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

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

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

Never too old to play

Priceless angel
Priceless angel

Kids are great aren’t they? All that boundless energy and unbridled enthusiasm for life, the fearlessness with which they approach everything they do, the careless joy of simple play, and their endless curiosity for everything around them always puts me in a special mood. That’s why I try never to miss an opportunity to screw with their little heads.

I was out dawdling in the yard a while ago, and several of the neighborhood kids were playing nearby. The sound of their laughter and their occasional high pitched squeals took turns making me smile and setting my teeth on edge. I suspect it has something to do with turning fifty that other people’s children aren’t quite as endearing as they once were. But, I’m quite experienced in the art of prepubescent ignoration and so I was going about my piddling without too much discomfort.

Unfortunately, in my determination to let them have their fun I didn’t notice that they had noticed me. “Hello,” I heard in a tinkling little voice. I looked up and there were three of them. They had me surrounded on one side.

“Hello,” I said, “and how are you ladies doing today?”

“Fine,” they said in chorus.

“It sounds like you’re having a lot of fun over there,” I said, and they all laughed as if I’d said the cleverest thing.

“How old are you?” asked the medium sized blond one.

“Well,” I said, “that depends on what you mean by old.” This gained me a quizzical stare but no further discussion of my age.

“We like your house.” said the taller dark haired one.

“Thank you very much,” I said. “We like it too.”

“Where did you get the money to buy such a big house?” asked the little one, her blond curls framing an angelic face.

“Well,” I drawled as I squatted down to their level. I looked around suspiciously and then whispered, “We used to have a little girl about your age, and we sold her. I sure hope your Mom and Dad don’t want a bigger house.”

They were still screaming when I stepped inside for a glass of iced tea. See, you’re never too old to play with the kids.