All the Right Snuff(y)


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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]

Bridal Leah   How does a father protect his tiny blondie from grassland giants?

Few places in this world are safe for those of us with ADHD.

Fewer still are safe from ADHD-powered people, laughs Screen Six.

Oh, safe places exist for both sides, comments One. Nuclear reactor sites and farms are not among them.

I visit a single nuclear reactor site in my childhood. (Next-youngest brother Teddy and I take an instructional field trip to Consolidated Edison in upstate New York. The visit, narrated by brilliant metallurgical engineer and father Douglas Blackwell, wins glowing post-reactor reviews. Pun intended. Apologies withheld.)

Farms don’t always have cows. Ours does, however, and many nights the cows are lonely ladies, indeed, mooing and mooning for the day some beefed-up bull strolls their pasture.

Once yearly, their faint hopes are answered by Snuffy.

Do not, cautions Four, be fooled by his lightweight name. Snuffy is gargantuan, a Hereford with more neck muscles than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Fact, shivers Three. What Snuffy wants, Snuffy takes.

Perfect example: when ol’ Snuff arrives at the farm to –

How will you explain the function of Snuffy and still keep this family-oriented? asks Two.

umm, “meet the ladies’ needs,” Farmer Joe separately pens him to provide calming adjustment time.

Hereford_bull_large“Calm” is not what Snuffy himself deems necessary, so he places his massive head between two six-by-six beams, shrugs his neck – just once – and snaps the beams, thereafter striding into the pasture to woo his shameless buffalo gals.

Adjustment complete, blushes Two.

I first meet Snuffy as I muck the cow stalls during Farmer Joe’s absence. To my right, the big bull is on the pasture side of those massive beams while I, blissfully unaware of Snuffy’s earlier beam-busting bravado, flip “chips” on the other. Joining this rural scene to my left is Leah, my bubbly daughter, a tiny toddler at times clinging to my knee or playing by herself on hay bales stacked high on the clean cement.

Stunned at the sizable pies produced by the ineffective digestive system of bovines – Scoop the poop! directs Five – I shovel mightily and gag readily. Soft sounds of mirth emanate often from the even tinier youngster safely playing nearby. Her intonation suggests questions are being issued, so I answer what I understand and simply let the rest waft among the odors floating on the winds.

Suddenly I realize a little girl’s voice is now to my right. That she asks questions of the bull himself. From inside his pen.

Fecal focus forgotten, Screen Six fires off one fearless thought:

Grab Leah!

Three theatrically prompts me to drop my shovel, hold out my hand and beckon the baby with deceitful words: “Hey, LeahBoBe-uh,” I squeak through constricted vocal pipes, “this chocolate sure is good. Want some?”

Leah’s own hyperfocus – that genetic ADHD trait I gave her – defeats me. She stands in front of the bull, stroking the monster’s wet nose and babbling into its nostrils. Silently praying, I re-issue my “chocolate” line. This time, Snuffy himself looks toward me. Angrily.

mucus madnessLeah, realizing she’s lost the creature’s attention, extends two little hands and tries to pull Snuffy’s face back down to hers.

He stamps a foot, swings those wicked horns, then snorts, blowing mucus matter into Leah’s surprised face. She coughs, toddles backward in dismay, and turns to me with a look that says, “Did you see that, Daddy? How dare he!”

At the first stamping of the bull’s foot, I had pressed against the confining beams, then dropped to my knees. Now a second stamping speeds heart rhythms as I mimic peeling and eating dozens of Hershey Kisses™, assuring Leah many such treats await her taste buds as well.

Leah responds with kisses of her own. Upon the giant’s nose.

I am going to hurl! exclaims Five.

Then my oh-so-innocent-but-unfazed blondie wipes her lips free of the unexpected slobber given in return and wobbles four steps to me. In one heart-pounding motion, I grab little hands, tug Leah precisely between the beams, snug her to my chest and jump-climb-claw five hay bales high.

Leaping tall buildings in a single bound! cheers Six.

Dumbfounded, Snuffy does not follow our lead. Leah, perched above the farming world, laments the absence of promised chocolate. And I shiver as the “ladies of the lilies” – our cows demurely waiting by the low-level swampland – call to their hefty hero, prompting him to stamp feet and swing horns in frenzy no tot would survive.

We should go, cautions Four in response to my steam engine-paced breathing. The stalls are mucked. No point in adding your pants to the list.


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Farm workPostscript: Leah, born on a Washington State farm, has the upper hand on her dad, who did not “know” cows until college and a Spring fling to rural Alabama.

Cutting through a farmer’s field without first securing permission, I run for the fence line when dairy demons thunder toward me. Shotgun-cradling Farmer Bill, displeased at my intrusion, demands I calmly walk – and do so among his critters. “Them cows won’t hurt you,” he says with a wicked laugh.

Panicked, I follow his directive, getting body-bumped more times than a New York bus rider amid pickpockets. Reaching the paddock’s end, I am soaked as much by taste-testing cow tongue (still attached) as by fear-induced sweat.

“Ever gonna do that again, son?” Farmer Bill calls the length of the field.

“Not in this lifetime,” I promise, unaware that Leah’s arrival a dozen years later would break that commitment.

That little girl, footloose and fearless as she dances among animals literally hundreds of times her weight, teaches me fun at its simplest, most natural level.

Dad-Daughter days on those green acres?  Priceless.

* * * * *

Blackie’s Weekly Wonders

(Happy Father’s Day! And happy 30th birthday to my favorite blondie!)

Slow down, my beautiful little Blondie (Nichole Nordeman)

When “ADHD Powered” people interrupt cow-versations

Dad and daughter dance in the damp



Tug the Cord. Grab the Gusto.


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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]

Bus signalTrapped aboard a slow-moving, oft-stopping Chicago Transit Authority bus, I hear a mouse-sized commuter squeak, “Next stop, please” to the large bus driver.

The bus is sizeable, yes, clarifies Screen Three, but the driver herself is l-a-r-g-e.

Sizeable bus, still piloted by l-a-r-g-e driver, continues its plodding, a lumbering leviathan among poky pedestrians.

“Oh, well,” the mouse peeps and sits in meek resignation. I must help her.

