Some Things Don’t Make Cents

Inflation is so much fun, wouldn’t you agree? Hey, it happens. Been there, done that. If you’ve lived on the planet as long as I have, you’ve experienced numerous ups and downs in the economic universe. But I can’t help but think that retailers are taking advantage of the situation and using sneaky marketing to maintain profits. Oh wait… that’s just business, right?? Doesn’t matter if people are struggling to make ends meet. To quote Dr. Seuss’s character, The Lorax, “Business is business and business must grow, regardless of crummies in tummies you know.”

I have lots of suggestions on how to fix our economy, but for some reason the “experts” haven’t called me to ask what they are. For example: there’s a bench sitting near a walking path along M-120 near US31 that says “CONSUME” on the backrest. Ohhh I’d love to get some red paint and put a big circle with a line through it across those letters!! I mean, hey, I know we are consumers, and apparently that’s a big part of what keeps the economic engines humming. But some of the products involve too much packaging, which gobbles resources and contributes to climate change. And some are just plain harmful to our planet. And then there’s that next new gadget that everyone’s gotta have. I have a lot of old stuff. I try to spend a little more on quality things so they last longer. No wireless headphones… batteries don’t really recycle so good. Too much throwaway everything. A little less consumption would go a long way toward putting the brakes on climate change too, in my professional opinion.

As Grandma Loftus used to say, “That’s my two cents. Nobody asked me fer it, but I give it to ya’s anyway!”

So there I was, in full consumer mode, in the Meijer store, with a hankering for potato chips. A friend of mine referred to such snack foods as “flavored air,” due to the outrageous price versus quantity ratio. So I looked at the Kettle Brand chips, and they were “on sale.” Two for $6, but you had to buy two in order to get that price. Regular price: $3.18. So they want me to be fat I think. I already needed the chips like I needed a hole in my head, so they want me to save 38 cents by buying two??

I bought one.

Then off to the Dollar General on the way home for more goodies. Hey, it’s been a bit stressful around here these days, and we both admit that we turn to comfort foods in such times. After all, we are spoiled Americans, right?? I make joking there, but… well not really. Anyway, I wanted some Little Debbie Nutty Bars. Those things are just plain delicious. And guess what?? On sale!! Two for $5, but the sign says, “Must Buy 2.” Regular price: $2.55. Yeppers, I can save a whole dime on two boxes so I can make my belly bigger. Awesome!!

Again, one was enough.

Remember when Meijer had their “10 for $10” sale? There was a time when whatever was included in such a sale cost a buck apiece. The new ad is raving about a “7 for $7” sale, but if you don’t buy 7 then the item goes for regular price, whatever that is. And now there’s a relatively new term called “shrinkflation.” That’s where the product costs the same price but is packaged differently so you get less. One candy bar manufacturer actually insulted me (yes, I’m sure it was directed at me personally). There is this truly delicious chocolate bar from Germany, the brand name is Ritter Sport. Whole hazelnuts on basically every square centimeter of the bar. So what did they do? Same price, same wrapper, but they chopped a third of the candy bar off!! There’s literally an air pocket where the chocolate used to be for crying out loud!!

Sheesh!! I didn’t buy no any. Dirty stinkers.

Well to lighten the mood a bit, my Beautiful Girlfriend saved $5 today on her Target bill!! We were paying some bills online and she asked me to take care of that bill for her, so we got out her iPad and I signed on to her Target account (she doesn’t do the computer stuff). “I think the bill is $112,” she said. Once we got to her account, the amount due was shown to be $107 and some change. “Cool!! I saved five bucks!!” she said, smiling. “Huh??” I asked. “Yeah, I thought the bill was $112 but it’s only $107, so I saved five bucks!!” “Umm… I don’t think you saved anything,” I replied. Then we both giggled ask I handed her the iPad so she could play her games.

So hey, some things just don’t make cents, but then again, some do!! My Honey Pie saved 5 bucks!!

Too much greed these days. If only those Greedy Guys (or Gals) could get their just deserts like these punks.

Das IMAX Earschplittenloudenboomer

“Today I have good news und I have bad news. Die erste Hörster das nicht verstehen was ist jetzt eben gesagt haben; und die zweite Hörster weiss noch immer nicht was ein Earschplittenloudenboomer ist.” And so goes the introduction to the Steppenwolf song, “Earschplittenloudenboomer,” which is anything but an assault on the eardrums.

HUH??

Yes, it’s real. The rock band Steppenwolf preceded the the song with John Kay saying silly stuff, the beginning of which was English. “Today I have good news and I have bad news.” Then he broke into German, the translation of which is (roughly) “The first listener doesn’t know what’s being said right now, and the second listener doesn’t know what an Earschplittenloudenboomer is.” And yes, it’s a real song, but as I mentioned before it’s pretty mellow for a hard rocking band like Steppenwolf. So, speaking of IMAX. Weren’t we speaking of IMAX?? Well it’s in the title, right?? Pay attention!! Oops… sorry I’m grouchy but my ears still hurt from das IMAX Earschplittenloudenboomer!!

There we were, minding our own business, going to the IMAX in Grand Rapids to enjoy Moonage Daydream, the new film about David Bowie. We went to the 12 noon show to avoid the Covid crowds, and that was very successful as there was only one other couple besides us in the whole theater. So here come the commercials. Pretty loud. VERY loud. Ouch with the ears awreddy. Then come the previews. OH MY THAT’S TOO DARN LOUD!! I was sure the speakers in the place were about to spew their innards at us!! I called the theater on my smellphone and asked them to please remove the auditory anguish from our ears. The (not) happy theater employee grudgingly said she’d tell the projectionist, who apparently listened to our plea.

I know we are old retired people, but hey, we are Officially Receipted Volume Veterans (O.R.V.V.). All you have to do is take a gander at our album full of concert tickets. We’ve seen loudenscreamers like Slade, Joe Walsh, Hollywood Vampires, Foghat, and even David Bowie (twice times). And that’s just a small fraction of the list. So it’s not like we’re wusses or anything. We’ve had our cochlear hair cells flattened lots and lots of times.

For whatever reason, this time was different. Maybe it was the lack of bodies… previous noise kabooms could have been absorbed by the crowds around us to some degree. Maybe it was that we’re not getting any younger. Or maybe it’s just because the IMAX audio was just too damn loud! Lately, my Beautiful Girlfriend and I have asked each other to repeat things while we’re trying to converse; then both of us lament that our ears are still in shock. Typical conversations have been dismantled into nonsensical exchanges. For example:

“I’m going to the store, do we need any cheese?”

“Not sure why it matters but I brushed my teeth a few minutes ago!”

On the other hand, one of us will say something that is completely incomprehensible to the other. Solution: we get closer and face each other to watch lips move, then ask, “WHAT??”

Ah well. We very much enjoyed Moonage Daydream. We might go back to the IMAX some day, but we might also bring some ear protection. At least until I can call and ask for them to turn down the audio to avoid another Earschplittenloudenboomer.

This video has nothing to do with the film, but it’s quite an imaginative way to associate video with David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream.

An Open Letter To All Humans

Dear Tinker Toy Handlers,

This is to inform you that our house is exploding and the bottle rockets have prevented me from listening to the stereo for 13 weeks. I know that you are the ones who forced me into this situation, and I demand immediate constipation. If you do not comply with this request, I shall be coagulated instantly while I sail off to Bermuda with a large tube of toothpaste. No one has the right to tell ME what to wear to the Chicken Festival! So please, before our relationship has been too greatly damaged, change that stinky underwear you have on! You should know by now that the brown and yellow crusties are a clue that wash day is past!

And another thing: every time I sit down, my butt makes contact with another thing! I wonder: how many times has my butt touched another thing without my asking the thing if it wanted to be touched? I’ve also learned that my butt and my brain appear to be  connected. I know this to be true because a) I’ve made some really embarrassing mistakes during my stay on this planet we call Rhubarb, and 19) every time I forget something, I sit down and instantaneous remembering occurs within 7 or 8 millirockens.

Now don’t correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure you cannot be allowed to stay in the country after those things you did with that flyswatter in the restaurant. I mean, people who try to eat soup with a used flyswatter are probably not going to be invited to my burping contest anytime soon. Unruly behavior will be rewarded with gentle slappings about the eyes and shoulders with the standard issue licorice flavored water balloons.

Please remember that the child within you needs to be nurtured,

and only YOU (and your Maker) can do it.

If you ever feel sad or lonely, you can take action on this by paying me some big bucks. I will gladly use the money for disturbance mechanisms which will not allow you to get proper rest. A few weeks of this and you will forget all about that whiny inner child; and you will sport a pleasant, robotic appearance. Another tried and true method of healing the inner self is to shame the heels that find you. In other words, whenever some schmuck tries to mess you up, grin politely and suggest that they eat bark and poop at the moon. They will usually be glad you were honest, and will mumble unintelligible affirmations as they briskly walk away.

