GARAGE ALMOST DONE, BOOK ALMOST ALMOST DONE

April 29, 2016

Garageafter1

So the garage is just about done and everything is moved back in…gee, it doesn’t look like I got rid of very much. Look at that–who has two christmas tree stands????  I should make one of those “find it” puzzles out of this shot.  Meanwhile, there are a lot of boxes and stuff that belong to my son and his daughter. If their things weren’t there you’d see more wall.

Anyway, today I painted the door into the house.  You can’t see it in the picture.  It’s to the left of the runner which is that gray strip across the front of the picture.  It keeps wet shoes a little dryer once they get inside the house.  I’m also installing a new light fixture and maybe one more coat on the floor since I messed it up a little moving everything back in.  I think I’ve already spent too much time on this whole project.  As my son keeps reminding me, it’s only a garage!

And now onto the next to-do thing on my to-do list. The list is so long I’m not sure what to pick. It will certainly not be something as strenuous as the garage redo.

Oh, the book. Holy cow, I can’t forget the book. I’ve been working on it in bits and pieces. Grand niece Shannon has been busy with all the illustrations—there’s one on every page for cry’n out loud. Shannon lives in Pennsylvania where she is a famous long-distance runner who regularly gets written up in the newspapers (for her running, of course…what were you thinking???).  I’m going to visit her in June, but I think I will leave my sneakers home.

So the book is entirely different from anything I’ve done. It’s #7, by the way. Wow, whoodathunk I’d write seven books!  Its target:  daters and others having a relationship.

Shannon and I still have some work to do and I’m not going to expose much about it right now…except for the cover….that’s my granddaughter Lindsay on the cover. She cost a lot less than the big New York model I was considering. But Lindsay is better looking than the NY babe anyway. So for now, here’s the cover.

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THE LAST GREAT D.I.Y. PROJECT

April 24, 2016

garage

I have been very busy, hence the unusual lag in my updating the blog. I’ve been doing three separate things for the most part: putting my next book together, cleaning and painting the garage, and hurting like never before.

First, I’m working on my next book which is unlike anything I’ve ever done. My niece (actually she is my GREAT niece) is doing unique stick-figure illustrations for every page. Speaking of every page, each will contain a brief sentence or two and that’s it. Like I said, nothing like I’ve ever done before. This book—at least much of the material for it—has been sitting around in my file drawer for at least 15 years and it is finally coming to life. More about all this in a posting coming to this site in the near future.window

Next, I’ve been purging almost 20 years’ worth of “stuff” that has magically accumulated in my garage. This project started with the windows and just “took off from there.” The windows—two of them—face the front of the house and include a set of old narrow horizontal blinds. Since I don’t go checking around the garage to see what needs cleaning, these windows have somehow built up a good supply of gook, gunk, dirk and lots of pesky spider webs. They looked pretty bad.

I went to the store and bought brand new blinds for them. Then, after I took down the old fixtures, I realized the windows really needed painting, not just cleaning. The windows are set in holes cut out of the cinder block and concrete walls. If you paint them, you really have to paint the entire wall…which means you have to paint the other adjacent two walls (the fourth wall is the garage door).

So, the BIG project begins. Installing the blinds went incredibly easy, considering I was doing it. For me, playing the role of “Mr Home Repair Guy” usually involves multiple trips to the hardware, several miscalculations or “duhhhh” moments, and a small injury or two to both my body and whatever it is I’m attempting to repair. But this time is different—everything was perfect. I was not once blind-sided.But the issue became the walls, and later the floor, and not the windows.

I have shelves on every wall—wherever I could fit them. These are filled with all kinds of stuff, all of which has to be lifted off, moved somewhere while I paint the wall and then returned back again. After the walls, comes the floor. As with the shelves I have tons of stuff around the perimeter of the floor. The floor has to be de-greased and primed, then painted. What to do with all the stuff on the floor? There are only two places for it: stick it anywhere there is a stickable place on the shelves and the rest goes in the house. So, more lifting and hauling.

diningroom

I am three weeks into this project. Today I begin to clean the floor. It’s empty for the first time in over 15 years. This is no simple accomplishment. Meanwhile, I’ve redecorated the downstairs of the house in the very stylish and trendy neo-eclectic garage motif (above). Several major magazines have shown interest in coming to photograph the interior and do a spread in an upcoming issue.

What has been amazing with all this has been…the pain. I cannot believe how much things have changed over the years. Or, actually, how much my body has changed. A garage project 25-30 years ago would have taken me less than a week and I would have suffered only minor bruising and maybe even a small cut or two. Right now I look like I’ve been in major combat with Godzilla and that’s only the outside of my body. Inside, just about every muscle and joint has filed a complaint at headquarters demanding a work stoppage. They’re even talking about unionizing.

Something tells me this will be my last major home do-it-yourself project. The proverbial “I’m too old to be doing this” has kicked in solidly and I shall heed its advice. And here I thought I was going to tear up the carpeting upstairs and put down hardwood. Right.

*****

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UH-OH…ANOTHER GARAGE POEM

April 19, 2016

garage3

So here I am outta gas again wallowing in the proverbial writer’s block.

Time once more to look back, then ahead a little just to take stock.

I know this happens at least once, sometimes twice a year to me

It’s no secret I usually turn to poetry which offers a kind of remedy.

Last time this happened I wrote a poem about my garage of all things,

And now I’m cleaning and painting it despite all the joint pain it brings.

This chamber must oddly have connection to my writer’s block somehow

Every time the block arrives, I’m involved with the garage, just like now.

And here I thought it was just storage space with room to park the car.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a garage secret that’s eluded me thus far.

I think I shall spend more time in the garage, sense its being, feel its zen.

I bet that might cure the block and in no time I’ll be writing again.

*****

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DROPPING THE F-BOMB…AGAIN!

April 13, 2016

Note:  I am often caught off-guard when my teenage grandchildren are within earshot. Their language is pretty radical compared to when I was their age. Back then we’d never say half the words they use freely.  They are totally uninhibited knowing I may be in the next room hearing every word–including the “special” ones.  It reminded me of a posting I wrote two years ago.  I went back to read it and decided it’s worth repeating. So, here it is with a few minor rewrites, not that any of you give a……

I am such a fence-sitter when it comes to language…specifically, the changing use of language.  I speak out of both sides of my mouth because I simply cannot make up my mind.  What am I so confused about?  Well, if you must know the truth, it’s all about the F-bomb!  Stay with me on this; God knows where I’m going.

I am now among the “older generation.”  We are usually the staid traditionalist of our society.  By nature, we abhor the younger generation and what it’s doing to our culture and our country.  It is hard for us to accept change, especially change that we find offensive.  Enter the “F-bomb.”

I literally remember the first time I heard the word “f**k.”  (See, I am even reluctant to print it out…although I think my blog host, WordPress, rather have it coded).  Anyway, I was maybe 10-11 years old.  I was sitting on my bike watching some older boys play basketball in a schoolyard.  Several of the boys kept saying this word, “f**ken.”  I had never heard the word before and I had absolutely no idea what it meant, except I assumed it was some kind of word that was cool to say.  It wasn’t long—same day, in fact—that I learned the word definitely had meaning regardless of whether or not I knew how to use it in a sentence.

When I got home later, I was going up the stairs when my father reminded me that I had to take the trash out.  “Oh f**ken!” says I, almost proud that it didn’t take long for me to insert the new-found word into my vocabulary.  Well, let me tell you, it’s didn’t take nearly as long for my father to jump out of his seat and tear after me. He arrived at my room the same time I did.  Shortly thereafter his belt arrived on my butt.  It was one of the few times I ever remember my father letting me have it.  It took some time before I learned the meaning of f**k, but trust me, it would be many years before anyone would ever hear me say the word again.

To me, words are words.  They are mere sounds that our mouths make.  Why should the utterance of one collection of letters have any more impact or evoke any more emotional response than any other? Culture arbitrarily selects what words are offensive.   What if the word “chop” were an offensive word?  You know, “ah, chop it!” or “take this chopin’ job and shove it!” or the ever-popular “chop you!”  Chop is just another collection of four letters with its own sound.  Yet it does not demand the attention that the four letters, “f**k” do.  Why haven’t I written “chop” as “c**p.”  It all boils down to definition and usage, whatever they are on any given day and with any given generation, I suppose.

Language is an ever-evolving element of our culture.  What is incorrect today may eventually weave itself into acceptability over a period of time.  Double negatives are a good point.  If you were to hear someone say, “I don’t know nothin’ about that,” you would know exactly what the person meant, even though the actual construction of the words means the opposite.  Language is flexible even if we who use it aren’t.  It’s tossed around any which way with little regard to tradition or rule.  Sort of reminds me of the recently popular phrase, “it is what it is!”

So why do I still sense a subtle shiver or quiver when I hear the f-bomb expressed so freely today?  What the f**k’s up with that?  I know, I’m a senior and I was raised to regard this word with a certain sanctity.  It was not to be used in public and certainly not around women.  But today, even women have no hesitation to drop the f-bomb in public.

The word has evolved into common acceptance among the younger generation.   What is interesting is that it carries little reference to its true meaning dealing with sex.  Instead, because it still has some semblance of public taboo,  it serves as a mechanism that brings attention and emphasis to whatever thought is being expressed.  Or, as the old song goes, it ain’t what you say, it’s what how you say it!

And too I’ve observed, there is an apparent age prerequisite to adding the f-bomb to your arsenal.  Most tweens, at least while in a public environment, favor the more discrete term “friggin'” as a suitable substitute.

So here I sit on the fence.  Should I find it offensive and uncouth that the f-bomb is so recklessly and wantonly expressed within earshot of wherever I am.  Or, should I simply treat it as a sound for which people have adopted a new and common use…and maybe that’s okay.  Why am I fighting it?  I mean, what the chop do I know?

*****

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MY PINEAPPLE STORY

April 7, 2016

                          pineappleLet me preface this by saying I DO NOT have a green thumb…Rosemarie does. She started growing pineapples a few years ago (it takes that long!).  We currently have a crop of three honest-to-goodness real, growing pineapples in pots in the backyard. Three other plants are just sitting nearby watching how it’s done.  My role?  I do some of the dirty work, like repotting the plants that have outgrown their pots, or cleaning out all the alien plant life that “moves in” and starts taking over. Clover is very good at doing this. When it comes to weeds and clover, that’s when I have agarden green thumb.

So here is our humble pineapple farm. Last week the pots sat in two year’s worth of weed growth and assorted weird things that just seem to collect in a neglected area in our backyard. I personally plowed all that stuff out and then lugged all ten bags of river rock, eight cement squares, five bags of mulch and two timbers from Lowe’s to the backyard and made it all look pretty. When I do these kinds of things there are usually two results. First, I cannot move for two days afterwards and, second, the plants that were once thriving in the weeds….die.  So far, the first is true.

As for pineapples, I am not as much a fan of eating them as I am enthusiastic about growing them. They are an interesting fruit to grow…and not a lot of work. They take time, however, so you have to be patient. Oh, did I mention that it helps to have a warm, tropical climate, too?

To get started, slice off the top of a nice existing pineapple, like one you got at the supermarket. You only need about a quarter-inch and don’t cut away the leaves. Put this in a container with potting soil. Cover the top of the pineapple, leaving just the leaves exposed.  If the pineapple gods are with you, your pineapple slice will send out a preliminary root system and you’re on your way–simple, huh?  If you are not there already, move to a warm tropical area and put your plant outside.  Water it every so often and check back in a year or two to see if you have a pineapple.

At worst, you will probably have one or more offshoots from your original plant. This is a good thing. The more offshoots, the more potential for fruit. Before they get too big, gently separate the offshoots and plant them solo in individual pots.pineapple1

What you do next is, keep looking down into the center tunnel from whence all the plants leaves originate. It you are lucky, one day you will see the magic. At first it looks like a little flower as pictured on the left.

 

pinapple2

 

 

In a few months it begins to take on an appearance that slightly resembles a pineapple, like the one in this picture on the right.

 

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Still another month or so, we finally have a miniature pineapple! Now all we have to do is sit around for another two months and it’ll finally be ready to cut from the plant. Don’t forget to save the top and start all over again.

So that’s my pineapple story. All the credit goes to Rosemarie for figuring out how to do it without the help of Dole.  As for me, I cannot help but mention that we met in 1963 which happens to be the same year that Mouseketeer, Annette, released a hit song titled Pineapple Princess with these memorable lyrics that Rosemarie is so grateful that I have never sung to her…

Pineapple princess

I love you, you’re the sweetest girl I’ve seen

Some day we’re gonna marry

And you’ll be my pineapple queen

*****

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BUCKLE UP SPARKY…HERE’S THE LAST VENT

April 6, 2016

Kopfschmerzattacke - sitzendes Skelett

This the third and final of my spring ventings.  I’ve covered stainless steel appliances, Windows 10 and I finish up with me…well, with my body to be more precise.  Here’s vent #3…

3.  My Body – Every day my body tells me it wants a time-out. I give it credit for creativity because it continually finds new ways to tell me. It changes the excuses almost daily.  In addition to every joint and muscle hurting at one time or another, I swear my brain hurts too.

I have never had a great body. Charles Atlas, a body builder back in the 1950s used to run cartoon advertising that showed some bully kicking sand in the face of a skinny guy lying on the beach. Skinny guy then mail-orders Charlie’s body building course and within a few weeks he turns into the Incredible Hulk. He returns to the beach and kicks the crap out of the bully. I filled in the coupon, but never heard back from Charles Atlas. I was just a kid, but I felt total rejection. Charles Atlas had kicked sand in my face.

My body isn’t much better today. I have my father’s bird legs and his protruding gut which seems to fend off any attempt to reduce its girth. A year at the gym and some effort to revise bad eating habits have had no effect whatsoever…not one pound let alone one inch.

So now I am 70 and the proverbial “what works hurts and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work” has kicked in. My eyes need new prescriptions every year, plus drops to keep them blinking smoothly without that scratching sensation.

My shoulders have developed bone spurs that can hurt like hell and are causing a toll on the dishes while I attempt to put them in the overhead cabinets that are higher than my shoulders want to go.

My limp-along left knee is long ready for its replacement but the one done on the right went so terribly wrong I am reluctant to go through it again.

Psoriasis has produced such walking-dead deposits of ugliness on my elbows that old ladies scream and little kids stare at it, mesmerized in wonderment.

There’s a little cancer in the prostate but the doctor tells me not to worry, my failing eyesight will have me run over by a truck long before the cancer kicks in.

My years’ long battle with a sleep disorder has officially resulted in spouts of narcolepsy during the day whereby I instantly fall asleep only to quickly awaken as my head crashes onto the desk or into the keyboard. I have probably sustained more concussions than a NFL linebacker.

Meanwhile, the meds I take at night have me doing weird things like grabbing all the bedding and then wandering around the house at 3am looking for the stairs to the third floor.  Why?  Because I want to sleep in the bedroom up there. That sounds reasonable enough, but our house doesn’t have a third floor. Early this morning I recovered consciousness while standing across the room from the bed. There, I was holding onto the pole lamp while waiting for the bus. I do not know where I was going but I knew the bus would be along any minute. At least I would be able to sit still once on the bus because I had remembered to take my two Michael J. Fox pills, so named because if I forget to take them my body begins flailing around like Michael J. Fox.

There are a few more things I know I could mention but I can’t remember them right now because that’s one of the first things that starts going when you get…get…whatever. I forget what I was going to say.

*****

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BUCKLE UP SPARKY…TIME TO VENT, PART II

April 4, 2016

windows_10-wide

Welcome to day two of my spring venting.  I have arisen from my thinking chair this season with a short list of things that are buggin’ me. Yesterday it was stainless steel appliances; today it’s the latest Microsoft Windows operating system.  Can’t say I don’t come from every angle. Anyway, I just got a new laptop and it came with Windows 10 and it has been a real joy (said sarcastically) learning its many secrets.  It took me over a week to get my e-mail working.  The support guy on the phone gave up trying.  Ultimately, I figured it out exactly the way I suggested to him which he said had nothing to do with the issue.  And the love affair with Windows 10 has continued from there…again, said sarcastically. Here’s the vent… 

2.  Windows 10 –  Okay, I admit it, I’ve have had Windows 10 for less than a month and I need to watch a few more tutorials, but it’s still something I rather not have had in the first place.   Why Microsoft has this compulsion to keep advancing its operating system until it has iterated itself into oblivion is beyond me.

Microsoft seemed to finally be on the right track with Windows xp and then some Bill Gates-wannabe convinced the company that Windows Vista was the system that would take us into the 25th century.  Instead, it wound up being Microsoft’s version of the Ford Edsel. Vista was a program that brought new meaning to the term computer crash test dummies.

Fortunately, the company realized it had produced a turkey and hustled to finally get everything in reasonable order and functioning smoothly with the release of Widows 7, a program I still have today on this very computer on which I am writing this.   But then the Microsoft tinker-toilers just couldn’t stop themselves from developing the incredibly rejected Windows 8.  The latter was so unwelcomed that I remember Dell and Hp advertising that if you ordered a new computer from them you could “Still Get Windows 7 instead of 8.”

It seems the Microsoft process is to continually develop and release new operating systems every few years and tout each one as being the pen-ultimate solution to having computer sexual climax.   Each is then prone to all kinds of glitches which are corrected with the release of dozens of updates and a series of must-have service packs to hold together the already obsolete program until the next new in-your-dreams operating system is developed.

Meanwhile, it is has been over a week, and at lest half a dozen attempts later, before I was able to load Microsoft Office onto my new laptop.  That too, took the help of a support person on the phone.  And Windows 10 is supposed to just handle all this stuff with the click on an icon.  After I loaded Office, its icon disappeared entirely from the array on the desktop. I went looking for it and could not find it or any of its components.  No, I had not watched the tutorial yet, but why should I.  In windows 7 all you do is click on the start button, then click on programs and they all come up in a list.  Why would you change that?  I had to finally google the problem just to find out where Office was hiding in Windows 10…and it wasn’t a normal process to find it.

I think consumers have had it with all this.  Why else would Microsoft be offering Windows 10 for free.  They’ve never acknowledged they even understood the concept of “free,” at least on their primary products.  Normally they would charge you another $100 or more just to get the “key” to download a new offering.  You don’t even get a copy of the program to keep for yourself anymore.

One thing’s for sure…I will try to hold onto my Windows 7 as long as I can.  While it bumps along now and then, it always gets me where I need to go and I don’t have to ask for directions on the way. Windows 10, so far, just doesn’t compute.

*****


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