E.M.’s RWP-#266- stanchion- What I Learned from Cows

Children never recognize that their lives have blessings. There are experiences that we have that seem ordinary until we’re grown and reflect upon them.
As a child, I had the tremendous opportunity to hang around on my grandparent’s farm.
“Doesn’t everyone?”
Not until later on, I realized, “No, Susan. Most have no idea about your experiences.”
One especially cool experience was observing old-fashioned milking time.
The cattle would wait beyond the barn door as they knew it was milking time. The doors were flung open, and they’d file in finding their own assigned spot among many. There was an open stanchion that they would stick their head through finding a measured amount of grain waiting. One of the chores was for someone to walk along beyond and snap each stanchion shut. This kept each cow still until the milking machine could be placed on her.
It was a while before I was tall enough and responsible enough to be the stanchion closer but when that happened, it was a rite of passage and confidence booster for this kid. Walking among 1200-pound beasts is alone a big deal so snapping that stanchion shut and patting each on the head like I owned the place was a super big deal.
None of the kids that I went to elementary school with had any idea about those extraordinary life experiences and watching them squeal at spiders or run from puppies soon made me appreciate my life.
My escapades with those cows were many. Some were smarter than others and tried to intimidate me. I learned a lot about asserting myself, hiding fear, and, of course, connecting with animals.

Someday, I’ll tell you about Suzette. She became my nemesis and her daughter Bambi carried on her legacy! But that’s another story…


Haibun Monday: Look up!- An Imagined Storm

Today I want you to write about a time you looked up and saw. . .something. If nothing comes to mind, then look up now. What do you see? Write a haibun about it.

Out of nowhere, an extremely close clap of thunder shook my bones. It was the kind that crackled as it dissipated.
Four pairs of bewildered, less than 5-year-old, eyes looked up examining my face for my reaction. Keenly aware of my role as an interpreter and guardian, I smiled and said, “Whoa guy! What do you think those angels dropped this time?”.
A cacophony, almost as intense as the thunder, surrounded me with suggestions:
“A bowling ball!”
“I think it’s a statue that gots tipped over!”
“It’s a bookcase one of them was climbing on! I heard papers falling like when I did that!”
“Oh no it’s not. It sounds just like my Daddy’s hammer smashing a window when Mommy locks him out!”
Luckily, not a moment later, a series of quick flashes changed the subject until the same child, who was just exposing sensitive family business, spoke again,
“Yep. I was right! There’s Mommy’s shooting our fireworks back at Daddy!”

Seedlings grow on a promise
Spring’s hopeful bounty
Fated to weather some storms

[The fireworks and hammer are fictitious but the reaction of children when startled and their humorous tendency to expose and embellish stories about their parents during my family daycare years, are quite true.]





My child care days were chaotic but I found moments to practice sketching the children. Capturing them while sleeping was best but I used photos too.
Time to get my sketchpad out again. Perhaps, illustrating is in the cards for me.
This retirement deal may be fun!

Random Word Story #23-Bromance

English: Rainbow trout
English: Rainbow trout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another in my series of short stories.

I’ve yet to write it but sit armed and ready.

The random words are generated at creativitygames.net

My words are:


Here’s my story:

The fish cleared the water’s surface and sparkled in the sunlight then disappeared, head first, back to the black depths. The fishing pole reacted just  like a divining rod, as it tipped and touched the surface pointing out exactly where the fish re-entered. Dale couldn’t believe the exhilaration involved in this wonderful, brand new activity.

He’d made friends with Chuck quite accidentally. Chuck was the first responder when Dale’s compact car had become wedged beneath an 18 wheeler with Dale pinned inside. Chuck’s reassuring voice had kept him calm. Chuck’s skilled hands had saved his life and their friendship was taking him places he’d never considered.

It was while Dale watched the heroic news video on TV at the hospital, that he had decided to thank Chuck personally.

They met at a local pub for drinks. Chuck ordered a draft beer and Dale had a celebratory glass of champagne since his hospital release had been only two days before. Their choices of beverages pretty much described their backgrounds. The odd, yet colorful, tapestry of a wonderful friendship had been started in that meeting. Some would call it a” bromance “…just two guys who really enjoyed each others company.

Dale had offered Chuck a guest membership at his country club. To Dale’s amazement, everyone liked Chuck immediately. He was in one word, genuine, and that transcended all social preconceptions of his worth. Crowds gathered ’round him to listen to stories, in improper grammar, of what he considered “just a job”.

