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Hiccups and Outhouse Poetry # 1361 12/01/14

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Each year when the weather cooperates we have our family Thanksgiving at the cabin by the river southwest of Charleston. This year we had forty three attend. Seems like about thirty of them were toddlers. Must be something in the water. It was babies everywhere and people were hollering to get that baby back away from the steep bank. Having that many people creates a slight problem concerning bathroom facilities, especially when some are town folks. There is an outhouse nearby but with all our modern technology, the art of using an outhouse has faded away. One necessary accessory for an outhouse is lime, not the margarita kind but a white powder. When sprinkled on certain objects it improves the smell of the outhouse. Many folks sit and wonder what the white powder is for.

Let’s take a side road just for a minute then we’ll get back to the outhouse. I’m taking some new medication and they warned me of a few side effects. The first thing I noticed was having hiccups regularly. When I started to make a sign to explain how to use lime in the outhouse I had an overwhelming urge to write a poem instead of just a note with instructions. Next time I see my doctor I will explain this urge to her. I can just see it now as she explains the side effects to the next patient taking this medicine for the first time. Something like, “Oh yeah, one more thing. One man reported an urge to write outhouse poetry.”

So the day before the crowd arrived I contemplated and compiled a poem which is now on poster paper tacked to the wall of the outhouse. “This here white stuff is called lime. Be sure and use it each time. Sprinkle on a little scoop, each time you have to poop. And the smell will be heavenly sublime.” Okay, that’s enough. Let’s move on.

Concerning the mad stone article, Thomas Peters reported that about 1905 his father, Gasaway, was bitten by a rabid dog. Thomas’ maternal grandfather, Uncle Bud Oats, accompanied Gasaway to a famous mad stone located in Ben Franklin. The stone was under the care of Estel Kirby who boiled the stone in milk and then it stuck to the wound. The stone was boiled again and it stuck for the second time. Gasaway survived for about sixty more years and I remember him well. If you are bitten by a mad dog, before your doctor starts giving you the treatment of painful injections, maybe ask him if he would first try a madstone. (Readers send in information about Estel Kirby.)

For years, Cooper Junior High Science Department received a weekly magazine, Current Science. This informative paper was a great companion to our regular science books that usually only contain information that is at least ten years old. An important issue was endangered species, one of which was the black footed ferret. From time to time there would be an article on the rare ferret and we kept up with its progress, or lack thereof. Nephew John Watkins was one of the students that read of black footed ferrets and their problems. Little did he know that one day he would sit beneath a blue spruce in Colorado and have lunch side by side with one of these rare animals from the weasel family.

John recently went elk hunting northwest of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, near the Cold Water River and Piedra River. His guide dropped him off at a large blue spruce one morning about 9:00 at an elevation of 9300 feet. The long limbs swooped downward and provided a natural blind. Before long a weasel like animal slightly larger than a fox squirrel came toward him to investigate. John had seen tame ferrets and thought this was similar. The ferret came right up to John’s feet but wasn’t interested in any trail mix nuts and raisins. The guide didn’t come back for him until dark and the ferret had hung around much of the day. At one time John saw it go down in a gopher hole and catch its lunch. It brought the gopher right beside John and ate it all. Back at home John verified it as the rare black footed ferret.

The black footed ferret, also called American polecat and prairie dog hunter, was not reported to the science world until John James Audubon observed one on his ramblings in 1851. Prairie dogs make up 91% of its diet and so as prairie dogs declined, so did the ferrets. They were declared extinct in 1979 then in 1981 Lucille Hogg’s dog brought a dead one to her porch near Meeteetse, Wyoming. Biologists scrambled to catch, raise, and release some of them in various locations such as Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, Utah, and yes, John, near Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Hopefully the little critters will keep increasing and be seen by more hunters.

Winter is the best time for star gazing. The summer triangle is high in the west each night. Vega is the brightest, Altair is between two dimmer stars, and Deneb is at the foot of the Northern Cross. Due south and low in the sky find the only bright star, Fomalhaut, anywhere in the area. The name has caused arguments for centuries. The most agreed upon English pronunciation is fo–mal–hout. The hout rhymes with stout. Many others say fo muh low. Ask yourself if you ever travel straight south at night. If so, you can’t miss seeing this star, the mouth of the Southern Fish. The three bright stars high in the south represent Orion the Hunter’s belt. They point southeast to Sirius, the brightest star of all.

A sandwich walked into a bar. The bartender stopped it and said, “We don’t serve food in here.” I had lunch with the world chess champion. We had a checkered table cloth. It took him an hour to pass the salt.
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