THE GREAT FLOOD OF 2018

LeakyFamily

This morning I had to stop a leak.  No, I did not say “take.” I definitely said, “stop.”   I was just awaking from a sleepy morning listening to the thunder and the rain pouring outside.  I had no place to go or nothing to do but to lie in bed and listen to the end of the world as it provided a nice white noise for a sleepy morning.  All I needed was a teddy bear hugging my neck and it would have been the perfect storm.

My eyes slowly opened. Just narrow little slits large enough to let in a little light, enough light to see the rain pouring down the side of my bedroom window.  BUT WAIT! It’s pouring down the INSIDE of the window.  Oh Noooooo!  I’m up in a flash and there is spattered water everywhere, especially on my little wire tray in which I keep all the electronics—my phone, the remotes for the TV and cable and the thingie that makes the bed go up and down.  Oh Noooooo!

This happened once before when the storm was particularly heavy and the wind was blowing it against the house.  I had to hurry and find towels and narrow containers to line the windowsill.  I told myself then that when the first dry day came I would have to hire someone with a two-story ladder to climb up and caulk the window frame from the outside.  But I never did and now here it was happening all over again.  I was paying for my procrastination and forgetfulness.  Woe is me. Woe is a wet me.

I had no choice.  I reached for the gun as I sang “the gun the gun the gun, oh yes, we both reached for the gun.” (We Both Reached for the Gun, from the Broadway musical, Chicago).  In this case it was the caulking gun that, ironically, was in the master bath, on the floor in the corner, brand new and waiting for the shower stall to dry so I could fix a flapping piece of caulk along the bottom edge of the shower wall.  I yelled at someone to bring me the caulking gun (the gun the gun, etc). I know, you can’t caulk onto a wet surface, especially a flowing wet surface.  But hey, I felt like the little Dutch kid with his finger in the dyke.  I was desperate.

I cut the tip off the caulking canister and put it into the gun. (still singing…the gun the gun, etc). I was locked and loaded.  I reached up and began pulling the trigger.  There was caulk spewing out all over the top inside of the window frame. I was making sure I was getting a lot spread around and covering all the leaks and then adding multiple layers.  Next came the hair dryer (I could have said “hair gun”).  I needed to dry the caulk as fast as possible.  I was manipulating tools like a seasoned surgeon performing the most intricate surgery and all the nurses and other OR staff were standing around observing in amazement my expert dexterity.  Oh the humanity!

Next came the argument.  ARGUMENT!  This is no time for an argument. I had the hair dryer set high on “hot.” My wife said that was wrong; it had to be on “cool.”  I said “hot,” she said “cool.”  We volleyed that back and forth a few times and I gave in (always do…wuss).  I set the dryer on cool and I spent the next ten minutes waving it over and over and over all the caulking.  So far no water was dripping down the inside of the window anymore.  I says to meself, “I wonder where all that water is going? Hmmmm.”  Slowly new little leaks started working their way out of the yet-to-be-dry caulk.

I run to the garage and headed for all the plastic shoeboxes that have stuff in them.  I look for the one with the label, “String, Tape and Wire.”  Don’t you marvel at how compulsively organized I am.  TAPE!  That’s it. I have Gorilla Tape.  Yes!

Back to the window I go with Gorilla Tape in hand.  I am hoping this stuff is as good as the tape that guy on TV uses to tape his boat back together after he saws it in half.  It seams to work, but I have to keep putting new pieces on as the water works it way around each barrier it confronts until it finds a breach to exploit. Slowly my window turns black with strip after strip of Gorilla Tape.  Meanwhile, thank God, the wind is lessening and the rain is subsiding…enough that it isn’t blowing against the window as hard as it was.  I’m thinkin’ I’m good, at least good enough to fight another day.  It’s the calm after the storm…all is well again.

But if I am smart this time, I will hire a handi-gorilla with a two-story ladder and a caulking gun (last time…the gun the gun, etc.) and up he’ll go up the ladder to fix the leak from the OUTSIDE of the window.  Yeah, that’ll take care of my leaky window once and for all.  And, oh yeah, I should maybe get myself a teddy bear too.

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SEPTEMBER,

SEPTLEAVES

September is always a special month around these parts.  School is back in session and the school zones are active generating revenues for the county as the cops nab speedsters who had a moment’s lapse.  I’ve been lucky, my years of driving have been laspeless when it comes to getting a speeding ticket.  It’s the one thing in life I’ve never been given.  Honest.  It does not mean I do not speed.  It means only that I have never been caught.  There now, I probably jinxed myself.

Another sign of September is pumpkin…the flavor.  Suddenly things pumpkin begin to appear on every aisle at the supermarket.  It is amazing how many food products can be tainted with pumpkin flavoring beginning in September each year.  It’ll last through Thanksgiving and then slowly disappear almost as quickly as it came.  I still have some pumpkin coffee from last year…and I will probably save it again for some special time down the road. Perhaps when I’m entertaining people I don’t care for.

September is also a very special time right here in the Kuhn household.  It’s that time of year when the annual renewal for the homeowner’s insurance policy is due. When it arrives in the mail it always offers a moment of surprise upon opening it and peering timidly down into the envelope to discover exactly how much more this year’s policy will cost. I can always count an increase of at least $100 to $200 dollars.  This is, after all, prime hurricane territory and given that Hurricane Irma blew through town last year at considerable cost in damages to many places, I expected a definite increase in the insurance premium this year.  Maybe even as high as $300.  Well, September was indeed a benchmark month this year.  The homeowner’s policy leaped up to a $600 dollar increase.  Now, isn’t that special?   Of course there was the usual page explaining that hurricane claims carry a separate deductible…that went from $5000 to $6000.  If it’s a good storm, it’s easy to rack up $6 grand in damages.  That kinda blows you away, doesn’t it?

And last but no least—definitely not least—the renewal on my life insurance policy arrives in September. Life insurance is usually one of those more costly items you face throughout your life.  It’s at least tolerable when you are young, but when you get up into your 70s you’d be surprised how much the policy cost.  I have to ration out the payment into two parts, one now and the balance six months down the road.  But not to worry, I won’t have much longer to pay for  it.  That’s because I will either be dead or the insurance company will drop me at whatever the latest annual death rate average is.  After all, they will gamble only so much on how long I’ll be around.

So there’s September, that wonderful month that I look so forward to each year. You’d think at least I could enjoy the change in weather that September usually brings…but not here in South Florida.  First, the leaves don’t change colors down here, nor do they drop from the trees. And too, the temperature can still spike in the 90s if it wants.  But it’s okay, the electric bill covers that continuously running air conditioner.

And hey, it’s football season and it’s always a guess to see how bad the Dolphins are this year.  Who knows, maybe they’ll at least have a winning season. You know what?  I’m going to assume they will improve this year, not like all those other years the past decade.  Yeah, I’m going to be optimistic.  Go Dolphins! I feel better now…think I’ll go have a slice of pumpkin pizza.

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1/2 WAY THERE…MAYBE

Vintage Room and Aged Wooden Desk with Typewriter.

As promised to those fellow independent writers and others interested, here is another update on what seems to have become my longest struggle in my struggling writer career…will this book ever be born?

My current project—my 11thbook and probably the last one I write—is still in the works.  I’ve written about it before here on Marc’s Blog.  It’s been the most difficult writing task I’ve ever had.  It took me over a year to get it started because I was having problems with the story.  The idea was there and well defined…I just couldn’t seem to put it into words.  Finally, I gave up waiting and simply forced myself to sit down and start writing. Today, it’s a little over half done, despite my recently hitting yet another block.  I am working my way through it…slowly.  It is hard to explain if you haven’t had the experience of writing a book, but as a project, it seems to take over your entire mind and hold it prisoner until you get it done.  You know it’s taken over your life when it begins invading your activities.  Case in point…

Two weeks ago I attended a wedding during which there were readings done by several friends and relatives of the bride and groom.  One reading just about knocked me off my chair.  If I were to write a paragraph about the overall concept of the book I am writing, I could not have said it any better than the first reading at this wedding.  It was from The Amber Spyglass which is the third book in Philip Pullman’s trilogy that includes The Golden Compass (popular movie in 2007) and The Subtle Knife.  Here’s the quote read at the wedding:

“I will love you forever, whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again…I’ll be looking for you Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you…We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams…And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight…”AGAINCOVFRNTsm8-23

Hearing that, it sort of inspired me to get home and get workin’ again.  I have only about 150 pages to go but that’s enough of a challenge for the next few weeks if my brain doesn’t cave on me. This is my first novel that is not a mystery and no one gets murdered either.  Maybe that’s why it’s been so much harder to write.  It’s about the nature of true love, something I should at least be familiar with as I approach my 51st wedding anniversary…but it’s not that easy.

I have a tentative title and a tentative book cover and, as usual, its debut is always on this blog…

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FEELIN’ THE GOOD!

feeling good phrase in wood type

I feel good. That’s something I haven’t been able to say since a year ago LAST Christmas.  That’s when my back issues began, that’s when my arthritis took off like it was turbo-charged, that’s when I was put on a new array of drugs.  Some worked, others subsequently put me in the hospital several times because they affected other things going on in my body. I’ve aged a lot these past two years and my body, both inside and out, is letting me know about it. I’ve been one ache and pain, groan and complaint after another, almost non-stop. My wife must be sick of listening to me. No wonder she keeps the volume on the TV up so loud.

But suddenly, without notice, without explanation, without rhyme or reason, I started feeling better several weeks ago.  Many of the aches and almost all of the pain have taken a hike.  Sure, I still count on my Aleve and occasionally one of my heavy-duty pills to help out, but it is amazing how much better I feel.  I don’t know why…but I don’t need a “why” to justify the feeling.  I’ll just take it and be happy it’s there.  If it doesn’t last long, so be it.  But for everyday it does, I will acknowledge it and never again take it for granted.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to live with chronic pain —well maybe I can now after almost two years of it.  My heart goes out to those who suffer with endless pain and discomfort.  The physical aspects of that kind of lifestyle are unthinkable and I know there are mental issues too that must wear on you, adding insult to injury.

brownWe humans have a tendency to take for granted the incredible energetic state of feeling well. To most people, feeling well means feeling normal and when things are normal we don’t complain until they are not. It is so nice to be in the almost-normal stage these days and I have made note to make a note of it every day that I feel this way…because I know how miserable it was when I didn’t.  So hooooray hooooray for me and James Brown—He Duh Man…I feel good!

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YouTube, The New Frontier

 

UTube

I touched on the coming age of television in my last posting about wanting to be a  young boy again.  It was an exciting time for the visual medium.   The future for television was wide open.  The first monumental task, at least in its technological development, was to master turning the pictures from black and white to color.  That really didn’t happen on a mass production basis until the 1960s.  And, just as it did in the 50’s when TV was replacing the popularity of radio, there was a whole new surge in sales as people purchased color sets to replace their old B&W ones.  Then, if we stay in the technology end of the business, the next huge leap came with high-def flatscreens.  What’s next?  Who knows!

And what about all the stuff people were watching on television?  That too went through an incredible evolution that was highlighted by endless benchmarks along the way, such as Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation (one of the first things I remember watching on TV), to baseball games and other sporting events, to live drama, to the Kennedy’s and King assignations, to Lee Harvey Oswald being shot, to Roots, to Nasa rocket launches and moon landings, to the Olympics and I am sure tons of other events I can’t begin to list.  The medium of television has been pretty remarkable and as Marshall McLuhan wrote, it itself became the message.

And now we have social media, which I think has stolen more audience hours from television than anything to date.  And while it’s taken me three paragraphs to get to where I’m going with all this, I cannot help but think that YouTube has become a dominant player in the field of visual mass media.

Now, I admit I am a bad example because I do not watch very much television anymore.  I spend most of my time looking into my computer’s monitor and, lately, a lot of that time has been spent watching YouTube.

YouTube is as fascinating to me as television was when the box with the little 11” picture tube first took up space in our livingroom.  What is special–and different–about YouTube is its access.  Anyone can participate, from oddball weirdos to professional brainiacs, to amateur and seasoned performers.  They are all here and in abundance.

I have repaired three major appliances in my house simply by watching how-to videos on YouTube.  I’ve torn half of my 22-year-old refrigerator apart while following step-by-step instructions presented by repairmen who volunteered sharing their knowledge on YouTube.  In fact, if they weren’t available for free, I would have probably replaced my beast of a coldbox by now.  But hey, it still works great!

Meanwhile, if you want to be entertained, YouTube has it all, from individual wannabe’s to well-established stars.  If you like music you can pick your genre and watch an endless variety of performances. If you want to watch everyday people doing everyday things, or things extradinary—it’s all there on YouTube.  I could not believe I spent over an hour the other night watching self-made videos of boyfriends executing their plans to pop the question on their unsuspecting girlfriends.  And if you like tears of happiness, there’s a string of homecomings of Amerian soldiers and sailors showing up unexpectedly at a child’s school or a mother’s workplace.  If you’re into sports you can watch some of the greatest, most hilarious, most outrageous plays in baseball, soccer, football and probably even ping pong. Wait, I just checked…yep, plenty of table tennis videos to watch.

collageIf you like tradition, there’s plenty of  that on YouTube. You can watch traditional ceremmonies, tradtional speeches, traditional people.  If you like a twist or turn, there are videos for that too. Example, I watched a great interview with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Lawrence.  No, there was no entertainment reporter hosting the interview.  It was just Adam sitting across from Jennifer as they asked each other about their careers, movies they made, criticism they’ve taken and the entire challenge of acting.  It was better than any “movie star” interview I’ve ever watched.

adamJenI could go on and on, there is so much variety of experiences on YouTube that so accurately represent who we (us humans) are and how we function and what we mean to each other. YouTube is a whole new universe to explore and if you venture through its cyberspace you will be taken places and feel things you’ve rarely, or even ever, have experienced before.  And that is a key word:  experience.  YouTube is indeed all about experience.  But be careful, it can be addictive….though not to worry too much, you’ll find plenty of addition videos on YouTube to help you cope.

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I WANT TO BE A BOY AGAIN

MKKIDI want to be a boy again when I felt secure and taken care of and all I had to worry about was doing what I was told, trying my best at school and trying not to break anything.

I want to be a boy again when I spent hours playing outside.  I would pretend I was a cowboy or a soldier or just about anything I wanted to be. I want to ride my sled down the back alley that sloped enough to get you going so fast you worried about a car coming in at the very end.

I want to be a boy again when I was dropped off at the Saturday matinee and there was a Duncan Yo-yo contest before the  movie got started.  Sometimes the winner got a Schwinn bike which was a pretty  big deal.  Then we watched Looney Tune cartoons and a feature movie like a space adventure with Flash Gordon. And then we had to wait a whole week to find out if Flash escaped from the Martians.

I want to be a boy again when TV was a wonder and only a few families on the block actually had one. The hour before dinner they showed the Howdy Doody Show and Clarabell the Clown always soaked somebody with a seltzer bottle. And after that was Stagecoach Theater and you hoped dinner wasn’t ready early or else you’d never find out if the bank robbers got away and what about the rancher who had all his cattle stolen and rebranded so he couldn’t prove they were his.  But then, you knew Hopalong Cassidy would figure it all out and the bad guys would be hauled off to jail.

I want be a boy again when things weren’t already built up, but being built.  It was when we’d get our wagon out of the garage and go up and down the blocks above us where the new houses were being built.  All the workers had gone home so we could go through the wood framed rooms and look for empty soda bottles. Each one was worth two cents.  If we were lucky, we’d find a quart bottle.  Those were good for a nickle.  We’d take the bottles to the Acme supermarket and rake in our haul, then spend it on candy before we left.

I want to be a boy again when I came down stairs on my birthday and there was always something colossal like a new bike or a trip to New York.  One year among the presents was a white shirt with all the airlines’ logos on it.  I wanted to be an airline pilot and this shirt was the first article of clothing I ever gave a hoot about and when I wore it I was an airline pilot.

I want to be a boy again and go to summer camp and ride a horse, sail a boat and learn to swim. On Friday night we’d watch a movie while sitting on a blanket in a grassy area and have a Hershey bar with almonds.  We watched an old movie projected on a stretched out bed sheet.  When the movie was over, we marched back to our cabin in single file holding a flashlight to light the path.

I want to be a boy again and look at the big pictures in Life Magazine when it arrived each week. I also watched the mail slot in the front door for whatever prize I got for sending in the box tops from breakfast cereals.  At Christmas time there were a half dozen toy catalogs that came in he mail and you’d spend hours going through them, circling the toys you wanted. Then every August, Popular Science Magazine would have the coolest of the new cars on its cover and the car was always loaded with the latest technology.  The mail came in the morning and during Christmas it came twice a day to keep up with the greeting cards everyone sent to each other.

I want to be a boy again when we always did something on the weekends as a family, whether it was a road trip to some farmer’s market or shopping at the new and only enclosed mall where every fall we got new clothes for school. Or we’d go to a museum and I was bored or to the zoo where I wasn’t.

And I want to be a boy again so I can be with my parents once more, in their prime when I thought they were the smartest people on earth. Just about everything they did was for the benefit of my brother and me, although we had no idea at the time. They made sure we got the basics and more and when we didn’t appreciate it and acted out they taught us about guilt and discipline.  We learned to balanced the two.  I remember rare occasions being spanked when I really did something major, like dropping the F-bomb when I was eleven. I had no idea what the word meant except the older boys playing basketball in the schoolyard said it a lot so I wanted to be cool like them…but not after I said it once to my Dad.  But mostly, I want to be a boy again so I can tell my parents how much I loved them, how much I miss them and just once more could we have dinner together.

I want to be a boy again so I have no responsibilities except to follow a few rules, share, and don’t hit anybody. It was when I didn’t have to worry about money or my children or my wife and a bunch of other grownup stuff.  It was when peace of mind was more present than it would ever be for the rest of my life and I had no idea at the time how cherished that would be.

I want to be a boy again so in a few years I can fall in love with my Rosemarie all over again. Young love is a stage of life like no other in that it consumes your whole being and your emotions will be at a level of sensitivity never to be experienced again.

I want to be a boy again when life was simple, life was easy, life was happy and thoughts of it all being over were somewhere else far, far off in the future.

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A BIRD STOPS BY

YelCrnHeron

A Yellow Crowned Night Heron stopped by the house.

Certainly more welcomed than a live-in mouse.

My wife told me there were two of them yesterday.

I guess one has flown off and gone some other way.

This one was looking a little lonely standing in the rain.

I ran to get my camera hoping there he’d remain.

He must have known I wanted a picture, I suppose.

Once I had my camera there he stood, striking a pose.

He let me get off a few shots and then got bored

He spread his wings, took flight and off he soared.

Now, why a night heron was out in the day, I surmise

Is because I could not have gotten a picture otherwise.

However, there remains one item that’s still a blur.

I really don’t know if this heron was a him or a her.

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HERE COME THE JUDGE

postcardsD

Well, it’s election time around these parts. We have a ballot full of judges coming up for election at the end of August. I already got my mail-in ballot this week. And along with it there’s been a load of oversized campaign advertisements stuffed in my mailbox every day.  How timely that they should all arrive right when my ballot does!

I have never given Judges much thought—I haven’t had to hang around in a courtroom very much in my lifetime—but I have to think they must hate having to campaign.  It’s so un-judge-like.   I think of them like some meds I have to take. I really want a pill that works hard in my favor when I have something gone wrong.  But don’t ask me to spend any time reading about medicines to any extent unless I’m in need of one.  Judges must be like a pill you have to swallow when you’re sick (in court) and need help. Otherwise you couldn’t care less.

So here are all these stereotypically stuffy black-robed people running around the neighborhood posting signs on walls, banging them into roadside patches of dirt and rushing off to the post office with stacks of 8-and-a-half by eleven post-cards touting what a gift they are to the great American judicial system.

Speaking of direct-mail, the stuff these guys and gals send out, they are ridiculous. They all must have watched the same How to Make a Direct-Mail Ad for Your Election Campaign video on YouTube because they all sent out virtually the same card. These clones even have the same “Vote by Mail, Early or on August 28th” line prominently appearing somewhere on their post card.   They all have a meaningful pitch line like “Deep Roots in Our Community,” or “Endorsed by the Sun-Sentinel & Our Community Organizations.” Of course there are always pictures of them appearing judgmental in their traditional robe and then a few with the family, including the dog. I wonder if the dog is really theirs or if they rent one from the photographer’s studio.

The pity of all this is that the voter more than likely takes these cards and tosses them into the trash, hardly taking a glance at them unless there’s nothing else on the table to read while they’re eating a bowl of puffed wheat.  No one wants to take the time to read all this stuff just so they can decide which judge to vote for. Most people are simply apathetic about voting for a judge and don’t want to take the time to study whom they should vote for. Our democracy not at work, at least when it comes to judges.

I don’t know how to remedy the situation.  Most folks have never heard of these people. Most don’t want to spend time learning about them unless, of course, it’s Judge Judy.   Now Judge Judy has to run a totally different kind of campaign. She just has to keep her ratings up and she’ll keep winning every year. Maybe more judges have to get their own TV shows if they want people to vote for them. There could maybe even be a channel with nothing but judge shows 24/7, all judges all the time. Attorneys would spend a fortune buying time to run their commercials. Hey, I may be on to something there. Yeah, I know, go tell it to the judge!

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DARE I SAY IT? …Ice Cream

frenchhornSMI was thinking about ice cream the other day….well actually, I think about ice cream just about every day. I realize that may sound a little weird, but those who know me know that ice cream is my favorite food. I haven’t talked about ice cream in a long time.  Soooo….it’s time, right?  Right??  By the way, the French Horn is my favorite ice cream picture.  It’s a real toot!

There was one place I worked for a few years that had nothing decent for lunch nearby. I usually didn’t get lunch anyway because the job was demanding and haagendazstaking time to get in the car and drive someplace was just too time consuming. I got in the habit of walking across the street where there was a small, poorly stocked convenience store that had at least one thing I’d eat: Häagen-Dazs ice cream. So I’d buy a pint and take it back to the office and eat it while I got back to work. That was lunch…often! I wonder what my cholesterol levels were back then.

When I was a kid, ice cream was sold in several ways that don’t exist anymore. Loose was one way. By that I mean, you’d go to the corner “Luncheonette” that sold ice cream cones.  There, you could order a loose pint of whatever flavor you wanted. It would then be spooned out of a five gallon round cardboard tub much like ice cream is sold at traycone stores today.  The clerk would use a wide, flat spade to spoon the ice cream into a paper tray like the one pictured and then weigh it on a scale. Then a piece of light wax paper was smooshed on top of the ice cream and the whole thing then went into a brown paper bag and off you went—fast—so you’d get home before it melted.

Later, packaged ice cream came in square (pint) or large rectangular (half-gallon)
bricks wrapped in thin cardboard. The ends had locking “tongues” like a bakery box. In college a friend and I would buy one of these big bricks of ice cream, take it back home, open all the sides and lay them flat on the desk. Then we’d sit there with spoon in hand and work our way through the brick until it was finished. It was basically two pints each. You didn’t want much after you polished that off…at least for an hour.

carvelThose Carvel cakes (the ones that cost more than the birthday present your bought) used to originate from drive-in type stores or those in strip shopping centers. The cakes were not the main item then. Like Dairy Queen, cones of soft ice cream were the attraction at Carvel back then. They also had an incredible chocolate “log” in the display freezer. This was a foot-long round concoction of cake and ice cream made to look like a log. Three big maraschino cherries on top if I remember right. Forget about the “whale” Carvel sold…the log was to die for

bryersBreyers, when I was young, was the favorite brand and it may still be yours. Not mine. The company was sold years ago. I think Sealtest first bought it. Despite the company saying the ice cream would never change, that concept melted away faster than some of the Breyers flavors do. That’s because there is more air left in the ice cream, plus the amount of butterfat in some flavors no longer qualifies the product to be called “ice cream.”  Note the label on many Breyers packages now reads “frozen dairy dessert.”

One of the biggest developments in the ice cream business over the past 50 years was the introduction of Ben & Jerry’s. This is a high-end, high-quality ice cream like none before. The company gave their flavors quirky names and overstocked them with big chunks of fruits, nuts, chocolate pieces, etc.  Then  it had the audacity to become socially (human) and cow (animal) conscious. They share their wealth with those who need it and don’t use cream from deprived, manipulated, substance infiltrated cows CHUNKY2or corrupt and mismanaged dairy farms. Ben and Jerry took an ice cream making course at Penn State and then opened a store in a deserted gas station.   The rest, as they say…is history, although Ben & Jerry’s was sold a bunch of years ago and, so far, there haven’t been any notable changes in concept or quality. If you’ve never had Chunky Monkey, I suggest you need to run out right now and get some.

Lately there has been an explosion of new brands showing up in the freezer display at the supermarket, all competing for your attention and your stomach. Ice cream is much like pizza. Everyone has their own particular flavor and brand that they favor. Me? I’m not fussy. Even bad ice cream will most times beat rice pudding or tapioca…does anybody even make that stuff anymore?

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CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK

 

PlaneBoy

So here’s something you may not know about me: I almost flunked woodshop? Yep, back in junior high (what they call “middle school” these days). I was excited when I first walked into woodshop. Instead of a desk, everyone got to sit at a little workbench. Cool! And then you got to play with real tools—saws, hammers, screwdrivers and manly things like that. I was going to have a great time…until I got the “practice piece.”

The practice piece was a rectangular block of wood about six inches long, three inches wide and an inch thick. Everyone in the class had to complete an initial exercise with their practice piece before they could actually begin working on a real project. For me, things went downhill from there.

Everyone got their block of wood and a set of instructions. You had to plane and sand the block to very very very specific measurements. Then you had to put a bevel edge all around the top. When you completed the task, the teacher checked your finished product with a micrometer so he could see if your measurements were correct all the way around every edge…down to the millimeter!

This is the time I first began learning certain things about myself that my mother and father never told me.  They weren’t even mentioned in the operating manual they gave me when I was born. It seems I lacked certain mechanical skills. Odd! My father was an engineer, a draftsman who drew up blueprints in very very very specific detail. Wouldn’t you think I would have inherited some of those skills?

Anyway, I got to work on my practice piece and the first thing I noticed was how difficult it was to achieve the proper measurements consistently all around the block of wood. I’d get one side right, then screw up the other. To make a long story short, I went through at least a dozen or more practice pieces trying to get it right. I never did. Week after week I’d plane and sand, sand and plane; take a little off here, then oops, too much there.

Meanwhile all the other kids were busy working away at building birdhouses and bookcases and cool stuff like that. I kept planing and sanding, sanding and planing. The teacher finally passed one of my pieces with a “D” which was probably for “dimwitted.” But as far as I was concerned there was no doubt about it, the entire episode was child abuse, right out of the child abuse manual that my parents didn’t give me at birth.

I told you this story because it kind of explains how the kitchen got flooded last night.  I was attempting to remove the broken icemaker from the refrigerator and install a new one. Boy, you should have seen all the water.  It was like a firehose had opened up full blast.  Water was everywhere before we finally got to turn off the water main outside.  Then it took forever to sop it all up. Lucky thing I had a Wet Vac.  That sure helped.

For sure, it was an experience I will never forget…just like my practice piece in woodshop. I don’t need to bore you with the details of the great flood and how it all happened.  But it proved once more that by the time you reach my age one should accept what one is capable of doing…and not.  Nuff said.

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