A Frog, A Hog & A Dog, #2…A Hot Summer Day*

* Note: ‘If You Can’t Be There, Then Write A Story’, #4

By Grandpa

For Ben & Summer

Oh, what to do on a hot summer’s day…

That was the challenge facing the FROG, the HOG and the DOG on a hot summer day…

The first day of summer was so hot and the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog were doing what good friends like doing on hot summer days, or any days, they were enjoying being together…

The day was too hot to hop, too hot to stomp and too hot to romp, nevertheless, the three friends knew just what to do…

The frog, the hog and the dog gathered along the edge of a nearby pond under a huge shade tree. While cooling my feet in the pond waters, I watched them with my trusty binoculars, as they tried their very best to stay cool…

The small friend, the green frog, sat on a lily pad in the pond, which helped cool its smooth skin…

Sometimes, it would slide into the water for a refreshing swim

The small frog thought that staying wet was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…

The big friend, the pinkish hog, flopped its rather big body in the muddy edge of the pond under a gigantic shade tree…

Because the hog was so big and so heavy, it sank into the soft mud, way up its wide sides, over its bottom and nearly covering its curly tail. The hog found the muddy water cool and comforting…

The big hog thought that laying in the mud on its side…

on its belly…

and on its back…

was a perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…

The medium size friend, the black and white dog with thick long hair, decided just to lay on the ground and rest…

The tall green grass nearly covered the dog’s eyes, nevertheless it could still see its friends by the pond, preferring to stay on dry ground, itself, deep in the blanket of soft, cool grass.

The dog thought that laying down and letting its tongue hang out the side of its mouth…

was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…

And while the frog, the hog and the dog relaxed under a shade tree, on a lily pad, in the mud, and on the grass, they could still see and speak to each other, friend to friend to friend, all about the fun times they have together…

And that is how the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog stayed cool on a hot first day of summer…

What do you do with your friends to stay cool on hot summer days?

Ben & Summer, brother & sister and best friends forever

Steve B

June 2021

The Bar Chronicle: #29, ‘There Are No Canaries In The Canary Islands…’*

*strange as it seems. I started this episode of ‘TBC’ in early 2020 and failed to finish it. Just found it, so here we go…

The cold and flu bug sacked two of us from our 29th ‘Bar Night’, including the ‘guest of honor’, tonight was to be his ‘swan song’ before heading for the Sunshine State, leaving us behind to suffer Lake Ontario’s winter wrath.

Of course, going south for warmer weather automatically designates you as the official buyer of rounds upon your return. He knows that and is eager to accommodate. Who wouldn’t be?

However, we still had a quorum, a legitimate excuse to ‘party’, four of us. And, we did, after the appropriate toast and well wishes.

Caverly’s Irish Pub, on South Ave., is still our favorite watering hole and we headed there again, on a Tuesday evening this time, instead of the usual Wednesday, and were surprised to find a full house. Don’t people know it’s winter?

That full house meant a loud house, so we ordered our ‘stouts and lites’ and made haste to an empty back room for some privacy and relative quiet. For me, even a ‘back room’ requires cupping the ear.

Tonight’s conversation seemed a bit different. We tabled any talk of extra terrestrials, for now, and filled our hour with brief , yet serious discussions of declining church attendance, Sudoku and humor, at the risk of repeating stories that we probably told in prior meetings.

We even discussed the importance of drinking water.

I came prepared with an article to share on health tips. One tip urged people to drink enough water, 8 cups a day. I’ve never been a big water drinker and find it challenging to swallow eight cups a day but have discovered that adding a dash of scotch makes it more palatable. Or is the other way around?

Starbucks coffee shops have very good water. It should be, it’s filtered three times and during hot summer months, I add a cup of water to my coffee order. And it’s free.

We ended the night on comedy. Laughing is a prescription for ending the day, or anytime, isn’t it? See what you think.

One among us knows how to set up a joke and he did it perfectly during our talk about stations in military service. He was in the Canary Islands at some point and dutifully noted for our consumption that, believe it or not, there are no canaries in the Canary Islands. I have no idea on the veracity of that statement, but he was setting us up, after all.

In the course of our discussion, the same gent offered that he also had been to the Virgin Islands. And guess what’s not in the Virgin Islands. That was my first thought, but no, it’s canaries, again. Think about it.

We headed home shaking our heads and chuckling because, it’s true, laughter is the best medicine.

Steve

Note: this was the last time the ‘Bar Nighters’ met before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down our gatherings. We next met in February 2021 via Zoom.

For more stories, check my WordPress blog, S’amusing, at ‘srbottch.com’

If You Can’t Be There, Then Write A Story

Covid-19, thé pandemic and all, sure has thrown a monkey wrench into family gatherings, hasn’t it?

As first time grandparents, we see the tots on ‘FaceTime’, but you can’t hug a phone and expect an emotional response.

What about letter writing to the kiddos? Give them something to hold that came from you. A sheet of paper?

Here’s an idea. Take the letter writing a step further and write a story about something that is going on in your daily life. They’ll read it over and over. Well, their parents will. Maybe you can read it yourself on a FaceTime.

I did just that, wrote a story, and it’s been fun. It had to be a real story, something that actually happened with a fair dose of ‘writer’s license’. That is, I could stretch the truth a bit just to make it more fun.

Here’s the story, The Troublesome Stone. if you have young grandchildren, or your own little ones,?this would be a fun story to read. You may have to enlarge the pictures to read each page.

Enjoy!

Steve

The Bar Night Chronicles: #30, ‘And The Survey Says…’

Five of the Bar Nighters ‘Zoomed in’, again, for an evening of general talk, laughs, useful tips, and, of course, beer. Yes, beer.

Our entire reason for gathering is ‘brotherhood’, but beer enhances it, and we can manage 1 for the night. The one among us who opted for Jack Daniels* Tennessee whiskey, America’s top selling whiskey, might believe he gets more enhancement with ‘JD’. No doubt, he does.

As usual, and most importantly, the night began with a toast: ‘Here’s to our group and…” (In Zoom, you need to raise your bottles high enough for the device’s camera to find it) “…to the good news that we’re all well and getting shots, Covid shots. Here’s to our friendship. Cheers!

And, the survey says, ‘what’s your favorite breakfast?’ Thought I’d open the ‘beer clutch’ with a probing question. And, since I asked, then it’s best to go first.

Oatmeal!

But not just plain oatmeal. ‘WOODSTOCK’ 5 Grain Cereal (it’s oatmeal) topped with raisins, crushed walnuts, sliced bananas and blueberries. WOW!

Flood it with milk and let it ‘stew’ in the refrigerator overnight for a morning concoction that makes your taste buds yell, ‘Hallelujah’ with the first spoonful. Who knew oatmeal tasted so good?

Apparently, just about everyone. Oatmeal was the favorite of three of us, cold or hot. Kashi cereal had a vote and one opted for tea and toast every morning. A nice, but dainty, ritual. Not surprisingly, it seems that we stick with our favorite on a daily basis. Creatures of habit or sensible eaters? Both, most likely.

Join the survey, what’s your favorite breakfast meal?

After my last ‘Chronicles’ posting, a few readers expressed a sentiment that the Bar Nights would be fun to join. We’d love to have you. And while our conversation isn’t titillating, at evenings end we’re emotionally satisfied. A social gathering is meant to be like that, isn’t it?

A ‘Zoom’ Bar Night is okay, but sitting alone in a sterile environment, our homes, isn’t the same as gathering together amid the sights, sounds and, yes, smells of a pub. I’ve alluded in earlier ‘Chronicles’.

However, upcoming Bar Nights may find us social distancing in a backyard, the next step up from Zooming. Under the stars would be great since we’re certain to discuss aliens/UFOs, one of our favorite topics, especially since we have an amateur ‘ufologist’ (yes, that’s a word) in our group. When he talks, the group is silent and attentive, like kids listening to a spooky story. It’s fun, now, as it was then.

