Honest, I only Had One Beer

A man walks into an old pub in Dublin, takes a seat at the bar and orders 3 pints. After he is served he takes sips from them in turn and when all 3 glasses are finally empty he orders 3 more. The barkeeper, who has been watching him, has never seen such a weird style of drinking and says to the man: “You know when you leave a beer for too long it goes flat, so they would taste better if you order just one at a time.”
“Well”, says the man at the bar. “You see I have 2 brothers who I used to drink with, but unfortunately one moved to America and the other one moved to Australia. Now we are on 3 different continents and we hardly ever see each other. So I drink a pint for me and 2 for my brothers. This way we at least try to keep this tradition alive and it feels like we’re still together.”
The bartender agrees that this is a beautiful explanation for his weird behaviour and the man becomes a regular at his bar. The other customers also get used to his ritual of ordering 3 pints and drinking them in turn.
But then one day “Mister 3 Pints” comes in and orders only 2 glasses. The whole pub gets silent and the by the time the man orders a second round of only 2 pints the barkeeper says: “I’m terribly sorry as I don’t want to intrude on your grief, but I just wanted to offer my condolances on your loss.”
The man looks puzzled, but then a smile breaks through and he says. “Thanks a lot, but everyone is fine really. It’s just that my wife had us join the Baptist church and I had to give up drinking. But my brothers are still Catholics, so it didn’t affect them.”

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Yesterday, Peg and I spent a quiet day together. Just her and Me. We haven’t had such a day in quite some time. Peg’s caretaker hasn’t had a day off in over month and when her son called to say he was coming to  take her on an adventure she jumped at the chance. Being the outstanding employer that I am I jumped at the chance to get her out of the house away from me and Peg for a few hours.

The caretaker’s son owns a motorhome and he stores it in a barn for the winter. He planned to put it into storage this weekend. “What a great day to take mom out into nature to unwind before I put this thing away for the winter.”  Not that her job is that stressful, but it is boring and boring leads to stress. Her routine is to keep Peg fed, clean, medicated, and happy. She does three of the four exceptionally well.  Keeping Peg happy is a huge task. Only because we can never tell how she feels or what she feels. Peg doesn’t communicate, ever. The only time we know she is unhappy is when she experiences pain. Then she communicates with a yelp, scowl, or grimace.

The two of them left in this huge motorhome to places unknown to me. Peg and I were alone, all alone. In our better days before her dementia hit there is no question about how we would have spent our alone time, but this time we were alone and unable to fool around. I said a prayer that I would remain a good husband throughout the day.

I did fairly well in moving Peg to bed for her afternoon respite from the wheelchair. We force her to lay on her side only to get the pressure off her ass. Otherwise she develops a skin breakdown ending in a bedsore. We don’t like bedsores, neither does Peg. If you watch the commercials for lawyers looking for business, you will note that if your loved one in a nursing home has a bed sore it is grounds to sue for negligence. Therefore, we don’t like bedsores, not because lawyers love them but because they are painful, and ugly, and horrible to look at.

The caretaker’s son Freddie returned his mother to the job in time for Peg’s bed hour. To appease me for stealing his mother for a day he presented me with a bottle of Crazy Brewski beer. Brewed in his home country of Lithuania and bottled here in South Carolina.

Crazy Brewski, Lithuanian Beer

Of course Peg saved her daily BM for me. I struggled through the cleanup and re-diaper with a minimum of fuss and she was happy, I think. Supper was fun. I made it easy by popping a frozen pizza into the oven and literally threw shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar dressing into a bowl for salad. We ate together, She polished off one eighth of the pie, and in the same time I finished four eighths, or half the pie. She sipped on a glass of pink Moscato through a straw and I swilled two glasses of Pinot Noir. That difference in eating is why Peg never weighs more than a hundred pounds with a 28 inch waist and I thunder about at 198 and a bulbous 40 plus waist.

This evening I popped for a couple of rib dinners from a local take out called Mindy’s famous for ribs. To go along with it I split the Crazy Brewski with the caretaker. Normally, I have a single glass of red wine with my supper, but I substituted the wine with the Brewski. A few sips into the beer, which was excellent, and sweet, I took note of the alcohol content. Crazy Brewski has 15% alcohol. A normal US beer like Coors has at most 4% and wine has 11%.  Needless to say, I am buzzed. 

That is my story, and I’m sticking to it. 

PSA-141109-Cliff’s Wisdom

buffalos

One night at Cheers, Cliff Clavin explained the” Buffalo Theory” to his buddy Norm:

“Well, ya see, Norm, it’s like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members! In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine! That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

Lazy Summer Days Spent Lolling On Custom Lawn Furniture

This post is excerpted from “Jun-e-or” a book of my “Recollections of Life in the 1940’s and 50’s,” available from Amazon.com

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There is something about winter that sets me into recalling times from the past. In early 2010 I posted several stories about my Grampa Jim.  This year, I will do the same. Here is the first of a series.

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Lazy Summer Days Spent Lolling On Custom Lawn Furniture

Every summer, Dad packed us up and took us to the farm in Michigan to live with Mom’s dad Grampa. That twenty-acre spread like seemed a vast wilderness at the time. Gramps’s house was set back from the road and trees lined each side of the drive giving the feel of going through a tunnel. Three tall cedar trees stood in a row with two pear trees next to the ditch. They hid the house from the road.

The front door faced the road, and served to let a breeze flow through the house. Gramps never did finish building the front steps. The main entrance was from the side door facing the yard at the end of the drive. A huge willow tree, opposite the living room window, filled the side yard with shade. The weeping boughs nearly touched the ground, and my arms reached less than half way around its trunk. A few feet away stood a very mature mulberry tree that appeared tiny next to the willow

In early summer, the birds came to eat mulberries.  I climbed the low branches and sat in the tree with them. Mom knew what I was doing because my lips and hands were purple. The low branches were easy to climb, not like the tall willow whose first branch was many feet above my head. Dad used a ladder to climb up to that branch to make us a swing from a recycled tire from his 1929 Buick

The outhouse stood across the yard from the mulberry. Grampa Jim didn’t have running water, nor a bathtub or toilet. The outhouse was the third point on a trapezoidal yard formed by the side door, and the two trees.

Grampa Jim had a unique set of lawn furniture sliced from the trunk of a huge tree.  The Table was twenty-four inches in diameter, and just as tall.  The chairs were slightly smaller in diameter and were cut to form a seat with a backrest. The set was old, and gray with no signs of bark on the wood.

I spent endless hours playing on, and around that furniture. Sometimes, I sat on a chair and watched the big black ants run crazy patterns all over the table. Often, I tried counting the rings, but got lost in the weathered and worn grooves of the cut surface.

On the very hot listless days of summer, Grampa Jim, and his buddy Mr. Toth sat on the tree furniture in the shade drinking a beer. They chatted and smoked; Grampa dragged a hand rolled cigarette of Bull Durham while his friend puffed a corncob pipe filled with Prince Albert. Often, I sat with them and listened. They spoke in Hungarian, and I did not recognize many of their words, but I understood the gist of their thoughts.

I wondered then, and I still do now, if the table and chairs all came from one tree.  If they did, the tree had to be magnificent. I asked myself, how tall was that tree? How old was it? Why was it cut down? Did it fall down, or did it die of natural causes? All I know is that I loved sitting and playing on that furniture.

GRAMPA JIM’S LAST DAY

Grumpa Joe as a Toddler

Grampa Wigh died with a cigarette burning in his hand.  The ash was nearly one inch long.  He was discovered by a friend.  The friend stopped by to pick him up, a daily routine.  They would drive the distance to Fish Corners for a beer.  Grampa would stay at the tavern all evening, nursing his one beer and smoking his Camel cigarettes.  He would spend the time socializing with the many people who came to Fish Corners for gas or groceries, or for a social outlet.

When the friend, Mr. Toth, didn’t get a response from his toot, he decided to check on Jim.  Jim was just inside the door on the daybed.  The cigarette was still burning between his fingers.  He looked asleep.  He was dead.  It was 1958 and I was at the University of Illinois in my first semester after transferring from St. Joe College.

Dancing the Night Away

Having a Beer and a Ball

Having a Beer and a Ball

In nineteen forty, a small group of men chatted over a beer. The subject was how to make a difference with their lives. One had heard of Lions Clubs, and suggested that they form a club in their town of Frankfort, Illinois. By the spring of nineteen forty-one they chartered the Frankfort Lions Club, and adopted the Lions motto “We Serve.” Over the years, the club grew to have more than a hundred members. Their primary mission was directed toward helping people with blindness and vision problems. It remains the focus of the club to this day.

The club required funds to serve the growing needs of the community. Again, they discussed the matter over a few beers, and the idea came to them to hold a raffle. Members brain-stormed a formula for raising money that has served them well for the last twenty six years. It was simple, Lions sell tickets for twenty dollars apiece, but limit sales to two thousand. The idea grew. Why not rent the entertainment tent for a dance on the Thursday before the Frankfort Fall Festival begins? They would serve beer, food, and hire a band. A single sweeps-ticket will allow a couple to enter. On that night, Lions, friends, and neighbors fill the tent. They dance, listen to the lively music, or just socialize. The grand finale is the draw of the winning tickets.

Initially, first prize was a new car, but inflation took over, and cars became too expensive. First prize is now ten thousand dollars in cash, with thirty-one hundred and fifty dollars of additional prizes. Lions continue to limit the ticket sales to two thousand. It makes the odds of winning good. The sales effort is more challenging because the club membership is down to forty. The decrease in members is typical of service clubs around the United States. In spite of fewer members, and the reduced value of the dollar cutting the charities budget, the Frankfort Lions Club continues to “Serve.” Please help support by participating in the “27th Annual Charities Sweepstakes Dance,” Thursday, August 28, 2008.

For more information on where to buy tickets visit our website at http://www.frankfortlionsclub.com

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