Now off of the lake, Chuck was frying Dale’s prize catch.  He was not at all intimidated by social status. In fact, Chuck seemed happily unaware for the most part. Their wives had encouraged their outings and Dale was feeling a weight, greater than that semi, lifted from his spirit.

“Maybe we should invite your buddy Jackson next time old man? I’d love to see him baiting a hook with those pink gloves of his.”

“I don’t think he’d come , Chuck. He wouldn’t know what the proper angling attire is.”

“Neither did you and I’d say you are doing alright.”

They sat down to the fresh trout dinner and realized that they had forgotten to bring eating utensils.

“Use your fingers Dale. The fish won’t bite cha. We’ve got soap and water you know.”

Dale ate the best tasting meal in his memory, with his fingers.

“Here, try the eye. You fellas would pay big money for those if they were served on a plate with capers and a fancy sauce. Go ahead, old man.”

As the sun dropped behind the trees and long shadows reached their retreat, Dale reached for his cell phone. His wife wasn’t going to believe the wild adventure that he was having. There was NO service. He was disconnected.

As Chuck handed him an ice-cold beer, he could see the angst in Dale’s face. He casually reached into an old toolbox and approached him with a hammer. Dale suddenly felt as though it had all been a mistake. He was with a crazy man, a Neanderthal, maybe a serial killer. Why hadn’t he listened, why had he trusted?

Chuck laughed out loud at the sight of his new friend in total panic. What a boob!  His work with Dale was far from over, he could tell that for sure.

” I can fix that phone. Let me at it. ”

Later that evening they sat by the campfire and laughed until their sides hurt.

The Wizard of Oz-Classic Terror

Wizard of OZ movie poster
Wizard of OZ movie poster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read a delightful post yesterday. It touched a nerve though. There is no terror greater than the fears of children. As Stephen Edwards points out, childhood fear defies reason. It shakes a kid to the core and follows them like a shadow.

What Me Worry?

That post of childhood worries brought back memories of fears that my sister had when she was 5 years old.

We grew up in New England yet my sister feared tornadoes. Not a simple fear. Not a rational fear, because tornadoes don’t live in New England. Actually, terror was a more fitting description.

As soon as our skies would darken and thunder rumbled, my sister was overcome. Her trembling was often accompanied by vomiting. Where in the world did her fear come from?

The Wizard of Oz, famed classic for children, was the culprit.

There are many “kids” films that I would not recommend for children and The Wizard of Oz tops my list.

Finding Nemo may have portrayed the real-life likelihood of fish becoming prey BUT I think it is also a film only for kids over 7 years old. The opening segment contains too many ideas better kept from small children. Kids should not be worrying about the mortality of their parents when they are little. Finding Nemo brings up that very subject. Bambi and Land Before Time are also on my “not before 8” list for the same theme. Just because a film is produced by Disney does not mean it is good for children. When you think about the stories brought to movies for the kids of today, the kids of yesterday, could only access them once they were old enough to read them. I therefore recommend being vigilant “pre-screeners” of the content of children’s movies.

We are the guardians of innocence for kids. Let’s help them keep it for as long as possible.

Random Word Story # 17~Wasted

Two Towers Las Vegas
Two Towers Las Vegas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by creativitygames.net.

My words are:  switch…vinegar…wardrobe…bottle…dice…fountain

Here is my story:

Randolph McMann was too old to switch careers. His elderly mother still hounded him daily about his wasted intellect and shabby attitude.

At 61 years old, he was still a window washer and expected that he would be “laid out” in his white coveralls when he left  this world too. Even when he was off duty his wardrobe was the same.

Mom had moved in with him 5 years ago when Dad died. Despite his Irish name, he was a Native American through and through. His mother was a full-blooded Navaho and he was very proud of that lineage. His grandfather had called him “Little Pigeon” because he had enjoyed walking the ledges untethered since he was a kid.

Grandfather’s breath always smelled like vinegar. Randolph asked him repeatedly for a more noble Indian name. He’d hoped for something like, “Walks on the Wind” or “Fearless Falcon”.  But Little Pigeon stuck and he continued calling him that until the “bottle” claimed his life.

Today  Randolph was at the top of his game you might say. 27 stories above the Las Vegas strip. There was quite a warm wind blowing as he anchored himself to his scaffold and began cleaning. He’d made a very good living as the stereotypical Indian climber. He had no fear of heights even now that the “bottle” was his companion too. The nips rattled in his over-sized pockets as he knelt to grab a scrub brush. He’d emptied three of them before arriving.

