Two Years, 5 Months, 1 Day

Well Boys and Girls, it’s been awhile since I announced My Retirement Countdown In Superfluous Capital Letters and Expensive, Imported Clarified Butter Catapults that not Only Fling Large Amounts Of Butter in ALL directions, but also find New Meaning in Donated Capillary Floss Finding Missions which of course have never been discovered yet so please let’s not talk about those.

Thank You.

Yes, it’s that time again which happens pretty much every day I’m at work: I reflect upon the number of years, months and days I shall have to wait before the Great Retirement Lever is pulled with glee, sending balloons filled with sand over the rails of highway bridges that traverse the El Flampo River in the southeastern corners of Northern New Mashpottle.

In fact, today at the movies we saw the preview for a flick that will be released on March 2; the day after my belly button was built. As the release date was announced, I leaned toward my Beautiful Girlfriend’s Beautiful Ear and whispered unto her, “when that movie comes out I’ll have 1 year, 11 months, and 29 days till I retire!!” She nodded about 723 times in the course of twelve seconds, which caused her cranium to fly about with great speed and camouflage. In other words, she kinda grunted as if to say, “ya, OK… awright awreddy!!”

She may have heard the countdown a few thousand times.

It’s getting closer… and the more I announce the years, months, and days, the more the years, months, and days are announced by me. This is the way of my talking face parts. At work, I’ve found myself saying things like, “yes, these computers are leased, and everything needs to be returned when the lease expires. The lease is for 4 years. However, in 2 years, 5 months, and 1 day, I will not care about such things. But hey, who’s counting??” “Sounds like maybe YOU are…” my friends say with a smirk. Then they show their happiness for me by throwing expired pudding on my shoes and writing funny sayings on top of my eyebrows with markers.

Feels like it did when I was halfway through my tour in the Air Force. I am a “Vietnam Era Veteran,” which means I received much of the benefits of having served during that time; such as the GI Bill which paid for my college. Also got a VA loan that enabled us to buy our home. I served stateside for my entire tour, so the sacrifices I made for our country were minimal indeed compared to many who lost life and / or limb. But when in the Air Force, your life belongs to your Uncle (Sam), and most of us knew our “getting out” countdown by heart.

These days, I cheat because I have an app that plops the countdown on the screen of my work computer when it boots up every morning. Sometimes it gives me hope, other times it makes me want to smear jellyfish on my sandwich at 2:37 AM just to relieve the stress of working all the time; and I work on computers and all the people in our department who know what they’re doing are either leaving the company for another job or retiring; and that leaves the rest of us holding the bag full of slimy technological marshmallow residue that will break at a moment’s notice and then people like me have to figure out who’s still here and can fix this crap and HOLY COW everybody is freaking out because they can’t print their reports and their screens are oozing melted cheese while internally there is purple smoke and Oh Jeez this is no fun anymore.

HOWEVER… in 2 years, 5 months, and 1 day, I won’t care AT ALL about slimy marshmallow residual technology.

I’m really glad it’s Friday.

How’s this for a diversion?

Absolutely No Complaints

Quite a journey, all this life stuff. Very easy to get frustrated, maybe even angry, and certainly sad about the crazy things people say or do; especially when you’re directly affected. For example, I’m in the midst of a giant “learning experience” right now; the result of being a bit too trusting and kind. I just can’t help it, that’s the type of person I am. However, there are people in this world who take advantage of trust or kindness; and the result is often not very pretty.

My Beautiful Girlfriend was on a camping trip with her friends, so I was a bachelor for the past few days. Normally I’m very OK with being alone, but I felt vulnerable, ignorant, insulted, hurt, and sad when I realized how far things can go before the brakes are applied on a situation that I thought was based on trust and mutual respect. And of course work has been a big mess lately. Then I made the mistake of watching the news. Too much bad juju going on right now with all the Global Storming and War Talk. Oh, and to top it all off my cat didn’t come home when I expected; so my magnifying mind projected that he’d been eaten by a coyote or some such nastiness.

I’m not too proud to say it, I had a good cry.

