Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy A.S.E.

I’ve discovered the TRICK to aging is to embrace the concept and fight the process.
I’ve decided the TREAT to aging is I can now get by with so much more than I ever could before.
Does this make EVERY day Halloween?
And know you are loved!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Training the machine

Yesterday, a revelation.  Today-- discovery!  I have a microphone on my iPad mini that will type everything I say! I am so excited I could just spit!  The problem with voice recognition is sometimes you have to practice to make sure the computer understands what you say.  Because I've always been a teacher and probably always will be a teacher, allow me to give you some exercises that will facilitate your computer's ability to understand and appreciate you.  Number one:  toy boat toy boat toy boat toy boat toy boat.  Repeat 10 times in a row.  Number two: a big black bug bit a big black bear: a big black bug bit a big black bear.  Again, repeat. Number three: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.  A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.  If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?  Number four: red leather yellow leather red leather yellow leather red leather yellow leather.  Repeat.  And number five (this one you'll probably have to work on):  Betty Botter bought some butter but she said this butter's bitter. If I put it in my batter it will make my batter bitter. But a bit of better butter--that would make my batter better. So she bought a bit of butter--better than her bitter butter and she put it in her batter and her batter was not bitter so 'twas better Betty Botter  bought a bit of better butter.  If you need one more--for instance in a group of like-minded adults--carefully practice the following:  I'm not a fig plucker nor a fig plucker's son but I'll pluck figs till the fig plucking's done. And oh how I wish you could see in some instances what the computer thought I had said (amazingly, it had no trouble at all with the last one!).  I can comprehend why people don't understand me at times!  Enjoy your practice, enjoy your wife (I said life, but I kinda like both!) and know that you are involved (my favorite--my computer obviously must be trained to LOVE!)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


It was a flash of brilliance—an insight so powerful it moved me to such a state of self-impressiveness that even a man with my ego was embarrassed.  I finally figured out why I like to cook.  It’s not about getting to eat, although that is a good thing.  It’s not about making people smile, although that is a good thing.  It’s not about seeing whether I can outdo Ms. Loosewheel when it comes to using absolutely every cooking utensil we own, although that is a good thing.  It’s about the challenge!  Can I take what I know and transfer it to something I don’t?  Can I look at a recipe and see how it could be better?  Can I stand the utter defeat of a dish not turning out?  (The answer to that is yes.  Of course, it was easier when I was still teaching, because there is no such thing as a bad dish in the teachers’ lounge!  If you bring it, it will be eaten!)  There are no guarantees in the kitchen. There are snafu’s hiding around each corner.  There are interruptions that can cause one to lose track.  And then there’s the bitty bladder thing, which truly is a nuisance!  All things can and do conspire against a cook at times, and the true joy is in the defeat of that conspiracy!  This burst of reason happened as I tried a dish I had never made before. It was okay, but could be better.  So I tried it again.  It was better.  I shall try it again.  But not for a little while.  You actually can get tired of dumplings!  But I will continue to eat…and smile…and dirty dishes…because I can and because I like!  And the trip to the big blue receptacle isn’t that much of jaunt should I need to bury the evidence!  Have an amazing gourmet experience in the near future, and know you are loved!

Monday, October 28, 2013

To you, my friend

And the seasons, they go round and is with tears that I just finished reading an e-mail from a friend who has decided the time has come to accept the end of her seasons and entered hospice care, with an emphasis on pain control.  I understand the tears are selfish.  I will miss her smile, her quick laugh, her constant concern for her friends, and her ability to make a difference.  She was a phenomenal teacher and continues to teach me how to retain dignity when confronted with challenges, like how to give to those around us, like how to recognize what lies in our best interests.  To know her is to love her...and respect her.  And I have to disagree with Mr. Thomas.  With any luck at all, my friend, I truly hope you can go gentle into that good night!  As for the rest of us, may we remember to tell the ones we love that we do.  I know, I do you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Nap.  Siesta.  Resting of the eyes.  Momentary pause.  40 winks.  Whatever you call it, I’m all for it!  It has been a busy day.  The kind I like.  Get things done.  Talk a little.  Play a little.  Pick and clean a little.  Cook a little.  Eat a lot!  And now, with a full belly and little on my mind, it’s time!  Find the recliner.  Put my feet up.  Turn on some idiotic offering on the boob tube.  Pretend to watch, as I slowly but surely become comatose!  Ah the regenerative power of the nap. When I awaken, I’m sure I’ll be ready to find my way to bed, completely relaxed and ready for a full night’s sleep.  There’s only one thing left to do before that.  You are loved, and I’m zzzzzzzzzoning out!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Work and memories

The transition from fall to winter is indeed a physical one. The garden has to be cleaned.  The apples have to be picked.  The lawn furniture has to be stored.  The fountain needs to be cleaned.  Pots need to be emptied.  Bulbs need to be dug.  Perennials need to be trimmed.  The hot tub needs a fresh fill.  The snow blower and lawn mower need to be switched.  The cars have to be winterized.  The furnace needs to be checked.  The supply of liquor for the freshly filled hot tub has to be surveyed.  Golf clubs need to return from their summer storage location.  And the amazing thing about this litany is it is simply that…a litany of things to do. It is NOT a complaint.  You see, to complain, I would have to find that any of these things was difficult or impossible for us to do.  Oh sure, the muscles suggest that it has been a while since we reversed this process in the spring.  The back is a little sore, the hips are a little sore, the knees are a little sore, but we can do it.  That means we are alive, and healthy, and mentally able.  As we “mature”, those things are all good! When I came in yesterday from the first day of chores, I removed my shirt for my shower and it smelled just like the sheets use to smell when mom hung them on the line and then put them on the bed just before I jumped in.  That freshness was amazing, and a trigger.  Tomorrow would have been mom’s 94th birthday.  It doesn’t seem possible that she’s been dead that long.  Ms. Lucy stories still abound.  The things she taught those around her still resonate.  I see her in my sister.  I hear her in me.  And I miss her.  That’s why I’m not complaining.  You see, Ms. Loosewheel (we have several names for her!) would have loved to be doing what I have been doing!  Happy birthday mom.  I’ll hoist one in the newly filled hot tub in your memory!  And the rest of you, enjoy the fact that you can, and know you are loved!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The creature from

It was a dark and stormy night.  Okay.  It was a coldish South Dakota dawn, but who starts a horror story that way? Deep in the bowels of the earth (a really crappy place to be) a figure stirs.  Actually, it was the basement of 417 N. Broadway, but the descriptor at times is accurate.  Dressed from head to toe in brilliant orange, this creature slowly ascends the stairs, hands filled with offering plates.  Gods must be appeased!  In the area, mothers hide their children and fathers hide their beer!  It’s that time of the year again. Elmer Fudge rides!  Rooster Rush is a South Dakota promotion to welcome hunters to the area.  In Watertown, a contest is held each year to determine which businesses best exemplify the use of orange, the projection of theme, and employee participation.  Elmer Fudge is the judge (how rhymingly apropos) and carries with him plates of fudge for the winners.  Likewise, as part of his shyness therapy group, Elmer poses with the contestants at each business.  Where else can a senior citizen be surrounded by bevies of beauties without getting into trouble?  At the end of the day, the orange stocking cap emblazoned Elmer Fudge will be retired for yet another year.  The orange tennis shoes that only sort of fit will adorn the shoe rack.  The orange sweat pants will perhaps see wear during the winter, and the orange t-shirt, fleece, and vest will remain in use during the up-coming season!  But the creature within will return to the bowels to hibernate until next year!  Before he slips into relative obscurity again, he sends to you his best “boo!”, and a reminder that you are loved!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

To spelling

Clever!  I'm going to be clever!  I carefully choose my words.  I work up to the highlight of my cleverness.  I humorously work in the pinnacle of my cleverness, double checking the spelling lest I inadvertently offend.  I copy it.  I paste it on the blog.  I check quickly again to be sure everything looks right.  I post.  I wake up this morning and am curios to see if it has been read.  And then I notice.  Somewhere through the magic of technological spell checking, my humor has changed from a clever play on words to be politically incorrect!  Not being Bill Mahrer, I am chagrined!  The word is spelled with an "I" not an e.  It's that way on my draft.  Ritard (to gradually slow down, musically).  If my computer has offended, I sincerely apologize.  The error has been corrected, and a lesson well learned for this author!  And you?  You are loved!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Musically speaking

I truly believe we are all born with at least one song in our heart, and our purpose in life is to bring that song to life, whether orally, instrumentally, or for the truly gifted, both. Early in our lives, that music is quick paced (allegro), at times in short bursts (staccato), and usually quite loud (forte fortissimo!)  We voice strong opinions.  We yield all sorts of instruments, and we sometimes lose focus on the melody. Discord occurs frequently, and at times, we even let other people prevent us from sharing our song.  Some, for unknown reasons, refer to this youthful period as the best years of our lives.  Talk about dissonance!  As we age, the song becomes more melodious.  We find someone to add their harmony, and we go from a simple melody to a complex union of voices.  Sometimes, humorously, we sing our own songs…at the same time.  Sometimes, when the moon is in the seventh hour, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, we choose to sing the same song.  When in unison, the notes ring clear and true.  When in harmony, the depth of that song resonates in the souls of the performers and the listeners.  Then, if we are lucky, the duo becomes a group, and more voices add even more interest.  What started out as a simple melody or harmony becomes an opus of notes blending and changing the world around us.  Now here’s the point.  Most of the musicians with which I hang are slightly long in the tooth.  Our rhythm is slower.  But our zest is greater.  We have seen the folly of acting on discord.  We have seen the uselessness of stifling someone else’s song. We have found that while we don’t perform as much music as we used to, what we do perform is amazing in its complexity and its simplicity.  What used to take hours can now take days.  What used to be urgent is now when we get to it.  And what used to be necessary is truly optional.  I think we have found ways to live, to sing, to play at our tempo.  We are an awesome sound.  Even if we are ritard(ed)!  So picture me at the piano, finding most of the right notes.  Hear me singing in a small range, the song of my life.  And hope that our songs will at some time mesh into an amazing orchestration.  For you see, even though we’re slower, we more likely to find the key…to harmony! Know you are loved!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

To my blessings

What a wonderful day!  Hairs are cut and had lunch with a great friend.  As we were headed home, I mentioned to mi esposa, “wouldn’t you love to trace the roots of our friendship?”  It stimulated that part of my brain that looks for patterns, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find one.  In this particular case, the friendship started before we even knew each other!  I seated her for a concert at which I was ushering.  One thing led to another and we discovered each other at a retired teachers’ meeting in Milbank, only to realize we had the same dear friend.  From there, the friendship and love just happened, and we rejoice every day.  But that was only one friend.  How about the others? For example, what about that dear thing that said she could never go out with someone like me?  Married her and been in love for over 40 years.  Or the three women that were convinced I wasn’t worth much of their time the first time we met at an in-service the summer before I started teaching here?  Life-long friends.  Mutually, we take care of each other, love each other, and I rely on them (well, the two that are still with us!) to keep me in line.  Of course, it is an impossible task, and they gave up long ago, but it really sounded good, didn’t it?  Or the two young gentlemen (and one spousal unit) who were former students of Cath’s?  I would not hesitate to trust any of the three with my life. Somewhere (I’m sure it was a Hallmark moment) I read if you are blessed with one good friend during your life, you are exactly that.  Blessed!  I can truthfully report that I am more than blessed!  I could list several other friends who have changed my life, held my hand, trusted me with their kids, are related to me…Now I sound like I am bragging, but you have no idea how fortunate I have been.  And you know what, Amy Lowell had it right.  “Christ! What are patterns for?”  Thank you my friends, however we got that way! Know you are loved!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The thing they're made of

20 boy scouts, grades 6 through 12.  8 adult supervisors. The kitchen at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church.  One old coot teaching them how to make chili and Irish soda bread! It was a hoot!  Understand, the venue was not conducive to demonstrating.  About 8 boys could see what was going on.  The rest were respectfully discussing the issues of how to cook, while tuning in to what was being said on occasion.  As they say, the proof was in the pudding, or in this case, the chili and bread.  My greatest compliment?  A young man who had just finished the tasting came back into the kitchen and said, “Your chili?  In one word…legendary.” He melted my heart!  He was about 12!  I had forgotten the adrenaline rush of just one student saying he enjoyed what I had done.  While there may be world problems, it might snow tonight, and the dogs are barking because I’m in the basement and they are on the main floor, as I close my eyes tonight I will not see the mess that needs cleaning.  I will not see the young man who spilled black bean sauce on himself while he was carrying out a basket of materials to take home.  I will simply drift off to sleep being legendary.  And that, as they say, is worth every bit of work that went into the process.  Needless to say, I don’t know his name, but he is loved!  And so are you!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


When I was young(er), the benchmark of social eminence was driving a Cadillac.  The size alone made sure you had control of the road at your fingertips.  And then, there was the legendary ride.  Smoooooth!  As I chronologically advanced (remember, I am forbidden to use the terms "grew up" or "matured"), the caddy became passé, a true indicator of age.  Only rich old farts drove caddy's.  We young, hip, with-it types fell in love with the muscle cars.  Who could possibly choose a caddy over a 1967 Mustang?  Get real.  So, I'm driving down the road the other day, pull along side of this pearl white vehicle in my current muscle car (a 1995 Neon--one-owner with 47000 actual miles) and say out loud to no passengers in the auto, "Nice car!"  Yup, it was a caddy!  I have missed the jump from muscle to comfort!
You could well be asking yourself, what's incongruous with that.  The answer is nothing.  I just thought it was an interesting sidelight!  The incongruity lies in my morning run.  Well, to be truthful, at the end of the run.  As I was on my cool down lap, I noticed a young man standing behind his Cadillac, carefully removing something that was apparently marring the look of his automobile.  As I got further along, I noticed he had been applying duct tape to the trunk to hold it down!  And he was smoothing it out so it had no wrinkles.  Duct tape.  On a Cadillac?  It's just not right.  But apparently effective.  May all your cars fit your needs, and may each of you be blessed with your own roll of duct tape!  You are loved!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The harvest

So, I head out to the back forty for apples.  We’ve had our frost.  They should be good.  I find some large relatively untouched windfalls.  I pick five or six more from the tree—not what you would call grade A, sell in the supermarket type apples.  They were different sizes, different shapes (!) and to the best of my visual acuity, worm free!  Brought them in and attacked all of them with the red apple peeler, corer, slicer gizmo my sister gave us so many years ago. Funny thing is, when they were done, they all looked pretty much the same.  I couldn’t tell which were the windfalls and which were the fresh picked.  I couldn’t tell which were somewhat misshapen.  I could tell which were the larger! (Old age has not stolen that much of my eyesight!)  I sliced them up, threw them in the pan, added some sugar, flour, cinnamon and water, and put a crumb topping over the whole shebang.  Into the oven it went.  After supper, we had warm apple crisp with ice cream.  It was sweet!  Literally! And the leftovers?  They went to the neighbors! 
“Yeah?” you might be thinking.  What’s the point?  Just this. By the time I stripped away the outer layer of the apple, the inner “stuff” was all the same.  It didn’t matter if there was a bruise.  It didn’t matter that some had fallen from the tree.  It didn’t matter that some were larger than others.  And it certainly didn’t matter that some were misshapen.  On the inside they were sweet, succulent, and truly delicious (okay, they were Haralson, but let’s not get picky!).  Made me contemplative.  Some of my friends left home early for various reasons.  Some had the benefit of an amazing family life.  Some are not physical specimens you would see in those magazines you shouldn’t be buying.  Some are definitely larger than others.  But if you get by the outer layer, they are warm, caring, delightful people.  I’m not sure I would call them succulent, but I definitely would call them sweet, and as friends go, delicious!  Okay, okay, some, like me, may be half-baked, but it certainly makes life entertaining.  Maybe we all need to check our back forty!  You are loved! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

AM Beauty

To me, there is something inherently appealing in a morning glory!  The way they greet every morning with their blues, whites, scarlets, and purples.  Their ability to thrive in small areas.  Their strength to take root and grow, clinging to whatever is available.  For the last two months, the side of our garage has welcomed each day with a melody of color, ever extolling the start of another adventure.  You couldn’t look at them and not start the day with a smile.  Until last night.  It got cold.  Real cold.  Today, what was once beauty and joy is dead leaves, dead flowers, and am amazing morass of vines which need to be removed from the lattice work.  Those little buggers can twine, let me tell you.  In one area of our not-so-new, not-so-sturdily built garage, they even worked their way under the siding and loosened it, so that when I delicately was removing the vines (yeah, right!), the siding came with the vine.  Grab hold of one of the vines, and you could end up with 15 feet of former stem.  Or, as was more often the case, 1-2” of stem so you had to go between each strip to remove it.  Several times, words thought to be the privy of long time sailors escaped by lips. But it is done.  And the lattice work is white, and clean, and awaiting next spring.  And I am reminded that life is a combination of growth and beauty and death…and in the case of morning glories, rebirth.  And in the case of seasonal adjustment, finding a reason to revel in each part.  There is something really appealing about empty lattice.  Next spring we will begin again!  But now, it’s time for it to host another melody.  This time…Christmas carols!  Know you are loved!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The physician

There are people in our lives who impact the ebb and flow. Parents.  Educators.  Friends.  I often speak of these with the respect and reverence each deserves.  And yet, I have been remiss not to mention a Dynamic Duo who have always gone above and beyond the norm when it comes to doing their job—a twosome that has supported, diagnosed, and healed us for several years.  They did it for my parents. They did it for Cath’s parents.  They have done it quite literally for hundreds like us.  I speak today of our family doctor and his able side-kick, the omnipresent, omniscient nurse.  They have seen our families through innumerable crisis situations.  They have always had time to answer questions, to provide necessary medical treatment and to make us feel special.  They have treated the person each of us is with dignity and respect, while providing the necessary procedures and medications to meet our health needs. During this last experience with the torn meniscus and its accompanying glitches, a simple call has yielded immediate action.  How often can anyone say their doctor took time from his/her busy schedule to be concerned enough to ask to see a patient who was having questionable effects?  Not, “make and appointment to see me” but, “stop up as soon as you can and we’ll work you in.”  The treatment for the patient’s concern is deemed as important as the treatment for the condition.  And when we traveled this summer, what doctor would give a patient his home number in case something should reoccur while we were thousands of miles away?  Hopefully, the answer to that last question is all of them.  But maybe not.  So today, my thanks go to the DD that continue to continue…that treat each of their patients with a familial concern and a calming hand.  I hate to say this, but the time will probably come when they decide to retire.  I hope so.  They deserve it.  I hope not.  We respect and rely on them!   We have been blessed with our choice of physicians.  The world has been blessed with these two. Kim and Eunice, I won’t mention names.  I will simply say thanks…again!  Today especially, you are loved!  And so are the rest of you!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A few rhetoricals

Why are good habits so hard to make and bad habits so hard to break?

Why does the hair on my head fall out, while the hair on my ears and in my nose grows rampantly?

Why is it impossible to take ice out of the ice-maker and not put at least one cube on the floor?

Where do socks go in the dryer?

Why do sour cream and yogurt have culture?  Do they go to the opera?

Who ever suggested neck ties?

What good is lint?  My dryer must collect it for a reason?

Why does butter make EVERYTHING taste better?

Why does time pass so quickly when you’re having fun, and so slowly when you’re not?

Who do I love?  What do I love?  Where do I love?  When do I love?  Why do I love?  How do I love?  The only non rhetorical question on the page.  You!  The good you do! Wherever!  Always!  It’s the only thing that increases when you give it away!  With all my heart! 

 Rhetoric?  Who needs it?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The calendar

It’s the 15th of the month.  That would be October.  I just looked at the calendar to see if there were any birthdays for which we could send late cards.  (Trust me, there is a pattern there!).  I saw four.  I thought they looked familiar, like we had already missed them and sent I’m sorry we missed cards.  There was a reason for that.  It was the September calendar.  It is now official.  When you are retired and too busy to even notice you haven’t switched the calendar for 15 days, the busy-ness is a little excessive. Thankfully, up to this point in time, there were only two birthdays passed.  Hold on to your socks!  We even sent one of those cards so she should have received it on or near her birthday.  Of course, one went out today for my sister’s birthday last week, but she has had heart trouble and I didn’t want her to go into coronary apoplexy when she received a card on time. (I have always considered myself the most thoughtful of brothers!)  It’s a thin line to walk.  Those of you who understand my AADD, know that I must stay busy or will go insaner!  Therefore, I am reticent to hooch about too much to do.  (Okay, by now you know me and know I am NEVER reticent to hooch about anything, but I thought I’d run it up the flagpole just for poops and giggles!)  As I have been told, there is lots of time to rest when you shuffle off this mortal coil.  (I really am trying to incorporate as many hackneyed clichés as I can in one posting!)  So I am today going to take time to enjoy the blustery day, sit down, cover up, and do some reading.  After Cath’s appointment with the chiropractor.  After I see a friend for lunch.  After Cath’s meeting.  After…you get the idea!  Well, as Bertha used to say, “I want to wear out, not rust out!”  Here’s to activity rather than erosion, and know you are loved!  Happy Ides of October!

Monday, October 14, 2013

To writing

There are many things I learned in school for which I am thankful.  Some are even usable in real life.  Example:  How to tell time.  Look at the digital clock.  How to tell when a train that leaves New York doing 60 miles an hour and a train that leaves San Francisco doing 50 miles an hour will crash since the person doing the scheduling was hitting the sauce and they were on the same track.  Veni, vidi, vici.  I came, I saw, I conquered.  Boy, have I ever used that!    How to say “Greet the wife” in Russian.  I really can’t tell you how much trouble I could/should be in if I ever referred to Cath as “the wife”!  Yup.  And then, there were the outright lies perpetuated in math class.  Example:  Pie Are Squared! Everyone knows that Pie Are Round!  But I scoff.  There were two people that changed my life in high school.  One was June LaRose.  Really!  Her name!  Ninth grade English. Vocabulary words.  Every freaking week!  Somewhere, I still have the flash cards.  First word, permeate…to pass through.  And there 999 more!  I don’t know why, but I learned to love words!  Bless you JuJu (and if you ever tell anyone that’s what we called her, I will deny it intensely!) Then of course there was Lee Paulson.  Senior English. Composition.  It was Lee who taught us how to use those words in prosaic form.  Creativity was important.  Structure was important.  Thought was important.  Words were important.  Practice was important.  From Lee I learned syntax.  From Lee I learned comparison/contrast.  From Lee I learned that every rule was made to be broken at some time if needed to stress a point.  I also learned that when those rules were broken, it must be intentionally.  Use ain’t as if it’s a word, and all hell would break loose.  Use ain’t to make a point, and it’s perfectly acceptable.  From Lee, I also learned that anyone can be taught how to construct a grammatical sentence.  Anyone can parse a part of speech. But the truly great writers know how to do this in such a way that you don’t notice it.  Writers like Harper Lee.  Writers like J.D. Salinger.  Writers like John Dos Passos.  Writers like Janet Evanovitch.  Okay, okay, but she’s a hoot!  And I want to meet Grandma Maser!  I guess if you’re looking for someone to blame for this blog, start with those two!  While I ain’t, Harper, J.D., John, or even Janet, I love to write, and every once in a while, I do manage to construct a sentence or two.  And more importantly, I enjoy it!  And hey, you’ve read to this point, right?  Thanks!  And know you are loved!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cook or no cook

I have always considered myself an adequate cook. (Actually, I have always considered myself an Aswan fine cook, but humility prevents me from saying so!)  In the battle of pot roast, I have won.  In the battle of lefse, I have won.  I have even had the first batch of divinity turn out.  Once.  But when it comes to banana bread, that tried and true staple every person over the age of five can make, I wave the white flag.  I have tried every recipe I can find.  I have even followed some of them.  No luck.  I have learned in my life that loss is a verb, not an adjective.  Just because I have had that part on which I sit kicked by banana bread does NOT make me a loser!  At least, I tell myself that.  The reason for this “discussion”?  I tried a new recipe today.  It called for another of my nemesis—the Bundt pan. Historically, I prepared the pan.  I assiduously greased ever crook and nanny.  I sprinkled with flour, as per the instructions.  On a good day, I’d get about 95% of the cake out.  Not really what you want, since the part remaining in the pan is the part that everyone can see.  Now understand, my success ratio with Bundt is much higher than banana bread.  Actually, the chances of me becoming pregnant are higher than my making a good banana bread!  I have had miraculous occurrences where the object d’baked good (that must be French, mustn’t it?) comes out whole. Beautiful.  Just enough to tease me to try again.  Well, today the recipe was pound cake.  I’ve never made a pound cake, but how can you go wrong?  3 sticks of butter, 3 cups of sugar, 6 eggs, some flour—and you should have the finest crumb of any cake you bake.  So said the recipe.  Hold your breath!  I followed the recipe.  (Well, actually I substituted almond flavoring for vanilla, so sue me!) The cake dough was to die for.  Into the Bundt pan.  90 minutes at 300.  Out of the oven.  Rest for 15.  Remove from pan.  Uh huh!  I suppose I should tell you that the cake actually rose over the top of the Bundt pan and to be sure it came out, I had to break off that part and eat it.  Again, that’s what I told myself!  And heck, we all knew it wasn’t going to look real good any way!  Wire wrack over the top.  Flip.  Hold breath. Remove pan.  Fade into dark.  Was it the Lady or the Tiger? Don’t you just hate it?  But you…you are loved!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ode to the mundane part 2

The washer works, the dryer spins
The sewing table holds the pins
The water heater uses hose
For liquid warm to wash my toes
The pilot light lets burners flame
The oven works because of same
The cable gives some options sweet
And phone allows me text and tweet.
Commode does flush, the sink is near
To wash away the fear!
The car will take me where I need
If it's the Neon, not with speed!
The lawn looks good because of mower
I only wish it would grow slower
Sometimes me thinks I do forget
How nice it is with things that let
Us live in comfort and enjoy
The simple things that we employ
So when it's tough to find a smile
Reflect, give thanks and rest awhile
Perhaps to prove that we are sane
We'd sing the paeons of mundane!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The ring neck

Being a non hunter, you may well wonder why I would write about a pheasant?!  The answer is simple.  I live in South Dakota.  Pheasant hunting is big business.  While I do not personally understand the allure, I am thrilled that others do.  You see, while most out of state hunters take their birds home with them, in state hunters can be a reliable source of gratuitous birds.  (Actually, I don't think the birds show any gratitude at all, but that's understandable.). I, on the other hand, do, because free pheasant means pheasant chowder, and this is a very good thing!  in fact, tomorrow evening I will be teaching a class in how to make pheasant chowder!  You see, Lake Area Tech has started a new program called Community U.  It's an amazing program to allow the community to experience different events and classes for the mere cost of $5.00  Do you want to learn about geocaching?  Take the class.  Do you want to know when you should trim your trees?  Take the class.  Do you want to learn how to recycle your used furniture?  Take the class.  A way to encourage life-long-learning!  And this is good.  As for the ring neck pheasant?  Take the class!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


An open letter to Mrs. Flaherty
I've always celebrated milestones:  my first driver's license; my first real date (with an older womn, no less!); turning 21 (okay, I have to admit I don't remember the celebration, but I'm sure I celebrated!); our 25th wedding anniversary at Kvikne's Hotel in Norway; our 40th wedding anniversary the day before we left for Africa.  My life is seemingly measured in celebratory episodes.  Funny, but today isn't a celebration for me.  Today my sis turns 65.  Let me make this clear; today my OLDER sister turns 65!  What with recent health issues, a brother who has added stress to her life, and 22134 years of teaching, this is simply an AMAZING feat!  So, I raise my glass to you, sis!  Today is your milestone!  Of course, you wouldn't be the person you are today if it weren't for me...and our parental units, and you husbands, and your children, and our relatives, and your friends, and the students whose lives you have so positively touched through the years.  You are an amalgam of all of us, and have managed to glean the best of all of us and turn it into the unique person you are. Today, like all days, I want you to know how much we admire you and love you.  Happy birthday, you old fart!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Live in the neithernors

For some reason, not readily discernible to me, I have been called a Pollyanna!  Go figure!  Since I have always been a slave to the thoughts of others, I have decided to alter my life style.  Below, you will find my negative self establishing three new rules by which to live.  Since no is the opposite of yes, and neither the opposite of either, welcome to my no no's, or as the title (do people actually read titles?) suggests, my world of neithernors.

1)  Neither a saint nor a sinner be.  Saints have absolutely no fun!  Being "good" all the time may earn you the respect of those around you,  may liken you to someone's mother named Teresa, and may perhaps grease the skids into heaven, but you will find your friends are limited, your enjoyment of life hampered, and while you may not live longer, life will be so boring it will seem like an eternity.  On the converse, while sinning is much more fun, a steady dose of it rots the soul, depresses those around you, and if you so believe, will earn you an eternity of damnation.  (I have only had one minister convince me I didn't want to go to hell.  He maintained that hell was eternal solitude.  I was good for a week!)  It's like dieting.  Salads, fruits, and vegetables will do your body good.  A piece of pie will do the soul good.
2)  Neither a Republican nor a Democrat be.  I HATE labels.  I also hate the fact that the party system, as I knew it as a boy, no longer exists.  There are no moderate positions.  I have always despised choosing a party and believing it had the only answers.  Instead, I look for the thinkers, the doers, and the concepts that seem logical  to me.  Vote for the idea...the concept...and the ability of the person to represent you...NOT the party to which he/she belongs
3)  Neither an exerciser nor a couch potato be.  I've come to the conclusion that excess musculature development is as ugly as excess avoirdupois!  Studies show that activity is good both for the mind and the body.  So is rest.  Up time and down time are necessary ingredients for every individual.  That would  be both--not one to the exclusion of the other.

By now you have discerned a pattern (and if you haven't I'm about to beat you over the head with it!).  I'm positively convinced that the only rule for living is this: Moderation in all things.  As Miss Loosewheel used to say, it's okay to visit pity city but you don't want to move in.  Negativity has its place, so does Pollyanna.  And I have now exercised the former and shall return to my natural state.  Do good, but sin a little.  Think, then vote, and follow up your daily walk with a good book!  In short, balance your life.  And know that you are loved!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm just a...

what?  You're JUST a what?  How often have you heard a career description begin with those words?  I'm just a secretary.  I'm just a mechanic.  I'm just a paraprofessional.  I'm just a housewife.  I'm just an astronaut.  Today was extremely eye opening for me.  As a former teacher, I am quick to jump on the "no one gives us the credit we deserve" bandwagon.  Economically speaking, being JUST a teacher was not lucrative.  I did however choose amazingly well as to where I did it.  South Dakota retirement system is thankfully extremely well managed and well directed.  But the overwhelming pay off is not measured in dollars, but in smiles, and careers, and successes (and failures that teach us things we really didn't know we needed to know) and the eyes of a child that comprehend something for the first time.   I could not have been luckier or happier in that choice.  I was never JUST a teacher.  But nobel as I think the profession is, it is no better or no worse than any other line of employent.  We do what we can.  For the secretaries who hold an office together while holding their "boss" together at the same time, I don't know how you do it!  For the mechanic who keeps my cars running, I don't know how you do it.  For the paraprofessionals who see to it that whatever line of work they have chosen is done with grace and proficiency, I don't know how you do it. For those of you who have chosen to make the home your work place, raise the children, fix the meals, and support your partners, I don't know how you do it.  And for your astronauts, I get it.  Just kidding!  Every day we go to work, we do what we can to see to it that our job is done to the best of our abilities.  We make the word a better place for those of us who choose not to do what others do for us. And we should wake up every morning with a word of thanks on our lips for the people who JUST make our lives possible.  Should I ever hear anyone start their job description with these words, I will hire someone to slap you silly.  Ah, yet another career that I couldn't do!  JUST a warming, and a great deal of gratitude and pride for the variety of skills you possess.  You are loved; I'm JUST saying...

