The Tale Spinner

Vol. XXIII, No. 16

April 22, 2017


  • From HeroicStories, a woman writes about kindly neighbours
  • Tom Telfer reflects on our reliance on electronic devices
  • Irene Harvalias forwards Dave Barry's article about a colonoscopy
  • Gerrit deLeeuw shares a story about a senior's prank
  • Barbara Wear sends a story about a man who owned a car for 82 years
  • Burke Dykes' tale is about three kernels of corn
  • Sites are suggested by Barbara Wear, Don Henderson, Judy Lee, and Tom Telfer

From HeroicStories, Sandra Sebastian of 
Indianapolis, IN, writes about


It all seemed to happen so suddenly. One minute, my mother was talking normally, and the next, she was babbling baby talk. Being seven hundred miles away from your parent when they obviously need medical attention is one of the scariest things I have ever gone through.

Let me give you a little background. My mother moved to the middle-of-nowhere Missouri with my stepfather. He wanted to be back in familiar surroundings. He has been suffering with numerous health problems, including Alzheimer's. My mother is his caregiver and the love of his life. His world revolves around her, and hers around him.   Last Wednesday, the older of my two brothers made his weekly call to check in with her. The conversation became very weird when she suddenly began speaking gibberish. We assumed that a new medication may have caused a bad reaction, or that she'd had a minor stroke. He called the next morning, and she was still unable to communicate with him. He immediately called the neighbor across the street.

The neighbor called another neighbor down the road, who is a first responder. She immediately recognized the signs of a stroke and called an ambulance to take my mother to the hospital, 45 minutes away. She has been there for a few days now. While the doctors will take good care of her, my ailing step-father needs assistance of his own. These wonderful neighbors have continued to watch over him, making sure he takes his medication, and that he and the pets are fed. They even cut the very overgrown yard and took my step-father to the hospital to see my mother. . They rallied around my family to make sure my step-father was ok until my brother got there 24 hours later, and their assistance continues. They have helped my brother with all manner of issues with the house. There were broken pipes that needed mending and trash that needed to be hauled away. They have been there every step of the way to help as needed.

They are definitely our angels of the prairie.

One thing I've learned that may help others: there is a very small window for a stroke victim to receive the anti-coagulants and other medications given after a stroke. Everyone should be aware of the symptoms and remember to err on the side of caution and get care for someone that you think might have suffered a stroke. We may never know, if we had gotten her to a hospital sooner, if the damage to her mind and body would have been less severe.

ED. NOTE: To comment on this story, or to tell about your own heroes, or to get your own free subscription, click on

Tom Telfer writes about


This morning, I arrived at church and suddenly realized that I had forgotten my cell phone! My jaw dropped; my eyeballs bulged; my blood pressure soared.

My Apple watch goes mute, and I have no control over the volume for my hearing aids. E-mails would arrive without my knowledge. Appointments cannot be checked. News flashes from 38 countries could arrive and I would be completely in the dark! Family or friends could not text me. Holiday offers would go unnoticed. I would not be able to check my bank account. Facebook would be out of reach.

Quietly, I slipped out the back door to head home.

Driving through my subdivision, I started to laugh. Now that I am past the age of 80, for many years, cell phones didn't exist. In 1958, we buzzed through nine countries via trains in Europe. We popped down to Florida; and drove from Ontario to Vancouver Island, just holding a map.

Communication is choking us and we continue to suffer. 

Irene Harvalias forwards this story by Dave Barry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald:


I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, "HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!"

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called "MoviPrep," which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America 's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-litre plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a litre is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result.'

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic here, but have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another litre of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?’ How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep.

At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full fire hose mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point.

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was "Dancing Queen" by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, "Dancing Queen" had to be the least appropriate.

"You want me to turn it up?" said Andy, from somewhere behind me.

"Ha ha," I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling "Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine," and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

On the subject of colonoscopies...

Colonoscopies are no joke, but these comments during the exam were quite humorous. A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:

1. "Take it easy, Doc. You’re boldly going where no man has gone before."

2. "Find Amelia Earhart yet?"

3. "Can you hear me NOW?"

4. "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

5. "You know, in Arkansas, we're now legally married."

6. "Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?"

7. "You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out...."

8. "Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!"

9. "If your hand doesn't fit, you must quit!"

10. "Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity."

And the best one of all:

11.  Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?"

Gerrit deLeeuw shares this story of


Yesterday mydaughter e-mailed me again, asking why I didn't do something useful with my time.

Like sitting around the pool and drinking wine is not a good thing? I asked.

Talking about my "doing-something-useful" seems to be her favourite topic of conversation. She was "only thinking of me," she said, and suggested that I go down to the Senior Center and hang out with the guys.

I did this, and when I got home last night, I decided to play a prank on her. I e-mailed her and told her that I had joined a parachute club.

She replied, "Are you nuts? You are 78 years old and now you're going to start jumping out of airplanes?"

I told her that I even got a membership card and e-mailed a copy to her.

She immediately telephoned me and yelled, "Good grief, Dad, where are your glasses? This is a membership to a prostitute club, not a parachute club."

"Oh man, I'm in trouble again," I said. "I really don't know what to do. I signed up for five jumps a week!"

The line went quiet and her friend picked up the phone and said that my daughter had fainted.

Life as a senior citizen is not getting any easier, but sometimes it can be fun.

Barbara Wear forwards this story of


Allen Swift, born in 1908 and died in 2010, owned and drove the same car for 82 years.

Mr. Swift of Springfield, Mass., received this brand-new 1928 Rolls-Royce Piccadilly P1 roadster from his father as a graduation gift in 1928. He drove it up until his death last year at the age of 102. He was the oldest living owner of a car that was purchased new.

It was donated to a Springfield museum after his death. It had 1,070,000 miles on it - that's approximately 13,048 miles per year, or 1,087 per month. It still runs like a Swiss watch and is silent at any speed, and is in perfect cosmetic condition.

That's British engineering of a bygone era. I don't think they make them like that any more.

For photos of this car, go to

Burke Dykes forwards the story of


Three young men were once given three kernels of corn each by a wise old sage, who admonished them to go out into the world, and use the corn to bring themselves good fortune.

The first young man put his three kernels of corn into a bowl of hot broth and ate them.

The second thought, I can do better than that, and he planted his three kernels of corn. Within a few months, he had three stalks of corn. He took the ears of corn from the stalks, boiled them, and had enough corn for three meals.

The third man said to himself, I can do better than that! He also planted his three kernels of corn, but when his three stalks of corn produced, he stripped one of the stalks and replanted all of the seeds in it, gave the second stalk of corn to a sweet maiden, and ate the third.

His one full stalk’s worth of replanted corn kernels gave him 200 stalks of corn! And the kernels of these he continued to replant, setting aside only a bare minimum to eat. He eventually planted a hundred acres of corn. With his fortune, he not only won the hand of the sweet maiden, but purchased the land owned by the sweet maiden’s father. And he never hungered again.


Barbara Wear sends this link to a vide of a man who swam with a crocodile for years:

Barbara also shares the URL to a video of unlikely animal friends which she says made her day:

Don Henderson forwards this CBC Marketplace report on how many pesticides have been found in our favourite teas:

Judy Lee sends this link to another gag movie from Quebec of a dog driving a car:

Tom Telfer forwards the URL for a photo of the "Pale Blue Dot," Earth, taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft from a distance of about 3.7 billion miles. Carl Sagan is the narrator:

Tom also sends this link to the Nederlands' Opera staging a flash mob in an Amsterdam shopping centre with a spirited rendition of "La Traviata" by Verdi:

In view of the recent furore over a passenger being dragged off an overbooked airline, it helps to know how to avoid being bumped off an airline:

This man is saving cats in war-torn Aleppo, Syria, despite his first sanctuary being bombed. He is now rebuilding and continuing to rescue animals and provide a safe space for children:

After "fake news" became such a popular topic during the American election, Google rolled out a fact checking program to verify the accuracy of news articles. In the months since the election, Google has slowly introduced it in countries around the world:

Most of us recycle, but there are some common mistakes that we may be making:

"People have to forgive. We don't have to like them, we don't have to be friends with them, we don't have to send them hearts in text messages, but we have to forgive them, to overlook, to forget. Because if we don't, we are tying rocks to our feet, too much for our wings to carry!"

- C. JoyBell C.

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