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February 13, 2011

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OpalToney7-24.jpg (37075 bytes)As I Was Saying
By Opal Toney

Days gone by...
This week’s column was pulled from the As I was Saying archives collection.
Some folks claim the older we get the more we talk about days gone by.
Today, I’m thinking of how our youngest son was something of a “Pied Piper” for dogs.
We never knew what kind, or how many, he would show up with. He loved ‘em all, and expected us, his family, to love ‘em, too.
Late one afternoon, as I was ready to leave the Mabank Banner office, the phone rang. I answered and heard a voice, drowned in tears, say that somebody was about to bleed to death.
Trying to get a hold of myself, I heard, “J.V. and that she had been found hanging by her toes, upside down on the dog pen fence. Then I knew the victim was one of my son’s female Beagles – and I relaxed a little.
(We figured he had come up with that name because it was his Daddy’s initials even tho it didn’t make much sense to us.)
(Later, when I learned he had named one of our cows “Miss Opal” I didn’t ask questions, either.)
Anyway, I rushed home. All the time wondering if a dog could bleed to death from its toes and how long would it take.
Well, I found J.V. not too bad off.
In fact, she was doin’ quite well – all wrapped up in a blanket that had been left on my bed when I got up that morning.
She was baskin’ in all of the attention, even tho I noticed one toenail did seem a bit lop-sided.
She didn’t seem to be aware of it and I didn’t bring it to anybody else’s attention.
After being persuaded she was going to survive and told, “No, she does not need my blanket for cover,” J.V. was taken back to the pen.
I gathered my wits the best I could and started supper.
‘Bout that time, the back door burst open and in my son staggered with a stricken look on his face, and his arms filled with another Beagle.
This time it was “Curl,” that had no idea what a rabbit was suppose to mean in her life.
Knowing this fact did nothing to lessen the great love her 10-year-old master held for her.
I knew if something bad had happened to Curl, it was another great calamity.
I asked, “What happened now for heaven’s sake?”
He dumped her on the floor and said, “Look!” And she sprawled all over my feet!
I yelled, “Get her out of the kitchen!” Those were my yellin’ days, before I learned, “This too shall pass.”
By the time he gathered her back in his arms and made it to the back porch, Curl was doin’ all kinds of weird things.
I yanked my child back inside, minus the dog, and slammed the door.
‘Bout that time, the dog expert of the family made it home from work.
(While he was known as Daddy to his children, I often thought of him as Doglover – for that’s where my two sons got such great love for four-legged creatures.)
Anyway, by whatever name, I was thankful to watch as he took one look and wasted no time giving first aid.
Just as he managed to get the last of the coke bottle of melted grease down her unwilling throat, poor little Curl gave a big kick and stretched out.
Showing an unusual amount of compassion for a fox-hound man toward a rabbit dog, he lifted her up, took her out to the garage and gently laid her down.
We all gathered ‘round and tried to console her heartbroken master.
A little later, Doglover Daddy slipped outside and came back with wonderful news.
“Guess what?” he said. “Curl is sittin’ up lookin’ around!”
There was much rejoicin’. I heaved a sigh of relief and went straight toward my bed, well drained from all of the commotion.
But, just as I was beginnin’ to feel a little relaxed, I heard voices – that could only mean one thing.
“Lady,” the German Shepherd-looking stray, had shunned her nice maternity bed so lovingly prepared for her.
Instead, she was busy deliverin’ her new family under the house, directly below my bed.
I spent the rest of the night listening to her motherly overtures and her offspring, of how many I didn’t know, squall their responses.
And I greeted the dawn with Poncho, the little black cur, of an unknown mixed breed, as he yelped with sheer joy at bein’ alive.
I did my best to get in the same mood. But I had a few obstacles to overcome.
I was just too dog tired to feel the joy.
As I was saying, some folks talk too much about days gone by...

honeyandflag.jpg (61206 bytes)The View From Here
By Katherine Veno

Grandpa said...
“We need the cold weather to kill the bugs,” my grandpa said. It must have been around 1958 when I heard these words for the first time.
While packing a mixture of mud and a little bit of snow and ice into balls in Palestine, he explained as grandfathers do how the world works.
In those days of my life seasons lasted forever and seemed to have actual lifetimes of their own. One season did not just jump into the forefront like they seem to do now. For example, there are lots and lots of hot days of summer and very few spring days, and then before I can unpack my sweaters winter just jumps across the falling leaves and it gets cold while I am digging through a storage trunk.
So as a pre-teen I knew that winter came to kill the insects because grandpa said so, but then with my first mosquito bite in April, the reality of the situation set in with a big, red, itchy whelp on my arm.
It would be so nice if the simpler times could sort of still hang around a little bit. I often wonder what grandparents can tell their grandchildren today. Obviously for most of us who are grandparent age, we might could explain a computer or a cellular telephone, but I doubt the ones with the big numbers like I use are as complicated as the ones the children already know how to use. I know I could not be smarter than a fifth grader.
My grandpa explained things about the baby calves, and showed me the chicken eggs, and how the squirrel cage turned inside the water-cool fan. He helped me collect insects for a school science project, all the while explaining there would not be such a bounty of beetles had we had a hard winter.
There were soft winters and hard winters, and most of the hard ones had already happened in his life, but had not showed themselves to me yet. That would all be ahead of me walking miles and miles through ice and snow in deep East Texas. And each time he told me about the worst winter where people froze to death, and he walked to school, the tale became more frightening.
It took me years to figure out we got zero snow, or just sleet and a little bit of snow. No wonder in all those photographs in black and white my snowmen look like they are wearing big black patches of dirt, because they are.
This winter would be termed a hard winter on the grandpa scale of weather memories. It has snowed heavily, melted, turned to ice and caused lots of havoc in people’s lives. That is one of the good things about retirement. I don’t have to go to work someplace else. No longer does my car spin out of control on the ice and scare the living wits out of me and everybody around. I have the luxury of staying off the road because I am old enough to do so. Grandpa said this was what he loved most about a hard winter. He could stay home on the small farm and interact with his cows and hunting dogs.
So, while the voice on the television in my home mimics the voice on his old radio in his kitchen by the wood stove, I look out the window as the ice forms on the trees. I watch the birds gather at the feeder I filled with millet yesterday. I watch my cat sleep by the fireplace. I know the hard winter will kill the bugs because grandpa told me so.
I know the insects are all safe for summer, even if it has been a hard winter.


EmilyLundy4-2.jpg (36194 bytes)Escapades of Emily
By Emily Gail Lundy

Hate is such a strong word...
Hate remains at the top of emotions that hurts the hater. Hate will eat the insides of the one with bad feelings toward someone. Unfortunately, maybe, I do have a “hate” list, a short one, and the people on it will never know me or even care how I feel. If I have bad feelings for someone near, I usually can work through it and forget.
But I’m not ashamed of the first on my hate list. She does not seem sorry for her actions and shows no outward harm from doing what she did. Jane Fonda is her name. In the Vietnam War, she used “Freedom of Speech” to the highest degree and received no reprimand. In fact, upon her return from the war front, Hollywood rewarded her with an academy award. She wore Vietnam uniforms, sat on their defensive weapons to pose for pictures, and gave anti-American speeches within ear range of our own prisoners of war. There’s more, but I have to prepare a meal tonight and need my coolest mindset as I cook.
My list is short. Most are women, but one man remains because he simply cannot learn. He humiliated a hero of my family’s decades ago. Character seems to be a handicap to choosing some around him. I thought he could change, but no more.
As for those in proximity, there is always the chance a reversal in life will occur. It did in my own life once I had gotten over my sick, terrible feelings. This person became a new persona, and I learned a valuable lesson. Also, I learned to like her.
We say we hate communities or government groups, but usually a deeper analyzation reveals we’re whistling Dixie. Students and adults have a hate rivalry with a school in sports. But many in that town are friends, putting their shoes on the same way we do. In time of crisis, hate can dissolve into empathy and love.
In this category of the hate list comes another list – one of annoyance in other people. My brother and I bonded as adults because we each could not tolerate people who pop or smack chewing gum, open or closed mouth. I move in theaters, leave scenarios, play a radio loudly, anything possible to keep from embarrassing myself in retaliation. Maybe chewing gum should go on my “hate” list. Tried lately to get this stuff out of a child’s hair or off your best shoes?
My other annoyances which can find me hypocritical are verbose people, men or women, who talk and talk, and make me want to insert something, anything. And I really detest arrogance in anyone. Some friends of ours have become wealthy and changed friends, activities, habits while humility at having such luck would be appropriate. There are many who become big in life and stay the same but more generous. I may be a hypocrite here, too, but really, what ever could it be about?
Then , to end this embarrassing account of the real me, I think my eating out days are over. Always having a weak stomach, I am the one who suddenly leaves a room for other quarters to lose what I’ve recently eaten. Even hearing someone else being nauseated sends me on my mission.
One problem to deal with in this area is men who cough productively and continue to sit as though a butterfly flew around the room. It is said when the American Indians met the early immigrants from across the Atlantic, their comments were about the strangeness of these people. First, there had to be containers available with privacy for bodily elimination. This amused the Indians. Then these strangers from abroad, especially the men, carried white cloths in their pockets. They would blow their noses, squeeze the nose with the fabric, and place all back into the pocket to save it? Why?
I know habits with coughing and sneezing can make us miserable. I try to remember to excuse myself for another destination to handle these nuances privately, but we forget. Please remember around me, or I might retaliate in a way I cannot help. Then I would sob.
What I’ve written in a way goes with the times of speaking out more freely, dressing freer, being more natural or not caring what the world thinks. But I have recognized a good with all this if we don’t “mess” it up. I witness respectable, ordinary people who can now stand in church or a group and announce, “I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Please pray for me.”
Men talk about their problems, even prostate cancer. Not eons ago, some were afraid to be around these ill people, didn’t want to wear their clothing or use their furniture. Persecution has been done by those to children who had illnesses that with care could not be contagious or diseases no child could be responsible for. When I’m smarter, I’m going to tie these ideas together in a way that makes more sense.
Right this moment, though, I’m going to take someone off my mental detest list. She is no longer in the same office or capacity.



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