Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Cleaning at the Higgins House

(Warning: The following is based on a true story. This normally happens sometime in spring.  It could happen in a garage near you.)

My Wife: “When are you going to clean out this garage?  Look at this mess!”

Me: “I’ll get to it. I’m just looking for something out here.”

Wife: “It’s all junk. What’s this metal thing?”

Me: “I don’t know, but I’m going to save it. I may need it sometime.”

Wife:When was the last time you needed it? You don’t even know what it is.”

Me: “It looks important and if I toss it I’ll probably wish I had it the day after I toss it. That’s a universal law.”

Wife: “When you die, the kids are just going to throw all this stuff out. You should do them a favor and get rid of it all now. The garage is supposed to be for cars.”

Me: “We can fit a car in here. I can move this stuff around. I’ll build some shelves.”

Wife: “Come on…when have you ever built anything.  The last time you changed a light switch you didn’t turn off the power and melted the screwdriver.”

Me: “You yelled at the dog and my hand jerked.  But shelves are easy.”

Wife: “Just think…if you toss this junk out it’ll make you feel clean, free, and unburdened and it’ll make me feel better too. I can’t even walk around in here.”

Me: “That’s not true. You can walk around in here. Look – there’s a little path over there. If you follow that path you’ll find my old Triumph motorcycle. The one I rode around Europe back in the 60’s.  You just have to work your way around things, but be sure to stay on the trail.”

Wife: “That’s ridiculous. I’m not going back there.  It looks like a rat tunnel or something. There could be a dead body in here and you’d never know it.”

Me: “I’d smell it.”

Wife:  “Seriously. How do you know there aren’t animals living in here?  Or upstairs?  It’s even worse upstairs and I can’t even get to the stairs.”

            MeGood. Don’t try it.  You’ll never make it back alive. There’s something very big living up there.  If you stop talking and listen you can hear it breathing.”

Wife: “Don’t say things like that. You’re scaring me.  I just want to find a mop. Where can I find a mop?”

Me: “Just follow that little path and keep your eyes peeled. And carry this knife.”

Wife: “If I follow your stupid path I may never be seen again.”

Me: “Go for it…”

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Grandchildren

I think I've been remiss in introducing our grandchildren.  So far we have 7 of these little suckers.  Well, some are not so little anymore, but I can't keep up with them. In fact, the two older girls are 22 and 25 years old. And then there's AvaSophia, who is, in fact, an adorable "little sucker."

AvaSophia Severino, born September 26, 2011.

 "They elected 'who' President...?" 

 Little Ava sees the real world for the first time and confronts the existential concept of returning to the womb.

This is my new "miracle" granddaughter and she's a wonderful Little girl.

Vanessa Brunner, 25, University
of Oregon graduate, currently
a journalist in San Francisco.
(Beauty, brains, talent)
Emily Brunner, 22, University of
Arizona graduate, currently a
graphic designer in
San Francisco
(Beauty, brains, talent)
Luke Brunner, 17, Los Gatos
High  School junior, with date.
(Mr. Studley)

Seth Brunner, 12, soccer
player and student at
Hillbrook School.
(An Oregon Duck fan)

"Animal," aka Joshua, 7, Gabriel, 12,
terrific boys, with AvaSophia.
(Brainy boys and "what, me worry?")

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Man’s Best Friend

I mentioned to Gayle that it’s interesting to me how important dogs are to men. Women don’t seem to make that strong connection to a dog that a man does. And it seems to be universal. I had a woman tell me that she doesn’t trust a man who doesn’t own a dog.  I thought that was interesting.  Here in Quincy, everyone has a dog or several dogs.  Most of the cars in town have a dog; some of them sitting like a human in the passenger seat.

I’m convinced some dogs think they are human. And some owners, like me, forget that their dog is not human.  It’s typical to become anthropomorphic the more you interact with your dog.  I always forget that Dakota is just a dog. He’s more of a furry son with four legs. He’s so smart that we can’t even spell certain words. The little sucker has learned to spell and immediately gets excited to go for a walk, even if you spell the word “w-a-l-k.”   

My observation of men and their dogs led to a discussion with Gayle as to “why” the bond between man and dog.  It was interesting that Gayle immediately began to verbalize her opinion, which is one that I too had considered.  It’s a touchy subject and if your wife isn’t trained to “sit” and “stay,” you may not want to bring it up.

In Gayle’s mind, “men love dogs because dogs are what their wives are not.”  Did I hear that right? Yep.  I heard it right from Gayle’s own mouth.  And it’s true.

Dogs are obedient, appreciative, loyal, loving, easily trained, and they don’t talk. They are always glad to see their master. Our dogs worship us. When given a treat, dogs love us for it. Gayle didn’t say this stuff.  I did.

You never have to repeat the redemptive phrase, “It’s my fault” in order to keep the peace with your dog.  I’ve been tempted to print a sign that says exactly that and simply hold it up even before I try to load the dishwasher “the right way.”  It reminds me of a country western song, “It’s hard to kiss the lips at night that chewed your ass all day.”  But you’ll never have that concern with a dog. As I said, dogs don’t talk.

Our dogs lie at our feet and lick our hand. They always want to be with us and want to go where we go. And it doesn’t take them an hour to get ready to go, either.  Their disposition never changes. They wag their tails at us, like our wives used to.

Is it really any wonder why a dog is man’s best friend?

P. S. – I ran this piece by Gayle before posting it and she liked it.  I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Mental Machinations of Humor

A couple of blogs back, I got into humor and how laughter can pick you up and help you make it through trying times.  If you go to the “archives” on my blog and look under “Random Thoughts” you can find a piece I wrote on Norman Cousins and how he used laughterto heal himself of a terminal disease. It’s an amazing story.

Maybe it’s all the negativism that bombards us daily, but I’ve begun to think that humor actually is a survival mechanism. I’ve developed a curiosity as to how it actually works and the affect it has on the mind, the body, and on those around us. Maybe it’s my psychology degree and my interest in human behavior and social trends, but the more I think about it, the more important being able to laugh seems to be in today’s world.

            Is humor and laughter innate in our genetic makeup?  Has it always been a defining characteristic of human beings? How far back can we trace laughter?

            My personal guess is that laughter has been with us since human beings first discovered they were naked. 

            It seems that humor may have its origins simultaneously with mankind’s origins.  You can watch a National Geographic documentary featuring a primitive tribe somewhere in Brazil where natives are squatting around a fire. They may be swatting flies and chomping on a dead monkey, but sooner or later someone will smile with a monkey tail hanging from his teeth. This precipitates a chuckle here and there, until finally everyone is laughing and tossing monkey parts at each other.

Someday archeologists may discover cave paintings depicting one caveman slamming a mammoth pie in the face of another caveman. Or another that clearly depicts a Neanderthal trying to entice his buddy to pull his finger.  True primitive humor.

Let’s just assume that humor is universal and that one of the first human beings on earth laughed when he saw his buddy dragging a woman to his cave by her hair. Or maybe it was the woman laughing.

If you click on the “read more” link here and go to the next page, I’ll explain how the brain actually processes humor. It’s quite interesting.

Friday, March 2, 2012

“Good morning, Sunshine!”

Today began on a different note.  Gayle normally doesn’t speak in the morning until close to noon. I’m ready to talk, but she’s not even ready to listen. It’s at the point where we just grunt at each other as we shuffle around the house. But today was different.

Gayle not only talked, but she made pancakes this morning. That’s becoming almost a weekly event around here lately, ever since she discovered pancake batter as an art form. 

Actually, this is the only time we eat breakfast together.  She’s afraid of my omelets. The closest she gets to my creative concoctions is to stand back from the mixture and check to see if anything is moving in it. I use omelets to get rid of leftovers sitting in the refrigerator and have found that, when in doubt, hot sauce can cover indiscretions very effectively. It also kills alien life forms.