Feeding Dirt To The Ant Roaster

My Beautiful Girlfriend and I bought a home here in Bear Swamp back in 1982. In those days, for the exorbitant price of $36,900 we were able to purchase a 1940 vintage home with 5 acres of land. We probably could have done a little more research before buying. For example, as I mentioned, we live in a quaint area known to the old timers as Bear Swamp. We bought the place in the summer, when the two creeks that traverse the property were flowing nicely, the grass was nice and green, and the basement was dry. “Did you ever get water in the basement?” we asked the sellers. “No, no” they replied, “no problems.” The following spring brought lots of snow melt that made the creek REALLY wide. And something strange happened: water in the basement. Just enough to let us know we live in a… um… swamp. And these folks didn’t even bother with a sump pump!! We fixed that of course… still get a little water that comes up through the cracks in the concrete, but not nearly as much as before the sump pump was installed.

Looking back I also remember asking, “heater works well?” we queried. “Oh yeah, keeps us nice and warm in the winter.”

Well that’s nice.

Winter came, and our ½ tankful of fuel oil was gone rather quickly. No biggie… didn’t really know what to expect. We filled the tank, and it was gone again in less than a month. Not so good!! Fortunately, the chimney was originally built for a coal furnace, so I knew it would be OK for firewood. Got us a cheapie wood stove and started burning wood. Lots more work, but saved us a bunch of cash.

Since I work for a living, I don’t want to spend all my free time cutting wood; so we buy most of it. Lots of folks out there who want to sell us firewood. Some are better than others. Now my Dad kept me and my brother very busy with firewood when we were kids; so I know a little bit about this wood heating stuff. One of the cardinal rules: seasoned (dry) wood works the best. Sounds like a no-brainer right? And lots of folks say they have seasoned wood for sale.

With wood suppliers, we’ve had good luck and we’ve had bad luck. Good luck is when we get nicely seasoned wood, predominantly oak; nice clean load of logs. That’s the kind of luck we’ve had for the last couple years; but this past time we got about 40 % oak and 60% beech. Oh, and we also got at least 2 cubic yards of soil that I don’t recall ordering. Apparently the front end loader they used to scoop up my wood went just a smidge too deep. I was not very happy when I literally had to use a shovel to get some of the logs out of the pile. And when I bring the logs in the house for the fireplace (actually a furnace with glass doors and fake bricks for pretty), it’s pretty dirty and leaves a nice little mess.

Really bad luck is one of those “learning the hard way” experiences. We ran out of wood a couple of winters ago, so I found a guy who said he had some nice, seasoned oak. Well the wood was green, and about 10% of the logs were full of ants. Can’t really bring logs full of ants in the house… they crawl around while wondering what the heck happened to their home (poor kids…). Well guess what? After exhausting all the logs from the dirt pile, I answered a Craig’s List ad for seasoned oak. Called the guy and he knew who I was!! Then he told me who he was, and I was apprehensive.

“So… your ad says this is seasoned oak? Ready to burn?” I asked. “Yep!” he assured me. So I went ahead and bought two cords. He delivered it after dark, so I didn’t get a good look at it. I did notice it was a bit heavy; and the following day I realized why. Green wood. And just like last time, about 10% of the logs were full of ants.

So this year our wood stove started out eating dirt logs; and when the dirt logs were gone I started roasting ants. I know it sounds cruel to burn the ants. Seriously, my spirit hurts when I embark upon the selfish journey of heating my home with ant infested logs. I keep the logs just outside the door and bring them in only when they can go straight into the fire. And I say a little prayer for the ants.

Needless to say, two of our local firewood suppliers have lost my business. I bet they don’t even know the log driver’s waltz!

A Secret Party That’s Not Really Secret

It’s that time again… my Beautiful Girlfriend is away for the weekend. She and several of her friends have embarked upon a Women’s Retreat; and of course boys are not invited. That’s OK… I had chores to do. I took advantage of the sunshine today and brought in some firewood to warm our bones. We do have natural gas heat but we like the way wood feels much better. And it’s pretty in our “fireplace” (it’s a furnace that looks like a fireplace, with glass doors).

Anyway, there I was, earlier in the week, scheming about what I was gonna do when my Baby left for the weekend. There was a time when I was young and much more foolish when I would seize such an opportunity for drinking too much herbal stuff and smoking too much beer (or something like that…). Thankfully, those days are long gone; but I still have a propensity to spoil myself with goodies that I don’t normally eat too much anymore.

One of the first treats that always seems to pop into my noggin is pizza. I mean, hey, that stuff should be classified as a controlled substance. It’s right up there with fried chicken, potato chips, and butter pecan ice cream. I like all that stuff way too much. Good thing I limit my intake, or I’d soon weigh 793 pounds. I’m no skinny boy mind you, but I’m not a complete Harold Honk-A-Doodle either. And yes, Harry Honk-A-Doodle is a name I just made up and that would be on my shirt if I ate all the goodies in the universe until my skin exploded.

But once in a while is OK, right? Well I can convince myself of that. And yes, my Lovely Bride knows full well what I’m up to this weekend. I toyed with ordering pizza tonight, but I like lots of sauce. Seems like every time I ask for extra sauce, the opposite occurs. And here in Michigan pizza is often cut into squares. Don’t they know you’re supposed to cut it like PIE??!!?? Pizza… pie!! Hello!!!

The more I mulled it over, the more I kept going back to the same conclusion: if you want something done just right, sometimes you gotta do it yourself. Got me a Boboli crust, poured almost the whole jar of Classico pizza sauce out and spread it on the crust. Cooked up some Italian sausage; laid some chunks in the sauce. Then on went the cheese, and on top is onions, mushrooms, black olives, green pepper and uncured pepperoni (no nasty chemicals). I actually read the directions on the Boboli crust package: preheated the oven to 450 and popped it in for about 10 minutes. The final product was magnificent!! Oh, and had to wash it down with a Coke from Mexico… they use glass bottles and real cane sugar.

Am I naughty or what?? But wait, there’s more… I might accidentally eat some ice cream later. And you guessed it, butter pecan. Haagen Dazs no less. A little container. I had to do it you see, it will nicely complement the last piece of carrot cake that’s left over from my birthday.

My Beautiful Girlfriend will be home Sunday some time; so that means I’ll need to chill out on the goodies beforehand. Why? Well no special reason, I just don’t want to greet her while I’m spacing out from a food coma. Probably would be a little weird… eyes like little slits, walking badly, nodding off during conversation, burping, mumbling unintelligibly… yeah I’ll need to avoid that scene.

Good thing she’s only on retreat once a year!!

This week’s video has nothing to do with the story… but it’s a hoot.

50 What Now??

So there I was, minding my own business, enjoying life, the universe, and everything (42 for those in the know) (nudge nudge, wink wink), and oh yeah by the way I’m fixin’ to enjoy my 65th trip around the Sun; when suddenly some radio guy says an astonishing FaceTalking thing: this summer will ring in the 50th anniversary of Woodstock; and I can’t believe it because, hey, I was 15 that year and I would really liked to have gone to that magnificent experience but there was no way in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks that was gonna happen so I listened intently to every piece of music on the radio that had anything to do with all the concert action and HOLY MOLY this run-on sentence is OUT OF CONTROL!!


This aging stuff is so crazy!! I consider myself very fortunate… my health is good; and I can pretty much do everything I was able to do when I was much younger. The only difference is that sometimes it hurts or sometimes it takes longer. Apparently I don’t look to worn out. I was setting up a computer for one of my very new coworkers; and I mentioned that I had a “big birthday” coming up. She asked, “oh, are you going to hit 50?” My immediate response was, “we can be FRIENDS!!Not sure if she was sucking up for some future special computer help or what… OK probably not; but I took it as a nice compliment.

Saw my doctor the other day, and we chatted about my upcoming retirement next year. She urged me to make a plan, because “some people have a difficulty with too much time on their hands.” Umm… no problem for this kid!! I have a few million things I want to do, so hopefully I’ll actually get to do maybe a tenth of what’s been floating around in my mind for the past several years. I love to grow food, and I also enjoy writing. I think I’d like to try my hand at teaching food how to write. Perhaps we could use beet juice for ink!! That would involve some “bloodletting” from some “volunteer” beets. Now that I think of it, I’ve never heard beets volunteer for anything. And thankfully, I’ve never heard beets cry when they are bleeding.

I’m often asked, would we be doing any travel? Well we sure hope so. One of the big things on the agenda, though, is to clean up the mess in the garage that’s the result of that giant Clutter Bomb exploding in there. A Clutter Bomb simply has to be what caused that mess. I mean, I walk around in the garage and I fall to my knees and scream “where did all this crap come from??” Then I get up and remember where the hammer is and oh yeah there’s my drill and HOLY CARP I found that door hinge I buried in the back of the shelf about 12 years ago!! So OK, the Clutter Bomb exploded very gradually… over the course of the 37 years we’ve lived here.

