Dear Smiley: My stepfather decided to move my mother, my 5-year-old brother and 7-year-old me from New Orleans to his hometown of Marksville to be near his folks.
As city folks, we were not very excited, but my mom said it would be an adventure. Boy, that it was!
We moved into a huge farm house way, way out of town, with no inside plumbing and a outhouse in the back yard. My brother was obsessed with that outhouse.
First month: A horse stepped on my brother's foot, sending him to the hospital for observation. My mother stepped on two snakes on the back porch, sending her into hysterics.
Second month: I was sent to the hospital after I got too close to a horse and he began eating my braids. My mother went into hysterics because she thought he was eating my head.
Third month: My brother and I went into a field to see the cows. One turned out to be a bull. He chased us onto a fallen tree and bucked that tree back and forth, with us holding on for our life, for almost an hour until my mom and a farmer heard us screaming. Mom was hysterical,
Fourth month: I tried to introduce my pet cat to the cute little baby opossums on the back porch. My cat became agitated, and when I tried to calm her by kissing her, she bit my lip and sent me to the hospital for stitches and shots.
Fifth month: My brother's fascination with the outhouse got the better of him and he fell head first into it. I have never seen anyone throw up like my hysterical mother did that day.
Sixth month: We moved back to New Orleans!
Calm after storm
Dear Smiley: When my parents painted their living room, they needed a new picture over the sofa.
I remember Daddy saying he liked looking at pictures with a ship in a storm. So, I hunted for just such a picture but was unsuccessful.
However, I did find a picture of a very tranquil lake that had the perfect colors for their living room. When I handed it to Daddy, I told him it was the picture of a ship in a storm.
Upon looking at it, he remarked that he did not see a ship in a storm; only a picture of a very calm lake.
But then I told him, "Well, the storm was so bad that the ship sank."
Dear Smiley: Recent mention of turn-signaling failures brought to mind an event that happened to me years ago.
I was stopped at a traffic light directly behind a small pickup truck driven by an elderly gentleman.
When the light turned green, the small truck and I both went through the intersection, but immediately after that I could see the man’s arm — and the best description I can give is his arm’s motion was like a snake striking at the passenger side window.
He was also looking in his rearview mirror to be sure I saw what he was doing.
At first I thought he wanted me to see something on the right side of the road he was pointing to, but that wasn’t it.
Upon arriving at the next intersection, he made a right-hand turn. I give this man an “A” for signaling effort.
German tai chi
Dear Smiley: A few years back my wife, Mary Ann, and I took a Rhine River cruise through Germany.
A few of our assigned dinner guests on the ship were having occasional mild stomach aches due to the local cuisine.
One evening I noticed an Asian couple practicing their tai chi on the aft of the ship, which inspired me.
That evening while seated with our dinner guests, I discussed my chance meeting with the tai chi exercising couple and added this as "the answer to your stomach problems:"
Just practice our daily tai chi with the following mantra: “Sausage and sauerkraut in, sausage and sauerkraut out.”