Well, as you can see, there is no reason to panic. Nothing is all right here, and the world is coming to an end. Please understand that I have found some very effective ways to deal with the stress that Armageddon brings. Firstly, give yourself the treat of some good all around attention: walk through the mall without clothing on, and smile to all you meet. Second: stop in the restaurant and briskly apply jelly to your ears. Your eyes will get squinty, and you will laugh loudly at the lack of pockets for hankies to wipe it off. Next will come the overpowering urge to charge people extra for car repairs.

Nevermind. That may have been a dumb idea. Just try something else, ok?

If you question my sanity or the validity of any of the aforementioned delinquent parboiled Parthenons, I say to you, “tough beans, Mr. or Ms. Smartenheimer!!” Sheesh!! Being absolutely correct is one of my hobbies, and unless I am mistaken, I have never been totally accurate on any doggoned thing in my whole life!! Fortunately for me, however, I know now that the more I learn the less I know. I learned that… I think. Ya know??

So in silence, I grant you three wishes, none of which will ever come true so forget about it. Don’t push me into something I don’t understand. I have low self-esteem and you know it. I have been taking classes for this, and they told me the best way to talk to people about your problems is to lie about the weather and run away laughing.

Be friendly to all you meet, as you may wish to borrow their used cereal someday. Have a conversation with a foreign car. Sing loudly with a mouthful of spaghetti; you’ll quickly learn who your real friends are. Feed your fish some dust and see how they like it. Try drinking from the toilet, cats do it all the time. Carry fried food in your pocket and offer it to strangers. Lick a telephone pole for fun.

Above all else, please remember: GOD MAKES NO JUNK, SO LOVE THYSELF!! OK?

Thank you for being, it gives me great comfort to know that you are.

Also, thanks in advance for not eating the crayons.

Peace, Love, and AM Radio,

Forvis “Green Tongue” Marbleswapper

a.k.a. “Runs With A Flashlight”

Well, OK, that was weird.  But hey, anyone remember Gumby?  Gumby was also pretty weird!!

Summertime Stab Candy

It’s almost the middle of September outside already!! That of course means something very sad: summer is on its way out. This makes me cry in my noodles, because although I have Norwegian blood in my toenails, I love summer time!! I’d rather sweat than shiver any day of the week. And these days, that means I can live outside and get mosquito bites so I can have the West Nile virus. Isn’t that nice??  I’ve always wanted to visit Egypt…

Anyway, Michigan summers also mean there’s a lot of free food to be had in the woods and fields, and yes, even on the roadsides. And no, by free food on the roadsides I don’t mean that I encourage people to steal from roadside veggie stands. I’m talking about all the fruits and wild foods that sprout up around these parts.

I’m amazed (and grateful) at how many people miss them. Dunno about you, but when I go for walks, I keep my eyes peeled for snacks. That’s because I’m a food addict and I really love to eat. Once in awhile I find a half eaten McBarf burger or maybe half a bag of fries that someone kindly tossed out the car window. I generally do not eat those. Ok, I never eat those. But I have become pretty good at locating the berry patches and fruit trees that live near our house; and I make it a point to check on them occasionally to see what’s cooking. Strawberries are usually first, but there usually aren’t too many of those in the wild around here. Then come the black cap raspberries, then the red and yellow (yellow?? Yes, there are yellow ones too…) raspberries, and then the blueberries, and then the blackberries.  Nearly all the berries are finished berrying by now, but there are a few blackberry stragglers left on our favorite walking trail.

The only problem with blackberry hunting is this: if you hunt for blackberries in earnest, you’re gonna get stabbed. Pretty much no likelihood that you’ll get away with no owies, unless of course you don’t want very many berries. Many times I’d find myself going on a hunt, in my protective berry pickin’ clothes: shorts and a tank top. I’d zero in on a marvelously loaded patch, and commence to getting all nicely scratched by blackberry vines.  I filled up a quart yogurt container in nothing flat; and stuffed my face with a few handfuls on my way out of the patch. Then the skeeters found me and wanted my blood, so of course I simply had to get just a few more handfuls before making a break for the car.

I was in heaven.

The next day, I was sitting with some friends and they asked me, “Holy Cow Ken!! What happened to your legs??”  I had to think a minute, then I remembered I was picking blackberries.  Might sound unbelievable but when I’m focused on getting Nature’s Candy, I really don’t notice the leg scratchings.  Well OK, sometimes I might yell “OUCH!!” during a berry picking excursion, but I continue on, oblivious to the status of my ouchy legs.

Berry picking just plain makes sense. You get outside, free and very healthy snacks go ploonk in your pickin’ bucket (in spite of those pokey-ouches), and for this berry picker at least, it sets the mind free for meditation. When I’m out in one of my favorite patches, my mind is focused on just one task: picking. That gives my brain a much needed rest, and allows me to revisit the past when my Dad used to take advantage of our small size and send us into the thickets to get the big ones. Dad was always very intent on making jelly every time he heard there were ripe berries. So being the fine kids we were, the four of us soon learned that if we didn’t want to spend a whole day or two picking and cleaning wild fruits, that we might just forget to tell Dad that we found any.

I’m often astounded at the lack of knowledge out there about these natural candies. In previous years I’d go picking during my lunch hour and bring my bucket full of goodies back to the workplace. Upon my return, I’d offer friends and neighbors some berries. Some dig in, and others say, “what the heck are those??” Then I tell them, and they might ask something like, “are those washed??” “Well, Mother Nature washes them every time it rains,” I’d reply. After a few careful peeks into the bucket, several of my coworkers have shrugged and said, “no thanks.”

There’s only one logical response in such a situation.  I’d tell them, “that’s ok, that’s more for me!”

Well, I looked for a berry picking cartoon, but found this old classic instead.  Here’s why you should consider planting onions in your garden!!

The Blender’s In The Oven, The Hummingbird Feeder’s In The Microwave

So there I was, using the Magic Bullet Blender Thing, making Cream of Half and Half Egg Soup for our poor hospice kitty cat, when I noticed that as I removed the blending doohickey all kinds of leakage was happening because I didn’t set the seal properly and Holy Cow what do I do with this now; the Soup is oozing out of the bottom of the blender motor thing so all the stuff seeped down into the motor machinery mishmash and how the heck-a-laney do I get that out but you know that’s quite enough of this run-on sentence that described a real event but is way too long and suffering from questionable punctuation.

I think.

What the hoodley-doo do you do with such a mess?? Anyhow?? Being the human I am, I thought to myself, “Self, I guess since the Soup went all the way through I should rinse it out, yes?” And my self answered, “Yes!” And I did. And the very hot water went from creamy pale white to clear. Then I noticed all the warnings on the side of the blender. In English. Numbered for your convenience. And of course the one (probably somewhat important) numbered item that I completely ignored was: “DO NOT IMMERSE IN WATER.” Well, technically I didn’t immerse the thing in water. I just flushed it out!!

After reading the “DO NOT IMMERSE…” instruction I began to wail loudly with hearty crying noises, which were followed immediately by my dropping to the floor, rolling about, and shouting, “OH GOD!! OH GOD!! WHAT HAVE I DONE?? WHAT DO I DO NOW??” Well OK maybe I didn’t really cry and roll on the floor. But I was of course a bit annoyed with myself by the whole thing. I’m pretty sure, though, that there are no electronics that would die from all this wibble-dee-boo. Not like you find in a smell phone for example. Therefore, I vigorously shook the blender thing to get as much water out as possible, then popped it in the oven at 1,750 degrees for 91 minutes.

NO!! Not really.

I found myself grateful that our ultra-precise (I hope a little precise…) electronic oven controller has the lowest temperature setting of 170 degrees. I placed the blender on the center rack without a baking sheet because I prefer a crispier crust. Oh wait, that’s pizza. But seriously folks, in the oven it went, and yes on the center rack. Turned the oven on and watched the preheat countdown until it was up to temperature. Then I turned the heat off and I’m hoping for the best. I’ll probably goose it with more heat before I hit the hay.

Speaking of hummingbirds… oh wait… who was speaking of hummingbirds?? Well we are now!! We love to feed them, and have a nice glass feeder made by Parasol. Here’s a picture for you… what is not shown is the little plastic container above the feeder. We keep water in there to prevent ants from getting into the feeder. Very effective!!

Also not shown is the raccoon who likes to pull the shepherd’s hook that’s mounted on the rail of the deck to bring the feeder down for its enjoyment. That’s because I’ve never gotten a picture of the rascal, I’ve just seen the feeder on the ground with one of the little red glass flower inserts broken. Fortunately, I was able to find replacement flowers; but needless to say I bring the feeder in when it gets dark now.

Remember that ant deterrent I mentioned earlier? Well it works great for the army of carpenter ants that patrol our grounds. We have several trees that are getting hollow but hanging on; and around our house trees don’t get cut down till they die. Carpenter ants, of course, love these dying trees to make their homes. But they are always on the prowl for food; and they often literally wait at our doorstep for a chance to sneak inside. Apparently, several of these little boogers were successful; because they like to crawl inside the hummingbird feeder when I set it on the counter for the night.

