Hey, Smell This!

Recently I found myself wondering where my children may have gotten their thirst for mischief. After considerable thought and a few lost brain cells, I think I figured it out, but I will let you be the judge. Smell this pic

One day a few years ago I gave in to the idea from my dear wife to go to the mall. We had walked all day and had been in every single store, it seemed. I was exhausted and wanted to just go home or at least sit down. I whined and complained until finally I thought I had her talked into going to the car. She was just about to say “Okay, we can go” when all of the sudden her demeanor changed. Her eyes seemed to glaze over as if she had seen a great and mystical light, angels singing, and fireworks exploding in the distance. It looked as if she began floating just a few inches off the ground in the direction of the light. (Around our house we call this “O.K.D.” instead of “A.D.D.”, which stands for “Oooo Kitty Disease”.)

What could this be? Guys, you know what I am talking about. She saw “Bed, Bath, Body, Buckets, Beads, and Beyond” or something like that. I am not sure what the name of the store is but I do know it didn’t have the words golf or hardware in it. You would have thought heaven’s gates had opened. “Oh my goodness!” she innocently exclaimed. “We have to go in here. It will only take a second!” I followed submissively as I mumbled under my breath how she wasn’t the boss of me.

Twenty or thirty minutes later and after she had looked at every possible product, we were headed for the door. A bottle of conditioner caught her eye and she stopped me and took the cap off the bottle. “Smell this.” she said. (Note that she didn’t ask.) As directed, I leaned over and sniffed as she positioned the open bottle under my nose. “Strawberry,” I thought. That is the last thing I remember before the burning began.

Toni had the bright idea that it would be funny to squeeze the bottle as I inhaled. I remember her laughing herself to tears as I snorted up what seemed to be a half bottle of hair conditioner. Choking and gagging and trying to see through my own tears, I staggered out of the store hoping to quickly find a bathroom. She thought it was hilarious. “Hey!,” she offered, “At least the hairs in your nose will be soft!” and then she doubled over laughing again, holding her side that had begun to cramp.

She tells me much to often that I am a trained monkey but I think this borders on animal abuse.  To this day she says it was an accident. What do you think?

God bless and keep you.

Ken Dulaney

Ken Profile 6

Moles Are The Devil

That’s my position. I have lost more hair over the past six weeks than all the rest of my life combined over a little demon of a critter that won’t leave. I am at the point where I am going to have to resort to leaving him some cash in his tunnel in hopes that he will take a bribe.Mole

Mack has tried to help me, (Mack is our Labrador) He and I have spent the past six weekends trying to capture the mole that has been digging up our front yard. The first four weeks were fairly normal for our household and went something like this:

Captain’s Log, Week one: Ken walks out across front yard and twists ankle when he sinks into mole trail. Ken sets trap, brags to Toni that he can catch intruder. Mole digs around trap. Ken moves trap, mole trips it but doesn’t get caught. Ken stalks mole, mole is too quick. Ken sees grass move and falls off porch as he tries to head mole off.  Toni laughs at Ken. Ken calls Mack to help. Mack digs up a half acre of front yard. Ken cries a little but fills in the ditches Mack dug. Ken researches new mole trapping tactics. Ken’s new tactics fail. Mack digs up yard again. Ken cries more than last time but fills in ditches again. Mole has lunch and laughs at Ken.

Weeks two through four, much of the same. Ken gets anxiety treatment at week three. Installs drain pipes in front yard since ditches are already there. Keeps moving traps around front yard. Mole evades capture.

Two weeks ago the game changed. I felt as if I was in a bad version of “Caddy Shack” where the budget wouldn’t allow a full sized “gopher” so a mole had to do. I play the part of Bill Murray but can’t come close to his talent and don’t have access to plastic explosives.   But I think I have the spirit of the part down. Toni’s dad, Kenny Patterson, told her that a five gallon bucket, a rat trap, and a piece of raw meat would do the trick.

Week four: Multiple buckets and rat traps deployed. Still no results. Stinky meat missing from traps, no tips left. Mole seems to have friends. Seasoned meat to “stinkier”.  

Week five: Mole still happy and fat. Ken sits on bucket and cries again. Mack looks sympathetic but still willing to dig up yard. Ken decides that night hunting might produce better result. Wears camoflauge pajamas. Gets BB gun back out from frog episode. Ken gets rained on because he forgot to take into account weather report. Mole sleeps well.  

Week six: Ken is losing it. Daughter is obviously affected, maces herself during church. (No joke, I thought she was praying hard and was touched by God. Turns out she was touched by other daughter’s key chain mace. Another story. Mole seems happy, coat shiny, no longer needs glasses.

Week six, Sunday evening. Ken grabs shovel, a peanut butter sandwich and sits on porch to watch for mole. Front yard looks like well tilled garden. New mole trail appears, trap falls over, Ken jumps to cut off mole’s escape, accidently hits Mack’s foot with shovel. Ken tries to keep Toni from finding out. Toni drags Ken back into house and says “Let the mole have the yard, this is out of hand.”

Week six, Monday evening. Ken complains of stink in kitchen that smells like bad tuna. Blames it on cats and bad cat food. Later realizes that the smell is coming from the raw meat he was “seasoning” to put in mole trap per Kenny Patterson recommendation. Sneaks into kitchen after midnight to get rid of evidence. Forgot he had taken his Ambien and had wobbly knees, drops stinky meat on floor and gets it all over himself. Can’t go back to bed without a shower because Toni will bust him. Goes out front to throw meat to mole. Falls into flower bed.   Mack runs out and starts digging front yard. Ken cries, a lot. Toni doesn’t know so all is okay in the morning.

Week six, Tuesday morning. Ken gives up and leaves town for Nashville. See’s mole in front yard, seemingly waving goodbye. Ken gets pulled over in “Moulton” Alabama. Wants to pull rest of his hair out.

You may laugh and say, “Not true”. Well, I have to admit, I fell off the porch a few more times than I stated, I got a shower without waking Toni, and no, the mole didn’t wave. I am not sure what the gesture was, but he was there when I left and I did see him. I just didn’t stop to wave back.

For Jeffrey and Ingrid Wood. You are in our prayers.

Ken Dulaney

Ken Profile 6

“Ribbit Rambo” A Tale Of The Warrior I Am

(Written in 2012)

Our house is in on the edge of town, not in the country but not in the town either. On Monday night we had a light tornado in Belmont. The storm blew down hundreds of trees, damaged houses, barns and other property but thanks to God, no one was killed in the storms. My family and I grabbed the chain saw, rakes, and other tools and headed out to help clean up the debris and ended up working until around 10:00 pm. After a full day of work and then hours of manual labor, I was exhausted.Ribbit Rambo

After I got through my routine of getting ready for bed, nasal strip, vitamins, benefiber, shower, setting the thermostat, locking the doors, setting the sleep timer on the TV, etc, etc. etc., it was about 11:30 pm. I took an Ambien and lay down to get some much anticipated sleep.

Our house has a little pond right outside the master bedroom window. It is a cute little pond and usually the frogs are vocal but soothing. On this night, after a rough storm and lots of rain, and I might add when I need rest the most, the frogs/toads decided to have an Occupy Movement, Tea Party Rally or a karaoke party, I’m not sure which. But it seemed that they had organized into hordes that would give William Wallace (Braveheart) cause for concern. I am not certain how my bedroom window became the podium for the keynote speaker, but he was there and he was fired up about something.

Now you have to understand how Ambien affects some people. For me, it makes me the loopiest person you would ever want to meet. The stories are endless so I will spare you but trust me when I say it can be funny and sometimes embarrassing but I rarely remember everything that goes on.

The meds had taken effect and I began to drift off when it seemed as if someone yanked on the cord of a freight train’s whistle right in my ear! I jumped up and tried to get a sense of what was going on and soon realized that there were about two hundred or thousand frogs, toads and other miscreants just yucking it up about three feet from my head just outside. I lasted about five minutes before I lost my cool. “I have had enough, this has to stop!” So just like any military trained, experienced defender of life and liberty would do, I grabbed my back scratcher off the nightstand and opened the window. The window fell on my finger on my first attempt which caused my wife to begin her giggle fit. I couldn’t get the window to stay up so I held it with my left hand and stuck my right hand out, back scratcher waving like a flag, trying to “whoop” the frog off my window. That didn’t work.

By the way, I just realized the three cats I feed and put up with daily were nowhere to be found during this battle. They are obviously cowards and are up for court martial when I catch them.

Anyway, the noise stopped just long enough for me to catch my breath and get laid back down. My head had not hit the pillow yet when Mr. Keynote Speaker on my window decided to rally the troops and start all over again. I nearly exploded!

I jumped out of bed looking for my pants. No luck. My wife is gasping through laughter asking me what I am doing. I said “I am putting a stop to this right now. I have to rest and this is ridiculous!” She agreed, but not on the same subject I was on. After I racked my knee on the table, pulled on some floppy shorts and strained my back, I was infuriated to say the least. Then I remembered the Red Rider BB gun and my police mag light. I grabbed both from the closet and headed out the front door.

Toni wasn’t able to get out of bed to assist me due to a sudden onset of some kind of asthmatic convulsion. All I could hear her say was “Ken, do you have on pants? Ken, Ken, what are you doing?” With that I was out the door and in full combat mode.

I turned the corner and the motion sensor flood lights came on. I kind of felt like the scout who first saw Chief Crazy Horse’s massive tribes at the battle of Little Big Horn. I am sure he had a slight pinch in the pit of his stomach as he realized the overwhelming force that Custer was about to face. Much like Custer, I didn’t have a chance.

