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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fringeville #149: Rambling Random Thoughts Stewed Up and Served Cold

I didn’t blog on the weekend. I have a number of long overdue projects at home. My house has suffered greatly from my working crazy hours for years. I find myself looking at what seems like a long series of unconquerable tasks. I’ve decided to just start at the backside of the house and move south. Mission one: our nook. It is supposed to be where we eat. Instead it became a de facto office for all my various side jobs. Bookkeeping. Campaign Finance. Very occasional blogging. Even less occasional creative writing.

The consequences: a dining room table I can’t use because it is buried under a mountain of stuff, and a pile of containers, boxes of printer paper, and a thousand other pieces of clutter and flotsam scattered across the room. I am convinced Hoffa is buried under something. I married into an Italian family, so hey… who knows?

I started whacking away at it this past weekend. I shredded a couple trees worth of paper. I carted all kinds of things down to the cellar. There was some small degree of physical peril involved with that particular operation. My legs and ankles ain’t what they used to be, kids. On flat ground I walk like anyone else. On steps I move like a 99 year old man.

My physical decline over the last couple of years is alarming to me. I am not a big fan of this getting old shit*.

(* Kindly excuse this interruption to the blog post: ‘Shit’ was my mother’s favorite, and virtually only, expletive. Occasionally she would add fire and molasses when really incensed about something. Growing up, I can recall a thousand times she uttered “…oh, shit!”  Or “…shit, fire and molasses!” Anything could set her off: a broken spatula; dead relative; burned dinner; flat tire; missing button on a favorite blouse. She covered a lot of ground with just one cuss word. In her honor, the only expletive I will be using when I blog is ‘shit.’ Call it a hat’s off to Mom. A salute, if you will. Shit, fire and molasses! WTF was I writing about?”)

Sorry for meandering. Where were we? Ah, yes… legs and ankles!

In the process of going down the steps one time too many, I managed to very slightly sprain my ankle. I have osteogenesis imperfecta, so I pretty much know when I’ve strained, sprained or broken something. But this sprain came far too easily. I just twisted my foot a wee bit. But the intense burning pain was so severe I convinced myself that my prostate cancer had magically migrated to my ankle. I spent a half-hour before bedtime googling “prostate cancer and ankle pain” before accepting the fact that I am, at times, a nincompoop, one perilously at times thisclosetohypochondria.

* * *

Moving on.

My next post will be #150. On the one hand, it is an achievement to note, because most blogs die after a couple dozen posts or less. On the other hand, it’s just the tiniest bit over 4% of that David Yonki has done with the Lu Lac Political Letter. So while I will be happy to hit #150, I suffer no illusions about where I rank in the scheme of things in the Blogosphere. I am a pee wee treading among giants.

* * *

I continue to avoid politics in my social media. I truly believe that many, many people on social media have completely lost their minds. They are incapable (hopefully just temporarily) of rational discourse on politics.

Mind you, I’m not saying the whole nation has gone nuts. There’s still a big chunk of folks out there who don’t go anywhere near computers or smartphones. But among those who do, the insanity dial is set on high for way too many folks when it comes to politics.

All I will say about this last election is I did the same thing I’ve done after every election, win or lose and whether the election was for my campaigns or one I worked with: I got up the next day and moved on. I do not fixate on what has happened. I immediately start thinking about the next one.

If you are looking for me to wade into the fray and become part of this unholy mess on screaming social media, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’m done. I’ve got better things to do (see the next bit of randomness).

* * *

I am going to write a history of chicken wings. It will be like nothing you have ever read. Just warning you.

* * *

On a tight budget?

Aldi’s rules.

A week or so ago, we went there and bought a mess of ground beef, some ground sausage, and a bunch of sides. We’ve been as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine since then. I put together three batches of meatballs (though the first batch was cooked on a baking sheet because I am, as I said earlier, a nincompoop, and the dripping fat nearly smoked us out of the house).

I also used one pound of ground beef to make a homemade hand-to-hand combat heavy meaty and sweet spaghetti sauce in honor of my father. He was a master of heavy, meaty, sweet spaghetti sauce. One pound of ground beef remains. Last night, a pound of pork sausage went into a rice casserole that we demolished. We still have a shit-ton of pasta left.

You can’t get everything there, but you can get a lot and get it cheap. You have to bag the groceries yourself, and you ‘rent’ your shopping cart for a quarter, but it’s worth it. And I’ve never had a bad wheel on an Aldi’s cart, and they don’t have to hire someone to hunt down carts in the parking lot.

Shit, fire and molasses! It’s time for work. Stay safe and warm, folks. 

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Fringeville #148 – Recycling Hell, Chapter One: Cardboard

When I was in the 8th grade, my friends and I decided on what I believe was the second celebration of Earth Day to save the planet by walking home from school. Our school was in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. We lived in Newton, about a half dozen miles away and back in the sticks. There were lots of hills, and I was tubby to say the least. But a new Ice Age was on the horizon, and we were all going to die of skin cancer when the ozone vanished unless the planet was saved, so off we trudged.

Up the hills.

Up more hills.

Up even more f$%^&$! hills.

About half way home, we knocked on a door and called my mother to rescue us. She wasn’t happy, first because I was long overdue getting home and second because we had no idea where we were and had to give her landmarks as directions: “…see, you go past the three cows, then there’s a barn with a half-painted red door. Take a left at the rotted out DeSoto in the empty field, and we’re at the house with all the chickens.”

She arrived eventually in our beat up black Ford and picked us up, serving up a tongue lashing while the Ford happily belched clouds of black smoke, each puff undermining our efforts to save the world.

One thing that did stick with me over the years was the concept or recycling. It seemed pretty straight forward: Put stuff on the curb, it gets picked up and recycled.

These days, it’s gotten more complicated. There’s a long list of guidelines to follow regarding “co-mingled items” in my town for proper recycling. Most are common sense, but some may require a degree in chemistry (what the hell are PET plastics? Is that what cat litter tubs are made of? HDPE plastics? No sir, I’m not Googling that. I have shit to do).

But in the middle of the guidelines, sits the cardboard section. It is so, so simple. Corrugated cardboard only.

So last night I’m getting the cardboard together. Corrugated pile on the left, everything else on the right. I ended up with two roughly equal piles of acceptable and verboten cardboard.

“What are you doing?” asked the wife.

“Recycling cardboard.”

“Why are there two piles?”

“The only take the shit on the left.”

“What the hell are you going to do with the rest of it?”


I hadn’t considered that. At one time, I could burn it. Now that’s a fine.

After a moment, I said, “I’ll just put it in the regular garbage.”

“But we’ll use more bags,” the wife replied.

And the plastic garbage bags (which do at least come in a corrugated box) aren’t free. Plus, there are weeks where we hit the four bag limit for garbage pickup. The cardboard might push us into a 5th bag, and the wife pointed that out to me.

“I’ll just jam more stuff in the garbage bags,” I countered.

“Don’t forget there’s a weight limit.”

Before I could think of anything else, she said: “Put it all out to recycle, like we always do. We’re not picking through the cardboard to make two piles. We already have the plastic stuff to deal with. It’s too complicated.”

I could have made a stand there. I could have. But the day will come when she will decide whether or not I enter my second childhood at  home or in a home. I can imagine being dropped off at the nursing home and hearing the family tell the staff: “Let him recycle all the cardboard. It calms him. And feed him the occasional chicken wing.”

It’s Friday. All the cardboard is out. I’m sorry, mother Earth. But I want to eat all my wings at home.

**UPDATE** They took it all. The wife is always right.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fringeville #147* - Random Stuff and Looking Ahead

* Yesterday's post was unnumbered, if you're keeping track. Which would also mean you have far too much time on your hands.

It takes so little to piss me off these days. It's astounding. I am in a complete uproar this morning because I dropped the keys to the back door and can't find them. Then, to add to it, my coffee went cold while I was looking for them. Folks, when my coffee time suffers, everyone suffers.

* * *

Still working on a master plan to replace the 55% of my income which went over the side (by my own volition) at the end of last year. I plan to write Hooters and Perdue Farms to propose testing chicken wings for $100k a year. I didn’t lose anywhere near that kind of money, but if I am going to eat wings full time, I have to save for my angioplasty.

* * *

I'm going to add another page to this blog site centered on prostate cancer. My experiences with prostate cancer need a separate space. I'd like to say the page isn't necessary. I really would. I've just got this nagging feeling the Universe is about to punch me right in the face, and I'd rather have the space ready.

I've talked with a number of men who have this disease. Each of our cancers is different. There are common experiences, to be sure, but each journey is our own. We all have some things to share or things we have questions about. A separate page is warranted. Everyone will be welcome, but the focus on that page will be prostate CA and resources for those with questions.

* * *

I may add another page as well, and I have a number of ideas floating around. One in particular is a page for the videos I do. I was doing Facebook Live when they first made the feature available. Now everyone is doing it, and 95% of the damned videos are garbage or political shouting.

I won't go anywhere near it now.

In fact, I keep my Facebook interactions to a minimum because it seems far too many folks have completely lost their mind. Facebook is often just an echo chamber of hate. If you doubt we are a divided nation, just spend an hour reading Facebook posts. I have friends I care deeply about, and with whom I am on the opposite side of the political divide, and I don't want to lose them over politics. Some would say I should "weed them out" of my Facebook universe, which suggests that those with different views are folks I can afford to let go. I disagree. I think if we don't start finding things we can agree on, things that unite us, then we're in for a long, nasty and very uncertain ride.

If I add a video space, I will use it to make people laugh, or think ...but I won't beat them over the head with politics. If a Leftie, Rightie and Indie each watch something I do and all say, "...Jeezum, what a goof. Play the next one!" then my work is moving in the right direction.

Most of the videos I have done were on Instagram. This past summer I started with iMovie. I want to do more videos, but I want to put them in one place instead of scattering them among the billions of social media threads.

* * *

Lastly, I have to figure out what I am doing with fiction. I am frankly afraid to write at this time. I worry that what I write will be far too dark, or too painful, or too close to home.

Perhaps that is precisely why I need to do it. We'll see.

* * * 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

For the 10,000th time.... Still Not Dead

I remain utterly and completely not dead.

I have kept myself in self-imposed exile for about a year. It didn't seem appropriate to blog when I was working for a county government, especially since much of what I write is related to politics. Anything I blogged could have been a reflection on who I served.

With the exception of some humor, specifically a piece on the dreaded roundabouts in Avoca, I deliberately fell off the grid.

For better or worst I am back, and for the first time in years I am not working 2 1/4 jobs. I have some time to teach myself to write a bit. The skill has eroded significantly. It's not a bicycle thing where you just get back on and go.

A capsule of my last year: A wild ride in politics. No major health issues, but health concerns as I watch my PSA number creeping up, but at microscopic levels. All kinds of people around me had a horrible 2016, and in some cases I don't know how they got through it. On a number of levels, I am at war with the Universe, so nothing has changed on that front.

But I am still here. I am back. Yippee ki-yay.

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