There are, of course, other parts of our little universe that have suffered Clutter Bomb explosions. I’ll get to those too… just have to chip away at it. I really do plan to stop procrastinating. That will happen either tomorrow or perhaps a couple weeks after that.

I hope.


In the meantime, I can hardly wait  to see what advances lie ahead for the travel scene…

Dirty Rotten Cyberthieves

I cry, I weep, I gnash my teeth. Some flame-headed goat poop sniffing slime licker (or maybe lickers) stole from me.

There I was, minding my own business, going to Walmart because the local Meijer removed 8 O’Clock coffee (in the big bags) from their shelves. I really don’t like to go to Walmart, because they have a history of treating their employees rather badly. Not sure if that has changed over the years but the whole premise is indelibly burned into my brain cells and so I would rather not support them, thank you very much.

So… as I was saying … there I was minding my own business, with my Beautiful Girlfriend, buying my coffee at Walmart, and thinking, “yay!! We scored 4 big bags of 8 O’Clock coffee!! Enough for several weeks!! This is most marvelous indeed!” We happily put the bags of coffee in the pantry and sang songs of caffeinated joy. Well OK maybe not. But we were glad to get our stash.

I used a debit card for the purchase, which I do quite often. I rarely carry cash, you see. This is due to a strange phenomenon called spontaneous wallet depletion. In other words, in the “good old days” before debit cards, my cash seemed to disappear pretty quickly. Not sure if using the debit card changed that, but at least now I’m able to keep track of where the money goes a bit more easily. I get online regularly and check to make sure all is well.

However, this time I didn’t check for several days; and my checking account shrank by an extra $317 over the course of about a week. Very shortly after I used my debit card at Walmart; someone somewhere somehow hacked something and started using my debit card info at a Walmart in Elk Grove, Illinois; which is a bit over 200 miles from here. Little nibbles… $35 here, $35.36 there… carefully staying under $50 which I guess is a threshold that starts to raise flags.

I was not very happy.

Dunno what it is about Walmart, but a similar fraud thing happened to me with my credit card after making a purchase at Walmart.com ! Very cool indeed, right?? I lost the use of my card for a little over a week after reporting it stolen. At least I had the debit card. Now I’ve lost the use of a debit card for 7 to 10 days, but at least I have a credit card. Fortunately, our credit union took care of all the fraud and even refilled my checking account with the amount that was stolen. I’ve since learned of an app called CardValet; which apparently can stop this. Once the new debit card arrives, I’ll enter it into the app, and when I’m not using it, I can use CardValet to turn the card off. I guess it works with credit cards too.

Guess what? For the time being, I’m carrying cash again. And no, I’m not paranoid about using electronic payments; but you can bet I’ll be using the CardValet app regularly.

Oh and by the way, regarding the cyberthieves: not only are they flame-headed goat poop sniffing slime lickers, but they also pee themselves in public places but just sit there with a silly grin. I’m sure they also enjoy eating other people’s boogers; and I would also not be surprised if they smear dog snot on their eyebrows.

They are not my friends. Time to call Superman.

The Radio AM My Friend

Such a dinosaur I am; and very happy to be that way. I’m something of an oddball regarding technology. Although my job in computer support takes me on lots of journeys with new devices and gadgets; my love for simplicity keeps me grounded in an “antique” world. My job can get rather stressful at times; so in an effort to take care of myself I’ll often seize the opportunity to take some quiet time. Meditation if you will. I keep it simple, I just step away from all the gadgets and reflect on what I’m grateful for; and then ask The Great Committee In The Sky for guidance.

Then of course there are other times when I’ll turn to technology for a diversion. Maybe I’ll play a CD… or a record! That’s right folks, I actually said I listen to records!!! And some youngsters actually think records are way cool!! Oh God Oh God… So yes I’m a dinosaur and I’m not afraid to admit it.

So there, nyaa nyaa na boo boo!!

I’m one of those weirdos who thinks paying for satellite or cable TV is a waste of money. There’s lots of stuff still available for free… for example, we actually use a TV antenna for most of our viewing pleasure. I say most, because we do have access to the interwebs and get TV stuff from our Roku. But no cable or dish. Nope.

I also love a very archaic device called the radio. My TV antenna looks like a giant fish skeleton on a pole, and not only does it work well for television, it also does a great job of grabbing lots of FM stations. Much of my FM listening revolves either around NPR or music. NPR is great for staying informed, but when I hear all the reports about war and suffering and cockamamie government shutdown stuff with climate change mixed in for good measure, I get a really heavy heart. So when I’d rather hide on the harsh realities of the world I seek out some good old rock ‘n roll. Unfortunately most commercial radio stations seem to have their music selections stuck on AC/DC, Bob Seeger, and Lynard Skynard. WAY too much repetition. WAY too much repetition. WAY too much… well you get the idea. That’s when I’ll look for those oddball “community radio” stations.

On the other hand, you have AM radio. Say what??? Anyone besides me remember AM radio? May sound like a silly question, but with all this “subscription addiction” (satellite radio, cable TV, etc.) lots and lots of people are amazed to “discover” AM radio.  AM is short for “amplitude modulation,” which is the oldest method of adding audio to a radio signal so it can be broadcast. The technology dates back to 1906, which is why many radio hobbyists refer to it as “ancient modulation.” For more info click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AM_broadcasting

AM radio was pretty much all we had available for music when I was a kid. So for me, it’s like an old friend; and I’m very thankful that it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. We live in an area where Chicago stations come in all day long, and I still find myself clinging to ancient stations with only 3 call letters. WGN (720 on your AM dial) is one of my favorites… those kids seem to have a great time being on the radio and they make me laugh. And now, West Michigan has its very own Public Radio Oldies Station!! Say wha??? YES!! Commercial free oldies, 24/7!! And what’s even more awesome is they stream it to the whole planet here: http://www.wgvu.org/realoldies/

Now that it’s winter outside, I leave for work when it’s dark. And of course, it’s pretty much getting dark again when I get home. Something magic happens to the AM radio band after the daylight goes bye bye: SKIP. Skip is a very old radio term that describes when radio waves are sent from the earth and into the sky, then bounce back down again. If you could watch skip happening, it would look somewhat similar to when a well tossed stone skips across water. Skip is especially prevalent on the AM band between dusk and dawn. Sure, the AM radio is plagued by noise and fading, but there are many high powered stations that provide reliable listening over a very wide geographical area.

In my professional opinion, this boils down to just plain fun. So when I’m driving around in the dark, especially during a long drive, I really enjoy frolicking about on the AM radio band. For example: I recently tuned to 540 AM on the way to work and was listening to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) out of Regina, Saskatchewan. A mere 1000 miles away!! Never bothered to check down on that part of the dial before.

Another time: on our way down to Florida to celebrate my Father-In-Law’s 85th birthday, it was getting late outside and we were really ready to be done driving. Just a few miles from the Florida border, we heard on one of the local FM stations that the Chicago Bears were playing against the Philadelphia Eagles, and that they might actually have a shot at the playoffs. Well normally we don’t really give a golly gosh darn about football. But the Bears haven’t been in the Superbowl for a loooonnnnggg time… so we thought we’d try to catch the game. Tuned around FM… nothing. Then I tried one of my presets: 780 on my AM dial, and lo and behold, WBBM was coming in clear as a bell out of Chicago!! So we got to listen to the game, live from Soldier Field. Cool, huh??

So my friends, I invite you to give this very old medium a whirl. You just might accidentally have some fun! There are lots of listings on the internet for AM radio stations if you care to check out other areas of the country and / or the world. If you find one you like, you might also be able to stream it from the webbernet if the snap crackle and pop starts to bug you. As far as broadcasters, I found nice listing here: http://www.northpine.com/broadcast/50kwam.html

I leave you with a very short list of stations that are pretty easy to pick up between dusk and dawn, especially if you are here in the Midwest:

650 WSM Nashville, Tennessee (Check out the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday Nights!)

700 WLW Cincinnati, Ohio

720 WGN Chicago, Illinois (Home of the Chicago Cubs! Lots of other entertaining stuff too.)

740 CFZM “Zoomer Radio” in Toronto, Canada (Wonderful music variety, excellent sound quality.)

750 WSB Atlanta, Georgia

760 WJR Detroit, Michigan

770 WABC New York City (This was a big rock ‘n roll station when I was a kid growing up on Long Island, NY. Mostly talk now… ah well).

780 WBBM Chicago, Illinois (All news all the time.)(I use this station for an “alarm clock” when I take a nap at lunch)

830 WCCO Minneapolis, Minnesota

840 WHAS Louisville, Kentucky

880 WCBS New York City (News Radio.)

890 WLS Chicago, Illinois

990 CBW Winnipeg, Manitoba (CBC Radio)

1020 KDKA Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (One of the oldest stations on the dial.)

1030 WBZ Boston, Massachussetts

1040 WHO Des Moines, Iowa

1060 KYW Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1140 WRVA Richmond, Virginia

Take care and Happy Listening!

“Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation”

I have a small complaint I’d like to register at this time. It seems that just a couple weeks ago, I was listening to The Who singing “My Generation” on the AM radio thing; and now I’m a few years older and I think it’s been 50 years or so (I Googled it…54 years!!) since that song was first released and I can’t figure out where all the time went so quickly and how could this happen to both me and my Beautiful Girlfriend when we were just 17 years old when we first met and now we are saying things like “Medicare” and “Social Security” and this causes me to write run-on sentences because I mean really, how does this happen to gentle people likeUS??


One day at a time I guess.

So there we were, minding our own business, driving down to Florida to celebrate Grampa Hilliard’s 85th birthday, and all of a sudden an “economic summit” erupted. We took the opportunity to discuss retirement finances; and because we were in a car that was set to cruise at 70 mph (OK, maybe a smidge more), it was not really a good idea for either of us to stand up and walk out of the room when we came to a challenging part of the discussion. That would just make ouch and bad road rolling. Even after 45 years of wedded blisters, money discussions can cause very bad juju if not handled delicately and with mutual respect. Thankfully, there was no weeping or gnashing of teeth; and we came to the agreement that neither of us need to sell our bodies on the streets in exchange for cans of tuna fish and expired loaves of bread.

Hey kids, this is kinda scary stuff!! In a little over a year, I’ll be retiring from a good paying job. I’ll go from “Highly Trained Monkey What Knows Computer Stuff” to “Highly Motivated Penny Pinching Garden Grower Person.” I’m very grateful I’ve acquired the skills to keep a good job, and I’m also very grateful that I know how to grow food, because I have a feeling we’re gonna want some. We like to eat, you see.

When it comes right down to it, though, my Honey Pie and I are blessed beyond belief. If things keep going the way they are now, we’ll be able to retire with no debt; and we may even have a little extra socked away for emergencies and maybe even some fun stuff. And yes, I’ll be growing food, and selling it to anyone who comes to visit us. I’ll be practicing my sales pitch… “Ummm hi!! Thanks for coming over! Long time no see!! Did you know we now have a ‘visiting tax?’ Yes!! You pay us money and we give you food items from the garden. Whaddya mean you don’t like eggplant!!??!!”

Well OK maybe not.

As I mentioned before, we are blessed beyond belief. And the good thing is, getting old doesn’t mean we can’t keep having fun. We were fortunate enough to attend a Who concert last year, and those old farts are still rockin’ out.

And we intend to do the same.

We Had No ID Who Was Calling

In our home, dinosaurs still roam. I’m not afraid to admit it: we still use a landline. We like the reliability, and the cool fact that it almost never drops a call. And yes, we have an answering machine too. When I’m not looking for a job (which is pretty much all the time), our answering machine greeting is recreation for my inner child.

For example, if you call, you might hear something like: “I HAVE PICKLES IN MY NOSTRILS FOR YOUUUUU!!” This one, of course is sung loudly to the tune of “I have pickles in my nostrils for you.”

Another might be a rather forceful announcement like: “This machine is for singing!! Please begin singing after the tone!!”

And I change the greeting regularly.

Anyway, those who know us will leave a message. Those who don’t, well we don’t care! For many moons, we used the answering machine to screen our calls. Seems like telemarketing calls are becoming more and more numerous; and we just don’t like being bothered. Rather than get annoyed at the poor person who calls (they are just trying to earn a living), we just got to a point where we quit answering until the answering machine kicks in. If we recognize the caller, we quick pick up and say hi.

We finally got some caller ID compatible phones a couple years ago. However, when I went to activate this on our landline, the nice phone company person told me there would be a charge for it. That was completely unacceptable… I mean sheesh!! We pay enough for unlimited long distance and all that. Mind you, I do technology stuff for a living; and I knew full well that caller ID was already present in the landline techno-universe. So, I passed.

Enter the 2016 elections. Holy MOLY we got bombarded with calls!! Since I hadn’t thought much about caller ID for a few years, I thought I’d call the phone company again and see what was up. Lo and behold, there was no longer a fee for caller ID!! So fiddle dee dee, we have caller ID!! And this pleases me!!

Those marketer kids are naughty… they have software that will fake your area code so it looks like the call is coming from somewhere nearby. And for some reason, the calls always get dropped before the answering machine turns on!! That’s just fine with us.

Every once in awhile though, I get to feeling a bit playful. I’ll answer the call and be completely silly, which of course drives the caller a bit nuts.

“Hello Sir, I’m calling to warn you that your Microsoft certificate is about to expire.”

“Oh my!! What do I do??”

“Well sir, are you near your computer?? And is it turned on?“

“Yes, yes I am!1” I tell them, but of course I’m not near and it isn’t on.

“OK Sir, I want you to press the following keys so I may troubleshoot…”

I don’t give them the chance to finish and I blurt out, “OH NO!! Do you see my screen?? WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? I DON’T THINK I LIKE THIS!!”

**CLICK** Oh darn, they hung up.

Another caller fell victim to my silliness recently…

“Hello sir, I’m doing a customer service survey and I’d like to ask you…”

I interrupt: “Pizza??”

“No no sir, this is a customer service survey. I’m not trying to sell you any food or other…”

“Well I’m pretty hungry, I’m hoping for some pizza!!”

“Sir!! Is there anyone in your home 18 or older I can speak to??”

“Oh yes, my cat!! I’ll go get him for you!!”

**CLICK** Oh darn, another hang up.

Anyway, we really like caller ID. Come to find out, there’s a telecommunications expert who is providing a service to intercept telemarketers before they even get to your phone!! And they record the call, which can be very amusing.

Please enjoy the video that explains…

My Important New Year Reciprocities For 2019

Hello Dearest Snapping Turtle Ticklers,

I know this time of year brings out the unique extraterrestrial sandwich making abilities of all the people I’ve never met. After all, another year is coming to a close, and that of course means that a new year will soon be shoving itself under the doorjamb with increasing intensity during the Artificial Aurora Activation, building great suspense as to what the new year may hold in store for us while the cat dashes to the refrigerator for another tall, refreshing glass of Onion Powder Surprise (“…wow!! This tastes like onion powder!! What a surprise!!) and yet another run-on yet very silly sentence makes it way to the interwebs for unsuspecting Chocolate Clickers to read while sipping Bark Noodle Tea.

Yes, I think so.

As the Holidays wind down to a dull roar, this is the time for the often customary promises to be uttered aloud, but sometimes not uttered at all; and these are heavily intensified in order to cajole our brains into thinking that we can actually improve ourselves somehow by creating lofty goals to which we can aspire and hopefully make something better either inside or outside of us.


You know, New Year’s Resolutions.

Yes, have some.

OK, I will. Here are some of the revulsions I may or may not be interested in spraying on my Jinkle Toast during the coming year. I must warn the reader in advance: some of these New Year’s Resonations may cause involuntary snorking and / or ha ha crinkling. In other words, I hope they give you a smile.

Therefore and with Great Fanfare, I Hereby Unnecessarily Capitalize The Announcement of My New Year’s Resuscitations For 2019:

R) I hereby promise to try to attempt to take a whack at an effort to strive for an undertaking; and maybe even 7 of those. Attempts. Tries. Maybe.

4) My body fat index has reached 947% !!! OH MY!!! Maybe I need to enjoy fewer Lard Licking Contests!! What do you mean you’re not supposed to eat the bacon grease?? And… no!!! No more Olive Oil Milkshakes made with 100% heavy whipping cream?? Good Gravy!!! How will I survive??? Oh yeah… fruits and vegetables. Oh yes, and lean proteins. More from plants than animals. Yes. Thank you.

G!) As I sit here typing, I realize that I could combine this finger flinging activity with something more aerobic like perhaps hang gliding or bungee cord plunking. I often try with little success to perform bungee cord concerts, but the notes all seem to come out the same. Perhaps the hang gliding bungee cord concerts will give me a new perspective on what it really means to be more like my favorite super hero, Eggplant Man. Um… never mind. Erase this one. Besides, I can’t find my flashlight.

#X) It seems that every year, all I really want to improve is my view of the TV. Please move a little more to the east while we’re binge-watching Vikings or other any of those other outer space adventure series.

U*) After much consideration, I’ve decided to finally come to terms with my new illness: Serial Compulsive Recreational Insect Preparatory Tasting (S.C.R.I.P.T.) Disorder. Yes, Preparatory Tasting… all I wanted to do was find out what an insect tastes like before I decide whether to harvest them for our next social gathering. I’ve learned the hard way that most bugs simply are not delicious, and many object to being tasted. For example, stinkbugs secrete a very nasty bad smell ocka pitoo when being being touched by my tasting tongue. And bees and wasps… well, forget about it!! I’m seeking treatment; but each time I visit the S.C.R.I.P.T doctor I have to wait for 12 minutes for her to stop laughing.

And finally…

1!) My real New Year’s Revolution is always pretty much the same: try to do better. Lord knows I still have much to learn, and I truly hope I can remain teachable in this fascinating journey of uncertainty we call Life.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish you all a Very Happy New Year, and may all your nostrils be free of obstructions; especially when you’re sniffing the delicious lasagna I’ll be making on New Year’s Day.

