The Great Zucchini Invasion

This week I’ve been expressing deep gratitude for acquiring a small amount of garden discipline. Specifically, I’m referring to zucchini. I only grew one plant this year!!  I wasn’t always so smart… as I was ruminating aloud about what I should write today, a thought came blasting out from The Universe and into my headbone… “clarity.”  “Clarity??” I replied with a puzzled tone.  I really needed some clarity, because my brain is kaputt after driving from Green Bay, Wisconsin through Chicago and then home from our vacation trip.  Dunno about you, but when I drive through Chicago and its many suburbs my brain becomes rather mooshy after it’s all done.  So here I am, home safe and sound, but still looking to send my friends a smile on a Friday night, and as I continue this run-on sentence I was wondering what the HECK I’m gonna right with my mushbrain; but then I figured no worries, I can dig into the archives maybe and pull out a gem. Finally I had a memory of a story I wrote many moons ago. So here it is in black and white, my reminder to always maintain the clarity NOT to go nuts with zucchini ever again.   Without further ado, here’s

The Great Zucchini Invasion of 1997

The story you are about to read is true.  Nothing in what follows has been exaggerated in any way, and if you believe that I have some prime real estate underneath the Mackinac Bridge that I’d like to sell you for a true bargain.  Run for your lives!!! Giant squashes have invaded, and it’s all my fault. I never meant any harm, I just wanted a few zucchini for salads. Maybe a few others, sauteed with onions for a nice batch of Chicken Cockamamie. Thinking the success of one plant might be marginal, I planted… well… more. OK, I planted six.


Any idea what it means to have six healthy zucchini plants in your garden?? We have many tons of biomass out there!! Not only are they making lots, they are making very, Very BIG.

It was sort of intriguing, even gratifying at first.  I spent lots of time making the soil right, laying out the garden in rows and beds. Then I stuck the seeds in the dirt and covered them up nice. Prayed for rain, or used some artificial rain if Mother Nature wouldn’t bring any. Pretty soon, the weeds and crops competed for space, but all the squash plants were very visible above any wimpy weed seedlings.

For those of you who don’t know, successfully raising a vegetable garden like ours (about 30′ by 50′) takes constant effort if you want good harvests.  It’s very rewarding, but if you’re not on your toes the weeds will flourish like there’s no tomorrow.   A few moments of inspection and pointing at seedlings with pride are often followed by comments like, “boy, we’re gonna get a nice garden this year.” Then I’d go back in the house for an evening, and the next day I couldn’t tell the radishes from the ragweed. So I picked, and pulled, and yanked, and hoed, and then the crops were visible again. This particular year, squash were flourishing with leaves that were popping out like crazy. So amazed was I by their progress, I started a Garden Diary, which will fill the rest of this column. I felt compelled to share some excerpts from it as my way of warning what could be in store for YOU if you decide to grow zucchini. Be aware that this was written in the gardener’s own words (mine), and some of the language may become, well, “colorful.”

Ok, here we go…
Garden Diary

July 4

Ain’t no way the corn is gonna be knee high today. The radishes are great, but I shouldn’t have planted so darn many. BURP!! Excuse me!! Zucchini is well on its way, got some tiny ones already… won’t be long (yumm)!

July 9

Our first baby zucchinis were delicious!! Left a few behind for next weekend. Ate some more radishes, and pitched a mess in the compost. Only 3,089 more of those little red boogers left… Corn not doing so good, tomato plants are finally getting big though. Okra coming up!

July 11

Very strange… the zucchini made more squash when I wasn’t looking. Could have sworn there were only five yesterday.  Oh well, we’ll have some for salads! Swiss chard doing good, the corn… well, they have corn at the farmer’s market, right?

July 14

What the Flip is in this soil?? Them zucchini are blastin’!!  I counted 34 little ones, and those I left on the plant just a couple days are over a foot long! I picked most of them, only see seven squash left. Kathy says we should have planted corn. I told her that was very funny. Might get an ear or two… Maybe I can trade radishes for corn…

July 17

I KNOW I counted seven squash the other day… Now we have eleven: four baby zucchinis, and the seven from before are running 8 pounds each. We’ll grate the big ones for bread I suppose. Getting some tomatoes finally… marble sized so far, but I have hope. The okra is getting bigger, nice hot weather is really making… wait! MORE ZUCCHINI!! OK, OK, no problem; we’ll chop them up and have salad tonight.