My vigilant “hunter” eyes, which have scanned Chi-town streets despite endless questions from six screens –

How did the Wrigley family get such big places named after them? Who would name a building after gum? Why not the DoubleMint Tower instead? And how about those DoubleMint twins?

– now survey the bus interior. Within moments my pupils – students they are, indeed! – focus upon a cord with a little red ball attached.

Ah, says Screen Two, reminiscing, a point of familiarity.

I smile, recalling younger days and Erie Lackawanna trains departing Summit, New Jersey. Back then, polite tugs upon single white cords signaled engineers – all named Casey Jones, no doubt – that the chugging beast should be slowed to spew its ingested occupants onto lifeless cement platforms.

Tug the cordTug the cord, coaxes Screen Four. I do not move. Tug the cord, Boss, Five and Six chime in. Pull the ball. Grab the gusto!

I leap to my feet and give not timid tug but yeoman yank upon the flame-colored sphere.

My world transmogrifies. All about me, bodies gain extraordinary abilities. This one flies, that one buckles, others lose half-full (half-empty? asks Three) coffee cups.

Nature, comments Four, just struck the laws of gravity from her judicial books.

Even I fight to keep my once-solid footing in the rear of the bus, deciding that placement is far superior to being launched through the windshield.

[Crashing through front windshields is a feat I will accomplish years later with the unwelcomed assistance of a Pakistani-piloted white Toyota. But let’s not speak of that here.]

“G” forces contort my expression. Disregard them, barks Six. Heed the “She” force, a woman rather intent on misshaping your face.

This bus driver models a twisted grimace, lips having just kissed the oversized steering wheel. As she writhes to free herself of the pilot’s seat, I see past her shoulder a small sign: “Driver carries no cash.”

What about guns? peeps Two.

In guttural tones, our driver – I say “our” because suddenly I have a great need for a sense of community, an “us against her” mentality – states I have no intellect whatsoever. Then she, pushing off the many items yet spilling upon her, heavily stands to her feet –

A giant among men, quakes Two.

– and, much larger than she was moments ago, makes her unsteady but unwavering way toward my frozen frame.

human pufferfishAngry humans, observes Five, inflate far better than any pufferfish ever will.

You did this,” she says, her hand sweeping grandly across the disheveled bus and piled passengers to reinforce those three accusing syllables.

I look at the little red ball as it bounces demurely against a sign in screaming 48-point italics: EMERGENCY STOP ONLY. “Actually,” I nervously say –

“Get off!” is roared, the words practically stamping themselves on my face.

Hurry! whispers Six. Hurry, or she will assist your getting off this bus, and it will not be with folding doors open.

I do not plead my position, offer oral observations, seek sojourners’ solaces. I just exit. And though I fear what a glance backward may reveal, glance I do.

So many people, muses Three, surveying the roughed-up riders. Differing ethnicities, genders and status. Yet all single-minded in their unbridled hostility toward you.

Remarkable, really, commends One. What the United Nations cannot do – unite the nations – you have done in a single deed.


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Postscript: Safely off the bus through my own efforts, I shakily place one foot down after another and reach my intended building. In recovering gallantry, I open the weighted-glass door for a well-dressed young woman.

“Pig!” she declares. “I don’t need some man to hold a door.” I release my grip and the heavy door swiftly closes. My abrupt antagonist tugs mightily, barely re-opening the door, sneers and steps into the building.

Chicago isn’t that big, states Screen One. Adds Three, And everybody rides the bus. You will meet her again.

“So when we do, then what?”

Tug the cord. Pull the ball. Grab the gusto!

* * * * *

Blackie’s Weekly Wonders

The trouble I could have missed by staying at the bus stop

These days, I just catch the magic bus

Ridiculous Conceptions, Miraculous Inventions


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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]

Icarus Blackwell launches

   Really, it isn’t in the Blackwell nature to accept being Earthbound …

Thor, next-youngest brother and fellow adventurer, smoothly talks me into buying boomerangs.

Screen Five says in admiration, Pretty cool that nobody else in the neighborhood really knows how to use them.

We, at 10 and 12, prove we’re no different.

Bruised knuckles, knots on the head, limited flight time, mulls One. There has to be something more fantastic flight-wise.

“UFOs are everywhere,” I casually say as my brother and I enjoy a toasty summer day, one that might rival those being lived by outer-space aliens in equally toasty Roswell, New Mexico.

“We should make one,” replies Ted. “Make a UFO.”

“Make a bunch,” I one-up him.

“Like it’s an invasion,” says Ted, topping me.

The Wright brothers we are not. “Our planes are too heavy,” laments Thor. Press on, lad! urges Six, unwilling to succumb to flyboy failure.

“Mom says rockets will poke our eyes out,” I sigh. “Fireworks look fabulous – ”

Presentation, interjects Three, is everything in a neighborhood invasion.

“ – but leave no surviving pilot to steer the craft, which gets blown to bits, anyway.” I fall silent, prompting six screens to unite in fast-thinking hyperfocus mode. Soon, quite soon, an image forms.

orange flight“Hot air balloons,” I gasp. Five builds on the idea: Dirigibles. Floating airships. Zeppelins. The possibilities cannot be counted.

Neither can the disasters. My research in the all-knowing Encyclopedia Britannica reveals graphic photos of the 1937 Hindenburg zeppelin explosion in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Ohhh,” I moan, grim-faced and sober. “Ted … look at these people jumping off this exploding balloon.”

“Wow!” he exclaims. “Think we can do that?”

Not a flutter of fear goes through his misunderstanding eyes. ADDers cannot be killed. Not by hydrogen bombs, and certainly not by hydrogen Hindenburgs.

“Maybe we shouldn’t actually be in what we build. Let’s just launch something that we don’t have to fall out of.”

Or jump out of, shudders Screen Two, eyeing the photos.

We rush the UFO into production. I staple cardboard around the mouth of a Glad Bag™ to keep it open. Thor punches holes in the raised edge of an aluminum pie pan, threading twine through those and the holes punched in the bag’s cardboard edging.

Sneaking separate directions, Thor raids the kitchen matches and I shred newspapers for fuel. We meet back at our spacecraft.

The aluminum pie pan – shiny, so it will appear to glitter and hover –  receives my crumpled papers, to which I apply purloined match. Combustion produces smoky heat, the Glad Bag™ Thor holds upright above the pan slowly fills with whitish warmth, and to our wild whoops of utter astonishment …

We have lift-off.

At face level of two excited boys, the twine uniting the “fuel section” (pie pan) and the “pilot’s quarters” (Glad Bag™) catches fire, burns through and brings the fast-separating UFO crashing to the ground.

Blackwell brothersWe replace the flammable twine with cut-to-length metal pieces taken from Mom’s new coat hangers. At dinner, we – Wilbur and Orville Blackwell – announce our intent to launch.

Your parents, observes One, are exchanging that knowing look again.

A small crowd mills about us in the gathering darkness. I, kneeling to light the newspaper, scan Thor’s confident face, his smile prompting my own. Moments later, a Glad Bag™ – heavy-ply, this time – inflates, pie pan wiggles to shrug off Earth’s relentless hug, and Old Oak Drive’s first UFO dreamily ascends into the starry night.

This flight, cheers Three amid his celebratory tears, is our turning point, Boss. Goodbye, ridiculous conceptions. Hello, miraculous inventions.

The skies flicker approval as glittery ship rises to meet them, its bright flames a warm contrast to the unexpectedly cool summer evening. Then a breeze unfelt by ground crew shifts our UFO, and it slowly, eerily wafts toward our lemon-yellow house.

Startled, Dad wonders aloud, “So, how do you boys control the ascent and descent of your spaceship?”

That, applauds Five, is a particularly good question.

Looking into brilliant Douglas Blackwell’s disquieted eyes, I beg screens for answers. High overhead, the Glad Bag™ catches fire. Our wobbling UFO, powered by an excessive and unscheduled burst of heat, mimics a shooting star, blazing across the heavens and crashing onto our own home’s dry roof.

Pop gasps. Screen Two exclaims, Your home is the first attacked in the neighborhood invasion!

My father whirls and runs for ladders. I nearly hurl and run for life.

Weeks earlier, Dad had put bows and arrows, hammers and nails, gas and matches on a high, “Keep from Den and Ted” shelf. The next day, those dangerous items are joined by Glad Bags™.

Only the heavy-ply, laughs Three.


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Postscript: The unanticipated and rather swift death of our UFO venture disappoints us at the same time it spurs us forward. Thor masterfully wears down Mom’s resistance and gains permission to purchase a flying airplane.

As opposed to, say, a swimming plane? asks One.

My brother peruses newspaper ads, singles out a potential model and pursues it with the diligence of an orca chasing seals. He brings the prize home and grabs me for a run to nearby Grove Terrace, a large field perfect for the test flight.

“Gotta make some last adjustments,” he shouts, tinkering at this and that. Then he runs over to where I stand and excitedly takes the controller. “Here we go!”

The little craft lurches forward but doesn’t leave Earth, so Thor dials up the juice traveling through the wires attached to his plane. We hear the motor cough, roar to life, and coax the wings into the skies  …

Where, by golly, smirks Three, the plane flies. Backwards.

* * * * *

Good-Humored Heroes with Heart


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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]

Quiet griefThough truly I enjoy all my time as a hospice volunteer, I most soak up those moments among veterans.

And why do you suppose that is, Black? queries Screen Five, always interested in the psychology behind my thoughts. Veterans are just like any other human with whom you spend time.

“But they’re not ‘just like any other human,’” I counter. “They have played a key role in the defense of America and the preservation of my freedom. True, not all have seen the rigors of battle and the horrors of war. Yet their hearts were ready to endure combat. It’s … well, selfless. Heroic.”

Beyond heroic is their quiet humility afterward, commends One. When asked about particularly courageous events and incidents, veterans always point fingers elsewhere, re-directing the praise to cohorts “who made the ultimate sacrifice and never came back.”

Sighs Two, Pop Blackwell was that way. Your father always downplayed his role in the Navy, regretting he had been too young to enlist prior to Pearl Harbor’s devastation.

Says Six, You all know the bravery is what resonates with me. He sighs, thinks a moment, then laughs. But I believe you cannot pin down what you love best about the veterans because they, the backbone of this great country, represent so many different elements. And one of the most surprising is the humor they bring to your life despite the tragedies experienced in theirs.

My eyes widen. “That’s it, Six! I love the contrast between the two qualities.”

Grief and LaughterShakespeare, ventures Three, teaches us that laughter is strengthened when sadness is present. How better to know the heights of joy than to have tasted the bitter depths of grief?

Asks Four, Speaking of laughter, do you remember writing about that lively veteran, Quinton McHale? The few visits you shared with him gave you enough material to write a book ….

“Hello again, Mr. Blackie,” Quinton greets me effusively. Though we are tucked within an extended care facility, he asks, “Why are you in my home? Have you come to pay my rent?” He claps his hands in laughter. “What do you think of my room?” Pointing out minor changes here and there – “Like what you see?” – he cautions, “Don’t take it!”

I am mid-promise to leave his carefully positioned belongings precisely where they are when he interrupts. “I’ve added something,” he says, lifting the large sash beside his bed. “I now give people the chance to bring me steak through this window.”

Studying him intently, Five whispers, I cannot tell whether his mind wanders or his spirit teases.

Mr. McHale resumes. “Turned this place into quite a party, I have. And really shouldn’t, not with my wife away.” Screen Two starts to point out Quinton’s bride went Home years ago, but tactfully silences himself as our energetic vet questions a caregiver entering the room.

“Miss Angie, is that fellow of yours ever going to marry you?” She, embarrassed, fumbles for an answer. Quinton takes her hands and chides gently, “Don’t tell me living together is the same, because it isn’t.” He puts his right hand to her chin. “I think the problem is that fool can’t see how cute you are. But I do. It’s just that I’m too old. And I really shouldn’t take another wife.”

LemonadeThe aide and I laugh as our “emcee” spirals wildly on. “Ah, well. Not much to be done about that. Except maybe have some pie. That would help. And something tart. A lemonade for me and my volunteer friend here, if you please!”

Screen One laughs, then prompts, Do not forget your many moments with Roger Mear. Of all the stories garnered by the precious time you share with him, I most like his “romantic holiday” mishap.

“So, Blackie,” Roger explains, “I’m sitting at the nicely decorated dinner table, minding my own business, when this 90-year-old woman to my left asks me something. At almost the same time, the woman to my right, who is 101, also wants something from me.

“Somehow, a terrible argument erupts as the two vie for what I guess is my ‘male attention.’ ” (“I may be wheelchair-bound,” he says in an aside, “but I am only in my 60s.”)

Whatever else this vet may lack, applauds Six, confidence is not among the mix!

“Anyway, both women still have pretty strong legs, so they pop right up on their feet, shout German and Swedish – well, curses, I guess – and start swinging at each other right above my head!”

“Concerned?” I ask, laughing at the madcap image.

Nah. Their slow-motion punches never really land.” And then he smiles widely. “But what’s great is I honestly get to tell people, ‘On Valentine’s Day, I literally had two women fighting over me!’”


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Postscript: Youngest-brother Barry writes the Blackwell brood about the way he and his friend display a beloved veteran’s memorabilia.

Dad's flagLisa had Dad’s [military-service burial] flag encased in Plexiglas and mounted into a wooden triangle. I took Dad’s “Certificate of Satisfactory Service” [discharge card] and put it in the bottom left-hand corner. It sits on the wall above my bedroom door where I see it every morning and night.

Dad's rifleI built a rack for Dad’s gun [a .22 caliber, short-bore, bolt-action rifle he got at 13 and used for rabbit hunting when he went out with his dog, Bingo].

I shoot it pretty often.

But even with our vast array of weapons, it is still Lisa’s go-to gun. So far, she has yet to miss … they have all been bulls-eye shots.

Just thought you guys might enjoy seeing them.  I miss Dad so much. It still hurts. He was my single, most-favorite person in the world.

* * * * *

Blackie’s Weekly Wonders

One of the most applauded “rescues” ever

Young heart understands the cost

Trace Adkins honors those in Arlington

This father remembers his son’s sacrifice

And just for fun, Mike Senatore’s bottle flip

The Dog Days of Summer – Part II


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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]

Mark, Leah and Blackie

  Mark’s strong shoulders have borne many Blackwellian adventures …

[Editor’s note: Last week’s column ended with Blackie flat on his belly, apparently sniffing cucumber-scented copperheads and hearing barks from the real Cujo,” not his buddy, Mark, near the female campers’ cabins. We now resume our abruptly scheduled panic …]

Breath erratic, I press body to Earth, desperate to see just how very big this deep-barking wild dog is but afraid of the answer. Ghostlike, Mark materializes next to me. “Got the first cabin going.”

“That was you?” I shakily ask in disbelief, trying my best to hide  this sweat-stained and tear-tracked face. “Not bad,” I add in feigned casualness, “but no guy would fall for it.”

Bravo, Black, whispers Screen Six. Keep up appearances.

Mark scrambles to the next cabin at a pace I cannot match. There we effect such realistic snarls and brush-busting that the girls’ disparate –

Desperate? asks Three.

– wails become one long and unified howl. Much like coyotes, states Five.

Mile-a-minute, man-on-a-mission, Mountain Mauler Mark moves again. Wearily I shake my head, assume speed-crouch position, and prepare to zip to the next cabin.

Larry the CucumberAnyone else smell cucumbers? asks naturalist Five. My six screens and five senses strain. Cujo I could at least see. How does one gaze upon an invisible snake? How does one fight a pack or pod or herd or flock of snakes?

The cucumber smell is strong, Black, quivers Two. You must be in the middle of a salad bowlful of them.

Mark silently reappears. “The girls are really worked up,” I half-lie because I’m the one shaking. “We’d better go.” And we do, only to return, conscience-stricken, with lanterns to assist the innocent victims of our shenanigans.

Shenanigans, defines Three: when you’ve clearly overdone something, then hope that people in power respond with laughter rather than hot wax and feathers.

Our knock on the first cabin’s door causes screaming levels to rise four decibels.

Laughs Five, Wild dogs, not particularly known for their etiquette, rarely knock.

A female counselor’s voice calls out fearfully, “Wh- who is it?”

“It’s, uh, it’s Blackie. And Mark, come to see if the dogs ran through your area.”

Front door flies open. In flawless zombie fashion, shaking hands reach out, grab, pull us in. Door slams shut as shuddering bodies crush against us, their weeping undoing their sleeping.

Mark escorts ladies young and not-so-young to the restroom several yards distant. I walk behind with several more sleep-attired high-schoolers, my eyes locked downward not to guide in safety but to build a later case for canceling punishment: I kept my eyes pure.

The night drags on this way, cabin after cabin. We two men, dead-tired and intent on ending the eve’s drama, are commissioned to search the Girls’ Hill for those wild dogs so very present just minutes earlier.

Finally, home. To bed. But daylight, like some looming tax penalty, arrives too soon. Mark and I vow never to break our silence, then groggily stumble toward the breakfast hall, where we encounter adult counselor Betty.

Lady Justice“Morning, boys,” says Betty, her tone descriptive of those males who do not behave as adults. “Thanks for helping us out on The Hill last night. Thought the girls would never stop crying.”

“You’re, ah, you’re welcome,” I mumble and try to step around our greeter. Miss Betty nimbly blocks the narrow pathway.

“Tell me,” she asks in dubious tones, “how did you know to be up on The Hill when you were?” She leans in, eyes penetrating our souls. “It seems so unreal, you boys knowing exactly when to arrive and help us.” Darker still, “No weapons to defend yourselves, even.”

Screens One, Three and Five, oddly enough, show me the camp’s welcoming “Tar Hollow” sign suddenly reading, “Tarred and Hollowed.”

“So help me, boys, you’d better never let me find out the two of you had something to do with last night’s ‘wild dogs.’”

Mark and I, strong and adult, designated leaders for this camp session, shudder, lungs playing ping pong with our hearts. Fortunately, the ever-perceptive Miss Betty never does learn the truth –

I suspect, offers One, that her feminine intuition did tip her off. Immediately, actually. She simply gritted her teeth, choosing to remain silent.

– and retribution does not occur.

Not yet, counters Three. But Miss Betty could read this column and make just one suggestion to your beautiful brown-eyed bride that forever would ruin your dreams.

“And the suggestion is?”

At bedtime, to discourage “crow’s feet” wrinkles from forming around the eyes, apply sliced cucumbers. Heavily.


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Postscript: Released from the hospital one day before my column appeared last Thursday, I write my family a witty bit (I hoped) that might help block their cheap shots about my post-procedure swelling and garish stitchwork.

Post-surgeryBlackie: Surgeon did a fine job (my new face looks GREAT), but even so, the healing process can leave a leg looking a bit less lively than it was before ….

Within seconds, I get the following three family responses.

Daughter Leah: I just threw up my breakfast – which is great for my nutrition plan of less caloric intake. Did they use a chainsaw and machete to cut through that hair? Nice toenail color, too: “spring iodine” collection, I presume? I love you, ol’ Frankenstein leg.

Cousin Kenny: OMG … you have chubby toes!!!!

Brother Mike: Duuuude … MY leg hurts just looking at that! I’m impressed with your “man-up” abilities, because there is a whoooole lot of pain and mess going on there! So sorry you had to go thru it, but so glad it was you and not meeeeeeeee! PS: Don’t let Kenny’s comment bother you.  Fortunately, the toes won’t stand out much because you also have a Chubby Head.

* * * * *

Blackie’s Weekly Wonders

Since my leg looks like “Frankie’s,” perhaps now I’ll dance the way he does …

I often wonder whether Groucho inspired  my family

The Dog Days of Summer


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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]Mark and Rebecca In Miss Rebecca’s loving arms, Mark is well-behaved, but years ago  …

Travel back in time with me to the stunning natural beauty of Tar Hollow State Park and its extraordinary southern Ohio youth camp. There I first meet the man surnamed Montgomery – pronounce that with a Scotsman’s pride, laddie, advises Screen Three in a poor brogue – and this Mark becomes my fast friend.

You say “fast,” laughs Six, because that’s how ADHD-powered people do everything.

Both Mark and I, strong and adult –

That sound you hear, Boss, explains One, is the collective laughter of America’s mothers contesting your assertion of adulthood.

– are designated leaders for this camp session. And as such, we are whipping up nothing less than a Moment of Mischief involving “Cujo.”

Cujo, protests Four, is a rabid St. Bernard running amok through a fiction book and horror movie by writer Stephen King.

“Not today. Today we will convince female campers a real-life Cujo exists when we sneak up the absolutely-no-males-allowed Girls’ Hill and imitate fierce dogs.”

This scheme, cheers Five in anticipation, gains a life of its own after a park ranger swings into camp with a caution, “Wild dogs have been seen in the park,” and fear infects the female-filled cabins.

ADHD-powered plans, often great in theory, fail in execution.

Or end in it, shivers Two.

West VirginiaBut Mark, a West Virginian born to run the wilds, neither fears nor is disoriented by darkness. We agree it is best this mountain man guide us through forest to the path just below Girls’ Hill, where several cabins sit atop the heights.

What Mark does not calculate are the difficulties of bringing a city boy through thick underbrush, prickly weeds and pitch blackness.

“Ohhhhh,” I moan. “Walked right into a tree!”

“Go around it.”

Mark’s creative thinking boosts my courage. Mimicking his wily woodsman ways, I step to the side, then stride boldly forward.


Shhh, Blackwell!” Then, “Another tree?”

“Sort of.” Anguished. “Stump, actually. Uhhhh. Missed feeling it with … with my arms. Found it … ohhh … with my groin.”

New hobby, snipes Three. Stump-collecting.

Light beams penetrate the night! Counselor calls through inky blackness, “Montgomery? Blackwell? What are you doing?”

wolf howls“Heard a wild dog is running the hills,” Mark fires back. Several frightened females cite the ranger’s earlier visit, lending credence. “Blackie and I came out to make sure The Hill is safe for our girls.”

Squawks. Shrieks. Screaks, even.

A “screak” is a howl, wail, screech, defines Three, proudly.

Counselor Susie cannot cap the concern, quiet the questions, pacify the panicked. But she, assured by Mark that the hilltop is canine-free, gallantly gathers her chicks and races ever upward upward to safety in cabins among the clouds.

When the final door slams shut and we appear to have left the area, Mountain Man Mark softly suggests we “crawl back to the cabins through the covering brush. Bark, howl, growl, as though wild dogs were here and fighting.”

Dropping to my belly, I hear, “If you smell cucumbers, Black, you’re probably close to a copperhead.”

“Wait, whaaat? What do – what do ‘cukes smell like?”


Mark slinks into the distance and I – shudder – slither in cold sweat.

Barking starts. Powerful, feral, frightening. The first cabin responds, screams pouring forth.

That cabin, observes One with dry throat, is not where you saw Mark heading.

Cujo’s here? six screens screak.


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Postscript: Yes, I’ve done it to you again … presented another two-parter, which makes everyone crazy and fills my inbox with “Why?” notes from all four readers.

But life is hard. These things happen, as surely as unsupervised grown men become misbehaving young boys. And I’ve just come through yet another surgery –

Seems reasonable, adds Five. After all, two years have passed since the last.

– so I don’t need an editor’s knife on top of a surgeon’s scalpel. Sometimes, a good story needs length and strong readers who must go the distance.

Yo, Adri-a-n-n-n! chants Three in an awful Bronx accent. See youse next week!

* * * * *

Blackie’s Weekly Wonders

Speaking of wild dogs running the hills …

The Force Awakens … to the sound of music

It’s Not Right You’re Left-Handed


, ,

Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]

Jean with kitty

        Why is Jean Blackwell’s photo in this column? Stay tuned ….

“You are not left-handed.”

Looking up in surprise at Terrence F. Shay, the man who has just spoken such an unspeakably wicked aspersion, I shift uncomfortably in my seat at the Ohio University dining hall table.

“You … are … not … left-handed,” he says again, this time chewing and spitting each word with bitter emphasis.

You write left-handed, Black, fires back Screen Five. Remind Shay that is how scientists determine hand dominance.

