Gentle Humor

I don't offend some of the people most of the time

My First Square Dance

Square Dancer

When my girlfriend Kerry emailed asking if I wanted to sign up for square dance lessons with her, I thought, “Not no but hell no!” I’d never seen square dancers in person, but the ones on TV are rather, well, square. I pictured them just like you’re probably doing right now, and nowhere did that image fit in my idea of a good time. But I like Kerry and I decided, what the hey? We’ve been going for the last several weeks, having fun tripping over our own feet. Last night was something different, though – a real dance away from our familiar surroundings.

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Beer Bottle Billie Jean

I’d never seen anything like this video, and as I was watching I wondered how these guys came up with using beer bottles to make a song. The following scene unfolded in my head as if I’d been there with them.

Disclaimer: This is all made up. I don’t know these guys or anything about them. I have made all of this up. None of this is true.

It’s a Sunday morning. A bunch of fraternity boys like the ones in Animal House are sprawled like rag dolls on couches and chairs, empty beer bottles everywhere. The one who doesn’t get hangovers is awake. The remote control is too far away, so he starts blowing into an empty bottle to entertain himself.

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Machinery and the Difference Between Men and Women

I recently decided to pressure wash the concrete around my house, but I couldn’t get the pressure washer to start after pulling on the cord a few times,  So I did what every smart American woman does when she can’t get machinery to work, I asked a big, strong, burly neighbor to help me.

Sheila moseyed over and yanked the cord a few times but with no success.

I consulted Google and found a video on YouTube showing a guy repeatedly pulling the cord of an identical pressure washer. I’ve put the video below. Skip the first three minutes – he’s just putting gas in the tank, etc. It’s probably better if you read this whole thing before watching the video.

Another site said to check the air filter. I had no idea what it was supposed to look like, but checking helped because when I put the cover back on I noticed a 1-800 number.

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The Fine Art of Mole Herding

It’s that time of year when, overnight, your lawn sprouts a million dirt tee-pees caused by mole infestation. You want to get rid of the pesky varmints, and you’ve tried poison pellets, lethal gas, impaling them on a pitchfork, but they keep coming back.

Quite by accident, I’ve found a way you probably haven’t tried: mole herding.

Let me explain. I was walking my dog in the park the other day, and a crow flew out of the woods right in front of me. It had a mole in its clutches. The crow landed about twenty feet away and dropped the mole, ready to feast on a nice fuzzy warm breakfast.

On impulse, I shooed the crow becauseI felt pity for the mole. The crow flew a few feet away and stood there squawking at me, and I’m pretty sure it was saying, “You lousy (insert trashy word of your choice), how DARE you steal my mole.”

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Miracle Cure for Restless Leg Syndrome

I have to tell you about my miracle cure for restless leg syndrome. I’d never heard of this malady until I saw the first commercials for drugs to help it, and I thought, “Honestly, how restless could a leg be to make someone take drugs with all those ridiculous side effects?”

And then there I was, sitting in a La-Z-Boy watching “The Big Bang Theory” and for no reason my leg started to jerk. It kind of jerked on it’s own, like when the doctor thumps your knee with that pointy rubber thing and your leg swings out and bonks him in the crotch.

It’s like an eye twitch – just comes on without any warning causes this motion on you eyelid that you have no control over. Except with the leg, there’s this weird sensation before each twitch – not pain, just an odd, disquieting feeling. It keeps on going – once I timed it and my leg jerked every seventeen seconds.

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Pepper Goes to Camp

Dogs coming home from camp on a mini-busToday when I went walking with my friend at the park, we saw a mini yellow school bus with several moms hovering around. The driver backed down the steps in the doorway of the bus. He was holding two leashes.

“Whoa,” I said to my friend. “Isn’t that, uh, politically incorrect to put kids on a lease?”

“Cha-yeah,” Laurie snorted. Then the noses of two dogs appeared at the end of the leashes. We stopped to gawk.

“Here you go,” the driver said to a woman who stepped forward. “They both did very well, but you know Pepper cheats at poker.”

“Oh, I know,” she said, laughing. “Whenever he and the other dogs play, he usually ends up with all their dog biscuits.” The other moms chuckled and nodded.

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Shedding Some Light on Christmas Part 2

Electric Outlet Deep in the Bushes

Here’s the outlet deep in the bushes. Notice cord leading away toward the house – spiders not visible (camera shy)

I didn’t get my lights put up yet as planned (see Part 1), which means that I’ve had all this time to dread going outside and stinging lights which, if history repeats itself, will burn out as soon as I’ve arranged them. And spiders.

You’d think self-respecting spiders would have gone somewhere like Hawaii for the winter rather than loitering around here in freezing, rainy Oregon, especially since all their prey was smart enough to skedaddle already.

These are hearty, hungry spiders in the shrubs and low hanging branches where the Christmas lights go. They have beefy muscles to keep warm, and thick hair that sheds the rain. They are the WWE wrestlers of the spider world.

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Shedding Some Light on Christmas

In the spirit of the holiday season, tonight I’m going to risk my life on a rickety ladder pulling giant red bins off the top shelves in the garage to get to the Christmas lights. They’re stacked so high I have to rope myself off like a mountain climber lest I fall to my death on the concrete floor. Here in Oregon it has been dry for 2 days, and according to the weatherman, we’ve got one day left before the rain comes back and pours until July – I have to use this window of opportunity to get those outside lights done!

If I survive getting all ten monstrous bins down without breaking something (on me – who cares about the bins), I’ll dig through them all until I find the one with the lights that mostly don’t work. I’ve purchased replacement strings every year for the last ten years, but by New Year’s Day, only forty percent of the lights will still be twinkling. They will either go out individually or malfunction in thirds – 1/3 of the string will be lit and 2/3’s won’t.

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My Crazy Little Dog

I have to tell you what my little dog does with the goodies she wants to save until later. Normal dogs take the treat outside and dig a hole in the dirt, drop the treat in, and push dirt over the treat to cover.

NOTE: This process involves dirt from start to finish.

My dog, a black, nine-pound Yorkie Poo, had never been outside, according to the breeder. She’d been in the house with her mom and siblings until we got her at twelve weeks.

Our dog Shelley the day we got her

My kids (on each end) and their friends the day we got Shelley

We started giving her treats like pieces of cheese when she was a little older, and we’d later find the un-eaten parts under clothes in the kids’ rooms. It took awhile, but finally we observed her dropping the cheese beside a sweater on the floor of my daughter’s room. She nudged the cheese under it, and then scuffed her nose against the carpet in all directions around the cheese as if she were pushing dirt over it to bury it.

In my opinion, this is instinctual behavior without the filter of common sense.

I told the kids to let her “bury” her stuff in peace because she needed to feel like a real dog and we should respect that. When one of them found the treat later, they’d yell, “Mo-om, I found Shelley’s gross old cheese under my skirt!” I’d dispose of it, and the dog never seemed to miss it.

Once Shelley got full size, we tried to teach her to bury a bone outside. We found a nice, loose spot in a flowerbed and started digging with our hands, but she wasn’t tracking. So I squatted over her and moved her paws in a digging motion. The light went on and she started to get the hang of it. Finally, she had a hole deep enough to cover a good portion of the bone, We encouraged her to pick the bone up, “Pick up the bone, Shelley, pick it up!” which she eventually did, but we had to pull it back out of her mouth to drop it into the hole. We pushed a little dirt over the bone, and she immediately joined us, using her little black snout to move dirt over it exactly the way she scuffed the carpet around the cheese in the house.

“SHE’S GOT IT!” we exclaimed.

The next time we gave her a bone in the backyard, she picked it up and trotted around to the front of the house and laid it on top of a Euonymus shrub. We watched through the window as she enthusiastically moved her nose forward and backward without actually coving the bone with anything. When she was done, she trotted around to the back of the house again so she could go back in the door she’d gone out – no doubt a sneaky maneuver to cover her tracks – content with the safety of that bone for the future, even though it was lying out in the open for any varmint to steal.

Gradually she ceased bothering to  hide the treats she buried in the house. We now find cheese blatantly lying in corners nowhere near sweaters. In fact, this morning there was a yellow cube of cheese in my bathroom. She went over to it and started moving her head, scuffing her nose on the rough tile – right in front of me. I said to her, “Honey, you’re not really burying anything. Just let it go.” But she kept brushing her nose against the tile, circling from every angle until she’d pushed enough invisible dirt over it to suit her.

This crazy little pooch, with her nose rubbed raw by carpet and rough tile, probably thinks that instinct stinks.

A Dog’s Best Friend

I went to Tennessee to visit relatives a few weeks ago, and at my cousin Nancy’s house in Memphis, we sat in her family room to catch up. I stretched my legs out on the ottoman and threw a throw over them, and within seconds Nancy’s two dogs were hovering at my feet begging with their big brown eyes to get on my lap. I invited Sweet Tater up – she’s the one looking at the camera. She’s named Sweet Tater because she’s so fat she looks like a sweet potato with four toothpicks stuck in the bottom.

The other dog, who’s still a puppy, couldn’t stand that he wasn’t part of the party, so he jumped up too. They took a couple of minutes to position themselves just so, and then both pretended to go to sleep.

My cousin's 2 dogs curled up in my lap

My cousin took this photo of her two dogs curled up in my lap – she obviously didn’t care if I was in the picture – it was all about the dogs

I am a great friend of almost all dogs. I like to think it’s because they sense that I am a warm and kind person, but most likely it’s because I know exactly how they like to be scratched.

The dogs I’ve met love to have their ears scratched – but not the ear itself – the part under the ear. No, not in the ear. I guess you’d call it the side of their head under the ear. Massage that area and they will groan their pleasure like a starving Italian man eating pasta.

They also like to be scratched between their front legs and will lie feet up on jagged rocks for hours as long as you continue to scratch them. You have to move your hand around, though. You can’t absent-mindedly scratch a hole in their chests. I’ve seen people do this – not a real hole, but just rhythmically moving the fingers while they’re preoccupied with something else. The dog won’t want them to quit, but will inch itself forward or back to present a new area that’s not rubbed raw.

The other place a dog likes to be scratched is right above the tail. They’ll contort themselves, hunching up and twisting toward the side of the tail you’re scratching while cocking their heads sideways. They look miserable all corkskrewed like that, but they’ll stay there until you get bored so it must feel pretty good.

I actually think it’s an honor that dogs are attracted to me, and that I know how to make them happy. A dog is easy to please and so forgiving when your don’t get things just so. I wish it were that way with people.

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Copyright © 2017 by Suzanne Olsen