Tuesday, September 22, 2015

False Advertising

I have been away from our peaceful gravel road home for a few weeks now.  I have noticed some strange phenomenons while cruising around northeastern Florida.

Every day, every non-rainy day, a couple down the street walk their dog.  While this may sound normal to you, the manner in which this dog is being walked is a bit odd.

I first spied this couple as I drove down the street.  They were an elderly couple out for a stroll pushing a walker with a seat.  "Awww," I thought.  "They are out enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.  If they get winded they can take a rest in the walker.  Smart people."

It was only as I passed the couple I realized this was not what they were doing at all.  Yes, they were out for a stroll.  But the walker was not intended for a rest.  It was for pushing their tail wagging, tongue lolling dog!

"Maybe this is a one day thing for the dog," I considered.  Yet every day before supper time they push that happy dog down the street.  He sits proudly on his seat grinning from dog ear to dog ear.

Another day Doug and I were driving to the hospital when a cow passed us.

"Doug!  Did you see that cow driving down the road?" I exclaimed.

"No, I did not."  He reached over to feel my forehead.

A few miles later we caught up with the imaginary car.  It was really a van painted brown and white like a cow that might be found in the field by our house.  However protruding on the roof was a set of large Texas Longhorns.

I wondered, "Why?"  Did this person want to be a cow in another life?  I do not understand this.  Now becoming a cat in another life would make good sense.

Water is everywhere here in northeastern Florida-the ocean, lakes, rivers.  People here love their boats.  Boats are a common sight in and out of the water.  They can be spotted zooming down rivers, towed down the road, and abandoned in front yards.  When I spotted a lone boat motor I was confused.

"Doug, look!  There is a motor on a stick in front of that house."

We pulled over and examined the lollipop motor.  It was actually the home's mail box. Someone had taken the time to gut the interior of the motor.  They cut a door.  Installed a flag and called it their mail box.

I have come to the conclusion that Florida has false advertising.  The bottom of a Florida license plate reads; "Sunshine State."  I have yet to see that yellow ball of fire.  It sprinkles.  It pours.  Thunder rolls around like a ping-pong ball batted during an intense game.  Just today we were having a peaceful lunch out with Doug's mother when the skies opened up and rain spilled out at an alarming rate.  Our truck was blocks away.  We dashed from store front to store front keeping as dry as possible.  However there was no way to keep our toes, feet, and shins dry when crossing the street.  Water was standing as high as car doors in the street.

These unusual sights have kept me amused.  I wonder what other things I will find in the days to come.  One thing is for sure.  It reminds me I live in a "normal" part of the world.  However, normal is just a cycle on the washing machine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Red, White, and Boom!

It was the Fourth of July and time for a parade and a shindig with my extended family.

The day started just after noon as I picked up my 97 year old uncle.  We headed to meet my cousins and go to the annual small town parade.  I'm getting used to these celebrations.  The flying candy, tractors of every color (This year there was a pink International tractor!), and local fire departments hosing down the parched children make for a homey parade.  I felt cheated this year.  There were no squeaky clean manure spreaders proudly rolling down main street.

The next stop was my cousin Pat's house out in the county.  This is the hub of activity for the Fourth of July.  A freshly washed John Deere mower with an American flag waving in the wind greeted us at the end of the driveway.  The day was cloudless with a hint of warmth.  It was perfect for sitting outside munching on grilled hamburgers.

"Hey!" I exclaimed.  "This hamburger is great.  Maybe the best I've had."

Everyone peered at me and rolled their eyes.  "It's not a hamburger.  It's a pork burger.  This is Iowa."

O.K.  I've been here only three short years.  I'm still learning.  Besides I've never cooked a hamburger much less a pork burger in my life.

Pat's son and grandson were there with tons of fireworks.  Fireworks are illegal to buy in Iowa.  But we are so close to Nebraska and Missouri where one can purchase them every rural Iowan sets off some kind of boom and sparkle in celebration.  I'm not sure, however, that everyone has a trunk full with enough celebration to last all day.

Pat's ten year old grandson spent the day setting off everything from poppers to magnificent light displays in the sky.  The loud boomers were a favorite during the day.  They could be heard for miles echoing in the hills.  He then pulled out poppers.  This was a new experience for me.  I soon learned my uncle kept a large stash in his pockets.  He handed me a pack and provided guidance on the correct way to pop poppers.

It is all in the wrist.  Pull one off.  Flick it with your wrist to the ground.  You will be rewarded with a cap-gun like pop and a tiny bit of gunpowder smell.  While the grandson set fireworks off all day, the uncle popped poppers.  None of his were duds.  His technique was picture perfect.  I guess I need about forty more years to improve my technique.  I had lots of duds lying on the ground.

A hot-air balloon-like firework was lit.  Fire burned at the bottom lifting it up in the air and over the corn fields.  We were having a Forth of July celebration.  This balloon had jumped out of line.  It was a giant jack-o-lantern laughing all the way to...I really don't know where it ended up.  It didn't take but a few minutes for it to soar out of our vision.

There was something else quite peculiar going on.  Most people I know ignite their fireworks with a strike of a match.  Pat's grandson had larger ideas.  He used a blow torch.  A blow torch!  My face turned a pretty shade of blue many times that day waiting for him to stop, drop, and roll.  As that never happened, I'm guessing he was properly instructed in the safety of the fiery torch.  Next year perhaps I should be properly instructed on how not to watch the lighting of the pretty things in the sky.

As odd as a blow torch was, it was not the oddest thing that summer day.  Pat's daughter pulled in the driveway in a clown car.  Actually it was a clown van.  The vehicle was stuffed with her daughter and friends and all the things they thought they needed for an evening of sitting and watching fireworks.  The clown van's back hatch wouldn't even close.  She had driven ten miles down a pot-holed road with the back hatch fully open.  Amazingly nothing bumped out of the van and into following traffic.  We soon noticed the hood was properly secured either.  This had to be a clown van.  They came not only with unlatched car parts but loads of laughter.

Dusk arrived.  We pushed our chairs together as the grandson set the stage at the end of the driveway for the big finally of the evening.  We were not disappointed.  There were glittery fireworks, multicolored ones, heart shaped ones.  Our ears were treated to sizzles and booms.  Fifteen minutes of wonderful sensory overload.

The food was consumed, the trunk of the car was void of fireworks, it was time to head home.  Everyone and everything was crammed back in the clown van.  The back hatched was tied shut and the hood monkeyed with and slammed.  The uncle and I cruised past the town's fireworks display.  It did not compete with the show we had just witnessed.  And I know the company we were in was the finest around.  Thus ending another spectacular Fourth of July in the Iowa countryside. 

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Aliens on Our Road!

Doug and I moved to Iowa and our children thought we had lost our minds.  "What are you going to do for excitement in the middle of nowhere?" they inquired.  There are fun things to keep one entertained here in the country.  But yesterday there was excitement right down our road.

I had headed out early for my morning walk.  I could hear the whop-whopp of a helicopter in the distance.  As I came over the hill I spotted it.  The crop dusting helicopter was flying low over a soybean field.   He pulled up and soared towards the sky like an eagle only to quickly dip down again like a famished sea gull after a piece of bread.

I whipped out my cell phone to call my trusty helicopter flying husband knowing he would want to jump in the truck and take pictures.  I figured he could pick me up and I would ride along.  Some air conditioning sounded really good.

We followed the aircraft across the river.  Of course by then the helicopter decided to spray the other side of the river.  Doug turned the truck around and hit the gas.  By the time we were back where we started the helicopter was a spot in the horizon and the support truck was kicking up dust on the gravel road.

Defeated we headed for home.  That's when we found the real excitement.  There on our gravel road was the support truck and trailer in the ditch.  The truck was wedged flush against the ditch with the trailer sitting cock-eyed to the road.  Crawling out of the passenger side window was a young man.

Doug, the fireman, rushed to the accident.  After assessing the situation, Doug hollered to me, "You do not need to call 911.  There is no blood."  Which was code for the guy was OK and I could get out of the truck.

The young man was visibly shaken up, but unharmed.  He was more concerned about the brand new Ford duelly with only 4000 miles on it and the support trailer.  The trailer was duel purposed.  The landing pad for the helicopter was a small platform attached to the top of the trailer.  Under it held insecticide and gas and goodness knows what other kinds of toxic and flammable materials.  He was also worried about how the owner of the company would take the news.  Oh, the owner was his dad.

The young man was not bleeding but shaking like a dancing panda.  "Are you sure you're OK?" Doug asked.

The next words out of this man's mouth made me take two and half steps back.  I think he was an alien.  The young man replied, "Yes Sir."

The standard Iowa reply would be "Yup."  I tiptoed to the back of the truck to steal a look at the license plate.  It confirmed my suspicions.  This guy was an alien!  His license plate was from Texas.

We continued to assess his health as my cousin came by on his small tractor.  "Everyone OK?  Man he must have been going fast."

"Yup."  Doug and I answered.  (We have been Iowan's for three years now.  We knew the lingo.)

A few minutes later the mailman stopped by.  "Everyone OK?  He must have been going too fast."

Then a lady I had not meet yet came walking down from her house up the road.  I knew I would like this lady.  There were several kittens that scurried around her house.  She was smart enough not to mention the young man was obviously going too fast.

Soon the accident scene was a hubbub of farmers.  All of which said to this shaken up young man, "You were going too fast."

I think by this time he had probably figured that out.

Four farmers came and had the situation assessed in minutes.  They then sped off in their respective trucks and a John Deere gator only to return with massive chains, a large green tractor and a pay-loader.  (So I called the pay-loader a scoopie thing.  I was corrected.)

The tractor chained itself to the trailer while the pay-loader lifted.  Within minutes the trailer was loose.  It disappeared down the road to the neighbors farm.  The farmer was kind enough to get it off the road.

The pay-loader was not finished with his job.  Chains were secured to the truck and little by creaking little the truck was pulled from the ditch.  The young man was confident he would be able to drive this new dented up truck back to Texas.  I had my doubts when I saw black gold running out of his engine.  Then I heard something about a tire rod going clean through the engine.  I think "totaled" is the word everyone was whispering.

About that time the helicopter pilot showed up in his truck.  I spied his license plate.  It also said Texas.  However his truck was not a duelly.  When you cross the border into Texas I think it is the law all trucks must be duellies and you must have a Texas flag.  Duelly or no duelly he was an alien also.  I stayed four feet away.

We heard clank, clank, clank in the distance from the farm where the trailer was towed.  It sounded like dwarfs working in a Disney movie.  The clanking was actually the farmers working to try and repair the trailer.

And the guy with the scoopie thing, I mean pay-loader, must have a cape in his closet.  He rescued me last winter from being snowed in for half a year.

This is Iowa.  Things happen that we don't expect.  Iowan's step up to the plate and help where ever and whenever they can.  Even if they do not know you and will never see your alien face again.  Doug and I are proud to call ourselves Iowans.  Maybe one day we'll have a tractor and return some favors and rescue someone.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oh My! Babies!

A couple of posts ago I welcomed Willie and Raul to our happy spot in the country.  Willie came by for a visit.  When he heard of Doug's impending return, he moved as advised.  Raul, however, had other ideas.

I had just crawled out of bed when Doug, the early riser, yelled to me.  "Come quick!  You've got to see this."  It was first thing in the morning.  I didn't think I needed to see anything but my cup of tea.

Outside the dining room window was Rafaela, aka Raul, inching down a large oak tree.  Her mouth held precious cargo-a baby raccoon.  Raul was a she.  A she with babies!

Rafaela toted the baby across the driveway and under my potting shed.  Then she popped out and scaled the oak tree again.  She shimmed into a hole where we lost a branch last summer.  Doug and I waited breathlessly to see if there was another baby.  Sure enough Rafaela snagged another and began her long journey down the tree.

She didn't back down like I would have if I had my mouth full of squirming fur.  Head first was her choice.  About 100 feet from the ground Rafaela lost her footing and tumbled to the hard ground below.

I knew, just knew, she was dead.  Doug was going to have to crawl under the potting shed to retrieve the first baby.  We were going to become raccoon mommy and daddy.  Once again we would be up at all hours of the night giving our twins bottles and changing diapers.  Well, cleaning up poop at any rate.

But Rafaela shook off the fall and picked up stunned baby.  She deposited baby number two under the shed and returned to the hole. 

"Here she comes with baby number three!"  Doug exclaimed practically jumping up and down.

Behind her was an awful racket.  Baby number four had crawled out of the hole with no supervision and started up a long thin branch.  He was screeching up a storm.  I suppose I would too if I was the last child left in a hollow tree that is probably infested with bugs.

Rafaela gave baby number four a look.  You know the looks all mothers give when they are ready to clang their child over the head.  She meticulously carried baby number three (which I'm sure had a sopping wet neck by now) back to the hole.  Rafaela emerged baby-less and began the steep trek up to where the naughty child stood squawking.  Baby number four was snatched from his particularly small branch.  I don't think Rafaela was too pleased with her baby.  She did not carry him by his scruff back to the hole.  He latched onto his neck rather tightly and tossed him into the dark buggy tree home.

Mother disappeared behind the mischievous child.  Several minutes later she climbed out with her mouth full of baby.  I wonder what she was doing for those long minutes in the hole.  Do mommy raccoons spank their babies?  I have no doubt baby got a scolding at the least.

Four times Rafaela carried her cute as a button babies down the tree.  They were now safely housed under the potting shed.  Doug and I wondered what their next adventure would be.  Our game camera was promptly staged in front of the potting shed.  We would become raccoon spies.

We were surprised spies!  Rafaela must have been up and about earlier than Doug on baby moving day.  The game camera showed five babies tagging after Rafaela in the dead of the night.  They were prancing after their mother like my preschool children on a line rope.

A few weeks have gone by since under the potting shed became "Home Sweet Home" to Rafaela and her clan.  Sadly they have moved onto larger spaces away from our homestead.  But we now have a new little black kitty outside.  There always seems to be some wildlife to watch and ponder about on our sweet spot in the Iowa countryside.

Speaking of babies.  As only a future Mother-in-Law can hope for.  Congratulations to our daughter, Nicole, and her new fiance, Jon.  Jon welcome to the family!  You do realize we come with the package.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Spin the Bottle

I had adamantly declared I was not going to go anywhere the summer of 2015.  I was staying home to pull weeds and pet cats.  Doug whined and did some arm twisting.  I found myself riding shot gun with him on a  four day tour of Iowa.  He called it the "Spin the Bottle Trip."

Armed with an Iowa map, Iowa Travel Guide, a directory of Iowa's Best Ma & Pa Restaurants, two bottles of water, and pictures of the cats (in case I forgot what they looked like) we pulled onto the gravel road.  Our intentions were to steer clear of interstates.  We were looking for two lane roads with interesting sights.

We traveled north through Ida Grove.  The architecture there was not the typical Iowa made in the late 1800's, but a surprising medieval flare.  There were castles and moats.  Shopping centers were designed with turrets.  I huddled in my seat expecting an armored knight to appear with his lance thrusting in my direction.  Luckily Ida Grove was a quick drive through.

Our first stop was in LeMars, the Ice Cream Capital of the World.  We were traveling with no children so ice cream for lunch was on the menu.  It was 2:00 and our stomachs were protesting loudly as we hurried into the Well's Blue Bunny ice cream shop.  We bellied up to the bar as a fresh faced teenager produced menus for us.  A three page menu.  So many ice cream choices-sundaes, cones, shakes, parfaits...   Doug opted for a strawberry shake.  We watched as real strawberries were scooped into the silver glass.  Always watching my figure I opted for a single scoop Bunny Tracks cone.  It arrived sitting daintily in crystal glass.  There was nothing dainty about the scoop.  It was a full meal.  We couldn't pass up the bunny shaped sugar cookie either.  Yum!

LeMars has 55 statues of ice cream cones over 5 feet tall.  We meandered around town searching for some.  Each was different and had noteworthy sayings pertaining to the building they were representing.

The two lane road next took us to Okoboji-Iowa's Great Lakes.  Being a virgin canoeist we thought this would be a beautiful place to break me in.  I cinched every notch in my life vest to the fullest, "I'll never breathe again," while explaining to Doug what will happen to him if I get dumped out of the canoe.

It was a peaceful paddle.  Trees soared over the water providing cool from the sun.  Boats of all sizes were docked at the water's edge.  Many had excited children jumping into the water.  Their carefree chatter carried around the lake.  Mother and Father ducks and geese paraded their babies by the tall reed grass.

The next morning the bottle pointed us in the direction of Clear Lake.  We hiked to pay our respects to Buddy Holiday at the memorial in the middle of a soy bean field.  In the town of Clear Lake we visited the Surf Ball Room, the last gig for Buddy Holiday.  Inside is a small museum for Buddy Holiday and all the entertainers that played there over the seventy years.  It was easy to imagine couples dancing and laughing on that cold February night of the plane crash.

Once again our stomachs were rumbling.  We dug out our Favorite Ma & Pa Iowa Restaurants book and headed to Starboard Market.  I think this was a mistake.  There were too many mouthwatering choices for sandwiches and salads.  Then I turned around and saw the spread of bars and cookies!  Doug would not let me have dessert only for lunch two days in a row.  Party Pooper!  We took our over-stuffed sandwiches, salads and bars (I was holding those just in case Doug had any ideas about being too full.) to the nearby park on the lake.  It was a cloudless day with colorful sail boats drifting by on the glassy water.

We pointed the truck towards the Mississippi river.  That's when I saw it!  I knew all good things came from Iowa and this confirmed it.  Reindeer!  A whole herd of them standing up to gawk at us as we creeped by with our cameras.  Behind the pens was a red house.  I knew, just knew, Santa came from Iowa!  I'm not sure how to explain the John Deere mail box.

We spent the night at a homey Bed and Breakfast nestled in the valley of the Mississippi.  We had a hearty Midwest breakfast with a couple touring Iowa from North Carolina.  They had also had ice cream for lunch in LeMars the day before.  We headed up to Pike's Peak to hike and check out the view.  And what a view!  Majestic trees stretched for the sky while the mighty Mississippi curled around them.  We could see Wisconsin and beyond.

Once again my stomach was talking to me.  We made our way to Dubuque.  My Louisiana friend, Esther, said we had to ride the cable car elevator.  It is the world's shortest, steepest scenic elevator. At the street below are many cute shops and eateries.  A word of warning if you ride the elevator-Do not move while the car is in motion!  This will stop the elevator in mid-transit and award you a scolding from the operator above.

Our stomachs were once again satisfied.  We looked for an outlet to work off lunch.  We stumbled across a State Park in Maquoketa.  The park boasted hiking trails and caves.  I told Doug, "I don't need to go traipsing through any caves.  Caves have bats and I can see those in our attic."  He assured me it would be more exciting than that.

And it was!

The day was sunny and warm.  The hiking trails were shady and cool.  We ambled down steps to the largest cave appropriately named Dance Hall Cave.  The cave was a refreshing 53 degrees.  Water trickled down the limestone formations and pooled around our feet.  There were no bats and no one was dancing in the cave but me.  The park held many different caves each with a marker signaling if it was a walk through cave or an explore on your knees cave.  The Rainy Day cave was marked with an explore on your knees cave, but was actually a walk-in cave.  I coaxed Doug in behind him.  He is however, about a foot taller than me.  That particular cave was more of a head banger for Doug.

A spin of the bottle landed us next in Iowa City.  We toured the Herbert Hoover Library and homestead.  While strolling the grounds we encountered the North Carolina couple from the Bed and Breakfast in McGregor.  Great minds must think alike.

We had another hearty lunch from our Ma & Pa restaurant guide and headed for home.  A quick scan of the map showed the Amana Colonies close enough to drive through.  I convinced Doug we should make a quick stop for dessert.   

While enjoying a scrumptious pastry the hair on the back of my neck stood on end.  The couple we met at the Bed and Breakfast from North Carolina appeared.  Were they stalking us?  Were they planning to find out where we live and kidnap the cats? 

Luckily that was not the case.  They were out enjoying the great state of Iowa just like we were.  There are many more interesting things to see and do in the state.  I'm sure Doug and I will take another "Spin the Bottle Trip."  Maybe next time he will let me bring the cats.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Welcome Willie & Raul!

I have not always been a fan of spring.  Growing up in the south the flowers were perpetually in bloom, the grass was green on both sides of the fence, and leaves covered the trees all year.  I always thought spring was colder than it needed to be.  Living in Iowa for the past three years, I have come to realize the beauty of spring.

Winter departs slowly in Iowa.  This morning I awoke to a temperature of 28 degrees. While this may sound like huddle back under the covers and stay in bed weather, it's not. After months of zero and subzero temperatures, 28 with the sun radiating through the windows is quite pleasant.  This afternoon the mercury will rise to a balmy 55 degrees.  I can head out and mow the sprouting grass.

While I tootle around on the lawn mower, I can appreciate the beauty of the perennials poking through the winter brown dirt gracing it with color.  Green leaves are everywhere. Peonies are popping through with purple stems standing tall and proud.  Tulips are exploding with vibrant yellows, pinks, and red.  God, our painter, is using colors again!

Spring also brings visitors.  Peeking out from under one of our small sheds I spied a black nose. Shortly a brown furry body followed it.  Willie, the groundhog had awakened and stopped by for a visit.  He practiced his yoga, standing tall and stretching down.  The sun warmed him as he stretched out basking in its warmth.  Evening approached and I had to be the bearer of bad news to Willie.

"Willie," I hollered into his hole under the shed.  "You can't visit too much longer.  Doug will come home.  He says you are a menace.  He is going to find you someplace else to live. If you want to choose your own summer home you need to skedaddle."

I haven't seen Willie since.

There was a furry mass in our hundred plus maple tree.  Creeping outside, I wondered if bears had started to inhabit Iowa.  It was then I spied the black mask on the creature.  It was Raul, the raccoon. Raul caught sight of me and meticulously crawled his way up a branch.  He eventually nestled into a hole in the branch.  (A hollow branch strategically waiting a time when Doug is abroad to crash to the ground, leaving me to figure out how to clean it up.)   Raul peeked out at me.  He was too cute!

I explained to Raul that Doug said he could stay as long as he didn't get into any of our outbuildings.

Later, I peered into our hen house and saw signs of Raul visiting.  While there are actually no hens in the hen house, it is home to numerous boards and junk.  It appeared Raul had been in there flinging boards and making a general mess of it.

Raul has moved to another hollow tree between two other sheds.  (This tree is also biding time for Doug to leave and crash to the ground.)  I supposed he thought he could divert my attention from the untidy hen house if he lived away from it.

Really Raul?  Doug will notice within being home eight minutes that something is amiss.

Spring also brings babies.  They are the cutest babies ever!  Every spring one appears from under my potting shed.  He hippety-hops around munching on grass and tulips. Subconsciously I planted a few tulips close to the potting shed so the baby could have dessert. Baby bunny enjoys sunning himself in the cool grass by the shed.

Unfortunately I am not the only one enjoying watching baby bunny.  Snuggles has discovered baby bunny relaxing in the grass.  I warned her to stay away from "my" baby bunny.

Then tragedy hit.  I discovered Snuggles in the driveway with baby bunny's ear in her mouth!

I dashed outside in my stocking feet scolding Snuggles at the top of my lungs.  "Put baby bunny down.  Now!"

Baby bunny was doing the twist trying desperately to remove his ear from Snuggles teeth. I nabbed Snuggles by her scruff setting baby bunny free.  He was so disoriented he hopped in circles before darting across the yard and flying under the potting shed to safety.

Snuggles is now in spring time out in the garage.  She can have recess again when baby bunny is mature.

That's spring in Iowa.  I am going to head outside and take in the sights and smells of the season. Birds singing in harmony.  Crisp air scented with lilac.  Apple trees with thousands of pink buds swaying in the breeze.  Along the way I may see a critter or two.  I might have to take a few hundred more pictures of baby bunny.  And I will remember to wave at Snuggles as she gives me the evil eye from her perch in the garage window!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Man vs. Ass

My cousin, Pat, asked if I wanted to go see Donkey Basketball.  Donkey Basketball?  I had played a basketball game of "Horse" with my kids in which I usually got the pants beat off me.  I figured this was something of the same.

Our family filed into the high school gymnasium.  There were twelve of us.  The ages ranged from my 97 year old uncle down to my 5 year old fourth cousin.  Pat promised this would be hilarity for all ages.  I was skeptical.  While "Horse" was fun to play with my children, watching it may have been a little sleep inducing.

We sat on the bleachers watching the players warm up for the game.  They weren't doing the usual sink the basketball in the hoop warm up.  They were laughing, slapping each other on the back and pulling helmets on their heads.  Helmets?

Suddenly the side door popped open and in sauntered eight long eared, furry, real live donkeys.  My face was a mask of confusion.  Pat explained the teams had to ride the donkeys.

That explained the helmets.

The teams were announced.  It was the high school "Jocks" verses the "Firefighters".  The donkeys were introduced as well.  They had enlightening names such as Ex-lax and Hemorrhoid.  A city council woman was presented.  She was the clean-up crew.  Her weapons were a large shovel with a roll of toilet paper on the handle and a broom.  Bet she didn't see this coming when she was elected.

Rules were explained.  You must be on your donkey to pass the ball and to shoot.  You must be in contact with your donkey at all times.  Meaning you could get off and pull the donkey to pick up the ball.  Do not go behind your donkey.  He will kick.  It sounded easy enough.

A basketball roughly half the size of a regulation one was bounced to the ceiling signaling the beginning of the game.  Players perched atop their donkeys scrambled for the ball. Donkeys are not in a hurry, if they move at all.  A couple of jocks jumped off their donkeys attempting to pull their donkeys to the elusive ball.  Even the bulging muscles of the jocks couldn't inch the donkey forward. In fact Hemorrhoid was already tired of having a muscle bound male astride him.  Hemorrhoid put his head down and dumped the rider on the floor.

The game continued with some riders successfully coaxing their donkeys to the ball and making some passes to teammates.  However other donkeys were stubborn as, well, asses.  No amount of gentle kicking to their side or flapping of the reins would convince them to uproot themselves and go down the court.  The referee (the donkeys' owner) carried a thin stick which he would swat on the backside of the donkey.  The stubborn donkey would charge off down the court not bothering to stop where the rider demanded.

One firefighter was not a basketball player in his former life.  His passing was way off the mark.  He actually hit an unsuspecting donkey in the face.  This resulted in a technical foul that stopped the game.  The offending firefighter had to dismount from his donkey and apologize to the hurt donkey. As the game continued the same firefighter passed another ball into the face of an innocent donkey. Another apology was demanded as well as an apology kiss to the donkey's nose.

The laughs continued with riders struggling for minutes at a time to convince their donkeys to pick up their hooves and move.  While other riders spent the majority of their game dumped on the floor. One unfortunate rider was tossed to the floor losing his grip on the reins.  The donkey took off at break neck speed right out the door leading to freedom and fresh air.  The helmeted rider dashed after the donkey as well as two bystanders.  Eight minutes later the donkey was back in the game with the firefighter astride him.  I wondered if they were chasing the donkey the entire time or did both take an unseen rest?

What about the city council woman on poop detail?  Her shovel and broom were kept in constant use. Afternoon games are typically full of "waste."  She came out with a smile and shoveled.  At least the first few times.  By the end of the game I'm pretty sure she was gritting her teeth and keeping a clothes pin on her nose.

The final score of game was Jocks 12-Firefighters 8.  It is difficult to have a high scoring basketball game with a portion of the players flung to the floor every few minutes.  The players ended the game with smiles on their faces and I'm certain bruises on their bodies. We spectators had other problems. Our sides hurt from laughing too much.  I'm told that's exercise.  My kind of exercise.

If the opportunity presents itself to watch a Donkey basketball game, I would highly recommend it. If you ever have the chance to play in one, let me know.  I'll be sure to come get my exercise watching you.