Thankfully, all was not lost. Not in the least bit. The cat came home (I hugged him and called him a stinky monkey). I reached out to friends, a couple of whom had experienced the exact same thing I’m enjoying. Very helpful. Then I contacted the person in question and let them know it was time to part ways. That went pretty amicably. Then I hung out with some friends again some more, and things got even better. Now, my Honey Pie is home; we picked up our grandsons for the weekend; and I’m right as rain.

Bottom line of all this venting is this: I have absolutely no problems in this world. After all that spewing of sadness, one might say, “ya right!! Doesn’t sound like it Kenny boy!!” Well, even though I was in the throes of despair, with a little help from my friends (oh, and especially those God People) (whoever they are) I was able to come out the other side with much gratitude and peace. Took some work to get there, but I’ve acquired some coping tools along the way of this marvelous journey we call Life.

Wasn’t always so. Not by a long shot. In the Before Times, I would run for intoxicants and poison my surroundings with angry utterances and breaking of things. I’m very VERY grateful that those times are long gone. And I’m especially grateful that no matter what the universe plops in front of me, I’m always keenly aware that I’m a very fortunate person.

I have plenty to eat, a nice home, a car that works well. I am blessed with the love of The Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe. I’m blessed with the love of my children and grandchildren. I’m blessed with the love of friends, and yes, even the love of the stinky monkey kitty cat (he often greets me near the door when I get home from work).  And there are may more examples I could name.

So much awful stuff in this world when I watch the news. So many people suffering. So many more that will suffer if we can’t find a way to end war. So much. So you see, I have no problems. I have absolutely no reason to complain. But I’m human; so I probably will from time to time. I hope you will forgive me when I whine.

As a dear friend of mine used to say, “you want a little cheese with that whine??”

Well I may not like everyone… but I try to LOVE everyone.  Not always easy, but it’s all you need…

No News Is Good News

It’s getting difficult to watch the news these days. Our lightning-fast media bring reports from all over the globe and flash them in front of our faces, often while they are happening in real time. Sure, it’s important to be informed, lest we become complacent and start resting on our laurels. After all, if we didn’t hear about what was going on, how could we act to effect change? Unfortunately, however, too often the news media have become voracious marketeers. Reports about sad and disturbing events have become their livelihood; sometimes with complete disregard for the victims of horrific events.

I saw a video recently of a CNN reporter who was put in her place by a poor woman with kids who had just lost everything because of Hurricane Harvey. The reporter asked the woman what the experience was like, and of course the poor lady reacted with disgust from the mere act of being interviewed in such a manner.

Manners… don’t people have manners anymore? Not sure about anyone else, but I don’t think it’s very good manners to stuff a microphone into the face of someone who was freshly uprooted because of a terrible storm.  My heart aches for those who are suffering, and my head is on fire worrying about my loved ones who are bracing for Hurricane Irma. And please, let’s not get started on all the war crap going on around the globe.

Well my friends, there really IS good news out there, and so I thought I’d take this opportunity to spread some of it around. Some of the links to follow were sent to me by friends, others I simply stumbled upon and stashed into my brain. So without further ado, here are some places you can go if you hunger for some uplifting stuff.

One of my new favorites: UTR Michigan (Under The Radar Michigan). Very cool stuff here. Saw a broadcast of their program on our local public TV station recently, but you can also watch programs on their site for free. I’m very grateful to have been transplanted to Michigan… a great place to live in my professional opinion. This guy points out just how cool it really is at

Then there’s Yes! Magazine. A dear friend gave me a subscription for a Christmas gift awhile ago and I’ve been smitten ever since. Articles about all types of positive actions around the globe are chronicled here. They can be found at

Then of course my organic gardener soul loves these: Organic Gardening magazine’s and of course The Mother Earth News: Oh, and another favorite, the Seed Savers Exchange:

Oh! We mustn’t forget “the pooper book” website!! Say wha?? Well, that’s what our son calls the Old Farmers Almanac. His nickname for the Almanac is one of love, I’m sure, and was derived from the area of the house the magazine is most often found. Every year I buy three of them: one for our son, one for our daughter and her family, and one for us. Not sure the website qualifies as news, and actually the hard copy is more fun than the website. Nonetheless, you can find it at

Well friends, I could go on and on but suffice it to say that there really IS good news out there if you look for it. And the older I get, the more good news I seem to need. There is more than enough heartache in this world; and when I find myself focusing too closely on just the nasty stuff, I get rather sad. I’m sure I’ll continue to keep my ear to the ground and stay informed, but there are times when no news really is good news.

