GOOD OLD ED THE CAT

GOOD OLD ED THE CAT

I once had a great friend named Ed. He was quite the cat. No, Ed actually was a cat and, a darned good one at that. I actually helped him to be born. He was in his mom’s first litter. She had a bit of trouble figuring out what to do so, I did the cord cutting on Ed and all his brothers and sisters. I had to call the vet and get the instructions. Well, it was my first litter too. Mama cat and I got it all pretty straight and before we knew it, Ed and all the rest, were nursing away while their mom purred and slept.
For the first year of Ed’s life, we lived where there was a lot of traffic on our street. We didn’t want a grey furry cat pizza out on the road in front of our house so, Ed was mostly an indoor cat. That didn’t stop Ed from being a show off and a fool. One day, I brought a twig in from outside and just put it on the living room rug. Ed’s brothers and sisters just ignored it. Ed didn’t. He sniffed the twig and looked it over a bit. Then, he held one end in his mouth while he tried to swat the far end of the twig with his front paws. Of course he couldn’t reach the far end but that didn’t stop him. Soon, with the twig in his mouth, he was running up and down the hallway trying to catch the far end of the stick. I’m not sure if he realized that he’d never catch the other end. I’ve got to hand it to him, he never stopped trying.
When he wasn’t chasing sticks, Ed honed his jumping skills. In all my life I’ve never seen a better jumper. Inch for inch all I can say is, Vladimir Yashchenko, eat your heart out. Ed the Cat has you beat. Ed wasn’t the biggest cat you’ll ever see but, I’m sure he could easily leap over the head of a six foot man and laugh or purr about it all the way home. He used to spend hours jumping from the floor to the top of our china closet. He’d jump for hours if need be. I used to check him for wings but, never found any.
Eventually, we moved from New Jersey and out into the deep forests of northern Pennsylvania. There, in our little town, it was safe to let Ed out into the yard and the word. It didn’t take long before he made friends with every person and domestic critter on our block. He was fixed so, the tom cats let him be. He was a pretty big guy so, the dogs left him alone. Ed was pretty good in a fight if it came to that but, it seldom did. The neighbors said that he’d just walk into their homes and make himself comfortable on the sofa and start purring for a scratch or a treat. All in all, he was the coolest cat in town. In a way, he was more dog than cat.
There was this beautiful creek that ran through our town. It’s called Loyalsock Creek and, there’s no better trout stream on this planet. Frankly, it’s more a river than a creek. The Loyalsock can get pretty ugly during the spring floods or, during a period of heavy rain. Mostly, though it’s just a gorgeous wide stream coming down the valley out of the mountains. It then, passes our town and flows under a red covered bridge. It rolls a bit further into the distance and goes under a highway bridge. Then, it bends to the south for the thirty mile run to the Susquehanna. Even if you didn’t have a worm or lure on your line it was just fun to put on your waders and stand out in the middle of that creek and just take in the glory of it all. One day, I was doing just that very thing.
Of course, I had a lure on the line with worm attached. I could see cigarette smoke wafting out one of the windows on the covered bridge. The only three teenagers in town must have decided to hang out on the bridge and have a smoke. You’d have thought the bridge was on fire. Maybe they had a cigar. Who knows? Besides, I was way more interested in catching a nice juicy trout. Heck, the other day one of my neighbors caught a three foot long Rainbow Trout just a hundred yards upstream from where I was standing. You be surprised how a week later that trout grew to more like four feet long and at least ten pounds heavier. It’s great when you catch a fish that just keeps growing like that. I got to admit it was a pretty cool fish for a two and a half footer.
I was lost in thought thinking about the scrawny two footer that neighbor of mine caught just upstream from where I was standing. Shame it was just a brown trout and not a rainbow. Well, that’s alright because I’m going to catch me a whale any second now. Easy on the line now. Not too tight. Let it drift. Let it drift. Watch that bobber. Easy now. Darn Mosquitos! Wish I had a cigar. Suddenly and right out of nowhere, I hear screaming. Inhuman screaming at that. It was coming from shore. Right near my bait bucket. There on the shore was my old pal Ed.
Ed the Cat was standing on my bait bucket so that I could see him. The weeds were pretty thick on shore. Ed was meowing like he was nuts. He was sporting the face of a tiger. Of course a tiger would have alarmed the jungle with his growls shaking the very leaves on the trees. Ed’s yowling wasn’t anywhere near that strong but, it was more than enough of a yell to scare fish for miles around.
I hollered at him to calm down. That just made the hollering worse. I mean if Ed was a Collie, I’d have thought maybe Timmy fell down the well again. But, this was just Ed and, he wouldn’t shut up. I started to wade ashore. As I got closer, Ed toned it down a bit but, only a little. Now, he could still be heard in only two counties instead of the whole Keystone State.
I was about four feet from shore when Ed finally shut up with the yowling and just started to pace back and forth. Then, he got this odd look on his face. It was a look of determination. He backed up just a little. He made eye contact with me and then just took off running my way. I didn’t know it but, I was standing on the end of a feline runway. Ed went airborne sailing out over the river edge higher and higher and landed with a plop right on my shoulder. He sunk his claws deep into my jacket and vibrated back and forth like a tree limb in the wind. That kept him from tumbling off my shoulder and into the drink.
With the perfect dive and a precise landing behind him, Ed curled himself around my neck and purred his best purr right in my ear. I thanked Heaven it wasn’t August as he locked his claws deeper into my jacket. One thing for certain Ed wasn’t going ashore. It was like I had a second head. There was only one thing I could do. I waded out to the old spot to fish some more. Of course now, I had the help of a fishing buddy.
From that time on, when Ed the Cat, would see me grab my fishing pole, he’d drop whatever he was doing and stand right next to me. We’d walk side by side to the shore line. I never trained him to carry the bait bucket but, I should have. On the shore, I’d put on my waders, and go out about a foot into the stream. Then, I’d turn my back to the shore and Ed would fly through the air and land on my lumber jacket. Then, he’d slink up to my shoulders and lock himself in place. I knew he was set to go when his tail swished past my ears and got me on the nose.
He never fell in.

