My Blood Pressure Spiked!

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Wow! It is already the second day of 2014 and I have not done a thing. On New Year’s Day, Peg and I crashed. The party the day before wore us out. Ever since we married eight years ago we have traditionally celebrated New Year’s Eve. The first few years we attended the Prestwick Country Club party by hosting a table of friends. More recently, Peg decided she wanted a smaller more intimate group of friends to spend time with.

The party gives me a chance to practice my culinary skill, which is very limited, combined with Peg’s hosting skill which is considerable.  We invited three couples for dinner at five. The day began in a relaxed manner, but the stress level increased exponentially as the minutes marched forward. Peg began by monopolizing the kitchen with her hors d’oeuvres, patience Joe.  The weather saved me. It snowed that morning so I disappeared to shovel the drive and the walks. I returned to begin the main dish by  assembling the components for the veal paprikas I planned to make. We are lucky enough to have a fifteen foot countertop for cooking, but I had only one square foot of it. My blood pressured spiked, and my patience wore thin, I forgot two ingredients which I made a special trip to shop for days earlier. Another escape, this time to the Jewel Food Store for two items, a green pepper, and a 14.7 ounce can of diced tomatoes. There must have been more people like me because the parking lot was at capacity. Shoppers in cars jammed the lanes waiting for people  to come out and make a space. I backed out and found a space at the far corner. An inconsiderate jerk of a shopper had abandoned his cart in the space I parked in, so I pushed it back to the store while walking at record pace through the snow. I beat the cars still waiting in the lane for a space, patience Joe.

Inside the store was worse than the parking lot. Outside it was only parked cars and jerks waiting to find premium parking spaces. Inside it was different. Nervous ladies all rushing through the aisles filling baskets with party goodies. I encountered several aisle jams stalled by shoppers staring at the goods while trying to decide which kind of potato chip, wine, or olive to take off the shelf. Once more I back out, this time with the cart. Several times shoppers blind-sided me while rushing down an aisle and crossing lanes without looking. Smile, and say you’re sorry Joe, they are only stressed out like you are. On a normal day, close encounters of this sort would result in a lasting friendship, today friendship did not occur to me nor to those with whom I nearly collided.

Once at the checkout lanes, the crowd seemed even worse. People in line spilled into the aisles unseen. I passed through the waiting carts and aligned myself in what I thought was the end of the line. As luck would have it, the checkout lady was slower than cold molasses. Finally, the line moved one person, and I jockeyed into place but an old woman who came from nowhere and holding a fruit-tort blocked me. She smiled and politely inferred that I was cutting, and the line formed in the aisle behind her, patience Joe.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The Door Bell Rings

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A good thing just happened to me. A very nice young man with a very heavy black beard, a bright red jacket and a black knit cap just rang the door-bell. I answered, and he very politely asked if I wanted my snow shoveled.  “How much,” I asked? He pondered a moment and looked around, “twenty-five,” he answered. “How about twenty?”  He nodded in agreement. “Do you have a shovel,” I asked. He nodded yes again.

Parked out on the street stood a sleek-looking Nissan. He ran to the car and knocked on the window. His partner came out and the two of them are shoveling furiously. In the short time it has taken me to write this, they have completed half of the job. Thank you Lord!

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By the time I checked out and drove home from the Jewel, Peggy decided to clear some counter space for me. My tension eased, and the meal prep began.

By four-thirty I finished the paprikas and the double recipe of spaetzle. I transferred the veal dish to a hot-pot and kept the spaetzle dumplings warm in a covered pot.  I looked out the window and realized it had snowed again. Peggy asked for help with something she was doing, and I freaked again, patience Joe. I did what she asked without grumbling, patience Joe. I rushed to the garage for my snow shovels. The drive and walks were clean by 4:55.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++The Door Bell Rings Again

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The snow-shovelers just rang the bell. They  finished. My God, what youthful energy they have. I would still be screwing around getting dressed and with starting the snow blower but they finished! I handed him twenty-six bucks. The two of them deserve it. Peg handed him a small bag of mini-Snickers bars left over from Halloween which I had secretly stashed.

Since it is still snowing, I’ll have another chance to show my aging-energy later this afternoon.

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We had a perfectly delightful evening with our friends eating and drinking and making merry. Harriet brought a lasagna to supplement my Paprikas, Mary brought shrimp appetizers, and Donna brought a scrumptious plate of cherry slices and a quart of ice cream, and Al brought enough wine to keep us happy the whole night long. The crowd left by nine o’clock. Peggy and I cleaned up and we were in bed by 11:00 p.m. by mid-night we were fast asleep.

Happy New Year everyone.

The Ghost of Thanksgiving Yet to Come

Thanksgiving at the Trolls

Thanksgiving at the Trolls (Photo credit: martha_chapa95)

An interesting futuristic story of Thanksgiving written by Arnold Ahiert of the Canada Free Press. The theme of the story is much like that of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This is the greatest Thanksgiving situation as implemented by Progressives.

The Ghost of Thanksgiving Yet to Come.

JR Sr.

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Happy Father’s Day to all. The photo above is of my Dad with my sister and me. This photo was taken on a Sunday. How do I know? Dad always dressed up on Sunday to go to mass. He stayed dressed for the day. During the week, he wore blue work shirts and blue work pants. Most days he looked like he worked in a coal mine. He came to America from a small town in Hungary. His half-sister Anna and her husband sponsored him. He arrived at Ellis Island at age seventeen with but a few coins in his pocket. Somehow he found his way to Burnside in Chicago. There, he stayed at a local boarding house until my Great Uncle got him a job at the Illinois Central Rail shops on 95th and Cottage grove Avenue. His job involved doing repair on the brakes of rail cars. When he reached sixty-five years he retired from the same job.

Dad was a maniac for hard work. His idea of retirement fun was to cut tall grass with a scythe on his farm in Michigan. He created a park with a baseball field for his grandkids. We spent many weekends visiting and there was always a baseball tournament going on the entire weekend.

Dad was an excellent father and a superb role model for me, my brother, and Sis.

 

Obama Fires Union Worker

The White House recently announced the firing of the Easter Czar. Easter Bunny a long time favorite with White House children has been fired. There will no longer be any Easter Egg hunts on the White House Lawn on Easter morning. Instead, the kids will scour the lawn with shovels to pick up Bo’s droppings. The new activity is in keeping with the spirit of saving money.

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The Gift, Chapter One-Tree Farm

THE GIFT-Chapter One-Tree Farm

“There is the farm,” said Morty to himself. “Look at all those trees.”

He came to the sign: Covert Tree Farm, Christmas Trees for Sale. Morty slowed Sky-scooter, and made a sharp right turn into the opening between the trees. The gravel drive wound through a grove of spruce trees. The tall trees shaded the forest floor, and kept it dark.  Occasionally, a bird flitted from tree to tree and sang a sweet song. A beam of sunshine peeked through. God is shining a spotlight on me he thought. The ferns under the spotlight were lime green surrounded by dark green in the shade.

“These twists and turns are fun,” he said to Sky. He talked to his scooter whenever he was alone. Morty steered through forest leaning one way, then the other. His curl swayed from side to side. He was anxious to find the perfect present for his Boss. An opening of bright light led into the meadow where the farmer lived.

He spotted the sign for parking, and another sign on the barn stated rules for cutting Christmas trees.

1. Cut the tree at the ground. Do not cut in the middle.

2. Use only the saw provided.

3. Bring your tree to the barn for wrapping.

4. Trees are $8.00 per foot.

Morty grabbed a saw and jumped onto the hay wagon behind the tractor. A cow mooed, and the horse whinnied in the barn. Chickens wandered all around the barnyard pecking for seed. He sat and looked around while he waited for the farmer.

Gosh, look at all those trees. They surround the entire pasture as far as I can see. He daydreamed while he sat waiting.

Farmer Jim raises trees. He sells some at Christmas, and takes the large ones to the lumber mill in the town. He plants replacement trees to keep the forest alive. It takes fifty years to grow a tree big enough to sell for lumber, and twelve years to grow a tree tall enough for Christmas.

Morty sat staring at the trees and talking to himself. I love coming to the tree farm. It is fun to explore the woods. The forest is beautiful, peaceful, quiet, and majestic. I talk to them and they talk to me. When we are alone I hug them.

Farmer Jim had a secret grove of old trees. He never cut these trees nor did his father, grandfather, or great-grandfather. His great-grandfather told him that they were there when he came to the farm in 1875. Some of them were two hundred feet tall. Morty discovered the grove last year, and fell in love with the old trees. His favorite was over two hundred years old. It lived through much of the history of our country. The big tree was a teenager when the very first settlers moved to the valley from the east.

I have to find a tree to give to baby Jesus on his birthday. I will invite my friends to help decorate, and make it special. The hay wagon jerked forward, and broke his thoughts. He was on his way to find the perfect tree.

What Ever Happened to the Millennium Bug?

Year 2000 Time Bomb Disposal Kit

Year 2000 Time Bomb Disposal Kit (Photo credit: rjw1)

Does any one remember the millennium bug? Back in the late 1990’s the planet was a buzz about  a worldwide catastrophe, “the bug.” Personal computers came into existence in the seventies. At the time, computers possessed limited storage capacity. Programmers allowed only two digits to define a year. After all, in nineteen eighty, who could imagine the world lasting until the year two thousand? Between two thousand, and the limited capacity of early computer memory, no one could imagine that using only two digits to define a year was a problem. Finally in the late nineteen nineties the world became aware. What will happen on New Year’s eve of 1999 when the calendar turns over and it becomes the year 2000?  Will the year 00 mean 1900 or 2000? Imagine the confusion. What would happen to the stock market? What about our savings in the bank? Would we earn the interest of 1900 or the interest of 2000? Worse yet, would those on the verge of retirement in 2000 be set back to 1900 and not be recognized as being born?

The millennium bug caused a rash of business to change out all old computers with new ones that could handle the four digit year. I remember my company racing to check computers to decide if they contained any software that limited the year to two digits. If they identified  a problem they replaced it, or bumped it down to an application where the year was not a factor. The whole world sat on the edge of their seats waiting for the clock to turn, and the computers to crash. It is now twelve years after the fact, and I have yet to hear of a problem related to the millennium bug. What that means is we converted every computer on time, or that the millennium bug was a non-problem.

Today, I hear a lot of discussion about a similar catastrophe, the “fiscal cliff.” What will happen to the economy if we reinstate the Clinton era taxes? Many pundits, Congressmen, Senators, and “we the Sheeple” believe it will destroy the economy and send us into another more deeper recession. Really? Who has any definitive knowledge or facts to back that up? I think it would make a great experiment to let it happen i.e. do nothing to avoid the fiscal cliff. Let the taxes go into effect. It is a democrat’s dream to get all that extra money into the coffers (or trough). Perhaps we would learn once and for all about economics. Is economics a real science, or is it a political folly? If it is a science, the democrats will be proven wrong and the people they profess to protect will suffer. If they are right, economics will be proven more witchcraft than science.

It might be interesting to take a simple poll and see how you feel about this argument. Click on the poll below.

Learning the Meaning of Dysfunctional

Dysfunctional Family

Dysfunctional Family (Photo credit: Chris Pirillo)

Many times I have read a movie description which proclaimed the film to be about a dysfunctional family or couple. I never truly understood the meaning of dysfunctional until a few days ago. Peg and I were planning our thanksgiving meal.  You must understand that Peg and I are widows who married. We have two sets of kids, two sets of grandkids, two sets of traditions, two sets of nationalities. This marriage isn’t like our first ones when we married young and stayed with our partners until “death do us part.” Because we started young we grew up together as a family. We adopted the good from our parents and families. These became traditions for us. It wasn’t long before I adopted the traditions of my young wife and she modified the traditions of my family to fit in. Together we set up a new tradition that was exclusively ours. Peg did the same with her husband.

Here we are in our mid-seventies trying to make everyone happy. Simple things like “what time should we serve?” become a major debate.

“My kids all have to work and can’t come until late.”

“Well, my kids have young children and they can’t stay late.”

Suddenly, the meaning of dysfunctional began to roll through my mind. Is this what they mean? Suddenly, two families merged into one begin behaving outside their norms. Will we ever live long enough to create a new tradition that melds the two families together?

If we do succeed, it will be because Peg and I will concede and drop hosting the holiday meals by delegating the job to our children and grandchildren, who I am positive will make us happy by providing our favorite traditional dishes from all nationalities.

I look forward to this year as the most dysfunctional Thanksgiving ever.

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