I Had A Code Id By Doze

I hope none of you can forgive me, but as some of you may know I missed the “Happy Friday!!!” deadline this yesterday; which was the day before today because today is Saturday now and I haven’t posted a new “Happy Friday!!!” until just now, which actually makes it a “Happy Saturday!!!” but I have a very good excuse in spite of this questionably punctuated run-on sentence.

Yes.

You see, Wednesday evening I snorked something jingly in my nose, and my throat started to raspify and also sorify, neither of which are words but they describe in pretty accurate detail the ouchiness of my throat place. I was getting a stinkin’ cold for cryin’ out loud. This was not something I deemed fair; so I tried to gargle some Listerine and HOLY ACKKK PTOOO that stuff is NASTY!! Didn’t help much neither.

Then I sucked on a zinc lozenge or two or maybe three and that didn’t stop the onset neither. OK, now it was time for the Holy Moly Vitamin C With Extra Goodies Fizzy Thing and the nasty bug didn’t let go. So… then I went to work Thursday morning.

Then, I came home from work Thursday morning. I had some Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo soup to which I added about 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 teaspoon of sage (those open the sinuses) and heated it up to a bubbly wazoo. As soon as the boiling wazoo was blubbining, I took the soup off the heat and added the finely chopped VERY LARGE CLOVE of garlic that I harvested from the garden the other day. Covered it quickly, came back in a couple minutes and the garlic was cookified enough to be palatable but not harmed. Too much heating of fresh garlic reduces its cold whomping properties you see.

Too soon old, too late smart sometimes, but I’m getting better at listening to my body and my friends. On Thursday, a friend told me just before I left work, “you need to be warm and get some rest.” And my body said, “I’m sick, take me home now.” Then I called in sick for Friday too, and enjoyed more cold killing soup and much sleeping.

OK then! I feel much better now thank you. And although I’m a very huggy guy, we went to a large gathering tonight and I warned all my friends that I’ve been fighting a cold. Most ran away screaming and flailing their arms in terror (I exaggerate slightly perhaps). Others hugged me anyway. Well, only three hugged me anyway. But I don’t blame those who didn’t… I don’t want anyone to suffer. My Beautiful Girlfriend had me look it up today… you can be contagious for 5 to 7 days after the cold symptoms appear!! So, I’ll be warning my friends until Thursday because I love them.

There, that’s the story my friends. As I mentioned earlier, I’m getting better at taking care of myself when illness attacks. In the “good old days,” I would have taken cold medicine and tried to tough it out at work, and continue my daily routine. This would inevitably cause a cold to last for well over a week rather than a couple days. I’ll try to make this a habit when a cold knocks on my snotlocker.

I like ditching the bugs more quickly, thank you.

Ker-Choo!!

Life Is Good And I’m Livin’ Lard!

My Beautiful Girlfriend and her Beautiful Friends will soon be having a Beautiful Time “camping” in a cabin up in Beautiful Lelanau, and leave me All Alone with the Beautiful Cat Mr. Freddy The Freeloader and No Adult Supervision; as described by this Beautiful Run-On Sentence with Beautifully Superfluous Capitalization And That’s Just The Way I Roll.

Isn’t that Beautiful? Yes, it is.

This is PARTY TIME, kids!! That’s right, when the wife’s away, the husband will, well… EAT!! Yes, I know, this is something most people do every day. But when I party down, I don’t mess around. I go for the high-calorie, high-cholesterol goodies that give my mouth and flavor flingers great joy. Yes my friends, I plan to eat pizza and other nutritious snacks.

Perhaps I’ll have a Fried Chicken Night, with a Side Order of Macaroni & Cheese. These delicacies are Capitalized because I rarely eat them anymore. And our local Meijer makes some pretty darn good Fried Macaroni & Chicken Cheese. Not sure what Fred’s having… his “goodies” come in a can and it doesn’t look very appetizing to me. Sure, there are enticing labels like “Sea Captain’s Choice,” and “Mariner’s Platter,” but even though I love to eat dead fish it just doesn’t really give my sniffer anything to drool about. Unlike many of our previous critters, Mr. Fred has little use for people food. Oh well, that’s more for me!!

