Storms!! Danger!! Warning!!

The 6 O’clock news was all abuzz about a Winter Storm Warning for these parts. Sounds like we’re gonna get rain, then snow, then ice, then snow, then more ice, then tree stumps will be hiding in people’s garages while alligators rise from the compost in an attempt to bang out some heavy metal rock ‘n roll on the garden fence while Cheeba The Parsnip Queen shoots lightning out of her nose and Thundersnow out of her navel. Big Storm. Really Big. Size Large. Holy Moly.

Or maybe we’re just gonna have a storm; and the weather man says “numerous power outages possible.” Well I showed them guys; I did something truly radical this time. I actually went outside, gassed up the generator, and even started it up and everything!! This is unusual for me. Last time we had a big storm, I could not for the life of me get the generator started. That’s because I goofed in some pretty big ways:

1 – I put regular 87 octane gas in the tank. Then I learned that such fuel degrades after as little as 3 months!! Oh, and

R – Although I started the generator… um… maybe a year before, I didn’t turn the fuel valve off so the carburetor could drain. That gave the 87 octane gas plenty of time to gunk up the carburetor so badly it had to be replaced.

Well I got the generator fixed up last year and I’ve been diligently starting it up every few weeks. Even started it successfully this evening and got some extra gas.

Then I did really silly things like fill 5 gallon containers with water, and put our phones and flashlights (yes, flashlights) on the chargers. My Beautiful Girlfriend asked, “do we need to get some groceries??” “No,” I replied, “we have plenty of food.” Of course if we lose power, our electric stove is don’t working no any more; we’ll have to drag out the camp stove. So OK Mother Nature, do your worst. On second thought, please don’t!! Here’s hoping we don’t lose power. But if we do, we’re pretty much ready.

As I’m thinking (and writing) about all this, I’m reminded that all of what I just mentioned are truly high class problems. In other words, at our house there is much for which to be grateful, and we often verbalize this; especially if we sit down to watch the local and world news. A friend of ours likes to say, “ 90% of the world would probably love to trade problems with me.”

Ain’t that the truth.

Well if the storm’s a-comin’ by youse kids, try to be prepared; and above all be safe.

Try not to get caught in the storm like these characters…

A Bad Case Of The ‘Fonlies

They say hindsight is 20/20, and now that the year is 2020 and I’m getting close to retirement; I can’t help but look back at what I could have done differently. I have no real regrets, just a bunch of regrets that I don’t really have but I maybe do to a small degree which of course brings a little stress to my universe, especially when my wife is REALLY stressing about money because the money we’ll be pulling in will be a lot less than what we are earning now and she’s getting all freaked out and I’m just kinda wishing I had saved more so I wouldn’t have to write run-on sentences to describe the total panic that ensued just this morning but I cranked out some numbers and my Beautiful Girlfriend’s eyes quit bulging out of the sockets and her complexion went from steamy red to a pale blue and that’s probably not real but you know what I mean.

Don’t you?

No? Well, you know… we have a small case of the ‘fonlies. Like ‘f only we had saved more. And ‘f only I had bought fewer candy bars during the Great Fizz Festival back in June of ’97. Oh, and ‘f only maybe we hadn’t gone to see Paul McCartney 29 times during March of ’02. And perhaps I should only have purchased 12 of those 43 motorcycles when I was sad about having to mow the lawn every week. And another thing: ‘f only we had used less ketchup!!! Do you know how much ketchup costs???

So maybe we only saw Paul McCartney twice times. And maybe I only have one motorcycle… the same 1970 Honda CB175 that my Beautiful Girlfriend and I rode all over the place when we were first dating, and also when we were first married!! That was way back when we could both sit on the bike and not kill the springs. I think the springs would bottom out with just ME on it now… but it hasn’t run in several years anyway. And ketchup… well we just won’t go there. I mean, hey, gotta have ketchup!!

Heinz only please…

So my Beautiful Girlfriend was crying and rolling on the floor about money and retirement and Oh God We’re Gonna Have To Eat Beans And Rice And Use Candles Instead Of Electricity And Maybe She Didn’t Say Any Of That But I Superfluously Capitalized Each Word To Emphasize How Frightened She Was Getting.

Being the responsible hubby I am, I started running down the numbers; and after all our expenses, both real and imagined, we still had money left over. Of course, we’ll have to scrutinize this more closely (very soon) and come up with a budget that can tell us exactly where we are.