He’d never gambled or ran with wild women. His mother’s complaints nagged him though. As he worked in silence, his mind tossed over many missed opportunities. He’d shown a real gift for art and math was so easy for him, in school, that he would skip the class and sit on the roof only to show up for finals.

He concluded that he belonged among the clouds no matter what anyone said when the scaffold tipped suddenly to the right.

“Damned thing. I’d do better without this contraption!” He reached for another nip and downed it while investigating the problem.

His vision suffered miserably once his blood alcohol level rose yet he swung himself upon the ledge and unhooked his “safety strap”.

A nearby fountain had sprayed a mist upon the wind which had settled on that very ledge. Randolph was falling before he even realized.

Luckily, he made it to the pavement without hitting anyone. His final thought was about the safety of others. He never heard the screams and commotion that followed. The man who never had rolled the dice, never even tried, had lost.

Random Word Story # 15~Finding Hymn

Two young Nokota mares
Two young Nokota mares (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated at creativitygames. net

When I don’t have a particular post to write about, I enjoy a random set of words to stir my creativity. I have a category devoted to these stories.

Today’s words are:

gang…cloak…hymn…joint…radar…masking tape

Here’s my story:

The driver side window whistled as Dillon drove along the country road at a speed, far beyond, the speed limit. He  reasoned that the country cops wouldn’t even have radar since he thought of them as hillbillies with bare feet and IQs of 20. If he had used duct tape to repair the window, it would have been okay.  But he’d only found masking tape in the trunk. That was not going to hold. Dillon made a note of this and vowed to add duct tape to his burglary kit.

This whole hazing wasn’t sitting well with him either. The open fields and tranquil setting of the farmland, was slowly having an effect on him. Stealing the car, on behalf of the gang, seemed like fun while in the city, but now, the idea of losing his freedom was unsettling. His surroundings reeked of what he would be missing, if he were captured.

At first, the adrenaline rush he’d experienced was awesome. Now, nerves and regret were closing in on him. Dillon reached into his pocket for the pin joint he’d rolled earlier. Yes, a little smoke would calm him.

As he tried to light it, the tape gave way and the weed went out of the , now open, window. His baseball cap followed.

Dillon took his foot off of the gas. He considered turning around but there was no way he’d find the joint now. The cap wasn’t even his. He let the Pontiac Firebird come to a stop on its own.

The 16-year-old got out and just stood there. The sun  covered him in a cloak of warmth he’d almost forgotten existed. It was like a hug, comforting and firm, yet not at all unkind.  No punch in the gut followed. He lifted his face and felt a phantom kiss on his cheek.

Dillon was hopelessly lost.

Standing beside the road was an old  horse. There was no one in sight on any of the roads that he could view from his position. Meadows with waving grasses were all he could see.

“Where am I?” He whispered to himself.

The horse lifted its head and gave a snort of “hello there”.  Dillon didn’t know that horses snorted. Didn’t they say ” neigh” on “Old MacDonald’s Farm” ? He cautiously approached the animal.

“Wow, you’re big dude. Wouldn’t happen to have some grass on ya?”  Dillon chuckled for a moment at his clever pun.

He reached his hand over the fence and stroked the animal’s face. It snorted again and he jumped back.

“Listen, I won’t hurt you if you won’t eat me. That a deal big dude?”

It dawned on him, that he no longer was worried about the cops, his gang or anything. The peace that he was wrapped in, right there, right then, was better than any “high” he’d ever felt. Then, he squeezed under the barbed wire and stood beside the beast. It was huge and powerful, yet gentle and friendly. The horse’s pasture was at the bottom of the steepest hill and Dillon decided to climb it so he could see the whole valley.

He patted the  Old Gray fellow and, as he did, a layer of dust filled his nostrils.

“C’mon Dusty, let’s have a look.”

At the top, he sat for a long time. As Dusty grazed beside him, an old hymn, his grandma used to sing, came to mind. It filled his head…

“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.”

It was in his grandmother’s lap he had heard these words. Remembering them, was as surprising to him as the horse’s gentleness. Strength without anger…power without hurt.

Dillon walked through the night. He was feeling wonderful, no longer afraid of anything. He struggled to remember when, exactly, being afraid had become a constant inside of him.

When daylight broke he hitchhiked into the city. He had already decided that he was going to get his belongings and return to that pasture. Dillon wanted something. He had a goal to work on a farm , if  not that one, any farm. The gang would never miss him and certainly would not find him.

His only concern, now, was that the farm would have horses.