Of course, I suppose I could do something really silly like go out in the garden and pick some more beans. The scarlet runner beans are producing like crazy, and I don’t want any to go to waste. Got some greens that need picking too… Might even get ambitious and blanch and freeze some. I mean, hey, do I know how to party or what??

Well regardless of all that weird, healthy garden stuff, I’m looking forward to some alone time when I can have me some good eats. I believe my mouth will be very happy, and my belly will feel like I ate a wheelbarrow load of lead sinkers. I’ll watch my limbs very carefully to see if any large cholesterol molecules glob together and travel about under my skin. I’m sure I’ll pay for my fun when it’s time to step on the bathroom scale.

I have a feeling that when my Beautiful Girlfriend returns I’ll be really ready to behave myself. I don’t wanna croak from Lardening of the Arteries.

I’ll be eating at home mostly… and if not, you can bet I won’t be going to this restaurant!!

Adjustment Between The Ears

Hello, and thank you for tuning in to this week’s antenna ranching installment. Work has been removing my capillaries again, and although I was in a bit of an emotional slump recently I’ve decided to staple feathers to my cat’s pajamas and anonymously send ice cream to the corporate headquarters via parcel post. Surely these stress relief methods will result in at least two or perhaps even seventeen new buttons on Mrs. Jingledweeb’s radish basket.

Huh?? Not to worry… just letting off a little steam there…

Those of you who know me are aware that I am a geek by trade and a gardener by passion. The geek boy role pays the bills, the garden feeds my soul (and also my family!). In other words, computer support is what I do, but it’s NOT who I am. Today’s economy, however, can make one wonder what the future will bring. For the first time in my life I’m learning what it feels like to focus WAY too much on my job; especially the part of the job when I retire.

The result of focusing on retirement can be very detrimental to productivity. I’ve said out loud to my friends, “I’m really getting tired of this crap.” Not a very good attitude, really. However, the increasing workload can make a person frustrated at best, and at times even depressed. Too much to do, and I could literally live at work and never get it all done.  This situation is certainly not unique to me, many of my coworkers find themselves in the same or even worse boat. “Efficiency,” they call it. That’s a euphemism for “we’re gonna whittle the number of employees down to the bare minimum (or less) but all those who are left get to have all their work.”

Our upper echelon seems to have absolutely no clue what we peasants are going through… they just keep saying things like “right-sizing” and “cost effectiveness.” We working folk look up the corporate ladder and see an upper crust that is getting their pockets lined nicely each year; but we’ve had miniscule raises for several years now.

And guess what? This is a worldwide phenomenon over which I have absolutely no control. I’ve been taking my job way too personally lately. I’ve been trying to manage an unmanageable workload, and then I go home in a somber mood. “I just can’t keep up… people must be getting impatient,” I tell my lovely wife. “It’s not your fault,” she reassures me. “Just try to do the best you can… it will be over soon.”

Yeah, I know. Only 1 year, 5 months, and 19 days left to go before retirement.

Even though I’m growing older, I’m still a child in old man’s clothing. I’m usually the one who likes to be silly and help people at work laugh. I do my best to stay grateful; and I verbalize that to my friends. Needless to say, when I’m down, they are often alarmed. Some of them remind me of things I would normally be saying to them; and believe me, that’s a very good thing for me.  I just need to adjust what’s going on between my ears.

The reminders all basically boil down to these simple guides:

A) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

12) EVERYTHING is small stuff.

7) Maintain some boundaries – balance the job with your real life.

p4) Don’t take this work stuff too seriously.

*@) Try to smile. It is much more pleasant than frowning; and

Red) There are many in this world who are much less fortunate than me.

So, the last couple days I’ve been reprogramming. Funny how the older I get, the less I know. If I can stay in that frame of mind, I can survive this work stuff by learning new ways to cope. I can let go of the things I simply can’t control. I can have a life outside of work even! I can raise a nice garden and get my hands nice and dirty! I can take time to laugh! I can even stop using so many exclamation points!

