Please click on Posts by Topic in navigation to read postings and columns about the many humorous (in retrospect) events encountered by my family, friends and me. The above drawings by son Greg (way over qualified for that task) illustrated a couple of my books. You may click on each to enlarge if you wish to see more detail. And, yes, I really did hit an owl on the highway and unknowingly drive all over town with him hanging from the grille.
Writers do not write for money alone. The best perk of my profession is the opportunity to interview and write about interesting people . . . or several interesting people in the same family. Ray’s and my classmate, Ralph Leary, is the fifth generation of Learys who have owned and/or lived in the beautiful Victorian home his great-great-grandfather built in 1870 south of Lawrence.
Ralph and his wife, Leila, were once held hostage there by a couple of convicts, making it the most memorable event to ever take place in the house. “By far!” adds Ralph.
Julius Leary, the current owner and grandson of Ralph Leary, and his wife Carolyn are determined to restore the house to its former beauty. They've made a good start and they have created an eighth generation with Julius, Jr. and Jennifer.
If you would like to read the story I wrote for Lawrence Magazine and see some great photos of the family and the house, please click on this link: https://issuu.com/sunflower_publishing/docs/lm18su/40
A year ago last March when I talked the entire family into dressing in Jayhawk garb and posing for a picture under a limb on Ray’s and my favorite hiking trail at Mary’s Lake, I had visions of taking seasonal photos every three months. Silly me! It took over a year to get everyone back there and even then we were missing granddaughter Zoe because she was taking a friend, returning home to Vietnam for the summer, to the airport .
In the last photo, Ray was wearing sunglasses while the rest of us were not, so I thought it would be fun to take a photo with everyone wearing sunglasses. It almost worked. I took the precaution of bringing extra sunglasses in case anyone forgot to bring them. Greg, however, said his glasses darkened in the sun . . . and they do, but you have to be in the sun, not on a shady trail.
Steve Jones, Greg’s buddy since high school and everyone’s friend (Greg and Val’s kids call him Uncle Steve), was a good sport and took the photo as he did last time. Then he took another photo on our deck — where we had gathered for a cookout celebrating Ray's and Sammi's birthdays — so Zoe could be in a picture. Problem is, Butch, Linda and B.J. are missing in that one.
I was ready to apologize (NOT!) to granddaughter Sammi, who attended the University of Missouri at Columbia and now attends UMKC, for wearing the T-shirt that says Defeating Missouri since 1854. But, guess what? She turned up in the very same T-shirt. Here’s proof.
I may keep trying to get everyone together periodically for a family picture at the Mary’s Lake trail. Perhaps we can arrange to take one in the snow where we are all wearing Santa hats. What a Christmas card that would make! Stay tuned.
Ray rises before the sun while I, owl that I am, still sleep. Only rarely do I envy his lark status. One of those times was when he drove his truck down our long drive to retrieve our newspaper. He still cannot talk about the incident — a pre-dawn possum encounter — without laughing.
A mama possum giving her babies a ride started to cross our drive and did a quick U-turn when his truck's headlights hit her. "The two little possums walking beside her were okay," Ray says, "but the ones clinging to her back were thrown off and rolled all over the place like little furry softballs."
Fortunately, Ray avoided hitting any of the little possums. It would have broken his heart to kill one because he likes possums. Why? Because possums kill and eat snakes (they are impervious to the bite of venomous snakes) and they are such fastidious groomers that they kill 95% of the ticks that try to suck their blood. What's not to like?
At Clinton Lake, where we often drive and frequently walk, we became used to seeing a possum who palled around with a gimpy-legged raccoon. I don't remember naming the raccoon, but we dubbed the marsupial Possum Doble (clearly the fault of too much viewing of dancers performing the paso doble on Dancing with the Stars ).
Have you ever seen a possum play dead? They do a good job of it and that is where the term "playing possum" comes from. I recently met my friend Linda at the Big Biscuit for breakfast and she told me an interesting possum story regarding the possum's ability to do that.
Linda has a dearly beloved female Lab and a doggie door in the kitchen so the dog can go in and out at will. One day, Linda noticed a possum walking around in her kitchen (I suspect you don't have to be very observant to notice a possum in the house). The possum was removed. A few weeks later, it happened again. The third time a marsupial entered the house, the mystery was solved because the possum, playing dead, came through the doggie door in the soft jaws of the Lab. "She didn't want to hurt him," Linda explained, "she just wanted to play with him."
Any dogs around our home belong to our neighbors and we enjoy them vicariously. Definitely no doggie doors in our house. As much as we like possums, we want them to stay outside the house.
For 15 years, I wrote a humor column titled Jest for Grins for my local Lawrence, Kansas Journal-World
newspaper.While I stay busy with speaking engagements, writing articles and books and serving as editor and primary writer of a newspaper for a non-profit agency, I really miss writing about the funny things life throws my way. This website allows me to do that.
I freely admit to being a control freak who wants to do things on my own, but my good friend Ruth has been a tremendous help to me. I kept trying to make this website perfect before publishing, but finally decided that was like waiting to have children until you can afford them: it will never happen. So here it is; you'll get to watch it improve.
If you develop into a frequent Jest for Grins visitor, you'll quickly become familiar with my usual cast of characters: husband Ray, sons Ray, Jr. (aka Butch) and Greg, daughters-in-law Linda and Valerie, grandchildren B.J., Gabe, Sammi and Zoe, sisters Lesta, Bette and Vicki, as well as a host of family and friends (not one of whom is boring). If the topic has the potential to be embarrassing to them, be assured that they read it and gave it their OK (otherwise, sister Lesta has threatened to sue me).