Wednesday, January 26, 2005

What's in a Name?

By: L.A. Kohl
Jan. 18, 2005
(Published in the Wed. edition of the Northern Boone County Bullseye, Jan. 26 '05, Vol. 1, No. 14)
I grew up with a pretty common surname – Cox. I never had to spell it for anyone and lots of people knew someone else named Cox. “Oh, are you related to so-in-so Cox?” they would ask.

When I married Nate, that all changed. Kohl was not a name you heard everyday. Nobody knew a Kohl, unless it was Helmut, the chancellor of Germany. Oh, and it’s a name you have to spell out for everyone, since everyone wants to spell it C-O-L-E. You know, like Nat King. There have been different incidents over the years in regards to the fact that we are “Kohl’s," but today’s incident was probably about the funniest.

I was unavailable when the phone rang, so my husband answered it. Here’s what he told me about the conversation after-the-fact...

“Hello, is this Kohl’s?” a woman’s voice asked on the other end of the line.
“Yes it is,” replied my husband.
“Could you tell me where you are located?” she asked.
“Near Harrisburg,” was his simple answer.
“And is that around Columbia?” she asked.
“Yes, it’s northwest of there,” was his reply.
“And how far is that from the Lake of the Ozarks?” was her next question.
Okay, by now Nate was getting a little curious about who this lady was, but he still kept on answering her nosy questions about our location.
 He continued, “Well, about an hour and a half from there, I think.”
“Okay, well, that’s closer than Springfield, isn’t it?” was her curious next question.
“Uhhmmm...I suppose it is,” was the befuddled reply.
“So then, what’s your location, as in street address?” was the next question.
That did it – now it was Nate’s turn to ask a question. “Look, who are you anyway?” was his brilliant first question.
“I’m a customer,” she quickly answered.
“So, who do you think you’re talking to?” was my husband’s next question.
“Kohl’s department store...I’m just trying to find the nearest Kohl’s to where I live,” was her response.

And that was about the end of the conversation. Nate tried to explain that yes, we were Kohl’s, but no, we were not the department store – sorry for the confusion.

That was a first...having our backwoods home momentarily mistaken for a nation-wide department store. I’m now kind of curious you think we could waive the franchise fees by virtue of already having the correct name?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Could Hand Fishing Lead to Hand Hunting?

by L.A. Kohl
(Published in the Wed. edition of the Northern Boone County Bullseye, Jan. 19 '05, Vol. 1, No. 13)

Here in our backwoods home, with our oodles of kids – we’ve sometimes been labeled such things as redneck, hillbilly or part Amish.  It’s all just fun-loving bantering from friends and family who know us well...but sometimes I’m afraid as the years go by, we seem to be growing more and more likely to live up to those labels. So, for this article, allow me a little lighthearted jesting!

I read with a hint of humor an article in a previous “Bull’s Eye” edition about how the Missouri Department of Conservation was establishing a “hand-fishing season." It instantly reminded me of one of the “redneck” type conversations my husband and I had just a few weeks prior.

He had just returned from beginning a small farm survey job on the edge of Columbia. In the midst of telling me about the site, and the funny neighbors he had encountered (he meets all types,) he happened to mention that he could have caught a turkey bare-handed, if he’d so desired. It seems that he had unintentionally spooked up a turkey near a fence row, and in her confusion and shock, the hen just kept floundering and throwing herself into the fence, making no progress in her escape. It was then that the “redneck” side of me came out.

I asked in half seriousness, “Why isn’t there a hand-hunting season?”

It makes perfect sense to me. We’ve got all these outdoorsy, hunting and fishing type guys around here who I think would jump at the chance to prove their “prowess” by catching something by hand. The Conservation Department could set aside an entire week just for them – anything they could catch bare-handed, they could keep. I suspect some guys would go after simple things like bullfrogs, while others would get extreme and try for a big, strutting tom turkey, or a 12-point buck. Move over, Daniel Boone, here come the Missouri hand-hunters!

It reminds me of a story a boy told to our Jr. High history teacher (I won’t mention how many years ago that was.) He came in to our class one day, bragging about someone he knew who had been out deer hunting. Supposedly, while this guy was in his deer stand, a deer somehow managed to walk directly underneath him without him being able to get a shot at it. Once under the stand, the deer just kept standing there. What’s a red-blooded, he-man hunter to do? Why, jump onto the deer’s back and slash its throat, of course! It was an extremely preposterous story, and considering the source, undoubtedly a fabricated one. Nonetheless, it goes to show that maybe I’m not the only “redneck” around who has ever considered the possibilities of hand-hunting!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

India, Tsunamis and a New Year

By: L.A. Kohl
Jan. 1, 2005
Published in the Wed. edition of the Bullseye, Jan. 12, Vol. 1, No. 12

I’m writing this article on New Year’s Day – while my husband is in Chandigar, India and a devastating tsunami is in the news every day. Chandigar is no where near where the tsunami hit, but I still can not help thinking about it, as I’m sure many of you can not. The daily news of the situation continues to grow more unbelievable. The death toll I saw reported today was estimated at 150,000. That number is staggering to imagine. It would be kind of like having all of Columbia (with college in session) and the surrounding small towns completely annihilated – we can not even imagine the ramifications of such a situation.

