Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on July 9, 2013

Well, everything must go out of my office for at least a day while we re-plumb the wiring. This has not been done in over thirty years, so I won't be able to say that any more after today.

That reminds me of one of my favorite quips to salesman. Recently we returned a vacuum cleaner that had a problem and, of course, the salesman looked me in the eye and said "No one has ever complained about that before!" My stock answer now is (like the above line). "You won't be able to say that anymore, will you?" Giving me a puzzled look, the man responded: "I guess I won't."

I am enthused to get started on the office because I woke up before Midnight and here I am down in my office moving things out. Something else going on around here is the Mecosta County Fair; it happens every year.

For me this means I can see the pigs, cows, bunnies, chickens, ducks, sheep, goats, and especially the horses.

The horses are waiting to see me early in the morning with their heads hanging out of their stalls. I am there to say hello, take their picture, and perhaps rub their noses. It is nice to see someone you want to see who also wants to see you. I have been an animal lover since I was a child and although it's not strictly true anymore, I am used to saying "I like animals more than people." I just like to be around them. They make me laugh in a good way.

A joke I make to myself and share with my wife Margaret is the fact that in astrology my Sun is in the vicinity of the fixed star Sirius, often called the "Dog Star." Not only have I always had a dog(s) in my life, but I swear that on all four sides (and in some diagonals) of our home we are surrounded by dogs. Everyone seems to have them, and they bark, howl, whine, and generally run around within earshot. I gave up long ago trying to shut them out. There they are.

I was a naturalist from the age of about six-years old, and raised dogs, squirrels, bunnies, birds, skunks, and about every kind of snake and lizard you can imagine. When I was about 16 years old, I collected huge rattlesnakes in Texas, snakes that were as big around as a child's head, but flatter. When I think about it today, I wince. And my mom was so great that she allowed me to have copperheads and rattlesnakes in our home, albeit down in my basement room.

I was the oldest of five brothers (no sisters), and we had to share bedrooms. I would go to almost any extent to have a bedroom of my own, which meant that I often was in a hot attic room or, in this case, a damp basement room. The room I am thinking about here was at 305 Wildwood in Ann Arbor, Michigan, just a few houses down from a wild ravine that still exists. I go and visit it when I visit that town.

Anyway, my dad was kind enough to rough out a simple room in the basement of that house, separating me from the laundry and the furnace. That is the good news. It had one of those tiny rectangular basement windows up high. And the bad news is that through that window, twice a year (spring and fall), water would come in through that window, down the wall only inches from where I slept, run under my bed, across the floor and out the door of the room where it vanished in a floor drain.

It was in that room that I slept with snakes, including as mentioned copperheads and rattlesnakes. I was in high school. I had no switch on the wall to turn on a light, but rather there was a lamp by my bed that I would have to cross my room in the dark to reach.

One day, coming in late from doing something or other, I crossed that room in the dark and reached for the lamp. I felt something swish by me, brushing my hand. It was one of the rattlesnakes that had escaped from its cage and was sitting on my pillow. That was about the end of keeping poisonous snakes in the house. What was I thinking, aside from that I loved the critters?

Anyway, I would guess that the height of keeping animals was where I live now in Big Rapids, Michigan. Margaret and I were on the board of a wildlife rescue operation, a group of folks who took in injured wild animals, rehabilitated them, and put them back in the wild.

Our back yard was filled with large and small stainless-steel cages full of animals and birds of all kinds. We had raccoon, fawns, possums, skunks, any old kind of birds, and so on. My kids loved it and they have grown up not fearing any kind of animals, but instead loving them. I am told that one of their favorite animals was a whole litter of possums that we raised from tiny things. Their mom was killed and we had to take them out of the mother's pouch. Of course, my kids named each and every one of them and even today they know how to care for animals.

My much-loved dog Molly (short for Molotov) came from my daughter May, who traveled with Molly for years, hitchhiking all over the country with the dog, riding freight trains and all of that, while busking towns singing the songs she writes. She is a pretty well-known singer today in the Midwest, traveling and playing with her musician life-partner Seth Bernard.

What I started out to say is that the mother of our dog of Molly was killed on a street, leaving a whole litter of pups who did not even have their eyes open. May raised them all in the bottom of an old sleeping, feeding them by hand and rubbing their tummies until the pooped and peed. Even today, Molly's favorite place is crawling under a blanket, especially if I am under it too taking a nap.

One of the skunks we raised we named "Stinky." We found him crawling in the middle of a road, a tiny thing who could barely see. His mother obvious dropped him while moving him somewhere.

Now Stinky was not denatured from his stink. That tiny thing had all the powers that creation had given him. And he also had a pair of old rolled-up socks that he would fight, and get real mad at. If he got mad enough, he would turn and blast those socks with a dose of you-know-what. Now that was funny to seeā€¦ and stinky too!

Hey, I better get back to cleaning my office.

[Photo from last year's county fair.]