Grateful While Screaming

Once upon a time we inherited a duplex which was a million percent awesome because our son was down on his luck and needed a place to stay and God Bless The Renters who pay enough for us to be able to afford taxes and insurance on the place but not much else because you see we hate being landlords so we keep the rent low but always seem to find someone who stays for more than 3 days and doesn’t write satanic messages on the walls with dog poop or try to rewire the washing machine to play CDs and even though it’s a bit of a pain at times we would hate to see our son live in some garbage dump somewhere and Holy Moly this one one long sentence which could have been summed up in just 3 words:

We Are Grateful.

So there I was, minding my own business, when I get a text from our tenant, “we have no heat.” Well that meant a call to the Heater Fixers and a nice guy came out and learned that a circuit board was no good and he said “oh hey there’s 2 inches of water down there in the crawlspace… I have to order the circuit board but we need that water removed before we can come out to fix it;” so I cried and rolled on the floor and thrashed about because what the HECK am I supposed to do so we called ServPro to come clean up the mess and then I canceled because I thought “oh jeez, we clean up water in our swamp house almost every spring, this is no big deal;” but then my Beautiful Girlfriend and I went to clean up the mess with our meager floor pump and shop vac and discovered HOLY MOOPFLAYBEN WE DON’T HAVE ANYWHERE NEAR ENOUGH HOSE AND STUFF FOR THIS so I called ServPro back and they said yes they could come and they arrived quickly and it didn’t break the bank (too badly) and this is yet another run-on sentence that could again be summed up in 3 more words:

We Are Fortunate.

OK. The water issue is taken care of so the heater guy doesn’t have to do the Jingle Jangle Dance while working with electricity in a soggy place and I called the Heater Fixers back and and and (3 ands to illustrate exasperation) they said, “oh, it’s too late in the day so we’ll have to send someone first thing in the morning” and then I said thank you and hung up and cried thrashed about and rolled on the floor because HOLY BEEPDOODLE IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE 14 DEGREES TOMORROW CAN’T THEY PLEASE COME OH JEEZ OH GOD OH NO and then I went home and got a box fan and crawled into the crawlspace (it’s for crawling!) to try to dry the floor a little more and then I told the tenant “Well sorry the Heater Fixer Guy won’t be back till tomorrow morning” and then as I started out the driveway here comes the Heater Fixer Guy and I clasped my hands together in a reverent manner and bowed several times and he said “ya, everyone does that till they see the bill” and this is again once more a very VERY long sentence that could also be shortened into 3 words:

We Are Blessed.

Long story longer, we help with the water; and we got the heat fixed. Someone Upstairs was helping us, of this I have no doubt. Even though I screamed and cried and rolled about on the floor, I was able to maintain a small amount of gratitude each time the tides turned a bit. Then of course a huge basket full of gratitude flowed out of my heart after all was said and done. And those, my friends, are four regular sentences that can be expressed in 5 words:

Thank You God (whoever They are) For Everything. Well, OK 8 words if you count the ones in parentheses.


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

My New Year’s Revelations For 2017

Can someone please tell me what happened to 2016? Seems like it should still be with us. I mean heck, it was Thanksgiving just a couple weeks ago. Now it’s gonna be a whole New Year!! Lots of people will be making very merry on New Year’s Eve, and many will also make promises in the form of resolutions to (hopefully) do some things a little better. Actually, that’s exactly what my New Year’s resolution has been for many moons now.   I just keep it simple: Try to do better.

Maybe you noticed that the title of this week’s Happy Friday!!! mentions revelations, not resolutions. Well that’s because I like to have fun with this writing stuff; so if you are not interested in such silliness please run to your nearest widescreen TV and watch a few thousand cat food commercials while I plunk the keyboard and write what will likely be my very last run-on sentence for this year; although it will certainly NOT be the very last one I will write, because my friend Dave likes them and also my friend Kathleen and maybe others; and although my punctuation may be questionable I really don’t give a royal SnickerlyDoodle about it.

So there.

OK. Now I am making with the New Year’s Revelations. My intent is to take some time tested sayings and offer shiny and productive ways that you may or may not find useful in your own lives. There are many such sayings that seem to have been with us for eternity, but that can’t be possible because we are still here. Anyway, here are some that come to mind and my reactions to their bronchial indigestion.

1) A stitch in time saves nine.

This makes no sense to me. Maybe it’s because my limited experience with stitching is in the form of an emergency repair on a pair of britches, or perhaps replacing a button. Ever bend over to pick up a penny and hear a nasty rrrRRRIIIPPPPP!! ?? It’s rather embarrassing. Especially if you have to traipse about looking for someone who has a sewing kit. Then once you’ve found that person, you have to be careful how you enter / exit the room so they don’t get frightened that your undies (or God forbid, your hiney!!) are hanging out. No, for me, a stitch in time is merely a stitch in time.

