Keeping the Bears Out

April 3, 2011

Sent Thursday, March 10, 2011. It took me a while to post this one. Mostly because it still hasn’t sunk in that it’s true.

This is me.

“And now my friends you’ve asked me, what makes me sad and still? And why my brow is darkened, like the clouds upon the hill?” Back in the mid-sixties the T.V. show, “The Beverly Hillbillies” first aired. I fell in love. Twice. First with Ellie May, whose tight fitting shirt was always just a motion away from sending it’s buttons flying. Alas, it wasn’t to be. My other love was more profound and endures to this day. Bloodhounds. One of God’s most perfect and beautiful creatures.

I finally found my bloodhound in 1990. I named her Boo, for her mournful cry that first night in her new home. In March of 1996, a person or persons unknown, through a malicious sense of enjoyment, poisoned my beautiful baby Boo. Three veterinarians working together and doing all that they could do, could not save her. I have been thankful that I never was able to learn who did this. I was thus freed from the urge of retribution.

About six months later I had an absolutely horrendous day at work. One of those days where nothing is easy or goes right. The boss screams at you for things you knew nothing about and had nothing to do with. You’ve been there. After 12 hours of this, I returned home exhausted and angry at the world. I dropped into my easy chair, and to no one in particular, I said, “I sure could use Boo right now”. Annie said, “Get up. We’re going to the shelter and get you a dog right now”. I said, “I don’t want a dog.” Annie said, “You’re miserable without a dog. And there’s some dog that needs a home. Now!” I said, “I don’t want a dog. And besides, the shelter’s closed by now. And besides that, I can’t save every dog in the world.” Annie said, “No, but you can save one.” With that I stormed out of the living room and went to pout in the kitchen alone. That was a heated conversion, by the way. Well, on my part anyway.

The next day after eating my lunch, I headed out on a service call to repair an oven or something. The trip took me past the animal shelter. I’m not sure why, but I flipped on the turn signal and pulled in. I told myself that I didn’t want a dog, but that I just wanted to look at them and see what they had. I tried real hard to believe that lie as I walked into the office. I repeated this to the attendant. He looked at me for a few seconds and then replied, “riiiiiight”. He showed me to the pens and took his leave.

In the first pen was a lone little spotted puppy sitting in the middle of the pen. I tried to coax her to the wire. She sat there with her tail a total blur against the cement, looking up at me and then down again over and over. Her tail never stopped, and I noticed a wetness spreading out around her on the floor. I went to the next pen, and there were several puppies of indistinct heritage. As I was petting them through the chain link, I glanced back at the little spotted puppy. She was now standing next to the wire looking at me. Her tail still a blur, as she looked up at me and down again over and over. I noticed a wetness spreading out on the floor behind her. I went to the next pen, and struck gold. Well almost. Coonhound puppies. Not Bloodhounds to be sure, but not bad. I looked again at the pen with the little spotted puppy. She was now standing up against the wire. And again her tail was a blur as she looked up at me and down over and over, and the wetness on the floor seemed to spread.

I went to ask the attendant about the little spotted puppy. I could tell by his smile that he knew he had me. He said that she was 12 weeks old, and came in with 5 other pups, and was the only one left. Her mother was a Dalmatian, and her father was a white mongrel. I asked if he could unlock the pen. I only want to hold her, you understand, I don’t want to take her with me. “Riiiiight”. If I hadn’t known that I was lying, I would have managed more indignation. He opened the door, and I got down on one knee and coaxed the little spotted puppy to me. Her tail a blur, looking up at me and down again over and over, she slowly walked to me, leaving a trail of droplets in her wake. I picked her up and held her to my chest. I could feel her tail trying to wag against my arm as she hid her face under my other arm. She lifted her head to lick my chin, and hid her face under my arm and lifted her head to lick my chin over and over. All the while I could feel a wet spot growing ever larger on my shirt. I then heard a voice in a whisper say, “I think we need each other.” I do not recall speaking the words, only hearing the words.

