It was Sunday the day before Labor day and, I saw a very cool thing.  On the way The Chatterbox around mid morning, I was driving past Donaldson Farms on the western outskirts of Hackettstown.  I was passing by around 9:30 or so.  The farm has about five or ten acres planted with nothing but sunflowers.  They’re starting to bloom.  I don’t know how sunflowers do it but their flowers follow the sun as if they were watching it.  It’s sort of like how the radio telescopes do, only it’s all these flowers in a field like they’re an audience watching Elvis.  You can almost imagine the Sun getting up early on the other side of the horizon.  There he is putting on his make up in his dressing room and maybe having some coffee and a cruller back stage with the stage crew going over details for the big show.  Meanwhile on the other side of the event horizon the sunflowers are all lining up and finding their seats.  All of a sudden, it’s show time.  The lighting tech moves the clouds and rays of light into place for the spectacular opening number.  A big chorus of birds start singing for all they’re worth.  The scene is all aglow with color as the star of the show just appears as a little red glowing slit of light brightening into a full trumpeting blast of energy.  The show is on and the sunflowers are glued to it.  There’s one nice thing about this show.  Admission is free and it lasts all day.


When I walk Millie our hound, there’s a spot out in the yard that she like to visit almost every time.  There’s an area of shrubbery near the big tree, that’s become over grown a bit.  In the middle of all the bushes and weeds, there’s a naturally formed tunnel.  This tunnel goes from one side of the thicket to the other.   Millie can’t resist entering on one end and coming out the other. While she’s in there, I have to release the leash and so, she’s on her own.  She takes her time in there and I can hear her sniffing all the way through.   Sooner or later she pops out the other ends wagging her tail.  Sometimes, she’ll turn around and reverse her course to make it a round trip.    I got to thinking about how I have had similar comfort zones myself.   Here’s one that was one of my favorites.  I’d save my allowance of 7 cents a day and, I’d go out and buy a few rolls of kite string.   Then I’d go into my room and tie one end of the string to a dresser drawer knob and then pull the string and secure it to maybe a door knob, then drag it off some more and loop it around   a closet latch.  I’d continue like this for an hour or more, stretching out all my kite string back and forth until I finally had this giant web.  It was pretty psychotic looking but, once it was done anyone had to be impressed.   When I was done with the construction, the rest of the day would be spent crawling around inside the web and checking it out from all angles.   I guess, the web was to me what the tunnel in the bushes is to Millie.  I guess it’s a kind of comfort zone thing.  I guess.


It’s Labor Day and the wife and I are doing just what we should.  We’re laboring.  Sandy’s out selling at a flea market and, I’ll be dee jaying the whole weekend.  You’re supposed to be laboring this weekend, right?   Maybe we’re kind of off base on that one there.  Still, our jobs start when everyone else wants to take a break.  Maybe we’ll wave when we’re off for a good time while everyone else is slaving away in the salt mine of their choice.  One good thing I guess is that we can usually sleep in on Mondays.  But isn’t work great?  It’s really the glue that holds this country together.  The more people working in America, the better.  People getting up early to head out to earn a few bucks  to feather their nests is a great thing.  It’s Americas warp drive.  If we all sat around we wouldn’t last long.   I’m going to dedicate my Labor Day fun to my brother Ed.  He had a serious operation about two months ago. That came with a very painful recuperation.  He’s better but still under the weather and, what did he do a day or two ago?  He went to work just like I would do.  He sells on the road and his boss got after him and told him to get back home and rest or else.  Of course the front office loves him and just didn’t want him to aggravate his healing process.  They know that they’re lucky to have such an inspired worker.  So, Ed’s squirming at home for the Labor Day weekend chomping at the bit to get back in the race.  God Bless America and it’s workers.   I’ll be running the usual weekend schedule at the Chatterbox


This is a good one.   Talk about songs evoking memories.  I was playing a song at the Goodfellows  Cruise Night at Wendy’s in Denville the other night.  The song was Little Star by The Elegants.  A guy came over to me.  He had brought a car to the event.  He said that when he was just a kid, his uncle showed him how to build a crystal radio.  He had to build it himself as his uncle directed the process.  The two of them worked at it all afternoon.  They strung an antenna and finally were all set to fire the set up for a listen.  The guy said he stuck his tiny headset on and worked the simple controls. There was a bit of static and then, just like magic and clear as a bell WABC came through as pretty as you please.  They were playing Little Star.  The song was just starting.  He caught the song just as Vito Picone sings…..”There you are…little star.”   Ain’t life grand and full of wonderful memories?   The guy said he later made a better antenna out of his dads used beer cans and climbed out on the roof to attach it to the chimney.  He was getting the Philly stations with that but, his dad made him take it down.  I guess the neighbors were talking.


I can’t say this for sure but, preliminary results are interesting.  I’ve noticed this when I walk Millie our hound on her leash.   If I walk in front of her tugging for her to keep up with me or go faster,  her reaction is to go slower.  But, if I walk behind her and keep the leash slack, she walks faster and sniffs deeper.   I also notice that when I walk behind her, her tail wags much faster.  Interesting.  CEOs should look into this.


I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of relaxation lately. It must be the Taoist in me or, maybe I’m working too hard.  Instead of struggling for a new example of the benefits of just letting it happen, I, instead just now sat back in my folding chair and let my mind drift into a really cool story about the best sleeper I’ve ever heard about.  I don’t know his name but he was a sailor back in WWII.  He served as a deck hand on an ammunition transport ship. As near as I know this story happened at the Normandy Invasion.  His ship heaved to along a floating pier.  It was late in the day.  They secured the mooring lines as crews began to unload precious ammunition.  He had served his watch and was told to go get some shuteye down below.  Busy as it was topside the captain felt the men would do better work and be more alert if they got at least a little rest.  It didn’t take long for this sailor to fall asleep in his bunk deep down in the ship.  It had been a long hard day and the crews above would do an outstanding job till he rejoined them.  Well, he was laying there dead to the world dreaming about dabbing suntan oil on Dorothy Lamour on a beach somewhere, when all of a sudden all hell broke loose above deck..   As he laid peacefully out cold it was a different story topside.   An incoming German shell hit the ship and the bombs started going off.  The ammo blew sky high in a blazing fireball. The  order was given to abandon ship.  Sailors were either in the water or running down the floating dock.  Most everyone got ashore OK and watched the ship burn and ground itself in the shallow water.  It was a vision of hell with flames sky high, glowing steel, and volcanic fireballs.  The chiefs came by and took a head count.  All were accounted for except for one.  You guessed it.  There was no way to save him.  The sailors could only stand on shore and shake their heads.  There was nothing to do so, they had the chaplain say a prayer and they mustered to go unload a different ship.  The work had to get done.  By morning, the fires had died down send in a recovery team of volunteers to get the remains of their shipmate.  It wasn’t a happy detail.  There might be very little left of him and what ever remained wouldn’t be pretty to see.   The guys went on board.  The steel was still hot.  Debris was smoldering.  They got to the bunking area.  Their ship mate was still in his bunk laying very very still.  God it was hot in that room.  One of the sailors approached trying to hold back from getting sick.  All of a sudden,  the sailor in the bunk opened his eyes and sat straight up.  Some of the guys ran out of the compartment figuring they saw a ghost.  “What are you guys doing here?  Oh man did I oversleep, The chiefs gonna kill me.  Hand me my shoes will yuh.  Holy heck!! God it’s hot in here.  Good luck getting to sleep you guys.  I’m getting on deck.”  No one thought to stop him but, about  halfway to top side they could hear him yell.  “What the %&#(*%&&&&#% happen to the ship???”   His shipmates weren’t too far behind him and when they got closer they explained.  Topside the Chaplain was out on the floating pier saying a prayer.  He was kind of shocked too when the best sleeper in the Navy came out into the light of a new day cussing about what happened to his ship.  Of course cheers went up as high as heaven.   Think about it, if that sailor had not been such a sound sleeper, he would have awakened  with the first blast and ran out of the compartment to face a certain fiery death.  By staying calm and overly relaxed, his life was spared.  Heck,  I imagine, this was the only time a deck hand got a medal for sleeping.


I don’t know if this is going on all over the area or not.  Maybe it’s just me but, wasn’t it last year and the year before that we were plagued with stink bugs.  It was almost like insect Armageddon for the past couple of years.  Everywhere you looked, stink bugs were in our faces.  I know they loved to hold dances on my turntables.  It was like a merry go round for them when I’d start a record.  Many a song skipped when they’d crash into the stylus and send it hopping.  I could actually see the sliders on my mixing board move seemingly on their own. Of course, it wasn’t a ghost.  It was a team of stinkbugs messing around under the cover panel.  They’d fly into a torch lamp we have in the living room and smolder..  Whew!!!  Heaven help you if you moved one out of your way..  They’d spray you and your world would be ripe and musky for a few hours.  One got into my trousers and as I put on my drawers it let me have it.  I smelled bad all day.  Darn things were a pain in the neck.  But, what happened?  I don’t think I’ve seen even a dozen this whole summer.  Have you?  I’m glad they’re gone.  But, where did they go?  We used to keep spiders in the house just to catch them.  Spiders didn’t seem to mind fighting them.  Do spiders have noses?  I’ll bet they don’t.  What I want to know, is what predator out there in the woods or, under the house, thinks stink bugs taste good?  Does whoever it is have any good cooking tips?  Maybe a nice way of making stinkbug soup or, popped stink bugs?  Maybe a stink bug hoagie with hot peppers………I wonder.


The reports are coming in from all over the world.  OK,  maybe they’re just coming in from all over the neighborhood.  But, still they are coming in pretty steady concerning this years produce crop.  They’re telling that the green light is on in the kitchen.  Tomato sandwiches are being consumed by the dozens.  Mostly its good fresh bread, piled thick with very large tomato slices, lot’s of mayonnaise, maybe some pepper and a great big smile.  Usually these sandwiches are meant to be savored but, for the moment, some are going down the old pipe in one bite.   My own dear wife has been buying very fresh celery at the produce area out at the Leesport, Pa flea market.  Friends, that celery tastes better than candy.  I’m afraid that the celery from over the winter is very bland by comparison.  Some might say that it’s almost tasteless.  But, this celery Sandy’s buying from some Amish folks is almost Robin Hood green.  You can smell it from across the room.  Cut that into a tuna salad and it’s hard to tell which is the more pungent.   Cantaloupes  could be substituted for bowling balls right now and an ice cream parlor sundae couldn’t be sweeter.  Right now, a bite of cantaloupe almost tickles.  Zucchini glut season is now in full bloom.  People are waking up and going out to get the paper only to find a bushel basket of zucchinis on the front stoop.  I think people hire the newspaper delivery guys to drop off a bushel or two at each home on their route.  This is good for the newspaper guys.  They stand the best chance of not getting caught.  Some of these guys tell me that the small charge they get for dropping off the  zucchinis almost pays for their kids college tuition.  The big thing is to not get caught.  About all a victim of a Zucchini drop off can do is whip out the olive oil and start frying.



Today at 5:47 PM
 I was doing a show the other evening and played a song by Laurel and Hardy called On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine.  It’s a great song.  People don’t realize but, Ollie was a wonderful singer.  I think he was a tenor and, a good one at that.  Still, I’m very happy he decided to go into comedy.  Laurel and Hardy movies are the best.  But, back to that lonesome pine.  As I’m enjoying the song, I kept thinking.   “Lonesome pine….Lonesome Pine….Where have I seen a lonesome pine?”   Then it hit me.  I’m pretty sure there was this large lonesome pine that used to stand out on one of the mountains overlooking Forksville, Pa.  I think it commanded the south east ridge and stood at about three quarters of the way to the summit.  It wasn’t the worlds most beautiful pine but, it kind of had an air about it.  It was like a sentinel watching the town.  From its position, it would have been able to see pretty much anything approaching the little village. In winter, all the other trees lost their leaves so, it was the only green thing on the ridge.  When I first moved in, I’d look at that pine and think to myself how I wouldn’t mind hiking up there someday just to say I did.  I kept the idea on a back burner and figured that one day I’d blaze a trail up to it and have a look around.   Then one early evening, I was strolling around town as the sun was setting.  The aroma of chicken soup was wafting my way from one home and, I could tell one other family was fixing to have spaghetti for supper.  I was lost in my thoughts and not minding life one bit.  All of a sudden I heard this god awful screech.  I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a big steam whistle let go at quitting time.  From having been a boiler maker, I have heard such things.  The sound just gets louder and screechier till you think you’re ears are going to pop.  It’s a sound that shakes you to your toes and actually starts to make you hurt all over.  It’s like you’re clamped in a vice made of sound.  When it stops, silence never sounded so good.  Well, that’s what I was hearing only louder, way louder. It happened again and again and seemed to be coming from the general vicinity of the pine on the ridge.  Funny how the idea to run for your life just comes upon you when you hear loud noises.   I got home in record time.  When I got in, I went straight for the phone and called my neighbor.  He  was home after a day of trucking.  ” Hey Carl, is there a mill around here that has a boiler?  Cause that thing’s about to go sky high!”  I was expecting a shower of boiler tubes to land on us any minute.  Carl answered back,” No, you didn’t hear any mill.  That was just the panther.”   I couldn’t believe it.  “A panther!!! There’s no panthers around here.  That’s impossible.”   Carl had a good comeback. ” Well, maybe you better go tell him he’s not supposed to be there.”   I gulped out a feeble,  “Yeah but….A panther….Is he alone?”   Carl came back with, ” I don’t think he’ll be alone long. That was his mating call.  And I wouldn’t go up there right now.  He’s probably looking for a something nice to give the lucky girl to eat.  She’d probably like a nice meal.  You know, sort of like a date.”  “Oh my God,” I said. ” Does that thing ever come into town like the bears do?”   Carl thought a minute and said, “No, he just stays up on the ridge up near that lone pine tree.  You know he one.  He just sits up there and watches the town as, we sit down here and listen to him serenade his girl.    Well, that’s all I had to hear.  I cancelled my plans for a trip up onto the ridge.  I found that the porch rocker suited me just fine most evenings.  No one goes up the ridge. For all I know, that lonesome pine probably isn’t lonely at all, what with all those panther kittens climbing around on it.


It wasn’t much of a chore at all.  I just took a deep breath, centered myself and started talking.  By the way, I have no idea what centering means. But, it sure does sound good doesn’t it.  This show isn’t so much about how to relax.  Actually, it’s more about what happens when you do manage to chill down.  So, yawn a bit and fire this baby up.  Enjoy.