Popcorn Thieves Are NOT My Friends!!

So there I was, minding my own business, 10,000 feet in the air, no plane, no parachute… oh wait, no, I wasn’t there; but I WAS in the garden and I almost cried and rolled on the ground when I noticed that the wind had knocked over some of my corn stalks; but no big deal, right, because we had some very big storms recently and the corn was OK it just needed to be stood up again and that went well but holy cow the next day I got so exasperated that I started this Happy Friday thing with a really long run-on sentence complete with sentence fragments because…

THE STINKIN’ RACCOONS GOT INTO MY POPCORN!!!! RARRRRGGGHHHH!!!

Well I can’t prove it was raccoons, but it sure looked that way, because somebody knocked over the stalks and was a-munchin’ on the ears. And this is not just regular corn mind you. Nooo!! It’s popcorn, and I even helped it have sex and everything!! Say huh?? Yes, boys and girls, I pollinated the corn by hand to make really sure it took. I usually only grow one row of corn; which doesn’t lend itself to thorough pollination without some help. That means that during “pollen season,” when the tassels are flowering, I need to make really sure some pollen reaches the silk on the cobs; otherwise the cobs won’t be full of kernels when the corn matures.

Since local yokels provide us with lots and LOTS of delicious sweet corn, I’ve decided to specialize in growing heirloom popcorn. It’s really pretty, multicolored stuff that resembles the so-called “Indian corn” that folks like to hang up for decorations. And the flavor, oh my… it really is true that there’s nothing like home grown food. I usually end up with about 10 pounds of corn each year; not too bad for a single row.

Needless to say, I was NOT happy when the stinkin’ coons got into my corn!! My son in law helped me put in a fence some years ago; which was a response to both deer and raccoons in the garden. Worked very well until this year when the popcorn bandits apparently scaled the fence and went in a-stealin’. So! Being the kind person I am, I went and doused each plant with some cayenne pepper. I was hoping that if they came back they’d get a nice snoot full and that would make them go a-runnin’ for some nostril relief in the creek or something.

No good. They came back and had more munching fun.

Next step: a live trap. Off I went to the local Farm and Home store and bought me a trap. The nice lady at the counter listened to my laments, and suggested some dog food for bait. So I got me a couple nice cans of dog food. I put half a can of dog food in a little plastic dish, then set the trap outside the garden; thinking I would catch the coon on its way to the corn patch. Raccoons are nocturnal critters, so I set the trap out just after sundown; with the intent of checking it before bed time.

I’m a bit of a night owl, so I took my trusty MagLite flashlight and focused the beam on the trap from my vantage point on our deck. Lo and behold, I saw the reflection of two shiny eyes looking back at me. However, I thought I also saw two fur colors: black and white. It didn’t look like a skunk… seemed too big. Regardless; I approached with caution.

When I got a little closer it was obvious I had caught neither coon nor skunk; but rather a very large kitty cat. As I got within range of the trap I scolded the captive, “You get outta there!! You’re not supposed to be in there!! I’m tryin’ to catch a raccoon!!” I lifted the door and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a cat move so quickly.

Although there was dog food in the dish, the kitty apparently wolfed it down; because there was very little left. We live in a semi-rural area so it was no surprise that a stray would come visit for a free meal. This one must be pretty good at finding food though, because he was a big feller. And no, I didn’t check to make sure it was a boy… but seemed like it.

I washed out the dish, baited the trap again and this time set it inside the garden. My garden fence may not be raccoon proof; but I’m pretty sure it’s kitty proof. Got up kind of early this morning to check the trap… nothing. Freshened up the bait again for tonight and I’ll be checking again before beddy bye. If I catch one tonight, we’ll be going for a little ride. We have this nice river just south of us, I’ll just drive it across the river and set it free. I’m thinking it’s not likely it will cross the river to get back to our house.

OK. So if you happen to run across any raccoons with popcorn eatin’ grins on their faces, please let me know.

I have a bone to pick with them.

Maybe I should get Pluto to help out… or maybe not.

Another Year Of Awesome

Well kids, I may be getting older. Not that I feel old, mind you. But…

I’m sitting here at the keyboard thing,

Just thinking and remembering

That back in 1972

There she was, eyes of blue.

Initially we were just friends,

But soon we were much better friends,

And then (and now) the best of friends

Sharing awesome love that never ends.

Let’s see… reality check… 2016 minus 1972 equals 44. HOLY MOLY, I’VE KNOWN AND LOVED THIS LADY FOR 44 YEARS!!! Can this be real? Who am I? What am I doing here?? Am I really 62 years old now?? Sheesh!! And then, as an added bonus, this beautiful lady allowed me to marry her on August 21, 1973. So like, this coming Sunday will be like an anniversary, like you know??

Like, WOW, MAN!!

Very wow!!

I’ve been telling friends all day at work, “if our marriage survives until Sunday, we’ll be celebrating 43 years!!” I asked my Beautiful Girlfriend if there was any chance our marriage would make it for two more days, and she gave me that “whadda you, nuts??” kind of look and said, “I’ll think we’ll be OK.” So… YES!!! We’re gonna be married 43 years this Sunday!!

Can you tell I’m pleased about this?

Now for you youngsters(of all ages), just want you to know that this marriage business did not always come naturally to us. It took many weepings and gnashings of teeth at times. Lots of give and take. Lots of goofs and forgiveness. Lots of problems, but thankfully, lots of working on solutions. There, I said it: it took work for us to get where we are today. And you know what?? I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

These days, it feels like we’ve been together our whole lives. We are both very OK with that notion. Heck, we’ve been best buds since were were 17!! Childhood memories are still there of course, but almost becoming a flash in the pan.

So I want to thank Heaven for allowing us to be so fortunate. Life is very good you see. We are not financially wealthy, but we certainly aren’t poor either. We are blessed.

As you can probably tell by now, I get a little mooshy around this time of year. I’m so SO grateful because I have everything I’ve ever wanted in life. I sometimes verbalize it to my Beautiful Honey Pie.  “Honey,” I’ll say, “all I ever wanted was the love of a Beautiful Woman, a nice family, a nice home, a little bit of land (we have 5 acres), and a kick-ass stereo.” I have all these now!!

The moral of the story: all the work is really paying off!! Again, financially we are not really wealthy, but I consider myself one of the richest people on the planet.

Lots of music has touched my heart over the years, and I often sing some of my favorite songs out loud to my Beautiful Girlfriend. Well OK, I sing them pretty much wherever I am.

For this week’s video fun, I’ve posted a couple examples.

Peace, Love, and Happiness to you All!!

Summertime Stab Candy

It’s almost the middle of August 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 raspberries, then the red and yellow (yellow?? Yes, there are yellow ones too…) raspberries, and then the blueberries, and right now the blackberries.

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. So there I was the other day, in my protective berry pickin’ clothes: shorts and a tank top. I zeroed in on a marvelously loaded patch, and commenced to getting all nicely scratched p by blackberry vines.

I was in heaven.

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 just a few more handfuls before making a break for the car.

Berry picking just plain makes sense. You get outside, free and very healthy snacks go ploonk in your pickin’ bucket, and (in spite of a few 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. Of course, Dad was always so intent on making jelly every time he heard there were berries ripe. 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 barnyard classic instead.  This must be exactly how the critters interact down on the farm!!

The Meteors Are Coming!!

Meteors will be zooming about in large numbers this coming week. Please, if you go out between midnight and during a meteor shower, wear a heat resistant head bone protector. A nice metal bucket will work well, or of course you could go for better coverage and just carry a large hunk of sheet metal over head as you walk outside. If you’re adventurous, you could also wear a pair of steel reinforced oven mitts and try to catch some as they come zooming toward you. And of course there’s the old silly trick of deflecting some of them with a specially made tennis racquet.

That’s right friends, the annual Perseid meteor shower time is here again, with the peak viewing on August 11 and 12 (according to the interweb science peoples). Of course, you can do some star gazing before and after those dates but the 11th and 12th are supposed to be the best. This may be the best meteor shower all year, because if you’re willing to stay up late you may see as many as 200 meteors per hour! The meteor shower happens every year around this time; but usually only about half this number are expected. It got its name from the constellation Perseus from whence the meteors appear to originate.

Hopefully The Weatherman and / or The Weatherwoman will cooperate and keep the sky free of clouds so we can all enjoy this summer spectacular. If you plan to stay up late enough to enjoy the show, try to situate yourself in an area where there are few city lights. If you can see all 7 stars in the Big Dipper then you should be able to see lots of meteors. Those who can’t escape the lights of the city will probably still see some shooting stars, but not nearly as many as those who enjoy a dark night sky.

All these meteors are from the Comet Swift-Tuttle’s tail. Earth passes through the comet’s debris field beginning around July 13 and finishes up around August 26; so you may see shooting stars well before the peak time; which varies a bit each year.

So, get a nice lawn chair; sit somewhere dark; look into the northeast sky, and enjoy the show. And again, don’t forget to have some fun with it all… have your Heat-Away Perseid Oven Mitts ready to catch one as it plummets to Earth. Wear your Captain Zognord Protective Meteor Helmet. Be ready with your Deluxe Vector Brand Cosmic Comet Dust Bonking Racquet.

And above all, don’t listen to any of my silliness about protective gear and racquets and such. Just enjoy the cool show please.

Now for the cartoon… anyone remember Space Ghost?

When The Well Runs Dry

Here it is, Happy Friday time again, and my Beautiful Girlfriend asked me a couple times, “whatcha gonna write about?”  I couldn’t muster an answer.

Sometimes I just don’t have a clue what to write about. Ever have one of those times when you knew people were waiting for you to write a story for Friday but you had absolutely no clue what to write??

Well I’m having one of those times. God bless the working folks who toil many days in a row for a living. Tomorrow will be the 14th day in a row for me; which is not at all typical. So, my brain is fried. When that happens, I look to my archives for something I haven’t posted in awhile. After all, I’ve been writing “Happy Friday!!!” for many moons now; so I think I have the right to slip in a rerun every now and again.

So here’s one from 2005. I tweaked it a bit; but much of the original silliness remains:

Our son Nate the Great was over tonight again. This was a completely cool thing, because even though his primary motive may have been food, it’s always good to see him. I’ve been calling him “Dark Santa” because of his very dark, bushy beard. I sat on his tummy and told him what I wanted for Christmas just yesterday as a matter of fact.

Today I sought his counsel. “Nate, what should I write about today?” I asked.

“Marble poop cake,” he replied quickly. It was as if the topic was right on the tip of his tongue (gack).

“Marble poop cake??” I asked with a puzzled tone.

“Yes. Marble poop cake,” he quipped back confidently.

“How does one make such a cake?” I asked.

“You need cat poop, dog poop, and human poop, but it all has to have the same smell and size. It’s quite the rage in Bulgaria these days.” He didn’t blink an eye or even change his facial expression. I therefore had absolutely no reason to doubt his word.

“I see… and what kind of frosting do you use for marble poop cake?” I asked curiously.

“Brown preferably, although vanilla is OK too,” he asserted. At this point I observed two things: 1) that there was no mention of what flavor this “Brown” frosting was, and 2) we were pretty much done talking about marble poop cake.

So as you can see the nuts do not fall far from the tree at our house. Poor guy is afflicted with terminal sillyosis, and he got it from his old man. His sister is afflicted with it too. And some has also rubbed off on My Beautiful Honey Pie.

And it doesn’t wash off.

This was especially evident the time we were all coming back from the Coast Guard Festival one summer evening, and as we passed one of the upscale houses, my Lovely Girlfriend yelled out, “hey!! They have a two car kajar!!” “Two car kajar??” everybody laughed out loud and repeated that lovely phrase several times. We have deeply rooted silliness in all of our souls that is always eager to jump out for a laugh.

OK, so I still don’t know what to write about today. Sometimes you just have to take the marble poop cake by the pan and fling it where the sun don’t shine, whatever that means. I don’t really want to write about politics because it brings out the nasties in too many people. Because I’m an old hippie, I hope and pray that everyone on the planet will one day see some Light and just try to get along.
Another topic could be global warming… I could probably write some stuff about that. But these are not funny things, and Happy Friday needs to be funny at least some of the time.

