Saying goodbye-- and thinking pumpkins


I haven’t been at my best this week.
Coastal Point • Veronica Townsend

It started on Monday morning when I received a call that my grandfather had passed away at the age of 90. Grandpa Joe turned 90 at the end of August, and I wrote a piece at that time about what a terrific life he had led to that point. He was a devoted father, husband, Chicago Cubs fan and respected journalist and author. And he was my grandpa.

He had been in poor health for some time, and the family certainly had time to prepare ourselves mentally for the end, but it still felt like a punch in the gut. Farewell, Grandpa Joe. Your time here touched a lot of hearts and minds, and that is a legacy that will endure for generations.

God’s speed.

It was probably that cluttered mind that caused me to read the following sentence in a story on the UPI news site as, “A Wisconsin man spent his summer nursing a pumpkin and the reward was an orange orb weighing a world record 1,810.5 pounds...”

Obviously, my initial reaction was to recoil at the mental imagery of a man nursing a pumpkin. Between that thought and the stories flying around about the indecent photo that Brett Favre allegedly sent of himself to a former staffer with the New York Jets, I was about ready to dump a barrel of gasoline over my eyes and strike a match.

Thankfully, I took a second glance at the story.

Upon further inspection, it would appear that Chris Stevens, of New Richmond, had spent his summer “nurturing” the colossal pumpkin. And that’s a lot easier for me to accept. Stevens won a total of $3,000 for his nurtured pumpkin at the Harvest Fest in Minnesota last week — though you have to figure he could have made far more if he had indeed been nursing the gord. I mean, seriously, have you ever Googled something and come up with a response that had no relation at all to what you were searching for, and instead focused on some form of depravity that I had not even known to that point had been invented yet and ...

But I digress.

That got a little dirtier than I had anticipated, but it still has nothing on this Egyptian man I stumbled across in a later story on the UPI site.

Apaprently, an Egyptian court granted a woman a divorce from her husband because he refused to bathe. According to the story, the man claimed he was allergic to water. The woman, who is a petroleum engineer, reportedly went to a doctor, who confirmed the man’s allergy, “but said the ailment should not stop him from maintaining self-hygiene,” according to UPI. The man allegedly refused the woman’s request for a divorce, and the court came to her rescue. He is now left behind nursing pumpkins.

It’s possible I made up that last line. But I didn’t make up the following story.

A study led by Mike Mendle, the head of animal welfare and behavior at Bristol University in London, revealed that some dogs are optimists and some are pessimists.

He conducted the test by putting bowls of food on one side of the room and empty bowls on the other, and training dogs to recognize the situation. Researchers then put the bowls in “neutral” locations, according to UPI. They found that optimistic dogs raced toward the bowls, while pessimistic dogs hesitated or moved more slowly.

I have two dogs, and know full well how personalities differ between two dogs as much as they do between people.

But, honestly, do we know for sure that this wasn’t a case of hungry dogs and non-hungry dogs?