July 20

I’m getting sick up and fed with these doggone zucchini, the flaming plants are makin’ zucchini like there’s some stupid shortage or something. Sure, stupid me, I left some little ones yesterday. Not little anymore, right?? Two feet long, five inches across. What the heck do you do with all this stupid squash?? I wish Kathy and the kids would quit asking how the garden is doing!

July 24

Went to the army surplus store and bought me a camouflage outfit today. Took the seats out of the van and loaded it up with zucchini. Tonight, at 0130 hours, I’ll make a few covert deliveries. HA HA, neighbors!! You are NOT safe from my squash drops!

July 28

Ok, I surrender. A semi-truck is here to pick up that one zucchini I forgot about in the back of the corn row. So what if the corn only got a few feet high… it was enough to hide the biggest zucchini monster of all time. The lift truck has already dug a few nice ruts in my lawn to get this stupid squash loaded up on the truck. I hate this world.

August 4

The end of the squash is at hand. I heard on the radio that some kakahead made up a holiday. He calls it, “Sneak A Zucchini On Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.” Where was this dirtball when I needed him, I ask you?? I would gladly have become the Zucchini Bunny or something.   Well, it’s come to this: it’s either them or me. I’m thinking of getting a shotgun to  blow those stupid plants to kingdom come. Then I’m gonna change the oil and belts on the lawn tractor and mow the stinkin’ garden. If Kathy wants corn she can go buy some! This is making me crazy! Listen… what’s that SMELL?? Do you see that clicking noise?? I gotta get something from somewhere and find out what the heck it is!! I’m itching all over, I have a rash on my belly. I’m so mad, my speech not say right what I mean can’t talk! Not write good, even!

The rest of the diary is illegible, so I won’t bother you any further by trying to decipher it. I’m doing better now, here in this nice “health resort.” The staff is very courteous, and they’ve worked very hard to keep me from destroying the garden in the courtyard.   You can bet your life I won’t have another zucchini crisis again.

I wonder if you can grow just half a plant… ?

Could that qualify as a Fresh Vegetable Mystery?

My Best Friend Is Married

Friendship, in my professional opinion, is one of the most valuable forms of nourishment available. I feel I can be an authority on this topic because of one very important qualification: I’m human! Mind you, I’m not a professional human… but I am a human who had a profession (I’m retired).  Anyway, I greatly value all my friends; and have even been blessed with a best friend.

We’ve known each other since we were 17… met by happenstance in high school. In those days I already had a best friend; and he still is to this day and I love him to pieces. But this new best friend person stole my heart you see. We got planted next to each other in study hall way back in January of 1972, and became friends pretty much instantly. This was during the time that the internet was still made of strange things called the U.S. Mail and an obscure device called the telephone that transmitted voice signals through wires strung on poles.

Our school was in the booming metropolis of Rhinelander, Wisconsin; and when I left to serve Uncle Sam we used this U.S. Mail internet snail mail not-so-instant messaging thingy and the landline telephone speaking devices to their fullest. We stayed in touch and each time I came home on leave it was obvious our friendship grew stronger and stronger.

As anyone who has a best friend knows, the foundation of such a relationship is comprised primarily of kindness and caring. We grew ever closer over the years, and although times and situations presented great challenges to our friendship, it has nonetheless endured and even flourished to this day.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting: this “new best friend” I acquired in high school just happened to be a young woman!! Through friendship she had already captured my heart; but then she captured the rest of me by switching her wardrobe from jeans and smock tops to dresses and makeup!! At the time, I had little clue that a woman as beautiful as this could have any interest in me; but this sudden wardrobe change became the equivalent of Cupid bonking me on the noggin with a giant 2 x 4.

Naturally, our friendship evolved into romance; and we developed some habits early on that have kept us focused on the continual nurturing of each other. Habits included holding hands, hugging, snuggling, smooching, and saying “I love you” multiple times a day. We still practice these habits; and they came in pretty handy during The Great Adjustment Period of living together. I think that lasted about… um… 17 years.

What can I say? Sometimes I’m a slow learner!!