So as I said, sometimes you just need a nice marble poop cake to brighten up your day.

And if you decide to try some, please make sure you brush your teeth.

OK… time for da cartoon.  Perhaps I’ll change careers and become a musical farmer!!

An Open Letter To Saggy Hands And All Other Tongue Owners

Dear Saggy Hands,

As you know, I’ve claimed a small part of the planet and have renamed it to suit my dog’s knees. It’s a quaint little place with hot and cold running wildly; and although clams are rarely served with dessert we could probably order out and enjoy the Mange of La Muncha while throwing fluffy red sculptures toward the full moon. In My New Country, of which I alone am In Charge; nothing will ever be achieved without the express permission of the Zagnut Flinging Champions and their two children, Smeeb and Grackzample.

Even though I’ve always refused to enter your home, you must comply with my reverse hospitality which dictates that I’m pretty sure you owe me a visit here in Tinkle Frost. Yes, that’s correct my friend. That’s the name of the New Land which has been Claimed By Me. Please consider yourself indignant and always keep a special place in your hamper for the Beautiful Newly Claimed Land. Keep in mind that only residents of Wrinkle Fist will have the privilege of snorking gravy up their noses while watching Fox News.

Additionally, please be aware that once you’ve become a citizen of Jingle Crust, you must extinguish all other amplified hacking and coughing that comes so naturally to those who run with a mouth full of lollipops. This is not only mandatory but is a requirement that must be blindly obeyed with full goose Bozo and thank you Uncle Eric. Once the clicking ritual consumes all your waking hours for the next 76 weeks, you must eloquently memorize your shoe size and call the Pineapple Salesman before washing ashore for the Great Beef Jerky Festival.

Finally, if you ever divulge the location of Wrinkle Dust to the Tax Man (or any other demonized ear wax removal tool), you must be banished to the Whisker Treatment Factory where the staff will make certain that you’re gradually recommended for a walk down Mammary Lane to enjoy the breast of times; and maybe even some wings or a thigh, and perhaps also the Chicken Nuggets that will be available in large packages of Drum Stick Yellow #7 or maybe even Giblet Surprise Pudding which of course is served not only with crackers but in some areas of the globe you can even buy tickets to watch this guy actually dress his dog to look exactly like Sir Reginald of Pringlesauce County, except this rendition is nothing close to the original because that would be too tacky and nobody would even care because it’s all a crock of moose juice anyways but because it’s been awhile since I wrote a run-on sentence I thought I’d throw one in here and I hope you found it inexcusable.

OK. That’s quite enough for this digestive illumination. Please, just make sure, as I requested earlier in this writing, to schedule your visit to Tangle Flask sooner rather than later. If you refuse to comply, I’ll remain your devoted friend and will shower your cat with condiments and other pleasant sundaes. I will conclude with a small amount of acrobatics, which I’m sure would amuse you if you were here to watch.

Yours in Seven Dimensions,

Grelben “Stinky Pores” Zortenfloom

a.k.a. “The Wheel Barrow Worm Rancher”

On the other hand, politics according to Gracie Allen was very similar to what we see today…

Bugs Are My Friends (?)

Summer is in full bloom here in Michigan Land, and with warm (and lately wet) weather comes:  BUGS!!! RAARRRGGHH!!  GET THE GUN! GET THE GUN!

No no, no guns.  I’ve often been tempted to carry a shotgun on a walk with me and blast a hole in one of those big mosquito swarms that follows me around.  But that might not be practical, and I doubt that the neighbors would appreciate it.  And if you use a gun inside, well that makes holes in your home that are unsightly and drafty in the winter.  Oh yes, and people can get hurt too (duh).

Sure, I hate mosquitoes and other such nasty insects, but I keep telling myself that Mom Nature has a plan for the stupid things.  We rarely use poison to kill bugs… sprays and foggers are usually worse than the bugs you are using them on.  I very rarely use bug repellents like OFF or whatever.   I’m sorry, but I’d rather suffer than put poison on my body.  And in the case of those outdoor foggers, unfortunately they also kill many GOOD bugs.  The same goes for in the garden, and because we don’t spray, we get lots of beneficial insects like praying mantis, lacewings, ladybugs and the like.

Other friendly bugs are spiders.  Wait a minute… SPIDERS!! ARRRGGHH! GET THE GUN! GET THE GUN!  Oh wait, no guns.  So ok, we don’t really freak out quite that badly.   In fact, spiders actually get a fair trial at our place. I’ve actually learned to appreciate the beauty in those little eight-legged alien beings. Being the organic gardeners that we are, the family has learned to respect beneficial bugs as a valuable resource. Yeah, I know. Spiders aren’t technically bugs. Tell that to your six year old and see how far you get!

Anyhow, spiders don’t strike terror in our hearts these days (ya, right). That statement is pretty much true, especially if :

A) WE KNOW WHERE THE SPIDER IS, AND

12) IT’S THERE WHEN IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE.

To explain item 12) above, I really need to come clean and admit that many spiders have been killed execution style simply by showing up near one of us by surprise.  But we really do try to save them if we can and I’ve even grown to the point where I can pick them up…sometimes. If they’re small enough.  But when those rascals are crawling on me unannounced, I have been known to do one of two things, either greet them with a sudden KERSMOOSH, or I do  a most unusual running dance. I also chant while run-dancing:  “OGodHolyCowYoySpiderBig!!!” Or something like that.  As I said, spiders will normally get a fair trial at our house. When discovered, they are captured and released in the garden. Spider sightings cause the family to summon me with big voices. If Mr. or Mrs. Spider (How do you tell, anyway? Don’t EVEN ask me to inspect their private parts!) isn’t too large, I’ll scoop it into my palm and carefully encage it in my hand. I set them free behind the compost pile, or someplace where they can find cover. The big ones, however, are strictly jar material.

An excellent critter catching device can be built with a jelly jar and one of those ejector type cards from a magazine.  You know, the ones that fall out of a fresh-out-of-the-mailbox magazine when you’re on the potty.  They’re easily identified by their large bold print that goes something like:   “YES! Send me 956 weeks of Dirteaters Digest for only $34.67, $50 less than newsstand price!  If you don’t have a jelly jar, a drinking glass is also a good bug holder. Such a device is also useful for wasps, which are also beneficial critters. Woe unto the spider or wasp who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, though. Those guys get the old El-Kabong treatment. Know what you have then? Bug guts!  Ooo, ocky, yicky. Paper towel, please.

Sometimes rain has fostered a population boom of a garden pest that rhymes with bugs, SLUGS.  Man, I hate those things.  I remember being totally intrigued by them when I was a kid:  “Wow!! A snail with no shell!!  Cool!!”    Now it’s:  “HEY!!  These *&%$ things are eating my plants!!  GET THE GUN! GET THE GUN!”  Oh right… no guns. Anyway, sticking to my organic ways, I won’t buy slug poison.  We saw some in the store and I wanted it badly.  Very badly.  But I figure there’s enough poison on our planet without me spreading more.

I heard years ago that beer will kill them.  You pour it into a shallow pan and put it on the ground, and the slugs are attracted and drown in it.  I reluctantly bought some a couple years ago for the first time ever in my new old life.  I say “reluctantly,” because before I learned my lesson, I’d already bought enough for one lifetime and I very nearly “drowned” in it… if you get my drift.  Now my oldness is new and I don’t allow beer (or any other intoxicant).  I’m allergic you see.  The stuff makes me break out in traffic violations.

Back to those stinkin’ slugs… At first, I tried to collect slugs.  What a wonderful task… you get free slime for your fingers which is a bear to get off, but I can’t help but admit the strange satisfaction I get out of killing those doggone things.  One year I had so many that I was getting very frantic, so just for the heck of it I took the salt shaker out to the garden with me at night.  A few sprinkles of salt on a very big slug is a very disgusting thing to watch.  They melt.  Salt melts slugs.  Like right now.  And it is very gross.  One year I mixed a bunch of salt with about a gallon of water in a 5 gallon pail, and when I went slug hunting, they were dunked into the execution tank.  But that is way too labor intensive.  The best slug remover I’ve found so far is beer.  If I put a little bowl of beer down near the plant I want to protect, the slugs go for the suds much more readily than they go for the veggies.  They are hopeless alcoholics… they drink themselves to death, and don’t seem to care that the bodies of their friends-and-neighbors type slugs are already drowned in the brew.  Might be a message there…

Anyway, sure, this organic gardening can be frustrating at times.  However, if you plan your garden carefully and encourage natural predators (beneficial insects and spiders), it is also very rewarding to grow food that you know is safe to eat.  And yes, of course I realize that slugs may rhyme with bugs, but they are not bugs at all, they’re gastropod mollusks. As far as I know, slugs have no natural enemies.

Well, maybe they have one:  ME.

Never had any termite problems, but apparently Popeye has…

These Vampires Don’t Suck

We did it again, another summer time concert that was simply amazing. Quite the powerhouse of performers: Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, and some guy named Johnny Depp. They were accompanied by some other fine musicians but you can do your own research on all that if you don’t mind, OK yes please thank you very much you’re welcome.

We were on vacation. Again. In Aurora Illinois!! That’s like a whole different city AND state!! One thing my Beautiful Girlfriend and I have always loved to do together is go to concerts. Usually rock concerts but not always. Anyway two years ago we saw what was left of The Turtles and some other friends of theirs who were on their “Happy Together Tour.” Those kids are still touring, by the way. I would strongly suggest you attend if that’s your kind of thing.

This was at the Paramount Theater in Aurora, Illinois you see; and since I bought the tickets online we now get e-mails for ever event they have over there. Well, when it’s a concert, it captures my interest pretty much immediately. I saw the ad for the Hollywood Vampires and had to do a double-take because I never heard of them. Once I got informed and told my Honey Pie about who these Hollywood Vampires were, I asked her if she’d like to go. She looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes all a-twinkle and said, “Oh yeah!!”

So there we were, taking off for a long weekend. The concert was Thursday night, and the weather looked an awful lot like it was going to make us sad because thunderstorms were in the forecast but we were bringing ponchos and so we were hoping it would be OK because the tickets said “rain or shine” and we don’t shine very well when it’s raining but oh who cares it’s supposed to be 90 degrees outside so it will be warm water and we’ve done that before!

Before the show, we accidentally stopped for a planned meal at Giordano’s in Oswego and got some of that fine Chicago style stuffed pizza: a super veggie with sausage added. We got a medium for $28 and got 3 meals out of it!! Once at the restaurant, some more after the concert, and one more time on the way home.

After our first belly full of pizza, we got settled in at the Holiday Inn Express in Aurora for a nice summer’s nap. I mention the hotel by name for 12 reasons:

A) it was within walking distance of River Edge Park, where the concert was being held and

7!) The hotel was simply awesome. Very comfortable, newly remodeled, and excellent breakfast spread in the morning.

But enough of commercials!!

So we started to cry and roll on the floor when we woke up… the rain was falling and so were our spirits. We called the concert weather line and the nice automated voice man said the concert was still going on as scheduled. Thankfully, the skies cleared up nicely just in time; and we had a most awesome evening.

Long story longer, these Vampires did NOT suck at all, they were truly awesome. They played many songs in honor of rockers who died way too early; and also of course a couple of songs by people who weren’t dead yet (Alice Cooper, for example). One of our favorite concerts ever, because they played many songs we grew up with, and did a very nice job.

So this week’s video is a peek at these Vampires. Peace, Love, and Rock ‘n Roll to you all!!

 

The 33rd Annual Summer Mulch Run

Everybody ready for the 33rd Annual Mulch Run?!?!? I’m pretty excited. Gonna get my refreshments (fill my water bottle), hop into the Chrysler Towne & Country 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 work for a living and can’t always get motivated to put my hiney in the garden after a long day. 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 33 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.

I 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.

Well, the first day of the 33rd Annual Mulch Run was this past Wednesday. If I stop at a house that has several bags that are only partially filled, I make sure it’s OK to take them. Although I’ve never been told no, I normally get a blank stare when I ask, as if I was some space alien asking them if it’s alright if I lick their trees for a few hours. And Wednesday, as in past mulch runs, I had a small but silent audience across the street from where I was harvesting mulch. I looked over and shouted, “I’M A LEAF THIEF!!” They laughed a bit nervously and went on with their day.

Anyway, this past Wednesday was a good haul. I’ll probably need more later though, so the 33rd Annual Mulch Run will continue.

Maybe in a neighborhood near you!!

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

Panic In Detroit

What do Todd Rundgren, Steve Lukather (from Toto), Greg Rolie (from Santana), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), and Gregg Bissonette have in common? They are all current members of Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. And who cares about this?

WE DO!!

We’re old rockers, you see. Yes, we do have a rocker in our home and it’s a very nice chair; but that’s not the kind of rocking I’m talkin’ about here, you dig? Most everyone has heard of Ringo Starr of course. And many know who Todd Rundgren is. But to be honest I was pretty ignorant about the other guys. We’d seen Ringo and his All Starr Band back in 2003 with our kids and son in law. A great show… but the band has evolved into something very special. Not that it wasn’t special in 2003 mind you, but when we got our tickets for the show we saw last night in Detroit we had no idea what was in store for us.

You see, each “Star” performs some of their famous stuff. From what I’ve read, one of Ringo’s criteria for a band member is that they have to have at least 3 hit records. But additionally, they have to be willing to learn each others’ hits so they can rock the house.

And they did. It was simply amazing. An awesome treat in an awesome venue, the Fox Theater in Detroit. What wasn’t so amazing was getting there. It was only about a 3 hour drive from our house, but we stopped at our hotel in Canton first. I’m an old school driver guy… I go to Google Maps and print the route ahead of time. Then I study it, and commit most of it to memory. Works pretty well… so far. Just in case, I keep a very old reference book in the car at all times: a Rand McNally Road Atlas. Remember those? Well if you do, you’re probably old like me. And if you actually know how to read a map; well… you’re probably old like me (appears to be a dying skill these days).

Finally I also have my built-in GPS in the brand new, 2001 Chrysler Towne & Country Mini Van Thing. Yep, I can look up and it tells me whether I’m going north, south, east, or west. Even says fancy stuff like SE and NW!! Stuff like that there. Yes, I know… it’s not what most people would call a GPS. But as a dear friend of mine pointed out many moons ago, “it’s a General Pointing System!!”

Anyway. there we were, leaving the hotel, heading to 275 South. It’s part of the printed route you see. Only one problem: 275 South is closed for construction. Ah Michigan… two seasons: winter, and construction. OK… well my Beautiful Girlfriend used to live in the Detroit area. We’ve visited several times, and know basic things… like if you go too far east you’ll hit Canada. Stuff like that.

So we pull out the Road Atlas and use the GPS to get on our way. Working pretty well until we hit that horrible bane of all commuters: traffic jams. Yes not just one traffic jam. Many. Well OK maybe it was all one big traffic jam; I just don’t know. All I know is Thank God I know how to drive in cities although it makes me a bit jangly inside and my face grimaces with big harumph and OH YOU STINKER YOU TRIED TO REMOVE MY BUMPER and jeez lady don’t straddle the stinkin’ dividing line and what the HECK is this person passing me when there’s no more road there OH MY GOD we’re lost OK stop and ask directions OK thank you nice man here we go again OH POOP IT’S ONE WAY we have to cross the freeway and come around THANK YOU NICE OHIO PERSON FOR LETTING US IN LINE TO GET INTO THE PARKING PLACE wow that was a horrible thing for gentle people like us!!

Whew.

Once we got to the Fox Garage, it was just a short walk to the theater. Beautiful weather, beautiful people, beautiful music.

Simply beautiful… and OH MY you really must check out the theater. The following video doesn’t do it justice, but you get an idea. Oh, and I threw in a little David Bowie video just for the traffic happiness.

Peace and Love to you All!!

So here’s the Fox Theater:

And the title of this song describes some of our driving fun: