A Grand(son’s) Story Suggestion

In the event of our grandsons spending the weekend with us, I am sometimes given a suggestion regarding a topic for Happy Friday!!! Tonight was no exception. After the customary cartoons before bed, my Beautiful Girlfriend asked, “whatchya gonna write about tonight?” “No idea,” I replied. Then Ollie piped up, “how about The Secret Habitat Of The Wumbledorg?” “Wumbledorg??” I asked.

OK… so here goes nothing.

The Secret Habitat Of The Wumbledorg

by Ken Hansen

It is not common knowledge, but as I’m sure none of you remember, there are things in this world which simply cannot be sold to potato ranchers unless it’s raining really hard and the knobs on the toaster are set to 92 just before the trees slide sideways through the grocery store while small children ask why this run-on sentence doesn’t please stop now please.

Thank you.

Twelve of the things that can’t be sold to potato ranchers are accustomed to living in electric caves that zig and zag under many parts of New Jersey. In fact, Zelda Snorklefoot called all the toads in the Brinkle District to instruct them all to please quit barking at the new sand eating applesauce jars. When the toads received this request, all 17 of them quietly marched into the electric caves to complain to Brambo, King of Neeflehoppen. Of course, each toad carried his or her own Cosmic Crayon in case there were any large paper antelopes blocking their way. It seems that these creatures do NOT like being colored in any way, as they prefer their natural shade of Jellyfish Purple.

All but 29 of the toads lost their way to Brambo’s Palace. None of them had maps, and only 34 of them knew how to use GPS. That didn’t matter much anyway, because when you’re in an electric cave it’s difficult to get electronic devices to sneeze politely. No, they simply had to rely on the maps that were made in The Ancient Times by their ancestors. These maps were very valuable, because without them it was impossible to find out where the secret doors were clanging softly exploding mustard songs.

Zelda tried to warn the toads before they left on their cave marching journey. In fact, she did her best to warn them musically with a song that sounded rather familiar, especially around this time of year.

All 58 of the toads smiled a gribbly smile as they fondly remembered the words…

“You better watch out!!

Better not cry!!

Better not pout!!

I’m tellin’ you why…

Wumbledorg is under

the ground!!”

Although most of the 82 toads had heard this sung to the tune of “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town” before, some of the youngsters were really greasy from playing on the sculpture of a minivan that was made of fried chicken. So the youngsters cried and pouted on their way down inside the electric cave; not aware of the danger that could be in store for them. The other 136 toads tried to get them to “SSSHHHH!!!” but they were all insistent on throwing radios during the entire cave march.

After the 23rd radio was tossed, a small “binking” sound could be heard. As the group approached the corner of Cavern Boulevard and Stalagmite Street, the binking grew louder and louder. The closer they got, the louder the binking; until they arrived at a shimmering part of the cave wall that didn’t look anything like the rest of the ketchup castle.

Vornis The FlyBiter was the oldest toad, and therefore the most experienced in electric cave crayon cribbling. Despite his best efforts to keep the location a secret, he was horribly aware that young Skeebles was going to put his hand near the shimmering wall. Vornis shouted, “DON’T!! YOU’LL WAKE UP THE WUMBLEDORG!!”

Too late, unfortunately.

Suddenly the shimmering wall began to open as if someone was operating a floppy curtain while trying to ride a bicycle into an oatmeal box. As the wall opened, the binking sound got much louder, and now it was accompanied by flashing lights and streams of gold and silver confetti. All 251 toads stood motionless and wide-eyed as a strange creature with large, furry eyebrows and red pajamas with white polka dots came out dancing. “Oh great,” snorted Vornis. “You woke up the Wumbledorg. Now we’re in trouble.”

The Wumbledorg wasted no time. He smirked a smiggly smile, and started chanting As Seen On TV commercials. “The fantastic Salad Exploder cannot be found in stores!! Order today for only $19.99 plus shipping and handling!! If you order RIGHT NOW, you can get 2 Salad Exploders for the price of one!! Order today!!” All 379 toads were enchanted at first, but after the 45th commercial, they all replied in unison, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The moral of this story, of course, is: never wiggle the shimmering wall or the Wumbledorg will try to sell you things you never knew you needed.

No Longer Relevant

Our current tradition for Thanksgiving is to go to a dear friends house and enjoy her delicious food. This has been going on several years now; and in addition to a marvelous meal we also have the privilege of visiting some of her grandchildren and their parents. Holy MOLY time is flying!! We remember when they were babies, and now the oldest is 18!! We don’t see them very often, but the bond of love is very strong and it’s always very enjoyable to see them.

The youngsters all know to expect me to be silly, and I try never to disappoint. Hey, that’s just the kind of guy I am! Even though this body of mine is much older than compost, the brain in my head bone still seems to want to convince me that I’m still a youngster. Not sure what 65 is supposed to feel like, but I’ve been there for a while and the brain continues to think it isn’t real. However, the body reminds me that it is very real.

Just like an old fart, though, I delved into some probing conversation with these fine young people. “How’s school? Any idea what you want to do after you graduate? What kind of music to you like?” You know, grandpa stuff (OK, maybe I really am old). As far as music goes, I like to think of myself as a person who enjoys something of a broad spectrum of genres. You know, stuff like folk, rock, bluegrass, classical, and maybe a little bit of country. Not too much country please. I can’t help it, I’m an old rocker. Anyway, thinking maybe I could find some newer music as common ground, I asked, “do you like Imagine Dragons?” The oldest young lady replied, “yeah, but they’re no longer relevant.”

“Hmmm… no longer relevant!!” I thought to myself. Wow. In my day, that would have come out as, “yeah, man, they’re not cool anymore.” Anyway, in a desperate attempt to pull out of the cultural nosedive, I smirked and asked, “ever heard of The Beatles?” They chuckled a bit and the oldest again replied, “yeah my boyfriend used to listen to The Beatles.”

That was comforting…

Yes, OK, I admit it!! I’m OLD!! And I don’t mind!! Still, there really is comfort to be had that at least something from “the old days” is still relevant. I’m beginning to wonder if The Beatles will become the classical music of the future. People will be listening to “Here Comes The Sun” to soothe their nerves after a hard day of hustle and bustle; much in the same way we might listen to some Mozart or Brahms. Oh wait, I do that now!!

Hip, groovy, and cool have become sick, dope, and (maybe) now relevant. All are fleeting. It will be interesting to see what those adjectives will morph into during the coming decades. Might be fun to try an experiment. As I’m typing this, I’m thinking how much fun it could be to get 3 or 4 youngsters to use a new word to describe something that’s “relevant;” and then ask them to use the expression regularly for a month or so. Perhaps something like, “hey guys!! Look at this new iPhone!! It’s a total barf park!!” Or how about, “that new Bruno Mars song really smokes my socks!!”

OK maybe not. Doesn’t matter anyway because as the folks in Tower of Power would say, “what’s hip to day, might become passé.”

Every Day Is Black Friday!!

I’m having difficulty keeping track of what season it is these days; and it’s probably because of 3 things: TV, radio, the internet, newspapers… OK, 4 things… the stores… OK, that’s 5 things… oh and OK, billboards… so 6 things. Probably lots more things. Now, I could have sworn this was different in previous years. But now everything is rush-rush-rush and go-go-go.

You know what I mean?

No?

Holidays. I’m having trouble because all those 6 things (and probably lots more things) are bombarding me with holiday messages. This year, in like late June I think, the “Back To School” stuff started appearing. Kids were barely out of school for the year!! Then “Hallowe’en Season” may have started in August. Pretty sure I saw Hallowe’en stuff in the stores around that time. “Hallowe’en Season” overlaps the Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza, which in turn is really ramped up right now of course. Oh, and not to forget Christmas. That shopping season started in late September I believe.

On the other hand, you have Black Friday. Well maybe you do, but I have fingers on both hands so I really don’t give a flying mahookey about Black Friday. That may be due to the lingering distaste I still harbor for the name Black Friday; because in the economic downturn of the early 1990’s a Black Friday was one of those fateful days when people were being downsized out of a job. I had first hand experience with this happy phenomenon. One November day back in 1992, my wife gave me a smooch as I was on my out the door for work. “Have a nice day,” she said cheerfully. “Well, it’s Black Friday,” I said in a low tone. Couple hours later I was laid off.

Since then I’ve always been a bit apprehensive about Black Friday. My disdain has been substantiated after witnessing some of the comically sad Black Friday altercations that have erupted during sales events on the Friday after Thanksgiving. One could find such a fracas amusing, but ultimately I was sad to see such materially driven outbursts.

Retailers have since changed their tactics, using all kinds of gimmicks to get people to spend more online and in the stores. A local grocery chain proclaimed a “3 Day Sale” on turkeys, for a crazy price of 33 cents a pound. That was a week ago, and they’re still selling turkeys for the same price. Online is much the same story. Many of the shopping sites I’ve visited declare “Get Black Friday Deals NOW!!” And it isn’t even Friday!!

I suppose I should try a little harder to ignore all the commercial hoopla and just use the actual calendar to figure out what day or season it is. In order to do so, I’d probably have to live in a cave or something. But I like to get out and about, so I’ll just have to learn to accept the fact that shopping seasons will continue to become a little weirder every year. In the meantime, when my friends ask me, “hey Ken, did you start your Holiday shopping yet?” I’ll have the same answer I’ve had for many Novembers in a row:

“Nope.”

So yes, I do go shopping. But I also get pretty mushy this time of year with gratitude. I’m blessed in this life, and I have to admit, aside from all the commercial yowling there are also lots of reminders to give back. And here’s a cartoon I remember seeing when I was a kid that still warms my heart.

Three Months, Fifteen Days

Do any of you fine people out there remember when I wrote my last retirement countdown announcement on this crazy blog thing of mine that I use for my own amusement (and hopefully yours) during which I write incredibly long run-on sentences that are not really useful but can be fun when you know you’re reading a run-on sentence that was written purposely to be just plain too long?

Neither do I.

But I was poking around all my posts and found one from two years ago. TWO YEARS!! And now it’s two years hence, and my countdown has become frightfully small. I use the term “frightfully” because I’ll have to admit, I’m a bit concerned about how everything will go. This is basically the last chapter of living, and although I have a large amount of gratitude for all my blessings, I’m still a wee bit apprehensive.

Mostly about money.

I have friends who have been retired for some time who tell me, “Ken!! It’s gonna be alright, alright, ALRIGHT!! It’s gonna be alright!!” OK maybe they don’t say it exactly that way. Perhaps I’m trying to embrace the spirit of what they’re telling me and mixing it in with the refrain from an old Gerry And The Pacemakers song. And if you’re old enough to remember those guys, you may not want to shout it out loud because people will think your old and crusty like me! Then they’ll squint and say, “Gerry and the what now??”

Don’t get me wrong. Retirement is not scaring me enough to avoid doing it. I’m really, really, REALLY looking forward to it!! I’ve worked in the manufacturing industry for many years, and although it provides a pretty decent living, there’s an awful lot of bull manookey being flung around in a factory setting. Pretty much the same everywhere: Big Bosses make remarkable plans, and then the smaller bosses in charge of implementing those plans might tweak them a bit, then the folks who have to implement the plans shake their heads and do what they were told; only to undo it later for regrouping.

Well no more for me thanks. I turn 66 years old in 3 months and 14 days. That’s my full retirement age according to Social Security. My birthday falls on a Sunday next year; so the next day I will celebrate Monday with a smile by saying goodbye to working for industry.

Lots of my friends are asking, “any big plans?” And I reply, “yes! I won’t be here!!” That’s the only “big plan,” honestly. I have no idea what retirement has in store for me. I love to grow food, so one of my missions is to kick the garden into high gear and get some nice yummies for me and my family. I also love to write, so I’ll be eating at the keyboard and getting condiments and veggie niblets all over the place. No. Probably not. No eating at the keyboard. Seriously, I hope to peddle some of my gardening stories to various publications. Maybe someone can benefit from what I’ve learned during my 46 years as an organic gardener.

Then of course there’s the Honey-Do list. A Honey-Do list is a benefit of being married. It’s also a list that never gets smaller. However, such a list is very beneficial for two main reasons: 1) lots of stuff gets done around the house and yard. Left to my own devices, the lawn would go back to Mother Nature; and the debris from The Clutter Bomb that went off in our garage would simply grow to a completely ridiculous level. And of course there’s the much more important reason: 2) Completing tasks on a Honey-Do list is one of many good ways to avoid getting a divorce.

Ahhh retirement. I can smell it now!! Perpetual vacation!! Forgetting to set the alarm!! Doing what I want, when I want!! Once in a while anyway. I really am grateful. Not much savings but zero debt. And we are truly blessed on many material and spiritual planes. I can’t help but reflect back on what I wanted out of life in the early years of marriage. The cool thing is, all my wants were fulfilled years ago. I distinctly remember telling my friends, “all I want is the love of a Beautiful Woman, a house on enough land to grow some food, and a kick-ass stereo.” I’ve been blessed with these for years, so I want for nothing. Guess I should just heed my retired friends as they declare, “it’s gonna be alright, alright, alright!! It’s gonna be alright!!”