“Yeah,” frowns Shay noncommitally, “I’ve heard that.” He shakes his head in denial of its truth. “But you’re really a righty who just happens to do one or two things left-handed.” He points at the fork I heft. “You’re even eating with your right hand, Blackwell.”

Whispers Two, Do not check your hand. Do not give him that pleasure.

Shay, clearly and completely a southpaw, escalates his attack. “Fact is, writing might be the only thing you do lefty. I’ve watched you long enough now to know you don’t eat, cut, or throw left-handed. You just write. That’s all.

And then he hurls his heart-halving harpoon: “You’re a pseudo-lefty. Nothing more.”

My screens vigorously defend me, but not a single point they offer is worth spouting. I clearly am a lefty-wannabe.

lonely lunchThe table slowly, silently, sorrowfully empties of sympathetic friends. Suddenly very alone, I mentally leave the just-endured collegiate crucifixion and float back through time, finding myself a third-grader in Hillview Elementary School.

An aged face hovers before mine, her lips lashing and lacerating. “I will flunk every single paper you write with the wrong hand,” Mrs. K snarls. Taking the thick Number Two pencil out of my grasp, she wraps her two hands around my left and emphasizes, “This is the wrong hand.”

“Sinistre” is the Latin word describing someone who is left-handed, repeats One in shock after hearing Mrs. K state it first. Who says that to school kids?

I try to use the right hand. Really. I study the way my two older brothers pick up their pens. I watch my twin sister wield her writing implements. I even ask Pop why he throws lefty but writes with the “correct” hand.

He shoots me strange looks. Nothing new about that, sighs Five.

Paper after paper returns to me, angry red “F” marks marching across the page, spelling my doom with a single letter. When I fearfully protest, Mrs. K snaps back, “Just so you know, I see you occasionally switching your pencil back to the wrong hand. You’re not fooling me. Do you understand? ” She leans menacingly forward and all but hisses, “Until the entire paper is written with the right – with the proper hand – you will receive failing grades.”

The day arrives I must deliver my gradebook to inquisitive parents. Finding mom at home standing upon a ladder, paint roller in the “acceptable” hand, I tentatively extend my Death Notice. Mom descends, wipes fingers free of latex, slides the book out of its life-preserving cover and opens to the painful page.

“Behavioral checks are in all the best boxes!” she says in admiration.

Surprise, more likely, counters Three.

The intake of breath, pursing of lips, and resultant gasp tell Four, She knows! We are done for!

Weeping without restraint and begging that Dad not be shown the handwriting grade, I apologize for lying and promise I won’t hold back any more.

question-marks“Hold back what?” she asks, confused. I throw open the top drawer of my dresser and withdraw dozens of papers, every one presenting a huge X across the width and height as well as a squarely centered, severely circled “F” at mid-page.

Stunned, she drops onto the bed. “Why would you” – Mom struggles to keep tone from terrorizing tot further – “why would you hide this from me?”

Because life is something we value? queries Six.

“So afraid, Mom! I’ve tried, I’ve really tried. But I keep using my left hand and she just keeps marking F’s all over my papers.”

Mom’s face freezes, eyes wide. In very low, very calm voice, she asks, “You got an F in handwriting because you are using your left hand?”

Misunderstanding her question, I cry even harder. “Yes, yes, but I won’t do it any more. I promise!”

“Lie down,” she instructs, pointing to my oldest brother’s bed. “Do not move from here. I will be back soon.” Exhausted, fearful, I swiftly drop away from the world’s woes, returning to consciousness only when Mom again cradles my face.

“Son,” she says, her voice cracking, “you may go to school and use your left hand. Mrs. K understands you write best that way. She also understands I told her this is how it is to be from now on. And I mean it.

Though Mom’s words are soft and comforting, her eyes are fiery embers, all but glowing in the deepening dark of the room. She pulls me to her and, as one, rocks us gently, carefully, thoughtfully. Comfort engulfs me.

There and then, I discover Mother’s Day is not a singular event occurring once yearly. And superheroes, I learn, may be sweetly scented.


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Postscript: Sorry, Mom, but you get just one column in May.

Sunday is Mother’s Day, reminds Screen Two. Her birthday is right behind!

“I know. I feel kind of guilty, putting the two events together.”

As well you should, affirms Five. Though you and your twin arrive just after Christmas, Jean Blackwell insists upon celebrating your birthdays separately from the holiday.

And from one another, adds Three. She wraps gifts in proper attire – Yule paper for Christmas, birthday paper for births – and even makes separate multi-layer cakes for you and your sister.

All this, marvels One, despite the birthday of your brother Jeff exactly a week later and yet another beautifully executed cake.

“You’re right,” I sigh. “But Mom isn’t with us any more.”

Bite your tongue, boy! roars Six. How dare one twin forget another! Your other mother, the perfect mirror to your mom – your beloved aunt – still walks and rocks this world. Now, put it out there!

“Happy Mother’s Day, Jean and JoAn. And happy birthday wishes for number – “

A gentleman, interrupts Two with a sly wink,  never tells.

* * * * *

Blackie’s Weekly Wonders

To moms tending home … and who have gone Home

Blind mom “sees” her unborn baby

I’d Like to Request a Lifeline


, , ,

Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]

Regis“A technician is only as good as his equipment,” I declare, repeating wisdom I am certain must have rolled forth from Douglas Blackwell, brilliant metallurgical engineer and father.

In the world of ADHD, counters Screen Four, equipment is only as good as the guy using it.

Which means my equipment is worthless. As a case in point, I offer you ADHD-powered “lifelines.”

I love that show, exclaims Two. Ol’ Regis [Philbin] asks a difficult question on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and the panic-soaked contestant gets to request a “lifeline” call to someone who may have the correct answer.

“How do you know about ‘Millionaire’ when I have not hooked up a television in three decades?”

Two starts to tell me, but I wave him off by saying, “Anyway, I’m speaking of a different lifeline.”

The kind that keep you from plummeting 13 floors to your death? guesses Five, who already searched my thoughts and knows that is the answer.

balanceBernd (yes, that is the name of my co-worker, who once was a therapist back in his native Germany; no, I didn’t leave out any vowels in spelling his name) and I are installing a gigantic neon sign for the splashy, flashy, mighty classy Radisson Hotel. But knowing all too well that my balance is severely disrupted by The Accident, I am unnerved at finding myself 13 floors up in the air.

Even the number 13 does not seem wise, agrees One. Why would any hotel build that notably unlucky number of floors for guests?

Bernd, seeing my hesitation in moving about, has a ready solution.

“See zis?” he asks, holding up a thick hemp rope with a large hook tied to the end. “It’s lifeline. Hook zis side to roof vhere you are vorking

Speaking like zat must make one veary, snipes Three.

– and clip zis side into your harness. Zat vay, if you fall over roof or off scaffolding ve haf erected, you vill go zhort distance only. Zen, shnap!

Shnap?” repeats Five, not really liking the fact he must use italics in describing something that involves me. Black, is that “snap” the sound of the rope breaking your fall – or your back?

Bernd laughs. And laughs again. Ahh, those Germans, sighs Three. Such good-natured people.

My friend patiently hooks me into a second lifeline feeding off the scaffold platform, quickly quieting the fears with in me.


mountain goatsBy day’s end, applauds Six, we are just about invincible, running slim roof edges more sure-footedly than mountain goats scale rock cliffs.

Bernd laughs again, spills forth a vord to the vise. “Do not get cocky, my young friend. Zat is ven people get killed. Ven zey are too zure of zemzelves.”

Note to self, remarks Five: Do not grow overly bold. Also ask Bernd if Poligrip™ would help him pronounce his v’s and w’s.

Early the next morn, I step into my harness, fasten the five million hooks and catches, grab my lifeline, attach that baby to my back loops, and start my day of high-speed productivity.

No stopping us now! cheers Four. We are a machine in motion!

Bernd shows up minutes later. He climbs into the scaffolding manlift while I, footloose and fancy free, run – literally – the roof lines.

Sure, our balance is still terrible, grins Four, but we have no wobble worries! If we fall, we swing!

“Hey, Blackie,” Bernd calls up to me on the heights, “you zertainly move fast today.”

“Yes, I do!” Chest puffed, grin gargantuan.

“Remember I telled you, double-check your zafety gear? You remember zis?

“Do, and did!” I shout, then spin on the roof’s edge to impress him with the correctness of my connections.

He nods. Picks a lifeline up off the ground. Smiles.

And his point is? asks One.

Earthbound Bernd shakes just once the line he holds. That shake quickly wiggles along the rope toward the heavens, heading for me, and concludes its long, snaky motion by popping at my back.

Zis is your lifeline,” he explains. “Attached to you, yes, but to nuzzing on zis side.” The silence between us thunders. “Vell?

Not sure about you, Boss, whispers Two, but I vant to veep.


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* * * * *

Blackie’s Weekly Wonders

Will you settle for a lifelion?

Making Memories with Magic Mike


, , , , ,

Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]

CelebrateFour sibs (and JB, in spirit!) celebrate “many” days in the life of Mike …

This week brings the 64th birthday of Michael, oldest Blackwell brother and  –

Big Boy No. 1! cheers Screen Two.

We lesser beings – Younger sibs, explains One – celebrate our generation’s fearless leader surviving another year.

Surviving? spits Six. As if he barely made it? Mike does not limp through life, Boss. He lassos the critter, throws it down, hogties it and wrings every last drop of joy and excitement out of it, roaring toward his finale in style and strength.

Recaps Five with pride, Predatory cancer tried to carry off what it mistakenly thought would be an unresisting spirit.

Mike would have no part of it, growls Six.  He decided the disease would never be given anything but a lowercase letter “c” – that IT would be little and his heart would be BIG.

Why, asks Three, are we giving the “little c” any time at all? Remember, your brother wisely created the unofficial rule of celebrating deceased Blackwells’ birthdays rather than annually observing the loss of loved ones. So come on! Let us joyfully sling the mud, using the words of Mike himself!

Nice, warm Sunday, blue skies and a strong beach breeze! I body surf in waves much bigger than usual, rushing to the beach at what feels like 100mph. I am on top of a BIG wave – arms and hands out in front of me, Superman-style – when THE WAVE JUST DECIDES TO STOP.


Iron Mike with Jeff’s and Dianne’s girls

My right arm jams, hurts, holds. But the left shoulder pops. Swimming gets hard. Rough surf both forces me underwater and pulls me out into deeper water. I suddenly wonder if I will even make it back up to the surface.

Amazing thought for such an experienced and courageous lifeguard, muses Four.

After struggling for what feels like two hours but only is 60 seconds, I escape the water and make it as far up the bank as I can before collapsing in pain. A lifeguard calls the EMTs, who take me to the hospital, where the ER doc – a great guy, jock and big kite-surfer – tells me my nasty separated shoulder has the head of the radial bone out as far as he’s ever seen.

It is, gags Five, down where … the bicep … should be.

Mike’s own mind overhears some tech’s reckless words, then repeats them: Pulled a 50-year-old guy out of the same water last week, his neck broken.

An hour passes as the team tries to work the “head” of my arm back into the socket – think “Ken doll” repair, whispers Two – but Doc says I am too tense, the radial head is too far out, and too much muscle keeps it out.

Hey, defends Six, those are the words of the doctor, not Mike!

Medication knocks me out, loosens my muscles, allows the doctor to force my arm back into the socket. Suddenly, I am together again.

Is Mike related to the Scarecrow? asks Three with a laugh.

But the drugs make me throw up four times on the way home … and another eight times that night.

Now that is “tossing” and turning, sighs Two.

I’m still amazed it all even happened. I mean, get real – I was body surfin’ just like 10,000 other times.

Here it comes, Mikey, cautions Five – and you set it up!  

I know, I know … I’ll even say it before you guys do: I’m too old!

Screen Four smiles in agreement, then says, We still celebrate you, champ! Please extend your “life contract” four decades. See you at the century mark!


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Postscript: Oh, did you think we were done roasting Mikey? Let us conclude our column with one last shot from the Birthday Boy himself.

A huge thunderstorm knocks out lights while I am in Lowe’s department store. I find my way in to a restroom and have a seat so as not to miss the toilet.

Ladies, beams Screen Two, you all know you wish your husbands were so considerate.

Two stalls down, a horrendous burst of bodily noises is followed by a small, “Excuse me.” That voice requesting pardon is female!

The plot thickens, whispers Three.

We step out of our stalls as lights come on. There stands a fat little granny, maybe 73. I shouldn’t have, but I asked, “Did all that noise come out of you?

She looks down, nods “yes.”

“And you’re even here in the men’s room,” I add. “Aren’t you embarrassed?”

Granny looks up in surprise, walks swiftly past me, opens the bathroom door and reveals a sign which reads, “Ladies.”

She turns to me. “Aren’t you embarrassed?”

Post-Postscript: That last story – I had not quite finished adding it to this column – blows up in my face this very afternoon when I stroll in to an unfamiliar restroom on the Owens Community College campus.

Puzzled at the absence of urinals and the presence of stalls – even a loveseat –

Please remain seated during the entire performance, ribs Screen Three.

– I pace the room a moment, then pull wide the exit door.

Allowing entry, smirks Six, of a collegiate female who eyes your “instructor” badge (name broadcast in 24-point type) and shoots you a withering look.

Sighs Five, Another great job down the toilet.

* * * * *

Blackie’s Weekly Wonders

This guy’s got nothing on you, Mike …

Neither does this guy

We know this won’t happen to you, Big Boy No. 1

Maybe for your 65th celebration?

Mad Dogs, Bad Hops, Good Cops


, , , , ,

Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks! And know these accounts are truewithout exaggeration!]

Andy GriffithA fictional sheriff’s tact and compassion are alive and well in Rossford …

In a day and age when police officers are vilified as uncaring even as they lose their lives protecting us, this personal experience needs to be shared.

A true story, clarifies Screen One, involving exchanges between a dedicated Rossford Police Department officer (given a fictitious name for privacy) and you, Boss, the town “walker.”

Good morn, Officer Taylor –

You came to my home in swift response to a woman’s dog running loose and chasing me. (Trying to escape the big black dog’s wrath, I suffered an injured left knee and wrenched back when I misstepped and smashed into a silver car instead of hopping atop its hood.)

White men cannot jump, sighs Five.

I saw you knocking on the door of that woman’s home. I have no knowledge of the discussion because you asked that I allow you to handle the matter without interference. Please fill me in on what was said and what measures now will be in place to protect me and our friends’ four little girls during our walks.

Thank you for your calm spirit that morn and your service to us each day,


Considering the pain you are in, Black, comments Four, this is a kind note. Then again, it is not the fault of the officer that you proved unable to leap with agility.

Mr. Blackwell,  

I usually see you walking through town every day. I haven’t seen you since the incident. Go figure. I took a week off as well and was not able to contact you.

She liesThe owner of the dog informed me she was outside when the incident happened and that her dog never left the yard.  I brought up the previous incidents of her dog running after people and told her she needs to better control her dog so it does not have the opportunity to injure someone. 

Direct but diplomatic! applauds impressed Six.

She said her dog – which actually was extremely friendly to me – has never bitten or been aggressive with anyone.

“Not aggressive,” she claims? shouts riled Three. What a crock of cheese!

Rossford Municipal code only addresses when a dog leaves the yard or barks an extended period of time.  Personally, I – knowing there might be a chance the dog could be out – would avoid that side of the street to avoid any possibility of an altercation, especially if I were with small children.  That might not be satisfying –

An understatement, agrees Two.

–  but I would not chance an incident, especially when there are so many other ways to walk around without coming close to that dog.  I hope the owner heeds the warning, but if the dog is spotted out of the yard, please call so we can address the problem.   

See you around,

Officer Taylor

How can you argue his thoughtful response? asks One.

G’day to you, Officer Taylor –

Thanks for your apology, though I realize far greater matters weigh down our excellent officers. Truly, I appreciated your swift response and calm manner of fielding the episode. Another officer (himself just bitten by a dog!) did contact me to review case details.

Here’s my struggle: I read your note the same day I paid yet another doctor to treat injuries sustained in “escaping” the black dog. (Earmuffs markedly diminished my hearing – I knew only that a woman was screaming and a dog’s angry barking approached me at high speed. Did he leave the yard? I cannot say. In the dark, I was busy bolting and, ultimately, smashing into the car I thought might provide rooftop sanctuary.)

Multi-tasking is your talent, praises Six.

Which wayThis encounter marks the fourth mishap incurred as I’ve walked the Rossford streets. Three times now the RPD has asked me to walk somewhere else to avoid dogs running loose. Three times I have changed my route. I’ve even followed your officers’ suggestions to walk in the street (instead of on sidewalks) and to walk earlier in the morn (I’ve moved my time from 5:15am to 4am). 

Yet my safety has been compromised following each change, despite demonstrating sincere interest in skirting conflict. My efforts have been met with surgeries, doctor visits, and owners’ curses. What happened to my rights as a responsible citizen?

Wish I had written that, admires Five.

Frustrated and concerned, I now carry grizzly bear repellent –

Ahh, sighs Three in satisfaction, the “Great Persuader.”

– to certify I suffer no more ill effects caused by roaming dogs and thoughtless owners. (This move is backed by the just-bitten officer who contacted me in your absence.) My hesitation in using such powerful substances is gone, courtesy of the extreme pain endured from the last encounter and the reconstructive shoulder surgeries of the penultimate attack.

Again, I understand you’ve done your best to keep things low-key and safe. I now do my best to certify they remain that way.

Sincerely, Blackie Blackwell

Officer Taylor does not respond to this, observes One.

Adds Four, I would be saddened by the absence of his diplomatic responses were it not for the resultant dialed-up protection of Rossford. Realize, Black, you have not been chased since.

“Correct,” I gratefully reply. “That officer is a true-blue role model of what neighborhoods need in these troubling times.”

And now, says Three with a smile, the “dog days of summer” are no more.

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* * * * *

Blackie’s Weekly Wonders

Speaking of being chased (which “Snopes” denies) …

A policeman’s song calms a wee heart …

Officers and gentlemen tend a broken bride