Saturday, November 30, 2013

I know that I shall never see...

Some would call it excessive.  Some may call it ostentatious.  Most just shake their heads.  I speak of the 35 lighted Christmas trees inside and out!  When it comes to Christmas, I have always believed that nothing succeeds like excess!  There's just something entrancing to me about the play of light on tree and wall and sky.  And so the palette changes from area to area.  Multi lights in the back...different shades, different hues.  Monochrome in the front, a study in red.  And inside?  Variety is the spice of life!  Blue in one room, red in another, and an amazing amalgam designed by the lady of the house on floor two!  It is a joint venture, and one enjoyed by both.  But each year takes a little longer.  Could it be an increase in decoration?  I think not.  Just an increase in age...yet another reason to celebrate the season!  So while we can, we'll light the trees and celebrate life!  And share with you our love!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Spelled out in lights

Tonight was the annual lighted Christmas parade.  It's a fun event that seems to light up more than just the floats!  This year, I had the honor to act as Grand Marshall!  It was a hoot.  I climbed out the passenger side window of the vehicle they provided, sat on the window ledge and did the wave thing.  Several young spectators called me Santa.  I think it had something to do with the white beard and the Santa hat!  It was a recognition that I truly don't deserve but appreciate.  Along the route were an amazing number of familiar faces, all wishing me Merry Christmas.  I reciprocated.  It was on the way to the nursing home that a young man broke out of the crowd, came over and gave me a huge hug.  He was a former student with whom I keep in contact on Facebook.  The gesture took me so by surprise, I almost forgot to wish him a happy holiday.  In one simple contact, he reminded me why I so thoroughly enjoyed my 34 years in the school system!  It was one of those moments that transcends the crappy pay, the long hours, and the political crap that comes with the job.  The thank you in that hug spoke more than any possible reward, and will be my greatest Christmas treasure this year.  He lit my parade, and for this, I am once again humbled.  Life is good, and you are loved!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Allow me to introduce...

If you have happened on this blog indiscriminately (you have nothing better to do and you can't believe someone actually does this every day of the year!) or you are one of my few but powerful regulars, I want today to introduce you (reintroduce you) to the city of Watertown. 
If you are lucky enough to have grown up here, upon your departure, I truly believe you left with two things...first, an education that has prepared you to enter the world knowing both what's out there and what isn't, and the ability to reason, mathmacate, discern and in some cases perform.  While we are not the best educational system in the world, we rank right up there with the most caring professionals--from the former student who serves now as superintendent to the educators who teach with a fervor and love for both their subject area and their students.  I can truthfully says I've been there, done that!  I know of what I speak.  Second, you come from a community that cares about you.  The support of all that is Arrow is amazing!  And you don't have to be a Polak (that would be Virg Polak, the largest Arrow supporter of all!) to recognize what that support can do!  Second, you leave with the realization that you can come home again.  Watertown would be/is an amazing place to raise a family.  Thomas Wolfe, eat your heart out!
If you have been lucky enough to come here to further your education, all I can say is wow!  There are only three other two year institutions that can claim they are in the top four in the nation!  LATI deserves both the accolades and the reputation.  The Mount Marty local presence allows for personalization of education and a staff that supports and promotes its students.
If you have been lucky enough to visit here, you would find the world class Terry Redlin Art Museum.  You would find an amazing network of parks.  You would find golf courses, frisbee golf courses, lakes (yes, lakes, plural), and a people who welcome you with a smile, an answer to how to get there, and a willingness to see to your every need. 
But it's the Thanks Giving that most impresses me.  We are a "middle class" community--some would say blue collar.  And yet, every year, we manage to give over a million dollars to charitable institutions.  Drive down highway 212 and notice how close to the top the United Way heart is.  That's $700,000 in giving.  Attend such activities as the Arrow Education Harvest Festival, the Make-A-Wish banquet, or the LATI Festival of the Trees, and you see an amazing number of people opening their pocket books and their hearts for those less fortunate, those deserving individuals.  Listen to the tintinnabulation (Sorry, Mr. Poe) of the Salvation Army Bells at Christmas and notice the smiles on the faces of those who contribute, and you quickly realize we are truly a community that puts its money where its heart is.  I like to say we give until if feels good.  And isn't that what today is all about?  Oh sure, there's the turkey and the pecan pie, but Watertown truly puts its thanks into its giving.
From here?  Just a reminder?  Looking for a place to move?  We're ready.  Looking for a place to visit, we're ready.  Just looking for something different to read, well, you found it!  I'm TRULY THANKFUL for you!  And know you are loved!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What better way to say thanks?