I have found myself visiting the Chandigar based “” web site – mostly for selfish reasons. It makes me feel a little more connected with my husband, to read news from the very town where he is working. But, it also gives me a type of “inside” perspective on the devastation that has hit their country.

I found it extremely interesting to read an article this morning, written by a “M.P.K. Kutty”, that was full of encouragement and challenge to his fellow countrymen. He used the example of a famous American to help make his point.

Many years ago, the famous inventor Thomas Edison stood looking at the ruins of his New Jersey plant, which had just been devastated by fire. Everything the 67-year-old man had worked so hard towards had literally gone up in smoke. But listen to Thomas Edison’s words of wisdom in the wake of that seemingly desperate situation: “There is value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew.”

What strength and determination is demonstrated in such a response! Mr. Kutty seemed to be challenging his fellow Indian people (and the people of Sri Lanka and other countries effected by the tsunami) to respond in such a way. The loss and destruction is enormous, and as with all events, it can not be reversed or undone. However, it can become a stepping stone, and need not remain an insurmountable stumbling block.

That challenge applies just as much to us. Tragedy and hardship take many forms. Mr. Kutty’s, and Thomas Edison’s approach is an age-old one, with its foundation based upon a faith in God. In the 61st chapter of the book of Isaiah, in the Old Testament (which was written close to 3,000 years ago) it mentions God turning ashes into beauty, and many other word pictures of ways He can help turn tragedy into triumph.

In the upcoming New Year, we do not know what kind of troubles may come our way. But even now, as a type of “New Year’s resolution," we can decide to face them with courage, determination, and a faith that seeks to find what good may be gained from disaster.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A Big 'ol House Full!

By: L.A. Kohl
Dec. 30, 2004
(Published in the Wed., Jan. 5th edition of the Bullseye, Vol. 1, No. 11)

Many of you must think that with seven kids, my husband and I, we must have a house full. Oh, but if you could of seen our home a couple of days after Christmas!

My husband Nate grew up in a family of six children, who now all have families of their own and are scattered across Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota. When all of us want to get together, it amounts to 35 people...21 of which are “children” (if my nieces and nephew in college will forgive me for calling them that!) For the past several years, we have all met at a hotel for a couple days in order to celebrate Christmas together, as we have kind of out-grown a home setting.

This year we decided to try meeting in a home...our home. In the midst of it, someone pulled out a Bullseye and noticed my article, and several began suggesting that I should write my next article about having all of them in my home (and on my porch) so here goes!

What do you do with almost 40 people (some cousins from Columbia drove out to join us) in your house? Well, you don’t get much privacy for awhile, but you enjoy lots of interacting. You eat lots of food, and by the time everyone makes it through the “serving line," eats, sits and visits, and then cleans it up – it’s about time to eat again!

With so many people, we could put together a 500 piece puzzle in a few hours. With so much help, we ended up with two or three months worth of firewood stockpiled. And with firewood gathering came “he-man” demonstrations, as the guys lifted and moved a 16 ft. flatbed trailer by hand, then proceeded to load it with 8 to 12 ft. long logs. With the nice weather, the kids were able to spend most of their time outside – they wrote and produced a movie with a couple of camcorders while they were out there.

You can’t help but do LOTS of laughing, about such things as “hot pots” (you really should ask my husband sometime about his ingenious hot water toilet) and hillbilly Jacuzzis (feel free to donate your heated cattle tank to Nate’s cousin, I won’t do that to her!)

You don’t get much rest, especially when a cat fight (A.K.A. – a weird coffee pot) and a screaming three year old join forces at about 6:30 AM...after you’ve been up past midnight trying to get kids settled in their places. You don’t have much pride left either, after people see your illusive cobwebs and eat your scorched ham and beans.

But given the choice, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again. My children got to know some of their cousins better in those two days then they have in the past ten years. We all got to have more “visits” with each other, and even do some work together. Work may sound unappealing, but there is something bonding and almost fun about working alongside someone you rarely get to spend time with, whether you are doing dishes or lifting a log.

Having a “full house” is most definitely a lot of work, but I’d highly recommend it to anyone who ever has the opportunity.