Monday, October 7, 2013

We are...

the world.  We are the children.  At least this Thursday we will be.  For the uninitiated, the second Thursday of every month is our WARTA (Watertown Area Retired Teachers Association--Thank god we don't live in Flandreau!) meeting.  And we are the program.  As I write, Cath is preparing a PowerPoint to take them through the Dark Continent Adventure we had earlier this year.  As arm candy, I will, on occasion, add an aside (SURPRISE!) as we share what has to this point in time been our most exotic experience.  It strikes me as odd.  I so thoroughly enjoyed the experience while we were there.  Everything went as assigned.  We saw giraffes!  We saw lions!  We saw et.cet. (an animal similar to a civet!)  But the further I get from the actual experience, the more I enjoy it!  Like life, at the time things happen they are simply there.  As one of our retired teachers proclaimed on her bracelet this past week, "It is what it is!"  But in retrospect, it is so much more.  Imagine a couple old farts going to Africa.  That by itself is amazing.  Imagine a couple old farts going to Africa and returning with no physical mishaps or impairments!  Again, amazing.  Imagine a couple of old farts going to Africa and living an experience neither of them ever imagined.  Amazing.  And now that we're home, we get to share that experience with others who may never be fortunate enough to go!  Hopefully, we will do it justice.  Hopefully, we will do it justice in 30 minutes or less!  And as long as I get to talk about the tsetse fly (and the fact that I didn't swat the one on Cath until I had taken a picture...and we are still married!) life will be good!  In retrospect, it is!  What it is!  And you are loved!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

When I come back....

--I want to come back as a chipotle pepper.  They have an amazing ability to add a phenomenal taste to the end product AND spice it up a little as well.  Wouldn't it be nice to have that said about you?
--I want to come back as a dog in the Zubke household.  Then I could pee on the floor and be forgiven.
--I want to come back as a set of Mardi Gras beads  Think about it!
--I want to come back as an internet provider  I could REALLY tick you off but you would continue to pay for me!
--And on that same note...I want to come back as a politician.  Same reason as above!
--I want to come back as a Kleenex in the pocket of a pair of pants that isn't discovered before it goes into the washer.  Then I could turn myself into hundreds and hundreds of little reminders!
--and I hope I do, I hope to remember what is important.  It ain't things.  It ain't money.  It ain't fame.  It's all about the choices we make in the people we trust.  Nothing can equal the impact those choices make on the rest of our lives.  I have been AMAZINGLY clever in my choices (translate "clever" to lucky!) and understand how blessed I am.  Hopefully, you can say the same.  Because you are one of my choices.  And you are loved!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Geezer bus trip--the "poem"

For all who are geezers, or geezer wanna he's, I strongly recommend a road trip.  It is a hoot!  Below is a doggerel to "prove" my point.  Know you are loved!
Geezers, coots, and fudge to boot!

Day 1
It comes as no surprise I'm sure
For every boy and girly
This group of teachers now retired
Allows us to leave early!

It's on the road to Kansas C
The trip it takes no guts
But what it truly takes my dear
Is callousness of butts!

Missouri valley is stop one
For senior drinks consumed
Another stop the schedule has
My bladder is well tuned

What's that you say?  There is no stop?
We say so what's the dif?
Our coach it is a modern joy
It has it's own small biff!

A treat for supper is arranged
A treat, or so it seems
The ladies come prepared--the norm,
It's beano, tums, and beans!

Then back for rest...rejuvenate
And here the ladies do
A mitzvah for the mem'ry poor...
Hotel?  One letter!  Q!

Day 2
A late start for this group, I'd say
Of this I am quite sure
Our step-on Karen's made the plan
For us, a three hour tour!

Italian is the luncheon plan
Milano's gives us food
Then wander through the Hallmark store
For some the shopping's good.

The evening ends with "young" Dyan
A dinner theatre coup!
At 76 she's lookin' good
Shows what "some work" can do!

She shares a story from her past
On Cary she did pee
Probably it wouldn't work
On Cathy's aching knee!

We head back home for beauty rest
For author, pray it works
Tomorrow we are promised plants
And Truman soda jerks!

Day 3
It's on the bus some earlier
The morning should be nifty
If only we could say we've found
Elusive highway 50!

Botanical the gardens be
The chapel quite serene
The lunch is quinoa carrot soup
And thankfully no bean!

Then on to Independence, MO
But not as planned you see
The congress it has failed to work
but still will get their fee!

But ever diligent our guides
They do as change demands
We once again voice fervent thanks
We're in their caring hands!

At supper time we travel far
For Orleans food that's fried
And music that is soft and sweet
The beignets we have tried

Then back to Q and off to bed
At least that's true for some
Pianos beckon just a few
But we, our day was done!

Day four
The day it starts with baseball league
Along with all that jazz
Then on the road to Leavenworth
To see the things it has

Our timing fine our luck it holds
For on the bus we're dry
The thunder roars, the rain it pours
The storm it passes by!

For lunch the ladies have a plan
A sandwich and a treat
It's truly truth to advertise
That suz's place was sweet

Then tour the town and see the sights
For me 'twill be a thrill
To not end up where I could be
That's Peckerwood the hill!

The Harvey girls do serve us meal
And barbershoppers sing
Then through some neighborhood we roam
To Lied lodge bus does bring!

Day 5
This morn we take the scenic route
To orchard for a ride
The hay is spread with plastic bags
So we are dry inside!

The afternoon it's Tammy's turn
The trees she does explain
Enthusiasm reigns supreme
True teaching is her game.

Then back to apples and to trees
Around the grounds we go
The weather we appreciate
For back at home it's snow!

The evening's plans gang aft aglae
As best laid plans will do
The weather truly calls the shots
For us it's nothing new!

Day 6
We're on the bus, we're heading home
But oops we hit a snag
The numbers with the lodge don't gibe
So Pat will stay and hag (gle).

But we, we're off to do our deed
The sky is bright, not dark
And we will fauna, flora see
From Lewis and from Clark.

And then toward home the bus does go
To weather quite unsure
But we? We hearty people be
Dakotans true and pure

And when we lay us down to sleep
We'll know it's not a myth...
It's not the journey nor the end
It's who you travel with!

So thanks to all our traveling mates
We think you're very dear
Let's mark those calendars right now
To go again next year!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Life long learning

A concept which I have espoused since I started teaching.  I've never been. "Just the facts" kind of person.  I understand (or at least I have convinced myself that I do!) the need for some memorization...whan that aprille with the sura sota...(that would be the first line of Canterberry Tales, in Middle English...something that has served me innumerable times in my life...not!)...I truly believe it is the process.  The ability to commit things to memory is more important than the things!  My goal as an educator was always the process, not the stuff.  It is for this reason that I truly believe the need for performance assessments.  Don't TELL me what you know.  SHOW ME!  And as I age, this becomes so much more important.  The things I learn now need to be performance based!  Show me HOW to do something.  Example...I already know how to make pie crust...flour, salt, fat, and liquid.  But I have recently learned how to make it better.  Substitute vodka for water.  That only becomes learned when I process...I actually make it!  And you know what?  It works.  Just knowing it is okay.  Doing it makes it real!  Of course, you understand this soap box has been ascended while traveling with a group of sixty, seventy, and eighty year olds who ARE lifelong learners.  All former education professionals, or closely related to one.  And all who have showed me the need to experience the concept.  We just came from wine tasting!  Now tell me, how would I have known I didn't like Eidelweiss wine if I didn't process????  Hopefully, you will continue to perform, and remember you are loved!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I love food!

This will come as no surprise to anyone.  I do not eat to live...I live to eat!  And trips do not count as normal "try to eat healthily" episodes.  Unfortunately, this is our second trip in less than a month, so frequent flier miles are not the only thing I am amassing.  But ask yourself this question.  Confronted with beignet and hush puppies, dirty rice and creamed crab over chicken breasts, would you opt for a green salad?  If you answered that rhetorical question yes, we need to talk!  Upon arriving home, I will grudgingly atone for my sins.  I will commit to the two months necessary to remove the padding it only took me five days to accrue.  I will run.  If possible, I will bike.  I will eschew carbs and mainline cole slaw! And all the while, I will be flashing back to anything deep fried!  That being said, I look to the bright side.  We have three days before we get home!!  Life IS good or as Hallmark says, "Life is a special occasion", and you are loved!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Geezers rule, especially when you get to visit the New Theater in Overland Park, Kansas!  As part of our Geezer Groupie experience, we want to see "Fox on the Fairway" last night starring Diane Cannon!  According to the expert on the bus, she is somewhere in her mid seventies!  She didn't look it!  In fact, for a minute I wished I could look like that when I'm that age, and then I remembered Ms. Lucy's careful what you wish for!  (even mom finished sentences with's genetic!).   Should that wish come true, an operation would have to ensue...and several trips to the lyposuctionist!  More importantly, I realized how lucky I am to be in the shape I am.  I can motate.  I have some cognizant ability left.  I can enjoy food with gusto.  And I have the world's greatest family and friends.  I think I'll "settle" for what I have and celebrate the good!  And so should you!  ezbz has spoken, and you are loved!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Now I lay me

Hopefully down to sleep!  But maybe not.  I'm perplexed.  I thought the purpose of elected representatives was to represent.  And yet, we are at an impasse because neither party can figure out they are not elected to behave like children fighting over who will be king on the hill.  I learned a LONG time ago that I am not always right.  I don't have all the answers, and it's much easier to coexist by compromise than by bowing my neck.  I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, but if I can figure that out, why can't they?  No!  Instead, let's disrupt the lives of the people for whom we work.  I'm sure the pundits can put it in better terms.  I'm sure there are those who support this ploy.  I'm sure there is a more eloquent way to put this, but boys and girls, knock this crap off!  Grow up.  Play fair.  Do your jobs.  Find a way to work together, or let someone who has the country in first place consideration take your place!  It's only right!  Then maybe I and the people I love, will get some sleep!