It is my humble opinion that there are several ways to say thank you.  Some do it with flowers.  Some do it with cards.  Some do it with a handshake, a hug, or a kiss.  Me?  I do it in the kitchen.Taking the time to prepare a meal for the people you love has always worked as a way to say Thank You!  To my relatives, thank you for not disinheriting me.  To my friends, thank you for putting up with my idiosyncrasies.  To my wife, thank you for not killing me when you see the mess I have made in both kitchens!  For me, nothing is more heartfelt than fresh home-built buns to use for that left-over turkey sandwich.  Pecan pie and carrot cake say so much more than a simple card.  And I can't begin to tell you how much better mashed potatoes, dressing, and gravy are than a hand shake.  Granted, nothing is going to top the hug and kiss, but a really good cranberry salad comes close!  We are born with certain talents.  We learn to develop others.  I was born with the drive and desire to cook, and have had fun learning how to hone in on that desire.  I still have flops. I still screw things up.  I have had to throw turkeys away because they were spoiled.  I have had lumpy mashed potatoes and dry dressing.  I never know what the pecan pie will do, but the carrot cake?  It's a sure thing!  Put cream cheese frosting on anything and it works!  I guess what I'm saying is this.  If cooking is your thing, say thanks to someone today.  If eating is more your thing, say thanks to the powers that be that some of your friends love to cook!  And maybe take them a nice bottle of wine on occasion!  It's a thought.  And if I could, I would be feeding each and everyone of you right now to say thanks for reading, and know you are loved!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another bus trip, another rhyme

Once again, the rhyming old fart has traveled, and the result appears below!  Wish you could have joined us!

It's been five days, they've quickly passed
We've done a lot and done it fast.
In miles to go, it's just a few
The perfect time for quick review.

A Friday's day, 11/22
We board the bus, this motley crew
And head on down the road due south
We've got some age, oh shut my mouth.

We eat and drink and sleep a bit
Let driver dan work while we sit
An evening spent at drury keep
Overland Park is where we sleep.

Day two

Then back on road to Branson head
We stop for nuts!  That's what I said
You would have thought; it's not that tough;
On bus like this we had enough!

O'donnell, Dan, is where we start
It's ballads true straight from the heart
Then arrow pierce for evening show
True energy through them does flow
(Recap is fine, the day will do
We sing it's praise...hono lulu!)

Then off to bed perchance to sleep
Whilst mem'ries dear, of songs we keep
On day the next an extra treat
No doubt in mind it will be sweet!

Day three

It's up and gone, no pow!  No bam!
We've lots to learn.  Can you say dam?
Then on to taste the fruit Devine
In bottled form they call it wine.

Then tenors twelve, this afternoon
Some listen well, some just do swoon
For me the highlight I would note
Alleluia truly floats my boat!

Clay Cooper rounds the ev'ning out
With cast quite large, Life's all about
Just having fun!  enough's been said
It's time to rest my little head.

Day four

We say goodbye with fam'ly Brett
More Christmas need?  Well don't you fret
This family rocks! They're out of sight
For me?  Goose bumps!  O Holy Night.

At Evans Bob we stop for lunch
'Twas more than just a lucky hunch
To know who ate the last pot pie
Jimbo's his name now he must die!

Salvation looms, I have no pride
The fact is this, I will not hide
One of our group did leave some crust
I snitched a bite, now that's called trust!

Back on the bus and headed north
The sky is gray, no rain comes forth
We must be full, I hear no peep
A perfect time for all to sleep!

But two more stops are ours to use
Cheese and chocolate do bemuse
Our myst'ry tour does prove it's worth,
Our wallets light...increase our girth

Then supper stop...instinct feral
Replenishing...Cracker Barrel
The off we go, with stomach full
But pie is nice, that ain't no bull!!

Day five

The carpet red does see us off
To comfort inn our hats we doff.
With mem'ries fond, it's off we roam
The end result is home sweet home

That brings us here...full circle done
Ere off the bus when all will run
Our voices raise within the ranks
To Shirley, dan we give great thanks

For safely getting us around
For planning things:  for lights and sound
For making this a time of joy
For every girl and every boy

And to bus comrades, now our friends,
May you find peace that never ends
Good trip?  No myst'ry to unravel
It all depends with whom you travel!

It's with great truth, no jokes no pranks
That in this season of great thanks
KXLG, the Zubke's too
With heartfelt joy say we love you!