Because we are both tree hugging, Nature loving hippies, we have often caught any rogue ants and tossed them outside for another chance at life. However, after awhile this gets a bit old, so we ask Mother Nature for forgiveness and send them back to their maker (in other words, we squish them). I’ve made a sugar water trap for the ants; and that’s working pretty well. In the meantime, when the feeder is brought in, I stick it in the microwave to keep the ants out.

No cooking occurs.

Oh… gotta go check to see if the blender is done!!

Maybe I’ll ask Betty for some cooking tips…

Oh Well, And We’re All In This Together.

I remember the days of the Countdown Clock, a program I installed on my work computer about 2 years before my retirement date. My job in manufacturing IT support took me to all different areas of the factory. As I walked around the plant, those who knew me would ask, “What’s the countdown today?” “178 days,” I’d reply with a smile. “What are you gonna do with all that free time?? Won’t you get bored??” they’d inquire. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be OK,” I’d respond with a smile, “I’m just looking forward to doing what I want to do!” Well I’m a little over 2 years into this retirement gig; and I must say I really like it. And the best part is I get to do whatever I want!!

Ummm… no.

I had many grandiose ideas before retirement came. Maybe sell some of my writing. Maybe have a picture perfect vegetable garden… one that’s so nicely manicured it’s magazine cover worthy. Maybe get my amateur radio license back. Maybe travel and see the country. Maybe clean the garage. Maybe go through all my old (1930’s) radio stuff and sell some of it. Maybe… who knows?

I’m really glad I’m good at the maybe thing. Because you know what? I’ve learned that life gets in the way of plans. One of my favorite spiritual sayings is, “If you wanna make your Higher Power laugh, tell them you have plans.” Boy ain’t that the truth. OK, I did get my amateur radio license back. Now I just need to put up an antenna… Travel basically got thrown in the trash due to Covid. I’m not really interested in getting on an airplane, so any travel we’ll be doing will likely be by car. However, family stuff has kept us from really venturing very far, and that’s just fine.

Priorities change, circumstances change. I’m very grateful I’ve learned how to stay cool when things don’t go my way. Hasn’t been an overnight thing mind you. My Beautiful Girlfriend and I have been slammed with some rather interesting growth experiences over the years. Thankfully, we’ve embraced resources that have helped us react calmly to the challenges that people, places, and things put in front of us. We’ve learned that there’s no such thing as a bad feeling; but how we react to feelings makes all the difference in the world. Then there’s that Serenity Prayer, the “short form” of which is probably familiar to all of you.

God, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

So yeah, that prayer and a regular review of my Gratitude List are among the tools that help me have peace of mind… most of the time. I’ve shortened the Serenity Prayer even further when life gets in the way of my garden work or whatever. I simply say, “Oh well.” Had a really high-class “problem” come up just recently that illustrates how things have changed for the better between my ears. And the example I’m about to relate also explains the “We’re All In This Together” part of this week’s title.

There I was, minding my own business, hoping to stain our deck. I bought a 5 gallon can of Armstrong & Clark stain (really good stuff), pressure washed all the crud off the deck, and did the 48 hour wait for the wood to dry. Then of course the rain comes. Have to wait another 48 hours. Then some family stuff came along. Can’t stain today. Next day, more rain. Then a dear friend got sick and died unexpectedly. Can’t stain today or the next day or the next. And yes, of course, more rain.

Oh well.

This past Thursday finally brought an opportunity to stain!! So I took the leaf blower to the deck to clean off the leaves and such, then proceeded to slosh some stain. I was very sad, however, to notice all the ants that did not get out of the way very well while I was running the roller. And yes, that really does touch my heart. I don’t roll on the ground and cry or anything, but I don’t like it. There was a Zoom meeting I needed to attend so I did that while staining. My friends didn’t mind; and with the miracle of electronics I was able to hear just fine and actually contribute. Toward the end of the meeting, I shared about my sadness at killing ants. “I’m giving them all a brown coat,” I joked. But I continued, “Believe it or not, I say a prayer whenever I kill something. We’re all in this together you know.”

And yes I really do send up a prayer when a creature’s life is abruptly shortened because of me. I firmly believe we really ARE all in this together, and our Creator’s creatures are ALL important. Don’t get me wrong, I swat mosquitoes and deer flies; but I do tell them I’m sorry. Then there have been times when I try to catch a spider who’s in the house and I accidentally squish the poor thing. I didn’t mean to hurt the spider… I tried to help it but this slipped and that slid and the spider got smooshed. I ask forgiveness and often follow it up with a small prayer.

Something like, “Oh well.”

Speaking of ants, I’m really glad I haven’t run into these guys!!

The 40th Annual Summer Mulch Run

Everybody ready for the 40th Annual Mulch Run?!?!? I’m pretty excited. Gonna get my refreshments (fill my water bottle), hop into the Toyota Sienna Racing Van, hook up the trailer, grab a seat, and GO!!!

And I always win.

Aaaahhhh summer time. The garden is exploding, and the weeds are doing really well. Seems like the seeds I actually planted just got going, and all the weeds I didn’t plant (not intentionally anyway) are growing so fast I can barely tell the beets from the purslane. Sure you can eat purslane, and I have. Pretty good in salads and even cooked in Chicken Cockamamie. But it volunteers itself all over the place along with lamb’s quarters and lots of other weedy greens; and if left unchecked the seeds I bought and spent so much time planting will be overrun.

Normal garden process at my house is:

1) Pull up the garden waste from last year in late fall or early spring. OK… usually early spring.

G) Till the garden as soon as the mud from the snow melt is dried a bit.

27) Let the ground dry a bit and also allow weeds to germinate.

*x) Till again, then

4L) Carefully plant the tomato, pepper, eggplant and marigold plants I adopted from the greenhouse; and finally

M#) Make the rows and beds and plant, plant, plant the seeds.

I’ve learned the hard way that if I mulch too soon, the slugs stampede (albeit very slowly) into the garden and chow down at night and hide under the mulch during the day. Not very funny.

So, I wait… then of course the weeds go nuts because hey, I have a life and can’t always get motivated to put my hiney in the garden after a day with friends or family.. That, of course, means I do “catch up” weeding and mulch as I go.

A few years ago, I used hay for mulch. Seemed to work pretty well but it was a bit expensive and I have this silly suspicion that many weed seeds from that year are STILL COMING UP. Straw works but it tends to rob nitrogen from the soil… not a good thing if you’re an old organic hippie like me who refuses to buy chemical fertilizer. Hay actually adds some nitrogen, but again, there’s that weed thing.

So it’s back to basics this year. For 40 years I’ve been gardening here… and have managed to turn sand into pretty nice soil. Primary reason: mulch runs. I had a truck for awhile but switched to a trailer many moons ago and that will probably be what I use until I can’t chew my milkweed anymore.

Or something.

For several years, I’d cruise around the ‘burbs and “steal” their bags of grass clippings and leaves right out from under the suburbanite’s noses. Most are very grateful I’m taking the stuff away from the curb. One year though, I had a strange encounter when I pulled up to a house that seemed to have the mother lode of leaves. A grumpy old man came out to his porch and barked at me,

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?!?”

“I’m stealing your leaves,” I replied in an impish tone.

“WHAT’RE YOU GONNA DO WITH THEM??!!??”

“Well I’m gonna use them in my garden, which means I’ll be eating them eventually.”

“OH, alright…” he snorted. He lowered the volume on the last retort as I found my head spinning with ideas on how a person could get into mischief with stolen leaves.

“I’m sorry to alarm you,” I said in a more apologetic tone. “You want me to put them back?”

“No it’s OK,” he said as he went back inside.

Don’t look now, and I must apologize:  the 40th Annual Mulch Run has come and gone.  Numerous times!!  Sorry if you missed it, but there will be plenty more opportunities down the road if you’d care to join me.  In other words, I intend to go again because I’m an opportunist.  You see, I don’t need to cruise the neighborhoods anymore because lo and behold, the Dalton Township Transfer Station (a.k.a. The Dump) has many tons of leaves and grass clippings for the taking.  I bring my recyclables (and occasionally some trash) (because we try to recycle as much as we can so there’s usually not much trash) (oh and the veggie waste goes into the compost pile so…) (so… that’s way too much use of parentheses!!). 

One stop shopping!!

Much of what I collect is in the form of oak leaves, often mixed with other clippings.  There is a misconception among many that oak leaves are bad for the garden.  NOT SO!!  Contrary to popular belief, they do not make your garden soil acidic.  For one thing, earthworms love them and worm manure is alkaline.  The end result is really good soil.  And although gathering all this mulch involves a bit of manual labor with a pitchfork, believe it or don’t I actually find that rewarding.  I do a fair amount of manual labor in the forms of pitching mulch, digging in the garden, and stacking wood.  I tell my friends, “it’s my gym membership”.

I hope I haven’t hurt anyone’s feelings by not inviting you to enjoy a mulch run this year.  All is not lost, please feel free to contact me about Wednesdays or Saturdays and we’ll get together for a ride to the dump!  I will even provide some PRW (Pillon Road Water) and maybe even some snacks!!  Of course, you’re welcome to fill your pockets or other receptacles with just as much mulch as you can gather for your own garden.

In the meantime, please enjoy the outdoors!! But if it’s stormy outside, maybe Grampy can help you have an outing indoors…

Working With Controlled Substances

I’ve noticed that some every day items that are deemed harmless should probably be listed as dangerous if used incorrectly. Folks who know me well are aware that I have something of an addictive nature; and sometimes resisting certain substances can present a big challenge.

Mind you, I’m not talking about smoking alcoholic beverages, snorting LSD, or shooting up marijuana. There was a time in my life when I was “interested” in things along that line; but I became way too involved in altered states. Somewhere along the line I got help from The People Upstairs, so I no longer have any interest in having my mind bent artificially. Thankfully I haven’t had any intoxicants in my bloodstream for well over 33 years now (thank you God for Everything).

No, I’m talking about something much more insidious: I love to eat!! Well OK I guess most people at least like to eat. It’s kind of important, right? Yes!! But there are times when I like to eat too much. And there are other times when I like to eat “recreational foods.” Those are foods that are nutritious to some degree, pretty darned delicious, but basically on the naughty list if you want to stay healthy. I believe it’s OK to eat something recreational from time to time.  However, moderation is the key.  What follows is a short list of foods (or food venues)I like a little too much; and I joke to my friends (often seriously) that these should be considered controlled substances.

Pizza. Oh man I love that stuff. It should probably be added to the FDA food pyramid.  OK probably not!!   I love the stuff; and find it very difficult to resist.  We sometimes get it from Pizza Hut, which is OK I guess.  There’s a place up in Shelby, Michigan called The Pizza Factory which, in my professional opinion, makes some of the best pizza in West Michigan.   Sometimes we just cheat and get DiGiorno’s from the store.  My problem is:   I know deep down that if left alone I can eat almost a whole pizza.   Thankfully I have not done that… yet.  But if there are any leftovers sitting in the fridge, when midnight strikes I rise from bed and become Kenny The Pizza Vulture.  Truth be told:   I’m sorry… that stuff is addictive. Which brings another controlled substance to mind…

Potato Chips. Sheesh… do I really need to expound? I can eat a whole bag all by myself. We rarely buy them. Not a very cost effective food item, am I right?  Three dollars and change for a 10 ounce bag??  Holy Moly!!  That’s why my friend Rick gave such snacks the nickname of “flavored air”.

Peanut M&Ms. So what happened to those little like gumball machines like at the movies where you put in a quarter and if you wiggle wiggle wiggle the handle just right you get lots more than if you fling the little handle around quickly and if you’re really good at it you can get WAY more M&Ms with one, two, or maybe three quarters than you get if you spend a buck at the store??  Haven’t seen those in quite some time.  Probably a good thing.

All You Can Eat Buffets.  Not too many of these around anymore.  I’m talking about the ones for which you have to pay.  There have been times over the years where I’d hit the jackpot in the form of a wedding or some other catered event and I would pig out.  But the ones where I actually have to pay can be especially treacherous for me.  When I pay, I talk myself into thinking “I’m gonna get my money’s worth,” then I eat about 719 bazillion calories worth of goodies. I can never control myself at a stinkin’ all you can eat buffet.

I could probably list many more, but you get the idea. Fortunately, my Beautiful Girlfriend talked me out of my desire to go out for an ice cream this evening. We had watermelon instead.  Good thing too… I could stand to lose some flab. My best defense is to do something really weird:  eat fruit or maybe get some produce from the garden and some meat from the freezer and cook something healthy.  Actually have been doing more of that since I retired.  When I do that, I’m pretty successful at avoiding these “controlled substances.”

Sometimes.

Haven’t had a dream like this… but it may be only a matter of time.

How To Cure A Sinus Infection

Ever have a cold that just didn’t seem to go away? Well I once had one that started on October 13, 2125 at approximately 12:17 PM and lasted for a -9 years and 10 days. Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration… but seriously folks, that “cold” stuck around way too long. My doze got stubbed up, add it stodded rudding, I coughed and coughed and coughed, and den I had to use up da whole box of tissues every hour; which became rather expensive.

The beautiful woman I live with shocked me after several days of this ordeal when she said, “Honey, your cold is lingering way too long. I think you have a sinus infection.” I’m not sure how she felt qualified to say such things. Just because she’s been a nurse for over 30 years and does in home care for people and knows a lot of stuff about healthcare doesn’t give her the right to make wild accusations about some lousy cold her husband might have.

Does it??

Being the enlightened man that I am, I decided to invent a number of methods that would be certain to bring any so-called “sinus infection” to its knees, so to speak. I thought I’d better pass these on to all of you because I’m sure you are interested in following my exact instructions.