Maybe, just maybe, a one in a million chance that we could have an alien join the circle of friendship. How would the ‘authorities’ report that in official government files?

Keep posted to the Bar Chronicles for upcoming information on UFO reports. And don’t forget the survey!

Steve (March 2021)

On WordPress at ‘srbottch.com’. On Instagram at ‘@srbottch’

Bar Night Chronicles: No. 27, ‘The Reunion’

A year! A whole damn year! Oh, the stuff we ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ gabbed about. I say ‘gabbed’ because that’s what we do, six of us sitting around a beer stained table, ensconced in a mishmash of creaky, sometimes wobbly chairs, gabbing.

It’s a foggy description but if you let your imagination wander, you can picture us. Six older gentlemen, beer in hand, leaning in to hear the conversation over the din of background noises from bar talkers, dart players, and big screen ‘whatever game is playing’ television watchers.

Stop the show! I got carried away, delirious with wishful imagining, we have none of that tonight. A year has passed since our last actual bar soirée but it’s still Covid-19 season, hence we’re still following protocol; social distancing, maybe even self imposed isolation.

Tonight’s gathering, the first in a year, is via Zoom. Each of us has dialed in to a Bar Night teleconference, managed by a Zoom expert. Imagine faces in rectangular boxes arranged across the top of a PC monitor, like panelists on a game show. Think ‘Hollywood Squares’, the old television game show.

Tonight, it was ‘B.Y.O.B’ to the ‘Zoom’ experience and we raised them in a toast, giving thanks that each of us has maintained our health through the Covid months. We grinned proudly when showing our bottles to the group: Buds, Guinness, a lemonade…a lemonade? Boyish grins, revealed a playful innocence in holding up our bottles, like teens and boasting their first ‘nip’ with the gang.

Some of us had our Covid vaccines while others wait, a bit frustrated by the slow rollout and computer competition to try and snag available time slots when enough vaccines do arrive. But they will and we’ll all get ‘stuck’ by late Spring.

Did you see the news? A pilot on a commercial flight reported seeing ‘something’ he couldn’t identify pass over the plane. Something he couldn’t identify? While ground control couldn’t, or wouldn’t, one of our group could, and did. It’s ‘them’ and it’s been ‘them’ for years. Whoa, now the conversation got interesting.

The conversation has always been interesting over the past few years. Adding in UFOs and aliens to the mix gets everyone’s attention. Throw in the fact that even the US government is telling us in drips and drabs that there have been numerous spottings, unexplainable spottings, by legitimate sources (military pilots) over years, and this topic goes from kookie to classified. You can feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

This will make you sit up pay attention: https://www.history.com/news/skinwalker-ranch-paranormal-ufos-mutilation

Have any of you, the readers, experienced UFO sightings, or paranormal action? This is great topic for Bar Night. Fortunately, since I was already indoor, I didn’t worry about being outside, y’know, in ‘their’ environment, tonight.

Steve

“Oh, honey, would you mind taking out the trash tonight?”

February 2021. Click the Follow button to catch a story whenever I get the energy to write. They’re fun and cover a plethora of topics…

To Adie, With Love…

A young lady will ‘meet’ her great grandfather for the first time, thanks to a small tin box of flies and a good story teller. She has the story teller, her grandmother, my sister, and soon will have the flies, a small metal box of fishing flies, tied by the skilled hands of her great grandfather, four generations earlier.

Imagine, a family heirloom, of sorts, being passed down, not to a daughter, nor a granddaughter, but to a great granddaughter. Not a fancy piece of furniture, nor a sparkling broach, but flies. From one long-passed outdoorsman to a young vibrant outdoors woman, three generations removed.

My dad was an avid fisherman who enjoyed making his own lures. He turned wood dowels into ‘plugs’* on a lathe, and strung eels for surf fishing in the rough waters off the duned beaches of Cape Cod. He tied flies, lures that mimicked real flies, to attract trout in the placid ponds populating the rural countryside of central Massachusetts. He was proficient, passionate and a perfectionist about both skills, making the lures and catching the fish.