Or not!!

And, I can include a video that is very silly indeed… and laughter is very good medicine.

If I Had A Million Dollars

So there I was, minding my own business when the Marvelous Company For Which I Work (MCFWIW) changed the vacation policy again and when I left my previous employer I had 4 weeks but could only negotiate 2 weeks and then I was starting to earn more vacation and they changed how quickly you can earn it so I had to wait for my 15th year anniversary to get my 4 weeks again but even though I was hired in February I have to wait till 2019 to take the 4 weeks and now they’re telling us that in the year I retire I no longer have 4 weeks at the beginning of the year; but because I’m retiring in March of 2020 I can take a whopping1/12th of 20 days which boils down to 3 1/3 days I can take before I retire and that makes me just a little bit annoyed; to the point where I even added yet more words to this run-on sentence which is beginning to fill the whole stinkin’ page.

Harrumph!!

Yes, I know I’m supposed to be grateful; and believe it or not, I really am. The job pays well and it’s close to home. Even though it’s a factory job, the place doesn’t stink. I’m not ingesting dangerous chemicals or licking any radioactive fence posts; I don’t have to run between furnaces that are running at 1400 degrees (I actually did have a job like that before) (the furnace things I mean). Nope, it’s just a lowly computer support job with lots of nice people who are doing their best to earn a living like me.

So I’m going to start playing the lottery and also take lots of quarters to the casino and maybe even try selling my nose hairs (I’ll tell folks they are clippings from really famous people) so I can get rich quick and not have to go to work anymore. Then I can afford the very best macaroni and cheese for dinner accompanied by a nice glass of vintage of Bear Swamp Tap Water (we really do have very good water); perhaps polished off with some Dingleberry Surprise for dessert with lots of fluffy cream and chocolate covered broccoli.

There’s only one problem with this plan: whenever I gamble, I lose. I’ve bought lottery tickets, and never even get close to the magic combination of numbers. I’ve also gone to the casino a few times. In those cases, I may as well just put some money in an envelope and leave it at the front desk or something. I haven’t tried selling my nose hairs; but I’ve never been very interested in bamboozling anyone so the “famous people clippings” idea would just be a lie that I’d probably suffer for somewhere down the road.

Nope, I’m just supposed to work a bit longer. There simply is no magical way out for me; and I’ve come to accept it. And that’s very OK… but I’ll still joke about it until I’m done. A nice young man once asked me, “hey Ken, how’s the job going?” I replied, “well, I’m too proud to be a bum; and I’m too chicken to be a criminal so I guess I’ll do this.” We both smiled a bit and went on our merry way.

It’s likely it would happen, but if I had a million dollars… well… I’d be rich!!

These guys elaborated on that point very nicely…

In Search Of Shabby Chic

A couple weeks ago, my Beautiful Girlfriend (you know, the one who let me marry her 45 years ago) asked me, “what do you want for our anniversary?”

“Nothing,” I replied. Well OK, I pretty much jiggled my eyebrows at her right after that, and she knew exactly what that meant. “You want that all the time,” she snorted. Yeah, I probably do. Hey, what man wouldn’t want to “tango” when you’re married to the Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe? Anyway, I reiterated that I really didn’t want for anything; so we picked out a ring for her and left it at that.

For a while…

Then I thought, well yes I think I do want something… a little getaway perhaps. Labor Day weekend is coming up, and and I had already put in for Friday as a vacation day. I thought it would be rather nice to spend a night at some local motel on the Lake Michigan shore. As luck would have it, Google helped me find just such a place. It’s called the Lakeshore Motel in Manistee, and the only thing between your room and Lake Michigan is sand. Considering the location, I was amazed at the price of a mere $110 for a night.

All the online reviews were stellar… very clean, very nice people, very comfortable. And we found out for ourselves that all that was indeed the case. One review cautioned that if you’re looking for a 5 star motel, this is not it. And we found out for ourselves that this was indeed the case. And yes I know I just wrote the very same sentence twice.

I’m pretty sure the motel was built around the time we were… meaning it’s gotta date back to at least 1960. And although it was very clean and comfortable, I’m not sure anything has changed much since that time. I was pointing out some of the more interesting “features” of the room to my Lovely Bride; and she says, “yes, this is called ‘shabby chic,’ it’s really popular these days.” “Dunno,” I retorted, “I’m thinking this might be just plain shabby.” So of course I had to go to Google and search for this “shabby chic,” and yes, my Beautiful Girlfriend was right, it’s a thing!! But I mean hey, check out this lamp (click on the picture for a better view)…

Weird…

Anyway, we really did love the location. And we really did have a comfortable, clean bed; and a cozy “shabby chic (?),” very clean room. And some interesting little melmac cups for coffee in the morning.

Who knows? We might just do it again!!

After all, it was nothing  “The Cobweb Hotel”…

Fast Lane Follies

Well I suppose I’m overdue to express my sadness by crying in my dog food about the driving ninnies. I’m really loving summer though… the lack of snow means we don’t have to worry about sliding into the ditch as we leave our driveway. No more hitting the windshield with a sledgehammer to remove those pesky chunks of ice. Nope… these days we can crank the windows DOWN and crank the tunes UP. Coolness!

Unfortunately, with every silver cloud comes a grey lining. Warm weather kicks in a well known ailment in some people. Officially, I just named this disease auto-idiotica, and many of you know this age-old affliction as, “hey you with the Cracker Jacks driver’s license!!”

You know what I mean. Stupid flameheaded wombats that believe they’re the only ones on the road. You’re in their way, so watch carefully. These people have dog breath and improper grooming habits, and are EVERYWHERE. Some symptoms are: weaving in and out of traffic, severe tailgate-itis, driving 130 mph over the limit, and passing on the right on a two lane road. At intersections. While honking. Although they are ignorant of the fact, idiot drivers have chicken lips, and are known to cavort with barnyard animals during Mardi Gras.

Used to be a time when moronic motorists were restricted to the male population. Unfortunately, however, women are learning from us dudes, and are beginning to do the “tailgate-till-you-move” dance when you’re going less than 85 mph in the right lane on the expressway. It never matters that you’re already going five over the limit and are sanely going past Grandma and Grampa Sightseer. But as far as numbers, dumdum boy drivers still far outnumber dodo girl drivers.

I’m still truly compressed by the number of mush-minded monkeys that try to pull the trim off my car as they fly past me on the expressway. Hey, the limit in Michigan is already 70. Nobody really needs to go more than 75, ok? It just ain’t safe! Sure, you can go, but try to safely miss that deer or broken car. Maybe I’m getting to be an old fart. At least some “kids” (30 and younger) would label me so. But because I’m over 60 I remember the high speed limits from the beforetimes. Before the Arab oil embargo (say wha??). A lot of people raced around back then, and ended up being “dead on time.”

Very sad, the road rage that is spreading these days. Too many people in a terrible hurry. And of course if you are “in their way” they will show the likes of you. Especially if you drive cautiously like I do; meaning I usually try to observe those crazy “Speed Limit” signs. I can almost hear them…

“Watch this, Mr. SlowPoke Minivan Cruise Control Person! Watch while I remove a few thousand miles worth of wear by vaporizing the surface of my tires! Watch how well I can ruin my transmission! Ha ha! I shall show the likes of you! I’ll accelerate wildly so I can tailgate the next jerkface who has the nerve to drive courteously!! Then I’ll pass on the right, and also on the left. But just to show you I mean business, I’ll wait for oncoming traffic and barely pull back in on time! Ha ha! I listen to the COOLEST music very loudly and am ruining my hearing with 92 inch woofers! Boy are you stupid!!”

Such intelligent beings are often mystified when they receive a ticket. After all, it was not their fault they were going 84 that day, because that cop is NEVER there! Or… they run the same stop sign all the time, BECAUSE THEY LIVE THERE and there’s NEVER ANY TRAFFIC. Oh, and not to forget the folks who weave and poke along like they’re drunk. Some really ARE drunk, but the others are texting.

