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Friday, November 25, 2022

 I am thankful for all kinds of crap.

The humorous phrase I use in real life is much more foul than that, you can imagine.

But it's truthful.

My kid, my mom, my family, colleagues, friends -- bar or otherwise -- I am thankful. Particularly for readers of my newspaper and readers of this blog.

The list of thankful crap: relish trays, Christian Watson, a nice cup of tea, my mom's spaghetti recipe, a Jack Daniels Manhattan, fish fry (my order is in as I write this), a beautiful sunset on a frigid northern Wisconsin night, cold days where I can shop for meat during the lunch break and not have to unload it until I get home because nature serves as my refrigerator, when anyone laughs, a text from a good friend, bacon frying.

Damnit, I'm starting to sound like a Tom T. Hall song.

I celebrated Thanksgiving by going to the Steakhouse where there was enough food to feed a football stadium. I was surrounded by friends who work there, friends from the community and met some new folks. I might have appeared to some as the old guy by himself but nothing could be further from the truth.

Early bed and a late sleep, a stop at work and then burger and a beer for lunch.

I'm a pretty lucky cat.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and a burger and a beer unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Monday, November 21, 2022

 "Hey, dad, it's (Kid) and I'm coming to visit for Christmas," she said as soon as I picked up the phone.

"Get the (expletive) out of here," I responded, again ensuring no nominations for father of the year for 22 years in a row.

Now I can't wait to see Kid. But I generally haven't celebrated Christmas in a long time. At my previous newspapers, which were all dailies, I often covered the cops shift and wrote a Christmas feature so other folks could be with their families because Kid visited at some other point.

Someone must remind me of the pageantry of the holiday, which I'll inevitably skip and go with a couple bottles Ballatore, a cheap sparkling that manages to satisfy.

We immediately started planning the menu -- I have to make her favorite chili and egg salad sandwiches. I suggested we cook together a dish I taught her when she was 10 years old that I dubbed "Chicken ala (Kid)." Basically it's chicken scallopini. But named for Kid.

The two of us will play much pool. About 10 years ago, I taught her how to be a pool hustler. There was a free pool table in a hotel during our trips from out east to home in Chippewa Falls. "Free" is my second favorite phrase and we played and played.

On Kid's last visit, we played some pool at the Moccasin Bar, where she beat a number of burly dudes who thought they'd teach that little girl something. When I finally had a chance to play her, I won. She's so used to winning, she said, "I can't believe you beat me." Remember, I said, "I'm the one who taught you."

If you have time, check out one of her newest performances from her sketch comedy group, Bounce Haus Comedy: Jane Sullivan, Sleuth - YouTube

Can't wait.

Peace unto Ukraine and chili, egg salad and billiards unto you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, November 18, 2022

 A friend asked me months ago to write a chapter for a book he was working on that views Jesus through a Taoist perspective.

He just emailed all the 80 some folks who each were asked to write about 250 words to tell us where the book stands. There's interest and a decent shot for publication.

So that's cool.

I also finally saw the list of other contributors and feel good -- proud even -- to be included. It's an impressive list of folks who have degrees and books and pedigrees. I am a chubby editor of a weekly newspaper who will always laugh at a fart joke. 

The editor allowed me to pick my own assignment out of the 80 selections and I took "Jesus was a radical." 

Note that I'm no longer religious -- mostly because my knees are shot and kneeling is hard. But I have 15 years of Bible study and I've read Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching" (Steven Mitchell's 1988 translation) multiple times.

Please note I'm not sure what more I can write about the book nor do I feel it appropriate to quote from my submission.

Why chose that topic?

When Jesus was asked, according to three of the four gospels, what is the greatest Commandment, he offered two. 1.) Love God with your heart and soul. 2.) Love others as you would be loved. He said if people do these two things, they will gain entrance into heaven.

Consider what Christianity is now as well as other religions, there are thousands of admonitions, right down to the food you eat and the clothing you wear. Oh -- and no sex hardly ever. (I think that's because many humans will choose sex over salvation.) (Note to self: "Sex Over Salvation" would also make a great novel title.)

A radical suggests simplicity that is hard to do.

And I wrote about how Confucius offered so many rules they included farting: "The man who farts in church will sit in his own pew."

Yeah, me and the fart joke -- always.

Our so-called leaders of political factions right now misuse the term "radical." No, it's not someone who is an idealogue.

A radical is someone who breaks from normalcy and creates a new and better way.

Peace unto Ukraine and radicalism unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

My daughter is now officially a Hollywood producer.

No, she will not give you cocaine. Or come on to you. Make you disrobe. Start wearing a bunch of chains and sunglasses, even past sundown.

That certainly is the producer cliche but I know Kid better than that.

This last weekend she worked as producer and script supervisor for a movie short called "Shpilkis." The movie, written by her friend from college is autobiographical about an observant Jewish queer person returning for a wild Rosh Hashana family celebration. 

For my Gentile friends, "shpilkis" is a Yiddish word that is traditionally defined as "pins and needles" but generally describes uneasiness. (I'm aided in my own Gentile life by a book my mother bought me for Christmas in eighth grade: "The Joys of Yiddish" by Leo Rosten.)

On, the logline for the movie says: "A closeted college freshman returns home for a chaotic Rosh Hashannah with her high-school ex-girlfriend and over-bearing Jewish family."

I don't know what a logline is, other than industry jargon.

And production states: "This project is a proof of concept, meaning it will be shot to acquire funding for a feature-length film of the same name. Actors must be comfortable with comedy and improvisation!"

I find it unbelievable describing my 22-year-old Kid working as a producer on a movie short in Hollywood. Parents will understand that when we think about our kids, they are perpetually 6-years-old. 

Yet here's my 6-year-old spending a weekend doing important work while holding down another full-time job within the entertainment industry. I'm not allowed to write about that.

I'm obviously a proud dad but not surprised.

When Clare was in the Kindergarten production of "Billy Goats Gruff", she abhorred the violent ending so the play was re-written in which the goats and the troll become friends and they all go to Dairy Queen. (Side note: Kid and I have spent much time at DQs.)

She'll go great places.

And I'll follow as she has promised to support me in my dotage, which is currently schedule for 2024.

Peace unto Ukraine and Hollywood magic unto you my brothers and sisters.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

 I approach the few final hours of my most recent vacation in peace.

First, or last, the Packers won. That always puts the cherry in my Manhattan. 

Three days off plus I didn't work the weekend. (I did go in for one hour Wednesday night to do time cards, though. One does what one must.)

Unlike last time, I did not ruminate. I either did or did not do. (Yoda would be proud.)

I did what I wanted to do when I wanted and it was pretty nice. If I felt like cleaning, I cleaned. When I wanted to cook, I cooked. And when I needed to talk with fellow human beings, I went out and enjoyed a couple drinks with them.

My successes? I made a so-so bean soup that's pretty thick. I've decided to mold them into bricks and sell them as kilos of some kind of substance sold in kilos.

Overnight, I made my old recipe of nearly vegetarian minestroni (I cheat with 32 ounces of low-sodium chicken brother). It's killer. I packaged some for friends.

The kitchen is nearly finished, which allowed me to cook like the old days and to eat and to clean. It's been years since I made my own coffee along with some eggs and toast. This morning, I made my dad's version of soft-boiled eggs with toast. It tasted good but I'm not sure it's worth the third degree burns suffered by handling the cooked eggs.

I did laundry. It's this thing where you wash you own clothes at home. (Note to self: Perhaps washing 10-year-old T-shirts means I need to buy new clothing.)

Failures? Doesn't matter.

I'll note there were multiple times when I thought to myself that five days off in a row was too much. That only means I have to do better at treating myself well. 

I approach the work week Monday happily, expecting to be fully engaged and with less exhaustion than in past weeks and months.

Peace unto Ukraine and self-care unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, November 11, 2022

During my off day Thursday, I made 15-bean soup that ended up being pretty similar to spackle.

I threw in a half pound of smoked chicken but when you need to boil the beans for 400 hours, according to instructions, it tends to suck the flavor out of anything in the soup. For the record, I did not smoke the chicken myself because I can't keep the chicken lit.

As a child of Great Depression parents, I'll eat all 200 pounds of the spackle. It has no taste but it's high in fiber and protein. However, if any of you are putting up a brick wall or need new paving bricks, please contact me.

Charleton Heston, portraying Moses, called. He said they could use the bean soup to make bricks.

Today I slept in, made a simple breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs, coffee and juice. The coffee was a thing this weekend. I can't remember when I last used my fancy coffee make, which grinds the beans freshly and then brews the liquid. But I cleaned the thing up earlier in my time off, ran some vinegar through it, cleaned with water and now I make coffee at home for the first time in -- maybe -- four years.

I cleaned and unpacked during the morning and then went for lunch at Red Schoolhouse Wines in Stone Lake. A couple glasses of red and a cheese tray made a beautiful lunch. So much so I extended the lunch with a split of Proseco.

As I write this, I'm having a Manhattan before enjoying Northern Wisconsin sushi -- Friday night fish fry.

Such is my time off.

Peace unto Ukraine and time off for you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

I greet you on a day off during the middle of the week.

On Thursday, I shall have another.

And Friday? "Please sir, may I have another?" (Kevin Bacon during his peak acting.)

You see, I'm doing this thing where I take for myself. I shall clean, I shall unpack, I shall cook a meal a day that I can eat and freeze the rest for some of those long work days that will resume next week. (I'm contemplating watching the Green Bay Packers. Instead, I will eat Limburger cheese on a saltine as that will stink less than the team's performance against the Detroit Lions.)

Unlike my last three-day vacation, I have no expectations for what will happen.

And I may be excited by a wild hair and do something different, unexpected. Hopefully, it's not a wild hare exhibiting symptoms of rabies.

Today I had breakfast out and then went grocery shopping. A wild hair hit me to drive to Rice Lake, a city an hour to the south of Hayward.

Since coming to this rural outpost -- with many amenities because it's a tourist destination -- I've missed what I ignored in other cities.

For instance, Domino's Pizza. I've lived in cities where every single restaurant pizza was better than Domino's. I've prided myself on spending years not ordering Domino's. Now that I don't have it, well, damnit.

I had Chinese buffet for lunch today only to realize I should not miss it ever again. Good food fills not just the stomach but the soul. Steam trays filled with sodium and sugar, that tastes the same as every Chinese buffet I've ever tasted, fills nothing.

Except my lower colon. Quickly.

I checked out some bamboo window shades at Menards, bought some decent smoked chicken at a restaurant for my bean soup tomorrow.

Then I returned to my beloved new and last home of Hayward, Wisconsin. I unloaded groceries, went into work to do time cards and am now sitting at the Steakhouse and having a drinky-poo. I'll go home for dinner after two martinis.

And then sleep soundly as though I had vacationed in some exciting city.

According to the philosopher Ice Cube, it was a good day.

Peace unto Ukraine and a good day unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, November 4, 2022

 I like how we humans form our own little families.

On Thursday night, I watched as my friends from Louie's Bar & Bites won an award from the Sawyer County Chamber of Commerce as best new business at the annual dinner.

Louie's is within a couple hundred feet of where I live and quickly became one of my new watering holes after moving a second time here in Hayward. It helped that my friend Kellie already bartended there -- and they have excellent bar food. (Try the Mexican burger on Monday nights.)

The bar won the award at the Steakhouse and Lodge, where I've stayed during several of my homeless -- no address -- periods. And it's the place where I enjoy my Wisconsin Friday night fish fries every single Friday for 18 months. The place serves haddock, which I think tastes better than cod. I eat the fish fry just for the halibut.

What, you want me to shut up over that joke? 

You shut up.

So my little family from Louie's won an award and I joined that group back at their bar to celebrate.

Then my little family from the Steakhouse joined us for some more drinks and celebration, stupid commentary and the contest to play the most obnoxious music on the jukebox (I won).

Two of my local families -- I have more -- drank and laughed and enjoyed each other.

I've always been pretty lucky in terms of finding made families in my many locations. A "made" family is one not from physical connections but circumstance. We have more choices in the latter.

But as I've grown older, the celebrations of made families becomes even more sweet. 

I'm a pretty lucky cat.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and family unto you my brothers and sisters.