I have been working on a neat ukulele this week. Not particularly special in terms of specifications, just a koa tenor style ukulele, but what is special is the recipient. Her name is EmiSunshine and she is kind of the cutest little girl I have ever met. She is an incredible singer, songwriter, and entertainer, but most of all she is just a kind energetic girl who loves that she gets to sing and play a ukulele.

EmiSunshine checking out my #7 guitar, built for Doc Watson
Emi, followed by her parents Randall and Alisha, walked into the shop on a foggy, sleety morning in January. I had a feeling we would be buddies just based on the fact that they have an accent as thick as my dad's, paired with a deep appreciation and respect for old guitars and vintage country music. And then Emi made my ukulele sound better than I can. After we spent an afternoon hanging out, eating barbecue cooked by my awesome cousin Becky and playing a little bit of music, I felt like I had known them forever. I think it is because their goodnatured demeanor fit perfectly with the laid back, simple character that defines Rugby. After listening to some new songs and talking about old guitars, what I didn't expect to have in common with Emi and her family was an ornery turkey situation.

Emi and her mom Alisha testing my uke
Have I ever told you about my dad's turkey Smedley? Well, I remember him as a feather headed monster, quite a bit larger than I was at the time, with a beak more dangerous than sticking your hand in a snapping turtle's hole. I was told to stay away from him, and though he never did anything to me I would run as fast as I could to the house if he ever caught sight of me outside. Anyway, before I knew Smedley, my dad would don a motorcycle helmet and leather riding jacket and box with Smedley out in the yard. I am told Smedley enjoyed it, but I am skeptical. On the other hand, I have never been in a situation where I wanted to box with a turkey.

While Emi and I played with Harper (Harper wouldn't dream of pecking anyone's eyes out) Alisha told us about their turkey Mr. Turk. It seems he has a similar mean streak that afflicted Smedley. When she drives up to her house he sees her coming and hightails it (ha!) to confront her before she heads into the house. She says uses her purse as a weapon or a shield, but he typically manages to chase her from the car to the house until she is breathing heavily behind the locked door. "I know something you could do to get even with him," my dad said. He then proceeded to tell us the story of how he thought he killed Smedley.

Wayne and Smedley
Granny's house has a chimney constructed of stacked gray rocks that handles the smoke from the woodstove in the kitchen. I remember the chimney being another area that my Granny would suggest I avoid because the cracks between the rocks were ideal for bees to make their hives. One day after a particularly brutal boxing match, my dad took a biscuit from the kitchen and sprinkled its crumbs out by the chimney. He then encouraged Smedley to come over and enjoy a little snack. He then went into the kitchen and pounded on the wall, expelling angered bees from their hives within the chimney. At first Smedley didn't seem to notice the bees, and my dad began to wonder if turkeys were immune to stings, or perhaps his feathers served as a sufficient shield. After a while though, that turned out not to be the case as Smedley forgot about his biscuit crumbs and twitched his feathers and jerked his head around to find what was afflicting him. He then took off toward the granary, a cloud of bees in pursuit above him. About halfway to the granary he flopped over into the grass. My dad said, "I thought, oh Lord, I killed ol' Smedley dead as a hammer." He waited for the bees to dissipate then walked out to check on the poor turkey. As he laid his hand on Smedley's limp wing, Smedley shot up and took off running into the woods as fast as his legs would carry him. My dad said he didn't see him again until lunchtime the next day.

Hopefully Alisha will have better luck with Mr. Turk and won't have to resort to a motorcycle helmet for protection from his wrath. Ornery turkey advice aside, I am so glad EmiSunshine and her lovely family came to brighten up a dreary winters day.

Harper, EmiSunshine and me