Traffic Noise

Since awakening before sunshine slid across a kind breakfast table, my day is full of sticky noises. Trumpeting television commentaries, conversational corneting groups, strings of screeching birds, and unidentifyable thumping sounds from afar are sounds that have remained orchestrally mixed on my inner sound stage. One after another, these are being added to create a symphonic score as of yet complete.

… Aaand, not done because I have yet to add one final instrument staff: traffic noise. All day, everywhere, car clamor has been present in all its forms. To finish off my overuse of alliteration, hubcap hubbub can’t be bumped to the burm of any road on which I find myself today. While on pedestrian footpaths or drive-on pavements, trucks and autos are exhausting so much racket, my composition is deteriorating at the moment.

There are a lot of vehicles on the roads. Big and small. Wide and narrow. Pick any fun “Sesame Street” song with happy adjectives, and I bet any combination of two would describe a desputt-puffer I am seeing today. For some reason, most have either some loud, objectionable horn that must be heard .003 seconds after the turning of a green light, or muffler disguised as ten invisible tubas. The noises are, well, disruptive and irritating.

I hear creaky car doors opening, blaring radio music from unstationary cars whizzing by, and stationary – but active – jack hammers beside dump trucks moving earth around small orange cones. There are yell-able drivers two feet away from, apparently, non-interested passengers, revving engines from bouncy cars, tires grovelling humbly over small shale in parking lots, and “spatch” curb sounds from a red Ford truck tire too close when parallel parking.

Yep, traffic noise. A non-harmonious grouping of sounds in my brain gathered not all at once, but over a few short hours. Minutes, on the positive side, I should appreciate.

People are out doing “them”. Their “thing”, whatever that is for today. Heck, I am. How boring it would be as the lone driver on an abandoned highway? The people and places I see are interesting and engaging. My hope would be they find conversation with me equally enjoyable and productive.

The go-about humans driving around are headed somewhere, coming from a place, too. Presumably, the vehicle they are in is a safe zone for thoughts and feelings, regardless of what’s going on around them. Vehicles are, in a lot of ways, second homes. Mine is. I have food, music, pen and paper, boxes, money, some clothes🙄, extra medicine for emergencies, bottled water, and blankets.

Oh, and a busted up lower front bumper that, er, makes one hell of a racket when making a hard right turn.

So, I guess there’s no immunity for me when traffic noise is discussed. Today, all the loco-commotion bothers me, however. Around every turn: traffic noise in some form. Ugh.

Did you ever have a day like this when some specific irk got to you? Fortunately, I found a quiet corner in which to sit and tap in my thoughts.

Oh, wait.

Of course, I’ll just finish this up now. My luck was short lived. Time to add another instrumental line to an ever increasing orchestral load. A tumbler just blumbled up the street! I may not be able to conduct myself properly if this continues.

Let’s assume he’s headed somewhere to rehearse his part. Yeah, that’s it.

Cicada’s Road Ahead

“Ding!”, there goes another one. Another soul lost doing a sixty m.p.h. header into my windshield. It wasn’t my fault – this tragic, fateful ending of an insect’s seventeen year lifespan. The darn cicada mistook my curved Honda glass for open air space and met its sudden final act. Actually, sixty m.p.h. is a low estimate. Mathematically, the combined impact speed of my car plus the knots of the flying insect was probably higher.

“Another one” is an understatement. They’re everywhere. That small misfortune yesterday was, by my estimate, number four. I can’t be the only one spending extra cash on washer fluid to re-supply an over-used windshield bug tank. With millions of ’em flying around looking for a once every seventeen year love connection, a percentage are bound to end up as automobile decals.

One yesterday, I swear, did a somersault off the top of my roof after impact. Going too fast to be sure, I can’t confirm the feat, but my rearview mirror caught a shadow that may have been the tumble. The bug most certainly didn’t survive as evidenced by my inability to see through the white glob directly in my line of sight.

I don’t want to be mean to these insects. There are no kill paint images added on my car sides every time one kamikazes its little butt into my life. I’m not mean to non-human beings. Magnifying ants, or slingshotting rabbits, are activities I don’t search out. If these little cicada buggers would just stay underground and off the air where cars travel, we’d be better friends … and not have such a dangerous, one-way relationship.

Staying underground – and silent – is a problem for them, however. Jimminey, they’re noisy. Millions of ’em in our community, singing away, are bookending the town with their own harmony … a harmonious, mating male tone meant to be heard by females up to a mile away. Sometimes a group chorus keeping predatory birds away is a necessity, so silence has been a few-and-far-between luxury lately. Tree groupings and forest foliage ring out with imagoes intones lasting for days …

All this … and we have to watch where we walk, too. Crusty paths, strewn with stompy misfortunes, wind in and among local parks. As I sat comfortably overlooking our borough last week from a popular small park, a few relics of small lives lost were at final rest by my feet – possibly ended under the unintended feet of others.

Cicadas are in our clothes, hair, homes, cars, …. and lives. Every seventeen years, I guess.

I do not like them, just to be as clear as a cleaned off windshield. So, according to Google, “They prune mature trees, aerate the soil, and once they die, their bodies serve as an important source of nitrogen for growing trees.” … Still not enough good side to win me over.

We can’t love everything in our lives, right? Accept them for what they are? Sure, but love, admire, and appreciate? …. Uhm, no.

The moment these cicadas get all their lovemaking out of their system and scram will be the same moment I will flick my rejoicing into overdrive. They can go back underground for another seventeen years PLUS and I’ll gladly wait until my 70’s for their inevitable return when my driving may not be quite as fast; Therefore, the windshield mess I will need to clean should be less expensive to maintain.

Damn insects need to take a few years to learn the difference between open space and glass. Still won’t be my fault when it inevitably happens again – whether tomorrow, or down the road years from now. I have a limited number of “dings” to allot in my lifetime and this current go-around is using up quite a few.

They need to think this through. I have. It’s to their benefit they do the same. Their very life depends upon it. That is, if I stay off the road, I guess.

Puppies and Rainbows

You have to know Brian. He’s a man of slender build with years of height near mine, definitely more scalp than hair, a hurried gate accompanied by slightly longer arms than the average human, and – without giving him too much credit – near perfect execution of the “puppies and rainbows” gesture. A gesture, mind you, having its genesis in the midst of what I believed to be a fine proprietor/customer relationship.

See, Brian owns The Capitol Hotel. If you are a frequent reader, you’ll recognize this place. It’s a gateway to my morning silly-zone where I can be a sitter out of sorts with a crew of ne’er-do-wells I call my friends. There’s an old retired guy, another retired guy, a slightly older lady, sometimes a guy my age, an artistan I write about on occasion, … Oh, and a waitress. At times, slithering by I see peripheral pals and palettes passing by as well. I have examined, appraised, and evaluated all … concluding if a week went by without them in front of my bad jokes and goofy morning temperment, life wouldn’t be the same – for any of us.

This past January wasn’t much different. The first week of the new year began as any other. I walked in through the first set of glass doors taking a few steps before knobbing my way past the creaky old door into the main counter area. With huge glass/brass mirrors and dark, beet red booths always there to greet hungry patrons like me, this hotel in the ‘burg is like no other even in 2021. Covid seating restrictions forced my eyes downward to the empty seat poles strewn intermittently across the counter floor. Some booth seats then, and to this day, are tilted up to prevent seating on one side. Masked matrons scurried about taking orders as I strode my way over to the far corner booth to take my place among the sort-of welcoming warmth I saw on the faces of my friends.

Something was different that day, however. Quiet isn’t the norm … and then I figured it out.

They were waiting to see my reaction regarding a story broadcast the previous night. Our local news station ran a small story about something I did New Year’s Eve with my business. What I did isn’t relevant here, however, what I said during the interview is…

Prior to the interview, I agreed to talk with the understanding I could promote this blog site. She agreed. Cameras rolling, we discussed my event New Year’s Eve, then it happened. Now, I don’t really recall saying the words, but upon review later, I did.

She asked me, “Could you tell me about your blog, Doug Hugs?.” “Sure, I write about happy things. You know. Like puppies and rainbows.”, came the reply out of my unprepared, stunningly oblivious orifice.

I got it. If I had a friend entering the hallowed breakfast nook after seeing his blogous facial faux pas the night before, I’d remain silent until he spoke. After all, maybe the word circus had more crazy out-of-context clowns in his tiny mind’s blather bus.

Turns out, I didn’t. That circus left town. It was in-tents for a few seconds, though. Once all the laughter settled and good-natured ribbing calmed into friendly conversation about the entire interview, the morning unscrambled and life went about its normal routine until … until Brian – yes, that same Brian who finds his way into my wallet almost every day – decided to animate the very three words I’ve come to regret ever saying: Puppies and Rainbows.

“Hey, Doug! …”

With two hands dangling in front as puppy paws then extending upward and outward (gracefully, I may say) in a rainbow arc, he changed, forever, my idea of a Richard Simmons/Mikhail Baryshnikov collaboration with Bob Fosse for an adaptation of “Three Words of Regret.”

Why today, over three months later? This gesture migrated beyond The Capitol. Today. In a friendly local bread aisle where others were rising with the sun’s expectations, Brian and I had a moment at his insistence. A puppy and rainbow moment, mind you.

What was once a simple recognition of my slippery mouth muscle inside an isolated hotel, has now become a greeting – in Brian’s brain – outside the hotel café when he sees me. Oh, boy.😏. A reflex of two hands inside another building when he saw me later this morning. A Hollidaysburg happening hopefully no one saw occurring between two fifty-year-olds picking up a few items to sooth an already busy day for both.

This isn’t a secret handshake to enter a treehouse, or a password to get into some secret society. Apparently, now, it’s a dude-thing and I don’t know how to respond except to say, “Whelp, thanks Brian. At least your kind, err, gesture today took my mind off an extremely busy day and gave me some pleasant, kind thoughts as I ran my butt off for twelve hours.”

Next time an interviewer asks me about Doug Hugs, I may just say, “Kangaroos, and yoyos”. Let’s see Brian pull that off!

S’Mores Amore

It took me a few tries. Four to be exact. “Gerbil, hamster, rat, mouse?”, I commented frantically to my good friends who own this precious little being. Their Facebook comment header: “The terror in her eye is for the rapids ahead.” “Guinea pig!”, was the response with an expected exclamation mark as I should have remembered. As well, I needed to reconnect via text for her name. “That one is S’Mores. The yellow one is Nilla.” Ah, Nilla … the second of the two I also forgot they had. So, to summarize here: four attempts at the pet type? Failure. Remembering her name? Failure. Recalling they had not one but TWO? Failure. Oh, boy.

Acknowledging the cuteness of this guinea pig? Success.

I’m not a small pet kind of guy. Maybe you are. Any living creature worthy of one hand palm-holding while eating a ham sandwich out of the other isn’t really a pet in my mind. It’s just me. A book, pack of baseball cards, phone, remote, the inside of a half-eaten bag of caramel popcorn? … Anything keeping that other hand busy at the moment is more valuable to me than something small, inhaling, and furry. I wouldn’t do a thing to harm them, mind you, or be critical of anyone – like my friends – who love them. Just not my thing. I can, however, look at pictures like the one above and say to myself, “Geesh, that’s cute.”

We have to be willing to concede softness in our lives. Make room for pleasurable moments and at the same time accept they aren’t for us, but for others. A kind-of half way, emotional embracing when we can say to ourselves, “That’s really nice. Not for me, but I won’t judge. Just not my thing.”

The other afternoon, I sat alone in a restaurant and observed the most curious of events. An older man sat near the middle of the small room with whom I can assume was a friend. Next to them, nearby, sat two ladies – younger by a few years in their late 60’s early 70’s. Behind both tables in a booth, a dad and his daughter sat quietly. Neither said a word as each was intently staring at their phone except to occasionally request a refill or condiment. One other booth next to me was occupied by one laborer on a lunch break who decided a b.l.t. with a side of fries and coke satisfied his quick half hour lunch time.

I didn’t expect that small community of eight – including me with hungry eyes full of a juicy burger with dripping swiss cheese and mushrooms, a side of hot fresh-cut fries, and a large glass of cold diet Pepsi – to develop into a connection between that day and a guinea pig. Somehow, it did. The last day in March and the second day in April, 2021. Here we are.

A discussion began at the table where the two men sat. I believe it started over the concern about our area needing to change the way local calls are going to be dialed. There’s a change to a ten digit numbering system from the standard seven digit norm. Change is hard … especially for an older generation. I get that. The one gentleman became a bit agitated at having to remember the slightest change (remembering to dial those extra three same digits before every call). His demeanor and vocal rhythm changed with every attempt at understanding the new system. The ladies at the nearby table gently explained the timing of the phone company’s implementation and the reasoning behind it, but this didn’t matter. He wasn’t disrespectful or rude, just becoming less comfortable. I believe this was the catalyst for what followed.

His attention a bit distracted, he leaned over my way and commented about the dad and daughter sitting over in the booth. “See. That’s what’s wrong with society today. Nobody is talking to each other anymore. Those darn cell phones! Look at that!”, as he clearly, and loudly, directed those words toward them.

I nodded my head in the direction of the dad and daughter, silently eating their fried haddock and burger, as if to say, “It’s ok..”, and put my hand up in a conciliatory manner to avoid any confrontation. Fortunately, they understood the situation and continued on with their screen time. I quietly agreed with the gentleman because this was the best way to ease the tension at the moment.

I’ve been thinking about that exchange for a few days. Why didn’t he take a second, look over at the dad and daughter, and say to himself: “That’s really nice. Not for me, but I won’t judge. Just not my thing.”? Well, because he’s old and really set in his ways, probably.

I’m fortunate to have the mind, still, to look over there and think: Did they just lose a loved one and can’t talk to each other yet? Is she having a difficult time in school and doesn’t know how to ask her dad for help? Is he a single dad trying to raise his daughter? Did they just need some nice time together? … The possibilities are endless. Yes, these phones are a problem. I get that. I can say, though, looking at those two in the booth a few days ago, it was nice seeing a dad and daughter together. I won’t judge why they weren’t talking. It was fascinating to look over every few minutes, granted, but the why behind the silence is their business. Period.

I will concede that pleasurable time and quiet to them, however, it’s not for me. I like to talk to those in my company at the table. Yes, I DO occasionally text and check my phone when dining with friends and family. These darn cell-mates have become personal prisoners with whom we’ve become very friendly.

As to the cute guinea pig in the kayak? I have S’Mores amore until I forget her name again. She has some rough rapids ahead according to the comment. We do, too. Life isn’t easy.

We can make all this a bit simpler by backing off our pre-conceived ideas about right and wrong, good and bad. Look at others and appreciate their moments – accept their lives, their situations and nothing more. See that? “That’s really nice. Not for me, but I won’t judge. Just not my thing.”

Be silent. Talk up a storm. Own a guinea pig or a large giraffe. Whatever you do, I will acknowledge your cuteness in doing so. Don’t ask me to hold a ham and swiss on rye in my free hand while doing so, however.

The Phantom and the Hinge

It’s hard not to be an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan. As a musician, I’m drawn to his music. Also, as one who enjoys a good cook-out and one less “b”, I can enjoy a Weber grill as well.

A connection beween the two may seem a stretch, but give me some latitude here … A lot of space, please. It’s been a long week.

Take Raoul from Phantom of the Opera.

I feel so connected to him right now. Unhinged. More on that word association soon. For now, a mask would be warranted. Oh, and it wasn’t a Weber grill, either. Doesn’t really matter, though. The chamber full of propane, I inserted the flaming end of a lighter into said grill and saw half my life flash in front of my eyes in a nano second. The screen in the top of a once calm concession trailer blew out as a loud bang took off facial hair and solar flared all the moisture out of my right eye – at least this is what my optometrist friend said ten minutes later when she graciously stopped by at my blurry insistence.

Look away, I’m hideous. I should be masking my idiocy. Raoul I’m with you, my friend … Artificial tears run down my rosey, now shaven cheek as I think of you. Where is MY mask hiding this scorched half-face of shame?

Yeah, ok. I’m dramatizing the moment. Everything is fine. For a few moments, however, I was worried. My vision was blurry and the smell of burnt hair overtook the usual sausage and hotdog aroma inside my trailer. Blinking sucked. No tears were available for my comfort.

I am now comforted knowing time will give rise to more follicle frolicking. Eyebrows coming back full and robust, a salt-and-pepper semi-beard surrounding a smile, and lashes blinking to awaken a moist eyeball will all befriend me again. Time is the healer of bangs both hairy and gaseous.

I will be extra cautious in the future. Uhm, that’s what I said the last two times, anyway. So, how’s the weather in your town?

Speaking of weather, the Pentecostal winds whacked my concession window cover yesterday. Yes, those higher than average gusts lifted not my spirits, but a heavy, hinged swing roof causing two hydraulic arms to snap off. Hinged? Well, I was able to generate tears from one eyeball, anyway, as the roof slammed itself down against the concession window so elegantly holding a menu sign and my last nerve. No cracks after a quick scan and no patience remained in my already winter season ending, battle-weary skeleton of a body.

Yesterday was my last day at that location. In ten days, I will be relocating to summer spots. An ice cream/shaved ice concessionaire guy will be plopping down where I’ve been these past months. As planned, scheduled maintenance days appear ahead in my book … alas, I will be abandoning those for repairs to my trailer. Back and forth I shall go. Best to forget what I had hoped for and live for what is: fate.

Fate has me paying more money for repairs I didn’t plan on and extra work not scheduled. Fate waited five months for me to flash-freak my face with non-serious, look-back, kinda funny, now, blue flaming frivolity. Fate also gave me a schedule off-site event to cater with my smaller concession cart during a beautiful Saturday in March. A day in which I could not have opened, anyway, with a damaged 20′ trailer and slightly bruised ego.

Tomorrow, that large trailer will be back home for a clean-out before going to the metal shop for repairs. Scott, the proprietor of the fabricating shop, assured me he can fix the damage. I have confidence he can. A spit and polish after replacing the two hydraulic arms with a tweak and pull here and there … I’ll be back in business in no time.

Gosh I hope so. There is redemption at the end for the Phantom. Sure, Christine dies from an accidental gunshot … yada yada … go see the show sometime to appreciate all the twists and turns. Love, intrigue, and … exceptional music as only Andrew Lloyd Webber could write.

I could send him some ideas for his next opus. Perhaps a pianist who reignites his passion for excitement and high energy bursts of gale force winds? “The Unhinging of a Man”?

I do have years of experience in music theory and arranging, one good eye, and one hell of a story to tell so far.

Pipe Down There, Sailor

Clearly, or maybe not so understandably, all of us have better things to do than take an hour out of our beautiful in-tune lives to view – over and over – a two-minute video of an atonal, should-not-have-happened rendition of our national anthem. Orchestrated from time taken out of a wonderful Saturday evening with friends, this is exactly what I did last night. Cellos, BB Shop Quartets, Guitars, Banjos, Pianos, … all instrumental in making my twilight musically marvelous. Kinda.

Sailor Sabol. CPAC 2021.

I wasn’t aware of this video until a high school friend mentioned a casual viewing after a meal from the local Chinese restaurant. I, along with his sister and mother, sat around a small, intimate living room laughing our collective, musically educated asses off as every quasi-crochet not so shyly dropped from the audio air waves. Hitting all of us with rocks – larger than the sofas we barely sat on from laughing so hard – would have been less painful. By some estimations, any school janitor’s dangling jingles hanging from a loosely belted pair of pants would hold less keys than Sailor went through while singing. With one exception from a vocal coach on YouTube who went on a mi-fi-la apologetics tour, all other videos were brilliantly accompanying her … and we watched a boat load of them.

As we wept our way through happy, un-regrettable tears, my individual mind wandered a bit. For a minute or two, I looked over at a friend I had not seen in years. A guy not much in my life as a teenager, but in a class of hundreds who – like all of us – graduated and went on to live life. We talked briefly before diving into the eye-rolling, ear-wrenching oh-say can you ever unhear version thrust upon us. His family, … his experiences, and everything he brought to the shrimp, noodles, and chicken resting momentarily on a table last night were so refreshing for a guy like me. I listened more than talked. Never have guitars, wars, bands, gyms, and family matters outside my own crazies been so interesting lately. Nice guy.

So nice to have the musical bond with him, too. It made watching Sailor’s shipwreck even more gratifying. To view a disaster like this with friends of equal caliber, respect, and admiration … one can relax and enjoy the waves of emotion without judgement. After years of not knowing I needed this hour, the friend-ship I was on cruised along quite pleasingly. Yes, ultimately at Sailor’s expense, but she capped the evening off and I’m ever so grateful.

Driving home, I took a few minutes to erase those awful notes. I tried to find the normal ones. The pitch-blackness outside retained more hope than what was inside my head. Ten minutes. With no expectation of national pride emoting vocally, I gave up. Finally, the phrase, “Pipe down there, Sailor” came rushing into port. PLEASE stop singing in my head! Ultimately, a request for silence. I needed to purge the two-minute video from my memory. Get that video below deck … retire for the night … dismiss the memory.

Until, of course, I walked into my home … and returned, once again, to view three more of the same.

Because I’m addicted to vocal disasters. Same old, Sabol. I’ll never change. Neither will you. It was so bad, you’ll need to see it. As a matter of fact, I’ll make it easy for you:

Pick up a kazoo, theremin, or chapman stick and play along. You, too, can be a YouTube star by accompanying this wonderful version of pick-a-key and play along with Sailor.

I’m positive CPAC and all associated with the organization had no intention of this getting out of tune. That said, when a political operation doesn’t vet the, err, talent before shoving it on stage … that’s on them. She’s probably a nice girl. I imagine the fall-out from this hasn’t been kind. Someone, somewhere, told her she could do this … and encouraged it. A connection to the Republican, conservative group, perhaps?

Whatever the cause or reason, I’m glad it happened. So glad … because I laughed heartily. Overwhelming merriment. Joyous Joy with slappy tears.

Deeply felt chuckles. Understandably so, at this moment in my life.

Breaker, One Two

They’re called step-twos … and, no, I’m not a dancer. You don’t want to see me swash a chasse, shall we say, across the boards any time soon – if at all. I can smooth the 88 keys on a moment’s notice and gracefully step off a curb, but to stride an Astaire memory or click an amazing Hine’s tap? Nah … not even close.

Dancing my way through life with other skills than, … well, … dancing are my commodities. My sellable contributions to society. All of us need to know what we’re good at … and what we’re not for the sake of all that’s sane in our heads. To attempt small household repairs such as I tried this evening, one must know, truly know, his place in life and recognize the historical pattern BEFORE attempting such a simple task.

Enter these step-twos as I’ve named them.

I must have a gnome. An invisible little pain in the ass who interjects delicious little detours into every industrious home improvement project I attempt. He shows up every time. Every. Single. Time. Look, I’m no do-it-yourself pro sitting here claiming the ability to challenge even the most amateur wood and screw guy to a nail gun duel. In my circle of friends, there are plenty of electricians, wood dudes, roofers, lawn ladies and gents, … all of whom couldn’t play Chopin or Scriabin, but would know far more than I about a two-cycle engine or metric vs standard tools.

Still, with that, I do know some basics … like how to turn a screw. Seems a bit simplistic, right? Step one.

My day started swimmingly. Other than a major snowstorm, lunch with dad was pleasant. Delicious pot roast at the local chain restaurant surprised my appetite as a breakfast cancellation earlier unexpectedly appeared. A few small banking issues and run-arounds aside, the day shoveled up nicely. Light winter snow moved easily as did my attitude throughout the hours.

At 4:08 p.m., a suggestion came across and into my right ear. “Do you think we could go to the store and get a replacement for the breaker that’s defective?”. As the driver picking her up from work a few days a week, it’s necessary that I listen. With the radio down in volume and attitude up in attention, I reluctantly agreed … knowing I have the evening free and quite confident the simple act of replacing a broken tandem breaker is very … very, uhm, simple. Step one.

I’m relaxed, yet very absent-minded at that moment. During the three minutes drive home, “Remove the cover plate, snap out the old breaker, loosen the two screws, pull out two wires … and place an old breaker into my happy pocket”, casually organized its grammatically graceful self in my brain. All set. Step one.

Ah, but step-two – the forgotten bastard child of my plans and the future success of any home repair project – had yet to appear. The gnome. I should have gnome it was coming.

Aaaaand … there it was. Twenty minutes into trying to remove the breaker, I couldn’t. The lady of the house, from the stairs above, spoke words I always like to hear: “Just let it go. It’s not working. Maybe if I try. Can I hold a flashlight?” It’s not her fault at all … except, maybe, I hadn’t planned on doing this project at all … today. Sure, it’s been six months. Sure, the breaker may not even be the problem with the dining room lights. Sure I’m no Tesla or Edison here, but … I’m a husband and need to try. The damn breaker wasn’t coming out, so I called my friend – an electrician … on my cell … that doesn’t work in the basement.

Are you starting to see the pattern here?

He stops by an hour later, being the kind person he is, of course. I’m a bit miffed at this point since supper is on hold, already in step-two attitude mode (marginally inconsolable), and considering a séance at that point. With an expected bad breaker in hand, I head off to Home Depot for a replacement … in the snow which, by the way, doesn’t seem nearly as friendly as it was only three hours prior. John, my friend, headed home after a long day. Can’t say I blame him. I was nearly an overloaded circuit of emotional distress.

Mindfully aware my electrician friend knows I’m not fully charged as a certified replacement tech, he made sure I had the original in hand. I did, showing the same to Mr. Electric at Home Depot. Save a small difference in the clip on the back, he assured me the twin I eventually scanned at the self-checkout would compel me, once again, to enjoy a fine, fine winter’s evening. He freakin’ assured me! … Again, I know what I’m good at … and not good at. Picking out tandem breakers is NOT my thing. I need Mr. Electrical Expert to help me. Side-by-side, the two lined up. That was my single, one and only metric guiding me to breaker box bliss.

Back home, supper at the ready two hours late, I sat on the sofa. Only fifteen minutes prior, off to my concession trailer I had to run in order to get my proper screwdriver. Why would I have a regular tool like that here at the house? Damn gnome took it … I guarantee it! Shrimp and spaghetti was delicious, btw.

Down to the basement I went, belly full this time hoping it would curb my, otherwise, crappy attitude. Step-twos are really unpleasant for a guy like me when looking into an open breaker box with one open slot, a new breaker that would’t snap in because the back hicky-clasp-doodle is different than the old one, I wasn’t able to get one of the wires to stay locked into its hole, and all of this had to be done in relative darkness due to the overhead light being directly behind me … casting a big head shadow over the whole project.

With one final heave-tightening, I got the two wires tightened. With that, as of this moment … one of those three goals have been achieved; however, there’s no cover and the breaker isn’t in place. I’m done. So. Done.

Here’s the kicker – and why step-twos need to chasse of the curb that is my life and get hit by a bus. The very fan-lights that didn’t work … the non-breezy, non-lit part of my life that caused this day of mine to go into a tailspin …

They still don’t work.

Welcome to the breaker hell that could be step-three. Please, Gnome more.

I Berned My Toast

Yes … a bandwagon stopped by my house at 3:05 this morning and I jumped on it:

Did I want to? Absolutely! However, I wanted to be above the fray … not just plop the Bern into a movie scene or local watering hole. I thought through long and difficult evening hours. What to do …. what to do? Then by-crumb, it hit me!

The result? Above.

I’m not a photoshop professional. At 3 a.m. with little sleep the night before, my already lackluster editing skills at the lower end of any elementary entry point were being challenged … but I DID IT. After 4 tries of convoluted, contorted belt Sanders rough drafts, I did it!! The fifth edition was a success. Yeah me!🤪

I considered other options. Winding through mental mazes of what-if I do this and that? Upon every stumbled idea, there was another meme appearing before me on my Facebook page. One after another. Bernie on a bench with Gump, with Sharon Stone’s legs, on Sheldon’s sofa, captaining the Enterprise, molding clay with Demi, on.. and on he lived to this day as no other multi-presidential candidate runner-up has ever lived. Good for you, Bernie, good for you!

We need this in America right now. We need the levity. Boy do we need the soft, mended mittens to comfort us. Good for you!

Glad to see happy once again take over the internet and begin to scrape off the dry, burned scars from all the scorched attitudes we have left over from bread left in our overheated political toasters. Cooling off, calming down … a respite from a rough few weeks, anyway.

We are doing ok. A toast!🥂 …. and my slice of life in the form of toast as well to all of you … Berned, of course, because … well, I had to.

Mother Hubbard is Crackers

This morning’s breakfast fare started with two Full Circle Market Organic Classic Round crackers … and, as of this point in time, ended there. I’m out of options with my favorite hotel cafe closed on Saturdays and Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboards open, but as the poem goes, “the poor Doug has none”.

Anticipating no baker, fruiterer, alehouse, or undertaker in my future … no tailer, cobbler, sempstress, or hosier, the remaining three hours of my day before opening my business look to be quite cravingly mad. Throw me a bone here, please. I’ll take anything.

Sarah Catherine Martin, to whom that poem is attributed, could walk through my office doors at this moment. Unless she’s carrying a tray full of bacon, rye toast, … a chocolate Clif bar, two over-easy eggs, and two glasses of iced tea, I’m not interested in what a two-hundred and fifty-two year old woman has to say. Granted, it’d be nothing short of a Guinness World Record miracle to have such a bicentennial-plus moment here in my humble hovel, however, I need food in my groveling belly.

I’ll survive. As they say, “such a first world problem”. A small trip down the road to one of many grocery stores – full to the ceiling with food – would work all this out. My beat up Honda doesn’t have to disengage as I have the option to casually drift through a drive-thru as well. Both of these choices, unfortunately, require I step out. Step out of very comfortable material surroundings such as the cotton garments keeping my apologetically happy appendages warm at the moment. Twenty-five degrees with a slight breeze outside. Yes, I’m not one to step out into that weather at the moment.

There was a time when cold and hunger didn’t matter. Youth and inexperience colored in the pictures – between the lines drawn by warmth and the need for nutrition. Days without a nugget or morsel tapping around in my belly were common. By choice, mind you, I pushed forward motivated by the words of Zig Ziglar and Earl Nightingale. These men didn’t advocate starvation as a means to an end, of course. I was busy making sales calls, talking to prospects, enjoying my work … that’s all. Youthful exuberance shuffling along with a fantastic company environment. Ah, the late-twenties and mid-thirties in our lives, right?

Enter Old Mother Hubbard in the winter of 2021. Bifocal nose-sliding syndrome is upon me as we speak, the back tweak has returned after a two day respite, my arms are sore after yesterday’s 7-hour work day, and quite honestly, I’ve had just about enough of this year already … with 357 days to go. I’ve gained three pounds since January 1st and since unfollowed a lot of folks on Facebook. Engaging, enlightening political conversations with friends and family aren’t happening anymore and eggshells are strewn everywhere I trod. Looking down at the slight pudge below, my core may be labeled certifiably, organically classic round … just like the box says. “Perfect for Entertaining”?, well … don’t know about that.

The local and national world I live in is crackers. I’m just one of many varieties. Organic classic round as it turn out to be. Tomorrow? Who knows. Would love to be Ritz. Hey!! Speaking of that, I bought a Mega-Millions ticket last night. Better go check the numbers. Odds are pretty good I didn’t win and will be sitting here tomorrow, again, in my cotton clothes wondering if Sarah Catherine Martin ever considered a career in food service. She’d make a great cracker salesperson.


Love or hate. Toss portmanteaus aside into mental bins where other words you don’t use reside; or, embrace them everywhere you see such words as brunch and spork. Two separate becoming one new. A concept once reserved for marital bliss also now used for stabbing peas and scooping mashed potatoes. Marvelous.

My portmanteau for this season is froliday. The urban dictionary defines it as a merging of friendship and holiday. That is, a recurring, significant date between friends. I don’t agree. Especially now, the day after January 1st – a Friday – when this particular 24 hour span seems like a Sunday, but is a Saturday. The same weirdo Serling event happened last week as the Christmas holiday fell on Friday, the 25th. These Friday holidays mess everything up. Chief among them, my weak-end mind.

These every-so-often Frolidays are not right. Frankly, of all the laws Washington should consider, I’d be in favor of them passing a “No Holidays on Friday” bill. I’m not twisting a Scrooge-screw here or waving a white flag, … just move the days July forth or back to another day so I can get my Saturdays straight in my head. Certainly you can get behind me here?

C’mon now. As sure as I type, didn’t you once think, “What day is it?” today? Maybe said it out loud into the mirror as you shaved Christmas and New Year’s stubble off your face, or ran ruby red lipstick around once cookie ravaged lips? Holidays, in general, mess us up. Gets us all off our routines, anyway. Hygiene, diets, school, work, … all of it off the rails – and THEN we have to smoosh in remembering a day-after Saturday?

Too much, I say. Weekday holiday, then another weekday after? Yep. Good to go. This three-syllable, gobsmack day after, twice happening letdown that happens roughly twelve percent of the time has to be removed … permanently. How and by what means other than an act of Congress, I’m not sure.

Very few things I’m sure of lately, that’s for sure. How about you? Two days into a new year and to quote one of my favorite comedians “You’re doin’ good!”. Tom Papa nails it. We’re hanging in there with what we’re dragging into this new year. Nothing really changed except the date. If we have a few extra pounds flipping us out, they’re still here. Goofy co-workers sit close by, possibly virtual, and can be just as annoying as they were only days ago. Looking back to the 2020 work-a-day world a few breaths back, I see nothing different today, really.

Not to say we can’t have hope, however. We are doing good if we have hope in what this year will bring. Not false hope. Going back to the moon or becoming a movie star does not a bucket list make. Hope that a hug from someone you love will finally arrive at your doorstep. Hope for a better job you’ve been working hard to get. Hope for small, measurable upticks in your healthy lifestyle so well deserved from early morning jogs and disciplined eating. These are doable, wonderful hope-for soul stuffers.

It’s all what we work and hope for that makes all the difference. If we remember we’re doin’ good – new year or not – we’ll be just fine.

I hope to never again have a Froliday (as I believe it to be) in my life, yet I know this will never be a reality. I must begin to agree with the times and seek out a friend with whom I can have a significant, urban, holiday date. Whoever this happens to be, I hope said individual understands if our anniversary falls on a Friday, I will be understandably absent from the celebration. Saturday following is iffy as well due to my believing it is a Sunday. It’s all messed up, you see.

So glad I have a portmanteau to keep it all straight. Or, do I?