In Servitude To Felines

Once upon a lifetime all my living life from as long as I can remember until now, I’ve lived with cats. Domestic cats, of course. Nothing exotic like lynxes or leopards that some crazy people seem to think is OK. Of course there were dogs sprinkled in with the mix, but the cats far outnumbered them in our family. My Beautiful Girlfriend had a similar upbringing, although I’m not sure her family had as many cats as we did back in the day.

We love cats; and when we married and made our own home, my Lovely Bride brought her kitty NoName from Wisconsin to Florida where I was doing my Air Force thing. NoName ran away for two weeks shortly after we all settled into our apartment. That of course prompted us to answer an ad for “free Persian kittens.” Upon arriving at the “Persian” kittens’ home there was only one kitty left for adoption. Agrisby Anne, as we named her, was anything but Persian. More like a tortoise shell colored, short haired gremlin with fleas that were nearly as big as her. So we brought her home, got rid of the fleas, and did our best to satisfy her insatiable appetite.

Then NoName came home.

OK so now two cats. No big deal right? I mean, cats know where to go potty, and they don’t need you to go with them. They’re pretty independent creatures and we like that. And if you treat them right, they love to snuggle with you. We’ve always been the types to let them outside, but that has hazards; not the least of which is automobiles. And yes, we’ve lost some that way.

Fast forward many cats later, to autumn of 2022. Freddy the Freeloader, our last indoor / outdoor cat, died of natural causes. He was one very cool dude, a feral that My Awesome Sweetheart fell in love with as he roamed about outside our home. She started feeding him outside, and although I knew the end result, I resisted allowing him in the house since we already had two other cats and a dog. In those days he used a plastic kiddie pool we had leaning up against the back of the garage for shelter, and since we hadn’t seen him for a couple days we feared the worst. On my way out the door for work, I lifted up the kiddie pool to see if he was dead or injured and found he was very much alive, as he shot out of there like a rocket. After he slowed down a bit I saw that he walked like he was very drunk. I told my Amazing Best Friend, but since I had to skedaddle for work she was left with the time consuming chore of getting him into a carrier; and then whisking him off to the vet. The vet shot him up with antibiotics and told us to keep him indoors for a couple weeks; after which we let him out thinking we might not see him again.

Turned out Freddy liked our house and us enough to come back, and he was Mr. In and Out for 13 years with us. In fact, he was the last of the indoor / outdoor cats in our line of many, many others. Both of us, of course, were very saddened by the loss of our pal Fred. My Beautiful Honey Pie solemnly pledged, “I don’t want any more animals for a year!!” Within about 5 months we were knocking on the door of the Noah Project, a local no-kill shelter. After proving we were worthy, we came home with Ivy Anne and Luna. Ivy was about 14 months old, 2 of which were spent in the shelter. Luna was 6 when she was dropped off at the shelter, and stayed there for 10 months!! Poor baby.

We love these two rascals. They are indoor cats, an experience we’ve never dealt with before. And in our personal opinion, shelter cats are weird. We’d love to let them outside but both of them would be roadkill in nothing flat. And you know what else? The litter boxes fill up a lot faster. Huge surprise, right? Indoor / outdoor cats actually prefer to do their business outside… unless of course the weather is nasty.

Since my Lovely Lover is not really able anymore, I’m the Lone Cat Rancher these days. I feed the cats. I clean the shit box. I clean the water bowl. I wash the food bowls. Then comes the afternoon feeding. And evening. Then it’s time to clean the water box, feed the shit bowls, and wash the food all over again. And again. And again. Oh and not to forget trying to keep them amused with toys and play time! But due to our serious devotion as foster parents, we do all this with love.

Yes, we really do love our cats, but sometimes we wonder who’s really running the show.

Where’s My Phone??

So there I was, 650 feet above sea level (I looked it up), getting ready to head off to a meeting and see some friends, and I took my phone out of my pocket because it needed to charge a bit so I was gonna plug it in to the car charger thingy and off I went but when I got a few miles down the road I didn’t see my phone but I thought I heard it ring and then I realized that HOLY COW this sentences is way too long; I better stop it right now!!

So I did.

I stopped the sentence I mean.

Because it was too long.

The sentence.

So now I’m making sentence fragments.