Without any further ado, here are the methods, in order of magnitude.

1) Get an eighteen inch length of surgical tubing and shove it deeply into your nostril. Connect the other end to a faucet using an appropriate adapter. Turn on the water quickly, then off just as quickly. Be certain to turn the faucet completely on during this operation to apply maximum pressure. Repeat on the other nostril, then repeat the entire procedure at 3 hour intervals. This will flush out any germ infested mucus.

After 2 days, if symptoms persist:

R) Continue with the water flush, but after each flush use an ordinary toothbrush to clean each nostril. Be sure to remove any clingons from the bristles after each flushing operation. Discard the clingons in the usual manner: rub them on the underside of the sofa or flick them into an inconspicuous corner.

Still having difficulty? I see… try this:

9) Place a birthday candle inside each nostril. DO NOT LIGHT THE CANDLES!!! Whadda you, crazy??? Sheesh! Hold each candle between thumb and forefinger and apply inward pressure while twirling the candles back and forth. This will lubricate your nasal passages and allow clingons to be more easily removed in steps 1) and R)

Still hab a stubby doze?? OK, one more try:

@*) Request the assistance of a trusted friend or loved one. Hand them a ping pong paddle, have them stand behind you with the paddle held parallel to the back of your head. Have them be ready for “the signal.” Fill a glass with ginger ale and place two drinking straws in the glass. Insert a drinking straw into each nostril. Now you are ready to give “the signal,” at which time your helper should whack the back of your head with the paddle. This will cause an involuntary snorking of ginger ale deep into your sinuses; which will of course fizz out any congestive fluids.

I personally have not tried any of these methods, so once you’ve given them a whirl please report back to me as to their effectiveness.

So… remember that Beautiful Nurse Lady I mentioned earler? The one I’m married to? Well guess what she did?? She said, “Honey, you need to go to the doctor.” Now, we’ve been married for awhile and I’ve learned (too often the hard way) that all goes much better if I follow orders.

I went to the doctor. He said, “you have a sinus infection.” “Oh,” I replied. “What do I need to do?” “I’ll prescribe some antibiotic pills for you,” he answered.

I got the prescription filled for FREE at our local pharmacy!! Is that cool or what??

So I wondered, “what, do I just shove these up my nose???”

Could’ve been worse, Goofy got a bad one…

Another Silly Letter

Hello Marvelgrabbers,

May I be the first one to wish you!! Happy Friday, the world is still flat and all the flaming custard pies are of course!! Round as the day is long, and smothered in onions and dripping with gravy, the happy toast salesman changes his underwear more often than a bread flavored pair of zircon encrusted tweezers!! If any of the sentences in this paragraph are not complete!! Please use the localized amnesia to invigorate the invertebrates!! These superfluously punctuated exclamations not to be endured!!!!!

Now there may be a time when time is short, and at that time, please try either thyming or rhyming, depending on the length of your very own noodle fasteners. There may be hours of whistling ahead of each and every one of us. Just pucker your lips and kiss the lightning bugs before they turn left at that silly USB port over there. I don’t care if they insist upon recharging their hineys!! Don’t they know that bio-luminescence is fortified by part of this delicious breakfast??

Huck. Hucka Hucka! Apply Hucka Hucka fastener jelly each and every midnight on the bread and Holy Cow eat the darned thing before the dogs catch a sniff. I’m sure you all know what happens when sniff fasteners change lanes during a staple storm. In order to avoid the obvious need for renting electric staple removers, I wrongly suggest not using electric stables in the first place. After all, electric stay bulls will merely insight a rye out when Victor, the Prize Bull of Lockawanna County takes a whiz on that electric eel you so cleverly dressed as a butter sniffing clown.

Now I must go. Please don’t ask me to explain any of this. I merely had too many burrito molecules lodged in my sandals during the last 14 episodes of “Melvin The Mailman Makes Marinades.” As I’m sure none of you are aware, this week’s episode finds Melvin licking telephone poles and other small animals in search of that elusive Marinade Holy Moly. I’m sure once he discovers the incorrect ingredients, a very unsatisfactory Mystery Marinade will make even the sleepiest Great Blue Heron stand proudly in the swamp. Then, when his guests sample the finished product, there will be intestinal volcano in epic contortions. All will be delighted to induce vomiting during commercials.

In conclusion my friends, please remember that it’s always better to be you than for you to be me, and although you can count to it, eight is a word.

Please pass the gravy,

Kibble G. Wibnerdort

a.k.a. “Freebert Firesauce”

And now for some audiovisual amusement: