Here we go again, the holiday season is upon us. In the U.S. we start the ball rolling with Thanksgiving and continue on through Hanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Lots of celebration and material giving, lots of TV commercials, lots of crazy sales, lots of parties.
Personally, I find all this commercial everything just as distasteful as the political ads that lead up to election day. Now that I’m an old dinosaur 1960s hippie peacenik tree hugger geezer dude, the holidays mean a whole lot less about all the stuff and a whole lot more about all the people I carry with me in my heart, both here and on the Other Side.
I’ve finally made it to the point where I can delight in the good times of childhood and let the not-so-good times fade away. Although it took me way to long to understand, I get it now: our parents did the best they could with us kids. They did the best they knew how. I can honestly believe that today and miss them with love rather than hold on to resentments. Of course, I’m a spoiled American so I do indulge in the material gift giving. But as time marches on I find myself getting increasingly gooshy about how fortunate I am.
That’s right, I said it, SPOILED AMERICAN. That’s me. I have plenty to eat; a job, a home, family and friends who love me, even cars that work. When I focus on those areas I become very aware that I’m rich beyond measure really.
So this time of year I find myself saying Thanks to God, whoever THEY are. A good friend of mine once gave me a bumper sticker that read: “God is too big to fit in any one religion.” Well amen to that. When you look at the similarities in all the various faiths; it becomes increasingly apparent that we’re all praying to the same Divine Spirit.
Yes, I truly am an old dinosaur 1960s hippie peacenik tree hugger geezer dude. I “keep the faith” that we humans will eventually get our act together to wage peace rather than war, and harmonize with Mother Earth rather than rape her. I pray for these things often, and as one of my favorite people often sang, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
Here’s wishing all of my friends and loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope we can all take a moment to help those less fortunate than we are. Speaking for myself, I know that this Spoiled American could donate a lot more. Every little bit helps. Maybe put an extra buck in the Salvation Army kettle so the bell ringer can have something to do besides watch people walk past. Or maybe donate to the Red Cross. The opportunities are pretty much endless and the need is great.
Above all, don’t give up. Try to be happy, it’s what God wants for all of us. Work, pray, and vote for peace, love and a healthy planet. Embrace the Golden Rule. It’s never too late. Persistence will pay off, I believe this with every fiber of my being. And for those of you who think maybe I’m Somewhere In Dream Land; well I’ll just keep praying for youse, too.
So there I was, minding my own business, 640 feet above sea level (well OK maybe a little more because my office is on the second floor of our house), surfing the interwebs, when suddenly I got a notification that my computer needed some Microsoft updates, but I was a bit leery of this phenomenon because my computer is rather old and I’ve had loads of enjoyment with similar scenarios but I figured “Oh well, hopefully it will be OK;” so I applied the updates well before I wrote this run-on sentence.
Did I mention that I was a bit leery about this? Did I mention I have an old computer? Did I mention that my printer is old also? No, I did not mention the old printer. Did I mention that the computer and printer worked fine for a very long time with no issues? No, I didn’t mention that; but guess what happened after I applied these marvelous Windows 10 updates? My printer is don’t working. All my icons are karploofenated. The weather, Microsoft Edge, and other crap I never wanted appeared on my desktop. My audio is also don’t working. I am not pleased. I am actually rather disgusted. So annoyed was I, all this fun caused me to repeat one of my favorite sayings that I often uttered during my tenure as a factory floor IT support guy: I hate computers.
I’ve been retired for a little over 2 years now, but I used that silly mantra so often during my work times that it spilled over into situations that often were not at all related to technology. For example, if I drop an egg on the floor, I’ll exclaim, “FLARN!! I HATE COMPUTERS!!” My wife will ask me what’s wrong, and when I explain that I broke an egg on the floor she just chuckles a bit and shakes her head. Let me be clear though, I only hate computers when they are being naughty. And I especially dislike them when an update comes to visit and makes “improvements” that render my devices useless.
Tried to restore the system twice times. No good. Then tried reinstalling drivers. Still no good. At least the network stuff still worked so I could dance around the interwebs looking for a solution to all this happy flangelboofen. Tried this, that, and the other thing. Still no printing, no audio. Revisited the “Recovery” option in control panel. No more chances for system restore, but a magical statement appeared: “If you’re having problems with your PC, go to settings, and try resetting it.” Well I sure didn’t want to lose any data, but I remembered I did a backup not too long ago. I reluctantly clicked the link, and was able to return my computer to a previous version. In other words, I got the option to bring Windows back to what it was before the stupid updates.
HOLY MOLY!! AUDIO WORKS NOW!! OK… let’s try to print. Nope!! Oy yoy yoy. Back to researching on the webbernets. Uninstalled, reinstalled the printer about 8 times. No worky. Not a darn thing wrong with the printer… it’s just old. More searching… found that I had to “fool” the computer into talking to the printer by saying it is a “USB Composite Device.” Then… holy flerking schnitt… the printer is working!! I made a little document about how to perform this little trick and saved it in the folder with the drivers. For good measure, I went into the bowels of the computer and disabled the automatic updates. That’ll show those Microsoft weenies!! Well no, it won’t, but it will hopefully preserve some of my sanity.
Have I mentioned that I hate computers?? Well OK, I’m not in computer hating mode right now because everything works. But hey, why can’t these Microsoft noodleheads leave well enough alone?? Ya know what I mean?? I bought this computer as a refurb with a one year warranty. Retailed for about $2000 when it was new, I paid $250 for it a couple years after it was released. Now it’s approaching 12 years old, but it works like a charm. And the printer is about the same age… and yes, it also works very well. Seems we could save the planet by making things last; but NOOOO… the manufacturers want us to keep buying the latest and greatest junk so the older, still working wonderfully junk can go into the landfill. This philosophy makes me to barf on the ground.
Oh well, lesson learned. No more automatic updates for this guy. Not with an old computer… that’s bad juju. Cortana can smell my toes, whoever she is. And I don’t need Edge, thank you very much. Bing also makes me to barf on the ground. None of these are present after all the tweaking I did to get this machine back to “normal.” No, I’m just very grateful I have the skills to resurrect an old computer after Microsoft tried to take it away from me. And yes, I will likely continue to grumble when just about anything goes wrong, technical or no, and blurt out my work mantra.
I hate computers.
I bet Charlie Chaplin would have hated computers too… this is one of my favorite scenes from the movie “Modern Times.”
This has nothing to do with computers, but it’s one of my favorite Three Stooges shorts. I have no idea how they came up with the title, but anyway…
Dunno about youse folks, but I’m completely sick up and fed with all the nasty political ads. In fact, I’m even sick up and fed with the nice political ads. And I’m truly disgusted at all the lies and completely made up stuff that some of these jokers are tossing around!! What ever happened to courtesy and respect? They seem to be dwindling all too rapidly. I fear for our democracy… you know, that weird system where people vote for their choices and the outcome is respected by BOTH sides?? But most of all, I am frightened by those who believe violence is an acceptable way to resolve differences.
Anybody listening? I truly hope we can all pull together. Lots of protesting in the streets these days by disillusioned citizens. While I agree with many of their sentiments, I can’t help but ask, “are you gonna vote??”
So, enough about all that (for now). This is supposed to be another installment of “Happy Friday!!!” and from this moment forward, I’m gonna try to make it something that will produce a smile or two. Therefore and to-wit (that’s legal talk), I’ve decided to appoint myself King for a Day. Tomorrow, you can be King. Unless of course you’d rather be Queen; in which case you are probably much more powerful than a King because of all the cool moves you can make on the chess board. So the next day someone else can be in charge, and it will be a rotating kind of thing. Kings and Queens, Princes and Dukes; run around in circles till everyone pukes.
Now of course it’s time to steal some lyrics from a Three Dog Night Song:
“If I was the King Of The World,
I’d tell you what I’d do.
I’d throw away the cars and the bars and the war
And make sweet love to you.”
Perhaps I wouldn’t make love to you; because I don’t even know you. Besides, my Beautiful Girlfriend has allowed me to be her lover for many years; and I don’t want to mess that up you see. She’s my One and Only. I don’t care how much candy you have in your glove box or how much pickled herring you “accidentally” left in my fridge; my lovin’s are reserved for my Honey Pie and nobody else. Get it? OK, cool. Yes, I’ll give you hugs and love you unconditionally. Just not in a married kind of way. Am I making myself clear? Do you get where I’m coming from?? Do you know who this is?? Do you know who you’re tawkin’ to???
OooK… sorry I got sidetracked. Alright… make-a-believe I’m King of the World. First order of business: everybodyhas to be nice to each other. NOW!! Don’t make me say this again!! Do I have to stop this car?? Do you want to go in the corner?? Whatsa matta wichyoo?? Anyhow??
Sheesh. Just be nice awreddy.
Second order of business: this home we call Earth is getting pretty doggoned dirty with human garbagey pollutiony thingies. Poisons! Broken stuff! Single use plastics!! Oy yoy yoy!! Time to clean up or no more play time!! You see these toys you like so much? Huh?? You wanna play with them ever again?? Well you better listen up and clean your room!! And yes, by your room, I mean Earth!!
That’s a pretty big room…
Third order of business: BE NICE TO EACH OTHER!! Oh wait… I said that awreddy. Well I’m sorry… but youse kids have me all fired up here and now you got me tawkin’ like I’m still livin’ on Long Island. Well OK, maybe not youse kids, but those violent KKK Nazi Oath Keeper Proud Boys people. They make me to barf on the ground.
Fourth (and last) (for today) (I think) order of business: keep a close eye on all these elected official Bozos (and Bozettes). Remember that silly statement, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people?” That means us… it’s our responsibility to make things right. The people we voted for are merely representatives; and we need to keep them accountable. Sure that takes time and effort; but if we don’t do that we’re letting the foxes guard the hen house.
Ooops!! One more order of business (then I’ll let someone else be King) (or Queen): one of the strongest, most effective votes we have is how we spend our money. Buy locally, think globally. Pay attention to where your food comes from and how it was produced. Give the locals first chance at your dollars. We need to support each other!
Now is the time for the extra long sentence which I forgot to include in many previous “Happy Friday!!!” installments because I was either too cribbly boo or perhaps too forgetful to remember (oldtimer’s disease?) that such sentences often bring joy to those who like to see grammar mangled into a small moldy piece of cheesecake in the bottom left corner of the refrigerator; which of course reminds me of the fact that although I know how to pretend to spout off orders as if I were King, I don’t know anything; I never did know anything; but now I knowI don’t know anything. I used to think I knew lots of stuff; but that was before I got learnified via the pains of growing older and wider (<— not a spelling goof there) and realized that the more I learn the less I know.
Knowing that I don’t really know much makes me wonder if I’m now qualified to run for office.
No, I’m not gonna write about the book “Goodbye Columbus,” by Philip Roth; partially because I never read the book, but also because I never saw the movie by the same name. Why I would write about what I’m not going to write about is not important either, so I hereby declare this paragraph completely unnecessary and I now pronounce you Macaroni and Cheese.
On the other hand, this coming Monday is a federal holiday. According to the Google, the holiday is still called Columbus Day, although here in Michigan and other states it is celebrated as Indigenous People’s Day. Our daughter just refers to it as “no mail day.” I’ve never really been too fond of Columbus Day; nor have I ever really been amazed by Christopher Columbus and his band of merry men. One does have to admit, however, that surviving ocean travel over such distances in the late 1400’s was kind of remarkable.
What bugs me is all this fuss about some Italian dude “discovering” America; and after listening to some news on the radio this past Monday I’ve happily “discovered” that I’m not alone. Several communities in the US are dumping Columbus Day in favor of what’s been called Indigenous People’s Day in honor of Native Americans. Rightly so, because after all, they were here first.
Besides all that, being of Norwegian descent I get a little snorked that the Vikings get little credit for sailing to this continent about 500 years before that Italian dude. From what I’ve read they didn’t stay long; and ended up going back to Greenland after the natives made it very clear they weren’t welcome. Anyhow, no celebration of Columbus Day at our house. However, I do love to be a little silly at times (OK many times), so I hereby present you with my own version of a poem we learned when I was a kid in school:
In fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. If he hollers let him go, Eeny, meeny, mynee, moe.
He took three ships, their names were these: El Niño, The Pinto, and The Sack Of Cheese. If he hollers let him go, Eeny, meeny, mynee, moe.
I’m unreasonably certain that this poem will be adopted throughout the land. Or perhaps it will be banned due to its homo sapiens innuendo and covert satanic referendum. After all, it’s quite invincible that if you vociferously chant “Eeny, meeny, mynee, moe” during a full moon in the middle of an automobile recycling center (a.k.a. junkyard), you may want to remain somewhat motionless to avoid tripping over randomly placed hubcaps and / or transaxle assemblies. Similarly, shouting “El Niño, The Pinto, and The Sack Of Cheese!!” seven times in rapid succession is likely to cause one to somnambulate during reruns of “Gilligan’s Island.”
Might be good not to even read that silly poem. Not sure what effect it may have on your spirit, your aorta, or your Karmen. What?? You read it already?? Well I guess the cravat is out of the bag then.
So if you have Monday off, good for you. I have every Monday off, because I’m retired and you are not. Unless you are of course. Retired. But if not, thank you for keeping Social Security solvent for me. And please, have a Happy Monday and a somber, reflective Indigenous People’s Day.
Otherwise, I shall have no choice but to report you to the Inner Peace Police.
These have nothing to do with anything, but I found them rather amusing.
Inflation is so much fun, wouldn’t you agree? Hey, it happens. Been there, done that. If you’ve lived on the planet as long as I have, you’ve experienced numerous ups and downs in the economic universe. But I can’t help but think that retailers are taking advantage of the situation and using sneaky marketing to maintain profits. Oh wait… that’s just business, right?? Doesn’t matter if people are struggling to make ends meet. To quote Dr. Seuss’s character, The Lorax, “Business is business and business must grow, regardless of crummies in tummies you know.”
I have lots of suggestions on how to fix our economy, but for some reason the “experts” haven’t called me to ask what they are. For example: there’s a bench sitting near a walking path along M-120 near US31 that says “CONSUME” on the backrest. Ohhh I’d love to get some red paint and put a big circle with a line through it across those letters!! I mean, hey, I know we are consumers, and apparently that’s a big part of what keeps the economic engines humming. But some of the products involve too much packaging, which gobbles resources and contributes to climate change. And some are just plain harmful to our planet. And then there’s that next new gadget that everyone’s gotta have. I have a lot of old stuff. I try to spend a little more on quality things so they last longer. No wireless headphones… batteries don’t really recycle so good. Too much throwaway everything. A little less consumption would go a long way toward putting the brakes on climate change too, in my professional opinion.
As Grandma Loftus used to say, “That’s my two cents. Nobody asked me fer it, but I give it to ya’s anyway!”
So there I was, in full consumer mode, in the Meijer store, with a hankering for potato chips. A friend of mine referred to such snack foods as “flavored air,” due to the outrageous price versus quantity ratio. So I looked at the Kettle Brand chips, and they were “on sale.” Two for $6, but you had to buy two in order to get that price. Regular price: $3.18. So they want me to be fat I think. I already needed the chips like I needed a hole in my head, so they want me to save 38 cents by buying two??
I bought one.
Then off to the Dollar General on the way home for more goodies. Hey, it’s been a bit stressful around here these days, and we both admit that we turn to comfort foods in such times. After all, we are spoiled Americans, right?? I make joking there, but… well not really. Anyway, I wanted some Little Debbie Nutty Bars. Those things are just plain delicious. And guess what?? On sale!! Two for $5, but the sign says, “Must Buy 2.” Regular price: $2.55. Yeppers, I can save a whole dime on two boxes so I can make my belly bigger. Awesome!!
Again, one was enough.
Remember when Meijer had their “10 for $10” sale? There was a time when whatever was included in such a sale cost a buck apiece. The new ad is raving about a “7 for $7” sale, but if you don’t buy 7 then the item goes for regular price, whatever that is. And now there’s a relatively new term called “shrinkflation.” That’s where the product costs the same price but is packaged differently so you get less. One candy bar manufacturer actually insulted me (yes, I’m sure it was directed at me personally). There is this truly delicious chocolate bar from Germany, the brand name is Ritter Sport. Whole hazelnuts on basically every square centimeter of the bar. So what did they do? Same price, same wrapper, but they chopped a third of the candy bar off!! There’s literally an air pocket where the chocolate used to be for crying out loud!!
Sheesh!! I didn’t buy no any. Dirty stinkers.
Well to lighten the mood a bit, my Beautiful Girlfriend saved $5 today on her Target bill!! We were paying some bills online and she asked me to take care of that bill for her, so we got out her iPad and I signed on to her Target account (she doesn’t do the computer stuff). “I think the bill is $112,” she said. Once we got to her account, the amount due was shown to be $107 and some change. “Cool!! I saved five bucks!!” she said, smiling. “Huh??” I asked. “Yeah, I thought the bill was $112 but it’s only $107, so I saved five bucks!!” “Umm… I don’t think you saved anything,” I replied. Then we both giggled ask I handed her the iPad so she could play her games.
So hey, some things just don’t make cents, but then again, some do!! My Honey Pie saved 5 bucks!!
Too much greed these days. If only those Greedy Guys (or Gals) could get their just deserts like these punks.
I remember the days of the Countdown Clock, a program I installed on my work computer about 2 years before my retirement date. My job in manufacturing IT support took me to all different areas of the factory. As I walked around the plant, those who knew me would ask, “What’s the countdown today?” “178 days,” I’d reply with a smile. “What are you gonna do with all that free time?? Won’t you get bored??” they’d inquire. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be OK,” I’d respond with a smile, “I’m just looking forward to doing what I want to do!” Well I’m a little over 2 years into this retirement gig; and I must say I really like it. And the best part is I get to do whatever I want!!
I had many grandiose ideas before retirement came. Maybe sell some of my writing. Maybe have a picture perfect vegetable garden… one that’s so nicely manicured it’s magazine cover worthy. Maybe get my amateur radio license back. Maybe travel and see the country. Maybe clean the garage. Maybe go through all my old (1930’s) radio stuff and sell some of it. Maybe… who knows?
I’m really glad I’m good at the maybe thing. Because you know what? I’ve learned that life gets in the way of plans. One of my favorite spiritual sayings is, “If you wanna make your Higher Power laugh, tell them you have plans.” Boy ain’t that the truth. OK, I did get my amateur radio license back. Now I just need to put up an antenna… Travel basically got thrown in the trash due to Covid. I’m not really interested in getting on an airplane, so any travel we’ll be doing will likely be by car. However, family stuff has kept us from really venturing very far, and that’s just fine.
Priorities change, circumstances change. I’m very grateful I’ve learned how to stay cool when things don’t go my way. Hasn’t been an overnight thing mind you. My Beautiful Girlfriend and I have been slammed with some rather interesting growth experiences over the years. Thankfully, we’ve embraced resources that have helped us react calmly to the challenges that people, places, and things put in front of us. We’ve learned that there’s no such thing as a bad feeling; but how we react to feelings makes all the difference in the world. Then there’s that Serenity Prayer, the “short form” of which is probably familiar to all of you.
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
So yeah, that prayer and a regular review of my Gratitude List are among the tools that help me have peace of mind… most of the time. I’ve shortened the Serenity Prayer even further when life gets in the way of my garden work or whatever. I simply say, “Oh well.” Had a really high-class “problem” come up just recently that illustrates how things have changed for the better between my ears. And the example I’m about to relate also explains the “We’re All In This Together” part of this week’s title.
There I was, minding my own business, hoping to stain our deck. I bought a 5 gallon can of Armstrong & Clark stain (really good stuff), pressure washed all the crud off the deck, and did the 48 hour wait for the wood to dry. Then of course the rain comes. Have to wait another 48 hours. Then some family stuff came along. Can’t stain today. Next day, more rain. Then a dear friend got sick and died unexpectedly. Can’t stain today or the next day or the next. And yes, of course, more rain.
This past Thursday finally brought an opportunity to stain!! So I took the leaf blower to the deck to clean off the leaves and such, then proceeded to slosh some stain. I was very sad, however, to notice all the ants that did not get out of the way very well while I was running the roller. And yes, that really does touch my heart. I don’t roll on the ground and cry or anything, but I don’t like it. There was a Zoom meeting I needed to attend so I did that while staining. My friends didn’t mind; and with the miracle of electronics I was able to hear just fine and actually contribute. Toward the end of the meeting, I shared about my sadness at killing ants. “I’m giving them all a brown coat,” I joked. But I continued, “Believe it or not, I say a prayer whenever I kill something. We’re all in this together you know.”
And yes I really do send up a prayer when a creature’s life is abruptly shortened because of me. I firmly believe we really ARE all in this together, and our Creator’s creatures are ALL important. Don’t get me wrong, I swat mosquitoes and deer flies; but I do tell them I’m sorry. Then there have been times when I try to catch a spider who’s in the house and I accidentally squish the poor thing. I didn’t mean to hurt the spider… I tried to help it but this slipped and that slid and the spider got smooshed. I ask forgiveness and often follow it up with a small prayer.
Something like, “Oh well.”
Speaking of ants, I’m really glad I haven’t run into these guys!!
Something weird is happening today. I’m reflecting on Life, the Universe, and Everything ( the meaning of which is embedded in the number 42 for those in the know). A most remarkable occurrence sprinkled itself into my life earlier this year. I turned 68 for the first time in my living life!! Well OK, this will be the only time I’ll turn 68 as far as I know. There was a time when this boy pondered the likelihood of living more than one life on this Earth; but I’ve long since veered away from the concept of reinfestation. Or is that ream in carnation? I dunno… my wife likes carnations. Perhaps if I lived many lives I’d be reinfested with carnations?
On the other hand, a completely different occurrence showered itself into my life in 1962: our grandmother gave me an 8-transistor radio for my 8th birthday. That has absolutely nothing to do with being 68, but that event did indeed change my life forever. That beautiful receiver opened up a world of music to me, specifically rock and roll, which was all the rage in those days. Our father hated rock and roll, he was a classical music junky. Didn’t make him a bad person or anything… but his FM receiver really didn’t get much else in those days; and that’s the way he liked it.
I distinctly remember falling asleep with the radio carefully perched on my head so the speaker was right on my ear. Sounded much better than the earphone, and you didn’t have to turn it up very high to hear well. However, too often I’d wake up to a dead battery. That would have been a very sad thing; but Mom always seemed to make sure I had a battery for my radio.
For us kids, growing up on Long Island meant that there were two radio stations that really mattered: 77 WABC and 1010 WINS. We’d listen to DJs like Cousin Brucie and Murray the K with just a touch of echo added to their voices as they spun the latest records to our waiting ears. Artists like Bobby Vinton, Chubby Checker, Dion, The Everly Brothers, Elvis, Little Eva, and The Shirelles were just a few of them… and a couple years later a new band called The Beatles entered the scene. The 1960s evolved into a decade of immense social changes, and of course the music often reflected the spirits of us young punks. Some of us became hippies, some of us kept the hippie spirit alive deep inside but entered the work force to raise families.
So all that to say how happy I am to be 68 years old?? Well I could probably write a book about all of this stuff, but suffice it to say that this old hippie guy is, believe it or not, very happy to have traveled around the sun a whole 68 times. I mean hey, I’m blessed beyond belief with a loving family, amazing friends, and a debt-free retirement. One thing that haunts me a bit though, is that 68 is getting powerfully close to 70. So I think at that time I’ll officially be an old fart. Maybe I am already!!
So my friends, here’s to old age. It ain’t so bad!! Life is very good for us really. Oh… and you know a cool thing about living for 6.8 decades?? We got turned on to lots of really good music. Not just rock. When we were growing up there was lots of stuff on TV and radio from the 1920s, 1930s, and so on. Some pretty cool stuff back then!! And yes, today too!! This week, I’m posting a very small samples of music I’ve grown to love over the years. Music is a magical thing in my professional opinion. Helps keep the blues away. Soul food, ya know? Hope you have a chance to check these out.
PEACE, LOVE, AND HUGS TO YOU ALL!!! You young whippersnappers!!!
Let’s see… how about a little Cab Calloway from 1934…
Maybe some Laurel and Hardy… HUH??? Just watch.
Anybody remember Judy Canova?
Carmen Miranda… oh my I had the hots for her…
Like Peter, Paul, and Mary, I Dig Rock ‘n Roll Music.
Mojo Men… with a woman drummer in 1967!!
Oh and there’s other band I mentioned earlier… you may recognize them.
Here’s one I sang at work some times… Devo says it’s Time Out For Fun
Maybe by now you’re saying, “Lord!!! Enough already!!” OK… one from Lorde, and that will be enough already.
I am writing to all of you from the back yard where no children are stuffing bread into the worm holes. This week has been especially stressful in This Universe, what with televised evidence of the attempted democracy destruction and war and inflation and stuff like that there. Therefore, in the interest of clam flavored desserts, I feel the need to remove my corporate tortellini. Those of you who know me are aware that some stressfully sprinkled donuts prompt me to write letters to fire hydrants.
Let this past century of my 13 day week be no Oldsmobile to that incubation.
Four egg sample: I decided to purchase gasoline today. Thought $4.96 was a bargain!! I never thought I would think that the thought of thinking that gas less than $5 a gallon was a thought to be thought of. But I was grateful (?) to get the “bargain.” After I put over $70 into my Toyota Sienna Racing Van (which, by the way, gets about 30 mpg if I go just a smidge less than 65 mph), my Lovely Wife Person made a rather sacrilegious exclamation. As I opened the door to get back in, I turned my back toward my Beautiful Girlfriend and asked, “Honey, is my hiney bleeding??” We left the gas station with a Holy Mackerel Price Rash, but soon found ourselves saying, “We must remain grateful that we are still able to pay our bills, and put gas on our table and put food in our car!!” After all, we are indeed very fortunate people who no longer require adult supervision at most Twinkie eating contests!! So yes, we are not happy that the oil companies are robbing us, but the bottom line is that we needed to get with the gratitude awreddy to prevent our heads from exploding.
My Self agreed that grouch makes ouch. I decided I really ought not allow this universe to remove my ventricles or extinguish my lapis lazuli.
Thankfully, I’ve acquired some tools during this Journey Called Life that give me the ability to cope with the smell of rotten eggs and other people who seem bent on ruining our everything. I smile and decide not to be El Groucho inside my brain world. At least not for 27 minutes, then I could reevaluate and perhaps even continue another 14 milliseconds. By golly, that may have actually worked. I try hard to not take the horrible events of the world too poisonously. Then perhaps I may also sprinkle some nonsense into the Happy Friday Writing Thing to make myself chortle and breep and hopefully help others to chuckle Chiclets while changing their socks. Of course I could take the alternate route and vehemently complain until my forehead has become inflamed with large pickles that fly violently in all directions. This of course would serve no other purpose than to unsuccessfully clone my onion rings before Hubert The Closet Painter arrives from Denderflaven. If he gets here before the sauerkraut capsules are fully declawed, there is absolutely no guarantee of the existence of any newly sharpened Jell-O forks.
And we all know what that means!!
So, I’ve decided to just be happy until I feel grouchy again, and thankfully The Grouchies are much fewer and farther between than previous infections. I’ve learned that I can start my day over again with a new happy and grateful attitude. Then if I get grouchy once more it will hopefully be a little less, and I keep practicing the gratitude thing. Then if people continue to get on my nerves, I’ll merely sing a pleasant song to them when their ears are not looking. Something cheerful like…
Leave me alone or I’ll bite you
Your ears are made of sticks
Why do you talk to ME like that
I’ll send you cat logs in the mail.
This of course is sung to the tune of “Leave Me Alone Or I’ll Bite You.”
Finally, and least palatable, is what seems to be an attitude of “Hooray for Me and to Hell with YOU” in our nation of freely expressive greedy stinkbottoms. I mean hey, I’m very grateful we live in a free country and hey, you know, when it comes right down to it, most of us are spoiled Americans compared to many folks on this planet. You know, hey? It’s just um… what troubles me, is um… you know, like um… wait a minute, let me hold my smellphone and text someone while you’re trying to talk to me and um… you know, this “America First” stuff seems to be causing a lot of resentment in the world and last time I checked, if a person is silly enough to proclaim himself King Of The Mountain then someone is gonna want to knock them down off the top of that mountain with a giant Tootsie Roll or something much more explosive.
Greed is harming all of us; and it ain’t no good for Mother Nature neither. We humans don’t own this planet, although we seem to act like the whole thing is ours. These things make me become very figgly and bickety-boo! So then I start getting more with the Grouch Ouch, and I want to go bite a bark flavored tricycle!!
Then I laugh at my silliness and life is once again refreshing and full of new opportunities to enjoy fruit and perhaps even the occasional flying insect.
Sometimes I restart my day 479 times or more.
So, how was YOUR week?
I think this cartoon was made when gas was just a wee bit cheaper than today…
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.
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.