A Frog, A Hog and A Dog

Note: If you can’t be there, then write a story #3

By Grandpa

For Ben & Summer

A Story About Friends

A frog, a hog and a dog

This is a story of three very different friends, a FROG, a HOG and a DOG, and the fun they had when the rain stopped and the sun peeked from behind the clouds.

Three different friends

The smallest friend, a FROG, had smooth green skin and made funny noises with its throat, ‘Ribid’, ‘Ribid’!

The biggest friend, a HOG, had rough, pinkish skin and made grunting noises with its nose, ‘Grunt, ‘Grunt’!

The medium size friend, a Dog, had skin covered with thick black and white hair and made barking noises with its mouth, ‘Woof’, ‘Woof’!

It didn’t matter to the frog, the hog and the dog that they were different, they just enjoyed each other’s company, especially when the rain stopped, because you know what you have when the rain stops…

PUDDLES!

All sorts of puddles: BIG and SMALL puddles, WIDE and NARROW puddles, DEEP and SHALLOW puddles. oodles and oodles of puddles…

(color the rain, clouds, grass and puddles)

And what do you do with puddles? The frog, the hog and the dog knew…..

Jump in them!

Stomp in them!

Run in them!

First, the frog jumped in a puddle and made a small splash. After all, the frog was the smallest friend. But the frog was having too much fun to be concerned about the size of its splash. Look at that big frog smile!

(color the happy frog!)

Next, the hog squatted it’s bottom in a puddle and made the biggest splash. After all, the hog had the biggest bottom.

(color the ‘biggest bottom’)

The hog was having so much fun, so it splashed in another puddle.

This time the hog stomped up and down on its hind legs snd waved its front legs, which wasn’t easy because the hog was so big. Puddle water splashed everywhere…

(color the hog stomping the puddle)

Just look at that happy hog face…

(color the happy hog face)

Finally, the dog ran into a puddle, went one direction, then went the other direction before rolling in the puddle. The dog was covered with muddy puddle water from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, except for one spot. Can you find it?

(color the happy dog)

The dog had so much fun. Just look at that happy dog face…..

(a happy dog face)

As I enjoyed watching the frog jump, the hog stomp, and the dog run through the puddles, I was distracted by the cheerful sounds of children playing in the distance.

With my trusty binoculars, I was able to see a boy and girl playing in their own puddles. They wore the perfect boots for jumping, running and stomping, a blue pair and a pink pair.

(color the boy, girl, grandpa and tree)

I wonder who they were…

Do you play in puddles with your friends?

“I wondered who they were”
“Just look at those happy faces!”

Listen My Children…1775

‘Listen my children and you shall hear…of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…T’was the 18th of April, ’75…’ (H. W. Longfellow)

A little bit of US history as memorialized in Longfellow’ long poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.

My 5th grade teacher, Miss Meehan, wrote several stanzas on the blackboard (remember those?) and we had write them, ourselves, then memorize them.

I’ve never forgotten those stanzas and am reminded of the history and Miss Meehan every April 18th, today. It’s important to remember our history and important people in our lives. Miss Meehan was a good teacher and that period in US history was, well, what can I say.

It’s also important to understand our past, as a country and an individual, so we can learn and make in-course corrections as we continue to grow.

Paul Revere wasn’t the only rider that night and the British grabbed him before he got carried away with his warnings to the public. However, HWL chose to use him in his narrative and now his name is synonymous with revolution and liberty.

I hope you find the poem to read, yourself. And, as I like to do, read it aloud. It seems to resonate better with me when I do.

Remember history, and the teachers who made it come alive for you.

Steve

If You Can’t Be There, Then Write A Story: #2, ‘Daisy The Dog Makes A Friend

The first story was a hit with the grandchildren. The video of our son reading it demonstrated they had great interest and even were able to decipher the sketches as to who was who. It was fun writing and illustrating the story. So much so, that I’m trying my hand at it, again.

As a reminder, the story is based on real events, all the way down to the staring.

Enjoy and any tips to help my sketching are appreciated.

Steve

The Shovel (and me)

Credit: Wonkee Donkee Tools

I grew up in New England, in a working class neighborhood of 3-decker houses, large multi layered structures with a family occupying each floor. My family had the first floor, and why not, it was ours. Renters took floors two and three. From my earliest recollections, the house was heated with coal. A coal shovel, or two, was always laying on the dirt floor of our cellar, between the furnace and the coal bin

The ‘coal man’ would drive his delivery truck along side a ground level window above the coal bin, and deliver the coal via a long chute from the truck, through the open window and into the bin.

It was my dad’s job to shovel the lumps of coal into the furnace, regularly, to keep a steady flow of heat into the house. The heavy steel shovel with upturned sides was the tool he used for the job. It was laborious.

I was still a youngster when dad converted our furnace from coal to oil, but the shovel still had a purpose. It became my tool of choice, my only choice actually, for shoveling snow. Never mind the weight of a big snow, the shovel, itself, was a man’s size tool, heavy, and using it to move snow was laborious.

Along came the light weight aluminum snow shovel, specifically designed for that job. What a blessing. Of course, aluminum isn’t as strong as steel and it strained under the weight of a blade full of snow, rivets loosened, the cutting edges bent* and the shovel became less stable. Snow removal, became frustrating, as well as laborious.

Ahhh, plastic. So many products once made of steel are now made with plastic because today’s resins used in plastic are super strong, resilient. The plastic shovel has proven to be very light weight and durable. I have two that I’ve used for years. They moved with me from house to house and do quite well at removing snow. Nevertheless, the very task of removing snow, itself, is still ever laborious.

As time passed and I could afford something more elaborate, my choice of snow removal tools and methods changed. I bought a snow blower, or thrower. It’s big, powerful and noisy. However, while it shortens the labor time, I’m still challenged with the physicality of operating this machine. It’s remains laborious.

This year, I splurged and hired a plow service. While he plows the driveway with his truck, often before the first light of day, I watch from my kitchen window, between the slats, coffee in hand, slippers on my feet, and dressed for indoors in flannel pajamas. I find it to be less laborious.

Oh, yes, I still use a shovel to even the edges. Easy!

Steve (srbottch.com). February 2021. *thank you, Liz!

For more fascinating shovel info, check out ‘wonkee donkee tools, an English website and it’s not laborious https://www.wonkeedonkeetools.co.uk/shovels/what-are-the-parts-of-a-shovel

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.

The Bar Chronicles: #19, “But, Your Honor, It Was Only Manure”…The Story Tellers

Bar Night 2

We sat among the boisterous patrons of Cavalry’s Irish Pub, enjoying a break from another long hot summer day. With cold beers in hand, the mood brought out the best in our diverse table-talk, as we prattled on about Leonardo DaVinci, mathematics, world population, and ‘stealing’ manure.  If that doesn’t run the gamut from haughty to hillbilly, nothing does.

Caverly’s was unusually noisy this warm September weeknight, even the normally sedate ‘bar dogs’ were feisty whenever a friendly face sauntered in from the street. Nevertheless, frayed by the season long struggle against heat and humidity of this oppressive summer weather, patrons were enjoying a relaxing evening of camaraderie. a typical bar scene, strangers talking with strangers as though they were long time friends.

It was difficult to hear the sordid details of the one among our small group describing his appearance before the local magistrate on crap caper charges, years ago, of course. A good story was developing and our Senior group leaned in with hand-cuffed ears, straining to hear the narrative and guffawing, as Seniors do, when a funny story is finished.

Seniors are good story-tellers.  With longevity comes a trove of life experiences, good fodder for comedic routines around a drinking table. We are wonderful receptors of these stories, too, because we’ve experienced a potpourri of crazy stuff and can identify with much of it, even when the details are embellished by the story teller.

What we did hear tonight was funny, the misadventures of a young man innocently trespassing onto a farmer’s field for a trunk load of bovine excrement to use as fertilizer, and the resulting incarceration in the back of a police squad car and subsequent court appearance to answer charges. How does one explain a charge of ‘stealing manure” to a judge? We laugh now, years later, but at the time, there was genuine concern for the potential damage to a good reputation.   

Some stories are best told in a bar scene when the collected few are mellow and easily moved to believe, and laugh.  And the teller, himself, is likely more animated by the attentive audience he knew, and the few strangers he didn’t, leaners-in from adjacent tables and stools, hanging on for the verdict.

These stories are the essence of our ‘bar nights’, friends gathering to enlighten each other with opinions, observations and anecdotes. The beer is secondary. We can’t drink that much, anyway. One or two and we’re on our way home, richer for the experience and ready to drift asleep with good thoughts and smiles of another ‘bar night’ with good friends 

Do you have a story waiting to be told?  Tell it to friends and have a good laugh! Maybe have a beer with it.

Steve
September 2018
srbottch.com

The Bar Chronicles, #11: The ‘Poo-Poo’ Platter

Bar Night 2

“…and yet a true creator is necessity, which is the mother of our invention.“ (Plato)

The sidewalk tables were filled with patrons on the first nice evening of spring and Caverly’s Irish pub, a corner bar on South Ave in Rochester, NY,  was headed for a busy night. We filed inside, four of us tonight, the screen door slamming behind us, as screen doors are wont to do, a not so subtle announcement of our arrival. No one noticed.

Inside, we claimed our usual spot, an old, round pedestal table near the door.  Its nicked and bruised finish could not belie its history as witness to many rowdy nights of reveling. The Irish music was a bit loud, but tolerable.

We’re not philosophers, seers nor politicians. We’re just four friends, retiring gentlemen all, sitting around a table, commiserating about how things are and wistfully offering how they ought to be, if we ‘ruled the world’.   And, of course, the cold beer or two we’re enjoying helps validate our opinions and solutions on this, our eleventh ‘bar night’.

Tonight was a night to drone on about the unimportant ‘why’s and and why nots’ in life. Good fodder for idle conversation for ‘older guys’, but in the overall scheme of life, not so much.

We raised and clinked our glasses in traditional fashion, gently, to avoid spillage and waste, and toasted best wishes to one and all,  then began our mundane topics.

Why does rush hour traffic move like an inchworm, stretching and compressing, stretching and compressing? And, why is the cost of higher education so high? Why not just make it free by using other people’s money?  Contrary to the axiom, there are ‘free lunches’ if another party pays.   We picked good fodder tonight, didn’t we?

And for the gem of the night, why isn’t there a reliable option to scooping up dog excrement other than a hand in a plastic bag? There is now, the hands free and no mess ‘poo-poo platter’, a two piece assembly consisting of a plastic bag over a five gallon pail cover (photo).

PooPooPlatter 1

Simply slip the ‘platter’ under the dog’s bottom as it squats and collect the ‘deposit’ in real-time. Fold the bag over the cover with the poop inside, secure the top and properly dispose of it. What could be more simple, efficient and cleaner?  I would attach an action shot, but…

Our group was somewhat hesitant, shall I say reluctant, about investing in further development of the prototype I introduced. It needs marketing and all the stuff that could make this the next ‘hula hoop’: low investment, big return.  No one was willing to play the ‘Shark Tank’ game, maybe for good reason.

We didn’t solve any major problems and laughed about the ‘poo-poo platter’ on the ride home, a straight ride in our town. The frivolity was a perfect example of  the camaraderie among this peer group; lightweight topics and the willingness to express inane thoughts.  It fit perfectly into the blog theme of ‘good times, good places and good people’.

By the way, I’m a perfect 20/20 for ‘catches’ with the ‘Poo Platter’…

PooPoo Platter 2

Steve

srbottch.com

Dedicated to problem solvers everywhere, even those who just talk about it

“That’s Why They Made Arms…”, A Father’s Lesson

1951 Dad at Ptown

“Pardon me”, I mumbled, while stretching and reaching in front of a shopper more involved with a cell phone call than picking a yam and moving outta the damn way… (excuse my tone, but, yes, I was becoming impatient in a grocery store).

“It’s okay”, she replied curtly, “besides, that’s why they made arms.”

Regardless if it was sarcasm, naïveté, or simple courtesy, her reply completely disarmed me, no pun intended.

I had no retort except to sigh and smile, which was not a bad thing. If we all could be coy enough to react to interruptions and interferences with a bit of sugar-coated sarcasm, there would be fewer angry people.

My ‘old man’ (I never called him that, but it seemed to fit well here) was a hard worker in every sense, fishing being no exception. He would rouse us early from our warm bags and onto the water before sunrise and before the fish started feeding. We worked hard for the catch and ridiculed, even scorned, the late arriving boats, the ‘9 to 5ers’.

A late Spring morning found us fishing for striped bass in a small bay somewhere on the Cape Cod coast (fishermen never reveal exact locations). With anchor down and the morning fog burning off, we were surrounded by schools of stripers and enjoying water thumping hits every cast. The late arrival from a shoreline dock noticed us and slowly motored his skiff closer and closer, casting deeper and deeper into ‘our waters’, hoping to be part of the action, himself, but failing miserably.

You could see it coming, my dad’s tolerance level fading fast, beginning with icy glares over our bow and across the water at this intruder who was oblivious to the angler’s rule, ‘you don’t fish in another man’s water’.

I was impressed with his effort to maintain control and decorum, but not surprised when he dropped his rod, cupped his hands in a funnel around his mouth and delivered a bellowing invitation, dripping with sarcasm…

 “Why don’t you come closer?”

The gulls watched from a buoy, the water went glassy, the fish quit working. We were surrounded by silence, waiting.  And then, it came…

“Thanks, but I think it’s the lure!”

It was a classic mocking response,  deliberate and subtle.  My father was at a loss for words … but not action.

The ‘old salt’ grabbed the wheel with one hand, gunned the motor, spun the boat to roil the water and headed to shore. With the other hand, he reached upward and back toward the interloper, and with nary a glance, delivered the anglers’universal one finger response.*

I realized then, years before my grocery store episode…

That’s why they made arms!

Steve B
srbottch.com

dedicated to ‘the old man’ who has filled my life with stories and lessons

*the writer does not approve this behavior, then or now…