short stories

My squirrel hunting cat

     Every once in a while, I enjoy writing about  something a little different. I choose to write about some of the experiences I have lived through. I enjoy sharing these tidbits of my life. If you are following my blog, you have noticed how I throw these funny yet true stories in every so often. Most of these stories involve me learning a lesson the hard way, usually showing comedy with me being shown as the butt of the joke. In all of these posts, there is also a lesson that I have learned and passed to you, hopefully helping you not make the same silly mistakes. I have had great success with these post and continue to go back through my memory to pull one out sometimes. This story is one that involves an amazing little creature I had the pleasure to witness at his absolute finest. For once, I didn’t make a grand mistake making me the stooge in an event of my life. Actually, there’s no funny in this one, just pure amazement. I hope you will continue to read and allow me to introduce you to “Smokey” my truly amazing cat!

     I had this cat that was the best darn  squirrel hunting dog that I ever owned. Did I say dog? He might as well have been. I know that just sounds plain crazy to start my story  like that, but when I explain farther, you will think that was the best way to start after all. Spending my teenage years in the Ozarks of Missouri, I did a lot of hunting for various reasons. Sometimes the reason fell upon food for my family, other times it was for the hides so rich people could wear strange clothing. If you have never lived in the country, you probably wouldn’t understand the need for hunting. It’s probably not a far stretch that you city folk wouldn’t understand the pure joy of hunting, either. The joy of hunting is a pleasure that is hard to explain. Was it bloodlust? No, it is the joy of being in the woods, watching and listening to everything around you. It brings a special piece to one’s self. It settles the mind and teaches us the gift of the great outdoors. The hunt is the necessary part, the other is the pleasure one is given for such an adventure.

     Part of hunting sometimes includes a good hound dog who can lead you to prey one seeks. A good squirrel dog will drive squirrels up a tree and run around barking, keeping the squirrel treed. This term treed means just what it sounds like, the dog will keep the squirrel in one tree, not able to flee to another tree. Once his master finally gets there, this brilliant dog will walk around to the opposite side of the tree, giving the hunter a clear shot at his prey. For those of you whom have never paid attention to squirrels before, when you are walking towards the tree the squirrel occupies, he will climb around to the opposite side, staying out of your view and in a safer place. This leads us to the good hunting dog I spoke of. The hunter once taking up his position at the tree will signal his companion. This brilliant animal will do what he is taught and circle around to the opposite side of the tree. Once he is in position, he will growl, bark and jump up against the tree. The prey will see this craziness and want to get to a safer position, climbing around the tree away from the danger to the opposite side. What the squirrel has now done is take himself away from something that can’t get to him into the sights of something that can, the hunter!

Gray cat laying down
This is not Smokey but could be his twin

       I feel this is the time to introduce you to the cat I had back then. His name was Smokey. I named him that for the most obvious  reason. He was gray from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. There wasn’t a speck  of any other color on him. Smokey was a great friend to me. Living on a farm, we had lots of cats, but Smokey was the only one I liked. As he reached adulthood, I noticed that Smokey started following me on my hunts. “Stupid cat, he thinks he’s a dog” I thought. Later on, he would be known as a genius kitty by me.

       I went for a squirrel hunt one day and happened to catch a glimpse of Smokey following me through the woods. Once again, all I could think of was, stupid cat. All of a sudden, I seen some squirrels looking for nuts around this large oak tree. I slowly kneeled down and patiently watched these little creatures running to and fro. It dawned on me that I hadn’t heard Smokey moving behind me. I knew if he was moving around, he would have to make noise in the dry leaves that covered the floor of the woods. Did he go back home? Nope. As I slowly turned to look behind me. There he was, maybe fifteen feet behind me, sitting still as a brick wall. Another thought jumped into my head. This stupid cat is going to run across them leaves on the ground and alert the squirrels of my location. This isn’t what was happening, he just sat there, watching, with me as still as he could be. He’s not crouched down waiting to leap, just sitting there patiently watching along with me.

     A little while past and I watched as the squirrels headed up this other tree, maybe one hundred feet away. This is when I slowly started my walk to their location. I would have them treed, and the only problem I would have now would be to get them in my sights to shoot them. I could have shot one from my original position, but I would lose track of the others and probably wouldn’t be able to get them. When hunting, I always believed I should bring home enough for at least one good meal for my family. Any less than that and I would feel like I failed the reason for the hunt.

Gray squirrel in a tree

     As I got within fifty feet of the tree, I stopped and waited for the first squirrel to get curious enough to come around to my side of the tree. I knew this would take a while since I didn’t have a dog or a hunting partner to walk to the other side. I waited maybe five minutes and I heard something coming from up from behind me through the dead leaves. Furthermore, I turned and seen that it was Smokey. I thought once again, “stupid cat.” I believe he must have read my mind. He must have been thinking, “I’ll show him who’s a stupid cat!” All of a sudden Smokey ran past me and headed for the squirrel tree! What the heck is he doing? When he reached the tree, he slowed down and slowly walk to the other side. Once there, he jumps up on the tree and ran up about ten feet. I was surprised to see he’s looking around the tree, where he had stopped, right into my eyes. The best that I could come up with was him asking if he was in the right place. Of course, he may have been thinking, “stupid human. Here I am running the squirrels to his side and all he can do is stare at me.”

      Once Smokey was in position, the squirrels worked their way around to the opposite side of where he was. This put the three squirrels on my side. It caught me by such a surprise, that it took me a minute to get through my brain what was happening. Once the shock left me, I picked up my rifle and was able to get all three squirrels, Smokey had sent to me. When the squirrels hit the ground, Smokey came down out of the tree and ran towards me. Once again, shock hit me. This cat was running towards where the loud sound had just originated from. Wow, that is the best squirrel hunting dog I had ever witnessed, and it is feline, not canine!

       I took the squirrels home and prepared them for my Mom’s famous squirrel and dumplings. I relived the moment of the hunt while sharing my story with my Mom and Dad. My Mom thought it was a sweet story, while my Dad ask what I had been smoking. I’m serious Dad. It really happened, just like I said. I don’t think he believed me at the time, but he would in the near future.

     I went out many times squirrel hunting, and every time Smokey went with me. Not only did he go, but every time he would do the same thing as before, jumping up on the opposite side of the tree, giving me the clear shot I needed. My Dad finally had enough of my story telling about Smokey, so one day, he decided to go on the hunt with me. Smokey followed us out and when we got the squirrels in the tree, Smokey once again showed his trick. My Dad was absolutely floored. He had just witnessed this with his own eyes and still had trouble believing what he had just seen.

     I continued to go hunting with Smokey over the next two squirrel seasons. No matter how many times I have seen Smokey do his little trick, it was still hard to believe. Smokey passed away towards the end of the second season. I guess I should’ve sent my story to the papers at that time, but I don’t think they would’ve printed such a crazy story.

     I have had a few cats since then, but none with the talent that Smokey had. I hope you have enjoyed my story. It really did happen, crazy as it seems. For those of you that are against hunting, I’m sorry if I offended you. For those of you that enjoy hunting, I hope you have the fortune of a talented cat that helps you on your hunting trips. Take care, my friends and remember, we are all in this together.

Grief takes it’s own path

     I wanted to start this post by telling you that I have had a hard time writing this week. This has nothing to do with writers block or anything even in the near vicinity of such. This has to do with my thoughts and me this week. I started this blog as a form of therapy for myself and never expected much more from it other than that. I have since gained readers of my work and have felt a responsibility to those that follow this blog. In one way it lifts my spirits to know that others would take the time to read my stories. When I hear that one of my family members enjoyed something I wrote it is one thing but when a stranger enjoys something I write, it becomes so much more. I start believing in myself and feel the need to continue putting my thoughts into print for you.

Man sitting at a desk with a laptop open
This is my therapy

     When I started this blog, I was in a bad state mentally. I felt a certain despair that I couldn’t even explain to myself, let alone anybody else. I became disabled from an accident that I had while working in the mines. I sustained nerve damage that put me out of work for good. For someone like me, this was a devastating thing to happen, not because of the injury but because of not being able to work anymore. I have held a job in some form or another since I was seventeen years of age. Well, that is untrue I suppose. Seventeen was when I worked for a place that I started paying taxes. I was much younger doing jobs for cash. Whether it was mowing lawns, hauling hay, working on cars in my dad’s shop or working in my mom’s grocery store. So when I got hurt, I felt unwanted and unneeded, even though this was not true in anyway, shape or form. My wife and children still needed me to take care of things around our little farm.

     I went into a deep depression and tried to hide it the best that I could. Once i started writing, it seemed to help more then all the drugs the VA has me on. However,  sometimes it still catches up to me and it’s very hard to shake. That’s what has been going on with me this week. I haven’t been able to sleep and the little bit of sleep that I have gotten has been very restless. I have opened my blog many times this week wanting to sit down and write but without the full focus that I always use when I write. I knew I needed to write not just for me but for you as well. I have finally been able to sit down and do what needs to be done. I want to thank each and every one of you for spending some of your precious time reading my words.

Without having an outlet for my brain to focus on, my depression would become widespread. It is because of you, my readers, that I feel I have a purpose outside of my home again. Thank you for reading. Now that I have gotten that out of my brain and down in print, it’s time to give all of you one of my post that you expect and I feel the need to write each week. I hope you enjoy this post and relay it to your friends. I call this “Grief takes its own path”. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and join me in the little journey that I have written for you this week.

     When someone passes on to the great beyond, they leave others behind to grieve. All people grieve in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Some people find themselves breaking down in a pool of tears. Others will never show any signs of even caring for the person that has just been laid to rest. There will be some that will shut down and not want to talk about it, while others want to tell everyone they run into how they are feeling.

Men with umbrellas attending a funeral

     There’s not a particular path to grieving. No one can say, this is the way it’s supposed to be. There are people out there that will try to tell the world how to grieve but they are speaking way above their heads when they do. If someone says that you are supposed to grieve a certain way, they are totally wrong. This is a misconception and should not be forced on others. If you feel the need to bawl your eyes out or not shed a tear at all, that is completely normal for you in this situation. Just because a person doesn’t cry at a funeral, doesn’t mean they are not grieving. Maybe this person will cry later by themselves in the closet. Maybe this person feels that if they cry, they have somehow hurt their memories of the person laid to rest. This is a individual decision of everyone of us. Sometimes it hits in a way that we have no control over.

     I beseech you not to hold it against a person just because they don’t grieve the same way as you. The ones that truly have a problem are the ones that fake a certain kind of grieving just to make others feel secure. This is a terrible way to be and in my book, just a big lie. You be who you are and don’t change just to make others around you happy.

       The path of grief comes in many ways and  alot of the time will surprise the person themselves when it happens. Case in point, I have known many close people to me that have passed on. Some have caused me to break down in tears. Some have caused me to go into more of a state of shock, showing little to no emotion at all. There has even been cases that have caused me to show no evidence of emotion for weeks and then break down in tears. In all these cases, my grief showed up naturally in very different ways and yet it didn’t mean that one person meant more to me than the others. I had absolutely no control to how my grieving process would come or if it would show up at all.

People standing by a casket while the pastor reads from the Bible

     Some people can show their emotions of a person passing, the same way every time. When this happens, it makes me wonder if they are true to their grief or if they are pulling off the big fake for others to witness. Maybe that is how grief really does show up for them. Once again I can say, the only person that knows for sure if you are truly showing your grief or if you are faking, is you. Just remember not to judge others on their grieving process because you don’t know what they feel in their heart. Only they know what’s going on with themselves.

I guess the reason this subject came up in the depths of my brain is because I have known so many that have died in the last month or so. Let me throw this out there just incase any of you attend my funeral. When the time comes, I want you guys to throw a big party. You have plenty of time to cry later. By the way, I’m planning on being around for a long time yet. Take care my friends. Thanks for reading and giving me the feeling of being needed. Remembe, we are all in this together.

Love like your pet and end war!!

     If only humans could love each other like our pets love us. We have all heard about unconditional love and yet we know nothing about it. If you would like to see the true meaning of unconditional love, take a look into your dog’s eyes. I choose a dog because they are the one animal that truly has this kind of love for their owner. A dog will lay his life down for you even if you have mistreated him. Now if you are mistreating your pet, then I hope you are punished.

White labrador retriever

     We as humans have the mindset to be who we want to be and yet we tend to choose destruction ove.r love for one another. I don’t understand how humanity could make such a terrible mistake like this. Why, in this day and age, do we have wars with each other? Wars are totally unnecessary in these times. I shall explain farther so as not to sound completely incompetent. Wars are always started for one of three reasons. First one is of course, religion. The second falls under the heading of resources. The final is for complete control.

      Talking about the third reason “complete control” is what is happening right now in Ukraine. When this happens, it is always started by some crazy person who wants to rule over as many people as possible. If you believe this will end in Ukraine (if not stopped by someone), you are sadly mistaken. This is the dumbest war that can be started with no real reason to do it other than for control. If the people of the evading country could love others the way their pets love them, they wouldn’t follow a crazy man. Some brave person or persons would remove this virus from power and there wouldn’t be a war in the first place. The ones who follow the crazy person at the top have no love for their fellow humans. They are also cowards for not stopping this crazy person in the first place. People will argue that the people have no choice but to follow because the army of the nut case at the top is too powerful. I answer this by saying, the army is the ones who cowardly follow the nut ball at the top and have no love for fellow humans including their own people that they are putting in the situation of having to follow.

A sign saying if Russia stops, no more war
If Ukraine stops, no more Ukraine

     I have been watching the destruction of Ukraine with a heavy heart. The one thing I can say is the people of Ukraine are the toughest people I have ever witnessed. They are standing strong and fighting back the evil that is invading their land. These people are heroes in my book. The invading Russian troops are cowardly for following such evil and not standing up for humanity. They see what they are doing and continue to blindly follow something that they themselves do not believe to be right.

    I did mention that there were two other reasons for war. The first being for religious purposes and trying to force others to follow their views. This kind of war is also stupid because over the centuries of these wars being fought, these have never won anything. There are more religions today then there were hundreds of years ago. This says that there will be more religions created as more time passes. There is always someone who will come up with something different and gain a following. Think about it, during these hundreds of years, how many wars have been started for religious beliefs and how many new religions are there today? I want to make this perfectly clear, religions are man made! The more time that passes, the more people will come up with new religions. So starting a religious war is stupid because it doesn’t change anything. Before I leave this paragraph, I must say that I am a Christian and I am just explaining how starting a religious war is stupid. Protecting your religious beliefs against an invading force is very much warranted.

       The other type of war is for resources. This type of war is usually mixed with one of the other two types of war. Resources are usually a secondary thought and a bonus to the invading force but not the first reason for the war to be started. So when we examine it, there are actually only two reasons for war to be started, religion or domination with resources as a bonus for the invading force.

     I was not going to write this post and I must say that it is not something I enjoyed to do. I do feel like I must say something because of what is happening to people that truly don’t deserve what is happening to them right now. It is hard to see the rest of the world standing on the side lines and watching  something so horrific happening and doing nothing to help. I am saddened by the lack of love in so many. If only they would take a minute and see the love their pets have for them and learn to love the same way, this kind of thing would never happen in the first place. Along those same lines, while it is happening, other countries would step up and stop this horrible unjustified war. May God be with the Ukraine people in their time of need.

      If you have read my post before you know that I always end saying how we are all in this together. Today I will not end my post like that for the Ukraine people are standing alone and we are not in this together. Remember to love one another as your pets love you. We can live in peace if only we will do this simple thing. Look into them puppy eyes and learn what it is to have unconditional love.

We all start with pure souls

     There’s nothing like a sleeping child, so peaceful and so innocent. It amazes me to no end how such a peaceful creature can grow up to be a monster. Not all children fall into this category but there are far too many that do. Who’s fault is it? Is it the parents, society, the change of the times or the devil himself? I believe that any one of these or a combination of two or more can change a person for the worse.

     I have known people that said that a certain bad person was a terrible child growing up. This may be true but what caused the child to be so? Was this child part of a broken home, picked on constantly by the school bully or possibly laughed at for being different from the other children in the classroom? Whatever it was that sowed the seed of evil into this child, one thing is for certain in my opinion, the devil had his hands evolved in this process. You can say what you will but this is the most logical excuse for such a transformation. Children are not born evil because they are not born with the knowledge of evil. Evil must be learned.

     How can you become something that you know nothing about? Something causes this sweet child to become a terror later in life. Circumstances that are introduced into this child’s life has to be the cause of something that changes how this child will view life. If love is not introduced to this child, then evil has an opening into this child’s heart. Evil is the opposite of love and we shall follow one or the other throughout our lives. It is true that one can change from evil to good or visa versa but there will be something that happens to cause this person to change.

      The most evil of man started life with a clean soul. Somewhere along the way something had to have happened to put a stain on this clean soul to create the evil that comes forth in life. Something positive must happen for someone to revert back to the good from evil. Most of the time this comes from finding something good to lead this person away from the evil that they have lived with up to that point.

     So what is this great force that can transform an evil person into a good person once more? What do we see that can take us from a destructive life into a productive life once more? Is it the luck of the draw. Does the world have pity on us and allow us to see the good instead of the bad all the time? Do we see someone that is more evil than us and it makes us change our ways? What can we do that will rid this person or ourselves of this hate and hurt built-up inside of us and others?

     What shall we do to rid ourselves and others of the evil within? The answer is extremely simple actually. The opposite of hate is love. The opposite of luck is faith. The opposite of the devil is God. We have the ability to change not only ourselves but the others around us by seeing the good through the bad and making the correct choices. Others who see how much better our lives are by using the good, faith and God will soon want to try this for themselves. The most horrible person can have a change of heart if only someone will show them how. If you live with peace in your heart and allow it to show through your everyday life, others will want to be like you. They will pay very close attention to you because they desire that peace that you possess. This is human nature. Nobody wants to feel hurt and hate. People desire what you have and will do what it takes to find the peace you have for themselves.

Baby looking into camera playing with his toes

    I want to make this as clear as I possibly can. We all start off life with a clean soul with no hate within it. We learn hate, it is not inherited. The next time that you have the chance to look into a baby’s eyes, look and see if there is love or hate in them. Remember, the eyes are the windows to the soul. I am 100% sure that baby only has love within their eyes. Think about this my friends. Feel free to respond to this post. I look forward to talking with each and everyone of you. This being said, I want you to always Remember, we are all in this together.

Your choice – cause pain or blessing

Every choice we make through life will leave ripples throughout the rest of our lives. We can make up for mistakes but there will be some sort of ripple like dropping a stone in water. Using this same prospective with good things we choose, once again there is a ripple effect that will spread. With these so called “ripples“, there is cause and effect to others around you. Others will fall within these ripples of your life choices. So not only are you affecting your own destiny, you are in turn, causing changes in other destiny’s as well. The sooner that you come to this conclusion, the sooner you can change the outcome of not only yourself but many of those around you.

Splash in green water making ripples

Most people look at these things as affecting your immediate family but that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you make a decision to drive your car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and wreck into a store front, you have just changed the lives of several people. One event of your own choosing can and will cause the ripples to spread, not only to the ones who happen to be at the store but to their families, the store owner, the stock holders, the police and fire departments and the list goes on and on. Now this maybe a drastic way of explaining the bad but it gets my point across.

Let’s take a look at the good that can be spread. If you help someone in need, whether it be with cash, food, clothing or a roof over their head, you have started a good set of ripples. Not only have you helped this person in need but others have probably witnessed your kindness. This will not only help the one you helped but the ones that seen this as well. All of the sudden these witnesses will want to help someone too. This is because, whether we want to believe it or not, people tend to follow other people’s lead. A kind heart will help others find kindness in their own hearts. And, of course, the person that you helped will want to help someone in need somewhere down the line.

I said earlier in this post that the choices we make in life will affect the rest of our lives. I stand by this, now let me explain why. Once you choose to do good or bad, it is done. As of yet, we don’t have a time machine to go back and undo what has been done. All we can do is learn from these things and decide whether we want to continue doing the same things. History is History and cannot be undone but we can learn from it and take a different path if we choose to. Key word here is “Choose“. We must make an effort if we want a different outcome next time around.

The question you must ask yourself is; what kind of ripples do you want to be known for? It doesn’t take any great feat to change the lives of others. One simple choice can cause a world of hurt or a world of blessings. The good news is, we have the ability to choose a different course of action! We may have caused ourselves and others pain but we can choose to change and hope for forgiveness from those we have hurt. On the other side of that, if you have been hurt by someone’s actions, will you hold a grudge or forgive them? One piece of advice I will give you, holding a grudge will do nothing good for you but forgiveness will free your soul. Take care my friends and Remember, we are all in this together.

My enemy? Not as far as you know

     I have not truly had someone to call my enemy in many years now. I treat everyone that I meet the same as anyone else. There is an old saying that says, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” I learned a long time ago that the best way to achieve this is to not have enemies in the first place. This is easier than you think to accomplish.
I am now in my fifties and have met many people throughout my life. If you were to ask anyone of those, you would hear the same thing over and over, “Oh, that Billy and I have always been good friends.” This in some cases maybe true but in a lot of cases, just plain fluff! The difference is, I know whom I consider my friend and whom I don’t. The other person has no idea which side of the isle they actually occupy unless I allow it to be known. This has been a strategic ploy that I have laid out over several years.

Four friends laughing together

  Why, you may ask, should I keep my feelings to myself when it comes to the other person? It’s simple really, with the ones that I don’t like not knowing, I have no one that will ever become my enemy. That is unless they were to do something so drastic, that I would have to let them in on my little secret. Without an enemy, I have no drama to deal with and I can just go about my way. I make sure the people, that I truly do think of as friends, know without a doubt that they are my friends. The funny part is, even my closest friends have no idea of anyone that I don’t like. I never talk ill of anyone unless, like I said before, they do something so bad, I cannot keep my secret about how I really feel.

     The main way to find out if you are on the wrong side of the isle with me is to cause harm to someone in my immediate family or a very close friend. In that case, you would find out very quickly that you are on my bad side.
After putting this ploy into affect, going on twenty years now, my life has become so much simpler. I no longer have to wander if someone is talking bad about me behind my back because I give them no reason to. Of course there are always those that cannot say anything good about anyone. Those people are surprised when they find out, I just laugh it off as though they were joking all along. The truth of the matter is, I am just jotting it down in my memory to possibly pull out if and when it is ever needed. I may get mad at this person for the comments they have made but they will never know how I truly feel.

   Basically what this comes down to is another old saying, “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Granted, I do take this one a step farther. I may mind but will not give said person the satisfaction of knowing so. My belief carries a slightly different approach. If someone is talking bad about me and I don’t acknowledge the hurt they have caused, then the saying should be, “If I don’t mind it’s because they don’t matter.”

    I think if more people would put my philosophy into effect, there would be a lot less hurt in the world. I hope this post has touched your heart and helped you along your way through life. Take care and Remember, we are all in this together.