Thursday, May 3, 2018


****Enjoy this classic post from 2009****

I've mentioned before that my mom lives way up a holler, halfway up the side of a mountain. It's kinda out in the boonies, if you know what I mean. Anyhow, the men in my family have always had chickens and Mom has hated every one of them. She likes having fresh eggs but not the messes that they leave behind. Invariably, one always seems to get out of the hen house, scratch around in her perfectly manicured flower beds, and leave her a present on the front porch which she always steps in.

Damn chickens!

Over the past few years all of the chickens have died or disappeared. Or, maybe, they just flew the coop. Mom no longer has any chickens, and she's glad.

One morning the next door neighbor who shares part of a driveway with her, came over for a chat and mentioned his Grandma who lived up the next holler had too many chickens, and he was going to take a few and start him up an egg business. Dad always shared his eggs with the neighbors, and this fellow missed eating fresh eggs for breakfast. 

Before you knew it, those chickens had multiplied faster than ants at a summer picnic.

All of this would have been fine if he had built a chicken coop to keep those birds locked up, but he didn't. They were everywhere. In Mom's flower beds, leaving messes on both the front and back porches, crowing and clucking at all hours of the day and night. There's nothing worse than chickens that work on the third shift--up all night and sleep all day.

One evening the neighbor came screaming up to her house. "Fire, Fire! My house is on fire. Call 911..."

And before you even had a chance to go outside and make the comment, "Now, that's a fire," his house had burnt down plumb to the ground. About the only thing left was an old washing tub that had belonged to this fellow's grandma.

Anyhow, I'm not sure why the neighbor never rebuilt his house. Maybe, he didn't get enough from the insurance company. But, he put up a for sale sign and took off, and left his chickens behind.

Instant chickens!

Before you knew it, they had taken up residence in Mom's recently vacated chicken house and she wasn't happy about it. "More mouths to feed," she said, "more mouths to feed."

I guess there were about 12 new chickens in the family, and over the last two years, between nesting hens, red-tailed hawks and neighborhood dogs, the numbers have fluctuated from a high of 34 chickens to the current number of 4. There was four hens and one rooster left, but, somehow, the rooster ran afoul of the local chicken hawk and ended up dead.

But, that's not where the story ends...

My brother has almost recovered from his fight with a flesh-eating virus that nearly took his leg, and his life, last fall and has been staying with Mom while he recuperates.

He's gotten a little bored and decided  he wants to get in the egg business. Only one thing was missing: A rooster!

After scouring the local farms and the local paper, Brother decided on a Dominique (Dominikers) rooster who was gray and black, and just over eight-weeks-old. He shelled out five bucks for the prized cock and was now in the egg business.

Or so he thought.

That rooster is afraid of his own shadow. The first time Brother introduced him to the four hens, he freaked out. He started flapping his wings and making the most awful sound imaginable. Mom was looking out the back door watching the romancing of the hens, and before she could shut the screen door, that mini Foghorn Leghorn ran straight into the house, followed closely by Shadow the Cat, Brother, Betty the hen, who thinks she's a rooster, and Mom screaming "I'm gonna kill that bird..."

"KEVIN, GET THAT CHICKEN OUT OF THIS HOUSE NOW," yelled Mom. "You weren't raised in a barn."

After some careful maneuvering, and a little coaxing, Brother finally cornered the erratic bird perched on the side of Mom's recliner.

Of course, the rooster left Mom a black smelly present when Brother snatched him up by the legs and carried him outside, squawking the whole way. (Nasty chickens!) While I was trying to calm Mom down and clean up the chicken shit, I glanced out the door to see what Brother and the rooster were doing. Somehow, I wasn't surprised to see the chicken riding on the mower with him as he headed down to the garden to calm his nerves a bit. (You know men, they have to stick together!)

With each passing day, the new rooster began to settle in and become less afraid of himself and the hens. According to Brother, the hens were already beginning to lay eggs, and he had several orders lined up from the neighbors. (Now, if only he could get those hens to lay a golden egg or two.)

A few days ago when I went to help Mom with her yard sale, I noticed one of the rooster's feathers floating around outside. I didn't think much of it until I asked Brother where the rooster was? It's hard to describe the disappointment that flashed across his face.

"Damn chicken hawk got him, I guess. When he first got here, he was scared of everything, but he had gotten so tame, he probably thought it was a new friend or something," said my brother.

I nodded in agreement and we both shook our heads.

"That rooster was really nice, and he wasn't bothering anybody. Mom even started petting him, and now he's dead. You can't have nothin'," said my brother. 

My thoughts exactly. 

The nice guy usually finishes last. 

Even if it is just a rooster.

Monday, April 16, 2018

I'm Back...And I'm Wearing Clean, White Underwear


I've missed all of you!

Most of all, I've missed the enjoyment I had writing humorous essays.

I can't remember the last time I wrote something funny?

I just got back from a visit to the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop where I was made an ERMA Ambassador this year! (I KNOW!) Fancy.

Anyhow, the workshop always has a writing competition that I submit to, so I thought I would share my losing entry here:

Clean, White Underwear

The best advice I’ve ever received is “make sure you have on clean underwear.”  My mother uttered those words daily to her busy family whenever we left the house. Travelling to ball games, church functions and social activities, the mantra became so entrenched that I often preempted her farewell with a nod and a “got it” as I left the house. One afternoon before a basketball game, I’d been instructed to wear my dark uniform, but at the last moment, was directed to wear white. Moms were called and everyone’s uniform made it to tip-off, including mine, with only one small problem: I had on clean underwear, but it was bright and colorful, and glowed as bright as the midday sun.

 It was eighth grade. I was embarrassed. And mortified. But it was before cell phones existed, so no evidence exists other than that now two-fold advice: “make sure you have on clean, white underwear.”

Lesson learned.

Truth be told, it is advice that I continue to carry into my fifth decade. I take pride knowing that my clean, white underwear accompanies me everywhere. I flirted with Victoria Secret when I was younger. Who doesn’t want to look sexy? On occasion. But I’ve always been more about comfort and coverage than wedges and strings.

Mom, now 80, continues to be vibrant and full of life. We travel together, share dining experiences and watch Britcoms on PBS. One day, she overheard me offer a friend, her well-worn suggestion.

“That’s good advice,” she remarked.

It is good advice, but as can happen over time, could stand to be improved upon. We were enjoying a weekend together at my place, when I went brought a load of laundry in the living room to fold. “Let me help,” said Mom.

“Sure,” I said. “Dig in.”

“You sure have a lot of drawers,” Mom said holding up the last pair of underwear. “I guess you did take my advice.”

“Sure did,” I said.

“Why so many?”

“For the last two years, every time I sneeze, laugh or cough, I leak. Now, in addition to the clean, white underwear I’m always wearing, I pack an extra pair for just such occasions.”

Silent for a moment before motioning me close. “You know they make products for when that happens,” she whispered.  “But I really like your idea better.”

We spent the rest of the day laughing until time to say goodbye. “Here,” I said handing her a package.
She opened it and laughed. “Thanks!”

It was a pair of clean, white underwear in her size. “There’s one to get you started,” I said as she walked past.

“Got it,” she nodded.

Lesson learned.

I'm happy to have this first post out after a year away!

Thanks for reading!


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