“What’s your emergency?”

“My husband fell from a ladder and can’t get up. I think he broke his hip or leg.

“What’ s your location?.”

My wife has the phone on conference so that I can hear the conversation with the dispatcher. (we both know that otherwise one will have questions they thought the other should have asked and didn’t, and somehow both parties will feel abused.)

“Did he hit his head?”

“No, it’s not life threatening so you won’t have to come with sirens or anything.”.

(This no siren thing is most important to me. I hate the type of attention a siren brings in this community.)

No sooner was the no siren request out of my wife’s mouth than I could hear it in the far distance. Then closer and louder, and closer and louder, then silence at the gate and then finally one last blast of the siren as they came down our street.

From my excellent viewing angle on the concrete floor, I can see the ambulance parked, lights flashing at the end of the drive. And then nothing happens, just the ambulance lights flashing. I suspect the delay is for purely theatrical reasons and to give everyone a chance to get to their windows to see what’s happening.

Finally, they EMTs saunter up each with his bag and the questioning begins.

“Are you Mr. Foos?”


“What happened?”

“Stepped off the ladder too soon.”

“Were you dizzy?”


“Have you fallen in the last three months?”


Ordinarily I might enjoy this stimulating game of twenty questions, but, I have been lying on this cold concrete floor for over a half an hour, and I would like some help.

“How far did you fall?”

“A couple of feet.”

“Did you hit your head?”


“Were you dizzy?”


Next was the medical history which I’ll spare you just in case you’re lying on a cold, hard, concrete floor with an excruciatingly painful broken hip.

“Can you stand?”

I refuse to answer other than giving an “if looks could kill” glare.

“Can you slide onto the stretcher?”

Again, no answer but both wife and I are glaring.

“I guess we will use the pinchers then.”


“We put one side of the stretcher, called a “pincher” on each side of you, attach the two sides and crank them together pinching you onto the stretcher.”

I was then duly pinched, jostled onto a gurney, rolled to the ambulance, bounced in, and locked in. That’s all I can remember of that journey. I suspect I passed out from the pain, or they gave me some kind of medication. I do remember that there were a lot more questions asked on the way to the hospital. Have no idea who answered them.

“Sticks and Stones….”

Well, the week before Thanksgiving I was installing shelving along the wall of my garage.  I stepped off my seven foot step ladder two rungs too soon.  I did a perfect one point landing on my hip and broke it.

I immediately looked around hoping no one had seen me.  No, well that was good news.

Being a coach, I started the check out.  Vision good. Head turns right and left; up and down – good.  Left arm full range of motion – good.  Right arm full range of motion – good.  Left leg “aaarrrrggghhhhhhh!” – definitely not good.  Right leg “aaarrrrggghhhhhhh!” definitely not good.  Use upper body to move lower body.  You guessed it “aaarrrrggghhhhhhh!”.

Which takes us back to the what appears NOW to not have been such good news.  I am lying on my back in the middle of the garage floor.  The garage door is open but a good distance from the street.  My wife is in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies with “Jingle Bells” and other holiday songs playing from the living room.  My cell phone which I always have with me is charging in the bedroom.  I decide to exercise my one and only option and wait as my body becomes aware of what I have done to it and increases the frequency and intensity of pain messages to my brain.

Fortunately within fifteen minutes my wife comes to see if the dog is with me in the garage.

“Have you seen the dog, and what are you doing” she asks?

Fortunately by now the pain has overridden what would have been “Admiring the ceiling of the garage with its dingy shade of white” smart ass remark.  “I stepped of the ladder too soon and fell.”

We repeat the first aid questions. The only difference being that she has to move the left leg herself which illicits “aaarrrrggghhhhhhh!” from me.  And, before I can stop her she tries moving the right leg.  Again,”aaarrrrggghhhhhhh!”

“Should I call 911?” she asks.  This is not really as dumb of a question as you might think.  You must remember she is talking with the male of the species with whom she has lived for over fifty years.

“Let me think about it.” I reply.  Mind you I have been lying on the cold, hard concrete for twenty minutes but still I go through the possibilities.  Could my five foot wife drag me to the car and hoist my six foot frame into it?  This would not be likely in any universe.  What about rolling myself into the trailer for the lawn mower and using the lawn mower to get me to the hospital?  That lost plausibiity at the thought of me rolling anywhere.  Neighbors?  Out of town.  Finally, I reluctantly give the what should have been the obvious answer “Call 911”.

Before she leaves to call 911 she turns and asks, “Do you want me to bring you nicer clothes?” as she walks back into the house.


I had been blessed with having a number of dogs share my life.

There was Pepper, a small mixed breed, who had followed me home after much encouragement and was returned to his owner the next day.

There was Paladin, a black and white miniature collie, who suffered from epilepsy and had to be put down.

There was Sandy, a cocker spaniel, who became my closest friend, companion and confidant.  He was with me a couple of years.  Sandy was as the saying goes, “as dumb as a box of rocks”, but we loved each other.  I can still remember his scent as i hugged him and cried into his fur.  Unfortunately, Sandy was also a chicken thief and murderer which is why I found him dead on our front porch obviously poisoned.

Star was the dog of my adult family.  She was a cross between an Irish Setter and a Golden Retriever.  She was supposed to be my son’s dog; but you know how that goes.  She became the dog of my wife and I.  Among her credits are:  she ate a sofa down to the wood frame, in chasing a squirrel she broke a number nine wire with her chest, she caught possum, chipmunk, groundhog.  She had two crowning achievements though.  during a picnic celebrating our son’s baptism party with the grandparents and neighbors she brought to the table, one at a time, a half eaten mother rabbit and four of her babies.  The other was hypnotiizing birds to catch them. We watched her lie very still and gently tap her front paws on at a time on the ground.  The birds would walk right up between her paws and she would catch them.

As she aged, she developed arthritis in her back.  I had an auto accident because of which i had a debilitating back injury.  We walked together; it was more like we hobbled along together both realizing that if we didn’t keep moving we wouldn’t be able to move at all.  Her spine finally collapsed and the vet was kind enough to put her down in her home with her head cradled in my wifes lap.  She went peacefully with those that she loved and who loved her.

It took us ten years to be ready to bring another dog into our lives.

My wife was complaining that she missed having a dog to welcome her unconditionally when she came home from work.  I offered to lick her face; but I could not get my tail to wag, try as i might.

So, what kind of dog?  I was a huge fan of John Steinbeck and had read his autobiographical  travelogue, Travels With Charlie.  Steinbeck had decided, in his later years, to revisit all the places that he had lived and write about how the country had changed.  His traveling companion on this journey was a black standard poodle named “Charlie”, short for Charlemagne.  I loved the traits exhibited by Charlie on this adventure and with research found that these traits were characteristic of the breed.  They were one of the brightest breeds, active, friendly, family oriented, great hunters, and protective.

Next came the search for a standard poodle.


file6861241553992     If you have the good fortune to have a girlfriend or wife or significant other, or think you may ever someday be lucky enough to be in that situation, you need to know about the “chair”.

Being with a lady, the time will eventually come where she will invite you to go shopping with her. You will ask her what she is shopping for. She will give you a look like you have two heads and will mumble something about a skirt or blouse or something. Listen up; women don’t shop for something. For them shopping is the end in itself. If you had known that, you would have used whatever excuse you could to avoid “going shopping”.

Well, you didn’t know, and you said “yes”, and now you are in a department store, You are in the ladies department. The nice young clerk has escorted you to “the comfortable chair”. You sit down. You will be there for hours.

You must never, never, never ever sit in the chair. Once you are in the “chair” you are at the mercy of the clerk and your shopper. Side note, if she gets a skirt, she will need a blouse, and a belt, and shoes, and purse, and jewelry, etc. You’ll wish you had packed a lunch and brought an iPod so you could watch a movie. But you didn’t, and so you will sit, and sit, and sit. What to say when she asks what you think of an article of clothing will be another blog. For now, pretend you are choking and wave her back to the changing room.

How do you avoid the chair?

First of all, you really don’t have a choice about going shopping with your significant other unless you want to end your relationship. So, what to do?

Listen carefully.

The first thing you must do is get the lady to say what she is shopping for. This will be very important later. Next you want to know what size she needs. (Don’t ever act surprised about the size or ask her to repeat it unless you want the silent treatment or you’re willing to try and answer the question: “Just what did you mean by that”?)

So, you now know what she is looking for and the size. When she has found an item that she likes, you suggest she try it on in the changing room. She will look lovingly at you for being such a helpmate. As soon as she disappears onto the changing room, you head for the clothes racks which contain the item she was looking for. Once there, you pick three items from the rack in her size and proceed to the changing room. As soon as she comes out, give her your three items to try on. Continue this process until she gets tired. Then,being a supportive help mate, you suggest you get some lunch and head for the nearest sports bar.

You have been a good helpmate, avoided the chair, enjoyed lunch and a drink in a sports bar and can get home in time to catch a sporting event. Congratulations!