Communicatons Kaboom

Once upon a time, there was an Industrial Computer Flunky (I.C.F.) who was minding his own business in the world of a manufacturing plant that uses lift trucks which very easily smoosh handheld scanners and then of course he had to scrape the pieces off the floor because it had a repair contract and they will replace the broken oh-fooey-kersmooshlings even though it was our fault but who cares it’s only money and electronic waste and then here comes Filbert Wonkletoes from Zoomophone Networks who was sent by someone in The Mother Ship (Corporate Headquarters) to run a patch cable from the Good Old Network Thing (G.O.N.T.) to the Brand New Network Thing (B.N.N.T); and hey I could have done that and why didn’t they tell me he was coming but hey I’m just the Onsite Computer Flunky (O.C.F.) so who gives a flying mahookey about me anyway and HOLY COW this run-on sentence is almost a million words!!

*Whew!! *

Breathe… breathe…

OK. It’s just frustrating, ya know?? I’m the only Industrial Computer Flunky at the place… so here I go, gathering names from poor Filbert Winkletoes and I told him “This is no reflection on you, but who sent you?? I’m really sick of this surprise stuff!! It would be nice to get a ‘heads-up’ to know you’re coming… What if I wasn’t here? What if I had a contagious rash? What if my tricycle had 3 flat tires?? Doesn’t anyone care about the likes of me??”

Well, OK, I may have only said a small part of that.

This lack of consideration makes me want to sing the “Leave Me Alone, I’ll Bite You” song:

Leave me alone, I’ll bite you!

Your nose is full of bees.

For why you are mean to me in this way??

You need to eat some fleas!!

And of course, this would be sung to the tune of “Leave Me Alone, I’ll Bite You.”

Am I the onliest one in the universe who is enjoying such communication kaboom? I’m pretty sure I’m not. It wouldn’t be so bad if this was an uncommon occurrence; but it’s getting worse and worser and even worserest all the time, and my frustration even makes me misuse and invent fake superlatives of “worse!”

Seriously, I consider it bad manners. Is all this because “plan” is a four-letter (so therefore bad) word; and folks are oblivious of the need to play nice when they formulate one? When I was growing up, if you had a plan that involved others, you let them know ahead of time when they could expect to be part of the plan. Too many folks in my Professional Universe (P.U.) (and yes, it’s beginning to stink) are doing their own thing to get stuff done; and not thinking about the possibility their activities might affect another person’s day.

OK, that’s fine. I’ll fix those monkey-headed wombats! Tell ya what I’m gonna do!! I’m gonna craft a nice e-mail to the Big Kids And Maybe Some Of Their Underlings (B.K.A.M.S.O.T.U.) to alert them of their decribbulous putrefaction. Yep! I’m gonna give them what-for with my shouting words and abrasive tone so they’ll instantly snap into shape and communicate like adult people who know how to effectively and courteously implement a plan! And I’ll use lots of bold italics and exclamation points!!! Then I’m gonna call every single one of them unanimously and sing “Leave Me Alone, I’ll Bite You” into their voicemail compartment thing-a-ma-doodles (technical talk). Finally, I’ll send them expired donuts in the mail.

Or not…

Instead of being fired, I’d like to actually retire in 5 months and 25 days. But who’s counting??

The communication is almost as effective as when these guys talked about baseball.

Joining The Evil Empire

So there we were, minding our own business, on Sunday of last week, when what to my wondering ears would appear but some blinking and beeping from there and from here!! Our electrical stuff was doing very strange things. Some things were flashing, others simply didn’t work at all. Having had enormous fun with similar power strangeness, I quickly went to the basement to turn off the main switch in the breaker box. Very soon after, our son texted me: “You guys have power?” “Nope,” was my reply.

No storms, no winds, so we figured no big deal. Didn’t really mess up any plans either, because we were planning to go bike riding anyway. We have a generator, but the only thing I used it for was to run the air compressor so I could pump up the tires. On our way to the bike trail we saw the power crews had already sprung into action to fix what had apparently been caused by a huge tree branch. We had a very nice ride, and stopped for an elegant meal at the local Taco Bell and headed home. We noticed the traffic lights were working once again, so we figure all was well at home.

Well almost.

After turning the main back on, everything woke up except for our internet. Total bummer. You see, we are spoiled Americans. Even when we don’t have internet, we are spoiled Americans; but when we can’t play on the interwebs we get a smidge cranky. So I call the support number. Nobody’s home. Left a message. No call back. Left an e-mail the following day from work. No reply. I call again and leave a message. Nobody cares.

The lack of response is probably due to our subscription to the Podunk Holy Mackerel Super Fast Wireless Internet Service. For a mere $39.99 a month, we got all the data we could swallow; but you’d be lucky if you got 2 mbps (pretty doggone slow by today’s standards). Well hey, these folks did the best they could. They got us much faster internet than dial up; and it has worked most of the time. They came around about 10 years ago as the result of a federal grant that was handed out to local companies to send “high speed” internet to rural homes. Was great for us because we couldn’t get DSL (we are too Podunky I guess); and there were no cable providers running anything in our neck of the woods.

But they could’ve called…

Well their lack of give a hoot gave me the shove to go shopping. I work in IT so I figured things may have changed a bit in 10 years; and sure enough it didn’t take long to hit pay dirt. Well, I’ll be paying them… but anyway; called Frontier and no, they still don’t have any lines down our road. “But we’re always updating our network…” which is what they said 10 years ago. Then I thought, “hey our son has Comcast and he lives around the corner.” I’ve read many reviews about Comcast internet; and some folks love it and others hate it. Customer service is known to be poor, but this is true for pretty much all internet service providers. When I told my friends about our internet woes and mentioned we’ve decided to join the Evil Empire, everyone I told replied, “Comcast?” “Yep!” I replied. And of course, sure enough!! They were “running a special” for new customers; and for $20 a month for the first year, we could get 25 mbps!! That’s like 12 times faster than what we had before. Of course, after the first year the prices goes up. I think it’s like $9713.57 per month (OK maybe only $50).

Now we can run faster and jump higher!! Oh wait, that was that old commercial for PF Flyers (sneakers of yesteryear) (Holy Cow I just Googled them and they’re still being sold!!) (Who the heck puts all these parentheses in one sentence??) (Me!).

Have I mentioned we are spoiled Americans? Yes, we are, and we’ve sold our souls to the Evil Empire. But boy can we stream videos now!!

Now all we need is an All Electric Home!!

Sixteen Thousand, Seven Hundred And Ninety Days

Sixteen Thousand, Seven Hundred And Ninety Days

Five Hundred And Fifty Two Months.

Forty six Years.

Forty six years??? Holy Moly time flies when you’re having fun. I mean jeez, it seems like it was just a couple years ago when the Beatles first came to America on the Mayflower (or something like that).

As of Sunday, August 21, I’ve had the privilege of being married to the Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe for 38 years. Now if there are any other Beautiful Women reading this, please do not despair. Here’s why: although it is impossible for you to compete with my Lovely Girlfriend for the title of Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe; please be very aware that all the other women in the universe are the Second Most Beautiful Women In The Universe. So even though you cannot be the Most Beautiful in my universe, you are now and always will be the Second Most Beautiful.

That is my professional opinion. If you don’t believe me, just ask me some time.

Sheesh… 46 years?? Feels like we’ve been together forever; and I say that with the utmost gratitude. Our relationship is pretty much as natural as breathing, really. However we still have a few (very few) times when it feels like we are breathing in a few bugs and they get stuck in our throats. But after a few pittoooeys or boohoos or maybe a grunt or two, it’s all better and time to kiss and make out. In other words, life is not always peaches and root beer. We do disagree, but we can finally disagree without being disagreeable 99.999% of the time.

Here’s a nice bonus: SHE LETS ME KISS HER!! Now that’s really nice, ya know??

Sometimes we are asked how we’ve managed to pull this marriage thing off. Well here are some observations and / or suggestions I’d like to offer for your reading enjoyment:

1) We were very good friends for several months before we started wondering what was hidden under each other’s clothing.

Q) When we realized it was true, we made sure to tell each other “I Love You” at least once a day.

27) Before we got married, we made verbal contracts. Things like: “we must always tell the truth no matter what;” and “if we have kids, we can’t have just one, but no more than two.”

B) We go on dates. Movies, concerts, picnics, vacations. Sometimes it’s something simple like renting a video and taking the phone off the hook. Or maybe even just taking the phone off the hook…

V3) We say “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.”

#) We hold hands often. One of my favorite stories about this: Unbeknownst to our daughter’s best friend, we were walking ahead of them on the way into the grocery store. She said “Look at those cute old people going into the store holding hands,” to which our daughter replied, “that’s my PARENTS!!”

8F) I tell her she’s beautiful. And of course, I mean it.

And last but not least,

K!) Communicate, communicate, communicate. Never assume. Talk stuff over. Big stuff, little stuff. And be nice about it all. God knows we live in a crazy world, there’s no need to fling fire at each other at home.

I could go on and on… suffice it to say that we’ve learned how to treat each other as if we were best friends. That’s probably because we ARE best friends. This marriage thing hasn’t always been easy, but definitely worth it.

Life is good. We have enough to eat, a nice home, beautiful offspring. Yes, the verbal contract stated two kids They aren’t kids anymore, but they’re ours so we’ll call them “the kids” whether they like it or not. Except to their faces… then we let them know that they are simply beautiful people. And we tell them “I Love You” whenever we see or talk to them.

And the coolest thing is, we’re still very much in love. Did I mention I have the privilege of being married to the Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe?? It’s true you know. If you don’t believe me, just ask me some time.

We’ve actually been married two times: first in a courthouse, then in a church on our 10th anniversary. But neither wedding went anything like this one…

Back To The Garden

Because I’m old enough to remember when the Beatles came to the U.S. on the Mayflower, I’m also able to remember that 1969 was a pretty big year. So many really BIG things in the news! As with any other year, some of the news was pretty horrible. I’d rather not mention those stories if you don’t mind; these days I really need to maintain a positive attitude. Instead, some of the more positive stories were things like the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the New York Mets winning the World Series. Oh and yeah, and there was a pretty big music festival called Woodstock.

During that summer I was 15, and of course I was paying close attention to the counterculture and the world of popular music. My interest in all such happenings actually sprouted several years earlier, when my grandparents gave me an 8 transistor radio for my 8th birthday (1962). Radio provided a gateway to the world at large; and I kept that thing on with great regularity. God bless our mother, she always made sure I had a working 9 volt battery.

We were definitely a media driven family. By that I mean that the TV was always on; and when it wasn’t, there was the radio. We also had subscriptions to Time and Life magazines; so we had plenty of opportunities to keep up with current events. The 60s saw our country in some upheaval due to numerous protests. Large crowds were marching for causes like peace, civil rights, gender equality, and environmental concerns. Music of the day was evolving from doo wop to rock ‘n roll to psychedelic sounds. My mind was being strongly influenced by all of it.

And I was by no means alone.

From where I and many of my peers stood, a lot of what the crap that was going on in the world made absolutely no sense. Pollution was destroying our air, water and soils. Also, strong dependence on the use of poisonous chemicals for pest and weed control was harming Mother Nature. War was killing children and other living things. And to be “successful,” you needed to be a Caucasian male. So protests and marches were staged as efforts to raise consciousness and hopefully change things for the better.

Some progress was made; but unfortunately greed, ignorance, and intolerance seem to have gained some ground over the last few years. Mother Nature is still being treated very badly; and those interested in maintaining the status quo are sparing no effort to prevent meaningful action that could save our planet. Racial intolerance and gender inequality still rob our souls of the peace and love our Creators intended for us.

So today’s headlines are abuzz with reminders that fifty years ago today, some 400,000 people were gathered for “3 Days Of Peace, Love, and Music.” The promoters were in no way prepared for the number of people who would arrive at what quickly became a free event for those who didn’t have tickets. Sanitation issues, scarce availability of food and water, and many other difficulties plagued the event; yet no violence erupted, and only 2 people died (one of an overdose, one killed accidentally by a tractor). Nearly a half million people gathered and showed the world that peace and love, in spite of adverse conditions, were indeed possible. There are still many children of the 60’s who cling to the belief that living in peace and love is more than just a dream. It’s a necessity.

As Joni Mitchell’s famous song proclaims, “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”

Sexagenarian Snappencrackle

Something has gone afoul over the years. My body somehow seems to be in some sort of rebellion against activity!! And the rebellion seems to be getting more and more vociferous as time passes. This probably has been happening gradually over the years, but seems like it’s a bit more frequent these days. Might be due to becoming a sexagenarian 5 years ago. Five years!! Sheesh!! By the way, if any of youse “youngstahs” are reading: no, a sexagenarian is not a person of a generic gender. What?? You knew that??

Oh.

So there I was, minding my own business, 5 years ago, turning 60, and thinking, “wow, this is kinda weird!! My brain says I’m in my 30s but my body is not looking that way at all!! And what the HECK is all this hair growing in my ears?? And the balding… sheesh, is the hair migrating or something?? And my joints seem to think they need to report with a ** POP ** every time I move!! And sometimes it hurts me awreddy!!”

Yes, my brain thing said exactly those things.

Now I’m 65. Sheesh again!!! I hear my ankles pop when I get out of bed. My hip hurts and I don’t know why. I lifted something that wasn’t even heavy, and my wrist has pain like someone ran it through with a giant ice pick. I go to bed, maybe take some aspirin, and feel fine in the morning. Then I go to do something else that never bothered me and something else says ouch now!! My Beautiful Girlfriend (the one who let me marry her 45 years ago) has similar happiness too. We suffer together, and offer each other consolation and pain relievers.

This should not happen to gentle people like us!!

Sixty five years old… wow. You know what that means, right?? Yep… I was 15 when Woodstock was happening. Oh, you didn’t think about that one? Well the 50th anniversary of that awesome event comes next week. So… 65… you know what that means, right?? Yep… pretty soon I’ll be dialing M for Medicare. Holding off till I’m 66 since my employer provides coverage until I retire. And wow… 65… as I tell all the “kids” (people much younger than me): I can clearly remember when The Beatles came to America on the Mayflower!! It was pretty doggoned exciting really.

Well, yes, I’m getting old now. I’m staying grateful though; I’m still physically able to do what I did when I was 30. Sometimes it takes longer, and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes both. But I don’t have to look far to realize that there are many, many souls on this planet that are way worse off than me. I’m blessed to be able to say I’m a very fortunate person.

Now it’s getting late outside, and I’ll be going to bed soon. Tomorrow is another day that I’m sure will be full of more snap, crackle, and pop adventures. That’s right friends, my body is starting to sound like a big bowl of Kellogg’s Rice Crispies.

No added milk required!!

Being old isn’t so bad… just hope I don’t end up like The Old Man Of The Mountain…

To The Chipmunks Go The Stinkwaters

We love to feed the birds; and have… um… lemme see… five feeders. Two for the hummingbirds, one suet feeder for the woodpeckers (and whoever else shows up), one filled with thistle seed for the finches, and one full of mixed seeds for everybody else. All except the mixed seeds feeder require visitors to land and feed directly on the feeder. The mixed seeds are a different story.

Almost all birds will visit the seeds feeder at one time or another. Some, like rose breasted grosbeaks, are dainty and perch on the little ledge to get their meals. They just nibble out of the little tray and then will find a nugget of choice and fly away with it. Others, like blue jays, will toss seeds out of the feeder until they find what they want. We call blue jays the “punk rockers” of birds because of their flamboyant plumage and mannerisms. They and others like starlings and grackles used to annoy us greatly with their dumping of the seeds; but then we realized that they give all the ground feeding birds a nice smorgasbord from which to choose.

Only one problem with all that seed on the ground. It attracts mammals. Bunnies, squirrels, and even raccoons will stop at the base of the feeder and get their fill. That can be cute if they all behave themselves, but until we took several “anti-squirrel” measures, we’d often come home to a feeder that was full in the morning but emptied to the ground by afternoon. Thankfully, that’s no longer a problem.

There’s one “cute” little critter species, however, that has become quite an annoyance.

Chipmunks.

They’re cute alright. Kinda colorful markings too. But if you are married and your wife has an interest in raising flowers in the vicinity of the bird feeder, they can become quite a nuisance. They love to burrow, you see. And too often, the soft soil of my Beautiful Girlfriend’s flower bed is very accommodating to their tunneling habits. Only problem with that is: plants don’t like having their roots exposed to the air. So my Sweet Lovely Bride will toil and place her plants just so, only to have some of them die because of burrowing rascal rodents.

It’s very obvious that these little dirt monkeys are the culprits. They pop out of nowhere when we’re walking near the flower beds; and then we see the little hole from which they zoom in and out. Their activities have not made my Amazing Love very happy at all; and she has resorted to calling them foul names. “Why the *@#! do they dig in my *@#!ing flower beds??” she asked not too long ago. Being the dutiful hubby I am, I looked it up on the interwebs, then conveyed what should have been an obvious answer: they like seeds.

We’ve been feeding birds for many moons, but the chipmunk problem is relatively recent. There are predators that keep them in check; and we’ve been raising whole families of those for many moons too. They’re called kitty cats. Our cats have always been allowed outside; and for almost all of her 21 ½ years our beautiful calico, Never Anne, would keep their numbers down. That baby killed pretty much anything that moved!!

Well, Nevvie is gone to the Big Kitty Cat Playground In The Sky. We do have Freddy the Freeloader; he’s our one and only kitty now (we’ve often had several at a time). Freddy was a feral who adopted us; and although he knows how to hunt, he seems to have become rather fat and lazy these days. It’s very possible he’s spoiled. Our family does not use poison baits, so since Freddy wasn’t bringing us any dead chipmunks, I started waging war on them with more humane methods. Stomping their tunnels – they just dig again. Flooding with water – lasts a little longer but pretty much the same result as stomping.

Then finally the light came on. The water seemed to work alright, I just needed to add a little something to it. Something like used kitty litter!! The clumping kind works very well for this. So I filled a plastic bucket with water, then started dumping in the kitty droppings. Let it set for a couple days so it gets nice and stinky. Stir it with a stick, taste it to make sure it’s… NO!!! NO TASTING!!! GACK!!

You can probably guess the next step. Chipmunks do NOT like kitty cat stinkwater. Gee, I wonder why?? So my new and improved control method is to douse the offending burrows with Kitty Kaka And Wee Wee Nasty Juice Mixture Surprise. Hey… maybe I should bottle it and start marketing the stuff!! Anyway, for good measure, I make sure some of the solids go down the hole too. Very effective!! This might gross some of you out, but please keep in mind that we don’t eat what grows in the flower beds. And if there’s any fresh stinkwater application, I make sure to warn my Honey Pie so she can remember to wear gloves while doing her garden work.

Feel free to use this recipe at your house. One thing to keep in mind though: mosquitoes do not seem to care what kind of water they lay eggs in. That’s right kids, I’ve actually seen mosquito larvae in the stinkwater bucket!! After seeing that, I make sure to check regularly; and dump all the water before the larvae can mature. God only knows what nasty diseases such creatures would carry if they hatch out of such nastiness!!

We still have chipmunks stuffing their faces at the base of the bird feeder; but at least they’re not messing up my Baby’s flowerbed. They don’t look anything like the ones that Disney made famous in cartoons. Here are those two chipmunks who are famous for their shenanigans.

Vacation Validation

Well it’s the Friday before the Last Weekend Of Vacation and although I probably should be crying and rolling on the floor with great sadness and ickety-boo, I am instead writing a run-on sentence that is intended to sing great songs of satisfaction that my vacation went pretty darn well because nobody was injured and I ate more than enough and even got some garden work done and there were a couple of times when I forgot what day it was and my blood pressure got the best reading in many moons.

Say what??

YES!! My blood pressure was mantivulously excellent when I checked it the other day. And “mantivulously” is not even a word!! To those of you who don’t have high blood pressure, this may seem like no big deal. For me, a reading of 116 / 83 is pretty doggoned fantabulous. And there’s another word that isn’t a word!! My Beautiful Honey Pie has often told me, “Kenny, when you retire, your blood pressure will drop!!” I’m not quite retired, but almost… and having 10 days off in a row pretty much feels like what I figure retirement will be (except I have money).

So here I am on the 5th of July, roasting in the heat of the upstairs where my office is, listening to all the explosives being touched off in the distance, hoping nobody put firecrackers in Uncle Zermle’s nostrils like last year, wondering why all these run-on sentences and make-a-believe words keep flying out of my fingers and onto the screen via the keyboard, and oh yes, where the HECK do people get all the money for all these “up in smoke” kaboomy devices?? Anyhow?? OK, I admit that I have been known to purchase fireworks in the past. Now they are legal in Michigan, and many people are taking advantage of that. Some even have displays that look pretty professional! But I’ll be glad when it’s over… I treasure the peace and quiet over the kabooms and rocket skreechings.

Well I hope all of you had a bribbulous 4th of July, and that you still have all your fingers and have suffered comparatively little hearing loss. I still have 2.125 days of vacation left, so I’m a gonna go ni-night now to celebrate.

Lawn Laziness

Happy First Day Of Summer!!!  I think.  Yes.  The calendar says so.  Wasn’t sure it would ever arrive, judging by the weather we’ve been having.  Cool days, much rain, very little sunshine.  And this has been going on since pretty much April.

So now it’s finally warming up, and of course hot weather plus recent rains makes the lawn grow like crazy. Then of course it must be mowed. But hey, I’m sorry… I’m still convinced that this is a totally STUPID human custom! Lawn mowing seems so fruitless. We certainly spend a lot of time tending a crop we can’t eat! Well, I suppose you could eat it; but you can never be sure of whether it’s tainted with doggie weewee.

Perhaps the only reason our lawn gets cut is that I have a spouse. Left to my own devices, my yard would probably grow into the giant weed patch that God intended it to be. But our marriage contract would never allow this; so I have come to accept the weekly ritual of beheading the huge conglomeration of plants we call a lawn.

We don’t harvest the clippings or fertilize or anything, just mow. Fortunately, my wife and I agree that the less work a lawn brings, the better off we are. Sure, she would LOVE to have golf course quality turf; but she begrudgingly respects my organic gardening philosophies. In other words, no chemicals are ever applied to our lawn. Consequently, grass grows but so do lots of other green things. Some people are very fussy though; and they water, fertilize, and carefully count the blades of greenery. They want to make absolutely sure that grass and ONLY grass is growing. I’d love to invite some of those types to inspect my weedy ground, and watch them go nuts. Then I’d invite them in for a grapefruit milk shake and rationalize the value of a weedy lawn.

Many of those “weeds” mingling with our grass are actually beneficial! Here are two examples: clover is a legume, so its roots make nitrogen (as all good legumes do), which feeds the lawn. Dandelion greens are rich in vitamins and minerals, and the tender young leaves have long been valued by the French and many other cultures as one of the earliest vegetables available in the spring.  And their flowers feed the bees!!

