Month: March 2018

Possum Dog Chronicles

He lived a simple life, sleeping most of the day and doing the same at night. His well-worn pillow, crammed into the bottom of the black wire pet carrier, was a retreat from the noise and confusion of his new home. A home full of squeals from four little girls and sideways glances from a surly black and white cat who, judging from her demeanor, had begrudgingly decided to let him live. There was another dog who lived in the house as well. A large sandy coated hound of some sort who was easily excited and falsely vigilant with intruders. He knew her name to be Judy because that is what everyone shouted at her whenever the garbage was toppled or her long tail knocked a drink off a table. The cat said that Judy’s first act of unintentional defiance was crapping in the brown leather dress shoe of the human that the small ones called “Daddy”.

Of course, that was a story from a cat which is always to be taken with a grain of salt.

Judy was outside his cage at that very moment. Making desperate pleads with him to wake up. Nudging the door and whimpering. The Daddy was calling out. Concerned but not quite upset.

“Jasper. Jasper. Wake up Jasper.”

Jasper heard the words like an echo down a hallway. A disembodied voice calling him back to a world he had started to leave behind. Light entering the edge of his still open eyes shone upon a shrinking universe. The forms huddled outside of his cage were shadows flitting at the corners of his eyes. Blurry figures. Like trying to see someone through steamy shower glass. He wanted to answer. He felt the urge to meet the calls but his body would not respond.

“Jasper… jaspe…”

The sounds faded and he slipped into the darkness. This wasn’t his first trip but he didn’t know if it might be the last.

A week before, he had gotten excited when the Daddy had unexpectedly appeared through the front door. Never mind the fact that the Daddy had exited the house two minutes prior for the sole purpose of checking the mail. Put aside the fact that it was a Saturday and no one had actually left the property at all. In Jasper’s dog mind, the Daddy had returned. None of the details mattered. The Daddy was back and anyone coming back was exciting. Adrenaline rushed through Japser’s veins and made his hair tingle just behind his ears in the spot that he liked to be rubbed. The euphoria was too much for his elderly stomach. Jasper froze in a wave of nausea and puked up the lunch he had just eaten into a rusty red pile of Purina. He lay down to rest and fell asleep. Or passed out. A minor darkness.

Half an hour later he woke to the smell of something delicious nearby. Snacks! How fortunate that the Daddy had not seen the vomit and thrown it away like he did all the other times.


(His bowl is inside so Judy Cornbread doesn’t eat his food.)

This darkness was different. Deeper. More confining. He sank into the warm comfort of the nothingness while flashes of his short seven or eight years memory played in his mind. The home he shared with his first family. A father, a mother, two girls, and a rambunctious boy. He remembered laying in the sink in the bathroom while his Mother dried her hair with a magic contraption that created a wonderful stream of hot air that made his curly white hair ripple in the flow.

He thought of the house he was living in now and the baby bird in the backyard. He had been released into the backyard to pee. Somehow despite poor vision, a lack of teeth, and a general smallness; he had managed to track the bird to a small space under an old dog house. For a moment, instinct seized his sensibilities and forced his congested heart into service. Oxygen soaked into his inefficient lungs. He launched blindly at his prey and sank his one decent tooth into the baby bird’s vulnerable neck. He knew it was wrong but something in him cried out for murder. To show his power. To prove he wasn’t the feeble eyed, tendered footed Jasper. He was a conqueror. A warrior. The world was survival of the fittest and very rarely was that him. This memory made him feel large.

He thought of cheese snacks that he got every night and the little white pill hidden in the center. The powdery substance was bitter but the creamy goodness of the Kraft single was worth it. So savory and delicious. Even now, his dying mouth watered slightly at the thought; just as Pavlov hypothesized that it might.

Sound returned. Jasper’s ears became keen to the world around him. The humans were talking.

“What is it Judy? What’s wrong with Jasper? Uh oh. Hey honey… I think Jasper is dead.”


“Jasper. I think he died.”

“You always think he died.”

“This time I think he really did. Judy thinks so too.”

He heard more of the humans press closer around the cage. Peering at his lifeless body. The oldest female, the one called Mommy with the colorful hair, leaned in close to the cage and asked, “What should we do? Oh God. He is dead isn’t he?”

The small humans ran into the room. “Mommy, mommy, what is wrong with Jasper? Daddy what is wrong?”

“I think he is dead.”

The smallest of the group declared, somewhat inappropriately, “Boom! Jasper’s dead.” And she ran out of the room.

The Mommy was worried. “What are we going to do?”

“Dig a hole in the backyard I guess. What else is there?”

The Daddy left for the kitchen to get a ceremonial shovel and the customary garbage bag.


98.7% deceased. 

Jasper held tightly to those last words. A hole. In the backyard. A spark fired in his brain. Suddenly the darkness he thought was warm began to feel cold. A loneliness crept into his soul and he fought against the fading of the light. Fear. He swam towards the voices. Panic. He kicked against the currents. Desperation. Think of cheese. Think of killing birds in the backyard. This is not the end. Do not go gently into that good night.

Slowly he felt the tingle returning to his paws. He felt the rise and fall of a breathing chest and the irregular thump of an old dog’s heart. His eyes flittered and wiped away the milky glaze of death. He had returned and, just like the Daddy returning from the mailbox, he was excited. Jasper rose from the depths of the afterlife with a renewed vigor. An urge to spin circles and yip loudly like small dogs are prone to do. He was alive and excited! Resurrected! Full to the brim or hope and adrenaline and… nausea.


He danced in a circle and then vomited a small yellowish pile of stomach acid at Daddy’s feet.

“Never mind. He was just asleep.” The Daddy walked to the kitchen for yet another paper towel. “Welcome back buddy”, he said as he scooped the warm goo into a trash can, ruining what was sure to be a decent midnight snack.

If you enjoy stories about certain death that is overcome by the power of life, this post is for you. Happy Easter. I don’t think Jasper is any sort of savior but his name does start with a “J” and he has visited the realm beyond. If only he could talk.

You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Country Fried Childhood

The modern interpretation of “country” is nothing more than a misplaced label. It is a fashion fad that includes shiny trucks, fancy boots, domestic beer, and songs that manage to weave all three themes together with a catchy tune. The term “rural” probably applies better to the contemporary trend. Country is an ethereal way of life that is hard to define but when you see it, you know it.

I recently discovered a treasure trove of old pictures that I would like to submit as evidence towards a country certificate. This can be a game. First, look at the picture and try to spot everything interesting you can see. I will then assist by pointing out the things I see. We can compare notes in the comments.

I do want to offer a caveat or a p.s. to my mother and stepdad for what you are about to endure. I cherish everything about my childhood, it most definitely gave me perspectives and opinions that I would never have gotten. Plus I got lots of awesome pictures for my blog. Also, we are now square on the you-shooting-me-through-the-kitchen-window thing.

Okay disclaimers out of the way. Who is ready to play?



Lightning in Buffalo River

This one is easy. I’m riding a horse in a river. Notice anything about my horse?

No? Let me assist…


If your original answer was “Oh, I notice your horse looks like a victim from Jeepers Creepers or maybe the horse from Sleepy Hollow.” then you win. This was Lightning and he was the slowest stallion on the planet. A tumor left him with only one eye and he walked with his head slightly tilted to the left so he could see where he was walking. He was also really tall which is handy for lumbering around with a visual impairment. He was a good horse though. I hope he died of old age and not from wandering into traffic.

Bonus: I think I’m wearing one of my parent’s T-shirts.



You might be a redneck if entertainment was rolling down the hill in front of the house and letting the dogs chase you. It was good during snow but a little bumpy on grass. Also, I am wearing rubber boots which is the official childhood boot on a farm. Cowboy boots are for riding.



This is awards day at my elementary school being held in the parking lot. The only parking lot. Where did everyone park? We had a gymnasium. Why?

I don’t suppose this picture really goes towards the whole country theme but check out how deliciously 1980’s this day truly was…


Is that Michelle Duggar? What is she wearing? They still own this camera.



This photo.

Family vacation to Fall Creek Falls. What the hell were we wearing? Did we share a new pack of tube socks? This photo counts towards country because I showed it to my mother yesterday and she said, and I quote, “This looks so suburban.” On what planet under the almightly Lord’s sweet creation is this style any measure of “suburban”? Good lord.

A) I don’t think my sister has pants. Mom swears she does but I’m unconvinced. I do remember her Pizza Hut shirt was from a Land Before Time themed birthday party.

B) My stepdad looks like he escaped from the law and robbed the first elderly man checking the mail that he happened upon.

C) My cousin has rainbow short shorts. God bless the eighties. This might have been early nineties but those clothes are a hold-over. And we shared a haircut style too.

Who thought, Hell yeah, this is a moment. Y’all squeeze in close for a picture. They were right. This is awesome.

I may frame this one.



We built this barn like the Amish. Except the Amish get lots of people and do it in one day.  I remember building the skeleton of the barn and then adding to it every season by recycling some nearby building. Maybe a neighbor had a chicken coupe that they no longer wanted. Piece by piece we sculpted a masterpiece. There were these eight inch nails that were forged by the devil himself and intended to drive you insane because they would bend in a slight breeze. If you didn’t hit the nail perfectly it would bend in half. The nails were ribbed so they were impossible to pull out once they got started. I hated those nails.

Thirty years later and I think this barn is almost done. In multiple ways. I love sitting in the barn while it rains on the tin roof. It is very soothing.



This is a picture of my mom with a newborn foal but the item of interest to me is the livestock trailer in the background. The infamous “red trailer”. The yellow top is a recycled chunk of school bus and the sides and front were welded onto a regular flat bed trailer. Everything was then spray painted red. A few years of UV damage and some miscellaneous rusting created an awe inspiring symbol of country perseverance.

The foal was a girl and named Grace. She is an ornery old lady now. Also, that stall in the barn now has a solid back wall. When did that happen? Who knows. Barn gnomes.



We put a lot of effort into super fancy dog beds. This is Alicia, patron saint of our farm. She lived to 123 in dog years and in her final months of life she appeared to be a solar powered skeleton. She once fell off of a spiral staircase onto a concrete floor. Smacked like a bowling ball. Any mortal dog would have died from a brain bleed but not her. Nine feet down and she walked it off like a zombie that got shot anywhere besides directly-in-the-head. She was a really good squirrel dog and loved hunting down rats that lived under the dog houses.

All this stuff counts right?



This photo has lots of options; the wooden cows, the gun by the backdoor, the outdoor plant hanging inside, the playhouse in the backyard that was crammed full of junk or chickens (I can’t remember which), the curtains, and the pet bird (Spike) that was later eaten by a cat.


This is the cat, Patches. She avoided a brutal broomstick beating and lived to be an old lady. Its a miracle mom didn’t take her out with a shotgun after Spike got eaten.



This one is self sustaining. House trailer, trucks, dogs, a spare tire, gravel road. A song in a picture.

We had some farm animals that were dangerous and we kept a stick with us for self defense. We had a turkey and a goat that were both mean and immune to physical assault. I watched my mom loose her shit on the turkey when it tried to spur her. She grabbed a stick and whooped that dude like a dirty rug. He lived but not much longer after that incident.  I couldn’t find any pictures for those.

If you enjoy pictures that capture an era frozen in time, this post is for you. You’re welcome. To my Dad and Stepmom, don’t think you got off easy. I just haven’t gone through photos on your side in a while. Soon. soon….

-Underdaddy to the rescue.


Hopping The State Line

For some reason, society has decided that living life with anything other than two kids and two pets is crazy. Absolutely and certifiably, insane. If you just got married then you get a pass but it is only temporary. Time is tapping a toe and looking at a pocket watch. Get this show on the road.

If you are a little confused over what is expected of you have no fear, Hollywood and magazines have you covered. Or you could ask the internet indirectly by posting a picture and a phrase like “guess who is expecting!!”. If you have one child or less then you will get hundreds of likes. Maybe a few shares. Try it if you already have three kids or more and crickets…

So what is ideal? In an effort to save time I have looked into the matter. The ideal family has the following ingredients; a hard working father in a semi-physical trade that he can provide a good living but is definitely tired at the end of the day, a mother who makes a fuss over the family and is dramatic but she has a heart of gold and manages to cook all meals including school lunches; a son who is the oldest, good at sports, and is protective over his younger sister; a daughter who is the youngest and free spirited, highly pursued by boys but she is too busy with her studies for tomfoolery; a dog who is either a beagle mix or a golden retriever and was originally purchased as the companion to the son but is now best friends with dad; a cat who is fiercely independent but loves rubbing against legs when people are carrying large objects, she belongs to the daughter but you would never know it.

Throw in a white picket fence in a neighborhood with sidewalks and you have yourself a slice of America. Right out the oven.

If you don’t follow the recipe above then expect some of the following questions.

“Are you trying for a boy/girl?”

“When is the next one?”

“Are you ever planning on having kids?”

“Aren’t you going to give them a little brother or sister?”

or in my case…

“Four kids! Jesus. That’s one way to live your life.”

Old ladies in the supermarket are the most brutally honest. I have heard more than one person mention suicide if they had “that many” kids. Suicide! In front of my kids no less. It sounded more like, “Oh my. I’d don’t know what I’d do with that many. Probably jump off a bridge.” But honestly Gladiss, that is suicide.

Why wait lady? If life is that tough already. And thanks for letting my kids think that they are an unbearable burden.

It is just weird.

I have good kids too. They are polite and kind hearted. Definitely not “jump off a bridge” material.

People are no different with animals. The first dog or cat and people are all, “That is so sweet. Animals are such a blessing! Your kids will love it!”

Then hit them up with news about a rabbit or another dog or feeding an abandoned baby squirrel that lost its mother to a freak cat accident.

“Oh my.”

“Are you crazy?”

“What do you feed them?”

So what if I know what shows up when you type “squirrel nipples” into the Google search bar. It was a legit search. Go judge someone else.

I know people who spend more on booze than I do on animals. Or cars. Or fancy dinners. Hell, I spend more on fancy dinners than I do on pets. Which proves you can’t justify one bad habit by comparing it to a worse one but still… There are worse things than being an animal person or a having a large family.

All of the stuff above here was just a setup to say, “Hey we bought another wallaby. Her name is Bindi Lou Who.”


Now maybe you will feel guilty about giving me grief over it.

Maybe not. Either way.

If you like wallabies and secretly knew that we were crazy enough to get another one, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Tough Love Legacy

I was reading a book a while back and one of the exercises that it wanted you to complete was writing your own eulogy. Kind of weird. The purpose was to focus on the fact that time is limited and to motivate you towards creating a legacy. Try and imagine all the things that you hope people have to say. I’ve tried several times to complete that exercise and I haven’t had much success. I started writing things down that I hope my children will learn or that I would like to tell them at some point. It ended up something like this:

You cannot be anything you want to be.

Society wants to say you can. But that isn’t true.

You cannot be anything you want to be.

However, you can do the things that you want to do.

You are free to pursue your interests and learn about anything you want. You have more tools than any generation, ever. Don’t waste it on cat videos. (Not all of it anyway.)

You can do the things that you want to do. You can work hard at those things and get better every day. If you are successful and diligent you can find ways to keep doing the things you love.

You will become the things that you DO most often.

So, if there is something you want to be… don’t hope to be it.

Go and DO it.

If you want to be a writer. Go write. Start a blog. Write a story. Send op-ed articles to your local newspaper. Volunteer to write things that need to be written and learn your craft. Get a degree in it or don’t… but write.

If you want to be a speaker. Go speak. Join Toastmasters or a local club. Volunteer to be a spokesman. Go speak at public meetings. Make a YouTube channel and rant about the diminishing cuteness of puppies. Get a degree in public speaking or don’t… but speak.

If you want to be a farmer. Grow something. Start a greenhouse in your backyard. Buy land and livestock. Go work for a commercial farm. Get a degree in agri-business or don’t… but grow something.

Go and do. If you do long enough then you will BE.

It isn’t exactly that simple but then again it is. There are roadmaps and requirements for everything you can do. Go and find the recipe for your life.

Set goals. In six months I will do this. In three years I will do that. In ten years I want to be here. Dreams are fantastic in the moment but they fade in the morning light. We all know that if dreams aren’t written down and recited then they are forgotten. Make a list. Make a schedule. Work towards a goal. If you miss a deadline, don’t give up. Re-write the schedule. Reset the goal. Tomorrow is another day.

Get rid of the notion that people are born “good” at something. Know that people are born into this world with the ability to do two things; cry about their situation and mess their pants. EVERYTHING ELSE is learned. You’ll be ahead of the game if you forget the first two instincts somewhere along the way.

Ask questions. Lots of questions. Dumb questions. Smart questions. Ask them all and remember the answers. Look for connections. The world is a mystery but there are answers. An expert is someone who has failed in every imaginable way. Impossible is a roadblock for some people and a to-do list for others. Everything new seems impossible until someone does it. You live in a world of things that were impossible to the generation before.

Remember that people can be mean. They usually attack for one reason; fear. People fear things they don’t understand and things that threaten their beliefs. It is an animal instinct. Part of the reptile brain. That is why true debate about religion, politics, and if someone’s child is less than awesome – is not a good idea. When you feel attacked try to consider why your opponent feels the way they do and says the things they say. Most strong opinions are built around good intentions.

Don’t put up with bullies. Bullies usually feel powerless and need to pick on someone smaller to feel powerful. This is an explanation not an excuse. Don’t take their crap. If they attack you physically then by any means possible, defend yourself. A well-placed elbow can enhance diplomatic relations. All is fair in love and war. Just be sure that you had no other option. Be fast to forgive and seek friendship.

This one is touchy and I hesitate to say it but… College isn’t for everyone. I prefer you take your education as far as you can. That doesn’t necessarily mean college. If you want to work in a trade then getting a degree in Philosophy doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you want to work in manufacturing or sanitation then you might not need to rack up school loans for four years at a private college on a partial scholarship for badminton. On the other hand, a business degree can be handy if you want to own your own business one day. Just think it through and have a plan.

You are not bad at math. No one is. That is a lie that is easier to repeat than it is to cure. I challenge you to find a single employee who wouldn’t raise a ruckus over a paycheck being off. Or set three kids at a table, in front of a plate with only two cookies on it and tell me people aren’t naturally good at math. Algebra will have all three of those kids nervous because 2 cookies/3 people is less than 1 cookie per person. Life is a series of word problems. Most math struggles are a vocabulary issue.

Get involved. It doesn’t take long to realize that there is no THEY out there controlling things. Only a group of WE’s that made it into management. If you don’t like what an organization is doing, join that organization and DO things differently. Or offer an alternative. Pointing out problems is easy. Implementing solutions is the real magic.

And finally… remember that life is a competition but not against each other. Not for the things that really matter. Most of the time the competition is between humanity and mortality. We need resources and medicine and social fabric. You could be the hero who cures all disease or you might be the guy who delivers his mail. Every improvement is an improvement. Share ideas. Help each other. Get excited about any and all success. Be charitable. Be loving. Be kind. It does come back to you.

I have to tell myself this stuff every day. Part of the list of good advice that I try to collect. I’m always open to more suggestions and you should be too.

I Love You,


p.s.- Shut the door when you are in the bathroom. You are not barbarians.