Still a Romantic at Heart

On this day in 1991 Barbara Gayle sealed her fate when she uttered those two little words that change everything, “I do.” Funny thing is, when the day began neither of us had any idea what fate had in store.

I had asked her to marry me and she had said yes. We had no plans in place for when or where or how, but over breakfast that morning we decided to drive into town and start the process of the blood tests. We figured it would take several days and be one less thing to deal with later. We looked up a laboratory in the Yellow Pages and headed out.

Being so close to Christmas, the lab wasn’t very busy and to our surprise the technician said, “We’ll have your results in about an hour if you want to come back.” So, an hour later we stopped at the drive-through window, picked up our results, and learned that science agreed we were a good match.

It was still not yet Noon, and this had been way too easy, so we decided to go downtown to the courthouse and start the process of obtaining a marriage license. We figured it would take several days and be one less thing to deal with later. After filling out the proper paperwork the clerk presented us with our license and then proposed, “Being the Friday before Christmas, there’s almost nothing going on. One of the Judges upstairs might be available.”

So, we went upstairs and sure enough one of the Judges was available. They were having their office Christmas party. They shared Christmas punch and cookies with us. And, after a brief ceremony the Judge pronounced us husband and wife.

Neither of us could’ve ever imagined being married in such a way, but fate sometimes leads us down the right path according to its own schedule. We have indeed loved, honored and cherished each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse. For over eighteen years she has been my best friend, my trusted confidant and my one true love.

Regardless of how casually our marriage may have begun it is the solid foundation upon which the rest of my being stands. Her love is the burning ember within my heart that keeps the light from being extinguished. And the privilege of loving her is the compass by which I strive to be the man she deserves.

When you wake from restful slumber presume not what lies in store.
But choose right at every crossroads and arrive at destiny’s door.


Tim Couch
SARAH (Still A Romantic At Heart:)

Simple Health Care Reform

Our Health Care Dilemma
Our Health Care Dilemma

So, I got a call from my health insurance agent this morning. It was a bit of an eye-opener. When my current policy renewed this year the premium increased by nearly forty percent. I was expecting an increase as I turned fifty recently, but forty percent seemed a little extreme. I deal with an independent agent who has been very good to watch out for me, so when I received a letter from him suggesting we apply to a different company where the premium would likely be less I was all for it.

But first, a little background. I turned fifty ten months ago. I have been fortunate and blessed with good health most of my life. My blood sugar is good; my cholesterol is within acceptable limits; I take no prescription medications on a regular basis. Most of the medical services I have required have been the result of injury or accident, and those have been relatively few. My most recent episode was a little over a year ago when I suddenly found myself in a wrestling match with a kidney stone that eventually had to be forcibly removed. The horror stories are all true. All this is to say that I have no serious health issues.

So, we applied to the other insurance company hoping and expecting to be accepted at a lesser premium. The call this morning was to let me know that while they would insure me, the premium would be even higher than my current policy because of my little kidney stone friend. While they didn’t actually refuse me coverage, they did effectually price me out of the market because I have apparently become a higher risk. So, now I am faced with the same dilemma many are facing. If I choose curtain number one I get to pay thousands of dollars this year for basic medical insurance that I may not need. If I choose curtain number two I risk everything we have worked decades for should I suddenly need insurance that I don’t have.

On the one hand, I despise the very idea of the government taking over our health care. The government is lousy at running things, and the thought of a bureaucrat deciding which medical services I am entitled to receive really perturbs me awfully.

On the other hand, the insurance industry is not going to put patients before profits. It’s a business, and the business of business is profit. Thus, the dilemma: neither the open market nor government-run healthcare is going to provide a real solution.

So, here’s my super simplistic suggestion.

Let me preface this with this statement: I do not presume to understand the intricacies of the health insurance industry; nor do I comprehend the complications of government. I’m a simple man and I like simple solutions. Basically, adding more soap to dirty bathwater is not going to make it clean again. So, with that being said here is my offering.

