Greens: Good For What Ails Ya

I love to cook. I especially like to eat good food, meaning fresh stuff.  As fresh as possible anyway.   Now that garden season is on the rise, the fresh stuff will be zooming into our kitchen and then our tummies.

I’m retired now, but while I was working my microwaved creations would rouse curiosity among my friends.  For example, a fond memory…  So there I was, cooking my food for the normal 2 ½ minutes. When I pulled my lunch out of the microwave, some friends got a whiff and expressed envy. “Wow that smells good!! Whatcha got in there??” I’ve been asked a few times. Then I rattle off the ingredients and I get that “deer in the headlights” look.

“Well let’s see,” I’d reply, “I chopped up some greens, some onion, peppers, tomatoes, a little soy sauce, a little sesame oil, then smoosh a little dead chicken meat or maybe some dead shirmp on top and nuke it for 2 ½ minutes.” “Greens? What kind of greens??” I get asked in return. “Oh just stuff from the garden,” I said, “some Swiss chard, wild cabbage, and pak choi.” More deer in the headlights lookings. Many folks haven’t heard of any of that stuff.  One nice lady told me she really loved the smell, but after she learned what the ingredients were, she gave me a chuckle when she said, “Oh I would never eat that.”

Can’t help it, I’m a weirdo. While we love our cukes, tomatoes, corn, green beans and such; my Beautiful Girlfriend and I have also become very attached to greens. Happened when we lived in Tampa, Florida for 3 years while I was in the Air Force. We got hooked on some southern foods like collard greens, for example. When we moved back north, I learned pretty quickly that greens are a perfect crop for our unpredictable weather. Collards, kale, wild cabbage (ancestor to kale and collards), all do very well all summer long; and they even survive the winter quite regularly. We also have been growing Swiss chard for many years now. That stuff is easy to grow and is also quite hardy.

More recently I’ve started growing pak choi (or bok choy as Americans often call it). It’s an asian vegetable in the cabbage family; and it’s grown for its white crunchy stalks and nice green leaves. All greens, by the way, are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Pak choi is excellent in salads, and also great for stir fry dishes and soups. Unlike other greens, however, it does not freeze well (unless of course you like it mooshy).

We also eat “wild” greens like purslane and lambs quarters that are yummy and packed with nutrition. I put “wild” in quotes because both of these plants have been revered for their food value for eons. However, they are considered weeds by most farmers. Once we learned more about these, we began allowing them to share some the garden real estate with other crops. So yes folks, we are weed eaters.

The picture below shows, from left to right Swiss Chard, pak choi, and lambs quarters in the foreground. As I looked more closely I noticed some purslane in the picture too, growing on the edge of the bed. Aren’t they pretty??  Click on the picture for a better look.

pakchoi+swisschardWe blanch and freeze several gallon bags of greens every year. The quantity can, at first, be misleading; because a whole wheelbarrow full of greens will cook down to maybe 5 or 6 gallons of stuff for the freezer. The beauty of it, though, is we know we are getting very high quality food that was not grown with chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Greens, as Grandma Loftus (and of course our Mom) used to always say, “are good for what ails ya, and if nothin’ ails ya, it’s good for that too!!” And of course our friend Popeye says “I’m strong to the finich, ‘cuz I eats me spinach.” Speaking of which, let’s see what Popeye is up to… Or should I say was…

Grandsons On The Giggle

Well here we are on another late Friday night when the grandsons finally made it to our house. Because of Covid and other such nasties, we’ve been staying clear of them whenever they have any cold bugs or sniffles. We’ve learned the hard way that a bug they might have can turn into something more serious for us old farts. Last time we had a happy enjoyment of bronchitis!!

They are both getting older now, so bed time is not so easily achieved as it was in previous years. Rather than be the ogre I summoned them to contribute to Happy Friday!!! with a few random thoughts. I think they were a bit tired from a long day so getting ideas out of their heads was a bit like pulling cheese out of a broken saxophone (or something). Anyway, what follows is a composite of ideas, theirs and mine, in a mixture not at all resembling American Breadsticks And Gravy.

“Hey guys, if you can’t sleep, how about helping me with a few story ideas?” I asked. Silence followed. I waited. As they started talking I started typing.

“I had something,” said Ollie.

“I’m thinking,” Gabe said.

Ollie noticed I was typing every word, and exclaimed, “Papa, what are you doing??” Then an idea that was stirring vanished. “Dang it…!!!” Ollie uttered in desperation. Finally I typed furiously as the spurt of “creative” thoughts emerged.