Honolulu, and Happy travels!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The joys of technology

As an elder statesperson (rough translation, old fart) I find myself more connected to those around me.  When I can find it and remember to turn it on, I'm never more than a quick chorus of  "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" away from that extremely important phone call.  As long as I can figure out how to connect to wi-fi, those incredulously important updates are at my fingertips!  Those would be two pretty large ifs!  I'm more than skeptical most of the time about what this technology is doing to our social and communications skills.  It's like an addiction.  If I can't check Facebook, I'm upset!  But then the debater in me clicks in and I realize there are two sides to every issue.  For example, Cath just found a turkey recipe for gourmet club and through screen shots, links, and a twitter account, it now resides on my computer.  I must remember to write her an e to thank her for it.  Oh wait, she's sitting right next to me.  I can just call!
Talk to someone today.  Jot them a snail-mail note.  Or just go for coffee.  Put it on your Google calendar!  And both in cyber space and real time, know you are loved!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

You make me feel so...

Part of this retirement thing has to be the ability to pick up and go, and that is exactly what we're doing.  Perhaps never has the name of this blog been more appropriate.  We're doing Branson by bus, and we're on the go.  Branson was a sleepy little community, it is tourist Mecca extraordinaire.  Population without tourists?  11000.  With tourists?  100000000000000000.  Most of whom make me feel like a young buck again.  Okay, I was never really a young buck...more like a young pup...but that's another blog!  Family entertainment still exists!  I have seen two shows where it was not necessary to use shock value words to capture attention!  It's been a long time since I've been able to say that!  I'm not prudish.  I know the words.  I use the words!  It's just nice to know that those who do object have a place to go!  Now, it's time for breakfast, a quick tour of the Ozarks (well at least some of them)' a little wine tasting, and two more shows!  Life continues to be an adventure not to be missed!  Cherish every minute, and always are loved!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A new definition

Overkill:  noun: amount of food per order at Cracker Barrel in Springfield, Missouri!  Just finished lunch...actually just finished eating enough for four people.  Had the chicken fried chicken (have you ever realized that if they bread it and deep fry it, it really doesn't matter what "it" is?).  It came with corn bread, biscuit, butter, and three (3) sides!   Being low on carbohydrates, I had sweet potato, dumplings, and pinto beans.  Well, not true.  These three were served.  I tasted each but there was enough left to feed an army!  Usually, I'm not a "wow, why would you serve that much food" kind of guy, but this?  This was amazing in its excess! I guess the only solution is unbutton the pants, loosen the belt, and suck it up!  Maybe I'll just have a salad for supper.  Or not!  I am sated, and you are loved!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The road frequented

I have discovered there is an amazing bond that seems so natural among a random group of travelers headed for a destination of mutual interest.  We currently sit on a bus of 37 people, some of whom knew others on the bus and some who had no idea with whom they would be traveling.  And yet everyone is congenial and willing to be entertained.  Age may have something to do with it.  For the most part, we are closer to our final destination than our onset.  Geezers just seem to enjoy life more! So...why on this trip we call life can't we be the same way?  We should willingly accept our fact, embrace them.  We should allow that we all make mistakes, and get over them.  And we should all embrace the singing, dancing, and just plain fun that we can find every day if we only make the effort to look!  Branson might not be heaven, bur getting there is certainly an enjoyable trek!  Find that which tickles your fancy, share it with like minded travelers, and always remember you are loved!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


It is the night before the "Grand Experiment"!  Tomorrow morning we board the bus as host and hostess for the KXLG trip to Branson.  Our prime directive?  Have fun!  This is the kind of gig I could get used to!  But being gone for five days carries with it it's own set of rewards.  First, it means we will miss the annual fund raiser for Lake Area Tech, and we have donated an auctionable item...soup and bread and pie for eight...four different times this winter!  The display was to be set up by 5:00 this afternoon, so had to bake a pie and make a loaf of sourdough bread to use.  Side note...pumpkin pie is better with sugar!  Thankfully I tasted it before it had been in the oven and had to pour the filling out, add the sugar, and refill the crust.  The pie will taste good, but it will win no prize for appearance!  Then there was the laundry to do, the packing to do, the cutting and plating of the fudge...and bridge to play tonight!  After all, there are priorities!  Likewise, the puppies have to be prepared for their five day stay at the vet, so had to wash their beds, get their food and medicine ready, and pet them a little extra!  Thank god for a good vet and familiar staff!  Now, it's time to sleep and dream of Christmas shows, Irish tenors, and stories suitable for telling to a mixed audience.  Of all the tasks, the last one will be the hardest!  Needless to say (don't you just hate that phrase?  If it is truly needless, why say it?) the "have fun" part sounds better and better.  The mini shall accompany me, so for the next five days, I shall be your "foreign" correspondent!  Rest well in preparation for our trip, and know you are loved!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Into everyone's life, a little red-faced experience must come

Rarely am I embarrassed, especially by a mess in the basement.  After all, isn't that the purpose of basements in old accumulate the junk that you don't want people to see you have on the main floor?  To every rule, there is an exception, and for a multitude of "no big deals", there has to be an occasional red face.  The electrician came today to power up our front porch.  To do so, he needed to access wire through the basement.  When I saw him emerge the first time with his hard hat on, I sneaked a peak.  I believe the correct millennial phrase is OMG!  I had been remiss in putting away the largess form Sam's club.  It sat in the middle of the floor.  I had been looking for a particular tool. All the rest sat in the middle of the floor.  I had a mess at the computer table.  You couldn't find the top of the desk, and the corner he needed to use was the equivalent of Mt. Everest in terms of papers, computer crap and anything else I had decided I needed but just not right now.  I was sooooooo proud.  As he went back down, I offered him a rope to tie around his waist so he could find his way out, but he tactfully declined!  My only hope is, what is discovered in the basement stays in the basement.  Oh, who am I kidding.  I was embarrassed, but certainly not enough to say it won't happen again.  After all, it is the season, and more items from the main floor shall descend into the nether world called the basement!  Hey, I look good in red!  And you are loved!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

oral interpretation inspires...

It had been a while, but today was spent judging a regional oral interpretation contest in Webster.  They were apparently desperate for judges, as I haven't actually coached in over a dozen years, but it was a hoot.  The kids were amazing.  Some of their pieces truly struck home.  But it wasn't the kids, or the pieces, or the coaches that inspired me today.  As I was seated in the overflow room in the Methodist church on 9th Avenue (just in case you get to Webster and want to check out my story) I noticed a felt banner hanging by the door.  You know the type of which I speak.  They hang them for baptism to announce to the church.  They hang them for weddings.  They hang them for funerals.  And sometimes they just hang them for seasonal inspiration.  This one fell into none of those categories.  Going across the top it said, "Open Minds" and down the side, it said "Open Doors".  At first glance, I was impressed that the church would proclaim their members as open minded, and that they would open their doors to all.  Of course, that struck me as only fair.  If you can't go to church without being judged, where can you go?  Then the educator in me kicked in and put the two together. Open minds open doors.  If one is open to different concepts, new and exciting possibilities await.  Only when one is open to change can one pass through to a new level.  Being a change advocate, I kinda liked it.  Not true.  I really liked it.  You see, it was just this last week that a friend of ours died, and when it came to choosing the facility for her funeral, her family went to the church where her husband was a member to set up the service.  They were politely (at least I hope it was politely) informed that since SHE was not a member, they would not "host" the funeral.  They denied one of their members the right to have his wife of over 50 years burial service in his church.  Because SHE wasn't a member.  I look at it in two ways.  That was pretty close-minded.  No.  That was amazingly, unbelievable, disgustingly close-minded.  Way number two?  That was just plain wrong.  I can but hope for this family that this event opened their minds and opened the find a church and church family that shows the love and compassion they preach from the pulpit every worship service.  Every once in a while, the hinges on my mind have to be oiled.  Today, the WD-40 was a felt banner.  May you find your open doors lead to amazingly good things, and know always that you are loved!

Monday, November 18, 2013


I am thoroughly convinced.  If there were a perfect food, it would be pizza!  It combines all the necessary daily recommended food pyramid options...bread, meat, cheese, and grease.  And if there were a perfect pizza, it would come from Papa John's take and bake.  The price is right.  The ingredients are right.  Did I mention the price?  Those of you who have followed the roller coaster ride of my low carb dieting will realize that pizza is not on the list of acceptable edibles.  That's what makes it so darn good.  A little "you shouldn't have this" increases the enjoyment factor of almost everything.  It must explain the phenomenon that good girls like bad boys.  I heard that on TV.  (It's amazing what you learn from Dr. Phil while channel surfing!). Anyhow, with a ball of dough in my belly, grease on my fingers and a smile on my face, i am prepared to sit back and enjoy a different type of guilt pleasure.  Bring on those dancers, Mr. Bergeron!   And even in a state of sated gluttony, know you are loved!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Other than whilst doing the crossword puzzles, do you ever ponder your muse?  What is it that inspires you?  What is it that motivates you?  For me, it's different things at different times.  There are days, it is MUSEical.  I know every time I hear "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", I think of a particular group of interpers who were largely instrumental in initiating Readers' Theatre as a state interpretation event. This, of course, leads me down memory lane to all the amazing students who were willing to share their talent with the world and let me revel in their glory!  Other days, it's an aMUSEing story or anecdote that takes me into the nether world of humor in the mind of bz.  A really good dirty Johnny story can get me started down a path that most people fear to tread.  Anything clever and I'm ready to listen.  That's why, I think, I'm a sucker for good commercials on the tube.  Sometimes, they are far more entertaining than the drivel I watch, mouth agape, occasionally drooling.  (See blog on hell in the home!)  Sometimes, it's an aMUSE-bouche--a single bite of euphoric delight that tantalizes the palette and stimulates the creative juices.  I could wax poetic about the impact of sea salt dark chocolate covered caramels from Watertown Confectionary!  Give me a bite of really good herring, and I'm ready to write!  Even the MUSE of Mac the Cat giving me hell because I am late feeding him can get me thinking.  Granted, all these conflicting stimuli may at times beMUSE me (no MUSE is good MUSE?), but too much stimulation is better than none at all, right?  Hopefully, whatever your muse, you are willing to share the result.  No fear.  After all, you are loved, and that should take no muse to understand!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

