Monday, December 21, 2015

The Annual Christmas Letter

Terse.
Free Verse.
And what's worse?
Because it's easy on the purse!
Don't curse!



Monday, December 7, 2015

My Christmas Creed

There are times when walking instigates thoughts racing through my mind.  Abstracts coalesce into statements, and statements into credos. And since I haven't blogged in a while...
I believe
-->That every life has an inestimable value
-->That violence and hatred in the name of any god is anathma
-->That assault weapons exist to deprive another human of their right to live
-->That hand guns precipitate domestic violence and accidental death
-->That a woman is the sole decider in matters of her body
-->That consentual relationships that foster love and trust are a gift
-->That open discussion can lead to the agreement to disagree
-->That argument and name calling have no socially redeeming substance
-->That I should attempt to add value to any circumstance I encounter
-->That Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men is a most enviable desire

One can assume that parts of this creed will not be acceptable to all.  If you buy into the first two and the last, we can agree to disagree on the others!  Whatever holy day you choose to celebrate during this time of year, my hope is that it will find you healthy, happy, and enjoying it with family and friends.

I believe!

Friday, November 13, 2015

It has been amazing!

There are decisions in a lifetime that alter its course.  Should I go to college?  I did.  While in college, should I party or should I study?  I did.  Should I listen to my mother who suggested I take the education block just in case I wasn't REALLY talented enough to make it on the stage?  I did.  Should I learn that terrible situations (like getting fired!) can be stumbling blocks or stepping stones?  I did.  Should I get engaged?  I did.  Twice.  (See note on stumbling block!)  Should I get married?  I did.  Once.  Should I work with an amazing amalgam of children and adults who would each add their part to my make-up?  I did.  Should I surround myself with people brighter, more talented, more clever than I?  I did.  I do.  I call them my friends.  Should I retire before I became a dinosaur?  I did.  Should I expand my realization of this amazing planet by traveling?  I will.  Should I consider sharing my thoughts with others?  I do...my encore career continues to challenge and reward.  Should I write a blog?
Soon, the answer will be "I did." 
For almost every day for the last 2 1/2 years, I've celebrated life with you.  It has been a labor of love.  And before it simply becomes a labor, I've reached yet another decision.  The physical entity that is ezbzontheroad.blogspot.com will remain open.  (Never shut a door completely!)  But as for now, it's growth shall be indeterminate.  How do I tell you what your visits here have meant?  How do I tell you how thankful I am you have allowed me to ramble, to vent, to rage?  I can't.  Oh, ye faithful, and few...how you have altered my course.  Be nice to one another.  Make a difference.  Laugh.  And always, always, always remember.  You are loved!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans' Day...on time

No mail.  Darn it.  Court House closed.  Darn it.  The ability to use words as I want to.  Thank you.  The ability to drive a vehicle.  Thank you.  The very breath I take.  Thank you.  For every choice I have...for every benefit I take for granted...Thank you!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...

So, I apparently qualify for the welcome from the statue of liberty! (Thank you Emma!)   I'm not sure about the huddled masses part, but remove the first letter of the first word and replace it with the first letter of the second word, and there you have it!  For some reason, the body beautiful just decided today to recognize the number of birthdays I have celebrated.  The body screams "prone"!  The mind screams "sleep"!  And both suggest a time out!  Thankfully, there is tonight to recuperate, rejuvenate, reinvigorate, and whatever else that starts with "re".  Perhaps the most important one?  Retire for the day.  And I shall!  Sleep well!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

technical writing

Have you ever purchased a product, some assembly required?  In the case of the curio cabinet we put together today, the "some" was a little misleading.  The same could not be said for the step-by-steps.  They couldn't mislead when there was no obvious direction to start with!  Oh, the pieces were labeled.  (But not correctly.  Bag of parts 10 and bag of parts 11 were  mis-packaged, but we figured it out!)  We had the right number of each required piece.  Unfortunately, the top and the bottom of each piece was not labeled, and could be placed either direction--until it came time to assemble the piece four steps down the line.  Then it made a difference.  Twice we had to take the whole thing apart, turn things right side up, and begin again.  Just as we were celebrating the fact that we could attach the doors, we discovered the hinges were upside down, and the hinge pin did little good when it fell out.  Take off the top half.  Take off the spacer shelf.  Take up the bottom half.  Switch the bottom half.  Swear.  Replace the spacer shelf.  Doesn't fit.  Swear.  Replace the spacer shelf.  Doesn't fit.  Swear louder.  Flip the spacer shelf.  Fits.  Replace the top half.  Swear.  Replace the top piece.  Fits.  Put on the doors.  Swear in jubilation.  Move to the desired location.  Forget to plug in before placing.  Swear.  Swear.  Swear.  I will never put another piece of furniture together.  I swear!  And I understand completely why the "author" of the directions chooses to remain anonymous!  With computers, had I a name, I could find him/her, and it wouldn't be pretty!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Veterans' Day--a little early

It is my honor to go to Sioux Falls tomorrow and speak to 400 returning guardsmen.  I will give them the usual responsibilities--laugh when they can, learn from everything they do, love with abandon, and leave a legacy.  I think the last one may be the gutsiest.  These people have given a significant part of their lives to insuring I can do the things I do.  Their efforts have guaranteed my opportunity to speak, to play, to worship as I will.  And yet, I will tell them, it isn't enough.  You see, I believe that leaving a legacy is not a one time event, but a daily ritual.  How did I change the world today?  Why is the world a better place because I was here?  Whom did I help?  I will tell them that if they can't answer these questions, they have not met that last responsibility.  I admire them.  They are my heroes.  But there is still work they can do, and hopefully, hearing that message will reach at least one of them.  Then tomorrow night, I will sleep better!  Rest well, if you should!!!!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The fabric of life

Denim--because sometimes you need a little extra protection from the elements.
Corduroy--because sometimes life is groovy
Cotton--because there needs to be a justification for irons
Wool--because it keeps sheep from becoming lamb chops
Spandex--because the governor proclaimed I can't wear it in public ever again (but he's not in office anymore!)
Nylon--because the wind blows in South Dakota--Duh!
Polyester--because the world needs more than mono ester!
Madras--because even though it bleeds on occasion, it's prettier for the experience!
Sense of humor--because the body beautiful is not always covered by any of the above and let's face it, it might not be pretty, but it works!
Love--because no matter what fabric you pick, when you wear it with the one you love, it's just fine!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

96

Today, we celebrated Aunt Edith. Actually, we celebrate her every day.  At 96, you would expect a bit of foggy memory...a lapse in sense of humor...a propensity to accept things because there isn't anything she could do.  Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong!  She remembers everything.  She giggles and shares in the humor.  She attends resident councils and shares her concerns!  So today, her friends and family met to have lunch with her, reminisce, and sing to her the birthday ditty.  Happy birthday, Eddie!  You are loved!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I have the nicest buns in town!

Who says I can't come up with a lascivious title to lure you, dear readers, into my den of iquity? The saga of the buns is short and sweet.  Last time I made a batch, I did everything I could to make them amazing.  I added an extra egg.  I used creamer rather than milk.  And I formed them perfectly.  Then, in what can only be called a senior moment, I placed them in the oven to proof and proceeded to leave them there while I gallivanted to Henry for supper, only to realize as I was biting into my scrumptious pork chop that I had actually forgotten to bake them.  They were still in the oven, proofing.  Now the thing about yeast is it does have a limit to it's ability.  Left to rise too long, the resultant rolls will fall flat.  All during supper I contemplated what kind of mess I would find once we got home.  Surprise.  They were still raised.  I baked them immediately and they were fine.  However, I was in need of more, so as I sit here, the next batch is waiting for the oven to heat to bake.  They're a little more traditional in size.  They're a little more obvious in texture, and with any luck at all, they will meet my standard--the nicest buns in town.  And that, my dear readers is "the end" of the bun story!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The last rose of...




