Never turn your back on a turkey

Inquisitive?

Naw, this bird is just sizing you up.

In my early days as a reporter at Siuslaw News, I was once given the assignment of visiting a local turkey farm to write up a special Thanksgiving piece. As it turned out, “special” wasn’t really the right word after becoming the victim of an unprovoked turkey attack. In my defense, there were five of them (technically known as a “gang” of turkeys) involved in the assault, which started because of my proximity to a preening female turkey named Lucy who had apparently snubbed her suitors in favor of me.

Possibly because she was confused by my chicken legs.

Whatever the reason, the male turkeys didn’t take well to this and decided the best way to handle the situation was to join forces and — one by one — take turns flapping their giant wings at my [censored]. Before I knew it, I was being circled by an agitated turkey gang and wishing my editor had assigned me to something less dangerous, like maybe a Blind Axe Throwers convention. 

The reason I was in this situation was because I was a journalist committed to getting the story, even if it meant risking my own safety by putting myself in harm’s way on the front lines just like those reporters in Ukraine, South Africa or Black Friday shopping at Walmart.

OK, fine. So it was a turkey farm.

And yes, I was under the watchful eye of a highly capable turkey wrangler named Dirk: a man confident in his ability to “throw down” against even the largest bird, including, once, a stray ostrich that had gotten confused and wandered over from a nearby farm. As Dirk explained, he knew something was wrong almost immediately when he noticed, “One of the turkeys looked way too big.”

That’s when he swung into action and, drawing on years of wrangling experience, diffused the situation by calmly approaching the bird… gaining its trust… and then suddenly throwing it into a headlock.

“And when I woke up, the ostrich was gone,” said Dirk.

Secure in the knowledge that my back was covered by Dirk the Turkey Wrangler, I had entered the large pen of turkeys in hopes of getting firsthand experience, which I could use to enhance my story (or possibly my obituary, depending on how quickly things deteriorated.) I should mention that I had been made aware of the potential dangers that arise when turkeys adopt a mob mentality, then signed a waver releasing the farm of any liability should I be: Injured or otherwise decapitated.

“Don’t you mean ‘incapacitated?’” I asked.

“Yeah — that too,” said Dirk.

Standing in the middle of the pen a short time later, the turkeys didn’t seem to be paying much attention to me. This prompted me to engage them so I could get a better feel for their personalities. I crouched; bobbed my head; gobbled a little.

“Ummmm, I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said Dirk.

At that very instant one turkey, Lucy, extended her head above the others.

“Yirp. Yirp. Yirp.”

As I discovered, this is turkey talk for, “Just because we are two completely different species doesn’t mean we can’t be lovers.”

I suddenly realized I had the attention of every turkey in the pen, particularly five who had been strutting around, chests puffed out, trying to win the affections of “Lucy.”

“Too late,” Dirk said helpfully. “Cover your privates!”

“WHAT..?!?”

Next thing I knew, I was surrounded, dust and feathers flying while trying to avoid five aggressive peckers going after my, well…

I’m happy to say I survived, thanks in part to Dirk’s quick thinking, which was to yell “Get out of there — but keep your privates covered!” over and over until I could get back to the gate.

Admittedly, the experience left me shaken. But it hasn’t keep me from having turkey on Thanksgiving. 

Although I’m still wearing an athletic cup…

____________________________________________________________________

This story was originally published in Siuslaw News in 2015. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Although I should’ve changed mine too, just in case those turkeys are still looking for me…

Are you a writer embarking on the journey of turning their manuscript into a published book or memoir? Easy Writer can help assure your manuscript is tuned up, strapped down, shiny clean and gassed up for the road ahead.  Find out more HERE

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A whisper rooted in thankfulness

Since becoming editor at Siuslaw News in September (Yes, I’m still the editor), one of my goals has been to make a more personal connection as a newspaper with our community. In Wednesday’s issue, I took the opportunity to open up a bit to our readers about one of the things I’m most thankful for and why…image

 

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Though it’s been 35 years since I arrived in Oregon as a high school sophomore, when people ask where I moved from, I still whisper when I say, “California.”

I do so in jest (mostly), secure in the knowledge that revealing my California roots — however withered — won’t suddenly bring nearby conversations to an embarrassing halt, leaving cricket chirps in its place.

Part of the reason is because, more often than not, those around me are also originally from California.

Seriously, folks. I’ve heard you whispering.

But recently, I’ve come to realize there’s a different reason I whisper when it comes to explaining where I was in relation to where I am now.

It’s a whisper rooted in thankfulness.  Continue reading A whisper rooted in thankfulness

Not even bad Tofurkey will stop you NaNoWriMo writers!

imageLet’s be honest: No one is going to read this.

Why?

Because everyone is busy working on their novel this month! Who has time to read a blog post — even if it’s about writing — when they have 30,000 words remaining in their 50,000-word manuscript, no to mention a 30-lb. Thanksgiving turkey already thawing in the sink?

Plus, in just a few weeks, many NaNoWriMo participants will be following up their day of giving “thanks” by attacking fellow shoppers on Black Friday for the last pair of “Walking Dead” slippers! What if their fingers get broken during a tussle at Target? Or they get walloped at Walmart? Mauled at Macy’s? Shanked at Sears? Body slammed at Bloomingdales?

You get the idea.

Even though it’s less than a week into NaNoWriMo, a lot of writers are feeling the pressure to finish their manuscripts before Nov. 24 because anything can happen once Thanksgiving Day arrives. No one wants to take the chance of being within 500 words of finishing their manuscript, only to have it consumed in a sudden turkey flashover fire thanks to the combustable nature of aunt Renee’s new whiskey stuffing recipe.  Continue reading Not even bad Tofurkey will stop you NaNoWriMo writers!

Your Thanksgiving questions answered by Mr. Knowitall

(Today I’m over at Long Awkward Pause, where Mr. Knowitall is talking turkey about Thanksgiving myths. Just don’t stand in front of him when he actually says “myths” because he tends to spit a little…)

Mr. Knowitall is happy to answer your questions
Mr. Knowitall is happy to answer your questions

It’s been 395 years since that first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians sat down together in celebration and, much like the Americans of today, made a solemn vow not to eat more than your standard bull elk. We know this because of a passage recently discovered in the diary of Pilgrim Edward Winslow, who described the first Thanksgiving like this:

“Our harvest be large so that we might rejoice! Our plates and bellies be full to swelling! We have feasted on meats and gathered crops, and pies of sweet fruit!
Aye, I say! I think it be time to vomit!”

Edward Winslow, Nov. 26, 1621

In spite of this kind of irrefutable historic documentation, many myths still exist about one of our most celebrated holidays.

For example: Did anyone actually eat the Indian corn, or was it just used as a decoration?

As a special tribute to Thanksgiving, we asked our resident historian, Mr. Knowitall, to help separate fact from fiction about this important holiday. We encouraged readers to send us their own Thanksgiving questions and, as a result, were inundated with hundreds of emails! Mostly male enhancement offers… but still enough questions that choosing a handful (of questions) required a highly complex selection process utilizing dozens of volunteers, an empty office and one wild squirrel… (MORE at Long Awkward Pause)

Don’t let your Thanksgiving turkey become memorable for the wrong reasons

imageThe countdown has begun. Before long, thousands will be in the kitchen preparing their very first Thanksgiving turkey. As a service to readers, I felt a responsibility to help educate people about foodborne illness by offering a special holiday feature that I’d like to call:

Don’t lose your giblets this Thanksgiving.

Being a writer, I’ve naturally spent a good portion of my career working in the food service industry. And like most writers, it was there that I was able practice my craft and eventually acquire something that ALL good writers must have: A Food Handler’s Card.

Because of this, I can stand before you as someone highly qualified to talk turkey.

So let us begin. Continue reading Don’t let your Thanksgiving turkey become memorable for the wrong reasons

Accompaniments for deep-fried turkey should include a fire extinguisher

Deep frying a turkey. Watching football. Both are great, but not together.
(Welcome to Flashback… Thursday? Sorry, I know this is a feature reserved for Sundays, but it must be the tripptof tryptoagh triptoe sleepy stuff in my turkey talking. Either way, just think of it as a special holiday post no one really asked for… And a chance for me to say: Thank You to each of you for all the laughs we share each week…)

The human brain.

Most of us have one.

For those who don’t, there are warning labels.

Unfortunately, these warnings don’t appear on actual humans. Instead, they are issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has the monumental task of thinking up ways stupid people might injure themselves using standard household items.

While the commission generally stays ahead of the curve with the help of researchers, lab studies, and a select group of retired circus chimps, from time to time a hot new product is embraced so quickly by the general public that there’s simply no time to warn them that actually embracing it could result in serious injury. This past holiday season, according to the safety commission, reports of house fires involving large men submerging whole turkeys into deep fryers has risen dramatically. This prompted the commission to issue a special, multi-paged consumer alert called:

Fryer, Fryer Pants on Fire. Continue reading Accompaniments for deep-fried turkey should include a fire extinguisher

It’s time to separate Thanksgiving fact from fiction with the help of Mr. Knowitall

image It’s been 389 years since that first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians sat down together in celebration and, much like the Americans of today, made a solemn vow not to eat more than your standard bull elk.

We know this because of a passage recently discovered in the diary of Pilgrim Edward Winslow, who described the first Thanksgiving like this:

Our harvest be large so that we might rejoice! Our plates and bellies be full to swelling! We have feasted on meats and gathered crops, and pies of sweet fruit!
Aye, I say! I think it be time to vomit!

— Edward Winslow, Dec. 13, 1621

In spite of this kind of irrefutable historic documentation, many myths still exist about one of our most celebrated holidays. For example: Did anyone actually eat the Indian corn, or was it just used as a decoration? Continue reading It’s time to separate Thanksgiving fact from fiction with the help of Mr. Knowitall

Accompaniments for deep-fried turkey should include a fire extinguisher

Deep frying a turkey. Watching football. Both are great, but not together.
The human brain.

Most of us have one.

For those who don’t, there are warning labels.

Unfortunately, these warnings don’t appear on actual humans. Instead, they are issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has the monumental task of thinking up ways stupid people might injure themselves using standard household items.

While the commission generally stays ahead of the curve with the help of researchers, lab studies, and a select group of retired circus chimps, from time to time a hot new product is embraced so quickly by the general public that there’s simply no time to warn them that actually embracing it could result in serious injury. This past holiday season, according to the safety commission, reports of house fires involving large men submerging whole turkeys into deep fryers has risen dramatically. This prompted the commission to issue a special, multi-paged consumer alert called:

Fryer, Fryer Pants on Fire. Continue reading Accompaniments for deep-fried turkey should include a fire extinguisher

When planning your ‘Black Friday’ shopping, don’t forget Bigfoot

There are many advantages to shopping with Bigfoot. Keeping a low profile is not one of them.
There are times when, as a columnist, I am faced with the difficult decision of choosing between two equally important topics in order to meet my deadline.

Then there are times like this when, thanks to years of experience and accidentally consuming a quadruple espresso meant for the person next to me at Starbuck’s, I realize both topics can be combined into a single, well-structured piece of journalism.

Which is why, today, we will be talking about how to prepare for holiday shopping with the help of Bigfoot.

As some of you may have heard, a hiker in Utah recently posted video of what appears to be Bigfoot rummaging through the brush.

In addition, some of you may have heard about Thanksgiving.

I don’t believe this is a coincidence. Continue reading When planning your ‘Black Friday’ shopping, don’t forget Bigfoot

Preparing your first Thanksgiving turkey? Hold on to your giblets

Don’t let your first Thanksgiving turkey become memorable for the wrong reasons.
The countdown has begun. Soon, thousands of newlyweds will be in the kitchen preparing their very first Thanksgiving turkey. As a service to our readers, we felt a responsibility to help educate people about foodborne illness by offering a special holiday feature that we like to call:

Don’t lose your giblets this Thanksgiving.

Being a writer, I’ve naturally spent a good portion of my career working in the food service industry. And like most writers, it was there that I was able practice my craft and eventually acquire something that ALL good writers must have: A Food Handler’s card.
Because of this, I can stand before you as someone highly qualified to talk turkey.

So let us begin. Continue reading Preparing your first Thanksgiving turkey? Hold on to your giblets