turned off the well.  She looked puzzled and said “No.  What?  What are you talking about?”

He jumped up and down and jabbered at her, pointed at me, glared at me, jabbered again with more vicious-stab pointing motions in my direction.

On closer examination we saw that not only had I severed the water line but I had also chopped through half of the power cable feeding the well pump.  That explained why it stopped.  We couldn’t explain why I didn’t get popped – not even a tiny bit.

His wife sighed, looked at me, and said “Ok, I’ll call your dad.”

My dad was an electrician.  Dad said he’d come by and fix the line for Squatting Bear.  By this point it was 5pm and it was our normal quitting time but I had this hunch that leaving was not an option available to me.  Not if I was wise.  I wasn’t actually wise but even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally.

I said “Who the hell buries their line only 12 inches down?”  I quickly regretted speaking and for lack of anything better to do I stuck my cold wet shivering hands into my cold wet pockets and quietly shivered.

So there’s my dad, standing in half a foot of mush and water on a cold day, there was me trying to trench the river out enough to drain off some of the water, and Squatting Bear was being an absolute lunatic.  Dad has the patience of a saint and bore it all in good stoic old-school German style.

It took more time than dad actually billed for but this was my boss so he cut a bit of slack there and then we drove home.

Dad didn’t say anything but went into his office and started typing.  A little while later he came out and said “Give this to your boss.”

It was a bill for “Electrical repair on Spitting Beaver River excavation project“.  What follows is a photo of the original document, which I still have.  Click on it.  It gets bigger.  Note the last six lines.  Dad pointed to those and said “Make sure he sees those.”


I handed it to my boss the next morning.  He turned red and clenched his jaw.  Then after a moment of silence burst out laughing, saying that he knew he liked my family.

The next summer was better.  It had good fires and no rivers in sight most of the time.

With one exception, he was the best damn boss I ever worked with.  The other is my unofficial current boss.

****

Vote for the next story to be told.


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Inspired by The Curtal Friar‘s comment to the Death/PaleHorse post

When I was twelve or so my family went to Winchester Bay, Oregon – typical small coastal town.  The neighbor kid who we will call “Pees on Electric Fences” or Pefs for short came along with us.  He was a few years younger than me but was an OK kid other than being a bit susceptible to suggestions.

Pefs developed a severe phobia regarding caterpillars after we told him they were poisonous and he did indeed pee on an electric fence at my prompting.  I felt bad after that but got over it in a few seconds.  There was a steady stream of urine, it grazed the wire, and stopped instantaneously and was followed by a huge all-body jerk, a wail/cry/keening, and it ended badly with him running to tell on me.   Kids are cruel… for instance, it was terribly cruel of him to tell on me like that.

Anyhow, I am not much of a fan of crab so I asked if we could bag out of the trip the folks had planned to go out crabbing.  They said it was OK to hang out as long as we stayed in the RV area or the store down the road.  We were right next to the dock in that particular spot.

Note:  I’ve been looking at the Google satellite maps and I’ll be darned if I can remember it well enough to point to where the hell we were at, exactly, but it was real enough.  It was 30 some years ago, so I’m not surprised I don’t remember it all that clearly.

So Pefs and I decided we were going to go down to the little store.

We were walking along the road and thought “Hey, if we cut around behind the restaurant we can save a bit off of a longer hike.”  It was a fair distance as I recall.

Pretty straightforward thinking, that.

But the best laid plans of mice and men oft go agley, so sayeth Burns.  Hell if he wasn’t right.

We walked around back and there was this guy with his back to us in a grey uniform.  Lets call him “Man in Grey” or MIG for short.

I said something to Pefs only to have the MIG (an overly inbred second cousin to Officer Thanatos here in Michigan) whirl around and point a shotgun at me.  I come from a hunting family and was able to recognize from the business end that I was face to face with a shaking representative of the Mossberg family of shotguns, that it was a Mossberg 500 in fact, and that it was a 12-gauge with no choke.  My guess it was the Special Purpose variant but by the time all of this consciously registered I was paying far more attention to the twitchy Man in Grey.  Maximum focus.

MIG: “FREEZE!  PUT YOUR HANDS UP!”

Me:  “What?  What is going on?”

MIG: “SHUT UP!  PUT YOUR HANDS AGAINST THE WALL – NOW!!”

Me:  “Okay, okay, take it easy.”

As I was turning around I heard a hollow thump sound.  I looked over at Pefs and he was already spread-eagled, leaning into the wall, and shaking like a leaf.  I’d love to say for dramatic effect that there was a yellow puddle underneath him but sadly there wasn’t.  He was about *yay* close to it though.

So the MIG frisks us, getting a mite too “personal” at one point – not quite a healthy feel but long enough contact “down there” that I felt like saying something.  Strangely, however, when one has a jittery person behind one’s self and that jittery person is holding a shotgun with a HUGE looking barrel, one’s tongue seems to freeze.  It was probably for the best.

MIG:  “Ok, walk over to that light pole.”

Naturally we complied.  It was that whole jittery/gun thing with the MIG again.

I swear this next part is true…

MIG:  “Put these handcuffs on your wrists and run it behind the pipe.”

Again, you don’t argue with the jittery MIG when he has a gun.

MIG:  “I’ll be right back.  Stay here.”

Like what kind of choice did we have?  WE WERE HANDCUFFED.

Years later the MIG came back.  Pefs hadn’t said a word by that point and looked really green like he was about to throw up.

MIG:  “I had a report of a possible breaking and entering and you guys snuck up behind me.  I’m going to let you go but I’ll be keeping my eye on you.”

We snuck up on him?  Yes, us twelve and ten-year old ninja assassins tend to do that a lot...  He was watching way too much Rockford Files or something.  Maybe Kolchak or something like that.

Me:  “Uh, ok.  Bye.”

We slunk (slunked?  slinked?) back to the RV camp like the furtive hardened criminals we were just as my folks were getting out of their boat with some crab.  Stumbling over each other to relate the story we told them what had happened and they essentially tried to  call bullsh*t on us.

Me:  (animatedly pointing at the MIG) “It’s true!  Look he’s right over there!”

As soon as the MIG saw dad walking towards him he drove off.  I guess his job was done for the day.

See, my experiences with the police have not all been positive.  An episode in Tennessee sixteen years later was even more profound.  That is a story for a later posting.

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Aggie Sith over at Hookers and Booze mentioned the great story of a woman who drove her car into a canal and told the cops it was because of the vampire she saw.

Ok, did you read it?

They.  Could.  Not.  Find.  The.  Vampire.

Aggie’s right – the woman is a Fruita-bat.  I have no idea what state the town of Fruita is in, but does it really matter?

Reminds me of stealing pumpkins one Halloween long ago, when I was in college.  We made several trips back to the same store something like 20 minutes apart and carving as fast as they came in.  We were drunk, yes.  We had larcenated† an obscene amount of pumpkins.

I had drunk the better part of a six-pack fairly quickly so when nature called I answered.  I was taking a leak in the bushes outside the house we were renting when two cop cars drove up.  Being the modest sort, I dove into the bushes, finished my business, and hopped back out.   There were no wardrobe or equipment malfunctions that I could detect.

I said “Wait, I need to check on something” and hurried into the house.  Now in this day and age you couldn’t get away with that, but this was the 80’s, ok?  Besides, they already knew me from when I helped them slim-jim a car open that was unclaimed at one of our parties.  That is a story for another day, however.  Anyway, I went in the house with one of the other guys to tell everyone that we had a situation, then immediately went to the fridge and chugged soy sauce, hoping to get the smell of the beer off of my underage breath.

There was a lot of chatter as we quickly decided what to do, which amounted to eight people and eight opinions, none of which made any sense once we sobered up.  Thinking that we were armored in the breastplate of preparedness, armed with the sword of obfuscation, and helmed with the helmet of… sh*t… you get the idea… so armed, we each felt like we could stand up to anything as long as the other seven guys kept their mouths shut, and as one we trudged on out.

The cops looked at the eight of us and said that (a) they had a report of a rash of pumpkin thefts, that (b) we were described as being pretty much involved in all of them, and that (c) they wanted to search the house.

Being rather stupid but thinking we were smart (probably because of the beer) we asked in sly lawyerly tones “Wait, what are you searching FOR?”  For some reason we were convinced that even if they saw thousands of illegal things (and they might well have) they could only nail us on the one pre-declared thing that we tipped their hand with.  We had them by the short-hairs, by golly!

Cop #2 looks at Cop #1, glances at our porch, which is literally covered with jack-o-lanterns and glowing like the noonday sun from all the candles, looks back to Cop #1, smiles, and says “Pumpkins.  I guess we’re looking for pumpkins.”

Like the Fruita-bat lady’s vampire, the cops never found any pumpkins, and the jack-o-lanterns weren’t talking.

It is understood that larcenated is a totally bogus bastardization of a damn fine word, but it was done for entertainment purposes only.

****

Still another mystery is the woman who became impregnated by a 3-D movie. Thanks to the good people of POP-Jolly!

A white American woman who had a black baby claims she fell pregnant whilst watching a porn movie in 3D. According to reports, the childs father , who is white was serving in the military in Iraq when she became pregnant.

His wife Jennifer told him the child was conceived whilst watching a porn movie in 3D.
“I see it as suspicious. The films in 3-D are very real. With today’s technology, anything is possible “he said.

My goodness, that is suspicious.

I wonder if “dad” will figure out that yes, she probably did  get pregnant because of the 3D porn movie after having acted in it.

****

Caught an expression I hadn’t seen/heard before while watching the DVD’s for Dexter, Season 1.  Ready for it?

Donkey-fluffer.