I kept his tin of flies, and other lures, upon his passing, some 40 years ago, as a reminder of the man. But these feathered and fuzzy creations go back even further in time, at least twenty years prior to his death. Hunched over a folding metal table, squinting through bifocals balanced on the end of his nose, and surrounded with the tools of his ‘art’, he meticulously hand crafted faux bugs to the smallest detail.

Supplied with an array of brightly covered feathers, buck tails, various size hooks, a vise to hold them and thread to join all the components tightly together, he would produce stunning replicas of the local insects that he hoped would help him land the next ‘big one’. A reference book of flies always lay open next to him as he meticulously tied them to the exact specifications, as outlined.

This story isn’t about catching fish, though. It’s not about about tying flies, it’s about a man, his passion and preserving his love of the outdoors by gifting an ‘heirloom’. It’s about connecting with following generations to keep his story alive. And, it’s about love.

It’s very likely that if my dad was here today, then he, Adie and her dad would be at the closest fishing hole, enjoying the outdoors and each other’s company, maybe spinning yarns of ‘the one that got away’.

“Adie, I want you to have these flies. Use them to catch the big one!”

Love,

Great Grandpa Bottcher

Steve (srbottch.com)

February 2021

To Adie and avid young outdoors lovers, everywhere. ‘Keep a tight line’ and keep making memories.

And, to June, my big sister, Adie’s grandma


*Plug (Swimming Plug) – A hard plastic or wood artificial lure that is usually cast and retrieved or sometimes trolled.

The Bar Chronicles: #22, UFOs (and you thought we only came for the beer)

Bar Night 2

The forecast called for rain, freezing rain and a quick blast of snow. Our plans called for beer, a cold beer and a heavy dose of camaraderie.

We would not be denied!

However, as veterans of western New York weather (a.k.a. ‘old guys’) with familiarity of the dreaded ‘black ice’, we walked cautiously from car to bar, looking out for each other as friends are wont to do, ready to reach out at the first slip.

A good thing, too, because tonight, at Caverly’s Irish Pub in the Southwedge neighborhood, our first Bar Night of 2019, we had a potpourri of topics on our agenda. In truth, we don’t have an agenda, we just get our beers, sit down and talk, ‘unplugged’!

First things first, goodbyes were in order for one of our dear friends in the group. Oh, Heavens no, not that kind of goodbye. he’s only going to Florida for a couple of months. Will be back here in March when he hopes winter will be just a fading memory. We all know, of course, that winter along the southern shores of the Great Lake, Ontario, lingers well beyond March, often with big surges deep into April.

We lifted our mugs high, or as best we could with sore elbows, bum shoulders and oil can joints, and wished our friend safe travels, warm weather and a speedy return because next time, he buys.

Do you believe in UFOs, other planets that sustain life? Do we occupy this vast system of universes just ourselves, we earthlings? It’s easy to be a skeptic, isn’t it. If you haven’t seen something, then it probably doesn’t exist. Or, have we seen it?

Got your attention? And you thought we only came for the beer. Not at all, but it helps. As we age and become more erudite (remember, the beer helps) we begin to address Life’s lingering questions, such as, ‘is anyone out there’?

What did the Navy pilots aboard the USS Nimitz actually see when they encountered … what shall we call it, a spaceship… off the California coast in 2004? The US government has records of the incident, an incredible story that involved well trained, experienced and credible personnel.

I know, you have your doubts. Read about it, yourself. Look up ‘USS Nimitz & UFO incident’ for a full version. Don’t take a writer’s word, I’m just trying to get and keep your attention. Maybe this Wikipedia article will turn you a little…

The USS Nimitz UFO incident refers to a 2004 radar-visual encounter of an unidentified flying object by US fighter pilots of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. In December 2017, infrared footage of the encounter was released to the public.

This Bar Nighters were getting into some serious topics, tonight, eh. And it wasn’t the beer talking, heck, we only drank one. No, this was deep thinking material, esoterica, one might say.

I looked at our clear skies differently on the drive home tonight and paused in my driveway after dropping off the last rider; stars as far as I could see, a limitless vista. I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘is anything looking back at me’, as I lowered the garage door and scooted inside.

Here’s a link for more basic data about our skies and those beyond…

https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/news-display.cfm?News_ID=573

And you thought we went out just for the beer.

Steve

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Snowball Fights Make Good Friends

snowballs

“Wop! Wop! Wop!”

One, then another, and yet another, ‘wop , wop, wop’, from different fronts, rock-hard snowballs, spheres of packed snow that when thrown expertly, leave red blotches on the skin or wet splatter marks on clothing. Mostly, they leave bruised egos! In the shoulder, the backside, the legs and the head, if you’re not watching.

“Run! Run for your life!”

War whoops from the neighborhood bullies who gathered to harass my friends and me on a cold, snowy nor’easter day, the kind of days school kids loved. School was closed, traffic slowed and monster trucks rumbled thru neighborhoods, pushing snow into huge piles for more outdoor games, a perfect atmosphere for snowball fights. These ruffians had lots of opportunities for ‘assaults’ on us during the long, cold New England winters.

Slam!

The kitchen door closed behind me.

“Just in time for dinner”!

“Why are you so wet?”  

“Why are you panting?”

My mother didn’t get it, had no idea of the peril I faced in the dilapidated barn behind my house where the ‘bad guys’ had us trapped, on the second floor, the ‘good guys’, trapped and running out of ‘ammo’. Snow fell through the leaky roof of the old building, but nary enough to ward off the lot of ogres, older by two or three years, ungloved and open jackets, impervious to the elements. Tough guys, the toughest, and outside the barn, with an endless supply of ammo, falling snow.

I had been called once for dinner…

“Steeeeeeeeephen!”

“Suuuuuupper!”

She didn’t, and wouldn’t, call more than once.

… but the bullies wouldn’t allow our plea for a truce, a ‘temporary suspension of hostilities’. Only a ‘brave’ jump from the hayloft door into a pile of snow and mad dash to my house saved me from…well, you can just imagine!

Yes, ‘imagine’, and I do. Such a beautiful word. I find that, as I get older, a little bit at a time, ‘imagining’ becomes a key part of what I remember and makes my childhood experiences even more vivid than they probably were.

Oh, the barn was there, leaning, and snowball fights were common. And there were older kids, lots of them in a working class neighborhood of large families, but they weren’t really bullies, ruffians, or ogres. Often, we were on the same side in other activities played outside on the streets, surrounded by fresh air.

However, winter was the season of the toughest games. ‘King of the hill’ saw friends tossed about while vieing for the top spot of a snow mound. Sledding was fast and furious, weaving around cars, trees or each other. Just knocking someone into a snow bank was a game. All of it, the rough and tumble, pushing and shoving, bonded our friendships more.

We wore ourselves out…outside, where we created games all day and came home to the loud yell of, ‘suuuuupper!’

I can still pack a good snowball and hit a target…and imagine…and remember.

Yes, snowball fights made good friends!

Steve

January 2019

srbottch.com for my WordPress stories

@srbottch on Instagram for photos

To all kids who played in the streets, created fun games with friends and still remember it all.

“Why? Why? Why?…”

BANG!

I thought I’d been shot.

My wife came running and was startled to find me flat on my back, expecting the chalk police to arrive any second to outline my perimeter on the hot blacktop and wrap our house with yellow ‘crime scene’ tape.

“What happened”, she asked, with a bit of worry in her voice.

“I misread the ‘psi’ on the tire and over inflated the damn thing, it blew itself to smithereens”. Sometimes, I impress myself with how quickly I can answer her deposition-like questions, but she saw right through me this time, as I tried to misplace the blame on the tire, itself.

wheelbarrow 1

‘How could you be so careless (you nincompoop)’? Wow, that hurt more than the ‘shot’.

She didn’t actually call me a nincompoop, but after decades of marriage, a husband knows his better half’s thoughts. Her eyes spoke ‘Nincompoop’‘.

However, it seemed a good time to employ a favorite troubleshooting tool of quality control personnel, the ‘5 Why’. State the issue, then ask a series of ‘why’ questions that lead to the root cause.  Let’s try it…

My wheelbarrow tire blew apart.  Why?

I over inflated it. Why?

I misread the psi number on the sidewall. Why?

I didn’t look at it carefully. Why?

Because I’m an old guy with bony knees and if I get down on the ground to look closely, then I may not get up again. Why?

It’s Life!

There, it works, doesn’t it. I seemed to have discovered the irrefutable and undeniable root cause of the tire explosion and deafening sound, Life, and I’m not sure there’s a ‘corrective action’. More ‘Whys’ might help, but Life is very challenging. Agree?

Fortunately, no injuries were sustained other than a momentary loss of senses, a temporary deafness and total embarrassment.

Have you ever crossed paths with ‘carelessness’? A friend cut a live electrical wire at home with nary a tickle. A brother-in-law used an electric hedge clipper to trim fingernails and only suffered 32 stitches. ‘Lady Luck’ was on their side this time. Or a Guardian Angel!

Unlike cats, we have 1 Life, so let’s be careful with it, not careless. And if you are the latter, try asking yourself, ‘Why?’. Ask it as many times as necessary to find the root cause of your ‘nincompoopness’. And, yes, while she may not say it, you’ll know she’s thinking it. Just look at her eyes…the ones that have been watching your faux pas for years.

Steve
July 2018
srbottch.com

To husbands, everywhere, but especially Steve P and Gary C for ‘giving’ me a story!  Be careful!

The Bar Chronicles: #13, The Gift

Bar Night 2

This evening’s soirée found us at a classy sports bar, The Back Nine in Pittsford, NY. The word ‘soirée’ seemed appropriate for this place, a cut above the ‘corner bars’ where we’ve been accustomed to resting our elbows.

Why this upscale establishment? I was the recipient of a surprise gift card to The Back Nine by a couple of very savvy young friends who suggested that it might be a good place to go with my ‘senior’ friends (they’re so polite) on bar night. I appreciated their generosity, was impressed with their recommendation and ‘awed’ that my readership is so young.

We ordered Guinness and Rohrbach Scotch Ale, hoisted ourselves onto the ‘bar height’ chairs, raised our glasses with a wish to good health, then started the dialogue.

“I’m throwing them out. Haven’t played in years and I need the space”, one of us began. And I thought, oh my, I’m having a tough time making that same decision. Old golf clubs and other stuff that I just can’t seem to push to the curb.

Old fishing tackle and salt corroded reels that caught whoppers and could tell the same. Old yearbooks with classmates I can’t remember and a picture that I swear isn’t me. And old books, the ‘trophies’ of my intellect, all a reflection of who I am. But all just stuff, old stuff.

Then, it hit me, on our 13th ‘bar night’ we’ve run out of stimulating topics and resorted to ‘end of life’ issues: paring down, getting rid of, throwing away.

“You know that farmers can fix anything”, interrupted the former farm boy at our table. I was thankful for the change of topic, the thought of unloading my personal inventory was getting depressing. But farming?

He continued, “Everyone should be a farmer for a while”! I considered his philosophy and doubted I would survive among all that equipment and stuff you walk in, but I now know who to call to fix my disassembled front door bell, another of my failed ‘DIY’ projects.

With our conversation beginning to drone and eyelids getting heavy, we managed to ‘unhoist’ ourselves from the tall chairs, snapped a photo and headed home. A red fox darted across the road, then stopped to look back. I thought to myself, that critter would look manly stuffed and displayed on my shelf…could a farmer do that for me?

3 Geezers

Steve
Srbottch.Com

To all who are starting to get rid of stuff, saving someone else the trouble.

Special thanks to Alice & David.

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