And good news is just plain good!

One of my least favorite topics is politics; but this 1937 Betty Boop cartoon shows that having a mayor like Grampy is just plain cool.

We Stained The Deck And Are Still Married

Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I married the Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe. She can’t help being lovely, it just comes natural to her. I really am truly grateful every day that not only is she beautiful, but she’s my best friend, and also I get to kiss her and snuggle and stuff like that there. That being said, even her Amazing Loveliness sometimes cannot prepare us for a horrific reality of life: BIG CHORES. We really don’t like big chores, especially when neither of us have had any experience with said chore. One case in particular began today after much anticipation and weather watching.

Earlier this year we decided we should stain our deck. A good idea, it’s made of wood and is 11 years old already. Until today it has never been stained. My Beautiful Girlfriend (the lovely lady who let me marry her 44 years ago) hired a nice man to come blast the deck clean with pressure washers and bleachy chemicals. He did a great job and made the wood look very clean indeed.

I bought the stain a few months ago, and after some delay with the deck cleaning job (the nice man had a scheduling whoopsie and showed up a couple months late); it was time to plan for deck staining time. This of course was completely dependent on the weather: in the event of rain you have to allow the wood to dry for a few days. Needless to say, it rained just often enough to annoy us greatly.

Here we are now on Labor Day weekend. I normally take a couple days vacation in conjunction with a long weekend so I can get lots of time off. And I figured if push came to shove I could spend my vacation staining the deck with the help of my Very Attractive Wife Lady. That fun began today.

Remember how I said earlier that neither of us really like BIG CHORES, especially ones with which we’ve had no experience? Well, not sure about anyone else, but we both got a little grouchy. She started off very grouchy, then apologized. Then it was my turn to be a stinker-butt, and I apologized. Then both of us decided that the stinker-grouchy-butt routine was not very helpful, and we managed to just get things done without trying to remove each others’ vital organs.

A friend of ours told my Sweet And Amazing Honey Pie that this deck staining job thing would only take 3 hours. Apparently our friend forgot to use the time multiplier during her ciphering… 3 hours was chewed up in nothing flat and we have several more hours to go.

Upon seeing the result, we were pretty pleased with ourselves; in spite of the mess we made. Some decorative rocks now have speckles. In the flower bed that trails around the outside of the deck is a little concrete kitty that is “sleeping.” It’s beginning to look more like a calico. We’re taking a break because the sun went ni-night; and besides, every joint and muscle in our bodies is crying for mercy. More fun tomorrow when we hope to finish it all off.

Both of us groaned that we woulda-shoulda-coulda hired all this out; but reality quickly slapped us in the nostrils because that would be rather expensive. Call us selfish, but we’re getting closer to retirement and are trying to make decisions that save us some cash. After all, as my Voluptuous Va-Va-Va-Voom Best Friend Person said, this deck staining business “is not rocket science.” Good thing it isn’t; not sure our home would survive the explosions. Hey, we made pretty on the deck, and our marriage actually survived!! Truly miraculous.

Please, no more BIG CHORES for this year.


Could have been worse, we could have chosen to build a boat…

An Ecliptical Anniversary

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 me. You see, way back on August 21 of 1973, when the internet was made of string and soup cans, The Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe allowed me to marry her. I had pestered her for many moons to allow me to become her hubby, and now this coming Monday we’ll celebrate 44 years of wedded bliss.

Oh, and I guess there’s some kind of eclipse going on that day also.

Well OK, that’s what many of you have been talking about lately. The eclipse I mean. Last one like it for the U.S. was way back in 1970. 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 here:

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. I’m taking a half day off to be with my sweetie. I’ve learned from the interwebs that around these parts, the eclipse will begin at 12:56 PM and last until about 3:41 PM Eastern Daylight time. Maximum darkness will happen at about 2:20 PM here. Plug in your zip code at this site for eclipse times at a city near you:

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:

Now one of the coolest things I remember from the 1970 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.

