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The Shepherdsville Times: 800-Pound Gorillas

...Our milkhouse, where the wild critters know there is always a free meal, is again doing a booming business. All the hunters and gatherers have begun the life-and-death effort to bulk up with enough fat and protein to get them through the lean and starving times of January and February. The other night I saw three of the youngsters from this spring's raccoon crop, being mentored by Spike, the aging white opossum. Many people will tell you that they are mortal enemies, but 'taint necessarily so...

Good-humoured Jerry Selby tells of life in rural Indiana in autumn.

For more of Jerry's engaging words please click on The Shepherdsville News in the menu on this page.

Fall flowers free

All you need to do is drive along just about any rural side road to enjoy the beauty of either or both of the showiest of fall flowers. If you can find a safe place to pull off, I don't think anyone would mind if you happened to have some garden shears, and cut a few to take home with you.

Solidago species and Vernonia fasciculata are the eye-candy to be enjoyed. They both dry well, too.

Solidago sp. is better known in our part of the world as goldenrod. The dark purple of Vernonia fasciculata is called ironweed in our part of the world.

There are at least fifty varieties of goldenrod in the United Sates and Canada. Nurseries, especially in the Western Intermountain area sell many. They have been cultivated and bred to different shapes, and even different colors in Europe, where they have long been accepted as garden standards.

In the Eastern and Southern U.S. they have long suffered from guilt by association. The heavy, sticky goldenrod pollen is not airborne, nor does it contribute to hay fever. It just happens to break out its showy blossoms at the height of hay fever season.

Ironweed is also shunned by many people. In a pasture, which is maintained for cattle or horses, it is an unwelcome weed, because these finicky grazers find the tough and rough stems unpalatable. But if it chooses to grow in a wet patch of wild flowers, or along a roadside ditch, let it be, enjoy its contrast with goldenrod, and cut some stems to dry for winter bouquets.

Business is booming at the Coon Café

Our milkhouse, where the wild critters know there is always a free meal, is again doing a booming business. All the hunters and gatherers have begun the life-and-death effort to bulk up with enough fat and protein to get them through the lean and starving times of January and February. The other night I saw three of the youngsters from this spring's raccoon crop, being mentored by Spike, the aging white opossum. Many people will tell you that they are mortal enemies, but 'taint necessarily so.

These raccoons have grown up with Spike a fixture at the feeder, or bumbling around in the night. One of my feeders is a large, square plastic dish. Spike was eating from the middle of one side. A raccoon was shoulder to shoulder with him on each side, all eating amicably from the same dish.

Late yesterday afternoon I got a glimpse of something smaller than a raccoon. Just a glimpse a rounded gray backside and the root of a hairy tail. I told Ave, and she immediately said, "A rat?"

I thought more likely a young muskrat passing through. In due course it came to me. A squirrel. Although we don't seem to have many squirrels, in spite of our oak and hickory trees, I've never seen one out there. They soon learn to stop by our bird feeders, but not the coon feeders. Maybe the smell of raccoons and 'possums keeps them away.

A fully rehabilitated spouse

It's nice to know that your wife has completed her rehabilitation course at Witham Hospital. And I'm here to say they have done a very fine job. Considering what they had to work with. They really are a wonderful, professional, patient and likeable group. You can tell they really care about their patients.

Thanks, folks. From Avie and from me.

800 pound gorillas

I'm sure you've heard about the 800-lb. gorilla in the parlor. The one no one talks about and everyone tries to ignore, hoping it will just go away.

Ave and I discovered we had one lurking, back in late August. A lazy Sunday, as August Sundays tend to be. I was cranked back in my recliner chair reading, when I dozed off. When I woke up, Avie had a strange look, and asked me if I was ok. I assured her I had just been napping. She assured me that the reason she had a phone in her hand is that she was on the point of calling 911 when I spoke to her. I had been having some sort of seizure.

I felt normal, so we delayed calling the doctor until Monday. He sent me over to Witham ER, where they examined me and did an EKG, and a head scan That was the first in a series of scans, doctor visits, and such like. Also the first of some other strange events, a couple while I was driving, which led me to temporarily hang up my car keys before the doctors told me the same thing.

This past week I met Dr. Valerie Bruemmer, a specialist in geriatric medicine, who reviewed the results of all the tests and administered a bunch more, told me it definitely wasn't Alzheimer's, which had been a leading suspect. Whew!

Avie and I have had separate cars for more than fifty years. We seldom shop or run errands together. We like it that way. Dr. Bruemmer assures me that I will almost certainly be able to drive again when this is all sorted out. But when that will be is hard to say.

Can this marriage be saved?


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