We’ve discovered some amazing tools along the way, some of which were imparted to us via professional counselors and others via close friends. Thankfully, both of us wanted our friendship to work much more than we wanted it to fail. Some of these tools came in the form of little mantras we say to ourselves, like:

“How important is it? Or put another way, “is this really worth picking a fight over?”

“Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?”

“Say what you mean, and mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.” and…

“You can disagree without being disagreeable.”

Other important habits were learned very early in life; specifically the practice of respect and just plain good manners. We say “please” and “thank you” often. And although neither of us got much of them when we were kids, we give each other compliments regularly. We both cook so we let each other know when a meal was yummy… and don’t say anything negative when it’s just food. If one of us drops something on the floor and the other finds it, we just take care of it without shaming the pants off the accidental litterbug. In short, we take care of each other; and continue to build more friendship while cementing it together with a few million bushels of love.

I’m a very fortunate man, because my best friend is the Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe (for reference: all other women are the Second Most Beautiful).

And yes, my best friend is married. To me!!

And now for some very mooshy videos.  How could they not be??  It’s Friday, I’m in love!!

Oh and by the way, I’ve been singing love songs to my Lovely Honey Pie pretty much since the beginning.  And after 48 years of marriage, ain’t nobody gonna stop me!!

Conversational Frivolities

This week, I’ve decided to just make funny with a couple conversational snippets from hither and yonder. If you don’t agree with that conflagration, please e-mail your nearest utility pole with “Tree Bark” in the subject, then print it and show it to the nearest tree to see how long it takes for the tree to make a barking noise. You may be amazed at how long it takes!!

So there I was, in Montague, Michigan, visiting some dear friends with my Beautiful Girlfriend Wife Person, when I emerged from our friends’ bathroom after noticing what appeared to be some kind of lighting device thing-a-ma-doodle. Being the polite guest that I am, I didn’t play with it or turn it on or anything. Rather, I asked my friend Dan,

“So what’s that device in your bathroom?”

“A toilet??” he replied, and we all laughed with big ha ha. Then being the smartypants I am, I apologized profusely for not knowing I was supposed to use this thing called “toilet.” Which of course I did. Use the toilet thing I mean. Turned out the device in question was a full spectrum lamp that helps our friend Mary get some artificial sunshine during the cold wintry days. After that ha ha session I boasted that I finally installed the replacement oak toilet seat at our house. Only took me 4 years to get around to it!!

Retirement has slapped us in the faces with big realities we never smelled before; and although we had nearly 6 inches of rain over the past few days, my squash vines still wilt in the hot sun and with all the wind we got the other night I’m not sure my popcorn will ever be straight again; but that has nothing to do with retirement realities but it seemed like a nice place to insert a run-on sentence for the enjoyment of all those tiny microscopic organisms that live in our intestines.

For example, retirement has given us pause to reflect, and sometimes the reflections are mere blurbs of briggly words that make us snicker and chuckle with great disregard for building materials or even gigantic stone monoliths.

My Beautiful Girlfriend started off the exchange thusly:

“How did we get into our 60s?? How did this happen??” she wondered.

“One day at a time I guess,” I answered, then added, “well… we were born…”

Before I could finish my thought she interjected, “and we popped out of the womb!!”

“Yep,” I continued, “and then we didn’t die!!”

Again we proceeded to laugh with our faces. But hey, that’s the reality of it all: if you want to live to a ripe old age, it’s very simple. Just don’t die!! Oh and try to stay healthy. Easy, right?? Yeah, sure… like a friend of ours likes to say, “getting old is not for cowards.” And no, it isn’t.

But it can still be fun… even if just with some occasional conversational frivolities.

These folks, in my professional opinion, were masters of such things.

Antergloanian Agriculture

Hello Friends,

I remember when I decided to retire I was really looking forward to spending more time in my garden. Well I have had plenty of time to do that, thankfully; and I’ve also learned a few things. Some of these things are simply amazing and wonderful, but some of them are completely antergloanian.

And antergloanian is not a word.

You see, I never expected the parsnips to crowd the eggplants and peppers to the point of near extinction. It’s been several years since I’ve planted parsnips, and for whatever reason, this year the parsnips appear to be eating Super Grow Holy Moly Plant Vitamins. They are growing so well, their leaves have prevented that oh – so necessary sunlight from hitting the peppers and eggplants. Consequently, the eggplant and pepper plants are pretty wimpy and probably won’t do much this year.

I mean, the foliage on these parsnips is simply huge!! I do have distant memories of trying to grow parsnips; but when I planted them, very few actually sprouted. Those that did were rather puny, and the roots were not very large. I seem to remember that they were tasty, but hey if you don’t get much it’s not as much fun. If the foliage on this year’s monsters is any indication, the roots should give us enough enjoyment for Rooftop Salamander Surprise; which is an ancient recipe handed down to me by my Viking ancestors that involves scaling a rope ladder with the guidance of an English speaking salamander (by the name of Loogersnotten) and attempting the deep frying of parsnip tentacles during a raging snowstorm that only occurs during a run-on sentence.

Or perhaps that was a dream (the recipe part I mean).

So there I was, minding my own business, walking near the popcorn and along the fence, admiring my cucumbers, and OH MY GOD MY LOVELY CUCUMBER VINE IS DYING!!! What the HECK-A-MA-HOOKEY is that all about?? Well it’s likely some burrowing animal happily digging its way around looking for grubs. Upon discovering this sad revelation, I knelt down, put my face close to the base of the dying vine, and shouted “YOUSE STINKING DIRT SNORTERS HAVE KILLED MY POOR CUCUMBER VINE!! I will NOT put you on my Holiday Gift List!!! SO THERE!!” Nah, I didn’t do that really. Hey, burrowing animals gotta eat too, right? Well, I may have muttered a few naughty words under my breath.

Thankfully I have two more vines, one of which was a volunteer that I transplanted out of the broccoli / Brussels sprouts / beets / Swiss chard bed. It seems to be doing OK; and has even started to produce. The other one just kinda popped up a few feet away from the dying vine. Probably a result of flinging an oversized cuke in the compost last year. Oh yeah… I get volunteer squash, melons, tomatoes, and even beans from stuff that somehow survived all the creepy crawlies that feed on veggie waste in our compost pile. Wherever I put the compost, there is often a “surprise” seedling or perhaps 19 of them. Some are welcome, most get executed (yanked out by the hair) and tossed back into the compost.

Hey, remember that one time I put a very small catnip plant in the garden? Boy, did I think that would be fun for our feline friends!! And yes!! It really is a lot of fun for the kitties. But guess what?? If you plant catnip in the garden, it spreads. And if you like how the flowers attract all those bees and butterflies and such, and then the flowers make seeds, well, then you get GIGANTIC PATHES OF CATNIP THAT REALLY LIKE MY SOIL. And why shouldn’t they? I’ve spent 39 years turning beach sand into very rich topsoil!!

Oh, and remember that one time I allowed a milkweed to flower in hopes that the Monarch butterflies would start to make babies at my house?? Well now there’s quite the milkweed patch in the southwest corner of the garden. Those things not only spread by those fluffy, featherlike seeds that float around in the air, they also are very good at spreading by roots. The pop up all over the place. Again, some of them are welcome; most get executed and sent to the compost pile. Lots of Monarchs (and many other pollinators) are starting to take notice though!!

So my friends, there’s never a dull moment in the garden. I’ve renamed it “The Garden Of Weeden” due to the large population of uninvited plants that are scattered about. That’s very OK though, because believe it or don’t the biodiversity that’s present when the weeds are visiting actually keeps veggie munching pests at bay. They provide a habitat for predators (like spiders), and their presence also confuses the “radar” of pest insects. Seriously. You see, growing veggies organically means no pesticides or other man made chemicals are allowed in or near the garden; Growing huge fields of one crop basically screams “come get me!!” to pest insects. So mixing it up is an effective way to minimize damage from those veggie munchers. As an added bonus: even when you yank them, there are lots of roots left behind that decompose and therefore build the soil.

Anyway, when I start the parsnip harvest later this year (fall and winter), I’ll make sure to invite all of you over to participate in the preparation for Rooftop Salamander Surprise.

Or maybe we’ll just have potroast.

And no, I DO NOT garden like Mickey Mouse!!

Ummm I’m Thinking

Maddie is here with our grandsons Ollie and Gabe, and as is customary I begged them all for silly input for this week’s Happy Friday!! Well, all of them are growing up way too fast, and it seems that they may be a bit more hesitant to contribute than they were when they were very young. I’ve learned that it’s much easier to have them talk into my phone while I have the microphone enabled than it is to try to transcribe every utterance. No, instead I beseech them to speech themselves into my phone and I e-mail the words to myself so I can copy and paste them here.

What follows is the result. Keep in mind that sometimes the iPhone “translates” speech as it sees fit, often with rather bizarre wordings.

I started off by asking, “OK… can you guys give me some silly stuff for my story tonight?”

“Ummm I’m thinking…” Gabe replied.

“Moo! Monkey!!” was Maddie’s knee jerk reaction. Then Ollie chimed in: “The elusive South American moose feeds on a diet of chicken nuggets and tater tots.”

Gabe added, “It also eats elephants and giraffes and lions.” Ollie got close to the phone and uttered some gibberish, which the phone took to mean “Rumor Scab on her head back and he told Jen bong famous stars will Bhupathi if the hour! Violets room or a scab on her head back and told Jen famous stars will see if the hour!” The phone is apparently upset about the hour…

Maddie then retorted, “A dragon dog went into the castle somehow even though it’s humongous and ate Gabe.” The phone also seemed to think it needed to insert some “colorful” words, over which I backspaced and told the phone “no we’re not gonna put that in the story.”

Gable replied, “No thank you why is everybody what do I say book movie game.” And Maddie responded with “Marblehead slope nerve connection or come out sooner give me so much. Oh Bubba Bubba Bubba boo-boo boo-boo!!” Ollie snapped back with “Lava Duper Duper yes Schnapp and Oceanaire. I will sing and a good day to you sir!!”

Suddenly, all of them started talking in rapid succession: “I am your biggest fan snoops you so I’m sure bicycle. You sir I eat hamburgers in seconds hi galaxy hi now before me. Meds for snag a bargaining and travel booth no sub Nube. El Bruegel France mentee Brock Fruge mend toes are now negative rude move out move that big buddy ham I like ham house ouch it’s food yay flip-flops guys flip-flop flip-flop flip-flop flip-flop flip-flop!!”

That concluded the phone dictation session, as I was unable to keep the focus on anything other than flip-flop; but we all laughed with big harroo and soon we all ran dentfully through the carpet grease while chickling all forms of animated toast wobbles. That of course brought our cat Flegmop to his knees, which is difficult since cats’ knees are basically elbows; and we ain’t talking macaroni neither!!

So my friends, if you ever want youngsters to dictate nonsense into a smart phone, please be aware that the transfer will often be very silly and cause hickles and froopening during zixerstorms. After reading the copy and paste banana sauce, I then of course revonkulated the snettidge even further with more norvalian cribbelletto.

I want some toast now. Please change both dandruff closets into small TV rooms.

Thank you,

Kenny Prigflorten

a.k.a. “Lenneth Loghopper”

Next will be a cartoon that none of you will ever try to infuriate.

Soon We Will Celebrate!

Hello My Fellow Emu Ranchers,

Please send large amounts of cash and donuts to my home. This of course is in honor of our upcoming anniversary. I am truly blessed to be married to my best friend and soulmate.

Yes, next month my Beautiful Girlfriend and I will celebrate 48 years of wedded blisters. Those of you who know us are also aware that the last 32 years have indeed been crispy and fresh, with a nice bouquet of happy hello and very little yelling.

The 16 years prior to the last 32 were, as we like to affectionately call them, the “Great Adjustment Period,” or GAP as the silly fashion people say. One thing nice about our marriage these days is that we no longer find the need to secretly spit in each other’s coffee (OK maybe we never did). Nor do we purposely use the laxative chocolate bar trick, or even the “lemme shove this carrot up your nose while you sleep” gag. And I cannot remember the last time we raised our voices in the praise of the “hey you stupid crap eater” tone.

No, these days everything is sparkly and new, except our bodies, and someone keeps stealing the hair on top of my head and transplanting it into my nose and ears; and never mind about the donuts because they may as well just be put straight on my hiney and/or gut because that’s where they end up when I eat them; butt I still like to chase my girlfriend when she exits the shower and also at other times; and it’s fun when she’s turned away from me at the store and I surprise her by “accidentally” placing my hand on her derriere and boy does she jump, ha, ha ha; then she gives me the “whatsamattafayou??” look and I cower a bit but look for another opportunity later in the shopping adventure while trying to catch my breath from reading this totally ridiculous run-on sentence. You see, it’s like this: I just can’t help it. She is, after all, The Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe. But in spite of my childish tendencies, she permits me to smooch her often; and in general This Lovely Lady spoils me rotten.

