Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I think Tevya would agree.  Our New Year's Eve is the quintessential definition of a tradition.  When we were first married, we would spend NYE in the pursuit of the elusive "tooter"!  We would libate, play games, and blow on our party favors as the new year entered.  Unfortunately, the couple with whom we would do this moved away, opening up a slot for a new tradition. Enter our good friends, Doug and Judy, who shall remain nameless.  We have the discussion every year, and every year, we agree we can't truly remember...how long we have ushered in a new year together.  It starts today at lunch.  Then the games begin...literally.  The closet is cleared and the couch is filled with board games, cards...anything that allows us to test our skills.  Sometimes we play partners.  Sometimes it's "me against the world", but at all times, it's fun!  We will play all afternoon, break for supper, and then back to the table for the ushering in portion of the evening.  In years gone by, it would be 5 am on the first of the year before we would quit.  As we have packed on the years, it gets a little earlier every year.  But it is what it is...a tradition that stands the test of time!  May you find good friends, good food, good times, and goodness in your 2014 approach to life and even though the year is new, the feeling is eternal...you are loved!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Used and loved

It was in the putting away.  It struck me

a cookbook held the secret of life!  No, not the Szechwan chicken, although it really is good!  It was the state of the recipe.  It's been used.  It's not in pristine shape.  Okay, it's a little dirty.  But like all good recipes, it's been visited again and again and again.  Weight watcher points have been figured.  Soy sauce has been liberally applied.  And the cookbook opens to this page on its own!  I suppose a "proper" way to treat the cookbook would have been to use my fancy cookbook holder and keep it from spills.  But cookbooks are not about being clean.  They're not about being careful.  They're all about creating something that you can share with the people you love.  When I saw the recipe page, I realized that life was that way.  It's all about creating something you can share with the people you love!  (It's the bloody secret of life: I had to repeat it!). When I die, I will not care if my sweat pants are stained or one of my "slightly" off-colored jokes may have offended.  While I can, I want it to tell people how important they are...tell people to laugh more...tell people to make their lives make a difference...tell the people I love that they are.  To me, those are the ingredients to life.  And now the secret is out of the bag!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Once again, it's time to unabashedly...

Blame it on years of teaching freshmen introduction to computer.  I have developed a penchant for seeing things in rebus form.  Each student was expected to create a rebus to visually depict his/her name.  Great assignment, and most entertaining.  (There...I have begun to do as the rebus suggests!)  Let me continue.  This is my 182nd consecutive blog (if you buy into the catch-up for the trip to Africa).  That would be half a year of consistently putting something on the screen.  There.  I'm done.  Actually, what I want to do is thank those of you who read it and me.  You give purpose to the process.  Likewise, I'd like you to know that I do not use the word love lightly.  When you are told you are loved, you are!  And, you are.  Let's try for another half year together, shall we?

Saturday, December 28, 2013


I have heard for years the phrase, "hitting one's stride", but never gave it any thought.  It meant that the person had found the best way to do whatever was to be done.  This was, of course, before I ran to impose a sense of control over my body (and my mind).  It was as I was fighting the process  for the second day in a row that the origin of the phrase actually aha'd me!  In the normal course of the self-flagellating exercise called running, I usually suck big time (and I mean that literally) during the first 8/10ths of a mile.  My mind is fighting my body.  My body is fighting nature.  Gravity is winning on both accounts.  But then, my mind shifts from "Oh my god how I hate this" to anything else, and the breathing eases, the pain diminishes, and the effort becomes more second-nature.  Truly mind over matter.  But yesterday and today, it just didn't happen.  No one threw the switch.  The mind didn't wander from "crap!  crap!  crap!" and I discovered that my mind was spending all its time reverting to heredity.  (That would be German, stubborn!)  I only finished because I could, not because I wanted to.  Actually, that sounds wrong.  I really wanted to be finished, but I didn't want to submit to quitting before the length to be covered was covered!  I never hit my stride.  But here's the amazing thing.  I continued.  I persevered.  And I swore like a sailor!  I then decided running was a lot like living.  It takes a while to be comfortable.  When "in the groove", life is pretty amazing.  When things don't go exactly as they should, a little stubborn "stick-to-itiveness" will pull you through to the end of the day.  And as Scarlett O'Hara says, tomorrow "is another day"!  Of course, it's supposed to be 20 degrees below zero with a feels like temp of -50, so I think maybe I'll stride to the couch and watch a movie tomorrow!  Now, that's hitting it!  Know you are loved!

Friday, December 27, 2013


The dreaded Christmas letter--that epistle dedicated to catching everyone up on things of which they have no interest but are polite enough to read!  Oh, how I used to complain and eschew them.  Then, some years ago, I discovered they really do serve a purpose, so the Zubke Christmas letter.  Now, I would take the impersonal to its obvious conclusion and post this year's letter on line!  If you care not a rat's rump for the annual update, quit reading now.  If you are the least curious, read on!  I guarantee you, it's short!

Gullibles' Travels?  Music to our ears!

Actually, we learned lions are really nocturnal, so most appropriately, the lion sleeps today!  Zambia was breathtaking.  As innocent as we were, we have discovered we were too stupid to be scared, but wise enough to be overwhelmed with the wildlife, the scenery, and the people.  Contrary to popular opinion (mine) 36 hours to get there wasn’t extreme!  If you enjoy the picture above, we will be glad to show you the 1200 others we have culled from five cameras (over 3000 pictures), seldom out of hand.  It was the trip of a lifetime!

(Sing or hum here...The Lion Sleeps Tonight) 


All aboard the geezer bus!  South Dakota Retired Teachers, under the auspices of Pat and Annette, took off on our annual Geezer Bus Tour...to Kansas City.  Let’s face it, old people rock.  While there, we saw Dyan Cannon (speaking of geezers...hope I look that good at her age!) in the play “Fox on the Fairway”.  Ask sometime about her story of peeing on Cary Grant’s leg!
(Sing or hum here...We're Going to Kansas City)

Back on the bus!  This time, with a Riley Tour Group sponsored by KXLG to Branson!  Our virginal pilgrimage to the land of infinite music.  Absolutely phenomenal group, amazing music, and a winery and a diner that just couldn’t be beat!  Even Danny Boy liked my fudge!
  (Sing or hum here...Oh Danny Boy)

Insert your picture here!

Beyond a doubt, the Gullible’s have seen and done, but nothing can compare to the friends we have!  Have an amazing New Year and know you are loved!  

(Stand, as is the custom and loudly extol...)


Thursday, December 26, 2013


It was lunch Christmas Eve.  It was supper Christmas.  It was lunch today.  Can you say over prepared?  I guess I really didn't need that many meatballs, that much dressing, that many mashed potatoes!  But the amazing thing is, they still tasted good.  I'm not sure whether they were that good or it meant I didn't have to prepare anything for three days!  Funny.  I really am not a leftover kind of guy usually.  One time...good.  Two times?  I don't think so.  Maybe old age has changed me?  Maybe I'm just getting lazy.  And maybe, I finally figured out what I've been missing!  Now the burning question is, what should I fix for New Year's Eve...Day...the month of January...?  Whatever it is, it will be eaten with the knowledge that you make every day a smorgasbord, and you are loved!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The ghost of Christmas past

It's hard to understand.  We were never monetarily affluent.  Lower middle class would probably describe our economic stratum.  But we never wanted for anything.  There was food on the table.  There were clothes on our backs.  There were the family trips to Duluth (inside joke.  We never made it to Duluth, even though we tried several times!)  but there was never a performance, never a conference, never an event in our lives without at least one parental unit in attendance!  We were raised with love and the overwhelming desire to respond in kind.  It explains a lot.  Then I got older, left home, and married into an amazing family.  Christmas was all about being together (even though I didn't make the best first impression when the first Christmas we spent together I was in the kitchen helping with dishes and I twirled my towel to snap Cath and was told "we don't do that in our family!"). Another circle of love.  Call it fate.  Call it luck, but those circles have made every day Christmas!  And the joy is, that continues!  So tonight, as this Christmas passes, I revel in my good fortune, and pass onto you the emanation of those circles.  Your Are Loved!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve, 2013

The white Christmas everyone obviously had been dreaming of has been shoveled, blown, and swept--at least off any cement in the nearby area. I have to admit, sitting in church (!) watching the snow come down and singing the traditional carols did have its Currier and Ives effect.  Getting to see people who have been too long absent in my life increased the value of the day.  Good food with family added to the overall positive glow.And the potential of curling up on the davenport with a soft throw, a good pillow, and "It's a Wonderful Life" all add to the overall aura!  We will be absent family tonight (stomach flu and my espoused met) so we celebrate alone.  We will absent family tomorrow (stomach flu and my sister met) so we will celebrate alone.  While I will miss the traditions and the fun and the noise and the heart-warming, ego soothing, inner soul heightening that always happen when you are surrounded by loved ones, I will instead spend time with the woman who makes my life complete.  To me, a win-win situation!  May you find peace in your lives, hope in your souls, and just enough sugar to make you happy!  And know you are loved.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Weighty observation