For some reason even tho it is gross and obscene, just the sound of it is funny.  Plus it’s one hell of a great put-down.

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This is a true story.  I am not making this up.

Years ago, nearly a lifetime ago by some standards, I chanced to be at ground zero where some chihuahuas were on fire.

I was on the water-polo/swim team.  We would swim before school, go to classes, swim during 7th period, and then swim after school until 6pm.  It was a lot of hours in the pool.  14,000 meters a day at times.  There were days that even with goggles your eyes would burn so bad you’d bathe them in milk to try to stop the burning.

Note:  On our team milk was a folk remedy for burning eyes.  Not sure how well it worked but milk was cheaper than visine.

Note #2:  It’s never been proven that when nobody was looking Coach whizzed in the pool from up on the deck.   It was never disproved, either.

I remember the day like it was yesterday.  Sixth period was over.  I put my books in my locker and sucked in a hissing breath.  I knew that Farley the janitor had gone through all our lockers and removed our pictures and contraband.  To this day I believe the man was perpetually stoned in spite of the fact that he never bought weed in his life.

Kim Morris – Miss March of ’86 was gone.   Farley had stolen Kim.  You just don’t know what teenage angst is until you’ve lost Ms. March of ’86.

With a sob I slammed my locker door and took off.  There would be time to grieve later.

The daily game plan was to scream down to the pool between periods and rush to get out on the deck before the official start of 7th period.  Normally you’d run over an old lady or two  – Ms. Ineedaman the lunch-ticket seller or Mrs. Butch’sMom – and sometimes you’d run over a farm animal or two; 4-H had a strong presence at my school.

But this day started off difficult as I immediately careened off of a couple who could have been the template for RichandAmy in Jeremy Scott’s Zits comic strip;  They were post-natal siamese twins, forever joined at the hip(s).  What now?  Glissade across the scree of homemade confetti being made by the Teen Harpies.  Pirouette around Son-of-Troglodyte (he was huge).  Duck beneath the clothesline prom banner.  Break right to avoid Mrs. Formaldehyde’s opening door.  Up the Incline of the Penitents and another hard right through the Gate of Despair.  Through the Parking Lot of Hip Flasks and over the hood of Compensating-for-Something’s beautiful Chevelle.  Bounce off the chainlink of the tennis court and squeeze in the closing door to the pool.

There will be burning chihuahuas in this story, be patient.

I threw my locker open, grabbed a towel and twisted it into a rat tail, striking out just as the supersonic tip of an identical rat tail connected with a sharp crack against my thigh.  A welt and just a small dab of blood.  D&D Hero had managed to wet the tip of his rat-tail in a puddle of water and so he won that day.  There’s another tale involving rat-tails but we’ll save that for a later date.

Shucked my clothes and threw on my two suits – in Water Polo it is best to wear a backup suit, trust me.  We fought each other for pole position as we ran out on the cold wet deck for warmups.

The sun had managed to peek through the clouds and illuminated the deck through an ancient floor-to-ceiling window, giving the entire deck area a dreamlike glow.  We moved through our stretches with the ease of long practice while absorbing the times and distances of our workout laps written on the board.

I got about a third of the way into my lane assignments and only peripherally did I realize that things were not quite right down there.  As I continued to read I noticed that it was kind of uncomfortable – as if I had plunged my privates and ass in some ice-water but it was warm at the same time.

By the end of my study of the lane assignments I was in true discomfort.  My chihuahuas were on fire, “Herman” was in acute distress, and the crack of my ass had some icy lava coursing through it.  I endured the still worsening sensations for what was perhaps three minutes but felt like thirty years.  Then I realized that everyone on the swim/polo team – guys and gals and the coach – were watching me intently.

Note:  By now you have figured out that I’m mocking Mickey Rourke’s statement about petting his chihuahuas (see yesterday’s post).  It’s such a delicious euphemism, I can’t help but use it. – LK

Confused, I looked at each person’s face in turn and then faced my coach with true pain.  I was dancing/hopping from foot to foot as I said “Uh, Coach…”

He grinned his most evil grin (which was quite evil indeed since he was the spawn of Satan)  “What’s the matter, Lemur?  Need to get in the water?”

“Yeah, Coach… bad.”

“Go on, swim it off.”

I hit the water just as my privates – chihuahuas and Herman – flashed into so much ash and partially melted my suits.

The physical scars on my chihuahuas are gone but the mental ones remain.  I’d like to think I’m stronger for having endured chemical burns to the scrotum but we’ll never know for sure.

Note:  Icy Hot removes hemorrhoids about as well as you can imagine that a soldering iron would. – LK

****
Obama is such a hypocrite… Mr Blackberry himself is going off on technology:

Obama, who often chides journalists and cable news outlets for obsessing with political horse race coverage rather than serious issues, told a class of graduating university students that education was the key to progress.

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter,” Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia.

“With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation,” Obama said.

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