Archive for May, 2012

For Memorial Day

You returned from battles to family and friends
Often bewildered by changing winds
While you were at war, we spoke of peace
Yet our love for you will never cease

Our words seem too little, barely a start
To show our thanks for fulfilling your part
You protected our freedom on land, air, and sea
When our country was threatened, you served willingly

We remember the sacrifice that you gave
By placing flowers upon your grave
You are our heroes, inspiring our souls
To honor,  to duty, and  loftier goals

As we call to the masses “Let freedom reign”
We remember our flag contains a red stain
Into our vision,  tears bitterly flood
For our freedom was won by patriot’s blood–  P J Casselman


Poultry Proverbs Performed Pathetically

There was a baby rooster that stood by a road staring intently at the other side.  A kindly hen strutted up and inquired as to the cause of the long face on the rooster. 
“Edna and her chicks went over to that side,” exclaimed the rooster.  “She took my best friend, Rodney, with her!”
“Really?  Why would she go over there?”
“I heard the crossing was merely a whimsical exercise in assertiveness.”
“That Edna always was a rebel.  There, there, I’ll lay you a new friend.”
“Thank you,” sniffed the rooster, “I’m so glad to have a friend that can lay eggs.  You have to have a hen before formulating embryonic fowls.”
“Yes indeed.”

After laying five eggs and taking appropriate steps to fertilize them, the hen perched upon her nest and warmed the potential playmates of the baby rooster.
“This is grand,” said the rooster with a big smile.  “I’ll have five new playmates now.”
“Try not to get your hopes up, dear,” replied the hen, soothingly.  “We mustn’t calculate the number of hatchings before they break though their shells.”
“Oh right you are.  I tend to forget that it’s not wise to place all my hopes in a single wicker container.”


Swim or Sink


Nestled on the Rhine River  just east of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, stood my college.  Hanging willows dangled into the crystal clear water which stretched a hundred meters across.  Rowing enthusiasts often passed by our dock, causing the many swans to scurry towards the rocky banks.  Near the dock was the deck of a restaurant, surrounded by hanging flower boxes full of brilliant red blooms.  On a clear day, one could see the faint shadowy Alps towards the south.  It was one of the most beautiful places to sit with a good book and cup of coffee.
The water came from streams fed by melting glaciers, making it cold enough to chill my foot with a single swipe.  Swimming in the water was never my plan as I was an American who was accustomed to the warm waters of the local pool.  The European students, however, found a quick swim to be invigorating.  Each time they jumped in, they encouraged me to try it, but I never found the idea inviting.  One day, however, they changed tactics.
“You Americans probably can’t handle waters this cold,” said Siggy, a young Swiss teenager.  His friend laughed and the challenge was on.  It was one thing to consider me squeamish, but another to challenge my country’s honor.  I felt obligated to prove that we, Americans, could jump into a glass of ice water as well as anyone else.
After retrieving my trunks (I was not about to wear a speedo), I joined them back on the dock.  They jumped off near the shore as they always did, but I had something to prove.  I jumped off the dock towards the middle of the river.  This was a huge error on my part.  The reason they stayed near the shore was because the current was blocked by the dock.  I jumped out into the full strength of the rushing Rhine.
The water felt like a thousand needles poking my skin.  I scarcely caught my breath before realizing my stupidity.  With all my might, I swam to return to the dock, but the strong current drew me towards the center of the river.  Within a minute or so, I was out of breath and already a good fifty meters downstream.  I was going to drown if I could not get out.
Panic overtook me.  I gasped for breath and slashed at the water to keep afloat.  There did not seem to be any hope for getting out of this stupidity.  Was I going to die because I was showing off?  How many times had I heard stories about kids who were killed because they had something to prove?  Now I was going to be an added statistic.
Just then, I remembered swimming in the pool back in Virginia Beach.  My Boy Scout leader told us “Swim to move, float to survive!”  I got on my back, and floated with as little exertion as possible.  It did not get me out of the current, but it helped me survive until I did.  When the river bent, I had rested enough to swim out of the middle and reach the shore.
I crawled out of the water, choked and panted on the rocks near a small garden.  Turning to my back, I stared up at the warming sun and wheezed a prayer of thanks.  Suddenly, the face of an old woman blocked the sun.  She did not utter a word, but just looked at me curiously.
“American,” I said through a gasp.
“Ahh,” she nodded, before shaking her head and returning to her gardening.
Her response told me that I was through defending my country’s honor, for that day, at least.

Say Cheese!

While I enjoy the soft, smooth taste of cheddar or a good piece of Monterey Jack as much as anyone, I curled his nose in disgust when I smelled a foul cheesy odor.   I searched vainly through the kitchen trying to locate the allusive morsel behind the stink.  Unable to find it, I ceased my search and stormed into the bedroom looking for my wife.   Perhaps she knew the cause.  Unfortunately, she was out shopping, so I was left to find the source of my annoyance alone.

Suddenly it dawned upon me that the smell was as strong in the bedroom as it was in the kitchen.  I entered our guest-room and sniffed.  The cheesy odor was in every room in the house!  The only way that was possible, I deducted, was if it was in the heater.  Perhaps my wife put a loaded mouse trap too close to the furnace intake.  She loves the kind that cages the mouse so we can release it later.  They seldom catch a mouse, so the cheese stands alone for several weeks.  As I traipsed down the stairs, my sock covered feet slipped on the carpet and I barreled to the bottom.  Grunting and murmuring my newfound hatred for carpeted stairs, I closely examined the furnace.  Finding no mousetrap, I pulled out the filter, promptly cutting my finger on a jagged piece of metal.  With my finger in my mouth, I inspected the filter, but saw no sign of cheese or spoiled milk.  I shoved the filter back in its slot and walked out on the porch to get away from the stench.

Breathing in deeply, I once again smelled the odor.  “Does the whole world stink of cheese?” I shouted.  Just then, my wife pulled up in our van with a load of groceries.  No sooner had she opened the door to her vehicle then I pounced off the porch and rushed to ask her why everything stunk.

“I’d give you a kiss,” she said with a smile, “but you have a piece of cheese stuck in your mustache!  And why are you bleeding?”

Blaming the Sewage

Dysfunctional families often create creative creatures, but seldom have happy habitants. There’s so much pain from father wounds, mother wounds, and sibling wounds in our society. Often well-meaning and sometimes ruthless parents or siblings inflict a lot of pain that sinks deep into our souls. We can blame them, if we choose, but does that do any good?

There’s nothing more annoying than flushing the toilet only to have it back up all over the bathroom floor. It’s damaging to the floor and floorboards, but, even worse, it’s freaking gross! I had that problem a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the plunger didn’t work, so I was forced to rent a snake and clean out the sewer line. I’ll spare you the details, but it was nasty! It didn’t work. I needed professional help (plumbing help, silly).

The plumber came out and after several tests, we found the source of my backed up sewer. The ground had settled and my sewer line was sloped uphill. Discovering the problem didn’t mean I could take a shower or flush. Finding the reason was only triage. Instead, a backhoe dug up the earth, created a downward slope, and put in new pipes.

Assigning blame to those who wronged us only leaves us in a stinking mess. We can sit in it passively, but this leads to our demise. However, choosing to dig up, clean up, and refit can drain not only the pain, but the source of the problem. Instead of blaming, let us renew our minds, clear our pain, and start fresh. The problems we inherit only remain our problems if we choose to own them.

Thanks, Mom

I couldn’t tell you this in the womb

Thanks for keeping things cozy

I couldn’t talk when you changed me

Thank you for making it rosy

I had no words to express my thanks

When you washed me after beans and franks

How you blew my belly to make me laugh

And suffered spit ups on my behalf


When at last I learned to speak my mind

I must admit I wasn’t kind

Instead I cried for more for me

Give me toys, I want candy!

I never thanked you from my heart

When you displayed my scribbles as art

You wiped my nose and cleaned my cuts

And never laughed when I was a klutz


Today I know how much you gave

In spite of how I did behave

No more am I an ungrateful terror

You were a blessing, I was in error

I thank you on this Mother’s Day

Now would you please take away

The curse you placed when I was three

That I’d have one just like me?

A Shepherd Named Tammy

The Navy was going to kill a group of dogs.  That’s the way I understood it when my father explained the situation to my mother.  Previously, the naval base in Virginia Beach used German Shepherds as patrol companions for the Military Police, but the military cut funds for the program.  “Put to sleep” was the phrase my father used, but even as a six year old, I knew it meant “kill.”
There was a loophole for the K9’s, however.  Someone could adopt them.  My mother’s apprehension was quite evident.  She did not like the idea that a retired attack dog would be around her children.  Dad told her that he understood, but asked her to at least go and look the dogs over.  My brother, sister, and I promised that if we got a pooch, we would feed it and take it out for walks.  She looked at our pleading faces and reluctantly agreed, feeling sorry for them and their immanent demise.
When they arrived at the kennel, a group of dogs were lined up for their inspection.  All were well behaved and sat at attention.  My mom felt nervous around so many large German Shepherds, but felt safe as they were all restrained with leashes.  Her eyes landed on a black and golden haired beauty named Tammy.  As soon as my mother drew near to the dog, Tammy rose up, place her paws on my mom’s shoulders, and licked her in the face.  While some women would have found this gross, my mother immediately knew this was the dog for her.  “It’s the first thing that ever fell in love with me at first sight!” she exclaimed.
Tammy was adopted into our family and was our faithful companion for eight years.  There’s never been a dog quite like her.  I often think about that day she met my mother and remember it as the day Tammy loved her way to life.