Preaching to the Choir

I know, I know, this will be old news to my readers because you are affected by the same phenomenon, but it will make me feel better to get this off my mind. But really?? Eight dollars a pound for strawberries? Okay, so they are out of season at the moment, and it is a holiday week so the vendor can charge an arm and a leg for something I want, but I think this is pushing the window too far. During the season, that same container of strawberries will cost $1.79 and I will avoid buying because it is too expensive. Imagine what I will do when they are $7.99. Yep, I’ll avoid them and my love for sweetness will have to find something else to satisfy my appetite, like left over Halloween candy. As I write and the stress of seeing that high price begins to flow from my body I am happily gorging on 3 Musketeers and Snickers bites. That is definitely not KETO.

What is the underlying cause of this rising price phenomenon? It is th evil word spelled “i-n-f-l-a-t-i-o-n. “What is inflation in regard to money? Webster defines it as “a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.” Do we understand how the purchasing value of money changes? It’s simply the government printing money to pay its bills. So, if our national budget is a trillion dollars, and Uncle spends a trillion dollars more than he has, and prints a trillion to cover, the dollar just lost half of its value. The seller who once paid $4.00 a pound for strawberries now has to pay eight, for the exact same pound of berries, they didn’t get bigger, they didn’t get sweeter, there are still the same number of berries in the container and you didn’t get a single damned thing more for those extra four dollars because the value of the dollar just shrunk by a hundred percent. The simple problem for you and me is that our pay did not grow accordingly. In the case of a senior citizen like me who lives on a fixed income which means I can’t, or won’t get a raise in pay, inflation is as deadly a as COVID-19.

And, that my friends is why I believe I am preaching to the choir, because the people who can do something about it are not sitting in the same church as you and I. They are sitting in Congress and are deaf to everything but campaign contributions. What is our option? We have to vote the bastards out of office, and that means we have another one to three years to survive, and sadly, some of us won’t make it. In the meantime, we have to vote when we can, and pray that our country doesn’t go bankrupt.

211115-PSA-Message to the President

A Florida Diner, not far from The Villages, forbids Biden supporters, and becomes so popular it runs out of food within hours and must triple their staff and set up extra tables on the sidewalk and in the parking lot The Post Mi A diner in DeBary, Florida, became popular overnight among residents and the international community after announcing they would no longer serve Biden supporters. They sold out of food the same day and temporarily closed. Angie Ugarte, the owner of the DeBary Diner, located just outside of Orlando, posted a provocative sign in the business’s window. It read, “If you voted for and continue to support and stand behind the worthless, inept and corrupt administration currently inhabiting our White House, that is complicit in the death of our servicemen and women in Afghanistan, please take your business elsewhere.  God bless America, and God bless our soldiers.” According to the New York Post, Ugarte received donations from across the globe and sold out of food in hours that same Wednesday, having to close early pending a 3000% uptick in food deliveries and orders. Ugarte told the press:”I’ve gotten so many people calling me from all over the world, from Europe, from Asia, trying to purchase meals for veterans, which I still haven’t been able to organize.  Cooks, chefs, wait-staff have shown up in droves and asked to work for no pay.  Two doctors and a former judge showed up and asked if they could wash dishes.” She adds: “I think that the veterans will be fed for the rest of the year at the rate I’m getting donations. People have traveled from all over the US, from thousands of miles away, to pose in front of the sign and show their support for Ugarte.  One car with two couples in it arrived on Thursday from upper Michigan, a 3000-mile round trip, with an offer to bus tables and sweep floors.  There was nowhere to sit so they ordered four cups of water, to go, which was free, of course, but left a $1,000.00 cash “tip.” This includes Rod Phillips, a member of the State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America association.  “We wanted to come over here and thank you personally,” Phillips told Ugarte as the pair posed for a photo. Phillips qualified, “I fully respect the office of presidency of the United States, but this should have been handled much better, much better.”He added, “Being a Vietnam veteran and combat-wounded, I don’t wish war on anybody.  But there is a proper way, and time, and place to leave an enemy country.”

Afternoon Drowsies

What is it about afternoons? There seems to be a switch in my brain that pops on everyday about this time. When it does, my eye lids get very very heavy, and my head tends to jerk back. What it takes to get through this period is mental activity or at least a short nap. If you happen to notice a long series of z’s in the middle of a sentence you will know what happened.

We spent a lovely afternoon with my youngest grand son on Saturday and then with my brother after ward. The grand son is 15 my brother will turn ninety in a couple of weeks. Lucky for me they were in the same state only fifteen minutes apart. All I can say for Michigan is that they are plagued with insects. My son runs a fly factory (he owns horses) and flies abound. My brother was on his summer estate which was the family farm long ago. Now, it is mostly trees, and wilderness. The mosquitoes fly around your head looking for a choice speckle of bare flesh to land on and drill for blood. They all wear a red cross on their backs. The backs of my ears are a mine field of tiny bore holes where they succeeded in sucking some of my delicious red stuff into their tanks.

I was happy to get home to Illinois to escape the high pitched buzzing pests only to learn that they had sent a message from Michigan that I was coming. Every mosquito in Illinois was waiting for me, and anxious to take their due.

I was prepared, however. Before I left int he morning, I snuck out to Home Depot and bought a mosquito fogger. Boy does that thing work. I dressed in long pants, and long sleeves donned a hat, gloves, and used my trusty dust mask from the shop. It was overkill, I’m sure, but I was going to battle and wanted all the battle gear I could muster.

After attaching the propane bottle, and filling the tank with poison, the smoke bomb fired up easily, and before I knew it I was walking around the yard in a white cloud of smoke. My wife came out of the house screaming at me to stay away from her garden. The instructions said to not spray if the wind was over 5 mph. When I began the air was dead still, but after this puppy began spewing smoke there came a breeze that sent smoke everywhere including her garden. I had visions of sleeping with the mosquitoes that night. Normally, the wind comes from the southeast across the yard into the wet-land behind us. For some unknown reason this time the breeze blew from the northwest and headed right for I.’s pickle factory. I. hates anything chemical getting into onto, or near her food and water supply. Shopping with her is a joy, because she has a hard time with English and prefers Lithuanian, Polish or Russian which she speaks, reads, and writes fluently. The trick is to find food stores or deli’s that handle foods from those countries. She reads the labels and trusts all European foods over anything American. Her most favorite vendor is an Amish farmer. It doesn’t matter what state he is from if he is Amish he is an organic farmer.

What is more amazing is how many food stores have popped up that are loaded with goods from Europe, Mid-East, South America, and Central America. We must have had a huge influx of immigrants from those places over the past twenty years and these stores cater to them. The last place we visited had several meat cases stocked with pig parts like, feet, snouts, ears, hocks, and even a whole half baby pig. Next to the pig was a half lamb, and next to that were a pile of skinned rabbits, and a rather large octopus. This place had many foods from Mediterranean countries. The bread aisle is amazing as you will not find brands like Wonder Bread or Silver Cup, but you will find various dark breads from the East European countries. There are also several units of shelves dedicated to honey. I guess bees from the homeland produce honey that has specific curative power for people from those orchards. The coffee aisle is also stocked with very dark coffees from everywhere but here. Next to that is the tea shelf and that one is complicated. Tea cures everything. Just ask a Chinese herbalist.

Another thing I have learned is that many drugs that we need prescriptions for are on the shelf at a European deli. A box of low grade blood pressure medication from Russia sits on a shelf next to Tylenol. Twenty pills from Russia costs about ten dollars, from a pharmacist the same twenty pills is a hundred dollars. No wonder I. avoids American medicine.

I can see that the years we spend together will enlighten me more than it will her. I only hope I am not converted to a new religion or cult.

Opportunity For Adventure Is Endless

Chicago is a city surrounded by many suburbs. In fact the ring of suburbs encircling the city is quite varied in ethnicities. At the same time these same suburbs are examples of Americans using their freedom to engage in businesses that fill needs. Last week I traveled sixty miles, yes sixty miles, to get to a place called Buffalo Grove. My life partner is from the northern suburbs and as such all of her doctors and services are located sixty plus miles from where we live. The same services exist within a twenty mile radius but they aren’t the same. Why? Because they don’t speak the languages my soulmate needs to speak to explain her problems. (Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and least of all English) I digress.

The small shopping center we landed in to pick up a her new glasses had a very large food store called in the middle. Similar to a Jewel or Meijer’s. The next step on our agenda was to do our weekly shopping for groceries, at our Frankfort Jewel. So why not use the Garden Fresh Market store right where we were? We decided we needed an adventure.

The store is amazingly loaded with foods from many ethnic groups, but mainly Russian. Fresh foods, meats, fruits, vegetables, you name it they stocked it. We perused the aisles for two hours and selected many ethnic varieties. After paying in US dollars via American Express we passed several kiosks containing more unique Russian goods. Magazines, toys, videos, you name it they had it. Even plastic model kits of Russian fighter aircraft and tanks. I thought to myself, only in America will one find a pocket of Russians living freely in a neighborhood where they can continue to be Russians without worrying about Putin knocking on their door.

When we finally loaded the car we were hungry, and there right near the eyeglass shop was a Korean restaurant. I asked if she wanted another adventure by trying Korean food. Yes, why not. We donned our masks and entered The Golden Durebok. There were about ten people sitting in booths scattered all around the place. All appeared to be of Asian ancestry. We found a booth toward the back and waited for a waiter to show up. After a few minutes an old man wearing a baseball jacket and a short white apron dropped a couple of menus on our table then proceeded to clean tables.

Thank God there were pictures of food in the menu. There was also english descriptions but they were intended to address Asian customers. We looked through the eight page menu and selected something from the appetizer page. We ordered thinking we had picked soup. Wrong, it wasn’t even close, and my lovely was very disappointed. We asked the old man if they had soup. He just gave us a dumb stare. I finally told him to bring us some soup, he left miffed. It took several minutes for him to return with two small bowls 1/3 filed with something that looked like chicken consume with a few pieces of green onion floating in it. We thanked him and he left. Lovely just looked at me and her entree as if expecting me to turn it in for another dish. I took a piece of what was on her plate and bit into it. Not bad, I said. She did the same, then reached over to take one of my fried dumplings. She liked the dumpling, so we traded dishes and ate.

Meanwhile, across the room from us sat two asian men, one very large in size, the other rather skinny. Both were eating with ravenous zeal. The skinny guy kept picking up a fresh napkin about every two mouth fulls to wipe his forehead and face of sweat. He did this throughout his meal. It brought back memories of when I ate with my Singaporean friends in Singapore. They loved very spicy hot food. I asked why. One answer was that Singapore is very hot and humid, but asians don’t sweat like caucasians. To compensate they eat spicy hot things that make them sweat so they could enjoy the evaporative cooling provided by the ceiling fans.

We finished our meals and I took the bill to the register to pay. I looked at what it said. What I ordered for lovely was listed as Kimchi Pancake and not soup as described in the menu. I paid and we got the hell out of there as fast as we could.

Kimche Pancake

How appropriate that I am reading the book Out of Many. One. How many more ethic pockets exist around the metropolitan area, and in how many cities of the country do they exist? I know for fact that there isn’t a city in America without a China Town, but how about Hungarian town, or Polish Town? I know they exist in Chicago and there is no limit to others as well. I attest to how they contribute to making America great, and interesting to say the least. It is also fun to explore these areas and to eat in their restaurants. The opportunities for adventures are endless.

A Costco-Walmart Adventure

A couple of days ago I received a call from a friend. She needed to go shopping for groceries. Being a Lion whose motto is We Serve, I jumped at the opportunity. Most sane people would have found a simpler service project, but not me. I had to drive 45 minutes to get to the starting point of this adventure. The friend is a caretaker, and her latest job is taking care of Norma a 101 year old lady without any family. She relies completely on the people she hires to do her favors.

Traffic was light at 2:00 in the afternoon, and I got to the house in forty minutes not forty-five. My friend was waiting for me at the door, and we were ready to go. I asked her if she had a key to the house to get in, She waved the key at me, “good” I said. “Did the lady give you money to shop with?” She dug into her purse and pulled out two blue cards one debit, and the other a credit. “Good,” I said again. “My lady wants me to go to Costco,” said my friend. “Did she give you her membership card?” Again, digging in her purse, she whipped out a Costco card. “Great,” I said, “let’s get going.”

Neither of us had a clue as to where the Costco was. Thank God for cell phones. We both found the address for the nearest one and I pumped the location into the GPS. We were off for an adventure.

I joined a Costco back in the nineteen-eighties when an agent came to our company to sell memberships. I bit on the bait and joined. The store was immense, but not convenient. Prices on things were good, but I don’t buy a TV every week or month. I was more interested in food. The Costco hook is packaging. The prices are good, but one must buy a package. For a can of tuna at a low price I might have to buy a package of twelve cans. My membership ran out and I never rejoined, but I did join Sam’s Club which was much closer to my home.

We started shopping in the meat department. My friend loves chicken wings and drum sticks. She picked up two discreet packages and went home with 32 drum sticks and 48 wings. Thankfully, four drum sticks were packaged in one plastic unit, but there were eight units to a package. The price was low, but who will eat that many drumsticks before the last one goes bad in the freezer? I figure it’ll be June, 2021 before they run out of drumsticks. We spent a lot of time looking for stuff and passing most bargains. My friend told me that the last caretaker was asked to leave. “Why,” I asked? “Norma told me that her last caretaker spent over $400 at Costco. I took a quick count of what was in our basket. “Do you realize we have over $130 dollars worth of groceries in the basket right now, and we have a lot of shopping left to do?” She thought about it for a second and said, “lets check out and go to Walmart.”

At the register I pushed the debit card into the reader and got a message “enter your PIN.” What? Do you have the PIN?”

“What is a PIN?” she asked me. The second card was the same. I reached for my wallet and pushed my American Express card into the reader. “We don’t accept American Express,” said the clerk.

“Oh shit, you mean to tell me the largest retailer in the world does not accept the number one card in the world?”

“Sorry sir.” I pulled out my emergency VISA and paid.

We managed to find a Walmart about five miles away and finished the shopping minus two items, Italian bread, and Biscotti. The total between the two stores was $320. At least we didn’t spend $400.

We spent an hour in Costco, and another hour in Walmart before we began to find our way back. It was dark, and thankfully I had the GPS to guide me. It was about six p.m. when we parked in the drive. My friend said she would go in first, check her client, and then open the garage door so we could unload quickly.

Two minutes later my friend reappeared, “can you help me?”

“What is wrong?”

“I can’t open the door.” I took the key from her and tried it on the two locks. It worked fine on the dead bolt, but it didn’t move on the regular lock. “We need two separate keys to open this door,” I said. “Now what?”

My friend began ringing the door bell. “Norma can wheel herself over and open the lock for us.” After several minutes and a lot of ringing, we peered through the side-light window and saw Norma slouched in her wheel chair and vigorously pointing toward the left. My friend went to the side yard only to learn that the gate was locked. She went to the opposite side and found the same. “Maybe Norma was pointing at the neighbor,” I said. We quickly went to the next house and rang the bell, and told the neighbor our story. It turns out the neighbor didn’t have a key either. The neighbor lady said “I’ll call the police.”

It took about five minutes for a cop to arrive. He listened to our story and said he would be back. He went to his patrol car to get his lock pick. By the time he came back, a fire truck arrived with three firemen. They went straight for the door with a tool that looked like a battering ram. “Oh great, now we will get in, but we’ll have a door that doesn’t close again.” Lady Luck was with us because within two minutes they had the door open and they rushed in to see if Norma was okay. My friend followed them. I stayed outside with the cop who insisted on seeing identification and asked for more information. “This happens a lot,” he said.

“Yeah, well it has never happened to me,” I said. I realized later that he meant this happens a lot at this house. My friend came out to ask me in, and the cop asked if he could go in to check on Norma too. “Of course,” she said. The cop and Norma were acquainted with each other and spoke for a few minutes. After he left we lifted Norma back into her wheel chair. I was right she had slid down while trying to come to the door and was inches from sliding onto the floor.

Finally, I unloaded the groceries into the garage. As we were going in and out Norma kept warning us not to let her cat out. On about the second trip, I looked up and saw the cat at the edge of the garage door looking out. My friend looked up and saw her too. Immediately she ran toward the house to scare the cat back into the house. That is all I would have needed to make the night complete, a missing cat. Thankfully, the cat skedaddled back into the house and we shut the door behind her.

I wished my friend good luck and left. I got home by 8:00 p.m. The first thing I did after relieving myself was to pour a generous shot of whiskey over ice to reward a successful service call.

Believe it or not!

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