Oh wait, that was a sentence…

Anyway so yeah, I hear my phone ring. But I’m looking around the car and it’s nowhere. Between the seats?? Nope. Under the seats?? Nope. HEY LOOK OUT FOR THAT CAR!! OK.. quit hunting and resume driving. But what the heck?? Anyhow?? “I know,” I says to myself, “I’ll use the bluetooth to make a call to see if it’s OK.” And yes, the bluetooth worked fine, so the phone should be fine. But I’d really like to know where it is though, ya know??

“I hate computers.” That’s my refrain when anything goes awry in my universe. Why do I use this encrypted phrase for everything? Well during my many years as a technology guy, it became a kind of vocal therapy on the fly. For example: a software update is applied to some important software everybody uses. Then the system goes kerblooey, and nobody can do their job. I am the service guy. My phone rings off the hook. So I tell them, “Not to worry, we are working on it. And just so you know, I hate computers.” My friends would then tell me, “Well maybe you[‘re in the wrong job!!” And I’d reply, “It’s a good living, but the computers are not my friends; unless they play nice.” So now it’s almost automatic for me to blurt out “I hate computers,” even when I drop an egg on the floor.

So where the heck is my stinkin’ phone?? I hate computers!! It really is a computer you know. OK… I drive the 11 miles and arrive at the meeting place. I look again. On the seat… under my book maybe?? Nope. Between the seats?? Nope. Under the seats?? Nope. I see a friend in the parking lot. “Hey man, will you call my phone?? I can’t find the damn thing.” “Sure,” he says. I hear my ring tone. I follow the sound… and… HOLY CARP!! IT’S ON TOP OF THE CAR!! SHEESH!!! Let’s hear it for the old Otterbox Defender phone case with the rubber jacket that apparently likes to grab the roof of my car when it’s going 60 MPH!! Did I mention that I hate computers?? Oy yoy yoy!! But I’m glad I found my phone. I mean hey, it wasn’t the phone’s fault, so we can still be friends.

For now.

How Now, Chocolate Cow??

My Beautiful Girlfriend and I were talking about Cousin John today, and how we miss the guy. He was Brooklyn (NY) born and raised, and he and his mom (Aunt Joyce) would come visit with us when we were kids on Long Island. Many moons and a couple moves later, John and I reconnected in a very big way; and the same became true for Aunt Joyce. So what does all this have to do with a chocolate cow? Cousin John and Aunt Joyce are both living in the Great Beyond now, but I think both of them would react to the next part of this story with an emphatic, yet puzzled, Brooklyn flavored “Oh my GAWD!!”

Several years ago, a survey asked the question, “Where does chocolate milk come from?” Apparently, a thousand people were surveyed and 7 % of the people believed that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. Oh my GAWD!! I wish I was fooling you!! This of course subsequently spread across the pond via the interwebs. Much of the world probably thought we’re a nation of noodleheads.

Now I don’t know what sample of our population was surveyed; but you can bet it wasn’t anyone involved in agriculture. Unfortunately, there appears to be a large amount of ignorance regarding where our food comes from or how it’s produced. Perhaps this is due to the declining number of people directly involved with raising food. There has been small progress over the years, but it seems to be creeping along all too slowly.

I’ve actually had some interesting (saddening?) first-hand experiences with this. I’ve been an organic gardener for over 50 years now; and I often grow more than I need. That gives me the freedom to share some of my harvests with friends. One time I remember vividly was when I asked a friend if they’d like some of my heirloom, organically grown popcorn. “Sure,” they said, “where did you get it?” “From my garden,” I explained. “Oh!!” they answered, wide-eyed, “I didn’t know you could grow popcorn!! How did you grow it??” “Well,” I replied, trying not to giggle, “I stick the seeds in the ground and they grow popcorn plants.” Then I couldn’t help but ask, “Where did you think popcorn came from?” One person said, “I just buy the microwave kind.”

End of discussion.

Well kids, for your horticultural edification I hereby bestow upon you some fun facts of my very own which may or may not be true but I’ll put them here anyway for the fun of it and you know it’s been a very long time since I composed a run-on sentence but I figured it was long past due and I didn’t even use any commas or semi-colons and if you can read all this in one big breath I’ll give you a quarter!!

OK… here are some spillages from my brain area:

1: At least 50% of all ladybugs are not ladies. However, I think it’s good to keep calling all of them ladybugs, because one might be accused of sectional harshment or gender indivisibility if you said something like, “Hey everyone!! Look at this cool manbug!!”

R: Eggplants do not produce eggs. Heck, the fruit doesn’t even look like eggs. And it sure doesn’t taste like eggs neither. So, like, what’s up with the name? Anyhow??

27: Now we come to another totally silly name for a food: grapefruit. Does anyone seriously think those look like grapes? Or taste anything like grapes?? Last I knew, they didn’t grow on grapefruit vines neither. Sheesh!! So if we ship many of them to market at the same time, is that considered grapefruit group freight?

OK, that’s probably enough for now. Oh wait… an old favorite:

Maybe we should all go hang out at Betty Boop’s farm for a “reality” check!

Zooming In The Giant Squishmobile

Well, you can sure tell summer’s coming.  Why?  Simple:  dead bodies everywhere!!  Raccoons, possums, woodchucks, birds, squirrels, and deer, and deer, and deer.  Here in Beautiful West Michigan, lots of deer carcasses adorn the roadsides in varying stages of decay. Seems like some of them could be picked up for fresh venison maybe?? The warm weather has lots of critters in mating mode, and they are moving about like they own the place or something.  Well, ok, they do own the place.  Or at least they used to...  

To show appreciation for all of the Creator’s flora and fauna, humans have chopped up their habitat and shot roads through the parcels.  Then to add to their excitement, we drive through these zoomophone lanes with big metal and plastic monsters at 70 mph or more.  Most animals aren’t quite equipped to get across the road when a four wheeled zipmobile is coming at them out of nowhere.  So, we see lots of babies “sleeping” on various parts of the road.  Makes me sad for them… I try hard to slow down when I see animals near the roadway.  Sure, I have been guilty of assassinating some of those poor babies with my own four wheeled killing machine.  When I’ve been unfortunate enough to kill one of Mother Nature’s babies I have an immediate reaction:  being the big, strong man that I am, I cry like a baby and ask the Great Spirit for forgiveness.

Ok, so now it’s out.  I’m a big wuss.  I’m the idiot who stops on the expressway because I see a turtle trying to make its way across.  I turn on my flashers, pull off to the side, and dodge cars to whisk the little booger off the road and out of harm’s way.  Then I carry it about 50 yards from the road and stomp my feet until it lumbers off in the opposite direction of the traffic lanes.   As a preventive measure, furry and feathered friends get the horn.  Most animals will run from the horn if you use it in time.   By “in time,” I mean at least 50 feet before you get to the animal.  Otherwise, if you honk when you’re right next to them, they’ll often freak out and run erratically.  Then you end up hitting them anyhow.  If I spy a critter approaching the road and there are cars behind me, I pump my brakes. That serves as a warning, but of course I’m also hoping they will follow my lead and give the critter the right of way.

On the other hand, you have dead bugs.  Sometimes literally on the “other hand”… there’s nothing more rewarding than sticking your mitt out the car window on a warm day and having a bug go kersplat in your hand while you’re playing airplane.  Oh and by the way, no, I don’t swerve to avoid bugs.  Especially not on the expressway… I may be crazy but I ain’t no fool.  If I have time (which means at lower speeds), I try to miss beneficial insects.  You know, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, and of course wasps.  But even now, with the weather still fairly cool, you can tell that my windshield has already sent quite a few insects to Bug Heaven.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m a big wussy boy, and I get sad when I see beneficial insects bite the dust because of my Toyota Sienna Racing Van.

When I’m behind the wheel, I can rationalize about a “good” outcome resulting from killing bugs. I mean hey, I may be feeding some birds with my car!!  At least indirectly.  You see, one of the miracles of Creation is that living things adapt, sometimes in strange ways.  Believe it or don’t, there are birds who have actually learned how to pick up insect road kill for a quick meal.  I first noticed starlings doing this several years ago.  Red winged blackbirds, who travel with starlings during migration, have also learned this trick.  And they must be sharp cookies, because I have yet to see a squished starling or blackbird on the road.

Perhaps all is not completely lost when mammals, birds, and even turtles are executed by cars.  This much I’ve learned through the existence of things like “The Road Kill Cookbook,” which is a humorous rendition about an actual activity in the more rural areas of the country.  Yes, there really are people who eat road kill.  And why not?  Farmers raise hordes of animals every year and they are killed for our consumption.  Can’t get much better at recycling than eating road kill.  Not that I’m eager to do it mind you.  But if it’s freshly killed, a road kill turkey (for example) would be lots healthier food than one you buy from the store.   

No artificial anything!

I’ll stick to the store-bought animal flesh, thank you very much.  I was a hunter years ago, and I do not relish the idea of filling my tummy by killing and cleaning furry or feathered beings. In the meantime, I’ll try to be wary and keep my roadkill count to a minimum.

Speaking of roadkill, this week’s cartoon has absolutely nothing to do with it.  But it’s fun…

Um… I Dunno…

Happy Friday!!  Let’s all play an exciting game of Muffin Toss… which is played by teams of 2 people.  One pitches and the other swats with a canoe paddle. Could you even imagine the number of AAA batteries that are never required for such frivolity?? Perhaps it could be a cure for writer’s block…

So there I was, sleeping under the coffee antenna when an eerie thought came to my mind: “What if I can’t think of anything to write about tonight??” Well of course this quickly turned into a self-imposed invitation to gather nonsense particles and blast them from my consciousness to my fingertips and then to the keyboard and then to the screen and then to my eyeballs and then I realized that I was repeating the words “and then” way too much. I almost failed at this miserably when I mistakenly connected a window screen to my computer rather than a LED monitor screen thing.

Takes some doing!

After a few gluffenings, I bringled through my Tangled Old Archived Silly Text (T.O.A.S.T.) in order to bring some words to the actual electronic screen thing so perhaps you could wince or smile or flail your arms wildly in some sort of “Reader Protection Dance” (R.P.D.) so as not to be in any way crankulated about the fact that you’ve been reading a run-on sentence that really needs to end awreddy!!

Whew!! That was morkulous!!

Um… I dunno… you see it’s like this: I’ve been writing nonsensical verse for many, many yargons now… and because it seems to bathe my spirit in calming waves of constipation, there will probably be a 3 gallon container of stretched almonds oozing gelatinous gunk from the refrigerator’s mucous membranes. This could possibly be attributed to my post-retirement practice of yodeling loudly at various times. When I yodel in the grocery store, people’s expressions change.  When I yodel in my sleep, an elbow is jammed into my ribs.  Guess I’ll stick with the grocery store yodeling…

I must now pause to inform you that while writing the previous paragraph, my laughing face engaged in ha ha with shaking belly muscles; and this has become a form of stress relief for me in various times of need. Right now, however, I really need to know why my window snakes can’t jump anymore. That being said, on a scale of 1 to 34, the odor of root beer sounds like my favorite color of the alphabet.

For those of you who’ve read this far, please be grateful I didn’t go ranting about one of those political ice cream adventure sagas that often cause carrots to explode without warning. The way I figure it, if politics can cause your shoes to boycott small seedlings during an evaporation rampage, things that are far more irresponsibly delicious will soon decay in your ceiling fan’s software upgrade incisions. If that should occur, gargle with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and fried linguini during a hail storm for the best inferno.

But seriously folks, I refuse to be serious because when typing to my friends, my irregular text is regularly consistent with an inconsistent regularity. If anyone is trying to make sense of these silly scribblings, please refer to Gorfle’s Atlas of Crunchy Klinkles (G.A.C.K.) p. 74, paragraph 19; which emphatically states, “Don’t.” 

Also, my nose itches.

An Ecliptical Birthday Present

This coming Monday is a very important date. That’s right folks, if you’ve been listening to the news at all, you probably didn’t hear anything about why this Monday is important… to my brother. You see, way back on April 8 of 1956, my brother was born into this world. So he’s getting a solar eclipse for his 68th birthday!! Is that cool or what?? Of course, neither he nor I will be watching the eclipse in totality, unless we hustle our hineys southward; but that’s not likely to happen. I found a pretty cool website that tells you how much eclipse you’ll be able to see, and when. So here in Beautiful West Michigan (Muskegon specifically) we’ll be enjoying a 91.81% obscured sun. and it will max out at 3:31 PM Eastern time.. My bro lives in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, or “Winedance” as Grandma Loftus used to call it. There the sun will be 78.6% obscured at 2:08 PM Central time. Still should be dark enough at both locations to be quite fascinating. Here’s the site I used to get this info. I clicked on the magnifying glass icon (search) near the top right corner of the map, then typed in the town to find the statistics.

https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2024-april-8

Last one like it for the U.S. was way back in 2017. I’ve heard that lots of folks are traveling toward our nation’s heartlands to be in the path of the umbra, which is the shadow that’s cast from the moon completely blocking the sunlight’s path to Earth. You can see a map of where the umbra will be experienced, along with lots more information here:

https://science.nasa.gov/eclipses/future-eclipses/eclipse-2024

My Beautiful Girlfriend (the Lovely Lady who let me marry her) and I will not be traveling, but will instead be bathing in the glory of the penumbra here at our house in Beautiful West Michigan. Since we’re retired, we’ll be worry free of any work obligations interfering with our eclipse viewing. The only thing that might become an issue would be the lovely Michigan cloud cover we all know and “love” around this time of year.

Supposed to be sunny… we’ll see.

And hopefully all of you know to please be a responsible viewer and DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN during the eclipse. You’ll fry your eyeballs out of your noggin. Eyeball goop will be all melty and run down your face like gooey mascara during a rain storm. Maybe not. But you’ll damage your sight, and there are plenty of safe ways to view the eclipse. Here are some tips:

Hurry to your nearest public library. Many are giving out “eclipse glasses” for free. I got mine today. Other coolness: one of the most remarkable things I remember from the last event was the appearance of shadows during the eclipse. My favorite treat is to enjoy the shadows cast by leaves on trees. So if at all possible, try to find a nice shade tree that allows some sunlight to pass through it; and sit or stand underneath during the eclipse. The shadows cast on the ground give an almost surreal light show during this time… and it’s truly special if there’s a light breeze to move the leaves around a bit. Although it’s early springtime here, I’m looking forward to seeing what effect the obscured sunlight will have on the shadows of twigs and branches. I’ve also been known to punch a pin hole into a piece of cardboard to project an image of the eclipse on a table or something. For more fun, make numerous pin holes… you’ll get lots of eclipses projected onto your favorite viewing surface.

Yes my friends, this eclipse will be special indeed. The weather forecast is looking like partly sunny. Hopefully we’ll have enough clear sky to enjoy the darkest eclipse we’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy. And hey, to my brother, Happy Birthday Eclipse to you. Hope you enjoy your gift!!

In case you’re wondering how sunshine is made, check this out:

You Gonna Eat That??

Holy CARP!! It’s SPRING OUTSIDE!!! And I have many, many garden chores waiting for me. Not to mention sending out a seed order before planting time (I told you not to mention that!!). My role as a caretaker likely will limit the garden to be a bit different this year. Previous growing seasons found me planting a little bit of almost everything: garlic, Swiss, chard, delicata squash, hubbard squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, very old ancestor of kale, pole beans, beets, pak choi, parsnips, popcorn, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, okra, rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint, asparagus, rhubarb, parsley… sunflowers, nasturtiums, zinnias, marigolds, catnip.

Oh and we have an asparagus patch and a patch of rhubarb (or ROObob as Grandma Loftus called it).

I was rattling all this (well, much of this) off to a friend a while back. Then he tickled my funny bone by asking, “Do you eat everything you grow?” “Well,” I replied with a smirk, “we give some of it away.” I couldn’t help smiling a bit more as I visualized myself eating ALL of the produce in one big snarfing session (what can I say, I get amused easily). “No,” he wondered, “I mean do you eat all the kinds of vegetables you grow?” “Well sure!” I responded with a grin. By this time my warped mind silently kicked into silliness overdrive with possible responses:

“Well, we like to plant all kinds of weird, disgusting foods so we can watch them mature and them mow them down with the tractor.”

Or…

“No, I just like busting my hiney to grow food so I can make some kick-butt compost with it!!”

Or maybe…

“Whadda you nuts?? Vegetables are disgusting!!”

Seriously though, yes we do indeed eat what we grow; and I’ve gotten better at planning the garden according to what my Beautiful Girlfriend and I both like to eat. That’s not very difficult since we both pretty much like any vegetable put in front of us. She’s very tolerant when I plant different things for the fun of it. Ground cherries are one example of a home run with my Honey Pie, she really loves those things. Well OK, I like them a lot too!!

A byproduct of living the first 3 years of marriage in the south was that both of us are smitten by greens. Kale, wild cabbage (the heirloom kale ancestor), Swiss chard, and beet greens are some of our favorites. We eat them steamed as a side vegetable; mixed into a stir fry; or added to an egg “scramble” (sauteed mushrooms, onions and other veggies cooked into scrambled eggs with a little shredded cheese on top).

In case any of you are wondering, yes, we did consider ourselves vegetarians early in our marriage. We ate eggs and dairy products, but no meat. Why? Health reasons of course, but our belief system was evolving too. We didn’t like the idea of killing so we could eat; but then we watched shows like Wild America and Nature. Those programs illustrated the fact that all animals, large and small, are part of a diverse tapestry of beings that will either eat or be eaten. Kind of flushed the killing stuff in the toilet for me… and besides, to paraphrase a bumper sticker, if our Creator didn’t intend for us to eat animals, they should never have been made of meat!! I did my share of hunting when I was a kid, but would rather not do that anymore. I am grateful for those who kill the animals for me so I can eat their delicious meat molecules.

And no, Jeffrey Dahmer did NOT speak from the grave to have me say that!!

To this day we still eat a lot of veggies, and we really don’t eat very much red meat at all… our animal protein comes mostly from dead fish and dead birds like turkey or chicken. So if it’s a vegetable, yes we are probably “gonna eat that.” We still eat meatless meals occasionally, and we have not suffered from a lack of protein. We learned years ago that when cooked together, of beans and rice (for example) provide the necessary amino acids our bodies need to make complete proteins. Could we be OK with being vegan? Probably.

Do we wanna? Ummm… no.

Ahh… Springtime. We will soon be seeing stuff just like this, right??

Luck of the Irish(?)

This coming Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, and many of you will be whooping it up to honor the Irish. I have mixed feelings about the holiday, mostly due to what I’ve learned about my heritage over the years. Some of my roots can be traced to Vikings (Norway), some to Ireland, and some to Austria-Hungary (<–huh?  Click the link). Perhaps you have read about how the Vikings conquered the Irish during the American Revolution?

Ah yes, I remember it well. Way back in October of nineteen hundred and sixty two, Columbus sailed the oceans blue, Of course any schoolchild can remember the three ships he used to discover Atlanta: El Niño, the Pinto, and the Sacagawea. Having finally been discovered, the residents of Atlanta rejoiced with great happiness and had cause for wildly joyous celebration. It was at this time Coca Cola was invented by mixing wonderfully flavorful ingredients with the melting snows of March just before the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. Then of course the Vikings came from Minnesota and conquered everyone involved by kabonking them on the noggins with their footballs.

Perhaps I am a little less than accurate with my history, but if you don’t believe me the burden of proof is on YOU!! HAHAHA!! So THERE!

Seriously folks, I just flew in from the coast, and boy are my arms tired. Doctor!! It hurts when I do this! (DON’T DO THAT!!)

Anyway, you see, it’s like this: Dad was 100% Norwegian (a Viking). Mom was a mix: our maternal grandfather was straight from Ireland; and our maternal grandmother was Austro-Hungarian (she grew up speaking German), which means absolutely nothing to today’s schoolchildren. Anyway, Mom used to celebrate St. Patty’s Day like any good Catholic should. We each had to wear something green, had to say “Erin go bragh” at least once on the special day, and ate corned beef and cabbage. St. Patty’s Day was kinda fun, and it also meant something very important to us kids: spring and of course the Easter Bunny were right around the corner. Life as a kid was simple, everything had a very brief explanation, and you were cool with it. And as a kid growing up on Long Island, New York I hung out with lots of Irish kids. We were not only good friends, we even had some physical traits in common: freckles for example. I had lots, they had lots. They had red hair. I had really blonde hair as kid which turned reddish brown as I got older.

So then I made a big mistake: I grew up. Am I a ninny or what?? I did what so many others did while growing up: I sought answers. I did crazy and exotic things like watch public TV. And there on Nova or something was this history of the Vikings. Those crazy guys were the gang members of yesteryear, and they terrorized much of Europe and beyond. And I learned that of one of their favorite hangouts was: Ireland. No big deal, right?? WRONG!!! It yanked the innocence carpet right out from under me. From what the historians had to say, the Irish never really had freckles or red hair until the Vikings came a-conquering and started messing with their gene pool. All that raping and pillaging left its mark..

OK so like, what’s the big deal?? Well I’ll tell ya, it spoiled St. Patty’s Day for me, awright?? Vikings on my Dad’s side and Irish on my Mom’s side. Hmmm…. According to history, my ancestors raped and pillaged my ancestors!! Gack!! I hope they have apologized over the years. The Irish have endured many hardships over many, many years; which appears to be how the phrase “Luck of the Irish” originated. My mother used to say that to us if we fell off our bikes and got all scratched up or something. “You got the luck of the Irish, boy!!” she’d exclaim.

Lots of folks get into the spirit by eating a meal with corned beef and cabbage. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t totally dislike corned beef and cabbage, but once a year is definitely enough for me. We usually have some for each St. Patrick’s Day because my Beautiful Girlfriend enjoys it.

What appears to be a primarily American custom is green beer. Well none of that for me thanks; I’m allergic to alcoholic beverages (they make me break out in traffic violations) (among other things) (you wouldn’t want to go there, trust me) (OK enough with the parentheses already!!). When I was much younger I set out to prove I was allergic to alcoholic beverages; but even then green beer never really sounded yummy to me.

I truly hope all the Irish enjoy their upcoming holiday. All of my silly bantering cannot take anything away from the importance of St. Patrick to Ireland and its wonderful people. Those who know me understand that I’m pretty much full of cabbage soup (or something) much of the time. If I have offended anyone please allow me to invite you over and I’ll try to make nice… we can sit by the fireplace and dip our corned beef in some lime Kool-Aid, and I’ll even let you draw a shamrock on my arm with a magic marker. Then we could sing a few verses of “When Irish Eyes Are Smilin’.” I’ll even wear my Viking hat and clunk myself silly with my reindeer antler shillelagh.

Or not.

Erin Go Bragh!!

This week’s “Irish” cartoon is pure fairy tale, but I remember enjoying it in glorious black and white as a kid.


Sick Up And Fed With Spring…ing

Hello?? For why we are again making an hour of sleep go once again bye bye?? I mean hey, this coming Sunday we’ll all settle in for a long winter’s nap (technically it’s still winter ya know), and all of a sudden between 2:00 AM and 2:00:01 AM a phenomenon I shall now hereby proclaim as “The KERBLOOEY!! Sleep Sucker” arrives and a precious hour of sleep is flushed into the netherworld.

This is a horrible thing to force upon gentle people like us!!

Sure, I love the fact that here in Beautiful West Michigan we have daylight till 10:30 PM in the summer time. So let’s keep the stinking clocks on Daylight Savings Time all year round, darn it anyway!! For those who miss setting the clocks back an hour in the fall, we could make a National Come To Work Late Day and let everyone get that extra hour of sleep. You know, just to be nice.

There are several areas in the world who have wised up and dispensed with the Daylight Slavings Time Nonsense (DSTN). Arizona. Hawaii. Iceland. Armenia. Actually, according to the Google most countries don’t! So hey, it’s not difficult. Just need to leave the stinkin’ clocks alone!!! Can you tell I’m whining? OK it’s not really that big of a deal. I just wanted to rant a little. Heck, we can’t get our lawmakers to pass much more important stuff without expecting them to fix Daylight Kerblooey Sleep Suction times.

So I guess I’ll have to accept the Daylight Extension Time Thing (DETT) and run around the house to change all 39 of our clocks on Saturday night. Yes. All 5 of our clocks. Oh wait, there’s the coffee pot… OK all 6 of our clocks. And because I’m retired, I will still probably get up at the crack of 9, although this time it will be the crack of 10. Oh goodness, that’s too late outside!!

Well fooey. Guess I’ll just have to break down and get up earlier. Or is that later?? I just don’t know!! All I know is that this clock changing is giving me a rash on both ears, which can be alleviated only by rubbing copious amounts of salsa on a small but unsuspecting speaker cabinet. Yes, I am so convinced that the clock changing habit we observe is completely nonsensical, and therefore merits a good sloshing of multicolored ventricular marble wigglings into several misshapen 1.74 liter Tupperware goat sampling receptacles. It is by this reasoning I hereby conclude this week’s silly blog thing with a sentence that is not intended for commercial nor domestic use; unless of course one sneezes into the gravy dish and the contents are consumed heartily by Ronko The Electic Clown Chowder Chef.

Thank you. Now for the clock movies.

Another Day Older

My belly button and I celebrated another birthday today. I think the rest of my body got older also… Don’t worry, everything still works. In fact, things may even be improving somewhat… at least in some respects. Life is pretty darn good. However, since I’ve been an official member of the AARP for awhile now, I’d like to share a few observations I’ve made about this “getting older” business:

Some down sides:

1) The hair in my ears, nose, and eyebrows grows better than the hair on my head. I figure if I lose too much more of my mop, I’ll just let all the other stuff grow out and comb it over. Anyone for styled eyebrows??

Q) My body stores fat more readily than ever before. I’m beginning to believe that all I really have to do is LOOK at food and I will gain ten pounds. Unless, of course, I’m looking at celery or carrots; they don’t fatten me. But it seems to take 430 days of drinking 34 glasses of water a day and eating nothing but bunny food to effect the loss of 1/2 pound or so. Unless I exercise. If I run 27 miles before I have breakfast, I might be able to lose another 0.001 pound.

9) I am older than many of the people I know and love! This has never happened to me before. They don’t seem to mind, though. Folks just humor me when I reminisce about when the Beatles came over on the Mayflower and stuff like that. “Remember the race riots in ’67? Oh, you weren’t born yet? Ok, you, shut up and go away. Wait… you gonna eat that Twinkie??”

F) The “good old days” consisted of obsolete technology. I’m not talking IBM 8088 computers or “new” calculators that would actually do a square root and only cost $60; either. I’m talking Univac, a huge computer built with vacuum tubes, and watching my favorite TV programs in glorious Black and White, because that’s all there was. Radios and TV sets all had tubes in them, and you had to wait 30 seconds for them to warm up before getting anything. Oh, and not to forget record players. Man, I’m getting ancient here!

But believe it or don’t, there really are some positive things about this aging business:

A) I don’t have the emotional roller coaster I used to ride around on all the time. Man, growing up was the pits!! Well, OK, not all the time. There was quite a bit of fun along the way. However, don’t know about you folks, but this boy sure spent way too much time weeping and gnashing his teeth. These days, I try to be grateful and count my blessings instead of whining and numbering all my troubles. Works most of the time. And I have more patience than I’ve ever had…

Take driving, for example. Used to be a daily thing for me to get totally ticked off at idiot drivers. Someone would cut me off, right? So I’d get an adrenaline rush, and catch up to them to yell something like this: “Hey Chicken Lips! Examine my angry red face while I display one of my more memorable fingers to your eye things! You have no brain! I question your ancestral heritage! I believe you are a bark eater!” All the while, my skin would be crawling with adrenaline goose bumps, and that funny metallic taste would linger in the back of my mouth. I didn’t really like the feeling, but it took quite awhile for me to put it all into perspective. Nowadays, if a stinky-face driving person does me some dirt, I mutter something like, “oh thank you, Flavorhead. See you in the obituaries.” They never get to see me lose my temper, and with any luck, I never see them again, anyway. This is probably a good thing, because you just never know who might have a bazooka or something lying next to their driver’s seat.

12) I still chase my wife, and better yet, she still lets me catch her. And it’s better than ever! Except for that one time she wanted to invite that camel over for pizza and fake wine (maybe that was a dream).

C5) In spite of the fact that we’ve had some health challenges, we are grateful and content most of the time. It’s not difficult for us to understand how blessed we are… there is always some poor soul who is much worse off then we are.

Perhaps the biggest bonus I’ve acquired along the path of this journey we call life is peace of mind. I’ve learned (albeit sometimes the hard way) to use a few coping skills that have helped me mellow out quite a bit. Like my reaction to change, for example. I’m not really fond of Dennis Miller’s brand of humor, but he said a pretty neat thing awhile ago: “Life is like riding the bus. It requires change.” Lots of stuff changing at home. And in the news?? Forget about it awreddy!! Stuff that used to make my brain explode now simply seems like an annoying little fly to be swatted out of my face. What’s that expression…? Don’t sweat the petty things. Or is that don’t pet the sweaty things?? You know, those two rules for stress management: 1) don’t sweat the small stuff, and 2) everything is small stuff.

It reminds me of a poem… maybe because I made it up:

Das Bizzyvink
by Me, the Person

The stress tried to kill me, but right now it’s gone.
I mowed all the garbage and dumped out the lawn.
I tried driving backwards, ’twas a new way to say,
“Hey all of you ninnies, get out of my way!”
When stress is a color, it’s probably red.
It burns up my innards and blushes my head.
It’s really much better to chill out, don’t you see,
So there’s not too much STRESS and too little of ME.
Ya shoor, in my head there arose such a clatter,
From stressing about things that really don’t matter.
But these days I’m much better, if you don’t mind my saying.
More fun I am having, more games I am playing.
Well, I’m hoping to take stuff less seriously now.
I’ve been here before, so I think I know how.
I’ll try to stay happy and whistle while working.
More “Happy Joy Joy,” and less “You are a Jerk”-ing.

Hey, even though I’m retired, there is still much work to be done. Well, this is me leaving now. Hope all of you had a nice time on my belly button’s birthday. And my friend Hyram C. Glimore has often said, “Please remember that it’s better to be you than for you to be me, and that although you can count to 8, “eight” is a word.”

One benefit to being older than dirt is I got to enjoy lots of funny, talented people from way back when. So hey, how about some funny stuff?? OK thank you.