Last night I dreamed about chickens.

It looked a lot like it does around here. A bit hilly. Lots of trees. There was a movie star living in the house. She was supposed to be young, but her skin looked like the bottom of an old leather suitcase and was a trifle orange. She was going back to California where she believed she would be better off.


That left me with 200 chickens. The fowl were arriving (shortly) by truck. Healthy, young, hens and roosters. Enough to start a nice little chicken farm.

Except I didn’t want to be a chicken farmer and I was pretty sure, neither did Garry. I couldn’t just leave the chickens to die of hunger, thirst, and cold. I’m a responsible person and I love animals. Even chickens.

Chickens don’t get lost

I was still baffled over the whole chicken conundrum when I finally gave up, opened my eyes, and began my day. Coffee would banish chickens. Garry said it was from a movie we’d seen and I was caught in an old movie loop.

Sometimes, the absolutely best storyteller in the world has got to be my subconscious. I would never consider creating a story involving me and chickens.

Author Gordon Winter, Garry and chickens
Author Gordon Winter, Garry, and chickens

Not counting authors since this prompt doesn’t concern that … who tells great stories?

Garry tells wonderful stories. He makes us laugh. I don’t know if the story is true or maybe just a little true, but whatever, it is great entertainment. Tom tells great stories too and he usually has a good closing line, which is probably my biggest story-telling issue. I can tell a good story but I run on too long and am not good at wrapping it up. I’m good for the yarn’s first three-quarters.

Story-telling is the glue that makes friends want to hang out with each other. If you can keep the crowd laughing, you’ll never be alone.

It’s not booze, movies, or video games. Certainly not texting. It’s stories. The tales of our experiences, things we remember, times and places and people we’ve known.

Photo: Ben Taylor

I keep wondering what people will do when they realize you can’t live forever with just a cell phone? They don’t seem to have a clue about having conversations or telling stories. From whence will their stories emerge?

Our stories are our personal mythology. Will our children and grandchildren have stories? Or anyone to tell them?

It worries me. It really does.


Everything and everybody changes, but recently a couple of people I’ve known for a long time have changed suddenly and dramatically. Overnight, they became dry and humorless.

It appears they had a humorectomy. While they slept, their sense of humor was removed. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but it’s deeply disturbing. Have they been replaced by pods, like the  “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”?

I could not survive if I did not see how ridiculous my life is. If the absurdity of it didn’t make me laugh, I would do nothing but cry and bewail my state.

Laughter heals me. It’s better than sex. Better than yoga, meditation, medication, or street drugs.

It’s free, unrestricted by laws, available to anyone who is not yet dead and is acceptable behavior under almost all religious systems.

Many friends are going through rough times. Their problems vary, but the results are the same. Stress, anguish, fear, worry, insomnia. You worry, try to keep it together until you’re ready to explode.

72-WNEX Radio_023

What can you do? When the light at the end of the tunnel really is the headlight of an oncoming train, I say: “Buckle up and let your hair blow in the wind. It’s going to be a hell of a ride.”

Laughing at the craziness, insanity, ludicrousness, the utter absurdity of my life — and the demented world in which I live it — is my first line of defense against despair. Take away laughter, strip away my sense of humor, and I’m a goner.


I laugh any time I find a reason. At anything that strikes me as funny, which isn’t always appreciated by other people. I even laugh when I’m alone (weird, right?). It reminds me why it’s worth staying alive.

My friends make me laugh. I make them laugh. When our lives are in tatters and everything around us is collapsing, we laugh. Then, we take a deep breath, and laugh some more. The more awful the situation, the more dreadful and intractable the problems, the funnier it is. We are not laughing at tragedy … we are laughing at life.


The difference between tragedy and comedy is how you look at it. Laughter is the antidote for everything. Try it. It’s a cure.


I collect them. Whenever I see a really good one, I save it for the next time I need something funny where humor is hard to find. This week, I haven’t done anything that warrants political cartoons, but these are all so good, I figured — why not?

Have a laugh. Show them to someone and make them laugh, too.


Voltaire: “God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.”

Too afraid to laugh? That’s how I feel about the world right now. Although, come to think about it, maybe that’s the way to go out of the world. Laughing my ass off at the sheer lunacy of the human race.

Woody Allen: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

My mother used to say this one. I always thought it was one of those old Jewish saying: “Man plans, God laughs.” He may indeed have a plan, but he hasn’t given us a script or even a hint of the outcome. Isn’t that cheating?

Jonathan Davis: “You laugh at me because I’m different, I laugh at you because you’re all the same.”

We are a species that deserves to be laughed at. And we take ourselves so seriously. I think if aliens — the outer space variety — dropped by — they might die laughing before they could start a war.

Species Human are ridiculous.

Photo: Bette Stevens


A Photo a Week Challenge: Raw Emotion

I don’t know how “raw” these are, but they are joyful. Laughing. Which is about as “raw” as my work ever gets. Grief is a bit too personal for me to feel comfortable shooting it.

Happy birthday at 15!
Another birthday!
Photo: Bette Stevens


As much as we reveal in our blogging, we conceal at least the same amount and maybe more. I’m sure it’s not just me. Why do we do it?

Despite electronic media, I like privacy. The rusty underbelly of my life is not for public viewing. What is wrong and right my life isn’t stable. It’s mobile. It flows. The world is up or down,  forever in flux.

If I write about it, whatever it was becomes fixed. Suddenly, it’s a “thing.” Even when the moment has long since moved on, you are still fielding feedback from your original post. I have learned — the hard way — that you should really not say anything you don’t want to be dealing with three years from now. The Internet is forever, even if your troubles are not.

What is wrong or right depends on myriad minor details. It is rarely worth writing about the little problems unless the event holds some kind of universality. As an example, anything involving customer service and the perils of dealing with it, is global. No one gets out of life alive — or without getting disconnected by customer service. Most other stuff tends to be forgotten as soon as you get over that bump. If you write about it, it becomes permanent. You have etched it in virtual stone.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

My other reason for not bothering to write about the little complaining stuff is because it’s not interesting. The tedious remembering of those icky, gritty details is boring to read and equally boring to write. Whining is dull. Mine and yours. Dull as dirt. Despite this, at least half the Internet is filled with people complaining about stupid stuff they won’t remember in 24 hours. For a fair number of people, complaining is the only thing they do.

There are people who show up on my timeline about whom I can’t remember ever reading anything which was not a complaint. They live tragic lives. Ask them. They will tell you in intimate detail — they are the most unlucky people on Earth. Because everything always happens to them.

A pipe breaks? “OMG we’re doomed!”

Flu strikes? “Why am I afflicted by the gods? Why is the universe punishing me?”

A lost cell phone? “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.”

Their cars never run. Their jobs never last. The go from one job to another and the same stuff happens at each one, yet they never wonder if maybe they might be doing something wrong. Their relationships are doomed from the start because that’s what they expect.

The other day, it struck me that all of us have a more or less equal number of bumps in our road of life as anyone else, but not all of us view each as a calamity. Unless it makes a good story.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Much of the pleasure of blogging is getting to present ourselves and our world in a positive way. Unless you blog for sympathy — and some people do — blogging lets you show off some of the nice stuff in your life. In my virtual world, I can be better than I really am. I can be more fun.

Who said “full disclosure” is what blogging is about? Not me. Writing about the grimy details of life is like posting ugly selfies. Why would anyone want to do that? I’d rather make you laugh.

I’d rather make me laugh.