I am a pretty good shot. I have four marksmanship medals from the Air Force and I feel confident in handling a gun… even a big one like a Red Rider BB gun. That coupled with the fury that came with being awakened after a hard day, a five cell mag light that can be used as a club, and bare feet for stealthy movement, (not to mention the Ambien courage running through my Irish veins) gave me the belief that “I can take ‘em.” With a southern yelp that “Call of the Wildman” would be proud of, I charged into the fray of combat.

Someone could have told me that pond was there.

I awoke, about ten minutes later, my wife tells me, soaked with a slimy green fluid and a rock knot on my other knee. As I turned the corner and in my haste I over stepped or “charged” as I like to put it, and was taken down by a strategically placed bolder. My wife calls it a pebble. I remember shooting and hitting the house with a few shots and I seem to recall winging a foe that was hiding between the rocks as his comrades cheered him on. She tells me that when I shot the window she had to step in and broker a peace treaty.

I remember two things after she yelled me back into the house. As I layed back down and waited for the MASH unit to tend to my wounds I heard her laughing at me. It was so bad that it shook the bed for what seemed to me like hours. In my Ambien state I couldn’t understand what the joke was. The other thing I remember is the victory speech given by the victor of the encounter/battle. “Ribbit Rambo” I call him. I thought, “We will meet again.”

I put a pillow over my face and cried myself back to sleep.

Ken Dulaney

Ken Profile 6

The Impossible Possum

(Written in August 2012)

It seems as if it never fails that when I have to go out of town something dramatic happens at home. Last week was no exception, but I would have never guessed that the drama would be so funny. It was funny for me primarily because I was a hundred and twenty miles away so I didn’t have to physically deal with it.Possum

I had been very busy on Wednesday and had been looking forward to just relaxing in my room. After an hour or so of ironing, doing reports, organizing the next day’s itinerary, I settled into bed around 9:30. I made a call home as usual to tell Toni and the girls goodnight and catch up on the day’s events and by 10:00 I was done and ready to drift off. As my left eye had closed for the night and my right eye was just about to give up the fight and close, I was startled by the ringing of my phone.

I jumped up and knocked the room phone over and wobbled the lamp as I frantically tried to find my cell. My glasses, which I had forgotten to remove before I drifted off, were hanging at around a forty five degree angle across my face and weren’t really helping me to see well.

I answered the phone to “Do you want to know what your stupid dog just did?” The panicked voice on the phone sounded like my wife but I wanted to be sure since up to now, the dog was the smartest male in our house, and is rarely described as my dog.

I said “What happened?” as my heart raced in anticipation of some drastic event that had caused my family to be traumatized.   My mind raced as I attempted to calculate how fast I could get home. What if someone was hurt? I reached for my keys as she began to catch her breath. Here is what was described to me in a tone of voice that pointed to me as not only the reason for the panic, but also condemned me for not being on hand to solve the problem.

Monique, our youngest daughter had let Mack, our Labrador, outside to relieve himself for the evening. She stood at the door as he trotted around the front yard for a few minutes. When she called him back into the house, he came bolting by her so fast that she only got a glimpse of him but she saw that he had something in his mouth. She closed the front door and chased him into the office where he had run under the desk. As she crawled under the desk to see what he had, she found herself face-to-face with a possum, very much alive and unharmed but looking a little more than uncomfortable with the drool and dog breath he was currently experiencing as Mack held him in his mouth like a chew toy.

Apparently Monique squealed pretty loud because all the ladies of my house, including my niece Kara, came running. Monique blurted out the first command that came to her mind and told Mack to “release” which he did happily. That’s when the real fun began and when my wife made the decision to call me. “What am I suppose to do with this thing?” she asked frantically. “What if it gets up the bookcases? Oh my gosh!” (You can imagine the amount of background noise as I tried to determine what advice to give.)

“Tell Mack to pick it up and take it back outside” I offered. He would have been happy to do it.

“Are you kidding?” she yelled. “This thing will mess all over the floor and do you know how bad that is going to smell? No way!” she said, sounding very frustrated with me as if I was the one cowering in the corner with dog slobber all over me.

“Well, honey, I don’t know what to tell you. There is really only one other option. This isn’t going to be easy and you sure aren’t going to like it but you are going to have to pick him up by his tail and take him outside. Just be sure to hold him away from you body and it will be fine. He can’t bite you if you do it that way.

“Are you serious?” she screamed. “Do you really expect me to pick this “*&%$” thing up?   You are out of your mind! You and your stupid dog!” (For a few minutes, I was in an episode of Charlie Brown. All I heard was “waah waah, waah, You are nuts, waah waah wah, Stupid dog, waah waah waah, Alimony.” )

I have to admit, I was laughing quietly as she resolved herself to the inevitable. “Okay, I will try but I have to hang up the phone. I don’t want this dang thing biting me” she said. I tried to sound reassuring as I reminded her to have one of the girls video the capture for me. The next thing I heard was “click”. I guess my cell signal faded.

About an hour later my phone rang again. “Well, I got it!” she exclaimed breathlessly. “What did you do?” I asked. “I didn’t want to hurt the poor thing so I went out and got the big trash can and a broom and herded him into that. Then I took him outside and let him go.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “You have been this whole time trying to get a possum into a trash can because you didn’t want to hurt his feelings?” I said. She explained, “Well, he was so scared and I felt so sorry for him I just had to do it that way.” She continued, “You know, he didn’t even want to run away when I put him down? He just stood there and looked at me. He was just a little sweetie.” (Note that the intruder is a “sweetie” and Mack and I are still stupid.)

I sighed in disbelief and said, “Good job Punkin. I am proud of you. This one is going in the next newsletter. “

We hung up the phone and I sat on the side of the bed staring at the floor, my head in my hands. “You just can’t make this stuff up” I thought. “No one is going to believe me but every Office Manager I know is going to agree that the possum is smarter than I am.” As the years go by and I become a little wiser, I tend to believe it too.

Ken Dulaney

Ken Profile 5

Salt and Pepper = True Love

(Written in October 2014)

As I age I realize that I am more and more a creature of habit. For instance, I have to go through my routine in the morning just to get out the door and at night it takes at least a half hour before I am truly ready for bed.salt & pepper

On Tuesday night I had gone through my routine. By the time I had gotten into bed, Toni was well into whatever she was reading on her eye ball pad kindlee thingee. As I lay there trying to get comfortable, I did what I always do and reached over to rub her shoulder and neck as I watched the evening news. Keep in mind, it was fairly dark, I can’t see well, and I was tired.

I remember thinking how sweet I was being. “Man, this is going to get me a lot of brownie points! I am being so thoughtful and considerate.” A few minutes into my cherub-like kindness, I thought I would throw a compliment out there to ice the cake. “Sweetie, did you put lotion on your shoulders? “Your skin is super soft,” all the while staring at the TV. She didn’t respond.

Curious, I looked over at her. I found it odd that she would just blatantly ignore me since I was being such a sensitive and caring, not to mention, loving, husband. To my surprise, she was not in the bed at all, but standing on her side of the bed staring at me with her “You are a complete moron” look on her face. “Ken!” she sniped. “What are you doing? That is my pillow!”

“Ummmm. Ha ha ha,” I said. I was just joking. I thought I would make you laugh because you have had a hard day and I love you so much.” I said. (I impressed myself a little with that quick witted response.) She didn’t’ buy it. As a matter of fact, she was quite offended. “Do you mean to tell me that you think I feel like a cold old piece of cotton?”

Seriously folks, how in the world do you respond to a silly question like that? What started out as a heartfelt, honest, sensitive and caring gesture had now been spun around to a capital offense on me and I had no way out. “Oh, you will pay for this one buster!” she said as she kindly laughed just enough to lure me into a sense of security. I fell asleep confident that she got the joke and bought my line/excuse.

She is a real stinker underneath all that sweetie sweet, cornbread cooking, hardworking, blonde bombshell of a skin she is wearing. The next morning, I thought I was off the hook as I went through my blurry eyed routine to get dressed. About seven steps into the routine I waddled in to get my coffee. I put a dash of salt in it to smooth it out a bit and yes, I use creamer and sugar. Don’t judge me.

I had gotten about half the cup down when I noticed it seemed oddly strong. “Hey Punkin, this coffee sure does seem strong to me. Did you notice it?” “No, not at all! Mine is fine.” She blurted out a little too confidently. I shrugged it off and drank the rest of the cup down. As I pulled the cup away on the last gulp, I noticed little black dots sticking to the inside of my cup. “Holy smokes! I put pepper in my coffee! Who in the world put the pepper shaker by the coffee pot instead of the salt?” I choked.

She didn’t hesitate as I stumbled by her in the bathroom, headed in to get my shoes. She said “I don’t know sweetie. Maybe it was that soft pillow you were rubbing on last night.” And then she buckled over laughing until the curling iron she had in her hair started to smoke. “Oh that’s rich! Really adult of you Toni! Good grief, I will have heartburn all day!” I yelled. She just laughed harder. I thought we were even…

In my morning routine I sit on the clothes hamper to put my shoes on. Frustrated, but a slave to my routine, I grabbed my shoes and a shoe horn and sat down to put my shoes on. Keep in mind; she is in the main bathroom in front of the mirror. She can look into the mirror and into the walk in closet, so she could see me. As I sat down, a sense of panic exploded into my heart as I realized the top of the laundry basket was up, but it was too late. I was already committed and considering my increased weight and elevated age, there was no way to stop my descent. The next think I knew I was in the laundry basket with my feet hanging over the side.

The crash alarmed my darling wife. “What are you doing now?” she yelled at me. “I fell in the dang laundry basket if you must know!” I said, embarrassed and trying to get out. “I can’t get out!”

About ten minutes later she caught her breath and came over and pushed me over as if that was going to make me feel better, tears running through her mascara. “Oh my God Ken, you won’t do.”

I asked, “Are we even now?” I knew in my heart she had set me up but I can’t prove it. She just grinned and said “We will see, but ain’t carma a booger?.” I still have a little heartburn and I am considering throwing all the pillows in the trash.

Once again, true story. I suppose the true stuff really is funnier, but honestly I am having a hard time keeping my sense of humor.

God bless you and all that you do this week.

Ken Dulaney

Ken Profile 6

Frosted Lucky Charms, They’re Magically Delicious!

(Written in January 2014)

When I was a young man, I laughed every time I saw a TV dad depicted as a late evening refrigerator raider. It seemed funny to me that a person would wander into the kitchen late at night just to sneak an oversized sandwich, hoping his wife would not catch him. I don’t laugh at those guys much anymore.Lucky charms

Many who know me know that I am prone to getting hooked on just about any sweet. Depending on the time of year I have been known to clear a stack of nutty buddies in two days, can graze on honey nut Cheerios forever, and will chew a hole in the fridge for a fudgecicle.   Up until a few years ago I had no fear of gaining weight as a result of my late evening binges. Now; however, things are different and I have the play-doe belly to prove it.

My cardiologists recommended recently that I try not to eat so many bad things especially late at night so I began my search for something healthy to snack on. My wife, Toni, is always happy to help and started buying things like carrots, celery, and something called “turkey bacon”, none of which I like at all. She swears turkey bacon tastes the same as regular bacon… I think it tastes like someone sprayed bacon flavoring on a piece of road kill, likely flattened possum.

I was having trouble falling asleep about three weeks ago and decided to take an ambien around 9:00 pm or so. I soon fell asleep and to my knowledge, had a good night’s sleep with no incidents. The next day I was doing my honey-do list when I noticed faint giggles coming from the general direction of the living room. I slipped into the room undetected to find my wife and daughters laughing over a Facebook post or something. They were obviously enjoying the entry from someone that had apparently attached pictures.

I stood quietly as she began explaining to my daughters of how the “Trail was clear” and “The moron had no idea.” I thought to myself, “Some poor sap has had someone post something disparaging online and they are yucking it up at his expense. I bet it is something great, I will go see what it is!”

I peeked over her shoulder and to my surprise, (you may have guessed this), they were laughing at a picture of a line of “Lucky Charms” all lined up perfectly in a trail from the kitchen counter to my side of the bed. Each one was about six inches from the other and looked as if Hansel and Gretel had marked the trail out of the woods with them. My wife’s story is that it was me and that she had been picking lucky charms out of the bed for at least twenty minutes earlier that morning. She claims that she decided to take pictures so that I couldn’t deny it. She is such a little gem.

Here is my side of the story… She ate the whole box of Lucky Charms and planted that trail conveniently so that she wouldn’t draw attention to herself. Hey, I watch CSI every now and then too! To make matters worse, the night before last she ate a fudgecicle at 2:00 am and left chocolate all over my pillow, not to mention last night when she drooled a half a cup of strawberry yogurt on my side of the bed.

Yes folks I am living with the perfect criminal. I don’t think I am eating at night at all. Never mind the fact that she is skinny as a rail and I am blowing up like the kid in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Just like with some of our government leadership, the facts mean nothing. That’s my story and I am sticking to it! Well, at least until she catches me doing something else and gets video. Then I might have to just own up to eating the frosted Lucky Charms. But hey, they really are “magically delicious”.

Ken Dulaney

The Art of Catching Sewer Minnows

(Written in October 2013)                                  

Ever have one of those months where it seems that Murphy’s Law was written just for you? It seems as if the past few weeks have been filled with challenges of the comic sort in my world.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining.  I know so many people that are facing mountains right now that I dare not compare my little trials with theirs.  But, I must admit, they are trials at the time they happen. Fortunately, God allows us to look back on what we thought was the “end of the world” and see the reality of “it’s just funny.”Minnow

If you have read any of my past stories at http://www.AllianceCollectionService.com/blog, you know that my life is filled with comedy, most of which I would rather people not know.  But who am I to prevent you from having a laugh that God provides? With that in mind, let me tell you about “Sewer Minnows”. Haven’t heard of them before? That’s because I just made them up, but they are real to me.

A few weeks ago, having completed the three month effort of putting a new roof on our house, I thought I was out of the woods. One of the benefits of having a new roof put on is that you get to intimately know your lawn due to picking up nails for weeks after the job is complete. This allowed me to realize that the mole I have chased for years has a son who is obviously out to avenge his father’s death. That is a story for another day.

On Friday morning, I was awakened by the voices of the ladies in my house frantically notifying me that the toilets were flushing “wierd” (Their words, not mine). After a brief time on the end of a plunger, I decided that I couldn’t fix it and asked my wife to call a local plumber. She did, and he found a wet spot in the front lawn which indicated that our septic tank needed to be pumped out. I called my cousin Jimmy Harnage and he was good enough to come out that night and do the job. He unfortunately had to break the news to me that the entire system had to be replaced. Keep in mind that this is just a few weeks after we paid $9000 to have a new roof put on. I had a small panic attack when Jimmy broke the news to me.

The next morning we hired Mr. Powers to dig up and replace the smelly system. This is where the minnows come in.

Remember a while back when I was chasing frogs in my underwear with a bb gun and a mag light? (See “Ribbit Rambo”). Well, the pond that those frogs live in sits on top of our septic tank. That pond had to be dipped out in order to get to the tank so who do you think got tasked with doing that? Yep, yours truly. It doesn’t seem like a big deal unless you know how big the pond was… and it was plenty big.

Toni, my darling of a wife, argued with me about it. I said “Let Charlie just flip it over and dig it up when he digs up the tank. It is dark, I am tired, and I don’t want to have to pump this out this late at night.” “Well,” she replied, “It will get water all over the place and I am sure he doesn’t want to get water on his backhoe.”

“WHAT?” I thought to myself, “Water on his backhoe? That is what the blame thing is for you dorky girl!” (I thought this on the inside. I’m not stupid enough to say that out loud.)

“Sweetheart, I will have to get buckets and haul that water out one bucket at a time,” I explained. “Well,” she said, “I just think that would help.” I sighed and wobbled off with my bottom lip stuck out to get the bucket.

A half hour later, I had filled my shoes with a stinky broth of cold pond water but was nearing the bottom of the pond. My soul mate helped by holding a flashlight for me as I sloshed water out of the pond and walked it over the hill to dump it out. God bless my daughter Monique who saw that I was about to need a cardiologist and jumped in to help. To my misfortune, she is an animal lover too.

I was just about to say “That’s close enough. I am going to bed” when the girl alarms went off. You know what I am talking about right? The little squeally dancy “OMG” filled production when one of my bunch see’s something of interest. This usually happens when shopping but somehow this event ranked high enough to warrant the production on demand.

“What is going on?” I yelled. “OMG, OMG!” they squealed. “There are minnows in the pond!” “Bless their little hearts they are just swimming around in the shallow water! We have to get them out!”

“Are you dad-gum kidding me? I just want to go to bed! You two morons can stay out here and fish out minnows until daylight for all I care but I am cold, wet, tired and I have had enough of this!” (On the INSIDE). On the outside I sighed again, and started aiming my bucked to catch minnows that I had no idea where to put.

What seemed like hours later, I was able to escape around the corner of the house and sneak away as they both scratched through the muck and mire to insure the safety and comfort of any remaining minnows, neither seeming to care that I was crying as I crawled into the shower. When I finished my shower and looked out the window, it still looked like a scene from prison escape movie, flashlights panning the horizon for the lone minnow-like figure, dogs whaling in the background, and an eerie fog rolling over the dewy grass.

About a half hour later, “Pookie” (yep, that’s what I call her) finally came back into the house, got her shower and crawled into bed with a look of satisfaction and pride on her face which was not associated with me.

“I am so glad we noticed those little sweeties” she said. “Why, we saved their lives. I bet they are gonna be so happy in the other little pond!” I just stared at her.

“Let me tell you something chick! I have worked all day, I am smelly, I can’t use the toilet, my back hurts, my neck hurts, my bologne sandwich has left me, I can’t get this stench out of my nose, and I am exhausted. I could care less about some stupid sewer minnow. Now hush up, be quiet and let me get some rest. The least you could do is appreciate how difficult my life has been lately!”

On the inside…

On the outside I said “Glad they are safe punkin. You did a good job. I love you. Can I get you a snack from the kitchen before you go to sleep?”

God bless my heart.

Ken Dulaney

Being “Dangerous”

(Written in September 2014)

I recentlystrong man got a call from a man that was in the Air Force with me years (many years) ago. He just got back from his second tour of duty in in a combat zone and was having some trouble adjusting to his life here in the states. I won’t bore you with the details, but trust me when I say his problems are substantial. My heart broke for him as he described all his problems and his complete lack of confidence in what the future holds. I could relate somewhat since I struggle with many of the decisions I make on a daily basis and hope that if they aren’t the right ones that they are at least the least damaging ones.

The book “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge was the second book I recommended to him after the Bible. It is a book about men and God and how God made us. I pray that it helps him as much as it helped me. Our conversation raised the question, “What is a real man in today’s society?”

Have you ever heard a lady say “There just aren’t any good men left out there.”?  I have. I still hear it quite often.  When I do hear it, naturally I think of the men I look up to as leaders or mentors, men who I believe to be above reproach, role models for any man who is honest enough to realize that we should always strive to be better men. Men like my Uncle Frank, Pastor William Burcham, my cousin Mike, Sergeant  Larry W. Brown, Major William T. Stinson and many others helped to shape my mental image of “real men.” None of them were violent . None were pro football players or reality show stars or President. But, they all had traits that I found to be very noble, and, in my heart, I always wanted to be like them.

I remember back in the late 70’s and 80’s how often I heard things like “Men should be gentle,” or “Men should be more sensitive.” You can likely remember these statements and many more like them. Of course, there is some truth and benefit to these statements in general terms; however, nowadays I am hearing things like “Where are all the real men?” I believe what the book says, in so many words, that many men live in a state of confusion as to what our true roles are in society today, and, that in itself, could be a dangerous thing. I, for one, can attest to living in a state of confusion most days. Just ask my wife.

The men that I consider real men are definitely caring, sensitive, thoughtful, romantic, etc. To hear their wives tell the story, they are everything a man should be. But, one thing they all have in common is that they are, in addition to all the “sweetie sweet” things,dangerous. They are dangerous in a very good way, the way God meant for men to be dangerous. That’s what the book Wild At Heart brought to light to me.

I don’t mean dangerous in the sense that they go around with a spear or club whacking people on the head at random, but just ask their wives what would happen if someone broke into their house and threatened their family. Ask her what would happen if the couple were walking out to their car from the mall and some gang walked up to threaten her. The women who are married to these “men” would all answer you in the same way, “Any threat would have to get through him before they could ever lay a hand on me.” These men don’t have to put on a show for the world but walk quietly in God’s favor and do the job that He put them on this earth to do. They protect, they serve, they provide, they love, and they will lay down their lives for the ones they love any second of any day. I think of my friend Janice Kay’s husband, Donnie. I have never met the man in person, but you can tell by the way she talks about him, by the way she lights up when she says his name, he’s a man to be reckoned with if you cross her. Donnie has had some medical issues over the past few years, and you can STILL see it in Janice’s eyes. He is a giant to her. That’s the reputation I want to have with my wife and girls.

I tell my wife and daughters that if a bear (literal or figurative) is threatening them, then it is my job to stand between them and that bear, no matter what risk there is to me (Lord I hope I never have to literally prove that).  They tell me not only that, but that it is also my job to shut up and listen when they need someone to care for them and their troubles. As Jesse Hamby puts it so well, “They just need someone to listen; they don’t necessarily want you to fix it.” So, they teach me every day how to be more sensitive and caring. That is a really good thing. But, at the end of the day, I want them to know that when it really counts I will not only be sensitive and all those other “ooey- gooey”things, but that I will also be dangerous for them, not to them, but for them.

Thanks for reading.  God bless you and keep you.

Ken Dulaney

The Avengers, Denmark, & Shopping

On Wednesday I get a call from my lovely wife, Toni. She informs me that on this Saturday we are NOT going to work in the garden as we have done every weekend since Good Friday. With the demeanor of a small child giddy with delight in the gift she is about to give mom or dad, Toni informs me that my hope to see “Avengers” in the theater was about to become a reality. Yep, we were taking Saturday off to travel to Tupelo to seeAvengers a movie, just the two of us.

Well needless to say, I was pretty excited. I mean, this movie has it all, laughs, excitement, explosions, fights, rockets, explosions, wit, a little love interest, and did I say explosions?   The only sentence that kept running through my mind was “Sweet!” (I realize that it is a short sentence, but I am a man of few words.)

Friday night we worked extra hard after work until dark to get ahead on the garden. Saturday morning we were both in so much pain that we began to reconsider the trip to Tupelo. “Let’s just play it by ear and see how we feel,” Toni offered. I agreed and we sat in the early morning sipping our coffee and considering how to get ourselves motivated. We decided on a walk around the lake.

As we walked, Toni says to me, “You know, I really wanted to do a “little” shopping in Tupelo. Maybe we can just drive over there and catch the movie if we feel like it but we can shop for a half hour or so.” Wanting to be a good husband and agreeable, I said “Sure, let’s just play it by ear.” So we walked back home, got our showers and a few hours later we were on our way. On the way out of our hometown, she says “I know you hate the bargain stores, but I heard that there is a great place over on the west side of Tupelo, maybe we can stop by there real quick.” Again, I said (reluctantly, with one eyebrow raised slightly) “sure, that sounds like a good idea.”

“Yeah,” she says. “ We can go grab a bite to eat afterwards and then catch the early movie. “Sure, “ I say, “sounds good to me.”

We arrived in Tupelo around 1:00 pm and were able to cover somewhere between six and eight stores before 4:00 pm. At the last store I let her out at the front door and said “Knock yourself out.” I sat in the parking lot listening to the news channel and rubbing my feet against the brake peddle trying to get some relief as I swallowed multiple motrin with my warm water. “How did I get myself into this? I don’t even feel like seeing a movie now and I am starving to death.“ I heard my little voice inside my head say. “Something seems to be rotten in Denmark,” and it ain’t just my aching feet.

Toni emerged from the final store to announce that “We can now go find something to eat.” I was relieved and excited to share my favorite sushi restaurant with her. With a quick flip to the “drive” gear, we were on our way to Shoguns. We got there at 4:30 (note the time difference from paragraph four above) and found that they weren’t open yet.   No problem, I thought. They open at five, and I will be eating my favorite dish by 5:20 or so. 5 pm came and went and guess what? They never opened. I thought my head was going to spin off my shoulders. I found out later that they were closed for good.

Want to know what my dear wife and lifelong soulmate thought was a good idea? More shopping! “Hey, there is a guy selling fruits and vegetables over on Jackson Street. Let’s check that out!” Seriously? “Okay,” I said with a forced smile and a few tremors in my knees. Wouldn’ t you know it, there was a line. Go figure.

We finally got to eat, not exactly what I had daydreamed about, but we ate nonetheless. Once we finished I thought I was on the home stretch, but OH NO! No way. She saw a Kroger! “Holy smokes just shoot me now!” I thought, almost aloud. “We will just run in for a few items, no big deal.” Oh yeah, like I am gonna buy that! Almost an hour later I was allowed to limp back to the truck and if that cart hadn’t had wheels on it I wouldn’t have made it. There were little old ladies snickering at me as they passed me in the parking lot and they had walkers!

On our way home, the Denmark thing kept popping into my mind. It was about twenty miles outside of Tupelo that it hit me. “Hey, I didn’t get to see the movie!” I was so exhausted and so hungry that all I wanted to think about was my recliner at home. Now before you ladies think I haven’t learned a thing over the past 22 years, let me ease your mind. Nope, I didn’t open my mouth. I know better. I just drove home, unloaded around 2000 pounds of “stuff” and went and sat in the corner like a good little boy.

The next day I got up the courage to bring the subject up, very carefully. “Hey!” I said, “Is “Let’s go see a movie” code for “I am gonna shop till you drop?”” knowing full well that she would never drop before I did. I got the meaning when her eye began to twitch and an evil grin came across her face. With that, I went and cleaned the bathroom and mowed the lawn.

I hate superhero’s anyway.   They make me feel inferior.

Ken Dulaney

Vandal Birds of Spring

Never in all my years have I been “bombed” by a bird. Call it luck, call it skill, but I have managed to dodge the liquid missiles all my life. That is until this week.

6:00 am on Sunday morning – Loud banging on multiple windows of our house. At first I thouBird poopght the neighborhood “little rascals” were chunking rocks at our house. I jumped up and looked out the window, blurry eyed of course, to find nothing. I thought I must have dreamed it, but just as I thought to lay back down, there it was again but on another window. I rushed to another window joined by my eager labrador “Mack” (recall early possum story), who was equally disoriented. He was a little over zealous and ran under my feet as I passed the refrigerator causing me to smack my head on the corner.

We arrived at the back door just in time to see a cardinal flutter away. Annoyed but relieved, I decided to start the coffee and wake up to a few cartoons or the weather. Shortly after, my daughter Monique informs me that she had been terrorized for days now by numerous varieties of birds pecking on her window. The movie “The Birds” crossed my mind, but I dismissed it.

Less than 24 hours later, I am on my way to feed the other two labs and a mocking bird decides that I look like a cat and attempts to pull my hair out. Have you ever had one of these grey demons after you? They don’t quit! I barely made it back to the house with my eyes intact but at least I shook them off. Mack was back at the door watching me as if to say “Hey Bro, I coulda told you they were gonna get you.”

Next day, two little tweedy birds decide to make a nest in our garage and repaint my wife’s black truck with some very sleek racing stripes to go along with the cat paw print paint job. The truck was clean when I went to bed the night before.   When I saw the evidence, I began an investigation to find not one but two cute little feathered terrorist nests in my tool bag. When I picked it up I realized that these two miniature twins had taken some attack lessons from my friends the mocking birds. Yep, I ran away, almost screaming like a girl, but not quite.

Less than two hours later, I see a few sticks laying in the yard that had been blown out in the recent storm. I innocently walk out to pick them up to be greeted by at least a dozen crows that I had not detected on my approach to the sticks. Did you know that when a crow spooks they have a tendency to relieve themselves? I was in the middle of them and could not escape. You know the rest of the story.

I cried a little inside as I mumbled under my breath and trudged back to the house in what used to be my favorite Itawamba Community College shirt, hoping that Ms. Toni wouldn’t laugh me out of the house. Fortunately they missed my new ball cap but the shirt had four major “puddles” splattered all over the shoulder and sleeves.

I thought it was an anomaly centered around my house, but not a day or so later I was called back across the parking lot at work where Mr. Chambers and Mr. Palmer pointed out the art work on the right side of my previously clean car. It looked like someone had thrown paint on it.   I guess I should be thankful that the little vandals can’t spell. There is no telling what they would paint on me or my stuff. But at least their work confirms that we are seeing some real signs of spring. I just hope I make it through Memorial Day without having to buy a whole new wardrobe. I tell you, I am convinced that the “critters” are out to get me!

To make matters worse, I have a bunch of tree hugging, bird watching, critter loving, pet attorneys living in my house with me. I swear if I hear “Awe… They are just a bunch of sweeties,” or “They are just doing their sweet little thing,” one more time, I am gonna stick a spoon in my eye!

Have a great week and remember to honor God with your actions.

Ken Dulaney