Log entry no. 141 “A food-related note from Urge”

My buddy Urge had his 18 something granddaughters visit recently.  Just prior to that 10 of us returned from an eat-a-thon and drink-a-thon at an all-inclusive in Jamaica.  Since the return, we were all trying to dump the poundage we packed on in the tropics.

So Urge sends me this email:

“Jennifer and Samantha leave today which is good since all they wanted to do is eat fried shrimp, oysters or anything coated with crumbs and boiled in grease. I’ve gained what I thought I had lost from the Jamaican trip. Oh yeah, lunch today at MJs restaurant and guess what they wanted, yep fried oysters”.

Knowing Urge needed some advice for the future I suggested to him that those kids are just trying to get him to eat himself to death so eventually they don’t have to change his diapers, wipe up the drool, and pay to board him in an a “home” that smells like skin dust from old people (I’m old, I can say that).   

I further suggested that the next time they come to visit that Urge feed ’em health food and the stay will be shorter and likely they won’t want to come back often!

***** S&E ****

Log Entry No. 8: “Zone 3”

Tom is visiting his son, sitting on the back porch deck, under roof, doing some beers. It is 90+ degrees.

wifi irrigationHis son has an irrigation system in his yard.  It is an older house and so is the system, so he is in the process of replacing some sprinkler heads in the front and back yard.  He also replaced the control box in the garage which controls each zone and the sprinkler heads.  The system has 6 zones.

The new control box installation is of course high-tech.  Both of Tom’s sons are good with tech since they are 40 years younger than Tom.  In this case the new control box is Wi-Fi driven.  Very cool, you can be anywhere in the yard, open the sprinkler system’s app on your smart phone, choose the zone you want to enable and that zone comes on.  The system is great for testing individual sprinkler heads in zones and / or scheduling certain zones or all zones to operate on a weekly schedule. If you enable a certain option in the system it will interact with the local weather station and control the sprinkler system so the yard and planting areas only receive the correct amount of water.  (I would not take that to the bank!)

There is also another application!

While they are sitting on the porch the dog (100 lb Golden-doodle) heads out into the yard, as it happens the mutt is standing in zone 3 of the WiFi controlled sprinkler system.  And Tom’s son demonstrates a feature of the system that is not illustrated in the manual, he calls it – “cooling off the dog”.  So it is, “the dog is in zone 3”, open up the app, enable zone three, and the mutt gets cooled off.  Hugely funny.  If the dog moves from one zone to another, well…

Occasionally is OK, but overdone the mutt probably would not go in the yard.

Before anyone calls the ASPCA – this is not done frequently, and, it’s only water, and on hot days it appears as if the mutt loves it.

As soon as Tom returned home from his son’s, he installed a WiFi control box for his irrigation system.

Tom has a dog!


Log Entry no. 111 “Pine Boughs”

I always enjoyed seeing Thor at work.  Even, better, I enjoyed hearing of Thor’s’  boys at “work”.  More often than not one of his two male issues would have provided a great story for Thor to relate to his co-workers.  Some of the stories are humorous now but at the time created great stress for Thor!

StressThis one is one of Thor’s remembered experiences… if you see him just mention “pine boughs”

It is 8:30 Saturday morning and Thor heads out to one of his three cars, destined to the hardware store.  The last car in the drive is Thor’ 8 year old Honda Civic.  It featured broken mirrors inside and out, stains on the headliner (don’t ask), dash, and cloth seats.  Add to that a dent here and there and damaged paint.  Obviously the kids car and Thor knows his oldest son drove it last, getting home a hand full of hours ago, in the early morning.

Above all, Thor notes the several, very green, very noticeable pine boughs protruding from the front bumper and sides of the Civic.

Pine BoughsThor put his thoughts aside, drove to the hardware store, made his purchases and headed home, taking the other entrance into his housing development.  He entered and came to the first  intersection and stop sign in the development.  Before continuing down the street he glanced to his left.  Up the short cul-de-sac he observes a local police cruiser, with the cop standing in the homeowners front yard.  The cop and the homeowner are both looking at what remained of a couple of 5-6 foot pine trees and some minor lawn damage leading from the street through the yard.  And there sat Thor, a couple of houses away, in clear sight, with pine boughs jetting out of the bottom of the car.

Pine boughs!

Pine boughs 2Thor slammed the car in reverse, did a 360, exited the housing plan, and entered through the other entrance nearest his home.

Later,  Thor recalled his son being severely short-changed on monies due, by the very  same homeowner, after doing some lawn and shrubbery work at the very house where the two small pines formerly stood.

You never want to screw with the kids in your neighborhood.  They have endless ways of exacting revenge and pounds of flesh!

Thor’s first issue denied any knowledge of the pine boughs and suggested the boughs stuck in the undercarriage might be remnants of a recent hunting trip.

Sometimes if their lips are moving…..

***** S&E *****










***** S&E *****

Log entry no 41: Lag’s Hand Cuffs

Rainbow is playing Mahjong with the women at Harpy’s house.  Lag, Rainbow’s better half, tags along for an outing with Harpy.  They head out for some lunch and beers.  They visit the Maritime Museum’s Boat Shop, check out the power and sailing yachts that are in port, do more beers at the back alley pub, lots to do..  Eventually they  end up in this tourist trap of a gift shop on the waterfront.

Lag wanted to look for anniversary gift ideas.  The shop is crowded as it is a nice day and Saturday afternoon.  Lag, not concerned about “points”, stops by the not so expensive jewelry display at the checkout counter, eyeing-up necklaces, ear ornaments, and bracelets.  He picks out a pair of matching bracelets.  They are near gray in color with a gloss finish.

Harv's HandcuffsHarpy is standing beside Lag.  Directly behind them are four well decorated, well dressed, stuffy appearing women in their 50’s, not much more than a three feet away.  In front of Lag, behind the checkout counter, are a couple of college age hotties.  Lag, with bracelets in hand, held up at eye level for closer examination, blurts out, “These look just like the handcuffs I use on Rainbow”.

Harpy lost it.

Harpy glances at the well decorated, stuffy foursome and no one is laughing, near demeaning looks on a couple of their faces.  The checkout counter hotties, well, one is laughing the other just shaking her head, as if to say “perv”.  Harpy could hear more than a few nearby snickers in the shop.

It is always good to be cautious when taking Lag into public spaces.

Lag really does not use handcuffs on Rainbow!

***** S&E *****

Log entry no. 139:  A Little Street Theater in Cermer, “Hey Little Girl”

It was Thanksgiving Eve a few decades ago.  The family was “out” partying heavily and by 2 AM my brother-in-law, known to the kids as “Uncle Dirt” (UD) and I were the last left at the Swirl Inn Bar.  UD is to meet his sister Zee at the Greyhound Bus “station”, arriving from Baltimore, at nearby Cremer, Pa. at 7 AM so she can join the family for the day’s festivities. UD and I fashion a plan at the bar to enhance Zee’s arrival experience in Cermer… it is, without a doubt, a masterpiece plan, that even today the resulting event on that cold Thanksgiving morning, remains a historic event in family folklore.

Zees Street personSome salient points: (1) Cermer is a tiny town, maybe 15 blocks square if that. (2) It was a snowy, frosty morning, maybe 20 degrees. (3) The Greyhound bus terminal was an old, classic house of sorts, on the main street, closed that holiday morning. So when the bus deposited Zee at 7 AM Thanksgiving morning, the tiny town was dead, no cars, no people, and Zee’s waiting area was outside, on the front porch. (4) Zee was and remains a spaz of sorts and was scared to death of Baltimore Street People. So much so she once admitted she would cross the street to avoid walking near one on the way to work.

UD and I leave the Swirl Inn Bar, well oiled, at 3 AM or so, Thanksgiving morning. We went to my dad’s house and gathered up an old stained raincoat, galoshes, dirty work khaki pants, and a scarf that looked so bad Goodwill wouldn’t take I; also a walking cane, a rag-bag, and an old filthy Fedora type hat.  I put it all on… the outfit was a perfect recreation of a Baltimore Street Person. With that, at about 5 AM, UD and I head to Cermer, about 10 miles away, to await the arrival of the Greyhound, and Zee.

Zees grey hound busUD dropped me off in my outfit, behind the Cermer YMCA, across the street and adjacent to the Greyhound bus station.  He positioned the van a block away where he had a clear view of the scene.  And in rolls the bus at 7 AM.  Zee de-buses, walks up the steps of the old house to wait on the porch for UD to arrive. Cermer is a ghost town.

I step out from behind the YMCA in my outfit and make my way across the street, now in Zee’s line of sight.  I am bent over, moving slowly, limping, with cane, in filthy clothes, the Fedora concealing most of my face.  Zee is watching. She thinks its street person!  Yes!  As I get closer to the house, UD pulls the van up directly across the street, Zee starts down the porch steps, crosses the sidewalk, watching me. I’m getting closer now.  Later she would reveal that she was sure she could “take me” if anything “funny” started. Zee starts to cross the street, with a travel bag in each hand, looking at me. She reaches mid-street, halfway to UD and the van, Zee in Cermerand I start after her yelling, “Hey Little Girl, Hey Little Girl”.  She throws both bags up in the air and races toward the UD’s van.  UD is in the driver’s seat, bent over howling, and is only able to snap one photo, the one in this post. Zee dives into the van, I run up, identify me, she is beyond pissed.

The story was fully recounted at the Thanksgiving dinner table, the family in hysterics; Zee, not so much.

If you encountered Zee today, decades later, and spoke the phrase, “Hey Little Girl, Hey Little Girl”, she would have a very special message for you, most likely beginning with F and ending with U!

***** S&E *****

Log Entry No. 121: “Hooter’s Cruiser”

Hooter spent gobs of money, time, and effort in the spring, converting a used panel van into his dream camper with many special features and accommodations. He lived in the northeast, his area famous for its nasty winters featuring cold, ice, and snow.  Accompanying those elements were the many tons of road sand and salt just waiting to ruin your car or in Hooter’s case his newly restored camper.

Hooter 2Hooter’s answer to the DOT’s concerted effort to slowly rot his dream machine was to store it away for the winter.  His answer to an alternative source of transportation was an early, old 1960’s boat of a car for which he paid close to nothing, as I recall a few hundred bucks. It only had to last until spring.  An honest description of the car would be to describe it as a rust bucket, featuring peeling paint, many dents, banged up wheel covers… one owner away from the junk yard, just plain ugly.

Unlike his van, he had little respect for his winter “Beater” as he called it.  He used the back seat as a garbage area for all sorts of waste to include rags, empty cans, fast food garbage and empty automobile oil containers. The Beater had a never-ending, insatiable appetite for motor oil, much of which went up in black smog, a byproduct of engine operation, exiting into the atmosphere from the car’s exhaust pipe.  Hooter always carried spare quarts of oil (and beer) in the back seat.

It was a chilly weekday night that turned into bar hopping ending late, maybe 1:30 am.  Hooter was dropped off at his apartment by his two friends, actually relatives.  They watched him ascend the outside steps to his second floor apartment.  His Beater was parked just outside.  After some discussion they decided the paint was so bad on the car it needed touched up, that night, before dawn, prior to 6:30 am when Hooter had to leave for work.

It was a mad rush to round-up a sufficient number of used spray paint aerosol cans to do the job.  Color was not a concern.

By 2:30 am the perps were hard at work on Hooters car, skillfully applying various colors to most of the painted surfaces on the Beater.  There had to be some special effects, so stars were painted on the hub caps (it was an old car, still had hub caps).  The exterior mirrors were addressed, as was the roof.

Hooter 1 The trunk lid rolled down, offering a huge flat area which faced onlookers or drivers with a view of the rear of the car.  So, to match the stars on the hub caps, the boys painted “State Police” across the rear of the trunk, trimming it up with two more stars on each side of State Police. Perfect!

The boys moved back a block to watch Hooter’s reaction at 6:15 am, his departure time for work.

Hooter, feeling not so good from the night before, opened his apartment door, and on the way down the steps had the pleasure of a full view of his police cruiser. The boys witnessed an indescribable dance and were sure Hooter wove a tapestry of words never featured in the English language.

I suppose the icing on the cake as it’s called, was that he had to drive his new (to him) cruiser more than 15 miles to work, much of the distance being a state highway.

It is one of those log entries that never goes away, still alive in Hooter’s family.

***** S&E *****

Log Entry No. 29: Dogs, Chickens and the Web

The Family Outcast (TFO) lives in a small mountain town in CO. with his mutt, “Orlo”.  Great place, many interesting dimensions to this small burg.  But this entry is not about the town, but TFO and his mutt.

The start of all this? One day out in the yard with his dog, Orlo, the mutt, decides to oft one of the neighbor’s designer chickens, yes, a designer chicken… he charges the bird; It was ugly, and the bird was pushing up daisies by the time TFO dragged his mutt off what remained of the chicken.  And, to even make it better, the owner of the bird witnessed dog-eating-drumstick_origthe murder.  The owner of the foul files a complaint with the local magistrate against the dog and TFO. So TFO has to make a court appearance, ha,  and ante up many bucks, ha, as well as accept a court order which restricts Orlo from the neighbor’s yard (and chickens).

TFO complained about his bad luck to the family… what is one man’s bad luck can be another man’s entertainment. The family thought it was hilarious!

Sometime later, TFO becomes a target to; let’s call them, “the boys”.  TFO was always a target!

After many libations and great stories, the designer chicken incident shows up in the story telling.   The boys decide that TFO needs chickens so, on that same evening, a web search ensues and they, in a matter of minutes, find THE site. The writer cannot begin to describe the near disabling, gut wrenching, tears producing laughter that accompanied entering the order for chickens on the website.

In three days TFO’s postmaster in that small town dials his number and informs him that there is a package he needs to pick up.  TFO walks to the post office.  The postmaster presents him with a box with holes in it and a lot of peeping going on inside.  Yes, chickens for TFO !

TFO is furious, takes the box, and gives it to a nearby farm, and makes a number of calls searching for which one of “the boys” is responsible.  Everyone lies.

If you need chickens …   Here is the link:  https://www.efowl.com

TFO really isn’t a family outcast… we just keep telling him he is!

BTW, one of the interesting facts about that small mountain is that the Grammy’s (the actual statuette) are manufactured in the basement of an old but yet active downtown hotel.

A very interesting place to visit!

***** S&E *****


Log Entry No. 5 “Thors Flying Cooler”

I just had to relate this little piece, a snippet, one of 100’s of incidents, of Thor’s accident prone life.  There will be other log entries on this subject.

Thor lives in the country in a three bedroom home, huge front, side and back yard, each acres in size, mucho amounts of grass to cut, acreage.  It is a pretty place, a quiet country setting, surrounded by woods on two sides with some great, tall hardwoods in the front, side and backyard.  He also owns the woods at the rear of the back yard, where he hunts and fishes.

Thor has a garden tractor that is one size up from a VW bug – lots of power, a 60” mowing deck with the usual rotating, horizontal, high-speed, 3 blade mulching setup. The tractor is hefty enough, a powerful piece of lawn equipment.

Thor is a big camper. He uses his pickup truck to haul all the camping equipment.  His truck has a flexible, vinyl, button down cover which he normally doesn’t remove as it is a pain in the ass to fasten back down, depending on the outside temperature as it affects the flexibility of the vinyl.  So, to retrieve camping gear from the bed of the pickup, from underneath the bed cover, he uses ropes fastened to various camping items like tents, poles, traps, and coolers.  These things have a tendency to slide to the front of the truck bed in route to the campground.  So upon arrival, absent the use of the ropes, Thor has to crawl under the bed cover to unload the gear.  Using his rope “system” he just pulls the stuff to the back of the bed for easy unloading.

So, Thor returns home from camping, unloads the equipment from the truck bed, using his rope system, returning tents, coolers, chairs, etc., to storage areas, mostly the garage or basement.

The garage is detached, with a concrete walkway running parallel to the garage and continuing to the kitchen door in the rear of the house. After emptying his Igloo cooler, he places it beside the garage to drain and air-out.

A couple of days later Thor is on the tractor, cutting the acreage of grass. He’s cutting along the side of the garage, parallel to the garage sidewalk.  The camping cooler is yet leaning against the garage, with the rope, attached to the cooler handle. He sees the rope on the sidewalk leading from the cooler handle, but does not see the reminder of the rope which continues, secretly, into the high grass.  He is cutting along, passes near the cooler, when he finally notices the rope in the grass, in the mower’s cutting path.  His eyes wide open, jaw as well, as the mower deck passed over the Igloo’s rope.

The blade spindles under the deck picked up the rope, instantly consuming it.  The cooler left its resting place, rocketing toward Thor on the Garden Tractor, colliding with the mower deck, missing Thor by not so much, with the momentum launching Thor’s cooler off the deck, into the air and across the yard.


Badly shaken, Thor turned off the tractor’s ignition and headed for a beer and the whiskey bottle in the garage frig.


***** S&E   *****


Log no. 887   “Frank’s Fish Pond”

So Cooter and I decided that Frank (Cooter’s neighbor) should get an April Fools letter from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services about his front yard fish pond.

Frank designed and installed the fish pond. It is beside his front walkway, just adjacent to the steps, in clear view of anyone using the front porch entrance.Charlie tuna

Frank used a variety of stuff– plastic liner, rocks, flat stones, shims, plants, a pump, tubing, and dirt.  The rocks surrounding the pond, build up to maybe 2 feet above the pond surface to the rock waterfall.  Of course the water cascades down across the tiered rocks and into the pond. The pump is an above ground pump that moves the pond water to the falls.

Frank’s wife hates the pond as the installation, workmanship, appearance, décor value, and fit with the landscaping is awful.  If Frank’s wife swore she would call it a front yard cluster *&#%$. Briefly, the waterfall does not work.  The liner sticks out of the dirt, is clearly visible. The rocks are filled with weeds, badly stacked, uneven, unlinked, and unmatched. You can see the pump and hose going to the falls and the plants just can’t provide enough balance to make it all right. Ugly.

And it is important to know that Frank loathes the government — local, state, and federal, it’s an all-inclusive loathing.

So Cooter and I sent a letter to Frank, from the government, about his fish pond.  His wife told us not to do it as it might be stressful.  We mailed it in another city to further disguise its origin. The letter featured the department’s logo on the letter head and envelope, cut and pasted from the state’s website.  Upon receipt, Frank put it aside for a day seeing the government logo.  When he did open it, we heard from his wife that, we had achieved the desired impact.  He was, seething and pissed, was going to write them a letter, then call, until his wife told him, days later, it was an April 1st hoax. The letter follows:

(Appropriate state address, state logo and Frank’s address)

Dear Pond Owner,

One of our agents, as part of her routine waterfront inspections, noticed the fish pond installation in your front yard.  Upon closer inspection she reported that it was less than what the agency describes as safely inhabitable, the pond species appeared to be diseased, and the water quality far from acceptable.

The state has standards for pond quality for commercial and residential installations and owners and operators are required to maintain pond displays and installations in such condition that they meet or exceed state standards.  Your pond clearly falls far short of the standards.

You should be advise that there are penalties for not meeting pond standards, however the law provides that you be given a reasonable period to comply.

We will maintain a file in this office and expect to hear from you within thirty (30) days that your pond has been brought up to standard.  You will find the standards listed on our website, (web address).

Please contact us to advise that you have corrected these substandard conditions, or, if you have any questions.  You can contact the agency through our website (second web address).

Thomas J. Scales

Director, WWS Enforcement

(City, State)

We found out months later that Frank read the letter to his family at the Thanksgiving Dinner table, just after dessert.

***** S&E *****

Log Entry No. 281 “Hoover”

“Log Entries” are a collection of very short stories from non-occasions and special

Red n Black Dragon

occasions, stories of mostly family incidents, all true.   Everyone has stuff like this in their history, mostly shared in conversation; few take the time to record these precious moments of humor, bizarre behavior, and sometimes bad judgment and stupidity.)

It was no different than what thousands of parents do.  Junior wants to go to college or technical school, driven by the parents who say without further education he’ll be living under a bridge.  Plans are made, housing is found (if not on campus, some dung hole apartment shared with best buds), and the new freshperson gets deposited in the new digs at an institution of higher learning (that is an assumption).  He wouldn’t be there if his friends were not there.

So junior and three of his friends move into this hovel that has a United States Postal address.  And slowly but surely the stories start rolling out.  You are familiar… kegs, Mad Dog 20/20, Boone’s Farm, grain nights, heaving out back, and on occasion, a few tidbits about further education, very few.

So on one evening, and this does not have to be a weekend, junior and his friends are well oiled up, one known as Urge, all partying hard.  The time moves on and Urge heads up to the second floor sleeping quarters, it is early AM.  Urge is always a target.

Unbeknownst to Urge, earlier in the evening, the house Hoover canister vacuum, a behemoth weighing as much as a full size bowling ball, with an operating decibel level of 130+, was strategically placed in Urge’s bedroom closet.  Urge did not deal with hangers.  He liked piles, so the Hoover was easy to conceal under mounds of Urge’s clothes.  To power the beast the vacuum’s cord was connected to an extension cord.  The extension cord was wedged between the carpet and baseboard, out of the closet, and down the stairs into the living room.

The plan:  Wait for Urge to pass out.  At that point the Hoover, in Urge’s closet, would be energized from the living room where his roommates would await the reaction.  At the least, a promise of side-splitting laughter, and at that, they were not disappointed.

Urge is upstairs, out cold.  The roommates plug in the Hoover’s cord in the living room, and the beast erupts.  They wait for the cussing and footsteps on the second floor, and just as quickly, unplug the vacuum.  Urge is in a stupor, footsteps back and forth, on the second floor, he can’t locate the problem, then silence.  Urge is back in the rack.  The boys are howling. Repeat.  Plug in the Hoover, wait for the reaction, unplug the Hoover, and wait.  More howling.  On the third electrification of the Hoover, Urge is out of bed in a flash, not to be fooled again.  He locates the vacuum under the heaps of clothes in the closet, rips it out of the closet, and the roommates take cover as the Hoover does an aerial, down the stairs, into the family room and front door, accompanied with the appropriate collection of vulgarity.

Late in 2017, 1.5 decades after the above story, Urge overdosed after a few years of struggling with an addiction. We loved Urge. So kind and considerate.  Funny.  Smart.  So many memories, at our various homes and on vacations. We laud the person he became!  He was a fine person.  His “person” was not defined by the demon he dealt with in those last years.

**** S&E ****