🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Family Rituals 👨👩👦👦
The Grinch Rocks ❤️
Churros and Poke Bowls 🤤
It’s interesting to think about how family rituals actually become family rituals. There are some that are very intentional. You had something done for you as a child, so you do the same thing for your kid.
Others just sort of happen.
One of ours is the annual hauling-in-the-Christmas-tree photo. I’m pretty sure this started before we had kids, and it most definitely wasn’t planned. I never had a real Christmas tree. They were Too Dangerous and Made A Mess. I don’t recall knowing anyone who had a real Christmas tree, either. When the holidays came, we dragged out the box, unfolded the limbs, stuck the ends in a metal pole and voila! Christmas was here.
Wifey Poo grew up in a family that cut their own tree from the property on which we now live. We had a fake Christmas tree on our first Christmas together, as our apartment had rules against live ones. Again, Too Dangerous.
But when we moved to our first house? Wifey Poo was all about the live tree. So we went to a tree lot, picked out one that was the perfect size for our newly expanded living quarters, and she took a photo of me as I carried it into the house on my shoulder.
Every year, the same thing would happen — whether our home was in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota or Missouri. When we had kids, they started popping up in the photos, often holding the door open and looking excited as Dad brought in the thing under which Santa would put the presents.
This year, we hit up Charlie’s to try to find a Christmas tree. It’s a local hardware/home store that has somehow survived despite being in the shadow of Lowe’s and Home Depot. FIL went there religiously.
I’m all for “buy local.” I’m not all for “pay $80 for a Christmas tree.” So after a brief look around their lot and an awkward, “No, we’re good” response to the friendly attendant’s question of “Did you find what you’re looking for?” we motored the mile to HD and found our tree for a much more reasonable price of $32.
Twenty minutes later, there I was, tree over my shoulder, carrying the first of what I hope are many Christmas trees into our humble country home. Boy The Elder held open the door (as Boy The Younger disappeared for what he termed “a good poop.”) and then they both tightened the screws on the tree stand to secure it. Ten minutes of “a little to the left… no, a little to the right” and we had a straight, ready-to-decorate Christmas tree.
We’ve never compiled all these lugging-the-Christmas-tree photos into one place. They’re stored in various spots on various discs and cloud services. I’m thinking I need to find them and do some sort of montage … and maybe a tribute to the gradual loss of my hair.
The tree hauling was the culmination of a day of Christmas cheer. The boys broke out the outside Christmas decorations while I was getting ready for the day, and together we brought some illumination to the countryside. BTY jumped at the opportunity to get on the roof. I think he’d live up there, if given the chance. BTE had a plan of attack before I even got out there. He directed his brother on putting hooks into the right spots to fasten the colored outdoor bulbs along the overhang of our porch.
My job was to put The Grinch down at the end of the driveway and run some lights in the nearby trees. My purchase of The Grinch last decade was a masterful idea to deal with a neighborhood that was uber competitive when it came to outside Christmas decorations. I’d see these guys spend an entire Saturday creating elaborate, precise displays of festive glory, channeling their inner Clark Griswold in the hopes of earning the Baby Jesus’s favor.
I wasn’t about all that.
I’m not what you can call a precise person. The thought of stringing out Christmas lights so each bulb is the exact distance duo makes me twitchy. So I bought this Grinch cutout in which it looks like he’s stealing the lights from your house. Then I ran a string of lights haphazardly from the roof to The Grinch. One extension cord and one spotlight later… BOOM! I was done and back inside drinking a cup of coffee.
And damned if my 20 minutes of work didn’t get more attention and positive comments than their eight hours of toil.
Efficiency, baby. It’s the name of the game.
Side Note on The Grinch: It appears to me that the pre-woke Grinch was an asshole merely because people were jerks to him. And I’m sure it didn’t help that he had some old guy singing songs about what a shithead he was every two minutes.
📚 Let’s Learn Something Together 📓🖊️
Did you know there’s a place in St. Louis in which you can sample ethnic cuisine in what once was a factory that had a role in the history of electrical manufacturing? It’s true. We went there today.
Wifey Poo found The City Foundry STL while searching for good restaurants to try. The building is the former Century Electric Foundry complex, which was one of the Big Three electrical motor manufacturers in St. Louis back in the day when commercial electricity was first becoming a thing — at the time that rat-bastard Thomas Edison was stealing Nikola Tesla’s glory.
Today it houses walk-up restaurants with dishes from all around the globe — including Argentina, Senegal, Hawaii and India — along with more Amurican stuff like chicken and waffles, subs, cheesecakes and rotisserie meats. Wifey Poo and I had poke bowls. BTE mowed through spicy chicken and waffles. BTY had what looked like a great chicken sub. Then the boys downed a churro before we headed for home.
It’s definitely a place to which I want to return.
The ‘What Did You Say?’ of the Day
Back in the Before Times, I started whiling away some hours playing a game on the iPad called Plague. It was this fun little game in which you created a virus, planted it in a starter country and then watched it spread as you tinkered with it to evolve it and achieve the game’s goal: Wipe out all of humanity.
Yeah. About that.
One of the ways to be successful at the game was to start your virus in a populous country with a variety of forms of international travel and a poor information-sharing network. Like, say, China.
The key then was to evolve your virus slowly so it infected a crapton of people before it caught the attention of the scientific community. Don’t make it spread too fast and certainly don’t make it ebola-deadly. Otherwise, researchers would develop a vaccine before your virus could kill everyone.
Once it had spread to various points across the globe, the right move was to start mutating it, turning it into increasingly more deadly and contagious forms. From there, you could basically just sit back and watch as billions of people died, governments fell, chaos reigned and the human population disappeared.
Typically, the last strongholds of humanity would be found on Iceland or Greenland. So if you need me, I’ll be be packing today in preparation for my move here …
Your second side note of the day: Omnicron sounds like something that would appear in The Transformers. If it happens to wipe out humanity, props to Megatron for his work. God, I loved the OG cartoon back in the day. I was seriously invested in the struggle between Autobots and Decepticons.
High Five ✋
Today’s official endorsement goes to Amazon. I know, I know. They’re horrible. They treat their workers like crap (see “In Other Writing,” below), they collect massive amounts of data on you, they put small businesses out of work, and Jeff Bezos has child sex slaves in his basement.
They also sold me a snow blower, green lightbulbs and various gifts for Wifey Poo today to keep me from having to set foot in a store among the crazy masses seeking Black Friday deals.
Ya take the good, ya take the bad, ya take them both and there ya have …
In Other Writing …
Let me state this straight-away: I never peed in a bottle while I was working in an Amazon warehouse. That said, It doesn’t surprise me that some employees evidently have. Some background: I worked in an Amazon warehouse for about three months during the oh-so-fun year that was 2020. I was a marketing/communications guy in…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Wifey Poo’s side of the family Thanksgiving is tomorrow.
- I need to tweak the lighting on The Grinch to make it perfect.
- I’d like to stay alive to use my new snow blower at some point.
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I once played in a baseball game in which it was raining so hard that, when I picked up a ball stuck in the mud in the middle of a puddle in a centerfield that resembled a shallow lake, it felt like I was throwing a shot-put to the second baseman 15 feet away. Today,…Keep reading
Life sucks when you’re tired. I know this. I’ve lived this. A lot of people like to say they have insomnia. I used to say I had insomnia. Then I actually got insomnia. There’s a difference between a few nights of poor sleep and insomnia. Which isn’t to diminish a few nights of poor sleep.…Keep reading
The one-and-only competitive footrace I have ever won came during Field Day 1980 at Pound Ridge Elementary School in suburban New York. I was in kindergarten, on the green team, and was a part of the 50-meter dash. I remember being most fascinated that day by the starters’ pistol, wondering if it contained real bullets…Keep reading
I’m all about lists. I love making them. I love crossing things off on them. And it really annoys me when things I wanted to get done on a list don’t get done. I came into today with a lot of things left on my weekend to-do list. Rather than end the day annoyed, I…Keep reading
Our boys are not “stuff” kids. We learned this early on, when Boy The Elder was but a wee little lad and we did what normal first-time parents do: Buy him a ton of what I call KidShit for Christmas. The KidShit went largely untouched. BTE, we learned, was more of an “experiences” kid. He…Keep reading
Tonight was date night for me and Wifey Poo. We swung by Stone Summit Steak & Seafood for a drink — she, a fruity white wine; me, a Woodford Reserve, neat — and then went to see Dear Evan Hansen. I’d wanted to catch it back when it was on the stage and never had.…Keep reading
One of the interesting truths about this whole “living” thing is that we make so many important decisions before we know what the hell we’re doing. For example, I chose my career path the same year I got my driver’s license. I had absolutely no concept of a mortgage and office politics and exactly how…Keep reading
I have seen in person how protective a mother grizzly bear can be of her cubs. The Fam was on a two-week Alaska vacation between my seventh- and eighth-grade years, a trip on which my voice changed and I enjoyed the company of twin 14-year-old sisters from Alabama, which is a story for another day.…Keep reading
I spent the morning in my office at work ensconced in my gray shirt-jack. If you don’t know what a shirt-jack is, that’s OK. I didn’t either until I found it on Amazon a few years ago while searching for something that wasn’t quite a sweatshirt but not quite a jacket to wear around the…Keep reading
Today was all about my father-in-law, Marvin. FIL died in November following complications from heart surgery and COVID. Wifey Poo and the sisters-in-law organized an ice cream social and issued an open invitation to the family and FIL’s friends. When we set the date for late September, the thought was that we’d be past the…Keep reading
The term “hot as balls” definitely applied to today, though I don’t know exactly what it means. It was parents weekend at Mizzou, so we traveled yesterday evening to see Boy The Elder and attend a football game today in which the Tigers took on the mighty Southeast Missouri State Somethingorothers. The game itself was…Keep reading
Me this morning, in GIF form: Folks, I try. I really do. But I’m worn thin. I got up and decided before starting a work-from-home day that I would attach the TV I just brought over from Old House to the new stand I bought. Easy-peasy. Hooked the wires up and turned it on. And…Keep reading
In high school, I was friends with a girl named Denise. She and I were both free-spirited creative types who liked to write. For a time, we served as co-presidents of the formed-by-us creative writing club, and we even went on a date (that didn’t work out too well). Denise was and is a no-bullshit…Keep reading
Today was a work-from-home day, filled with the excitement of having my new office location set up. Well, sort of set up. For the past month, I have been relegated to the basement because what is to be my Mancave was jam-packed with the detritus from New Home’s previous occupants, my in-laws. But over the…Keep reading
The score was 54-0 when I decided I would coach Boy The Younger’s basketball team the next season. After all, there wasn’t much room for me to do any worse. Still, this was a bold decision, considering the entirety of my team basketball experience came in one 3-4 season as a high school freshman on…Keep reading
My “awake” part of this 24-hour spin on Mother Earth’s axis began in the wee hours of the morning when I came to consciousness screaming — scaring the crap out of Wifey Poo in the process — because evidently calf cramps are a thing for middle aged men. How Do You Cheer in Cross Country?…Keep reading
I’m what you call an ambivert. This doesn’t mean I eat both plants and animals, though I do. Rather, it means — among other things — that I’m somewhere in the middle between an introvert and an extrovert. Sometimes I refuel by getting away from people and enjoying my solitude. Sometimes I refuel by soaking…Keep reading
I spent a half-hour today renewing my hatred for Robert Gaskins. Don’t know who Robert Gaskins is? I wish I didn’t, too. Robert Gaskins is the principle inventor of PowerPoint. He sold his little tool of the devil to Microsoft in 1987. QAnon Crazies love to point the finger at Bill Gates and say he’s…Keep reading
I stopped at the cleaners on my way home from work to pick up a pair of khaki pants that had an unfortunate run-in with honey a few weeks back. As I stepped through the door, a middle-aged woman named Karen (I’m assuming, anyway) was finishing up berating the lone employee. It had something to…Keep reading
You’re a Wizard, Harry When the Great Awakening of Societal Selfishness began in 2020, Wifey-Poo, Boy The Younger and I began reading the Harry Potter books out loud to help pass quarantine time in a way that didn’t involve baking bread or killing each other. It took more than a year, but we finished the…Keep reading
Kitchen Completed It is laughable even to me that I find myself, at age 47, really good at organizing stuff. I am the grizzled aging man with more salt than pepper in his beard who at a different stage of life had to bulldoze a path through dirty clothes, random school stuff and assorted other…Keep reading
Sometimes Things Be That Way There are some days that, when night falls and you take stock of all that happened, you just say — or at least think — “Well good goddamn. What the fuck was that all about?” Today has been such a day. I look back at the waking hours and realize…Keep reading
I’ll Drink to That Since my departure from newspapers in 2009, I’ve worked for very conservative not-for-profit organizations. An electric cooperative. A Lutheran benefits provider. A pediatric orthopedic hospital. None ever encouraged me to post photos on our social media of employees drinking during the workday. But that happened to me today following our champagne-tasting…Keep reading
An Impressive K Boy the Younger got shelled on the pitcher’s mound last night. As a former pitcher myself, I know these things sometime happen. No one squared up on any pitch he threw. They just hit it where his guys weren’t. And this should happen to him. He’s playing up an age group and…Keep reading
I Parent Like China It pleased me a great deal to share with Boy The Younger this morning that the rules he lives under are similar to those imposed on kids by the Chinese government. Our Communist Owners recently banned whippersnappers younger than 18 from playing online video games on school nights and allow them…Keep reading
Dying Less I think we can all agree that it’s not exactly a good thing to stop breathing more than 53 times an hour while we’re sleeping, yes? OK, good. There’s at least one thing that isn’t divisive in this country right now. When I had my first sleep study in February, I was not…Keep reading
Believing in Myself So here’s the thing: I have amazing intuition. Believe what you want about humans having only five senses. We don’t. We have more. And for me, one of my strongest senses is my gut feelings about what to do and not to do. I’ve had this ability since I was a small…Keep reading
Road Show Coming to you live from somewhere in the Ozarks, where I’m hoping not to hear banjos and have some inbred redneck hillbilly make me squeal for him. Wifey-Poo and I are in the middle of a weekend getaway. It has been a long while since we’ve had an extended period of time to…Keep reading
And the Thunder Rolls My desk at my new office faces out to a busy street – Manchester Avenue – and has a floor-to-ceiling window. I’m absolutely loving it. At my previous job, my desk was tucked away in a corner behind a cube. I called it “My Hovel.” It was a good place to…Keep reading
Namaste, yo I found myself tonight in a state somewhere between awake and asleep, lying on a yoga mat with 40 pounds of sandbags on my shoulders and chest in a dimly lit studio as soft music tinged by rain sounds caressed my ears. I love this state, and I’ve only found it through meditation…Keep reading
Sell This House Our house hit the market today, which is to say the Great Gods of Google allowed for it to be found by Realtors and anyone else who happens to have a larger-than-average nosy bone. Our Realtor said we could share it with our friends and family. I was trying to think of…Keep reading
Stages of Life Over the years, I’ve found tremendous comfort in the stability of my in-law family, especially with my sisters-in-law and, as time has progressed, their husbands. My own family is pocked by constant drama. It took me a long time to recognize exactly how not-typical my own family is and to realize that…Keep reading
Wakey Wakey My day started off with a bag-full of my blood being drained, filled with ozone and then dripped back into my while I listened to a cancer patient banter about QAnon insanity as if it were gospel with the nurse in charge of my treatment. How was your morning? So Long, Sonny Boy…Keep reading
Interesting Things You Say to Your Spouse “Please don’t get killed by anyone using a sharp object. I don’t want to go to prison for the rest of my life.” This sentence that I said to Wifey-Poo this morning makes sense if you have a spouse who loves murder podcasts and TV shows. My hands…Keep reading
Welcome to the World of Real Estate Starting a new job today was a welcome relief from the drudgery of moving. After getting my ass kicked yesterday in the Great Fridge Swap, I welcomed the opportunity to use my brain instead of whatever physical power I might have left. This is the first time I’m…Keep reading