Author Archives: Ivan Bissell

“So what’s so hard about having a baby”?

     “So what’s so hard about having a baby”?  Ever know anybody who asked that question to a pregnant lady and lived to talk about it?

     My advice would be to never, ever let those words escape from your mouth.  And to be even safer, don’t even think those thoughts, for fear that a pregnant woman, any pregnant woman would read your mind and ring your neck before you formed your thoughts into audible words!

      But if you do make that mistake of speaking them and live through it, you may hear the following statement regarding the birthing of a baby: “You pull a watermelon out of your nostril and then we’ll talk!”

     I find myself needing to ask a few questions: “If watermelons are that dangerous, why is anybody standing with their nostril that close to such a dangerous fruit in the first place”?  And, “Are we talking the round, smaller-than-a-bowling-ball watermelon or one of those longer-than-it-is-wide watermelons”?  Also, “How does one go about getting a watermelon up the nose in the first place?  Was the watermelon self-implanted or was there help putting it up there?  And then, “What if watermelons are not in season?  Will a zucchini work or should one go from fruit stand to fruit stand in pursuit of the perfect nasal orb”?  Final question, “Wouldn’t it be wiser to have the watermelon-up-the-nose surgically removed by a qualified surgeon than trying to pull it out yourself”? 

     I don’t know what to think now.  Evidently, I never made the mistake of asking my wife the original question about the difficulty of having a baby because I can still go near watermelons with no fear of a nasal filling.  We, well, actually my wife gave birth to six healthy babies, none of them remotely comparable to a melon.  I have managed to keep my nose clean through all six of them.  And now, we have four grandchildren, and none of them resemble melons of any sort in any way!  The cool thing was that none of them came from the garden or had to be watered daily. 

     What I’m thinking is that it would be safer to play marbles on the freeway, during rush hour, with hand grenades, than to ask a pregnant woman what is so hard about having a baby!  That’s my conclusion!

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States I have been to

<a href="
visited 24 states (48%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Free ipad travel guide” title=”States I have been to”>States I have been to

These are the states I can remember that I have been to, some before I got married. 

STONE COLD

    What does a colander, kidney stones and Church have in common?  This is the question on the front of every thinking person’s frontal brain lobe, isn’t it?  If it is, here is my answer to my own question.

     They all came together one hot, summer Sunday morning at our Church.  It began when one of our Church ladies started cornering people who were still inside the Church.  She was carrying one of those short, squatty plastic glasses that a person gets from the local convenience store from the soda fountain.  The cup appeared to be filled with something cold because beads of condensation had formed on the glass and were temptingly sliding down its side.  Was it a soft drink, iced tea or just ice water?  Any one of them would have been welcomed on such a warm day as it was turning out to be.  What I had hoped for, what I had imagined in the cup was not at all what the cup actually held.

      Like the rest of the unsuspecting Church people whom the woman had trapped, I too was given the opportunity to see something only a few eyes have seen.  At least, that is the feeling the woman was trying to push-off on us.  

     “Ivan, you gotta see this”.

     I had to see it?  What if I didn’t want to?  I wished I had gone with my frontal brain lobe thought that said, “Run far and fast.  You ain’t going to wanna see that!”  Sadly, I didn’t listen to myself!

     Frozen in the clear ice of the glass, suspended in cold storage, were small, smooth, hardened clumps of what looked like peanut butter with a slight case of Jaundice.   Yellowish, beanish looking orbs. 

     After the show of’ show and tell’ came the ‘tell’ part and tell she did.  Her explanation blasted any thought of wanting an ice-cold, refreshing drink far from my mind because of what we were having deciphered to us.  Kidney stones.  Those globulations on ice were kidney stones.  To be more precise, they were her kidney stones!  She had cultivated, produced, grown and somehow harvested her own kidney stones. They were locally raised, one owner, genuine kidney stones from a lady in our Church.  What more could a person ask for?  More details? Definitely not! Not me.  I was not going to ask for any details.  I had seen enough and had managed quite well to keep my breakfast down, up to that point, though it was becoming somewhat of a struggle. 

     I didn’t need to ask.  She didn’t need to be asked.  She was the queen of show and tell!  I knew she had not recently had any operations because she had not missed any Church. Her story of explanation was deep with explanation of her taking some kind of special medication to get the stones, her stones in motion.  In order to tell if the procedure was doing any good, she had placed a kitchen colander in the toilet every time she ‘did her duty’.  That was how she had managed to catch and collected the stones.  For a woman who did a lot of fishing, why she didn’t believe in the ‘catch and release’ idea, I’ll never know.   After catching, all that was left for her to do was to add water to her specimens, freeze them to keep them fresh, just so she could show them to everyone at Church.  That included all who were not interested or had weak stomaches which basically covered every person in our Church!  The good news in all of this is that no one puked, at least not publicly. 

I have come up with this CONCLUSION: In the end, I thought that a person like her was just the one to start a chapter of KSAP or Kidney Stone Anonymous Passers.  They could meet weekly after completing a Twelve Flush Program.  One by one, they could stand and say something like, “Hi, my name is so and so and in the past, I have been kidney stoned.  Not anymore.  I have been relieved.  Let us now pass the plastic glass around.”

     By the way, that’s all I have to say on the subject,  just in passing!

     (The above sketch is another of my early attempts to sketch my thoughts with the only resources I had available at the time.)

FOOD FOR (the) THOUGHT(less)

    

The other day, I drew the CONCLUSION that I’m not against sitting down with the family and having a meal together. We do it all the time. It helps keep the family, well, together! Evening meal time is a time of sharing, talking about the events of the day and generally, a place to chew the fat. (Not that we chew much fat. We’ve tried to cut out as much fat out of our diet as possible.)

I remember one night, many years ago when, after having our meal together, I did what I usually did after a hard day at work. I herded three youngest of our six kids off to bed while the oldest two, mom and the baby stayed up a little while longer. It was only about 9 PM and, as usual, I was sleepy. So……..since Dad was going to bed, the younger three should also go to bed. I thought that all I had to do was to tuck them into their beds and then I could be off to mine. That should have been it. That should have been the extent of my duties at night. How hard could something like that be? How long could that take? That was the way it was supposed to be but that was not the way it was going to be that night!

I tucked the two youngest kids into their bunk beds and the older one into his double bed. It was at precisely that magical moment that the action began. Requests, excuses, tattlings, whinings and general chaos.

“Can I have a drink”?

“I have to go potty”.

“I’m hungry now“.

“I’m cold”.

“I’m too hot”.

“Will you scratch my back”?

These and so many more stall tactics were incorporated, even before the tungsten in the switched off light bulb had cooled down. I wasn’t going to turn the light back on so I did my best to deal with the kids in the dark. And then, there was one question that always caused me to turn the light back on. One question I simply could not resist. One question, which looking back on it now, many years later, I realize the kids knew I couldn’t resist.

“Dad, will you read to us”?

“Okay, just a short bedtime story”, I thought. After all, I enjoyed a good bedtime story as much as the other kids did but that night, I wanted to read something I felt was interesting to me. Unfortunately, classic poetry was out of the question, unless of course, it was the all educational Dr. Seuss or the Bernstein Bears. What I was going to read had to be light and childish and something a little bit more exciting than a picture book. To my way of thinking, all of their choices of reading material were about as exciting as the getting the flu! After much begging, I graciously gave in.

“Fine! I’ll read the book you chose”!

I was too tired to argue anymore about whatever it was that they had chosen so I lay down on the double bed with two kids laying on one side of me and one on the other side. I began reading but abruptly stopped my reading when I had a question of my own to ask.

“How come it smells like someone wet the bed”?

One of the kids replied, “Because they did”!

“Where”?

“Right where you’re laying Dad”.

By then, it was too late to move. I had already begun to sponge it up. Gross! I quickly made a mental note that from then on, I would not give the kids anything to drink…. for three days before I put them to bed!

As for the bedtime story I had begun to read, somewhere after the first five or so pages of a twenty page book, the story had worked its magic. The sound of snoring was echoing off of the walls, but that was only to be short-lived. One of the kids interrupted the noise by saying, “Dad, wake up. You’re keeping us awake with your sleeping!”

Was it my fault I couldn’t keep my eyes open when I stretched out on a bed with a good child’s book in my hands? A moment’s relaxation could have turned into a night’s sleep, if only the kids had not interrupted me. I was so ready for sleep, why weren’t they?

I tried reading again and again, the story worked its magic. I closed my eyes for just a second and the next thing I knew, the kids were fighting and crawling all over me as if I was a human jungle gym. Right about then, my wife called out and asked me, “Are you putting the kids to bed or not”?

When I said, “Yes Dear”, she said, “It sure doesn’t sound like it”! Then she added something like, “Did I need her to come in and do it for me”?

Like I needed her to do my job! Then again, I did wonder why they were having such a hard time falling asleep when I was having no trouble at all.

It wasn’t too long before, once again, I was lulled off to lull-lull land by the rhythmic soothing sounds of the kids screaming and hollering at each other! I never did know how long it was before I woke up to the sound of too much quietness. The sound of silence was eerie. It was plain to see that the kids were still not asleep, that much was easy enough for any sleepy-eyed Dad to see. Something was wrong. They were not fighting! There was no screaming. No one was wetting the bed! Instead, the only noise I heard them making was a munching, crunching, chewing sound. I wanted to know what was going on.

The two youngest kids were sitting on one side of me and the older one sat on the opposite side as I lay in their bed. Their positioning had not changed. The three sat there, quite contentedly chomping on some of those little fish-shaped cheese crackers. They weren’t being very neat about it either. As I began to wake up a little bit more, I began to wonder why I was covered with crumbs. Cheese cracker crumbs.

As it turned out, while I had been sleeping, the kids had gotten hungry and one of them had quietly gone for snacks. Whether on purpose or not, they had shared their munchies with me, turning me into a piece of furniture. Specifically, I had been used as a table. Each kid had put their personal stash of cheesy crackers somewhere on my belly. Quietly, politely and one at a time, the kids were eating their crackers from off of my tummy. I was covered with a mess of yellow crumbs up and down my belly and I had an itching in my belly button.

Looking back on it all now, there were three things I should be thankful for. First, they were all quietly sharing. Second, they were eating crackers instead of something that required forks, knives and spoons. And, third, if it had been potato chips they were eating, they may have used my belly button to hold the chip dip! Now that would have been disgusting!

     Below is another sketch I made in ink, on colored, lined paper, years ago.   I have since discovered erasures, white, unlined paper and colored pencils.  Now, that’s progress! 

NOSE PUTTY

 

     Sounds rather disgusting, doesn’t it? Nose putty! Call it ‘nasal glue’, ‘nostril paste’ or ‘whatsnot’, it’s still, well, still disgusting but let me try to explain why I would pick such a deep, dark, secretive subject to talk about.

     Several years back, while listening to a Sunday morning sermon in our Church, I happened to glance over at the little boy who was sitting in our row.  I had learned earlier that the boy was nine years old and it was his father who was delivering the message that day. Though his father was an interesting Preacher, as the service proceeded, it was his son who held my attention all the way through.

     I noticed that the boy had what appeared to be a dark blood blister on the tip of his forefinger and I was only slightly curious as to how he got it.  It didn’t matter.  I had come to Church to worship God, not pay attention to anyone in my pew.  Before my mind had a chance to wonder back to the speaker, I soon realized that what I had been looking at was a well-worn, flattened out booger ball! The boy had only been storing it temporarily on his fingertip for future use, all of which I soon was able to witness, whether I liked it or not!

     You may have heard the old saying that goes, “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can’t pick your friend’s nose”!  Right?  Judging from the size of the wad he was maneuvering, this boy must have had several gracious friends who had allowed him to freely pick, generously giving him what he had needed!  That which he kneaded was more than I cared to cast my eyes upon.  It was obvious to me that the boy had maybe just heard his father’s message the Sunday prior.  To keep from being bored out of his skull, he had bored something out of his skull to concentrate on!

     Several times throughout the service, I tried to take my focus off of him and refocus my thoughts back on his dad’s preaching.  I was doing just fine untill I made the mistake of looking over at the boy a few minutes later and noticed that the booger was missing from the his finger. It was no longer between his finger and thumb.  Instead, it had been moved to the tip of his nose, close to the source of it’s original origin!

     Again, I put my mind back on the message and again, was successful for only a short time. Unfortunately, my curiosity got the best of me and my eyes strayed to my little boogery pew neighbor. That time when I looked, I noticed that the boy had folded up a dollar bill he had pulled from who knows where and firmly secured it to the end of his nose by the same black lump he had been working earlier. Thus, the fitting terms, ‘nose putty’, ‘nasal glue’, ‘nostril paste’ or ‘whatsnot’!

     Once more, I steered my mind back to the message his father was continuing to deliver as his son continued to wear the dollar bill on the end of his nose. Ignorantly, I thought the situation could not get worse, but when I looked over at the boy, I promptly proved myself wrong. The situation had gotten worse. The booger ball was then being employed to hold the dollar bill to his chin, looking a little like a cheap dollar goatee.

     By that time, I had completely lost any inkling of actually concentrating on the message of his father, though I still tried to pretend that I was listening to him.  I asked myself, “How could his dad not see what was going on with his son”?  Perhaps he had noticed all of my squirming and thought I was getting convicted by his sermon, causing him to preach even harder.  What he didn’t realize was that my uncomfortableness was not coming from his message but from his snotty little kid who was occupying a space in my pew!

     A few minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the dollar bill and the nose putty were both missing from his face. What a relief! They were not on his nose and they were not on his chin.  At that point though, I only hoped for two things. One, that the dollar bill was not  going to end up in our tithe box after the service was over. We just didn’t need any donations which came with (snot) strings attached!  And two, I hoped that he had not eaten the booger, or the dollar as far as that was concerned!

     As the morning had already shown me, I didn’t have long to wait before my next answer came concerning what had happened to the missing booger. The dollar bill never did reappear but the booger continued to live on at the touch of the little boy. Booger Boy had smeared his home-grown ‘play dough’ across the inner side of the arm rest of the wooden pew we were sitting in! That seemed to be his last desperate attempt to lose any connection he had ever had with the booger toy he had so fondly embraced throughout a 45 minute sermon.

     When at long last the message was over, I found myself urgently wanting to get out of our pew, even though i was fully aware that the only route of escape was to squeeze past the same area in which the boogery scene had taken place all morning. Early on, I had made up my mind that whether the young boy was a visitor or not, I would restrain my usual practice of shaking hands with him as I normally would have.  No way did I want to shake the hand that had played in Booger Land!

    Throughout the rest of the day, I tried my best to remember what the message had been about.   What really worried me was that I was not going to take home any part of the message his father had so diligently preached. My true fear was that the only thing I was going to take with me that day was the remnant of the little boy’s nose.

     My CONCLUSION concerning the content of the message that morning, was that for some reason, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Nothing seemed to stick. Even now, I try to recall it, but nope, it’s just snot happening!

Aside

     I drive a city bus in the Portland, Oregon area. I have seen, heard and even been a part of various situations which involve the driving of a bus. What you read is not meant to come across as … Continue reading

CANDY MAN

     This is my friend.  He is everyone’s friend.  He rides my bus and he chose to be my friend.  He’s a nice guy but I don’t know his name.  I think he tried to tell me once but I never got it for sure.

      I came to the CONCLUSION that I would just call him Candy Man!  Every day Candy Man boarded my bus, he gave me at least as much candy as shown below.  Sometimes he gave me more than what’s shown below.   There were even times when Candy Man gave me some more candy when he de-boarded my bus.  Other fellow riders benefited from Candy Man’s generosity as well because he gave them handfuls of candy.  Candy man just liked giving candy to people.  

     Just for safety’s sake, I had to scientifically determine that what Candy Man gave me actually was safe.  The most scientific way I knew of was to eat some of it.  When it rendered no ill effects, I figured  that he was not trying to poison me or that he had not given me some cutely wrapped ex-lax, so I obliged to his daily acts of dental destructive kindnesses.

     One day as Candy Man boarded my bus, he blessed me with some breath mints.  Was he hinting for an early drop off bus stop or was Candy Man just hinting?  I’ll never know.  He didn’t speak very good English and I didn’t understand very good..his language.  Besides, I ended up changing routes and haven’t seen Candy Man since.  With Candy Man gone, there is going to be a certain void to fill.  My dentist calls it a ‘cavity’!  Now, ain’t that sweet!