I don’t deserve to be this happy, but I can’t help it.

Life is good.

Our anniversary is next month, and although I’m sure all of you are truly fine people; none of you are invited to sleep in our bed with us. It’s only a full size bed for cryin’ out loud!!

Well folks, I will smell you all later. Some of you may be smellable from quite a distance, but this is not my problem.

Happy Day To You All, and please remember to enjoy Michigan Produce.

Bibble Dee Bip,

Kenny Snackwonder

a.k.a. “Herr Burgerburner”

And yes, even after nearly 48 years, we still make beautiful music together.

Office Finger Supply Realignment

Hello My Friends,

I’m writing to tell you that my fingers are broken and can no longer type anything that requires typing. Please refer to your Fronkle’s Universal Dictionary for a new and soil proof container for your unwanted dander.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you very much for being. I know you all are, and I’m truly grateful that this is. I have been for a very long time, and I hope to be much longer than now. In the future, I’ll be there when I’m not here, and then today will of course be yesterday. Then I can look back on all the days I’ve been, and say with great warbly yodels, “ahh those were the days!!” However, if for some reason I am no longer able to be, please send 23 cents and 17 boxtops to:

Solgarian Sandwich Flatteners

c/o Glippy Zoonerbonk

333 44th Street

Crabfoot, Nymobia

So!! Who the heck put all those nasty sandspurs in my sock drawer?? Anyhow?? I mean, whenever I put my tootsies inside a sock, all I can think of is screaming YOUCH!! Then of course I do the familiar hopping and screaming dance we’ve all groan to endure. In what soon will be a very long run-on sentence I will describe how I intensely remember the happy first time I ever wore flip-flops in our lush but very barren Florida lawn when we were renting a house near MacDill Air Force Base because we didn’t want to live on the base and we didn’t really qualify anyway and unless you spend a crap ton of money on your lawn all you get is this crazy quack grass (which neither quacks nor is it very nice grass) that makes sandspurs and when you walk through a patch with uncovered footsies for the first time because you are a dumb Yankee you get very bad ouchfoot and holy CARP these stupid things are making my toes bleed!!

I mean, it hurted me awreddy!!

Now it’s time for me to remind all of you to please enjoy your life with every breath of air your pet Goose Marble can imbibe. This method of enjoyment merely requires you to be grateful for being, as was mentioned in an earlier section of whatever the heck this writing glob of words is supposed to be. If you are reading this now, you likely live in North America; which means you are among some of the most privileged people in the world. And that’s no joke you see. I for one am very grateful to the Holy Mackerel People Upstairs In The Universal Remarkable, because whoever They are, They have blessed me more than I could have ever imagined.

I even get to eat snacks!!

Very well then. You see, it’s like this: If you do not enjoy this upcoming weekend, or any other day for that matter, I shall be forced to report you to the Inner Peace Police. Believe me, they do not mess around. They will comfort you until you barf cotton candy with fairy dust that twinkles in the moonlight. So try giving each of your office supplies a name and tell them jokes often with a very big voice; especially when you’re near lots of people. This activity will very will very quickly let you know who you can trust.

Now I will go back to my finger realignment. Please call my veterinarian and find out if my lunch is still there.

Thank you,

Abner L. Pignibbler

a.k.a. “Mr. Kaboom”

And now for some feelgood type music things. Here are some of my favorites ( I have many, many favorites…).

Retirement Is Hard Work!

So here I am, working at what I’ve always worked for all my life, being retired, not needing to take any jobs to make ends meet, and now that it’s been a little over a year I can really relate to what the “old timers” used to tell me: “I am so busy now I don’t know how I ever had time to work!!”; and now I wonder do I put the semicolon inside the quote or outside because this run-on sentence is big but I needed to include the exclamation marks because hey, I wanted to emphasize that I often find myself with no time!!