Yes my friends, this anniversary will be special indeed. The weather forecast is looking like partly sunny with a chance of showers after 2 PM. That figures… but doesn’t matter. It will still get crazy dark during the day and I’ll be with my soul mate. And you know what’s really cool?? Our marriage just keeps getting better every year!!

Who could ask for anything better than that?

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

“Rocky” The Corn Thief

So there I was, minding my own business, harvesting the ripe tomatoes before the rain came. And we actually got a REAL rain for a change!! Almost an inch at our house. While other parts of Michigan have been getting some pretty good moisture over the summer, here in our little corner of Beautiful West Michigan it’s been pretty doggone dry. Because of that, if you don’t pick your ripe or nearly ripe tomatoes before it rains, the extra water makes them split open.

So there I was, minding my own business (oh wait, I said that…), and as I was picking the corn, I mean the TOMATOES, I noticed that two of the corn stalks were bent over in a most unnatural way. It only took a few milliseconds for me to know exactly what this was all about… the partially chewed ear of popcorn lying there, crying silently with little chompy marks all over its outer skin places… oh yes, I’ve seen this before, it makes me crazy and sad inside because I don’t plant very much popcorn and now this (or these?) stinkin’ THIEVES are making me so arooo and bipple-dee-bip that I can’t even snibble my fardaklob without flortening even more bold italic words to show how COMPLETELY ANNOYED I AM AT THOSE MASKED MONKEES GETTING INTO MY POPCORN WITHOUT ANY INVITATION OR EVEN A SLIGHT HINT THAT THEY MAY BE WELCOME and that’s quite enough superfluous emphasis for one run-on sentence; thank you very much.

Raccoons. Just like last year. Unlike last year, I may have some reprieve. I put out a live trap last night and this morning there was a corn thief, trapped in Corn Thief Jail. Ha ha on you, you stinkin’ cute little monkey headed brinklebork!! The cat food was excellent bait for your corn thievin’ nostrils!! I really hope you were the “Lone Ranger” in this popcorn raid. Just in case though, I put the trap out again with the hopes of catching other members of your family; if they are near.

A friend of mine has chickens… and he has trapped some thieving raccoons and a couple possums I guess. They are all in heaven now; he accelerated each of their journeys with a .22 calibre shell. Sorry, but I don’t have it in me to kill these thieves. I guess you’re supposed to get a permit to either kill or otherwise remove vermin from your property; but from what I’ve heard not many folks worry about such things. No, I think what happens at my house is they crawl into some kind of wire box and somehow mysteriously disappear. During this magical event, they venture off to an unknown raccoon friendly environment that’s about 10 miles and 2 rivers away from my yard. I’ve never actually trapped one you see. It was a dream. Don’t read the previous paragraph. Oh, you read it already?? Well fine. I’ll deny every word of it.  Besides, you have to catch me…

The most effective method to stop the garden raids is of course prevention. I’ve talked about an electric fence for a couple years now. This was the year it was supposed to happen… but as is often the case I forgot to quit procrastinating. Now the corn is well on its way to maturity. Although I dashed off to the Farm and Home store last night and went nuts buying electric fence surprise supplies, I’m embarking on a learn-as-I-go journey to put a row of ouchy-wawa wire (that’s technical talk for HOLY MACKEREL THAT’S A BIG SHOCKEROONY) on top of my existing 5 foot high wire fence. I think I have a nice design; so wish me luck.

My grandiose plan for all things like this is to quit procrastinating either tomorrow or the day after that. No need to rush into things you know. Everything falls into place, especially change out of your pockets when you sit on the couch. Did you ever look under the driver’s seat in your car?? There’s treasure under there I tell you!! This is all from things falling into place. OK, maybe I’ll actually have to work to finish the electric fence surprise. That will take some effort.

Maybe tomorrow…

Today’s video has nothing to do with corn theft; rather it is a rendition of one of my favorite Beatle songs. Not sure if my little corn thief’s name was Rocky… might have been a girl. But then a friend of ours named Richelle actually is known to us as Rocky.

I’m guessing many of you have heard The Beatles version of Rocky Raccoon.  If not, you can find it on the YouTubeThing.  I knew there would be no Beatles video of it; but I rather like Richie Havens’ version of Rocky Raccoon.

Perseid Meteor Showers: Snap, Crackle, KABOOM!!

Please do not be frightened, for what I am about to relate is merely cosmic truth that has occurred annually for at least 12 and maybe even 47,000. I just don’t know. But it’s true and that’s all there is to it. OK?? So don’t bother me about this ever again or I’ll start up that dead bug over there. You see that dead bug? Well, to the untrained eye, that bug is dead. But all I need to do is insert these tiny little electrodes in his vinkabules, apply the 3,047 volts from my electric fingernail removal tool, and he’ll be making zucchini bread in no time. And it will be on your conscience for bugging me about all this cosmic truth business. I hope you’re happy now.

So are you ready to receive this information without interrupting the camouflage now? I should hope so.

Just sit back and relax, and be aware that everything you hold dear is in danger of exploding and being zoofled to smithereens. “Of course,” some of you are probably yelling, “he must be talking about the Perseid meteor showers!!” Oh… none of you were yelling that?? Well, maybe you are instead quietly saying, “what’s the deal with this guy… does he eat Legos or something??” Well, for those of you who are saying that, the answer is yes, and my Lower Jaw Lego Chewing Machine is very tired so please be nice.

OK. Back to this horrible cosmic truth I’ve been ranting about. The Perseid meteor shower is an annual occurrence, and this year the best times to look for shooting stars is after midnight on August 11 and 12. Seriously. It happens every year around this time… and some meteors will be visible before and after those days but according to what I’ve read on the interwebs, the peak times are next Friday and Saturday. Look for them to come out of the northeastern sky. You may see as many as two per minute, depending on how many Burger Kings or other light pollution sources you have in your neighborhood. You could always ask them to turn the lights off, but they may not care about any stinking shooting stars. Gotta waste energy to make money, you know. Gotta get that global warming furnace stoked up so my next pair of tennies burst into flames as I stroll down the sidewalk during a heat wave. Thank you very much Mr. Businessman Energy Wasting People Who Leave The Lights On All Stinking Night Long!!

Alright, I’m sorry. I digress. Something I normally never do…

I must now take this time to please ask you to protect yourselves during the meteor showers. Always, always wear a fireproof bathrobe while you’re outside viewing meteor showers. You may also want to flip on the force field to protect your house from the snap, crackle, KABOOM always never happens when an 85 ton meteorite lands on your chimney.  What??  You don’t have a force field???  Ah HAH!  You sold it at the flea market didn’t you??  Have you no science brains?  You won’t catch me out there with no fireproof clothing… And although we don’t have a force field, I have this aluminum bat right here.  Yup, I’m gonna be up on the roof with my modified 55 gallon steel drum overalls, bat in hand, always at the ready.  For a helmet, I modified a nice Revere Ware pot with a pillow stuffed inside. Fireproof Noggin Protection Device. When one of those fireballs puts a bead on my house, I’m gonna take that bat and smack it back into Who Knows Where.  

 I also have a heat resistant meteorite gauge mounted on the fence, right next to my rain gauge.  I want to make sure I know exactly how many inches of meteors we got during the meteor showers.  Actually the meteorite gauge is there for a selfish motive… my Honey Pie didn’t want me to get a force field because she says it’s too expensive.  I guess I’ll have the last laugh when that meteorite gauge is full of smoldering bits in the morning. Right??  Somebody say yes….

Well, hopefully you will all have clear skies and be able to see one of nature’s wonders.  There have been some years when the Perseids have been a very awesome show.  At any rate, I’ll be up on the roof, aluminum bat in hand, hoping to God that we don’t have any lightning.  

Might mess up my hair.

Perhaps a nice trip to Mars after the meteor shower…

Adventures In Car Repair

Once upon a time, in a brand new16 year old car, the air conditioning died and the Spoiled Americans who owned the car were very dismayed (especially the American Wife). Because the Spoiled American Husband really enjoyed staying happily married, after many hot summer days (and an upcoming family reunion on the east side of the state) he finally got off his hiney and got the brand new, 2001 Chrysler Town and Country to the Air Conditioning Fixing Guy.

The day of Air Conditioning Fixing came, and the Air Conditioning Fixing Guy called and spoke in very technical jargon: “I can’t fix your air conditioning unless your cooling fan works. Your cooling fan doesn’t work.” Well this sounded a bit fishy to the Spoiled American Husband. But being the (relatively) obedient person he is, he took the brand new 16 year old car to the Normal Car Fixing Guys (who don’t do air conditioning) and said, “the Air Conditioning Fixing Guy says he can’t fix the air conditioning because the cooling fan doesn’t work. Seems to me it’s OK, but would you please check for me?”

The Normal Car Fixing Guy called back: “there’s nothing wrong with your cooling fan. I kinda got into an argument with the Air Conditioning Fixing Guy when I called him, but I’m sure your cooling fan is OK.” So by now you all have probably guessed maybe that I am the Spoiled American Husband Guy so I will save my word count and herewith refer to myself in the first person. That is, of course, unless a second or third person comes to visit and claims to be me, in which case I’ll probably not be able to finish the story for many more minutes.


So I call the ACFG (Air Conditioning Fixing Guy) and say, “well I had my cooling fan checked, it’s OK. But you know, you serviced the air conditioning and replaced the compressor about a year ago, and now it is already broken. For why this is so quickly dead? Is there no warranty on the compressor?” There was some silence on the other end, and the ACFG basically gave the telephone equivalent of a shoulder shrug: “uhh… no… it’s been a year… ummm… no; no warranty.” I paused, and said, “well OK, when can you take another look?” “I’m booked till Monday,” he said. So I told him I would consult with my Beautiful American Wife Person regarding scheduling and get back with him.

Now I am knowing it’s time to do the Google search for a nice, shiny, New Air Conditioning Fixing Guy. I am also getting weary to the point of not with good grammar typing or word usage correct. And also even not caring about it really too!! So I look at the reviews and found that a neighbor of mine was indeed pleased with the service at the New Air Conditioning Fixing Place I found. Atsa nice. OK. So I go there and they check and find a bad compressor. I am now tell them “yes I know, the other Air Conditioning Fixing Guy replaced it about a year ago.” “Didn’t he give you a warranty??” “No,” I said with some harrumphing. “Well,” the Nice Office Lady says, “we give a warranty on all our repairs: 3 years or 36,000 miles.” “I like that warranty a lot,” I retorted. I schedule the repair, we drop the car off Sunday night for the Monday working time, and wonder how, oh HOW CAN WE SURVIVE WITH JUST ONE CAR??? OH GOD OH GOD!!!

Monday comes. More waiting. No call. Here comes the late afternoon. Oy yoy yoy…

Finally the New Air Conditioning Fixing Guy calls me and says, “your compressor is bad. Do you know you need to replace the expansion valve and the dryer unit? Ya, if you don’t do that the compressor won’t last very long.” “Pretty sure the other ACFG didn’t do that,” I replied with a sigh. “No worries, we’ll get you fixed up!!” said the NACFG (New ACFG). “When can you do that?” I asked. “Looks like Wednesday is open.” “OK thanks,” I said obediently. We drop off the car again. Again we are cry of our now having only one car, Oh God OH GOD.

Wednesday is almost gone now. Oh God. They call again… “there’s a part we can’t get till tomorrow morning.” I try hard to conceal my sadness. “OK… will it for sure be done tomorrow?” “Yes, no problem,” the Nice Office Lady replied.

Thursday. Tick tock, tick tock… afternoon arrives. Late afternoon.

Yay, I cheer with Great Impatience Now!!  (I cheer with sadness and worrisome sarcasm.)

The Nice Office Lady finally calls and tells me that the bill will be about $818. Well by now I am rolling in gooey, sticky happy sauce, because the first “fix it” job cost a bit over $600 about a year ago. No warranty. Now I get to enjoy a Brand New Bill from the NACFG for $818. Is that cool or what?? And this amount was prefaced with the following, when the Nice Office Lady at the NACFG place told me, “well, your air conditioning works great on the passenger side; but not so good on the driver’s side.” “I can live with that I think, my Beautiful Wife Person is the one who really needs the air conditioning to work.  But wait,” I hesitated, “can you fix the driver’s side? How much would that run?” She commenced to ciphering, and the new bill was looking like it was gonna exceed $1000.