MY JOURNEY TO A FAR OFF AND FROZEN REALM

MY JOURNEY TO A FAR OFF AND FROZEN REALM
As you might know, I work just part time in the dairy section of a local supermarket. I enjoy the work. I kind of like the cold. Truthfully, the exercise won’t hurt me a bit. The customers, for the most part are, wonderful people. I enjoy helping them. They never really ask for much. Some want to know if we have a particular style of butter. In some cases a lady might want to know if a product that’s missing from the shelf might be hiding in the cooler. I’m always happy to go and look. You never know.
I guess the biggest plea from a customer is, do I know where such and such product might hiding in the store. The dairy section for the average customer is the last department they visit. People tend to walk counter clockwise around a supermarket. I have no idea why. If the floor plan was a clock face and you could look from above at it, the dairy section sits at say seven o’clock on the dial. Usually, a dairy worker will be the last staff person a customer sees before checking out. There’s days when standing in front of them wearing my jacket, apron, gloves, knee pads and a smile, I’m their last hope. If I can’t help them, they’ll be going home without that can of French fried onion rings and, the string bean casserole won’t be on the table for Sunday dinner.
It’s a big responsibility that I gladly embrace. I’m always ready to search. Now and then, even I can’t find an item. Raisins and prunes are always being moved around by the floor planners. Their meddling with the floor plan, drives me nuts. Why can’t they keep the raisins in one spot and just stick with it? There could almost be an Indiana Jones movie on the topic. Coming soon to a theater near you. Filmed in 3D and Sense Around! Raiders of the Lost Prune!
Really, I shouldn’t get so worked up over dried fruit. One should eat dried fruit and not have a cow over it. Besides, most of the products that I have to hunt down aren’t that hard to find. Take Mrs. Smiths Pies for instance. They’re a snap to find and pretty tasty too. In almost any of our super markets, you’ll find them over in our Frozen Food Department in the left hand glass cabinet about two thirds back from the front. They generally, are placed on the three bottom most shelves. They get kind of mixed up what with folks rooting through them so, I always escort a customer to their spot just to be safe. A day or two ago, I was escorting a young husband whose wife sent him out on a solo shopping mission. His objective was to come back home with a large Mrs. Smith’s Cherry Pie.
He was pretty much a rookie at this kind of thing. I figured him to be a newlywed. When we got to the Mrs. Smith section, the only pies left were apple. The wife wanted Cherry. I could see the desperation on his face. He would have been happy with a Cauliflower Pie at this point. There must have been a big game on TV back home. He was catching on to married life, and instead of just taking the Apple Pie, he called home to check with the boss. Smart young man.
It took a bit of wrangling and whining but, he never really lost his cool. His bride back at the kitchen, went for the Apple Pie. I was standing nearby so, he mumbled a faint I love you into the phone. Then, he picked a nice big apple pie out of the frozen cabinet and put it into the cart. He puffed on his fingers. Those cabinets are set at five below zero. He thanked me and rolled down the aisle in search of a gallon of milk. He said he knew where that was.
Me, I just stood there for a second or two and felt good that I could help the guy. I could see my reflection in the frozen food cabinet’s glass door. With my black ball cap, black apron and jacket on, I almost looked like I was from the middle ages. The leather knee pads and my beard along with balding long hair just added to the style of maybe an old fashioned wise man. I thought if they’d let me carry a large knurled staff with me, I could almost come across as a wandering wizard.
I stood there daydreaming of my next quest. Perhaps my next journey would be to the far off realm they call Produce to find the holiest of mushrooms, the elusive Portobello. It would be a journey of some distance and peril, to the far corners of a distant land.
My daydream was shattered by our stores loud speakers. It turned out that my next quest would be to aisle six to clean up a broken jar of spaghetti sauce. I went to seek out…..I mean find….the mop.

BABIES AND BIRTHDAYS EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK

BABIES AND BIRTHDAYS EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK.
Today is my son Burgess’s birthday. The poor guy is hitting middle age which, means I’m hitting Methusalaville. I remember many years ago, when I hit the big four-oh, my father called up to wish me a happy birthday. I can still hear him on the phone saying something like, “Oh my God, I’ve got a kid who’s forty.” Then, he burst out with something kind of guttural. After that, there was silence and then he said happy birthday. I think he meant it but, I’m sure martini time couldn’t come fast enough.
To tell you the truth, I really didn’t get it back then. Now, with both my kids past that magic number, oh I do get it and, then some. The cool thing is that, if my old man was still among the Earthbound, he’d be laughing his tail off at the squeamish look on my kisser now that those days have hit his first born. Oh, I can just feel the slap on my back he’d be giving me. I can almost hear his laugh too. He’d be having a ball.
Burg decided to come here on Mother’s Day back in 1975. He was a hard delivery for my first wife. She really went through a rough moment or two. But that was forgotten when the sun came up and she and Burgess went past me on their out of the delivery room. I’m trying to remember the first time I saw Burgess. He was in his Moms arms and looking a little dazed as you might guess. She said something about him being my new fishing buddy. The mere mention of fishing shook him out of his doldrums and even though his eyes were closed, he looked around just for a second or two and then he got sleepy and went back to relaxing. I was very happy to meet him. I knew he’d be a great person to know. That feeling turned out to be true.
My daughter Sunshine came to us a few years before Burgess popped onto the scene. She was a pretty easy delivery mostly because she didn’t weigh that much. Another ounce or two lighter and she would have been considered a premie. My first time seeing her was right after she was born and she too had her eyes open with that look of where the heck am I and why is it so cold out here? She had a kind of vibrato to her cry. If I remember right, she almost sounded like a lamb. Her two sets of grandparents saw her later that day. By that time, Sunny was already trying to look her best. I thought she almost seemed to be posing. The grandparents were all so happy that they just stood looking in the nursery window crying. I thought that was pretty cool of them. Sunny was eating it up. Right from the start, she had the Grandparents under control.
Then in due time when Sadie decided to come around, I too got into the old Grandpa game. I don’t believe that Sadie was in a nursery bassinet when I first saw her. I believe her first days were spent actually in the hospital room with her Mom and Dad. I seem to remember that the lights were dim but, not her. If a blind person walked into the room, they would see Sadie. You can feel her in the room. Gosh, now she’s in her early teens. Time flies when you’re having fun. Sadie will have a great effect on the people she meets. It was her gift of four leaf clovers that got me going on writing blurps. May her quote always stand. “Pop Pop! If you want to find four leaf clovers, you have to look for them!” Case closed. I started looking. Thank you Sadie.
As they say in the late night commercials, “But wait, there’s more!!” Indeed there is. There’s always more kids to love. Two good friends of mine Maria and Evan work at the Chatterbox. Their eyes must have met one day while setting out the brown mustard squeezers. However it happened, they became one about a year and a half or so ago. Most married couples are quite content to have one kid at a time but not Evan and Maria. They went for the gusto and had twins. Twin girls. Oh and they’re so pretty. I haven’t actually seen them yet. They just got here a month or so ago. But, there’s a million or two postings on facebook. By the time you read this, there might be three million postings and five or six videos. Reports are coming in that the girls are already signed to Paramount Pictures. One looks a bit like Evan and one looks a bit like Maria. Go figure. I love hearing the stories about dealing with doubles on everything. Mom and Dad can forget about a full nights sleep for the next twenty years or so.
But wait there’s still more. This just in. The grandson of one of my cousins out in western Pennsylvania is doing pretty good thank you very much God. I won’t use his name. A number of months ago he and his sister were born very early. Too early. Sadly, this fellows little sister passed away. She just couldn’t stay here. Her brother carried on the fight for both of them. It was quite the battle. I remember seeing a photo of him at a month or so old, holding what appeared to be a large silver bracelet in his little hand. That bracelet was a simple wedding ring. It would have been too big for his wrist. Everyone was worried of course, myself included. Still, somehow, I saw a fighting kind of spirit in the little guy. It was like he already had his black belt for living. I could have been wrong but, I pictured him as not the kind to give up easily. I kept saying how I felt that in fifteen or sixteen years he’d be winning the big game for New Castle High. I also felt that his appetite for New Castle Coney Island hot dogs would be the stuff of legends. You have to be tough to knock down a dozen Coney’s. You don’t hold these tube steaks in your hand. You clutch them in your fist. Darn, but they’re good hot dogs. Mustard, chopped onions and the hottest chili this side of you know where. I know he’s little now but, give that kid a little time and a big heavy hammer and stand back. Of course, right now, he’s cute as pie.

BLURP BLOCK

BLURP BLOCK
Darned if I didn’t get a bad case of writers block this past Saturday. I couldn’t seem to come up with a good idea for one of my Blurps. You know! Blurps. Those things I like to write. I call them blurps. They’re little observations written down in a kind of positive, happy, and informal kind of style. Blurps! Last Saturday came and went. I couldn’t come up with a thing. I went to bed blurpless. Good thing I didn’t have a deadline. I just couldn’t seem to spot anything.
Well, on Saturday, I woke up breathing. That’s always a plus. It’s now that time of year when the sun gets up before most of us and has the lights and heat on. That’s always a plus too. It’s easier to wake up when the outdoors is lit. Yet, with all the light, no blurps were in sight.
I got dressed struggling for an idea as a bit of drizzle and fog played in the yard. I was glad I’d mowed the lawn a day or two before. It would have been hard to mow now if I hadn’t gotten it done. Actually, it would have been a death march out in the side lawn hilly as it is. I looked out the window and pictured me slipping on the tall wet grass and rolling down the hill with a revved up lawn mower tumbling right along with me into the river. I could just picture the paramedics wadding around in midstream trying to find my leg, arms, and a head that just couldn’t seem to come up with a wild story to tell for the Saturday Blurp.
In the kitchen, my wife Sandy had left just a little bit of peanut butter in the jar. I had to surgically extract the rest of the spread with a long butter knife just to get enough to cover a small toasted end crust from the loaf on the fridge. The last of my coffee spilled on the floor. Somehow, I knocked the cup over. Luckily, we had a brand new sponge in the house. I salvaged what I could from the floor and put it back in the cup. All the while I just couldn’t come up with anything funny for Saturday’s blurp. Biting my tongue on the first bite of toast didn’t help a bit. I hardly noticed the pain because I was so engrossed in trying to get out of this writers block.
I was finally in the car and on my way to The Chatterbox. A light rain was falling and mist rolled around the hills. The plowed fields were kind of striped with water reflecting the grey sky. Some of the fields were sprouting their crops. It was a little hard to tell but, when I crossed the one stretch of active rail along the journey. I thought I saw a far off train in the distance approaching from the west. It was hard to see in the mist. The Delaware Water Gap can be seen at one point along the way. Fog was covering the top ledges. For all someone could tell, the mountain could have gone up into that mist for miles. That mountain and all the far off hills near it were painted battleship grey. God does creative work I thought to myself. But, when am I going to create a simple measly blurp?
I pulled into The Chatterbox. I’d be playing all sorts of great oldies there and webcasting the show out to anyone in the world who cared to log on. It still floors me that I can sit in north Jersey and someone in China or Australia can hear me as if they had headphones attached to my mixing board. In fact they might even hear the show better than I do because my headphones are getting a bit old. I had to admit that this internet stuff is pretty darn cool. I wouldn’t mind writing something about it for a blurp but, what could a cyber moron like me have to say that would interest any Techy?
I love watching the young folks getting ready for their day at the Chatterbox. Both the kitchen staff and serving staff have an awful lot to do to get ready. I shook hands with one of the cooks. He was grilling about a bushel of fried onions. Chef Reyes waved hello with one hand and tasted gravy from a spoon in his other hand. Lemon chicken was simmering on a neighboring grill. The Kitchen crew was hi fiving one another as if they were going into a playoff game. In truth, they were. I thought about maybe having some of that lemon chicken for my supper later. But, I made myself promise to write a blurp first. If I could just only come up with one.
The serving staff was out in the dining room. Many of them bring a buttered bagel in to munch on as they do their prep. I saw the coffee was ready so, I got my cup while I could. That would be my first of many. The waiting staff, bussers, and hostesses with a half hour to go act more like ants than humans. Someone’s refilling the brown mustard jars, two or three others are folding the paper kiddie plates that look like hot rods. Someone is always sweeping. The bussers are giving last minute wipe downs to the kiddie chairs. Windows are being turned spotless. I so admire those kids. Don tells me that some of them have worked with him since 8th Grade. Now, some of them have kids of their own. They’re an amazing bunch. I’d write a blurp about them but, they’d probably get embarrassed.
Don, the owner manager walks into the dining room from the kitchen. He’s just checked out the kitchen and the crew has their orders and assignments. Don then talks to individuals from the serving staff. He often takes a moment to give a bit of a pep talk to a new person. Usually, that will be a busser. I know the Chatterbox is a restaurant but Don runs it more like a football game or maybe, it would be better to say more like a kind of friendly battle. I think in a past life Don was a civil war general. It’s probably a good thing that big white horses aren’t allowed in dining rooms. Although, I’m pretty sure Don’s horse would be house trained.
As I hooked up my equipment, I thought about how I wished I could house train my brain to come up with a blurp. I guess it just wasn’t going to be a good day for blurps. I hate when that happens. I went to bed later that night figuring that sooner or later something would come my way if I could just keep my eyes open and think. Unfortunately, I fell asleep blurpless and dreamt of missing boats and trains.

WHAT LIST?

WHAT LIST?

I guess it was about two weeks ago. I got out of bed ready to hit the silk. I sort of had the day off but, not really. Sure, I didn’t have to go to work but, there was more than enough to do at home. Some folks might say that there was too much to get done and, they’d have been right.
As I made myself an extra large and way too strong coffee, I got to thinking. If I was going to get everything done, I’d have to plan like a general. A day like this called desperately for my making a list. So, I sat down with my English muffin and that coffee I’d just made. I grabbed a pen and found some paper and, the scribbling began. The whole day stretched out ahead of me in scribbled print. It was all there on paper. I wasn’t going to miss a thing. It felt good to be so prepared. I even allowed time to fix once and for all that pesky and loose toilet paper wall dispenser. It was hanging by a thread right next to the toilet. It could fall at any moment and leave some poor soul stranded on the throne. I wouldn’t care if it happened to me. But, if it happened to my wife Sandy, I’d never hear the end of it.
I was all set to start the day with list in hand, when Millie our hound woke up and wanted to go out…..now! I was still in my pajamas but Millie was in a hurry. So, all I had time to do was put down the list and grab some socks from the sock and underwear pile at the foot of the bed and put my shoes on as Millie whined and butt slid across the living room rug. Soon, we were outside. Millie sniffed and did her thing as I day dreamed about all I was going to achieve on this soon to be high gear great and busy day.
Millie finished up and just sat in the middle of the yard sniffing the neighborhood. For a dog, that’s like a human reading the morning news. She was just catching up on who may have walked through the yard overnight. That kind of stuff is important to a dog. After a while, she looked like she was almost done with the dog funnies. I decided it was time to go back inside. Besides, I had lots to get done.
Once inside, I remembered that I hadn’t checked my emails. It wasn’t on the list but, I still had to check them. While going over the spam and deleting it, I could hear something on the news that caught my interest. I don’t know, it was something about an eighty mile back up for the inbound Holland Tunnel. Traffic was backed up to Harrisburg. They had film about it from a traffic plane. People were fist fighting in the East bound lane out near Allentown. I had to go look.
During the commercial break I realized that I had to hit the can. I was in there a while and, when I came out Millie wanted breakfast. So, I cut up some cheese, chicken, and salami, and put a dab of tuna salad on top. Millie wouldn’t eat it until I put two cheese crackers on the side as an appetizer. That did it. She went for it. While she was eating, I went back to the computer and deleted a few things. That done, I was ready to go after that list and hit it hard. Just one little problem got in my way. I couldn’t find the list.
It had to be right where I left it. Sure, it was right over…..over…uhh…right next to uhhh!!! Darn it friends. It was nowhere to be seen. I tore the house apart. Sandy came in from errands and couldn’t believe my panic. When she came in, I was ripping apart a pile of laundry that was lying on the floor in the living room. A tee shirt flew through the air and got stuck on the spinning ceiling fan. It eventually flew off and draped itself on the TV. I was going nuts. Sandy decided to watch Wendy on TV. She snatched the tee shirt from off the TV screen and used the remote to turn up the volume so she wouldn’t have to hear me.
Man, I was getting ticked off at that stupid list. Where was it? I had to have that list. I looked everywhere. I had absolutely no luck finding it. It just disappeared. It was gone. I just sat on the edge of the bed and stewed. Writing a new list wouldn’t really help. The original list was right on target. It was the perfect list. That’s the one I needed to get all this stuff done. I gave up and went listless. The chores would just have to be done at random. I’d never get everything done. At least though some of the work would be out of the way by days end. My work began and, failure loomed ahead of me. Crud.
Well, the day went ok I guess. By bedtime at least I had made a dent. I worked pretty hard and I sure was tired. Sleep came fast and the morning light took its sweet time getting into my room for the start of yet another new day. I got up and went about my business. It was to be a good day. The list from yesterday was old news and forgotten. I had other and newer fish to fry.
That was about two weeks ago. Today, I woke up and was scuffling around the bedroom looking for my socks and underwear. My clean clothes pile at the foot of the bed was low on socks and underwear so, I went to my second choice for finding such things, the sock and underwear drawer. I couldn’t find two socks that matched. Some of the socks had holes in the toes. The underwear at the top of the drawer pile was my unlucky underwear. So, with a bit of optimism, I dug deeper into the drawer. As I dug deeper, I could hear crinkling. There was something under my tidy whiteys. Darned if it wasn’t that doggone list from two weeks ago.
I sort of remember now. It all came flooding back. Right after I wrote the list that day, I wanted to change from my pajamas to my work clothes. The sock and underwear pile was at the foot of my bed. Again, I had trouble matching the socks. I put the list down on the bed started rooting around. That’s when Millie woke up and wanted to go out. She was in such a hurry that I wasn’t about to get dressed just yet. I just grabbed some socks and ran for the door. The list went out of sight and somehow got mixed in with all the underwear. I never noticed it was there as I stuffed everything in to the dresser before walking Millie. Well, mystery solved.
I looked at the old list a bit and then, got an idea. I had gotten a lot done that day. I wondered just how much of the list I had gotten to on that day from hell. I sat down with pencil and old list in hand and started checking off what I completed that day two weeks ago. It’s funny friends but, even with all that aggravation, I had gotten pretty much everything done. Everything on that paper got checked off. Everything and all with no list. Gosh that felt good. I wasn’t such a dummy after all. Oh, sorry. I did miss one thing. I didn’t get to reattaching the toilet paper holder. But, then, I never seem to get around to fixing that darn thing. I keep meaning to get to it but, I keep forgetting. I’d put it on the to do list but, I think I’m through with lists for now.

PROGRESS REPORT (NOT A BLURP)

Hi friends. I’m glad to report that the station is up and running pretty well. I can’t complain. I’ve been doing about thirty live shows per month. These shows are done in the old style where as the host, I actually speak to my audience and do what I can to make their day a bit brighter. My shows are never negative.
When the live shows aren’t on, a large and ever growing random playlist comes into play. I’ve been adding to it as much as I can. It will take time, but eventually, it will hold about three months worth of tunes.
By the way, present day musicians are welcome to send me samples of their work for the playlist. Their music should be compatible with the older stuff I feature. New can be every bit as good as old. I’m royalty compliant too.
The station has been operating at a loss. Still, at least with the new system, it’s less of a loss.
My station is dedicated to making each and every listener a bit happier.
My book sales have slowed down a bit but,he writing efforts continue full steam. All that I write can be found on my website to view for free. If I get enough donations to do so, I’ll put out as many books as possible. Right now there’s not enough money for publishing. It cost’s about $3000 to self publish a book. That’s about $3500 more than I have.
You’re donations have allowed me to give some books away to needy people and deserving organizations.
Like my station, the book was conceived to cheer folks up and see life in a better light.
Any amount you can donate will go to good use. I still offer my deal of one book going out to you or the needy for every $25 donated. That’s been working well.
Please do what you can to help my efforts. It does get tough at times to carry on. Anything you can do will be welcome.
Please remember that if you can not donate, you are still welcome to enjoy the shows and read the stories. If you’re broke but would like a book perhaps I can send one out to you for free. Let me know. Maybe I can help.
Thanks again to all of you for your support and please share this and talk things up when you can.

MILLIE AND THE SOON TO BE NICER DAY

MILLIE AND THE SOON TO BE NICER DAY
There’s a really fine love song out there about something near and very dear to all of us. It’s sung by a truly wise and talented singer songwriter named Lindy Gravelle. Her song tells of the wonderful love affair between us humans and our dogs. The song is called, I Love My Dog. With that beautiful voice of hers, she explores that love we have for canines and in return, the love they have for us.
This love between us might even be a lopsided love affair when you get right down to it with dogs getting the high score. I’m beginning to think that dogs hold the patent rights and all the blueprints to this thing called love. They could be better lovers than we will ever be. Maybe, they know and do something with love that we don’t quite yet understand. They seem to have the right idea about love. Better still, maybe they have no idea about love at all. The best I can say is that we humans sing, think, and muse about love. Dog’s just mindlessly start wagging their tails and licking your face.
Oh sure, we humans love our dogs as much as we can for the most part. With our bigger brains, we spoil and care for our wonderful mutts doing all we can to make them happy. We know a good thing when we see one and we do our best to hold up our end of the bargain.
My Basset Hound Millie and I were out for a bit of a walk not too long ago. We had come off a bridge over a trout stream and were turning onto an old parking lot along a highway. The lot once held a local fire hall but, that was long ago. The fire company had moved to a newer fire hall just a short way off. The old hall was taken down and now, the lot stood empty. Fisherman sometimes used the lot for parking. On this particular day, the lot was host to a highway safety inspection random stop. Instead of fishing in the river for trout, this crew was fishing on the highway to check cars for safety violations and missing paperwork. This time, the drivers were the catch of the day. Police were pulling every tenth vehicle out of traffic and into line. The human trout weren’t too tickled about it either. There was lots of arguing going on. Both sides of the law were red in the face. Tickets we’re flowing like wine. Lawyers would have been wise to at least set up a card table nearby. They’d have done very well.
Millie and I walked through this scene from Dante’s inferno. I told Millie to keep her ears down and don’t listen. She wasn’t paying much mind to the humans anyway. She was too busy sniffing for any old bait or sandwiches that the fishermen might have discarded.
I noticed this huge officer walking back to a car with a fist full of violations for the driver. He got to the driver side window and the screaming from both sides of the issue began. The car had bald tires and the exhaust was belching thick black smoke which became even blacker if the driver hit the gas. Of course the driver hit the gas when the officer was bending down to decipher the license plate. The inspection sticker had some value as an antique but it really hadn’t been valid since Truman was president. You get the idea it was a typical Jersey Turnpike Bomb. Millie and I gave the scene a wide berth. We walked over to a gentle slope on the river bank so Millie could get a cool drink. The geese even had their necks strained to keep tabs on that patrolman and the drivers grudge match.
When Millie was through drinking and wading, we started heading back. That drivers back seat was full of tickets. His car pulled out and in one last gesture of contempt for the law, the driver showered old lot and all who were in it, with gravel.
The officer was not a happy camper. He was having a bad day and, you’d have been wise to avoid him at all costs. He was every bit as big as that wrestler Rick Flair and he was just spitting nails. Worse than that he was only just about twenty feet away and heading in our direction. We were on a collision course.
I was thinking that maybe we should give the guy some room. I tried to change course but, Millie wouldn’t hear of it. She tugged on her leash and went into low gear for traction and pulled us, with all her might, up to the officer. Her tail was in high gear as she put on her cutest face. The officer saw her and stopped in his tracks. He looked down at her. You have to look down at Basset Hounds. There’s no way to look up at them. At first, he scowled. Then, that frown he was wearing started to crack like a dam about to break. Soon, that big guy, who I’m sure had seen his share of trouble that morning, was kneeling down to pet Millie. She rolled over for a belly rub. He just started laughing. Millie’s belly is the eighth wonder of the world. Those big old hands of his relaxed as he gave her a bit of a rub. Millie got to her feet and gave the now smiling officer a shot at doing ear rubs. Hound ears are very therapeutic.
The policeman was scratching Millie’s chin. I told him that he ought to watch out. Hound chins are pretty stinky. He said he didn’t care. He was so happy. Millie was happy too. It seemed that an eternity went by. The patrolman stood up, brushed the dog hairs from his trousers. He shook hands with me and walked away with a smile and a whistle. His day was now brighter and, Millie had another pal.
I think dogs have a way of giving love to most of the folks they meet long before they get anything in return. They pay the love forward. They also seem to give it back to the best of their ability, in triple portions. In other words, they give three kisses for one received. It’s not a way to make a profit, but it sure is a way to live. Isn’t it?

IT TURNS OUT MOM WAS TELLING THE TRUTH

IT TURNS OUT MOM WAS TELLING THE TRUTH

I was just five years old and, my Mom was getting fatter by the minute. To tell you the truth, I was kind of concerned. Still, I didn’t want to say anything. My Father always said it wasn’t a great idea to say anything about women getting fat. Especially if it was Mom. So I kept my mouth shut.
So, one day I was playing Peter Pan. That was my favorite game. What I did was drag all the dirty clothes out of the hamper and put them in a big pile around the hamper. Then, I’d get a chair and, use it to climb up on the hamper lid. Before the climb, I’d bring with me a small bit of dust from under the sofa. Under the sofa was my secret mine of Pixie Dust. Peter Pan used to get his Pixie Dust there too. Tinkerbelle left it there. Under the sofa was one of the stops on her route. Once I was all set and standing on the lid, I’d think of a wonderful thought and rub the dust in my hair and holler three times, “I think I can fly”. Then, I’d flap my arms and jump. I seldom got past the outer rim of the clothes pile. But, every now and then I did. As far as I could see, that was proof that kids could actually fly. I could do this for hours if nothing was on television.
My landing gear was getting pretty sore when Mom called me over to the sofa. She wanted me to sit down next to her and talk with me for a minute. Gosh, she was getting fat. I sat down right next to her and she asked me to give her my hand. I held my hand up. She took it and put my hand right on her belly. Then, she asked me if I felt anything. Darned if I didn’t feel something. I could feel a kind of wiggling right in her belly. Something was moving kind of like a little kid kicks. I felt a few more wiggles. Then I started to scratch my head. Mom asked why I was frowning.
My frowning went away. I looked at her belly. “That feels like a little kid in your belly?”
Mom, said it sure was. “I think he’s a little boy. He kicks just like you did when you were in me.”
This was getting deep. “Mom, when was I inside you? I’ve always been out here.”
Mom begged to differ. “No, once you were in me just like your brother here.” I could feel another kick.
“How the heck did I get out?” I asked but, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to know. Mom said that I eventually grew big enough to be born. Then she went to the hospital and out I came. I told Mom how I didn’t remember that happening. She said that I was too little to remember it but, all of a sudden, there I was hollering and wanting to eat.
“So, I was a baby too?” I just looked at her. Mom said indeed I was and a cute baby at that. I asked if I wore diapers. Mom said I did. I begged her not to tell my friends. What if the guys found out? Worse than , what if the girls found out? I could never show my face in Kindergarten again. Mom said that the secret would just be between her and me.
I felt a bit better. But, all of a sudden I had another question. “So, how did I get in there in the first place?”
Mom to her credit, told me the whole shebang in a way that a kid like me could understand. A biology teacher couldn’t have done it better. She did a fine job of explaining the whole deal. Of course, I didn’t believe a word of it. Oh, I wanted to believe. But she had to be mistaken. It was just too preposterous.
I felt compelled to put forth my theory and stand up for kids all over the neighborhood. I owed this to those kids, my friends, and those of us who huddled in groups over at the park and discussed all the many aspects of life. We often discussed babies and where they came from. Heck, many of us had brothers and sisters and, we had a pretty darn good idea where they came from as well. I cleared my throat like a newscaster and spoke. “Mom! Storks bring babies. Everyone knows that.”
Mom just smiled and laughed. “Ok. You just felt your brother kicking inside me right.” I shook my head yes. Mom continued. “So, how did the stork get him inside my belly? Have you seen any storks around here?”
I was stumped and had to think fast. I tried my best shot. “I haven’t seen any storks. But, they could come at night when everyone’s asleep. Right Mom?”
Mom shook her head yes. She was so ready to laugh. “That could be true. You’re right so far. But how did the stork get your brother inside of me?”
Oh, I had her now. I puffed out my chest. “Easy Mom! The stork has a pointy beak. He just snuck up on you when you were asleep and put my brother into your belly right through your belly button.”
Mom just lost it and laughed with all she had. Looking back, I’m lucky she didn’t have my brother right then and there. She pulled herself upright and sat straight again and just looked at me. “Do you want a cookie? I guess she really didn’t care if she won this one.
We had a few cookies and some chocolate milk too. Then, I went back to my work on perfecting human flight.
Thinking back, Mom was nice enough to have not countered my belly button stork theory by pointing out that I had a belly button just like her. That would have been a very scary thought for a kid like me. What if the stork came into my room at night and got me right in the belly button? I’m sure glad I didn’t think that theory all the way through. I would have been doomed to long sleepless nights on the lookout for Storks.
Mom could have hit me right between the eyes with that one but, wisely, decided to be happy with getting her two cents in. Lucky for me Mom knew best and, let the truth take hold and grow. Moms are pretty and, pretty smart too.

SMOKEY THE ANGEL

SMOKEY THE ANGEL

I missed the regular monthly meeting at our rural fire company just once. That night, the membership in attendance, unanimously elected me to be the new forest fire warden for our district. Oh, I griped a bit but, then I kind of got to liking the idea. They even gave me a cool patch to wear on my jacket.
If there was a forest fire, heaven forbid, I’d get orders from more experienced wardens and just relay their instructions to my company. How hard could it be? The hardest part besides running up hill from an out of control brush fire would be for me to keep track of the personnel and how long they worked at the fire. Plus, I got to say, darned if that wasn’t a pretty cool looking patch on my jacket.
One very hot summer day a fire broke out on top of a nearby mountain. We were called into action. I grabbed my jacket with the patch and my record keeping book and record keeping pen and headed for the frontlines in our fire companies old fire truck. We got to the rendezvous point and set up at the top of the mountain. We were on the edge of a farm field where the woods started and spread out down the mountain side. The slope dropped for about fifty feet and then leveled off into the distance where the mountain would eventually drop sharply to the valley below. We were pretty high up. Smoke looked heavy on that level wooded area below us.
Wardens with all sorts of patches on their jackets greeted us and gave us our instructions. They said that we would be going after a root fire. Evidently, campers must have had a campfire and didn’t clear the ground debris from the fire pit. The roots in the ground just under the campfire ignited and slowly burned down into the soil. Other dry ground debris caught fire and, somehow it all spread. Our job was to get our, Indian Tanks, filled with water and then carefully walk down the hill with the tanks on our backs. Once at the fire scene, if we saw smoke coming out of the ground, we were to squirt the heck out of the area until the smoke stopped. When we ran out of water, we went back up the hill. Back at the truck, we filled up and then, we went back down. One Indian Tank would hold enough water to douse about half of a burning root. The typical hot spot took about three trips. We looked down at the fire area below us and figured we’d be going up and down this stupid hill for at least three months.
I’d made about three trips and I was really hurting when the head warden showed up. He had patches on his jacket everywhere possible. Gosh, he even had a Smokey Bear hat and that had patches on it too. He called for the group warden. That was me. I ran over and stood at attention. He wanted me to scout the fire perimeter and report back with my findings. I was to take my Indian tank along just in case I needed to squirt a path through the flames if I got cut off. I was not to use it for the root fire until I saw that I had a clear route back to the truck. There was an extra patch for my coat waiting for me if and when I returned. He wished me luck and told me to quit saluting. I ran down the hill. Then, I came back up the hill and picked up my Indian Tank and ran down the hill again.
At the level area, I turned left and walked along the rim of the smoke. When that smoke got pretty light, I turned to walk away from the slope rising now behind me. It was clear on my left and smoky on my right. I could hear my guys coughing like crazy about a hundred yards away. Puffs of smoke would just cut across my path in billows. I couldn’t hear the crew griping anymore. They were pretty far behind me now.
I got kind of used to the smoke billows. When they’d pass by me, it was like I was wading in a pond of smoke. These smoke ponds got larger as I continued walking. Soon they were more like rolling rivers or lakes of smoke. They never got deeper than about three feet or so but, they were so thick that I often couldn’t see my legs. I guess if I stayed in this formation long enough, I’d have hickory smoked legs.
There was a formation of rising smoke about fifteen feet high off to my left. I figured that might be where the main fire was so, I headed in that direction and got ready to hit it with my Indian Tank. I walked a bit slower just to make sure I didn’t step in a flame or twist my leg.
I got about ten feet along when I heard a guy call my name. He told me to stop right where I was and don’t move. He was right behind me. He didn’t holler. He just talked as if he’d been with me the whole trip. He made it clear that I was to stop and wait and not move an inch.
I looked back over my shoulder. No one was there. I didn’t hear the voice again. I thought maybe I’d been hearing things and figured I’d move on. I turned to continue cautiously. The wind kicked up fairly hard as I turned. It came from the direction I had been heading and it started to cause the smoke at my feet to swirl and rise. The thinning smoke revealed that if I had gone just one more step, I would have walked right off a cliff. I was on the edge of the mountain and, it was a very long way down. After gulping real hard and almost throwing up, I turned to thank the stranger. But the smoke was much thinner behind me now and, no one was in sight. No one. I hollered a thank you but, no one answered. No one.
I decided to make my way back to the crew. When I got back, they were packing up the gear. The weather service had called and said a heavy rain storm just suddenly developed was just off to our west and heading our way. The warden with all the patches said I did a good job for a rookie. He gave me a nice patch.
I was kind of quiet for a few days. I did a lot of thinking. That patch looked pretty good on my jacket. I figured my two patches were no match for all the patches that must be on the robe of whoever it was who kept me from taking my first and last flying lesson. Heck, I’ll bet that angel even sports a tattoo of Smokey the Bear on his forearm.

TUNA AND EGG SALAD ON RYE PLEASE

TUNA AND EGG SALAD ON RYE PLEASE

It was a long time ago and, believe it or not I had a job as a radio deejay. No really, I actually got paid to be on the air. Go figure. I liked doing the show quite a bit. The station oversaw a small North Jersey town. I had lots of good listeners and plenty of happy sponsors. Life was good. There was more than enough to talk about and I never had a shortage of guests to interview. The shows I did were, in a way, the start of what I now do on the web. In fact, it just hit me that the commercials, I was called on to write and perform were really the embryonic start of these blurps I now write.
I never lacked for fans either. There were quite a few folks who listened to every minute of every show. Bless their hearts. They made the show fun. I had so many of them glued to the other end of the beam. If I had a contest, they’d get in it full bore. Sometimes they’d win. Sometimes, they wouldn’t. Those great people would always try. Every time, they’d be in it tooth and nail. I have to say that I sure had some great fans.
One day, if I remember correctly, I was interviewing a guest. God knows how the topic came up but, the guest and I got on the topic of sandwiches. It may well be that we started out talking about my guests new book on roadside stops along Route 95. But, as with most of my interviews we wandered off topic just a tad. It never took too long to do that kind of thing. It may be that I got to talking about how much fun it was when my Mom Dad and younger brother Ed and I would go on a road trip. Mom had this Scotch Cooler Bucket. It had a plaid pattern on the outside. They might still be around but, they were very popular in the early fifties. All families had at least two. She’d fill the bottom with ice. Then she’d stuff it with one beer for our father. Then, in would go soda, and all sorts of sandwiches. Tuna salad was the sandwich of choice. Salami sandwiches on white bread with mustard came in second. Mom could feed a small army out of that tin.
My show’s guest had pretty much the same experiences as me. Though, he or she said that in his or her family’s case the main sandwich was bologna on crusty rye with mayonnaise and that egg salad sandwiches we’re in for second choice. And then, a big smile came over my face. The guest could see I was on to something.
I was late for a commercial break but, money would have to wait. I raised both my hands in the air and shouted totally off topic. “This just hit me. What if you took crusty rye bread and on one slice cover it with tuna salad? Then, on the other slice of bread, you lathered it up with egg salad? You’d have a fish egg salad sandwich. Oh my God! That would be delicious!!!!”
I started to froth at the mouth. The guest looked a little pale. I was running around the control booth tearing at my tee shirt. I couldn’t control myself. “Think of how great that would be!!!” We broke for commercial.
I may be embellishing just a bit here. But, the idea did indeed hit me while I was on the air. I vowed to make that very sandwich the first chance I got. There was just one problem, I had to host a cruise night that evening. It was at a Wendy’s. My balloon popped as I realized that I’d have to wait till I got home late that evening. Gosh, it would take forever to hard boil an egg when I got home. What if we were out of tuna and bread too? Worse than that, what if we were out of mayonnaise? That would mean I’d have to wait to try my dream sandwich until breakfast at least. I went from joy to agony in record time. Drat the luck.
I went through the motions of setting up my equipment at the Wendy’s Cruise night. Sure, they had fine sandwiches all dripping with cheese and really great chili there. But, you could sure bet that they didn’t have tuna and egg salad sandwiches on hand. I choked down a burger or two and maybe a bag of fries. Good as they were, it just wasn’t the same.
Hot rods were arriving as the music played. I hardly noticed. I felt like if you’ve seen one 57 Ford, you’ve seen them all. Roadsters…Schmodsters. Big deal! I so wanted that sandwich.
In due time, the sun was going down and it was getting dark. I turned from the crowd to choose the next record. With my back to the crowd, I didn’t notice a super large pickup truck pull right up to my table. I jumped a foot when its air horn went off. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
I whirled to see this giant diesel Dodge Pickup right in my face. All its lights were on and the engine was growling. I couldn’t really see the driver with the high beams in my eyes. Thankfully, the engine shut off and the drivers side door opened. A guy climbed out of the drivers side and, his feet hit the ground with a thud. The guy was carrying a bag and a coffee.
It was listener Steve. He was one of my steady listeners. Well he would be one of my steady listeners until I played a polka. Then, all bets were off and he’d turn off the station till the song was over. No big deal. You don’t like polkas then, you shouldn’t listen when they’re on. Steve held the bag out to me and said it was for me.
I opened the bag and I could smell right away that my prayers were answered. In the bag was a tuna salad and egg salad sandwich on crusty rye bread. Pickle slice included. Steve’s smile stretched between two counties.
The sandwich didn’t stand a chance. It’s next of kin would have been horrified. Gluttony reigned supreme for about five seconds. Then it was gone but, not forgotten. Oh, Lord was that ever a great sandwich. My hunch was right. Quite right indeed.
One shouldn’t eat egg and tuna salad sandwiches too fast on an empty stomach. I spent a bit of time belching as Steve explained that he and the deli owner got into a pretty good fight when Steve placed the order. It was just a war of words. No knives or guns came into play and Steve and the Counter guys didn’t wind up punching each other as they rolled on the floor. Mostly Steve held his ground and said he wasn’t giving up his “next” number until the guy made that sandwich. The line was starting to grow so, the deli guy gave in. People were starting to get mad. Of course a few patrons thought the sandwich was a good idea and wanted one too. That deli, I would think, must now have that sandwich as a steady number. It would only be right if they call it the “Steve”. It wouldn’t be right to name it after me. I don’t need the honor. This is a case of inspiration over shadowing good hard grunt work.
Steve was always up to one thing or another back then. I guess he still is. You got to keep an eye on him. Just the same, he is good people and just one of the many great listeners I’m lucky enough to have.