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Archive for the ‘Life in general’ Category

Busy morning when compared to the other days this week. I ran out of bread last night, so peanut butter crackers played the role of breakfast.

The masks my friends are making won’t get here until Thursday at the earliest, and I’d rather not go into town without one. Since I do have hotdog buns, hot dogs played the role of lunch.

Supper was a creation I call a bologna quesadilla.

I warmed a tortilla on the griddle, flipped it over, put a slice of cheese on and then bologna, topped with a second slice of cheese and another tortilla. I flipped it twice and let the cheese melt and the bologna heat up.

Not bad if I do say so myself.

I was chatting with a friend on the phone and we were talking about masks. She’s worried about me not having any yet.  I told her I tried to make a mask out of a t-shirt, but it wasn’t long enough to cover my beard.

The other option, using a bandana with rubber bands, wasn’t an option because I don’t have rubber bands. But it occurred to me I could cut strips out of a t-shirt and use as ties.

I did a few minutes ago and darned if it didn’t work. I’ll use this to get bread tomorrow. And while I’m in town, I’ll get a sausage and pepperoni pizza to go from Jonah’s.

I get paid tomorrow, so it will be a win-win kind of day.

Here’s me and my bandana mask with t-shirt ties.

Stay safe.

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When I was in college, someone introduced me to pure grain alcohol through a product named Everclear.

Everclear is legal moonshine and it will burn going down when you drink it. We could buy it by the pint at the K&B drugstore.

Pure grain alcohol will also burn if you spit it into a fire. So I did, at every fraternity party where we had a fire going.

I’d stand by the fireplace sipping until someone asked what I was drinking. Then I’d take a sip and spit it into the fire. It would flare up. “Moonshine,” I’d say, “Want some?”

It was fun. But what we really used it for was to make “jungle juice.” (Google it, if you’re not familiar. I don’t have time to explain.) It ate the galvanize off of the garbage can we used to make jungle juice.

Fast-forward 45 years. Coronovirus has caused hoarders from all over (and a couple of nitwits in Chattanooga) to buy up all the hand sanitizer in Middle Tennessee.

The local news had a segment on how to make your own using liquor with a high alcohol content, along with aloe vera to make your own hand sanitizer. 

“Everclear” was the first thing that popped into my head.

I drove around town looking for aloe vera gel, but everywhere was sold out. But the local pharmacy had glycerine in a small bottle, so I bought one and then stopped at the liquor store and picked up a pint of “Golden Grain” pure grain alcohol, 190 proof, 95% alcohol by volume.

When I got home, I took out my 1-cup measuring cup. I poured the alcohol to the 2/3rd cup mark and then added glycerine until the mixture rose to the 1 cup line. I poured it into a mixing bowl and added 5 drops of peppermint extract essential oil then whisked it all together until it was fully blended.

I put some in a 3-ounce bottle I bought to use when I fly (but never used). The rest went into a cleaned out Dawn squeeze bottle. I use the small bottle whenever I venture out, putting a few drops in my hand after every stop at a store.

Everclear killed a lot of my brain cells in college. I eventually partied my way to a 1.8 grade point average, so I dropped out and went to work offshore. By then, I’d moved on to something a little mellower, Jack Daniel’s. I eventually quit Jack, too, and went back to college and earned my degree when I was 30.

But some of those brain cells were really just put into hibernation and when the right circumstance came along, woke up and reminded me.

I guess you never really forget what you learn.

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I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am growing old. By the CDC’s measure tonight, I am elderly and should stay home, which I have been doing. For the most part.
 
I have 3 rooms in my house and with only one of them — the bathroom — is there rarely any question why I walked in.

I am forgetful, to say the least.

 
Because I live alone in the woods in the middle of nowhere, there’s no delivery service outside of FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service for me. So I go into town every few days to buy perishables because, well, they perish if not consumed in a day or two.
 
Ice is one of those. I know. I can make my own. But for $2, I can buy a bag that fills a quarter of my freezer. So I buy it. Twice a week.
 
Tonight, I picked up some Diet Dr. Pepper, and some low-carb snacks to go along with the healthy food I bought yesterday. And a bag of ice, which I put on the floor of my car behind the driver’s seat. The rest of the groceries got loaded in the back of the SUV since I have no trunk. 
 
When I got home, I had to pee really bad, so I started to race into the one room where I never forget why I’m there, but saw a tree and remembered I live in the woods. Yay, me. Yay, tree. Crisis averted.
 
Afterwards I grabbed the groceries and went inside. I put them away, stripped down to my drawers (because I live alone in the woods in the middle of nowhere) and started watching TV. NCIS: New Orleans had a double feature tonight, so I settled into my recliner to watch.

About halfway through the first episode, I got up to get something to drink, opened the freezer to get some ice and … Ice. Shit. It’s been in the car for an hour.

I grabbed my keys from the bedroom, slipped on some shoes and ran out to the car thinking along the way that I was smart to buy rubber mats when I bought the RAV4. But it’s 40 degrees outside and the ice hadn’t started to melt. Another crisis averted.

The rest of the evening has been uneventful. Until now. Shit. Where did I put the car keys?

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Taking it easy

I was two hours from home and the end of one of my best vacations ever and decided to stop for one last meal at a down-home diner, to extend the trip just a bit.

I had my mouth set on a jalapeño burger from the Bell Buckle Cafe when I pulled off the interstate and took the back roads to get there.

But I forgot the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival was that day and the town was crawling with people. So I moved on to Shelbyville and found Pope’s Cafe on the square.

There’s something about a cafe near a courthouse that guarantees there will be good food there.

The cheeseburger was great. Pope’s did not disappoint. But the jackass who pulled in to the parking spot next to mine after I went in did.

I could not open the driver’s door wide enough to squeeze in. Granted, I am a big boy, but this dipshit had pulled in with the front tires turned 90 perpendicular to the line, wedging the car into the spot. Whoever was driving was alone or with one really skinny friend.

My first instinct was to kick their car hard enough to dent it. But it was broad daylight and folks were walking by. Besides, I had foot surgery last fall and I don’t want to go through that again.

So I got in the passenger seat of my car and stewed. It took a few minutes for me to realize I could still turn my car on and roll down the windows to let the breeze in while I waited for the jackass to return.

I pushed the button to turn on the power and sat.

What am I going to say to this guy? Will I get in a fight? What if it’s a woman? The possibilities played through my head.

I opened the car door and tried to shimmy across the arm rest and gear shift into the driver’s seat, but, like I said, I’m a big boy and that didn’t work.

So I sat and stewed some more. It seemed like an hour passed, but it was really only 5 minutes. Five really long minutes.

To start my car (it’s a RAV4, so technically an SUV), you need to press the brake while pushing the power button.

If only I had a stick, I could press the brake and back out enough to open the driver’s door.

I scanned the sidewalk. No stick. I sat some more.

Don’t I have an umbrella on the floor in the back? I felt around. Ice scraper. Not long enough. Light jacket, not sturdy enough. I finally got out and opened the back door. There was the umbrella.

I got back in and started the car. My RAV4 has a back-up camera, so I was able to see where I was going and I started to inch the car out. Who knew city squares were so busy? After another minute, I was able to back out far enough to open the driver’s door.

As I settled in to the driver’s seat, I grabbed the pen from the console and a napkin that was on the passenger seat, planning to write “You Park Like An Asshole” on it and leave it on the windshield. I decided they probably already know they park like an asshole. Hell, I drive like an asshole most of the time and it doesn’t bother me.

So I put the pen down and headed home.

Did I mention I had a really great vacation?

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I stopped for supper at O’Brien’s tonight and the place was hopping. It’s Good Friday and in addition to their regular meatloaf special, they offered a variety of combinations involving crab legs, shrimp and steak.

I was tempted to get the crab leg cluster and shrimp combo, but when I asked about portion size, I opted for the meatloaf instead. One cluster of 4 legs and a half dozen shrimp is an appetizer to this coonass.

The only open table when I walked in was right next to the kitchen and the pace was hectic. It reminded me of my high school days, when I worked as a busboy and dishwasher the last 5 months of my senior year.

It was about this time of year 44 years ago when Coach Gros, my Algebra teacher, suggested that my late-night job was affecting my class work. “If you don’t really need the money, you might think about cutting back on week nights so you can graduate.”

Graduate. That had been an abstract word to me up until that moment. I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I grew up and here I was, a month and a half away from graduation.

I thought about what he said during my shift at the restaurant that night.

Working at The Emporium had been the most fun I’d had in a while. I met some great people working there. (And stay in touch with them to this day.)

Most nights, we’d finish up by 10:30, then sneak into the back room of the Iron Horse next door and trade beer for washing glasses for the bartenders. It was easy to tell my parents I worked late. In a way, I wasn’t lying.

“Graduation.” That word kept playing in my mind as I scraped dishes and put them in the dishwasher.

At the end of the shift, I pulled the manager aside and told him I needed to quit so I could get my grades up. It was a tough decision. In a few short months, everyone there had become family to me.

“That’s a smart move,” he said. “You’ve got a job here if you change your mind.”

So here I am, 44 years later and another word is playing in my head.

“Retirement.”

Retirement starts in June. Where did the time go?

Last month I was a busboy. A week later a welder’s helper, then a fitter’s helper and machinist’s helper, then a freshman in college with ideas of becoming a lawyer. Then I was a college dropout working offshore and in the blink of an eye, I was a laid-off oilfield hand going back to college. I became a journalist because there weren’t many job opportunities in Thibodaux, La., for a history major with a journalism minor.

Journalism lasted for 20 years, then I became a corporate communicator after toying with becoming a locksmith for a few years. I got married. I got divorced. I’ve bought 4 houses and 10 cars and I’ve lived in three states.

And today I am 8 Mondays from retirement (though I’m off for 2 of them) and I’ve got that same feeling in my gut that I had 44 years ago.

During an interview in the mid-1990s, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. “Retired,” I said. “I want to be retired.”

We laughed. It was a good interview. I can’t remember what story I was working on.

But here I am on the precipice of retirement and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I guess I’m fixing to find out, though.

 

 

 

 

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It’s about choices

It’s about personal choices.

If you want to restrict someone’s ability to make a choice about which gun to buy based on someone else’s illegal use of a gun, are you willing to also restrict other Constitutional rights because a handful of people misuse a right and cause harm to the lives of others?

And if you want to restrict the right of someone to get an abortion, are you okay with them restricting your right to bear arms?

These are major issues that are dividing our country.

I think our forefathers envisioned this and offered a solution.

They enunciated our inalienable rights which no government nor individual can take away from us without due process.

They are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And they all hinge on the ability of each of us to make our own personal choices without interference from anyone, any government, any special interest group or any political party.

Can’t we all just get along?

Focus on your choices and don’t be so quick to deny others the same right.

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You got a minute?

I was walking from the parking garage to the office this morning when a guy stopped me on the sidewalk.

“You got a minute?” he asked.

“Not really,” I replied.

“Are you familiar with the area?” he asked.

“Somewhat,” I said, casting a leery eye at him.

“Don’t worry. I’m not a bum,” the guy offered with an awkward giggle. “I still have all my teeth.”

“That’s nice,” I said while running my tongue over the spots where two molars used to be.

“Are you familiar with Fairview?” he continued.

I nodded.

“I’m from Fairview and I’ve been trying to take care of my dear old mom …”

“Yeah,” I butted in, “And she’s in St. Thomas Midtown and when you found out she was in the hospital you ran out of the house so fast you forgot your wallet on the dresser and now you’re out of gas and don’t have any money on you to buy some.”

His eyes grew wide and he started walking away fast.

“You tried that crap on me at Kroger right before Christmas, asshole” I told him.

“You are wrong, though,” I said loudly as he trotted up the sidewalk away from me.

“You’re a bum,” I said. “It doesn’t matter how many teeth you have.”

That Christmas run-in has bothered me for almost 2 months.

He sounded sincere. My heart said, “help him out.” But my mind said “his story doesn’t add up.”

The Kroger and the Farmer’s Market across the road from the grocery aren’t in any way, shape or form along the route to the hospital from Fairview.

I told him I couldn’t help him and went into the store.

After I left the store, I looked for his truck in the Farmer’s Market parking lot. I had decided that if I saw him at the truck, I would pick him up and get some gas for him.

There was no pickup in the lot, but still, in the back of my mind, that little voice kept reminding me that I walked away from someone who might have needed help.

It bugged me. A lot.

I never give people money. If someone says they need a dollar to buy lunch, I offer to buy their lunch for them. Only two have taken me up on the offer and the lunch we shared was really quite educational.

A guy who’d worked as a laborer all of his life, ran out of work in the building bust in 2008. He was a proud man, but hunger has a way of suppressing pride.

A woman who stands on the street corner on Fifth Ave. North, drawing in a sketch pad all day long told me after I brought her an order of lasagna from the Italian place in the Arcade, “When this is all over, I’m going to tell you something that will make us all laugh.”

I still buy her lunch occasionally.

But this guy. This guy really pissed me off.

Here I was, double guessing my decision all these weeks and this guy is plying his trade without an ounce of conscience.

On the ride home tonight, it occurred to me that I may have met this guy before, at a Burger King on Charlotte Ave., a few blocks from downtown, back when I still worked at the newspaper about 15 years ago.

His story then was that his child was being treated for cancer at Children’s Hospital and he needed to get back home in Fairview to pick up his favorite toy to help in the recovery, but ran out of gas.

I told him I didn’t have any cash, which was true. But as I used my check card to buy my burger, it occurred to me that I could also use my card to buy him a tank of gas.

He was gone when I came out of the restaurant. It bothered me, then and it still bothered me from time to time, that I didn’t help someone who I could have.

Tonight, when I turn out the light and put my head on my pillow, at least that annoying voice in my head won’t be harping on that time I didn’t help a guy whose kid was in the hospital or another whose mom is in the ICU.

Looks like I’ll get that minute back after all.

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