open door policy

I have always believed in the open door policy.  If you want access to me, you got it.  Thankfully, I also have embodied the same policy when it comes to thoughts.  My mind is always open to new ideas.  I'm pretty much willing to try anything that doesn't go against my set of values and or my desire to stay alive.  I've always considered this an admirable trait.  It is with sadness that as I have aged, the concept has not changed, but the direction things are headed has.  There are simply more things that have gone out that open door than come in!  As I am fond of saying, I have an amazing memory.  It's really short!  Tell me a name and if I don't use it at least five times, I won't remember it.  I've even tried association.  That can really get you into trouble!  Just today, I had a friend request on Facebook.  Contrary to my wife's supposition, I really don't just say yes to everyone who wants to be my friend.  I have to at least have an inkling of who they are.  (That pretty young thing from Madagascar was tempting, but I couldn't figure out where I might have met her, and I'm not sure it was my friendship she was after.)  Anyhow, I had to message back and sorrowfully ask her who she was when I might have known her.  So Judy, I apologize, but Judy nee who?  I've not gotten to the point yet where I forget where I live, although at times I'm willing to be Cath doesn't think that's an attribute!  Ah, the joys of modern maturity!  There are, however, things that I will never forget.  The fact that I made a living doing what I loved.  The fact that I married and would do so in a heartbeat again the woman that I love.  The fact that I have an amazing support group of familials whom I love.  And that too are loved.  Since I won't forget it, you had better not either!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Just another day

It was one of those days that just evolve.  Had to take the car in to have the new mirror attached (sorry, the leopard duct tape is gone!).  Discovered the brakes were "metal on metal" so we have new brake pads.  Also discovered the "rough idle" required new plugs.  Hey, the car company employees have to eat, too, right?  Then it was off to buy potatoes for lefse tomorrow.  Lunch ensued and then it was home to boil.  Potatoes are riced and cooling for the extravaganza tomorrow.  Supper was furnished be Chester's chicken and now it's getting ready for replenishing sleep time.  Funny, putting it down in words, the day doesn't seem so full.  Maybe getting older does slow one down?  But it was a day of life and love, so it was good!  And you?  You fall into the love part!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

One two three....

Those of you who have watched my development will understand the fact that I am borderline obsessive/compulsive.  Ms. Lucy used to aver if I woke up in the morning intent on doing something, by the time I went to bed, it would be done, regardless what she did.  Apparently my agenda items were not always positive...or safe.  When I go up or down a staircase for the first time, I count the stairs.  When I run, I have to convince myself not to count my steps.  Now you have to understand, my compulsion is limited in scope.  For example, if you saw my kitchen or watched me cook, you would realize cleaning is not in the purview of my "disorder"!  Picking up my clothes?  Another anomaly.  And there's that whole consistency thing with the toilet seat....  Maybe I'm an O/C savant?  You may well wonder what precipitated this post?  It was the first 103 paces that started my morning jog.  And the fact that I consciously was able to quit.  Now if I could just get that toilet seat thing down!  Enjoy the 318th day of the year, and know you are loved!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday dear Annette.  Happy birthday to you!  Who’s Annette, you ask? The most precious of things.  A friend.  We were co-workers.  She allowed me to share her family.  She and her husband have raised three of the most delightful young gentlemen you could hope to meet.  For several years, we shared a room at school, our plans and hopes, and a relationship built on trust and admiration.  Oh, yeah, and she bowled part time, too!  We have spent hours laughing.  We have spent a few moments crying.  We have solved the world’s problems on more than one occasion.  No one ever asked!  She is the only person for whom I have ever substituted.  Please be advised, there really are no friends that could convince me to do that again.  It’s probably her fault that I run.  (Okay, even the best of friends have flaws!)  And to prove her awesomeness, she reads my blog!  Now that is true friendship.  This is an excellent time for an exhortation.  Get up off your resting rumps, go to your phone, or your computer, or your paper and pencil, and take a moment to tell a friend how they help make your life complete.  It doesn’t have to be their birthday.  It doesn’t have to be a special occasion at all. Make their day!  Tell them you love them.  As I love you!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Preface to a presentation

There are things that make this old teacher’s heart go pitter pat.  One of them is the opportunity to talk to teacher gonna-be’s about what worked in the good old days (and hopefully still will)!  I have the privilege of doing just that this coming Thursday, so of course, I call up the old powerpoint and decide it needs a little up-dating.  Now, everyone knows the teacher’s mantra…if it works for someone else, steal it and adapt it to make it work for you.  I decided to go to the top…of the clock…and steal from Dave Letterman.  I have a top ten ways to make school work.  I won’t bore you with the entire list.  I will share with you my favorites. 
Number one on the list…catch someone doing something right.  As an educator, I frequently was drawn into the “find it wrong” syndrome.  If a child misbehaved, I called the parent.  If a child got on my nerves, I took him/her home at night and stewed (and shared with my espoused!)  It took a long time for me to instigate my 50/50 proposition.  If I had to contact a parent about a behavior problem, I contacted another parent of a child who had done something “right” during the day.  Any time I had to send out failure slips, I also sent out “good” letters thanking the parents for the wonderful child they had entrusted to me.  I discovered that I was finding more and more positives and fewer and fewer negatives.  My attitude improved.  My classroom improved, and to this day, I have students come up and say, “Do you remember that letter you sent my folks?  They still have it!”  I wonder how many of them kept the failure slips?  I’ll tell my group to steal this idea.
Number 2—While you teach them the ABC’s, also teach them the RMB’s!  Poetic, isn’t it?  What are the RMB’s you ask (or if you didn’t, you should have!)  There are three.
  1. Respect Must Be Given.  It is my philosophy that every living thing deserves respect from the get-go.  It is not something you earn. Instead, it is something you can lose.  Until there is a reason, respect must be given. 
  2. Responsibility Must Be Accepted.  We make a number of choices every day.  Some of them are right.  Take the credit for those.  Some of them are wrong.  Take the credit for those as well.  Own your mistakes, appease them where and when you can, learn from them always, and move on. 
  3. Reputations Must Be Earned.  If you want to be known as a nice person, you must be nice.  If you want to be known as a bully, shame on you.  But you earn your titles! 
Number 3—Do the math.  Too often, we follow the wrong formula—circumstance + circumstance + circumstance = who you are.  Totally fallacious.  We cannot control from whence we cometh.  If we were born poor, it’s not our fault. If we had less that loving parents, it’s not our fault.  If we had no role models, it’s not our fault.  Our circumstances often cannot be changed.  And too often, they become the rationale for our behavior.  The unfortunate thing is, the answer is incorrect!  A better formula is--choice + choice + choice = who and what we become.  It’s not the circumstance.  It’s how we react to it!  As Charles Swindol says, “we can play on that one string we have, and that is our attitude.”  See note above about “fixing” the mistakes and realize that failure is an event, not a life style!  Events can be excellent stepping stones!
So there you have three of the ten.  Aren’t you thrilled I didn’t give you the other seven?  I will attempt not to be this pedantic when I speak to the gonna-be’s.  Hopefully, this will be able to discern how wonderful it is to teach;  how rewarding it is to teach;  and how it changed my life in so many positive ways.  And hopefully, they will know they are loved!  Just like you!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The wee things

It is the little things in life that make it worth while.  For example, today was our virginal Costco membership experience.  We had lusted after our friends who always mentioned this and that came from Costco, and we felt somewhat deprived of the possibility of that excitement.  Well, with a quick trip to Sioux Falls, that is no longer the case.  Observation...what you don't have is always more appealing than what you have.  While an entertaining excursion, it was not the epic event for which I had anticipated.  Besides which, they don't carry Crystal sugar (the brand of choice for fudge) so we had to stop at Sam's club anyway.
Example number two.  Crystal sugar was $2,00 cheaper a bag than when I last purchased!  SCORE!  Life as we know it is fantastic!  100 pounds later (that would be pre-fudge weight), we are headed home.
Example number three.  Proof once again it's not the destination nor the's with whom you travel.  What could beat a day out with mi esposa and her sister?  All in all, I give thanks for the little things!  And the big things, like you, my limited yet faithful readers!  You are loved!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Last Vegas"

It's been quite a while since I went to the movies.  This afternoon was the exception.  I went to see "Last Vegas", and it's been a long time since I have laughed that hard or that often at anything.  Sure, the characters were all mature.  Hell, they were old.  Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert Deniro, and Kevin Kline, all on the same screen, were amazing!  The one-liners hit home, and the visual liners were even more stunning.  The introductory aquasize scene was brilliant.  There were young folk in the audience, and I think they may have missed the not so subtle nuances of aging.  I didn't.  The movie is about friendship.  The movie is about dignity.  The movie is about relationships. The movie is about the best hour and forty minutes I have spent in front of any screen.  I strongly recommend you see it...for the laughs, the memories, and because you are loved!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

And that's the truth

From Elmer Fudge to Willie Wonka, my personas seem to gravitate to the sweet parts of life!  Whether distributing that which I make myself or helping entice others to enjoy the fruits of the Watertown Confectionary laborers, I seem to continually be at odds with the ADA.  But here’s my philosophy and I’m sticking to it…today.  Sometimes, a sweet treat is an amazing thing.  It warms the body (that would be the sugar burning off!).  It warms the soul (that would be the endorphins released by the chemical reaction of chocolate to the pleasure sensors of the brain).  And it is an excellent cardio/physical aid (oh my god, I can’t believe I just ate that.  I have to run to burn it off!)  Likewise, I continuously maintain that goal one should be to take care of ourselves.  If we are not strong…if we are not content to some degree…we cannot completely give to those around us.  And what more could bring us a sense of well being than the slow melt of chocolate on the tongue…or the amazing tang of pineapple and sugar together?  So get yourself a little sweet.  Revel in the sense of wellness and swellness, and go do good in the world.  And that, my friends, is what’s known as rationalization.  But it works for me!  And you are loved!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The things I did't learn

I obviously led a deprived (depraved?) childhood.  There are things typical y-chromosomal units learned that I did not. 

·         I cannot throw a ball.  As a youngster, I was pummeled with one over-riding epithet.  “Zubke, you throw like a girl.”  That, of course, was patently untrue. Every double x I know throws better than I, and most of them outdo the epithet hurlers of old.  There’s just something about the skill that eludes me.
·         I cannot remove a bullhead from a hook.  Try as I would, the slimy little devils outmaneuvered me every time.  I am convinced that my father-in-law had the only true method…and that one I learned.  Catch a bullhead, cut the line, and start over!
·         I don’t know how to spit.  Some of my cohorts could hit a tin can with unerring accuracy from distances greater than three feet.  If the can were between my feet, I would miss it.

You may wonder how I got to today’s chain of thought. Even if you didn’t, I’m going to share!  I just got back from running (in and of itself a punishment for leading a bad life!) and I was totally engrossed in ideas for today’s blog.  While running, I have learned that it is better to expectorate the product of my salivary glands rather to ingest it.  Lost as I was in thought, I didn’t even realize that I had turned into the wind.  As my ninth grade boys would say (and you realize all ninth grade boys have one commonality…wait for it…) I hocked a lugie.  And it returned.  My ninth grade girls also have a commonality to ninth grade boys doing things like that.  Here it is.  “Gross!”  Thank god for gloves and little traffic.  I did make it home.  I did come up with a topic.  And I have shared.  At times, for me, life is the spits!  But I sure do enjoy the ride!  May the wind always be at your back and always remember you are loved!

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I have been gifted with the ability to find joy in amazing places and events.  Take me to a concert and watch me lose myself in the music.  Tell me a dirty Johnny story and watch me memorize it so I can tell it hundreds of times (much to the chagrin of me espoused!). Yup.  It's a gift, and one I have discovered you can give yourself.  For example, I have decided to take the day off from running.  Now, try and wipe the broad grin off my face!  Happy day to me!!! And know you are loved!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


It's quiet in the house this morning.  No, I have not lost my voice. The dogs are at the beautician, so we can leave the basement door open, take down the "don't pee in here" and "don't go up those steps" fences, and watch people across the street without being raucously reminded they are there.  In short, it sucks!  What an integral part of our existence.  It's difficult to explain how eight legs can worm their way into your hearts so completely.  Since we held them in the palms of our hands 15 years ago, the have amused, befuddled, angered, and unconditionally loved us.  At 15, their bladders are not what they used to be.  Sometimes they forget outside.  I'm old.  I can relate.  They don't see well.  They can't hear.  They eat and sleep...and love us.  I can relate.  I hope someone feels that way about me when I'm their age!  Give thanks today for those who love you, and put me on your list!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tired and happy

I'm pooped!  Spent the day prepping for and the night cooking for 26 amazing women, most of whom I have known for years!  They belong to a sorority, the name of which eludes me because I am old...and pooped!  I've often spoken of the joy I derive from preparing food for those I love.  Tonight was no exception.  They were witty, charming, and most appreciative.  Of course, I couldn't do it without the aid of my sidekick, Kim!  It's easy to work when someone cleans up after you, finishes tasks for you, and sees to it that all things that should be done, are done.
We did starters and enders tonight.  The start was four different hors d'oeuvres, some spicy, some piquant, some blended, and some simply fillers for crackers and chips.  Then there was the desert...sweet and almondy.  Like life, the combination of different flavors makes for the best experience.  And thanks to all "my" ladies, it was an amazing day!  They, like you are loved!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Building the future

There are things that continually amaze me.  Sunrise every day.  The love of an amazing woman.  The power of friendship.  And the fact that anyone can use power tools to create works of art.  Whilst we we engaged in crossword puzzling this morning, a pickup arrived and two young men dropped off four saw horses.  When we came home from bridge this afternoon (have I ever mentioned how much we love retirement?), we had an amazing new entry deck, almost totally completed.  Had I been the constructor, we would still be at the saw horses!  It amazes me how often I am retaught that it doesn't matter how smart we are but how we are smart!  And let me tell you, these guys are amazingly smart!  Drive by and see if you agree, and always remember we all have talents we need to share with the world, and you are loved!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Just asking

By nature I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't think it's a communist plot. And my paranoia is pretty much under control.  I just don't get it.  By nature we are creatures of habit. I get up when it's dark. I go to bed when it's dark.  Okay, sometimes I take naps while it's light, but that's outside the realm of the topic.  I eat when I'm hungry. My question is this: what's with all this "springing forward" and "falling back"?  I haven't noticed that there's a great deal of difference in the daylight whether we're saving it or not.  And all this springing and falling is not good for a man of my years!  Why in horrendously hot Hades don't we just stay on one time or the other?  I understand the original intent had to do with societal norms that no longer exist.  The only true purpose I see today is to give me a reason to ascend my
And believe me, even from my perch high atop, you are loved!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

If the weather allows

You have to understand the rules. Some of them are inviolate:  Like, only putting up and taking down Christmas decorations when you can do it in shorts.  51 degrees.  This was a put up the trees outside kind of day. 16 really motley looking artificial trees soon to be adorned with festive lights now adorn the backyard.  They are different sizes, different shapes, different colors, but they all do one thing:  remind me that it's that time of year...You know, when it's okay to eat too much and drink a little and have fun.  For those of you who know me, you know that I am a Christmas junkie. I love the season I love the lights I love everything about the season.  I always have. I hope I always will.  The Pollyanna in me celebrates the fact that this is truly the time of peace on earth good will toward men.  Every once in a while cynicism tries to creep in and I wonder if it's even possible.  But then I listen to the music, look at the decorations, think of the possibility, and know deep in my heart that we are capable!  Sure hope tomorrow is nice.  There are a lot of lights to put up!  And each string is hung with hope and love for you!  Merry decorating!

Friday, November 1, 2013

What if?

For no apparent reason, I started playing the “If” game today.  If I had one wish, for what would I wish?  If I won a million dollars and had to spend it, how would I spend it?  If I could have any job in the world, what would that job be?  If I could have dinner with anyone, living or not (presumably while they were living, else the question becomes extremely bizarre!) whom would it be?  If I could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?  If I could play an instrument (I don’t play), what would it be?  If I had to write a personal mission statement, what would it be?  If I were to die today, what would I want people to say?  It wasn’t until the last if.  I started imagining the answers.  “Gosh, I’ll really miss the fudge!”  “Hope he kept his pants on for the funeral!”  “Does anyone know the words to ‘Running Bear?’”  “Guess he’s written his last blog.”  And wouldn't this make my day...“He was a good man with a good heart.”  Everyday, we write the book of answers to that question.  The way we treat our family is a chapter.  The way we treat our friends is a chapter.  The way we treat the people we don’t know is a chapter.  The way we treat ourselves is a chapter.  And the book becomes large, and in some instances, not necessarily happy ending.  I understand how others judge is not up to me.  I understand there are people I have helped and people I have hurt.  I understand that John Donne was right:  no man is an island.  We all have impact!  Didn’t realize such a simple question could cause such philosophizing, did you?  Well, let me challenge and accept the challenge.  Before you read any farther, formulate your answer.  Really!  Quit looking at me that way! Got it?  Well, here’s my answer.  It’s probably not very deep. It’s probably not very moving.  But when I’m gone, I would love to have people say, “I miss him!”  And finish with, “He loved me!”