fuzzy, black dogs

fuzzy, black dogs
All three of my fuzzy, black dogs -- Bob, Ace and Lilly.

Phillip's Scenic Overlook

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Six Year-Olds Notice Everything!

The children at the school I work at continue to amaze and surprise me, as well as make me laugh. And the best part? They're usually not afraid to ask questions that don't pertain to school work. Nor are they afraid to say what they think.

"I like you skunk, Mr. Haworth," one of my students said recently.
"What skunk," I asked him, puzzled. "What are you talking about?"
"Your skunk," he continued, pointing above my head. "In your picture!"

Way back at the beginning of the school year, I painted a ceiling tile to go up in the hallway by the office. The new hires are encouraged to paint a ceiling tile with something personal, inspirational or both. I'm not sure which mine is, but it seems to garner some attention with the kids. It depicts several people with watering cans watering plants under the sun. In the middle is one guy laying back against a tree, daydreaming, with his watering can on the ground at his side.

"That's not a skunk," I told him, noticing the amazing resemblance to a skunk. "It's actually a watering can."

In hindsight, I wish I had just smiled and thanked him. He seemed so excited to have figured out what the ink blob in the middle of the scene was.

Later that same day, one of the girls made a startling observation about me..

"You're white, Mr. Haworth," she said. It was a statement. I heard something close to amazement in her voice as she said it.
"Well...  Umm..  Yeah," I replied, at a loss for words. "I guess I am."

We've got about 30 days of school left. I was amazed that it took her so long to realize this fact and then bring it up to me.

"Why are you white, Mr. Haworth," she asked.

I looked into her eyes, hoping to detect some humor in the comment. I found none. My brain raced with numerous comments and ways to approach the question that would be tactful, caring and informative.

"Umm," I stammered. "Well... I... Umm."
"I mean, it's all over your face," she added.
"It's what," I replied.
"Right around here," she said, tracing her finger over the right side of my face.

It looks as though I'm going to have to be more careful with my spray paint as I help build props. It seems to have a way of coming back and adhering to me!

Most recently, another girl was analyzing my ID badge with my photo on it. She looked up at me and back and the picture. She spent a good 60 seconds with this little exercise before relaying her discovery.

"This my be an old picture of you, Mr. Haworth," she announced. "You look GOOD in this picture."

Perhaps I've let myself go a bit since last August, when the picture was taken. Perhaps I need to give myself more time in the morning to clean up and get ready for school. Whichever, my son said not to worry since she probably forgot her glasses that day.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lawn Maintenance Equals Character Building?

Ahhh... Spring time! With it comes the flowers, fishing and swimming. Also, along with it comes grass growing and lawn maintenance, and I don't mention that fondly.

When I was growing up, I had to mow the vertical drop that was my father's back yard. I simply didn't feel safe mowing it without three belay lines safely anchoring me, the lawn mower and the tank of spare gas. There were moments when my equipment and I would dangle over empty space, just hoping to touch a tuft of grass with a wildly spinning mower blade.

While mowing that back yard, I lived in fear of my sisters. They liked to pull pranks on me. I was afraid one of their pranks would cause my life line to be accidentally cut, thus send me plummeting to my death in the creek far below.

It took everything I had to haul myself and my equipment up the vertical drop. My muscles trembled and spasmed from the strain, fatigue and fear involved. I would have the mower nearly docked safely in the garage when my father's voice finally reached my young ears.

"Phillip," my father said in a questioning tone I knew so well. "You missed a couple of spots back there. You know, I can't pay you until the job has been satisfactorily completed. Now, if you would simply mow in straight lines, you could line up the mower wheels with..."

I heard the beginning of that speech many times. The fresh surge of fear it created sent my muscles trembling and spasming afresh, and I don't think I ever heard it in its entirety.

But now I'm the father. Now I get to dispense my years of wisdom upon my son.

Sadly enough, I don't have a vertical drop for a back yard in which to build my son's physical strength or strength of character. My back yard also lacks the mutant spiders that are able to weave webs that span between trees more than 20 feet apart. Nor do I have the underground bee nest which had to be carefully observed and mowed around. I also don't require my son to empty the grass bag at a site no less than a half mile away. Shoot! I have a bagless mower!

Luckily for my son, I promised myself that I would be a cool dad. I would be the kind of dad that would not nag, but give him practical advice in such a way that he could associate with and appreciate. My motto would be: as long as the job gets done, that's all that matters.

I got my chance to practice my hip, youthful approach to mowing as I observed him with the lawnmower today.

"Hey buddy," I said in a careful, youthful tone. "You missed a couple of spots back there. You know, I can't pay you until the job has been satisfactorily completed. Now, if you would simply mow in straight lines, you could line up the mower wheels with..."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fuzzy Monsters with Phil Harper

Good news and bad news. The bad news? I may have to change venues, which means less blog posts on Fuzzy, Black Dogs. The good news? My new venue will be television, where I'll host my new show, Fuzzy Monsters.

I'll have to make a few changes to make it successful, of course. The first change will be my name. I'll simply shorten my first name and use my middle name instead of my last. The second change will be my diction. I'll be working on perfecting my English accent over the weeks to come. The third will be my appearance. Having worked briefly in television news, I know the camera adds approximately 10 pounds. That means I'll have to exercise like mad to lose approximately 100 pounds before the pilot episode.

Other minor changes include not shaving and dying my hair a distinguished gray or white. Maybe some time in a tanning booth. Perhaps a little tooth whitening. Also some weightlifting to bulk and shape up properly.

[Imagine English accent here:]The first episode will take place in my own home, a location where three fuzzy monsters are known to lurk. I've spoken with the natives on the best ways to find them and scouted out their location. It seems we are looking at three different methods for catching the three monsters. We'll start with the first, smallest and potentially most dangerous.

It's been said if you sit relatively still, the first will seek you out. The youngest native, however, claims she can't resist pajamas and beds. I went all out and donned gray flannel pajamas and a t-shirt and headed straight to bed. Within minutes the little monster appeared, jumping up the side of the bed. I tried to move her away from my head to protect myself, but she began growling immediately, proving to be a dangerous adversary.

After surviving the night with the littlest monster, I had to change my approach for the second target. The next one, it's been fabled, has hearing so keen, it can hear the click of a leash from 12 miles away. This proved untrue.

I simply touched the leash as quietly as possible when I heard a tremendous rumbling sound. He was upon me before I had time to react. He jumped and lunged, but didn't seem intent on hurting me. This fuzzy monster was indeed a strong one. Once the leash was firmly attached, he lunged for the door, nearly dislocating my shoulder, spine and hip. Outside, he proceeded to run relatively free, my body only touching the ground twice behind him. Had I not forgotten my knife, I would have gladly cut myself free.

The third fuzzy monster, and the largest, was reportedly the least dangerous. My plan to capture this one was to simply walk around with food in my hand. I chose a bit of cheese and sat on the sofa.

Though large, this one was stealthy. I didn't see or hear him coming. He was simply there, in the air, hurtling toward me like a missile. He rammed me in the chest, causing me to drop the cheese into my lap. The monster dove quickly after it, teeth and jaws working furiously. Miraculously, he got the food and I came out of the incident relatively unhurt.

Once the brute had ascertained that I didn't have any more food, he jumped into my lap and began rubbing his large ears on my chest and hands. If I stopped scratching the ears, he became agitated and would place my hands upon his ears again. He seemed relatively docile, except for the burp that nearly caused me to pass out.

For my second episode, the natives suggested I simply venture around the corner. There, they said, I'll find the location of a small, but ferocious monster, known simply as Roxie, that lurks at that home. And that, viewers, will be my next challenge.

Until next week, good hunting.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spam Emails Hold the Secret to Life

Have you ever stopped and read through some of the junk email you get? You know what I'm talking about, the ones that that never see the light of day, so to speak. The spam. Or the ones that are immediately relegated to the spam folder. Yeah, those.
Being the curiously inquisitive person that I am, I have stopped to analyze some of those interesting tidbits that we all get on a daily basis. I'm simply doing this as a service to my readers who may have been tantalized into wanting to open one.

You may be amazed to know this, but the special assistant to sheik Moussa Koussa in some unknown country has treasures and a large amount of cash he wants me to keep safe for him. Perhaps I can send some of it to the other emails from Ellen, who suffers from "some cancerous ailment," or Sgt. Adam of the US Army, both of whom need my help in the form of large quantities of dollar bills.

My schedule is about to get a lot crazier. Through my emails, I can start classes to become a social worker, computer technician, addiction counselor, medical billing specialist, ultrasound technician and an elementary school teacher. Best of all, I can do all these online as my schedule permits!

As soon as the money starts rolling in from my multi-degree career, I can afford the "cheap" BMW, Ford and Audi that are currently in my area just waiting for me to pick them up. After the car purchase, I'll get a quick and easy bathroom remodel from the professionals dying to come and do it at the lowest possible price.

Should none of that work, I have a back up plan. I received an email inviting me to join a millionaire dating website. Maybe I can find my own millionaire. I'll have to get my wife's permission, of course.

Money really shouldn't be a problem, though. Also through the spam emails, I have access to cheap airline tickets and all sorts of free drugs, as well as excellent coupons to Walmart and all sorts of local businesses.

In the meantime, I have to go. Apparently Ahmed, whose country of origin has changed yet again, has five million US dollars he's accrued that he doesn't know what to do with. I need to go so I can send him my checking account number so he'll have a safe place to put a large quantity that money.