For air conditioning.

In a 16 year old car.


Uh uh.



“OK,” they said. And when I came in to get the car, the Nice Office Lady went over the details of the VERY NICE WARRANTY (seriously, it was very nice) with me. I thanked them all with great exultation, and on the way home I fiddled intently with the temperature controls and I think… maybe… PERHAPS I may have noticed an improvement of air conditioning on the driver’s side.


I dunno.

So, the moral of the story is: we are spoiled rotten. The brand new, 2001 Chrysler Town And Country will now be cooler inside than it is outside when the summer heat returns. Otherwise, it’s in pretty good shape; comfortable to ride in; and runs great. Nice radio… it even gets AM!! I really love AM radio (but that’s another story). And it’s paid for… no car payments at our house.

Spoiled Americans. That’s what we are.

I think next time I go for the deliciously expensive car repair, I will help them to cipher the bill like Mr. Lou Costello did with his landlord…

Leaf Me Alone, I’m Dusting

Ahhh vacation. I love it!! I’ve been looking forward to working my hiney off during my time off from work. Say wha?? Well yes, I’m working my hiney off… well OK not literally, because then it would hurt to sit down and stuff. But you see, I love to grow food, and when a vegetable gardener has grandchildren, sometimes the garden chores don’t get done as consistently as one would like. This is just fine with me, because I’m very aware that although we currently enjoy “rock star” status with them, we are very aware that this will fade as they grow older. That of course means we spend as much time with them as we can.

I’ve been known to complain about how weedy the garden is; and my Beautiful Girlfriend Wife Lady is very tolerant of my whining. She just says, “oh well!!” Then of course I reply, “well work greatly interferes with my free time.” I don’t think she’s gonna let me quit work for a while yet; and I know all too well that it would economically hurt our ability to retire with any peace of mind. The garden, then, becomes a balancing act between normal chores and family stuff.

Fortunately, my Amazing Honey Pie has been kind enough to refrain from making any plans for me this weekend. Well, we both had grandiose plans for our deck. A wonderful fellow cleaned it professionally and we were hoping to stain it. This has been in the works for some time now; but of course Mother Nature doesn’t really care about our plans. We’re hoping the rain quits for a few days in a row so we can get the job done while I’m off (the stain company says the deck should be rain free for at least two days).

So you know what I’m doing, right? Yes!! I’m staying very busy with the Leaf Brigade! What? Never heard of the Leaf Brigade? Well neither have I, because I just made it up. I’ve been busy weeding… chopping many weeds with my hoe, and pulling many others by hand. Some weeds will die after being uprooted. Those I just lay down on the soil. Others, like quack grass, are more stubborn, and go in a bucket so I can let them be sunburned to death on top of the compost pile. After weeding, I water where the weeds were removed and cover with a nice thick layer of leaves for mulch. Those I mentioned earlier, the weeds that die when uprooted, will feed the worms after I lay the mulch down. And of course the worms will poop in the soil and that feeds the plants.

Yep, the plants really love worm poop. How do I know this? I ask them of course. “How ya doin’ today, Corn?” “Doin’ good Ken… had a nice bowl of worm poop for breakfast.” Well OK maybe they don’t really say that.

Well I got the corn and the potatoes weeded and mulched; now it’s time to attack the beds in the middle of the garden. There I foolishly let the weeds get at least as big as the plants. These are beds that have somewhat thick plantings of strange things like radishes and carrots. Another bed has kale, turnips, and lettuce. And yet another has lettuce brussel sprouts and pak choi. Anyway, they all look like a miniature forest of weeds and food plants. Rather than replant everything (although some of it may be), I water first, then carefully remove the weeds. After the weeds are pulled, it’s time to sprinkle the leaf dust for mulch.

Do what now??

Yes friends, I made leaf dust today. Wouldn’t be the first time, won’t be the last. You see, I’m one of those weirdos who uses leaves all over the place in the garden. I literally take a lawn mower and mow the leaf pile to grind them up. Then I sift the chopped leaves dust through a sifter I made that sits on top of the wheelbarrow.  I like to share pictures of this stuff, so click each picture for a better view if you’re so inclined.

Sifter I build all by myself!

Leaf Dust!

The end result: Leaf Dust! Delicious with milk and sugar and a few slices of banana on top. NO!! It’s for the plants; where it’s too crazy to try to place mulch between the many tiny food plants. If I don’t weed, I ain’t a gonna get no food. And if I don’t mulch, same as it is now, I’ll get lots and LOTS of weeds.

Weeds are OK, but all those veggie plants are a bit more delicious. Don’t you agree?

Well, at least I don’t have the same garden problems as Porky Pig…

Oil And Mowers Don’t Mix

Once upon a time, like this evening, I thought it would be really cool to replace the belts on the mower deck of our brand new 2002 Cub Cadet lawn tractor. Seemed simple enough… “Oh and while I’m at it I might as well change the oil,” I said to myself. Another seemingly simple task.

Well, a mechanic I’m not; and in the realm of garden tractors I’m thinking I have the know-how of a choo choo truck with no interior antibodies. Huh?? Let’s put it this way: I seem to have an affinity for learning things the hard way when it comes to anything with an internal combustion engine.

OK, I’m shaming myself. As you may have guessed by now, things didn’t turn out quite like I planned. I got the mower belts changed without too much difficulty; although it was a whole lot easier getting the deck off the tractor than it was to put it back on. Then for the oil. I looked here and there, and found no evidence of where the oil drain might be. “Oh wait,” I thought, “there’s a thingy with a cap off of it that might be a drainer doodad. Looks like the cap’s been off for a loooong time…

So being the thoroughly modern ignoramus I am, I got on the interwebs and found that the thingy with the cap off was indeed the drainer doodad (please forgive my technical jargon). I tried to follow the instructions: push in slightly and turn counterclockwise to drain the oil.

Well because the drainer doodad was totally gunkified, I couldn’t push in, so I turned counterclockwise and the whole darn thing came off. Now the oil is draining into the tub I have waiting below. Cool, so far. I thought. Then… OH PEEGLESNURGE!! IT’S RUNNING ALL OVER THE POWER TAKE OFF!! I made quick with the rags, but to no avail. Big mess. I did get the gunk out of the drainer doodad so I can use the thingy with the cap next time. But this was this time, and I tried to clean up everything the best I could.

OK… after much weeping and gnashing of teeth, but without throwing any tools or biting my wife’s head off, although I did ask her to quit asking me questions, like “will it start now? Did you get it? Is it going to run?” because after she asked me several of these I would run around the house screaming and crying because of the mess I made and I’m feeling pretty dumb and I didn’t want to make my Beautiful Honey Pie sad by barking at her when she was just wondering how things were coming but holy gazzamoopa I was getting really frustrated and I finally, FINALLY after much finger ouch and crawly grunty times I got it all back together and now it’s time to try the mower and wow by golly it works great but something’s wrong besides this run-on sentence you see because the tractor ain’t cruising so good so WHAT THE HECK IS THE DEAL NOW??

“Oh poop,” I recalled, “I must have oiled the pulleys.”

So now the belt thingy that runs the hydrostatic transmission whatchamahinger is oiled nicely; which of course means it ain’t gonna have much power because it be a-slippin’ all the stinkin’ time. Is that cool or what?? NO!! THAT IS NOT COOL!! So what did I do? I did what any almost-a-mechanic-guy would do: I got out my floor jack and jacked up the hiney of the tractor so I could see what the deal was and A) yes there was oil where it shouldn’t be and 34) the belt should probably have been replaced many moons ago which I think needs to happen at the dealer. Otherwise, I’m a gonna need me a tractor tutor.

I could have avoided all this cockamamie flerping around by not trying to do stuff for which I’m not really well trained. The folks at the Cub Cadet service house would have made some grocery money from me and my tractor would actually do what it’s supposed to do. As it stands now, we should be able to mow… works OK on a flat surface. Gets a little wimpy trying to go up hill though… The old Cub Cadet needs to go to the doctor soon. A real doctor that is… And of course, you probably know what I told my Most Wonderfully Attractive Wife person after all this, right??

“I want ice cream.”

Guess I could take it to these guys…