Who would have thought the sign would divide the small country neighborhood. Not since the Hatfields and McCoys has something caused such a feud.
The local home owners’ association has sent three nasty letters to the homeowner about not obeying the rules forbidding signage.
Three former teachers have written their own letters about the composition on the sign, since it should have been formatted correctly.
Many neighbors feel the “Please Go” sends the wrong message to people visiting the area. Realtors have complained that it is impacting their ability to sell homes.
Several of the older men in the area believe the “Old Dog” refers to them, and have taken up jogging to show they’re not slow at all.
Even the dogs now frequent the sign instead of the hydrants in the area.
Kids are now using the four O’s as bullseyes for their BB guns and pellet rifles.
The “old dog” the sign was meant for, is now simultaneously courting a Poodle and a Labradoodle.
Little did the neighbors know what he painted on the other side. If the women had seen and recognized their images, that would have caused a scandal instead of a feud. The rest of the story would be how the homeowner captured their exact likeness in a nudist colony.
He can be seen, sitting with a big smile in his Adirondack chair, while everyone else wastes their time on the side with just words.
I remember coming here twice with my Dad. We had fishing poles both times, and passed many good fishing sites, but both times he wanted to come to this spot.
The first time, we jumped from rock to rock. The last time, I had to hold his hand. I was sweating, and his shirt had turned a darker shade of brown. Seeing his shirt that day, reminded me of the times we threw the football to each other. For some time now, I was the only one running for them.
The last time we sat in this spot, I remember his magnificent smile. The large pool of water had dried into two small pools. Despite his smile, his eyes were tearing.
I asked him if something was bothering him. I remember his answer, like it was yesterday –
‘I was hoping this fishing spot would bring back memories, but it has changed so much. Nothing lasts forever, and I might as well tell you…I’m not going to last either. I’m passing away, very soon.’
I never told him I had read the doctor’s letter he threw in the trash months ago.
That day, the sun was glinting off trout in the small pools. I asked him if he wanted to fish. He said he would rather throw the worms in the water and watch the fish.
Here, with my son today, you have no idea of the joy it is to hear him laughing as the fish compete for our worms.
Many people are so absorbed in their daily lives, that they may miss what is truly important.
I witnessed a lovely wedding of two friends just recently. The day was a perfect Arizona day with bright sunshine and temperatures in the low seventies. The few clouds that existed, were Marshmallow consistency.
What I didn’t realize at the time, there were other witnesses to their wedding. The bride’s sister took a picture of two clouds, which looked like angels passing over. I’m not sure of the significance, but seeing the picture she took, forced me to pay some attention to what the story might be behind that interesting scene.
Both the bride and the groom had lost their previous spouses. Could the angels in the sky be their former spouses, coming to say they were indeed happy they had found new loves?
I have long believed that things happen the way they are supposed to. We don’t always know why things happen, but to see two clouds looking like angels, is something worth noticing, and wondering if there is any significance to the timing of a wonderful marriage.
The point of this writing is to take time to notice the things in plain sight, and to marvel at the ones that make us think that there is more to life, and maybe even after life itself.
We truly don’t know, what we don’t know. Life is such a gift, and a miracle, when you think about how things had to come together just right for us to be here.
‘A perfect beginning of a lakeside cabin vacation.’ That’s what we said heading to bed last night.
However, during the night, Nick and Tracy were laughing so loudly, they woke me up. When I went in their room, they were collecting large carpenter ants and putting them in bottles.
The ants were running across the ceiling and dropping on both of their beds. I went back into our bedroom and noticed the ants were doing the same thing there. However, Marie was still sound asleep, despite the black rain storm.
Without telling her why, I woke her and said we needed to look at the moon on the lake. Wrapped in a warm blanket, she sat on the porch, with a huge smile.
“Kids, I’ll give you ten cents for all of the ants you collect in our bedroom.” I went to the phone and woke the owner. “Yes, that’s correct…we have thousands of them invading the bedrooms.” He apologized, and said he would call someone right away.
Two hours later a guy started spraying the outside of the cabin, but I wanted to ask him what he was going to do in the bedrooms.
“Sorry about the problem, but I’ll take care of these Wasps right way.”
“What about the ants in the bedrooms?”
“You’ve got an ant problem TOO?”
I took him inside. “Dad, we need new bottles.” They were both standing with full bottles…the kids’ contract will cost more than the rental. What rental!?
“Yes, I’m sure. I would like to keep up my parents’ tradition.”
I had to count out loud, or I would forget where I was, “17,614, 17,615, 17,616.”
“David, dinner’s getting cold.”
I smiled and wrote the last number down, which I thought was the smartest thing I could do.
While we were eating, I decided to ask, “Since this contest is open to anyone wishing to submit their guess, what is the prize going to be?”
I jumped when my wife’s plate bounced. “David, you never listen to me. I told you there is no fee to enter and the prize is one-hundred dollars for the closest guess.”
“What if two people are the closest to the number…one below, and one above? Does that mean we give them both the prize, or do we split it?”
“You have to be kidding, do you really think that would happen?”
“Well, Mr. Kelley, our math teacher, would say, there is an equal chance of that happening.” I thought about the $100. “I think collecting a dollar from every entry would have been a good idea, with half the money going to the winner and the other to support a local charity.”
“Are you done with dinner?”
“I am now.”
I smiled, picking up my slip of paper, and realized I hadn’t marked where I left off counting. I felt the cold.
When asked about how the miracle occurred, the best explanation given was the following:
There were two mountain streams, and people admired how each reflected the sun in such a wonderful way.
Like all things in life, nothing remains the same, nor should it. Whether it was the work of Mother Nature or even fate, the two streams were brought together in a marvelous way.
People came from miles around to see the beauty which had been created.
Many remember how the former streams were a glorious sight to behold, but everyone now realizes they were meant to be combined to form a more marvelous union.
When people visit those mountains, they can still witness traces of the steam’s origins, but all realize that the true gift is that they were combined in such a wonderful gift, meant for all to witness.
It didn’t take long for people to name that miracle, and everyone that witnesses it, will realize that it is truly a miracle of love –
Mo would watch the reindeer playing, but he was never invited.
Each night he would sleep alone and silently say his prayers. He wondered if tomorrow would be different. Each day he woke and hoped today would be the day they would welcome him.
The hardest time of the year was when the Clauses would review the herd to pick those who would pull the magic sleigh. Mo was always in the back, trying to get far enough away so he wouldn’t be reminded he was Mo the monster.
Since there was a flurry of activity with the elves working extra hours to complete their projects, Mo knew it was that time again.
Mr. Claus rang the bell to announce the important selection process. Instead of the usual stampede, Mo noticed the reindeer moving slowly to the snow-covered field. When Mr. Claus asked for volunteers, not one reindeer moved forward. Even the reindeer with the red nose looked sickly.
The Clauses seemed concerned.
Finally, one by one, each reindeer moved to create a path leading to Mo.
The rest is history, or maybe just folk lore. However, those who observed the single giant reindeer pulling the sleigh commented that the presents seemed larger that year.
Things were never the same. When the reindeer picked their teams for play, Mo was always picked first. Mo realized that over time they called him Maurice, and wondered if it was because they truly thought he was nice.
(Note – Originally published in the 2012 Indies Unlimited Anthology)
We were new to New Hampshire. I was able to transfer to this location and we found the perfect house for our family of six. It was Christmas eve, and the very large tree was finally decorated, all of it from the floor to the fifteen-foot ceiling. It was perfect for four kids under ten.
This was the first year we could have afforded such a large tree, but it was nice to think that my bonus could be used for a vacation we had been putting off. The kids were excited but tired from the hours we spent finding the tree in the forest, getting it here, and then the hours of decorating.
My wife and I were enjoying the hot toddy, but we knew we had hours of wrapping to do. It was more important to let the kids make lasting memories watching the fire in the fire place and the all-white lights on the tree. I was proud of myself, having worked hard to be successful at this new position.
Bang, bang, bang, interrupted the current calm. We have a doorbell, but someone wanted our attention right away, and it was much too early for Santa Claus.
“Who do you think that is honey?” Marie asked.
“I have no idea, but they probably have broken several bulbs on the wreath, with all that pounding. I’ll get it.”
I opened the door to find two tall uniformed men standing there, and by their expressions, this was the last place that they wanted to be this evening.
“Can I help you gentlemen?”
“My name is William Ramsey and this is Paul McDermott. We’re National Park Rangers and are here to investigate someone cutting down a very large Christmas tree in one of the National forests. May we come in?”
I couldn’t swallow at the moment, and realized they must be looking for us…or more specifically, me. Finally, I answered stepping out of the way to let them in. “Sure, why don’t you come in.”
“This is my wife, Marie, and these are our four children.”
“Nice to meet you Marie. As I explained to your husband, we’re here to investigate someone cutting down a very large Christmas tree. I see you have a very nice one, yourselves. Did you purchase it?”
I answered before my wife could, “No, we did cut down the tree ourselves.”
“I see. Did you cut it down in one of the National Forests?”
“Well, we’re new to this area, but obviously, we did go into the woods.”
“Did you get a license and tag to cut it down? I don’t see one displayed on the tree, but you have indeed done a marvelous job of decorating it. Maybe I missed the tag.”
“We were supposed to get a license?” I could feel the heat on my face.
“Yes, that’s the way it works. In fact, there are only certain areas that trees can be harvested. Your tree is quite tall…I would say about fifteen feet, judging from your ceiling height. Am I about right?”
“Yes, that’s about what I would say it measures.”
He pulled a tape measure off his belt. “May I?” he asked, not really expecting me to say no.
He went over to the tree and measured the diameter of the tree about the height of his eyes. “Nine inches, Paul.”
The first words out of Paul’s mouth were, “Anything over eight inches in diameter, cut down without a permit is a…let me read it.” He pulled a small black book from his inside pocket. “If the trees cut are worth less than $1,000, the crime is a misdemeanor. Over that amount, the act is treated as a lower-level felony, with the possibility of up to seven-and-a-half years in jail and up to five years of probation.”
“Any tree over eight inches in diameter is worth one hundred dollars per foot…so that puts your tree worth about $1,500. I’m afraid, since I can’t replant the tree, you are facing a felony charge.”
“But I didn’t know.” I said that a little too loudly. All of the kids started crying behind us.
“Gentlemen, would you like a hot toddy to take the chill off?”
“I’m sorry Mam, but we’re on duty.”
His buddy took him aside and whispered something to him. “Paul reminded me that we are not allowed to work over twelve hours without supervisor approval. That time ended about thirty minutes ago. If you still are offering the toddy, we would certainly love to have some.”
While Marie went off to make the drinks, I decided to see if I had any chance of negotiating a solution. “Gentlemen, we’re new to New Hampshire, and I’m extremely sorry to have mistakenly cut down a tree without a permit. Obviously, the kids love the tree we have and took much pride in decorating it. Is there a donation I can make to the Forestry service to compensate for the damage I have caused?”
Three hours later, uncle Paul and uncle Bill left with a piece of paper I signed over to one of them. I wasn’t used to having a Christmas bonus anyway, so there was no real damage. The kids enjoyed their stories of hunting and fishing in New Hampshire, and we had also made plans to have them show us the best places to fish.
They were also coming back tomorrow to enjoy Christmas dinner. I was very glad that I was not in handcuffs and heading to jail.
Billy came over after they left. “Daddy, are they bringing presents with them tomorrow?”
“Billy, I understand it would be nice to have some additional presents, but let’s leave it that we have some new friends and I’ll still be with us for Christmas…okay?”
I thought to myself – we will certainly laugh about this every Christmas, but this wasn’t a laughing matter a few hours ago. I wonder if that check will make it to the Christmas Fund.