Guest Fox: Ruth Hartman

By Jeff Salter

I’m trying to recall exactly when and how I first encountered Ruth Hartman, but (other than chatting with her on the Astraea Press Authors group), I confess I can’t remember.  What I do know is that she was one of the first AP authors to post an Amazon review of my novel “The Overnighter’s Secrets” — for which I’m extremely grateful.
Our topic this week is ‘eccentric relatives’ and Ruth has a doozy.  So, without further distractions from me, here’s my Guest Fox, Ruth Hartman!

                                              Uncle, Get Your Gun!
By Ruth J. Hartman

My dad’s older brother George was a hoot. We never knew what he’d do or say, but it was always funny. And memorable.
Years ago, Uncle George got a frantic call from my cousin Raymond. My uncle rushed to his older son’s house to help. When Uncle George got there, his daughter-in-law Jane was frantic. A rat the size of Canada had made its home behind her refrigerator. They begged my uncle to help, since he always seemed to have innovative ideas.

            Uncle George had brought his rifle, always on the lookout for a good reason to use it. Grabbing it from the back of his truck, he raced back into the house. Jane was now standing on the kitchen table, shrieking. Cousin Raymond stood closer to the rat’s lair, but not too close.
My uncle had Raymond help him move the refrigerator out a little more from the wall. He told the others to stand way back. He lifted the gun’s safety and pulled the trigger.
Jane and Raymond both yelled. Although to be fair, what did they think he would do with a rifle in their kitchen? Poke the rat with the end of it? The rat yelled, too. But not for long. After the rifle blast, there was silence.
Cousin Raymond took a step toward the refrigerator. “Dad, did you get it?”
Uncle George looked at his son. “You better hope so. Otherwise, you have a new hole in your floor for no good reason.”
My uncle felt something under his shoe and looked down. “Well, that’s not good.” Water pooled beneath his feet and was fast making its way toward the stove. Uncle George leaned over and peered behind the refrigerator. He’d shot the water line to the icemaker! “Definitely not good.”

            Deciding to fix the problem himself instead of calling a plumber [and why would they call a professional? They hadn’t called an exterminator for the rat], Uncle George handed the rifle to Raymond and headed to the basement. When my uncle got to the bottom of the stairs, he could see light from the kitchen from the hole the rifle had blasted. “Hmmm. Well, have to fix that. After fixing the water line. After removing the rat carcass.”
Uncle George grabbed a stepladder from the corner and climbed up to inspect the damage. He hadn’t counted on quite so much water, but tilted his head so most of it hit his arms and chest instead of his face. He glanced down. Now, why was the water…pink?
When he looked back up to investigate, he forgot to tilt his head. At the same moment Uncle George took in a face-full of water, it occurred to him why it was pink.
That’s what happens when you mix water from a rifle-blasted water line and blood from a dead rat.

[Names changed to preserve family harmony]

               Better Than Catnip throws together a cat-loving woman with a gorgeous man and his son, who’s terrified of cats.
              Someone’s going to have a hissy fit.


Brief BIO:
               Ruth J. Hartman makes her home in rural Indiana with her husband of 30 years and their three spoiled cats. More information about her writing can be found at

            I loved Ruth’s story today — well-told, very funny … and (presumably) true.
So, blog readers, tell us about YOUR most eccentric relatives.


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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26 Responses to Guest Fox: Ruth Hartman

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    hey, where’d everybody go? I brought root beer, Hershey’s bars AND M&Ms


  2. Lisa Orchard says:

    LOL! Great post Ruth! It would be awesome if you had home movies too! 🙂


  3. Jeanne Theunissen says:

    OMG, Ruth! You have GOT to put that in a book somewhere! I’ll bet there are a whole lot of other stories about your uncle that would be bookworthy, too.

    I guess by comparison, all of my relatives are pretty tame. My dad used to tell a story that I always loved, though. He served in the British Army during WWII, and was stationed in Egypt, and he used to tell us how they were able to get rid of an entire Panzer division with just one tank. He said the Panzers came in during the evening, and were all lined up ready to attack at dawn. So when it got dark, my dad’s unit planted sound amplifiers in the desert and drove that one tank around in circles all night long. The Germans, thinking they had reinforcements coming in, were gone by morning.

    I never thought to question whether this story was true or not, but my dad also used to tell us that he was the head spear sharpener at the Battle of Hastings…


    • Jeff Salter says:

      I’ll bet that first story IS true, Jeanne. There was a lot of sleight of hand during ww2 — each army wanted every edge they could get


  4. Lisa L Greer says:

    Eek! Ruth, what a story. I have a relative or two like that…


  5. tonettejoyce says:

    Ruth, how funny! I can only imagine all the stories you have ! This one was great…I am having trouble deciding WHICH eccentric relative to talk about and story to tell tomorrow.
    I am interested in your writing…cats,(I LOVE them), and a boy scared of them….sounds like a great premise and now, with this post, we know that you can tell a story.


  6. Lindsay says:

    OMG Ruth, that’s a story. I hope he was able to depink himself, fix the water line and the hole. Bet he wasn’t allowed to bring the rifle into the house again.


  7. Laurie Ryan says:

    OMGosh! You DO have an Uncle George that’s a hoot! What a great story. I had an Uncle George, also. He passed a couple years ago, after spending 20 years painstakingly building a 50 foot yacht in his backyard. It took him 20 years and was amazing and elegant and the only things he didn’t build himself from scratch were the fuel tanks, the gauges, and the toilet. He never got to see it in the water as he had his first stroke shortly after finishing it. After he passed, we found someone to buy it. You should have seen that day. A huge crane came in, blocked most of the major street, and lifted the boat out of the yard, right over the house. Newspapers and tv news were there and everything. It was a very cool send-off.


    • jeff7salter says:

      what a shame that he spent so many years of craftsman effort to build it … but never got to see it sail.
      I imagine he was very disappointed to leave that way.


  8. Wow, what a great story! I don’t have too many family stories since everyone lives in Japan. My dad and brothers and I don’t speak Japanese and they don’t speak English. One day I hope to learn the language well enough to swap stories with my cousins.


  9. Thanks so much, Jeff! I love that story and yes, “George” (name changed) did tons of crazy stuff like that. I had a hard time deciding which story to pick!


    • jeff7salter says:

      Glad to host you as my Guest Fox today, Ruth. Unfortunately, with all my activity related to the effects of the lightning strike, I haven’t been able to be here very much.
      But, hopefully some other friends / colleagues will stop by over the coming day or so.


  10. jeff7salter says:

    BTW, the story I would have run today — had I not secured this doozy from Ruth — was about my own Great-Uncle Jeff Daniels. I was named for him, but I only recall meeting him once, when I was teen and he was a zillion years old. He lived in a shack, on the lot adjoining my great aunt Lucie-Mae Daniels Martin. When we came to visit — unannounced because he had no phone — we spotted him on his front porch with a shotgun in his lap.
    We were instructed to “call out” who we were before we approached his shack.
    I’m serious.
    He didn’t have much to say. The visit was quite brief.


  11. tonettejoyce says:

    I think your crazies have mine beat, although I may have more of them, Jeff. I will wait and set mine up for later tomorrow morning to give Ruth more ‘breathing room”.


  12. EEK- what a story. It’s hilarious.

    Love the cover of your book.


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