Tuesday, March 20, 2018


There were two things in particular which I loved to hear me Grandpa Joe say and they were both associated with working for him. They were, "Let's get that coffee," and, "Let's get them vittles," whenever he decided it was time for a break.

It struck me even back then that his words sounded almost as though we had to hunt them, had to track them down, as if the coffee pot didn't just sit there on a table by the office or that the snacks weren't right alongside it. The vittles were the snacks which he always had me or me Pops or me Uncle John buy for the morning coffee break. Joe paid for them; I think he genuinely liked treating us, but I don't doubt at all he looked forward to them too.

Vittles were the height of the workday for a young boy like me. There were always single serve and two for everyone, an assortment of cupcakes, pies, donuts, and cinnamon rolls. I hoped every morning for a Hostess French Apple pie, which was really only their apple pie with raisins added, but it seemed significantly different. Joe and Pops and me and whomever else was there would lay into them vittles like we hadn't ate in days. Uncle John rarely did, and I don't know why. He would buy a paper and sit nearby reading it as the rest of us fell into sugar induced stupors. At times I wondered if something was wrong with him, but that was surely the kid in me thinking such stuff.

It was 15, maybe 20 minutes of the day. But man, I miss gettin' them vittles.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The last bark

"I'll be quiet, but I'll have the last word." I can imagine that's exactly what the old family pet would say about it.

Back when I was a teenager we like many families had a pet dog; I'll call him Cloyce just to give him a name. Well, this dog was an outside dog, and would take spells where he would bark. A lot. It would reach a point when me Pops would go to the back door and stick his head outside and bark himself. "Quiet!" he'd command old Cloyce. And Cloyce would get quiet. But before clamming up completely he always finished with one brief and small, "Woof." He had to have the last word.

I found that extremely funny one night as I lay awake in bed around 2 or 3 in the morning. I could hear Cloyce making a ruckus, barking incessantly at whatever, and I knew that eventually the old man would do something about it. Soon enough he did.

Mom and Dad's bedroom was on the first floor. My siblings and I slept on the second floor. I heard the downstairs bedroom door open. I heard me Pops stomping towards the back door. I listened, and could just hear him unlocking it. He stepped out onto the porch and demanded of Cloyce, "Quiet!" The dog shut up, and I heard Dad step back into the kitchen and relock the door. Just when the last lock clicked shut, I heard one last, low, "Woof."

I laughed until I hurt. I've always wondered if maybe Pops stood in the kitchen laughing at it too.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The wearing of the Green...Monster

Yesterday for obvious reasons I fished through my clothes to find something green. I came across my 'Green Monster' t-shirt which I bought while at Fenway Park in Boston in 2016. And that leads me to what I want to say to you today: that sometimes I'm slow on the uptake.

Fenway Park features a 37 foot wall in left field. It is painted green. As such, for years Red Sox fans have affectionately referred to it as the Green Monster. Are you with me so far? Good.

Anyway, sports teams tend to have mascots, and Boston is no different. Traipsing around the stands and on the field during the pre-game and between innings and what not was a costumed, human sized figure in a Red Sox uniform. He looked like a full sized Elmo or Cookie Monster, the Sesame Street characters. But rather than red or blue, he appeared to be made of up green shag carpet. And I could not figure out who or what he was supposed to be.

Until about the fourth inning, when it finally dawned on me. He was the Green Monster.

At times I really need things explained to me. At least it gave me green to wear on St. Patrick's Day though.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

St. Patrick's Day 2018

Ah, the Irish. There's so much of them in every one of us. That's not really surprising seeing as there are so many more Irish outside of Ireland than still living on the old sod. And when you have St. Patrick's Day celebrations in such diverse places as exemplified by Buenos Aries, Argentina, you know that the Irish mystique pervades world culture.

Why is that? Might it be that the soul of the average Irish personality resides in most all of humanity?

An easy examination of Irish culture gives many examples of Irish fortitude, courage, allegiance, patriotism, and an appreciation of simple yet profound human relationships. Who does not, if they have any sentiment at all in their bones, shed a tear when hearing O Danny Boy? Whoever will not feel their chests swell with nationalistic pride when hearing God save Ireland are indeed cold towards patriotism and their homelands and their brethren. Even sublime romanticism exists, heard through tunes like Black Velvet Band.

The more rambunctious bar songs of Irish lore appeal to the common thread of humanity. Have you heard The Wild Rover? A loser comes into his fortune and wins respect; redemption and respect indeed, as dreamed of by so many. Do not we all dream of that, to show everyone else that we've triumphed after all despite our flaws? How can we not believe in ourselves when listening to those happy tunes?

Acceptable extremes appear quite obvious in Irish lore. But do they not appear prominently in all human thoughts? The drunkard who believes God will forgive him if he makes Mass and does the occasional earthly good deed as did Darby O'Gill; will he not be forgiven by his faith in the simple acts which are the primary hope of redemption within the means of the most persons? The music was his, after all, wasn't it? Why? Because he did what he was asked to do within a legitimate frame.

The Irish are fightin', the Irish are sad and humbled; the Irish have been under the boots of their oppressors for centuries. Yet they hold true to what is true about who and what they are and about what defines them: their God. They recognize it even in their shortcomings. Their Irish guilt won't let them admit it, and rightly so.

Yet humanity requires that sort of odd pride, doesn't it? Something found in that profound and nearly humble comment of the rebel Irish soldier to the union Irish soldier near him at Appomattox, when Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant in April 1865. The Confederate leaned into the Unionist and remarked, "You only won because you had more Irish than we did".

Ah, the Irish. They can teach us something, can't they?

Friday, March 16, 2018

The day before St. Pat's

Everybody always looks ahead to St. Patrick's Day. So be it. But other things happened other days, you know. Why, the day before St. Patrick's, March 16th, has a few notable events in its history in fact.

The America League was announced as a major baseball league on March 16, 1900. That's good for Detroit Tiger fans. Did you know that the Tigers are the only AL team still in its original city, dating from the formation of the Western League (which evolved into the AL) in 1894. Yep. Just us.

For my Canadian friends, or I suppose hockey fans anywhere, The Ottawa Senators beat Port Arthur for the Stanley Cup on March 16, 1911.

Of interest to both Canada and the US, the two countries signed a migratory bird treaty on 3/16/16. Okay, that's a yawner, but still a 3/16 event.

Hitler ordered German rearmament on this day in 1935. Surprisingly, not every event can be good. The Nazis also occupied Czechoslovakia on the date in 1938.

The Allies secured Iwo Jima on March 16, 1945.

The United States Senate accepted the Panama Canal Treaty on March 16, 1978, which provided for the return of the Canal Zone to Panama.

There's more of course, but these are a few, just to whet your whistle. You surely can find these and more with a simple web search. No reason I have to do all the work for you.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I hate DIY shows

They make it look so easy, all those home improvement shows with all their do it yourself tips. Put a board here, a splash of paint there, and your house is now the freakin' Taj Mahal.

BZZZZZ! Wrong answer! They're experts, people! They've worked years to be able to work as quickly and smoothly as they do on their shows.

You're not an expert. If you only handle a saw twice a year you're gonna make bad cuts. Period.

Plus, they get outtakes, which we never see aired. Do you get an outtake? NO! You get your wife telling you how easy it was on TV to add a deck and a dormer it's so simple why can't you do it just like they did and what kind of idiot did I get stuck with Mom was right I should have married Roger. That's what you get.

It just ain't that simple, folks. Especially since your house is probably fine just like it is.

Am I right?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


I wasn't really sure what to title this post. Free Ice? didn't seem right. The thousand percent profit margin is a bit wordy. What I chose is a bit too cryptic. Oh well.

The things you see on the road. A party store I drove past in a small town yesterday had a sign out front advertising its current sales. That's common enough. Some of the prices in fact looked pretty good. But perhaps the best sale on display was: 0lb. ice for $1. Yes, for a buck you could get no ice.

Yes, I know that's not what it meant. I'm sure that the number 1 which was surely in front of the 0 had fallen off. But that's simply not funny, is it? And obvious, rational explanations make Jack a dull boy. Further, they avoid the next natural question.

Could you afford to actually get ice?