Or I could go to the YouTube and have Gerry And The Pacemakers fill my heart with song.

And this one is just plain alright!!!!

Fore Pot Hominy

English is a subject many of us loved to hate while we were in school. Rightly so, I guess, because it’s awfully complex, what with all the rules and everything. But perhaps the toughest thing is when you try to explain English to someone who didn’t grow up speaking it.

One problem for our brethren and cistern of other lands is that English has too many words that sound the same but mean completely different things (homonyms). On the other hand, you have five fingers. You also have the words that don’t sound anything alike, but mean the same thing (synonyms). Consequently, even those who grew up with English as a first language can have a pretty horrible time at first.

Maybe I’m a sicko, but I actually enjoyed English as a kid. It just seemed to flow naturally for me. But so does fun, and early in life I often turned to scholars like the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges; and came to rely heavily on silly humor as a coping mechanism. Professors Groucho and Curly, among others, taught me to mangle the use of my native tongue for comic relief.

Some of my favorite fun is the destruction of sentences using various perversions of synonyms and homonyms. Sew, without any further a dew, hear comes the thyme during witch aisle use words in a weigh that, hope fully, will give ewe awl a chuckle oar to. Oar knot! Eye don’t no four shore. Of coarse, eye may use sum “poetic lye sense” and get in two sum reel bad word mangling, just two make this moor fun. When eye get in two a mood of this type, I yam knot very predict a bull. Eye simply type watt comes two my mind. And at thymes, my mind can bee a berry strange plays in deed.

Take the title, four instance. Pleas, jest take it away from hear! It contains words that are not reel homonyms of “Four Part Harmony.” But hay, Eye simply dew knot care. Eye thought it sounded funny, sew that’s wye Eye poot it their. Nor dew Eye care that “poot” is knot in the diction aerie (although diction and aerie both are). Eye, four won, no perfectly well that “poot” is slang for the release of intestinal gas. Sew, Eye through that in four the halibut.

Won sad fact, though, is their are two many folks who right this way awl the thyme, and think it’s nor mull. If there skills are egg stream lee bad, we cat a gore eyes them as “funk shun Ellie ill litter it.” They dew knot no how two right a reel scent tense. There reeding skills are very pour. Knot awl of this is there fault, of coarse, butt it is the sad truth nun the less.

Oh Kay. Watt if wee found too people, driving threw town and talk king, and won was “funk shun Ellie ill litter it” and the udder new grandma pretty well, and was their four “litter it?” Wee mite here sum thing of this nay chore:

———————————————————————–

“Hay, Clem! Let’s go two the Ma Jest Stick Thee Ate Err two knight. Eye here their will bee fore fell lows singing, each inn a different cord! With know instruments, neither!! Eye guess you call that type of singing, `archipelago,’ write??”

“No, Stewart, that’s definitely NOT `archipelago,’ it’s called `acapella.’ But hey, it sounds like a great idea. And by the way, when there are four singers like that, it’s called a `quartet,’ you realize. Probably barber shop.”

“Oh Kay, Mr. Music Smarty Pants Person! Butt hay now, you don’t have to insult me! Four wye you call me `reel eyes??’ Pretty stupid name calling their. Anyhow, I’m really lookin’ foreword two that fore pot hominy. And yes, I am fully a wear that `a bobber sharp quartet’ is a cinnamon four `fore pot hominy,’ Mr. Turnip Nose! There! How dew you like being called names?? Stop with the insults, already!”

“I think you mean synonym, although it isn’t really. And that’s four part harmony. Pretty sure you meant harmony. But hey, I don’t want to pick nits. And I didn’t call you `reel eyes,’ I said, `realize.’ Chill out, man!”

“Yore tellin’ ME to chill OUT?? I don’t have to take this! I mean, there you go again! Are you listenin’ two yourself hear? Eye SAID cinnamon! And eye also said hominy! And if there’s any pit nicking gonna be done, I’ll do it myself, thank you very much. I was nicking pits before you was born!! And there you go callin’ me names again! What the heck’s the deal with this `reel eyes’ business? Anyhow??”

“Oh brother. Sorry. We’re obviously not communicating. But hey, let’s check out the quartet. What time? Eight?”

