Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category
To start with, here’s a river sunset from a few days ago. What a peaceful scene . . .
The death of Muhammad Ali has reminded me of a very old story. It’s a second-hand story, and I may not get all of the details right, but it’s worth a try.
Many years ago, one of my fellow teachers at Virginia Avenue school received an invitation for his sixth-grade class to attend the presidential inauguration. (It was President Carter’s, so that tells you just how long ago this was.) I don’t think it was ever intended that they actually attend; it was more of a courtesy thing. Teacher Jim C., however, became a man with a mission. He was going to get the whole class to Washington.
The community came through for him. It was by no means a wealthy district, but they managed to scrape together enough money to send those kids to Washington D. C.. It was amazing.
It was a great opportunity for those children, and they enjoyed it very much. For many of them, though, the greatest (in more ways than one) thing that happened on that trip was when they encountered Muhammad Ali at the airport.
Now, Ali was at the height of his fame. He was one of the most famous men in the world. But he took time to talk with those youngsters. One little girl even sat on his knee. There were no reporters present, nothing to gain in publicity; he just wanted to talk to them.
I’m not sure how much of the inauguration the kids would remember, but I guarantee they’d remember Muhammad Ali. He was truly The Greatest.
Ground squirrels seem to be showing up in my blog a lot lately — possibly because there’s a lot of them. Anyway, here’s yet another squirrel story.
I was peacefully reading the paper in my recliner yesterday, when Peaches, aglow with pride, popped through the doggie door with a Present. She had a baby ground squirrel, and she was determined to lay it in my lap. The trouble (other than the obvious) was that I was pretty sure it was a live baby ground squirrel.
With visions of a fatally injured squirrel taking refuge under the sofa, or in my lap, I jumped up and headed for the door. I opened it wide and tried to coax Peaches outside. She stood in the middle of the living room with a “Don’t you want this lovely Present I brought you?” expression on her face and didn’t move.
Bit by bit I wheedled her closer to the door. At some point, though, the little squirrel wiggled loose and headed for freedom. Unfortunately, it headed for the wrong side of the door and hit the wall with a tiny but audible thump. Trapped but game, it whirled and managed to scrabble under the door and bolt for cover. It couldn’t have been too badly injured (Peaches has a soft retriever mouth) because it was moving.
Peaches gave me a disappointed look and went out to sniff hopefully among the flower pots. She never found it, though.
She’s brought me shoes, balls, brushes, a wallet, dead squirrel parts, and now a live squirrel. I wonder what’s next?
In other news, it was a pretty sunset last night. Here’s its picture.
I’ve taken some nice pictures, but I’m fighting with my camera right now, so they’re going to have to wait. Meanwhile, here’s a story I’ve told before, but this time I’ll tag it as a told story.
Many years ago, when we were buying and breaking colts fairly regularly, we bought two young Quarter horses; a colt and a filly. The colt was a pretty thing, and we sold him quickly. The filly, though, was homely; lop-eared, small, undistinguished dark bay, and plain-headed. She had a kind eye and a nice nature, though, so we kept her around, sure she’d sell sooner or later. She was called Little Lady.
She was in the last one of the row of pens that lead to the tunnels running under the four lanes of Manor Street. At that time, there was an elderly man who used to come through collecting cans and bottles. He had a little train of grocery carts, and liked to festoon them with metallic streamers and balloons. Needless to say, he caused quite a stir when he wandered through, accompanied by a bunch of kids.
This particular day, he’d already been through once, spreading alarm and consternation among the horses. We only found out later that he’d come back through the tunnels after dark. The first clue we got was a frantic phone call. There was a horse loose on Manor, and it had been hit by a car. Was it ours?
It was. Little Lady had been panicked by the cart-train, and jumped out of her pen. She cleared the four-foot fence and the barbed wire county fence a couple of feet away clean, leaving not a hair behind. Then, on Manor, she met the Rabbit. The Volkswagen Rabbit. Anyone remember them?
The driver nearly got stopped. She was going away from him, and he scooted under her rear end. She wound up sitting on the hood, giving that driver a very unusual view. By that time, the crew had arrived and got her caught. Amazingly, she had hardly a mark on her.
You couldn’t say the same for the Rabbit. The hood was crushed down around the engine like so much aluminum foil. It wasn’t going anywhere.
This was well over thirty years ago, and I don’t remember who ended up paying for the repairs on the Rabbit. Little Lady, though, went on to a successful career as — a jumper.
She did very well in the lower levels of eventing, and this plain little fourteen-two Quarter horse beat some fancy warmbloods. She wasn’t great at dressage, not being a very good mover, but she did well in both the stadium jumping and the cross-country. Nothing fazed her, and she would try anything her rider asked of her. After her retirement, her owner kept her here until she died of old age.
And she never had to deal with any more Rabbits.
It’s been a slow day, both in weather and activity. We were supposed to get rain by this morning, but all we’ve had are dull gray clouds. They were enough — especially on the day after a holiday — to discourage most people from coming out, though. They also discouraged me from going out.
I’ve often thought that on these quiet days, I ought to tell some of the stories of odd things that have happened here over the years. The trouble is that I can’t remember which ones I’ve already told, and which I haven’t. I think, for example, that I told the story of The Horse that Sat on the Rabbit fairly recently. I didn’t tag it, so I’m not sure when I wrote about it.
So I’ve decided to retell some of those stories, and this time tag them as stories. The first is the Tale of the Indian Princess. I wasn’t actually there for it; Billy told me about it. I’ll try to recreate it as I remember it from years ago.
One day, Billy came in from one of his usual horse-checking rounds with a flummoxed expression. When he has that look on his face, I know something interesting has happened. After he sat down and got comfortable, he told me about it.
He had been driving around, looking at horses, when he noticed a woman walking from pen to pen. Every once in a while she would look around. She checked the tackrooms, the mobile homes, the arenas — everything. Finally he decided to ask her if she wanted anything.
“Oh, no,” she said. “I’m just looking at my new property.”
“Your new property?”
“Yes,” she replied. “You see, I’m an Indian princess, and I just got a land settlement from the government. They said I could choose any piece of land I wanted, and I chose this one.”
“Okay . . .”
“Actually, there’s more to it than that. You see, I’m also Stalin’s granddaughter.”
“Yes. You remember when she came to the United States? Svetlana Stalin? Well, while she was here she fell in love with an Indian chief, and I’m their daughter. It was all hushed up, of course; and that’s why I got to choose my land.”
“I see. Well, you just go ahead and look it over, then. ”
“And off she went,” he told me, “Perfectly happy. She wandered off after a while. I kind of think she won’t remember where we are after a while. There’s only one thing . . . ”
“You don’t think there could be any truth in it . . . do you?”