Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 3-5-12
Not too often do I get to write five columns in February. But this year is an exception with Feb. 1 and Feb. 29 both falling on Wednesdays.
So, I’ll start off this exceptional column with a welcome true story from a faithful lady reader who ranches with her hubby near Wallace, Neb., Mrs. Clara Lea deTruff.
The lady tells me that there’s been a big, realistic-looking, ready-to-strike, plaster-of-Paris rattlesnake ashtray in the family for at least two generations. A few years ago, the plaster creation wuz handed down from her in-laws and ended up in Clara Lea’s home.
For months the realistic viper commanded startled attention from every visitor, but eventually, it became a distraction as an object d’art in Clara Lea’s home, so she decided upon a more subtle use for it.
Beneath a picture window everyone looks out is a cool-air return duct for the heating/cooling system. So, Clara Lea pulled the grate from the return, carefully placed the rattlesnake ashtray down in the duct and replaced the vent.
Then, fun began as folks would wander over to look out the window, then happen to glance down through the grate and see the rattlesnake. Their fearful reactions were always good for a belly-laugh.
But, then came a fateful day when Clara Lea called a local plumber out to fix some kind of plumbing problem, and as country folks will do, told the plumber she and Mr. Hubby would be out fixing fence all day, but that the house would be unlocked and that the plumber should just let himself in to get the plumbing fixed, then send them the bill.
What transpired next would have been great video for “America’s Greatest Home Videos” TV show, but that didn’t happen. So, you’ll just have to use what I call your Mental Home Video to “see” what happened.
First, the friendly plumber brought his young child with him to the job. Second, as kids are prone to do, the child got on the floor playing and happened to look into the vent grate and saw “a rattlesnake.” The kid ran shrieking to Dad for protection, all
the while loudly shouting, “I seed a big snake.”
When asked where the snake wuz, the kid pointed down into the vent grate and Dad took a look. One look wuz all it took. He ran to his truck, drove to a neighbor and borrowed a firearm, and promptly went back to Clara Lea’s home, pointed the gun down the vent grate and “blew that rattler to smithereens.” He literally turned the “snake” into plaster-of-Paris powder. Of course, there was major damage to Clara Lea’s home.
Clara Lea reports that when the truth of the whole matter came out, the plumber wuz so embarrassed that he refused to bill her for the plumbing repairs.
And, one more good thing about this little story. Clara Lea doesn’t have a future problem of passing along a fanciful family heirloom to the next generation.
I haven’t related all the fun/funny things that happened on the little vacation ol’ Nevah and I and friends took to Tucson, Ariz. One funny thing wuz we drove our rented car past a big truck stop on Interstate 10 several times at night. The name of the truck stop is the TTT and it has a big two-sided TTT neon sign that can be read from a quarter-mile away.
The funny thing was the neon sign at night. From one direction it properly read TTT. But from the other direction, the vertical part of the right hand T didn’t light up, but the top horizontal part of the T did light up, making it look like a cattle ranch brand that to a knowledgeable cattleman would read TT Bar.
To an old flatland farm boy like me, that Arizona cactus country is a mystery. There are a lot of small mammals, Gambrel quail and roadrunners that make their home in the desert, but I’ll never understand how they can navigate that terrain and not get their paws and feet filled up with cactus spines.
While in Tucson, we visited E.J., an old friend from Moran, Kan., who owns a beautiful little Bed and Breakfast in north Tucson he calls the Desert Island Dream. We ate breakfast with him and his guests one morning and watched him feed the covey of Gambrel quail and a flock of doves that wait impatiently every morning for their half-gallon of Kansas grain sorghum. It wuz a beautiful sight.
E.J. has a lot of cactus on his property and I learned something new about growing and transplanting Saguaro cacti. He said, if dug up and transplanted, the Saguaro must be replanted in the exact orientation of the compass as it was originally or it will die. He said any Saguaro sold will have the direction South marked on it so the transplant will thrive.
I thoroughly enjoyed our vacation, but I don’t think I’d thrive if I had to be transplanted to the desert. I’m oriented towards the Flint Hills of Kansas. I’ll close for the week with a few words of wisdom about the desert. Some feller named Ellworth Huntington said: “As a matter of fact, an ordinary desert supports a much greater variety of plants than does either a forest or a prairie.”
I’m not sure he’s right, but it’s his quote. So, have a good ‘un.
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