“Ate?? Heck know, I’m starved! Haven’t had thyme four dinner yet! Pick me up around 7:45. And watch out fur that `DEW KNOT ENTER’ sign! Oar don’t you understand traffic cymbals?? You ego statistical creep-headed octopus!”

———————————————————————–

Well, may bee such a talk wooden happen. Butt as yew kin sea, I like two play with hominy and cinnamon!

Here are two of my favorite artists who mastered the misuse of English:

Dibble Dabbling

Those who know me are very aware that I love to grow food. I’ve been gardening seriously for about 46 years now, and I still finding myself learning the hard way. What can I say? I’m basically self-taught. In the beginning especially, my gardening experience came from books and publications like Organic Gardening And Farming (now just Organic Gardening) magazine, and Mother Earth News. I would read anything related to organic methods I could find.

When my gardening “career” began way back in 1973, there was no internet, but there was a thing we techno-nerds have come to regard as “sneakernet.” In other words, my fellow gardeners and I would exchange books and magazines back and forth in the course of meeting in person over a nice hot cup of chamomile tea. I got pretty good at learning how to build healthy soil that would in turn yield strong and healthy plants and provide delicious produce. And of course, when one grows his or her own food, the nourishment is just as much spiritual as it is physical.

Can you tell I love gardening?

Yes, you really do need to love gardening to keep doing it. It’s rewarding, but it’s also hard work! God bless all the farmers is all I can say… those folks work way harder than anyone I know. Anyway, back to the gardening. Yes, it’s hard work, but at least in my case I’ve learned some techniques that help reduce the amount of labor required for upkeep. Take mulch, for example. Take it I say!! It’s right here! What?? You don’t want any?? FINE!! Yes, I’ll take your leaves. What? You thought oak leaves are no good for the garden?? Well that’s pure bullwonky!! No, they don’t make your soil acidic. They keep in the moisture, build the soil and prevent weeds from taking over. AND earthworms LOVE oak leaves, and their poop is alkaline, which serves to neutralize any acid that might leach out of the oak leaves. So there!!

But I digress (no kidding, right??).

So there I was, minding my own business, developing gardening techniques that became habits. Now there’s the internet, with tons and tons of information readily available with a flick of the wrist. Some of my habits have been modified due to all the new information I’ve found; but then some old habits are hard to break. One of my habits is improvising when it comes to planting various crops. Today I planted garlic for the 3rd year in a row. However, I’ve modified my technique a bit. First I went online to verify planting depth (2 – 3 inches) and spacing (8 inches between plants, 12 inches between rows). Then I thought I could save myself some grief by actually marking off the rows with baling twine. Even more useful was the long piece of left over 1 x 1 that I marked off 6 and 12 inches for spacing (6 inches was from the edge of the garlic bed). Then I marked the rest of the stick at 8 inch intervals for plant spacing.

When I got ready to plant, I noodled a bit because the soil is pretty wet and cold right now. The idea of digging a hole for each bulb with my pointer finger as in previous years didn’t appeal to me. So I thought a bit longer and decided to devise a tool for planting. Found me a nice fat (about 1 ½ inch across) maple branch that had fallen a few days ago, cut it so one side was a nice place to grip, and the other side was 3 inches to the knotty part. Perfect depth for planting garlic cloves or onion bulbs. Just push the stick in the ground to the knotty part, drop the bulb in the hole, and cover with a trowel full of soil I already had waiting in a bucket. Easy peasy.

Before heading out to the garden, I came in the house for a drink of water. My Beautiful Girlfriend and our Beautiful Friend Pam were working on some macrame plant hangers. Our Beautiful Friend is a Master Gardener, and also is keen on using homemade items for various tasks. I proudly displayed my new planting tool, and she said, “oh, that’s a dibble!” “A dibble??” I queried. “Yes, that’s what you call those. You made a dibble.” “Oh!” I replied with a grin. “So now I’m a dibble dabbler!!” She laughed and agreed. A dibble. Wow. So of course I had to go the the interwebs to learn more. There are many, MANY types of dibbles for sale from various vendors. I never knew!

I thought it was just a stick!!

Speaking of farms… I’m pretty sure they are all just like this:

My Halloween Requirements

Dear Mom (Nature),

Please turn off the cooler in time for Hallowe’en. Supposed to freeze again tonight, and according to The Weather People, there’s a possibility of rain and maybe even snow on Hallowe’en. This does not amuse me. I would much prefer 60 degrees with some sunshine until the sun goes down when the evening approaches sunset; which usually happens right after the sun goes down in the evening when the darkness begins so we can go trick-or-treating with the grandkids and not have to freeze our bazookeys off while they get lots of nice candy and we get to shiver and avoid moisture as it falls from the sky in an effort to moisten our nether regions while we conjure up a nice, scary run-on sentence.

Thank you.,

Me, A Name I call Myself.

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Dear Home Owners,

When we bring the grandkids to your home, please toss in some extra chocolate for us older folks. We really like chocolate. I know the old saying, “variety is the spice of life,” but I’m pretty sure that refers to a variety of chocolaty yummy things that may or may not have nuts and other confectionery remarkables. Also, since I am retiring in a few months, feel free to summon me just after the kids leave your house with their goodies and offer me nice surprises like $20 bills and perhaps a few gift certificates to local stores. I promise not to threaten to stomp your flower beds or try to teach your pets to speak German like I did last year.

Thank you,

A Very Humble Freckle Faced Old Fart

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Dear Kids,

Thank GOD for all of youse youngsters!! How else would we get the opportunity to slosh around in rain and snow and watch youse kids smile bigly as you get all the neat treats from all these houses? Oh what?? Yes, I did see that cool witch costume that lady wore when she came to the door. Wait… say what?? The guy in the brick house has skulls on his lawn that are all lit up?? Way cool. Do what now?? Oh… I saw that smashed pumpkin back there, yeah… not sure why anyone would want to do that. Pardon me?? Wow, yeah!! You got quite a haul of goodies there.

So hey kids, you know what? Youse are the reason for the season, when it comes right down to it. Thank you for showing us “adults” how to have fun during any kind of weather. Actually, thank you all just for being who you are. We are very fortunate to have you with us here on this planet.

Thank you,

Some Mooshy Old Geezer

P.S.: Got any chocolate?

What’s For Dinner? Medicine!

Seems like every autumn is accompanied by sniffles, coughs, and sneezes. Well, my Beautiful Girlfriend came down with some kind of bug; and my duty as a responsible hubby is to take care of her when she’s not feeling well. One part of taking care of my Honey Pie is making medicine for dinner. That doesn’t mean I load her up with over the counter cold remedies; although of course some of those are part of the cold killing arsenal. Nope, it’s much more basic, much more traditional, much more practical than that.

I make soup.

Soup has been known for centuries as an excellent means of warming and nourishing the body. There are lots of time tested concoctions that have been passed down through the generations; chicken soup being one of the more well known. But these days, some very important combinations of effective natural additives for soup are completely overlooked. If I must say so myself, I’ve gotten pretty good at making yummy but powerful cold killing soups over the years.

I start with stock, of course. Often, my soup stock starts as compost. HUH??!! Well OK, it’s not technically compost yet, but it would have been if I hadn’t tossed it into the gallon sized freezer bag first. Still confused? Ha ha, yes I know… OK enough silly: whenever I trim the ends from carrots, or the peel of an onion, snips of celery, etc. I put them into a gallon size freezer bag and pop them in the freezer. When the bag is full, I empty the contents into our 4 quart Revere Ware pot and cover it with water. I put the cover on, then boil the heck out of the snippings until they start to fall apart. Then I take a potato masher and smoosh them even more (releases more goodies) before I strain the contents through a colander into another pot. The stock becomes soup, and now the snippings can be thrown in the compost.

I add a cup of beans, ½ cup of barley, ½ cup of lentils ½ cup of rice for the protein. I cook those in the stock till they’re done, then the fun begins. Here comes the cold killing stuff:

1 big handful of finely chopped fresh parsley

1 medium yellow onion (diced)

2 or three carrots, sliced

4 cloves of fresh garlic (minced)

1 teaspoon of thyme leaves

1 heaping teaspoon of sage (powdered)

1 ½ teaspoons of fresh chopped rosemary leaves

1 bundle of wild cabbage leaves, chopped (stems and all… this is from our garden and is an ancestor to other cole crops like kale, broccoli, and Brussles sprouts).

Salt to taste (be careful… those eating the soup can always add more)

Bring to a boil, stirring regularly, then allow to simmer for about ½ hour more.

Last weekend I made a double batch of this stuff with the intent of feeding our son, daughter and her hubby, grandsons and ourselves. Only problem was, I used dried beans and they weren’t quite cooked enough at dinner time; so I made a quick batch of spaghetti. No worries, we’ve been eating the soup on and off all week, and yesterday I added some more water to the leftovers and also added more garlic and herbs. My Lovely Bride is feeling better, and she is very keen on having more soup (there’s plenty) to do more cold bug killing. Hey, during cold season, we have similar soups even when we aren’t sick.

As Mom would say, “it’s good for what ails ya, and if nothin’ ails ya, it’s good for that too.”

Don’t think we’ll be using this machine to serve dinner anytime soon though…

The Cows That Migrated To Mars

It’s become tradition when our grandsons visit, I write a silly story for “Happy Friday!!!” Today I asked Ollie, “what should I write about tonight?” “The cows who migrated to Mars,” he replied. So here goes:

Once upon ago, there were two cows named Ursula and Henry. Well OK, Henry was actually a bull, but once you get done reading this story you’ll probably think it was just a bunch of bull anyway. Anyway, Ursula and Henry grew tired of farm life and decided to seek adventure in distant lands. This all started one night when they were in the barn, talking about their day.

“Yep, I ate a few bushels of grass today,” Henry said. “Had some clover in it… not too bad I guess.”

Ursula chimed in, “well I was totally annoyed when I was grazing in the northeast corner. I took a big bite from a yummy patch of rye grass and got mobbed by grasshoppers!! They just hopped right into my mouth!! I swallowed 8 of them before I could say ‘ptooey!!’ “

Henry tried to comfort Ursula. “Well, I wanna take you on a vacation so both of us can get a little change of scenery,” he said. “Sounds good!!” Ursula replied. “But let’s go somewhere different for a change. I’m tired of just going to the lower 40 acres of the farm.” Henry looked outside the barn window at a glowing heavenly object. “You see that really bright star?” he asked Ursula. “That’s not a star at all,” he continued. “That’s Mars. Let’s go to Mars!!” Ursula said, “and just how do you propose we get there??” Henry answered, “I’ll build a transporter!! I’ve seen them on TV… you just push some buttons and you disappear… then reappear somewhere else!!”

Ursula was skeptical, to say the least. But then she remembered when Henry made those cool water balloons using nothing but 5 pounds of bubble gum and some baking powder. She decided that since Henry was her boyfriend, she’d support him no matter what; and she gave him that reassuring wink and a nuzzle and off he went into his workshop behind the barn.

For several nights, after long days in the pasture, Henry could be heard working diligently. Clanging, grinding, hammering, sawing… even some Public Radio shows being played in the background. Then one night there was a loud CLAP!! while the lights all went dim; followed instantly with a gleeful shout from Henry. “Holy COW!! It works!!” Ursula heard his yell and shouted back, “hey buddy, watch your language!!” Henry wasn’t even embarrassed; but came to get Ursula for a demonstration.

“Are you sure about this??” Ursula pleaded. “Don’t worry,” Henry urged. “Just step on that little platform and I’ll join you when I get the coordinates programmed into the computer.” Ursula reluctantly complied, and watched intently as Henry twirled knobs and tapped the keyboards. Then he said, “OK!!” and scampered onto the platform where Ursula was waiting. Suddenly, their bodies began to vaporize and vanished from sight.

Within a few milliseconds, Ursula and Henry were standing in the middle of a small town they had never seen before. Both had heard there was life on Mars, but neither of them expected things to look very similar to their own home town. There was a Mars National Bank, and even a flying saucer parked near the road!! “Wow, Henry!! This is way cool!! Who would have imagined that life on Mars was so much like that on Earth??!!” Ursula bellowed (hey, she is a cow, after all). “I know, right??” said Henry. “Hey!!” he continued, “that Martian looks a lot like a human!! Let’s go ask him what part of Mars this is!!”

“Excuse me,” Henry blurted, “can you tell us what part of Mars this is??”

The human “Martian” answered, “ummm OK… a talking bull!! Well sonny, you’re in Mars, Pennsylvania.” Henry didn’t know what to say. He gave Ursula a rather embarrassed look, then turned back to the human Martian and could only muster one word.

“Oh.”

Actually, their journey was exactly like the one Gumby enjoyed, only completely different.

A Cholesterol Celebration

For the past several years, my Beautiful Girlfriend and her Beautiful Friends have embarked on a trip to Beautiful Leelanau State Park. They spend 4 nights in a rustic cabin with the modern convenience of electricity to power lights, a fridge, and a microwave . The potty is a small hike away, but the surroundings at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula are magnificent indeed. A little piece of paradise.

My Honey Pie’s absence, of course, puts me in “bachelor mode” while she’s gone. That’s not anywhere near as dangerous as it may sound; I’m a pretty low key kind of guy these days. My idea of a “boys’ night out” is staying home, hanging with Freddy the Freeloader (our cat) and watching Son of Frankenstein on TV (I found it at www.archive.org). One “dangerous” thing that rears its ugly head, however, is I always seem to gravitate toward comfort food while I’m home by myself. I’m talking “high-octane” food here… yummy stuff with lots of fat and salt, and then some sugary wonderfulness for dessert.

My normal fare when my Lovely Bride is around slants more toward lean proteins, whole grain breads and / or pasta, or maybe some brown rice, and lots of green vegetables. Believe it or not, I really do love all that stuff. I almost always have some very healthy fare for lunch at work: I fill a 4-cup Pyrex bowl with greens, onions, mushrooms, and maybe some shrimp or chicken; seasoned with some garlic, maybe some oregano or thyme, maybe some soy sauce. Nuke it for 3 ½ – 4 minutes and lunch is ready. Very delicious.

Well, when my Sweetie goes out of town, I’ll admit, I get a little lonely. This seems to cause my taste buds to shift toward things that don’t exactly help me keep my manly figure very trim (OK, it’s not so trim anyway right now, but never mind). Monday was pizza night. I like making my own, although I cheat on two things: the sauce and the crust. I get a Boboli pre-made crust, and some Classico Organic Pizza Sauce. Both of those are truly excellent in my professional opinion. Then I cook up the “healthy” stuff: some gluten free Italian sausage from Mac’s Meats in Rothbury, MI, minced onions, minced peppers, black olives, mushrooms, and some whole grain, uncured pepperoni (no nasty chemicals). Set the oven for 450, toss the pizza in (I don’t preheat for this pizza), and after about 15 minutes, dinner is served. And yes, I know there’s no such thing as whole grain pepperoni. But the Italian sausage is definitely gluten free (ha).

Tuesday morning’s breakfast: leftover pizza and some orange juice (again, healthy stuff). Tuesday’s lunch: dead chicken, greens, onions, mushrooms in that Pyrex bowl. Tuesday’s dinner: leftover pizza!

Wednesday’s breakfast: the last of the leftover pizza and more healthy orange juice. More greens, onions, mushrooms, and chicken in the Pyrex lunch bowl. The evening meal was a bison burger at a local pub with my son (holy moly those are good). When I got home I may have accidentally eaten a Ritter chocolate bar with hazelnuts (made in Germany but only $2.39 at Meijer… holy moly, those are good too!!).

Thursday’s breakfast: the old standard, peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat, with a handful of frozen blueberries and some fat free milk. Lunch: did I mention the Pyrex bowl?? Oh but dinner… Mmmmmmm. Oink, oink. Snarf snarf. Oh… what did I have? Fried chicken thigh, ¾ of a box of Cheezits; and washed it down with some Vernors. I may also have accidentally wrapped some of that leftover whole grain pepperoni in some sliced cheese for the 3rd course. Oh and for dessert: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And of course when I was at the gourmet food store (Dollar General), they had the King Size cups! Simply had to go for those. All of these delicacies combined to make an elegantly simple meal, exquisitely designed to clog arteries and raise blood pressure.

Friday: peanut butter and jelly again. Hey, I like it!! Lunch: the Pyrex bowl again. But this time, it contained some leftover gluten free Italian sausage, leftover pizza sauce, onions, mushrooms, some chopped cherry tomatoes and green beans from the garden; all this seasoned with garlic powder and oregano, and laid atop some crushed up leftover Cheezits. Sounds weird but it was very tasty.

Friday’s dinner: YAY!! My Beautiful Girlfriend was on her way home! I used the last of the gluten free Italian sausage and threw it in some pasta sauce. Added some garlic, finely chopped greens, and sliced green beans from the garden and made some spaghetti!! The Oinky Cholesterol-Salt-Sugar-Filled Feeding Frenzy has come to an end.

Her arrival may well have saved me from a coronary event!

I enjoyed all my snacks, and I promise I didn’t steal any of them…