I know!  I know!  A third, a third, and a third.  Rules were made to be broken!  This miniature rose was on sale for less than $2.50 this summer.  A true steal.  It has bloomed magnificently.  Now, November 2, it still amazes.  We've had frost.  We've had big winds. And yet, you see it today!  A true testament to tenacity and heartiness.  It must be a South Dakota native!  Of course, to be truthful, it never did get planted outside!  It graces our western oriel (oh god, how I've wanted to use that crossword answer just once in a sentence!) and blesses us with its grace!  Hopefully, it's NOT the last bloom!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

So....let's talk family

To be born into a family that loves and supports is truly the luck of the draw.  I was.  To marry into a family that loves and supports...well, that's at least a choice...but again, luck couldn't hurt.  I did.  Witness the process of relocating my sister.  Her son, his significant other, and their three kids saw to it that she got from there to here--packing--moving.  Her daughter, husband, and three boys came up to unload and establish a new household for her.  Familial love.  There to meet the truck were my sister-in-law, her daughter, husband, and two children.  Familial love.  It didn't take long to get her moved in, stuff put away, and ready to start this chapter of her life.  I love my sister and her family.  The genetic influence of WA and Miss Lucy runs deep.  I love my sister-in-law and her family.  The genetic influence of Wid and Esther runs deep.  And of course, I love my wife.  She's simply amazing.  Some people have wealth.  Lucky them.  Some people are beautiful.  Lucky them.  Some people are talented.  Lucky them.  I love and am loved by two amazing families.  Lucky me!

By the light of the silvery...IPad

Nights are designed for sleep.  Regeneration.  Sometimes, in the middle of that process, a dream may interrupt that desired result.  You know the type...not exactly a nightmare...but close...where when you wake you're unsure whether it was real or a dream?  And by the time you're convinced you haven't actually had your car stolen and will have to spend more time with the people from whom you are trying to escape...you're wide awake?  Well, good early morning to you!  Experts would probably analyze the dream and explain why you shouldn't have had that last spoonful of spicy Pad Thai just before bed.  Our yoga instructor would suggest trying some controlled breathing.  Me?  I reach for the iPad.  And write...or play a little bridge...or read e-mail...and pretty soon the eyelids droop, the body relaxes, and I'm ready to go back to sleep...and see if I can find that blasted car!!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Today's list of things that truly burn my butt--

1.  Money spent on political campaigns.
2.  Length of political campaigns.
3.  Political campaigns.
4.  Adherence to political party ideology.
5.  Political party ideology.
6.  Salaries/perks of politicians who have been successful in their bid to be elected.
7.  Politicians rather than servants of the people who elect them.
8.  The concept that race or gender should matter as to whom we elect.
9.  News that isn't news but a ratings race to see who can best serialize the drama of events.
10. Cooperation and compromise as negative concepts.
11. That Indian guy who says his name is Rich Smith and tells me my computer has problems.
12. The lady who says there's nothing wrong with my credit card but she wants my money anyway.
13. The IRS who isn't really the IRS.
14. Waiting for my tickets for my free Caribbean cruise.
15. Eating what is good and gaining weight.
16. People who seem to complain about everything.
17. Choosing a place to eat in a small town.
18. Not knowing a dik dik is an African antelope.
19. Coming up with the "right" number of entries in a list diof things that burn my butt.
20. A flame about 2 1/2 feet high.

And how is your day?  Better, I hope when you remember you are loved! 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The sins of Autumn

It's Halloween week.  My beautiful bride is hosting a foursome for bridge and of course, needs a little something on which to nibble following the slam bidding.  I figure what could be more appropriate this week than pumpkin pie?  Then I figure, what could be more appropriate this season than pecan pie?  Then I figure, what the hey, why not both?  A bit extravagant for four, you say?  Then, why not both in one pie?  That's what it shall be.  In fact, it's baking in the oven right now.
The pie did not promulgate the title of this post, however.  There can be NOTHING sinful about celebrating the harvest.  HOWEVER, to make a pie, one must make a crust.  To make a crust, one must use a shortening of some kind. I'm NOT a lard lover, so my shortening of choice is Butter Flavored Crisco.  GREAT texture.  GREAT taste.  But I'm quite sure, it has its drawbacks.  As I'm cleaning up following the preparation (!), I am reminded of the tenacity of Crisco.  I run hot water over it.  It doesn't melt.  I put it in the soapy water.  It doesn't melt.  Finally, following a determined effort to scrub, rinse, soak, rinse, scrub, soap, and rinse yet again, the measuring cup and spatula are visually clean.  I run my finger around the inside of the cup.  Once more to the soap, scrub, rinse.  Finally, it goes back up on the rack to be used again.  That, to me, is just plain sinful.  If it sticks to the utensils, how long must it stay in the body?  The joy?  Why, the pie, of course!  The recipe follows.  Sin to your heart's content--repent in leisure--and know you are loved!

Pumpkin Pecan Pie(Preheat oven to 350 degrees)
Crust:
1 1/4 cup flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup butter flavored Crisco
3 Tbs. cold vodka
In a food processor, combine the first six ingredients. Add the cold butter and the crisco and pulse until well blended. Transfer into another bowl. Add the vodka and stir until you can form a ball. Roll out on a floured surface and transfer to a 9" pie plate. Arrange so it looks the way it should look, trim where necessary, and flute the edges.
Filling:
Pumpkin layer
one egg
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
dash of salt
Mix together and pour into prepared crust.
Pecan layer2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup dark corn syrup
2 Tbs. melted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Mix together and carefully pour over pumpkin layer. Place on a baking sheet to catch the spills and bake 50 - 60 minutes until filling is set around edge. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Let's Do the Time Warp Again!

For those of you old enough to remember Rocky Horror, this was one of the hauntingly beautiful ballads...not!  But it's a fun song!  I went out just now to take a picture of the time-warp happening as we speak--
snow on mums in bright sunlight--warped is the only description--and in the process, discovered obvious remnants of Monday's choreography for Dancing With the Stars. 

Obviously, Derrick found the exact dance for someone with two left feet!  Maybe, on consideration after re-reading, time is not the only thing warped!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happy birthday, Miss Lucy

Your impact?  Obvious.  One need only speak to your friends.  Your family.  You made people feel special.  You were real.  You were human.  You were flawed.  You live on in your friends, your family.  Literally thousands have heard of Miss Loosewheel, Miss Lucy, Grandma, Mom...and they know how you  loved us.  90 years.  Too short.  But enough to have made a significant difference.   Tonight, a glass of wine and amazing memories. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

good for another 50,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first.

Yearly, I question what the results will be.  Will the weight I have gained make a difference.  Will the extra birthday significantly increase the negative?  Will the good age gene pool from which I come find its exception in me.  You know.  All those things you can find to worry about if you so choose.  For 364 days a year, I simply don't worry.  Today, however, was that day.  And the results are in.  One ear is plugged with wax.  I have old age "marks" on my body.  Everything else passed muster.  Now it's down to worrying about the important stuff.  Where will we stay when we go hiking in Hawaii?  How will we pay for where we will stay when we go hiking in Hawaii.  But happiness is...it's okay if we hiking in Hawaii.  By then, the arm in which I got the flu shot and the arm in which I got the pneumonia shot should quit hurting!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The itch

It seems only appropriate to skip a day of blogging and then go to a Friends of the Library annual meeting where local authors express how easy it is to self-publish.  The temptation is palpable.  To see my writing in print.  To be able to say there's a book out there that has my name on it.  To Dream the Impossible Dream.  Oh wait, that's not I.  And...oh wait, that would take a great deal of discipline.  And...oh wait, that would mean harnessing the inner creative juices and focusing them in one direction.  It's not nice to tease me.  Well...maybe just a little.  I shall mull.  We'll see if I shall scratch!

Friday, October 23, 2015

And the greatest.of these is...

We've all attended enough wedding ceremonies to complete the Corinhians quotation.  And on any given day, I would happily fill in the blank.  But the fact is, love is simply not possible without the gift of time!  The time to verbally express the feeling.  The time to hold a hand.  The time to listen.  The time to cry together, laugh together, sing together, grieve together, celebrate together.  The time to work together, play together, talk together.  The time to be apart, which makes the time together so meaningful.  Time, you'll pardon the homonymic pun, is the spice of love!  Today, may you realize I gladly give you my time!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Women of a particular age

And at my age, it is best to be circumspect as to what that age is!  We are truly blessed.  In our coterie of friends, we have these super senior ladies who are part of our family.  Some are young and in their 80's.  Others, a little more mature.  Still others, lot more mature.  They are beauty, intelligence, wit, and experience rolled into an amazingly amalgam of personalities.  From each we have learned history, the impact of attitude, the outlook of gratitude, and the hope that longevity will exist for us and be as kind as it has been to them.  Some are related.  Some are card playing buddies.  Some are former colleagues.  Some are neighbors.  Some are relatives of relatives.  Each, in her own way, enriches our every day.  But I'm somewhat bewildered. There are no xy's to go with them.  What does this bode for me?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sometimes, redundancy is a good thing.

I just posted a lengthy update on Facebook, promulgated by a posting I saw.  It immediately set my hackles on edge.  In this instantaneous society, where anything posted to Facebook to some is the absolute truth, I fear that an organization that I so firmly believe in is being misrepresented.  If you saw the post on Facebook, I'm sorry.  Go have an adult beverage (if you are an adult), contemplate life in the universe, and give generously.  If you haven't, read on McDuff!
'

Lately, I’ve noticed a document posted to Facebook that talks about effectiveness of certain charitable organizations.  It supposedly establishes the amount of each dollar contributed to a particular charity that goes to “the needy”.  I will tell you ahead of time that I have a particular bias toward one of the charities reported, and I am appalled at the information that is being misrepresented (as the document says, according to “Snopes”).  Listed negatively is The United Way.  As a former local co-chairperson and active contributor, I was extremely surprised to see the “information” provided.  I knew from my involvement that two things were true.  One percent of our funds goes to the national office.  Minimally 90% (administrative and publishing costs considered) goes directly to the 30 plus organizations funded by United Way.  Our local board hears and reads the requests of those organizations, and it is that board, not a national power, that establishes need and amount given.  Through our donations, locally we serve a diverse and deserving amalgam of organizations that touch every part of our community.  We are in the middle of our fund drive.  I would not want any misinformation to dissuade our donors.  Perhaps the best argument I can give you?  If “I saw it on Facebook” is your rationale, I would urge you to research the issue.  I did.  And I will again this year “Give until it feels good.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Yesterday's motto--Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella...and You'll Probably Drown!

It doesn't happen often...Thank God!  Yesterday, following a night of minimal sleep/rest and awakening with a throbbing headache and knot in my shoulder (for which I am currently not allowed to take Vitamin A [Advil]) I packed my bags and took a trip to Pity City.  My eye was being bothersome.  I just plain hurt, and that miraculous substance called attitude took a trip south.  Nothing was right.  My sis came to look at apartments.  A Truly Good Thing.  She probably could have found the Taj Mahal for $250.00 a month and it wouldn't have pleased me!  And guess what?  It really doesn't matter what I think.  I just hope she's happy.  Then we went to play bridge.  I could do nothing right.  By some small miracle, we ended up in the middle of the pack, but that fortune had nothing to do with my playing.  Then it was another apartment--one that I thought was going to be perfect.  So obviously it wasn't.  How disappointing.  Supper time.  By now, I had traveled to Inner Pity City, so I asked Cathy to get Chester Chicken for supper.  Good taste and a little fat are always for me mood enhancers.  We called ahead.  We ordered fresh.  When she got home, I was ready for that first hot, juicy bite of chicken breast.  It wasn't hot.  It wasn't juicy.  It was a breast, but quite obviously it had been sitting there since I was 60 (a very long time ago)!  I called.  They apologized.  Said I could come and get fresh.  Yeah, right!  By that time, I wasn't going to let anyone ruin my snit!  Finally, time for the day to end.  I ensconced myself in my chair.  I found an interesting science fiction movie to watch.  I dozed.  The haunting music awoke me.  I dozed.  The music awoke me.  I was so far gone I couldn't even figure out to change the channel.  Something about finding the remote and pushing the button.  Finally, I said a few nasty words, found my way to the couch, plumped up several pillows to keep my head up, and drifted off to sleep...for a few minutes.  Silly me, I forgot to pee before I went to the couch.  Thankfully, I had enough sense to get up and do that!  Back to the couch.  Sleep.  Real.  Honest to God.  Sleep.  The dog even cooperated, only going out once during the night.  I went back to sleep.  I awoke at 5:00.  I peed.  (Who says 64 ounces of water a day is good for you?)  I went back to sleep.  I woke up.  No headache.  No knot.  Eye still sucks, but I can see!  Thankfully, some time during the night I was evicted from Pity City.  A haunting voice in my head kept repeating...attitude...attitude...attitude.  The eye will get better.  My sis will move to town.  Chester Chicken will be good again, and thank you god, I know where the remote is.  Again, Miss Lucy was spot on.  It's okay to visit Pity City (god knows why?) but don't move in.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bar Stools

The joy of traveling rests in three things.  First, the people with whom you travel.  Second, the place to which you travel.  And third, the things you can learn from that travel.  Having just returned from a southern swing with our neighbor, I can tell you how much we enjoyed her, how much we enjoyed the place, and thanks to both, the thing we learned.  While visiting the neighbor's son, we were enamored with the saddle back bar stools he had sitting near the breakfast area.  So much so, the neighbor thought they would look good in her kitchen.  So while we sat on them and admired them, I called the company from which they came and ordered a set for her.  They were to be delivered while we were gone.  They were.  Waiting for us.  One box.  Two stools.  Okay, one box, two stool seats, eight braces, four legs, 17 bolts (one for good luck), 17 locking washers, 17 regular washers, 17 screws, and the most entertaining little wrench thing you can imagine.  Now we have learned years ago that assembly is a two person job.  Cath reads the directions and I do as I'm told.  Sometimes.  The wrench was quickly replaced by a ratchet set (yes, I can spell it and use it).  The pieces were arranged and the excitement ensued.  After discussing which end was up, we proceeded to put the stools together.  While I finished tightening the bolts on one, Cath began assembling the other.  Voila.  Two exceptionally sturdy stools.  We checked them out under our island.  They would work!  We took them next door and they were ready to go.  We headed home to order our own set.  We got on line.  They were out!  We called.  They were out!  Sucks to be us!  We love Sally and enjoyed traveling with her.  We loved Missouri and Arkansas.  And we were retaught that not everything works out the way you want.  Three for three.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The eye has it

By now, dear readers, we have established...I AM a wuss!  Freaky things freak me out.  Like blinding flashes of light out of the corner of my eye.  Like a floater the size of Mississippi apparently resting  comfortably right in front of my line of vision.  Like a veil of little polka dots precluding visual acuity.  The onset of said excitement?  Of course.  The first day of our vacation to Arkansas.  Here's where the kudo's begin.  It was a weekend.  Once I had panicked significantly, I called my eye doc to see what I should do.  I got a recording saying I should leave a message.  I did.  They called back.  They suggested that I should not be overly concerned--this type of thing apparently is somewhat normal.  Not for me.  To ease my mind, they suggested I should try to see an ophthalmologist on Monday.  In Arkansas?  Well, I started calling on Sunday and finally reached the clinic Monday morning.  Come in, they said.  They would work me in.  I went in.  I didn't wait long.  They worked me in.  The optometrist who did the initial screening was a wonderful lady who professionally observed my condition and suggested an eye doc look at it.  She did.  She said it was a result of the number of birthdays I have had, and it would eventually go away. Make a follow up appointment in 4 to 6 weeks.  I felt so much better.  As the week progressed, I thought I saw improvement.  But toward the end of the week, either my brain or my nerves kicked in and I decided I wanted my own eye doc to look at it.  I called for an appointment.  None was to be had.  We decided to take a chance, so we drove all day Thursday so I could be at the clinic Friday morning.  They worked me in.  My eye doc explained to me what was happening in terms even I could understand.  He eased my mind.  Wait.  I shall wait.  Until then, I shall see the world through one good eye and one eye that makes so many unique shapes!  This, too, shall pass.  I will once again see through two eyes.  The world will not end.  And I will celebrate "normalcy"!  Perhaps, what I need is a patch...and a parrot!  Arrrrrgh!  I will definitely celebrate the kindness of the professionals who managed to "work me in"!  Attitude?  Gratitude!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Deep thought #7

If you have made it through the first six, congratulations!  You deserve a medal!  Being the cognizant type you are, you probably noticed an inherent theme.  Surprisingly, the discovery is not that deep.  The theme, on the other hand...
Poets, scholars, and fools have for years attempted to define the concept.  Some think it to be a many splendored thing.  Some think it is a red, red rose.  Some think it to cause fools to rush in.  At times I have been a scholar.  At time I have been a poet.  Most times, I have been a fool". I 'm still not going to try to define it.  Instead, I will propose a mathematical answer to the question of what is it?  Love is the only thing that increases the value of the giver and the receiver.  And I give you mine.  Deep, huh?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Deep thought #5

Discovering Life's Deeper Meaning and Purpose
A self help book.

Book on it...you are loved!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Thursday, October 8, 2015

In a perfect world,

I would be sveldt, built, and urbane.  I'm not.  I'm not.  And I'm not.
Gas would stay at one reasonable price for more than a week.  It doesn't.
Clothes would wash and dry themselves, fold or hang as necessary, and put themselves away.  They don't.
Chester's Fried Chicken wouldn't have salt.  It does.
People would drive with their lights on all the time.  They don't.
Hackers wouldn't mess up computers.  They do.
People who don't know me wouldn't have my phone number.  They do!
Gravity would be my friend.  It isn't.
In this absolutely imperfect world, I have a wife who not only loves me, she tolerates me.  I have food to eat, a house in which to live, a family that loves me unconditionally, friends that make the universe so much more interesting and entertaining, Dancing With the Stars, and the sure and perfect knowledge that imperfection is amazing!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Flashing on Miss Lucy

They're working in the kitchen--painting, fixing the ceiling--all the things we worked for all our lives to pay someone else to do!  As a result, the fudge making has shifted to the kitchen in the basement.  Everything upstairs is available downstairs in terms of equipment.  I was somewhat limited to flavors of fudge by the fact that almost all the flavorings reside in a cupboard upstairs.  So we have female chocolate, Butterfinger, almond, and blueberry(!).  Totally acceptable.  But I just poured the last batch in the pan and tried to find a place to set the kettle to be washed.  No surprise, there was no cupboard space.  You see, Miss Lucy believed that if a spoon, a pot, a utensil could be used while cooking, it SHOULD be used while cooking.  I have yet to meet someone who could outdo the number of items used to prepare a meal.  I could have gotten her compassion.  I could have gotten her wit.  I definitely got her tremors.  And even more definitely, based on observation, I got her cooking preparation skills.  Holy crap.  I didn't know I had that many pots, pans, measuring devices, spoons, spatulas and assorted paraphernalia.  I do!  And I'm sitting over here typing this rather than cleaning them up.  Come to think of it, I could have also inherited her need to clean, but alas, the gene pool ran dry there!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In case you didn't know...

it is now possible to make an appointment to renew your driver's license!  In my quest to find the location of our Department of Public Safety site, the lovely young lady at the toll free number asked if I would like to do so.  I said yes.  Unfortunately, I didn't ask her where I should go for said appointment...the reason I had called in the first place!  So this morning, I had to call and tell her that I appreciated the appointment, but wanted to give her a chance I don't offer everyone.  Would she tell me where to go?  She giggled.  Then she told me it was at the intersection of highway 212 and 21st St. SW.  I go to the intersection of highway 212 and 21st St. SW.  I see the Department of Corrections.  I immediately think the jig is up.  Then I see several other state departments.  Except the Department of Public Safety.  I search every sign.  I walk around to the front of the building.  I search every entrance.  Finally, the Department of Labor beckoned me welcome, so I went in and gave the delightful lady behind the desk the same opportunity I gave to the lovely young thing from the Department of Public Safety.  The same giggle--well, this time more of a chortle.  Her directions?  Go out the door.  Turn right.  Come to the corner of the building.  Turn right.  Pass under the overhang.  Head toward the Department of Corrections.  (Again, my jig is nervous).  Just prior to the Department of Corrections there is an alcove.  Turn right.  The door to the Department of Public Safety is in the alcove, facing north.  Of course it was.  North.  To the wall immediately behind it.  Hidden from view.  On my way out, I discover a sign on the wall that directs one to the alcove mystery, but it, too, is somewhat obstructed from view.  Jubilant that I left home early, I enter the office and notice 8 people waiting for their chance to renew their inalienable right to drive.  I was greeted at the door with "Here to renew?"  "Did you bring your two pieces of mail?"  "Fill out the form on the table."  "The pens are the little things with flowers sticking to them."  I filled out the form.  I returned it to the gentleman at the desk.  He did something to it, took my mail, made copies, and said, "You have an appointment, right?"  "Yup!" says I, not wanting to appear overly proper.  "Take a seat.  We'll call your name," says the gentleman name caller.  Hmmmmm.  I could have sworn he gave the two people in line ahead of me numbers and I heard someone call out 79, but who am I to argue with the man?  I take my seat.  I get involved in a pretty intense discussion of fraud prevention with the seven remaining people waiting to renew.  Then, like the voice of an angel, I hear, "Bill Zubke.  Please come to the desk."  I go to the desk.  It was 2:00 pm.  My appointed time.  I sign my name.  I pay my money.  I read the first line of the eye chart.  At 2:06, I walked out the door, license still hot from printing, waving to the seven people still waiting.  I hurry out to the car, get in, and speed away, afraid the seven may be in hot pursuit.  If I remember, I'll call for an appointment in six years!

The flag is lit.

It's a grand old flag.  I love to display it.  There's something about its emblematic quality that speaks to me.  I'm sure it has to do with my upbringing.  W.A. was a veteran of WW II.  He taught me to stand as the flag passed by.  If for no other reason than to honor those who traded their lives for my freedoms.  To this day, I remove my hat, place my hand over my heart and remember.  Then, there was Don Norlin.  He was my elementary music teacher.  He taught us to stand rigidly at attention when the national anthem was presented with all our focus given to the flag.  Not a chorus of that majestic song has been performed that my heart hasn't stirred.  And of course, there are the hymns of national pride.  God Bless America.  This Land is Your Land.  America.  They call us together.  So it seems only natural to have the stars and stripes displayed for all to see.  As you drive by, do me a favor?  Think of W.A. and all the men and women that make that drive possible.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

But the recipe sounded so promising

I've had my successes in the kitchen.  I've had epic failures.  I've tried unusual ingredients with usual approaches.  I've tried unusual ingredients with unusual approaches.  But when it comes to Brussels sprouts, I have never been disappointed.  Correction.  I had never been disappointed.  Consider:  pickled Brussels sprouts--an amazing zing and fantastic texture.  Broiled Brussels sprouts--great color and mixture of Balsamic vinegar and bacon.  But tonight?  Tonight was to be the pièce de résistance.  Tonight, it was baked whole Brussels sprouts tossed with garlic, olive oil, bacon grease, and white balsamic vinegar, finished with bacon and Parmesan cheese.  OMG.  My mouth watered as I prepared them.  I salivated as I added the bacon.  I almost moaned aloud when I sprinkled on the Parmesan.  I took my first bite.  It was my last bite!  The only conclusion I can come to is the Brussels sprouts probably should not have sat in the refrigerator for two weeks before I used them?  Go figure.  Rarely has the garbage disposal eaten so well!  Alas and alack.  Sometimes promises just aren't fulfilling!  I think I'll have a piece of fudge!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Harvest

Webster--Definition #5  "the result or consequence of any act, process, or event"

Tonight, the Arrow Education Foundation is holding the Harvest Festival--a fund raiser for the Foundation.  The purpose of the foundation is to help educators initiate exemplary learning practices into their classrooms.  I can think of no better use for my money.  Don't get me wrong.  I am a strong supporter of such things as the United Way, the Codington County Animal Shelter, Bramble Park Zoo, and our religious affiliation.  Each in its own way makes the world a better place.  But teaching children?  Could/Should there be a higher priority?  Need a doctor?  Creatively capture a child's curiosity.  Need a lawyer?  Creatively capture a child's ability to solve problems.  Need entertainment?  Creatively capture a budding instrumentalist, vocalist, or performer.  Each of these captures begins with a motivated, inspired, involved teacher.  They can work miracles.  But if I can increase the number of miracles performed by augmenting the meager budgets with which they have to work...if I can give them an extra tool to procure the interest...if I can give them support to learn/teach new things...where is the drawback there?  If the result or consequence of that act is one more excited learner, the process...the event...will be a success.  After all, do we not reap that which we sow?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sometimes, it's just good

Our walkway is being built!  This is good.  I was somewhat sure that we wouldn't have the right number of pavers, so when the workmen asked me to go get more, I apprehensively jumped in the pickup and, remembering that my usual route was under construction, took the alternate route.  This is good When I pulled into the Menards parking lot, there was a spot right in front of the door.  This is good. Apprehension was mounting.  What if they didn't have any pavers left.  It was, after all, October.  I grabbed a cart, narrowly avoiding hitting another shopper who decided the absolute middle of the aisle was a good place to unexpectedly stop for some unforeseen reason.  This is good.  Back to the paver section.  Eureka.  There were pavers left.  This is good.  I started loading the 75 (I was right--not NEARLY enough) and along comes a young strapping lad and asks if he can help me get loaded.  I agreed, realizing in time he meant the pavers, and between the two of us, we get them into the pickup.  This is good.  I head for home.  I hit EVERY light at exactly the right time!  This is good.  There are now enough pavers.  This is good. 
It's all about the little things that make life...G...REAT!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sibling excitement--the movie

Following the tragic loss of her husband, my sis has decided to make Watertown her home!  While 50 years ago that news would have met with mixed reviews, as we have aged (well, she has matured and I have aged!) we have formed an amazingly strong bond.  For me, it's totally based on respect.  She has done amazing things--quietly--effectively--and has no idea of how well-thought of she is.  She is irreverent, grammatical, and self effacing.  I get the first two.
At this age, she gets to start over.  Perhaps the "gets" is a little strong.  But attitude is everything.  And mine has been buoyed since learning she's moving here.  WA would approve.  Miss Lucy would approve.  And
Cath and I give it two thumbs up! 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

If you say you're going to do it...

Here's my rant--hypocritical though it may be.  Let me start with the hypocrisy.  I had agreed to provide food for an event in March.  Now, as it turns out, we will either be in or just leaving Hawaii on that date in March.  One of those plot shift kinds of things.  I have attempted to make the situation a little more tenable, but I feel terrible about agreeing to do something and then backing out.  That being said...
It was early last spring that we decided to have some repair work/painting done.  We contacted the company.  They came to look.  They gave us a bid.  They had another large job that they had to finish up first, and then they would do ours.  Apparently, the large job ran into some lengthy difficulties.  I contacted the contractor.  He assured me we were on the list.  I contacted him a month later.  He assured me we were on the list.  It is now the eve of the first day of October.  I attempted to contact him again tonight.  No answer.  Darn that caller ID thing.  Then it occurred to me.  He never mentioned what list we were on.  Hmmmm.
Early this summer, we decided to have a small paver walkway installed next to the garage.  We called a reputable company.  They said someone would give us a bid.  I called them again three weeks later.  Someone would give us a bid.  Two weeks later, I called again.  The contractor came to look and gave me a bid!  I accepted the bid.  The work would be done in the next two weeks.  Three weeks later, I call again.  This time, the original contact gave me the cell number of the contractor who had bid the job.  I called.  I believe he said he heard I had been nagging the original contact.  Hmmmm.  Three weeks ago, I called him again, and he wouldn't be there in the next week but the week after for sure.  Tonight, I contacted him again.  Day after tomorrow.  That would be October 2.  I am NOT holding my breath. 
Now, this is the thing.  I understand things come up.  I understand that complications can extend other projects.  I understand that my projects are probably quite small in terms of revenue production.  I understand all that.  DO NOT TELL ME YOU WILL DO SOMETHING AND THEN LEAVE ME HANGING!  I should have not needed to call (or nag).  I should have been kept in the loop in terms of time.  And by golly, that work should be done!  Annie may be right.  The sun WILL come up tomorrow.  But the painters and masons?  Probably not!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I know! I know! It's about time!

You may have noticed a lapse in daily entering.  I hope you noticed it!  We have been virtually incommunicado for the last three days.  Not a bad thing.  Rest, relaxation, and girth increase, but with no effective connectivity.  You would think with a few days off I would have a plethora of advice, observations and or bromides to offer.  Nope.  As I write, we are in the car headed home, and I am writing this in a note format because there a parts of South Dakota that seeming eschew effective signal strength.  Instead of the usual witty Bon mots and priceless wisdom, I will simply say thanks for waiting.  And the beat goes on!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thar's gold in them thar hills!



Absolutely still.  Dinner's done.  The pine trees odiferize the deck.  The deer have eaten their fill.  The turkeys have strutted their stuff.  And a calmness that comes only from the knowledge that there is NOTHING we have to do settles over us.  The computers may or may not connect.  The phone may or may not stay charged.  The batteries in the camera are fresh and new, and life is good!  My wish tonight for you?  May you understand that very calmness and know you are loved!




Friday, September 25, 2015

A frightening thought

A late September trek across the state of South Dakota gives one plenty of time for reflection, not to mention dozing!  Amazing how one can go from totally alert to totally unconscious in such a short span of time.  I almost missed the burros on the side of the road!  But surprisingly I digress.  I have grown to appreciate the trees of South Dakota, knowing that most of them are there by dint of human planning and toil.  They offer a much needed break from the endless prairie.  And of course, they are deciduously preparing for dormancy.  The colors range from drab to striking.  Now, the reflection part.  As life has often been likened to the changing seasons, I hope that now, in the early autumn of my years, my approach to winter will be as splendiferous as the brightest colors of leaves.  In preparation for my "Oh god, he's going to be hell in the home" winter season, with luck I can elicit a smile or two, a sudden intake of breath on behalf the of the casual observer, and provide a break from the mundane prairies of acceptable behavior!  Look out, world!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Adios, Elmer

Five years ago, Rooster Rush became a community contest.  Businesses decorated to welcome the out-of-state hunters (and their spending habits), and thanks to our CVB director, Elmer Fudge was born.  Dressed from head to foot in orange (relying on his AFO [affinity for orange] wardrobe), Elmer came to life to judge the competitors and distribute the anticipated prize...fudge.  It was an amazing run, with stunning participation and delightful competitors.  This year, Elmer would miss the week of competition, so realizing change is beneficial, decided to hang up his named orange hat.  Today, at his last event, he will honor those that make Watertown the amazing place it is.  In every way possible, it's been sweet!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Eponymous post

On the road again!  This time, we're headed to an AARP event in Sioux Falls.  Of course, any trip to SF necessitates a stop at Sam's Club for something we obviously need but don't know it yet!  Yup!  Full cart.  The most exciting thing was gas.  $1.94 a gallon!  Wait.  What exactly does this say about my life and my excitement level.  Shut up.  That was rhetorical.  AARP.  Cheap gas.  Old age.  Thank god!  

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Yin and Yang

Truly, a gorgeous September day.  Warm.  Breezy.  So much so, the air conditioner is running.  Cool.  Literally.  Unfortunately, preparing for the Drama Study Club dinner tomorrow evening, I need to proof some sourdough bread.  It needs a warm place.  Can't set it outside.  Can't kill the yeast in the oven.  Solution.  Turn the electric heat up in the bathroom and shut the door.  72 delightful degrees in most of the house.  85 in the bathroom!  It gives me cause to pause.  Isn't that what life is all about?  Finding the comfort level for the most part, but getting a little heat occasionally!  So far, I've been lucky.  While the heat at times has been uncomfortable, the end result has often been positive.  Too much of the same just doesn't cut it.  Especially if you want good bread!!!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

salacious conversations

So....what do two retired school teachers talk about walking to breakfast?  This morning?  Grammar.  Specifically, is it "1/3 is..." or "1/3 are..."?  Since both are usually followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with "of", my grammar background would say "is".  But clearly, in most cases, that simply doesn't sound good.  Example.  "1/3 of the people is not caring about this."  Totally wrong.  It has to be "1/3 of the people are not caring about this."  Of course, you wouldn't say "1/3 of the pie are gone."  At least, I hope you wouldn't.  Now, of course, the world would not change, nor would gravity reverse its hold if the answer to this question remained unknown.  And truthfully, when breakfast was 1/3 gone, I had forgotten the question.  However, as I was 2/3 asleep in front of the television, like a niggling itch, it reared its ugly head.  Google.  After several tries and an amazing number of mathematical responses, I did find the answer.  It came right after the suggestion to reword the question so you didn't have to worry!  Example.  "Who could possibly give a rat's rump whether it's 'is' or 'are'"?  And better still, "Who ate the pie?"  For those of you drooling for the answer, it's simple.  Break the rule.  If the object of the preposition is singular, use "is".  If it is plural, use "are".  And if you wonder where the title of this opus comes from, consider what you are thinking I should have done with the question in the first place!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

It's the shxxx (rhymes with its!)--literally

Nothing says good weekend morning better than discovering your house now comes with an indoor pool!  Washed a load of clothes only to discover that gravity had discontinued its planned natural state, and the washing water, along with some natural brown coloration, had decided to flow backward.  It's a miracle.  Here's the surprise.  When I call the plumber, I get a recording.  If this is a plumbing emergency (well, it was to me!), please dial 2.  I dial 2.  Another soothing voice says, for a plumbing emergency, please dial 4.  I dial 4.  I get a recording.  A recording!  (Note to self--sure glad this group doesn't work for 911!)  No response.  I move the washer.  I have one of those snake things.  I can't even get it down the hole.  (See previous messages on mechanical abilities!)  I call again.  I press 2.  I press 4.  The voice returns to the original message.  I press 2.  I press 4.  The voice returns to the original message.  Not matching the soothing nature of the voice on the line, I exercise my vast knowledge of expletives.  Didn't help.  Now I have two alternatives.  I can wait for the return call or learn the breast stroke.  Or, I could exercise an out-of-the-box alternative.  I could drink my breakfast!  The OOTB choice is becoming more appealing.  But then I would have to pee.  The neighbors might object to me using the back yard!  Expletive not deleted!  Enjoy your day, flush once for me, and know you are loved!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hands on

I have decided heaven on earth was hovering around our dwelling this afternoon.  It is Ki-Yi week.  For the uninformed, that is our homecoming tradition.  Coincidentally, it is often the time the reuninionites decide to come home.  One of those groups this weekend was the class of 85, or 30 years ago.  One of the students from that class has become and remained a good friend.  Hailing from Colorado, it's not often we get to see her.  So yesterday, we took the opportunity to join her and her parental units for lunch.  Great conversation and fellowship.  She is, by trade, a massage therapist, and invited us out for "massages at the lake"!  While the idea of an outdoor massage was indeed intriguing, I wasn't convinced it was for me.  Alas, the weather did not cooperate.  Instead, she offered to come into our home and do the massage.  If you didn't hear the rafters shake with my vociferous "YES!", I am surprised.  At three o'clock, she arrived, table and materials in hand, and we set up in the front porch--the only room with enough space for her to work without moving furniture.  (And by nature, I've always harbored a desire for exhibitionism!)  She goes to the kitchen, I strip down to my tidy whities and climb up on the table. What ensued was an amazing hour-plus deep massage.  I didn't quit smiling from the first foray on my neck and back to the last light tap of my feet.  (I'm pretty sure the paper boy who looked in hasn't quit smiling either!)  It was only then, for a brief second, that the smile faded from my face realizing it was over.  And I DIDN'T HAVE TO GO HOME!  I could revel in the relaxation!  Smelling a bit like lavender, I enjoyed supper with my bride and once I am done here, plan on continuing the relaxation in front of the television, totally planning on watching the inside of my eyelids! 
For years, I have maintained the only true way to teach and measure learning was hands-on.  Show me you can use what you are supposed to have learned.  Today, I learned an amazing way to share your gifts can be hands-on!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lessons from our first early morning Yoga

Breathe, Bill!
I have no upper arm strength.
Gravity affects my downward facing dog.
I rely on the kindness of strangers (Blanch, eat your heart out!)
I really like the part where you put the block under your butt and hang out!
Early morning is a far better time to do this.
Everything is better when you do it with the woman you love!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Another milestone

It happened in the middle of the night.  I knew it was coming, but was quite sure it wouldn't happen until today.  Imagine my pleasure to discover this morning that over 50,000 people have at least opened one copy of my blog!  (That even allows for the number of times I've had to open one to remember what it said!)  To those of you who faithfully read the diatribes set before you, I thank you.  For those of you who have stumbled upon a blog or two, thanks for opening.  And to those of you who are searching in vain for literary merit, keep looking.  It could happen!  It would be a shame to miss it! 
And so begins the next half 100,000!  Know you are loved!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Shopping--redefined

I don't think it was my idea.  But it was not without merit.  Our intent with the great niece and nephew is to make their birthdays something we enjoy together.  For Him, it was made simple by a plan (also I'm sure not mine!) which opened a savings account for him, and each birthday he gets money and as a group we go to the bank and deposit it.  Then he gets to choose where to go for lunch.  Easy peasy.  Now Her, who turned six today, is a different story.  Thematically, this was her "My Little Pony" birthday.  She had a party on Sunday, and got all sorts of pony stuff.  We decided instead of taking a chance on duplication, to give her money and take her shopping so she could get something she may have wanted but didn't get.  Her mother was extremely good in first establishing how much money she had and that she had to stay in budget.  Even I understood the explanation.  Then, Wal-mart.  Have you ever shopped with a six year old who wasn't told what she could buy?  DON'T!  We looked at toys, dolls, art supplies, toys, Legos, electronic animals, toys...until we found just the right one...a puppy that barked when you petted his head and came with a stethoscope so you could listen to his heart!  Yeah, like that existed when I got my slinky!  The smiles on the adult faces were amazing.  And then we walked by the dog that not only barked, but walked.  Oh my.  Six year old decision time.  Now this is the part that absolutely ALMOST convinced me we had made a good birthday decision.  She walked back over to the first barking dog and apologized because she had changed her mind!  Melted my heart.  "Bubbles" became a part of her family, and off for supper we go.  Understand, Bubbles needed batteries.  The smart thing to do would be to wait until they got home to put them in.  But no. (And this time I'm sure it was my decision!). Let's buy them now!  Bubbles has an amazingly annoying bark!
We survived!  It was a learning experience.  We'll do it again.  When she turns sixty!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The unexpected!

Due to an unfortunate circumstance (and I'm sure Larry would agree), we have made a couple trips to Ipswich in the last week.  On the way, we happened upon this nice little building on the south side of the road that was a company of some kind.  The first time past, I noticed it was James Valley something starting with Sc.  Since we were aware of James Valley Christian School, we opined that it might be their administrative building. On our way home, we passed the building again (at a speed that precluded careful reading) but thought it said James Valley Scents.  A bit unusual, but how nice...a small candle and sachet making place.  Of course, we were still uncertain that it said "scents", so on our way out today, we paid special attention to the sign.  Yup.  Scents.  But since we were on a schedule, we continued with our assumption.  Headed home, I decided to find out what kind of candles this place might make (always looking for gift ideas).  Here's what I found.



Now that's what I call interesting candles!



Sunday, September 13, 2015

How to make your meatloaf sexy!

Personally, I love meatloaf.  I have yet to meet a recipe that I didn't like.  But sexy?  I think not--at least, not until tonight.  My bride, in her search of the low carb extremes, came across this concept.  It WORKS!  Find yourself a decent size onion.  Cut the ends off.  Cut it in half.  Carefully peel away the layers, keeping the half layers together.  Since you are looking for individual serving sizes, you may not want the large outer layers or the inner layers.  Chop them and use them in your meatloaf!  Prepare your meatloaf as normal.  Make a ball the size of a ball that would fit in the completed onion layer and place it on the "bottom" half.  Place the "top half" over it.  Carefully wrap the onion ball with three strips of bacon, using toothpicks to secure the bacon.  Place on a lipped cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  When totally assembled, place in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until bacon is crisp and the meatloaf is firm.  Remove and serve with sides of your choice (ours were sliced avacado and fresh tomato wedges.).  I'm tellin' ya, it's down right saxy!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

resusitation

I have definitely decided.  If I am ever on the edge of life and death and you believe I might need a reason to reach for the former, simply put a batch of buns in the oven to bake.  The aroma alone will increase my need to stay around.  The anticipation of warm bread slathered with butter will embolden my spirits, and the knowledge that you cared enough to do this will most decidedly encourage me to leap from the throes of despondence, despair, and death into your arms--especially if you are holding the buns!  Two things should be painfully obvious.  As I write, there are buns in the oven, and it is lunchtime and my body says "Feed me!"  As I wait for the ding of the timer, I will simply let you know that you (like the buns) are loved!

Friday, September 11, 2015

a catch-up day

To say this week has been busy would be an understatement.  Likewise, to deny the emotional drainage would be foolish.  But we come from sturdy stock--resilient--invested.  Gloria Gaynor, eat your heart out--we shall Survive!  But oh, what a delight.  A day with nothing planned.  A day to take a five mile hike--to take Aunt Edith out for chocolate--to fix a meal--to buy dog food--to be ready for bed.  Mundanity!  Imagine that...my spell check just said there is no such word.  There should be. For every once in a while, mundanity is a good thing!  Of course, like Cinderella at the ball, it probably ends at midnight.  The carriage (which has to be in the shop early tomorrow morning) will probably turn into a pumpkin.  The gorgeous gossamer dress my bride wore today turns into work jeans tomorrow.  Things MUST get done.  Places MUST be gone, but the memory of today will linger.  Like a difficult piece of music, enhancement often comes from a rest.  God bless mundanity!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Larry

Larry died yesterday.  He was my brother-in-law--my sister's husband.  He'd had some significant health issues in the past.  He just hadn't felt good all summer--couldn't put his finger (or the doctor's finger) on what was wrong.  He was getting cleaned up for a doctor's appointment, stepped out of the shower and died.  My sis was there and performed CPR until the ambulance got there, and since no one can die until the doctor says you have, they took him to the hospital in Aberdeen where he was pronounced.  That's probably more information than you need, but somehow it feels good to put it into words. 

Larry was not a man I might have sought out as a friend.  Had my sister never moved to Ipswich to teach, I would never have known him.  His interests were as varied and different as they could be from mine.  Yet I thank god for that move, for I got to know and love a man that loved and took care of my sister.  If something were broken, he could fix it.  Granted, it may not have been in a typical, professional way, but when it was done, it worked.  He was a collector of all sorts of interesting(?) things.  He collected and cared for my two nephews and niece!  He never lost the Oklahoman accent and never demonstrated he knew that can't was not pronounced caint, but he was a highly intelligent, quiet business man who saw to the needs of his customers and his friends.  My spousal unit summed him up in one lovable description.  Larry was "quirky".  Now you have to understand a word to use it, and since she married into our family.... 

Sometimes, a degree in speech/theater and English serves a purpose:
John Donne
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. 


Larry was truly "everyman".  I grieve my sister's loss.  I grieve our family's loss.  Yesterday, the bell tolled for us!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I'm ready...

for bed!  It's been a fun, informative, tiring day.  It started with a new recipe early this morning.  (Plan to visit here tomorrow for the recipe!)  Since I am planning on teaching it tomorrow night, I thought it might be nice if I had at least made it once.  After a couple tweaks, I think it is ready.  Then it was breakfast with our aunt, a jaunt to Huron to do a presentation for 45 retired school employees (no x among them!), back home to make and frost individual carrot cakes for tomorrow's class, assemble the over-night sensation I worked on this morning, and make up some all meat bagels (Yup--you heard right!  I plan on demonstrating them with cream cheese on one side and egg salad on the other.)  After a quick rinse of the accumulation of dirty dishes, I decided they would hold until tomorrow (and since I'm in my basement kitchen, no one will be the wiser) and now, following a somewhat disappointing takey-out from Buffalo Wild Wings (could it be that I just don't like them?) I'm ready to call it a day.  Don't get me wrong.  As Catherine, the German teacher in my very first teacher school used to say, "I'm not bitching.  I'm just stating the facts."  And fact is...Yawn!

Monday, September 7, 2015

There'll be some changes made

I love South Dakota.  Sweatin' like an oldie one day, covering up like an oldie the next.  Truly infinite in its variety.  The only constant is the oldie!  This past weekend, I got a call from a former student wondering if I would stop in at their 10th reunion.  I was honored.  This would be the class to whom I gave my farewell address (called the commencement speech).  They looked great.  I learned a lot. And surprise of surprises, I told a joke.  (It was so nice to be able to tell a joke and not worry if I would get a parental call!)  While there, it struck me that they were young, but not really!  They had jobs.  They had families.  They had made significant decisions.  They were what they were supposed to be--functioning members of society!  And I?  I was proud!  If I had a part in that development, well, isn't that grand.  I know that if I did not, some other teacher did.  That's the beauty about the personalities of teachers.  They're all different, thank god, and there is someone there that for every student.  At least there should be.  But there won't, if we don't make some drastic changes--like make teaching a career to which to aspire.  Pay them.  Educate them.  Work for and with them.  The best and the brightest should be teaching the best and the brightest.  But it ain't gonna happen if there aren't (see title above!)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The sprinkler...OMG

American literature?  I can handle it.  Arithmetic functions?  I can do them.  Spatial reasoning?  I'm okay.  Mechanical anything?  FORGET IT!  That's why I bought the little square sprinkler with the rotating top.  All you do is place it and turn it on.  It's a god-send.  Oops.  It WAS a god-send.  The second one of the season is now defunct.  The little whirly thing on top that disseminates the water (see, I know disseminates but have no idea what the whirly thing is called!) popped off.  Second one this year.  That leaves the one that goes whooka whooka whooka and then goes back and goes whooka whooka whooka again.  I've figured out if you raise the little wire thingy connected to the top part of the sprinkler, it just goes whoosh in a big circle.  But sometimes, you want to only water a corner of the yard.  You then have to place the little wire thingy between the two guides and adjust the two guides so it only whookas so far.  I can even grasp this concept.  Unfortunately, I'm never sure from which direction the water will come, so invariably, when I turn it on, I get soaked.  Then you have to adjust the guides to be sure the water only goes where you want it.  Another soaking.  Eventually, however, I do manage to come close to the pattern I want.  Unfortunately, that's not the pattern for the whole yard.  So set and repeat.  Whooka, whooka, whooka...go change clothes.  Having finished the front yard, I DARE it to rain!!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain

telling me just what a fool I've been.  Here's the deal.  To celebrate the completion of the neighbor to the south's project and the completion of the neighbor to the north's project, we scheduled an outdoor "on the projects" wine and cheese get together.  The chairs are set to the north.  The patio has been cleaned to the south.  The wine is chilled, the cheese crisps, crisped.  All is right with the world.  Except for...
And those of you who follow this blog will understand the next phrase.  Plot shift!  We shall celebrate amazing friendships indoors and drink to the projects outdoors.  Salads, sandwiches, garden produce and a pie from the no-longer-apple-producing apple trees will sustain us.  And we will live to celebrate another day!  And listen to the rhythm.

Friday, September 4, 2015

There's something about a goal.

Ms. Lucy used to explain my behavior in this way.  "If he decided in the morning he were going to do it, by bedtime he would have!"  I'm pretty sure it wasn't meant as a compliment!  Remembering the things that I "did", I'm absolutely sure it wasn't meant as a compliment!  But it's hard to change what is obviously hard wired into one's DNA. 
All those trimmed branches were on the ground.  They needed to be chopped, trash canned, and removed.  We started early.  About half way through, there was thunder.  We continued.  With the rain imminent, I decided I should spread the fertilizer that I had found in the garage.  I get the spreader.  I adjust the spreader so it works.  I get the fertilizer.  Oops--it's a spring application with crab-ass pre-treatment.  Back goes the spreader.  Back to the project.  With the amazing help of my spousal unit, we finish the job, clean up, head inside, and it starts to rain.  Good timing and completing...a rare dual win!  The only thing left on my goals list today is a nap!  This too shall be done! 

It's summertime...and here's my rhyme!

The apple trees create a mess. I hit my head while mowing.
It's difficult to say the least the garden for to see.
So many problems do exist.  Solution?  It be showing.
Just go ahead and do the deed! Go out and chop some tree!

The weather it is very hot.  The sweat it's surely running.
The lower levels we do lop.  We work hard, he and she.
Why spend the time? Do it ourselves?  You ask with all your cunning.
When surely younger, stronger folk would do it for a fee.

I must admit I've asked myself, "Why not just be out, funning?"
But no!  The project calls our names.  The fates they do decree.
We gird our loins, we do the deed.  We could just be out sunning!
And on the project's second day, I meet up with a bee.

The tree's her home.  The apple's? Food!  Defend it what she's doing.
Just slightly up inside shorts leg where flesh it tender be
She plants her protest. Takes her stand.  This action I be ruing.
The stinger does intended job.  Resultant swell you see.

Now existential thoughts abound.  Some say result I'm earning
I have indeed attacked her ground. But by the by and by
A secret, nasty thought ensues.  You now will be discerning
Deep down on level oh so base...I'm glad that she will die!


You have to understand.  For the most part, I'm a live and let live sort of guy.  I won't bite you if you don't sting me.  Just seems reasonable.  But bees?  Ugh!  Oh well.  At least the neighbors will have some apple wood for their fire pit!





Wednesday, September 2, 2015

le grande experimente

Several years ago, over my wife's luke warm acceptance, I purchased two Haraldson apple trees.  I like Haraldson apples.  I like apple pie.  The only problem was, you had to pick the apples and prepare the apples and store the apples and that was just two steps more than I really cared for.  Besides which, we only had an apple crop every other year.  But the trees grew.  And I trimmed.  And they grew.  This year, we had an amazing spring bloom on the trees.  If every bloom turned into an apple, we would have enough to feed the universe.  Well, maybe the block.  Anyhow, for some reason, this season the apples chose not to stay on the tree.  Every day I would pick up 50-100 apples.  Okay, says I.  Mother Nature knows best.  Apparently she was saving only the really good ones, and since there were so many....  Not necessarily so.  The ones on the tree were ugly, pocked, and apparently attractive to the birds and the bees (no, not the rabbit action I have referenced earlier--the real birds and bees.)  Uncle, says I.  And today, with great resolve (and absolutely no remorse!) the trees began there long trek to fireplace wood for the neighbors to the South.  Hot today.  Sultry.  Old am I.  Tire easily.  The denuding and destruction are obviously going to be a multi-day project.  But we got started.  After clearing a bunch of lower branches, I came across what can only be described as a freak of nature.  Picture the branches, gracefully reaching toward the sky.  Picture the a-symmetrical shape of the tree.  And then, if you can't picture it...
a right angle!  An honest to god, almost 90 degree right angle.  Now that was a branch with an attitude!  I liked it.  It will be a shame to cut it down.  Not!  But it did cause a little bit of conversation, and this is almost always a great thing.  Tomorrow, it may be fire wood.  Or the next day.  We'll see when the spirit and the body are in sync.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

There are everyday miracles to celebrate.

1.  While watering the neighbor's yard, the sprinkler path covered the new patio we finished last week.  Miracle #1--there were no standing puddles--anywhere on the patio.  Apparently, we approximated level!
2.  While preparing for supper tonight, Cath asked where the plastic plates we bought last week were.  With surety, I told her they were where they were supposed to be--under the black cupboard in the basement.  Miracle #2--they were!
3.  We ran out of mustard and ketchup.  Miracle #3--we had each in the pantry in the basement.
4.  While stealing one of the tomato slices I had just peeled and portioned, it slipped out of my hand.  Miracle #4--it landed back in the bowl.

And then, of course, there are the everyday antithesis.
1.  After baking a fresh batch of rolls, I was unable to avoid eating one, even though I am trying to lose a pound or two.
2.  I need to lose more than a pound or two.
3.  Wasps love indoors.
4.  So do flies, and if the one that is dive bombing me isn't careful, it's short life will be shorter!

I would say, in this particular moment, Miracles win!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Why do you spend so much time on Facebook?

So, I'm in a local business, looking to replace a part broken on an appliance, and a gentleman asked me the question above.  The implication was it was nothing but a waste of time.  He further commented on the negative possibilities associated with the social media.  Think of the relationships it could ruin.  And obviously, there's nothing to talk about since all info appears on line.  And he could have a point.  Like any invention, the possibility of misuse exists.  But I try to avoid that.  If anything, I like to think positives can occur if the media is used correctly.  Maybe I am excessive.  But maybe, I can make someone smile.  Then, it's worth it.  I just hope he doesn't discover my blog!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

You, too, can be a fashionista!

So, we're sitting at breakfast this morning with our host and hostess at the B&B we are revisiting, and the hostess, a lovely lady, obviously kind and generous says to me, "Don't take this the wrong way, but are you color blind?"  How could one POSSIBLY take that the wrong way?  I looked at my outfit.  Seeing no glaring fashion faux pas, I said no and inquired as to why she would ask.  She commented that her son was color blind and he always opted for brightly colored apparel.  Funny.  I didn't realize my outfit was anything but subdued!  You be the judge 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Observations on a summer's day road trip across the state of South Dakota

This is one freaking wide state.

There are only three routes possible north of the interstate.

When you google Oreo cows, you discover they are actually Belted Galloways.

Hogs with similar markings are Hampshires.

Traveling with an I-pad has innumerable rewards.

I-pad coverage is spotty, so sometimes one has to write on the notepad and cut and paste to one's blog.

There really is a Billsburg, SD!

Of the billions of bugs in the world, the majority of those with a death wish have met our windshield.

You know you've been in the car too long when you believe it's ONLY 73 miles to your destination.

Life is better when you travel with the ones you love!

Friday, August 28, 2015

And the sweat runs in rivulets down my corporeal magnitude!

Yup!  Sweatin' like a hog!  Just finished mowing the yard.  Had to bag it--it got a little long--two honkin' garbage containers long.  Oh well, it will look nice for a day or two.  Now it's time for shower number two today to get ready to add to my corporeal magnitude!  It's a trip to the Bird Feeder one more time.  The Milbank Retired Teachers' Association is having their kick off meeting tonight and have invited us to join them.  The motif is Hawaiian!  I think I can cover that.  (Doesn't every retired elderly gentleman have at least three Hawaiian shirts?)  The pina colada fudge is in shot glasses ready to do shooters, and my taste buds are dancin'!  It's good to be old!  And you are loved!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

There are parts of my body

that do not hurt.  The top of my head.  My eyelids.  I think that's it.  But the pavers are laid, the sand has been distributed, and now we wait for the opportunity to sit and enjoy and nice cold brew with the neighbor.  After all, it is her yard.  This is not to say, however, that the project went without a hitch.  One new saw later, all are cut.  The packer we had was temperamental and would work when it wanted to.  The last time I went to start it was the last time I went to start it.  The pull cord broke, so we had to take it back and get another one.  It the terminology of my former students, those suckwads are heavy!  Enlisting the aid of our paperboy, I was able to get it into the truck and exchange it.  Thankfully, the paperboy returned to help get it out of the truck.  When we finished, my bride and I attempted to lift it back onto the cart to return it to the neighbor.  I had the idea that if I held the handle up I would get a better grip.  My end went up first.  The handle went down and hit my wife in the head, knocking her to the ground.  She will have a headache and a goose egg, but I think she will be okay.  I'm not feeling the proudest, however. Of course it was an accident, but one is not happy when one's loving spousal unit gets hit in the head!  The observation to which I have come is this.  DIY network, I'm having you expunged.  PSTDI is my byword!!!  And you are loved!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shamed into a work ethic

If you read last night's blog, you realize how impressed I have been with the neighbor's patio progress.  Since we had a small project of our own, we decided to tackle it today.  24 pavers to be set in a 6X4 pattern in the neighbor's back yard.  Piddling.  Or so I thought.  Since we had already hauled the sand, we had to pack it.  The neighbor wanted to rent the packer, so we piggytailed on her efforts.  Of course, after using it for about 3 minutes it quit and I couldn't seem to get it started again.  Never afraid to admit to my ignorance, we went back and asked her if she would call and see what should be done.  Tool Time graciously said they would send someone up to look at it.  THANKFULLY, as I sat waiting for them to come, I noticed a small switch on the bottom of the machine.  It said "off".  I flipped the switch.  It ran!  And we beat the service call.  Chagrined, I finished packing the sand, and then it was time to place the pavers.  Of course, they had to be level.  Of course, they had to be steady.  Fast forward four hours later, and the first 18 are placed.  The last six have to be cut to size.  Darn.  The neighbor has my saw.  I'll have to wait!  With heavy limbs and the knowledge that she can run circles around me, I look forward to a good night's sleep and the finished project tomorrow.  Yeah, right.  Don't hold your breath!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's a matter of trust

I don't believe I have said much about the neighbor to the south.  She is an amazing woman, holding down a full time job, raising three kids, and landscaping her back yard.  Last summer it was the flower garden in the back and an amazing fire pit.  This year, she decided a patio made of brick and paving stone would look good next to the house.  This required that the sod be removed...by hand.  The dirt excavated...by hand.  The gravel (all nine ton of it) hauled into place...by hand.  The sand hauled into place...by hand, and the pavers set in the right location...by hand.  God, she makes me tired.  Of course, due to the pattern of the pavers and the non-yielding pattern of the patio, several of the stones need to be cut.  Therein lies the story.  Seems as how she rented a stone cutter.  It proceeded to blow the circuit halfway through a cut.  Quick end, she got one stone cut.  New thought.  How about using a circular saw and a rock cutting blade?  A good idea, if only she had a circular saw.  Enter the Zubke household.  We have a circular saw.  She was somewhat skeptical when she saw the cord was held together with electrical tape from where I had sawed right through it.  Undaunted, however, she gave it a try.  Eureka.  It worked.  Several stones were cut, and the saw quit.  Seems as how the splice job done so many years ago gave way and the black cord ends had burned out, causing them to disconnect.  Never one to say die, I unwrap the old tape, disconnect all the ends, reconnect with new tape, cover the splices, and as we speak two miracles are happening.  First, it is working, and second, she is still standing!  Hopefully, this will be the case until she is done.  Hopefully, the trust is not misplaced!  Quit shaking your head!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Blue

As I was walking home from my presentation this morning, my eyes were drawn heavenward to the most beautiful shade of blue.  There is no place in the world that can outdo the clear morning blue skies of eastern South Dakota.  And I started thinking.  The very nature of the sky boosted my spirits and raised my expectations of positive things for the day.  Why, then, when someone is sad, is it said they are blue?  It just doesn't make sense to me, so I have a new campaign.  Let's change the connotation of blue.  From now on, when I'm sad, I believe I shall say I'm puce.  Puce seems much better.  How about it?  Will you join my movement?  Or will I have to be puce all by myself?  All I know is I shall never be sad blue again!  This is my belief, and I shall adhere to it...as long as I remember it!  Celebrate the positive blue, and know you are loved!