Following the celebratory bacchanalia called the Christmas/New Year's eating frenzy, it will obviously be time to recolor.  But who among us wants to say no to treats that appear but once a year?  The spritz cookies alone will add girth.  Couple them with the popcorn balls, the caramels, the freshly baked scones, and any other vessel in which you can heavily lade quantities of butter, and it may well take all of 2014 just to return to pre-Thanksgiving form.  I understand it is a choice, and I know which one I am making.  In my estimation, a year of atonement is a small price to pay to titillate my taste buds!  There is one delicious aspect of this season that will add no poundage and yet facilitate smiles, nods, and an occasional grin, and that is the knowledge that you are loved!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday morning realities

Sometimes it's just better not to know.  We're on cat patrol.  Wish you could meet Mac.  He is an amazing feline who has no trouble letting me know I'm a bit slow when it comes to getting the food out!  He's also amazingly generous!  However...not the point.  I decide the best way to feed Mac today is to multi-task.  So I put on our (I have been told I am usurping this device!) Balaclava, my long woolies, and I run from our house to his.  GORGEOUS morning.  Fresh fallen snow, bright sun, brilliant sky, bracing (now that has to be the kindest thing I've ever said) breeze from the north.  Mac, as always, is waiting for sustenance.  Feed and water.  Head out the door to run home.  Add a couple blocks just because I plan on eating a lot today.  Get home, proud and smelly (need to change choice of deodorant).  Only then do I look at the mini and discover the feels-like temperature is -22 degrees.  Holy excrement, Batman!  I obviously come from hearty (albeit somewhat foolish) stock!  Had I known before I started, I may not have started.  But I survived, ran off some calories, and have a blogging topic.  Not all bad for a Sunday morning reality check!  New week.  New excitement.  New challenges.  Really old holiday.  May it bring you peace, joy and the knowledge that you are loved!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


The sun rises at its most southern point, making this, for us, the shortest day of the year.  Funny, there was time for a run, time to do puzzles, time to play bridge, time to shop...twice, time to watch television, time to make fudge, time to enjoy the company of a beautiful woman, and time to reflect on the shortest day of the year.  It's frightening to think what will happen now the days start getting longer!  Who knows what can be accomplished?
Sometimes I fear we get so tied up in what we should get done and what we will do tomorrow, we forget to be humans being.  Our tasks monopolize the days and when we go to bed, tomorrow's tasks loom large.  We need a moment for reflection, a moment for rejuvenation and a moment for rejoicing.  The words of a song from "The Fantastics" swim in my head.  "I can't be contented with yesterday's glories, I can't live on promises winter to spring.  Today is my moment, right now is my glory.  I'll laugh and I'll cry and I'll sing!"  May you find time today for the three R's!   May you take time from do.  May you make time for be.  And may you always know, 24/7 (or however long or short the day) that you are loved!

Friday, December 20, 2013

They call it

Winter Wonderland, and it's not hard to find.  Head out on highway 20 and turn where every other car is turning!  What an amazing display of Christmas lights.  What should be sensory overload is actually very well arranged and presented!  It's well worth the trip out there!  Now of course, if you don't live in Watertown, South Dakota, you may find the trip a little extensive for a light show.  Come instead for the Redlin Center.  Come instead to see the Goss Opera House and the Mellette House.  Come for the ice fishing and/or boating.  Come for the amazing people and the hospitable welcome.  Heck, if you're in the mood, come for the fudge!  We'll quite literally leave the lights on for you...at least Friday through Sunday for the next two weeks!  May the spirit that is Christmas light up your world and may you find peace in the fact that you are loved!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Someday, you'll make...

someone a wonderful wife.  Let's start with that.  Growing older (not into growing up yet!), I learned to cook, and do it well.  (Ego will raise its head frequently during this diatribe, so beware!)  I learned to sew...not so well, but my mother-in-law gave me her sewing machine!  I can crochet.  I can knit.  I can do needlework.  I know how to run the vacuum, I know how to dust, and I can scrub a toilet bowl with the best of them.  If there are other gender-bending attributes you wish to discuss, bring 'em on.  I didn't play sports as a child.  I played the trombone and the baritone instead.  The only time I saw on the football field was marching during half time at homecoming games.  I had a double-barrel 20/20 shotgun for a while.  Shot it twice.  Missed.  I take a book along to read while fishing.  I couldn't kill Bambi to save my soul.  After Thanksgiving dinner, I was much more likely to watch the rerun of Sound of Music than sit on the couch and watch football.  It's who I was, and as a result, who I am.  By developing a smart mouth and a thick skin, I managed to circumvent the negativity of that and similar comments.  Now, at the ripe age of old, I retrospect those times and am thankful for two things.  First, as I have grown older, the gender stereotypes have softened.  While males today are still expected to be--well,--"real men", they are allowed to develop their individual identities with far less negativity.  More men cook.  More men clean.  More men scrub the toilet.  Hey--more women play sports!  More women hunt and fish!  More women are mechanics.  Isn't that a unique thought--we should all do what we do best?  Second, I have never understood why it was expected that there were gender-related tasks.  I mean, isn't it a partnership?  Isn't it a situation where the "husband" and the "wife" work together to accomplish what needs to be done?  In that thought, I hope the woman I love, have loved for over 40 years, and plan to love until the day I die (that would be my "wife") thinks on occasion I did make a good...partner!  Cold wintry days bring out my philosophical side!  And you are loved!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

sex, drugs, and rock and roll

Okay, I admit, it's a tease.  As we were sitting in the hot tub last night discussing blogging, my good friend, an exceptional blogger, mentioned that titles draw people to your blog.  Unabashedly, I listened and decided to see if he were right.  This has nothing to do with sex, drugs, or rock and roll.  It has to do with the aforementioned blogger.  I've said before that traveling through life is not about the destination, nor for that matter, the journey.  It's all about with whom you choose to travel.  And I have been amazingly lucky (or exceptionally gifted at choosing people, if you want the truth) in my choices.  Today's topic of conversation is that youngish (today, no longer in his fifties) gentleman with whom we have traveled for more years than I care to mention.  Over the course of the last few years, he and I have solved most of the world's problems sitting in the hot tub with an adult libation.  (Perhaps, we have caused a few as well, but that number would be insignificant!)  To me he is truly a renaissance man.  He has reinvented the phrase multi-talented, as well as incarnated himself several times in terms of his interests.  He is an amazing carpenter.  He has dabbled (with great success) in tailoring.  He is an exceptional photographer.  He is a caring and dedicated teacher.  He is a supportive and loving family man.  He is a gifted presenter.  He is amazingly humorous.  And if you look very carefully, you will see that gleam--that spark of who he really is--in his eyes!  And here's the thing.  His espoused is a wonderful, gifted leader.  His children are former students and thank god, friends.  To know them is to understand effective parenting.  They have blended characteristics of their parents and yet are unique and amazing individuals.  Individually, they are friends.  As a family, they beat the heck out of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  Okay, drugs and rock and roll!  Happy birthday OLD friend.  Know that you, like all my "many" readers, are loved!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

cleaning is over-rated

It was that time once again.  Somehow, someone has been in my kitchen in the basement and has steadfastly refused to clean up after himself.  There were dishes from making cookies.  There were dishes from making pie.  There were baking pans on the counter.  There were pots and pans in the sink.  There were numerous measuring devices strewn hither and yon throughout the morass.  In short, whoever was here is a pig!  (And no, all men are not!)  Since I had to make a casserole for my lovely espoused to take to PEO (well actually she said she would make it, but I didn't want her to see the kitchen!), I decided whilst it baked I could clean a little.  Okay...a lot!  It rests now in a state as close to pristine as it will ever get, if I am in charge!  There are no dirty dishes.  There is counter space.  The floor is no longer covered by the five pounds of flour I dropped while opening it (see Facebook post today!).  In short, if you were to see it, you might be willing to eat something that came from it!  Now here's the thing.  I need to make dessert for tomorrow night.  That means starting all over again.  And cleaning again.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is the true definition of a vicious cycle (and one I'm not happy to ride!).  But, in the interest of health and marital bliss, I will do my cooking (for me) and my cleaning (for her) and wait for the next onslaught!  I suppose I should consider it a positive.  It gives my life purpose.  Yeah, right!  Resignedly yours...and know you are loved!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Things I learned in college...

When over-imbibing for the first time, do not do it in the back seat of a car, in the rain, out in the country near a plowed field.  When one gets out to release some of the consumed beer, one gets mired in the mud and tracks acres of said mud into the back seat of the car.  Driver not happy.

When over-imbibing for the first time, do NOT do it the night before parents' night.  Said parental units like buffets, and even though eating is NOT on your list of things to do, they expect that you do, so to not raise suspicion, you eat.  Not happy!

When your parental units tell you at Christmas they knew you were suffering with a hang-over and thought the buffet might be a good lesson, they do not have to die!

It is possible to run from a room on seventh floor Nelson Hall (referred to by residents as Neumeier's last erection--last building built under President Neumeier's reign!) to the Center for the Arts and back clad only in your tidy whities at night in the middle of a blizzard.  Obviously, the above mentioned lesson didn't work!

When asked to experience something (anything) and report back, sitting in a man-hole for 30 minutes with your eyes shut because one is claustrophobic is a bit extreme

Just because one man (who is an "expert") thinks you don't have talent, it isn't necessarily true.  No one person should be able to step on your dreams.

Just because one woman has faith in your abilities and shows that she loves her job and her students doesn't mean you will become a teacher, but it certainly didn't hurt!

Just because the only B you get in your major is in Teaching of Speech in the Secondary Schools doesn't mean you shouldn't.  It just means there were two people in that department with their heads looking for their tonsils through their most distant opening.

It is possible to write a quarter's worth of essays in one 60 hour period without rest and still manage to pass a class.

It is possible that one gets type-cast in one's last college performance and gets to play a man who has had an unsuccessful lobotomy, is in a vegetative state except for uttering profanities, and falls out of his wheel chair at least three times (when said director only suggested it happen once!  Revenge is best served in your last semester!)

Ah, I remember it well.  The amazing thing is I survived with brain cells (not as many as when I started), an appreciation for differences of opinion (everyone hast he right to be wrong!) and a degree that allowed me to love every minutes of my career!  Hope your memories are as good, and know you are loved!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's just the way we roll!

Supper is over and the guests have left.  Great food, great company, and great plans for the next meeting (including a trip to Omaha to see "Wicked" in  May!).  By the time they left, it was darn close to 9:00 pm...late for a couple old farts.  But the table is cleared, the dishes are done and put away, the chairs are stored, and we could start all over tomorrow if we had to!  Luckily, we don't have to "refit" until Wednesday, for the next group!  I think in the forty years we have been married, there has only been one time when everything wasn't  cleaned and put away before we want to bed.  Not a bad record.  It's sort of a life philosophy...if possible, it's better to wake up to a fresh start than a mess from the night before!!  Tomorrow morning will seem so much better....but now, it is time to turn off the machinery and turn to sweet Morpheus to recharge!  (I could just have said time for bed, but why use 3 words when you can use 12?).  Sleep well knowing you are loved!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

zoom in so quickly, I barely get over yesterday or through today!  Andy Rooney says life is like a roll of toilet paper.  The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.  He be right.  It seems only a little time ago we scheduled gourmet club to meet at our house.  And tomorrow, it shall.  This of course necessitates the cleaning of the house, the preparation of foodstuffs, the setting of menus, the selection of wines, and the hope that everything turns out!  Let me introduce you to our gourmet club.  We are six couples (of whom we are the senior members!  In fact 6 of the 12 members are former students!) who have widely diverse schedules and one couple no longer lives in commuting distance.  But yet we try to meet six times a year.  And have for over 14 years.  You can eat a lot of food in 14 years.  You can see a lot of changes in 14 years.  Kids grow up, leave home, become amazing young adults and live (at least for a time) all over the world.  I remember fondly some time ago teaching the whole cadre of youth the Macarena! (Nobody said I had to be a good influence!)  Now, I'm sure they could teach me a thing or two.  Then there are the parental units.  They're a little older, a little slower, and a little closer thanks to our "club"!  We laugh a lot when we're together.  We eat, at times, interesting things.  Not everything has been a palate pleaser.  Not everything has been easy to fix or contained easily found ingredients.  Sometimes, the wine is the winner!  Drink enough of that and the rest is all good.  But it is the company that makes the difference.  Tomorrow's menu, for the interested, will begin with stuffed mushrooms and sauerkraut meatballs.  The entree will be turkey pot pie (not quite the Swanson type), cranberry salad, and bz's "best buns in town!"  (Running does pay off!)..  Dessert (always worth waiting for) will be a light offering...of bread pudding with caramel sauce!  Okay.  I get it.  It's not "gourmet" in tone.  What it is is "comfort" in tone, sort of like the time we spend together.  We will enjoy the food.  We will enjoy each other's company, and for a few hours, we won't worry about what tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow might bring.  Bon Appetit!  And know you are loved!

Friday, December 13, 2013

As the shepherd says, it's all about ewe!

Let me describe you.  You are a relative, a friend, a former student, a guardsperson, a teacher, a parent, or a complete stranger that has wandered this way out of curiosity and/or boredom.  It doesn't matter.  You are an important part of the world!  You have taught so many lessons.  You are kind to everyone you meet.  You are amazingly generous when it comes to helping those less fortunate than yourself.  You are brilliant, witty, charming, insightful, gregarious, and at times, introspective.  By nature, you may be related, and you have consistently set family above all else.  By choice, you are a friend, who has been nothing but supportive, consoling, and inspiring.  By chance you are a former student who taught as much or more than you learned about life and love. Thank God you might be a guardsperson who has given your time, your energy, and your life to seeing to it that existence for all is good.  Teacher?  Don't for a moment think that it is unnoticed what you do, or say.  If not for you, there would be chaos!  And if you are a parent, you have the largest responsibility in the world.  You must teach your child to be kind, generous, brilliant, witty, charming, insightful, gregarious, and even introspective.  Psychologists say the hardest thing in the world is to admit your strengths.  God forbid someone would think you egotistical.  So someone has to do it for you.  YOU make life an adventure worth pursuing.  YOU make living a truly exceptional experience.  YOU are responsible for inciting laughter when necessary, tears when appropriate, and emotions to balance a life.  And if you fall into that nebulous category (curious and/or bored), you've found a home and a friend you didn't know you had!  Bless each of YOU!  Thank each of YOU!  And always know that YOU are loved!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's been all about...

me.  By the nature of the blog (or the nature of the blogger!), this venue has been amazing egocentric:  what I have done, what I am doing, what I am going to do, what I think, what I like, what I tolerate (or not).  And you have been most gracious.  If luck holds, when tomorrow comes, 10,000 people will at least have opened if not read about me!  I'm extremely thankful and proud.  Now understand, I realize pride goeth before the fall.  (Actually, in this case, I believe it goeth before the winter, but never mind!).  I could have seen my last page opener.  So here is the teaser to see if I can reach that plateau.  Tomorrow, the challenge is to write about anything but myself.  In fact, tomorrow, it's all about you!  Want to know what I think of you?  See you here tomorrow.  And know you are loved!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shovel is a four letter word!

Let me begin by telling you that even at my advanced age, I see the beauty in snow and the power in a South Dakota blizzard.  As the flakes waft quietly to the ground, or are blown here from some where in Manitoba, the cleanliness and the blanketing of all that is ugly is appealing to me.  That being said...cause and effect comes into play.  Indiscriminate.  That would be snow.  Could it just fall on the yards to cover the leaves?  Hell no!  It falls on the streets and the sidewalks.  Then, thank god, the city comes along and cleans the streets into our driveway.  I appreciate them.  I really do.  I hope they know that and don't/can't hear what I say when they go by.  Oh, I have learned.  There is never only one plow.  There are two.  Often in the past, I went out to clean out the detritus they have left only to be astounded as plow number 2 comes by and fills in the empty spots.  It's one of those "fool me once" kind of things.  So once #2 (a good name for it, scatalogically speaking) goes by, I take the snow blower and increase the snow in our yard...with gravel and leaves and anything else that might have been left in the street.  It's okay.  It's all good.  Snowblowers are a gift from god!  But that leaves the sidewalks, and lately, there hasn't been enough snow to bother with the snowblower--you know, just enough to need to be cleaned off and too much for a broom.  Out comes the shovel, and every foul, cantankerous, seamanesque word I have ever learned (and I AM a good learner!)  The task is odious at best, and we live in an older home...with older driveway.  It's not even.  When you push the shovel, you frequently hit a crack and discover that the shovel handle has now stopped...in your chest.  I often have threatened to sue for whiplash, but I would have to sue myself.  Methinks the insurance company might not take kindly to that!  And we are good neighbors!  We clean the walk and driveway to the north also.  Well, the sidewalk frequently, the driveway, not so much!  She doesn't drive and we do keep our cars in her garage, but we can fight a little drift now and then!  Is it apparent I just finished shoveling?  We're set for the next onslaught.  And it will be beautiful...and/or powerful...and cursed!  Next time I shovel, I'll just think of you and smile.  Know you are loved!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

it's in the oven

so...my favorite wife has circle tomorrow, and has to provide a coffee cake.  Simple, says I.  How about an almond pound cake (my newest favorite of all time desserts)?  This is totally acceptable to her.  But then, I just happen to open Facebook (like thirty times a day!) and as I'm voyeurizing, I notice this recipe called caramel roll cake.  The picture is amazing--sort of a combination of a glazed donut and an apple fritter (whose only redeeming feature is...well...it really doesn't have one!  There usually aren't even enough apples in it to claim it as a fruit!  But there are enough carbohydrates and fat to call it a meal!)  But I digress. So I combine the sugar, flour baking powder, salt, eggs, and milk, and slowly add the melted butter as the directions suggest.  (Please notice, I say suggest.  Sometimes I head these suggestions, but usually, not so much!)  I turn it into my prepared cake pan and am about to add the topping when out of the blue, a voice from the nether world whispers in my ear...what about those two teaspoons of vanilla?  Scrape it out of the pan.  Wash and prepare the pan again.  Add the two teaspoons of vanilla and back into the prepared pan.  Then, I mix up the caramel topping.  Two sticks of butter.  1 cup of brown sugar.  A little flour and a lot of cinnamon.  Drop evenly over the top of the cake.  Right!  Globs here and there...some big..some not so very.  Then it's swirl with a knife.  This I can do.  I swirl.  And swirl!  And swirl, until there's a little topping on most of the cake.  And that's where we are now.  In eleven minutes and fifty-five seconds, I will remove it from the oven and check for done-ness (insert toothpick into center--if it comes out clean it might be done!)  Then, to make the low calorie dessert even more appealing, I will cover the top with a powdered sugar glaze while the cake is still warm.  Who knows, I may even add a little cream cheese to the glaze.  You can NEVER go wrong with cream cheese!
At this point, there are three things I know.  1) I should quit looking at recipes in Facebook.  I don't need the calories, but 2) when I make something new, I want to be at a place where I can share it so I don't have to devour the evidence myself if it doesn't meet expectations, and 3) it ain't leaving for circle tomorrow until I have taste tested it!  Who knows, they may be eating pound cake yet!
Here's the point.  I've never been afraid to try new recipes, or new things.  As I am want to say in my presentations, failure is an event, it is not a label.  If the cake doesn't work, I have something I know will.  And if all else fails, there are always apple fritters as Casey's!  Embrace change and adventure.  It makes life interesting.  And know you are loved!

Monday, December 9, 2013

I'm amazed

So...I'm flipping the channels checking out the late night offerings. ( Okay, it's 10:20 but that's late for me!) when I come across an HBO offering of boxing.  Now, this may surprise you, but I'm not a real fan of the sweet science of fisticuffs, but I am mesmerized by the boxing apparel!  One boxer wears lime green trunks...with matching gloves!  His opponent has shiny lavender (lilac? Mauve) trunks and red gloves.  At the start of each round, (yes, I was so astounded I watched more than one round) a series of spotlights from above the squared circle project patterns of light on the canvas.  At the end of the round, there is a veritable light show.  And I just noticed...the lime green trunked individual also has a lime green mouthpiece.  Apparently, the rule against hitting below the belt still is in play, because each boxer has the top of his trunks immediately below his chest!  Even I as an older gentleman don't wear my pants that high!  And they say there's nothing to watch on tv.  Time to flip on by.  With any luck at all, there might be a movie on I haven't seen!  Or of course, there's always the inside of my eyelids to watch!  Know you are lived!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Better than anyone else

All my life (and that's a few years!) I've searched for that one thing I can do better than anyone else.  In music, I could play the baritone with some adroitness.  In fact I sat first chair.  Second chair in all-state band!  I was the best--at least in our high school..until young Tom came along, and he could play circles around me!  Alas. But there was choir.  I could shine there.  Until young Chuck came along with a better range and better tonal quality.  Alas.  Then there was theatre.  Best supporting actor, until Jack came along.  Alas and alack!  You get the drift.  As I aged, I continued to search.  I could teach, but found several who did it better.  I could cook, but found several who could do it better.  I could speak, but know there are those who do it better.
I can make fudge.  In fact, I believe I can make fudge better than anyone else.  My fudge is world renowned.  Literally!  My niche!  Until someone comes along who does it better.  But you know what?  That will be okay.  Really!  Because there is no one who can do me better than me.  Like you, I am a unique amalgam of my experiences...a so so musician, performer, educator, cooker, speaker who makes the best darn fudge in the world kind of guy.  The kind of guy who appreciates his friends, loves living the life that is given him, and wants you to understand that you too are the best you there is.  And because of who and what you are, my best loves your best!  Go figure!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My kind of send off

I don't like funerals.  There's the obvious having to say good bye thing.  Not good at those.  There's
 the usual capsulated life view...however many years in a three minute obituary.  Not a fan of those.  There's the constant reminder of eternal sleep called a casket.  Really?  Like I need a reminder. Then there are the obligatory solemn songs, sung in dirge tempo.  Obviously not my choice.  But today?  To say goodbye to Diane?  None of that crap!  Start with a pianist who understands glory.  Enjoy an ufda moment with Ron that captured the heart of the woman.  Understand that just as in life, Diane was in control of the experience.  It 's only right.  And then send us on our way with toe tapping familiar hymns and gospel music.  Never have I left a funeral with such a huge smile on my face or tear in my eye.  You see, Diane knew how to live, and made sure she left her goodbye in great hands. I loved her spirit in life.  I love her spirit in death.  And to those of you who would read this, know that you too are loved!

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's all about the weather!

It really didn't matter where I went today.  The opening salvo had something to do with the weather.  "Cold enough for you?"  "Guess winter is here to stay."  "When are you going south?"  The funny thing is, the answers are yes, yes, and not for any extended time.  But that's not the point.  Or maybe it is!  You see, I'm here because I choose to be here!  (Note to self...sanity is in the mind of the beholder!). I love the crispness in the air.  I love the cleanliness.  I love being able to turn around and not bump into someone (except for that poor lady standing in front of the chocolate chips display whom I didn't see!).  If it means layers of clothes, okay.  If it means seeing my breath, okay.  And if it means being looked at as strange or weird or just plain nuts, well what the hey, I'm used to that!  I just plain like it here!  And you are loved!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A big bunch of fluffy pink frosting

It wasn't that long ago.  I was a senior in high school.  (Quit that laughing...it doesn't seem so long!). Senior English class.  Mr. Paulson.  The question at hand?  The movie "The Sound of Music".  One of us thought it was stunning...a cinematic masterpiece, and an instant classic. One of us was the fluffy frosting proponent.  As the obviously former proponent, I giggle, I laugh, in fact I guffaw as I watch the live broadcast of frosting some 45 years later!  It still makes me happy!  The music is timeless.  The story, contrived, sappish, and somewhat trite, but oh how it can make me smile.  Truly, one of my favorite things!  After all, isn't it the frosting on the cake that which makes us most pleased?  Know that do, re, mi shall echo in this room tonight, and you are loved.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

be careful what you wish for

I admit it. I knew I was playing with fire.  But I took a chance.  It seemed so inconsequential.  Just a little snow to make the trees look good.  They do.  I think.  If I could see them.  Seems as how the little snow was more than just a little and it brought its good and true friend, the north wind with it.  What was a beautiful South Dakota White Christmas tableau has turned into a holy crap it's cold and slippery reality!  Ah well, in just four (five?) short months, it will probably start to melt and allow the grass to turn green...so the trees will look good.  Until then, I will channel my ancestors who homesteaded in the western part of North Dakota, hunker down, have an occasional adult beverage, and listen to Christmas carols...all but "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas!"  Stay safe.  Stay warm. And know you are loved!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's all about angels!

Meet Clarence.  Clarence is our snow friend who comes to visit every Christmas.  Clarence was named for one of my favorite "theatrical" roles.  Clarence is the name of the angel in "It's a Wonderful Life", and truly embodies my life philosophy!  Of course you realize playing an angel and being an angel are worlds apart, but the whole concept of earning your wings makes sense to me.  What we do to whom we do it?  Really important!  Clarence reminds me that all lives have impact, and we get to choose what that impact is!  Inter-relationships help us to grow, and growth is important when it comes to earning!  Oh yeah.  Another way Clarence gets his message across?
He grows on you!

Get growing, and know you are loved!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thoughts while in the hot tub

They say it's going to snow.  They say our temps could be preceded by a minus sign.  They ought to watch their language!  Anyhoo, in preparation for said meteorological events, I thought it imperative to see if the hot tub were ready to stave off the cold.  It is.  And during this period of testing, the mind had a tendency to wander.  Here's part of the perambulation.

One of my goals is to be published before I shuffle off this mortal coil.  The. SDRTA newsletter, although a worthy publication just doesn't quite meet the letter of that expectation.  I need to do something about that.

I need to take the garbage out.

It's really fun to have talented friends.

The Christmas lights would look better if there were a little snow on the ground.  (I can't always control my thoughts!)

Popcorn sounds good.

Fudge.  I need to cover the fudge.

And the last thought...crap, I have to pee!

Just the highlights.  Oh, and I did think you are loved!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's all good

As I sit in the front porch (heated, in case you were worried) and contemplate the universe as it unfolds, I am reminded of three things.  One--for the most part, what it has planned will little be impacted by my wishes!  As my new mantra says, it is what it is.  Two--I can control my reaction to those events, and with any luck, Pollyanna Zubke will be able to find something positive in each occurrence.  Sometimes, it's a long stretch.  For example our good friend who was fighting cancer recently lost the battle.  She was only 60.  I've written about her before, but now that she's gone, I struggle with the positive.  But, and here's the reason I sit in the front porch contemplatively on occasion, an answer just hit me over the head.  By her example, she encourages me to be a better person...to serve others...to complain less, and to enjoy every day.  Do I wish she were still alive?  Of course.  But her death continues to teach lessons I need to learn!  Three--I can't do anything alone.  We are all connected, and I need to recognize the positive impact made by the people with whom I choose to spend my time.  While I can...you are appreciated and loved!  Now Simon Says (Simon is Pollyanna's mentor!)...go tell those who fall into this category they are!