Archive for November 2015

11-30-2015 Journal–Crappy Weather & Super Scrabble!   Leave a comment

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It’s Cyber Monday and I just finished renewing and deleting the fifty spam emails I received overnight.  I’ve experienced aggressive retailing before but nothing like this year. I’d like to thank Sam’s Club, Best Buy, Walmart, and many others for totally attempting to take over my email accounts. In appreciation I thought I’d let you know that as of tomorrow I’ll be unsubscribing from all of you because this is verging on harassment and I need to put a stop to it.  Merry effing Christmas folks.

Rather than spending time with my better-half at the mall, we’ve decided to spend her day off today driving from town to town to visit many of the smaller mom-and-pop gift shops and hoping to find a few small gifts for a few remaining family members. I might even spring for a nice lunch somewhere in the York Beach area near Portsmouth.

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The weather forecasts for later in the week call for rain and rain and then more rain. If we’re going to do this shopping it has to be today or we’ll be out of luck. I’d like to get a few photos along the coast if we can but who knows, we may not get any sunshine today at all.

The time seems to be flying by and Christmas will be arriving all too quickly. We intend to enjoy this warm Indian Winter weather while it lasts. I’m afraid when it ends it won’t be pretty. I have visions of snow drifts and really icy roads very very soon.  I’d like to have a white Christmas but not too white.

The grand kids came to visit over the weekend and it’s always good to see them and their parents. We kicked back and relaxed with a somewhat friendly game of Super Scrabble.

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For those of you who aren’t Scrabble fanatics it’s an enlarged standard Scrabble board with more tiles and Quadruple word and letter squares. It was great fun even though I got my ass thoroughly kicked by everyone.  Fun but quite humbling for someone as competitive as I am. I guess there’s always the next time to return the favor.

More decorating tonight and I hope to put the finishing touches on the tree. That really brings the Christmas spirit alive for me like nothing else.

24 SHOPPING DAYS TIL CHRISTMAS

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11-28-2015 Journal–A Christmas Ass Kicking!   1 comment

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone and I’ve digested all that good food I’d like nothing better than to relax for a bit.  Dream on fool, here comes Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Years!

Meanwhile, here’s a quick look at our Thanksgiving table for this year. A luscious prime rib roast, asparagus, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a chilled bottle of honey mead. I have to say it was the best Thanksgiving meal we’ve had in recent memory. Hope yours was the same or even better.

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Black Friday has also come and gone and fortunately for me I missed it completely. I missed all the large crowds of pissed off shoppers, the pushing, the shoving, the fighting, and the shootings that makes these holiday seasons so near and dear to my heart. There’s nothing like a little physical combat with pregnant women, kids, or anyone else for that matter who gets in the way.

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It feels extra special to shove some old lady to the ground and to grab an item from her hands that you wanted more than she did. A big thanks once again to Walmart for costing a few people their lives and many others minor injuries and arrests. The almighty dollar rules absolutely in the  world of Walmart with very little concern for the consequences of their actions.  Nothing new, right?

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‘Deck the Halls’

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‘Happy Holidays’

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‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’

I’m not blaming all of these problems on Walmart because Target, Best Buy, and hundreds of others are just as guilty.  My better-half and her daughter braved the crowds yesterday while I sat at home hoping they survived without injuries or incidents.  They fortunately arrived home in one piece with more shopping war stories that I’ll be forced to listen to for another year. There are some traditions that need to go and Black Friday is one of them.

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This is the time of the year I thank God I’m claustrophobic. All the more reason to increase my on-line presence next year and never leave the freaking house.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND STAY OUT OF MY EFFING WAY

A quote stolen from more than ten million shoppers.’

11-26-2015 Journal – The Madness Begins!   Leave a comment

It’s Thanksgiving morning here in Maine.  No snow, no sleet, no high winds, and fifty degree sunny weather. What’s wrong with this picture? I wait all year for this holiday when I can put on a heavy coat, take a walk in the cold fresh air, eat a great meal, and relax the day away.  Warm weather? What the hell?

Yesterday was the big day for us. My better-half finally was finally bitten on the butt by the Christmas bug and all of the cherished peace and quiet in this house is over for the foreseeable future.

I was given my marching orders early which required me to make a visit to my least favorite place . . . the attic.  A spooky, dirty, and buggy place filled with boxes of holiday crap stacked everywhere. Pick any holiday of the year and I can find a few boxes of decorations to dig through for that day. Christmas is the worst because the better-half seems to have saved every Christmas decoration going back to her birth. As you can see our family room looks like Santa’s sleigh had some maintenance issues and crashed and exploded right here.

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Wrapping papers, boxes of lights, then more lights, then tinsel, then more tinsel, then tree ornaments, and then more tree ornaments. I’m hip deep in the stuff and there’s still more boxes left in the attic. God help me!

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My main chore each year is to unpack the tree, find all the pieces (it’s not a real one), drag everything into the living room and put it all together. It’ll be much easier this year since we purchased a new tree at the end of last year’s holiday season. The previous artificial tree was seven feet tall and almost five feet wide and huge pain to assemble. It consisted of at least forty different limbs and parts and took quite a while to construct as well as shedding about a pound of plastic pine needles every time it was touched. This new one went up with a snap in five minutes and then it only needed a little TLC and tweaking to make it really nice.

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Hopefully by the end of today the tree will be up and decorated, the furniture rearranged or moved into other rooms, and the Christmas tunes will be firmly imbedded in my skull for the next month. After Country & Western music I hate Christmas music the most.  Unfortunately once those damn songs get stuck in my head I’ll be humming them until the middle of January.

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‘Step One’

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‘Step Two’

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‘Done’

This is one of the good things that happened today. My better-half has a tradition of supplying freshly baked cinnamon buns soaked in sugar icing the morning of each holiday.  I watched her prepare the buns, letting them cool, then pouring that glorious sugar sweetness all over them. I  hijacked a couple, scurried off to another room and quickly wolfed them down.  That’s my payment for today’s Christmas chores and like it or not I’ll probably eat a couple of more tomorrow.  I can at least give thanks for them.

So it begins . . .

11-24-2015 Journal– Computers, Crowds & Shopping!   Leave a comment

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The electric blanket remains at level six this morning as I lounge here and try to decide what this day will bring.  The better-half works only a half day today which I fear means more Christmas shopping in my immediate future. Fortunately I recharged my Kindle and my Surface last night and feel I’m ready for almost anything.

I suspect I’ll end up sitting in front of the computer for the afternoon as I’ve been doing for most of the last week. I’m preparing and editing some of the  blog postings from the last year that will be included in a blog book I’m having made.  I do this each year and have collected quite the library. It does take an investment of time but I love having the ability to go back to my library to insure I’m not repeating things over and over again and boring my readers.

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Once that little project is completed I can return to the sorting and indexing of my archive of photographs. I currently have almost twenty thousand pics which need reviewing. I’m determined to eliminate everything that isn’t just perfect which will take a great deal of time. Since I have most of those pictures already backed up on my personal cloud, I’ll be able to recover a great deal of hard drive space on my desktop which is badly needed.  I’ll also need to stock up on more extra strength Tylenol to help me with the headaches I anticipate are to come.  It doesn’t take much screen time to put a severe strain on my eyes.

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With Thanksgiving just two days away I’m in no rush to accomplish much. The better-half and I can relax for a few days after enjoying our laid back holiday celebration.  She’s already mentally preparing herself for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all of the other shopping days that have been created to allow retailers to pelt us with junk mail, TV ads, and spam.  I like spending time with her but any shopping done in and around Thanksgiving is not all that enjoyable for me. I get a little claustrophobic in large crowds and prefer to avoid them whenever possible.

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I’m about to spring into action but every time I try to get up the bed and that damn electric blanket keep calling me back.  The coffee is starting to kick-in which will eventually force me to my feet and to get ready for the day.

ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY

11-22-2015 Journal–A New Thanksgiving Tradition!   Leave a comment

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‘No Thanks’

Why turkey? The tradition started with the Pilgrims struggling to survive and supposedly the Indians brought them food, they had dinner together, and so it began . . . but why turkey? It could just as easily have been lobster or maybe even groundhog. I doubt seriously if I would have enjoyed a big, fat, roasted groundhog for Thanksgiving every November for the rest of my life but it could easily have happened.  We could have easily combined Groundhog Day with Thanksgiving and had Punxatawney Phil as an entre.

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‘This is Phil’s cousin Bill’

I guess we can blame or credit one lonesome Indian out foraging for food for our Thanksgiving tradition that ended up lasting for hundreds of years. What we haven’t been told is that he took the good food home to his family and stuck the Pilgrims with some scrawny turkey he had left over.  That tradition has also created a number of cottage industries like raising turkeys by the millions for our eager consumption and all of the accompanying paraphernalia required to prepare them.

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‘Bill Before’

Don’t get me wrong I like turkey well enough but as a kid it was a special meal we had only once a year. These days we eat turkey year-round and have it readily available at food stores and even some gas stations and convenience stores. Not so special anymore, at least not for me.

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‘Bill After’

This Thanksgiving is a unique one for both my better-half and for me. Most of our family members are spread across the country and the ones remaining in Maine are visiting other family in northern Maine.  After some discussion we determined that because it’s just the two of us this year, we can do whatever the hell we like.  They’ll be no turkey this year and trust me, there won’t be any roasted groundhog or lobster either.

This years feast will consist of some traditional items such as cranberry sauce, stuffing, corn, and squash. The meat of the day has been upgraded a little as well. Picture a large standing prime rib roast dripping flavor from every pore and as tender and soft as eating marshmallows.  That’s what I call a proper dinner to give thanks for.  I eat turkey on an average of three times a week and won’t miss having it on the table at all.

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I hope this year goes well because this is a tradition that is long overdue and that I fully support. I may miss some of the turkey leftovers but truthfully I’ll get over it. I can taste and smell that prime rib already and it’s making my mouth water. A good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and the fixings’ and we’ll both be fat, dumb, and extremely happy.

SLEEP WITH ONE EYE OPEN PHIL, YOU NEVER KNOW.

11-20-2015 Journal–More Pre-Christmas Shopping!   Leave a comment

I’m posting a little later than I like today. I was stolen away by my better-half for a day of errands and Christmas shopping.  I wasn’t thrilled but I’m trying to work on improving my Christmas spirit  this year so I’ve been smiling and nodding a lot. That was my first mistake.

For those of you unfamiliar with Maine the “Holy Land” of shopping is the town of Freeport located approximately 10 miles north of Portland along the coast. It’s a small town composed primarily of an endless supply of outlet stores from damn near every retailer you can name.  It’s always been a tradition for us and most Mainers to do some of our Christmas shopping there and to spend more than a little time doing it.

This year was the first time we’ve actually gone to Freeport before Thanksgiving and Black Friday (Thank God).  The stores weren’t too crowded and finding parking was a snap for a change.  Our first stop was my favorite place called Mexicali Blues.  It’s actually a modern day version of what once was  considered a “head shop” minus the bongs and roach clips. 

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If you like extremely bright colors and off-the-wall apparel, this is the place.  I never miss a chance to visit and I always buy something interesting. Today I picked up a few wild and crazy stocking stuffers for some of the family members.  I just love the place.

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Smoke a fat doobie, sit on the sofa, and contemplate on this bird. That’s sure to get your head and your Christmas season kick-started.  If you choose to do that I’d recommend a huge bag of Lays wavy potato chips and lots of wine.

Another stop that is always mandatory in Freeport is a visit to L.L. Bean.  The crowds were small and the better-half was able to take her time (like always) and buy a few small things for the family. 

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I waited until the appropriate time to start complaining.  I was hungry, I needed coffee, my feet hurt, and anything else I could think of.  Being subtle with the better-half is a losing battle. I just have to blurt things out until she gets tired of hearing me. Sometimes it takes a while but it always works eventually. 

We made it home in record time and I was able to put anther day of shopping hell behind me. I guarantee you I’ll be hiding for the rest of the holiday season in places the better-half won’t look.  Wish me luck, I’ll need it.

11-18-2015 Journal–Poe, Twain & Lying!   Leave a comment

It’s morning, it’s daylight, it’s cold, and I’m in my toasty bed reading a little Edgar A. Poe.  I occasionally fall back to the classics when I’m bored with reading my normal stuff and today is one of those days.

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‘He’s got Trump  Hair’

I’m not a fanatic about poetry like some, but I will read a little if and when I have time to waste.  Most poetry does nothing for me since I’ve self-classified myself as an anti-poetry snob.  My idea of good poetry  are bawdy limericks and poetry that promotes laughter and good humor. 

I have no idea why I started my day today reading some of Poe’s depressing poetic offerings.  I did my very best to concentrate on his works, Spirits of the Dead, The Valley of Unrest, and it was a chore.  He’s the only poet that can take something beautiful and make it seem tragic and misbegotten.  Man that guy had some serious issues.

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I finally gave up on Poe when I started feeling depressed and put upon by his words. I moved over to an essay by one of my all time favorites, Mark Twain, or Samuel Clemens if you insist.  He was renowned for being a spectacularly glib wise ass which immediately endeared him to me. His thoughts contained in “On the Decay of the Art of Lying” are just plain funny and sarcastic. Here’s a sample:

“The saying is old that truth should not be spoken at all times; and those whom a sick conscience worries into habitual violation of the maxim are imbeciles and nuisances.” It is strong language, but true. None of us could live with an habitual truth-teller; but thank goodness none of us have to. An habitual truth-teller is simply an impossible creature; he does not exist; he never has existed.

Everybody lies – every day; every hour; awake; asleep; if he keeps his tongue still, his hands, his feet, his eyes, his attitude, will convey deception – and purposely. Even in sermons – but that is a platitude.

Anyone who disagrees with those statements is obviously living with their head deeply buried in the sand or deeply shoved up their ass. I’ve always been a fan of lying because lies serve many useful purposes.  “Does my ass look big in this dress?”, “Of course not.’’, a beautiful, polite, required, and obvious white lie. We all have a million them and use them frequently.

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Do you want me to explain lying to you when it comes to our political system and the liar that has been squatting in the “Peoples House” for the last seven years.  That discussion would be totally rhetorical requiring no explanations or further conversations.

I think I could have supported Mark Twain as President only if he had the ability to select Edgar A. Poe as his Vice President.  No there’s a pair that could have driven most of Congress right out of their every-lying minds.  Throw in Donald Trump as Secretary of State and we’d have a unbeatable trifecta.

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Enough of my musings.  I’m going to roll over, hug my pillow, and say a prayer that the insanity that has had this country in it’s grip for seven years is slowly fading away.  And who’s up next for the Dems but good old Hillary Clinton.

I find myself agreeing with a large block of voters in this country of both parties. We’re sick of hearing the names Bush and Clinton. To both factions, please just go away. You’ve done enough harm already and we don’t need any more.

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‘Yikes”

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‘OMFG Yikes Again’

11-16-2015 Journal– X-mas Insanity Begins!   Leave a comment

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This post will probably be confusing for some of you because there isn’t any rhyme or reason behind what I’ll be writing.  I’ve been very busy of late with a lot of little stuff that needs to be handled before the holidays officially arrive. Just keep your hands and feet inside the car, this ride may get a little bumpy.

My life has changed dramatically in the last month due to my elimination of  live cable television.  I’m happy to announce that I haven’t watched more than ten minutes of commercials, ads, or television shopping channels for over a month.  It took me a few weeks to get the hang of streaming and I’ve been able to locate and avoid those few channels that still insist on running commercials. It’s truly a game changer.  I have more freedom to watch what I please when I please and no scheduling of my time in order to watch a specific program.  No more waiting for commercial breaks to make  bathroom runs, I just hit the pause and Ta Da.  I also like watching what once was an hour long show in 43 minutes, minus all those damn commercials.  Life has gotten seriously better.

The better-half’s birthday has come and gone and was a great success. She loved her gifts, the wine, and that big, fat, medium rare T-bone steak. I tried to be as romantic as possible and I think I pulled it off rather well.  Here’s my lame attempt at a table setting on our crazy retro dining room set.

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I’d like to officially thank the cow that made the ultimate sacrifice for our meal. Tender and soft as marshmallows washed down with a semi-sweet Merlot.  Yummmmm!

I’ve been diligently working towards having all things Christmas, purchased, wrapped, and hidden away by Thanksgiving.  That will free up my time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to be the better-half’s decorating slave. First the tree, then the lights, then tinsel, then motorized talking and singing toys scattered throughout the house.  I can only pray that my first gift will be a noise-cancelling headset. 

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Here’s some bad news. Last night I was strong-armed into watching the first Christmas movie of the season.  That’s right, a Christmas movie on November 15.  Please just shoot me now.

Three days ago I was dragged kicking and screaming to the Mall. It was a typical mall trip which bored the hell out of me. I ended up sitting in the middle of the mall surrounded by herds of screaming kids being chased by their parents. Thank God for my Kindle.  The best part of my visit consisted of my standing near a small kiosk and allowing a really hot young lady to place heat packs on my neck. I let her go on and on with her sales pitch and finally walked away without making a purchase. My neck felt a lot better and so did my morale. thBVIZQLLU

I have a few more gifts to wrap today and I think I’m  be totally finished with Christmas preparations.  With that goal being met I think I’ll then deserve a tall, cold, and refreshing Gin and Tonic later this afternoon. 

I hope your holiday craziness isn’t too overwhelming.  Before you know it 2016 will be here and we can start preparing for next Christmas. Are we all insane or is it just me?

11-14-15 Journal – Pre-Christmas Blues!   Leave a comment

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I’m already on my third cup of coffee this morning and that good old caffeine buzz I’ve come to rely on has yet to rev my engines.  I have a lot of errands to run today and need some serious motivation to get them all completed.  The blessing is that my better-half is working which will keep her out of my hair (what little I have left) to prepare for her birthday dinner tonight.  It’s difficult to get anything secret done around here and over the years she’s forced me to become even sneakier  than usual.

She loves being surprised and each year that goes by it get tougher and tougher to come up with fresh ideas.  I’ve purchased her a few gifts which I’m sure she’ll like because I am “The Man” when it comes to giving great gifts.  As much as she likes being surprised I like doing the surprising.  I can’t go into too many details because she reads this blog looking for clues.  I’ve learned to be very careful in keeping important information as secret as possible.

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She’s been feeling a little depressed coming into the holidays since it’s the first ones since the passing of her Mom.  She’s usually a Christmas fanatic going totally bonkers with decorations and general X-mas silliness. She needs something to get her into the holiday spirit and I’m hoping we’ll  have our first snowfall soon. That’s always been a kick-start for me and I think it will be for her as well.  She’s also a shopping machine and quite possibly a few hours out in the crowds on Black Friday will help too.

I understand how she feels because I went through the loss of both my parents in the last eight years.  My mother was a Christmas lunatic too and it’s still difficult to have Christmas and not think of her and my dad and Christmases past.

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The saving grace this year will be the grandsons.  Christmas has always been for the children and once the tree gets decorated and the kids come to visit, chattering on and on about Santa and reindeer, she’ll be just fine.  They own her completely and a few smiles from them will make all the difference in the world. Then she’ll go crazy the last week before Christmas trying to make up for lost time which is what I’m hoping for.

Truthfully I’ve been a real Grinch for many years about Christmas but having the boys in our life is changing all that. I hope we both can find the holiday spirit once again.  I’d love to have that feeling on Christmas morning like I did when I was eight years old.

It can’t get much better than that.

11-12-2015 – Phobias, Texts & Stupid People!   Leave a comment

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After admitting in my last post that I had an addictive personality got me to thinking.  I thought I knew myself pretty well when I was able to admit that I was also claustrophobic.  One phobia isn’t all that bad or so I thought.  I decided to dig into the Everyuselessthing archives to learn more about phobias.  I’m not sure that was such a great idea.  I discovered a list of phobias that aren’t commonly known and I think I may suffer from a few more than previously thought.  Here are a few examples:

Arachibutyrophobia – fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.

Automatonophobia – fear of ventriloquists’ dummies.

Coulrophobia – fear of clowns.

Geniophobia – fear of chins.

Phobophobia – fear of fear.

Pteronophobia – fear of being tickled by feathers.

Rupophobia – fear of dirt.

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I’ll only admit to having two additional phobias from that list and there isn’t a chance in hell I’ll tell you what they are.  As I finished denigrating myself for all of my stupid phobias I received an email from a friend in KC. He’s a senior + senior citizen  who’s been an internet rat since it’s inception.  It was a ‘Hi, How are you?’ message ending with AMBW. I answered him quickly because I had no freaking clue what that meant. I know LOL, WTF, and a few others but never really felt the need to learn more.  His AMBW means All My Best Wishes.  There seem to be so many of these in use I decided to find a few more. These were a small sampling of texting acronyms I’m sure I’ll use only sporadically.

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A3 – Anytime, Anywhere, Anyplace.

AFAIR – As Far As I an Remember.

ASAFP – As Soon As F**king Possible.

OMFG – Oh My F**king God.

AAI – Allah Already Informed

BITCH  – Babe In Total Control of Herself

CFI – Complete F**king Idiot

CRST – Can’t Remember Sh*t

If any of you ever decide to send me a text or email containing these sort of acronyms please include detailed explanations as well. Life’s way too short for me to waste my time trying to figure them out.

One last bit of amusement to entertainment you.  Years ago I was a police officer for the state of Pennsylvania.  Early in my career I was in the patrol unit and spent a great deal of time investigating accidents, both trivial and serious. I thought I’d heard all the stupid reasons people offer up to explain their accidents but these samples taken from actual insurance reports were new even to me.

“I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced over at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.”

“In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.”

“A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.”

“The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve several times before I hit him.”

“An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car, and vanished.”

“The indirect cause of the accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.”

“As I approached the intersection a sign appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before. I was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.”

“I thought my window was down, but I found out it was up when I put my head through it.”

You just can’t make this stuff up.  Most of these were way better than the stories I was told but just as funny.  I think I’ve had enough of this for today. I have errands to run, pictures to take, coffee to drink, and people to watch. 

ENJOY THIS DAY, I KNOW I WILL.