Personally, I find myself grateful for clover and other weeds. They join together with the grass to form a nice carpet at my place; one that I’m not afraid to play Tackle The Grandkids on. If we go a little longer between mowings, we get some beautiful flowers, too! Hate to mow then, because the bees are feeding!

I mean, we must be doing something right, because the lawn is always nice and green, and we never water it. I’m beginning to think there are some sick puppies out there, because I see a lot of lawn watering. There is only one result of watering the grass. It GROWS. Then you have to MOW it. Are there really people in this world that LIKE mowing? If you’re one of this strange breed, lemme check your temperature once.  You may have a bad fever that’s affecting your brain molecules.

Some eggplant-headed folks (pardon my French) even post KEEP OFF THE GRASS signs! That’s more anti-American than flag burning if you ask me. How do they mow the stuff if you have to KEEP OFF? They’re probably the same guys who have their automatic sprinklers going full goose Bozo during thunderstorms.

Thank you Uncle Eric, I love “full goose Bozo.” Do you even say that anymore?

Anyway… the kids are grown now, so long gone are the days when I could pass the job to them whenever I could get away with it. Ahhh those were the days… I could actually focus on much more productive chores like spending more time in the garden. And as I pulled weeds and munched the occasional radish, I could daydream about them mowing down my baby trees and flinging rocks at the picture window at 87 mph. But I distinctly remember taking comfort in the fact that they finally understood why I freaked out about all those toys that used to hide in the lawn on mowing day. Nothing like the “ker-CRACK!” of a squirt gun being processed by the mower! Or the unmistakable “VOOOFF!” of a Nerf Ball disintegrating with a single pass.

Oh well. In the interest of domestic harmony, I will continue to obey and help with the lawn.  I do the trim with the push mower, and my Beautiful Girlfriend pilots the Cub Cadet.  We both wear ear protection in an attempt to save what little hearing we have left.  However, I miss the days my Sweet Honey Pie would ride the tractor and sing out loud to the songs I put on her MP3 player. Of course, she had noise reduction headphones on so she can’t tell whether she’s off key. I confess I’ve had a chuckle or two listening to her Cub Cadet Karaoke sessions while I was out running the trim mower.

Where else do you get a free workout PLUS entertainment??

Speaking of entertainment, the cartoon for this week has nothing to do with the lawn, but I found it rather entertaining.

Bugs Are My Friends (?)

Summer will soon be in full bloom here in Michigan Land, and with warm (and lately wet) weather comes:  BUGS!!! RAARRRGGHH!!  GET THE GUN! GET THE GUN!

No no, no guns.  I’ve often been tempted to carry a shotgun on a walk with me and blast a hole in one of those big mosquito swarms that follows me around.  But that might not be practical, and I doubt that the neighbors would appreciate it.  And if you use a gun inside, well that makes holes in your home that are unsightly and drafty in the winter.  Oh yes, and people can get hurt too (duh).

Sure, I hate mosquitoes and other such nasty insects, but I keep telling myself that Mom Nature has a plan for the stupid things.  We rarely use poison to kill bugs… sprays and foggers are usually worse than the bugs you are using them on.  I very rarely use bug repellents like OFF or whatever.   I’m sorry, but I’d rather suffer than put poison on my body.  And in the case of those outdoor foggers, unfortunately they also kill many GOOD bugs.  The same goes for in the garden, and because we don’t spray, we get lots of beneficial insects like praying mantis, lacewings, ladybugs and the like.

Other friendly bugs are spiders.  Wait a minute… SPIDERS!! ARRRGGHH! GET THE GUN! GET THE GUN!  Oh wait, no guns.  So ok, we don’t really freak out quite that badly.   In fact, spiders actually get a fair trial at our place. I’ve actually learned to appreciate the beauty in those little eight-legged alien beings. Being the organic gardeners that we are, the family has learned to respect beneficial bugs as a valuable resource. Yeah, I know. Spiders aren’t technically bugs. Tell that to your six year old and see how far you get!

Anyhow, spiders don’t strike terror in our hearts these days (ya, right). That statement is pretty much true, especially if :

A) WE KNOW WHERE THE SPIDER IS, AND

12) IT’S THERE WHEN IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE.

To explain item 12) above, I really need to come clean and admit that many spiders have been killed execution style simply by showing up near one of us by surprise.  But we really do try to save them if we can and I’ve even grown to the point where I can pick them up…sometimes. If they’re small enough.  But when those rascals are crawling on me unannounced, I have been known to do one of two things, either greet them with a sudden KERSMOOSH, or I do  a most unusual running dance. I also chant while run-dancing:  “OGodHolyCowYoySpiderBig!!!” Or something like that.  As I said, spiders will normally get a fair trial at our house. When discovered, they are captured and released in the garden. Spider sightings cause the family to summon me with big voices. If Mr. or Mrs. Spider (How do you tell, anyway? Don’t EVEN ask me to inspect their private parts!) isn’t too large, I’ll scoop it into my palm and carefully encage it in my hand. I set them free behind the compost pile, or someplace where they can find cover. The big ones, however, are strictly jar material.

An excellent critter catching device can be built with a jelly jar and one of those ejector type cards from a magazine.  You know, the ones that fall out of a fresh-out-of-the-mailbox magazine when you’re on the potty.  They’re easily identified by their large bold print that goes something like:   “YES! Send me 956 weeks of Dirteaters Digest for only $34.67, $50 less than newsstand price!  If you don’t have a jelly jar, a drinking glass is also a good bug holder. Such a device is also useful for wasps, which are also beneficial critters. Woe unto the spider or wasp who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, though. Those guys get the old El-Kabong treatment. Know what you have then? Bug guts!  Ooo, ocky, yicky. Paper towel, please.

Sometimes rain has fostered a population boom of a garden pest that rhymes with bugs, SLUGS.  Man, I hate those things.  I remember being totally intrigued by them when I was a kid:  “Wow!! A snail with no shell!!  Cool!!”    Now it’s:  “HEY!!  These *&%$ things are eating my plants!!  GET THE GUN! GET THE GUN!”  Oh right… no guns. Anyway, sticking to my organic ways, I won’t buy slug poison.  We saw some in the store and I wanted it badly.  Very badly.  But I figure there’s enough poison on our planet without me spreading more.

I heard years ago that beer will kill them.  You pour it into a shallow pan and put it on the ground, and the slugs are attracted and drown in it.  I reluctantly bought some a couple years ago for the first time ever in my new old life.  I say “reluctantly,” because before I learned my lesson, I’d already bought enough for one lifetime and I very nearly “drowned” in it… if you get my drift.  Now my oldness is new and I don’t allow beer (or any other intoxicant) into my body.  I’m allergic you see.  The stuff makes me break out in traffic violations.

However, the best slug remover I’ve found so far is beer.  Kinda funny when I go to a party store and ask for the cheapest beer.  I mean hey, slugs don’t care!!  If I put a little bowl of beer down near the plant I want to protect, the slugs go for the suds much more readily than they go for the veggies.  They are hopeless alcoholics… they drink themselves to death, and don’t seem to care that the bodies of their friends-and-neighbors type slugs are already drowned in the brew.  Might be a message there…

Anyway, sure, this organic gardening can be frustrating at times.  However, if you plan your garden carefully and encourage natural predators (beneficial insects and spiders), it is also very rewarding to grow food that you know is safe to eat.  And yes, of course I realize that slugs may rhyme with bugs, but they are not bugs at all, they’re gastropod mollusks. As far as I know, slugs have no natural enemies.

Well, maybe they have one:  ME.

Never had any termite problems, but apparently Popeye has…

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,

Me