Category Archives: Humor

Words & Coco-Words

For some reason or other, many times I’ve failed to find a dictionary word that would work for me, so I guess I’ve always made up words to better explain what I‘ve wanted to say or do, and I figure, at my age, why change. So, I’m still doing it.

My son, Rob, and his wife, Florence, recently married and shortly after the return from their Hawaiian honeymoon, their employer moved them to a new location two and a half hours south of me. They had been only forty minutes away. I was sad to see them go, but I was also happy for them, because the opportunities in the new location are better. I also knew that it would take a while to unpack and get settled in their new home, all the while working full time and learning the ropes of the new job and location.

The three of us are close, but I figured there would be less phone calls and visits at least for a while, so I’ve busied myself with all sorts of projects to keep my mind occupied. But to be honest, I’ve really been missing them! I called them a couple of times, but I didn’t want to bug them. Nothing worse than a “Needy” mama.

So, a couple of nights ago, I was in my kitchen whipping up my evening meal and the phone rang. My caller ID said it was my son. Yeaaaaaay! So I danced on over to the phone and answered with my most cheerful, “Hi!”

Rob said, “Hi, Mom, how are you doing? What have you been up to?” After we caught up a bit, I told him in great detail all about the projects that had been occupying my time; the cleaned gutters, new backyard privacy fence, the Solar skylights I had put in my living room, and said I’d even had my regular check-up with my doctor and all was fine, except I had been suffering from symptoms of Flob withdrawal. At this point I stopped talking and there was dead “pin-drop” silence on the other end of the phone. Finally about four seconds later, Rob burst into laughter which went on and on. Well, you know how contagious laughter is. I started laughing, too. Pretty soon all three of were laughing.

Rob told me that when I said “Flob” withdrawal, he was frantically trying to figure out what the heck I was talking about. During his thought process he turned and looked at Florence and she had this subtle, deadpan smile on her face. He suddenly realized what I meant. FLOB was a combination of her name and his. I’m usually better as an audience participant, but every now and then, I come up with a perfect zinger. The three of us enjoyed another few seconds of laughter and when we eventually hung up, my heart was cured. At least until next time.

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Spring Has Sprung

Spring is definitely here in my area of Florida and the scents of blooming trees and flowers abound.  Orange blossoms compete with ligustrum tree blooms and the delicate jacaranda and my favorite flowers, daffodils and hyacinths. It’s such a happy time of year; one with fresh renewal in the air.

I always thought, mother’s younger brother, my Uncle Rembert, was a bit on the quirky side and I liked him very much. He was a poet of sorts whose words, in style, reminded me of Ogden Nash or Willard R. Espy or Dr. Seuss. He was one of those people who always seemed happy. There was even a bounce in his step. He loved words, especially funny ones, and he loved playing with them.

When I was in school, I learned a little about figures of speech in English class. Words like alliteration, anaphora, euphemism, oxymoron, pun, tongue-twister, palindrome, malapropism, litotes, metaphor, onomatopoeia, simile, understatement, hyperbole, etc. That’s all that come to my mind right now, but I could probable look up a few more. Some of these are more familiar than others, probably because they are used more often, but these terms explain what the author is doing with our language.

I’m not sure my Uncle Rembert knew the terms for his poetry that he called jingles, but he certainly knew how to make them entertaining and unforgettable. I wish I’d had the opportunity to visit with my uncle more during my youth, partly because I might had heard more jingles to tickle my funny bone. Here are two of his jingles; one for spring and one for winter.

Spring has sprung

And the grass is rizz

And I wonder where

The birdies izz.

 

It blew

It snew

And then by jing

It frizz.

 

Dear readers, do any of you have a “tickle the funny bone” poem or jingle too?

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

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I forgot I had Something to Say by John E. Stack

What? Is it time again? Already? But, I just wrote a blog a few days ago. It can’t be time again. I have no thoughts, nothing to write about. I’m sleepy, real sleepy. Can I just go and take a nap? The baby is crying again. Baby? I just got her to sleep. Baby? Oh yeah, the noise maker in the swing with colic. What day is it anyway? Is it time for me to go to work? Saturday? Good, then I can sleep in. No, the baby is crying, and someone needs to check on her. But, I just laid her down. Isn’t it Allie’s turn to check on her? Okay, but I really need some coffee. Maybe I can hold her in one arm and feed her, and type with the other. Yeah, that should work at least until she needs to be burped or she spits up. Fun!!  Hey, I’m only a week and a half late in writing.  I feel lucky that I made it at all.

Amid the business of everyday life, we threw a stick in the spokes that help keep things running smooth. We had thought that it was time for us to exit the foster parenting stage of life and maybe try something else. What it would be, we had no idea. Then, back in November, the day before Thanksgiving, we were asked if we could take a short-term placement. She was tiny, but extremely healthy, and we would only have her for about two weeks. It took about two minutes to fall in love with that two-day old and we were sad to see her go.  Including our own natural children, this was the first baby we have ever had that never spit-up.  She had a great snuggly personality and only cried when she was hungry.  Even then, she gave a few minutes of grunts and groans to say, “hey guys, get things ready cause I’m waking up.”  If she got no response, then she would cry.

Over Christmas, our house was empty of babies. That was an unusual feeling, which hadn’t happened for several years. That emptiness was short lived when we received call for another little girl, this one a thirty-three-week preemie. She was eating every two to three hours, so as normal, Suzanne and I took turns feeding her. I often take the late, late night feeding and the early morning feeding. This gives Suzanne time to get some rest since she has the all-day duty. I usually catch a nap or two and drink large cups of coffee.  This little miss is usually awake sporadically from ten at night to around six in the morning.  She also feels that she has to right to be held all night.  We know this because when we lay her down to sleep she wakes up and screams until she is picked up again.  She may scream an hour or until she tires out.  Right now we both stay tired.  In order to stay awake, Suzanne drinks a caffeinated cola.  Cola hurts my stomach so in order for me to make it, I drink coffee.  Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, such a magical potion. This helps me get to work on time and stay awake while teaching a hundred middle schoolers. Sometimes I drink it for no particular reason.

Only within the past ten years have I become a coffee addict. During my twenty years of serving in the Air Force, I seldom drank more than a cup a month. I often made fun of the guys carrying a half full coffee cup with a large brown stain on the front of their dress shirts. They were true coffee drinkers. Most were office jocks with ranks of E-5 (Technical Sergeant) through E-8 (Senior Master Sergeant). What I didn’t realize was that these were the experienced airmen who were often called in for night shift problems and had to work until the issues were resolved. Then they had to also work their day shift. I, later in my career, found out about those long duty days.

Fast forward fourteen years after retirement and our new calling, Foster Parenting.  I find that I am called in for night time problem more and more (it’s that experience thing).  The second child that was placed in our care (ten years ago) was the major reason for my coffee addiction. I’ll call her Little Miss M.  Miss M didn’t sleep except in short bursts. She had the worst case of colic I’ve ever come across, plus milk allergies. This was complicated by a doctor who said, “All babies have gas and eventually, she will get used to the formula”. What a nut job.

Anyway, working as a middle school teacher, I couldn’t just take the day or multiple days off, so I tried coffee. The kick was just what I needed to keep awake after an almost sleepless night. After about two and a half months my attempts at drinking coffee had turned into an everyday thing, whether we have a child in our home or not. Addicted, probably. I’ve thought about giving up drinking coffee (not seriously), but every time I do, we get another phone call, “Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Stack. Would you be ready to take another baby?”  Looks like it is time for a little more experience.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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A COMEDY of ERRORS by Coco Ihle

You know how some people are just “funny” accident prone? Well, my son, Rob, is one of those people, but only when he is at my house. I’ve never been able to figure out why, but because of this affliction, we’ve had lots of laughs, and sometimes the mention of a single word will bring forth gales of laughter from both of us.

One such example happened several years ago, but the mere mention of it reforms the images in our minds and sets the giggles into action. And my son has a great way of recounting the story of how it happened. It was dinner time and we were having hot dogs. Rob was helping me by setting the table and bringing out the condiments. I opened the refrigerator door and grabbed the plastic yellow mustard container and proceeded to give it a good shake so the mustard would come out nice and thick instead of runny.

When I looked up, Rob was standing on the outside of the refrigerator door waiting to get in to get the milk when I suddenly realized someone hadn’t completely closed the top on the mustard container the last time we used it and there were continuous yellow stripes up and down my son’s face and one large glob that was slowly dripping from the end of his nose. I absolutely lost it! I tried really hard not to, but the deadpan expression on Rob’s face as he looked at me, left me completely unhinged. I couldn’t say a word. I couldn’t breathe. Tears blinded my vision. A tiny little squeak was coming from my lungs, but I thought I’d never get my breath back and my midsection was hurting so bad. Of, course, that set Rob off, and it was fifteen minutes before the two of us were able to peel ourselves off the floor and breath normally again.

The latest incident was a few weeks ago when my soon to be daughter-in-law, Florence, and Rob came to spend the weekend with me. I had transferred freshly brewed coffee to a thermos pump pot after it was ready and Florence and I were sitting outside on the patio enjoying the morning and our first cups when Rob came out to say hello. I told him the coffee was ready and he went back inside to get himself a cup. Several minutes went by and he didn’t return. Florence and I wondered what was keeping him and I was just about to get up and go inside when here he came. He had that famous deadpan expression on his face again, so I asked what happened. He said he held his cup under the pump pot’s spigot and was pumping the coffee into his cup when his hand accidentally knocked down a wall-mounted mixer whisk that was behind the pump pot and that startled him so he spilled the steaming hot coffee all over the counter, his hand and floor and when he opened the cabinet underneath the sink to reach the paper towels, he grabbed one and yanked and the roll took off like he was rolling out a red carpet. By the time he got the coffee spill cleaned up and the paper towels re-rolled, he said he was ready to go back to bed. He was kidding, but by that time, Florence and I were in tears and gripping our sides, and Rob joined in.

We all agreed it was nice to start a day off with laughter. Hope you have days like that, too!

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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It Was All a Big Misunderstanding by Steve Hagood

I experienced a nightmare the likes of which only a middle-aged man can understand, and somehow, by the grace of God, I survived.

I went shopping with my lovely wife, Jenni, to Victoria’s Secret. I know women think that that should be a dream come true, but I’m here to tell you, it’s not.

Deep down, all guys know they’re perverts, but we don’t really want anybody else to know this. Walking into Victoria’s Secret is like a crack head walking into a crack house. We enter the store like there’s going to be Victoria’s Secret models walking around in bras and panties. It’s never like that though. It’s more like finding a thong in the laundry basket and learning it’s your daughter’s. Awkward and embarrassing.

Jenni and I were at the mall – I must have been there to get a pretzel or something – when Jenni remembered that she had a coupon for a free pair of panties.

“Let’s run in there and grab these real quick,” she said.

“Okay,” I said, with dread. I had done this before. I knew there weren’t any scantily clad Victoria’s Secret models in there. I knew it was a store full of my daughter’s thongs.

We entered the store and Jenni went to the panties bins. In a normal store, I’d help her find what she was looking for to hasten our departure, but I wasn’t about to go digging through a bin of women’s panties, in public, in front of a store full of women. I already felt like the women in the store thought I was a pervert, I wasn’t about to give them evidence.

And then a thought occurred to me. The previous Christmas we had found a pair of Detroit Lions sweatpants for my daughter there and she had really liked them. I wondered if they had anything new that she might like for that Christmas. So I wandered, looking for Detroit Lions gear.

Before I knew what was happening I found myself standing outside the changing room, just as a lady was exiting. The look on her face screamed, “STRANGER DANGER!”

While totally innocent, I was the pervert hanging around outside the changing room in Victoria’s Secret.

I hustled back to Jenni’s side, my face burning with embarrassment.

“Where have you been?” she asked, not looking up from the bin.

“I…um…”

She looked up to my face and shook her head. “Just stay with me, please.”

“Okay,” I said, “Are you ready to go?”

“Not yet,” she said, looking around. “I want to find a pair of yoga pants for Chelsea.”

We found the yoga pants, but Jenni wasn’t sure which size to get. I could help with yoga pants, they were like sweatpants. It was the perfect opportunity to redeem myself, and maybe earn a cookie before we left the mall. I thought I could find someone in the store about the same size as Chelsea, and ask her what size she wore.

So, I started scanning the other shoppers.

I found a clerk about the same size as Chelsea, just as she turned around and caught me checking out her legs and butt.

Again, I was innocent, but probably not getting a cookie.

“Can I help you?” the clerk asked, her eyes drilling into my skull.

I stammered, “I…um…you’re…my wife…Jenni!”

Jenni turned to see the angry clerk and me with an embarrassed look on my face. “Why don’t you go wait for me out in the mall?” she said.

I thanked her for her mercy and exited the store, looking at nothing but the floor the entire way.

It was the last time I’ve ever been in Victoria’s Secret. Jenni and I now have an unspoken agreement that she will not go in there when I am with her, and I…well, I don’t really have a side to the agreement. I’m just not allowed to go in there anymore, which is fine with me.

Steve Hagood is the author of the newly released Cold, Dark Places from Indigo Sea Press, as well as other novels and short stories. To learn more visit his website http://www.stevehagood.com

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Happy PI Day by John E. Stack

Happy ∏ Day. March 14th.  3.14. That is ‘p-i,’ not ‘p-I-e’.  Pi is an irrational number; it is a non-repeating, non terminating decimal that is used when solving geometry problems dealing with circles.  It is pattern-less.  Pi is the ratio of the diameter of a circle to the circumference of the same circle. 

This is not my normal blog.  I usually write about my kids, life in general and various other topics.  Today, my inner nerd comes out.  I am a middle school math teacher and everyone knows that in some form or fashion, almost all teachers are nerds of some sort.  Math nerds are a special group, misunderstood by most of mankind. 

PI.  Even though pie is how we mathematicians normally celebrate our special day, we allow others to indulge along with us.  Normally, it is with chocolate pies, but any type of pie will do.  Pizza pies will work, but only if they are round (not square) and the slices are cut through the center-point going the entire diameter of the pie.  Each slice should have edges that are the length of the radius.

In ancient days, a few years before I was born, it was believed that the circumference of a circle was about three times of the diameter, or a 3:1 ratio.  In the Bible, pi is referenced in 1 Kings, “And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did encompass it about.”

Other cultures have used different values to represent pi.  Archimedes of Syracuse, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the ancient world discovered that pi was approximated by using a 96- sided hexagon.  Many formulas have been used to represent pi, but it wasn’t until the 1700’s that a British mathematician named William Jones defined pi as

                                                                                Π = 3.14159.

This was adopted by Euler and became the standard.  Recently, pi was calculated to over one trillion digits.

Enough of that.  I may be a math nerd, but it usually doesn’t last very long.  Normally, we celebrate each year by having the students compete by reciting the most decimal places for pi.  I believe that in the past nineteen years most students were able to memorize twenty to thirty digits.  Only a few have exceeded 100 digits.  I have had only one to go way beyond that – 240 digits.  After that, no one wanted to compete.  In order to compete students had to memorize at least 10 digits.  If no one in the class could recite 10 digits, I got to eat pie.  I only got to eat chocolate pie once in nineteen years.  Tasted pretty good and of course it was homemade.  This year there will be no competition in my classes.  Currently, I teach sixth grade.  We don’t hit circles until next year.

So, in the grand scheme of things, what does this all mean?  You can use any reason to eat pie, even math.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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That Time I gave Blood by Steve Hagood

bloodPeople are going to die if you don’t give blood, or so the Red Cross would have you believe. I might buy it if they didn’t make it so damn hard to donate. What an ordeal it is.

The last time I gave blood went something like this:

I started off with the book. Have you seen the book? It contains all of the eligibility requirements for donating. This book, if you aren’t aware, is your chance to fess up and say, “I don’t qualify to donate,” and slink away with your tail between your legs. Trust me, you will be tested on the material in the book and you’d better have the right answers. If you don’t, you’ll be rejected. There is nothing more embarrassing than being rejected from giving blood. They’d rather have people die than take your blood. We don’t understand this though, because nobody actually reads the book. Everybody sits there and pretends to read the book while trying to determine how long they have to pretend to read it to get away with not reading it.

After I finished not reading the book, I put it down. This silently notified the one person who was actually working that I was ready. She knew that I hadn’t read the book, but she didn’t care because she knew that it would catch up with me. She waved me over with a look that said I was bothering her and took me behind the cardboard “privacy” wall.

When she got me behind the cardboard she took my driver’s license and asked me to verify my name and address, which I got correct. One for one. Then she asked me to confirm my gender, so I stood up and dropped my pants. She said, “I’m going to need more than that.

Then she took my finger, wiped it down with alcohol, and took out this nasty little spring loaded needle. I swear she smiled as she put it on my finger and POW!

Oh. My. God! It was, without a doubt, the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. And then this sadistic woman, who I’m pretty sure moonlights as a dominatrix, squeezed my finger to get blood out of it. By the time she put a band-aid on my finger it had its own heartbeat.

I wanted to punch her in the face, but didn’t. So, I hadn’t been rejected yet. Next came the questions.

She started me off easy. “How are you feeling today?”

“Well, my finger hurts like hell, but other than that, I’m doing ok.”

“In the last 48 hours have you taken aspirin or anything that has aspirin in it?”

“No, but I could use one. Have I mentioned how much my finger hurts?”

“In the past 12 months, have you had a transplant such as organ, tissue, or bone marrow?”

Really? “Yep. Had a heart transplant last week. Sorry, I forgot to mention it when you asked how I was feeling today.”

“Have you ever had a bleeding condition?”

“Not until you shot me with that damn needle.”

Then she got a little personal.

“Have you ever paid for sex?”

Come on, this is a trick question. Every married man has paid for sex, and I’m not talking about prostitutes. Apparently, it’s worth more than we think because even after the sex stops, we keep paying.

“Did you spend three months or more in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996?”

You know what they’re looking for: Mad Cow Disease. Now I’m not a doctor, I don’t even play one on TV, but I’m pretty sure that if I had contracted Mad Cow Disease in 1980 I’d be showing some symptoms by now. And, when she asked how I was feeling I would have mentioned it.

“I have Mad Cow disease, and my finger HURTS!” Or maybe I would have mooed. I’m not real sure how it manifests itself.

“Have you ever been treated for Syphilis or gonorrhea?”

“Treated? Nope. I’m just letting it run its course.”

But get this, chlamydia, venereal warts and genital herpes are ok. I can’t have spent three months in England in the 80s, but genital herpes is ok. Can you imagine the poor guy who wakes up in a hospital bed after surgery and a blood transfusion to find out he contracted genital herpes while he was asleep? I’d like to see him explain that one to his wife, “At least I don’t have Mad Cow disease!”

“Have you ever had sex with another man?” And then they throw in the qualifier, “even once.”

I love that part. “Well yes, but it was only once, and I was really drunk, and I didn’t even enjoy it, very much.”

Now, since I haven’t had unprotected sex with another man who shared a needle with a prostitute in Africa while I visited England for three months in the 80s, and the sadomasochistic dominatrix behind the cardboard liked me, I was allowed to donate blood.

She passed me off to the bloodsucker who had me lie on a cot that was old when it had been used during the Korean War. She tied off my arm with a rubber hose and started to look for a vein to use. “It’s not very big,” she said. Apparently, she had talked to the lady behind the cardboard.

You would think that someone who does this for a living would be really good at getting the needle into the vein. You’d be wrong. If you’re lucky she’ll get it on the first try. If not, and you won’t be, she’ll blame you for not drinking enough water while she stabs you repeatedly. At that point, I just wanted to take the band-aid off my finger and tell her to take the blood from there.

Eventually, she got the needle into the vein and I deposited a pint of blood into a bag, saving up to three lives – if you believe the propaganda spread by the Red Cross.

After all this, you’re probably asking yourself why I do it if it’s such a hassle? Because I’m such a good guy? Nope, it’s because they give you cookies when you’re done. I’ll do anything for cookies.

 

Steve Hagood is the author of Chasing the Woodstock Baby from Indigo Sea Press. To learn more about Steve visit his website http://www.stevehagood.com

http://www.indigoseapress.com/

 

 

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Steve vs the Ice Dam by Steve Hagood

cabin_-_winter_11

January in Michigan. It’s that special time of year when we get Alberta Clippers, Polar Vortexes and snow and ice piled higher than a hippie at the hash bash. It’s the time of year that makes me wonder why my ancestors ever chose to settle in this God forsaken land.

Something else we get in Michigan in winter is ice dams. Ice dams come from the melting and refreezing of snow on the roof. A buildup of ice forms on the outer edge of the roof not allowing the water from melted snow to run off. The water that puddles behind the dam backs up under the shingles causing all sorts of problems with the roof, ceiling, and life of the homeowner.

Many years ago my young family was experiencing our first winter in our first house. I noticed that my gutters were filled with ice. I was young and dumb, and didn’t have Google to tell me that frozen gutters don’t lead to ice dams, so naturally I was terrified. I needed to clear my gutters!

The only problem, I didn’t have any idea how one goes about clearing ones gutters of ice. Remember, this was PI (pre-Internet). I could not go to You Tube University to learn how to do this the correct way. I had to figure this out on my own, like my ancestors who had decided to live in this damn place to begin with.

So, how do you break up ice? With an ice pick. But I didn’t have an ice pick. It was PI, but it wasn’t the stone ages, we had ice makers. We didn’t hack the ice for our drinks off of a block like cavemen. The closest thing I could come up with was a screw driver.

So, I climbed up my ladder with screw driver in hand to save my house, and by extension my family, from the dreaded ice dam. I started to chip away at the ice. And chip. And chip. And chip. I was getting nowhere. I needed to speed the process up. It was Saturday, and I had some serious TV watching to do. I thought I could sprinkle road salt on the gutters and melt the ice, but that would take longer than chipping with a screw driver. How else could I melt the ice? Hot water!

So, I climbed down from the ladder and went in search of a bucket. I filled a mop bucket with steaming hot water, returned to the front of the house and mounted the ladder. Ever so carefully I poured the water onto the ice-filled gutter and waited for the result. Not much happened. But…maybe…it was hard to tell. I climbed back down the ladder and headed off for more water.

The second bucket definitely made some head way with the ice buildup in the gutter. It would only take about another hundred and thirty seven buckets and I’d be back in front of the TV.

I mounted the ladder with the third bucket. I reached the top of the ladder and proceeded to swing the bucket from thigh level, where it hung at the end of my arm, up to pouring height, and lost my balance. The bucket flew from my hand and I flew off the ladder. The bucket went one direction and I went the other, landing flat on my back in the snow at the base of the ladder.

The air was driven from my lungs and I lay there like a fish out of water gasping for breath, and wondering if I had broken my back and if I’d ever walk again.

My eight-year-old son Ryan called over from where he had watched the whole scene unfold. “Hey, Dad?”

“What?” I managed between gasps.

“Did you get any of that hot water on you?”

Gasp. “No.” Gasp.

“That’s good,” Ryan said. “That would have hurt if you’d have gotten any of that hot water on you.”

Yeah. Lucky me.

Twenty minutes later I determined that I was going to live. I got up out of the snow and found my bucket. I then put it and the ladder back in the garage and went inside to watch TV.

Ironically, no ice dam ever formed. Google would have told me that iced over gutters don’t lead to ice dams and I could have avoided the whole disastrous event. Maybe if my ancestors had had Google they would have avoided moving to Michigan in the first place.

I’m now old and dumb, and I still live in Michigan. But, I live in a condo where someone else worries about ice dams. So maybe I’m not so dumb after all.

 

Steve Hagood is the author of Chasing the Woodstock Baby from Indigo Sea Press. Learn more at http://www.stevehagood.com

 

http://www.indigoseapress.com/Stiletto-Books–Crime-and-Mystery-Authors-A-H.php#Steve

 

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A Day at the Beach by Steve Hagood

excited-23789_640

My wife’s family decided they wanted to take a trip together a few summers ago. After much discussion, and making and changing of plans multiple times, they decided they’d like to spend a day at the beach. The beach they picked was on Lake Michigan. As we live on the other side of the state, it would be almost a three hour drive to get there. As fun as it sounds to travel across the state to spend a day with your in-laws, I really didn’t want to go.

My plan was to start a fight with my wife the night before the trip, and she wouldn’t WANT me to go. Fortunately, I’m an expert at picking fights, and I pulled it off just as I had planned.

So, bright and early the next morning I was in the car headed to the beach. Obviously, I had lost the fight.

I drove the car that included my wife, Jenni, who had recently had hip surgery and was still in pain, my daughter, Aley, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and my stepdaughter, Chelsea, who was fourteen-years-old. This was going to be a fun drive.

It actually wasn’t bad the first couple hours. It was straight west on I-94. As we were closing in on the state line I said, “Do we know where we’re going? What exit we’re taking?”

Jenni said, “No.”

That probably would have been good information to have before we left. You wouldn’t think that a lake that covers more than 22,000 square miles would have be hard to find. And you’d be wrong.

Jenni received a text message from her sister, who was ahead of us, and learned that we needed to take exit 33. I was in the middle lane of a three lane highway with exit 33 fast approaching. I also happened to be talking to Aley and I tend to… lose focus on my driving when I’m talking. Sure enough, before I knew it exit 33 went by in a blur.

All three of the women in my car felt the need to tell me I had missed the exit. Like I didn’t know.

“No problem,” I said. “I’ll just go to the next exit, turn around, and we’ll be back on track.”

It’s important NOT to show fear in this situation. They can sense fear.

The next exit was another four miles down the highway. Four miles is a long way when your driving is being critiqued by three women.

I made it to the exit, got off and back on headed east. I soon found, to my distress, that there is not an exit 33 headed east on I-94. How can there NOT be an exit 33 headed east, I wondered.

“Ok, no problem,” I said. “I’ll go to the next exit and get turned around again.”

As we approached the off ramp Aley said, “I don’t think you can loop around like you did last time, Dad. I think this is another highway.”

“We’re good,” I assured her.

I took the exit and off we went, headed north on Highway 31. My passengers pointed out that we wouldn’t have been driving in circles if I hadn’t missed the exit to begin with.  “Thanks for the tip,” I said, giving serious consideration to opening the door and jumping out of the moving car.

It’s funny how perspective can change one’s outlook. Just twenty-four hours prior I had not wanted to go to the beach. At that point I’d have sold my soul to be there.

Mercifully, an exit appeared and I was able to get turned around again. We merged back onto I-94, drove a mile, and there it was… exit 33. I took the exit, thus ending the debacle. Or so I thought.

Jenni was getting directions in real time via text message from her sister. She told me to go straight all the way.

“Straight until we hit the lake?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“All right,” I said, “I can handle that.” And then the road dead-ended, with no lake in sight.

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” So I did.

The peanut gallery started up with, “Are you sure this is the right way?”

I had no clue if it was the right way, but I didn’t let on. Remember, you can’t show fear. Fortunately, God cut me a break. The road we were on wound around to the right and back to the left and there before us was Lake Michigan.

I parked the car and we found the in-laws. I then hauled about 100 pounds of crap, like a pack mule, across the sand to the spot that they had picked.

There were three boys in our group, ranging in age from 7 to 11. They were excited to be at the beach. They ran down to the shore, into the water and right back out. The water was frigid. And that was the extent of the swimming for the day.

My brother-in-law said, “How about we go get lunch?”

Go get lunch? I just drove two and a half hours and hauled a hundred pounds of crap across the beach, and he wanted to go get lunch?

He volunteered to go get pizza. When he returned, we found a nearby picnic table and ate. Then the gang decided to go shopping. It had taken longer to get to the beach than they had spent on it. Now they were going shopping.

Aley and I demurred and headed back to our stuff.

I sat back and started to read. Aley dug a hole and lay down with her swollen belly sunk in the sand.

Everybody at the beach sits facing the water. It is a beautiful site, but all the interesting stuff happens on the beach. So I did read, but hiding behind sunglasses I was able to people watch as well.

There are many interesting sights on the beach that day. Like the guy in the Speedo or the pregnant lady in the bikini – unfortunately that one was with me. An old guy slept nearby with his mouth open and his upper dentures resting precariously on his bottom lip.  A little boy cried bloody murder because he had sand in his suit, and was desperately trying to take it off while his dad yelled at him to not too. In his defense, if I had had sand in my suit I would have been crying too.

After everything that had happened, I did end up spending a fun and relaxing day at the beach with my daughter. When it was time to go, I hauled the 100 pounds of crap back up to the car, loaded it in the trunk and started for home.

We had been on the road less than five minutes when Aley said, “This doesn’t look right. I think we’re going the wrong way.”

 

Steve Hagood is the author of Chasing the Woodstock Baby from Indigo Sea Press. To learn more about Steve visit his website http://www.stevehagood.com

 

 

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Filed under fun, Humor, life, memory, Travel, writing

Unique Grammar Lessons

I seem to have unusual ways of doing things or unusual things happen to me. You, dear reader, can decide if this is an example.

Years ago, when I was preparing to move into my college dorm, my mother helped me pack clothes and the two of us tried to imagine all the other things I’d need to start my very first semester.

Mom was used to having me close where she would be available to help with homework or guidance for different circumstances, and I’m sure, since I was an only child, she was prematurely suffering from “Empty Nest” syndrome. I, on the other hand, was looking forward to making new friends and having a bit more freedom than I’d previously had.

Once there, the transition went smoothly and I got settled in nicely. Everyone with whom I came in contact was friendly and helpful. My roommate and I hit it off right away. It was a whole new world and I couldn’t wait to experience it.

I got the feeling as I finished unpacking that my mother was worried I’d forget about her, because I soon discovered she’d packed a tablet of stationary along with an equal amount of stamped envelopes addressed to her, so it wouldn’t be inconvenient for me to write letters home. She even wrote the salutation, “Dear Mom” at the top of each sheet of stationery and valediction and my name at the bottom. FYI that was before cell phones and e-mail, i.e. people used to write letters back then.

Anyway, I tried to be a good dutiful daughter and wrote every week telling my mom about all my classes and activities, the people I’d met and how lovely the campus was. I even justified why I needed money occasionally. Sound familiar?

The surprise came when my mom wrote back to me. I guess I need to explain that my mother was a former college professor and very picky about grammar, so when I opened her very thick letters, I realized my previous letter was enclosed. I couldn’t imagine why she had returned my letter until I unfolded the paper and looked at it. She had gone over it and corrected all my grammar and spelling errors and marked them in red pencil!

Some college kids might have been aggravated by that. Not me. Once I realized what she did, I thought it was so funny it made me laugh out loud. That was my mom, all right. Bless her heart; she was a teacher through and through. Even from a thousand miles away, she was trying to help me.

As I look back on that time in my life, I am so grateful she took the time and effort to go that extra step, odd and insignificant as it seemed at the time. It really made me conscious of grammar and spelling and has made me aware to this day, many, many years hence. In fact, I think I have “become my mother” in that regard. I’m a real stickler, but that trait has helped me since I decided I wanted to be a writer. I still make mistakes, but I try to look things up if I’m not sure about them.

What influenced you to learn correct grammar? Was it memorable? Lasting, like mine?

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.  Join here here each 11th of the month.

 

 

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Filed under Humor, musings, writing