Herman and Karle were two chickens whose favorite thing to do was eat a cheeseburger stuffed inside a pizza stuffed inside a turkey with butter on it, deep fried and covered in chocolate. “This is the healthiest food in the world, totally,” said Gertrude.

Any other time they weren’t eating this marvenkulous snack, they would be hunting down roadkill. Upon finding roadkill, they would poke it with frogs. The frog would try to hold its nose and would often yell while barfing, “ARGHHH why do you force me to poke these dead possums???” “Be quiet you toad, you are not allowed to complain per our agreement.” “I am not a toad, you overcooked poultry excuse for a human.” the frog bribbled.

When they got bored with poking roadkill with frogs, they would run through the aisles of the local Meijer with a fire extinguisher. Whenever they saw somebody they would hide behind the nearest row of pickle jars and giggle while trying their best to play songs on the fire extinguisher. “This is a brief concert in the key of no fire.” they shouted while giggling into the marshmallow bin.

Upon being discovered, they would yell “FINDERS KEEPERS!!” and run out of the store with the fire extinguishers hidden inside their sneakers.

What would you say to a cat that finally quit smoking?? Does anyone hear my silent motions?? I’m having great difficulty seeing in this small bottle with all the noise in the garage. Tonight the robots will be serving Wild Lego Surprise. Hold the whipped cream on mine please. And please don’t rub it in kale juice like last time. For myself, I have always known that zebra mussels are very yummy in cake. Proving this has not been easy; but when I have friends over for tea and slobberfood they smile sheepishly and say “What’s crunchy?” When I tell them they are snarfing down thousands of little zebra mussels in each bite, they say “O” and excuse themselves out the door very quickly.

Well I hope by now that none of you have learned your lesson. If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s a bread whistle perched atop an inkjet printer with that smug “ha ha I’m a bread whistle” look. So if you ever come upon a singing centipede during your travels, please call the nearest Yo Ho Da Knee at your earliest inconvenience.

Thank you and please enjoy what follows; unless you’d rather not.

Talkin’ ‘Bout My (Re)Generation

I’m a little bit concerned about Earth Day. Not because I think it’s a bad idea; it’s just that I have this silly conviction that every day is Earth Day. Of course it’s a wonderful thing to raise awareness about our ailing planet. But once a year is probably not often enough. Maybe we could increase the frequency and make it a monthly event!

Even though I’m an old hippie tree hugger peacenik guy, I’m also a consumer; so that of course means that I am not completely innocent of crimes against Nature. But I also try to do things to give Mom Nature a helping hand when I can. For example, I try to buy stuff that’s made as close to home as possible. I tend to seek out U.S. made products, even if they cost a bit more. Here in Beautiful West Michigan, we have a good selection of produce; especially during the warmer months. Lots of the extras are stored, so when I go for apples, I buy nothing other than Michigan grown apples. Same with potatoes. I’m sorry but I think it’s a bit silly to buy apples from Washington state or potatoes from Florida.

My wife and I have been eating veggies from the garden since we first were married. Back in 1973, the type of horticulture I practiced was called “organic” gardening. That meant no herbicides or pesticides. No commercial fertilizer. At the time, those products were shunned by “organic” gardeners because of their toxicity. Now that we are a bit more carbon conscious, we also understand that since anything that is mined, manufactured, packaged and transported makes an ever growing carbon footprint; it also makes good environmental sense to avoid such substances.

A friend of mine and I were talking about the term “organic” recently, and she surprised me a bit when she said, that “Organic is a capitalist term.” I’d never directly associated capitalism with the term “organic” before she said that; although I was keenly aware that when food products are labeled as “Certified Organic,” it means there were some strict administrative criteria (as well as a healthy outlay of cash) that had to be reckoned with. Hence, many growers at farm markets can say their stuff was grown “organically” but don’t have to jump through the certification hoops.

The new term for the type of gardening I and many others do is called regenerative farming. And yes, even though my plot is a mere 70 feet long by 30 feet wide, I raise quite a bit of food and have even sold some. So hey, as an old song goes from The Who, “Now I’m A Farmer.” (And thanks to my friend Ed who first turned me on to the song.) So one might ask, “What the heck is regenerative farming?? Anyhow??” Well even if you didn’t ask, I’m a gonna tell you about what I do anyways; because that’s a big part of how I celebrate every day as Earth Day.

I grow food in beds, not rows. Beds are 3 feet wide, walkways are 2 feet wide. By using this method, the soil is not compacted so the roots are able to flourish more easily. By careful companion planting you can grow much more stuff in beds than in rows. Companion planting?? OK you didn’t ask about that either but that’s where you learn what grows well together. Some plants complement each other, like lettuce and beets. Some hinder each other like onions and legumes (like peas or beans). Companion planting makes for healthier plants, making them less prone to damage by pests and disease.

As far as fertilizers, I use two basic ingredients: leaves and compost. There is no such thing as bad leaves for the garden; and yes that includes oak leaves. Friends bring me leaves from their yards; but I also pick up as much as I want at the local transfer station for free. Leaves are tilled into the soil and boy do the earthworms love it. When the worms are happy, the soil is happy. If I plant something that needs an extra boost, I dig a hole and fill it with compost, then plant right on top. Then I take more leaves and use them for mulch around all the plants. That keeps the weeds down, preserves moisture, and the creepy-crawlies that dine where the mulch meets the soil make even more happy soil. And when the soil is happy, the food plants are happy.

Weeds are tolerated and sometimes eaten. HUH?? Yes that’s right, many “weeds” are actually very useful plants that folks have simply chosen not to learn about. Of course I remove any weeds that are competing with what I’m trying to grow. If they are too close to the plant I’m trying to save, I simply lop them off right at the soil level and the remaining roots die off and add organic matter back to the dirt. A friend of mine freaks out when she sees creeping charlie in her garden. I pointed out that as long as it’s not choking any food crop, I let it grow because it provides a living mulch. I also let purple dead nettles live in my planting beds for awhile, because they’re one of the first plants that bloom in the spring and the bees love them. And yes I let the dandelions bloom (much to the chagrin of my neighbors I think maybe), as well as the white clover I planted in the lawn. I cringe every time I mow; I’m always on the lookout for bees so I can try to miss them. (If I wasn’t married I would have much less lawn, but that’s another story.) Of course I intentionally plant lots of sunflowers and other flowers to encourage pollinators.

And what kind of regenerative farmer would I be without giving huge credit to my friends the bees, the brown and black beetles, ladybugs, praying mantis, spiders, butterflies, robber flies, soldier flies, centipedes, millipedes, sowbugs, and moths, to name but a few?? They are the composters, the pollinators, and the predators of pests. All are welcome in the garden and of course the yard.

I could probably type several hundred more words about all this; but I’ll hop off of my soap box for now. Suffice it to say that I really do try to celebrate Earth Day every day. If you’re curious about some of my other garden adventures, you can find some here: www.kennysgarden.com

In the meantime, please be kind to Mother Earth each and every day. She’s the only planet we have.

Mole Meadows With Stick Orgies

Spring is trying to edge its way into Beautiful West Michigan. And of course, as the weather warms up, we’ll have to start mowing the lawn. There’s that contentious word… lawn. Well it’s contentious at our house anyway. It’s what I call the parts of the yard I mow every week or so. Curiosity drove me to look up the definition, and the Merriam-Webster dictionary online says, “ground (as around a house or in a garden or park) that is covered with grass and is kept mowed.” Doesn’t say anything about clover, dandelions, or the other myriad of plants that grow along with the grass in our “lawn.”

“We don’t have a lawn, we have a yard!!” So goes the lament of my Beautiful Girlfriend, who let me marry her many moons ago. “But I’m OK with a yard,” she adds pensively. It’s probably more of a meadow, and she knows very well that because we are both tree huggers, no chemicals will ever be spread on our lawn. That of course means that lots more than grass will grow. She’s very tolerant of it really; although if I could wave a magic wand and change the whole yard into a golf course quality lawn I’m sure she’d be tickled pink. My neighbors might like it if we had fewer dandelions. They’ve never complained, but I often wonder about whether they dread a bunch of little parachutes are lofted into their yards during a stiff westerly breeze.

We also get quite a few mounds that the moles like to give us as presents. The mole hills cause my Lovely Bride to engage in some really naughty proclamations. She’d love it if they would just stop; but she’d never go as far as our neighbor across the road who sets traps to kill the poor babies. She does, however, revel in the rare occasion when our cat is able to find one and yank it to the surface. She kind of makes a grunt of annoyed compliance when I mention that these makers of mole meadows eat lots of grubs that would otherwise turn into Japanese beetles. And yes they also eat earthworms, but we don’t seem to have a shortage of those.

Spring also zooms in with some rather blustery days, and since we have several trees in the yard, they have a tendency to drop some sticks. OK, many sticks. Many many sticks. Yesterday I came in from outside and tried to be as stoic as possible when I delivered some news to my Honey Pie. “ Honey, I have bad news. We have a couple sticks in the yard.” She bribbled and frooped a bit and then said, “Those sticks… they keep having babies!! They’re having stick orgies out there!!” “I’m way too young to think about such things,” I replied.

Aside from stick orgies and mole meadows, believe it or not the “lawn” we grow actually has some benefits. Dandelions have edible leaves and of course the blossoms feed the bees. White clover blossoms also feed the bees of course, and since clover is a legume it makes nitrogen that naturally feeds neighboring plants (yes, even grass!!). Plaintains (← click for more info) grow here and there, and are both edible and medicinally very valuable.

So yeah, we have mole meadows with free stick orgies. I haven’t watched these sticks carefully to see what kind of mischief they might be creating; as I mentioned earlier I’m much too young for such carnal kaboom. There just might be something to what my wife professes to be true, though. Those doggoned sticks just keep making babies!!

“And now,” as John Cleese used to say, “for something completely different.”

Subscription Addiction?

I’m such a cheapskate. No daily newspaper, no cable TV, no super fast internet.

Say What??

Yep. As I told you, I’m a cheapskate. Well sometimes. My beautiful girlfriend and I are in complete agreement about the newspaper and cable TV. We used to get the paper every day, but it became a recycling headache. Maybe it would be worth the effort if we actually read the thing often, but we just didn’t. So the papers piled up and we kept paying for the delivery person to bring more. Now, we get a little Podunk paper by the name of The White Lake Beacon. Comes out once a week and even has comics!! MUCH cheaper too…

Then, way back in about 1992 or so; our family’s TV time dropped to a bare minimum. You see, that was when our daughter decided to slack off on homework. She started flunking math, but it was all our fault really. We would have the TV on when the kids got home from school; and it became a pretty important diversion. But when the school grades began to slide into the sewer; we tried rationing TV. We’d say really wise things like, “no TV till your homework’s done!!” That gave both of our wonderful offspring remarkable energy, and they’d whoosh through whatever homework they had so they could catch their favorite shows. Of course, the result was substandard schoolwork. Better, but still pretty lousy. Mind you, this was without a cable subscription. Anyway, we ended up doing THE UNTHINKABLE!! We laid down the law:

No TV from Monday through Thursday; unless there is some special event or a program that constitutes required viewing for school.  Video games are considered TV time.  Friday night and Saturdays are free time, Sunday TV depends on the amount of homework.

Needless to say, when we first uttered these bone-chilling rules the kids were mortified. “Will you tape our shows???” they pouted. Remember tape?? “OK,” we conceded, “but only if you promise to bring the grades up.” So they did. And after about a month, they quit caring about what was on TV. And even more ridiculous, they started reading for fun. Holy cow!! Now, don’t get me wrong, I like veging (how does one spell “veging” anyway?) in front of the tube and I do have favorite shows. But Mom and I both have addictive natures, and we are very much aware that if we actually paid for TV we would feel the need to watch more.

Fast forward to 2004, when Aunt Joyce came to live with us. She got us hooked on NCIS and CSI, and we still love those to this day.  The only cable in our “cable TV” is the one that comes into the house from the antenna. My Honey Pie and I have always agreed that TV should be free, like the radio.  Times have changed since 1992 of course, so I have to admit, we do pay for internet now (oh wait, that make 2 cables), and subscribe to Netflix and Paramount Plus.  Netflix is the result of a “free trial” that came into our house when my Sweet Bride was laid up due to knee replacement surgery.  Paramount Plus was brought in because we can still watch channel 3 (CBS, where NCIS lives) if the antenna can’t grab it.

But we keep our TV spending pretty low if I must say so myself.  Let’s cipher a minute:

$30.00 for internet
$ 9.99 for Netflix
$10.00 donated to Public Television (a worthy cause and extra PBS stuff on the interwebs!)
$ 5.00 for Paramount Plus

$54.99 total monthly bill for TV stuff.  Not too bad, yes?

As I listen to more and more folks talk about shows I’ll probably never watch and apps I’ll probably never have, I’m seeing what appears to be a growing subscription addiction in our culture. More and more people are paying for more and more internet and TV stuff. It’s getting to the point where there’s really no need to go outside anymore with all the junk you can watch or all the interactive gaming you can do.  I also saw a report a while ago (on TV of course) that more and more Americans are suffering from vitamin D deficiency. So they’re rattling off all the ways you can get more vitamin D in your diet. Well guess what folks, back in the “old days,” meaning before the internet and cable TV, vitamin D was called “the sunshine vitamin.” In other words, your body actually makes vitamin D when you’re outside in the day time. Is that a weird idea or what?? Going outside I mean…

Guess I’m a dinosaur. I don’t need super fast internet.  I don’t need cable TV.  I still love the Beatles and The Three Stooges. We heat with firewood. We grow vegetables “organically;” which is now referred to as “regenerative farming,” I guess.  We do stuff with friends that does not involve electronic gadgets. And so far, I have not become so enmeshed in the habit of watching a screen that I have to worry about video-addictive behavior problems. Yes friends, I actually know how to go outside without my cell phone!!  Perhaps recovery groups will spring from the screen addiction trend… you know, places that are free of electronic devices where people can discuss their multimedia dependencies with others, and maybe even look each other in the eye while speaking and listening.

If I ever become one of those who is addicted to TV, etc., I hope I have the courage to change the things I can. I’ll go to my first meeting, clutch my cup of coffee, and say the magically freeing words:

“Hi, my name is Ken, and I’m a vidiot.”

So what am I gonna do now??  I’m gonna post a video for your enjoyment!   In the meantime, please take a minute sometime soon and actually talk to someone, OK?

A Snibbulous Rant

Hello fellow peace loving creatures. Don’t know about you, but my week has been saturated with very crankular work challenges. It’s bad enough I didn’t win the lottery; mainly because I never played. But in addition to that hugely caripular disappointment; other things in my inside-the-house world have been bonking me in the noggin with large, monstrificous ouch hurtings. To quote some poet guy I never knew (nor ever quoted correctly):

Too much to do,

And not enough time,

Makes a man smelly,

Cranky and whine.

Please know, however, that I am very aware that not only was that a very bad (or perhaps nonexistent) rhyme; my woes are in all respects what me and my friends often call “high class problems.” In other words: I am a healthy young man, I have a nice home, a beautiful girlfriend (who actually let me marry her!!), we own cars that are paid off and actually work, we have plenty to eat, we have food in the garden we’re gonna eat later, and of course we have electricity that powers our stuff and lets us play musics and make coffee and other important foods and even sometimes we use our TV to watch important, spiritually uplifting programming like Saturday Night Live and NCIS, and we also have friends whom we love dearly, and in addition to all that, I have not used one single semi-colon in this run-on sentence and I’m not even sure that matters but holy cow this was a really long one; (oops, a semi-colon just crept in there) and the whole point of all this is:

If I keep a grateful heart

I’ll be much less likely to fart

On the surface of my blessings

Because I’m one lucky, lucky guy.

Yet another very bad rhyming thing there. I really am lucky you know. So why am I whining?? Because I’m human I guess. You see, our house is pretty much topsy-turvy right now. Topsy-turvy… now there’s an expression you don’t see every day, right? Please don’t confuse this with hunky-dory or especially pinkly-winkly, which may not even be a thing. What I’m trying to say that because of our high-class problems, our home is in great disarray.

Why, you may wonder, is this topsy-turvy disarray affecting our pinkly-winklies in such a painful manner? Well you see, it’s like this: we had the good fortune to spend some money on the innards of our house. Some very good painters came to do their thing, and that meant that we had to remove much furniture and bric-a-brac and even stuff we never knew we had from the room so they could work. And to add ink spots to ingenuity, we also decided to have new carpet installed. The result of these Spoiled American decisions was the “storage” of bookcases, shelving, electronic doohickeys, books, and all manner of possessions anywhere they could fit in other rooms. Walking through the resulting maze has become rather, um… interesting.

Then of course comes the “whatever pleases you my dear” conundrum. In other words, I’m a guy, OK? No, I really mean it. And my Beautiful Girlfriend is a woman. And because I’m a guy, my give-a-hoot about interior decorating is limited to the precise placement of stereo speakers. You know, important stuff. Well this Amazing Woman of mine has decided that this bookcase needs to go, and that armoire needs to have its head chopped off and reattached a few feet lower to accommodate a large screen TV to be mounted on the wall. So I get my saw and my hammer and drill thing and BLS (Big Long Screws) and commence to hacking and scraping and drilling and putting in the screws and OUCH my finger holy moly watch out for that sharpness oh crap I’m bleeding go get a Band Aid and back to work and what the HECK?? The stupid pull chain on the ceiling fan light bit the dust so now it’s the happy enjoyment of taking the thing apart to replace the switch and CAN I PLEASE GO HOME NOW I DON’T WANNA PLAY ANYMORE but oh wait, I’m already home but I’ll sure be glad when it’s all done and we can sit back and enjoy some leisure time of snarfing potato chips and drinking apple juice.

But guess what?? NONE of this stuff is a problem, really. We get to have our house painted and carpeted. We get to have too much stuff to move around. As I said before, we have a nice home with no bombs exploding or invaders invading. We are, in short, very, very grateful. Hope life is good at your house.

I think I’ll end this snibbulous rant with just one more poem, the theme of which has no bearing on any aforementioned anything, but it might make you smile:

Wally

Bring your friends to Wally’s house

Because he’s really Super Mouse.

He fell down twice and did not break,

And he can swallow half a lake.

He always eats his super cheese,

But now he’s getting Super Fleas.

The End

And now for some fun that also happens to be set to music.

Been There, Done That

Hey, did you know that gas is up over $4 a gallon?? And food is more expensive than it was a couple years ago? And hey, come to think of it, pretty much everything costs more these days? There are a few million reasons for all this I think. And no, it’s not the President’s fault!! Just ask any economist. I mean hey, the President has no more control over the economy than a yodeling kitty cat has over a bowl of ice cream slathered in spaghetti sauce with sprinkles and Elmer’s Glue.

And I have absolutely no idea what the previous sentence even means!

I hear much whining, brooping, and guckamaroo being fribbled about these days. All too many folks are upset about how much gas costs, yet they are not interested in changing their driving behaviors. Because I’m older than most compost, I fondly (not really fondly) remember the Arab Oil Embargo that was very enjoyable (not really enjoyable) during 1973 and 1974. This was the wonderful period during which OPEC decided to quit supplying us with oil due to our support of Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.

So what did our government do? Well, one memorable action was that those stinkers in Washington imposed a national roadway speed limit of 55 mile per hour! This had horrible consequences: energy was saved, pollution declined, and traffic deaths went down substantially. Also, measures were introduced to shift our energy needs to more sustainable, environmentally friendly sources. Sound familiar? The environmentally friendly stuff I mean…

Hey, I like having the ability to travel pretty much whenever I want. After all, I’m a spoiled American. We have two vehicles: a Toyota Sienna and a Toyota Corolla IM. Guess which one does better on gas?? When my Beautiful Girlfriend and I did a road trip to Grand Rapids this past Monday, we decided to take the Corolla. I set the cruise control for 70 and voila!! We averaged just short of 36 miles per gallon. I’m sure it would’ve been better if we throttled back a bit. In fact, I was cruising in the same car at 50 MPH (the speed limit) on a local road a few weeks ago and I was getting over 48 mpg. Not bad for a non-hyrbrid car!

So I said to myself, “Hey Self!! Bet you can get decent mileage in that Monster Minivan if you slow down a bit.” And yes, boys and girls, if I cruise on the highway at 65 MPH I can get 28 mpg and maybe a little better, depending on the terrain. Once I was “playing” with the speed on the way home from our daughter’s house and going about 62 on the highway (during little or no traffic), and got a whopping 31 mpg. Pretty darn good for a little truck!! And yes I know I said I had a minivan, but I call it my truck.

As far as paying too much at the stores, well, at our house we just are careful about what we buy. The impact on our wallet hasn’t been that horrible; but then we are dinosaur cave people. In other words, we don’t rush out for the newest gadget when the stuff we have already works just fine. My wife and I have smell phones but both are iPhone 8; which is an old model by today’s standards. They still work like new, so why change?? Oh, and one of my favorite toys is a Yamaha HTR5490 stereo receiver I bought in 2001. We don’t buy 20 year old food, but we pretty much stay away from processed foods; so that keeps the grocery bill (and doctor bill) down. We quit buying soda and other sweets; not because of price but just because it simply is no good for us. And we always try to buy as locally as possible.

The moral of all this worblesnarken is: Easy Does It my friends. It’s all gonna be OK. Do something weird like slow down on the highways. Eat more sensibly. Resist the “keeping up with the Joneses” nonsense. Our spending habits are really the same as voting with money; meaning that how we shell out our dollars tells the corporate universe what kind of Real Universe we’d like to have. Oh and let’s try spreading some kindness around instead of spewing venom. And above all, please treat all those amazing folks in the service world with kindness and respect. None of them have any more control over the prices than our President does. So yeah, those of us who’ve been on the planet for a several decades have seen all this corporate caca before. Been there, done that.

And you know what? We’re very fortunate humans. We’re doing OK.

And now it’s time to make with the dinosaur hippie protest songs.

Daylight Craving Time

“What to write for tonight?” he wondered (OK, he is actually me). There’s a war going on, a nasty one too. But I doubt anyone wants to hear about that on Happy Friday!!! I’m praying for Vladimir Putin to eat some toxic Twinkies and keel over with a stroke but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. And yes I know prices on pretty much everything are rather nuts right now, but all I can say about all that is this reminder to all my friends: We are spoiled Americans. We live in a safe place and a free country (so far). “So again,” he wondered, “whatchya gonna write tonight??”

“I know!!” he (OK it’s really me again) exclaimed, “I’ll whine about the loss of an hour of sleep when we change the clock again!!”

So here’s how happy I am about the clock change. Some of you may remember a similar version of this rant from a couple years ago. I apologize for not producing something fresh and twinkly, but my heart really hurts right now for the people of Ukraine.

Anyway, here’s my whining:

Daylight Craving Time – Spring Ahead

Here we go again. An hour of sleep lost in honor of “springing ahead” into Daylight Savings Time. I thought about writing some cockamamie jab at the history of Daylight Saving Time, but there are so many convolutions that I ran away screaming. If you’re really interested in that stuff, Snopes has a pretty good page that describes it all in a nice little nutshell, here:

http://www.snopes.com/science/daylight.asp.

Any who how, even though our biological clocks get their springs and gears all wompified, most of my friends here in Beautiful West Michigan are very OK with the concept of Daylight Saving Time during the summer. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy having daylight till 10:30 PM? Days are already getting longer, and the birds are playing their electric guitars while squirrels, possums, and racketycoons jump up and down to the beat. Deer are looking at us with that “What??” face while they munch on our lawns. Starlings and grackles empty the bird feeders pretty much as quickly as we can fill them. And yep, pretty soon the peepers will be peeping and the thunder will be thundering.

That’s very nice I’ll say.

However, I’m really sick up and fed with the change. It really seems quite unnecessary, don’t you think? Let’s spring ahead just once and frickin’ leave it that way!! I mean, I need to reiterate how spoiled we are here in Beautiful West Michigan during the summer!! Summer, after all, is my favorite time of year; and we get very long days. I really love being in the garden until it’s too dark to see; and as I mentioned earlier that’s almost 10:30 PM here during part of the warm months.

I try to remind myself of being spoiled, because I’ve experienced the other end of the toaster handle. When I was a kid growing up on Long Island, it was dark outside not too long after we got home from school. In those days, our local fire department touched off a siren every day at precisely 7 PM. Now, when you’re a little kid who has to be heading home “when the 7 o’clock whistle blows,” you still can have lots of fun with hide-and-seek because it’s dark outside at about 5 PM. We’d eat supper, go outside and play, and have gobs of fun running around “at night.” So in that regard, falling back to Standard Time was kinda fun.

I’m a couple days older now, so I’m not really a fan of changing the clocks at all. I’m very OK with living on the far western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, so we can squeeze every last minute of daylight out of the setting sun. Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe all this saving time nonsense. I’d be OK with that, so long as we keep Daylight Saving Time.

Please write to my congressman and woman to make this happen. I’ll give you $3.40 up front for an incentive, and I’ll even bake you an Apple Surprise pie (Surprise!! I put raisins in there too!!). If you can get this done before Sunday, I’ll even make you an Apple Surprise Surprise pie (Raisins and walnuts!!) !!

Well, it’s time for me to quit writing about time now. There was a time though, back in 1973 when I had a very nice time, listening to these guys. All I could say then (and all I can say now), was WOW!!


I’m Trying!!

So there I was, on a Friday night, which is tonight because it’s not Saturday yet; and we have our grandsons Oliver and Gabriel over for the weekend, and usually they help me with silly ideas for a story, but it seems to be getting worse as they grow older, and I’m not sure why that is; but one thing I do know is that this silly run-on sentence is already way too long.

“I need some story ideas from you guys,” I announced as bedtime was drawing near. I waited… and waited… probably for a very long 47 seconds. No response. “So you guys just wanna head off to bed then??”

“No, I’m trying,” Oliver replied. “But you’re not,” said I. “Yes I am,” said he. “But you don’t smell like it,” I retorted. “I don’t know Gabe,” Oliver answered. “You don’t know Gabe??” I queried. Oliver’s voice got a little louder; and he blurted “Yes I know Gabe!! Gabe:I don’t have any ideas, do you?” Another pause. Then Oliver said “All I can think of is the name Sigmund.” Then my Beautiful Girlfriend (whom the boys refer to as Nini) chimed in: “The name of the horse of course of course his name was Sigmund and Sigmund was his name!!”

Gabe finally chimed in, “He can go to Mars in his flying pick up truck!!” And Oliver continued, “And his favorite breakfast is Cinnamon Toast Crunch with water instead of milk.” “When he got there the Martians were doing the Martian hop!” Nini exclaimed. Gabe added “The Martians pets were bananas that looked like monkeys.” The well appeared to be running dry. Both boys were obviously more than ready to hit the sack. Oliver delivered the final offering: “I personally think that water is the most mild beverage and vanilla ice cream is too spicy. My favorite food is cottage cheese with hot sauce. And I’m done.”

Another story by the grandsons came to an abrupt close. These days, it seems like each time I attempt to pry story ideas out of their noggins it becomes more and more like pulling teeth. Perhaps they are losing interest in this “hey let’s do some ideas for a silly story” thing. Maybe it’s just difficult to be creative after a long day at school followed by very exhausting sessions with video games. Or it could be something really weird like they’re growing up! Yes that might be it. When given the choice between the customary cartoon viewing before bed and video games, guess which was favored? Oh well. Oliver’s voice is changing from boy to man. Gabe’s hormonal roller coaster will be here all too soon. Before we know it they’ll be off on their own.

Guess we’ll just enjoy every opportunity to have them visit while they still like being around Nini and Papa. In the meantime… please enjoy the philosophical wisdom of George and Gracie.

Like Normal People (?)

How does one define the word “normal?” Anyway? I suppose it depends on who you ask. I mean, something as simple as wearing underwear might be considered normal by most folks. Then of course there are those who don’t find that normal at all. There are so many ways to interpret what “normal” is, that some (including me) have embraced the statement that normal is simply a cycle on the washing machine.

Why would I even want to go there? Writing about what’s normal I mean. Well, my Beautiful Girlfriend forced me to do it with a funny quip she made about dinner the other day. We were settling in for the evening; all our chores completed, and it was time to enjoy an elegant dinner of burritos from Taco Bell. My Lovely Bride looked at me with her beautiful eyes and said, “Let’s go to the bedroom, watch TV and eat our dinner like normal people.” “Like normal people, huh??” I snickered.

That gave both of us a nice chuckle. And yes we did enjoy our gourmet burritos in bed while we watched a Marvel movie with surround sound. Why do we have surround sound in the bedroom? Because that’s what my Honey Pie wanted. And I have to say it’s pretty nice to chill out all comfy and enjoy movie house quality sound in the comfort of your own… um… bedroom. And yes, we have surround sound in the living room too.

Are we spoiled or what??

Now I must ask: it’s normal for people to enjoy bad breath sandwiches, right? You know, some nice deli rye slathered in mayo with some chopped onion and a can of King Oscar sardines in tomato sauce layered nicely on there. Then snarf it down and go looking for your sweetie for a nice kiss. My wife just loves that ya know! Oh wait!!! No, she does NOT. No smooching till the teeth are brushed!!

Oh, and is it normal to buy a tool (or something) because you can’t find the one you know you have?? Gotta have that metric adjustable wrench today, right?? How else can I loosen the fronkulator on the bilateral mizzlepop and make sure it twinkles correctly before the warranty expires?? So off we go to the hardware store, buy an adjustable metric wrench for $18.95; and I’m told “You’re lucky!! You got the last one and oh, by the way, it costs more because it’s metric.” Then I learn that these are often called Crescent wrenches and they work for any standard because hey, they’re adjustable!! Well OK I already knew that; it’s just fun to be silly. Of course, I have indeed purchased a tool or other thing-a-ma-bob over the years because I needed the one I was sure I had, but could not find it for love nor money. So I go buy a new one (oh wait, that’s money!); and about halfway through the project while I’m rummaging through the tools I find the missing domaflochy that I had all along.

So is it normal for the pizza to change colors while the oven is turned off, then start howling when the preheat is finished and the oven door is open?? Then when I go to put it on the oven rack all these little colored flags pop up with exclamations like “No!!” “Ouch!!” “Hot!!” “LEAVE ME ALONE!!” And then the mouse with driving cap and sunglasses in the little sports car starts ramming my ankles and shouting obscenities (I think) in Swahili or something while beeping his horn. Phone rings, I slide my hand too close to the rack, ouch that hurts, it’s someone who wants to extend my car’s warranty and the refrigerator is beeping again and confetti is gushing out of the ice maker and why in the HECK is the motor oil in the vegetable drawer??

Oh wait… just a dream.

Was that a normal dream? Or should I just enjoy that cycle on the washing machine?

This might be an interesting dream…