Jan 31

Little bugs… and cookies.

I Toad You.

Sometimes, when you least expect to find something…. you find it.

It could be anything really.  Anything.

Tonight I was watching the news.  I found out that a tree fell on Mrs. Kohler’s house.  Her house used to be yellow… the kind of yellow that you would find when you opened a pack of banana taffy.   I saw on the news that her house is now blue.  She doesn’t live there any more.  I was a kid… growing up on Bruce Avenue when I last saw her.  She died a long time ago.

Her husband’s name was Dick.  Dick and Ethel Kohler.  They had a 1969 Black Volkswagen.  They kept it in their garage which had the kind of doors that opened side to side… like accordion panels.  When they’d go out, which wasn’t often, they would take that shiny 1969 Black Bug.  When they returned, they would dust it off with a soft white cloth, and then cover it up.

I always thought this was strange.  My Mom and Dad didn’t do anything like that with our greenish gold station wagon… which was always loaded with a kaboodle of kids.

I liked Mr. and Mrs. Kohler.  Their kitchen always smelled like Pine-Sol.  They were nice to me.  And they always seemed to have fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.  I used to go up to their back steps and knock on the white creaky screen door… just to say hi.  Looking back, I think my real motive was a cookie.

Their black Volkswagen was eventually my first car.  I learned how to drive in that shiny black Bug.

So… watching the news tonight… when I least expected it… I found all these memories.
They were always there.  I just hadn’t noticed them in a while.  A found treasure.
Which had been long camouflaged in the brain.

But one little glimmer… tipped it all off.

I like when I find little treasures.  They really are everywhere, if I look.  I am glad for that.  Thankful.

“A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one.”  – Heraclitus of Ephesus

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” – Ashley Montagu

Jan 30

Shake your rocks.

Rocky

People who know me well, will not be surprised by the following statement.
I think my favorite food is salt.

Yep.  I eat a lot of salt.  A salty dog, I am.  If my blood pressure weren’t 102 / 59…. I might cut back.  But, the last time I went to the doctor, my blood tests showed that my body is low in sodium.  Doctor T looked at me earnestly and said, “If you could try eating more salt, that would be good.”  I told her I didn’t think it was possible.

So as it turns out….. I am a bit of a mover and and a shaker.
I am also a rock biter.   You see… this is how it goes.  Sodium Chloride (that’s salt) is formed when the unstable metal sodium reacts with chlorine gas.   Yummy.  It is the only family of rocks regularly eaten by humans.  I eat a lot of rocks.

And wouldn’t you know it.  Salt is so essential to the body that if you drink too much water it can flush it out of your system and cause fatal Hyponatremia. (This is what killed that young woman… Jennifer Strange… who entered a “Hold your wee for a Wii” competition.)

On the other hand.  Consumption of too much salt can be deadly.  The deadly amount is a whole, whole lot of salt…. to most people.  You need to take about 1 gram of salt per kilogram of weight to die.  This ratio was used as a method of ritual suicide in China…..especially amongst the nobility of certain dynasties….  as salt was so expensive way back then.

It has been expensive in many places… and many times.  In the early 1800s salt was 4 times as expensive as beef on the frontier.   It was pretty dang essential in keeping people and livestock alive.  I for one… am glad that the cost of salt is down.

These days… only 6% of the salt used in the U.S. is used in food.  It appears that the Department of Transportation is responsible for a bunch.  More than 17% is used for de-icing streets and highways in the winter months.

But enough about that.  I love a good salt shaker.  Especially when it is full.
I think  the reason that I like salt so much, is because my Dad used to be a Salt Salesman.  After he would close a deal.. he would say to his client… “Let’s shake on that.”

Yep.
NaCl Baby!  NaCl.

Coming Next Week:  “Pepper.  It is nothing to sneeze at.”

Jan 29

Lucky Enough

big sky

I am so very fortunate.

There is an abundance of beauty around me…..   So much goodness in the world.  There are many things to be thankful for and innumerable  people who have touched my life in ways that I will never forget.

Someone offered me incredible words of peace and kindness this evening.

Those words and that act of kindness… reminded me swiftly and fiercely of the good.

The Good in the World.

It is important to me…. to do what I can, when I can…. to help with The Good.

I truly believe, it still outweighs the bad.  By bucket-fulls.   After all.   I am lucky enough… to know all of you.

“Do the best you can.  But, remember that you can’t set everything right, and that you can’t make everything better.” – R. Hucks

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams

Jan 28

Did you hear the one about…

01-28-2013-mollusk

Okay….. it is always best to take a good look at the details here…..
How about if we consider the facts.

1. You will eat six elephants.
2. You should ride an airplane, not a donkey.
3.  Your brain may not  be what you think.
4. Mothers.  Be glad you weren’t an elephant.
5. Dentists.  You could make a million from sharks.
6. Your yard is full of nuts.
7. Walt put the ban on gum.
8. Mollusks are everywhere, and yet….
9 The IRS will come looking for you… even after the bomb.
10. Shower.  Like everyone else.

Now that all that is out of the way….
I better clarify.
1. A person eats around 60,000 pounds worth of food during his or her lifetime…. which adds up to be the equivalent of six elephants.  Trunks and all.
2. More people are killed from donkeys in a year than planes.  I don’t know how this happens… but it is true.  Angry donkeys?  Clumsy donkey riders?  I just can’t figure.
3. Human brains are estimated to be 70% to 75% water.  Now… with good cause….. you can call me bubble brain.  Really.
4. With mammals, no animal has a longer pregnancy term than that of the African Elephant.  This has been documented at an average of 22 months.   Elephants also have these huge ankles during pregnancy.  Oh wait.  They always have huge ankles.
5. Some sharks lose over 30,000 teeth in a lifetime.  I think brushing and proper flossing would help them immensely.
6. Squirrels forget where about 50% of the nuts they’ve hidden are.  This sucks for the squirrel.
7. Disneyland does not sell chewing gum.  Walt Disney did not want guests inconvenienced by stepping on gum purchased in the park.  I think he had a fear of Gumshoes.
8. Mollusks are the second largest phylum in the world.  More than 100,000 different species.  Some don’t have a head.
9. In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service has an employees handbook for the collections division unit. That is really no surprise.  But… this… THIS… kind of bites.  You see, in that stinking handbook…. are instructions which guide employees on how to collect taxes after a nuclear war.  Don’t answer your door during the End of Days.  Seriously.
10. Most people shower the same way…. from the top down.  75% of the population begin washing in the head area and finish up down around the ankles.  Squeaky clean.

“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the later ignorance” – Hippocrates

Jan 27

Take the bait.

fish

I love to watch the movies.  I like all kinds… except for the horror, slasher, blood and guts movies.

But I think I am getting harder to please.  It just doesn’t seem like I get to see that many REALLY GOOD movies these days.

Now LINCOLN…. that was a great movie.  But I’ll watch some of the others that are nominated for best picture… and say to myself….  “Ay, Caramba!” (In Ricky Riccardo’s voice).

Perhaps, it is simply that I’m getting a crusty outer shell.  For instance.   Has anyone seen Star Wars lately?   I mean… THE Star Wars…. with Luke and Leah and Hans.  It is pretty gosh-darn hokey pokey.  When I first saw Star Wars, back in the day, I thought it was incredible.  Amazing. Astounding.  And now…. I can see the strings on the flying spaceships and bad Wookie costumes.

These days… they make movies out to be the greatest show on earth.  Crazy good. Thrilling.  Cutting-edge-of-the-seat-of-your-pants-on-fire good.  They turn out to be Big Fish Stories.  Most of them, anyway.

Yep.  Call me the demanding-suspicious-curmudgeon this evening.

Okay.  But last night, I thought… a good old movie on Netflix.  That is  THE ticket.  Exactly what I need.   So I chose “The Shop Around the Corner” with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.  I had never seen it before.  Oh want enjoyment it brought me.  Then…. about half way through… I said to Maxine…  “Max.  This film reminds me a little bit of ‘You’ve Got Mail’… you know…. the one with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.”  And Max nodded in agreement.

Then, when Jimmy Stewart is outside of the diner, and Margaret Sullivan is inside with the carnation in the book…. I said… “THIS IS YOU’VE GOT MAIL!  Nora Ephron ripped this off!  IS NOTHING SACRED?”  Maxine barked in agreement.

Okay.  So maybe I over reacted.  And maybe this is common knowledge to the rest of the world.  But last night… it was big dang news to me.

I felt deceived.  Duped.  Heck, I loved “You’ve Got Mail” and with good reason.  It is an old Jimmy Stewart movie…. counterfeited.  Stolen.  Highjacked.

Hmmmph.

The next thing you know… they be trying to tell me that Harvey isn’t real.

May The Force Be With You.  May it be with you all.  Hook, line, and sinker.

Jan 26

She conquered Gerty.

Louisa... the Little

On Christmas Eve, in 1883, the fourth child of John Peter Wourms, and Maria Ann Bany was born. They had hoped for a son… but alas…. she was their third daughter.

They named her for her grandfather.  They called her Louisa.

It was one of the coldest winters they could remember, in the small town of Zenz City, Ohio. They were a farming family. A good Catholic farming family. They helped build the church there. So on this  very cold night, they were most thankful for the birth of their little girl. She was smaller than most babies. But she had a head full of dark hair, and chocolate brown eyes.  But she had a sweet, gentle, face.   She did not cry that night. Not even once.
John and Maria were happy. Yes.. this daughter was …. a gift of Christmas.

One year later… almost to the date… Momma Maria died of Influenza.

Louisa would never really know her mother. Not one single memory.

Her Dad went on remarry. It didn’t take him long. He had known young Kathryn Staugler from St. Peter’s church. They had been friendly and kindly in passing… as neighbors are.
John asked Kathryn to marry him in the spring of 1886. By July they were married…. and during their time together… they had nine more children. Mostly girls.  I guess old John had trouble shooting Y’s.

But back to Louisa. She was a bit of an inventor. She was always tinkering around the farm. Her stepmother would caution her to get back to the laundry, or the cooking. But Louisa loved to fix things.

They raised chickens their on that farm. It was a productive business. But one of the hens…. Gerty… would peck the heck out of anyone who tried to retrieve her eggs. It was always a big long production to try and get an egg from Gerty.
One day, Louisa came out of the barn, with a long iron bar… with a large metal scoop attached at the end. She had fixed another piece on the top, which was controlled (up & down), with a wire. Louisa went to Gerty’s house, moved the scoop underneath the hen, and came out with an egg. No peck. Brilliant.

This device was patented…. some years later… and is now used in those games that you see at Walmart, and fairs…. the one where people jam tons of quarter into a machine… and attempt to extract a small stuffed animal with a claw.
I only know this story, because Louisa is my Grandmother’s stepsister. Yep, Grandma Regina’s sister Louisa.

Louisa died in 1903. That year, Ohio had lots of flooding. Louisa fell into a overflowing stream. She caught an illness… and died. She was only 19.

I only know this story… because I made most of it up. But that photo is really Louisa. She really is my Grandmother’s stepsister, and such, and such.

She just didn’t invent the Carnival Claw. At least…. not that I know of.

“I’m more interested in what I discover than what I invent” – Paul Simon

Jan 25

iFruit

what da?

As it turns out… I really do like apples.

I eat a whole lot of them.  Like a  bushel.  Not in one sitting though.  I looked it up, and there are roughly 126 medium apples in a bushel (i.e.. 48 pounds).  I can go through about 4 or 5 apples a day.  Yep … in less than a month, as my math figures it, I have  managed to chomp down a bushel.

So when someone asks me …. “How do you like them apples?”  I typically say that I love them.

But I don’t think they are really asking me about my penchant to the perfect fruit.

That good old phrase. How do you like them apples.  It seems this idiom can be used to gloat a little bit.  You know… when someone wants to call attention to a small personal triumph.   It is…  kind of….  a way of puffing out your chest a little…  or even saying “So there.”

And with all good idioms… they typically come from somewhere.  Mr. & Mrs Idiom.

Seriously.  I know you want to know the origins of this one.  Just how did the expression get its start?

Some early  sources suggest it originated in World War I with the Toffee Apple.  A toffee apple was a kind of trench mortar bomb sometimes used to destroy tanks.

So… those old WWI guys would be down in the trenches… and through out one of those mortar bombs…  and then they would holler out…  “How you like them apples?”

Generally…  the person being asked usually isn’t in earshot to answer the question.

Apple comes around again in a lot of different phrases… and such.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Apple of my eye.
The Big Apple.
One rotten apple spoils the barrel.
Easy as apple pie.

On and on and on….
I think this is because apples are so very cool.  They are appealing.  Yep.  Everybody wants a piece of the pie.   And….  I think that is getting right to the core of the matter.  Hopefully, this wasn’t a fruitless endeavor.

By the way…. I wrote this on my Macintosh.

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” – George Bernard Shaw

 

 

How about them apples?

Jan 24

A good word.

Sccccooooochhhh

I like certain words a whole lot.

I have visited this topic from time to time.  But words sometimes can’t even describe how much I like words.  And I have an All-Star Team of the ones I think standout more than the rest.

One of those words is….   scooch.

I love the word “scooch” in all sorts of ways.  First… the shear phonetics of it.  It sounds like it could be a code word for something, or the name of someone in a street gang.  Or even the password to get into a dark alley doorway during The Prohibition.

Scooch.

But the definition is simply this:

scooch |sko͞oCH|(also scootch )
verb [ no obj. ] informal
1 crouch or squat.
2 move in or pass through a restricted space: waiters kept trying to scooch by.
• [ with obj. ] move (something or something) a short distance or into a restricted space: scooch your sleeping bags close together.

The origins of the word,  probably come from the 19th century… at some point in time.  It is most likely a variation of scrooch, which means to crouch or bend combined with scoot, which is to go suddenly and  speedily.  Somebody, somewhere… squished those words together.

But back to the meaning…. the definition.  The interpretation could go either way for the individuals involved.
“Hey, scooch over a little bit, will ya’?”….  which indicates that someone wants you to move away.

Or… the reason I really, really like this word.
It is when someone says to you…
“Scooch on over here.” and they pat their hand down beside them.

That… is good scooching.
That is good word.
“Because of you, my life is so much sweeter.” – T. Smonkey

Jan 23

Slow and steady….

boogie....

Yeah.  If I were a snail, I would take things slow.

I could learn a thing or two from snails… and turtles… and elephants.

Any plodding creature would do, truth be told.

They move deliberately and… from the looks of it… with a certain conviction.  Like they are committed to the act of moving forward.

Now me.  I’m all over the place.  Always moving too fast and running in to things.

Yep.  I could learn from a snail.

Which reminds me of a news story I recently heard.

A snail walks into a bank to make a deposit. Then a turtle comes in and robs the bank.

Afterward, the police are interviewing the snail and asks him to recount what had happened, The snail says, “I don’t know, it all happened so fast!”