I don’t want the reader to get any funny ideas about the possibility that reckless driving scares me or anything. It PETRIFIES me. Wanna know why? Because I used to be a Mr. Moron Motorist! Been there, done that! Thank God I never hurt anyone. I did, however, manage to rack up many tickets in younger days. Too many. But boy, the insurance company was happy with me!! I wanted to continue driving, and they were only too happy to take lots of my money in exchange for minimal coverage.

Lucky for me, I finally learned; albeit the hard way. Haven’t had so much as a parking ticket since 1982. This is a good thing. I can breathe much more easily, and so can my wallet. It’s always empty anyway, but at least it’s not red when I put a nice, crisp dollar bill in there.

So, I can spot ’em a mile away now, and know pretty much what they’re gonna do when they get up near me. I just let them go by. Safer that way. I paid my dues, and I’m sure they’ll pay theirs in one form or another.

Anybody seen the keys to my Slow Poke Minivan Cruise Control Zooming Machine?

Folks just need to chill out and slow down…

God Only Knows

It’s August outside, and if you have read any previous “Happy Friday!!!” snippets, then you might well be able to guess what I’m going to write about tonight.

Hints:

A) It’s August outside… hot weather… dog days of summer.

9) Tuesday will be the 21st of the month…. getting warmer?

Blue) The writing will be about what I believe is something really cool; and

6!) It’s something that always makes me happy.

OK… give up? Let’s see… August, hot weather, really cool… makes me happy. Hmm. Must be…

ICE CREAM!!

Ummm… No. Although My Beautiful Girlfriend just came back from the movies and we did get ice cream on the way home. Yes that’s right boys and girls, we still go to the movies. And we even like movies about comic book characters. Tonight it was “Ant-Man And The Wasp;” a simply marvelous Marvel film. Lots of fun. Oh hey, and if you’re a Marvel movie fan, you know that there’s always some fun little clips that follow the movie; and there’s often something after all the credits have rolled though completely.

Yes. We went on a spontaneous date. I came home from work, and was reminiscing about the little tiff we had the night before. You see, we inherited this rental duplex thing where our son lives and the rental side had The Tenants From Hell in there for way too long and their animals forgot that carpets are not for potty and maybe the people forgot that too we don’t know but it stunk to high heaven so we got some cleaner folks in there to try to make better and they tried their best but the carpet turned out to be too far gone so now we’re having flooring folks put new carpet and also some vinyl floor in and gee it sure would be nice if we could spend some money on our own doggoned house but first we gotta do this and it sure is making us both crabby and we start harrmumphing for no good reason and get a bit pissy and then we kiss and make up and HOLY COW I’m sure glad that kind of crap doesn’t last very long anymore like it used to when we were only a couple days / months / years married but we basically grew up together and I REALLY HOPE nobody is reading this run-on sentence in one breath because if you are we need to call the Guinness Book Of World Records People RIGHT NOW!!

Whew!! That was a big one.

So yes, our marriage flows much more naturally now; and our harmonious times are about 99.9% and our “leave me alone or I’ll bite you” only lasts for about 0.1 % of the time.  Probably less. I guess that’s what 45 years of marriage will do if you work at it.

WAIT!! That’s it!! The thing I was gonna have you guess about!! The 21st of August is our anniversary, and this will be 45 years for us!! Sheesh!! Where did all the time go??

God Only Knows.”

I capitalized “God Only Knows” and put it in quotes because it relates not only to my bewilderment at the very fast passage of time, but it also happens to be the title of a song we’ve been singing to each other lately. The lyrics are very simple, yet profound; at least in my professional opinion. I was reading about the development of the song by Brian Wilson (of Beach Boys fame) and Tony Asher; and they were worried that because the word “God” was in the title it would never get any air play. Brian Wilson believed that “God” could mean any interpretation of our Great Spirit; but the concern was that there would never be any popularity of a song with such a title.

Boy am I glad they were wrong.

The song was recorded in 1966; and here’s a more recent but very nice BBC music version I found on the You Tubes recently.  Sing along with me if you like… but I warn you… sometimes I get mushy.

A Secret Letter For Radio Snack Food Engineers Only

Dear Toaster Tossers,

As you may not be aware, there will no longer be any need for teeth tightening in the upcoming gall bladder confusions. This of course means that if just one member of our Secret Society launches more than 67 Raisin Rockets this week, all of us will be in big trouble with Mr. and Mrs. Punchworm. I therefore urge none of you to grab your cat’s elbows while making popcorn.

Of course, there probably should have been stronger crayon warnings during last night’s graham cracker storm. It’s been well known for years that improperly colored crackers will never enjoy an afternoon in Lake Michigan. Better hurry up and get a nice jar of “Happy Frog Nose Surprise” jelly for that often interrupted afternoon snack. Truly delicious with plastic bread and stainless steel soda.

Now I must ask all of you: how do you find the time to hide all those cranberry marshmallows under the couch? Wouldn’t it be safer to fill your toilet with gasoline? Is it not possible that audio cables could decide not to order Mexican food? Are jellyfish reading too many books? Can you think of anything else I want to ask??

No, of course not.

Forgive me, please. I’ve been sleeping with too many tomatoes in my armpits lately; and it’s beginning to fascinate my pet soap dish. You all probably know what it’s like to stuff carrots into a flute; so the cooking process just might cause the antlers to fall right off the minivan. Some of us will probably consider sleeping in the salad bar; but those of us who know better will joyfully roll around in the dessert bar instead.

Finally, I’d like to close with what’s known in knowing places by what’s known as an unknown run-on sentence; and in this particular sentence the word “known” is being known all too often, because you should try really hard to soften the hard boiled eggs with Professor Slapperhank’s portable egg softening lotion that is only sold in stores where the language of choice is Pazookey and all the employees can’t seem to get their freckles to line up to form various words that likely wouldn’t mean much anyway with the possible exception of Trabnack and Blooplinka Ifflebottom.

Very well then. I hereby call this meeting to order with a nice side of oven roasted Hairball Chowder and all the accompanying Crunchy Little Rocks.

Farewell till next time; and please remember to ventilate your ice cream before your lungs fill up with chopped walnuts and fancy sprinkles.

Yours with new nostrils,

Jon Again Pobblestick, Information Specialist                                                                       21 ½ Winky Avenue                                                                                                                Clam Sneeze, Frongolia 2209098

On the other hand, you have some pure Rock Nonsense…

Looking Forward To: Celebration Time!!

WARNING!!  THE FOLLOWING STORM IS LACED WITH LARGE DOSES OF
PURE NONSENSE.  IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ASSIMILATE SUCH COMPLETE
SILLINESS, DISCARD THIS DOCUMENT IMMEDIATELY, IF NOT SOONER.
*************************************************************

Many of you may know this already, but I’ll say it again anyhow.  I am married.  Not only that, I married The Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe (FYI: all other women are The Second Most Beautiful), and we are very happy. This horrible marriage event occurred 44 years ago; and if we make it till August 21 it will be 45 years!! Is that crompulary or what?? We are best friends, and even love each other enough to smooch and all that other married people stuff. There appears to be no cure for our amplification.

So, on or about August 21, the date of our welding happen thing, we will probably go on our annual honeymoon. This reminds me of one of my favorite honeymoon outings at a nice getaway called the Hotel Frankfurter Hotdog Ranch, where you shell out $19.75 (or more, depending on the type of honeymoon suite you want) for a room, dinner and breakfast for two, taxes and tips all included in the bill.  Very nice.

Back in 1876, or perhaps it was another year, I don’t know, I had booked a Ranch Room 22 years in advance, as a surprise.  Finally the big day arrived.  There we were, in the 1971 Maverick we never owned, galumping along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and suddenly several policemen sang polkas to us while blue smoke from our tailpipe gases filled their eyebrows.  Then we started the engine and headed Up North to Frankfort ya shoor youbetcha by golly dere (dey are NOT yoopers dere… I just trew dat in for da halibut).

With an average speed of 12.7 mph, we made it to Frankfort in a record twelve days.  Several parts of the car were missing when we arrived, but we just figured the noises were from that funny rope we substituted for the fan belt back in ’83.  The hotel was everything we never expected it to be. Deep green clouds of putrid dust belched from the chimneys of the honeymoon suites.  We turned to each other and winked, knowing that it would soon be OUR turn to ignite those famous bricks of dehydrated pond scum.  At the main entrance, we backed up several yards and then ran through the masking tape barrier they put up to greet arriving guests.  On the other side, the staff greeted us in their traditional lizard suits, urging us to bring them insects from the nearby chocolate shop.

After checking in, we decided to take a stroll down to the pier before dinner.  There we found very sad fishermen chained to huge iron pilings.  To our amazement, that very moment they were sold into slavery and commissioned to teach giant squid how to read and write.  The squid plopped themselves on the pier and wouldn’t move to let us by, so we did our best to comfort the fish holders, who ate oversized jelly beans while they cried out for extra ballpoint pens.  Suddenly, I had a terrible sinking feeling…

“My Mom knew this would happen,” I uttered.

“What? She knew WHAT would happen,” Kathy asked.

“My left leg just turned into scrambled eggs,” I pouted.

Kathy scolded me, saying, “Kenny, get the heck out of that broken sewage line!!  This is no time for stink-o-rama!!”  I apologized diversely, and she promised to make some sock puppets when we got home.  She knows I’m a sucker for a bucket of removable training shingles (ching-ching!!).

We went back to the Ranch and waited in the basement to be called to dinner.  I must point out that this was my least favorite part of our celebration.  I couldn’t find the light, so of course I tripped over the giant rusty telephone and nearly fell into the washed popcorn they pulled from the dryer lint trap.  Our reservation was finally stained, and we were shown to our topsoil.

Dining at “The Ranch” is nothing short of elegant.  The long, dark hallway’s cracked cinder blocks are accented by the flickering light of Bunsen burners at each desk.  I had to sit on the side opposite the chair slide-in place, but that didn’t dampen my moisture.  I ordered fill-it magnum, and Kathy got shrimp on the half shell.  We shared and split the entrees down the middle with a chain saw and splitting maul.  Our waiter forced us to watch “Little Lulu” cartoons while we awaited the arrival of the meal.  But that was OK; because halfway through the 37th cartoon, Kathy’s mood had been visibly altered.  She gazed at me longingly, as if I was the next course, then began nibbling her napkin and pressing her butter knife flat against her eyebrows.  What a woman!!

Dessert, of course, was the house specialty, “Frankfurter Hotel Rocky Ranch Hot Dog Heaven,” made with fresh hot dogs that were caught the previous Wednesday.  They do magical things with mystery meat.  We were awestruck by the lovely appearance of the dish and the surprisingly delectable cherry sauce and imitation peppermint rice filled avocado pebble crunch with boat scrapings and black mold filter cream toppings.

After completely filling our tummies, the Rollers came and boofed us up the stairs to our room.  Special humor was exploding as they let us roll downstairs 23 times before the last upheaval; after which they finally shoved us into the room and slammed the room shut on us.  We laughed most jolly and tried to reach the pondscum fireplace with our bellies dragging on the floor, splinters in our garments and happy broken belt loops.  Needless to say, Kathy did the napkin-nibbling butter knife eyebrow thing the rest of the night, and I responded in turn by recycling the flypaper in the master cylinder accusation chamber.

You can bet we’ll be back again some other anniversary.  Until then, please deform all your friends and neighbors.  Their armpit hair, after all, will soon be converted into satellite receivers.  Now please pass those hot dogs!!

Oh… one last thing:  it has occurred to me that because I am older than most compost, many of you have never heard of nor seen a “Little LuLu” cartoon.  Well here’s one from 1945…

My Father Smelt Of Elderberries!!

OK, my father didn’t really smell of elderberries.  But he was the one who first told me about these lovely fruits of Nature when I was very young.  I remember when I first tasted them I found them a little less than wonderful.  However if you catch them at just the right time they are palatable.  Trouble is, the “right time” can slip away very quickly.  They ripen slowly over many weeks and then kaboom!! they explode on you as you walk along the trail.  Well OK maybe there’s no kaboom!! Seriously, they are only in their prime for a few days and then they become bitter.

Here in Beautiful West Michigan, elderberry bushes can be seen blooming everywhere. I see them every day, and some are making berries already. In a few weeks they’ll turn a dark purple, and they are ready to pick when the stems that support the cluster of berries also turns purple. The trick is to get them before the birds do… but I always leave some for the birds.

Elderberries have been used for eons, both for medicinal and culinary purposes.  Personally I’m trying to start a “revival” of the use of elderberries.  I say “revival,” because for many moons I would mention to people, “I picked a mess of elderberries over the weekend.”  They would smile politely and then ask, “what are elderberries??”  Many have heard about them in songs and whatnot, but it seems that the vast majority of people have not noticed them at all, much less picked them. Beautiful West Michigan is blessed with lots of water, and elderberries really like living near water.  You can see them along the roadsides (and elsewhere of course); large bushes with big white flower clusters that mature into the beautiful dark purple fruits.

If you ever get the notion to pick them, DO NOT be silly and try to pick them one at a time.  You’ll go crazy I tell you!!  You’ll be working for hours and get maybe a few cups of berries.  The best way I’ve found is to cut the berry clusters from the plant and drop them in your shopping bag.  Those plastic grocery bags from the store perfect for this, but make sure you take some that don’t have any holes in the bottom.  Bring a pair of scissors or maybe a sharp pocket knife and cut the berry cluster at the stem that connects it to the plant.  Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, please follow this very important rule:  always leave some for the birds.

Thank you.

Then take them home when you get your quota and prepare to spend at least an hour processing about a gallon of berries off the stems and into a container.  I find it good meditation to pick up the clusters one at a time and roll the berries off the stem gently with your fingers.  Your fingers get a bit purple from this, but it’s not permanent.  If you’re lucky like me you may have a beautiful and devoted spouse who will actually help process the berries. After we’re done, we just chuck them in the freezer. When you want to use them, just bonk them a little to loosen them up and then scoop what you need out of the freezer bag.

So why go through all this hassle?  Well folks, there’s simply nothing quite like elderberry pie with a glob of Breyer’s vanilla ice cream on top.  Making the pie is at least 197% easy.   First of all, I’m not ashamed to admit that I cheat on the crust.  I buy the crusts at the store from the dairy case.

Hey if you want to make your own crust, knock yourself out.  I mean that figuratively of course.  Wouldn’t be very pleasant if you really knocked yourself out.  Lots of people have told me that “crust is easy!!”  Looks to messy to me.  When it comes to making crust from scratch, I’m a lazy wuss, OK??

Other than that, I follow the same recipe for elderberry pie as I do for blueberry:

3 to 4 cups of elderberries

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 1/2 tablespoon of flower

1 drizzling of honey

Mix these up in a bowl and pour them into a 9 inch deep dish pie pan with crust.  Take a spoon and fill the rest of the pie with more berries until you’ve filled the pie pan.  Then drizzle the top with just a bit of honey, and this is because elderberries are quite tart and just a little more sweetening is a good touch but certainly not necessary.  Cover the pie with the other cheating crust and poke some holes in it so the steam will vent out.  Cook in the oven at about 350 or 400 till the crust is nice and brown, or about 45 minutes.

I’ve also been known to make what I call “bluederberry pie,” in which I mix 1 part elderberries to 3 parts blueberries. Oh my, that’s good!

Then the fun part:  STUFF YOUR FACE!!  MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!

So enjoy your elderberries, but when they start to come, don’t delay, they’ll be gone before you know it.  And if you don’t want any of such silly treats, that’s just fine.

That’s more for me!!

Now, regarding my father.. he was a full blooded Norwegian, so he probably smelt more of lingonberries, or perhaps even cod.  However, one of my favorite “insults” that I occasionally repeat aloud comes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  One of my favorite movies of all time contains a boisterous proclamation from John Cleese:  “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!!”

Here’s a fun clip: