What Was Your Name Again??

Hi Folks!

There is only one TRUE way to impress your friends with warmth and love, and that is by sending the following letter to all of them on a special day that neither of you will remember. So, since this I am writing this “Happy Friday” to all of you, my dear, wonderful friends, please take a minute to be bathed in the loving thoughts in the letter that follows. AND, as an added bonus, you can easily cut and paste it into your very own, original, plagiarized letter and send it to YOUR friends! No box tops or proof of purchase required!

OK? Here we go…

An Open Letter To The Best Friends I Have Never Known

by Me

Dear Snifflehead,

Don’t think for even one minute that you can even for one moment even possibly have a chance to realize anything about the possible chances of knowing what I was thinking a moment ago. Give me a break already. You know what I mean, right? Of course you do, that’s why we’re friends!

It’s been nearly three days now, and that’s longer than what I had anticipated before the three days began. That was at least three days ago. Now it is three days hence, and it feels a lot like three days have gone by. It may seem redundant to you, but I don’t wish to repeat myself on the point of being guilty of saying the same thing over again. That would be redundant, as you may have detected, but I

refuse to be accused of saying the same thing over again.

Our friendship goes back as far as I can remember; but to be honest, I can’t remember who the heck you are or what you look like. All I know for certain is that you will soon be receiving small packages of soil in the mail. Consider it a token of appreciation for all the things you have never done for me. The soil you will soon enjoy will contain very small mites which will observe you while you go to the

bathroom (they’ve been known to take notes). Please be aware that if you hear faint, high-pitched laughter in there while you are bathing, that is just those silly mites. They carry small video recorders; so don’t be surprised if your hiney is featured on “America’s Funniest Videos” in the years to come.

Let’s make a point of having bark salad sometime at separate restaurants together. Then we can have a nice telephone conversation with someone we REALLY like, and it would be much more meaningful than this garbage. You never contacted me in the first place; so if you think I’m going to write another word about this, I’m crazy. Take notes at the next sink-plunging session you get involved in, and remind me to laugh at the resulting jelly donuts you stepped in during the last Global Crybaby Kaka-Roach Festival.

Above all, quit following me. I can smell you in my dreams. I know the model of automobile you have been repairing lately. It is futile for you to hide from observation, there is a satellite transponder in the kitchen with your name on it. What was your name again? Nevnex? Something like that.

In the meantime, here are some friendly suggestions you may memorize each day until you lose the list; at which time I will cease and desist from any further wild cabbage infusions.

Jump loudly with bugs; they will appreciate the entertaiment.

Try not to eat too many crayons.

When you sneeze, grab your neighbor’s shirt sleeve quickly to avoid spreading snot globs.

Always keep extra cheese in your spare tires.

While shopping, yell “HOOT NAH!!” very loudly at 10 second intervals while waiting in line.

And finally, don’t forget to lose this list.

Your Anonymous Friend,


Why Pigs Don’t Fly

In the true spirit of ghostly gestures, there will be no seance tonight due to heavy cream spoiling on the radiator. The remonculous odor of irregular toe cheese has permeated the room, and the spirits refuse to enter. Even dead people can’t spray enough room deodorant to quench the thirst of a pudding merchant! Besides, remonculous is NOT a word.

Now we get to the part where we have all been urged to smear mayonnaise on our arms and upper torso. Especially vital while at the beach, this activity is a truly soothing way to look like a total geek. After applying the mayo, several devotees have been known to roll in the sand for added excitement. This of course has been the primary factor in the development of the latest fashion craze, the


New things have been added to potatoes which will improve their ability to float through the air. Small, retractable “air paddles” are located in strategic sections for locomotion and navigational stability. Since most active taters soon tire of loping along, starch rockets have also been introduced for rapid propulsion. Additionally, revolutionary velcro brakes have been installed for sure-fire

quick stops.

Next time your spuds go for a little spin through the house, listen closely for the barely audible click that occurs when the air paddles are engaged. Upon hearing the click, hunker down in your chair; because the starch rockets will energize shortly thereafter. Don’t be surprised if your assistance is required when their little joyride is done. Those velcro brakes stick to curtains like there’s no


Pigs have not yet been able to get off the ground for more than a fraction of second. Air paddles were found to be miserably ineffective with pigs due to their large mass. It was once thought that the presence of pork fat would make a natural lubricant which would enable the air paddles to engage quickly and easily; but the fat inhibited the motion of the paddles instead. Those poor piggies would watch a spud go by and start clicking with everything they had, but to no avail.

Starch rockets would obviously be inappropriate for the porkers, but Mognut R. Wobbynock has proposed the following possible alternatives: pig poppers, pork propellers, and bacon blasters. To date, the bacon blaster seems to have the most thrust; but the exhaust from its tailpipe has induced passersby to invite themselves over for breakfast.

Well, as you know, the universe is a strange and wondrous place to be. Being includes singing, riding a whale to work, and eating pastry. My thorough understanding of this dimension should help all electrically sensitive people know that their medication is really a giant animal begging for the

latest news on powdered worms.

I have undergone much emotional turmoil lately, what with my clam running away with the family crescent wrench and all. So I offer you all my insights, and I’m sure that we will soon have salad with radial tires. If you become down in the dump, get out of there quickly because people throw the most godawful things in the garbage! Do not cling to your material possessions. Give them to me and I will sell them quickly for half of what they are worth. I like to have money to buy candy bars; so you will be doing me a great service and I will be sure to thank you.



Happy Vacation To Me! Unless You Are Also On Vacation.

Dear Friends,

I am on vacation, and you are not. Unless of course you are. On vacation. Are you? I am. And I’m enjoying every minute of it. Please pass the Lemon Flavored Soil Testing Kit while I rake these flavor crystals into a small, gently seasoned skillet full of fresh asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, and Dondo Frijole Jumping Beans.

See there?? That’s what happens when you work for a very long time, and then vacation comes. Well OK maybe not. But if I remember correctly, vacation is a time for escaping reality, at least to some extent. Reality is this: I like to eat food, and I also enjoy living in a home with electricity that powers various things I use to enhance my tender hair follicles and skin cells. Therefore, these conditions (among others) require money, and that means I need to go to work.

Not sure about you folks, but I work because:

A) I’m too proud to be a bum and

9Z6) I’m too chicken to be a criminal.

So I must work for my money. However, I have earned vacation so I am taking two whole days in conjunction with the Memorial Day weekend. Do the math: that means I get 16 days off in a row!! What?? No??? 5…? OK… 5. 5 days off in a row!!

I feel sad for those who feel compelled to do work stuff while on vacation. I almost always do not… although this time I actually got a call from the Help Desk and did a little “coordinating from the remote position” to help things along. That was yesterday. Today, I peeked at my work e-mail briefly, then put the iPhone down and ran away screaming. Or maybe I just put the iPhone down. OK I picked it up several times later; but no more e-mail peeking. It’s just not healthy to let my mind be consumed with work all the time. So I don’t allow that. I’m pretty good at maintaining strong boundaries that separate work from home.

My mission this weekend (5 DAYS!!!) is to get at least SOME of the garden planted. I’m so far behind… but as I always tell my Beautiful Girlfriend, “work interferes with my free time.” Next year at this time I’ll have a reeealllllyyyy looonnnggg vacation because I’ll be retired.

Got a bit of a start though. Bought some peppers, eggplants (not eggs from chickens. Eggs from plants) tomatoes and herbs. Yesterday I mowed the garden. HUH?? Yes, the quack grass was already out of control, so I took the garden tractor and put the mower deck into soil scrape mode. In other words, I put it on the lowest setting possible and scalped all the weeds and such. Then I began the laying out of the beds in preparation for tilling. And of course: rained much of the day today. I suppose I could have done more garden stuff, but I would have become very soggy. And yes, all this takes some preparation; which of course is time consuming. But the rewards are very great. We not only get wonderful food, but it is also very good for my spirit. And speaking of the spirit, I’m very happy to announce that I’m definitely in vacation mode now. I know this because I forgot what day it was today.


This vacation is for staying home. Very few plans. Plant da garden. Be with my Honey Pie. Maybe catch a movie. Just not sure; and that’s OK.

So, I hope you are also on vacation. If not, well nyaa nyaa na boo boo to the likes of YOU!! Ha ha!!

Yours with 3 more days,

Kenny “Am I Retired Yet?” Compostflinger

Now I’m off to learn new gardening techniques from Porky…

Yesterday… Or The Day Before

You may not believe it when I tell you , but I am blessed beyond belief. Actually, I really could give a rip as to whether you believe me or not, because it’s true!! So there!! Put that in your smipe and poke it!! Sure, I’m getting old. I’m older than compost!! But one thing nice about being older, at least for me, is that I’ve suffered more than enough growing pains for one lifetime. And I may have even learned a few things along the way.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me when I start bribbling about having learned stuff. If you know me well, you know from time to time I’ll mention that I’m on a constant recovery journey. That’s right, friends, I’m trying every day to recover from the dreaded Mr. Know-It-All Disease. Some days I try harder than others… but I think I’m getting better at it. I hope. Maybe. I just don’t know!! To quote the late Alistair Sim, who, in my professional opinion performed the very best film rendition of Ebenezer Scrooge, “I don’t know anything… I never did know anything!! But now I KNOW I don’t know anything!!”

With a little help from my friends and The People Upstairs, I’ve made it to a time in life where I can definitely relate to Mr. Scrooge’s awakening.

So why, you may ask, am I so blessed? OK so maybe you didn’t ask. Well if you don’t wanna know, quit reading awreddy!! Otherwise, know this: I’m in love with THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE UNIVERSE!! And guess what?? SHE LOVES ME BACK!! Or at least, she says she does. Now all you other women in the universe, please don’t fret; because my professional opinion is that although my Beautiful Girlfriend is the Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe, ALL other women are the Second Most Beautiful. God doesn’t make junk, you see…

Wow… can you believe that this coming Sunday is May 19th already?? And you might say, yeah, so what?? And then I might say, “whaddya mean, so what???!!!” And then I might go on to say, “this May 19th is the 47st anniversary of my first official date with THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE UNIVERSE!!” I can’t believe it’s 47 years already!! Seems like just yesterday, or perhaps the day before!! OK maybe a couple weeks or months… but 47 years??!! Sheesh!! So why, you might ask, would I remember the exact date?? Well since you’ve been silly enough to read this far, I’ll spill the beans.

A little Cosmic Holy Mackerel first: when I was 12, my family moved from Long Island, New York to the North Woods of Wisconsin. When she was 17. her family moved from Ferndale, Michigan (near Detroit) to the North Woods of Wisconsin. Now here comes the Cosmic Holy Mackerel part: after Christmas vacation of our senior year in high school, we were planted next to each other in study hall. I’m very certain that The People Upstairs were pulling strings. We instantly became friends, and then she pulled a dirty trick: she changed her wardrobe from jeans and smock tops to dresses and makeup. My reaction was: holy crap, I think she likes me!! I fell head over heels in love. She went back to the jeans and smock tops; but by then all I could see were her beautiful blue eyes.

Now comes the May 19th part: Katie, a young lady from Chicago with whom I had a long distance relationship, was coming up to the resort on the lake where we lived. We saw each other when her family came up on vacations and wrote letters in between. But my last couple of letters mentioned a new friend I met in study hall named Kathy. Then on May 19, 1972, Katie and her family came up from Chicago; and of course, she expected me to come visit. I rode my 1970 Honda CB175 racing bike over to the resort; and told Katie about my new love. It was a rather unpleasant thing to do… Katie wasn’t shocked but she definitely was not very happy.

After the nasty deed was done, I hopped on back on my racing bike (OK, it’s not really a racing bike) to go meet up with my sweetie. We had a very provocative first date: we rode to the fire tower and climbed up to admire the view. Then we got in the flat bottom boat and I rowed around the lake a bit… then we went for ice cream… then back to the fire tower at night to enjoy the view again. No kissing, no holding hands, no monkey business. Just deep friendship that was quickly evolving in to much, much more. A little over a year later, we were married at the ripe old age of 19.

Much has changed over the years, but we believe the strong friendship gave us a foundation on which to build a lasting, loving partnership. Our love just keeps getting better all the time. I still have the 1970 Honda CB175 we rode around back in those days. It hasn’t run in years, and I doubt it would accommodate us very well now (we may have um… “grown” a bit). I also have the flat bottom boat… still floats after many patches and gobs of silicone sealant. It sits on the shore of a much smaller “lake” now… our pond.

So what has changed? Tons!! But since I can’t speak for my Beautiful Girlfriend, I can only mention some of my stuff. Most importantly, I’ve lost the “requirement” to be right all the time. I am by no means perfect at this, but I’m trying to remain in recovery from this Mr. Know-It-All Disease. I can still be a stinker, but not nearly as often. And when I am, I’m much quicker to apologize (and mean it). During “The Great Adjustment Period” in our early married years, we’d make each other cry a little more often than we care to remember. Now we make each other laugh, and we know how to be silly with each other and not take it personally. We are best friends. She even lets me kiss her!! And she kisses me back!!

Anyway… I’m fortunate beyond my wildest dreams. We have a very good life. If our marriage survives until August, we’ll be dating for 47 years and married for 46 (I think we’re gonna make it). Does that mean I’m getting old?? Not sure what old is supposed to feel like… but I don’t feel old.

I feel lucky.

OK! Now it’s time to make with the mushy songs!!

EVERY Day Is Earth Day

Yes, I know it’s not Earth Day anymore, but there’s been some buzz in the news lately and I just had to speak up… again.  Unless you’re living in a cave with no TV, radio, or interwebs; you’ve probably heard that scientists have determined that because of human activity, up to one million species are at risk of extinction within the next few years.  In other words, Mother Nature is in serious trouble, and that of course means WE are in serious trouble.

Each year, when Earth Day comes around; someone will inevitably say something like “today is Earth Day,” or even “happy Earth Day.”  My response has always been:  “EVERY day is Earth Day.”

What can I say? I just can’t help it. Every day really should be Earth Day, right?

Can it really be that we just had the 49th Earth Day already? Holy Carp I’m getting up there. I was 16 when Earth Day was first plopped onto the calendar in 1970. Seems like last week!  I wondered what ever became of the Earth Day flag. I found a picture of it on line, but I can’t post it because it has a copyright warning and I’m too lazy to ask permission. However, you can click on this link and go look for yourself:


I’d love to say I’m all warm and fuzzy about the progress we’ve made, but there’s so much more to do. I want to scream every time I see someone with bottled water. Of course, I’m not interested in banning bottled water completely. There are times when it’s the easiest way to get safe drinking water like during a disaster, etc. But most of the time, bottled water is a big fat waste. Many times the source is municipally treated water. In other words, it’s tap water in a plastic bottle (made from petroleum), which gets shipped many miles to a place that already has municipally treated water.

Then you have all the waste from that silly crop way too many people are raising at home: the lawn. Chemicals, water, exotic seed, and machines to make it grow and cut it down are consuming ridiculous amounts of energy and causing unnecessary pollution. You may ask, “so, Mr. Tree Hugger Hippie Freak, are you for banning lawns too?” Well let’s put it this way, I’m married and my beautiful girlfriend likes to have a lawn. So yes, I’m for banning lawns but I’m too chicken not to grow one at our house. Fortunately, though, we’ve made a truce and we don’t use any chemicals at all, but we do mow it. Still, it makes absolutely no sense to me that we humans spend so much effort raising a crop we don’t eat.

As far as crops we DO eat, the chemical companies and large agribusiness firms are doing their darndest to keep a strangle hold in the food business. However, farmers markets are thriving more and more each year, and the customers are favoring organically grown veggies and fruits. At our house, we’ve been growing produce organically for almost 46 years (which coincidentally is how long we’ve been married). I can’t help but think the chemical firms and the large corporate farms are suppressing news reports about organically grown food. Once in awhile though, you actually hear the “scientific discovery” that organically grown food is healthier and much more Earth friendly.

We are getting a little better with more efficient cars. However, we are also still affluent enough that several of us humans choose monster trucks and fancy cars that are not meant for fuel efficiency. Compared to Europe, our mass transit system barely exists. We could conserve a lot of fuel by switching from semi-trucks to trains. Here in the U.S. we’ve converted way too many railways into bike paths. And no, I’m not trying to ban bike paths, but trains are a very efficient means of transport. We’re still way too dependent on fossil fuels, but we’re making progress there (albeit painfully slowly).

And what about turning of the stinkin’ lights when they’re not in use?? Not just at home… Mom and Dad always yelled at us to turn lights off so most of us are pretty much conditioned to do that. Ever go past a shopping mall after 9 p.m. (or later)? The lights are all going full blast. Holy Carbon Footprint, Batman!!


I could go on and on, but here’s one more completely wasteful human activity: WAR. What a huge waste of energy, natural resources, not to mention the terrible toll on human lives. You may ask, “so, Mr. Tree Hugger Hippie Freak, are you for banning wars too?” OH YES!! YES PLEASE!!  War, pure and simple, is a form of hell on Earth and must be banned forever.

OK so I’m a dreamer. It’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it (yell about banning war I mean). And I’m sure I’m not alone on that one.

Well folks, Happy Earth Day, Every Day, Every Year. Please do something nice for your Mother (Nature) very soon. She loves you, you know. If you’re not sure what to do, just go to your favorite search engine (mine is Google), and do a search on the following text:  what can I do to save the planet    You’ll get lots of ideas.

Some of you kids may remember this song. The video is a bit fuzzy, but it appears to be made by Spirit, the same band who recorded it way back when.


Retirement Pregnancy – 9 Months To Freedom!!

I may have mentioned before that I have a retirement countdown thingy that comes up on my work computer screen every morning. Now I don’t want to sound excited or anything, but I am Holy Mackerel, Oh Boy Wow, Hey It’s Getting Close, COMPLETELY GEEKIFIED!!

In other words, I’m kinda looking forward to it.

So there I was, minding my own business, booting up my work computer thing, and there IT was, right there in front of my nostrils, being seen with my own eyes, that the countdown timer had moved to the 9 months, 29 days mark all by itself and now I thought to myself, “hey self, it would be funny to start greeting people with a line like ‘I’m pregnant!!’ and laugh to them as they squint with disbelief and unwittingly become part of a run-on sentence.

So I did.

Yes, I’ve been telling all my friends that I’m pregnant, and when they broop and harrumph at me with gribbly smiles and wiggly eyebrows I of course explain that “yes!! In 9 months I will be retired!! Kinda like carrying a baby, right??” And then they snicker and tell me they’re jealous and such. Of course, this is nothing at all like carrying a baby; and God bless all the Moms out there who have done that. They are amazing people… not sure I could endure such reproductive kaboom!! But lest I repeat myself, and I will, over and over again, because it’s fun, and it can also make yet another run-on sentence to which I can just add more words so you can get frustrated with the silliness and ridiculously long length; this retirement is truly making my brain muscles jump up and down like little aardvarks on a professionally cleaned trampoline during a hail storm while “Bohemian Rhapsody” is blaring on my remarkably powerful Sansui speakers.

I think…

My wife is getting a bit anxious… she’s expressed concern of the “half as much money, twice as much husband” formula some friends of hers have mentioned. I’ve tried to reassure her that we’ll be OK… I guess she’s hoping I don’t cramp her style too much when I’m home a lot more. We’ve talked about it of course, and I continue to reassure her that I’m not interested in disrupting her when she needs space. We’ve talked about lots of things I’d like to get done, also, like removing debris in the garage from when the “clutter bomb” exploded. The clutter bomb somehow made a huge mess of shelves, work bench space, and even the floor. It was interesting because although it sure looks like an explosion occurred; it apparently was very gradual and without much noise.

Lots of chores to do to tidy up around our place.

However, I also have some projects of my own that are secret, because I’m making them up right now as I write this for your smiling muscles to enjoy. How about a zip line from my 2nd floor office to the back of my property?? Oh, and perhaps I’ll buy a bunch of helium and fill my car to make a lighter-than-air-car… a Toyota Zepplin. Gosh yes, and not to forget the tunnel. I’ll need a tunnel alongside the interstate to prevent driving poopyheads from bothering when the helium runs out. Another invention I’d like to work on is a blowtorch toaster that makes toast in 3 milliseconds.

So as you can see, my Honey Pie needn’t worry about me invading her space. I’ll be VERY busy!!

Maybe Betty Boop and her friends can help me with other inventions…

The Annual Egg Challenge

Sunday, of course, is Easter; and for pagans like us that means the Easter Bunny will be visiting. Not sure how the Easter Bunny came into existence, but my Lovely Honey Pie mentioned a reference she heard that the famous bunny has pagan roots. I did some searching on the interwebs and learned that nobody really knows where the Easter bunny originated; but there is speculation that the pagan festival of the Goddess Eostre might fit. Legends tell of a goddess of spring and fertility, and a rabbit was associated with both due to their prolific breeding abilities. Nobody seems to know for sure.

Anyway, we’ll be hiding eggs so the grandsons can go hunting. We might even boil some up and color them! Oh wait… that sounds backwards. Maybe that’s because the ones we’ll hide are going to be the plastic kind. You know, eggs you can open up and stash a surprise inside. Hopefully we’ll remember where they all are… might be a good idea to count them before we do the hiding. Last year there was one “golden egg” that had a $5 bill inside. Seemed like a fun idea, until one grandson got a golden egg and the other didn’t. So this year there will be two golden eggs. That way, regardless of who finds them; each grandson will know in advance that there will be one golden egg per person.

In the “good old days,” we would hard boil a bunch of eggs a day or two before, and then they would mysteriously be hidden by the Easter Bunny. Also hidden were the infamous Easter baskets, loaded with jelly beans, chocolate eggs, and of course a chocolate bunny. Back then, it was especially important to find all the eggs; because unlike the plastic ones, eggs will eventually smell really bad if left at room temperature. So yes, we counted the eggs ahead of time and made really, really sure all were picked up before the Easter morning festivities came to a close.

So the egg hunt has evolved into a cash enterprise… my Beautiful Girlfriend has been dropping coins in a jar for the last several weeks so she can load the plastic eggs with money. I’m not sure money is a good replacement for chocolate, but of course you can use it to buy sweets. But since their parents would have to drive them to a place to spend their loot, cash is probably a healthier gift than a few pounds of candy.


Anyway, the most important part of all this Easter fun is spending time with the family. I’ve invited the family over for Thanksgiving. “I’m making Thanksgiving for Easter,” I told them all. “Mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, and pumpkin pie.” “Oooh,” our daughter said, “you know those raisins you put in the pie last time?” I assured her I’d be doing that again. I love to cook, but I also love to push the envelope a bit with recipes. Sometimes that works nicely, other times, not so good. Raisins dropped in the pumpkin pie mix just before they go into the oven turns an ordinary pumpkin pie into an intriguing treat!!

Please have a splendid Easter. Oh, and let me know if you see any of these “funny little bunnies.”

Spring Really IS Coming

Been a lot of whining around these here Beautiful West Michigan parts lately. Folks have been crying and rolling on the floor, thrashing their feet about and all such nonsense. “When’s it gonna warm up?!?!?! I’m sick up and FED with all this cold and snowy weather!! Last year I was mowin’ my lawn already for cryin’ out loud!!! WAHHH WAAAHHH WAAAAAAHHHH! “

Crybaby kaka-roaches…

Holy moly I haven’t thought about that in a long time… when we were kids in Noo Yawk we’d sing to the whiny babies:

Crybaby kaka-roach!

Wash your face in gravy!

Wrap it up in bubble gum

And sell it to the Navy!!

Made absolutely no sense, but when we were very young it seemed to have a nice ring to it. Oh, and don’t forget the “nyaa nyaa na boo boo!!” for good measure!!  Anyway, to all youse whiny kids out there who are all upset that spring is taking so long, I have a news flash for you: too much warm too early makes badness with the crops!! Sheesh!!

That was technical talk, by the way…

If you’re old like me, you surely remember that winter came in around Thanksgiving and stayed icy cold until the end of March or so. Then the weather would gradually warm up and ease into summer. A few years back, unfortunately, we had several 80 degree days in March, which is simply not natural. Not for these parts anyhow.

Consequently, all the fruit trees said, “huh?? Time to make babies?? OK!!” And of course they bloomed way too early. Usually we get enough fruit here to ship out to the world and still have enough to stash in various cold storage facilities. But that year, the inevitable frost came with a vengeance and nuked much of West Michigan’s fruit crops. That caused me to become an “apple snob.” I’d rather be sad and miss my Michigan apples than buy from far away. Now I know the farmers in other parts of the country have to make their money, but there’s simply no comparison to the quality of locally grown fruit. I confess that I’ve resorted to buying some Washington (state) apples some years ago. They looked and felt nice, and were crunchy and juicy. Nice, yes? Ummm… well… this apple snob is don’t liking them so good. They remind me of crunchy, juicy water globes with a subtle apple aftertaste somewhere in the dingle weeds of taste bud world.

Good Lord willin’, we’ll have a spring that will be kind to the fruit trees this year. I am always eagerly awaiting the newly picked, simply amazing flavor of local fruits. There’s a cornucopia of yummies we spoiled Michiganders get to enjoy each year. All youse naysayers can bark all you want, but in my professional opinion, climate change is very real. A lot can happen between now and the traditional frost sensitive planting date of Memorial Day. Let’s hope things stay on track.

Not to fret, kids… I heard the spring peepers again tonight!! A sure sign of spring. And one thing I love about this time of year is when I leave the house for work in the morning, I’m greeted by a beautiful, loud chorus of birds. They don’t sing quite like these Byrds…

Peepers and Peeps

‘Twas the 1st of April, but no foolin’, we heard our first peepers. Now we’re coming up on Easter and several more have awoken. That, of course, means that if it ever warms up this month, we’ll be hearing a chorus so loud we’ll have to raise our voices each evening in order to communicate. I said “if it ever warms up” with a smidge of sarcasm; but not really, but maybe yes, I just don’t know, but this seems to be as good a place as any to inject an run-on sentence and whine about the cold nights and HOLY COW it’s supposed to be in the 30s tonight which means any peepers that may have awoken will go back to bed but it’s also supposed to be near 60 tomorrow and then the rains are gonna come and oh boy howdy the peepers will really start singing then!

For those who are unaware, peepers are frogs; and are a welcome sign of spring here in Beautiful West Michigan. Of course, they usher in springtime elsewhere too. But I don’t live elsewhere, I live here, so I’m always a little giddy when the peepers sing. If you’ve never heard peepers, well that’s just too bad. But because I love them so, I hereby include a recorded them for you so you can enjoy their songs. Now the sounds in this recording are from two different species:  peepers and toads (the peepers are the ones shouting, “PEEP!!”).  Just turn on your speakers, click on the little triangle thingy, close your eyes and open your ears. Why close your eyes? Well that’s because the peepers sing at night, and to be honest I’ve never seen them except on TV!! OK, here we go…

And now for something completely different: Peeps. You know, those marshmallow candy chickens that appear in the stores during Easter time. When I was a kid, peeps only were yellow and chicken shaped. The name and the shape went well together; because hey, they kinda looked like little baby chickens. And little baby chickens say “peep” a lot. I’ve never eaten a real baby chicken, but I suer have had my share of Peeps. Now I would never intentionally harm a baby chicken. But regarding Peeps, well just never you mind all the naughty things that went through my mind when the Peeps arrived in my Easter basket.

I admit it, I have squished their little heads. I place my forefinger on one eye and my thumb on the other, and press them together until the Peep’s head looks like one of those cartoon characters that had a very bad accident. I have also decapitated them with great delight. Usually their heads are removed with my teeth. In fact, I don’t think I can ever remember eating them any other way. I’ve never forced them to joust though. Seems like a waste of Peeps if you ask me.

Joust?? Yes, I’m not sure I’m happy to know about it; but a friend once told me about “Peep jousting.” Of course, I just had to ask what the heck-a-ma-hookey that was all about. “Well you get two Peeps and place a toothpick in each one. That’s their lance, you see. Then you put them on a plate and pop them in the microwave; hit the juice and watch them stab each other as they expand. Really cool in a microwave with a rotating plate inside.” Ummm no. Rather boring really. Yes, I tried it, with family watching.

We were not impressed.

Back the peepers… there’s a song about them that has been a jazz standard for many years. It originated back in 1938, and below is a clip with Louis Armstrong playing his horn and singing it in “Going Places,” the movie for which the song was written. When I grew up during the Mesozoic Era, this song was still being played somewhat regularly and was often featured on an extinct brand of TV program called the “variety show.” The second video is a 1958 recording of Louis Armstrong swingin’ it on “The Gary Moore Show.”

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!