Peace, Love, and Hugs to You All,


Holiday Hanky Panky

Holiday hanky panky… that’s what I’ll call it. It’s a play on words you see… the phrase could be taken as a search for naughty bits during the Holidays, which for me would mean that I’m hoping to get fribbly with my Beautiful Girlfriend; who is also my wife, but I’m not gonna go down that whistle honkler hoochie coochie surprise because I really would like to enjoy some Ho-Ho-Ho-Hanky-Panky with her but that ain’t none of your beeswax and if go into detail of what that might mean and then post it on the interwebs for all the world to see it would greatly lessen the likelihood of any Marital Monkey Business so just never you mind, you won’t be reading about any of that there stuff in this run-on sentence so thank you very much.


OK. So what I really mean is: OK it’s like this you see… yes… um… don’t tell my Beautiful Wife Lady, but I’ve been buying stuff for her for a while now and she doesn’t know it. Ha ha, I laugh of this in a bigly manner! Just call me Sneaky Pete, but I probably won’t answer to that because my name is Ken, but those near and dear to me call me Kenny, so if you call me Sneaky Pete I might smirk at the sound of it but I might also stare off in the distance because I probably will be completely oblivious of the fact that you are referring to me even after I just told to call me that in the beginning of yet another run-on sentence.


It’s kind of fun though. I do some of my shopping online, and stuff often gets dropped off on our steps near the driveway. We don’t use the side door, so even though the UPS man comes and leaves surprises, she rarely notices. That gives me the opportunity to stash things in the garage. She often goes to sleep before me, so I can sneak off to smuggle the goodies up to my office and hide them in the closet. Other smuggling missions involve “accidentally” leaving stuff in the car after coming home a smidge late from work, or perhaps concealing small items in my jacket pockets until the coast is clear.

Am I a rascal or what??

Of course, some of this covert activity is in the interest of resource preservation. Say what?? Well you see it’s like this: we both really like sweet things. We especially love homemade goodies that our friends give us during the holiday season. However, my Glamorous Honey Pie’s sweet tooth has a much stronger craving radar than mine does. If we get something yummy from a friend that we’re supposed to share, if I don’t hide it, there will be a mysterious depletion that occurs when I’m not around. When I forget (or choose not) to hide something, her sweet tooth zeroes in and attacks. Upon noticing the reduction in quantity I make a scientific observation, and I’ll announce my findings thusly: “I think mice have been eating the fudge!!”

Thankfully, I’m pretty much done with my hanky panky gift getting and hiding. And I’m even a tiny bit ahead of schedule!! Here it’s only the Solstice… usually I’m out chasing last minute surprises on Christmas Eve. And yes, I’m hoping to chase the Lovely Love Of My Life Lady around a bit during the Holidays; with the full intention of engaging in that married-people-hanky-panky I alluded to before. But that ain’t none of your beeswax so just never you mind!!

Please, all of you, Have a Happy Merry and a Joyful Wonderful. This time of year always gives me pause to reflect; and there’s one particular movie that makes me gush with emotion. The 1951 version of “A Christmas Carol” has always been very powerful for me; especially the last few scenes. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I spent much of my early life “with no eyes to see, no ears to hear.” Some rather stark life lessons have ushered me out of darkness; and these days I just try to remain teachable. This week’s video is the scene that makes me gush tears of gratitude and happiness. So without further ado…

The Joys (?) Of Airline Travel

My friend Jeff and I were recently invited to attend a department Holiday Party at the corporate office in Pennsylvania. Weeks before the party we brainstormed and thought we agreed on a relatively sane travel plan. After expressing my aversion to getting out of bed before the birds, we decided to take an afternoon flight from Grand Rapids (Michigan) to Detroit; then Detroit to Allentown, PA which involved a layover of a few hours. No problem, we thought, we’d have time to enjoy some dinner and hop back on the plane. Arrived in Pennsylvania late, but on time (10 PM), then got to the hotel by 10:30.

No big deal.

The “fun” began on the return trip, however. We spent the night after the party; to be rested and fresh for the flight home. Slept in a bit and had breakfast, but shortly afterward we got a notification from Delta that our 12:30 PM flight from Allentown, PA back to Detroit would be delayed. Awesome. No big deal, we hung around in the hotel right up till checkout; then headed toward the airport. Returned the rental car, went through security, already had boarding passes on our phones. This gave us time to have a leisurely lunch.

After eating, we sat near the gate; and got another delay notification. Goody!! Now we are leaving at 2:10 PM. Went to the nice lady at the ticket counter to see what was happening. “Oh looks like a maintenance issue, the plane will be repaired and should be here shortly afterward.” OK… Then here comes yet another delay notification. Nice!!! Back to the ticket lady. “Is the plane still coming?” “Oh yes, sorry but it is still going to come.”

Then here comes an announcement that the plane couldn’t be fixed, so a “rescue” plane was being dispatched to cover the flight. Yay!!!! Meanwhile, time is clicking along, and the delayed flight’s arrival time is fast approaching the departure time of the 5:15 flight. Oh wait, here comes the plane now!! Cool!!! Everybody gets on the plane, and of course all of us are worried about our connecting flights. Jeff and I had visited the nice ticket lady several times to see if we needed to change anything, but she said no. Well that was no longer true of course, but much to our amazement she came into the plane after we sat down. She handed each of us a “seat request” ticket for the late flight out of Detroit so we could get back to Grand Rapids.

OK!! We’re in the plane!! Ready to go!! Wait… what?? The Captain made an announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, I truly apologize but we cannot take off because our coffee pot is not secure.” Huh?? “We really do apologize… a maintenance man has been dispatched and is on the way.” Oh boy. We sit. We sit. For about 30 minutes. One of the passengers asks the flight attendant for an update. The Captain comes out again, “I’m sorry folks, but the maintenance man is stuck in traffic but is doing his best to get here.”

So what… the dude lives in New Jersey? Or is “stuck in traffic” actually code for “I just sat down to dinner, then I’ll need a nap” or something?? The young man in front of me (maybe 6 or 7) speaks up for all of us: “just pull the broken coffee pot out for heavens sakes!!” And yes, I’m pretty much quoting him verbatim. Then he goes back to his portable game thing which is beeping and blooping rather audibly.

My legs are getting a bit stiff after the first hour of waiting, so I started bouncing my knees up and down to keep the circulation going. The lady behind me gently taps my shoulder and says, “sir? Are you alright??” “Yes,” I said, “why do you ask?” “We thought you were having a seizure!!” she replied. Then I mentioned why I was bouncing my legs. “Oh, OK!!” she said with relief. After a couple minutes, she tells me, “tell that kid to turn his Gameboy down!!” Well, the boy’s parents sat right next to him. I replied, “ummm, no, I don’t wanna get in the middle of that, thank you!!” ‘

After almost 2 hours, the maintenance man finally entered the plane and was greeted by enthusiastic applause. He had some trouble getting the coffee pot to stay put; and it looked like he managed to finally win; but not without “red tagging” the coffee pot so nobody would use it.

Off we go to Detroit, and when we land, it’s after 9 PM. The gate in which we entered the airport had monitors of course, and the only reference to a flight to Grand Rapids showed that flight had already taken off. I asked the nice Delta Lady, “are there any more flights to Grand Rapids?” “There are none,” she said. “None??” I pleaded. “None,” she replied. Then I looked at our seat request tickets. Flight says it leaves for Grand Rapids at 10:40. I looked at the other set of monitors on the far wall. Yep, there’s a flight for 10:40 PM, and we can make it.


Little did we know, there was yet one more helping of “fun” in store for us. We go to the gate, ask the nice lady for a seat, and she says, “these are standby tickets. I can’t release the seats until 30 minutes before departure.” I wanted to roll on the floor and foam at the mouth, but instead I said calmly, “does it look like we’ll get on??” “Slim chance, but yes, right now it looks OK.”

Not very reassuring.

Hungry, downtrodden, and frustrated, we had about 40 minutes to kill so we went to Chik-Fil-A (the only place open) for something to eat. The young lady behind the counter looked as tired as we were. “We only have 1 and 6,” she blurted out before we could order. Huh?? Oh… OK, I look at the menu and the choices were, 1) a chicken sandwich or 6) nugget things. We both took Door #1.

Now the pre-boarding begins, so after a few lucky souls got on the plane, we hovered in front of the ticket desk again. “May I help you?” the nice lady asked. “Just hoping for standby seats,” I replied. “Oh yes… I got you.” “We need two,” I interjected. “Yes,” she said, “I got you.”  She handed us each a boarding pass and I’m pretty sure she was unaware that I wanted to give her a big giant hug at that moment.

I know that in each phase of our “interesting” journey, the staff all did their best with what was in front of them. However, for some strange reason, I’m not really eager to fly any time soon. On our way out to our cars, Jeff turned to me and said, “which do you think will be more memorable, the party or the flight??”

Thank you Jeff, I needed that.

Could’ve been worse… we could have had gremlins!!