Category Archives: funny stories

In the Catbird Seat


jdbphotos. Click on first photo to enlarge all and read captions.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, “in the catbird seat,” it means to be in a position above the action or perhaps in control.  This is what I am when I’m in my studio, which has one wall entirely comprised of windows looking out on my garden and another window to my right that looks out over my spare lot down below and ultimately at the lake spread out on a lower plane with Mount Garcia and Colima Volcano behind it on the other shore.

In the Catbird Seat

After a year of no time at all in the studio, I’ve spent 4 days there in the past few weeks. It feels wonderful, even though the last day I spent there was entirely spent organizing, sorting, putting away, reorganizing.

My studio is a separate small building I had built in the garden below my house. My dogs, unaccustomed as they are to my being there, followed me down, no doubt remembering I keep a bag of dog biscuits down there. Fortified, they wandered off, but eventually returned to spend the morning outside my door––Morrie plastered horizontally across the base of the locked screen door, Diego perpendicular to him, stretched out along the brick walkway.

The kittens, relegated to the front yard and house, have seen neither the back yard nor my studio. I fear what my dogs, intent on doing away with every soft fuzzy creature that enters my yard, would do to them, even though they’ve been seeing them for almost four months now through the glass, bars and screens that form most of the walls of every room in my house.

That is why I was so distressed when I heard the plaintive meow of one of the kittens coming from the wrong direction. Not from the side of the house where they have a walled-off outside run all their own, but seemingly from the street behind the studio or from the empty lot down below me. I listened closely, hoping it was just my one hearing-impaired ear that was misdirecting the direction from which the sound was coming; but, when I stepped out into the yard, I could hear it clearly.

I called out to Pasiano, telling him I thought one of the kittens had made its way out of its safe zone.

“No, senora,” he insisted.

“Yes! Listen,” I insisted as the loud meow came again––several times.

He shook his head, laughing, and gestured up into the pistachio tree, from which one bird was cawing an insistent bird call, another creature mewing back an insistent interspecies reply. It was a bird, he told me. He led me closer to the tree and as he did, a black bird flew down from that tree to a large castor bean plant in the spare lot. The bird in the tree cawed and chirped. The bird below in the spare lot meowed back,

It was a magpie that had evidently been hanging around the kittens for too long. A mother knows her kids’ voices and this was a perfect replica of my kittens’ bossy demands to be fed.

When I told Yolanda about this strange occurrence, she laughed and said she had done exactly the same thing two days earlier, sure one of the kittens had escaped.

Now this story, as unbelievable as you might find it, has a precedent in my family. When my 11-year-older sister was a tiny girl, she was in the habit of coming to the back door and calling out, “Mommy, Mommy! This occurred so many times during the day that my mother had told her that unless it was an emergency, she should come into the house to find her instead of expecting her to drop whatever household task she was doing to come to the door. Betty heeded this request perhaps one time out of three, which was an improvement, at least.

One day, my mother heard he calling out to her, but when she came to the door, no Betty! She went back to her work on the other side of the house, only to hear he call out again. Once again, she went to the door, but no Betty. This time she called her in from her play, gave her a scolding and told her not to do it again. But Mommy, she hadn’t done it, my sister insisted, but in that way Mommy’s develop, my mom just shook her head and said, well, not to do it again.

Barely had she gotten back to the kitchen however, when she heard my sister demanding her presence again. This time really angry, she stamped back across the house to the screened-in porch to see—absolutely no one standing on the front door stoop. This time, however, the mystery was quickly solved. In a large cage on that screened in porch was a magpie with a damaged wing that my father had brought in from the ranch. Even as my mother entered the porch, he had called out once more in my sister’s voice, demanding her presence.

Most mimics only get themselves in trouble due to inappropriate material. This mimic was most adept at passing the blame. True story, as is the more recent magpie story above.



Little Duck’s Almost Novel Adventure


One day Little Duck was bored, and although Big Duck was not bored at all, Little Duck decided he needed to be educated in the art of flying. “Just stretch your left wing out like this,” he instructed Big Duck. Of course, Big Duck had neither left wing nor right wing, so he stretched his left arm out as far as he could.


“Very good,” said Little Duck. Then, “Stretch out your right wing!” he quacked like a drill sergeant, in a very bossy tone. And so Big Duck stretched his right arm out as far as he could.


“Now, spread out your wing tip feathers and flap both wings at the same time,” demanded Little Duck; but try as he might, Big Duck just couldn’t do it.


Upon further investigation, Little Duck decided that aside from a failure to coordinate wing movements, there was a further complication that foretold that for Big Duck, flying lessons would never come to fruition,


for it seemed that in addition to malformed wings, Big Duck also lacked the webbed feet necessary for landing and propelling himself through water as well as the tail to serve as a rudder.


“Very strange indeed!” shouted Little Duck from waaaaay down on the floor, where he had gone to investigate the matter. “In fact, in spite of your name and the color of your feet, you seem to resemble this palefoot human standing right over here to my right more than you do a duck.”


“But I love you anyway,” Little Duck quacked at Big Duck, as he winged up to his shoulder to give him a reassuring peck on the cheek.

And, never one to give up on chances for adventure, Little Duck put on his thinking cap and tried to think of something Big Duck might be better able to accomplish. It was important after his last big failure that he give him a simple task more suited to his talents than flying seemed to be.

“Eureka!” he thought, and hopped up to share his idea with Big Duck, who at first looked somewhat dubious.


But, in his usual inimitable fashion, Little Duck persevered. “As a team, we are unbeatable,” he insisted. “With my creativity and great mind and your mutated feathers capable of maneuvering a keyboard, we could write great literature!” And so, after a great deal of quacking and what passed for quacking on Big Duck’s part, the two settled into a collaboration.

“It was a dark and stormy night,” lisped Little Duck.

“That sounds a bit trite to me,” countered Big Duck.

“Once upon a time,” quacked the littler of the two.

“Been done already,” Big Duck fired back.

“Duck!!!!!” shouted little Duck as he saw a wasp zeroing in on Big Duck’s ear.

“That sounds a bit better,” enthused Big Duck, and typed the first word of their document, complete with five exclamation marks and an ending quotation mark.

Knowing there was very little time for action, Little Duck soared through the air to Big Duck’s shoulder just in time to snap up the angry wasp in his martyred and heroic beak.


“What comes next?” asked Big Duck, totally unaware that he’d just been saved from his biggest fear by Little Duck.”Did you notice that I remembered the closing parenthesis?” He asked, pointing proudly at their first completed sentence. “Do you have an idea for the second sentence?”

“There was a wasp about to sting you on the ear and I saved you by catching it in my beak!” shouted Little Duck.


“Now who in the world is ever going to believe that?” protested Big Duck, and threw up his hand in defeat.

And that is how Little Duck’s Big Adventure never came to be written and why Big Duck’s name has not gone down in the history of literature, or even at the very least, in the blogger’s hall of fame.



What to do with leftover Little Duck photos on the way between St. Paul and St. Louis with Big Duck doing all the driving.  I hit the publish button just as we arrived at the motel!  Now that is timing.

Crave more Little Duck adventures?

Red-faced in Reflection

JudyRed jpg (1)
I can remember telling two “most embarrassing” stories in past prompts.  Here is one:
nd here is another:

Extra Service: Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge 2016, Week 23


The Customer is Always Right

This photo would not be oddball except for the story that goes with it.  I was in the same store that had the life-sized horse lamp with the lampshade on its head.  Remember that? (A party horse, I surmise.)  I could get through a year of oddballs on just photos from that store, but this particular photo is more about the subjects than the photo itself.  I saw a woman who had been carrying her somewhat heavy and fussy child around the store for some time.  Finally, as I waited in line to make a rather large purchase, (not the horse) she walked up and held the sleeping child out to this man, who had been helping me to buy the table and chairs and who did not look any too pleased to be taking charge of his son. His stance was awkward and his arms extended in a manner that showed very little connection to the child.

“Is this your son?”  I asked, smiling fondly at the child who was cherubic in his sleeping state.
“No,” he answered.
“Do you know the mother at all?”
“No,” he answered, “I just work here.”

The mother, hearing our interchange, broke into the conversation. “I have been holding my son for a long time and my arms are tired, so I gave him to this man to hold for me.”

This may not be as funny in the telling as it was in the viewing, but this man in no way volunteered for babysitting duty and neither did he look at all adept at it or interested in continuing to serve as “baby-check” boy. It struck me as funny, and still does. How much of this story can you see in the photo?

Where is Magic When You Need It??

IMG_6866The bricks under the window arch will be removed after the bricks forming the arch are placed over it and the mortar dries  The top of the arch you see here will actually be the bottom of the window arch.  Think backwards!

                                 Where is Magic When You Need It?

Oh dear.  I could have used a bit of magic in dealing with one very irate plumber who came up to the kitchen waving his knapsack and pulling at a big chewed spot in the small pocket in front.  Reaching in, he drew out a half-eaten lonche (sandwich made out of shredded pork in a bolillo–a small crusty loaf of delicious Mexican Bread.)

“Su perro, su perro! ” he exclaimed and I understood at once that he had left his knapsack down where any one of three inquisitive and always-hungry dogs could investigate (and open) it.  It was the small one, he sputtered.

In my best ( worst at best) Spanish I said, “You can’t leave your lunch on the ground with three dogs present.”  But it was zippered into his bag, he said.  I had to laugh.  You’ve seen Morrie’s past exploits, right? If not, suffice it to say that in one week he consumed thirty rolls of toilet paper, two rolls of paper towels, a rubber duck, three doggie toys, a box of crayons, one shoe, five books and the handles off an antique chiffarobe. When I bought him one of those indestructible hard rubber toys in an hourglass shape–the ones you put a dog biscuit or peanut butter into to encourage chewing?  Guaranteed forever?  He bit it in two in fifteen minutes.  This is why I laughed.

“I’ll make you a delicious pork loin sandwich,” I told him.

But the knapsack! he whined.

“I’ll buy you a new bag.  Tell me what it costs and I’ll replace it.”  He looked somewhat happier.  He returned to my studio, where they were fixing a burst pipe.  I returned to the kitchen where I cut a  half inch slab of pork loin, covered it with au jus and slivered carrots cooked in the juice, made a sandwich, put celery sticks and dipping dressing in a bag, made guacamole and sandwiched  it between four crisp tortillas, added a Coca Cola and carried the bag with his new lunch down to the studio.  Inside the studio were all three dogs and three piles of poop–all Morrie’s.  I know it so well. Piled around were various bags and boxes of valuables used to make retablos that my robber dogs had had free access to.

“You can’t let the dogs into the studio,” I directed, and shut the door.  I leaned down to remove Morrie’s markers and by the time I arose, one plumber had gone to retrieve something from the garage, the door was open again and all three dogs were inside.

“I’ll put the dogs in the garage,” I said in my creative Spanish, and went to the house to fortify my demands with dog biscuits.  But when we arrived at the garage, there was a very large plastic pipe they’d drained the aljibe (cistern) with in order to clean it, so no go with dogs in the garage. Morrie could have that pipe deconstructed in minutes! Where else? Men were carrying concrete around the side of the house and so I couldn’t close the front yard off from the back.  Finally, I enclosed them all within the 20 foot long “pen” I’d created to isolate Morrie while he recuperated from his earlier neutering. The room builders were off in the street, eating lunch under the neighbor’s trees.  (More of a vacation than eating under my trees.) The plumbers were in my gazebo, having their lunch.  I went down to tell them the dogs were removed from their company at least for now.

The one plumber didn’t look ecstatic over my balanced meal provided, but perhaps he hadn’t tasted it yet.  The pork is delicious, I know.  I’ve been eating it every day for three days now.  The last time I cooked one of these marinated pork tenderloins, I made one meal of it before  Diego snatched the rest off the counter where Yolanda had placed it while she cleaned the fridge.  This time I was looking forward to more than one meal of it, but I’m very happy to share it with the plumber.

Yesterday, I finally dealt with a three day bout of terrible allergies by taking an antihistamine.  As a result, I slept all afternoon, awakening at 7:30 at night.  After feeding the dogs, I suddenly had a terrific burst of energy during which I cleaned out and reorganized the entire garage, Scoured out a 20 year old Rubbermaid garbage can so we can use it to store dog food in, washed dishes and straightened the kitchen and dining room.  I then reorganized my bathroom storage, hung up all my clothes discarded in hurried changes of costume over the past few days, had the silliest of conversations with my Missouri friend and went out for an after-midnight photo session, the results of which you can see on Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge on this morning’s blog posting.  I then watched an episode of “Castle,” played three games of computer solitaire and finally looked at the clock.  Five A.M.?  I had an English lesson to teach in a few hours and workmen coming at 8.  Loud workmen!!!  Off went the lights and five minutes later, Yolanda arrived with a cup of coffee.  Looks like three hours sleep was going to have to do.

So, another day and another magical progression of events that let me know I’m alive.  The weather is perfect.  Slight breeze moving the trees.  Pasiano accomplished most of the list of “to do’s” I thought up for him to do while experiencing my own all-night energy spurt. The builders are back from lunch and I’m looking out on the beautiful arched window they are in the process of constructing that I’ll be able to see every day from my desk for the rest of my life.  My kids are happily at rest in their prison and hot volcanic water is streaming into my swimming pool.

Where is magic when I need it?  All around me.