I had no idea what retirement would bring. My only goal was to be able to coast as long as possible without “working for the man” (or the woman) (besides my wife of course) (and now there are too many parentheses) (but I don’t care). So far, I’ve been able to be just fine without doing any work stuff for supplemental income. I am very grateful!!

Something is wrong, however. The days are zooming past my nose with great zippy fast kaboom all gone the days of quick time passing already!! And that may or may not even be a good way to describe it!! But I don’t care because I enjoy using words to make funny!! So there!! I mean, yesterday it was COVID outside, and today I hugged several friends at a gathering. Another example of how time has flown.

I have been vaccinated… I hope all of them have been too!!

My career as a “techie” has paid off in many ways, but it has also posed some very interesting challenges during retirement. For example, have any of you had the splendid experience of teaching an 86 year old neighbor how to use an iPhone? Much repetition. Much repetition. Much repetition. Also, I find myself repeating the same lessons over and over again. Additionally, I’ve been showing him how to recurrently do the same thing he did 2.4 minutes ago over and over again. No, he doesn’t have dementia. He has just never played with such technical things. Have I mentioned that I’ve been helping him with repetitive lessons on the same stuff multiple times? And he didn’t even get his landline ported over yet!!

Oh God oh God.

On the other hand, you have the vegetable garden. Makes my hands very dirty and I love every minute of it. I am an organic gardener, meaning I do not use any manufactured fertilizers or pesticides. All the soil building materials come from the dump. Yep. I put garbage by the trailer load in my dirt and wait for it to stop stinking. NO!! No, that’s wrong!! I do go to the dump (the politically correct term is transfer station) for fertilizer: free mulch in the form of leaves and lawn clippings. After 39 years of adding these to what was basically beach sand under the turf, I’ve been able to convert very sandy soil into a rich growing medium. And no, there is no such thing as “bad leaves” for the garden. When the worms are happy, the soil is happy.

Anyway, gardening can be very time consuming if you want to get a decent harvest. It’s always been a labor of love for me; and before retirement I had grandiose dreams of having a picture perfect garden. Guess what?? Uh uh. Nope. Sure I’m gonna get lots of food: snow peas, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, garlic (lots of garlic), popcorn, hopefully some squash… to name a few. But there are some unruly corners of the garden that are infested with catnip, milkweed, lambs quarters, purslane, even some clover. But you know what? It’s very OK. If I had nothing else to do, my garden may (or may not) be free of weeds. People think I’m nuts when I tell them that “weeds are guardians of the soil.” It’s true you know. Their root systems prevent erosion while adding organic matter to the soil. Weeds provide habitat for spiders and other beneficial creatures. And when the catnip is flowering, pollinators of all sorts come a-runnin’. Ever see a hummingbird moth?? So amazing!! And not to forget the milkweed that feeds Monarch butterfly caterpillars. We’ve even enjoyed the fact that plants like lambs quarters and purslane are very edible.

Since we are social people, our calendar has filled up quickly. That’s good, right?? Better to be wanted and loved than to have people shudder at the mention of your name! Of course there are lots of other things that keep me occupied on this 5 acre homestead of ours. Maybe someday I’ll even get brave and clean up the clutter bomb that exploded (very slowly) in my garage!! Or do something really radical like declutter my office!! Are you picking up on a clutter pattern here?? Oh well, retirement really is awesome. And yes, “I’m so busy now I don’t know how I ever had time to work.”

And I really like it!!

We don’t have a lot of money, but we have enough. We are blessed really. Here’s one of my old favorite cartoons about a bad egg who got way too greedy.

Thank You (for nothing!!) Mr. Trouvelot

Our poor trees here in Beautiful West Michigan. So many of them must be terribly embarrassed these days. That’s because this year we literally have acres and acres of naked trees. In the middle of summer no less!! This horrible phenomenon occurs every 10 years or so due to infestations of that nasty import: the European Gypsy Moth.

And yes folks, these little stinkers were actually brought from Europe on purpose; by a guy named Étienne Léopold Trouvelot. I did some digging on the interwebs and learned that he fled France with his family to Medford, Massachusetts during the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1851. Then in the 1860s he thought it would be really cool to raise some gypsy moth caterpillars in the forest behind his house. His goal was to raise a disease resistant caterpillar for the purpose of silk production. So he got some egg masses from Europe and brought them here for hatching. Unfortunately, several of the caterpillars “escaped” to nearby woods and the rest, as they say, is history.

This is by no means the first time people have transplanted invasive species from one part of the world to another; whether intentional or otherwise. One relatively harmless example is the introduction of mulberry trees into the U.S. in 1733, again with the intent of kicking off a silk industry. Mulberry leaves are a favorite food of silkworms you see. Well, the silkworms didn’t do so well, but the mulberry trees are doing just great, thank you.

Anyway, back to these doggoned gypsy moths. I admit that I mistakenly believed they only love oak trees. Well turns out they’ll readily munch on about 300 different species of trees and shrubs. A variety of control methods are being used with some success. One of the most important is not to travel around with firewood or other woody debris that may be infested with egg masses. Big no-no!! There are also sprays that target only the caterpillars; and there are traps that can be made. And yes there actually are a few natural predators like deer mice that actually love to eat the creepy crawlies. I’ll put a couple informative links at the bottom of this so you can educate yourselves if you like.

Don’t despair, this terrible sight of naked (and most likely highly embarrassed) trees will improve after a year or two when the populations collapse due to disease and other factors. Unfortunately, however, it looks like these boogers are here to stay. All we can do is learn to cope the best we can.

So here are a couple of very informative links for you:

And now, as Mr. Cleese used to say, for something completely different:

Ummm Umm I Don’t Know

Our grandsons are visiting again, and as is the tradition for Friday night, I’ve asked their input for some Happy Friday!!! story ideas. Often I can’t transcribe their bantering quickly enough, but tonight I had to do a significant amount of nudging. I asked Gabe first, and his immediate response was, “ummm ummm I don’t know.” Ollie didn’t have much to offer either.

Then, I illustrated the magic of “talk to text” on my iPhone. I opened Notes, and hit the microphone icon and started talking. This can be quite a lot of fun for a silly child like me, because if I utter complete gibberish the phone does its best to translate my weirdness into actual words. Example: after saying a slew of nonsense I just now got Giovanni on Christo room act able to roam if Nick and eat Cambord on Fandor me qua Dodd both back.

Not sure if “qua” or “Dodd” are words. I’m still a child in old man’s clothing so I actually engage in this silliness while texting to friends or family. Some renditions are much funnier.

Anyway… I thought I’d try to get the brainstorms rolling by telling my phone: “My cat is doing a science project on me and it’s preventing me from sleeping properly.” Ollie’s face lit up a bit, and he immediately replied, “your cat’s name is Boogle by the way.” Then I asked him to continue, again with the microphone active on the phone. “I can’t think of anything but that is not what I thought of,” Ollie said.

“What kind of magazines do snakes eat?” I asked. Ollie replied, “mice flavored or other small rodents. But the flavor’s not really actual mouse flavor, it’s more like like fake banana flavoring or fake cherry. Not really an actual fruit flavor.”

Then I turned to Gabe. “Really right for you how many pounds of dog food do you eat every day?” is apparently what the phone thought I said. Gabe answered, “25.” Then I mentioned that 25 pounds is a lot of dog food!!

Next (although she didn’t know it) was my Beautiful Girlfriend’s turn to talk. “Which planet would you like to marry from??” I asked. “None of them, I’m married to you!” she replied. Then I noticed Gabe was trying to “hack” into Nini’s (my Beautiful Girlfriend’s Grandma name) iPad. “What do I do it here what is the password for?” Gabe queried. “How much baloney can you stick in your nose?” I asked. “25 phones,” Gabe replied.

Back to Ollie. I wondered aloud, “When radios calibrate themselves what color are their nostrils?” The phone was sure that Ollie’s answer was: “I see you like a mix between Hughes and a sky blue!” I continued the query: “What are spaghetti molecules made of ?” Ollie said, “well I mean I don’t know but they’re rather delicious. Not sure I want to know.”

Gabe finished up the discussion with the following: “If you find the sheet of paper with the password put it in the Lego box.”

So my friends, these are the types of discussions that never occur at our house. Please do not try to derive any hidden meaning from this small box of brownie mix, it will merely confuse your pets and they may even try to teach you molecular mapping during your nocturnal napping.

Or not.

On the other hand, you have the old masters…