2) A penny saved is a penny earned.

Well that’s a nice thought. Remember that penny I bent over to pick up and my pants ripped open?? There was a cost of more than a penny to find someone with a sewing kit for cryin’ out loud. Well OK, there was no actual cost of money; but there was a price to be paid for the embarrassment of it all. And ya know, when I toss pennies into the change bucket at home, I don’t think I’m really earning anything. I’m just emptying my pockets. Besides, all my wages are direct deposit, so there are no actual pennies when I put stuff in the saving and / or checking account.

L) He who hesitates is lost.

Now there’s one I can relate to!! Remember that one time when we were coming back from Canada and you weren’t even there but I’ll tell you anyway?? Yes! My Beautiful Girlfriend and I had just crossed the border and entered Port Huron. Mind you, on the way to Canada we had no problem. But on the way from Canada, I got a little bit kerfuffled. There I was, minding my own business, watching the signs and forgetting the exact route, and then (uh oh, I can smell another run-on sentence), and thinking to my self, “hey Self, I think you missed your exit,” but my Beautiful Girlfriend and I were chatting and I was wondering and pretty soon we’re on I-75 going south and WHY THE HECK DOES IT SAY WE’RE ON THE WAY TO DETROIT WHEN WE LIVE IN MUSKEGON??

I’ll tell you why, I hesitated!! And then we got lost!! Well, OK not completely lost. I mean, if you’re in Michigan and you go too far south you hit either Ohio or Indiana. Too far north and you hit the Mackinac Bridge. Too far west and you’re on the shores of Lake Michigan. So we weren’t lost, just… ummm… on an adventure. Thankfully I keep some prehistoric road atlases in my car for just such an occasion. Remember road atlases? You know, printed maps? In a book?? Yes, I still have those. And thankfully the car has a compass so we were able to navigate. A big plus: we stumbled upon Crockett’s Country Cafe in Columbus, Michigan (never even knew there was a Columbus in Michigan) and had some very nice bison dinners with more than enough to have leftovers for the following day.

We hesitated, we got lost, we ate well, we went home. Not such a terrible thing.

To finish up, I’ll include one of the most time-honored sayings that may have helped avert conflict between friends and loved ones:

9r) You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

Can’t argue with that!! Another variation of that is: you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t wipe your friends off on the sofa.

I can honestly say I’ve never thought that picking someone else’s nose is a good idea.  And wiping them off on the sofa??  Hey, what you do in the privacy of your own home is your business.  Well, OK I have to retract that statement about not picking someone else’s nose; only because I’ve helped my Lovely Girlfriend to raise two kids. I’m sorry, but my professional opinion is that anyone who has kids but hasn’t dealt with kid boogers has never really been a parent. And of course now we have grandkids, but both of them are getting very adept at nostril maintenance.

Well that’s probably enough for now. Please, all of you who read this, PLEASE have a blessed New Year in 2017. Don’t know about you, but I have much for which to be grateful. If I can keep that foremost in my mind, life goes along pretty well.

Thank you and Happy Friday!!!

Hope you have a safe and enjoyable New Year’s… there’s a party goin’ on at Grampy’s house if you don’t have any prior engagements…

Jingle All Night Long

Santa Claus is coming already! I suppose you folks all have your shopping done, right? Well, not me. I always wait till the last minute. It’s kind of a ritual, I guess. There may come a time when I quit procrastinating, perhaps tomorrow or the next day. But until then, look for me at the all night department store, right into the wee hours of Christmas Eve.

Wonderful rationalizations get cooked up in a part of my brain (which I lovingly refer to as the “lazy cortex”) around this time of year. First of all, I figure the number of other shoppers in the middle of the night is way down; and that’s the way I like it. Therefore, I tell myself, it’s best for me to shop later at night.  Secondly, since I’m always living from paycheck to paycheck anyway, the last check of the year is the logical choice for holiday shopping. Sure, I suppose I could squirrel away a few dollars here and there to prepare for the holiday season. However, that would require something terrible of me: discipline and planning. Those two concepts just scare me to death!