  • Make it fair to the people. Base insurance premiums on age. Everyone of a certain age, regardless of the state of their health, pays the same amount. I’ll leave the amounts to the bean-counters, but basically our premiums would start out low, increase through our more productive years, and then decrease as we enter the later years of life.
  • Make it competitive. Let the insurance companies compete on services. The more or better service they provide the more business they get. Instead of competing for more and more dollars let them compete for the same dollars.
  • Make it optional. If you don’t want health insurance, fine, but don’t expect heroic measures when something does happen. If you can’t work to pay for it we’ll support you. If you won’t work to pay for it you’re a burden we don’t need. Get off the boat.

I know this is a very simplistic plan. I know there are many other points that would have to be considered. But, our government is out of control and it’s not going to rein itself in. It will continue to spiral out of control until we put a stop to it or it topples and takes us all down with it.

The insurance industry is equally out of control because it has for so long successfully evaded control. It has grown and expanded unchecked and unfettered because it has made itself necessary. Insurance is not rocket science. It can’t be or it could not have existed during much simpler times. It began as a very simple concept: responsibility in exchange for value. But, the insurance industry has managed the system so that it accepts less and less responsibility in exchange for more and more value.

The current healthcare insurance system is overly complicated and broken. The bill presently under consideration in Washington will only make matters worse. The future, if we truly have one, lies in simplicity. The success of any endeavor lies in the ability of those involved to understand, envision and embrace the process. The only purpose served by complications is to conceal truth.


Tim Couch

Little Red Convertible

Our little red convertible
Our little red convertible

There is just nothing better than tooling around the neighborhood in a little red convertible on a sunny autumn day. Feeling the warm sun and the chill air on your skin makes you feel alive with promise and enthusiasm. Of course, it helps if you actually have a little red convertible but why let details stand in the way?

Today was too nice a day to be spent inside, so I asked Barbara Gayle what she would like to do. Her first choice, a walk on the beach, stumped me. “Sorry honey; the nearest beach is a two day drive and the jet is out of gas.” But her second choice, a ride in a red convertible, got me to thinking. “I’ll be back in a little while,” I told her and I went outside.

Out back of the CowChows we have a very special assortment of items. Though sometimes referred to as a junk pile I prefer to call it a collection of undetermined purposes. Twenty minutes later I had retrieved a little red wagon of forgotten origin from the pile, cleaned it up, gathered a few other items and rang the front doorbell.

When she opened the door and saw that it was only me, she smiled. When she saw that I was wearing driving gloves, sunglasses and my Scottish Rite cap, because I didn’t have a chauffeur’s cap, she smiled more. When she saw the little red wagon trailing behind me, she giggled. When I popped open the umbrella to serve as the ragtop of her convertible, she rewarded me with her laughter. And then, to my surprise, she climbed into the little red wagon and said, “Let’s go!”

And go we did. We cruised all around the neighborhood, and everywhere we went the kids laughed and waved and came to walk alongside the funny lady in the little red wagon. One little girl brought her a fistful of flowers; another offered a scarf to keep her warm. The neighbors paused in their chores and errands; some to smile and wave or say hello, and some to stare and shake their heads.

And, boy did we have fun. For about an hour we stepped outside of normalcy and allowed ourselves the freedom to be silly, and in the process we created a precious and sustaining memory. Try it sometime. Be silly, just for the fun of it.


Tim Couch

One Right Smart Mole

Moles don't laugh with you
Moles don't laugh with you

Don’t you just love standing out on your porch in the late afternoon of a crisp Fall day, drawing deep full breaths of air still damp and pure from a cleansing shower, and listening to the music of nature all around you? If you stand still long enough the birds and the squirrels will pay you no mind and come close enough that you can almost reach out and touch them. If you relax your breathing and your mind, and focus on the moment the stresses of the day and the troubles of the world will drift away like clouds after the rain. That’s what I was doing a little while ago when I saw him.

It was just a barely perceptible movement caught out of the corner of my eye. It didn’t even register at first, but awareness slowly crept in and I realized what I was seeing. The marauding mole that’s been plowing up my yard was on the move.

I’ve tried traps; I’ve tried poisons; I’ve even tried one of those mole-vibrator-repeller things; nothing worked. So, when I saw that dirt move, and for the first time knew for sure where he was, I knew what I had to do. I went inside and hollered, “Honey, where’s my shotgun?”

“You don’t have a shotgun,” she said.

“Okay fine, where’s your shotgun?”


“‘Cause I need it.”


“I just saw that mole that’s been tearing up the yard and if I hurry I can get him.”

“With a shotgun?”

“Unless you think your pistol would work better. Where is it?”

“Fine, the shotgun is in the closet. Please be careful.”

“Sure, sure.” Two minutes later I was back on the porch, shotgun in hand and pockets bulging with shells. I crept down the stairs and made my way to where I’d seen the dirt move. I waited. Minutes passed and then I saw movement several feet away. I started to close in, but the little bastard had strung a trip wire across the yard. I went down, face first in the mud; the shotgun went off, mortally wounding a magnolia tree, and I could swear I heard the mole giggle.

A minute later my pockets were empty and the yard was full of craters, but still no sign of the mole. I think he somehow stole my box of shells too because when I went in to reload they were gone. Mysteriously, my wife was missing too. I sure hope she’s okay.

If you have any good ideas for getting rid of a right smart mole, please let me know.


Tim Couch

Freaky Bicycle Guy

You can't have my bicycle!
You can't have my bicycle!


We like to think of the CowChows as a place of higher learning, and not just because it sits at the top of the hill. For example, I learned a valuable life lesson a little while ago. Actually, I re-learned it but like most good life lessons once is never enough.

You may recall that during this past Summer the neighborhood kids were torturing me daily by riding their four-wheelers up and down the road all day long; up and down, up and down, all day long. I’m not sure which was worse, the sound of the machine growling its way up the hill, the sound of it whining its way down the hill, or the two minutes in between when you couldn’t hear it but knew it was coming back. It was brutal because they took it in shifts and never let up. But, wanting to be a good neighbor and not do any permanent emotional damage to their young psyches, I smiled and waved and called them names they couldn’t hear.

Then one day, the little girl next door was out riding a bicycle. I told her how much I liked her bike and how pretty it was, and I praised her bike for being so wonderfully quiet. Over the next several weeks any time I saw her out riding her bike I was sure to tell her how nice it was and how much I liked it. It was working like a charm. Suddenly, the four-wheelers fell silent and all the neighborhood kids were riding bicycles. Peace came once again upon the CowChows, and it was great.

A little while ago I was out messing around in the yard and I looked up to see the little girl next door riding her bike. I waved and she waved back. I called out, “That sure is a nice bike you’ve got.”

She looked at me for a long moment, saying nothing. I was about to repeat my compliment when she suddenly screamed, “You can’t have my bicycle!” And, then she rode off as fast as she could go.

I realized that I had gone too far. I’d commented on her bike one too many times, and sometimes the difference between achieving the desired result and becoming the “freaky bicycle guy” is just knowing when to shut up.

Shortly thereafter, I began hearing growling and whining again. So far it’s just me, but I expect the four-wheelers to start up any time.

Best Regards,

Tim Couch

Use Onions to Prevent Flu

Oh-noo! Mr. Bill!
Oh-noo! Mr. Bill!

Life at the CowChows is a little stinky lately. You may not know this about me but I have a quirk, or two. One of my quirks is that I’m a bit of a germ-o-phobe. I’m not quite ready to don a surgical mask and gloves in public, but only because I can’t decide whether they should match my socks or my belt. But, being in the midst of cold and flu season I am always on the lookout for anything that might keep me and the Ladybug healthy. So naturally, the onion cure caught my interest.

Apparently, there are several supposedly true stories to support this. You cut onions in two and place the halves in bowls and place the bowls throughout your house. Somehow the onion absorbs the bacteria that cause cold, flu and other viruses. The onion will turn black as it absorbs these germs and then you just throw it away and slice another onion. One story describes placing a slice of onion on the bottom of each foot, covered with a new, white cotton sock. You do this at bedtime and in the morning your fever will be gone. I’m not sure why the socks have to be new, or white, or cotton, but if it works I’m not going to quibble.

So, as you can imagine the CowChows is pretty aromatic these days but then I got to thinking. If onions in the house protect me from germs in the house then wouldn’t it make sense to be protected outside the house, as well? Why wait until I bring the germs home to expose them to the cure? So, I went out and bought twenty pounds of onions and a big bag of new white cotton socks. I have to warn you, though, the onion slices are a little uncomfortable to walk on until you get them all squished up, but the extra arch support is kind of nice.

Then, I got to thinking about how far the germs have to travel to get to the onions. They enter through the nose or mouth and have to go all the way to the feet to get out. So, I thought I would give them a shortcut and I put onions in my pockets. Apparently, the cure is working because I haven’t been sick since I started using it and after a while you don’t really notice the smell so much. Plus, Ladybug says when I perspire I smell like a cheeseburger and who doesn’t like a big old juicy cheeseburger?

Yours in good health,

Tim Couch

CowChows Mouser

Get the CowChows Mouser today!
Get the CowChows Mouser today!

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” Well, we have a better mousetrap here at the CowChows. To be fair, we didn’t actually build it; God took care of that part for us. We’re not exactly sure what it looks like because we haven’t actually seen it. But, this little baby is hands-down the ultimate solution in hands-free rodent control in your garage or outbuilding. It could probably be used in the home as well, but since we don’t actually know what it is I’m not ready to recommend it. But, just listen to a few of the excellent benefits of this outstanding system:

  • Green: the CowChows Mouser is manufactured entirely by nature. There is no carbon footprint. In fact, as far as we can tell, there is no footprint at all.
  • No bait: our mousetrap uses no bait. No messy peanut butter; no stinky cheese; no nasty glue. You don’t even have to set it. It works completely autonomously.
  • No disposal: the CowChows Mouser is completely hands-free. It seeks out, captures, and disposes of the mice automatically.
  • Invisible: no unsightly traps or boxes of poison lining the walls of your garage or shop. In fact, you won’t even know it’s there except that there are no more mice, and occasionally something might fall from a shelf for no apparent reason.
  • Silent: The CowChows Mouser is completely silent. Although, things falling from shelves may make some noise and the very quick mouse could conceivably eke out a squeak.
  • Intelligent design: with an ordinary mousetrap the mouse that gets away won’t come near a trap again, but the CowChows Mouser is designed to adjust its strategy to the situation. Your mice won’t have a chance.

But wait! There’s more! If you order within the next sixty seconds we’ll throw in the CowChows Mouser Weight Loss system. This professionally produced video is perfect if you are uncomfortable having unidentified carnivorous creatures slithering around your home in the dead of night. Don’t wait! Call now and we’ll double your order! That’s right, two CowChows Mousers for only $19.99!

Due to the unidentified aspect of this product the ship date is undetermined, but as soon as we figure out what it is and it reproduces we’ll send your order.

Nonsensically yours,

Tim Couch

Woody the Aluminum Pecker


We had an interesting morning here at the CowChows. We got an early wake-up call from a woodpecker. Actually, it wasn’t so much a wake-up call as a wake-up demand. It was just after daylight, a time of day that I am not well acquainted with, that I first heard it. My first thought was that our house had somehow been turned into a giant bell while we slept, and now a gang of ball peen hammer-wielding angry ninja dwarves was trying to get in.

I threw back the covers and marched to the front door already rehearsing the tongue-lashing I was going to give my inconsiderate neighbor. Ladybug was at my heels already urging me to calm down. But, as I flung open the door and stepped out onto the porch, ours were the only lights on. Then the noise came again and we realized it was coming from the end of our porch, near our bedroom window.

A woodpecker had tried to land on top of one of the aluminum columns that support the roof, and too late he discovered the column was hollow and open on top. He had fallen all the way to the bottom and the space was too narrow for him to fly out. So he was doing the only thing he could do, trying to peck his way out.

We studied on it for a while. We could try to fish him out, but he would likely dismember himself in the effort. We could leave him in there, but then we’d be haunted by that noise forever. We could call someone, but there was no listing in the Yellow Pages under Stupid Bird Rescue.

In the end we did the only thing we could do. We got the hole saw from the shop and cut a two inch hole into the aluminum column. When the bit finally broke through I looked inside and there lay the woodpecker. The stress of being trapped and the noise of the saw must have been too much for his little heart. I fetched a piece of wire to try and hook the body and pull it out, but when the wire touched him he suddenly came back to life. He flapped around inside for a while. We backed off and waited. After a few minutes he stuck his head out the hole and looked around, and then out came the rest of him. He was a beautiful adolescent red-headed woodpecker. He staggered and slumped for a bit, but eventually he flew off and into the big elm tree in the front yard.

He came back later to say thanks. He left two big fat juicy secondhand grubs at our front door. We named him Woody, because Aluminy is just too hard to say.

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

Haunting of the CowChows

little-girl-screamLife at the CowChows is so much fun. I was out back piddling with something the other day when I heard from behind me a very timid, “Hi.”

I turned and there stood one of the neighborhood kids, a blond haired little girl about eight years old. “Hello,” I responded.

We exchanged a few neighborly niceties, and then she asked, “How big is your house?”

I turned and studied the house for a moment and then said, “Oh, I don’t know. Kinda big, I guess. Why?”

“Some of the kids think it’s haunted,” she whispered.

“Oh, it is,” I whispered back and her eyes got very big. “I’m not supposed to talk about it, but there are several ghosts that live in our house.” I looked around to be sure none were listening before continuing, “Some of them are very nice, but some of them scare me sometimes.”

Her mouth dropped open and her stare went from me to the house and back again.”R-r-really,” she stammered, “who are they?”

“Well, there’s the Riverboat Captain. We don’t know for sure but we think he used to drive a boat on the river behind your house and one time when the river was up, like it is now, he fell overboard. He’s kinda grouchy but he’s mostly nice. Then there’s one that we call Grandma because we can hear her softly humming but when we go into the room no one is there, but the rocking-chair is still rocking. Then there’s the old indian chief. His tribe would camp right down there next to the river, and he tells me lots of stories about hunting in these woods and fishing in the river. He once saw a bear right over there in those trees.”

“What about the ones that scare you,” she asked softly.

“Oh,” I said, and I looked around again to be sure none were listening. Her eyes were big again when I looked back. “There’s only one that’s really scary.  You don’t want to meet him. He’s big and kind of hairy all over. Sometimes when he walks he drags one leg like this.” I took a big step toward her and dragged my other boot through the dirt. She backed up. “He only ever laughs when he smells small children and when he does it sounds like this.” I did my best impression of a deranged hyena, and she backed up some more. “He can change the way he looks and sometimes…,” I took another boot-dragging step toward her, “..he makes himself look just like…,”

I didn’t get to finish the story but I’m pretty sure she’ll come back; they always do.

Mischievously yours,

Tim Couch

A Moment of Peace

Peaceful night
Peaceful night


I received a wonderful gift tonight and I would like to share it with you. I stepped outside a while ago just to ponder as I sometimes do. The air was crisp and clean; the night, calm and peaceful. I listened to the nighttime critters chirping in the trees; in the distance the river chattered cheerfully as it flowed upon its way.

I stood overlooking the hollow and felt the warm glow that shone from the windows of my neighbors’ homes. The silvery sphere of the moon in full bloom floated behind gauzy clouds in the eastern sky, and tiny points of starlight peered through the darkness to shine upon me.

I crossed my arms over my chest, leaned back my head, closed my eyes, breathed deep, and set my mind adrift on the night. There was a moment of hesitation, like a puppy who suddenly realizes he has slipped his leash, and then my mind ran free.

I let it go. I didn’t try to call it back and for a moment, perhaps only an instant, all the stresses of the past week faded away and all the worries for the future disappeared. And, during that moment I felt peace.

True peace, like true joy, is a fleeting thing. It can not be captured, or conjured, or contrived. It often happens so quickly that we can only appreciate it as a memory, and when it’s gone its absence is indescribable.

This moment, this instant in time, was my gift from the Universe. Perhaps I earned it; perhaps I needed it; perhaps I merely accepted it. Whatever the reason I received this precious gift I wish for you the same.

Life is full of worry and doubt. We all carry bushel baskets full of need-to’s and have-to’s and ought-to’s, but sometimes what we really need is to stop, take a deep breath, and allow ourselves a moment of peace.

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch