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Omaha, St. Mary’s University & Cyrano de Bergerac

Far back in the swirling mists of time, back in the seventh decade of the past century—well, to be specific it was in 1966 and I needed a few more college credits to add to the motley collection I had amassed over the prior nine years.

I was a member of the United States armed forces at the time, not necessarily gainfully employed—military pay was miserly when compared to today’s pay rates. My wife and I were sharing—not equally but sharing—the responsibilities involved in raising a young family of three girls and a miniature Chihuahua, aged twelve, eight, four and one year respectively. That didn’t leave much time for study, but spurred on by my desire for a bona fide college degree, I enrolled in night school at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

I had almost enough college credits to transfer my hours to the Municipal University of Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska in order to earn a baccalaureate. I only needed a few more hours in general education, and at that time I had more than a passing interest in religion, so in my search for truth I enrolled in several courses dealing with religion. My final class at St. Mary’s was a study of early Greek philosophy and ancient Greek philosophers. Successful completion of that final course with its three hours of credit would allow me to transfer my hours to Omaha under the auspices of the military services’ Bootstrap program.

Remember my statement that working full-time and helping maintain a household and raising three girls and a Chihuahua was a hindrance to my studies? I did not do well in the philosophy class, and that was reflected by my final grade, a grade based only on the final test for that subject in that semester. No credit was given for attendance, dress or attitude, class participation or good looks—not that such credit would have helped me—I just thought it was worth mentioning.

On second thought I am convinced that extra credit was given in that class, but was restricted to the mini-skirted girls that monopolized the front row seats, habitually—nay, constantly—crossing and uncrossing their legs. However, I will reserve that topic for a future Word Press post—stay tuned!

The test consisted of four essay questions, to only one of which—number four—I penned a scholarly answer and was given the full 25 points allowed for each question. As for the first three questions, my blue test booklet showed only the numbers and that little black dot—the period—that followed each number. If you guessed my final number grade for the course as 25 you would be correct, and if you guessed my final letter grade as an F, you would be wrong. The priest that taught the class quite generously awarded me a D for the class, a grade that carried weight and could count toward a degree from St. Mary’s University.

That evening I asked the instructor for a private meeting, and we stayed in the classroom after the other students left. I explained the predicament in which the D placed me, and he told me that it could be used at St. Mary’s, but I explained that even if it could be transferred, Omaha would not accept it. I did not shed any tears during my private session with the priest, but I did allow my voice to waver and crack several times—I know I created a pitiful spectacle, but hey, I was desperate.

And it worked. He told me to study industriously and return to his classroom the following week on an evening that he had no class. I spent most of the next week studying the material and writing notes on small scraps of paper. Yes, they were cheat notes—I said I was desperate, right?

I returned the following week and the priest gave me a blue test booklet and a paper with four hand-written questions, then told me to find an empty classroom on the second floor, take the test and return it within one hour. Although the evening was balmy, I sported a sport coat fitted with two outside pockets and two inside pockets, all filled with those little scraps of paper that I mentioned—I was running late that night and had forgotten to remove them—honest! (And if you believe that, I have some ocean front property in Arizona, etc., etc.)

The rest of this story will be mercifully brief. I found an empty classroom, entered and closed the door behind me so I would not be distracted by hallway noises, and also with the hope that I would be alerted should the door be opened while I was cheating on the test. And now, just one more short paragraph and you, my readers, will be free to search for greener pastures of literature. I know full well that the final paragraph will require readers to suspend disbelief, but so be it—as Bill Clinton might say, It is what it is.

I removed not one cheat note from my stuffed coat pockets—not one. I had worked so hard to identify test material to put on cheat notes that I knew the material by rote. I never knew the actual point grade given, but my D was upgraded to a C that was immediately transferred to Omaha’s municipal university, an institute of higher learning that graduated me in the spring of 1968, the last class to be graduated before the university became UNO, the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Postscript: Please note that I said the Municipal University of Omaha graduated me, not that I graduated the University of Omaha. One cannot graduate a university, no matter how mightily one strives—only universities have the right and the privilege to graduate. Yes, I am aware of the common usage of the verb phrase to graduate, but I steadfastly refuse the common usage, electing instead to abuse the words of Cyrano de Bergerac as given voice by Edmond Rostand in his 1897 play—like the mighty oak I stand, not tall but alone—or something similar to that.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Books, education, Family, Humor, Military, poetry, Writing

 

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Reflections of a Chihuahua named Bimbo . . .

Reflections of a Chihuahua . . .

She was a German Shepherd and she was beautiful, so beautiful that I was immediately drawn to her. I was attracted by her looks, but there was also a strong aura about her, a heady odor like fine perfume, an aura to which I was irresistibly drawn—I was incapable of resisting it. However, she took umbrage at my attempt to exercise my right to conduct an olfactory examination of her you-know-what-and-where, a highly sensual and sensitive area that normally would be readily presented to a dashing male such as I, one with a highly sensual, sensitive and inquiring nose.

At the first sniff she spun around and smiled—at least I thought it was a smile, but it was accompanied by a sound remarkably similar to a snarl—in fact she was snarling, and I realized that I had bitten off more than I could chew—so to speak. The lady was taller, longer, stronger, wider and heavier than I, and I realized that my rejection and my defeat were inevitable, so I dropped and rolled over on my back, presenting my soft underbelly, a universal practice among the canine genus. Such a move was a sign of surrender, and any self-respecting canine would acknowledge that action and desist from ripping said underbelly from stem to stern. I was duly rewarded by her response—she stopped snarling and with a slight smile began a non-offensive visual—and olfactory—survey of the area I had presented for the coup de grace.

Please note: That is not me in the picture above—the photographer just used him to stand in for me. I’m brown and white and I’m much—well, I’m much cuter and I’m a lot bigger, if you get my drift! And the picture above him is not the beautiful lady—that’s the Big Guy, the one that did me in.

The object of my affections abruptly began laughing, uncontrollable laughter, actually falling and rolling in the dust, making no attempt to conceal her mirth. At first nonplussed, I came to the realization that I had inadvertently displayed more than my vulnerability. I had also exposed my essentials to her view, hence her dissolution into gales of laughter—no, it was not disillusion rather than dissolution—admittedly a fine distinction but applicable. At this point, I must inform the reader that, for a Chihuahua, I was remarkably well—let’s see, what’s the past tense of the verb to hang? Yeah, that’s it—that’s what I was!

The reason for her laughter was simply the contradiction of my essentials relative to my size. The truth is that when my Maker made me, He made my essentials first and then hung the rest of me on them—got it? I was well-known around the neighborhood, and for good reason!

When the Big Guy, a full-grown male German Shepherd arrived on the scene I immediately sprang to my feet and attacked, realizing that in some battles surprise is tantamount to victory. However, the battle was over in a few seconds—just one giant chomp by the Big Guy and I was soon en route to the vet, in a state of shock but feeling very little pain, and soon after my arrival I was free of pain and in another world, detached from my former world but still aware of it.

I seemed to be hovering above the doctor and the man and the young girl that took me there, the same folks that I had lived with since my birth some seven years earlier, except for several months that I lived with another family after I climbed our backyard fence and went exploring. I had a good life with my family—they even took me with them on vacations—none of that vet boarding for me! Click here to read about a memorable vacation I took with my family—it’s well worth the visit and the read! It’s all about Chihuahuas, ham hocks and butter beans.

I followed Mike and Kelley to their car and stayed with them while they took a long drive through the countryside, moving at a slow speed, neither of them speaking and both crying. My tears also flowed freely—at least I felt like I was crying, but I was not sad—I could see the beautiful place that lay ahead in my future and I looked forward to being there—no more standing at the patio doors pretending to be freezing on the hottest day of the year, hoping I would be allowed to come in so I could pee on the living room carpet. I learned early that the shivering act would bring almost immediate relief from the Texas heat.

Listen up, everybody! There is a place called Rainbow Bridge. You can Google it if you don’t believe me, but for those that may not have a computer and those that are too busy to bother Googling, I’ll furnish a precise description of Rainbow Bridge below. I’m there now and I’m happy, but always on the lookout for certain people—they know who they are, and I know we will be together again—they have to come through here—it’s a requirement for entry into their ultimate destination. And they need to know that I’m here with Sambo, Hammer Head, Phu, Tuffie, Yuki, Mikki, Dumas Walker, Annie, Callie, Tee, Shiloh, Heidi and Buster and several others—their names escape me for the moment—we’re all here waiting, and in the meantime we’re having a ball!

That’s my story, Reflections of a Chihuahua named Bimbo, and I’m sticking to it!

Signed: Bimbo, the well “- – – -” Chihuahua

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together . . .

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2010 in death, pets, religion

 

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Redux—Chihuahuas, ham hocks & butter beans . . .

I originally posted this story on May 24, 2009. It has languished there ever since—only one vote has been cast, albeit a vote for excellence and albeit cast by my mother’s youngest son—me.

This redux is for the benefit of those that do not delve into the past in search of blog baubles. Not that this posting is a bauble—I unashamedly and with all humility consider it to be a jewel, a true story with no equal—oh, alright, I’ll concede that some tales may equal it, but none will surpass its innate humor and pathos.

Enjoy!

Chihuahuas, ham hocks & butter beans . . .

A recipe for disaster:

Assemble one medium-size ham hock, one pound of dry butter beans, a medium-size cooking pot, a reasonable amount of water, and one Chihuahua.

Place ham hock, butter beans and water in pot. Cook over medium heat until meal is done (beans should be soft, ham should strip easily from the bone). Have the Chihuahua stand by while meal is cooking (don’t worry—when he smells it cooking he won’t stray very far).

When meal is done, strip most of ham from the bone (leave a little for the Chihuahua) and serve with butter beans and such other vegetables, drinks and breads as desired. Place leftovers (minus the ham bone) in refrigerator.

When ham bone is properly cooled, give a few beans and the ham bone, with bits of meat still attached, to Chihuahua for his enjoyment. Allow him to gnaw on the bone to his heart’s content for the next two days

After his two days of enjoyment, patiently (and very carefully) separate the snarling Chihuahua from his ham bone and place him, full of butter beans and ham cooked with butter beans, into the car for the 800-mile return trip to San Antonio, Texas.

The end result? (pun intended)

DISASTER!

My mother used the above recipe with devastating effectiveness in the summer of 1966. My wife and I took a vacation with our three daughters and Bimbo, an adult Chihuahua with a voracious appetite. En route to South Georgia to visit my wife’s relatives, we made a brief stop in Alabama to visit my mother, my brother and his family.

Mama loved animals—she and Bimbo became instant friends, and she prevailed on us to let her look after Bimbo while we were in Georgia, pointing out that we could pick him up on our way back home. We readily obliged—Bimbo had a strong predilection for intestinal gas, with its accumulation and discharge not restricted to any particular type of food. In short, we were happy to leave him in Alabama.

On any automobile outing, seating for our family, including the Chihuahua, rarely varied—elder daughter in front seat, two younger daughters on opposite sides of the back seat and their mother in the center, strategically placed to keep the two girls separated, father behind the wheel and Bimbo standing, rear feet in father’s lap and front feet placed on the door’s cushioned armrest—the little dog loved watching the scenery pass by, and barked at most of it.

I feel that I have effectively laid the groundwork and prepared the reader for the rest of this narrative—I’m fairly certain that most readers by this point are far ahead of me, so I will try to be brief in my finishing remarks (good luck there!).

At numerous times during the long trip home, anyone who happened to be watching would have seen a black-and-white 4-door automobile swerve off the highway onto its shoulder and screech to a halt—then all four doors would fly open and all the car’s occupants would stumble out, coughing and retching with eyes streaming tears—all, that is, except the Chihuahua—obviously he wasn’t as bothered by the results wrought by Mama’s recipe for ham hock and butter beans.

We made it safely back home, and in retrospect we found that part of the trip to be hilarious, but it was definitely not funny at the time.

Bimbo had a good life and a fairly long life—born in 1964, he lived until 1972 and enjoyed good health throughout those years. The little fellow met his demise while fighting another male dog over the affections of a female dog—had he known that he was no match for the other dogs, neither for fighting the male nor for (insert 4-letter verb with gerund) the female, he may not have been as quick to vie for the female’s favors, but he had no way of knowing that the other dogs, both male and female, were full-grown German Shepherds. However, I believe that had he known, he would have still persisted—he was, above all, a Chihuahua and backing away from a fight or a (insert 4-letter word here) was not in his nature.

I’ll get back to you later with more details.

Postscript (not in the original posting):

My youngest daughter and I took Bimbo to the vet immediately when we learned of the brutal attack, and we said our goodbyes after the doctor gave us the results of his examination—our little lover had suffered terrible damage to his heart and lungs, damage that could not possibly be repaired—relieving him of his pain was the most humane action to take, and we gave our consent.

My daughter and I drove around for awhile before returning home—we needed some fresh country air and time to collect our thoughts, and our tears flowed freely. Bimbo had been an honored member of our family for nine years, and we loved him in spite of—or perhaps because of—his many faults, frailties and freakish actions, performances such as standing at the patio door, shivering uncontrollably on the hottest summer day in Texas’ history, begging to be allowed to come into the house.

Bimbo also did all the things that dogs do when they have not been relieved of any of their internal or external body parts, acts that should need no clarification. Bimbo seemed to do such things more frequently and with more delight than other dogs we have known and loved. A prime example was his frequent abuse of a small brown Teddy Bear, a child’s toy that was stuffed and sewn into a prostrate position, a pose that readily lent itself to abuse by our diminutive canine Lothario.

Thirty-eight years have hurtled by since Bimbo left us—I still miss him.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


 
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Posted by on February 28, 2010 in Childhood, Family, food, Humor, pets, Travel, Writing

 

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CHIHUAHUAS, HAM HOCKS & BUTTER BEANS

CHIHUAHUAS, HAM HOCKS & BUTTER BEANS

RECIPE FOR DISASTER:

Assemble one medium-size ham hock, one pound of dry butter beans, a medium-size cooking pot, a reasonable amount of water, and one Chihuahua.

Place ham hock, butter beans and water in pot. Cook over medium heat until meal is done (beans should be soft, ham should strip easily from the bone). Have the Chihuahua stand by while meal is cooking (don’t worry—when he smells it cooking he won’t stray very far).

When meal is done, strip most of ham from the bone (leave a little for the Chihuahua) and serve with butter beans and such other vegetables, drinks and breads as desired. Place leftovers (minus the ham bone) in refrigerator.

When ham bone is properly cooled, give a few beans and the ham bone, with bits of meat still attached, to Chihuahua for his enjoyment. Allow him to gnaw on the bone to his heart’s content for the next two days

After his two days of enjoyment, patiently (and very carefully) separate the snarling Chihuahua from his ham bone and place him, full of butter beans and ham cooked with butter beans, into the car for the 800-mile return trip to San Antonio, Texas.

The end result? (pun intended)

DISASTER!

My mother used the above recipe with devastating effectiveness in the summer of 1966. My wife and I took a vacation with our three daughters and Bimbo, an adult Chihuahua with a voracious appetite. En route to South Georgia to visit my wife’s relatives, we made a brief stop in Alabama to visit my mother, my brother and his family.

Mama loved animals—she and Bimbo became instant friends, and she prevailed on us to let her look after Bimbo while we were in Georgia, pointing out that we could pick him up on our way back home. We readily obliged—Bimbo had a strong predilection for intestinal gas, with its accumulation and discharge not restricted to any particular type of food. In short, we were happy to leave him in Alabama.

On any automobile outing, seating for our family, including the Chihuahua, rarely varied—elder daughter in front seat, two younger daughters on opposite sides of the back seat and their mother in the center, strategically placed to keep the two girls separated, father behind the wheel and Bimbo standing, rear feet in father’s lap and front feet placed on the door’s cushioned armrest—the little dog loved watching the scenery pass by, and barked at most of it.

I feel that I have effectively laid the groundwork and prepared the reader for the rest of this narrative—I’m fairly certain that most readers by this point are far ahead of me, so I will try to be brief in my finishing remarks (good luck there!).

At numerous times during the long trip home, anyone who happened to be watching would have seen a black-and-white 4-door automobile swerve off the highway onto its shoulder and screech to a halt—then all four doors would fly open and all the car’s occupants would stumble out, coughing and retching with eyes streaming tears—all, that is, except the Chihuahua—obviously he wasn’t as bothered by the results wrought by Mama’s recipe for ham hock and butter beans.

We made it safely back home, and in retrospect we found that part of the trip to be hilarious, but it was definitely not funny at the time.

Bimbo had a good life and a fairly long life—born in 1964, he lived until 1972 and enjoyed good health throughout those years. The little fellow met his demise while fighting another male dog over the affections of a female dog—had he known that he was no match for the other dogs, neither for fighting the male nor for (insert verb with gerund hereother than fighting) the female, he may not have been as quick to vie for the female’s favors, but he had no way of knowing that the other dogs, both male and female, were full-grown German Shepherds. However, I believe that had he known, he would have still persisted—he was, above all, a Chihuahua and backing away from a fight or a (insert noun here—sans gerund) was not in his nature.

I’ll get back to you later with more details.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2009 in Family, Humor, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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