I named her Early Boo, after the late Boo. It became my habit that whenever I had to leave the house to go somewhere, I would tell Early Boo; “I have to go to work now. You keep the bears out for me, OK.” By this she knew that where I went, she could not follow. And following me seemed to be her greatest pleasure. This Wednesday last, the good Dr. Bob, whose has given her such good care for these past 14 and a half years, came to the house and eased my faithful old friend Early Boo over Rainbow Bridge. “And now my friends you’ve asked me, what makes me sad and still? And why my brow is darkened, like the clouds upon the hill?”

Early Boo, July 4, 1996———-March 9, 2011
So who’s going to keep the bears out now?

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Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

February 23, 2011

Sent Wednesday, February 23, 2011. In response to a family discussion about LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

This is me. I have survived 60 years with neither a tweet nor twitter. And with a face like mine, I have no desire to put it on a book. Hell’s Bell’s, I don’t look in a mirror unless it’s absolutely necessary. As for this Link a Dink thing, it sounds suspiciously obscene to me. But then, what do I know. I can’t snip and glue unless Annie is there to walk me through it. To me, Tweeter and Bookface and the Link thing are kind of like eating spaghetti. It probably won’t hurt you in moderation, but why would anyone really want to do it?

Old Pilots, Furnaces, and Dandelion Wine

December 23, 2010

Sent Wednesday, December 22, 2010. I know, I posted it the very next day. It’s a Christmas miracle!

This is me. Recently I was called out on a cold Saturday night to repair a furnace. As I was driving through the snowy night I remembered a similar night several years ago. It was Christmas night, around nine o’clock when my pager sounded. I was watching one of the movies that I watch every Christmas, and as I pulled myself out of the easy chair, I was grumbling under my breath and not at all happy to be leaving the house on such a cold Christmas night. I pushed the button on the pager and read the message. My annoyance subsided. Old Hank had lost another battle with his old furnace. The furnace seemed to win most of the time.

I wish you could know old Hank. He is an interesting fellow. Him and his lady, I’m not sure if they were ever married although they have spent a life time together, live in a small house. It looks suspiciously like it was a two car garage in an earlier life. It’s rather ramshackle, but solid as the day it was built. The furnace was salvaged from a mobile home some 40 years ago, and has not aged gracefully. But then neither have Hank and his lady, who is named for a flower of some sort. Rose or Daisy or some such thing.

Hank had been a pilot in his younger years. Back in the late thirties he flew mail delivery, did crop dusting, flew acrobatics for carnivals and fairs and so forth. In World War Two he joined the Army Air Corp. He started out flying 2nd stick on a small bomber, but with his natural flying abilities, soon was in the seat of a fighter plane. After the war he bought a small bi-plane, but the days of mail delivery and crop dusting were over, and he could no longer make a living doing what he loved the best. And though he turned to being a carpenter, brick layer, mechanic, and what ever was available to put beer on the table, he never lost his love of flying. Now I’m sure that you have all heard of “barn storming”. Old Hank did it for real. In a real barn. Someone had a barn with a wide door on each end. After careful measurements he determined that his bi-plane could go through the doors and through the barn with a foot to spare on all sides. A crowd gathered. Bets were offered and taken. Hank climbed into his little plane and took off for glory. He circled around and with the engine roaring, he stormed through the first door, through the barn, and out the second door in a perfect storm of flying debris. Hank flipped and flopped across the barn yard, and across the pasture, and came to a stop in relative good order. It is said that lucky for him, his state of inebriation kept him from serious harm. The Good Lord will often smile on a fool. But not always, so be careful. I don’t know if he ever flew again, but I have to wonder, would you lend him your plane after all that?

Old Hank and his flower named lady worked hard and lived harder. And to their credit, there were several taverns and veterans clubs whose bottom line were much improved by virtue of their daily visits. But now in their declining years, poor health and poverty have conspired to keep them at home most of the time. And so I arrived at their unpainted and sagging door, and was made to feel welcome. As I did battle with the old heat machine, Hank regaled me with one story after another. Thirty minutes later, the old girl roared to life with fire exactly where the fire should be. Soon warm air was taking over the dwelling. I packed up my tools and was preparing to leave when Hank advised me that “we mighten ought to have a wee glass of dandelion wine before you step into the night“. I concurred.

From the sideboard he pulled a mason jar of wine. In the cupboard he found a juice glass. It looked like one of the glasses that rolled up chipped beef used to come in, except that this one had a brownish tint. Hank gave the glass a close inspection through his coke bottle spectacles, then tuned it up side down and rapped it sharply on the counter. This happily dislodged whatever it was that was in the bottom of the glass. He then handed me the glass. I decided that the tint could easily be remove with a short soaking in hot soapy water. Old Hank examined his chipped coffee cup, dumped out the left over coffee, and filled cup and glass with a golden yellow dandelion wine. Touching cup to glass, we wished each other a Merry Christmas, and then sampled the golden nectar.

Old Hank has long been known for his excellent homemade wine. This wine was quite the opposite. So I smiled and told a little white Christmas lie and said how good it was. His face beamed, and he refilled the brown tinted glass, much to my chagrin. He bid me to sit and motioned to the sofa. If not for the dog hair, you might have seen the foam of the cushion through the worn old fabric. So I sat, and we sipped dandelion wine and talked of old times, me and Old Hank and his flower named lady. I was thanked profusely and earnestly for coming out on this cold Christmas night to fix their old furnace. I have been thanked many times by many people for doing what I do. Some will even stick a ten or twenty dollar bill in my pocket. But never have I felt more appreciated then I did that Christmas night.

As I took my leave and stepped out in the cold night air, I looked up to the halo surrounding the pole light. Those great big beautiful fluffy flakes of snow were falling out of the night sky. I could not help but think; I am most truly blessed. This is the perfect ending for a very perfect Christmas day. “May God Bless Us, Everyone.“ Merry Christmas. Carl

Final Farewell

March 23, 2010

Below is a copy of the entry I placed on Grandma’s blog Meander With Me on behalf of Dad and the rest of the family.

This is me. On the morning of Saint Patrick’s Day, a lady named Gallagher was welcomed into Heaven. It is my sad obligation to inform you that my Mother, Mary Alice Gallagher Kaufman, “slipped the surly bounds of earth and touched the face of God”. About two weeks shy of her 90th birthday, Mom began to experience problems which led us to believe that she had suffered a stroke. After moving to Hanover Pennsylvania to live with my sister Barb, her condition degraded precipitously over the course of four or five weeks. An M.R.I. showed that Mom had developed a brain tumor. Mom had insisted long ago that she should never be kept alive with tubes and machines. As her condition did not allow for aggressive treatment, and in keeping with her wishes, nature was allowed to take its course. We were privileged to be able to spend several weekends with her while she was cognizant of what was going on around her. She was able to sit with us and enjoy the conversation and laughter, while delighting in a glass of wine and the fire softly burning in the fireplace. A great mind has been stilled, and a feisty lady is no more. On behalf of the family, I wish to thank all of the faithful readers of “Meander With Me”. You made her happy, and for that you have our gratitude. For my siblings, Bonnie Thomen, Jack Kaufman, Barb Boyer, Bev Kaufman, and Bette Rolli, I am making this final farewell in “Meander With Me”. In sadness, Carl Kaufman

Get the Knife

January 22, 2010

Sent Friday, January 22, 2010 – This is a letter Dad wrote wrote to the American Legion Magazine in response to an article written by Rocky Bleier. Mr. Bleier is involved in the “Flight 93 Memorial” project.

Sir,

I enjoyed the article, “A Prayer Remembered”, by Rocky Bleier. I have been a Steelers fan since I first started to follow the NFL back in the sixties. I had the good fortune to meet Rocky Bleier approximately 20 years ago at a National Propane Gas Association convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Bleier was a spokesman for the Bradford-White Corporation at the time. He was in the Bradford-White booth in the convention center, and when there was a break in the crowd, I went to the booth for an autographed photo. We ended up having a very pleasant 25 or 30 minute chat about the many games that stood out in his career. The most notable being Super Bowl XIII, in which Rocky caught a touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw to end the first half, giving the Steelers a 21 to 14 halftime lead over the Cowboys. I asked Rocky which Super Bowl ring he was wearing, expecting that he would hold his hand up so I could have a look. Instead he took the Super Bowl XIII ring off of his finger and placed it on the counter between us. Picking it up and admiring this beautiful piece of history, I asked, “May I?” Rocky nodded yes, and I slipped a Super Bowl ring on my finger. I then went to take the ring off to hand it back. With a sinking feeling I realized that the ring would not slip over my knuckle. As I struggled to remove the ring, Rocky calmly turned to the lady in the booth with him and said, “get the knife”. We continued to talk football, as I continued to twist and turn the ring. I must have worried up a bit of sweat, for suddenly the ring came off. About that time, a fresh crowd came to the booth, and with a smile and a shake of my sweaty hand, a most gracious and friendly Rocky Bleier bid me good luck and farewell. He was and is an excellent representative of the Nation Football League, and will be an excellent representative for the Flight 93 Memorial.

Carl Kaufman

Brooklyn, PA.

Men of Agriculture Calendar

January 7, 2010

Sent Wednesday, December 2, 2009 – In response to my cousin (an Agriculture Major) selling a “Men of Ag” calendar as a fundraiser.

Dear Joeie, I strictly forbade Annie to order the calendar. She will take one anyway.

Fort Hood Shooter

January 7, 2010

Sent Wednesday, November 11, 2009 – In response to the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas

This is me. I was in the Army, or the Big Green Dick as we liked to call it, back in ’70 and ’71. Fort Hood was my home from November 13, 1970, to November 30, 1971. I was a Medic, and I served my last 6 months at Darnell Army Hospital. I was assigned to the Intensive Care/Recovery Room. Had this happened on my watch, I would have been taking care of the wounded. Including the shooter. I’m not sure how I would have felt about that.

That decade…

January 7, 2010

Sent Tuesday, October 13, 2009 – In reference to somebody receiving a box set of the show Dinosaurs as a birthday gift.

This is me. I don’t think that I ever heard of that show. I must have been working that decade.

Phillies

January 7, 2010

Sent Sunday, July 26, 2009

This is me. I don’t follow baseball very close, but I always listen to the scores and give a quiet “yes” when the Phillies win. That being said, can anyone say the word “Phillies”, and not think “September Dive”? Does anyone else remember the old joke; “What has 18 legs and runs around in the cellar? The Philadelphia Phillies”. I know a young fellow who was present for the Phillies’ 10,000th loss. He seemed rather proud of it. And he’s a Phillies fan. However, he also likes the Eagles, so it’s hard to know what to think of him.

Presidents

January 7, 2010

Sent Thursday, June 11, 2009 – I know!  I should have posted this much sooner.  Better late than never.  – Justin

This is me. I recently purchased a set of CD’s of Johnny Cash. One of the songs starts out with these words. “Harry Truman was our President. A coke and burger cost you thirty cents.” This put my mind to wandering, which it is sometimes wont to do.

I was born when Truman was President, but was only 3 years old when he left office, so I have no recollection of him as President. I do remember when he died in the early ’70’s. The first I can remember hearing about a President was in the Weekly Reader. Every now and again there would be a mention of a couple of guys named Eyes and Hower. And the Weekly Reader taught us that they were what was called “The President”. We were further informed that they were very important because…..oh wow, almost time for recess!!!! My only distinct recollection of President Eisenhower was when he ceased to be President. The election of ’60 I remember rather well. As Mom and Dad were Republicans at the time, Nixon was the guy. Our school, being quite small, had only 3 classes. Grades 1 &2, grades 3&4, and grades 5&6. I was in the latter group. We had an election, which Kennedy won by only a few votes over Nixon. The national election played out pretty much the same way. It is believed by some that Nixon would have won but for dead people being allowed to vote in Chicago. Kennedy is best remember by guys in my age group, or by me anyway, for several things. #1, He had a pretty wife. #2, He had a song written about him and his Patrol Torpedo boat, the PT109. #3, He got in trouble when he sent a bunch of pigs to a bay in a place called Cuba. #4, He got into a fight with a Russian guy named Cruise Jeff. #5, He went to Dallas Texas.

That’s when me and my world grew up.