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A job well dung

October 30, 2018 GMT

By Michael Hankins

During my children’s early years, I did my best to help them with special projects. Oftentimes “the old man” gave Gunnar and Miranda too much assistance.

On several occasions I nearly completed projects on my own. I was asked to slow down. My wife Joleen always stepped in, making sure I allowed the kids a chance to participate. She informed me that teachers or instructors didn’t want parents doing the whole thing. Sometimes I got carried away.

One such project involved creating an album of Alaska animals. Gunnar clipped photos of moose, bear, and other game from magazines. He glued them to blank sheets of paper, inserting these into a blue folder.

When Gunnar showed me the finished project I noticed it lacked pizazz. Written on the cover in simple fourth grade handwriting was “Alaska.” I told him it looked fine, but perhaps we could do better where art was concerned. I told him, “First impressions mean a lot!”


We jointly came up with an idea that seemed clever enough. Gunnar and I combed the neighborhood searching for moose nuggets. It was fall, so there were piles and piles of them lying about. I showed him a perfect example.

“We want them fat and oblong like this. Small busted ones won’t work,” I said.

Collecting a bucket full, we took them to the garage and spread our organic treasure on the cold concrete floor. I placed a heat lamp overhead. The nuggets needed to thoroughly dry so that paint would adhere. Soft and mushy wouldn’t doo.

Purchasing a can of gold aerosol paint, I showed Gunnar how to spray without drips or runs. Once complete, the moose dung looked like actual gold nuggets. After the enamel paint dried came the tricky part. Gorilla brand glue was unheard of back then. The closest thing to it was Elmer’s wood glue. The moose droppings consisted mainly of digested birch limbs, so this worked fine.

We arranged painted turds into words before gluing them down. The finished product was beyond expectations. It was awesome. If bragging wasn’t deplorable, I’d continue dishing out praise.

At the next parent-teacher conference, all student notebooks were on display. I looked them over, seeing different examples of each. Most had a clipped picture of an animal with ‘Alaska’ written on top. There were none like Gunnar’s.

His received the most attention from parents. I wanted to proudly walk up and tell folks how it came to be, yet stopped short. Some things are best left unmentioned.

My son received an A on his project and I beamed with joy. When the notebook came home, I carefully placed it in a box for safe keeping. It’s been sitting in that container undisturbed for 33 years. Upon opening I was glad to see that the gold nuggets spelling out ALASKA survived.

Thinking about it for several seconds, I couldn’t help but reach the conclusion, “It was a job well dung!”

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Michael Hankins is a Lake Havasu City resident.

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