I did do a little shopping for my Beautiful Honey Pie while on a business trip to Pennsylvania last week. Because of a tight schedule and absolutely NO CLUE where to go, I asked Siri The Nice iPhone Lady where the nearest shopping was. She directed me to Promenade Place; which appears to be where all the rich people go. Although I’m blessed in millions of ways, I’m not independently wealthy. But I ventured into a jewelry store with hope of finding a nice pair of earrings for my sweetie. I knew I was in trouble when none of the items in the fancy glass cases had prices on them. Then I found what seemed to be a reasonably priced pair of turquoise earrings. The nice man said, “those are 4-0-5.” And he didn’t mean 4 dollars and 5 cents. I thanked him for his time and hit a two other stores called Francesca’s and Charming Charlie’s. Between the two of those I found about 6 pairs of nice earrings that fell well into my price range.

I had grandiose plans of stashing some of the jewelry for Christmas; but the rule when I travel on business is that I “bring back a surprise.” Even though I was only gone for a couple days I missed my Baby so much that I ended up giving her all the loot in one shot. That, of course, meant I had to go on the hunt again; with Christmas drawing ever nearer.

My wife just shakes her head and laughs at me, bless her soul. And this year, with the economy “in recovery,” the stores are enabling my last minute mania.  Stuff just keeps going down in price!  It’s amazing!!  Of course you have to be willing to wade through hordes of other procrastinators.  And unfortunately, some of them are getting rather ornery.   I was in Meijer the other day (our local everything store, for those of you who don’t know Michigan), and it was a complete madhouse.  People packed and zooming all about.  After I finally arrived at the cashier, I joked with her, “well you must be completely bored today, what with it being so slow and all.”  She smiled and related how nice it was to have the time whiz along.  “So, at least folks are in a good mood,” I added.  “Nooo,” she said in a low tone, “people are nasty.  Getting mad ‘cuz nothing’s in stock, or it costs more than they think it should.”

Like the cashier has any control over such things.  Unfortunately, our wonderfully materialist world has all too many folks convinced that Christmas is all about the presents, instead of the peace on Earth and all that stuff.  Couple that with the pressure of uncertainty in the job market… heck, uncertainty in the world, and people get a bit antsy.  Then add a little “holy cow it’s only 4 days before Christmas and look at all I gotta do,”  and some folks get downright nasty.  All that lovely Christmas spirit gets converted into scowls and hustle-bustle.

I don’t get ornery… I’ve just pretty much accepted the fact that my Santa mode doesn’t kick in very early in the season.  In other words, one thing about my holiday shopping is pretty predictable: I’ll be running through all the stores with my just-before-Christmas-paycheck like a head with my chicken cut off (or something). By the time I reach the last checkout, I’ll be too exhausted even to balk at those crazy tabloid headlines.  Something like, “120 YEAR OLD WOMAN CLAIMS TO BE TRUMP’S TWIN SISTER,” would usually prompt me to snicker or chuckle. By then, it will just be a cold stare, and robotic “hmmm.”

I’ll fumble for the credit card, cram the receipt in my wallet, drag all the stuff to the car, and it’s home again, home again, jiggety-jog. On the way home, I love to tune the AM dial and look for that distant station playing Dickens’ “Christmas Carol.”  Maybe sing some carols while it fades out.

The approach to the homestead involves a little Santa trick. I kill the engine, coast into the driveway, sneak inside with the goodies, and hide somewhere to make lots of crinkly noises with wrapping paper until 4 a.m. Finally, I’ll stash the loot under the tree, and flop into bed; vowing to start at least two days earlier next year.

Or not.

Maybe if I learned a few things from Grampy, all the Christmas presents could be built right at home!!

Thank You Siri; Please Forgive Me!!

So there I was, 36,000 feet in the air, inside a plane, with no parachute, on my way to Allentown, Pennsylvania, traveling for work, and now I’m making a sentence that’s not only way too long but also has too many participles and perhaps even gerunds (gerunds??); and of course I kept maps that I printed from the Googling of Directions, which is probably not really a proper thing but lots of people say it, and although I had all these printed maps with directions they were of little use to me because I didn’t memorize them and so I cried out for Siri.

It was already dark outside when I finally got to the rental car. Even though I had printed directions with maps; it would have been rather difficult at best to follow them without having an accident. I needed help fast, so with blind faith I started talking to Siri.

“Siri,” I said to my iPhone thing, “I need directions to 4100 West Rock Road.” Being the obedient techno-servant that she is, Siri commenced to getting the directions. All I had to do was press the green “Go” button on the phone (while parked of course) (I’m too young to die) and she started telling me where to go. It was the first time I ever tried it, and it only happened because I saw people on the Television Thing talk to their iPhone things in a similar manner. So God bless her, Siri started telling me where to go with step by step instructions. I’m sort of used to having people tell me where to go, so this wasn’t difficult (ha ha, I make joking there).

For the most part, she did a wonderful job!! Although there were three small drawbacks: 1) Siri’s activity was very demanding of my phone’s battery power, L) once she tried to take me to a place that wasn’t there (invisible maybe?), and $) there was one instance where she wanted to drag me where I didn’t want to go. I can understand the drain on the battery; I’m sure a lot is going on in the iPhone Computer Brain Thing so that consumes energy. However, there was one instance in the wee hours of yesterday morning when I was on my way back to the airport. Siri was rattling off directions as I drove through all the serpentine, hilly back roads of the Pennsylvania countryside. We came to an area where she blurted out, “turn left on Penn Avenue.” I saw no Penn Avenue. She said it again, but she didn’t realize I’m not much of a morning person; especially at 3:45 AM. I scolded her thusly: “there’s no Penn Avenue you stupid farblejink!!” Well, OK, I may have really called her a different name using vernacular that refers to a female dog.

Then she wanted me to take a route to the airport that I knew involved a toll road. “No thank you,” I snarled, and I stayed on I-78 a bit longer. In spite of my rudeness she simply adjusted the route and told me where to go again, this time with a route that had no tolls. Such a nice robot lady!!

My professional path has brought me into a job in computer support; so one would think I would have abandoned printed maps long ago. Well although I’m very grateful to Siri for preventing me from getting lost in a strange land, when I travel for fun my navigation is much more primitive. I often use a combination of printed maps, a Rand McNally Road Atlas, and the compass in my car. Sure, Siri makes getting from point A to point B pretty easy… I didn’t really have to think. The only drawback is that I didn’t really learn the lay of the land. I merely learned how to get to places by following orders.

Well speaking of taking orders, I bet Santa is working overtime trying to get HIS orders filled…

An Open Letter Pleading That You Beware Of The Crazy Winter Driver

Dear Ladles and Jellyspoons,

I have come to the conclusion that snow induces seizures in many automobile drivers. This I am knowing because of the spastic manner in which people navigate their jalopy zoomers as soon as the weather changes. Now the reader must appreciate the sheer folly of this, because we live in Michigan and snow is not exactly a foreign substance here. It comes to visit us every single year, and every single year many snow belt residents seem to lose all their winter driving skills and commence to having seizures while driving just as soon as the snow arrives.

Of course, these seizures are self induced, a direct result of drivers only looking as far as the end of their noses while assessing traffic situations. This is coupled with the idiocy factor, which seems to compel people to navigate their street rods as if they are the only person on the road. The end result is truly dangerous behavior that becomes very unsafe for them and all who might be around them. Of course, the idiocy factor is present all year long. Then the weather changes. Autumn brings rain, and as autumn slides into winter, the rain begins to freeze and then VOILA!! Snow. What a shocker, huh? Ya right… this is very normal for Michigan and all the rest of the Snow Belt.

So you have all these clam-headed tringlenorks behind the wheel who drive as if they have absolutely no clue about a simple yet amazing concept: snow and ice make the road slippery!!! Now who would ever have imagined such nonsense?? Well it’s true!! And hey, you know all those road hogs who think they will never get where they are going unless they go 98.36 mph?? Well they seem eager to zoom around even when it’s winter outside. Consequently, we see many of them in the ditch; or even worse, they get to enjoy testing the structural integrity of their car by doing a nice rollover or two. We saw exactly that on the way back from Grand Rapids tonight… we were on the interstate and some poor driver rolled their car. Hopefully everyone was OK.

It’s rather scary at times. I do my best to avoid getting stuck in a chain of cars. That’s a pile-up waiting to happen. So I keep my distance and keep the speed at a safe level. Then comes Mr. or Ms. HineyHugger. I’m sure what appears to be going through their minds is: “Oh, now that the snow has arrived, I must try to lick your bumper with my hood ornament at every possible opportunity.” This appears to be the mantra of tailgaters; who very soon enjoy crying and rolling in the ditch when the person in front of them has to hit the brakes. And all too many hit the brakes because of something like: “Holy Mackerel I Can’t See With All This Blowing Snow!! Oh Gosh There’s A Deer Or Maybe Not!! Who Just Sent Me A Text Message?? Where Is The Rest Of My Breakfast Burrito??!!” Suddenly they are sliding wildly; which increases their enjoyment of the early snowy morning drive. They are especially happy after learning the effect that saplings have on the underside of their car. Unfortunately, however, these yo-yos may get hurt but also may drag other unwilling participants into the ditch party.

So I would like to close with a plea: Please, no matter where you are, drive safely to and from your home and / or your non-home universe; especially if you live in an area that enjoys seasonally frozen precipitation (not to be confused with seasoned waffle fries) and misinformed people who think they are excellent drivers but are actually eels in a small bowl of Jell-O with a nice lint frosting which is complemented by a run-on sentence just like this one.

You will know the eel-people by their affinity for car hiney hugging. Let them pass so they can enjoy their ditch races. It’s ironically wonderful when they are hopelessly stuck and try to drive out anyhow. Oh yes, they do enjoy the drilling of their tires into the muck so the wrecker has to bend its winches when trying to remove them from their itchy ditchy playgrounds.

Also, please PLEASE PLEASE never fight with other drivers!! ROAD RAGE KILLS. It also makes dead people out of living ones. There are people on the planet who will actually use their car for a weapon! Please be careful!

OK, enough of my venting. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, and lots of people are bringing wonderful things for the taste flavors of your face and mouth parts. Please enjoy your everything and especially that nice treat that Whosamajigger brought for Holiday Face Stuffing Day. I like to rub cookies on my belly. Very good enjoyment, I’ll say.

Above all, be kind to everyone you meet. Even the wacko driver ninnies.

Perhaps some of us could get out of our cars and meet at the skating pond…


My 2016 Holiday Requirements

Dear Beautiful Ones,

Some of you remember that around this time of year, I carefully urge everyone who might read this to drop whatever it is they are doing and run (and I do mean run) (no cars, that’s cheating) down to the nearest Holy Mackerel This Is Expensive Junk store and fulfill my annual need for material goods that either enhance my quality of life or are merely amusing or perhaps just delicious and please believe me, this sentence is not only way too long but I’m using all these extra words to let you all know just how serious this really is.


Those who know me understand that I’m an old tree-hugger peacenik hippie kind of guy who really has been “blessed” (too much stuff is not necessarily a blessing) with more stuff than I’ll ever really need. However, I am a spoiled rotten American, which means that Greed is my middle name and I have every right to insist that I get what I deserve. Therefore, in the spirit of all the Holiday Commercials That Are Trying To Sell Us Even More Stuff Than Any Of Us Will Ever Need, I hereby lay down my list of Holiday Requirements for 2016.

M) This one is very simple: please have Santa come every day and top off my gas tank on our minivan. I know that sometimes this is inconvenient; but that doesn’t matter. I have important places to go, you see.

x9) Please stop squeaking that silly dog toy. The dog is sleeping anyway and all you’re doing is trying to wake up the baby. Don’t you understand that I already had the chicken pops? Would you like a hot chocolate?

R4) I really need a new Happy Barber Poultry Styling Kit. I’ve been practicing the art of making really cool, fashionable, and yes, noise reducing Chicken and Turkey Haircuts. I call them haircuts because if I start saying anything about feather cuts (which is what really would be cut), they start running through my house and hiding all the remote controls. Not very often I get the chance to do some feather styling, but just in case I need to be prepared.

GL12) Before Jangulary 75th please get one of those cardboard Interstellar Mailing Tube things. I hope to send more messages to my friends in the Skoldern Galaxy, Sector 23 VX but I’ll need a much larger sling shot this year for launching the aforementioned Intergalactic Sailing Lube things. Nobody can really do much Interstellar Mailing without Intergalactic Sailing Lube, now can they??

Y5) I need a new app that will hasten my retirement while building my savings to an enormous level. Once my retirement begins, this app will slow the days down so they last much longer. I’m pretty sure someone is working on this in either Saskatchewan or perhaps Bermuda. Make sure they send me the evaluation copy with a lifetime free trial.

And finally,

*^%) I can’t seem to get my cat to have dinner ready for us when we get home from a hard day at the Doorknob Mines. Doesn’t he know that our meager $.17 / hr. is what’s bringing home the cardboard disguised as bacon? The least he could do for us is try to at least get some take out at the local Skoldern Galaxy Surprise Buffet or something. Sheesh!!

OK. That’s enough Material Madness from the likes of me. Just please make sure it all happens; because what I really want is that all of you and yours have a Happy Merry and a Joyful Wonderful, and that you forget to sneeze in each others’ eggnog while zipping happily through the forest on the brand new, diesel / solar powered cyber rocket that I’m pretty sure you bought for me already.

You’re so nice!!

Maus In Da Haus… Again!!

Hope all of you had your fill of turkey (or whatever you fill your tummy with on Thanksgiving) this past weekend. For the last several years we’ve enjoyed our Dear Friend Ruthie’s cooking, complete with F.N. Brussels sprouts. Didn’t get those last year, so this time around my Beautiful Girlfriend made it a point to put her dibs in for F.N. Brussels sprouts. Tradition is important you know!

Before Lew, Ruthie’s hubby, passed away, Thanksgiving would migrate depending on whose turn it was. I’d cook one year, then Ruthie the next, and so on. The last year Lew was alive, he noticed I had a pot with Brussels sprouts on the stove. “Ken,” he said, “I see you’re making Brussels sprouts.” “Yes, “ I replied, “you like Brussels sprouts, Lew??” “F*@# NO!!” he exclaimed, at which point all of us laughed very bigly. So ever since that day, we celebrate Thanksgiving at our Dear Friend Ruthie’s house, and every year (except last year) she made some sort of dish with Brussels sprouts. Because her grandkids would often come to dinner, they became known as F.N. Brussels sprouts. We don’t want to pollute the little ones any sooner than life will!!

So because we really love turkey, I cook up a “Thanksgiving” dinner a few days later. Our son, our daughter, son in law, and their two boys help us devour a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. This has become a tradition that includes putting up the Christmas tree. I love to cook, and I also love to grow good things to eat. So this year, instead of regular mashed potatoes, I’m making Maus (pronounced “mouse”). And since I like to be different, this year’s Maus will be blue. It can’t be helped, you see… I grew Adirondack Blue potatoes; and they are blue inside and out! Not sure, but I have a feeling Mrs. Spoelma might get a kick out of blue Maus.

God bless Mrs. Spoelma, the “Hollander” (Michigan term for Dutch) lady who lived next door to us when we first moved to Muskegon. She and her husband were often outside in the yard, and we’d have many a conversation across the fence. That was 39 years ago (wow!!), and one couldn’t ask for nicer neighbors.

When our daughter came into the world, she started bringing us food. Most often, she brought an odd mashed potato dish we’d never had before. “This is Maus,” she said when she brought over the first batch. “It’s an old family recipe: mashed potatoes, kale, and barley. Oh and a little bit of onion, too.” It was simply wonderful. Perfect food for a couple of tree huggers with a brand new baby. Free food is always pretty doggoned perfect if you ask me; especially when it’s delicious. “Maus” is not merely wonderful as a side dish for meat and another vegetable, maybe even some gravy. It is especially yummy the following day, reheated with an over easy egg or two on top. MMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

When I first wrote about Maus a few years ago I scoured the web for a recipe that resembled this remarkable dish. No such luck. After many variations of the words potato, mashed, kale, barley, and Dutch, I found several interesting cooking ideas but nothing that resembled what our dear Mrs. Spoelma made. After a little trial and error, I think I’ve been able to replicate the flavor pretty closely.

Because it’s so doggoned yummy, I feel it’s my duty to share the basics with you. I love to cook but I rarely follow any recipe exactly. Mouse is no exception; but without further ado here is a rudimentary description. Try this and alter the quantities of barley, kale, and onions to your liking next time.

Maus: Delicious Mashed Potatoes, Kale, Barley and Onion


Potatoes : enough to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than halfway when diced

Barley: ½ cup hulled barley (pearled barley is OK but not as nutritious as hulled)

Kale: 3 – 4 tightly packed cups, chopped

Onions: one large onion or 4 or 5 small onions, diced

½ stick of salted butter

½ cup of milk

salt to taste

Potatoes, barley, and kale will be cooked in separate pots.

Add more than enough water to the barley to cover, at least 2 inches higher than the barley. Boil the barley until tender, then drain, cover and set aside.

Add 1 cup water to the kale, and cover. Bring to boil, remove from heat after 2 or 3 minutes boiling. Toss the onions in with the kale and cover again, let that sit for about 5 minutes. The heat will cook the onions just enough. Drain, then set aside.

Wash and dice enough potatoes to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than half way (we leave the skins on). Fill with water till the potatoes are barely covered, and boil until tender, drain. Add butter and mash, adding milk and a dash or so of salt along the way. When the potatoes are creamy, add barley, kale and onions to the potatoes and mash together until mixed thoroughly. OK, you’re done! Now, don’t just stand there, it’s time to eat!!

By the way, this has nothing to do with Mouseketeers…

Thank You God For Everything

Here we go again, the holiday season is upon us. In the U.S. we start the ball rolling with Thanksgiving and continue on through Hanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Lots of celebration and material giving, lots of TV commercials, lots of crazy sales, lots of parties.

Personally, I find all this commercial everything just as distasteful as the political ads that lead up to election day. Now that I’m an old dinosaur 1960s hippie peacenik tree hugger geezer dude, the holidays mean a whole lot less about all the stuff and a whole lot more about all the people I carry with me in my heart, both here and on the Other Side.

I’ve finally made it to the point where I can delight in the good times of childhood and let the not-so-good times fade away. Although it took me way to long to understand, I get it now: our parents did the best they could with us kids. They did the best they knew how. I can honestly believe that today and miss them with love rather than hold on to resentments. Of course, I’m a spoiled American so I do indulge in the material gift giving. But as time marches on I find myself getting increasingly gooshy about how fortunate I am.

That’s right, I said it, SPOILED AMERICAN. That’s me. I have plenty to eat; a job, a home, family and friends who love me, even cars that work. When I focus on those areas I become very aware that I’m rich beyond measure really.

So this time of year I find myself saying Thanks to God, whoever THEY are. A good friend of mine once gave me a bumper sticker that read: “God is too big to fit in any one religion.” Well amen to that. When you look at the similarities in all the various faiths; it becomes increasingly apparent that we’re all praying to the same Divine Spirit.

Yes, I truly am an old dinosaur 1960s hippie peacenik tree hugger geezer dude. I “keep the faith” that we humans will eventually get our act together to wage peace rather than war, and harmonize with Mother Earth rather than rape her. I pray for these things often, and as one of my favorite people often sang, “I’m not the only one.”

Here’s wishing all of my friends and loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope we can all take a moment to help those less fortunate than we are. Speaking for myself, I know that this Spoiled American could donate a lot more. Every little bit helps. Maybe put an extra buck in the Salvation Army kettle so the bell ringer can have something to do besides watch people walk past. Or maybe donate to the Red Cross. The opportunities are pretty much endless and the need is great.

Above all, don’t give up. Try to be happy, it’s what God wants for all of us. Work, pray, and vote for peace, love and a healthy planet. Embrace the Golden Rule. It’s never too late. Persistence will pay off, I believe this with every fiber of my being. And for those of you who think maybe I’m Somewhere In Dream Land; well I’ll just keep praying for youse, too.

If I Were King

Can we call a do-over for the election please? Seems like both sides settled for some seriously flawed nominees. Hillary was immensely qualified; but there was that pretty big e-mail thing; and yeah some other trust things. Also, try as she might; she didn’t connect very well with all the frustrated folks in the so-called “rust belt” and elsewhere. Then of course you have Mr. Trump… who is… um… well… Mr. Trump.

All kinds of emotions played in my noggin during all of this; and none of them were very happy; especially when Bernie lost the primaries. I am, however, very grateful that both candidates assumed their new roles pretty gracefully and even humbly. Hillary gave a whopper of a concession speech; and Mr. Trump spoke more humbly than most of us have ever heard before. Whether our nation can heal effectively depends on what happens next; and I truly hope we can all pull together to make that happen.

Anybody listening? I truly hope we can all pull together. Lots of protesting in the streets these days by disillusioned citizens. While I agree with many of their sentiments, I can’t help but ask, “where was youse kids before the election??”

So, enough about all that (for now). This is supposed to be another installment of “Happy Friday!!!” and I’m gonna try to make it something that will produce a smile or two. Therefore and to-wit (that’s legal talk), I’ve decided to appoint myself King for a Day. Tomorrow, you can be King. Unless of course you’d rather be Queen; in which case you are probably much more powerful than a King because of all the cool moves you can make on the chess board. So the next day someone else can be in charge, and it will be a rotating kind of thing. Kings and Queens, Princes and Dukes; run around in circles till everyone pukes.

Now of course it’s time to steal some lyrics from a Three Dog Night Song:

If I was the King Of The World,

I’d tell you what I’d do.

I’d throw away the cars and the bars and the war

And make sweet love to you.”

Perhaps I wouldn’t make love to you; because I don’t even know you. Besides, my Beautiful Girlfriend allowed me to be her lover for many years; and I don’t want to mess that up you see. She’s my One and Only. I don’t care how much candy you have in your glove box or how much pickled herring you “accidentally” left in my fridge; my lovin’s are reserved for my Honey Pie and nobody else. Get it? OK, cool. Yes, I’ll give you hugs and love you unconditionally. Just not in a married kind of way. Am I making myself clear? Do you get where I’m coming from?? Do you know who this is?? Do you know who you’re tawkin’ to???

OooK… sorry I got sidetracked. Alright… make-a-believe I’m King of the World. First order of business: everybody has to be nice to each other. NOW!! Don’t make me say this again!! Do I have to stop this car?? Do you want to go in the corner?? Whatsa matta wichyoo?? Anyhow??

Sheesh. Just be nice awreddy.

Second order of business: this home we call Earth is getting pretty doggoned dirty with human garbagey pollutiony thingies. Poisons! Broken stuff! Single use plastics!! Oy yoy yoy!! Time to clean up or no more play time!! You see these toys you like so much? Huh?? You wanna play with them ever again?? Well you better listen up and clean your room!! And yes, by your room, I mean Earth!!

That’s a pretty big room…

Third order of business: BE NICE TO EACH OTHER!! Oh wait… I said that awreddy. Well I’m sorry… but youse kids have me all fired up here and now you got me tawkin’ like I’m still livin’ on Long Island.

Fourth (and last) (for today) (I think) order of business: keep a close eye on all these elected official Bozos (and Bozettes). Remember that silly statement, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people?” That means us… it’s our responsibility to make things right. The people we voted for are merely representatives; and we need to keep them accountable. Sure that takes time and effort; but if we don’t do that we’re letting the foxes guard the henhouse.

Ooops!! One more order of business (then I’ll let someone else be King) (or Queen): one of the strongest, most effective votes we have is how we spend our money. Buy locally, think globally. Pay attention to where your food comes from and how it was produced. Give the locals first chance at your dollars. We need to support each other!

Now is the time for the extra long sentence which I forgot to include in many previous “Happy Friday!!!” installments because I was either too cribbly boo or perhaps too forgetful to remember (oldtimer’s disease?) that such sentences often bring joy to those who like to see grammar mangled into a small moldy piece of cheesecake in the bottom left corner of the refrigerator; which of course reminds me of the fact that although I know how to pretend to spout off orders as if I were King, I don’t know anything; I never did know anything; but now I know I don’t know anything. I used to think I knew lots of stuff; but that was before I got learnified via the pains of growing older and wider (<— not a spelling goof there) and realized that the more I learn the less I know.

Knowing that I don’t really know much makes me wonder if I’m now qualified to run for office.

NO!! I just wanna be King!!

Cubs Win!! A Very Welcome Distraction.

Those who know me well are very aware I’m not a sports guy. Never really got into sports when I was a kid… although I did play in Little League for awhile. I wasn’t very good; but I enjoyed it nonetheless. When high school years arrived, I became something of a nerd who was much more interested in getting the grades than in anything sports related.

When the TV is on at our house, it’s almost never because of a sporting event. The only football game we ever see is the Super Bowl; and much of that is because of the commercials and the half time show. My wife and both root for the underdogs, but often we’ll just turn off the game after half time.

Baseball is a bit different; for me anyway. Perhaps that’s because I can actually understand the game. Not much in a baseball game that leaves me puzzled. Football puzzles me from the git-go; because I can’t for the life of me see any sense in running out on a field with the knowledge that someone seeks to drive your nose into the dirt before the game’s over. Pretty violent stuff. No thanks.  To top it off, there are all these flags the referees toss into the field for no apparent reason. I have no idea…

My lack of interest in sports was put on hold this week because of the Chicago Cubs. Those poor fellers have had a very long streak of tough luck. Unless you live in a cave somewhere with no human contact; it’s likely you know they won the World Series after a 108 year dry spell. Pretty darn cool!!

I actually watched most of the games. Even shouted at the players a few times, sometimes with joy and sometimes with annoyance. My Beautiful Girlfriend watched some of the action along with me, but she was pretty bushwhacked after working this past Wednesday; so I turned off the TV and went upstairs to listen to the game on the radio. Rain delayed the game for a bit; and it was past my bed time so I hit the hay with headphones on so I wouldn’t wake up my Honey Pie. When the 10th inning got underway, my Baby started to stir so I asked permission to turn the TV back on to watch the last few minutes. “Honey, can I turn it back on?? I wanna see this!!” “Sure,” she murmured.

Such joy!! Such history!! And such a welcome distraction!! With all the horrible things making headlines and all the election garbage in the media, this was very good medicine. Being the prehistoric relic I am; I still like to listen to AM radio while bopping about in the car. Often I’m tuned into 720 WGN out of Chicago in the morning on the way to work. Until this past Wednesday, the elections have pretty much monopolized the topics of any given day. Since the Cubbies won, though, very little else was being mentioned (thank God!!). This morning, host Steve Cochran asked one of the insiders if there was to be a ticker tape parade for the Cubs today. The answer was yes; then Steve went on to make note that there are no longer any stock tickers in operation these days. The name “ticker tape parade” was quickly reaffirmed though, because “…it sounds much better than a paper parade.”

So Chicago is on fire tonight; but it’s not the destructive kind. They had their ticker tape parade and all the speeches and comradery that goes with such a monumental event. The fires of Love and Happiness are burning brightly in Chi-town as well as much of the rest of the country. So if you’re itching for some good news; tune in just about any Chicago TV or radio station and enjoy the buzz while it lasts.

Can you believe it?? The Cubs won the World Series!!

Grandma Loftus used to sing this one… can’t help but love it…