Well Ladles and Jellyspoons, the moral of the story is: if you are not retired, SAVE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN… NOW!!! And if you are already retired: could you please come to our house and give us some lessons?

And no, we’re not gonna pay. But we have ketchup!!

We’re actually very fortunate people… especially compared to these blokes.

My 2020 New Year’s Revulsions

Greetings, fellow Silver Chinklers,

Here’s wishing you the Happiest Merry of all Years, with dotted Ts and crossed eyes following all of your newly configured radial sandwich flavors. It is very and ultra important that we greet this new year with pledges of doing remarkable things. As you may already know, pledges are words that express an intent to do something. Politicians know the value of a pledge. They use them to get elected and, once in office, they do what they bloody well want.

But there’s something about the turn of a year that causes many people make pledges. Intentions are good but sometimes the follow through misses the mark for a variety of reasons. That’s not a bad thing. The important thing, for me at least, is to try to do better.

Sure, we could shame ourselves for not living up to New Year’s Resolutions. But this kind of ickyness just gives me the warm fuzzy noodle constipation that every mom loves. In other words, please don’t do that. You are a beautiful person. Yes, I mean YOU. How do I know this? Simple: The Creator does not make junk. We are all beautiful!

Anyway, I thought I’d better lay out a plan for my own self improvement. Therefore, I beg of each of you to elect me as your next Filibuster Yakkity Yak Doo Dah Day for 2020. My plan for selfish kaboom lies below.

Please be not aware that I have regurgitated the following Noo Yeer’s Revolutions:

1) To remind myself that I need to remember those things which I can’t seem to recall.

What was that again?  What was I thinking about…??

R) To lose weight, gain it back, lose it again, and lose some more until my nostrils can be used for sidewalk painting without fear of changing lanes abruptly.

Please pass the pepperoni flakes and the coagulated skim milk.

24) To change lanes abruptly so all weight loss can be vehemently avoided.

Watch out for that tree!! It may have a scale near it!!

++) To boldly go where no earthworm has ever dined before.

Ummm… you gonna eat that compost??

3X) To be nice to all people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Excuse me sire, your toupee is on fire. May I stomp it out for you?

T5) To dress in all recyclable clothing, in order to lighten the load on my laundry licking machine.

I especially favor the milk jug socks and the recycled string bikini underwear.

Z44) To unite all small countries in a global effort to stop Homer Simpson from eating my cake.

Alright folks, this is it… you clunk him on the cake eater and I’ll spray him with a completely different shade of yellow.

and finally:

9) To sing loudly about how wonderful it is to be alive, ever reminding myself that work is a joy and that complaining is tantamount to feeding dog food to caterpillars. In other words, no matter how badly I think I have it, I am really a wealthy person. I have received many gifts from The Creator. As Alistair Sim said in my favorite Christmas movie (Scrooge) “I don’t deserve to be so happy, but I can’t help it.”

I suspect that if you are reading this, you are wealthy also. You don’t think so?? OK smartypants, lemme ask you these: Do you have a car? Do you have enough to eat? Do any of your clothes fit nicely? Do you have friends? A warm, safe place to sleep?

You are wealthy. OK??

So I hereby beseech all of you to have a most Wonderful New Year in 2020, the 2nd Decade Of The New Millennium with New Millipedes under every log you roll. Love your brethren and your cistern. Love your father, your mother, and your Mother (Earth). Share what you can with those less fortunate than you are.

And please, be kind to yourself and other living things.

Peace, Love, and Hugs,

Kenny

So like… I um… I wanna lose some weight. And I’m gonna quit procrastinating about it, either tomorrow or the next day.

My 2019 Holiday Requirements

Dear Friends,

It’s that time of year again, the Holidays are soon upon us. Therefore, in keeping with the spirit of previous years, this edition of “Happy Friday!!!” will focus on my material requirements for this year. After all, it’s the season of giving, right? So please pay close attention to my list, and make sure I get exactly what I’m requesting so I can be happy all the day long.

I’m counting on you!!

So without further ado, here is my list. Please make sure all these gifts arrive at my house before Santa comes. I don’t want him to know how spoiled I am.

Here, then, are My 2019 Holiday Requirements:

1 – Since I’m retiring soon, please feel free to award me with lots of money. I happily accept large bills, especially the kind with pictures of Benjamin Franklin on them. You can always jazz up a gift like this by hiding money inside a pie or perhaps a donut or two. Or what the heck, you can stuff some cash inside of each donut in a box of a dozen!! Yes, that would be very nice.

R – My cat told me that Climate Change is freaking him out, and we humans need to do something VERY SOON. He gave me an idea: someone needs to convert our cars to hybrids. Or even better full electric. I’m thinking something with an optional set of sails for when the wind is favorable. We keep our cars in the garage when we’re home, so please don’t leave if you don’t see them in the driveway. I’m really not interested in all the engineering problems that go with such an undertaking, just roll up your sleeves and get to it. Thank you!!

8 – I wonder if there’s a way to cross breed a Twinkie with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Someone should be working on that I think. I’ll bet Santa would love snarfing down a couple of those when he makes his toy delivery stops!!

#6 – Please refer back to item number 1. Did I mention I’m retiring soon? Don’t you feel horrible that my Social Security will be much less than my current pay? Are you really willing to endure the horror I will experience every time I try to afford a vacation in Hawaii by saving deposit bottles? Is there any of that delicious casserole left in the fridge? Do chihuahuas like tacos, or do they lean more toward a nice roast beef sandwich? Where is that cat going with my sock??

X5 – In case you didn’t know, Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel are in no way related to Oliver, Our Grandson and Stanley the Dog. Just sayin’.

4@ – Oh My God!! Who let that HUGE spider in the house?? Quick!! Grab that jar and catch it before it hides!! I can’t bear the thought of that thing crawling up my nose in the middle of the night!!

D2 – I probably should have mentioned earlier, but I really need to disarm the Clutter Bomb that is set to go off in my garage. Oh wait, it already went off!! Where did all this stuff come from?? And what is this air filter… for that ’82 Grand Am we traded in back in 2005?? Oh and yes, I know, I put those bolts in that little can “because I’ll need them someday.” Well, someday done come and went, buddy. Please gather a crew of about 47 people and have each person bring a wheelbarrow. I’d like to use my garage again some time soon.

I could go on and on, but I don’t want to seem greedy. Please just make sure all the stuff I listed gets referred to the proper molecular soup flinging robots.

Thank you!!

These days bring times of celebration and love, but also of reflection and empathy. Many of us are blessed, and many are suffering. It’s a time when folks actually go the extra mile to make other people’s lives a little better. Of course, there is much more to do in regard to making our world a better, more peaceful place; and much of that is also discussed a bit more around this time of year.

I wish I had the answers and the resources to fix all the world’s ills, but of course I don’t. So much wrong with this world, right? Well, yes, of course there’s lots of bad, but there’s also a whole lot of GOOD. We just don’t hear enough about it; probably because our media are all focused on the headline stuff. There really are many, many people doing amazing things to improve our planet. We need to join them as often as we can. Even small gestures can make a huge impact.

Anyway, please, all of you, have a blessed and safe Holiday season.

Music has brought folks together for ages. The Playing For Change folks are just one example of good news that doesn’t get nearly enough coverage.

Fruitcake Follies

It’s late outside because my Beautiful Girlfriend and I were visiting a Beautiful Friend, and we definitely had some wonderful food. Too much food, actually. So there I was, stuffed to the gills and getting home late, and I thought to myself, “Self,” I thought… “What are you gonna write about for Frappy Hiday at this hour?? Anyway???”

Well, since the Holidays are upon us, I again thought to myself, “how about a nice story about fruitcake? Haven’t had that delicacy in our home for awhile now, and I kinda miss it. Funny, but all these years I thought I was the only one in the house who craved the stuff; but lo and behold our daughter fessed up to loving fruitcake recently. So now of course I’m gonna have to go find some… if it’s not all gone already.

Anyway… without further ado, here’s my very late night story about: FRUITCAKE. You know, that sugar and fat laden seasonal delicacy. It’s often had a bad rap and has been the source of many a holiday standup comedy schtick. I know it sounds like a deadly thing to some, but I love that stuff. I simply can’t help myself, it’s so gooey and delicious… mmmmm, I just want to smear it all over my eyebrows before I hop into bed so I can floof into dream land with visions of sugar lumps. Or something like that…

Yes, I am liking the fruitcake. I use a chainsaw to cut it into 1 inch thick pieces, and make nice shingles for my home. They are not only decorative, but provide excellent insulation and have an added bonus of being bullet proof. Police peoples will probably be wearing vests made of fruitcake in the near future.

There’s only one thing wrong with using fruitcake for bullet protection. Tests have proven it to be very effective, but nobody can ever find the bullet after shooting the cake. I have a theory that fruitcake is actually a living organism, and when foreign objects get trapped inside, it digests them and alters their appearance. So, although that 9 mm slug is probably in there, the fruitcake instantly disguises it as a maraschino cherry.

Fruitcakes make nice lawn ornaments, and when dried for a week or two, can be painted to match your exterior decor. They are also an excellent substitute for broken concrete to as a border for raised flowerbeds. Other uses are wheel chocks and boat anchors. Its uses are limited only by your imagination.

I’ve heard that people will spike a fruitcake with rum or some other type of alcoholic beverage to make special spongy holiday cheer. I’m allergic to spiked spongefruit. It makes me try to pull my pants off over my head. Then I become compulsive about the stuff, and eat so much fruitcake that the room begins to spin. I’ve even said a few embarrassing things, like, “this is wonderful fruitcake. Will you marry me? May I barf in your sugar bowl?” Then, I’d throw up and go for more fruitcake; and on the way home my allergic reaction would be to break out in traffic violations.

Basically, I learned the hard way that I simply shouldn’t go around drinking fruitcake anymore.

Of course, there is a very practical use for spiked fruitcake: it makes a wonderful fire starting log. Be careful though, because if the fire is not tended carefully it may cause an explosion. You’ll be picking fruit shrapnel out of your hiney and other delicate body areas. Another drawback is the effect on birds flying past chimneys where fruit starting logs are being used. Birdies have been known to inhale spongespike fruit fumes, causing them to:

a) fall straight to the ground

2) roll around laughing

r) go to bed with other birds’ mates, and

12) wake up in a strange home, complaining of a severe headache and nausea the next day.

Needless to say, none of these is very good for the Holiday Spirit.

Fruitcake needs no spiking, really, since it has enough sugar in it to sweeten 27 gallons of lemon juice. Since sugar is a very wonderful drug, it attracts me like a moth to a flame. Even though I stick to the non-spiked fruitcake, I have to be careful not to overindulge. After all, I’ve never yet been arrested for OUIF (Operating Under the Influence of Fruitcake), and I don’t intend to get busted. I’m not sure what the legal BFL (Blood Fruitcake Level) is, but someone is probably out there watching for people who’ve had too much:

“Do you know why I pulled you over, sir??”

“Not sure, officer. I was a bit shaky on that turn, but I can assure you, I’m not intoxicated.”


“How much fruitcake did you have this evening, sir?  That gut of yours seems to be impeding the steering wheel.”

“Honest, officer, I only had two pieces. I was at a party, and, well, things got a little out of hand.”

“But if you only had two pieces, what do you mean about this party getting out of hand??”

“OK, officer. I took two more pieces for the road. I tried to stop, but it was just so-o-o-o good,” I murmured with glazed, squinty eyes.  “Got some of that eggnog too.”

“Get out of the car, sir. Let me get my tape measure to check if that gut is legal. We don’t want Fathers Against Tub-o’-lards (F.A.T.) busting me down to corporal, now do we?? I’m getting ready to retire, and I’m not gonna let a bozo like you mess it up for me! And stand back, Mr. Sugarbreath! Zheesh, you got some stinky sweetbreath there!”

“Pardon my fruit belch, officer. I’m really sorry.”

“OK, smartypants, just don’t let it happen again. Let’s see… a guy your height should have about a 36 inch waist… but your gut is 347 inches!! Doesn’t that belt hurt??”

“Of course it hurts!! I mean…  ummm… officer, can’t you give me a break, just this once? I’ve never been arrested. How would I explain this to my wife and kids?”

“Well, it IS getting close to Christmas. But just to be safe, you better hand over the pieces you haven’t crammed in your face yet. Besides, my bulletproof vest has a shingle coming loose.”

“Sure thing, officer. One of the cherries had a sort of metallic taste to it, anyhow. But I think it should repair that vest of yours pretty nicely.”

Whew, that was a close one. But hey, all’s well that ends well. I didn’t get hauled in for OUIF. I made it home in time for dinner, and “Mrs. Santa” was none the wiser, if you know what I mean.

But just for good measure, I stopped at the convenience store and picked up some more fruitcake.

Good thing it’s only once a year!!

A Grand(son’s) Story Suggestion

In the event of our grandsons spending the weekend with us, I am sometimes given a suggestion regarding a topic for Happy Friday!!! Tonight was no exception. After the customary cartoons before bed, my Beautiful Girlfriend asked, “whatchya gonna write about tonight?” “No idea,” I replied. Then Ollie piped up, “how about The Secret Habitat Of The Wumbledorg?” “Wumbledorg??” I asked.

OK… so here goes nothing.

The Secret Habitat Of The Wumbledorg

by Ken Hansen

It is not common knowledge, but as I’m sure none of you remember, there are things in this world which simply cannot be sold to potato ranchers unless it’s raining really hard and the knobs on the toaster are set to 92 just before the trees slide sideways through the grocery store while small children ask why this run-on sentence doesn’t please stop now please.

Thank you.

Twelve of the things that can’t be sold to potato ranchers are accustomed to living in electric caves that zig and zag under many parts of New Jersey. In fact, Zelda Snorklefoot called all the toads in the Brinkle District to instruct them all to please quit barking at the new sand eating applesauce jars. When the toads received this request, all 17 of them quietly marched into the electric caves to complain to Brambo, King of Neeflehoppen. Of course, each toad carried his or her own Cosmic Crayon in case there were any large paper antelopes blocking their way. It seems that these creatures do NOT like being colored in any way, as they prefer their natural shade of Jellyfish Purple.

All but 29 of the toads lost their way to Brambo’s Palace. None of them had maps, and only 34 of them knew how to use GPS. That didn’t matter much anyway, because when you’re in an electric cave it’s difficult to get electronic devices to sneeze politely. No, they simply had to rely on the maps that were made in The Ancient Times by their ancestors. These maps were very valuable, because without them it was impossible to find out where the secret doors were clanging softly exploding mustard songs.

Zelda tried to warn the toads before they left on their cave marching journey. In fact, she did her best to warn them musically with a song that sounded rather familiar, especially around this time of year.

All 58 of the toads smiled a gribbly smile as they fondly remembered the words…

“You better watch out!!

Better not cry!!

Better not pout!!

I’m tellin’ you why…

Wumbledorg is under

the ground!!”

Although most of the 82 toads had heard this sung to the tune of “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town” before, some of the youngsters were really greasy from playing on the sculpture of a minivan that was made of fried chicken. So the youngsters cried and pouted on their way down inside the electric cave; not aware of the danger that could be in store for them. The other 136 toads tried to get them to “SSSHHHH!!!” but they were all insistent on throwing radios during the entire cave march.

After the 23rd radio was tossed, a small “binking” sound could be heard. As the group approached the corner of Cavern Boulevard and Stalagmite Street, the binking grew louder and louder. The closer they got, the louder the binking; until they arrived at a shimmering part of the cave wall that didn’t look anything like the rest of the ketchup castle.

Vornis The FlyBiter was the oldest toad, and therefore the most experienced in electric cave crayon cribbling. Despite his best efforts to keep the location a secret, he was horribly aware that young Skeebles was going to put his hand near the shimmering wall. Vornis shouted, “DON’T!! YOU’LL WAKE UP THE WUMBLEDORG!!”

Too late, unfortunately.

Suddenly the shimmering wall began to open as if someone was operating a floppy curtain while trying to ride a bicycle into an oatmeal box. As the wall opened, the binking sound got much louder, and now it was accompanied by flashing lights and streams of gold and silver confetti. All 251 toads stood motionless and wide-eyed as a strange creature with large, furry eyebrows and red pajamas with white polka dots came out dancing. “Oh great,” snorted Vornis. “You woke up the Wumbledorg. Now we’re in trouble.”

The Wumbledorg wasted no time. He smirked a smiggly smile, and started chanting As Seen On TV commercials. “The fantastic Salad Exploder cannot be found in stores!! Order today for only $19.99 plus shipping and handling!! If you order RIGHT NOW, you can get 2 Salad Exploders for the price of one!! Order today!!” All 379 toads were enchanted at first, but after the 45th commercial, they all replied in unison, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The moral of this story, of course, is: never wiggle the shimmering wall or the Wumbledorg will try to sell you things you never knew you needed.

No Longer Relevant

Our current tradition for Thanksgiving is to go to a dear friends house and enjoy her delicious food. This has been going on several years now; and in addition to a marvelous meal we also have the privilege of visiting some of her grandchildren and their parents. Holy MOLY time is flying!! We remember when they were babies, and now the oldest is 18!! We don’t see them very often, but the bond of love is very strong and it’s always very enjoyable to see them.

The youngsters all know to expect me to be silly, and I try never to disappoint. Hey, that’s just the kind of guy I am! Even though this body of mine is much older than compost, the brain in my head bone still seems to want to convince me that I’m still a youngster. Not sure what 65 is supposed to feel like, but I’ve been there for a while and the brain continues to think it isn’t real. However, the body reminds me that it is very real.

Just like an old fart, though, I delved into some probing conversation with these fine young people. “How’s school? Any idea what you want to do after you graduate? What kind of music to you like?” You know, grandpa stuff (OK, maybe I really am old). As far as music goes, I like to think of myself as a person who enjoys something of a broad spectrum of genres. You know, stuff like folk, rock, bluegrass, classical, and maybe a little bit of country. Not too much country please. I can’t help it, I’m an old rocker. Anyway, thinking maybe I could find some newer music as common ground, I asked, “do you like Imagine Dragons?” The oldest young lady replied, “yeah, but they’re no longer relevant.”

“Hmmm… no longer relevant!!” I thought to myself. Wow. In my day, that would have come out as, “yeah, man, they’re not cool anymore.” Anyway, in a desperate attempt to pull out of the cultural nosedive, I smirked and asked, “ever heard of The Beatles?” They chuckled a bit and the oldest again replied, “yeah my boyfriend used to listen to The Beatles.”

That was comforting…

Yes, OK, I admit it!! I’m OLD!! And I don’t mind!! Still, there really is comfort to be had that at least something from “the old days” is still relevant. I’m beginning to wonder if The Beatles will become the classical music of the future. People will be listening to “Here Comes The Sun” to soothe their nerves after a hard day of hustle and bustle; much in the same way we might listen to some Mozart or Brahms. Oh wait, I do that now!!

Hip, groovy, and cool have become sick, dope, and (maybe) now relevant. All are fleeting. It will be interesting to see what those adjectives will morph into during the coming decades. Might be fun to try an experiment. As I’m typing this, I’m thinking how much fun it could be to get 3 or 4 youngsters to use a new word to describe something that’s “relevant;” and then ask them to use the expression regularly for a month or so. Perhaps something like, “hey guys!! Look at this new iPhone!! It’s a total barf park!!” Or how about, “that new Bruno Mars song really smokes my socks!!”

OK maybe not. Doesn’t matter anyway because as the folks in Tower of Power would say, “what’s hip to day, might become passé.”

Every Day Is Black Friday!!

I’m having difficulty keeping track of what season it is these days; and it’s probably because of 3 things: TV, radio, the internet, newspapers… OK, 4 things… the stores… OK, that’s 5 things… oh and OK, billboards… so 6 things. Probably lots more things. Now, I could have sworn this was different in previous years. But now everything is rush-rush-rush and go-go-go.

You know what I mean?

No?

Holidays. I’m having trouble because all those 6 things (and probably lots more things) are bombarding me with holiday messages. This year, in like late June I think, the “Back To School” stuff started appearing. Kids were barely out of school for the year!! Then “Hallowe’en Season” may have started in August. Pretty sure I saw Hallowe’en stuff in the stores around that time. “Hallowe’en Season” overlaps the Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza, which in turn is really ramped up right now of course. Oh, and not to forget Christmas. That shopping season started in late September I believe.

On the other hand, you have Black Friday. Well maybe you do, but I have fingers on both hands so I really don’t give a flying mahookey about Black Friday. That may be due to the lingering distaste I still harbor for the name Black Friday; because in the economic downturn of the early 1990’s a Black Friday was one of those fateful days when people were being downsized out of a job. I had first hand experience with this happy phenomenon. One November day back in 1992, my wife gave me a smooch as I was on my out the door for work. “Have a nice day,” she said cheerfully. “Well, it’s Black Friday,” I said in a low tone. Couple hours later I was laid off.

Since then I’ve always been a bit apprehensive about Black Friday. My disdain has been substantiated after witnessing some of the comically sad Black Friday altercations that have erupted during sales events on the Friday after Thanksgiving. One could find such a fracas amusing, but ultimately I was sad to see such materially driven outbursts.

Retailers have since changed their tactics, using all kinds of gimmicks to get people to spend more online and in the stores. A local grocery chain proclaimed a “3 Day Sale” on turkeys, for a crazy price of 33 cents a pound. That was a week ago, and they’re still selling turkeys for the same price. Online is much the same story. Many of the shopping sites I’ve visited declare “Get Black Friday Deals NOW!!” And it isn’t even Friday!!

I suppose I should try a little harder to ignore all the commercial hoopla and just use the actual calendar to figure out what day or season it is. In order to do so, I’d probably have to live in a cave or something. But I like to get out and about, so I’ll just have to learn to accept the fact that shopping seasons will continue to become a little weirder every year. In the meantime, when my friends ask me, “hey Ken, did you start your Holiday shopping yet?” I’ll have the same answer I’ve had for many Novembers in a row:

“Nope.”

So yes, I do go shopping. But I also get pretty mushy this time of year with gratitude. I’m blessed in this life, and I have to admit, aside from all the commercial yowling there are also lots of reminders to give back. And here’s a cartoon I remember seeing when I was a kid that still warms my heart.

Three Months, Fifteen Days

Do any of you fine people out there remember when I wrote my last retirement countdown announcement on this crazy blog thing of mine that I use for my own amusement (and hopefully yours) during which I write incredibly long run-on sentences that are not really useful but can be fun when you know you’re reading a run-on sentence that was written purposely to be just plain too long?

Neither do I.

But I was poking around all my posts and found one from two years ago. TWO YEARS!! And now it’s two years hence, and my countdown has become frightfully small. I use the term “frightfully” because I’ll have to admit, I’m a bit concerned about how everything will go. This is basically the last chapter of living, and although I have a large amount of gratitude for all my blessings, I’m still a wee bit apprehensive.

Mostly about money.

I have friends who have been retired for some time who tell me, “Ken!! It’s gonna be alright, alright, ALRIGHT!! It’s gonna be alright!!” OK maybe they don’t say it exactly that way. Perhaps I’m trying to embrace the spirit of what they’re telling me and mixing it in with the refrain from an old Gerry And The Pacemakers song. And if you’re old enough to remember those guys, you may not want to shout it out loud because people will think your old and crusty like me! Then they’ll squint and say, “Gerry and the what now??”

Don’t get me wrong. Retirement is not scaring me enough to avoid doing it. I’m really, really, REALLY looking forward to it!! I’ve worked in the manufacturing industry for many years, and although it provides a pretty decent living, there’s an awful lot of bull manookey being flung around in a factory setting. Pretty much the same everywhere: Big Bosses make remarkable plans, and then the smaller bosses in charge of implementing those plans might tweak them a bit, then the folks who have to implement the plans shake their heads and do what they were told; only to undo it later for regrouping.

Well no more for me thanks. I turn 66 years old in 3 months and 14 days. That’s my full retirement age according to Social Security. My birthday falls on a Sunday next year; so the next day I will celebrate Monday with a smile by saying goodbye to working for industry.

Lots of my friends are asking, “any big plans?” And I reply, “yes! I won’t be here!!” That’s the only “big plan,” honestly. I have no idea what retirement has in store for me. I love to grow food, so one of my missions is to kick the garden into high gear and get some nice yummies for me and my family. I also love to write, so I’ll be eating at the keyboard and getting condiments and veggie niblets all over the place. No. Probably not. No eating at the keyboard. Seriously, I hope to peddle some of my gardening stories to various publications. Maybe someone can benefit from what I’ve learned during my 46 years as an organic gardener.

Then of course there’s the Honey-Do list. A Honey-Do list is a benefit of being married. It’s also a list that never gets smaller. However, such a list is very beneficial for two main reasons: 1) lots of stuff gets done around the house and yard. Left to my own devices, the lawn would go back to Mother Nature; and the debris from The Clutter Bomb that went off in our garage would simply grow to a completely ridiculous level. And of course there’s the much more important reason: 2) Completing tasks on a Honey-Do list is one of many good ways to avoid getting a divorce.

Ahhh retirement. I can smell it now!! Perpetual vacation!! Forgetting to set the alarm!! Doing what I want, when I want!! Once in a while anyway. I really am grateful. Not much savings but zero debt. And we are truly blessed on many material and spiritual planes. I can’t help but reflect back on what I wanted out of life in the early years of marriage. The cool thing is, all my wants were fulfilled years ago. I distinctly remember telling my friends, “all I want is the love of a Beautiful Woman, a house on enough land to grow some food, and a kick-ass stereo.” I’ve been blessed with these for years, so I want for nothing. Guess I should just heed my retired friends as they declare, “it’s gonna be alright, alright, alright!! It’s gonna be alright!!”

Or I could go to the YouTube and have Gerry And The Pacemakers fill my heart with song.

And this one is just plain alright!!!!

Fore Pot Hominy

English is a subject many of us loved to hate while we were in school. Rightly so, I guess, because it’s awfully complex, what with all the rules and everything. But perhaps the toughest thing is when you try to explain English to someone who didn’t grow up speaking it.

One problem for our brethren and cistern of other lands is that English has too many words that sound the same but mean completely different things (homonyms). On the other hand, you have five fingers. You also have the words that don’t sound anything alike, but mean the same thing (synonyms). Consequently, even those who grew up with English as a first language can have a pretty horrible time at first.

Maybe I’m a sicko, but I actually enjoyed English as a kid. It just seemed to flow naturally for me. But so does fun, and early in life I often turned to scholars like the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges; and came to rely heavily on silly humor as a coping mechanism. Professors Groucho and Curly, among others, taught me to mangle the use of my native tongue for comic relief.

Some of my favorite fun is the destruction of sentences using various perversions of synonyms and homonyms. Sew, without any further a dew, hear comes the thyme during witch aisle use words in a weigh that, hope fully, will give ewe awl a chuckle oar to. Oar knot! Eye don’t no four shore. Of coarse, eye may use sum “poetic lye sense” and get in two sum reel bad word mangling, just two make this moor fun. When eye get in two a mood of this type, I yam knot very predict a bull. Eye simply type watt comes two my mind. And at thymes, my mind can bee a berry strange plays in deed.

Take the title, four instance. Pleas, jest take it away from hear! It contains words that are not reel homonyms of “Four Part Harmony.” But hay, Eye simply dew knot care. Eye thought it sounded funny, sew that’s wye Eye poot it their. Nor dew Eye care that “poot” is knot in the diction aerie (although diction and aerie both are). Eye, four won, no perfectly well that “poot” is slang for the release of intestinal gas. Sew, Eye through that in four the halibut.

Won sad fact, though, is their are two many folks who right this way awl the thyme, and think it’s nor mull. If there skills are egg stream lee bad, we cat a gore eyes them as “funk shun Ellie ill litter it.” They dew knot no how two right a reel scent tense. There reeding skills are very pour. Knot awl of this is there fault, of coarse, butt it is the sad truth nun the less.

Oh Kay. Watt if wee found too people, driving threw town and talk king, and won was “funk shun Ellie ill litter it” and the udder new grandma pretty well, and was their four “litter it?” Wee mite here sum thing of this nay chore:

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“Hay, Clem! Let’s go two the Ma Jest Stick Thee Ate Err two knight. Eye here their will bee fore fell lows singing, each inn a different cord! With know instruments, neither!! Eye guess you call that type of singing, `archipelago,’ write??”

“No, Stewart, that’s definitely NOT `archipelago,’ it’s called `acapella.’ But hey, it sounds like a great idea. And by the way, when there are four singers like that, it’s called a `quartet,’ you realize. Probably barber shop.”

“Oh Kay, Mr. Music Smarty Pants Person! Butt hay now, you don’t have to insult me! Four wye you call me `reel eyes??’ Pretty stupid name calling their. Anyhow, I’m really lookin’ foreword two that fore pot hominy. And yes, I am fully a wear that `a bobber sharp quartet’ is a cinnamon four `fore pot hominy,’ Mr. Turnip Nose! There! How dew you like being called names?? Stop with the insults, already!”

“I think you mean synonym, although it isn’t really. And that’s four part harmony. Pretty sure you meant harmony. But hey, I don’t want to pick nits. And I didn’t call you `reel eyes,’ I said, `realize.’ Chill out, man!”

“Yore tellin’ ME to chill OUT?? I don’t have to take this! I mean, there you go again! Are you listenin’ two yourself hear? Eye SAID cinnamon! And eye also said hominy! And if there’s any pit nicking gonna be done, I’ll do it myself, thank you very much. I was nicking pits before you was born!! And there you go callin’ me names again! What the heck’s the deal with this `reel eyes’ business? Anyhow??”

“Oh brother. Sorry. We’re obviously not communicating. But hey, let’s check out the quartet. What time? Eight?”

“Ate?? Heck know, I’m starved! Haven’t had thyme four dinner yet! Pick me up around 7:45. And watch out fur that `DEW KNOT ENTER’ sign! Oar don’t you understand traffic cymbals?? You ego statistical creep-headed octopus!”

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Well, may bee such a talk wooden happen. Butt as yew kin sea, I like two play with hominy and cinnamon!

Here are two of my favorite artists who mastered the misuse of English: