Yearly Columns

  • Stuttering and stammering in 3/4 time

    This column first ran in a newspaper on May 3, 2011.


    My wife was mad at me, which was not exactly unusual.

    It was Friday night, and I had decided not to return to Carthage to retrieve our tickets to the Saturday night Jimmy Buffett concert that I had left at our home. We were 10 miles north of Nevada when I discovered that I didn’t have the tickets, and my wife wanted me to turn around, which I did. But then I changed my mind and turned around again. I told my wife that since I purchased the tickets online, I could reprint them.

    “All I need is a computer with a printer,” I said.

    I was hungry, and going all the way back to Carthage would cause us to get to Kansas City too late to eat dinner at the nice steak place where we had reservations. See, the trip was part of my birthday celebration, so my wife had to cut me some slack.

    “Fine,” my wife said. “Do whatever you want.”

    I knew I was in trouble.

    My wife called the restaurant and pushed our reservations back half an hour, which gave us time to get to our room so our 13-year-old daughter, Emma, could do whatever she does to her hair before she goes out in public.

    We walked into the restaurant right on time, and a nice woman led us to our table. On the way, I glanced over at a booth to our left. Sitting in the booth were a nice-looking older couple and a man who looked just like Jimmy Buffett.

    “Hey,” I said to myself. “That guy looks just like Jimmy Buffett. But what would Jimmy Buffett be doing in Kansas City?”

    Then I told myself I was a moron. Then I called out my wife’s name.

    “What?” my wife said.

    “Look,” I whispered as we sat down at our table.

    “What are you talking abou … OH, MY GOD!”

    “This is what I’m saying,” I said.

    I have been trying to meet Jimmy Buffett for more than 30 years. Not in a creepy way, but — you know — in a “hey how’s it going?” way.

    I was the one who suggested that my wife and I get married in Key West. Not, so much, so we could get married, but so maybe I could meet Jimmy Buffett. (That’s just between you and me, by the way.) One year, some friends we met in Key West gave us directions to Jimmy’s house, and we drove by. I have a picture of my wife standing at the gate to the house.

    OK , that sounds creepy.

    After a few minutes, Jimmy and the nice-looking couple stood up. The couple started walking out first, followed by Jimmy.

    I started to say something to my wife when I noticed that she wasn’t in her seat. Instead, she was talking to Jimmy. Jimmy listened to my wife, looked at me, nodded his head, walked over to our table, stuck out his hand and said: “Happy birthday. But you’re still a young man.”

    I stood up and coolly replied.

    “Blurxkkk, wixhyc, Blecahhy,” I said.

    My wife told Jimmy that I was a moron because I forgot our tickets to the concert.

    “You forget your tickets?” Jimmy said with a laugh.


    “He thinks he can print them off,” my wife said.

    Then I must have mentioned something about a concert of his that my sister Kate helped put together in Hong Kong a few years back because Jimmy talked about Hong Kong for a few minutes.

    “Wabahhh yadda bada bingo,” I said.

    After a few minutes, our chat came to an end. Jimmy shook my hand again, and as he walked away he stopped and said, “Hey, good luck with those tickets.”

    I smiled, waved and said, “Thackky zackxiz uch.”

    After Jimmy left, I sat back down in my chair, and looked at my wife and Emma.

    “I think I handled that pretty well,” I said.


  • Beware the BAM

    Our cat Joey is sort of a jerk.

    Not all of the time, of course, just some of the time. Actually, most cats are jerks some of the time. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just the way cats are.

    It’s as if God, when she created cats, said, “OK, I want you guys to be nice enough so someone will feed you but not so nice they’ll try to teach to roll over.”

    Seriously, why do people teach dogs to roll over? What possible benefit does a dog get from knowing how to roll over?

    It’s like when they tried to teach me algebra in high school.

    It’s pointless, is what I’m saying.

    Wait, where was I?

    Oh, right, our cat Joey.

    Joey is cat #3 in our house. We got him about a year ago. He was a stray who had been hanging around the neighborhood for a couple of weeks and one day, right before a winter storm was due to blow in, my wife and our then 24-year-old daughter Emma decided we should take him in.

    I was sort of on the fence about bringing Joey in because, as the official pet care-giver in our house, I wasn’t sure I needed another one to worry about.

    Me: Since I’m the one who will have to take care of him. I think I should get to have a say on this.

    Wife to Emma: Let’s call him Joey.

    I didn’t have much input on the decision to bring Joey into the house, is what I’m saying. But that’s OK. I seldom have much input around our house.

    The thing is, I like Joey. He is quite possibly the weirdest cat we’ve ever had and we’ve had a lot of cats.

    Joey likes to sit on my lap when I’m on my computer. If he sees something that interests him, he’ll reach with his paw to touch the computer screen.

    If something on the screen really interests Joey, he’ll jump off my lap to get a better look and try to figure out how to get at whatever it is that interests him.

    Joey, our tiger-striped cat standing next to my computer screen trying to get a better look at a couple of birds on the screen.
    Here’s Joey trying to get a better look at a couple of birds on my computer screen. And, no, he’s not supposed to be on the counter.


    Joey also talks.

    A lot.

    His talking isn’t so much a meow as it is a kind of nonstop mumble and when he mumbles he always sounds as if he’s upset at something.

    He sounds-to paraphrase a line from a great Seinfeld episode- “like an old man sending soup back at a deli.”

    Joey also likes to randomly swat at people when they walk by. Not every time but enough times to keep you on your toes.

    Well he does tend to swat at Emma almost every time. But that’s because, when Emma is at our house, she always picks Joey up and holds him something that Joey isn’t fond of which of course makes Emma pick him up even more.

    Emma will pick Joey up and hold him until he starts mumbling and squirming and when she finally puts him down and starts to walk away Joey will swat her.

    Joey seldom swats me but I think that’s because I feed him. Oh ,and because I’m not stupid enough to pick him up.

    Joey’s favorite thing to do-and the thing that makes him sort of a jerk- is to ambush people. Well, not just people. Joey also likes to ambush our other two cats Mo and Van Gogh and our dog Caicos

    Sometime ago, Emma bought a toy for her cat Pinot. The toy is a square box attached to a mesh-lined tunnel. The toy was meant to be a place where Pinot could hang out and feel safe and cozy.

    Emma thought Pinot would love the toy and he did.

    For a while.

    Then he ignored it and for several months the toy sat unused in an upstairs bedroom. Until Joey found it.

    Joey loved the toy so much we decided to bring it downstairs to our family room. We figured it would give Joey a place to hang and-as the kids say-“chill.”

    We figured wrong.

    What Joey likes to do is sit in the little box and wait for unsuspecting prey to walk by and when they do “BAM!” he shoots through the tunnel to scare his prey.

    I should point out that Joey doesn’t actually say “BAM!” when he bursts through the tunnel.

    He thinks it but he doesn’t say it.

    But he’s the jerk part.

    He doesn’t do it all the time. What he’ll do is wait and let his prey walk past the tunnel several times until the prey forgets he’s in the tunnel.

    Then he bursts through the tunnel causing his prey to say, “@$%#$% JOEY QUIT THAT!!!YOU SCARED THE @#$% OUT OF ME.”

    Oh, in this case, when I used the word “prey” mainly what I meant is “my wife.”

    Oh, by the way, I have a question for anybody out there who took algebra in high school: “What was the point of making us figure out what X or Y meant when we obviously didn’t care.?”

    Here’s a bonus I’m experimenting with video. He’s a clip of Joey doing his “Bam” to our cat Mo. 


    And here is the “Bam” up close.

  • The pressure of being tagged

    I’m under quite a bit of pressure to get this column done.

    I wrote six columns a week when I worked for a newspaper. The reason I wrote six columns a week was because the guy in charge of the newsroom at the time was a moron who figured, since he wrote one column a week, it would be easy for me to write six a week.

    I mean, I guess that’s what he figured, but I don’t know for sure what with him being a moron and all.

    My point is when I wrote six columns a week, I never felt the sort of pressure as I do now to write this one column.

    The reason I have to write this column is because my wife and our 24-year-old daughter said I have to and they put me under some intense deadline pressure.


    Me: Why do I have to write a column?

    Wife: Because.

    Me: Well as long as there’s a good reason.

    Emma: You have to write one because I’m going to tag you.

    Me: I don’t know what that means.

    Wife: JUST WRITE THE  @#$$@ COLUMN!

    My wife and Emma told me they want to tag me in some sort of social media post that somehow ties into the store the two of them own.

    My wife and Emma have owned their store for several months now and apparently “tagging” is very important in the social media campaign they use to promote their store and it doesn’t matter if I understand what that means or not.

    What matters is “I JUST WRITE THE @#$$@ COLUMN!”

    The name of the store my wife and Emma own is “The Artists Loft 404”.

    The store is called the “The Artists Loft 404” even though it’s not actually located in a loft but rather inside a larger store called “The Yellow Umbrella” which is located on the north side of the Square here in Carthage.

    “OK, Mike,” some of you are wondering. “Do you at least happen to know what the ‘404’ in the store name means?”

    To some of you who are wondering that I say, “No. No, I do not.”

    “Do you even care what the ‘404’ stands means?” some of you are wondering.

    “No. No, I do not.”

    Really about the only thing I know about the store is just about every day,  for the past several months, somewhere between two and 2,357 boxes show up on our porch.

    It is my job, just about every day, to bring the somewhere between 2 and 7,452 boxes on our porch into our house and then step around them until my wife and Emma can “price them” and take them to their store.

    Although, technically, I have no official role in my wife and Emma’s store I occasionally have to serve as the director or warehousing and distribution.

    And by “occasionally” I mean “way more that I want to.”

    And by “director of warehousing and distribution” I mean I have to haul stuff in my car from our house to the store on the north side of the Square.

    But back to writing this column. As I understand it (and there is a very good chance that I don’t) I’m supposed to write a column about my hot buttered rum recipe.

    Now, I’ve written thousands of columns in the past 21 years but I can honestly say that never in all of those thousands of columns have I written one about my hot buttered rum recipe.

    And there is a good reason for that.


    I not even much of a fan of hot buttered rum. I’m more of a fan of cold bottled beer.

    But my wife is a fan of hot buttered rum and she is particularly fond of my hot buttered rum recipe and asked me to make several batches for her this past Sunday.

    Because I’m a nice guy and because the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t play until 3:25 Sunday I agreed to make the hot buttered rum batches.

    When Emma found out I was going to make the hot buttered rum batches she said,  “Ooooh, I’ll take pictures and then I will tag you on social media. It will be good for our brand.”

    To which I replied, “What?”

    So Emma took a few pictures of me making hot buttered rum batches while I was wearing an apron and using a spatula that my wife and Emma sell at their store.

    When I asked Emma if she needed my face in the pictures she said-and I swear this is true-“Uh, maybe after you’ve freshened up.”


    Now, so Emma can tag me and do something with their brand, here are a couple of the pictures Emma took followed by the recipe for my hot buttered rum.

    And just like that the pressure is gone.

    Now, where is my beer?

    Me wearing an apron. The apron, I’m told is key here.
    Here I am using a spatula. Here the spatula is key.


    Hot Buttered Rum

    For the batter


    1 LB brown sugar

    2 sticks of butter at room temperature

    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    2 to 3 teaspoons fresh nutmeg

    1 ½ teaspoons allspice

    2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

    For each drink

    1 ½ ounces rum

    Boiling water as needed.


    Beat together the brown sugar butter, spices and vanilla extract until combined. When finished use right away or  refrigerate until ready to use.

    If using batter that has been refrigerated be sure to take it out of the refrigerator at least six hours before serving to allow it to soften.

    For each drink combine two generous tablespoons of the batter and the rum into a warm coffee mug. Add boiling water to the top of the mug and stir well.



  • How it all began

    This column first ran in July, 2002

    My wife and I wore cute, matching T-shirts Tuesday night.

    I hate cute, matching T-shirts. The only matching T-shirts I like are those “I’m with Stupid” shirts Geraldo Rivera and Bill O’Reilly wear when they appear in public together.

    The matching T-shirts my wife and I wore were patriotic Fourth of July shirts.

    When I say “patriotic” I mean it in the sense that large, trendy retailers take regular cheap T-shirts made in Honduras, slap an American flag on them, jack up the price and “patriotically” make a tidy profit.

    The reason we wore matching T-shirts Tuesday was because my wife and Lana, who lives across the street, decided it would nice to have a Fourth of July bike parade.

    My wife and Lana began planning the parade months ago. They contacted the other wives in the neighborhood, made flyers, bought decorations, prepared and arranged food and drinks, decorated the kids’ bikes and got the city council to agree to block off out street.

    The husbands in the neighborhood pretty much stayed out of the way of the bike parade planning.

    In fact, I stayed so much out of the way my wife and I had the following conversation on the morning of the bike parade.

    Wife: When you get home from work you need to put on this cute, matching T-shirt.

    Me: Why?

    Wife: For the bike parade.

    Me: What bike parade?

    Wife: Do we have a gun?

    After my wife calmed down a bit, she told me the parade started at 7 p.m. which meant I had to be home at 5 p.m. in order to help get things ready so, of course, I rolled in our driveway a little after 6 p.m.

    If you’re a non-married male person you may not appreciate how difficult it is to pull into your driveway less than an hour before a major wife-person event like a Fourth of July bike parade, get out of your car and with a straight face, look at your wife and say “What?”.

    The good thing was the cold breeze coming at me from my wife felt good in the July heat.

    After going inside and changing into my matching T-Shirt I came outside and began help getting the kids lined up for the parade.

    Mainly I did this by saying “Hey kid, whatever your name is, go that way.”

    The actual parade lineup organizing was done by Bill, Lana’s husband. After we herded the kids on their bikes, tricycles, scooters, wagons, pedal-operated cars and battery-operated SUVs toward the end of the block, Bill got them to line up in some semblance of order and began hollering out instructions.

    Bill: OK, first of all, you’re all facing the wrong direction.

    After Bill got the kids to turn around, he continued.

    Bill: I want all of you to remember one thing. This is a parade. It is not a race. I repeat: THIS IS NOT A RACE.

    All of the kids looked up at Bill with their best “I’m paying attention to you. I swear” expressions.

    All the while thinking to themselves, “This is a race. This is a race. This is a race.”

    Imagine a European soccer riot, only less organized. That’s pretty much how the bike parade began.

    But pretty quickly the parade began to take shape with all the kids proudly riding down the street while, several blocks behind, sweaty, out of breath dads, weighed down by video cameras yelled things like “Taylor, slow down,” “Watch out Katie,” “Emily, look at the camera,” “Emma you can go to the bathroom later,” and “Remind me again, what are the symptoms of a heart attack?”

    The important thing about the night we parents decided, was that the kids had fun and perhaps learned something about the true spirt of the Fourth of July.

    Emma, for example, learned about the true spirit of the Fourth of July by getting into a burping contest with her friends Will and Oliver.

    What the heck, it beats a stupid, matching patriotic T-shirt.

  • And it just keeps rolling along

    Depending on how you look at things it was either the 18th or the 20th anniversary of the bike parade.

    If you tend to look at things from a consecutive year viewpoint then it was the 18th anniversary of the bike parade. But if you tend to look at things from a “but this is when it began” point of view then it was the 20th anniversary of the parade.

    The first bike parade was held in 2002 which-unless the Supreme Court decides to change how math works-was 20 years ago. However, because of COVID the parade was cancelled in 2020 and 2021.

    So, 18th or 20th anniversary. Take your pick.

    The official name of the bike parade is the Belle Air Place Neighborhood Fourth of July Bike Parade although it has never been held on the actual Fourth of July so people spend that day blowing things up.

    The parade is a chance for all of the neighborhood kids to decorate their bikes – or any objects that move – and ride them for several blocks up our street to the cul-de-sac and back while their parents, depending on the age of their children, either follow closely behind, or watch from  the safety of the parkway that runs along our street.

    Later, after the parade everyone meets in the parkway for refreshments.

    It’s a neat deal which I had nothing to do with creating.

    The bike parade, of course, was created by my wife and Lana who lives across the street. For some reason I seem to remember my wife saying Lana was the one who first came up with the idea for the parade but my memory of what my wife tells me has always been a tad – shall we say – sketchy.

    Regardless of who first came up with the idea for the bike parade let’s just say my wife and Lana ran with it.

    I remember the day my wife told me about the bike parade as if it were yesterday.

    Wife: Mike put down that beer and turn the baseball game off.

    Oh, wait, that WAS yesterday.

    Here’s the conversation when  my wife first told me about the bike parade went.

    Wife: Mike, Lana and I have been thinking.

    Me: (To myself) Oh (bad word).

    Wife: We think it would be fun to host a Fourth of July bike parade where all the kids in the neighborhood can decorate their bikes and ride them down up our street, to the cul de sac and back. Then everyone can gather in the parkway and have lemonade and cookies. Isn’t that a great idea?

    Me: (Coming back into the room after getting a beer) I’m sorry did you say something?

    My wife, Laurel Rosenthal, who has been the Parade Grand Marshall for many years and Lana. They are posing in front of Shelby Dale Neely’s Gator driven by Bill Phelps. The Gator with Laurel in it always leads the parade.

    As far as responsibilities for the parade go, mine are fairly minor. The first year of the parade our now 24-year-old daughter Emma was four and was still using training wheels on her bike so my main responsibility was to walk behind her and make sure she didn’t fall or get lost.

    The next year Emma dropped the training wheels so my main responsibility was to walk behind her and make sure she didn’t fall or get lost.

    But after the second year Emma was pretty much on her own so my parade-time responsibilities ease up a bit.

    To be honest (and I try to be), as far as my wife is concerned, my most important parade responsibility is to dig out our picnic table, which is always tucked away in the very back of our garage, clean it off and haul it to the parkway so my wife and Lana can decorate it and load it down with snacks.

    I hate that picnic table.

    First of all it’s old. How old, you ask?

    My wife used it when she was a little kid. That’s how old.

    What happens is, after the parade, I take the picnic table apart, and put it back in the garage where it stays until the next bike parade. What that means is, as the year goes by more and more stuff gets put in front of the picnic table so when the bike parade rolls around all of that stuff has to be moved so I can get to the table.

    My wife loves that picnic table. I, as I think I’ve stated, hate that picnic table.

    This year, because, apparently, some people can’t seem to wrap their heads around the need to get vaccinated, COVID is still with us and therefore my wife and Lana decided not to pass out homemade snacks and drinks and instead opted to hand out frozen popsicles and bottled water which led to this heartfelt conversation between my wife me.

    Wife: Mike, I hate to tell you this but we don’t need the picnic table this year.

    Me: Oh drat and fiddlesticks. I was so looking forward to spending oodles of time moving stuff out of the garage to get to the table. Then cleaning it off and later hauling it back to the garage. I shall miss it ever so much. Truly I will.

    Wife: I hate you.

    Other than the table, my main job, after the parade is over, is to be seen by my wife  just long enough for her to think I’m being sociable and then disappear to our backyard patio where I can drink beer and watch baseball.

    Taken several minutes before the parade as kids, parents and grandparents start lining up. My wife took that picture. I was on our patio.

    So what I do is drink beer, watch baseball and then, during commercial breaks, walk around to our front yard, make sure my wife sees me and then I go back to our patio.

    The thing is, my wife really doesn’t care that I sit on the patio, drink beer and watch baseball. She just wants me to make the effort to appear to be sociable.

    Here I am being sociable with Emma, Nick and Penny. In case you’re wondering Penny is the dog.

    I know. I don’t understand her either.

    This year Lana’s daughter Katie, who is Emma’s best friend, wasn’t at the parade. Katie, who was five during that first parade back in 2002 recently moved to New York City. Lana didn’t let it show much but I’m certain not having Katie here for the parade was tough.

    Emma who now splits her time between Kansas City and Carthage was able to be home for the parade and I think she enjoyed helping my wife and Lana.

    Actually none of the kids who rode in that first bike parade are around anymore. Those kids have been replaced by other kids, who have been replaced by other kids, who have been replaced by other kids.

    But that’s OK.

    It’s the circle of bike parades.






  • She had me in stiches

    At least I got a break from the chairs.

    My wife and our 24-year-old daughter Emma recently decided we needed to order a new table and chairs for our outdoor patio.

    My wife and Emma spent several weeks going back on forth on which table and chairs they should get. They discussed style, they discussed size, they discussed color and they even discussed price.

    Meanwhile, I sat on our three-season porch watched baseball and drank beer.

    Hey, I’m a firm believer in playing to your strengths.

    However, had I been more aware of the table and chairs discussion I might have asked one teeny, tiny but very important question.

    “Will we have to assemble them?”

    But I didn’t so I’m guessing what happened later is on me.

    About a week after my wife and Emma agreed on which table and chairs to order a large box arrived.

    “This doesn’t look too bad,” I said to myself as I looked at the lone box.

    “What an idiot,” myself said.

    That’s when I noticed a note on the side of the box that said it was one of four to be delivered.

    “Oh,” I said to myself.

    “Told you,” myself said.

    Sometimes I hate myself.

    On Friday, after the other three boxes arrived, my wife and I went outside to put the table and chairs together.

    After about an hour we had the table assembled.

    “Whoa this is easy,” I said to myself. “We’ll be done in no time.”

    Myself said, “You just keep thinking Mike. That’s what you’re good at.”

    I sensed sarcasm.

    My wife and I figured since we got the table put together in an hour the chairs would take no time at all.

    Three hours later we had two chairs assembled.

    See, the problem was every chair had at least one – sometimes three – holes that wouldn’t line up correctly with the other holes which tended to slow the assembly process.

    How hard was it to put the chairs together, you ask?

    My wife ran out of swear words.

    We have been married for more than 30 years and until Friday my wife had never run out of swear words.

    On Saturday afternoon, after my wife announced she wasn’t going anywhere near those “@%&*@%#*$&ING CHAIRS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE,” I went out to work on them.

    By the way, as you can tell, my wife got her vocabulary back.

    Two hours later, after getting one and a half chairs put together, I suggested we take a break from our worldly troubles and go drown our sorrows in a bottle of wine at Andrew and Amanda Penningtion’s Winery just east of town.

    So we did. But only after I promised my wife I would put the final four and a half chairs together on Sunday.

    Early Sunday afternoon I started to walk outside to work on the chairs. As I got near the door to our patio, I noticed a pair of gloves I use when I grill outside and a steak knife that goes with a set we keep on the patio. Wanting to kill more than one bird with just one stone, I picked up the gloves, placed the steak knife on top of them and went outside. When I got outside, I tossed the gloves onto the counter on our patio.

    That’s when I remembered the steak knife.

    Well, not exactly at that moment. It was half a second later when I felt the steak knife hit my l lower leg and looked down to see blood running down my leg when I remembered the steak knife.

    “Oh there it is,” I said to myself.

    Myself just shook his head.

    I limped to the door and asked my wife to bring me a paper towel and a Band-Aid.

    “What did you do?” my wife said.

    “Nothing,” I said. “I just need a Band-Aid.”

    My wife walked over, took a look at my leg and said “You’re going to the emergency room. You need stiches.”

    “I do not,” I said. “I’m fine. I’m not going anywhere.’

    About an hour later a very nice nurse and a very nice physicians’ assistant were putting two stiches in my leg.

    wrapped leg on a chair
    A very nice nurse wrapped my leg so I wouldn’t bleed all over the emergency room.

    By the way, here’s something fun to do. Try to explain to a very nice nurse and very nice physicians’ assistant how you managed to stab yourself in the leg with a steak knife and watch them try not to laugh at you.

    It’s sort of fun.

    waiting in the er
    The nice nurse also gave me a special chair to sit in while I waited. As you can see, I was in a lot of pain.

    Of course my wife took the whole thing like an adult and did not try and turn my woes into some sort of moral victory for her. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, sometimes I kill myself.

    “See, I told you so. You needed stiches,” is what my wife said.

    I pointed out that my wife was barely right.

    “I was close to only needing one which would have meant I got  ‘stich’ not ‘stiches’.”

    “You’re an idiot,” my wife said.

    “I’ve heard that before,” I said.

    Want to know the worst part?

    Mike, some of you are wondering, what could be worse than dropping a steak knife on your leg, having to get stiches and listening to your wife say “I told you so,”?

    To some of you wondering that I can only say: This wasn’t the first time something like this happened.

    “Oh, that is worse,” some of you are saying.

    It was about four years ago; I was slicing flank steak in our kitchen when I dropped the knife I was using on my foot.

    When my wife saw my foot she said, “You’re going to the emergency room. You need stiches.

    “I do not,” I said. “I’m fine. I’m not going anywhere.”

    About an hour later a nice nurse and doctor put five stiches in my foot.

    “See, I told you so,” my wife said.


    On the bright side I got to spend the rest of my Sunday sitting in a chair drinking beer and watching baseball.

    And the chairs?

    Well, as my wife would say, “#^@$ THE %&@# CHAIRS.”



  • Memorial Weekends at the ‘Rapids’



    This column ran in a newspaper in 2014.


    I’m guessing relatives of mine have been gathering in the small cemetery just east of Neosho Rapids, Kansas, on Memorial Day weekend for at least 100 years.

    I know for a fact that Clements, Noonans and O’Tooles have been getting together at the cemetery for at least 80 years because my Uncle Jim was there for many of those gatherings.

    The cemetery sits on a slight hill overlooking rolling farmland. There are two entrances to the cemetery. The first entrance was originally for the Protestant side of the cemetery, and the second entrance was for the Catholic side. The Protestant side is much larger than the Catholic side.

    In the early days of the cemetery, there was a Protestant side and a Catholic side because that’s the way things were done back then. Today, there really isn’t any sort of official Protestant-Catholic designation at the cemetery. But tradition tends to rule, and for the most part, Protestant and Catholic families tend to stick to their respective sides.

    On Sunday morning, I was standing next to Jim, who was looking at a group of tombstones that included his mother’s and his grandparents’. For some reason, I had never asked Jim if his relatives got together on Memorial Day when he was a kid, so I asked, and he said that they did.

    According to Jim, who turned 80 last October, Memorial Day gatherings when he was a kid were a pretty big deal. Relatives from Emporia, Burlington, Lebo, Hartford and other nearby Kansas towns or farms would make pretty much the same trek to the cemetery that my family makes today.

    Jim didn’t say this, but I’m pretty sure that back then my relatives would get out of their cars at the cemetery and pretty much do what we do. A few people would dig holes for flowers and water the flowers, while the rest of the folks would stand around and talk. Sometimes they would talk about family members long gone, and sometimes they would chat about their own lives. There would be laughter and an occasional moment of reflection that might bring on a tear or two.

    But mainly there would be laughter, because everyone knew that’s what the family members buried in the cemetery would have wanted.

    Jim said that after a while, everyone would get into their cars and head to “the Rapids.” Jim didn’t say this, but I’m pretty sure that nobody said, “Well, it’s time to head to the Rapids.” Instead, I’m pretty sure that my relatives just sort of sensed when it was time to leave, and folks would slowly walk to their cars.

    Jim said that everyone would make the short drive to my great-aunt Birdie’s house in the Rapids for lunch. Those Memorial Day lunches at Aunt Birdie’s were a pretty big deal, he said, and I believe him because kids tend to remember those sorts of things.

    “She always had made sure there was strawberry shortcake with strawberries from the garden and brown, new potatoes from the garden,” Jim said.

    I’m guessing that the strawberries must have been pretty good because in Jim’s senior class yearbook, he is quoted as liking “chili and strawberries in their respective seasons.” By the way, he also was quoted as saying that his future plans included “attending the University of South Korea,” and he did. Although he didn’t so much attend a university in South Korea as he did a war.

    Jim didn’t say this, but I’m pretty sure that back then, folks would marvel at the massive spread of food, eat too much and maybe have a beer or two. But mainly they would talk and laugh.

    And then, sometime in the middle of the afternoon, folks would sort of sense that it was time to leave. So, they would say their goodbyes, get in their cars and drive home.

    Jim didn’t say this, but I’m pretty sure that on the way home, my relatives took some time to remind themselves to treasure days like the one they just spent.

  • Learning to live with terrible taste

    It’s started again.

    I first noticed it had started again when my wife and our 24-year-old daughter Emma began talking quietly in the other room.

    I was in the living room watching some sporting event and my wife and Emma were in our dining room and I overheard the following conversation.

    Emma: No.

    Wife: Why not?

    Emma: It’s hideous.

    Wife: What about this?

    Emma: Better.

    Then I heard my wife say something about needing to get a tape measure and I was pretty sure-once again-it had started.

    By the way, I’m secure enough to admit that I had to check to see if the correct term was tape measure or tape measurer. As it turns out it’s tape measure which sort of makes sense because you’re actually not measuring tape when you use a tape measure. But then I started wondering what would you use to measure tape? Would you use a tape measure or a tape measurer? Then I remembered there was a story about the Major League Baseball lockout in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch I forgot to read and…well…the next thing I knew it was time for bed.

    Wait. Where was I?

    After my wife got the tape measure and, presumably, finished measuring, she came into the living room to tell me she needed to use my computer.

    My wife is always having to use my computer even though her computer is in the same room as mine. When I ask my wife why she always has to use my computer she says there is something wrong with hers but she never tells me exactly is wrong with it.

    I suspect the problem is the same problem my wife had with her cellphone a few years ago. Every time my wife wanted to take a picture on her cellphone she would say, “I need to borrow your phone to take this picture.”

    Later I discovered the reason my wife needed to use my cellphone to take pictures was because her cellphone was-to use a technical expression- full of crap.

    So I suspect her computer is likewise-to again use a technical expression- full of crap.

    I suppose at some point I should have asked my wife and Emma what they were up to but I was pretty sure I knew and I didn’t want to have to listen to them telling me what it was they were up to.

    It’s part of my, “If I don’t ask maybe they won’t tell” strategy.

    Of course my, “If I don’t ask maybe they won’t tell” strategy never works so after about 30 minutes my wife came back into the living room.

    Wife: Do you want to know what Emma and I are doing?

    Me: No.

    Wife: Why not?

    Me: Do you want to know what the score is in this game?

    Wife: Good Lord, no.

    Me: I rest my case.

    Then my wife said, “We’re going to redo the dining room.”

    Then I said, “OK.”

    Then my wife said, “Do you want to know what we have in min…”

    “No,” I said.

    Here’s the deal. My wife and Emma don’t really care what I think about their plans for our dining room. They don’t care what I think about their plans for the dining room for two reasons.

    Reason No. 1: They know I don’t care about their plans for the dining room.


    Reason No. B: They think I have terrible taste.

    It’s possible the reason my wife and Emma think I have terrible taste is because-follow me here-I have terrible taste.

    As far as I’m concerned it’s OK to have terrible taste. I sometimes think good taste is overrated. I mean which would you rather have good taste or the ability to hit a curve ball?

    Now despite the fact my wife has known about my terrible taste for more than 30 years she continues to have conversations like this with me.

    Wife: Which pair of shoes to you like better? The blue or the black

    Me: I don’t care.

    Wife: No seriously which pair should I wear? The blue pair or the black pair?

    Me: I don’t care.


    Me: The blue pair.

    Wife: Really? Not the black pair?


    A few days later, while my wife was at work, three medium sized boxes showed up on our porch. I brought the boxes inside and called my wife.

    “Good,” my wife said. “Those are the new dining room chairs.

    “Ok,” I said.

    “Don’t you want to know what they look like?” my wife said.

    “Does it matter?” I said.

    “Not really,” my wife said.

    “Well, there you go,” I said.

    So tomorrow my wife and I will spend part of the day assembling the new dining room chairs. Then we’ll take the old dining room chairs to…well I’m not sure where we’re taking them, I just know I have to get them into my car. The rest of the chair information is apparently on a need-to-know basis and from what I gather I don’t need to know. And I’m OK with that.

    Do you want to know why I’m OK with that?

    Because I don’t care. And I have terrible taste.

    Now if I could only get someone to throw me a curve ball.


  • Oh #$%^&$ Christmas tree

    this column first ran in a newspaper in Dec. 2002.

    Once again, we’ve settled our annual Christmas dispute.

    For as long as we’ve been married my wife and I have disagreed about when we should put up our Christmas tree.

    My wife thinks we should put the tree up shortly after the Fourth of July while I think we should wait until the last showing of  It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    It’s quite a difference of opinion.

    My wife sees the Christmas tree as a symbol of peace and joy that truly represents the holiday season.

    I see it as a giant pain in the Limbaugh.

    Again, it’s quite a difference of opinion.

    My feelings about Christmas trees probably can be traced back to childhood memories of my Dad sprawled out on our living room floor looking for the one burned-out light among the 583 bulbs that were slowly wrapping themselves around him.

    In those days, an entire strand of Christmas lights, which were designed by sadists, would go out if just one bulb on the strand went out.

    At least that’s what the sadists said. The truth was the burned-out bulb didn’t have to be on the same strand. Or even in the same house.

    One year a bulb burned out on a stand of lights on the other end of town and knocked out of the lights on our tree.

    That was the year I first heard my dad mix religion with profanity.

    When I was single, I didn’t even bother with a tree, although one year I did paint my dog green, put him in a corner in my apartment and said “STAY!”.

    But we have a border collie now, and if you don’t know, they can be a bit hyper.

    If you were to take a group of four-year-old’s, force feed them refined sugar for two straight days and then turn them loose in a Chuckie Cheese you might have the energy equivalent of one border collie.

    So, getting our dog to stay in the corner for the holiday season is sort of out of the question.

    This year, on the second Sunday in December (Way too earlier if you ask me) my wife, our 3-year-old daughter Emma and I got into the car and headed to the Christmas tree farm.

    I love the Christmas tree farm. I always feel one with nature when I walk through the miles and miles of gorgeous new growth. As I walk, I breathe in the fresh air rich with the scent of pine and marvel at what a wonderful thing a fully-grown pine tree is and its place in this giant universe that we all share.

    Then I hack one down.

    The actual hacking of tree isn’t too hard. It’s finding the tree worthy of hacking that’s tough.

    Here is what a typical tree hunt with my wife and Emma sounds like.

    Me: This looks like a good one.

    Wife: Mike, that’s a stump.

    Me: How about this one?

    Wife: I like this one better.

    Emma: I have to go potty.

    Me: What about this one?

    Wife: I think we’re lost.

    Emma: Now, I have to really go potty.

    Because I am a male person I, at times, come down with what is known as the “Clark Griswald Syndrome” which means I feel obligated to pick a tree that is-technically speaking-bigger than our house.

    Of course, to get a Christmas tree that is bigger than our house into our house I have to do a little trimming.

    One year I got so carried away with my trimming, when I was finished, we wound up with a Christmas toothpick.

    After trimming the tree, I drag it through the door and into the house leaving behind a trail of pine needles that we will still be finding in August and wait until my wife finds the tree stand which she said was “Somewhere in the basement.”

    Two hours later my wife finds the stand and it is time to place the tree into the stand. This involves me wrapping my arms around the tree and lifting it up and down while my wife tries to place the stand under the tree.

    This takes a while.

    After about an hour and the exchange of many, many personal insults that will be brought up for years to come, the tree is finally in the stand.

    Then after tightening the little-to use a technical phrase-holder things the tree is safely in place and my wife and I step back, look at it and say the same thing.

    “It didn’t look that crooked at the tree farm.”

    After tilting all of the furniture in our house so that the tree would look straight, we dig into the ornaments and begin decorating the tree.

    My wife loves decorating the tree. Not only does my wife love decorating the tree she loves to tell a story about each of the roughly 2,437 Christmas ornaments that have to be hung.

    As a trained journalist-which means that in a blind test taste I am able to tell the difference between beer from a bottle and beer on tap-I try to avoid making sweeping generalizations. But here goes.

    All women love decorating Christmas trees while all men hate decorating Christmas trees.

    Here is a quick quiz to prove my point.

    You find a box of tinsel. What do you do?

    A: You take each individual piece of tinsel and carefully hang it exactly one-quarter of an inch between the nearest ornament on the tree. You do this until every piece of tinsel is in its proper place.

    B: You grab all of the tinsel in the box and toss on the tree.

    C: You flush the tinsel down the toilet.

    If you answered “A” you’re a woman. If you answered “B” you’re a man and if you answered “C” you’re Emma.

    I do have to admit that this year-as it does every year-when we were finished, the tree looked great.

    And later that night, after Emma was safely tucked away in bed, I turned off the lights in our house and my wife and I sat on the couch staring at the twinkling lights on the tree. Then we will look at each other and say the same thing we say every year.

    “Seriously, it didn’t look that crooked at the tree farm.”

  • Learning to control having no control

    As a veteran husband I long ago got used to the idea that I have little, if any, control of my life.

    Sure, there are moments when I think “Doggone it, I’m an independent person and I should be able to do what I want,” but then I think “When did I start saying ‘doggone it’? Oh great, now, not only do I not have control of my  life, I also don’t have control of my vocabulary.”

    Sort of makes you see why I don’t think much anymore.

    I don’t even remember when I lost control of my life. One day I was sitting in my posh one-bedroom apartment, smoking cigars, drinking beer and watching sports and the next day I was sitting in a dark auditorium watching our then 5-year-old daughter Emma’s dance recital.

    It’s the circle of lost life control, is what it is.

    But like most veteran husbands I learned to live without control of my life. I don’t really like it but I don’t really hate it.

    It’s sort of the way I feel about green beans.

    It’s not that I have lost total control of my life it’s just that often things happen to me, or around me that I have little control over.

    In the past few weeks, a couple of things happened that reminded me how little control I have of my life.

    The first thing that happened centered around a mistaken laundry basket. See, my wife and I have two laundry baskets we use to transport our dirty laundry from our bedroom hampers upstairs to our laundry room downstairs.

    The problem is my wife tends to fill both laundry baskets with her clothes leaving me without a vehicle to transport my clothes. When this happens, I go into our laundry room, pick up one of the baskets with my wife’s clothes in it, dump them out and use the basket for my clothes.

    Then, when I’m done with the laundry basket, I pick up my wife’s clothes, put them back into the basket and life goes on.


    Oh, don’t judge me. I dare you to tell me you wouldn’t do the same thing.

    A few weeks ago, needing a laundry basket, I picked up a laundry basket full of what I believed to be my wife’s clothes. I then, as usual, dumped my wife’s clothes on to the floor.

    Now, perhaps you noticed I said I picked up a basket full of “what I believed to be my wife’s clothes.” Well, there is reason for that.

    What I didn’t know was only the very top of the basket contained my wife’s clothes. The rest of the basket contained a large collection of my wife’s arts and crafts supplies. Included in that large collection were several containers of glitter. And, as it turned out, the lid to at least one of those containers of glitter was-shall we say-less than secured.

    Have you ever dumped out a basket of what you believed to be clothes only to have an entire container of glitter spill all over your laundry room?

    Don’t. You’ll scream a lot of really bad words.

    Also, have you ever tried to clean up glitter? I mean, completely?

    Don’t. It can’t be done.

    For several days, our laundry room looked like a dressing room at a strip club.

    Or so I’ve been told.

    It has been more than two weeks since the glitter spill and I’m still finding it all over our house.

    Now, some of you are probably thinking “Well, Mike, if the glitter spilled in your laundry room two weeks ago how come you’re still finding it all over your house?”

    To some of you thinking that I say, “Clearly you know nothing about glitter.”

    Several days after the glitter incident my wife and I decided to order a heater for our three-season porch. The heater is one of those fake, electric fireplace things. I have mixed emotions about fake, electronic fireplaces things but my wife thought, if we ordered one, we could use our three-season porch more in the winter. Thereby turning our three-season porch into a four-season porch.

    This is how we ordered the heater.

    My wife looked one up on her phone showed it to me and then ordered it.

    I may have had time to say “OK,” before my wife ordered the heater but don’t think so.

    Anyway, several days later, two very nice guys delivered a large, heavy box containing the heater.

    “Oh, do we have to assemble it?” my wife asked the two nice guys.

    When the two nice guys said “Yes,” and then made a hasty retreat I got a bad feeling.

    I don’t assemble things well. If beer came with a note that said “Some assembly required” I would be in serious trouble.

    A few minutes later, when we opened the box, I discovered things weren’t as bad as I thought.

    They were worse. Much worse.

    The heater wasn’t one of those “Some assembly required” projects. The heater was one of those “Everything must be assembled” projects.

    The heater project would make an IKEA project seem like a day at the beach.

    Sensing my mood my wife quickly tried to defuse the situation.

    “Just help me spread everything out on the living room floor, I’ll get started and then we both can put it together. It’ll be easy.”

    a partial picture of the stuff what needs to be put together for our heater
    Here are some of the pieces for our heater that needs to be assembled.

    A little while later my wife stormed into our kitchen where I was sipping a beer and said, “THAT’S IT. I’M DONE. I’VE (Long stream of very crude and offensive words used in a variety of creative ways oddly enough with a slight Swedish accent) HAD IT. I’M CALLING BRIAN.”

    Brian lives next door. He and his brother Scott build things for a living. Over the years, Brian and Scott have built several things for us.

    A few days after my wife called Brian, Scott knocked on our door. I let him in and showed him our living room floor where the heater parts were scattered.

    He laughed.

    Then he put the heater together.

    scott halfway done putting our heater together
    Here is Scott not long after starting to put our heater together.

    “See, that wasn’t so bad,” my wife said when Scott was done.

    picture of fake fireplace
    Here is the fake, electronic fireplace that “wasn’t so bad” to put together.


    I have to be honest here.

    I hate green beans.










  • I swear I wasn’t trying

    The bar cannot get any lower.

    For years, the bar was always pretty low but it was never so low it couldn’t go lower.

    Until now.

    The only way the bar could get any lower is if someone took the bar, raised it briefly so a trench could be dug, and then placed the bar into said trench and covered it with dirt.

    That, my friends, would truly be a low bar.

    I don’t even know when the bar got lowered in the first place. One day the bar was in it’s usual low, but not as low as it is now position, and then last Sunday it was at it’s now all time high of a low.

    It’s a hell of a low, is what I’m saying.

    The bar I’m talking about is the one my wife and our 23-year-old daughter Emma lowered for me last Sunday. The bar is their measuring device of my ability to do things which explains why it’s always been pretty low.

    I’m not a complete moron and there are many things that I can do well. Unfortunately, the things I can do well mean nothing to my wife and Emma.

    For example, I can name, off the top of my head, the starting lineups for the 1964 and 1967 St. Louis Cardinals’ World Series teams.

    Does that impress my wife and Emma?

    What do you think?

    I can also quote many, many lines from the classic movie “Fletch” – something I think, after all these years, is pretty impressive.

    My wife and Emma?

    Not so much.

    Last Sunday, we made plans to go to Kansas City to take in the Van Gogh  immersive experience at Starlight Theater.

    By the way, if you haven’t been to the Van Gogh immersive experience do yourself a favor and go. It’s neat is what it is.

    Emma was home with us for the first part of the weekend so the plan was for my wife and Emma to ride in Emma’s car to her apartment in Kansas City while I drove my car. Because the Kansas City Chiefs were playing at noon on that Sunday, I left for Kansas City shortly after 9 a.m. so I could get to Emma’s apartment in time to watch the game while my wife and Emma opted to leave several hours later.

    Before I got to Emma’s apartment, I stopped at a grocery store to pick up beer and some snacks for the game. Of course, as it turns out, the Chiefs’ game was perhaps the worst  game I’ve ever seen.

    And I’ve been a Chiefs fan since 1967 so I know a little something about bad games.

    The game was so bad that by halftime I had already given up on the Chiefs’ chances. So, knowing that my wife and Emma would soon be arriving I opted to drown my football sorrows in a beer and some constructive activity.

    I figured my wife and Emma might be hungry when they arrived so I took out the cheeses and salami I picked up at the grocery store from the refrigerator. Then, I sliced up the cheeses and put them on a board I found in a cabinet in the kitchen. Then I rolled up several pieces on salami on the board, covered it with plastic and put it in the refrigerator. Then, before I shut the refrigerator door, I grabbed a beer, sat down and watched the Chiefs suck some more.

    About 30 minutes later, my wife and Emma showed up and once they got unloaded I mentioned the board of food in the refrigerator.

    This is what happened next.

    Wife: Thank you. (Opens the refrigerator). OH EMMA COME LOOK AT WHAT YOUR DAD DID!

    Me: I didn’t do anything. I swear. I was just trying to be nice.

    Emma: (Speaking to me) YOU DID THIS?

    Me: Yes. What’s wrong.

    Emma: IT’S SO CUTE.



    Me: I’m sitting right here you know.

    The thing is, I didn’t try. I just threw some cheese and salmi on a board.

    Here, let me show you. Here is a picture of the food board my wife took because she was so impressed with it.

    picture of tray of snacks i threw together
    See what I mean about not trying?

    I didn’t even lay out the fancy crackers I  bought at the grocery store on the board.

    It was a complete lack of trying, is what it was.

    See, once again my wife and Emma assumed I was trying to make a charcuterie board – something they both think is all the rage right now. But I wasn’t. I was just trying to slap some snacks on a board so they would have something to eat.

    That’s all.

    So one of two things happened last Sunday. Either I have severely underestimated the quality of the cheese and salami board I threw together.

    Or, much more likely, my wife and Emma have severely lowered the bar when it comes to their expectations of me.

    The thing is it’s not like I’m a chimp in the kitchen.

    I do 90 percent of the cooking at our house. Always have.

    By the way, when I first told my wife I was going to mention I did 90 percent of the cooking at our house she thought for a second and said “Why don’t you say 80 percent.”

    To which I replied, “How about 85 percent.”

    “Make it 82 percent,” my wife said.

    “OK,” I said.

    But then, as you can see, I went with the original and correct 90 percent.

    That’s what happens when you lower my bar.

  • Sometimes it’s the waiting that gets you

    I spent most of Monday waiting for our cable and Wi-Fi to come back on.

    It wasn’t the best day of my life but it beat last week when I spent most of my Tuesday afternoon waiting for my wife to get sick.

    See, on Monday I knew eventually our cable and Wi-Fi would come back on and my life would take a turn for the better.

    However, last Tuesday I knew my wife would eventually get sick and my life would take a turn for the worse.

    I need to clarify (Lest some of you think I’m a heartless jerk) that my wife wasn’t in danger of getting seriously sick last Tuesday. What she was in danger of was having an adverse reaction to her Covid booster shot which we both got earlier Tuesday.

    Since my wife had adverse reactions to both of her Covid vaccines in March, the nice lady who gave us our booster shots last Tuesday told my wife she would likely have a reaction to her third shot.

    I didn’t have a reaction to my first Covid shots and wasn’t anticipating having one to my booster and, as it turned out, I was correct in my  assumption.

    I should also point out that my wife’s reaction probably isn’t so much Covid vaccine related as it is medical history related.

    My wife tends to have adverse reactions to almost every shot she gets. I think my wife once had an adverse reaction to a tequila shot.

    I think.

    So, last Tuesday I waited about three or four hours and, sure enough, my wife got sort of sick.

    My wife tends to get sort of sick a lot and I tend to seldom get sick. When I was younger my older sister Mary told me it’s possible, I didn’t get sick very often because I had encephalitis when we lived in Okinawa which she theorized gave me some sort of immunity.

    But I don’t know.

    It seems to me whatever protection I got from encephalitis would have worn off in the fifty plus years since I contracted it.

    But I’m no doctor.

    Anyway, because I don’t often get sick it’s hard for me to relate to someone who does get sick.

    It’s sort of a Yin and Yang thing.

    Well, I think it is but I’ve never really been sure exactly what a Yin and Yang thing was. For years I thought Ying and Yang were the names of those pandas at the Washington Zoo.

    But, again, I don’t know.

    Here’s how my wife and I worked out my role in dealing with her adverse reaction to the booster shot.

    She laid in bed upstairs, slept or watched TV and felt bad while  I sat downstairs, drank beer, watched baseball and felt great.

    If my wife needed something she called my cellphone and told me what she needed.

    I then rolled my eyes, got up, got what she needed and took it upstairs to her.

    Me: Here is (whatever the heck it was she needed).

    Wife: I heard you roll your eyes.

    I need to make a serious point here. Please don’t let the fact that my wife had an adverse reaction from the Covid vaccine make you hesitant to get the shot. My wife has said many, many times she would rather have a reaction from the vaccine than actually get Covid.

    Anyway, by Wednesday of last week, my wife recovered from her reaction and things were  fine in our world until Monday morning when we woke to find the storm that rolled through the area late Sunday night and early Monday and knocked off our power and our cable and Wi-Fi.

    While our power came back on pretty quickly our cable and Wi-Fi did not.

    Lately our cable and Wi-Fi seem to go out more than they used to which is sort of tough because the company that provides our cable and Wi-Fi, sometime ago, closed its local office so now the only way we have to get into touch with the company is to call some toll-free number.

    When I do that and finally get an automated person to talk to me the automated person suggests I first visit their website which never fails to elicit this response from me.


    And then the automated person always says the following:

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Would you like me to repeat our menu items?”

    And once again I’m reminded why it’s a good thing my wife and I aren’t gun people.

    It used to be when our Wi-Fi went out, we could still use our cellphones to access the Internet but lately that has not been the case.

    I don’t know why we can’t  use our cellphones to access the Internet when our Wi-Fi goes out, I just know we can’t.

    All of this is even worse if our 23-year-old daughter Emma happens to be here when our Wi-Fi and cable go out.

    Ever spend an afternoon with your wife when she can’t watch “Blue Bloods” repeats on TV and your 23-year-old daughter when she can’t access the Internet?


    You’d be better off having an adverse reaction to a Covid vaccine shot.


  • Changing thoughts on fall

    It’s starting.

    I know it’s early and there is more warm weather ahead of us but this morning I felt it.

    The change.

    Not in me. People who have known me a long time will tell you I haven’t changed since 1973.

    No, the change I’m talking about is the change in the seasons.

    Wednesday morning when I stepped outside to walk our dog Caicos, I noticed it was cooler. Not just, “I think it’s a little cooler” but more like “Holy (bad word) maybe I should go back inside and get a pair of jeans instead of wearing these shorts,” cooler.

    I actually noticed it had gotten a bit cooler Tuesday morning. On that walk my wife was with Caicos and me and we both commented on how it was a bit cooler.

    Me and my wife I mean. Caicos doesn’t talk about the weather much. Caicos, I think, figures since she has no control over the weather it doesn’t do much good to talk about it.

    I think that’s what Caicos figures.

    My wife, on the other paw, talks about the weather nonstop. My wife has two basic weather opinions.

    Opinion No. 1: IT’S SO HOT! I’M BURNING UP.

    Or .

    Opinion No. B: IT’S SO COLD. I’M FREEZING.

    To my knowledge, my wife has never said, “This weather is perfect.”

    The fact that it’s getting cooler means that, before too long, I will switch from shorts and flip flops to jeans and tennis shoes.

    And since Wednesday was the first official day of fall it also means that soon the leaves on the maple trees in our neighborhood will start to change colors and eventually fall to the ground.

    By the way, the great Jim Gaffigan, wisely points out that when people flock to areas to take in fall foliage, they are actually reveling in the death of the leaves.

    I think Jim and I share the same semi-dark Catholic sense of humor.

    Anyway, Tuesday morning my wife  said she was “freezing” while we walked Caicos. As we got to the vacant house with the huge yard on our street Caicos began veering over towards it.

    Caicos loves the big yard surrounding the vacant house on our street. So did Shilo our German shepherd and Shadow our border collie who both came before Caicos.

    The house has been vacant for a more than 20 years. It’s a nice house though. The owners maintain the house and take care of the yard. They just don’t seem to be in a hurry to sell.

    Caicos loves walking through the yard and scaring up the occasional rabbit or squirrel.

    When Caicos started ambling over to the yard, I mentioned to my wife that I was going to have to walk through the cold, wet grass in my flip flops.

    “Just tell her ‘No’,” my wife said.

    This is where my wife and I differ when it comes to pets. My wife looks at pets from a human perspective. And from that perspective my wife thinks I would be a moron to let  Caicos drag me through a yard full of cold, wet grass.

    I, however, look at pets from their perspective.

    Here’s a typical day for Caicos.

    My wife and I get up. We go downstairs.  My wife fixes coffee while I give the cats their morning treats. Then I call for Caicos, who is patiently sitting at the top of the stairs. When Caicos comes downstairs and sees me standing by the breezeway door holding a travel mug of coffee she begins jumping up and down as if to say, “A WALK! WE GET TO GO ON A WALK! THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!”

    At the end of our walk I feed Caicos then she walks to the footstool in our family room, climbs on it and starts looking out into the backyard.

    That’s it. That’s her day.

    So, the way I figure it, if Caicos wants to walk through cold, wet grass the least I can do is let her.

    Now, some of you reading this may be asking, “Well, Mike if you say you look at things from the pets’ perspective why do you let Caicos scare rabbits and squirrels? Don’t they have rights?”

    To some of you asking that I say you make an interesting point. While the rabbits and squirrels Caicos scares are-technically-not pets they do have rights. But, then again, rabbits tend to be lucky, what with that whole foot thing and squirrels…well…they have their nuts.

    Some of you asking the question about rabbits and squirrels are now probably asking, “Mike, you just made up that question so you could do a squirrel/nuts joke, didn’t you?”

    To some of you asking that I can neither confirm nor deny what you seem to be implying.

    All I can say is I love squirrel/nuts jokes. As far as I’m concerned David Letterman was the master of the squirrel/nuts comedy genre.

    When I was writing for a newspaper, I spent years trying to  work squirrel/nuts jokes into my columns only to have them all removed by editors who were tragically humor impaired.

    Here is an example of what I’m talking about. When our now 23-year-old daughter Emma was four my wife decided to throw a large party for Emma and many of her friends. Because my wife is not totally crazy she designed the party to be held in our backyard rather than in our house.

    Unfortunately we woke up on the day of the party to heavy rainfall which would require my wife to move the party inside. Something she clearly did not want to do.

    I later wrote a column about that party and my wife’s reluctance to acknowledge the rain. In that column, by way of trying to convince my wife that it was indeed raining very hard, I wrote the following:

    “Look at that squirrel,” I said to my wife. “His nuts are floating.”

    Editors hated me.

    To sum up: It’s getting cooler. Squirrels are worried about their nuts and soon, according to Jim, thousands and thousands of leaves will fall to their death.

    Enjoy your fall.








  • Too much beige, whatever that is

    This column first appeared in a newspaper in April of 2008.

    On Thursday morning, I was standing in our kitchen talking to our German shepherd Shilo.

    I do that a lot, by the way. I talk to my dog. I like talking to Shilo. She, unlike my wife or my 10-year-old daughter, Emma, seems to listen to me. Although, to be fair, Shilo — like my wife or Emma — normally doesn’t have a clue what I’m talking about. She just stares at me hoping I’ll say something she understands. You know, words like “Walk.” Or “Rabbit.” Or “Limbaugh.”

    Thursday morning, I think I was talking about the Kansas City Chiefs’ draft. I told Shilo I thought the Chiefs did a pretty good job in the draft. I think Shilo was getting ready to tell me that the Chiefs should have drafted a center for the offensive line, but before she could my wife screamed from upstairs.

    Because my wife yells at Shilo a lot, Shilo immediately assumed she was in trouble and tried to hide behind my legs. But because my wife yells at me a lot, I also immediately assumed I was in trouble and tried to hide behind Shilo’s legs. It got confusing in our kitchen for a minute or two.

    When my wife came downstairs, I manned up and asked her what was wrong. She told me she had to change tops. I asked her why. (I am, if nothing, a gifted conversationalist.) My wife told me she had to change tops because the one she was wearing had “too much beige.”

    I told my wife that made sense to me, even though it didn’t.

    First of all, I’m sort of unsure about beige. I’m not really clear what beige looks like. I have six brothers and sisters so a lot of times, as a kid, I got hand-me-downs. One of the things that sometimes got handed down to me were crayons. So even if we were lucky enough to have a box of crayons that carried the exotic color of beige, by the time I got the box the beige crayon would have been lost. I’m also unsure about aqua for the same reason.

    I think beige is some sort of off-white, or off-gray, or off-brown. Really, all I know about beige is that it’s “off” something.

    But even if I was sure what beige looked like, I didn’t understand why having too much of it would force my wife to change tops. I guess having too much beige is a fashion no-no. I guess having too much beige is the equivalent of wearing a blue denim shirt with blue jeans. Although, to be honest, I was under the impression that you could wear blue denim shirts with blue jeans. I seem to remember doing that a lot. I seem to remember a lot of people doing that a lot.

    My wife told me that I’m correct in my memory. The only problem, my wife said, is that my memory was from 1978 and this, as my wife is fond of reminding me, is not 1978. I don’t understand that. Well, I understand that this is not 1978. What I don’t understand is if it was OK to wear blue denim shirts with blue jeans in 1978, how come it’s not OK to wear blue denim shirts with blue jeans today?

    My wife said it’s not OK because she says it’s not OK. I asked my wife if that means I can’t wear my blue jean sports jacket with blue jeans. My wife told me that she threw my blue jean sports jacket out years ago.

    I asked my wife if she also threw out my Larry Bird Boston Celtic’s jersey out. My wife said no. She said I threw it out when I discovered that it was too small for me.

    That’s too bad, I said. Because I was really looking forward to wearing my blue jean sports jacket with my Larry Bird Boston Celtic’s jacket and blue jeans.

    My wife told me she was married to a moron. I asked her if he was bigger than me. My wife told me that was an old joke.

    After my wife swapped her top with too much beige for a top with no beige, she left for work. After she left for work Shilo and I looked at each other for a second. Then I asked Shilo if she knew what color beige was. Shilo didn’t say anything. Then I remembered that Shilo is a dog and, as such, can’t see color.

    Then she told me the Chiefs also should have drafted another cornerback.

  • Trying to live a life without math

    My bank gave me math anxiety.

    To be correct my bank’s ATM gave me math anxiety but since the ATM belongs to my bank I think it’s fair to say my bank gave me math anxiety.

    Normally I don’t get math anxiety. The reason I normally don’t get bank anxiety is because I’ve spent most of my life avoiding math.

    I don’t like math. Never had. Early on, when I first encountered math in elementary school, I would, on occasion, make an attempt to like it. But after a few bouts with long division or uneven fractions I would give up.

    I learned early on that math was not for me.

    Sure, I had friends who liked math. I mean I think I did but off the top of my head I can’t recall any.

    I didn’t exactly run with a bright crowd.

    So what do you do when you discover you don’t like something? You avoid that something as much as possible.

    I don’t like Brussels sprouts. Do I order Brussels sprouts when I’m at a restaurant? Of course not. Why would I order something I don’t like?

    So why would I surround myself with math when I don’t have to?

    During my freshman year of college at Emporia State University I was told I needed to take at least one math class. I asked the college person for the easiest math class they had and enrolled in that one.

    “How easy was that math class?” you ask.

    You know how must basic college courses are followed by the numbers like “101” or “102”? As in “English 101” or “History 102”.

    The math course I took my freshman year was “Math -10.”

    It was an easy course is what I’m saying.

    Even though the math course I took was incredibly easy I still got a “D” in the class.

    Of course that may have been in part because I seldom went to class and may have sort of forgotten to take the final.

    But still? A “D”? In Math -10?

    Ever since I’ve done my best to avoid math and thus reduce the risk of math anxiety.

    But my bank’s ATM changed all of that.

    What happened is my bank decided to put in a new ATM. I hate when banks put in new ATMs. It’s like when the people who control my cellphone decide to “update” it without asking.

    I go to bed one night and all is right with the world and the next morning my phone is all screwed up and nothing makes sense anymore.

    I used to put my bank card into the ATM, type in my PIN and it would give me money. But the other day when I put my card in the new ATM at first nothing happened.

    Then my ATM told me to take my card out, put it back in and quickly take it back out.

    Not wanting to be rude and tell my ATM that it was acting crazy I instead did what it asked.

    After I put my card in and then quickly pulled it out my ATM told me to put my card back in and leave it in. And it didn’t tell me to that politely. Nope, my ATM told me to put my card back in and leave it in using all capital letters.

    That’s right. My ATM shouted at me. So, as far as I was concerned, all bets were off and I shouted back at the ATM.


    In retrospect, I suppose I should have, before shouting at the ATM, made sure there wasn’t anyone close enough to hear me.

    Ever notice when someone starts off a sentence with the words, “In retrospect” the rest of the sentence doesn’t go well for that someone?

    After waving at the person behind me in an attempt to convince them I wasn’t crazy I continued with my ATM business.

    I wanted to withdraw exactly $30 from my ATM. The reason I wanted to withdraw exactly $30 is because that is the exact amount I needed to give to Andrew who was going to check on our dog for a bit while my wife and I were going to be out of town.

    But when I asked my ATM for exactly $30 the ATM informed me I could only ask for “$20, $40, $60, $80 our $100”.

    I don’t like to carry a lot of cash anymore which was why I was at the ATM trying to get exactly $30.

    I wanted to make sure I got a $20 bill and a $10 bill. That’s it. That’s all I wanted. But my ATM had other plans.

    Clearly the $20 option wasn’t the correct choice nor, did I think, was the $40 option because I was afraid my ATM would only give me two $20 bills. So, on a hunch, I choice the $60 option.

    Then my ATM threw a curve: It asked me to pick the dollar denominations to equal $60.

    And that’s when the math anxiety kicked in.

    Remember that person behind me who heard me yell at the ATM? Well, now I felt even more pressure to quickly make a dollar denomination choice that would equal $60 yet still give me a $10 bill and a $20 bill.

    Why should the person behind me be punished for my dislike of math?

    I try to be a considerate guy. I mean, I got the vaccine and still wear a mask around other people.

    I’m not the sort of person to make another person wait just because I spent my life avoiding math.

    I took a deep breath and as if possessed by a part of my brain I didn’t realize existed I quickly asked the ATM for two $10 bills and two $20 bills.

    And miraculously that’s exactly what my ATM gave me.

    Oh, and two Brussels sprouts.


    My ATM is sort of a smart ass.




  • Maybe next time James

    This column first appeared in a newspaper in August, 2003.

    Sometime this evening, James Taylor will take the stage in Kansas City and thousands of people who think “rap” is something you do with presents will grab their walkers, jump to their feet and yell the same thing.

    “What happened to his hair?”

    My wife and I were supposed to be among those thousands of people, but instead newsroom staffer Scott Meeker and his wife Brett, will be sitting in our seats.

    We had to sell our tickets to the Meekers because tomorrow is our 5-year-old daughter Emma’s first day of kindergarten-something we didn’t realize three months ago when we spent roughly 15 hours on the phone ordering concert tickets through some sort of “Ticketron, Mastertix, Tix R’ Us” service.

    Ordering concert tickets over the phone is no fun.

    “Welcome to Ticketron, Mastertix, Tix R’ Us. If you are using a touch-tone phone there will be $99 service charge. If you agree to the charge please press #1. If you are using a rotary phone WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU? THIS IS 2003. WHO USES A ROTARY PHONE ANYMORE? WHAT ARE YOU SOME SORT OF JAMES TAYLOR FAN?”

    The people at ticket-ordering places tend to be a little surly.

    Call us crazy parents but we didn’t feel like taking off to Kansas City this weekend and getting home at 1 a.m. on the day Emma starts kindergarten. My wife in particular has determined that Emma’s first day of kindergarten will be a special day at or house.

    My wife has already spent countless hours labeling, coloring and decorating all of Emma’s school supplies. She decorated Emma’s pencil box, the mat Emma is supposed to sleep on, her glue bottles, her scissors and every individual crayon.

    My role in all of this decorating has been mainly to hang around and make supportive comments like “Hey, what’s with all the school supplies?”

    Emma’s role in all of the school preparation has been to question whether she actually needs to go to kindergarten. It’s not that Emma is against public education, it’s just that she has some concerns.

    Her concerns, in no particular order, are as follows:

    Can I bring my bear Sammy for nap time?

    Will I have to take a nap even if I’m not tired?

    Will Molly, Beth, Jazmyne, Ashleigh, Hadley and Sabrina all be in my class?

    If Daddy takes me to school will he at least try and comb his hair?

    I don’t remember much about my first day of kindergarten, but I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t make that big a deal about the event.

    I have six brothers and sisters so each year on the first day of the new school year, my mom would walk into our living room where we were all gathered and she would point her finger at some of us and say “You, you and you go to school. The rest of you stay here.”

    Mom was kind of busy.

    So, tonight, instead of sitting with a bunch of former hipsters trying to remember the words to James Taylor songs (“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days I thought would never end but I…something…something…something…can’t believe I’m not still married to Carly Simon”) my wife and I will lay out all of Emma’s new school supplies and her new “first day of school” clothes and then we’ll tuck Emma into bed.

    Then we’ll go downstairs and maybe we’ll pop in a James Taylor CD and sit back and think about how our little girl is not so much a little girl anymore.

    And then, as James Taylor sings “Smiling Face” we’ll both sigh and think the same thing.

    “Seriously, what happened to his hair?”


  • Counting the first not firsts

    We didn’t take the picture this year.

    I thought about saying something but I remembered I hated taking the picture so I kept my mouth shut.

    Emma hates taking the picture too so I’m thinking, if she even thought about the fact that we didn’t take it, she would have probably kept her mouth shut too.

    My wife obviously forgot about the picture because she is the only one who loves taking it.

    I shouldn’t say Emma and I hate everything about  taking the picture it’s just that, with my wife, a little bit tends to go a long way.

    A really, really long way.

    The picture I’m talking about isn’t just a picture. It’s a series of pictures we took on every one of Emma’s first days of school from 2003 until 2020.

    Here, is the order in which the pictures usually were taken.

    Picture #1: Emma on our porch by herself.

    Picture#2: Emma and me on the porch.

    Picture #3: Emma and my wife on our porch.

    Picture #4: Emma and her friend Katie in the parkway between our house and Katie’s house.

    Picture #5: Emma, Katie and me telling my wife to quit taking pictures or everyone will be late for the first day of school.

    There were a lot of pictures to be taken is what I’m saying.

    Making things worse in the picture taking department is that as time marched on and our phones also became cameras my wife insisted pictures be taken both on a regular camera and on a cellphone.

    Several cellphones, in fact.

    This, if I remember my math increased the number of pictures taken by…(let’s see…I know this… you just move the decimal point to the left, or maybe the right and then do something with the cosign and you get) roughly 274 percent.

    I think.

    Last year when Emma was heading back to the University of Kansas for her last year of graduate school, we took what I told Emma would be our last first day of school picture.

    “I hope,” Emma said. “If not, I’ll be in real trouble.”

    Emma is no longer in graduate school she is working as a designer in Kansas City. So, last week, when she was heading back to Kansas City after spending a weekend at home with us, no one thought about taking the picture.

    Well, as I already mentioned, I thought about it but had the good sense not to bring it up.

    Later, after Emma left, and my wife and I took our walk my wife stopped and said, “Oh no! We didn’t take the  picture.”

    “What picture?” I asked because I didn’t just fall of the school supplies truck.

    “The first day of school picture,” my wife said.

    “It’s not her first day of school. She’s heading back to work,” I said.

    “But still,” my wife said.

    I don’t know how things are with other people but my wife can pack a whole lot of stuff in a simple, “But still.”

    My wife was of the opinion we should have taken some sort of picture to mark Emma’s first not first day of school.

    That’s right. My wife is now counting the “not first days of school.”

    Next year, around this time, I’m guessing my wife will get a small tear in her eye and say “This is Emma’s second not first day of school. We should get a picture.”

    The walk my wife and I were on is the walk I suggested we take several months ago. See, last January my wife decided to cut back a bit and began working only three days a week.

    In an effort to try and show that I care about such things, last spring, I suggested my wife and I, on the days she didn’t work, take a walk from our house, to the Square downtown and back. A distance of about three miles.

    “It will be good for us,” I said.

    And when I said “good for us” I meant, of course, good for my wife.

    See my wife tends to get wound up about stuff.

    “How wound up?” you ask.

    So wound up she is now counting Emma’s not first days of school. That’s how wound up.

    So, I was thinking a three-mile walk, two or three days a week, would help keep my wife from getting so wound up.

    That’s what I was thinking anyway.

    But what happens is because my wife insists on carrying her phone on our walks, she sometimes still manages to wind herself up.

    Here is how a typical walk goes:

    Me (Half a block into our walk): Boy it sure is quiet.

    Wife: Yes it… (phone rings) Hello. No, she didn’t!  She did? I can’t believe it. Wait I’ve got another call, I’ll call you back. Hello. I know! I just found out. Can you believe she did it?

    Me (An hour and a half later): Well that was nice.

    My wife: I know! I can believe she did it. Wait a minute, Mike’s saying something. What did you say Mike?

    Me: (Sigh) Nothing.

    But despite my wife not totally unwinding on our walks she seems to enjoy them. They do let us mentally slip away for a while and let’s face it taking a three-mile walk two or three times a week is sort of healthy.

    Or it would be if my wife and I didn’t sometimes stop at a nice place on the Square for burgers and beers halfway through our walk.

    But that’s probably just a bit of nitpicking.

    In 2003 when we posed for those first, first day of school pictures I never imagined my wife and I would turn into one of those old couples who take walks.

    But we did.

    And now we’re counting not first days of school.


  • Is this Ireland? No it’s Kansas but it will do

    Well, it sort of looked like Ireland.

    I mean, I think it sort of looked like Ireland but since I’ve never been to Ireland, I really can’t be sure.

    What it was, was Southeast Kansas. Specifically it was a stretch of the Flint Hills between Fredonia and Wichita my wife and I were driving through on Tuesday.

    If things had gone according to plan, we might have been on our way to Ireland instead of Wichita but Covid pretty much dashed those plans.

    Actually, I’m not sure plans can be “dashed” but if they can our plans to go to Ireland for our 30th anniversary were.

    To be honest Covid didn’t actually dash our plans. The selfish morons who refuse to get vaccinated dashed our plans. But I guess that’s spilt milk.

    My wife and I were driving to Wichita to celebrate our 30th anniversary. The reason we were driving to Wichita to celebrate our 30th anniversary was because we wanted to spend it with my Uncle Jim and Aunt Ev.

    My wife and I got married on a sailboat in Key West, Florida. Jim and Ev were part of that wedding.

    By the way, one of the reasons we decided to get married on a sailboat in Key West was because I thought people would offer us free drinks to celebrate our wedding.

    I was wrong.

    Turns out a lot of people get married in Key West so, not only do people not offer you free drinks if you get married there, but some people want you to offer them free drinks.

    I didn’t think that was fair.

    The other reason we got married on a sailboat in Key West was because I thought we would be in international waters so the marriage wouldn’t count.

    I’ve told a version of that same joke many, many times and my wife has never once laughed.

    Go figure.

    I’ve always been close to Jim and Ev. I lived with them for a while when I was attending Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. Southern Illinois was one of the many colleges I attended while I was searching for the perfect school mascot.

    And dodging parking ticket fines.

    After we got married my wife and I stayed close to Jim and Ev. I even got my wife to overcome her fear of the outdoors by going on float trips with Jim and Ev.

    So last week when my wife and I were talking about our upcoming anniversary we decided the full circle thing to do would be to spend the day with Jim and Ev.

    The past few years haven’t been easy on my aunt and uncle. Several years ago Jim began fading a bit. Gradually Jim went from having good and bad days to having good and bad moments forcing Ev to make some tough decisions. But those decisions were made and handled with strength, grace and good humor.

    And while Jim might not always be the same Jim that I’ve known since I was six-years-old there are times when his quick, sharp, humor rears its head. There are times when he will look at you with that deadpanned expression he is so famous for and say something that will make you laugh. And laugh.

    Something that will make you realize that the Jim we all know is still there.

    Tuesday, when we were visiting with them, Ev asked Jim if he wanted to go to the bathroom before we ate lunch. Jim looked at Ev for a second, then he looked at me smiled and said “If you think it will help.”

    And we all laughed.

    It was a moment is what it was.

    We had a nice lunch. My wife and I sat with Jim, Ev and my cousin Pam and we talked and remembered. Most of the time Jim sat quietly while we chatted. But every once in a while, something would trigger a memory and Jim would briefly join the conversation or laugh at something he thought was funny.

    It was a nice lunch.

    picture showing me with jim and ev
    An actual picture of me with Jim and Ev taken by my actual wife after our lunch.

    On the drive back to Carthage, my wife insisted we stop in Fredonia.

    My dad was in the military so we moved a lot when I was a kid. During all of those moves my dad’s hometown of Fredonia served as something of a home port for us.

    Between moves, my family would spend  parts of several summers in Fredonia.

    We even lived in Fredonia for about six months before we left to spend a few years in Okinawa.

    I’ve told my wife a lot of stories about Fredonia so she decided I should take her on a tour of sorts around the town. I showed my wife where my grandmother’s house used to be. I showed her where the house my family lived in use to be and I showed her the building that used to be the Catholic school I attended.

    Basically I showed my wife a lot of places where things used to be.

    I’m sort of old.

    There was one thing I showed my wife that still is: The Tri Mee Drive-Inn.

    Mike and Lee in front of the Tri Mee sign in Fredonia Kansas
    My wife insisted on a selfie at the Tri-Mee. By the way, I hate selfies.

    When I was a kid my brother Pat and sister Mary used to walk from my grandmother’s house to the municipal swimming pool and when we did, we would  pass the Tri-Mee. Somedays if we were lucky and happen to have 20 or 30 cents, we would stop at the Tri-Mee on the way home from the pool and get a couple orders of fries.

    If we were even luckier our parents might even take us to the Tri-Mee for dinner. If you were a kid living in Fredonia in the 1960s a trip to the Tri-Mee or the Dairy Queen on a hot summer evening was about as close to heaven as you could get.

    It’s possible the drive-inn back then wasn’t called the Tri-Mee and perhaps the ownership might have changed over the years. All I know is the food was and still is really good.

    a picture of the menu at the Try-Mee Drive Inn
    In case you’re interested here is the Tri-Mee menu.

    Over the years I’ve mentioned to my wife how great the food was at the Tri-Mee. Tuesday, she said  I should show her how great it was.

    So I did.

     a picture showing our dinner at the Try-Mee
    Here is our dinner at the Tri-Me. I had the burger and fries. My wife had susie-q’s and a corn dog. My wife is weird.

    I’ll admit it. Wichita isn’t Ireland and Fredonia isn’t Key West.

    But they’ll do.

    In a full circle sort of way.



  • ‘Full House’ upside down

    This column first appeared in a newspaper in the spring of 2005.

    I hopped over another parental hurdle this week.

    I learned how to put our 7-year-old daughter Emma’s hair in a ponytail.

    Ha! That’s a joke. Emma hasn’t let me touch her hair since she was three.

    No, the parental hurdle I hopped over was the TV show “Full House.”

    Thanks to the magic of reruns I know understand “Full House.” I used to think that “Full House,” was a lame situation comedy featuring a few adults and several kids that, for some reason, was allowed to stay on TV much longer than you would have thought it should have been allowed.

    And on one level that’s probably true. But I have recently discovered that there is more to “Full House,” than it appears. Don’t get me wrong, from my perspective, “Full House,” is still mostly a lame TV show but at least now I understand why it’s been allowed to stay on TV as long as it has.

    Seven-year-old girls.

    Emma loves “Full House.” And when I say Emma “loves ‘Full House,’” I mean that in the sense Dick Cheney “loves” the Fox News Channel.

    Because Emma is seven, she doesn’t exactly have a long attention span. Goldfish have longer attention spans than 7-year-old kids. Except when it comes to a television show that grabs their attention. A television show like “Full House.”

    Emma normally starts watching a TV show sitting in an upright position in one of our living room chairs. If she likes the show, after a few minutes, she’ll sort of slump over to one side so her head is leaning on one arm of the chair. Then, if she thinks the show is really interesting, she’ll swing her legs and feet over the other side of the chair. She will then gradually start moving her feet up over the back of the chair while, at the same time, slowly move her head to the bottom of the chair. At this point, Emma is completely upside down, yet somehow still engrossed in her television show.

    Emma loves to watch “Full House,” upside down.

    Sometimes, when I’m in the kitchen, I’ll hear someone laughing in the living room. So, I’ll walk into the living room, look at the chair and say to myself, “That’s odd. There is a pair of feet laughing at ‘Full House.’ I don’t get it. The show’s not that funny.”

    Then I’ll go back into the kitchen.

    I don’t ask a lot of questions in our house.

    Now, if my wife were to walk into the living room and see a pair of feet laughing at “Full House,” she would say, “Emma get your feet off the chair and sit up.”

    My wife pays attention to detail a bit more than I do.

    She’ll, for example, will notice the chocolate Pop-Tart crumbs on Emma’s face as she is walking out the door to go to school.

    Wife: Emma did you wash your face?

    Emma: Yes, and Daddy said I did a good job.

    Wife: Mike!

    Me: I said “good” not “great.”

    I’m not given much responsibility in our house.

    Here’s what I now understand about “Full House.” What is lame to an adult is pretty much the exact opposite to a 7-year-old girl. Emma thinks “Full House,” is fall-down funny. As in Mel Brooks fall-down funny.

    Here is a typical scene from a “Full House” episode.

    The guy with the big hair will walk into a room and do, what appears to be, an impression of Elvis Presley. Then the guy who plays the alleged comedian walks into the room and says “Cut…It…Out,” and the skinny guy who went on to host that “Sort of Funny Video” show comes in and says “I love you guys,” for no apparent reason. And finally one of the Olsen twins (does it really matter which one?) waddles in and says “You got it dude.”

    At this point in the scene Emma is laughing so hard that tears are running down her cheeks.

    Well, actually the tears are running up her cheeks.

    That’s what happens when you’re laughing upside down.


  • Just another moving experience

    It was the last move.

    I think.

    I mean my wife said it was the last move but she’s said lots of things that sounded true but later turned out not to be.

    Wife: Well that’s the last dance competition you’ll ever have to sit through.

    Me: Thank God.

    One month later:

    Wife: Good news, Emma has another dance competition you get to sit through.

    Me: “(The exact opposite of, ‘Thank God.’)”

    So it’s possible it was not the last move.

    The move of which I’m referring to is the move of our 23-year-old daughter Emma out of her Lawrence, Kansas apartment.

    Well, actually it was the second move out of Emma’s Lawrence, Kansas apartment.

    See, Emma has been living in an apartment in Kansas City for several months and so at first, we moved just what she needed to complete her Kansas City apartment.

    Since the lease on Emma’s Lawrence, Kansas apartment doesn’t end until the end of this month my wife opted to delay the final move.

    “But don’t worry,” my wife told me. “It won’t be too bad. There isn’t that much to move.”

    “Oh (seriously bad, bad word),” I said.

    See, I’ve been involved in many moves with my wife and every time she said “Don’t worry. It won’t be that bad” she was correct.

    It was worse.

    “If it won’t be that bad why are we renting a U-Haul truck?” I asked.

    “Don’t worry about it,” my wife said.

    So, I worried.

    Since Emma’s first year in college in  2016, we have moved her at least 10 times.

    I think that’s a lot.

    Now, granted, some of the moves were not your regular full-fledged moves. But they were moves, nonetheless.

    I’ve mentioned this before but I think “nonetheless” is one of the greatest words ever. It’s like three words for the price of one.

    I think we could use more words like nonetheless. Words like “thebabybackribsaredone” or “justgetthevaccineyoufriggingmoron.”

    Having to rent the truck told me all I needed to know about this latest move. In my moving experience, if you have to rent a truck, it’s going to be a bad move.

    Normally, my wife is quick to say “Oh, it will all fit in your car” when we move Emma. Of course, when my wife says “Oh, it will all fit in your car,” what she really means “There is no way it will all fit in your car and we will have to make at least three trips.”

    So, when my said we needed to rent a truck for this move, I knew I was screwed.


    To be fair we didn’t have to rent the biggest truck they had on the lot.

    But still. We had to rent a truck.

    Now, I will never claim to be a member of the blue-collar working class but I did  spend several months working in the oil fields around Pawhuska, Oklahoma. And I spent some of those months driving trucks but that was more than 40 years ago.

    Since then, I have spent much more time making up goofy stuff on typewriters and computers than I have driving trucks.

    Making things worse is that in order to pick up the key to Emma’s Lawrence, Kansas apartment we had to drive to Emma’s Kansas City apartment.

    Have you ever driven a semi-large truck in and around Kansas City?

    Don’t. You won’t like it.

    The reason we had to drive to Kansas City to get the key from Emma was, because of a work conflict, she would not be able to help with the move out of her Lawrence, Kansas apartment.

    I’ll wait for a second so the few of you still reading this can say, “Wait. What?”

    That’s right, Emma was not able to help us with the move out of her own apartment.

    “Well, Mike,” the few of you who are still reading this are thinking. “Why didn’t you pick a day when Emma didn’t have to work to move her out of her apartment?”

    To the few of you who are still reading this and are thinking that, I say, “Ask my wife.”

    No, seriously, please ask her because when I asked her and all she said was “Mind you own business.”

    We got to Lawrence at noon on Friday. My wife said we would probably be done loading the truck by 2 p.m.

    We left Lawrence at 3:30 p.m. just in time to run into rush-hour traffic in Kansas City.

    Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic.

    Have you ever driven a semi-large truck full of stuff through Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic in Kansas City?

    Don’t. You really won’t like it.

    We arrived back in Carthage sometime after 6:30 p.m. and started to unload the stuff out of the truck and put it in a garage in the back of our house.

    But before we could put the stuff into the garage in the back of our house, we had to unload other stuff in the garage to make room for the new stuff on the truck.

    “But Mike”, the few of you who are still reading this are thinking, why didn’t you take the stuff out of the garage before bringing a truck load of new stuff to put in it.

    To the few of you who are still reading this and are thinking that I say to you again, “Ask my wife.”

    Eventually we got the truck unloaded and drove it back to Joplin. When we got home, I sat down to drink a beer and discovered the St. Louis Cardinals had lost the game I had hoped to watch but wasn’t able to what with all the loading and unloading.

    “Well, at least I didn’t have to watch them lose,” I said to myself in a serious case of trying to look on the bright side of life.

    It was later that night when my wife announced the move was our last one for Emma.

    “There is no (Incredibly long string of bad words used as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, run-on sentences and dangling participles,) way that is ever going to be true,” I said to myself.

    But what the heck? Maybe next time it will all fit in my car.

  • The porch is seasoned

    Well, it’s three-season porch time again.

    I was tempted to write “it’s three-season porch season again” but I felt that would be too many seasons in one sentence.

    I don’t think that’s a writing rule so much as it is a personal preference. Actually, most of my takes on writing are based more on personal preferences than rules.

    Sort of explains why I was never very popular with editors when I worked at a newspaper. Also sort of explains why I’m glad I no longer work at a newspaper.

    I much prefer personal preference to rules.

    Now, where was I?

    Oh, right. Three-season porch time.

    I’m writing this while sitting on our three-season porch listening to music on my cellphone via a blue tooth speaker.

    It’s not a bad place to write a column.

    Of course, it’s not the best place to write a column. I’ve written columns poolside in Key West, Florida, on the beach in the Turks and Caicos Islands and in the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, Illinois.

    But still the three-season porch isn’t bad.

    The three-season porch is really a two-and-a-half-season porch. We use our three-season porch throughout most of the spring and most of the fall but only about half of the summer. It gets hot in the summer here in Missouri.

    But let’s face it, a two-and-a-half-season porch sounds kind of stupid.

    When we bought our house nearly 20 years ago our three-season porch was mostly a slab of concrete on the side of house wrapped in slowly deteriorating wooden screens.

    The porch, as we called it back then, had clearly seen better days. So, converting the slab of concrete into something else was one of our first priorities.

    And by “our” I mean my wife and the guy we hired to help us renovate our house. And by “hired to help” I mean hired to renovate our house while doling out just enough things for me to do to make me feel like I was helping but without getting in the way and screwing things up.

    It was a delicate balance is what it was.

    Basically what we did was tear the porch down from the roof to the slab of concrete and built it back up and when we were finished a couple of months later, we had ourselves a three-season porch.

    this picture is a before shot of our three-season porch
    Here is a picture of me helping to tear off the roof of our porch before it became a three-season porch. I’m proud to say I only fell off it four times.

    Over the years we’ve spent a lot of time on our three-season porch. For several years we kept a small child-size chair on the three-season porch for our now 23-year-old daughter Emma to sit while she watched TV.

    Sometimes Emma and her friend Katie would sit out on the three-season porch watch TV and talk about whatever little girls talk about.

    In the evening I would sit on the porch, watch baseball by myself, drink beer and talk to myself about whatever guys talk to themselves about when they’re watching baseball and drinking beer.

    About 10 years after we renovated our house my wife decided we needed to renovate it again and our three-season porched received a substantial upgrade.

    By the way, I’ve been told by other veteran husbands that 10 years is about the amount of time most veteran wives wait until they decided to completely redo a house that they redid 10 years earlier.

    I liked the upgrade we gave our three-season porch. Mainly, I liked the upgrade because I didn’t have to help. Sure I offered.

    Me: Hey, I would love to help you guys upgrade the three-season porch.

    Brian (Who was in charge of the upgrade): HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Good one, Mike.

    The only problem with our three-season porch is every spring someone has to spend most of a day taking everything out of the porch wiping it off, cleaning the floors, walls and windows and putting the stuff can be put back inside.

    Raise your hand if you think my wife and Emma are the ones who spend most of a day cleaning the three-season porch.

    Wow. Not one hand raised.

    One of the things I learned over the years I’ve spent cleaning out the three-season porch was the fewer things we kept on the porch the less time it took me to clean it. So, gradually the amount of stuff on our three-season porch has slowly decreased.

    I suppose our three-season porch is some sort of metaphor (or analogy I can’t ever remember which). A symbol, if you will, for our lives together. But I’m not a deep enough thinker to figure that out.

    All I know is we like spending time on our three-season porch. It’s nice. It’s peaceful. And sometimes it lends itself to quiet reflection.

    Oh, and watching baseball and drinking beer.

    an after picture of our three-season porch.
    Here is the three-season porch shortly after we opened it earlier this spring. Now, imagine it with baseball and a beer.



  • Saying ‘No’ gets easier with age

    The following is an actual conversation I had with my actual wife.

    It was last Saturday. We were walking on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City when my wife spotted two young people riding those electric scooters that, for some reason, people place at random spots for other people to rent and ride around the city.

    I don’t understand why people place electric scooters in random places for other people to rent and ride around the city but I also don’t understand why anyone in their right mind would refuse to get a covid shot.

    As the nuns used to say “It’s a mystery.”

    My wife watched the two young people zip down the sidewalk and said, “We should do that.”

    To which I responded: “You’re right. We should do that. I’ve always wanted to visit an emergency room in Kansas City.”

    I didn’t want to rent a scooter, I think, is what I was saying.

    To her credit, my wife laughed and let the idea of renting a scooter and zipping around the Plaza float away like barbecue smoke at a Kansas City Chiefs tailgate party.

    OK, maybe that last paragraph was a case of over-writing.

    My wife “dropped the idea” is what I probably should have written.

    The point I’m trying to make by telling you about that actual conversation with my actual wife is I’ve reached an age where I can basically say, “I don’t want to do that,” and sometimes get away with it.

    Not all of the time. I mean, it’s not a superpower.

    But sometimes.

    And after years of never getting away with saying, “I don’t want to do that,” sometimes is a pretty big deal.

    A couple of years ago, my wife, our now 23-year-old daughter Emma and I were vacationing in the Turks and Caicos Islands. One day my wife announced she and Emma wanted to go parasailing.

    Here was my response.

    “Have a good time. If something bad happens I’ll be at the bar.”

    My wife and Emma had a fine time parasailing and I had a fine time at the bar.

    Your basic win-win.

    We were in Kansas City last Saturday to celebrate my wife’s birthday with Emma who is currently working in the city.

    It was a nice weekend.

    On Saturday, my wife and Emma informed me we were going to eat lunch at Gram and Dunn’s, my wife’s favorite lunch place, and then we were going “day drinking” at O’Dowd’s which is right across the street from Gram and Dunn.

    See, day drinking is what college kids nowadays call-follow me here-drinking during the day.

    When I was in college, we just called day drinking, “Wednesday”.

    But you know…different generations.

    Surprisingly when my wife and Emma informed me we were going day drinking I didn’t say, “I don’t want to do that.”

    I should point out here that my wife and Emma’s version of “day drinking” was much different than my college version of day drinking.”

    I should also point out we would be walking back to where we were staying.

    Safe day drinking, as it were.

    But after we left the restaurant and before we commenced day drinking my wife and Emma announced we were going shopping first.

    “I don’t want to do that,” I said.

    “Fine.” My wife said. “Why don’t you go to O’Dowd’s and get us a table at the rooftop bar.”

    Sometimes I love getting old.

    Relax. I said “sometimes”.

    When I got to the rooftop at O’Dowd’s there were several tables filled with young women. At first, when I sat down, I think the young women may have thought I was sort of creepy. But after I sat by myself drinking a Budweiser for about 30 minutes, I think the young women started feeling sorry for me.

    “Look at the poor, lonely old man,” I could sense the young women thinking.

    Later, two young men walked in and took a table not too far from where I was sitting. One of the young men looked vaguely familiar but I wasn’t sure. At my age, all young people look the same.

    So there I was a poor, lonely old man sitting by himself in Kansas City at a rooftop bar drinking a beer.

    But I didn’t feel poor, lonely or old. I felt happy. I was sitting by myself in Kansas City at a rooftop bar sipping a beer.

    A few minutes later, my wife and Emma finally showed up. When Emma got to our table, she turned and walked over to the two young men and gave them hugs.

    Turns out the two young men were friends of Emma’s from college. I had even met one of them. The one who looked vaguely familiar.

    Emma told me the young man who I met before, sent her a text when he first saw me sitting by myself sipping a beer.

    Here is that text:

    “Uh, this is sort of random. But would your dad be sitting by himself at a bar on the Plaza?”

    That made me laugh.

    I spent the next hour or so day drinking with my wife, Emma and two of her old college friends.

    It was neat.

    And more importantly, it was something I wanted to do.

  • Trying to remember caring about stuff

    Sometimes all it takes is a simple reminder to make you realize you don’t care about something.

    I was checking my email this morning when I received a notice from the company that provides our satellite radio service reminding me about the upcoming Grammy Awards show.

    As I read the email a few thoughts ran through my head.

    Thought No. 1: So, my life has become so pathetic that I’m reading emails from a satellite radio company.

    Thought No. B: The only reason I even check my email is to delete the 345,938 emails I don’t want.

    And finally.

    Thought No. III: I don’t care about the Grammys.

    In fact, I thought to myself this morning, I care so little about the Grammys I can’t even remember the last time I did care about them.

    It’s possible, many, many years ago, when I was doing a morning radio show, I might have cared about the Grammys but I don’t know. I was one of those rare radio guys who didn’t really care much about popular music.

    You have to wonder why someone would work in radio if they didn’t really care much about popular music.

    Well,  you don’t HAVE to wonder why someone would work in radio if they really didn’t care much about popular music. I’m just saying if you did wonder it wouldn’t be all that strange.

    I remember one year Lionel Riche won a whole bunch of Grammys, and Gary Bandy, my radio partner, who did care about popular music wondered-on air-if maybe the reason Lionel won so many Grammys was because, at the time, he was a spokesperson for Pepsi which was a major sponsor of the Grammy Awards that year.

    I also remember, a few minutes later,  Gary getting an angry phone call from the station’s general manager who reminded Gary that Pepsi was also a major sponsor of our radio station which quickly brought an end to the on-air Lionel/Pepsi/Grammy debate.

    I don’t how it is now but back then, in radio, stuff tended to roll downhill.

    But even then I don’t really remember caring about the Grammys.

    See, I long ago reached the age where I not only didn’t recognize the musical guest on Saturday Night Live but most of the time, I didn’t even recognize the host.

    It’s sort of like the first time you discover you’re older than your doctor.


    I’m an old person is what I’m saying.

    But really a person my age probably shouldn’t care about the Grammys. Caring about music award shows is the stuff of young people. When you’re a young person you should care very deeply about things such as the Grammys and the Oscars and all the other award shows.

    The reason young people should care about the Grammys, the Oscars and all the other award shows is because there will come a time when young people aren’t so young and they will discover they can’t remember when they used to care about things like that.

    Last Sunday night my wife talked me into watching the Golden Globes awards show. I really didn’t want to watch the Golden Globes but since there weren’t any sports on TV, I figured “What the hell. Why not?”.

    Then, after a few minutes, I remembered why not: I don’t care about the Golden Globes.

    But I watched anyway. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were the hosts and I like them so watching the Golden Globes wasn’t horrible. Besides, they gave an award named after Carol Burnett to Norman Lear. I like Norman and actually met him years ago when he spoke at one of my broadcast classes at the University of  Kansas.

    So, you know, we’re practically family.

    Even though I enjoyed parts of the Golden Globes I couldn’t bring myself to care about them. I recognized some of the people passing out the awards but I didn’t recognize many of the shows, or actors, who won the awards.

    But, again, that’s OK.

    My wife actually cared about a lot of the shows and people who got awards. See, when our 23-year-old daughter Emma is home, she and my wife binge-watch a bunch of shows via some sort of streaming device we pay for but I don’t use.

    My wife and Emma tell me I would really enjoy some of the shows they binge-watch but I don’t know.

    I don’t get binge-watching. My wife and Emma will spend all night binge-watching an entire season of some show.

    My wife and Emma: We binge-watched the entire season of (Name of some show I don’t care about) last night.

    Me: Why?

    My wife and Emma: Because.

    Me: I see.

    But, as always, I didn’t see. It seems to me, if you watch an entire season of some show in one night, you’ll have to wait another year to watch the next season.

    That would be like me sitting down and eating an entire year’s worth of baby back ribs at one time.

    Sure they might be good but at some point, you have to just walk away.

    So anyway, if you’re interested, the Grammys are on TV sometime next week.

    Oh, and if Lionel Riche wins anything don’t tell Gary.

  • Life on the cutting edge of technology

    I’m struggling to deal with some new technology and for that, I blame my wife.

    On Valentine’s Day, my wife surprised me with the gift of a new music playing device and some five days later I’m still trying to figure out all of the subtle nuances that come with it.

    Last March, when the pandemic first caused my wife, our then 22-year-old daughter Emma and myself to hunker down here at home, the three of us began a daily tradition.

    Each day, sometime after 5 p.m. after we finished walking our dog Caicos, we spent about an hour sitting on our three-season porch, sipping wine, reading, and listening to music.

    That wine hour was one of the few positive things we took away from the pandemic.

    Now, almost a year later, my wife and I still maintain that wine hour although now the hour doesn’t begin until after 6 p.m.

    When the weather got colder, the wine-sipping and reading moved inside to our living room but since we don’t have a music device in the room, we dropped the music part of the wine hour.

    My wife thought reading and wine sipping without music was some sort of crime which is why she gave me the new music playing device.

    The device has a round surface that, when activated, turns around in a circle at one of two different speeds. From what I’ve been able to find out the round surface is something called a turntable which I guess sort of makes sense.

    What you do is place a round disc called a “record” onto the turntable. Then you-and I swear this is true-place a special rod-like thing equipped with-and again, I swear this is true-a needle onto the record spinning on the turntable and somehow music comes out of two square boxes on either side of the turntable.

    I KNOW!

    Because I’m a moron, it took me almost an hour to set up my new music playing device but once I got it up and running, I was able to place one of the records my wife purchased for me onto the turntable, place the needle onto the spinning record and listen to the music coming out of the square boxes.

    It was magical.

    It was like listening to music coming out of my phone but way more advanced. For once in my life, I was on the cutting edge of technology.

    Until I ran into a snag.

    There I was happily sipping wine, reading a Max Allan Collins “Nate Heller” mystery I downloaded onto my Kindle and listening to a Frank Sinatra record when, all of a sudden, the music stopped.

    I put down my wine and Kindle and walked over to the turntable. At first, I couldn’t spot the problem. The record was still spinning and the needle was still on the record but there was no music coming out of the square boxes.

    I was stumped.

    Then it occurred to me that there might be something on the other side of the record.

    So, I stopped the turntable, picked the record up, turned it over, placed it back on the turntable, turned it back on so it started spinning again, put the needle back on the record and-just like that-more music came out of the square boxes.

    I know it’s just a quick fix and that, at some point, I will probably have to figure out another way to deal with the problem, but for now, I will listen to music until it stops playing, then I will turn the record over and listen until it stops playing again. When that happens, I will take the record off the turntable, replace it with another one and repeat the whole process.

    I will do this until our wine hour is over.

    It’s tough, but you know what they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough put down their wine and Kindle and turn the record over.”

    I think they say that.

    In case you’re wondering (And for the life of me I can’t imagine why you would be) in addition to some Frank Sinatra records my wife gave me some Tony Bennet and Jimmy Buffett records.

    I am a man of varied tastes.

    From what I understand, now, instead of going through the cumbersome process of downloading music onto my phone all I have to do is go to something called a “record store” and buy a record or, order one online and wait a day or two until the record comes in the mail.

    Frankly, it’s getting hard for us to remember what we did for music before we got a new turntable.

    Now, if you will excuse me, the Jimmy Buffett music I was listening to has stopped. I think it’s time to turn the record over.

    See? That’s what it’s like to be on the cutting edge of technology.

    picture of the future of music listening devices (hint it's a turntable)
    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the future of music listening devices.



  • A Zen-like approach to the Super Bowl

    This time I won’t upset the dog.

    I promise.

    I’m not always the-shall we say-most controlled watcher of televised professional football games.

    Specifically, I’m not always the-shall we say-most controlled watcher of televised professional football games when one of the teams playing in said televised professional football game is from Kansas City and goes by the name of the “Chiefs.”

    When I watch televised professional football games featuring a team from Kansas City that goes by the name of the “Chiefs” I tend to express my feelings in a verbal manner.

    And when I say in a “verbal manner” I don’t mean in this manner.

    “Oh dear. I believe that nice man in the striped shirt may have inadvertently dropped a yellow flag on the field thereby negating the touchdown just scored by the Chiefs. Fudge. I’m ever so disappointed.”

    No, when I say in a “verbal manner” this is what I mean.


    After expressing my feelings in such a manner, my wife would come into the room and say, “Mike, what’s wrong with the dog? She just ran upstairs like she was scared to death.”

    And I would say, “Beats me. She was fine a few minutes ago.”

    See, what happens, I think, is the dog doesn’t understand I’m watching a football game. So when she is awakened from a dream in which she is chasing an extremely slow squirrel, by the sound of me yelling at the TV, she thinks I’m yelling at her and runs upstairs.

    And this doesn’t just happen to our current dog Caicos. It also used to happen to our German shepherd Shilo and before that our border collie Shadow.

    And for that I blame myself.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, sometimes I kill myself.

    No, I don’t blame myself I, of course, blame the (ANOTHER LONG STRING OF BAD WORDS) REFEREE!

    I should point out that I don’t tend to express my feelings like that when I happened to catch a Chiefs game in person. When I happened to catch a Chiefs game in person the feelings I would loudly express tended to sound like this.


    By the way, when I watch football at home, I don’t charge myself for beer.

    The problem has been that, until last year, I was what had been commonly referred to “a long-suffering Chiefs fan.”

    What that meant is-follow me here- I, like most Chiefs fans, had suffered for a very long time.

    I’m sort of old which means I have suffered more than some of you younger Chiefs fans out there.

    How old? Some of you younger Chiefs fans out there are asking.

    So old that I bet my brother 50 cents the Chiefs would beat the Green Bay Packers in the very first Super Bowl in 1967.

    That 50-cent bet turned out to be sort of problematic for three reasons.

    Reason No. 1: I didn’t actually have 50 cents when I made the bet.

    Reason No. B: The Chiefs lost that game.

    And finally.

    Reason No. III: Since we were living in Okinawa, the game I bet on had already been played the week before and we were watching a tape-delayed game something my brother knew and I did not.

    OK, maybe in my case, I should be described as a “long-suffering and extremely stupid Chiefs fan.”

    For the past 50 plus years, Chiefs teams have been-in no particular order-very good, average, very bad, very, very bad, sort of good, sort of bad, very, very good and now very, very, very good.

    Don’t get me wrong here. I’m glad the Chiefs are very, very, very good now but in terms of TV watching it was easier to watch the Chiefs when they were very, very bad. Because when the Chiefs were very, very bad my expectations were very, very low.

    It’s hard to conjure up the emotion to yell at the TV when your expectations are very, very low.

    But now the Chiefs are very, very, very good and I’m uneasy with that. I know there is a very good chance the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl on Sunday when they face the team led by the 58-year-old Tom Brady.

    But I also know there is a chance the team led by 78-year-old Tom Brady will win on Sunday.

    So, I’m uneasy.

    But not as uneasy as I would have been if the Chiefs hadn’t won the Super Bowl last year. The fact the Chiefs won the Super Bowl last year and managed to make it back this year has me in somewhat of a Zen-like state.

    I want the Chiefs to win and I’m somewhat confident they will. But, if for some reason they don’t win, I’ll wish 96-year-old Tom Brady well and be proud of the Chiefs for playing in back-to-back Super Bowls.

    And I won’t upset the dog.

    I promise.

    Well, maybe.

  • If it’s not on the list it didn’t happen

    It was, at the same time, an innocent, sincere question and a dangerous trap.

    As a veteran husband, I long ago learned to step cautiously around such a question. The question came from my wife and it concerned a sensitive topic I have been struggling to deal with.

    Here is, said question.

    “Isn’t it great that I’m home more now and we’re able to spend more time together?”.

    I KNOW. Trap, right?

    At the first of the year, my wife chose to enter a new phase in her career. The reason my wife chose to enter a new phase in her career is because-let’s face it-she’s not getting any younger.

    Yep, my wife is at the point in her career where she can step back and work a little less. Sort of ease into a full-time retirement which, I’m told, may come in several more years.

    Until that full-time retirement comes my wife has opted to reduce her work schedule. What that means is my wife now only works three days a week which allows her to spend two days a week home with me.

    Home. With. Me. Two. Days.

    What? No, it’s great. Really, it’s fine. I love sharing space that used to be occupied by only me with my wife.

    Two whole additional days of space.

    The problem, as I see it, is my wife has not yet adjusted to her new-found free time. See, my wife has a tough time dealing with free time.

    This is a true story that I may, in the 20 years I’ve been writing this column, have told before. I mean what the heck after 20 years you’re bound to repeat yourself some time.

    But even if I have told this story before it is germane (It’s a word. I looked it up.) to this situation.

    My wife and I got married in Key West, Florida. Every morning in Key West, I would get up a little before my wife, walk across the street from where we staying to a little Cuban restaurant. At the restaurant I would buy a copy of the Miami Herald (at the time home to both the great Carl Hiaasen and the great Dave Barry) then I would go inside and order two cups of café con leche and two pieces of Cuban toast.

    Then I would walk back to where we were staying, sit on our patio, read the paper, drink café con leche and wait for my wife to come outside and join me. And every morning, after my wife came outside, she would sit down and sip her café con leche while I read the paper.

    And eventually, my wife would ask the same question she would ask every single morning we were in Key West.

    “So, what do you want to do now?” is what my wife would ask.

    And every single time my wife asked that question I would give the same answer.

    “I’m doing what I want to do now,” is what I would say.

    An answer totally unacceptable to my wife.

    I’m one of those people who try to live in the now. I don’t like spending time looking too far ahead.

    My wife is one of those people who hates to live in the now. My wife is one of those people who enjoys planning for the future. As far as my wife is concerned if she has no plan for the future it doesn’t exist.

    The future, I mean.

    So, the idea, even on vacation, that we didn’t have precise plans for our day drove my wife crazy.

    And it still does to this day.

    When I wake up in the morning here is the thought that runs through my head.

    “Well, I’m up.”

    Here is the thought that runs through my wife’s head when she wakes up.


    And that’s the thought that runs through my wife’s head on a DAY OFF FROM WORK!

    By the way, you may have noticed my wife made reference to her “list.” My wife is big on lists. Lists are what keeps my wife’s life in order. In harmony. One with the universe, if you will.

    Wait a second.

    OK, I’m back. My wife just walked in to give me an update about some problem with her work email. An update I neither asked for nor expected.


    What my wife does is constantly referring to her list and whenever she accomplishes something on it loudly announces “I can cross that off my list.”

    It’s not so bad the first few hundred times my wife does that but after a while it tends to get sort of old.

    This is a true story: The other day my wife announced she was going to take a shower and then said “So then I can cross that off my list.”

    That’s right. My wife actually put the words “Take a shower” on her list and then once she took a shower crossed it off of her list.

    Which brings me back to my wife’s question which prompted this whole column. Here is my response to that innocent, sincere and also dangerous question.

    “No, of course those pants don’t make you look fat.”



  • It’s ‘On top of everything else’ time

    I think it’s begun.

    The reason I think it’s begun is because I don’t always know what goes on around our house.

    If I always knew what goes on around our house I wouldn’t have to say “I think it’s begun” I could just say “It’s begun.”

    But I don’t, so I can’t.

    The reason I think it’s begun is because the other morning my wife was complaining about having to do something she wasn’t planning on having to do.

    I don’t how things are around your house but around our house, if someone (and by someone, I mean my wife) finds out she has to do something she wasn’t planning on having to do she gets upset.

    This is how I knew my wife was upset and also why I think it’s begun.

    When my wife was complaining about having to do something she wasn’t planning on having to do she said, “AND ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE!!!”

    Note: To express my wife’s unhappiness I used both all capital letters and three exclamation points.

    When my wife breaks out the, “ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE!!!” what she is trying to say is she has a lot of (bad word) going on. And because we are well into the month of December, I can only surmise that the “lot of (bad word) going on” that my wife has going on is holiday-related.

    Second Note: I know, instead of saying “holiday” I could have said “Christmas” but when you say “holiday” instead of “Christmas” it drives the “War on Christmas” people crazy. So I say “holiday.” Well, unless I’m watching that movie starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. In that case, I say “Christmas” because saying “White Holiday” sounds kind of racist.

    Gee, somehow, I’ve kind of gotten off track. I guess I should get back on track.  But not before I mention that while not having an editor-as I did when I worked for a newspaper-might hurt in the catching of typos it does allow me more moments to get off track. It was my experience that, for the most part, editors hated it when I would get off track.

    My wife tends to take the holiday season a bit more seriously than I do. I think that’s the way it is in most households. One spouse (In my case) my wife tends to take on holiday chores more so than the other spouse (in my case) me.

    In fairness, I should point out that when it comes to the holidays, my wife is-to use a technical expression-out of her (really bad word) mind.

    My wife starts working on holiday chores shortly after midnight New Year’s morning.

    Guy who took over for Dick Clark: 3….2….1…Happy New Ye…

    Wife: Where’s the tape? I need to start wrapping presents.

    Then, throughout the year, my wife will continue to attend to the occasional holiday chore until the day after Thanksgiving when she starts ramping up her holiday chores.

    The holiday chores continue ramping up until my wife gets so holiday chore ramped up that she breaks out the, “ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE!!!”

    I should mention that my wife doesn’t break out the, “ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE!!!” for her sake. My wife is well aware she has a lot of holiday-related (bad word) going on.

    No, my wife breaks out the, “ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE!!!” for my sake. My wife wants to be sure I’m aware she has a lot of holiday (bad word) going on which I think is sort of odd since my wife is constantly telling me how much holiday-related (bad word) she has going on.

    But I guess because, by nature, I’m sort of a laid-back individual, my wife doesn’t think I actually get how much holiday-related (bad word) she has going on.

    What I want to tell my wife is it’s not that I’m not aware she has a lot of holiday-related (bad word) going on it’s that I don’t care.

    And I don’t mean that in a bad way.

    See, I know that no matter what I say to my wife she is not going to stop ramping up her holiday chores. I also know that there is very little I can do to help with her holiday chores.

    Well, I’m assuming there isn’t much I can do to help with her holiday chores. I mean what with me not ever offering to help and all.

    I don’t have much to offer in the way of holiday chores. Sure, I can help move stuff, I can make the occasional holiday-related snack and find the occasional cat who has somehow gotten stuck inside the Christmas tree.

    But beyond that? Helpless.

    So what I do is listen for my wife to break out the, “ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE!!!” and say to myself “I think it’s begun.”

    And start looking for the tape.


  • You’ve learned well, grasshopper

    In the evening, when I’m watching sports in our living room and my wife and our 22-year-old daughter Emma are watching season 27 of some show on some streaming service I’ve never heard of, Emma will sometimes take a break to make popcorn.

    Then, when it’s done, Emma will scoop some into a small bowl and bring the bowl into the living room and hand it to me.

    And so the student has become the master.

    See, I taught Emma how to make popcorn. Just as my dad taught me how to make popcorn.

    I should be clear here and point out that unlike some people (and you know who you are) when we make popcorn we don’t just grab a bag, toss it in a microwave, hit a button, wait until the microwave stops and then pull out the bag which is half full of popcorn and half full of burned popcorn.

    Not to be judgy here, but I think microwave popcorn is of the devil.

    Want to know a sure way to tell microwave popcorn is not real popcorn? On most microwaves, the popcorn setting reads like this, “pop corn”.

    That’s right. Pop corn.

    No, the way my dad taught me to make popcorn and the way I taught Emma to make popcorn requires a little more work.

    I mean, it’s not like coal mining or working in the oil fields but it does require a little work.

    First, you pull out your special popcorn popping skillet, set it on a burner on the stovetop and turn the burner on to medium to medium high heat. You want the burner to be hot enough to pop the corn but not so hot that it burns the corn.

    By the way, if you don’t yet have a special popcorn popping skillet, don’t worry, you soon will.

    Trust me.

    You then put about 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and drop three or four kernels of corn in the heating oil. When the kernels pops, add a half-cup more kernels, then (and this is important) put a lid on the skillet and take it off the burner for 30 seconds.

    You then put the skillet back on the burner and wait for the corn to start popping. When it does give it an occasional shake until the corn stops popping.

    That’s it. That’s the basic popcorn recipe.

    It is, however, a recipe that has evolved a bit over the years. For example, when my dad made his popcorn, he would use butter instead of oil. Later, I switched the butter out for oil because I thought the butter sometimes would burn.

    Also, the trick of taking the skillet off the burner for 30 seconds was passed onto me, years ago, by a nice guy who used to read my newspaper column.

    It is one of the greatest popcorn popping hacks I have ever come across. It almost completely eliminates the dreaded “bad batch” of popped corn. I don’t know how, or why, I just know it does.

    When I first taught Emma how to make popcorn, she would sort of half pay attention to what I was saying. Mainly, Emma humored me so I would get on with the popping of the corn.

    But as Emma got older, she realized if she paid attention, she eventually would be able to pop her own popcorn and not rely on me.

    That’s right. She wanted to eliminate the middleman.

    But Emma didn’t always want to eliminate the middleman. If she, for example, had friends over and didn’t want to pull herself away from whatever the important topic of the evening was, she would ask if I would be willing to pop the corn.

    And I always was.

    After Emma went off to college, her popcorn-making skills made her very popular with her roommates something I’m sure would make my dad happy.

    I should point out here that over the years Emma has added her own twist to our popcorn recipe.

    Her twist involves the salt/butter/popcorn distribution formula.

    Rather than just pour all of the popcorn in the skilled directly into the popcorn bowl, add the salt and melted butter and stir it all together Emma decided to subdivide the formula.

    A bowl about 1/3 full of popcorn with butter being poured on top.
    This is step # 1 in Emma’s salt/butter/popcorn distribution formula. By the way, Emma told me if any part of her showed up in these pictures she would kill me. We have a very close relationship.

    Emma adds about 1/3 of the popcorn to the bowl, tops it with salt and butter and mixes it up. She then repeats the process two more times resulting in a more evenly salt/butter/popcorn distribution.

    The bowl of is now about half full of popcorn and more butter is being poured into the bowl
    This is step two. As you can see the salt/butter/popcorn ratio is perfect.

    When Emma first explained her new formula I almost cried.

    Relax. I said, “almost”.

    The finished product. A full bowl of corn with the salt butter and popcorn ratio set at perfect.
    And this is the finished product. I’m not crying. You are.

    Because of the Trump virus, Emma is doing much of her graduate school work online and, for now, only has to be at her workplace in Kansas City on Thursdays through Saturdays, Emma will be home a bit more often at least until sometime in January. As a result, there has been (and will be) much popping of corn in the house by Emma.

    And I’m OK with that.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was in the living room watching the Kansas City Chiefs play the Oakland/Los Angles/Oakland/ Las Vegas Raiders. During the game, Emma walking into the living room and handed me a bowl of freshly popped popcorn.

    “Here,” Emma said. “I thought you could use this.”

    I was touched by Emma’s generous act.

    “Thank you, very much,” I said. “This is nice.”

    “Yeah, well,” Emma said. “I thought it might keep you from screaming at the TV and scaring the dog for a while.”


    Oh well. At least I got a bowl of popcorn.

  • It’s cool not to be cool if you’re cool with that

    I am not cool.

    I mean, I know that now.

    I didn’t always used to know that I wasn’t cool. There was a time when I, and many of the guys I hung out with, thought we were the coolest thing to happen to the world since…well since ever.

    Every generation goes through a period of time when it thinks it is the coolest generation that ever generated.

    But then another generation comes along and the formerly coolest generation has to march off and start eating dinner at 4 in the afternoon.

    Eventually the formerly coolest generation even becomes a topic of humor for the now cool generation.

    My generation is at that point.

    I have noticed that guys my age, guys who used to be way cool, are now considered by the now cool generation to be way humorous.

    And not in a good way.

    I’m a dad. Specifically, I’m an old dad and old dads now are apparently a type. A typed to be mocked. A type to be laughed at.

    And not in a good way.

    But that’s OK. It’s the circle of cool.

    The only problem with being a type to be mocked is some people, not content to just mock me, try to change me.

    And by “some people” I, of course, mean my wife and our 22-year-old daughter Emma.

    For some reason my wife and Emma think it’s their responsibility to change things about me. Things like my wardrobe.

    Apparently, my wife and Emma think I dress to much like a dad.

    Me: But I am a dad.

    Wife and Emma: Doesn’t matter. You have to change. You dress like a dork.

    Me: I see.

    But I really don’t see. I don’t think I dress like a dork. I think I dress like a cool guy.

    But all guys think they dress like cool guys. The reason guys think that is because they like to dress the same way they dressed when they really were cool guys.

    This, of course, is a mistake.

    Or so I’ve been told.

    A couple of years ago, my wife and Emma signed me up to some service which picks out clothes for me and every few months sends them to me.

    It’s was Emma’s idea to set me up with the service and she was the one who filled out the information so the people who pick out the clothes would know what kind of clothes to send to me.

    I suspect when Emma filled out the information, she mainly just checked a box which said “The exact opposite of what he wears now.”

    So, every few months I get a box of clothes which I am then expected to open and show to my wife and Emma.

    If my wife and Emma like the clothing item I put it in my closet. If they don’t I send it back.

    “But Mike”, some of you are thinking, “Why don’t you express your clothing opinion?”

    To those of you who are thinking about that there is a perfectly good reason why I don’t express my clothing opinion.

    I don’t care.

    See, I know no matter what clothing item I keep, in a few years that item will no longer be cool. But by that time I will have worn the clothing item long enough for me to think it is cool. And eventually my wife and Emma will tell me I can’t wear it and instead I have to wear something that I used to wear long before I got the clothing item I can no longer wear.

    I hope that makes sense to you because it does to me.

    Last week I received a box of clothes from the service and in that box was a pair of shoes which I hated and my wife and Emma loved.

    “You are definitely wearing them,” my wife and Emma said.

    I’m not so sure. See, the shoes sent to me are sort of a mixture of dress and tennis shoes. I’ve seen the shoes on TV. The former football players and coaches who drone on and on during NFL pregame and half time shows wear them.

    I think the shoes look dorky.

    The shoes are ankle length. The top of the shoes are black and look like dress shoes. However the bottoms of the shoes are white and look like tennis shoes.

    See, I’m sort of a “make up your mind” kind of guy when it comes to clothes. If you want to wear dress shoes, wear dress shoes. If you want to wear tennis shoes, wear tennis shoes.

    It’s the same way I feel when I see some guy wearing shorts and a sport coat.

    My wife and Emma tell me I can wear my new shoes with casual clothes or with dressier clothes.

    I don’t see how that’s possible.

    The only bright spot in all of this is, because of the whole Trump virus thing, I really don’t have anywhere to go and probably won’t for a long time.

    And, who knows, by then my new cool shoes will no longer be cool.

    And I will want to wear them.

  • On olives and a Josie’s lunch at home

     I can’t like olives.

    Notice I didn’t say, “I don’t like olives.” Instead I said, “I can’t like olives.” The reason I said, “I can’t like olives” as opposed to, “I don’t like olives” is because I want to like olives.

    But I can’t.

    I want to like olives, in part, because I think should like them. People do neat stuff (Ha!) with olives. They stuff olives (thus the “Ha!”) with neat things which is one way to tell if you should like something.

    If it’s stuffable.

    They put olives on pizza. As far as I’m concerned if something can go on pizza it’s probably good. Well, except pineapple. I mean, I like pineapple in its place but let’s face it pineapple’s place is not on pizza.

    Same goes for cauliflower.

    And proof of all proof that I should like olives is because they put them in martinis.

    I also want to like olives because so many people I know and whose tastes I respect love olives.

    So I’ve tried to like them. Often.

    I’ve tried to like olives more times than some people have tried to quit smoking. But I can’t.

    Like olives I mean.

    By the way, expressing a food taste opinion-solicitated or not-is a sure-fire way to have your opinion thrown right back into your face.

    Figuratively speaking, of course.

    Normally I try to avoid expressing food taste opinions in casual conversation. If someone offered me an olive, rather than say, “I don’t like olives” I would go with the more polite, “No thank you.”

    But if the olive pusher declines to accept my polite refusal and, instead, continues to try and force an unwanted olive on me I might be forced to say “I don’t like olives” even though I know what the overly aggressive olive pusher will say.


    To which I’m always tempted to say, “Amazing how you were able to sort that out based solely on my cryptic statement “I don’t like olives.”

    But I didn’t intend to talk about olives here, I intended to talk about the Josie’s Ristorante lunch my wife and I enjoyed in our outdoor kitchen Saturday afternoon.

    Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are thinking, “But Mike, isn’t Josie’s Ristorante in Scammon, Kansas and not in your outdoor kitchen?”

    To some of you thinking that I say, “We didn’t go to Scammon, Kansas to get our Josie’s Ristorante lunch we went to Macadoodle’s Fine Wine, Beer and Spirits in Joplin.”

    I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are thinking “Huh?”

    What happened is my wife and I were in Joplin Saturday and decided to stop by Macadoodle’s to pick up some wine.

    And beer.

    As we pulled into the Macadoodle’s parking lot we noticed a trailer sitting on its south edge. It was the Josie’s Ristorante food truck. The one the nice folks at Josie’s use when they take their food on the road.

    See, when the pandemic struck Josie’s, like a lot of restaurants, was forced to close for a while. While closed they decided to bring their great food to their customers and now, even though the restaurant is  open (and following proper mask and social distancing rules) they still occasionally take their food truck on the road.

    The only catch is Josie’s encourages folks to pre-order their food via their Facebook page something we neglected to do.

    Not to point fingers here but the fact we didn’t pre-order food from Josie’s was my wife’s fault.

    I mean, she’s the Facebook person.

    After admitting she missed Josie’s Facebook announcement about them being at Macadoodle’s Saturday my wife said, “Maybe they packed extra food.”

    “I doubt it,” I said.

    But my wife insisted we walked over to see if the Josie’s folks packed extra food.

    They did.

    So we wound buying some fried ravioli, some antipasto and several jars of the famous Josie’s sauce.

    When we got home, I opened a bottle of Chianti while my wife heated the ravioli, some sauce and portioned some of the antipasto into two separate bowls being careful to try and keep olives out of my bowl.

    We then sat outside, ate our lunch, sipped our wine and tried to ignore our dog Caicos begging for her cut of the meal.

    a plate of ravioli, pasta sauce and a bowl of antipasto with a glass of wine. To illustrate our Josie's lunch.
    Here is the Josie’s lunch as plated up by my wife. But hey, I opened and poured the wine.


    I’ve had worse Saturday afternoons.

    a photo showing our dog Caicos staring at the ravioli in my hand hoping to get her cut.Cacois s
    Here is Caicos intently eyeing the fried ravioli in my hand which she feels rightfully belongs to her.

    While we were eating, I noticed a couple of small pieces of black olives in my antipasto.

    “What the heck,” I thought. “Maybe this time I’ll like them.”

    But I didn’t like the olives and you want to know why?

    Because I can’t.

     If you want to find out when and where the Josie’s food truck will be visit their Facebook page at Josie’s Ristorante.

  • German food in a non-German house

    Well, at least I’m not going to drone on and on about my sourdough bread starter.

    Ever since the whole Corona virus thing pretty much shut down the country, people have been going crazy about making sourdough bread or sourdough bread starters and, for the life of me, I can’t understand why.

    I mean, I guess sourdough bread is OK but why is everyone making it now? Is there some sort of sourdough bread cult out there luring unsuspecting, bored homebound people into their evil, yeast invested web?

    Wine during a quarantine I get. But sourdough bread? Not so much.

    So, no I’m not going to drone on and on about sourdough bread. Instead I’m going to drone on and on about German food.

    And perhaps beer. And wine.

    Several months ago, we discovered an on-line food deliver company at

    Basically what they do at Goldbelly is arrange food deliveries from well-known restaurants and companies all across the country. What that means is, without leaving our home, we can order food from some of our favorite cities and restaurants.

    Since discovering Goldbelly we’ve had lobster rolls from McLoon’s Lobster Shack in South Thomaston, Maine; seafood gumbo from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, Louisiana; Key Lime Pie on a Stick from Kermitt’s Key West Lime Shoppe in Key West, Florida; a low country shrimp steamer from Topsail Steamer in Surf City, North Carolina and most recently Chicago-style hot dogs from Vienna Beef Dogs in Chicago, Illinois and Bavarian soft pretzels from the Milwaukee Pretzel Company in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

    It’s neat is what it is.

    Two weekends ago when our Chicago dogs and Bavarian pretzels were delivered my wife and I opted to have quasi German-style Saturday lunch even though we figured the hot dogs were probably more of Chicago-style lunch but what the heck it takes a village, right?

    This past Saturday my wife and I decided to try a more authentic German-style lunch.

    So, on Saturday I made a warm German potato salad in the kitchen while my wife whipped up a pot of homemade sauerkraut in our outdoor kitchen.

    shot of lee's homemade sauerkraut coming together
    While I was inside working on the potato salad my wife was outside working on the sauerkraut. Social distancing and all that.
    pic of cooking onions for german potato salad
    Here I’m browning red onion for the German potato salad. Note the bacon in the top corner. Bacon be good.

    Once the potato salad was done, I let it simmer on the stove and went outside and tossed  some German-style bratwursts on the grill. I let the brats cook for about 15 minutes and then I plopped them into a pan of just barely boiling beer for another 10 more minutes and before you can say Angela Merkel we were eating.

    bratwurst on the grill
    Brats on the grill. Need I say more? I think not.
    picture of a german lunch
    Here is our German lunch from last weekend. Oh wait! That’s a picture of an actual German lunch we had in actual German. Sorry.
    a picture of the German lunch we fixed this past weekend.
    Here is the German lunch we fixed last weekend. I know, I know Saint Pauli Girl is not actually a German beer but it’s what I had on hand.

    Of course, because my wife never made a charcuterie board she didn’t like we didn’t just have a German-style lunch on Saturday. We also had a German-style charcuterie board for dinner Saturday night featuring a Bavarian pretzel, leftover bratwurst, some bacon, a few cheeses, homemade pickles, some fruit, homemade dill pickles and German mustard.

    Oh and beer. And  wine.

    Das ist gut, is what ist das.

    shot of the charcuterie tray my wife made
    Here is the German-style charcuterie tray my wife made. By the way I suspect the only reason my wife likes charcuterie trays is because she knows how hard it is for me to spell charcuterie.




    Since I had never whipped up a batch of German potato salad I decided to use this recipe from It made for a dark and flavorful salad that is just a good cold as it is warm. It be good is what it be.


    • 2 red potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes (each about the same size for even cooking)
    • 6slices bacon, chopped
    • 2cups chopped red onion
    • 2tsp minced garlic
    • 1/2cup chicken broth
    • 1/4cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1Tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 2tsp granulated sugar
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 2Tbsp olive oil


    1. Place red potatoes on a steamer basket* set in a pot with about 1 1/2-inches of water. Bring water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
    2. Cover pot with a snug lid and let steam until potatoes are tender, about 20 – 25 minutes (test for doneness by piercing potatoes through center with a knife, it should glide through). Set aside to cool just until warm enough to cut into chunks.
    3. While potatoes are steaming, cook bacon in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp (about 6 – 7 minutes). Remove bacon, set aside and leave drippings in skillet.
    4. Add onions to skillet with drippings and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer.
    5. Pour in chicken broth, vinegar, Dijon mustard and sugar. Bring to liquid to a simmer and let reduce by about half for a minute or two.
    6. Add chopped potatoes, bacon and olive oil and toss. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
    7. Remove from heat, toss in parsley. Serve warm (or see notes to serve chilled). If mixture seems to be just slightly dry you can either toss in a little more olive oil or chicken broth.

    Recipe Notes

    • *If you don’t own a steamer basket potato can also be cooked in water. To do so:
    • Place potatoes in a large pot  and cover with water by an inch or two. Season water with salt (about  1 Tbsp). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are just tender all the way through, about 10 – 15 minutes (they should pierce easily with a knife, but you also don’t want them really tender/mushy). 
    • So you know, we purchased the potatoes for the salad  Saturday morning at the Wilson Farm’s Greenhouse on Farmer’s Market stand on the Square in Carthage. The bacon we purchased at Cloud’s Meat Processing in Carthage and I picked up the bratwurst at Cramer’s Meat in Joplin.
    • The pickle cucumbers in my wife’s pickle recipe also came from Wilson Farm’s Greenhouse


    Lee’s Homemade Sauerkraut


    4 slices of thick bacon – chopped

    1-2 Tbsp of Dijon Mustard

    1 ½ Tbsp Whole Grain Mustard

    1 Tbsp Chopped Garlic

    ½ red onion, copped

    1 Tbsp sugar

    1 bag tri color coleslaw

    1 bottle Bud Light Lime

    Extra Virgin Olive Oil


    In a cast iron pot, drizzle about 3 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Add the chopped bacon and cook until done, but not crispy.  Add whole grain mustard, garlic, mustard, onions and sugar.  Mix and cook about 2 minutes.  Add the entire bag of coleslaw mix and stir.  Add one bottle of Bud Light Lime.  Stir, cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the slaw cooks down.  Then lower heat and cook about 20-30 more minutes.  You can add your sausages or brats at this time if you wish and cook longer to mingle the flavors.


    Lee’s Homemade Pickled Cucumbers and Onions



    Garden pickling cucumbers

    Half a red onion – sliced and cut in half

    Mizkan Rice Vinegar

    1 Tbsp sugar

    Flatiron Pepper Co. Sweet Heat peppers

    About ½ tsp Celery Seed

    Cracked pepper


    Slice the cucumbers and cut the red onion slices in half.  Layer the cucumbers and onions and pack tightly.  Cover with celery seed, sugar and cracked pepper.  Cover with Mizkan Rice Vinegar.  Cover tightly and shake vigorously.   Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours – better if overnight.  Lasts for several days.  I use a glass jar with screw top lid for this little number.





  • One lunch from Mars and one from Venus

    It wasn’t meant to be a competition it was meant to be lunch.

    In fairness, by comparing my lunch to the one she served the week before, I don’t think my wife meant it to be a competition as much as a compare and contrast kind of deal.

    Also in fairness, when looking at the two lunches there was plenty to compare and to contrast. What it was, I think, was one of those Mars and Venus things.

    It was Saturday and I was out running errands when I started pondering what I wanted to do for lunch. By the way, I’m not much of a ponderer. Assuming ponderer is a word.

    Now that I look at it, I’m thinking it’s not a word. So let me rephrase things here and say I’m not one to ponder much.

    That, right there, is one benefit of being your own editor. If I were still working for a newspaper an editor would make me cut out the paragraph where I wondered if ponderer was a word. But since I’m my own editor I just left it the way it was. I mean, life’s too short, right?

    Now then, where was I?

    Oh right, I was pondering what I wanted to do about lunch last Saturday. After pondering a minute I decided rather than stopping somewhere to pick something up I would just make do with what we had at home.

    So, when I got home, I opened the refrigerator, grabbed some cheeses, Italian salami, and mustards and then I opened the pantry and took out some crackers.

    I then sliced the cheeses, peeled off some salami and tossed them on a plate. I then added some chips, crackers, and mustards and just like that, I had a plate of food perfect to snack on while I watched a baseball game and sipped a glass of wine.

    I should point out that I usually don’t sip wine while I watch baseball but it was Saturday afternoon and I decided to try watching baseball like they do in Europe. But in Europe, I think they call baseball football.

    I think.

    I should also point out that because I’m nothing but a kind and generous person I made sure to lay out enough food so my wife would be able to snack while she watched whatever cooking or decorating show she was watching.

    The reason I should point that out is because my kind and generous nature is what turned my lunch into a compare and contrast event.

    What happened was my wife came into the kitchen, saw my plate of food, and started laughing. Since I long ago got used to women walking into the same room I was in and laughing I didn’t even wonder what my wife was laughing about. I just assumed it had something to do with me.

    “What?” I said.

    “Your charcuterie board,” my wife said.

    “My what?” I said.

    “Your charcuterie board. It’s pathetic,” my wife said.

    “Oh, OK,” I said and sat down to watch baseball.

    See, I really didn’t care if my wife thought my charcuterie board was pathetic. The reason I didn’t care was because I wasn’t trying to make a charcuterie board. I was trying to make lunch. I was trying to make a plate of stuff we could snack on and I thought I did just that.

    What I didn’t think about was what it looked like.

    See, that’s the difference between my wife and me. She cares what things look like and I don’t.

    Sort of makes you wonder why my wife agreed to marry me, doesn’t it?

    I wrote about my wife’s love of charcuterie boards sometime last year. For many years my wife would occasionally lay out some food onto a plate and we would snack on that food. For all of those many years we never referred to the plate of food as a charcuterie board. We just called it a plate of food.

    But then my wife found out about charcuterie boards and became obsessed with them. Sometimes my wife will even sketch out her charcuterie board on paper before she actually makes them.

    That’s right. My wife sketches out her food plans.

    That my friends is an obsession.

    My wife thought the contrast between our two charcuterie boards was so funny she took a picture of mine and posted it on her Facebook page along with a picture of the charcuterie board she made the week before. Here are those pictures.

    picture of my wife's charcuterie board to contrast with a picture of mine
    Here is one lunch.
    a picture of my board to contrast with my wife's.
    Here be the other. Can you guess which is which?

    See if you can guess which one’s mine.

    But keep in mind.

    It’s not a competition.

    Oh, and the wine was very good.





  • A face that’s not hard to read

    When I do it, I get in trouble.

    When Caicos does it, my wife just laughs. It’s not fair, is what it’s not.

    Caicos is our dog my wife and 22-year-old daughter Emma conned me into adopting five years ago.

    We were on vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands when my wife and Emma thought it would be fun to visit an animal rescue group that lets people take their rescued dogs for walks to help socialize them

    The dogs, I mean, not the people. Although that’s not such a bad idea.

    I was against the plan as I correctly-as it turned out-feared my wife and Emma would con me into adopting whichever dog they chose to walk.

    Not only did they con me into adopting Caicos my wife and Emma also promised they would take care of her.

    It was as if I had “Stupid” written all over my face.

    When we brought Caicos home, she took one look at the spotless, large, leather couch in our family room and said to herself “I like this place.”

    Assuming dogs talk to themselves.

    Five years later that couch is still large and is still leather.  What it’s not is spotless. Our large, leather couch now has more scratches on it than a 50-year-old Beatles album.

    We bought the couch nine years ago at a Nebraska Furniture Mart in Kansas City.

    I think.

    It’s possible we bought the couch at a Kansas City Furniture Mart in Nebraska.

    But that’s not my point. My point is Caicos has taken over our couch and now my wife and Emma think it’s time for us to get a new couch.

    I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.

    “What if Caicos destroys the new couch like she did with the one we have now?” I ask.

    “She won’t. We won’t let her,” my wife and Emma said.

    I’m guessing the “Stupid” is on my forehead.

    I asked my wife and Emma if they also wanted to replace the leather club chair and footstool in our family room Caicos has also destroyed and they said they did not.

    “Why not?” I asked.

    “Because Caicos loves that footstool,” they said.

    “I see,” I said.

    Like most of the furniture in our house the large, leather couch is adorned with numerous pillows. My wife loves pillows. She puts pillows on everything. This may or may not be true but my wife put pillows on our ceiling fans.

    My wife likes pillows, is what I’m saying.

    Because I don’t like pillows, whenever I try to sit down in our house, I have to take the pillows on whatever I’m trying to sit on and toss them on the floor.

    This makes my wife mad. The reason I know this makes my wife mad is because she says, “Mike, when you toss pillows on the floor it makes me mad.” And then I get in trouble.

    That’s right. I’m a grown man who still gets in trouble in his own house.

    When Caicos wants to get on our large, leather couch and there are pillows in her way the first thing she does is sprawl on top of them. But because Caicos also doesn’t like pillows, she slowly knocks them onto the floor. If I happen to be sitting on the couch at the time and my wife walks into the room and sees the pillows on the floor, she will get mad at me.

    At me.

    For something I didn’t do. For something a dog she and Emma conned me into adopting did.

    I don’t think that’s right.

    If my wife happens to be on the couch when Caicos starts knocking pillows off the couch she will laugh.

    “It’s that cute?” my wife will say.

    “How come when Caicos knocks off the pillows it’s cute and when I do it you get mad at me?” I will ask my wife.

    “It just is,” my will wife say.

    “Well as long as you have a logical reason,” I will say.

    I’m typing this on the counter in our kitchen. It’s about 2:30 in the afternoon. Caicos is behind me on the large, leather couch and has already knocked some pillows onto the floor.


    Seriously, the “Stupid” on my face must have been written with a Sharpie.

    Caicos on our couch surrounded by pillows she has knocked to the floor
    This is Caicos surrounded by pillows she has discarded. That is her  “What?” expression on her face.




  • Come on, smile. It’s the last one

    Pretty sure it’s the last one.

    Thursday morning, when I mentioned to our 22-year-old daughter Emma I was pretty sure it was the last one she said, “It better be. If not I’m in trouble.”

    I thought that was funny.

    There have now been 18 pictures. All taken on our front porch. The first picture is usually of Emma by herself. The second picture is usually of me and Emma. And the third picture is of my wife and Emma.

    Emma was five when the first picture was taken. She was nervous but happy. I remember how she grabbed my hand, leaned against me, and smiled for the camera.

    Of course, about 20 minutes later, Emma wasn’t so happy. And she wasn’t smiling. She was crying.

    She was crying, I think, because it dawned on her the first day of kindergarten at Mark Twain Elementary School meant she was on her own. The reason that dawned on her, I think, was because my wife and I started walking out of her classroom.

    I remember smiling and waving at Emma as we walked out of that classroom.

    And I remember crying as we walked out of the school.

    I also remember the phone call we got, shortly after we got home, from Laurel Rosenthal the principal of Mark Twain. Laurel, who was also my wife’s kindergarten teacher, called to let us know Emma quickly quit crying after we left and was doing fine.

    We have taken basically the same picture every year on Emma’s first day of school.. At first, Emma loved the first day of school pictures. Then, about the time Emma hit her first double-digit birthday, she went along with the pictures reluctantly.

    Then, in junior high, she had to be coaxed into taking the pictures. And by “coaxed” I mean my wife saying, “Emma, we’re taking the (bad word) picture and that’s final.”

    To be honest I began to dread the first day of pictures about the same time Emma did. And around the time Emma started junior high I figured she had enough to worry about without having to pose for pictures with her parents.

    But I posed for them, nonetheless. And when I say “nonetheless” I mean because my wife would say, “Mike, we’re taking the (bad word) picture and that’s final.”

    After we took the pictures Thursday morning I got in my car and my wife and Emma got into Emma’s car and we drove to Lawrence, Kansas to move Emma into her new apartment.

    Now, some of you who read this column, may be thinking “But Mike, didn’t you help Emma move into her apartment a couple of weeks ago?”

    To some of you thinking that I say, “Yes. Yes, we did. And about a week after that we helped Emma move some more stuff into her apartment.”

    Some of you are now probably thinking, “Wow, how many times does it take to move Emma into an apartment?”

    To some of you thinking that I say, “I would think three times would be plenty. But I don’t know for sure.”

    Emma starts her final year of graduate school on Monday. That’s why she is hopeful it’s a wrap on first day of school pictures.

    Like most parents, my wife and I have mixed emotions about Emma going back to school. We want her to finish, of course.

    I mean, have you priced grad school lately?

    But like most parents, we’re worried about the whole COVID-19 thing. But Emma’s pretty responsible about things and, with the exception of one class that meets in person once a week, all of her classes will be online.

    So there is that.

    I would like to say it doesn’t seem possible we’ve taken our last first day of school picture with Emma but I can’t.

    The reason I can’t is because it does seem possible, at least to me. I remember all of those first day of school pictures. I remember Emma’s various moods. From excited, to nervous, to elated, to scared to death, back to excited and back to scared to death.

    On Thursday I’m pretty sure Emma’s mood was “I can’t believe I’m finally getting out of this house and back with my friends for a while.”

    At least that would be my mood if I were Emma.

    I guess it would nice if, later this evening, my wife and I sat down and took a few minutes to look through all of those first day of school pictures to see how Emma and we have changed.

    But we probably won’t.


    Because we have no idea where most of them are.

    a picture of mike and emma on her first day of kindergarten. Emma on the left is about waist high to mike and is hold his hand. She is wearing sunglasses and a new watch. Mike has Emma's backpack on his chest.
    This is the first of 18 first day of school pictures taken. I know what you’re thinking and “Yes. I was cute back then.”
    mike and Emma on her last first day of school picture. Emma is just half a head shorter than mike.
    Here be the last first day of school picture. Do me a favor, don’t tell Emma you saw this picture. She didn’t want it posted because she didn’t like the way she looked. I, on the other hand, am adorable.
  • Stand up, walk around, breath. NOW!

    My watch keeps nagging me.

    I guess it’s OK because if my watch is taking the time to nag me that means it cares about me.

    I think.

    But on the other wrist having a watch which, to my knowledge is not human, nag me is a little bit strange. Look, I’m a veteran husband. I know all about nagging. In fact, I’m sort of used to it. But still.

    Nagging? From a watch?

    The watch was a Father’s Day gift from our 22-year-old daughter Emma. It’s one of those Apple Watches that lets you know how active you’re being.

    That’s not all the watch does. Emma showed me how to load a bunch of things from my cellphone onto the watch allowing it to act somewhat like my cellphone.

    Emma told me she got the watch for me because, “You like literally never have your phone with you.”

    Of course, later my wife told me Emma told her she got me the watch so I would be able to communicate with someone if I fell.

    My wife said she asked Emma “How old do you think your dad is?”

    I thought that was a good question. In short, Emma’s answer was “Old.”
    Told you it was “In short.”

    The thing is, if the watch hadn’t been a gift from Emma, I probably wouldn’t wear it very often. My wife is always giving me gifts she’s certain will make my life easier and I’ll use them for a while and then put them in my closet never to be seen again.

    And  my wife is OK with that because, as I think I’ve pointed out in the past, my wife also has a closet full of gifts I purchased for her that I was certain would make her life easier.

    But with Emma it’s different.

    How is it different, you ask?

    I don’t know it just is.

    So I wear the watch even though it nags me.

    Specifically what my watch nags me about how active I am. Or, more accurately,  how active I’m not.

    I will be minding my own business, reading a book, and sipping a beer when my watch will buzz and then tell me I’m short of my daily goal for the number of steps taken.

    The first time that happened I was a bit puzzled because I didn’t know I had a daily goal for the number of steps taken.  Seems to me any sort of goal measuring the steps you’ve taken is a dubious one at best.

    It’s not exactly hard to take steps. Basically you put one foot in front of you and then put your other foot in front of you and “BAM” you’ve taken a step.

    Although, you probably shouldn’t yell  “BAM” every time you take a step lest people think you’re a loon.

    The way I see it toddlers are the only people who should have a daily goal for steps taken.

    Sometimes my watch will get sort of snarky. Say I’m sitting at my computer-to use a purely hypothetical example- drinking a beer and reading about another St. Louis Cardinal positive COVID-19 test. At some point, my watch will buzz and tell me to stand up and move around.

    When that happens, I want to say “You stand up and move around. I’m busy here.”

    But then I remember I’m talking about a watch so I don’t say anything.

    But later, to make my watch happy, I do stand up and walk around. Specifically, I stand up and walk around to the kitchen and get a beer out of the refrigerator.

    This seems to make my watch happy.

    Sometimes, out of the blue, my watch will tell me I need to breathe.

    Look, I barely passed basic college biology but even I know the importance of breathing. Really besides twisting the cap off a bottle of beer breathing is one of my most important activities.

    Sigh. But I will continue wearing my watch. Because Emma gave it to me.

    And because if I’m not wearing it and I fall Emma will nag me forever.

  • A truly moving story

    To my credit, I didn’t laugh when she said it.

    Sure, I rolled my eyes but I didn’t laugh.

    I wanted to laugh but at the same time, I also wanted to cry.

    So I rolled my eyes instead.

    It was last Friday and I was standing in our living room looking at the boxes lined up against one of the walls.

    My wife walked into the room and, reading the depressed expression on my face, said, “Don’t worry this one won’t be so bad.”

    It was sort of like when Trump says the coronavirus will just magically disappear or suggests we inject ourselves with bleach.

    You want to laugh but you also want to cry.

    So you roll your eyes.

    What my wife was talking about was our 22-year-old daughter Emma’s move from one apartment in Lawrence, Kansas to another apartment in Lawrence. The boxes lined up against the wall in our living room represented items that are part of that move.

    Technically, Emma moved out of her apartment in March when the university shut down and currently is living in Kansas City. But she was able to leave her furniture and some other stuff in her old apartment until it was time to move into her new one.

    It’s kind of complicated.

    Because my wife and I aren’t total morons we arranged for a moving company to haul Emma’s furniture from the old apartment to the new one.

    When I was in college I worked for a couple of moving companies. I hated it.

    Later, when I worked in broadcasting-a transitory occupation if there ever was one-I helped many co-workers either move in or out of apartments. I hated doing that but not as much as I hated working for moving companies because, when helping co-workers move, beer was always involved.

    Here is a tip for young people who ask co-workers to help them move: Don’t break out the beer until the move is successfully completed.

    I know it sounds like a simple piece of advice but you would be surprised how many times it’s not followed.

    And by the chaos that would ensue.

    Unfortunately, beer was not involved in Emma’s move. Clearly this was a job for Scotch.

    Ha! I joke. I don’t even like Scotch. To me, Scotch is something people with real grownup jobs drink when sitting around talking about the “Smedley Account.”

    Or their golf games.

    We arrived in Lawrence, early Saturday morning, about 45 minutes before the movers showed up at Emma’s old apartment. This gave us time to begin moving stuff out of Emma’s old apartment and into our cars. This was somewhat problematic as my car was already pretty much full of the aforementioned boxes that were in our living room.

    By the way, I like the word “aforementioned”. It’s like getting three words for the price of one.

    My wife would hand me a box of stuff from Emma’s apartment and say, “Here, put this in your car,” and I would say, “I can’t. It’s full,” and my wife would say, “No it’s not. Put it in your car.”

    So I would take the box downstairs (Of course there were stairs involved), open the car door, throw the box in and slam the door shut before the boxes already in my car could fall out.

    In case you’re wondering, my wife used to design clown cars.

    Bozo: I can’t get in there. It’s full.

    My Wife: No it’s not. Get in.

    Once we loaded the rest of the stuff into our cars, we drove to Emma’s new apartment and started unloading it.

    While we were carrying the first load of stuff in the movers showed up with Emma’s furniture and began carrying it into the apartment.

    After Emma and my wife helped bring in the first load of stuff, they decided their presence would be better served inside the apartment.

    Did I mention it was hot in Lawrence last Saturday?

    I mean really hot.

    So while my wife and Emma stayed inside “organizing” I made trip after trip from the cars to the apartment. While I was still unloading, the movers finished carrying in Emma’s furniture. When they were done, my wife paid them, then they got in their truck and drove away. It was their last job of the day.

    For the first time in my life, I wished I were a mover.

    Eventually, and when I say “Eventually” I mean “Many hours later” Emma was successfully moved into her new apartment.

    We then went to a restaurant with strict masked and social distancing rules and had a really, really, really late lunch.

    And beer.

  • Take a picture, it’ll last six years

    I had been putting it off for a couple of months.

    It wasn’t I was lazy, or I didn’t think it was important, I was afraid it would be impossible.

    But I was running out of time. Because of the pandemic, I had been given a 60-day extension but my 60 days were about up so I was going to have to act.

    But I was afraid.

    What I needed to do was renew both the license plates for my car AND my driver’s license.

    I KNOW!

    In our town the motor vehicle place was closed for a couple of months when folks were in lock-down mode. But sometime in May it reopened.

    So I knew sooner or later I was going to have to make the trek to the motor vehicle place.

    Unlike other motor vehicle places I’ve heard about, the one in our town is actually quite nice and the people who work there are friendly and courteous.

    Well, as friendly and courteous as you can be working at a motor vehicle place.

    Have you spent much time in a motor vehicle place? Have you seen some of the people who go there?

    If I worked in a motor vehicle place, I would greet every person like this, “WHAT!!!??? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT!!!???”

    That’s right. Working at a motor vehicle place would be so bad I would use both exclamation points and question marks.

    Just gathering up the necessary paperwork to renew license plate tags and a driver’s license is exhausting. Here’s what I needed to do to renew my car plates.

    Find our property tax receipts for 2018 and 2019. Since we always mean to but always forget to keep our property tax receipts, this requires a trip to the county courthouse. When you walk into the property tax receipts place all you have to do is say “I need a cop…” and the clerks will nod their heads and say, “That will be $2 please.”

    Then I have to find the proof of insurance card that is supposed to be the glove box in my car. When I looked in the glove box, I found every proof of insurance card dating back to 2014.

    Except the one I needed.

    This required a phone call to our insurance office. When I said “I’m trying to renew my car ta…” the nice woman laughed and said, “I’ll print one out and leave it at the front desk.”

    But all of that was child’s play compared to what I had to do to renew my driver’s license. Nowadays in order to use your driver’s license to board a plane, you have to get what is called a “Real ID”.

    To get a “Real ID” I needed my birth certificate or my passport. I also needed either my social security card or a tax form with my social security number on it. I also needed two pieces of paper proving I live at the address I have lived at for nearly 20 years.

    Last Wednesday, after rounding up everything I needed, I made my way to the motor vehicle place. In the hallway,  I found a signup sheet telling me to sign in, leave my cellphone number and wait in my car.

    One hour and 45 minutes later my phone rang and I was called inside. I gave the nice lady the stuff to get my license plates renewed. After renewing my license plates the lady had me move over the driver’s license desk. I gave her my paperwork. She looked at it. Then she looked at me. Then she looked at the paperwork again.

    “Everything is fine,” she said.

    I almost started sobbing.

    Then I took the eye test and the traffic sign test. I aced both like Trump acing a not-being-senile test.

    Finally, the lady had me sit in front of a camera, took my picture and just like that my long nightmare was over.

    Well, I thought it was over until, on the way to my car, I glanced at my driver’s license photo. A photo I will have to live with for the next six years. When I saw the photo I started laughing.

    Very hard.

    Here is why.

    my horrible driver's license photo
    This is only the B/W temporary copy. The color version, I’m told, will look even worse. I  call it my “Nick Nolte Mug-Shot” look.


    I’ll give you a few minutes to stop laughing.


    The irony is I went to the extra trouble to get a “Real ID” so I can use it to board airplanes. But now when the TSA guy looks at that photo and then looks questionably at me, I’ll have to say, “Oh wait,”.

    Then I’ll have to mess up my hair before they’ll let me through.


    Maybe I’ll just stay home for the next six years.

  • As bright as it can get

    It’s important to find the bright side of life.

    It’s important to find something that will make you stop and say “Well, it could be worse,” even though “Well, it could be worse,” is a pretty stupid thing to say because we already know it can always be worse.

    On the other side of life, saying, “It couldn’t get any better than this,” is not a dumb thing to say because most of the time it really can’t get any better.

    Sometimes life is as good as it can get.

    Actually, now that I’ve put this on paper (or on computer, if you will) I’m not so sure about my earlier “bright side” statement. That’s right. I started to write a column going one way and quickly talked myself into changing directions.

    Sort of answers the question, “Mike, do you ever think about your columns before you start typing?” doesn’t it?

    So, the thing I’m going to talk about is not so much a bright side of life as it is a “not quite so dark but really only sort of bright side of life”.

    I may have made this up but the original title of Eric Idle’s classic, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” was “Always Look on the Not Quite so Dark but Really Only Sort of Bright Side of Life.”

    But you might want to check with Eric about that. Or, better yet, buy his book “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.”

    I did. It’s great.

    For the record, Eric did not ask me to plug his book. I don’t even know Eric. But a few of years ago my wife and our now 22-year-old daughter Emma spent about a week in England so we’re practically family.

    Eric and I, I mean. My wife, Emma and I were already family.

    Now, where was I?

    Oh right, that sort of bright side thing.

    I’m talking about finding the sort of bright side of not really being able to leave our house without risking my life.

    As a non-people person I’ve mentioned before the sort of bright side, for me, of not leaving our house, is not having to deal with people.

    If I were a people person I would probably hate staying home. But I’m not. So I don’t.

    But recently I discovered another sort of bright side about not leaving our house.


    Or the relative lack thereof.

    Even before the pandemic, as someone who works from home, I probably had less laundry to worry about than-let’s say-my wife who doesn’t work from home.

    But now, since I hardly leave the house, the amount of laundry I have to worry about has decreased by-to use a complicated mathematical term-a whole bunch.

    My typical quarantine attire generally consists of a pair of shorts and a T-shirt.

    Last week my wife and I attended a brief, small, socially distanced, outdoor gathering that required me to wear long pants, an actual shirt with a collar, shoes and socks.

    It was the first time I had worn socks in three months.

    I almost forgot where I kept them.

    My socks, I mean.

    I have a lot of T-shirts. I don’t know how or why I have so many T-shirts I just know I do.

    I think most guys have no idea how or why they have as many T-shirts as they do.

    Because I have so many T-shirts, I can go weeks without having to do laundry. My wife is like that too but in her case it’s not so much T-shirts she has a lot of, but clothes in general.

    My wife could go months without doing laundry and still not have to worry about having something to wear.

    I’m not saying my wife does go months without doing laundry. I’m just saying she could.

    As I sit here typing this, I’m wearing a pair of brown shorts and a green Heineken T-shirt. I think Emma got the T-shirt for me, last year, when she was in Amsterdam.

    Tomorrow, I will probably wear the same shorts again and just change T-shirts. Thereby keeping my laundry responsibilities to a minimum.

    So, what have we learned here?

    Well, I guess, we’ve learned it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

    Just give me a sort of bright side of life and, now that I think about it, a cold Heineken.

    Cue the whistling.

  • Phase one of the remodeling is complete

    Step one of the gradual remodeling of our downstairs has been completed with minimal disagreement between my wife and our 22-year-old daughter Emma.

    Of course, when talking about disagreements between my wife and Emma the word “minimal” is sort of relative.

    If my wife and Emma both came downstairs in the morning at the very same time and one of them said, “Good morning” the other one would say “Is it? Is it really a good morning?”

    My wife and Emma tend to disagree about things is what I’m saying.

    The remodeling of our downstairs was first discussed by my wife and Emma a couple of weeks ago. And when I say “was first discussed by my wife and Emma” I mean in the sense that Emma said our downstairs needed to be remodeled and my wife-to use a decorating expression-blew a gasket.

    I think that’s a decorating expression.

    But after much back and forth my wife agreed to let Emma “Maybe, sort of, if you don’t do too much, if you check with me before you do anything and don’t get rid of anything I might let you do some remodeling of our downstairs. But not too much and really don’t get rid of anything.”

    It was sort of a tepid agreement.

    Because Emma didn’t just fall off the design truck, she opted to begin the remodel on something she and her mother already agreed on.

    Emma convinced my wife to take a counter just off our kitchen that had served as a place to store stuff from someone named MacKenzie-Childs and turn it into a coffee bar.

    The most challenging part of the transformation for Emma was convincing her mother to allow the MacKenzie-Childs stuff to be relocated elsewhere.

    I told my wife the stuff from Mackenzie-Childs would go to a farm where it would be able to run and play with other MacKenzie-Childs stuff.

    My wife said something to me I can’t repeat. Well, I could but it wouldn’t be polite. And, I’m pretty sure, it’s physically impossible.

    By the way, in the interest of fair disclosure, I should point out the reason my wife has so much MacKenzie-Childs stuff is because I bought it for her.

    See, my wife loves MacKenzie-Childs stuff which is unfortunate because it tends to be a bit pricy. But because I can never go wrong when giving my wife the gift of MacKenzie-Childs stuff I’m often willing to pay the price.

    So to speak.

    this is a "before" picture of the counter Emma turned into a coffee bar. In the foreground is stuff my wife put on our kitchen counter to decorate. In the background you can see the counter filled with MacKenaie-Childs stuff.
    Our friend Chrystie Limes pointed out in any remodel you need before and after pictures. So, in the background of this picture you can see the counter before. Note the MacKenzie-Childs stuff. I need to be honest here. We really didn’t have an honest “before” picture. This picture was taken a couple of months ago. Having the counter in the background was a happy accident.


    What Emma did was relocate the MacKenzie-Childs stuff to our dining room. Once Emma relocated the MacKenzie-Childs stuff and my wife realized how nice it looked the rest of the coffee bar transformation was a breeze.

    And by “was a breeze” I mean it was a small hurricane.

    See, the problem is, in design, Emma believes less is more while my wife believes, in design, more is not enough.

    But, after discussions only slightly more complicated than the discussions between Major League Baseball owners and the players to restart the season, my wife and Emma came to a coffee bar agreement.

    Another by the way, while my wife and Emma were setting up the coffee bar, I suggested they set up a bloody mary bar instead.

    “No,” Emma said.

    “Well…” my wife said.

    “No,” Emma said.

    It wasn’t that Emma was necessarily opposed to a bloody mary bar it was she felt, knowing her mother, a bloody mary bar would quickly get out of control.

    Emma had a point.

    Emma had a hard enough time keeping things in the coffee bar to a minimum.

    Wife: Oooh, why don’t we add this creamer?

    Emma: No.

    Wife: What about these coffee cu…

    Emma: No.

    Wife: Ho…

    Emma: No.

    I did mention, when it comes to design, Emma believes less is more didn’t I?

    Eventually, my wife and Emma were able to stock the coffee bar with just enough stuff to please my wife but not too much stuff to upset Emma.

    It was a delicate balance is what it was.

    The after picture of the now clutter free coffee bar.
    Here is the after shot. Note the absence of clutter.

    The next day, as Emma was preparing to return to her internship in Kansas City, she causally mentioned I now had the toughest remodeling job.

    “What are you talking about?” I said.

    “You have to keep mom from junking up the coffee bar with stuff,” Emma said.

    Suddenly, I needed a bloody mary.

  • Counting steps? Not on my watch

    I’m giving it a chance.

    It’s the least I can do. I mean, our 22-year-old daughter Emma put a lot of thought into it and she really thinks, once I get used to it, I’ll like it.

    I mean it’s a Father’s Day gift from my daughter, what’s a dad supposed to do?

    If my wife had given me the gift, I could have said how much I liked and appreciated it and then put it in my closet never to be seen again.

    That’s what veteran husbands and wives do with gifts from each other they’re unsure about.

    Look, my wife has a closet full of clothes, books, and assorted other things I’ve given her over the years that have never seen actual daylight.

    Ditto for me.

    By the way, I have been writing a column since 2001 and never once in all of those thousands of columns have I ever typed, “Ditto for me.”

    Just wanted to point that out.

    The Father’s Day gift Emma gave me was the gift of an Apple Watch. Now, even someone with limited technological knowledge such as myself, knows what an Apple Watch is.

    The main reason I know what an Apple Watch is because my wife and Emma have one.

    I haven’t seen them wear them in a while but they have them.

    What I remember about Emma and my wife’s Apple Watches was they mainly used them to count how many steps they took on any given day.

    I thought keeping track of how many steps you take on any given day was-to use a technological term-stupid.

    Here’s how I determine how many steps I have taken at the end of a given day. If I’m tired at the end of a given day, I figure the number of steps I took was “a lot.”

    If I’m not tired at the end of a given day, I figure the number of steps I took was “not a lot.”

    So, as you might imagine, I was somewhat surprised when Emma gave me an Apple Watch for Father’s Day. Emma, reading the surprise on my face, immediately said my new Apple Watch would let me do a lot of things that I couldn’t do before.

    I was skeptical.

    “If you wear the watch you won’t have to worry about having your cellphone with you all the time,” Emma said.

    “Go on,” I said.

    Emma explained I would be able to load a bunch of stuff from my cellphone onto my watch effectively turning my watch into my cellphone.

    “What if someone calls me?” I asked.

    “You can talk to them on your watch,” Emma said.

    “You mean like Dick Tracy?” I said.

    “I don’t know who that is,” Emma said.

    Suddenly, I felt much older than I actually am.

    My wife told me it was important to always know where the charger for my watch is.

    “How come you don’t wear your watch anymore?” I asked my wife.

    “I can’t find the charger,” she said.

    “I see,” I said. And this time I did see.

    Both Emma and my wife agreed they need to start wearing their Apple Watches more often. But they also said because my watch is newer it has a lot more features than theirs.

    I took them at their word.

    Later that day Emma helped me “pair” my watch with my cellphone. As I understood it, once my watch and cellphone were paired, I would be able to misplace both of them.

    Ha. I joke.

    No, once my watch and cellphone were paired my watch would function ipso facto as my cellphone.

    Here’s another by the way. Not only have I never used the words “Ipso facto” in a column before I’m not even sure I spelled them right or used them correctly.

    Good thing I’m my own editor now.

    Now that I think about it, my use of “Ipso facto” is probably close to being correct but not quite actually correct.

    But, hey, close isn’t bad.

    For the past few days I’ve been trying to get used to my watch. I’ve discovered I can play music on my watch and listen to it via my Bluetooth headphones. I can also check text messages, phone calls and emails on my watch.

    And get this: I can check the time on my watch.

    I know!

    The only thing, so far, I haven’t figured out how to do is find out how many steps I’ve taken on a given day.

    Good thing I already have a system for that.

  • In praise of the BLT

    I think it was stress related.

    Some sort of post traumatic sandwich stress syndrome if you will.

    That’s the only reason I can explain the fact that for a certain period of my life I was uneasy with bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.

    It wasn’t that I disliked them when I was a kid it was the fact that whenever I found out we were having BLTs for dinner I would develop a nervous, hesitance I could never explain. Sure, I would eat a BLT but I never really enjoyed them the way I would later grow to enjoy them.

    It wasn’t until I was in my teens and someone in my family mentioned how, when I was very young, my dad would get frustrated with me when we had BLTs. I was probably three or four-years-old, the story goes, and my dad would patiently build my BLT  and hand my plate to me.

    Then, just as he was about to bite into his own sandwich, I would somehow manage to drop mine. Sometimes onto my plate but often onto the table and the floor. My dad would then have to put his sandwich down, pick up the pieces of mine and try to rebuild it knowing I was just going to drop it again.

    My dad was not one to lose his temper much. But he was one to get frustrated occasionally and sometimes let that frustration show. Sometime like when he was trying to eat a BLT but had to stop three or four times to rebuild someone else’s BLT, for example.

    See what I mean? Post traumatic sandwich syndrome.

    But once I flashed back to my younger BLT days my uneasiness vanished and I became a BLT fanatic.

    My wife shares my love of BLTs and whenever we’re having trouble deciding what to have for dinner one of us will eventually say, “How ‘bout BLTs?” and the dinner problem would be solved.

    By the way, when asking about having BLTs for dinner, the correct way to ask is, “How ‘bout BLTs?”

    In case you were wondering.

    While my wife and I are willing to serve up BLTs most anytime of the year, the absolute best time to serve them is late spring and summer when we can get fresh tomatoes.

    A BLT served with store-bought tomatoes is good but a BLT served with fresh tomatoes is something of the Gods. Which sort of begs a few questions: Is there a God of tomatoes?

    Or BLTs?

    And if there is what God or Gods would they be? And, really, when you think about it, how would a God react if he, or she, were asked to be the God of tomatoes?

    Or BLTs?

    Would they be insulted or honored?

    I guess it would depend on the God.

    Or Gods.

    Before I go any further, I probably should admit my wife and I-technically speaking-don’t fix BLTs. Some years ago we decided that, although we liked lettuce, it just sort of got in the way of the essence of the tomato and the bacon.

    That’s right. We dropped the “L” from the BLT. But for purpose of clarity we decided if we called BLTs “BTs” know one would know what in the world we were talking about.

    Now, I’m sure, in some circles, dropping lettuce from a BLT might be considered heresy but, then again, we’re just talking about a sandwich here.

    Oh, we also like to add Swiss cheese to our BLTs.

    So chew on that.

    Once, in Key West, Florida while on our honeymoon, my wife ordered a BLT with grilled onions.

    She said it was the best part of our honeymoon.

    I probably should have taken offense to that but I couldn’t.

    I mean, it was a good sandwich.

    When we have BLTs at home, we’re partial to marble rye bread, pepper bacon from Clouds Meat Processing here in Carthage, sliced tomatoes, Swiss cheese and, of course, Miracle Whip.

    I know some people may be partial to regular mayonnaise but my wife and I come from Miracle Whip people.

    By the way, mayonnaise is tough to spell.

    In case you were wondering.

    On Monday, when we served up BLTs, instead of using marble rye we opted for jalapeno cheese bread from the Circle E Market located five our six miles east of Carthage.

    It were heaven is what it were.

    And I didn’t drop my BLT.

    Not even once.

    a blt sitting on a white plate. Behind the plate with the BLT is a glass of white wine with the bottle in which in came from next to it.
    This is my BLT from Monday night. I opted to serve a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc with it but a chilled bottle of Bud also works well.
  • Is it me, or did it suddenly get cold in here?

    I think interior design is a lot like chicken salad.

    Or chili.

    Many people who make chicken salad or chili think the way they make it is the way everyone else should make it.

    On Monday I whipped up a chicken salad for my wife and I to have for dinner. When my wife got home, I casually mentioned that, because we happened to have some fresh chives hanging around, I decided to chop some up and toss it in the salad.

    You would have thought I opened a can of beer during a wedding.

    Or a baptism.

    I also mentioned I added a couple of boiled eggs to the chicken salad.

    “I don’t even know who you are anymore,” my wife said.

    I should point out when my wife actually tried my chicken salad (with a slice of fresh tomato) she admitted she liked it.

    “It’s not the way you’re supposed to make it but it’s not bad,” my wife said.

    My wife tends to have strong opinions about many things while I only have strong opinions about random holding calls against the Kansas City Chiefs, or regular beer versus light beer.

    You know, important things.

    One of the areas my wife has her strongest opinions is in the area of interior design. Specifically, the area of interior design as it pertains to our home.

    So, you can imagine my wife’s reaction Sunday morning when our 22-year-old daughter Emma, who was home for the weekend, came downstairs and said it was time “to redo our downstairs.”

    I KNOW!

    When Emma told my wife it was time to redo our downstairs, I said to myself, “Oh, no she didn’t.”

    And then myself said “Really? You’re going with ‘Oh, no she didn’t’.”

    Myself had a point.

    When Emma said she thought it was time to redo our downstairs my wife gave her a look much like the look the great George Brett gave that home-plate umpire in the pine-tar game.

    My wife didn’t take Emma’s suggestion well, is what I’m saying.

    My wife said slowly, and in an ominous tone, “Why? What’s wrong with our downstairs?”

    When I heard that tone, I said to myself “Uh-oh.”

    And myself said, “I hear you man.”

    I was tempted to say to myself, “Really? You’re going with ‘I hear you man’,” but I was too interested in seeing how this whole thing between my wife and Emma would play out.

    “Well, for one thing, there’s too much clutter,” Emma said.

    Emma pointed to a collection of items my wife had carefully placed along the tops of the cabinets in our kitchen and our family room.

    “We need to get rid of all that stuff,” Emma said.

    I swear the temperature dropped at least 30 degrees in our house.

    “And that counter right there,” Emma said, pointing to a counter in our family room my wife had carefully decorated with a bunch of stuff from someone named MacKenzie-Childs, “That stuff needs to go somewhere else. It’s too cluttered.”

    “But I love that stuff,” my wife said.

    “Doesn’t matter,” Emma said.

    Emma has a degree in Architecture and Interior Design, with an emphasis in interior design. And, she currently is in graduate school studying interior design.

    Emma is also interning with Tamara Day the star of the HGTV show Bargain Mansions, so I’m thinking Emma feels she might know a bit more about interior design than my wife. And she may be right.

    But try telling that to my wife.

    No, seriously, please try. I’m afraid to.

    Trying to lighten the mood a bit I tossed out one of the few things I’ve managed to learn since I started watching “Bargain Mansions” with my wife.

    “Why don’t we put in a banquette?” I said.

    Until I started watching “Bargain Mansions” I didn’t know what a banquette was. I thought it was a long, skinny loaf of French bread.

    But now I know that’s not the case.

    When I suggested the banquette my wife and Emma gave me the same look. It was a look that said “Nobody’s talking to you.”

    Eventually, after much back and forth, my wife and Emma agreed to make a few minor changes to our downstairs. Not as many changes as Emma wanted to make but more than my wife wanted to make.

    It was your basic compromise.

    So, now, there is peace in our house. Or there will be until the next time I decide to whip up a pot of chili.

  • Not all protests are created equal

    Thankfully, she left work early and was able to get in this time.

    She wasn’t so lucky Tuesday evening and had to weave her way back to the front of her apartment building.

    Our 22-year-old daughter Emma is working at an internship in Kansas City. The apartment complex she is staying in is near ground zero for the ongoing protests in Kansas City.

    The back of Emma’s apartment building faces the park where most of the protesters have been gathering the past few nights.

    Tuesday night Emma worked later than normal so it was after 4:30 p.m. when she attempted to turn onto Broadway Avenue and make her way south to the entrance of her parking garage which is directly across the street from the park.

    When Emma got to a police barricade, she told one of the police officers she lived on Wornall Road and needed to get to her parking garage and she said the officer yelled “YOU DON’T LIVE THERE TONIGHT”.

    So Emma turned around and when she ran into another roadblock, she again explained she was just trying to get to her parking garage and, again, she was turned away and sent to another roadblock.

    After 30 minutes of being passed from one roadblock to another Emma called me. Emma is pretty levelheaded and tries to keep her emotions in check but when she started talking it was clear she was upset and frightened.

    I stayed on the phone with Emma until she was finally able to make her way around to the front of her apartment building. While she drove, Emma told me the police officers were rude to her and didn’t seem to care how or if she got to her apartment building.

    I told Emma the police officers may have justifiably been a bit on edge. But part of me wanted to say “Really? They couldn’t have bothered to at least show a little empathy for an obviously upset and frightened young woman?”

    But then another part of me wondered how those police officers would have treated Emma if she were black.

    Look, Emma knows she’s fortunate. She knows, by accident of birth, she has been given advantages many others haven’t.

    She knows, for example, she can afford to look at an encounter with a police officer differently than can a black or brown person. So, Tuesday evening Emma had her first taste of what many other people deal with on a daily basis and I think it rattled her a bit.

    I don’t mean this to be an attack on police officers. As I said, many of those officers, understandably, may have been a bit tense after dealing with nights and nights of protests. And some of those protests, I should point out, weren’t always peaceful.

    In fact, some of those protests weren’t protests at all. They were just excuses for morons to go on looting sprees.

    But by most accounts, the protestors in and around the park in Kansas City, by and large, have been peaceful.

    But not all of them have been.

    And, by most accounts, the police officers, by and large, have been conducting themselves in a calm and professional manner.

    But not all of them have been.

    It seems to me some people are willing to overlook a few “bad apples” on a police force but are less willing to overlook a few “bad apples” in a crowd of protestors.

    It also seems to me some people tend to look at protests differently depending on who is doing the protesting.

    A few weeks ago, when those heavily armed idiots stormed the Michigan State Capitol, threating the governor and state lawmakers because they couldn’t get a haircut or go to a bar, they suffered little if any consequences.

    Fast forward a few weeks, when people gathered in Minneapolis to peacefully protest the brutal killing of an unarmed black man and got tear gassed.

    Look, people much smarter than I am have debated and suggested how we can get past all of this. How we restore some sense of trust and justice in our country.

    I’m smart enough to admit that I don’t know how we can do that.

    But I guess we can start by listening to and respecting the peaceful protestors and the professional and honorable police officers.

    And then deal with the bad apples.

    Oh, and vote in November.





  • A new visionary system

    I’ve got a new glasses system.

    I’m not good with glasses. It’s not that I don’t know how to wear them it’s…what?

    Oh, you thought I meant drinking glasses. You thought this was going to be a column about wine or martinis or cold glasses for beer.

    By the way, have you ever ordered a bottle of beer at a restaurant or bar, then been offered a glass to pour the beer in, and when given the glass find out that it’s not chilled?

    Not to be snobby here but I fail to see the point of pouring a chilled bottle of beer into a non-chilled glass.

    But maybe that’s just me.

    Now, where was I?

    Oh right, my glasses system.

    I tend to lose my glasses. Well, not lose them in the sense that some people at the Lake of the Ozark lost their minds over the weekend.

    I mean in the sense of setting your glasses down, walking away, then saying, “Where are my glasses?” then spending the next 15 minutes looking for them while your wife asks, “Well, where did you have them last?” and you wanting to say “(Bad word) it! If I knew where I had them last, I would know where they are so quit (Very bad word) asking me that question.” But you don’t because…well…why make an already bad situation worse.

    You know, in that sense.

    Because I’m a person of a certain age I don’t need to wear glasses all of the time. Mainly I only need to wear glasses when I’m reading or working on the computer. But since I spend a lot of time reading or working on the computer my glasses are sort of important to me.

    Last year when I got new glasses, I opted to purchase a second, back-up pair. In the past, I would just use my old glasses as a backup but I decided to splurge a bit.

    The idea was to put my back-up glasses in a safe space and only use them in some sort of glasses emergency.

    That was the idea.

    The reality was I used both pairs of glasses. So, if I misplaced one pair, I could always count on have another pair nearby. This worked pretty well for a while.

    But then I started misplacing both pairs of glasses. Then instead of looking for one pair, I was looking for two pairs.

    It was enough to-as the late, great George Miller used to say- make a grown man angry.

    Almost as bad as misplacing glasses is walking downstairs without them then, realizing you left them upstairs, having to go back up the stairs, get them, walk back downstairs, then asking yourself why in the (bad word) you walked downstairs in the first place.

    To use a hypothetical example.

    That hypothetical example, however, is what prompted me to develop my new glasses system. From now on, my plan is to always leave one pair of glasses downstairs and one pair upstairs.

    That way, if I misplace a pair, I only have to look on one floor of the house at a time. Reducing my searching area by…let’s see I think I have to divide something by something, then move a decimal point to the right, or maybe the left, and then I come up with the following figure…137 percent.

    Somebody might want to check my math on that one.

    So far, my system has been working fairly well. And, when I say “fairly well” I mean “only slightly better than my old system.”

    The problem is I sometimes forget which pair are my downstairs glasses and which are my upstairs glasses.

    When that happens, I  find myself with two pairs of glasses upstairs and no glasses downstairs which requires me to go upstairs, find a pair of glasses and take them back downstairs.

    Then I go back upstairs, work a while using my upstairs glasses until I  go downstairs to get a beer. For some reason, I decided to pour my beer into a glass and take it back upstairs with me.

    Then, when I get back upstairs, I discover I poured my chilled bottle of beer into a non-chilled glass.


    Seriously, what were those morons at the Lake of the Ozarks thinking?

  • It was only a four hour job

    It’s been about a week since I sat down to write a column.

    Hey, every once in a while, a guy needs to unwind.

    Actually I didn’t some much as unwind last week as I did yard work. This might come as a surprise to some of you but I don’t like to do yard work.

    I especially don’t like to do yard work involving the use of any sort of gas- propelled machine. I long ago gave up mowing our yard because I once got so mad at my lawn mower and Weed Eater, I decided to put them in a time out.

    Turns out lawn mowers and Weed Eaters don’t mind being put in time out. They do mind being picked up and hurled into a tree.

    Or, so I’ve been told.

    Nowadays a great guy named Brad mows our yard. Brad likes to do yard work. He likes to be outside. Since I don’t like to do yard work and only like to be outside if I have a cold beer in my hand my arrangement with Brad is basically a win-win.

    As they say.

    One of the yard work chores I had to do last week was the yard work chore of power washing our deck and patio. The idea was for me to start power washing our deck and patio around noon Wednesday and be finished sometime after 4 p.m.

    That was the idea. But as often is the case with me: Things happened.

    One of the things that happened was something went wrong with the motor on our pool pump Wednesday morning requiring a trip into Joplin to visit the nice folks at Blue Water Pools.

    The great folks at Blue Water know me quite well. The reason they know me quite well is because I’m a moron.

    I told the great folks at Blue Water what the motor on the pump was doing and gave them a sample of pool water to test.

    Fifteen minutes later, I walked out of Blue Water with five, 40-pound bags of salt and four containers of chemicals.

    Along with the four containers of chemicals were written instructions detailing exactly how, where and when to put them into the pool.

    I did mention I was a moron, didn’t I?

    At 6 p.m. Wednesday I finished work on the pool.

    Thursday morning I decided to take a little time to vacuum the pool. However, due to a misunderstanding between the pool and myself, I found myself driving back to Blue Water.

    At 6 p.m. Thursday I finished work on the pool.

    Friday morning, I opened our backyard shed to get the power washer out, so I could commence with the power washing of our deck and patio.

    For some reason, I had trouble getting the power washer to start.

    After about two hours, I got the power washer to start only to discover the part of the power washer that provides the power was no longer working. And, if your power washer doesn’t have power, all you have is a washer.

    At 6 p.m. Friday I picked up my new power washer- curbside -at the large hardware and everything else store in our town.

    Saturday morning I went outside to put my new power washer together. Three hours later I was ready to start my new power washer. After trying to start my new power washer for about 15 minutes, I discovered (and this is true) it had a switch that needed to be flipped on before it would start.

    I flipped the switch on and the power washer started.

    At noon Saturday, I began power washing our deck and patio. At 12:30 p.m. my wife called me inside to take part in a “quick family reunion” via-Zoom with my six brothers and sisters, numerous nieces and nephews and my aunt and cousin.

    At 2 p.m. I went outside to finish power washing our deck and patio.

    At 6 p.m. Saturday I finished power washing our deck and patio.


    Oh well. At least I didn’t have to mow the yard.

  • Still on active duty

    Well, she’s gone.

    Frankly, I’m surprised she stayed as long as she did. When you’re 22, spending two months, essentially locked in a house with your parents can get a little old.

    Even if there is wine.

    Our daughter Emma left Monday to continue her internship in the Kansas City area. Emma has been working as an intern remotely since she’s been home with us but with things beginning to open up a bit in the Kansas City area, she is now able to continue her internship in person.

    My wife isn’t thrilled about Emma living in the Kansas City area right now and I can’t say I blame her.

    My wife tends to worry more than most people. So having Emma living and working in the Kansas City area while the coronavirus is still around has my wife a bit uneasy.

    I’m sure a lot of people living in the Kansas City area are a bit uneasy right now. But the people where Emma is interning are all wearing masks and practicing safe, social distancing. And the apartment building where Emma is living has strict rules in place so I think we just have to sort of roll with the unease.

    Emma’s first full day of her now in-person internship was today. She called me a few minutes ago to ask a question about wine. Not sure why she called me but, hey, I guess any port in the storm.

    Emma was in a great mood when she called. She told me she couldn’t wait to call my wife and me later this evening to tell us how her day went. When I asked Emma for a quick description of her day, she said, “Perfect.”

    I thought that was something.

    My wife returned to work-in person-last week so now my life is pretty much back to the way it was before all of this started.

    I guess that’s a good thing. I mean, as I think I’ve mentioned in this space a few hundred times, I’m not much of a people person.

    But still.

    Veteran parents, who are older than my wife and me, tell us no matter how old our kids get we never stop being parents.

    I can see that.

    The way I look at it, at some point, things ease up for veteran parents. Some of the day-to-day parent chores get passed onto others. And eventually, most of the heavy, parent-chore lifting is handled by the kids themselves who are no longer such kids.

    But again, the way I see it, you can never drop the veteran-parent uniform. What I figure happens is veteran parents eventually leave active duty but, when they do, they join the Veteran Parent Reserves.

    You’re not really needed on a day-to-day basis but you’re there in the case of an emergency. You stay in veteran- parent shape and go to the occasional veteran-parent meeting just to keep yourself ready.

    I guess that’s a decent analogy (Or metaphor. I can never remember the difference.) but I don’t know. First of all, I don’t think there is a veteran-parent uniform. And I’m not sure there are any official veteran-parent meetings out there.

    So maybe it’s not such a great analogy.

    Or metaphor.

    My wife and I aren’t quite ready to leave veteran parents’ active duty. We probably could but we’re not quite ready. Emma will likely still need things from us. Not many, I’m sure, but some.

    Emma will finish graduate school next spring and then-fingers crossed-will be able to find a job. When she does my wife and I will probably take another look at leaving veteran parent active duty.

    For now, we’ll stick to our active-duty roles. My wife will continue to worry-pretty much non-stop-and I’ll keep saying helpful things like, “Is there more beer in the basement?”

    My wife will continue to drive Emma crazy with her worrying and Emma will call me to say her mom is driving her crazy. Then I will politely suggest to my wife that, perhaps, just maybe, she should quit driving Emma crazy.

    Then my wife will say “Why? Did she say something?”

    And I will say, “No. Never. As far as you know.”

    And then my wife will start worrying again.


    I hope they’ll address all of this in the first Veteran-Parent Reserves meeting.

  • Booking time with a Kindle

    My wife and our 22-year-old daughter Emma gave me a Kindle for my birthday and I’m sort of uneasy with the idea.

    I never saw myself as a Kindle kind of guy. I saw myself as more of a hold an actual book in your hands kind of guy.

    But I also never figured there would come a day when I didn’t subscribe to an actual newspaper delivered to my house but now I don’t.

    Times change, I guess is what I’m saying.

    Emma says I’ll love the Kindle. She has one and helped me set up a Kindle account so I can order books. So far, I have ordered one book. It’s one of Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford novels.

    I like Randy’s Doc Ford novels. They remind a little of the great John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee novels.

    My Uncle Jim was the one who introduced me to Travis McGee. It was shortly after I had finished college. Up until that time, most of my reading was required reading so I didn’t really have time to read for fun.

    Travis McGee changed that for me. So much so that, for a while, my ambition in life was to live on a houseboat in southeast Florida, sip Plymouth gin martinis, and watch the sunset.

    It was a job description without a job is what it was.

    I first started reading-in a serious fashion-in third grade. We were living in Fredonia, Kansas, and my dad, who was in the army, had to leave in September for Okinawa. My mom, my-at the time-five brothers and sisters and I were to join him thereafter the first of the year.

    It was a long trip. My mom first had to drive us from Fredonia to Oakland, California. Then she had to get us onto an ocean liner that would take us to Okinawa with stops in Hawaii and Japan. The drive to Oakland took about a week, if I remember, and the boat ride to Okinawa took another month.

    That’s right. My mom drove six kids from Fredonia, Kansas to Oakland, California and then herded those kids onto an ocean liner for a month. By herself.

    How did she keep us in line, you ask?

    Well, she sort of had a look.

    Anyway, because my mom figured an eight-year-old kid might need something to keep him from going crazy during a five-week trip to Okinawa, for Christmas, she gave me several Hardy Boys books.

    I loved those books and, later, when we got on the boat, I was thrilled to discover there was a library on the boat stocked with several more Hardy Boys books. And suddenly, a five-week trip to Okinawa was manageable.

    I guess that’s why I’ve always seen myself as an actual book in your hand sort of guy.

    But I promised Emma I will start using the Kindle as soon as I finish a collection of P.G. Wodehouse short stories I’ve been reading. I figure, since my wife and Emma were thoughtful enough to buy me a Kindle, the least I can do is give it a try.

    Besides, I’m sort of getting to the point again where I have too many books.

    It happens.

    One day the bookcases have plenty of room and the next day they’re full of books stacked on top of books. When that happens, I’m forced to go through them and choose a bunch to donate.

    It’s always tough to say goodbye to books.

    About a year ago, Emma and my wife hired our friend Amber to redecorate our living room. When Amber took a look at our living room and saw the bookcases overflowing with books, she got a look on her faced that told me they were going to have to go.

    The books I mean.

    And they did. I’m not sure, exactly, where they went. But they went. I think, mainly, what my wife did was farm the books out to various locations throughout our house. Some of them are on shelves behind me, in our office/guest room that really isn’t a guest room. And the rest? Well, as the nuns used to say “It’s a mystery.”

    photos of mikes cluttered bookcase
    My wife farmed some of my books out to a bookcase behind my desk in my office. The rest? Ask the nuns.

    Hey, I just took a break to look up something about John D. McDonald and discovered I can order every one of his Travis McGee novels on my Kindle. All at once.

    Hmm, maybe I’m a Kindle sort of guy after all.

    But, wait. Kindles can’t get too full, can they?

  • The pros and cons of getting things done

    There are many ways our 22-year-old daughter Emma and I are alike.

    There are also many ways Emma and I are not alike.

    One of the areas we are not alike is the area of getting things done. I don’t mean important things, like buying beer and making sure the TV is on at least five minutes before whichever baseball, basketball, or football game I want to watch starts.

    No, the area of getting things done which Emma and I are most definitely not alike is the area of school-related work.

    Monday, Emma spent most of the day in her room working on a paper as part of the final for one of her classes. Today, Emma spent most of the day in her room editing the paper she wrote on Monday.

    And here’s the deal: The paper isn’t due until Thursday.

    I know!

    Honestly, if I hadn’t been in the room when she was born, I would swear Emma was someone else’s daughter.

    When I was in college, if I had a paper due on Thursday, do you know when I would have started it?


    And if the paper wasn’t due until late in the afternoon on Thursday, I wouldn’t start on it until at least noon.

    The same goes for studying for tests. I once crammed an entire semester of World History into one intense four-hour study session. And I got a “B” on the test.

    “But Mike,” some of you are thinking. “Maybe if you had started studying earlier you might have gotten an ‘A’ on the test.”

    To some of you thinking that I have to say “An ‘A’? Whoa, what are you some sort of overachiever?”

    When I was in school, I figured there were only some many “A’s” to go around, so I tried not to hog them. Better to get a “B” and let someone who really needs an “A” get one is what I always figured.

    But Emma doesn’t figure that way. Emma figures the best thing to do, when it comes to schoolwork, is to work as hard as possible and get it done as soon as you can so you can move on to more schoolwork.

    Again, how is this person related to me?

    As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing that can’t be put off until the next day.

    Or the next day.

    That may explain why I went into journalism. See, in journalism, you really can’t put stuff off. In journalism, stuff is due when it’s due and if you don’t get it done when it’s due you don’t get paid.

    Getting paid, or not getting paid, is a great motivator.

    But you don’t get paid to go to college. In fact, you have to pay to go to college. So, since I wasn’t getting paid to do a college paper, I didn’t feel any great rush to get it done. In fact, since I was paying for college, I figured it was fair to say “Hey, you’ll get my paper when I feel like giving it do you.”

    “So, Mike,” some of you are thinking. “That World History class aside, overall, what sort of grades did you get in college?”

    To some of you thinking that, I say “We’re not here to talk about my grades. We’re here to talk about Emma’s.”

    And I’m proud to say, overall, Emma’s college grades have been pretty good. I mean, she doesn’t always get straight “A’s” but she does pretty well. Besides, I never really trusted people who always got straight “A’s” in college.

    A person who got straight “A’s” in college obviously never had to take a French test while fighting a massive hangover.

    To use a purely hypothetical example.

    One of the last things Emma has to do during her finals’ week is to present a project for one of her professors-via- a Zoom meeting at 5 p.m. Friday.

    Emma has been working on the project, off and on, for several weeks. Once she gets her paper edited this afternoon, Emma said, she’ll start the final work on her project that is not due until Friday.

    That’s right. She’s been working on a project for several weeks and she’ll spend the next three days doing some final work on it and it’s not due until 5 p.m. Friday.

    I don’t know. Maybe there was some sort of mix up in the nursery.

  • What happens to Bunny?

    The column first appeared in a newspaper in January, 2005

    I spent most of Tuesday night worried about a girl named Bunny.

    I was worried about Bunny because she is the main character in a book our 7-year-old daughter Emma brought home from school.

    Emma is in first grade, so she has to do a lot of reading. Much of that reading needs to be done out loud, to either my wife or me.

    I think I can speak for most veteran parents out there when I says this. Look, I love our daughter. I love the fact that’s she’s reading. I love to listen to her read aloud. I love to see her make progress in her reading. But seriously, sometimes I would rather listen to John Kerry tell me his life story than hear Emma read.

    “I was born in Colorado. But my parents moved us to Massachusetts. We were rich. We were poor. In high school, I voted for the class president before I voted against the class president. I….zzzzzzzz.”

    Having a first-grade kid read to you can sometimes get a tad boring, is what I’m saying.

    But I’m nothing if not a dedicated parent so I listen to Emma read. Granted, I do this by muting the TV so I can listen to Emma read while still watching basketball.

    I’m a multi-tasker, is what I am.

    One problem with listening to a first-grade kid read is that there is no such thing as a “quick read”.

    You think this column sort of drags on? Imagine having to listen to a first-grade kid read it to you.

    For a first-grade kid, each word is like a brand-new discovery and has to be treated as such.


    It’s like listening to George Bush trying to read a speech.

    Tuesday night, Emma was reading a book called “The Best Teacher in the World,” to me. In the book, Bunny is picked by her teacher to deliver a note to another teacher in her school.

    According to what Emma read to me, getting picked by Bunny’s teacher to deliver a note is a very big deal and Bunny was very proud she had been picked.

    Unfortunately, not all of Bunny’s classmates took her being picked to deliver the note as well as they should have and, instead, made fun of her.

    But Bunny was to proud she had been picked to deliver the note to notice some of the other kids were mocking her.

    But and this is where the plot really thickens, Bunny’s teacher forgot to tell her where, exactly she was to deliver the note and Bunny was too proud to ask. So, poor Bunny wandered the school halls for a while.

    I’ll let Emma take over the story from here.


    While Emma was reading, I was getting nervous. As I sat there listening to Emma and watching the basketball game, I found myself thinking “Charging? How can that be charging? Clearly he was moving into the lane.”

    Ha. I joke.

    No, I found myself thinking, “She wandered where? Come on Bunny just ask for help. KEEP READING EMMA. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO BUNNY.”

    As it turns out, Emma also wanted to know what happens to Bunny. And, as I listened to Emma read, I forgot about the basketball game and noticed something. Emma was really reading. She wasn’t just reading to get from one word to the next but really reading. Emma was reading in an “I-can’t-wait-to-turn-the-page-and-see-what-happens-next” kind of way.

    Sure, she was still reading sort of slow, but she was reading with a purpose.

    And I was proud. But I was also just a bit sad. I started thinking about all of those books my wife and have read to Emma for the past seven years and wondering where the time has gone.

    Where was the little girl who sat on our porch swing and listened while we read “Are You My Mother”? to her.

    I wondered where the little girl who laughed when I read “The Monster at the End of the Book” to her had gone.

    Then I realized she was sitting right next to me. Reading to me.

    So I turned off the TV.

  • Watch what you want just not where you want

    Apparently, my wife has just discovered we don’t really enjoy watching the same things on TV.

    That’s the only thing that explains why my wife has taken such an intense interest in where I watch TV in the evening.

    Specifically, I watch TV upstairs in our office/guest room that isn’t really and never has been a guest room. And, to be even more specific, I guess I shouldn’t say I watch TV, instead, I should say I watch stuff on my computer. But saying I “watch TV” sounds way better than I “watch stuff on my computer”.

    The reason I watch TV on my computer is because I have recently discovered streaming. For years, I heard people talk about streaming but I just assumed they were talking about trout fishing.

    Now, I happen to like trout fishing. When I used to be more “outdoorsy” I would go on canoe trips on a stream chock full of trout. Here’s what I liked about trout fishing from a canoe.

    You could do it while drinking beer. It wasn’t always easy. But you could do it.

    Later, I discovered streaming actually was about watching stuff on streaming channels such as Netflix and Hulu. Our 22-year-old daughter Emma was the first person to encourage me to stream things. This is how Emma encouraged me to stream things.

    “Dad, you should stream things,” she would say.

    “Why?” I would say.

    “Good point,” Emma would say.

    The main reason I didn’t have any interest in streaming things is because I’m pretty much only interested in watching sports and I didn’t need a streaming channel to do that.

    But now, of course, there isn’t much in the way of sports on TV, which is why I’m now streaming stuff. The problem is my wife and Emma like to stream things in our family room leaving me to stream things in our living room.

    However, due to some quirk in our Wi-Fi system, the internet signal in our living room is too weak to stream things which didn’t used to be a problem when I was able to watch sports on TV which, as I think I mentioned already, I can no longer do.

    Because I am nothing if not resourceful, I asked Emma if I could stream stuff on my computer. This is what Emma said.


    I took that as a “Yes”.

    So, now, when I want to stream something, I take my computer upstairs to the office/guest room that really isn’t and never has been a guest room and I stream things.

    My wife thinks it’s sad I stream things on my computer, upstairs, by myself.

    “How is that sad?” I ask my wife.

    “Because you’re by yourself,” my wife says.

    “Again, how is that sad?” I ask my wife.

    Emma doesn’t think it’s sad I stream things on my computer, upstairs, by myself. She thinks it’s stupid.

    Emma says all I have to do is either get something called an “extender” to fix the Wi-Fi problem in our living room or have the Wi-Fi people come to our house and fix the problem.

    Emma is probably right.

    But I’m happy streaming things on my computer, upstairs, by myself.

    The other night I was getting ready to stream the great hockey movie “Slapshot” starring Paul Newman when my wife asked if I would rather watch TV with her and Emma.

    “What are you watching?” I asked my wife.

    When my wife said she and Emma were watching one of those housewives shows I said I would rather watch stuff upstairs, on my computer.

    “But that’s so sad. You’re by yourself,” my wife said.

    “Do you want to watch ‘Slapshot’?” I asked.

    “Good Lord no,” my wife said.

    “There you go,” I said.

    Besides, it’s not as if I’m completely alone when I stream things on my computer upstairs. I usually have a beer with me. Beers tend not try to talk to me when I’m streaming things on my computer.

    I like that.

    I should point out there is one thing my wife are watching together. It’s the second season of “After Life” created by and staring the great Rickey Gervais. If you haven’t watched “After Life” I highly recommend it. You can find it on Netflix. But, do yourself a favor, and watch the first season before you watch the second season.

    It makes more sense that way.

    Watch it with your spouse if you want. Or, if you would rather, watch it alone.

    Upstairs, on your computer.

  • Beer: The gift that keeps on giving. For a few days at least

    A few days ago I decided it was time to shake things up.

    I decided it was time to stop letting events control my life. I decided it was time to -as the great W.C. Fields said-“take the bull by the tail and face the situation.”

    I decided it was time to start getting my life back together. So, I took a deep breath, summed up all my courage and went for it.

    I put on a shirt with a collar.

    I know!

    But then I made the same mistake I always make when I do something bold and daring:

    I told my wife.

    But surprisingly my wife was OK with my bold and daring action. In fact, she and our 22-year-old daughter Emma, urged me to take things a step further.

    “You should dress up tomorrow,” my wife said.

    “Why?” I said, sensing a trap.

    “Because it’s your birthday and Emma and I think it would be nice,” my wife said.

    “I thought you were supposed to get to do whatever you wanted on your birthday?” I said.

    “You are,” my wife said. “And Emma and I decided you want to dress up on your birthday.”

    “I see,” I said even though, as I’ve said many, many times, I didn’t see.

    To be fair, my wife wasn’t suggesting suit-and-tie dressing up. My wife was suggesting something more along the line of a Tommy Bahama shirt and shorts that didn’t look like they’ve been at the bottom of a WW II footlocker.

    So, the next day, after a nice breakfast prepared by my wife and Emma, I was sitting on our patio drinking coffee when they gave me one of my gifts. Oddly enough the gift was a new Tommy Bahama shirt.

    After thanking my wife and Emma for the shirt I resumed sipping my coffee. My wife looked at Emma. Emma looked at my wife. Then they both looked at me.

    “What?” I said.

    “Aren’t you going to change into nicer clothes?” my wife asked.

    “Now?” I asked.

    “Yes,” my wife said. “Emma and I decided you wanted to change into nicer clothes now.”

    “I see,” I said.

    I went upstairs, put on my new Tommy Bahama shirt, and changed into a pair of freshly pressed shorts.

    A few minutes later my wife called for me to come out into our front yard.

    “Oh what fresh hell is this?” I asked myself.

    “I don’t know,” myself said. “But I don’t think you’re going to like it.”

    Have you ever been wrong? I mean really, really wrong? I mean so wrong you don’t even want to admit how wrong you were?

    That’s how wrong I was.

    When I stepped into our front yard, I saw a small SUV with a Budweiser logo on its side. Then I saw Alan Beaver, the general manager of Missouri Eagle, the local Budweiser distributor, do an amazing thing.

    He stacked six 20-packs of bottled Budweiser onto a dolly.

    I’m just going to go ahead and admit this right now: I teared up.

    A picture of Mike Pound and Alan Beaver. Between the two of them is a stack of six, 20-packs of bottled budweiser
    Look. It’s an almost life-sized gift of beer.

    That’s right. My wife arranged for Alan to deliver the beer to me as a birthday gift. It was perhaps the best gift I have ever received.

    Relax. I said perhaps.

    Besides, my wife and Emma also gave me an original painting by the great Charlie Podrebarac.  For those of you who remember when newspapers were still newspapers, Charlie, for years, drew the great Cowtown cartoons for the Kansas City Star.

    Oh, the theme of Charlie’s painting?


    a picture of a painting by Charlie Podabarac. The theme of the painting is 99 bottles of beer on the wall. And features 99 bottles plus a host of beer puns
    This is a picture of the original Charlie Podabarac painting my wife and Emma gave me for my birthday.

    But seriously, do you know how long six 20-packs of bottled Budweiser can last me?

    I don’t know either but I’m guessing a couple of days at least.

    Ha! I joke.

    My wife and Emma gave me other gifts throughout the day. And they fixed me a nice lunch and dinner.

    Between lunch and dinner my wife and Emma came out onto our three-season porch where I was reading and listening to Jimmy Buffett’s radio station.

    My wife and Emma were wearing Hawaiian leis. Emma had another lei in her hand. I didn’t like the sight of that.

    “We decided you wanted to wear a lei on your birthday,” my wife said.

    “I don’t want to do that,” I said.

    “I made margarita’s” my wife said.

    “All right then”, I said.

    So to sum up, in addition to several other nice gifts, I received the gift of art, beer and margaritas.

    And all I had to do was dress up a bit.

    For once, I did see.

    Mike Pound sitting on the couch on the three season porch. Sitting next to him is his daughter Emma and between them is their dog Caicos. Mike, Emma and Caicos are wearing leis.
    Sitting on our three-season porch with Emma and our dog Caicos who was upset because she had to wear a lei but didn’t get a margarita. I don’t want to gossip but someone in the picture needs a haircut. Oh, and one more thing, today is Caicos’ birthday.



  • It’s going to be a bumpy ride

    This column first ran in a paper in April of 2014

    Well, at least she knew what she did wrong.

    The other day, our 16-year-old daughter, Emma, pulled up to a four-way stop sign and then proceeded to drive right through it without much of a stop.

    “Whoa, I totally didn’t stop at that stop sign,” Emma said as she rolled through the thankfully empty intersection.

    “No, no, you didn’t,” I said calmly while on the inside screaming, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW COULD YOU NOT STOP? I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WILL SOON BE DRIVING BY YOURSELF.”

    Emma and I are ramping up her driving lessons because she is a few months past her 16th birthday and really needs to take her driver’s test so she won’t have to rely on me or her friends to run her all over town.

    The driving lessons came to a halt when the winter weather hit. Either it would be snowy or icy, and thus not ideal driving lesson weather, or Emma would have some sort of school-, work- or dance-related activity that kept her from her driving practice.

    Or, and this was more common, I wouldn’t feel like putting myself through the torture of riding in the same car with Emma.

    Look, teaching a teenager how to drive is exhausting. Wait a minute. Running a marathon is exhausting. Teaching a teenager how to drive is WAY exhausting.

    The first thing that has to happen when I tell Emma we are going for a driving lesson is the prep work.

    “OK, first I need to make sure my hair looks good,” Emma says.

    Then, 30 minutes later, she comes downstairs and says, “OK, I’m ready.”

    We then walk out to the car; Emma gets in the driver’s seat, I get in the passenger’s seat and Emma starts the car.

    “The windshield wipers are on,” I tell Emma.

    “Oh, sorry,” Emma says and turns the lights off.

    “Those are the lights,” I say.

    “Oh, sorry,” Emma says.

    “Do you have your learner’s permit?” I ask.

    Fifteen minutes later, Emma gets back into the car.

    “Found it,” she says.

    Emma then slowly backs the car out of the driveway, and off we go.

    On this trip, Emma decided she wanted to drive to the square and stop in the Mother Road Coffee Shop to get an iced coffee.

    I had her pull into a parking spot on the square that was far removed from all the other cars.

    “Is this good?” Emma asked.

    I told her that depended on whether she planned on walking to the sidewalk or if she wanted to be picked up in another car.

    Emma pulled the car a little closer to the curb.

    After Emma got her iced coffee, she got back into the car, took a few sips and then handed it to me to hold while she drove.

    When Emma turned left onto Garrison Avenue, she asked me a question.

    “WHAT?” I yelled.

    Emma turned down the radio.

    Emma drove to the Country Club Road on the west side of town. Country Club Road is a narrow two-lane road. As Emma drove along the road, I gripped my car seat and thought, “LEFT, LEFT, LEFT, LEFT” in the hope Emma would get my telepathic message and steer to the left so she didn’t run off the road.

    Miraculously she did, and then I started thinking, “RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT” over and over.

    Later, Emma turned left onto Fairview Avenue, and we headed back into town. As we neared a big yellow sign that says “SLOW,” Emma neglected to slow down. Then, at the last second, she saw the railroad tracks and hit the brakes.

    “Wow, they ought to warn you about that,” Emma said.

    When we got home, Emma grabbed her phone and started texting people. I went upstairs to take a nap.

    I was exhausted.

  • Trying to put a postive spin on car clutter

    I’ve lost control of my car.

    I’m not sure when I lost control of my car, I just know I did.

    The reason I know I lost control of my car is because, yesterday, I made a trip to the liquor store to get wine for my wife and our 22-year-old daughter Emma. I mentioned this last week, the reason I get wine for my wife and Emma is to help them tolerate being stuck at home with me.

    Many of you who have read this column probably understand what I mean.

    Of course, I suppose in the interest of fair disclosure, I should point out when I buy wine for my wife and Emma, I also buy them beer.

    “But Mike,” some of you are wondering, “Do your wife and Emma drink much beer?”

    To some of you who are wondering I say, “No. No they do not.”

    “But Mike,” some of you are wondering further, “Do you drink some of the wine you buy for your wife and Emma?”

    I see where some of you, who are wondering, are going with your questions and frankly, I’m offended.

    I mean, you have a valid point but, still, I’m offended.

    When I left the liquor store, I opened the back of my car to put to the wine and beer away when I noticed something odd. I had nowhere to put the wine and beer.

    The reason I had nowhere to put the wine and beer was because my car was full of shoes and clothes which was strange because I’m not really much of a collector of shoes and clothes.

    Then I remember something. A couple of weeks ago, we made a quick jaunt up to Lawrence, Kansas to pick up the rest of the stuff Emma had left in her college apartment.

    When we got my car loaded with Emma’s stuff, I remember telling her I didn’t want her to feel as if she needed to take everything out of the car at once.

    “I don’t want you to be overwhelmed,” I said. “You should ease into it.”

    Sure, I know now that was a mistake but at the time?

    Not so much.

    When I was younger and single, I owned a series of-to use an automotive term- “crappy” cars. Here, in order, are the crappy cars I owned: A 1967 Chevy Impala. A 1972 Opal Manta and a 1983 Ford Escort.

    The Ford Escort didn’t start off crappy. It was new when I bought it. The Ford Escort was the first new car I ever bought. Of course, to keep the cost down, I opted for the Ford Escort with the fewest accessories. If I remember correctly it came with a steering wheel.

    Oh, and I think, three, maybe four tires.

    Because I drove a series of crappy cars, back then, I didn’t worry much about keeping them clean and clutter free. I mean, what would have been the point?

    But after I got married the condition of the cars my wife and I owned improved and I began to care about keeping them clean and clutter free.

    As time went on, I discovered my wife didn’t share my obsession with keeping cars clean and clutter free.

    If the EPA were still in the business of protecting the environment it would declare my wife’s car a Super Fund site.

    Assuming the EPA could actually get into my wife’s car.

    When my wife’s car is full of too much clutter, even for her, she drives my car and, when she does, somehow manages to add clutter to it which I then have to remove.

    But now, my car is full of Emma’s clutter and there is nothing, really, I can do to declutter it.

    The only positive spin I can put on losing control of my car is I don’t really have anywhere I need to go which means I don’t really need to have control of my car.

    Still, it would be nice to have room for beer and wine.

    But again, to put a positive spin on things, if all of Emma’s stuff wasn’t in my car it would be in our house.

    And, if all of Emma’s stuff was in our house, my wife would decide we need to reorganize it and, I’m sorry, there is no way to put a positive spin on reorganizing all of Emma’s stuff.

    Even if beer and wine were involved.

  • A massive reorganization plan

    All I can say is, thank God my wife has a real job that requires her to ignore me for a while.

    By the way, I’ve never understood why people begin a sentence by saying, “All I can say,” when clearly, they have more to say. Of course, a reasonable person out there might ask “Well, Mike, if you’ve never understood why people begin a sentence by saying ‘All I can say,’ then why did you do it?”

    To that reasonable person out there I guess the only explanation I have is, sometimes I type something and then immediately think, “Why in the world did I type that?” and then proceed to take the running dialogue in my head public.

    It’s much like the way Shakespeare wrote.

    So, anyway, where was I? Oh, right, being glad my wife has real job so she has to ignore me for a while.

    See, my wife has decided we should put some of our staying at home time to good use. When my wife decided that I figured she meant we should start drinking wine earlier in the day.

    Sadly, however, that’s not what my wife meant. What my wife meant was we should use our stay at home time to reorganize our house.

    I didn’t like the sound of that.

    But I have to give my wife credit. In no particular order, she has reorganized our bedroom, her bedroom closet, her clothes, her papers, and our guest bedroom/office that really hasn’t been a guest bedroom/office in years.

    I know!

    I don’t want you to think I haven’t helped in the reorganizing of our house. Just yesterday, I got rid of a bunch of stuff in my closet that had been preventing me from-technically speaking-“See the damn floor”. But that’s not all. I also managed to reorganize and straighten the part of our guest bedroom/office that really hasn’t been a guest bedroom/office for years that was supposed to be my office.

    I’m not sure that sentence make any sense. But I know what I meant.

    So, now, I’m proud to say our guest bedroom/office that really hasn’t been a guest bedroom/office for years is now called our guest bedroom/office that really hasn’t been a guest bedroom for years.

    I think that’s progress.


    On Sunday, my wife announced it was time to reorganize our breezeway cabinets.

    You know how, in scary movies, someone will say something dramatic and the music will suddenly get serious and everyone in the room will react in shock?

    That’s what happened when my wife announced it was time to reorganize our breezeway cabinets. Only there was no dramatic music and I was the only one who reacted in shock.

    But, other than that, it was exactly the same.

    We have been talking about reorganizing our breezeway cabinets since shortly after we moved into our house.

    In 2001.

    We talked about reorganizing our breezeway cabinets much like Egyptian pharaohs talked about “maybe someday building some pyramids.”

    The problem is, over the years, a lot of stuff has accumulated in our breezeway cabinets. I guess because the breezeway is technically outside our main house when something is put in the cabinets it ceases to exist.

    In theory, reorganizing our breezeway cabinets should be easy. See, I figure if we haven’t used something in more than a year, we clearly don’t need it and it should be thrown away.

    My wife, however, thinks if we haven’t used something in more than a year, then clearly, it is a valuable family heirloom that must be kept and cherished. And by “kept and cherished” my wife means “kept in the breezeway cabinets for a couple more decades.”

    But, again, I have to give my wife credit. She has been willing to let some stuff go. So much so, that, on Monday, while I reorganized my office, my wife cleared everything out of our breezeway cabinets and was able to paint them.

    So, now, we are moving things we seldom use from our kitchen cabinets into the freshly painted breezeway cabinets where they will stay and be rarely used.

    Or we were doing that until my wife had to stop for a work-related Zoom meeting.

    But I know eventually my wife’s Zoom meeting will end and our reorganizing will resume.


    I wish I had a real job.

  • Caicos has a look

    I think our dog Caicos has had just about enough.

    Oh, sure, it was fun at first. Caicos was surrounded by my wife, our 22-year-old daughter Emma and me all day and given all the attention a dog could want.

    But that was at first. After a couple of weeks, Caicos started spending more time upstairs by herself. And when one of us would go upstairs, find her and pet her, she would give us a look that said, “All right, all right. I get it. I’m a good dog. So great, go ahead and rub my belly if you feel you must. Then get the heck out of here and leave me alone. Oh, and one more thing. Could you turn the light off when you leave? Why do you think it was turned off in the first place?”

    It is, as always, a heck of a look.

    Since I work from home Caicos is used to having me around. But not all day. Before all of this happened, I would be in and out of the house running errands.

    By the way, what happened to running errands. Before all this happened, it seemed I had all sorts of errands that absolutely had to be run.

    Now? Not so much.

    I’m beginning to wonder if some of those errands weren’t so much errands as they were busy work.

    Now, my most important errand seems to be an occasional trip to the liquor store. And, I think we can all agree, an occasional trip to the liquor store is your basic vital errand. Not so much for me but for my wife and Emma. Look it’s hard enough to be basically locked in the house with me. Try doing it without wine.

    See, what I’m saying? Vital.

    It’s a chilly, wet, dreary day and the most important decision I had to make today was whether or not it was warm enough to sit out on our three-season porch to write this column.

    I decided it was.

    Caicos, I guess because she was bored, came out on the three-season porch with me. But then she decided she was cold wanted to go back inside. Instead, I took the big cushion out of the chair on our three-season porch no one uses and put in on the floor so Caicos could lay on it which she did.

    I don’t know why we have a chair on our three-season porch no one uses. I once asked my wife why we had a chair on our three-season porch no one uses and she said, “Because,” and I said, “I see,” even though, as I think, I’ve made clear in the past, I didn’t see.

    The chair on our three-season porch no one uses is called a “Papasan” chair. It’s round and is made out of some sort of wood that is supposed to be bamboo but probably isn’t.

    My wife says the chair goes with the overall theme of our three-season porch.

    I didn’t know our three-season porch had an overall theme. But, then again, there are a lot of things I don’t know around our house.

    I’m pretty sure, sometime this afternoon, my wife is going to come out onto our three-season porch and say “What in the (Bad word) is the Papasan chair cushion doing on the floor?” and I will probably say “So Caicos can lay on it,” and my wife will say “And why is Caicos laying on it?” and I will say “Because it’s on the floor. Duh.”

    And the conversation will sort of go sideways from there.

    “But, Mike,” some of you are thinking. “Wouldn’t it be smart to make Caicos get off the cushion and put it back in the chair before your wife comes out onto the three-season porch?”

    To some of you thinking that I say, “Yes, yes it would.”

    But some of you are thinking “But you’re not going to do the smart thing are you?”

    To some of you thinking that I say, “Probably not.”

    I mean, what the heck?

    It’s not as if I have any errands to run.

  • Morons: The new normal

    I suppose this one quote from our 22-year-old daughter Emma sums up where we are right now.

    It was either Friday or Saturday evening (And really, does it matter at this point?). Emma got up from the couch in our family room where she had been watching repeats of the Disney show “That’s so Raven,” and said, “Well, I’m going to go upstairs, change out of my sweats and put on my pajamas.”

    It wasn’t a day chock full of activity is what I’m saying.

    By the way, the fact Emma was watching repeats of “That’s so Raven,” makes me smile. Not only was Emma watching “That’s so Raven” she was also laughing very hard.

    That also makes me smile.

    Emma is able to watch a lot of the Disney shows she watched when she was a kid through some sort of Disney streaming service we subscribe to. We gave Emma the subscription as a Christmas gift. We figured she would be able to use it at her apartment in Lawrence, Kansas.

    Little did we know.

    Emma spent all day yesterday, in her room, working on a college-related project, and now she is working on, either another college-related project or an intern-related project. She’s doing her work on the couch in our family room while watching “That’s so Raven”.

    And I’m OK with that.

    As usual, my wife is taking part in some sort of work-related conference. The only difference is my wife is sitting in our backyard while taking part in her work-related conference.

    And I’m OK with that.

    Also, as usual, I’m sitting on our three-season porch listening to Jimmy Buffett’s radio station.

    And I’m definitely OK with that.

    This morning, when the three of us were walking our dog Caicos, my wife said she and Emma were going to make apple butter this weekend.

    I told my wife if she and Emma were going to make apple butter this weekend then I was going to a barn-raising.

    My wife didn’t think that was as funny as I did.

    That happens a lot.

    But if my wife and Emma want to make apple butter this weekend, I guess I’m OK with that too.

    But continuing with my new hobby of coming up with and shooting down hobby ideas I’m afraid making apple butter will not be a new hobby.

    But the fact my wife and Emma are planning ahead is a good thing. Planning ahead is something I’ve pretty much forgotten how to do. I wasn’t much of a planner before all of this but now I’m really not much of a planner.

    For example, here’s my plan for the rest of my day:

    No. 1: Finish this column.

    No. B: Proofread this column. (And yes, despite ample evidence to the contrary, I do try to proofread my columns.)

    No. III: Walk Caicos.

    No. D: Open a bottle of wine.

    I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are thinking, “Whoa, slow down Mike. You’re going to wear yourself out.”

    To some of you thinking that I say, “You’re telling me.”

    On a totally unrelated topic, would it be too much to ask big-time TV news people to retire the phrase “the new normal”?

    I don’t think so.

    I think “the new normal,” needs to disappear along with “at the end of the day” and “double down.”

    But maybe I’m just getting cranky.

    Although, to be honest, (And, again don’t you think we should be?) I don’t really think I am getting cranky. I mean, what’s there to be cranky about? Sure, except for walks through our neighborhood, we’re sort of stuck in our house but, as I think I’ve pointed out in these columns, being stuck in our house is not exactly a prison sentence.

    Compared to a lot of other people, especially to all of our heroic, essential workers, we’re in a relative paradise. That’s why, whenever I read about folks whining about having to stay inside and practice safe, social distancing, I’m tempted to say “Looks like the new normal is a bunch of morons who, at the end of the day, are doubling down on being morons.

    But I don’t. Because I’m not cranky.

    Now, if you will excuse me, it’s time for me to get out of these sweats and put on a pair of shorts and a Jimmy Buffett shirt.

  • A moron learns a lesson about wallpaper

    Apparently, wallpaper is making a comeback and I’m uneasy with that.

    Veteran husbands and wives will tell you wallpaper is the leading cause of divorce. Followed closely, of course, by raised toilet seats.

    Early in our marriage, my wife and I tried to hang wallpaper together. We then went six weeks without speaking to each other.

    When we bought the house we live in now we had to tackle a number of home improvement projects. And, when I say “We had to tackle a number of home improvement projects” I mean that in the sense we hired a bunch of guys to tackle the home improvement projects.

    So, during the first few days in our house, there were a lot of guys wearing macho tool belts, hauling ladders and power tools while doing all sorts of manly home improvement chores.

    But, hey, I had a macho job, too. I was given the important macho job of stripping the wallpaper in our dining room. A few days later, I was given the important macho job of stripping the wallpaper from the stairway leading to our upstairs.

    So I could reach the wallpaper on the ceiling at the very top of our stairway, one of the macho guys laid a couple of ladders across the top banister then he told me to stand on them, reach up and strip the wallpaper. When I was getting ready to climb onto the ladders I said to the macho guy, “Well, at least if I fall, it shouldn’t be too bad” and he looked at me as if I were crazy and said, “Oh, no. It will hurt like hell.”

    Hence my uneasiness with wallpaper making a comeback.

    The reason I know wallpaper is making a comeback is because of Tamara Day. Tuesday night, while I was watching Tamara’s show “Bargain Mansions” she mentioned wallpaper was making a comeback. The way I figure it, if someone like Tamara says wallpaper is making a comeback then wallpaper is making a comeback.

    If you don’t know, “Bargain Mansions” is a show on HGTV in which Tamara buys large older homes and, working with her Dad, completely renovates them.

    Now, some of you who know me might be surprised that I watched something on HGTV because, over the years in this column, I have made it clear when it comes to home improvement projects I’m-to use a common construction expression term-a (Very bad word) moron.

    One time, very early in our marriage, I walked through our living room carrying a screwdriver I was going to use to tackle some sort of minor home improvement project. My wife, who was on the phone talking to her mother, stopped and said (And I swear this is true), “I’ve got to go Mom. Mike’s got a screwdriver.”

    Because I’m a (Very bad word) moron, as you might imagine, I usually don’t spend much time watching HGTV. But that has all changed because our 22-year-old daughter Emma, who is a graduate student in the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Kansas, is interning with Tamara. Emma likes Tamara and, as far as I’m concerned, if Emma likes her it stands to reason I will which is why, Tuesday night, I watched two of Tamara’s shows.

    That’s right. I went from never watching a home improvement show to watching two of them.

    Back to back.

    I think that’s something.

    The thing is I liked Tamara’s show. We live in a big, older home. My wife and I have a fondness for big, older homes. It’s one of the few things about home-related stuff we agree on. Actually, a fondness for big, older homes is about the only home-related opinion I have. The fact that Tamara tends to work on big, older homes appeals to me.

    Unlike me, my wife and Emma love to watch home improvement shows. Tuesday night, while I watched and tried to keep up with what was going on, Emma and my wife, kept up a running commentary about the things Tamara was doing, why she was doing them and how much they liked what she was doing.

    It was sort of like two guys on ESPN calling a football game only with less talk about groin pulls.

    From now on, every Tuesday night, I’m going to sit down with Emma and my wife and watch “Bargain Mansions”. And who knows, someday, if I learn enough from Tamara’s show, she might even find something for me to do.

    As long as it’s not stripping wallpaper.



  • Someone needs a hobby


    Maybe I should get a hobby.

    By the way, you know you’ve been spending too much time social distancing at home when you start off a column with “Sigh”.

    See, in the newspaper world in which I used to work, the first line of a news story or a column was called the lede. I was told the lede was very important in the newspaper world. You want to know how important the lede is to people in the newspaper world? So important newspaper people spell it “Lede” instead of “Lead”.

    Newspaper people are weird.

    If I was still working for a newspaper and started a column with, “Sigh” I’m pretty sure an editor would change “Sigh” to “Whom.”

    Editors are weird newspaper people.

    The reason I think I should get a hobby is because I seem to have more time to screw around than usual. And, when you have extra time to screw around, someone eventually will come up to you and let’s say-see you sitting on your three-season porch drinking a beer and watching “SpongeBob Square Pants” (to use a hypothetical example) and say “You need to get a hobby.”

    The problem is I’m no good at hobbies. When I was a kid, I had friends who had hobbies. You know, kid hobbies like dinosaurs, or building model cars and planes, or collecting stuff.

    But when I was a kid I thought dinosaurs were stupid, I was lousy at building model cars and planes and couldn’t think of anything worth collecting.

    So I mainly played sports and began developing a keen ability to screw around.

    As an adult, I met many adults who had hobbies. You know, adult hobbies, like antique cars, or stamp collecting or meth-making.

    Wait, that last one isn’t so much a hobby as it is a felony. I suppose I shouldn’t have to tell you this but it’s probably not a good idea to pick a felony for your hobby.

    See, I think if instead of screwing around, I used my free time to come up with a hobby, I will have managed to make productive use of my social distancing.

    The problem, as I think I’ve established, is finding the right hobby.

    I like to drink beer and watch sports on TV but that’s not so much a hobby as it is a way of life. Besides, there are no sports on TV to watch right now, so, at best, the only thing I could do is drink beer.

    And, again, that’s not so much a hobby as it is a way of life.

    Some people play golf for a hobby but, to me, golf is not so much a hobby as it is a complete waste of time.

    Now, some of you out there are probably thinking, “But Mike, isn’t drinking beer and watching sports a complete waste of time?”

    To some of you thinking that I say, “Yes, yes, it is. Especially if the sport you are watching is golf.”

    Some people like to collect things for a hobby but again, to me, collecting things for a hobby is just one step away from hoarding.

    When we were younger, my wife and I, when we traveled, liked to buy shot glasses from the places we traveled. But after a while, we ran out of places to keep them so we stopped. To this day, we know that somewhere in our house there are roughly 50 or 60 shot glasses. We just don’t know where.

    Actually that’s a pretty scary thought when you think about it.

    So I probably shouldn’t think about it.

    Some you who are reading this might be thinking, “But Mike, what about reading?”

    To some of you thinking that I say, “Reading shouldn’t be a hobby. Reading should just be something you do. You know, like drinking beer.”

    As I’m typing this, I think I have come up with a viable hobby. I think I’ll spend the next several weeks coming up with and shooting down hobby ideas.

    That way, when-again-using a hypothetical example-my wife tells me to put the beer down, turn off “SpongeBob Squarepants” and get a hobby I can tell her I’m way ahead of her.

    Wait, maybe, telling my wife I’m way ahead of her should have been my lede.

    Or is it lead?


  • Part Two of a day in the life of social distancing

    When I was a kid, living on the island of Okinawa with my family, and a typhoon was heading our way we would have to spend several days and nights inside our small house and ride out the storm.

    At the time I had five brothers and sisters. Ever spend several days and nights inside a small house with five brothers and sisters riding out a typhoon?


    In those days there was only one English speaking TV station on the island. It was an Armed Forces TV station and normally came on at 3 p.m. and went off at 10:30 p.m. On Friday and Saturday night the station would broadcast until midnight.

    In addition to the Armed Forces TV station, we could occasionally get a Japanese TV station that pretty much aired Sumo wrestling all day long.

    It was basically the NFL Network but instead of large men in football equipment, it featured large men in diapers.

    So, lets review. Stuck inside a small house with my five brothers and sisters, riding out a typhoon with nothing to watch but an Armed Forces TV station and a Sumo wrestling station. And I was too young to drink beer!

    I still have nightmares.

    Things could always be worse, I guess is what I’m saying.

    It’s late Wednesday afternoon and, as I was on Tuesday, I’m sitting outside on our three-season porch, listening to Jimmy Buffett’s radio station and typing this column.

    I really don’t think I need to refer to our porch as a three-season porch, by the way. My wife calls it a three-season porch and says I should do the same. When we first bought our house the porch was a “screened-in porch”. But we redid it and put in windows so my wife told me I should call it a three-season porch.

    Me: Why can’t I just call it a porch?

    Wife: Because.

    Me: I see.

    If I had to guess, I would say the three seasons our three-season porch encompasses would be: Baseball. Football and early basketball.

    But that’s just my guess.

    My wife is spending most of the afternoon doing work-related stuff and our 22-year-old daughter Emma is up in her room doing school and internship-related work.

    Our afternoons tend to be sort of quiet. The three of us don’t purposely avoid each other it’s just we have different ways to occupy our time. My wife and Emma have important stuff to do and I have…well, I’m sure I have something to do…I’m just not sure what it is.

    I probably should start trying to figure that out.

    In a couple of hours, things will pick up here. Sometime after 5 p.m. the three of us will take our dog Caicos for a walk. I think we take Caicos on a walk more for our sakes than for Caicos’. Lately, I’m starting to get the idea that Caicos is getting tired of our walks. We tend to take longer walks than Caicos is used to so, about halfway through, she begins to drag her four feet.

    The only thing that keeps Caicos going is the promise of dog treats when we get home.

    The walks are nice. My wife talks about work while Emma and I ignore her. Sometimes Emma and I make fun of my wife on our walks.

    But that’s okay. My wife doesn’t mind when Emma and I make fun of her.

    As far as we know.

    Shortly after 6 p.m., when we come back from our walk, I give Caicos her treats, then I open a bottle of wine and pour three glasses. My wife, Emma and I then take our wine onto the three-season porch. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we read. Sometimes we just sit there and sip our wine.

    It’s nice.

    Then about 7 p.m. Emma and I start dinner while my wife does some work-related stuff, watches CNN and worries.

    While Emma and I cook we make fun of my wife.

    “What’s it like to sip wine and cook with your daughter?” some of you are asking.

    To some of you asking that I say, “It’s neat, is what it is.”

    After dinner, my wife and Emma will stream some movie they will love and I will hate. And I will go into the other room and either read, or maybe check out ESPN.

    But if I do, they better not be airing Sumo wrestling.

    Be safe.

  • Happy life of a non-people person

    What a great time to not be a people person.

    At least that’s what I’m thinking. See, if you’re not a people person this social distancing thing is a snap.

    I’m not a people person. Never have been really. So for me social distancing is like- well you know-Tuesday. The reason I’m not much of a people person is I seldom have anything of interest to say. Here is a typical conversation a person might have with me.

    A person: Nice day isn’t it?

    Me: Yes. Yes it is a nice day.

    A person: (Long awkward pause). Okay, good talk. Take care.

    Me: You too.

    And that’s a conversation with a person who is my wife. A conversation with someone else is even worse.

    By the way, my wife is very much a people person so this social distancing thing is bit harder for her. But she does have some ways to break her social distancing hell. For instance, right now, as I’m typing this on our three-season porch while listening to Jimmy Buffett’s radio station, my wife is in our family room taking part in a work-related conference call.

    My wife says she is using something called “Zoom” for the conference call. As I understand it, (And, as always, there is a very good chance I don’t) “Zoom” allows my wife to talk to a bunch of people remotely all at once.

    I have no idea why someone would want to do that but, again, as I think I have established, I’m not a people person.

    Our 22-year-old daughter Emma tells me she uses “Zoom” for a few of her college classes. On Thursday, Emma says she’ll use “Zoom” to chat with the person in charge of her internship.


    Even if I wanted to use “Zoom” I wouldn’t have a reason to. Well, I guess I could use “Zoom” to talk to myself but, unfortunately, myself isn’t much of a people person either.

    It’s actually kind of nice for my wife and me to social distance with Emma. Of course, I’m sure it’s not as nice for Emma to social distance with us what with my wife and I being her parents and all.

    When you’re 22, social distancing with your parents is pretty much the last thing you want to do. I know it would have been the last thing I would have wanted to do when I was 22.

    But Emma is taking the whole thing pretty well. Sure, she doesn’t know if or when she’ll get to take part in her college graduation. And, although she is able to do some of her internship work remotely, she is still missing out on other internship opportunities.

    But Emma also is looking at the big picture and, for her, and for her parents, the big picture is she’s safe right now.

    Besides, the three of us have settled into a fairly nice routine. In the morning, Emma stumbles downstairs, fixes a cup of coffee, stumbles back upstairs to her room, closes the door and starts doing either school, or internship-related stuff.

    Then my wife stumbles downstairs, fixes herself a cup of coffee and starts doing work-related stuff. Then I stumble downstairs, fix myself a cup of coffee, and do the one thing I’m qualified to do: Hook a leash on our dog Caicos and take her for a walk.

    When I come back, Emma who has taken a break from her school or internship-related work and my wife, who has taken a break from her work-related stuff are watching what used to be a podcast but is now on TV. I’m not sure what you call a podcast that is now on TV but, then again, I don’t know much about podcasts.

    The podcast that is now on TV my wife and Emma watch is called “The Morning Toast”. From what I can gather, “The Morning Toast” is a show about two young women who talk to each other.

    I don’t know what the two women talk about and I don’t really care. “Why don’t you care?” some of you may be asking.

    To some of you who are asking I refer you to what I said earlier in this column.

    You know, the part about me not being a people person.

    After they watch “The Morning Toast” Emma goes back to her school or internship-related work, my wife goes back to her work-related stuff and I go back to Tuesday.

    So far, I’ve given you a fairly accurate description of, at least, part of our day. Tomorrow I will describe the rest of our action-packed day.

    Until then, be safe, and keep on social distancing. People person or not.

  • Relax, you’re not late

    There is a great line in Seth McFarlane’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West” that, for me, sort of sums up what life is like for many of us right now.

    In the scene Seth’s character walks into his house on the sheep farm he shares with his parents. The movie takes place in the 1880s in the west which Seth depicts as just an incredibly  horrible place and time to live. When Seth walks into his meager house his dad, who is sitting in a chair next to his wife, looks at him and yells “You’re late,” and Seth says “For what?” and then his dad says “Fair enough.”

    I don’t how many times in the past week or so I’ve thought to myself “Gosh I better hurry or I’m going to be late” and myself has basically said “For what?”

    Again, that’s what life is now for those of us fortunate enough to be able to stay in our homes right now. And when I say, “those of us fortunate to be able to stay in our homes,” I mean those of us not working jobs too important to stay home from.

    I’m not sure I worded that correctly. But you get my drift.

    This should go without saying; but we all owe a great deal of gratitude to those folks who, despite the risks, continue to go to work because what they do is important to the rest of us. People like medical professionals, or the people who stock and man our grocery stores, the people who deliver the groceries to those stores, the people who pick up our trash, our law enforcement and fire department officers and all the other people who, every day still go work because they’re needed.

    I think, right now, at the very least, the best thing we can do to show our gratitude to all of those people, is to stay home as much as we can. Again, it should go without saying but apparently there are some morons out there who don’t get it. So, for the morons, I’ll say what shouldn’t have to be said.

    Stay home as much as possible. If you don’t go out it’s harder for you to get sick. And, if you don’t get sick, you make it harder for someone else to get sick.

    So do your part. Stay home. It’s not that hard.

    By the way, I had never seen “A Million Ways to Die in the West” until Saturday afternoon when I caught it on one of the cable channels we get. When the movie started, I remember thinking to myself “I shouldn’t spend my afternoon watching a movie” and myself said “Oh, you have big plans, do you?”

    So I watched the movie and I laughed very hard. Later, I read not everyone laughed as hard as I did at “A Million Ways to Die in the West”. But that’s OK, it wouldn’t be the first time someone didn’t laugh at something I thought was very funny.

    I later read a few reviews of the movie and I thought to myself “Wow, those people are way too serious.”

    And myself said “Amen, brother.”

    That’s right. Sometimes myself calls me “Brother”. But I should stress, myself never calls me “Bro.”

    Or “Dude”.

    If myself ever called me “Bro” or “Dude” I would probably have to kill myself.

    Here’s another “By the way…” about “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”

    Don’t watch it if you’re easily offended or put off by rude, crude, sometimes gross and incredibly profane humor. If you are easily offended or put off by rude, crude, sometimes gross and incredibly profane humor “One Million Ways to Die in the West” is definitely not for you.

    But, on the other outhouse, if you aren’t easily offended and love rude, crude, sometimes gross and incredibly profane humor, “One Million Ways to Die in the West” is the movie for you.

    “How, rude, crude, sometimes gross and incredibly profane is ‘One Million Ways to Die in the West’ you ask?”

    Gilbert Gottfried plays Abraham Lincoln.

    When I sat down to write this column I didn’t intend to write about “One Million Ways to Die in the West” I think I was going to write about…well…I don’t remember what I was going to write about. I just know it wasn’t “One Million Ways to Die in the West”.

    See, it’s been a while since I’ve written a column. When the paper I used to work for decided, after 17 years, it no longer needed my column, I started working on some other stuff. But since right now, as I think we’ve established, I have nothing to be late for, I decided to write some columns.

    The problem with writing a column when you have nothing to be late for you is your frame of reference tends to be- well-unframed. So, when you sit down to write about…well, again, I don’t remember what… you wind up writing about a movie you watched a few days ago that made you laugh very hard.

    So to sum up, don’t be a moron. Stay home if you don’t have to go out. And if you like rude, crude, gross and incredibly profane humor check out “A Million Ways to Die in the West”.

    I mean, why not? What do you have to be late for?

  • The five food groups of a super bowl party

    This column first appeared in a newspaper in 2009

    When it comes to rules for Super Bowl spreads, I tend to keep them simple.

    Rule No. 1: Serve things from each of the five  food groups.

    Rule No. 2: Here are the five food groups — beef, pork, poultry, dairy (cheese) and vegetable.

    Rule No. 3: How many vegetables? Answer: One small carrot.

    Like most people, I agree that we need to take a practical and healthy attitude when it comes to our diets. And, like most people, I have learned that certain vegetables are not only good for you, but they also taste good. I have also learned that I don’t have to have a 4-inch T-bone steak and a baked potato, loaded with butter, at every meal.

    But, having said that, I must say that, in my opinion, health concerns should be tossed out the window on Super Bowl Sunday. The way I see it, 30 or 40 professional football players on Sunday will risk serious injury, such as a pulled groin, in order to bring us roughly 30 minutes of football wrapped around approximately 4,392 hours of commercials. The very least we can do, as a grateful nation, is to risk a little high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure for one day.

    It’s the right thing to do.

    The anchor

    Any serious Super Bowl menu, in my opinion, must have an anchor. A dish that all the other dishes can feed off.

    Think of your Super Bowl menu anchor as a major airport and the other Super Bowl dishes as smaller airports feeding into the major airport. And for my money, nothing anchors a Super Bowl meal like chili. A pot of chili offers Super Bowl grazers two things that they can’t get enough of: meat and spice. The meat fills the Super Bowl grazer up and the spice makes them want to drink beer. It’s a win-win situation.

    Of course, there are as many recipes for chili as there are reasons why the Kansas City Chiefs will not be in the Super Bowl in our lifetime. The important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a bad chili. Unless, of course, someone offers up something they call a “meatless, healthy” chili. That, by definition, would be a bad chili.

    The only problem with chili is that no self-respecting chili cook would ever admit to using a recipe, so it’s almost impossible to pass on, with any accuracy, a chili recipe. For example, I have made the same basic chili for nearly 30 years, and never, in all those years, has it ever tasted the same way twice. My chili is like a snowflake, is what it is.

    A bowl of chili with a bottle of budweiser just behind and to the left of the bowl
    The anchors to any Super Bowl party. Chili and beer.

    Counter the chili

    To balance my Super Bowl feast, I like to counter chili with a batch of chicken wings.

    Again, like chili, there is no shortage of wing recipes. For Super Bowl Sunday, I figure there is no real reason to reinvent the wheel so I keep my wings fairly basic. What I like to do is fry up a mess of wings, toss them in a bowl of Floyd Hackett’s hot-wing sauce (Hot and Honey is always good) and then put them in the oven just long enough to glaze the sauce.

    If you’re looking for something easier but equally as unhealthy, you can always serve up a plate of mini-pizza squares. The two primary ingredients in the pizza squares are sausage and — from that fourth vital food group — Velveeta cheese. I recommend when you serve the pizza squares that you have 911 programmed into your speed-dial system.

    The vegetable

    And, finally, we come to the vegetable portion of our Super Bowl spread.

    It would be wrong to invite folks over to your Super Bowl party without offering your guests a healthy alternative.

    That’s why at every Super Bowl party I make sure to lay out one small carrot. Other people opt to lay out one small piece of broccoli, which is fine, but I find the green off-putting.

    To flesh out your Super Bowl spread, you can add 27 bags of potato chips and 79 different dips.

    Oh, and a cheese ball.


    Mike’s “it didn’t taste like this last time” chili

    (measurements are all guesses)

    2 pounds ground beef

    1 pound sausage

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce

    1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

    2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded, stemmed and diced

    2 cloves garlic, diced

    1 medium onion, diced

    1 green pepper, diced

    1 teaspoon garlic powder

    1 teaspoon cumin

    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

    1 teaspoon chili powder

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    Spicy V-8 Juice or, if you can find it, Snappy Tom

    In large skillet, brown ground beef and sausage and drain. While meats are draining, add vegetable oil to skillet and sauté peppers, garlic cloves, onion and green pepper over medium heat. While vegetables are sautéing, add tomatoes and tomato sauce to a large Dutch oven. Then add sautéed vegetables, meat and spices to the tomatoes and tomato sauce. If the chili is too thick, add V-8 juice or Snappy Tom to thin. But just a bit.

    Bring to a boil over medium heat and then simmer over low heat for at least an hour. However the long the chili simmers the better. Garnish with grated cheese and green onions if you like. I suppose you can also garnish with sour cream, but personally I find that sort of thing disgusting.

    Heart surgeon’s dream mini-pizza squares

    1 pound hot Italian sausage

    1 pound Velveeta spicy cheese

    4 ounces butter

    1 teaspoon garlic powder

    1 loaf party rye bread

    Brown sausage in skillet. While sausage is browning, place cheese in a microwaveable bowl and until the cheese is melted. Approximately 5 to 8 minutes. When sausage in done drain a add to melted cheese mix ,stir thoroughly and return to the microwave for about 2 minutes.

    When sausage and cheese mix is done melt the butter and garlic powder in the microwave. Lay out the rye bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with the garlic butter mixture. Then spoon out cheese and sausage mix evenly on bread slices. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

    Floyd Hackett-inspired chicken wings

    36 chicken wings, cut and trimmed

    Vegetable oil, for frying

    1 bottle Hackett’s Hot and Honey Sauce

    In Dutch oven or electric frying pan, pour up to 3 inches of oil and heat to 360 degrees. Add wings (in batches) to the oil and fry until crisp and brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Drain on paper towels. The chicken may be fried several hours in advance of the party. If you do plan to fry the chicken in advance, once cooked and drained cover the chicken with foil and refrigerate.

    Shortly before serving, toss wings in a bowl of Hackett’s sauce, place on a cookie sheet and then cook in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has glazed the wings and the wings are heated through.

    Super Bowl Carrot

    1 baby carrot


    Take carrot, place on small plate.

    Serve at room temperature.




  • Our morning walks are back

    We lost Shilo on Christmas Eve day. She was a great dog and lead a long, happy life. This column ran in the paper in August of 2003.


    Shilo and I have our morning walks back now.

    That’s one of the few good things about the end of summer: Shilo and I own our mornings again. I don’t have to get to work as early as some people do. So once my wife and I get our 9-year-old daughter, Emma off to school and my wife heads off to work, I have a little time to hook Shilo to her leash and take her for a walk.

    I like our morning walks. For me, our morning walks are a chance to relax, a chance to think about how to avoid doing any meaningful work. The walks mean a little bit more to Shilo.

    See, Shilo is a German shepherd who spends a lot of time indoors with nothing much to do but terrorize our two cats. And, let’s face it, terrorizing cats loses some of its appeal after a while. But a morning walk, on the other paw, is a grand adventure. A walk is a chance to see if her buddies Jack, a Labrador retriever, or Carson, a golden retriever, are outside. A walk is a chance to check out every tree and every lamppost to see if anyone new has been walking through the area. And a walk is a chance to bark at a rabbit or a squirrel or, if she’s lucky, a strange cat.

    When Shilo figures out that it’s time to go on our morning walk, she gets a little excited. She will jump and express her pleasure by whining, barking and turning around in a circle by our breezeway door.


    Sometimes I forget how important our morning walks are to Shilo. This summer, when I was busy getting Emma to one of her 294 different summer activities, I didn’t have much of a chance to take Shilo on a morning walk. In fact, we probably went almost two months without one. So last Friday morning after my wife left for work, I walked into the kitchen, where Shilo was lying by the door and dreaming about a walk, and I poured some coffee into a travel mug. Shilo watched me. At first, Shilo didn’t react. See, she’s seen me pour coffee before. But then she must have noticed that the travel mug was the same mug I used to take with us on our walks.

    She went nuts.

    I thought that was pretty neat. Like I said, it had been two months since Shilo and I took a morning walk. That means, based on my dog-time continuum theory (one human year equals seven dog years; therefore, one human hour equals seven dog hours), in Shilo’s mind it actually had been 14 months since our last morning walk. Shilo was eager; she was ready.

    Actually, so was I. Morning walks are a pretty good way to notice the way things change, the way time passes. The way things change from week to week, from month to month. From one season to the next. From one year to the next.

    A long time ago, I used to walk the very same neighborhood with a different dog. I was younger then, newly married. My wife and I were living in a comfortable but small, two-bedroom rental house. I used to think about stuff on those early morning walks too. I’m not sure what I used to think about then, but I doubt it was about things like the way time passes. But I think about time now when I walk by that same rental house where my wife and I lived 16 years ago.

    Tuesday morning, I noticed that some of the trees in our neighborhood are already dropping their leaves. Not many, but some. It’s early, of course, and way too warm for serious leaf dropping, but it’s out there. In a month or so, it’s going to start getting a little cooler when Shilo and I walk, and it will be time to put away the shorts and pull out the jeans. Later, in October, when the maple trees that line the streets change and unload their leaves in bulk, I’ll have to grab a jacket before we leave the house. I’ll notice frost on the ground, and I’ll use my mug of hot coffee for warmth as much as anything else. Thanksgiving will come and go. So will Christmas and Emma’s birthday.

    Sooner or later it will snow, and the sidewalks in our neighborhood will be covered with ice. Through it all, Shilo and I will keep walking. We’ll walk as the snow and ice start to melt, as the brown grass starts to turn green again. We’ll walk as the bare maple trees begin to bud out and flowers start to reappear. We’ll walk until it’s summer again. Then we’ll stop walking for a while so I can run Emma to her 294 summer activities.

    And then, some morning in the middle of August, we’ll take Emma to school, and my wife will rush off to work, and I’ll walk into the kitchen and pour coffee into my travel mug.

    And Shilo will go nuts.


  • A tribute to Regis

    This column first ran in the Joplin Globe in 2006.

    Sometimes you hear about something you instantly know is going to be gold.

    Like when Willie Nelson and the late great Ray Charles teamed up. Or when Bing Crosby and Bob Hope agreed to make a few movies together. Or when George Bush and Dick Cheney decided to start a war.

    Wait. That last one is probably not a great example. But you get my point.

    So, when I read in this paper on Friday that Regis Philbin and Donald Trump are going to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” together on Regis’ upcoming Christmas album, I thought “Fort Knox City.”

    It would be gold, is what I’m saying.

    I mean, somewhere Gene Autry has to be smiling. Come on, Trump and Philbin? How great is that? It’s like Lennon and McCartney, Simon and Garfunkel and Josie and the Pussycats rolled into one.

    How can it miss?

    OK, there might be that the little matter of Trump probably not being able-to use a technical musical term-carry a tune in front of a grand jury.

    But really is talent that important?

    I don’t think so.

    You’ve still got Regis and I’m being completely honest when I say this: I love Regis.

    I know among some of the tragically hip, it’s not cool to like Regis. But I’m pretty much the opposite of tragically hip.

    As a singer, I think Regis is just OK. But at being Regis, I think Regis is the best.

    Look, the biggest mistake folks can make in a profession is to take themselves too seriously. To assume that because you’re good at one thing, you’ll naturally be good at something else.

    Like when Bob Costas thought he was more than just a sportscaster. Or when Sylvester Stallone thought he was an actor. Or when Geraldo thought he was human.

    The most successful people, I think, don’t take themselves too seriously. They know what they do well and they tend to stick with what works.

    That’s why I think Regis is so cool. Regis knows who he is. Regis doesn’t take himself too seriously. Regis knows what’s he good at. He’s good at making people feel comfortable. He’s good at making people laugh. Either with him or at him. He doesn’t care. As long as you laugh.

    David Letterman has made fun of Regis for years. When Dave first started making fun of Regis, I thought it was funny. But then, after a while, I started to feel sorry for Regis.

    But then it dawned on me that Regis didn’t really care Dave was making fun of him. He just cared if people were laughing.

    And that’s when it also dawned on me that Dave loved Regis. Dave knew Regis understood how to entertain. He knew that Regis understood how to be a good broadcaster.

    Regis has more than paid his dues as a broadcaster. He used to be the announcer on the Joey Bishop. Does anyone remember the Joey Bishop show? Does anyone remember Joey Bishop?

    I don’t mean that in a bad way. I loved Joey Bishop. I’m just saying the Joey Bishop Show was on TV a long time ago.

    After Joey’s show got canceled, Regis was suddenly just another out-of-work announcer who could sing a bit.

    So, he turned to local TV. He did morning shows all over the country. He worked in Los Angles. He worked in St. Louis. He worked wherever someone would have him. Later, he had some sort of fitness show on a cable channel back in the 1980s.

    Then, he landed in New York. He got a little local morning talk show. Then, a lot of people in New York noticed and the little, local morning talk show got picked up nationally. Then, after all of those years, after all of these towns, after all of those shows, Regis became an overnight sensation.

    Everyone now knew who Regis was. Mainly because Regis was everywhere. In addition to his morning show and his appearances with David, he hosted a silly game. Later, because people liked Regis hosting that silly game show, ABC-TV executives had to back a bunch of Brinks Trucks up to Regis’ house and unload bags and bags of money to keep him happy.

    So, Regis, if you want to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with Trump, go ahead. I’ll laugh with you, not at you.

    I will, however, laugh at Trump. But come on, who doesn’t?

  • How expensive? Don’t ask.

    This column first ran in the Joplin Globe in January of 2005.

    Last week, the very fabric of the American family was on the verge of coming apart.

    Of course, by the “American family,” I mean my family.

    The threat to the fabric (I’m going to say denim) of my family did not come in the form of the NFL playoffs, which I will watch pretty much nonstop this weekend while my wife and 6-year-old daughter Emma will…well, I’m not sure what they will do but I hope they have fun.

    No, the threat I’m talking about came in the form of something called an American Girl Doll.

    For those of you who don’t have 6-year-old daughters, I should tell you that the American Girl Doll is a bugged-eyed doll roughly the size of Tom Cruise.

    Emma wants an American Girl Doll very, very badly. How badly, you ask? Well, in the preceding sentence I used the word “very” two times. That should tell you something.

    The problem-at least for my wife and me-is  American Girl Dolls are very, very, very expensive.

    How expensive, you ask? Again, count the verys.

    To give you an idea how expensive an American Girl Doll is, I refer to the following quote from the famed economist John Maynard Keynes.

    “Holy #%@# those American Girl Dolls are WAY expensive.”

    The thing is, Emma didn’t know she wanted an American Girl Doll until she and my wife watched a Hallmark Channel movie that featured an American Girl Doll. This may come as a shock to some of you who aren’t parents of 6-year-old girls, but the movie was produced, in part, by the people who make the American Girl Doll.

    Emma loved the movie and for Christmas, Santa brought Emma an American Girl movie on DVD and a small replica of an American Girl Doll. Santa, however, did not bring Emma a real American Girl Doll because-let’s face it-Santa didn’t get where he is by being stupid.

    Even on Christmas Day, Emma wasn’t sure she wanted an American Girl Doll but then something, we didn’t expect to happen, happened: An American Girl Doll catalog arrived in the mail.

    Apparently, when “Santa” brought Emma the American Girl Doll stuff, “he” put Emma on an American Girl Doll mailing list.

    Giving a 6-year-old girl an American Girl Doll catalog is like giving Bill O’Reilly a cell phone with unlimited minutes and no roaming charges.

    For the past week, Emma has been walking around our house carrying her American Girl Doll catalog and sighing. Because we raised Emma correctly, she hasn’t been walking around our house constantly dropping hints that she wanted an American Girl Doll.

    She just came right out and said she wanted an American Girl Doll.

    Me: Good morning Emma.

    Emma: Daddy, I want an American Girl Doll.

    Me: No.

    My wife and I are not inclined to get Emma an American Girl Doll for three reasons.

    Reason No. 1– Emma already has 4,895 dolls.

    Reason No. B-We want Emma to learn that she can’t always get everything she wants.

    And, perhaps, most importantly:

    Reason No. III-American Girl Dolls are WAY expensive.

    But we’re not totally heartless. Because Emma has quite an extensive financial portfolio consisting of tooth-fairy money and grandmother and aunt and uncle money, my wife and I told Emma that if she used some of her own money, plus whatever money should could earn by helping around the house, she might be able to get an American Girl Doll when she graduates from college.


    Just kidding. We told Emma if she worked hard, we would help her buy an American Girl Doll in the spring. Maybe.

    Kids hate when parents add a “Maybe” to a possible kid-parent deal. But parents know if they don’t add a “Maybe” to a possible kid-parent deal they lose all of their leverage.

    And, as everyone knows leverage is a big deal in any possible kid-parent deal.

    But, a few days ago, Emma discovered something. The large, 24-hour retail store in our town carries something called a Tolly Doll. The Tolly Doll looks like an American Girl Doll but is petty much the opposite of WAY expensive.

    When Emma found out that she had enough of her own money to buy a Tolly Doll now, she weighed that fact against the “maybe” kid-parent possible American Girl Doll in the spring deal and opted for the Tolly Doll.

    Now, all I have to do is keep that Tiffany’s catalog away from my wife.

    P.S.: In the interest of fair disclosure. I should point out that Emma did get an American Girl later that year. And, no, we didn’t make her help pay for it. 

  • Beer drinking is serious buisness

    Our 21-year-old daughter Emma is suggesting that I take part in a beer-pong tournament this weekend and I don’t know what to think.

    On one keg, I’m OK with the beer but, on the other keg, I’m uneasy about the pong.

    This may come as a bit of a shock to some of you but I’ve never played beer-pong. The reason I think the fact that I’ve never played beer-pong might come as a shock to some of you is because it came as a giant shock to my wife.

    “You’ve never played beer-pong?” my wife said in her shocked tone.

    By the way, my wife is one of those people who insist on repeating what someone has just stated, in the form of a question. It’s as if, to her, life is one big game of Jeopardy.

    What I wanted to say, in answer to my wife’s question was, “Why in the world would I say ‘I’ve never played beer-pong if, in fact, I had played beer-pong?”

    But instead, I said, “I don’t even know how to play beer-pong”.

    To which my wife replied, “It’s like playing quarters”.

    To which I replied, “I’ve never played quarters,” which – I swear – prompted this shocked response from my wife, “You’ve never played quarters?”

    I’m a few years older than my wife so it’s possible that the whole beer-pong and quarters craze came along after my beer drinking days ended but I don’t think so since I currently still am in my beer drinking days.

    I think the real reason I’ve never played beer-pong or quarters is because I was never one who looked at beer-drinking as some sort of game.

    When you’re drinking beer in a bar why waste time ponging or quartering? If in fact “ponging” and “quartering” can be used as verbs.

    When drinking beer in a bar, time is best spent listening to good music or watching sporting events with – ideally -conversation kept to a minimum.

    I suppose I should stop for a second and clarify that there is a difference between my beer-drinking days and my beer-drinking in bars days. As I said earlier, I am still in my beer-drinking days. I am not, however, still in my beer-drinking in bars days.

    My beer-drinking in bars days, pretty much, ended in 1991. Perhaps coincidently 1991 was also the year in which my wife and I got married.

    Oh, sure, since 1991 my wife and I have spent many happy hours in bars, but beer-drinking in bars with your wife is not the same as beer drinking in bars as a single person.

    In what way, some of you are asking.

    I don’t know it just is, is what I say to some of you who are asking.

    I’m not saying it’s better and I’m not saying it’s worse. It’s just different, is what I’m saying.

    The beer-pong tournament Emma thinks I should take part in will be held this weekend in Lawrence, Kansas as part of her sorority’s Dads’ Weekend.

    I suspect the girls in Emma’s sorority decided to host a beer-pong tournament in hopes that it will make Dads’ Weekend less awkward.

    Although there are some dads at Dads’ Weekends who have known each other for years and therefore actually interact with each other, many other dads have not known each other for years.

    Here is the extent of the interaction of dads at Dads’ Weekend who don’t know each other.

    Emma (To use a hypothetical name): This is Bob. He’s Hannah’s dad.

    Mike (To use another hypothetical name): Hey.

    Bob: Hey.

    This is usually followed by a very long and very awkward silence. Well, long and awkward for Emma and Hannah but not so awkward for Mike and Bob. See, most dads don’t find silence awkward. Most dads see silence as a way to restore order to their lives.

    This is why, for the second year in a row, many of the sorority moms will also attend Dads’ Weekend. Moms tend to help make the awkward silences go away.

    The dads still don’t talk but nobody cares because the moms are there to fill the void of silence.

    So, this Saturday, I will probably play in a beer-pong tournament. And, who knows, I might like it. And, what the heck, I might even win. If I do, I already have my victory speech written. Want to hear it?

    Here it is.





    this picture shows the importance of stretching before a game of beer-pong
    As in all sports, it is important to stretch before a competitive game of beer-pong.
    Here is a picture of me after letting go with a sucessful pong.
    Here I have just sunk a pong. Note the dejected look of my opponent as he sees that my pong has dropped into the cup.


    A picture of Mike and Emma high-fiving after a sucessful pong.
    Emma and I exchanging a high-five after Emma sank a pong. It’s important in the game of pong-as in the game of life-to high-five a lot.
    Mike and Emma are laughing at something during the game of pong
    Sheriff Bart: Mongo what is happening in this picture?
    Mongo: Mongo not know. Mongo only pong in the game of pong.
  • Forget the weather: It’s time for soup

    Sometimes you just have to ignore the blatant reality.

    And I’m not just talking about Republican Congress creatures here.


    No, I’m talking about what I did Sunday. I ignored the fact that it was almost 90 degrees outside and went ahead with a plan to whip up a big ol’ pot o’ soup.

    In case you’re wondering when referring to whipping up a big old pot of soup it is permissible to write “big ol’ pot o’ soup.”

    I just wouldn’t do it too often lest people think you’re nuts.

    This might just be me but I think by the time the last weekend of September rolls around you are officially well into fall. And, at least at our house, when you’re well into fall it’s time to make a (Last time) big ol’ pot o’ soup.

    A couple of weeks ago my wife got a jump on soup season by making a big old pot of (Is that better?) chicken stock.

    My wife and I like making chicken stock for a couple of reasons.

    Reason No. 1: It’s easy.


    Reason No. B: It gives us a chance to clear out all of the unused, slightly aging produce that has accumulated in our refrigerator.

    When she was done, my wife put her chicken stock into several plastic containers (with two cups of stock in each) and stored them in the freezer to be used, later, in soup recipes that call for it.

    As it turns out, it was a good thing my wife got a jump on soup season because the recipe I worked with  Sunday called for 12 cups of chicken stock.

    Earlier in the week, I came across a group of recipes from Giada De Laurentiis on Twitter. One of the recipes was for an Italian Wedding soup which I thought sounded pretty good so I decided to try it on Sunday.

    I like Italian Wedding soup but I’m not sure how it got its name. It might be because it’s served at Italian weddings but I’ve never been to an Italian wedding so I don’t know if that’s true.

    I’m just guessing here but I’m thinking an Italian wedding would be fun. I was raised Catholic and, when I was older, attended a lot of Catholic weddings and most of them were fun.

    I mean, I think they were fun but I don’t exactly remember what with the drinking and all.

    I like Giada, by the way. For one thing, I always feel sophisticated when I say her name. It’s like I’m actually speaking Italian.

    Sigh. I wish I had a sophisticated-sounding name. My name just sounds like a place where they keep stray Mikes.

    I also like Giada because her recipes are always excellent and easy to follow. For someone with such a sophisticated name, Giada knows how to keep things relatively simple.

    Also, when our 21-year-old daughter Emma studied in Florence, Italy last semester, my wife and I went over to visit her and took in not just Florence but also Rome and the Amalfi coast. So, really, Giada and I are practically family.

    Here’s the deal about Italian Wedding soup: It’s not that hard to make.

    Basically you just boil some chicken stock and toss in some meatballs along with some chopped endive and eggs. Sure, you have to make the meatballs, but who doesn’t like doing that?

    I guess, to make things even simpler, you could just buy some premade meatballs but-come on-you don’t want to be a kitchen sissy, do you?

    When I made the meatballs for the soup, I used a pound of Scimeca’s hot Italian sausage from Kansas City that I had stored in the freezer for just such an occasion.

    A picture fo one pound of scimeca's hot Italian sausage.
    This is one pound of the best Italian sausage in the history of history.


    I usually buy Scimeca’s sausage at the Brookside Cosentino’s in Kansas City but you can find it at most KC area grocery stores.

    I don’t want to overstate things here but Scimeca’s is only the best Italian sausage in the history of history.

    a cookie sheet full of freshly rolled meatballs before going into a pot of Italian Wedding soup.
    Here are the meatballs prior to going into the soup. Please keep all “meat” and “ball” jokes to yourself. Then, later, e-mail them to me.


    When I made the soup, I followed Giada’s meatball recipe. I could have used my own meatball recipe but you know what they say “When using a Giada recipe do what Giada does.”

    I don’t know if they actually say that but they should.

    As a bonus, and at no extra charge to you, I’m throwing in a recipe for pasta with clam sauce that I got from my Uncle Jim and Aunt Ev some 30 years ago.

    I don’t want to toot my own horn here but when Emma first got to Florence, she ordered pasta with clam sauce at a restaurant and later told me that mine was better.

    So, toot, toot.

    The recipe calls for canned clams. Of course, fresh clams would be better but since we happen to be a ways from the beach here, we tend to work with what we’ve got.

    The original recipe called for white wine but I use red wine because …well because I like red wine.

    So the next time you want to feel sophisticated just whip up a big pot of Italian Wedding soup or pasta with clam sauce, pour yourself a glass of Chianti and practice saying Giada De Laurentiis.


    A picture of a bowl of Italian Wedding soup on a plate with two pieces of sliced Italian bread on the side Next to the plate and bowl is glass of Chianti sitting next to an opened bottle of Chianti.
    The finished product. My wife, who is big on presentation took this picture. But, hey, I opened the wine.




    A couple of notes here: As you can see Giada calls for 8-ounces of beef and pork but to keep things simple I went with one pound each of beef and pork and then sort of eyeballed the other meatball ingredients to match.

    Also, rather than using one piece of bread in the meatballs I opted to use about a cup of panko breadcrumbs because I had them on hand. Well, not actually on hand. That would be stupid. I had the breadcrumbs in our pantry.

    One final note: Although it’s perfectly fine to serve the soup right away we found that its flavor was 10 times better the next night. I guess it’s because the meatballs have more time to sit in the soup. So, the next time I make this recipe (And there will be a next time) I will probably do so a day ahead. But this is America so you can do whatever you want. For now, I guess.

    Serves 8


    For the Meatballs:

    1 small onion, grated

    1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

    1 large egg

    1 teaspoon minced garlic

    1 teaspoon salt

    1 slice fresh white bread, crust trimmed bread torn into small pieces

    1/2 cup grated Parmesan

    8 ounces pound ground beef

    8 ounces pound ground pork

    Freshly ground black pepper

    For the Soup:

    12 cups low-sodium chicken broth

    1-pound curly endive, coarsely chopped (1 pound of escarole would be a good substitution)

    2 large eggs

    2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper


    To make the meatballs: Stir the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese, beef and pork. Using 1 1/2 teaspoons for each, shape the meat mixture into 1-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet.

    To make the soup: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and curly endive and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the curly endive is tender, about 8 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin strands of egg, about 1 minute. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

    Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. Finish soup with parmesan cheese if desired.


    Jim and Ev’s Pasta with Clam Sauce

    2-3 cloves garlic

    2 tablespoons of butter

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    3-6.5 ounces cans of chopped clams

    ½ cup red wine

    1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes

    ¼ cup of fresh chopped parsley

    2 tablespoons fresh basil

    ½ to 1 teaspoon of oregano

    ½ teaspoon of salt

    ½ teaspoon of sugar

    ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

    I lb. of your favorite pasta. I find that this works best with spaghetti noodles or linguine


    Sautee garlic in the butter and olive oil. Meanwhile, drain clams and add the clam juice in with the garlic.

    I probably shouldn’t have to mention this but try to remember to save the clams. They will come in handy later.

    Boil the clam juice for one minute then chop and stir in the tomatoes.

    Add parsley, basil, oregano, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

    When ready, add clams to sauce and heat through. Bring a pot of salted water to boil add pasta and cook until done to your preference.

    I used to use the time-tested method of throwing a piece of pasta to the wall and seeing if it sticks but my wife doesn’t like pasta on the wall. Gee, some people.

    Drain pasta and mix with the clam sauce. Serve with fresh-grated Parmesan, crusty bread and a glass to Chianti.

    a bow of pasta with clam sauce, with a slice of Italian bread on the edge of the bowl. Behind the bowl is a glass of Chianti sitting next to a bottle of Chianti.
    Here is the pasta with clam sauce.  My wife chose Bucatini pasta because it is a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center.  The sauce then gets inside the pasta.  It’s the perfect recipe. Easy to make and pairs well with wine. “What kind?” you ask. “Wine-kind,” I answer.



  • On Bizarro World and deodorant

    It happened so quickly that I didn’t even realized what was going on until it was too late.

    By the time I figured out what the problem was I had almost given up.

    “What’s the use of going on?” I asked myself.

    It was a normal reaction. It was what anyone would think if suddenly everything that made sense in their life had been turned upside down. If suddenly everything that a person thought was true was actually false. If suddenly everything a person knew and had ever known was wrong.

    I was in Augusta, Kansas heading to Wichita to visit my aunt and uncle when I pulled into the large, 24-hour retail store in the town. Like it is in most small towns the large, 24-hour retail is located just off the highway that runs through Augusta.

    I stopped at the store because I needed to buy deodorant. Now, I don’t want you to think that I randomly decided to stop in a small Kansas town to buy deodorant. It wasn’t as if I was driving through the Flint Hills, took a whiff and said “Whoa, I need to buy some deodorant.”

    I mean I’m a guy, but I’m not gross.

    Here’s a reader’s tip for you: For the next several paragraphs I will be talking about deodorant so if you would rather skip ahead…I’m guessing about eight or nine paragraphs…and catch up with the rest of us later please feel free.

    The reason I stopped in Augusta was because, sometime ago, my wife and I started using the same deodorant. Well, I’ve always used the same deodorant, it was my wife who stopped using hers and started using mine. Apparently, the roll-on stuff my wife had been using was causing some sort of problem so she opted to go with the spray stuff I use.

    I don’t know, exactly, when my wife started using my deodorant because, as a male person, I know better than to ask questions about bathroom supplies.

    Male persons, who share bathrooms with female persons, learn very quickly not to ask questions about bathroom supplies. Male persons, who share bathrooms with female persons, learn very quickly that they are to only worry about their own bathroom supplies. Anything else is on a need to know basis.

    It was only when I noticed that I was going through deodorant quicker than usual that I figured out my wife was using mine.

    Me: Are you using my deodorant?

    Wife: Yes.

    Me: (Waiting for an explanation).

    Me: (After a few seconds) I see.

    Wife: Whatever.

    What happened was, as I was packing for Wichita, I realized that we only had one can of deodorant. My first thought was to take the lone can of deodorant and let my wife fend for herself.

    I have to admit my first thought was quite tempting. But then my first thought continued on to the phone call I would receive from my wife when she discovered that I took our lone can of deodorant leaving her to fend for herself.

    So, I decided it would be better if I stopped somewhere on the way to Wichita and bought my own deodorant.

    As I got out of my car and started walking through the parking lot of the large, 24-hour retail store in Augusta I thought about buying something else in addition to deodorant.

    See, I didn’t want to seem like a guy who was going through some sort of emergency so severe that he had to stop at a large, 24-hour retail store in Kansas just to buy deodorant.

    But then I changed my mind. I’m not much of a people person and if someone thought I was having a deodorant emergency, I figured they would keep their distance from me. I know I would keep my distance from someone if I saw them in a large, 24-hour retail store, buying just one can of deodorant.

    So, when I entered the doors of the large, 24-hour retail store in Augusta, I turned left to head towards the health and beauty supplies.

    That’s when my world turned upside down.

    “Good Lord, what fresh hell is this?” I thought. “Who put the Duck Dynasty T-shirts where the avocados belong?”

    And it wasn’t just the T-shirts that were in the wrong place. Looking way past the T-shirts, I saw TVs and computers WHERE THE POTATO CHIPS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE.

    “What sort of savages live like this?” I thought.

    It was as if I was living in some sort of Bizzarro World. Up was down. Left was right. Trump made sense.

    I wandered around the store in a daze for a few minutes hoping to find a semblance of reason in all of the madness.

    I was like an anthropologist who discovers a lost tribe in the depths of some remote jungle and decides to live with its members in an attempt to get an understanding of their culture.

    “Oh, now I see. It’s a space issue. That’s why they shrink the heads.”

    But it was no use. Try as I might, I could not make sense of where I was. Finally, in desperation, I asked a store clerk where I could find the deodorant aisle.

    She looked at me for a second and then pointed towards what should have been the shoe department.

    “Is that all you’re buying?” the clerk asked.

    “Yes,” I said. “Why?”

    “Nothing,” she said as she slowly moved away from me.

    But I didn’t care. I just grabbed a can of deodorant, paid for it at the self-checkout aisle, rushed out the door and back into a world that made sense again.

    A world in which Duck Dynasty T-shirts and avocados know their place.

    And Trump is still crazy.

  • Have a plan-Dance Moms create charcuterie boards

    A friend of ours, Jan Crandall, used to always say, “Girls, have a plan!” and every time I met with her on work projects, she would say we needed a plan.

    Mike and I always looked up to Jan and her husband Doug as parents and tried to model our parenting skills after them. Their three daughters turned out pretty well and I think our daughter Emma has, too. So, in memory of our friend Jan, and in honor of her daughters Kate Crandall Pickering, Sarah Crandall Angelette and Beth Crandall who don’t live here anymore, I made a plan for our Birthday Girls’ party. I know they all would be a part of our Birthday Girls group if they were here in town with us – but since the girls are away from their hometown, this one’s for you!

    Our Birthday Girls’ group is actually a second generation reincarnation of a group of Carthage woman-who many years ago met once a month to celebrate their birthdays. The current group features several of the daughters of the women in that original group.

    We meet once a month and there about 20 of us when we can all get together, which is rare. We celebrate whoever’s birthday it is that month with a card, food, drinks, and laughter. Lana, Tracy, and I along with our newest member Sharon- a.k.a. the Dance Moms – are hosting this month. Thanks to Lana’s sister Carrie, we’re able to use the party barn at her house. It’s a place that holds really special memories for our four girls and for the four of us. Lana suggested we have charcuterie, lemon bars, and – to celebrate the end of summer -lemonade. So we have two varieties of lemonades – a really yummy one that is non-alcoholic and one that is called a Sorrento Spritz.

    Now, let’s talk Charcuterie boards. I first got hooked on them when I watched Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Heather Dubrow started doing charcuterie boards and all her friends were mesmerized by them. Basically a Charcuterie Board is a meat, cheese and veggie tray. But, if you put them on fancy boards and call it Charcuterie, it elevates the tone. I really don’t think there are any rules for the boards, and that’s what’s so fun about them.

    For Birthday Girls I thought it might be fun to do a variety of Charcuterie boards instead of just one big one – and go crazy on some of them. So using Jan’s “you’ve got to have a plan”, I sketched the boards out and color coded them for two reasons – one to make sure the colors mixed well when I had it put together and two because I have to work the day of the event. If I have everything done ahead of time and in baggies with notes, the layout of food goes super fast in preparation for the party.

    Sure you could just make a charcuterie board by why not sketch it out first? Here is the Palette of condiments.
    The Yummo Board.
    All things Italian.
    The Rustic Board.
    And the Keto Friendly Board.

    Because our Birthday Girls group has a variety of allergies and some members are gluten-free, I started off with a Keto Friendly board. I don’t personally do Keto, but research shows the following items that fall in that category: radishes, bell peppers, carrots, olives, tomatoes, walnuts, blueberries and strawberries, artichokes hearts, pea pods, pepperoni and herbed chèvre.

    Here is the Keto Friendly Board.

    Then to celebrate our daughter, Emma’s spring semester studying in Italy, I did an All Things Italian board. It reminded me of some of the snacks they would give us when you had a glass of wine there. In Italy you don’t just have a glass of wine, it’s almost always served with a snack of chips, nuts, or cheeses; or sometimes olives and meats, so why not put it all together on one board and call it All Things Italian?


    The All Things Italian

    My favorite Charcuterie board we own have is one that I think looks rustic. I think it might actually be cut from a piece of tree and it has a logo is stamped on it. It was a more expensive piece and I never told Mike how much I paid for it because…well…because that’s how we’ve stayed married so long. I thought that board would be a good one to be called All Things Rustic. This board features foods that are hearty and remind you of just a casual, rustic time sitting outside with a glass of wine, or just chilling out in front of a fire on a cool day with a few great snacks.

    Ahh, the Rustic Board

    To me food is art. You eat with your eyes first which sets the tone for how it’s going to taste. So why not use my artist palette board to create condiment art and make it simply All Things Condiments? It’s always fun to top off cheese with a dot of honey, use a fruit curd on a baguette, or have a coarse mustard with a pickle and a slice of salami. You can just build your own, and be your own artist.

    Be your own artist with the Palette of Condiments Board.

    The Yummo board is my favorite, because it’s all things that I think are yummy. Fruits, vegetables, and my favorite pickled carrots sold at Annie’s in the Woodshed on the Carthage Square are featured Yummo items. Add in some grapes, a mixture of cheeses and meats and of course, when you’re talking meats, there’s nothing better than candied bacon. Yummo is all my faves on one board.

    Yum! All things Yummo.

    Serve these with either Simply Lemonade floating slices of lemon, or a Sorento Spritz with a blackberry for a little kick.

    Lana tops off the night with her amazing lemon bars – something I still struggle with making in the kitchen. She’s our baker-extraordinaire! She’ll be teaching us her baking skills in this space soon – and they are amazing!

    Lana’s amazing lemon bars.

    So, our party is ready. And, thanks to Jan, for always telling me I needed a plan. I spent two days prepping in my downtime between laundry, spending time with Mike enjoying the last dog-days of summer, and catching up on my Soaps. Thanks to Mike for letting me commandeer the kitchen and his blog. I love to cook with him even though we have our own unique methods … and I think mine is always better.

    No matter what, we’ve got a successful set of Charcuterie boards to celebrate the September birthdays – all prepped by The Dance Moms using the color-coded drawings. And the best thing about a plan – it’s a guide – and we changed up some contents on each board and everyone’s board was absolutely perfect – just like our friendship.

    So eat up, Birthday Girls and let’s toast Jan for making me “make a plan!”

  • The Circle of Types

    I received some bad news recently.

    Apparently, without realizing it, I turned into a type.

    Me! A type!

    Me, a guy who has spent his entire life trying not to be a type. Why, when I was in college, in order to not be a type, I rebelliously grew my hair long and wore blue jeans and plaid flannel shirts.

    Just like all of the other college kids I knew who were trying not to be to a type.

    OK, maybe that’s not such a good example.

    But my point is I’ve always tried to be different. I’ve tried to avoid being a type.

    In my late 20s, while most of my friends were working, making money and starting families, I opted to work in broadcasting.

    It’s pretty hard to make money and start a family working in broadcasting.

    But now I’m a type.

    At least according to Hannah, one of our 21-year-old daughter Emma’s college roommates.

    The other day, my wife, Emma and I drove up to Lawrence, Kansas to help Emma move into the house she’ll be living in for her senior year of college at the University of Kansas.

    Well, it wasn’t just the three of us. Along for the ride were two carloads of stuff. By the way, when referring to a college-kid’s possessions, the correct word is “stuff”.

    When I was in college, the “stuff” I took to college easily fit in the backseat of my 1967 Chevy Impala.

    Emma’s “stuff” didn’t easily fit into a semi-large SUV and a roomy sedan.

    Emma and I come at “stuff” from different directions, is what I’m saying.

    Anyway, after spending roughly eight hours helping Emma unload the “stuff” from our cars and put it in her house, we invited Hannah to join us for dinner at a Jefferson’s, a great place on Massachusetts Street that serves cold Budweiser.

    And oysters.

    I like Lawrence and I like most of the restaurants along Massachusetts Street. But some of the restaurants on Massachusetts Street tend to be a little too proud of their “craft” beers.

    I don’t have anything against “craft” beers other than the fact that I think most of them taste like dirt. But beyond that I’m fine with “craft” beers.

    Making things worse is that some of the restaurants on Massachusetts Street are so proud of their “craft” beers they turn their collective noises down on beers like Budweiser. And when I say “turn their collective noises on beers like Budweiser” I mean they don’t carry them.

    I don’t like that.

    So, after spending roughly 12 hours unloading Emma’s “stuff” from our car and into her house, we went to Jefferson’s so I could get on the outside of a cold Budweiser.

    And oysters.

    Have you ever spent roughly 18 hours unloading a college student’s “stuff” out of two cars and into a house?

    If you did you would want to get on the outside of a cold Budweiser too.

    I suppose the oysters could be optional.

    After ordering our food, my wife, Emma, Hannah and I chatted for a while. Well, that’s not completely true. My wife, Emma and Hannah chatted. I mainly watched the replay of an NFL exhibition game on one of the some 27 big-screen TVs in Jefferson’s.

    At one point, during the chatting, Hannah, in response to a question from my wife, described the appearance of a guy they had been talking about.

    I don’t exactly hang on every word when other people chat. But I did hear every word of Hannah’s response to my wife’s question.

    “Oh, you know,” Hannah said. “He looks like a dad.”

    Then, Hannah went on to describe the guy in question. Her description did not remotely match a description of me. But as I now understand it that doesn’t matter.

    Dads, according to Hannah, look like dads.

    “Dads are a type?” I asked.

    “Yes,” Hannah and Emma said.

    “Am I a type?” I asked.

    “Yes,” Emma said.

    “Did you know this?” I asked my wife.

    “Yes,” my wife said.

    The thing is I don’t think I’m a dad type. I don’t dress like a dad. I don’t talk like a dad and I don’t act like a dad.

    Granted, I wear a lot of Tommy Bahama clothes. I listen to Jimmy Buffett music. I think craft beers taste like dirt and I sometimes start sentences with the words “Why, when I was in college…”.

    Oh my God, I’m a type.

    It’s doesn’t seem fair. One minute you’re driving your ’67 Chevy Impala with a back seat of stuff and the next you’re a type. I mean, talk about your circle of life.

    The heck with it. I’m breaking the circle. I’m letting my hair grow and pulling out the blue jeans and flannel shirts. But I’m keeping the Jimmy Buffett music.

    And the Budweiser.

  • It’s not always the finding, it’s the searching

    We did not find it.

    We tried but there wasn’t enough time for a real search. The only way we would have been able to find it is if we got incredibly lucky.

    We did not get incredibly lucky.

    We were looking for a small village where a picture that has been in my family for some 60 years was painted.

    The painting was the one constant in every house I lived in when I was a kid.

    My dad was in the military which meant we moved a lot and lived in a number of different houses, but the painting was the one thing that made each of those houses a home. In every house we lived in from Germany, to Colorado, to Iowa, to Kansas, to Okinawa and back to Kansas again my mom always made sure the painting hung in our living room.

    My wife and I have the painting now. It’s has been reframed and is hanging in our house right now.

    In the living room where it belongs.

    My parents bought the painting when we were living in Germany. The painting depicts a bend in the road in a small German village. In the foreground there is what appears to be a church. Next to the church are several trees and to the right of the trees is a building that appears to have an opening for foot traffic to pass through.

    There is a low stone fence in front of the church. On the road in front of the church there is what looks to be a small white duck and a cart being pulled by two oxen.

    A picture of a painting that has been in my family for 60 years and the subject of a recent search in germany
    This is the painting that now hangs in our living room.

    One day, when we were on one of the many short day trips my parents liked to take us on when we lived in Germany, my older brother Pat, my older sister Mary, and I were walking along a bend in the road of a small village when we stopped and realized where we were.

    “It’s the painting,” we all shouted at about the same time.

    And it was. It was as if we somehow managed to walk into the painting itself.

    It’s a neat story and one that I remember very well. The only thing neater about the story would be if either of us could remember the name of that small village or where it was. But, sadly, we can’t.

    A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to visit our 21-year-old daughter Emma and help her pack for her trip back home.

    As a Father’s Day gift my wife and Emma surprised me with news that our trip would include a quick stop in Germany. The idea, my wife said, was to give me a chance to visit Kitzingen the small town where my family lived while we were in Germany. My wife thought we could also spend some time looking for the village where the painting had been painted.

    I had my doubts about finding the village in the painting. After all, it had been 60 years. I was pretty sure things had changed in that village.

    So, after spending four days in Copenhagen my wife, Emma and I took an early Saturday morning flight to Frankfurt, Germany. From there we took a train to Wurzburg, a relatively large city about 10 miles from Kitzingen.

    We knew that the agency where we planned to rent a car to drive to Kitzingen would be closed by the time we got off the train so the plan was to spend the afternoon exploring Wurzburg and then head to Kitzingen the next morning.

    a picture of my first beer in Germany
    This is my first beer in Germany.
    My second beer in Germany
    This is my second beer in Germany.
    mu third beer in Germany
    This is my third beer in Germany. What can I say? I record the special moments.

    We’ve had worse plans.

    Wurzburg was only great. It’s a neat mixture of an old and a modern German town. Oh, and the food, the beer and the people were fantastic.

    We spent part of the evening with several hundred other people on a major pedestrian bridge in the middle of town sipping German wine and watching the sunset.

    looking back towards the Wurzburg square from the bridge
    This is a picture of the city square of Wurzburg taken from the bridge. It’s not a great shot but-hey-I had a glass of wine in my hand.

    I’ve had worse evenings.

    We showed a picture of the painting to a few people in Wurzburg in hopes they might know the name of the village in the painting.

    They didn’t.

    me standing in front of the famous leaning tower of Kitzingen
    I’m standing in front of the famous leaning tower of Kitzingen.
    me on my knees in front of the leaning tower
    This is a picture of me standing in the same spot when I was 4-years-old. Gee, I was a cute kid.

    The next morning we drove to Kitzingen, parked the car and wandered around the town. We showed the picture of the painting to a few people we met but, again, no one was able to help us identify the village and there wasn’t time for a blind search so, after a few pleasant hours in Kitzingen we drove back to Wurzburg and took the train back to the airport.

    a shot of an intersection in downtown kitzingen
    We didn’t find the village but we got to spend a few hours in Kitzingen which was nice.

    So, no, we didn’t find the village in the painting. But you know what? Sometimes life isn’t about the finding. Sometimes it’s about the searching.

    Oh, and the beer.

  • Reverse engineering food and life

    Sometime in early May when the newspaper I used to work for informed me that at the end of June they would no longer carry my column I wasn’t sure what to think.

    I mean there isn’t really much you can do when someone says they no longer want to run your column.

    I wondered how I would feel, after almost 18 years of writing columns and 22 years total at the paper, when I finished my last column. I also wondered what I would do on my first weekend of “retirement”.

    Would I mope? Would I worry? Would I feel sorry for myself?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, sometimes I kill myself.

    Here’s what my wife and I did on my first weekend of “retirement”. We got up early on Saturday morning and drove to the Webb City Farmers Market. On the way we decided we would let the Market determine our weekend meals.

    That’s right. We reversed engineered our menus.

    We strolled through the Market pavilion and bought whatever caught our eyes. Here are some of the things that caught our eyes: Plump, bright red tomatoes, large green cucumbers, purple and yellow onions, a breakfast pizza on a homemade crust, a crusty rye baguette, a spicy goat cheese spread, a jar of smoked cinnamon, six ears of sweet corn, a box of so-good-you-wanted-to-eat-them-right-out-of-the-box-blueberries and what I could only assume was a ripe, juicy watermelon.

    Holding up a box of bright red, ripe tomatoes at the Webb City Farmers Market.
    You say “tomato” I say “salsa”.
    A table fo bright green cucumbers at the Webb City Farmers Market
    In a day or so a few of these guys will be in a nice salad. Hey, it’s the circle of produce.
    Ditto for these onions.
    You should try some of the goat cheeses from Terrell Creek Farm. They’re not baaaaaaaaaaaaaad.
    My wife decided to buy a baguette and an apple pizza … because…well because she could.

    Then we devised our meal plans.

    My wife would use the onions and the cucumbers to make a-follow me here-onion and cucumber salad. I would use the tomatoes, some of the leftover onion, along with a few of my wife’s homegrown poblano peppers to make a grilled shrimp salsa.

    The idea was to have the cucumber and onion salad for dinner on Sunday and have the shrimp salsa on Saturday along with the rye baguette, and spicy goat cheese.

    And some smoked cinnamon.. Again…because she could.

    Sadly they don’t sell shrimp at the Market but we happened to have a bag of some in our freezer.

    When we got back to Carthage, we drove out to West Fairview Avenue and  stopped at Cloud’s Meat Processing to pick up something to go with my wife’s onion and cucumber salad on Sunday.

    I love Cloud’s. Sometimes I go to Cloud’s with a specific a purpose and sometimes I let Cloud’s find my specific purpose for me.

    In keeping with our reversed engineered menus, I decided to let Cloud’s find my specific purpose. It turns out on this particular Saturday my specific purpose was a 3-pound pork loin roast.

    When we got home, we put our purchases away and, because it was still early, thought about we should do next.

    Looks like we bagged our limit at the Webb City Farmers Market and at Cloud’s.

    It took us about a second to decide that we should drive down to the Square for bloody mary’s and breakfast at the Woodshed.

    To paraphrase the late Dan Jenkins, “It can’t be all work and worry. Sometimes people need to unwind.”

    Sometimes it’s good to stop and smell the celery.

    About an hour  later, we returned home for a few hectic hours of lazing in our backyard. But before we lazed, I cut up some watermelon and my wife and I used it to make a pitcher of watermelon mojitos from a recipe we came across in a recent issue of “Southern Living”.

    Have you ever had a fresh watermelon mojito on a warm summer Saturday afternoon?

    You should. It’s good.

    Then, I iced down a few bottles of Budweiser, and we commenced with our lazing.

    Lazing method # 1:  Watermelon mojito.
    Lazing method # B: Beer. Gee. Go figure.

    After we lazed part of the afternoon away, I started a fire on one of our grills, then I went inside and started putting part of the shrimp salsa together. When the fire was ready, I grabbed one of my wife’s poblano peppers and grilled it until the skin was black and blistered. Then I put it in a large bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and let it cool. While the pepper cooled, I grilled a small mess o’ shrimp.

    When the shrimp was done, I took it and the pepper inside, chopped them up, put them back in the bowl added the other salsa ingredients  I  prepared earlier, topped the whole thing off with plenty of fresh lime juice and put it in the refrigerator.

    The whole process took about 40 minutes so, of course, when I was finished, I had to go back out and laze some more.

    A few hours later, I took some fresh corn tortillas, cut then in the triangles and fried them in hot oil.  Meanwhile my wife made a fresh watermelon salad topped with goat cheese and, just like that, dinner was ready.

    This is how I figured we should serve dinner.
    This is how my wife served dinner. It’s all about the presentation. I’m told.


    Early Sunday afternoon, my wife made her famous cucumber and onion salad and then joined me in the backyard for some more lazing.

    Later that evening, I prepared the pork roast. I really didn’t have a recipe for the roast. I just seasoned it with salt, pepper, some rosemary and thyme. Then I placed some fresh lemons on the top of the roast and placed in a roasting pan on a bed of sliced lemons and put it in the oven.

    Pork loin roast on a bed of lemons.
    Speaking of presentation: Look what I did to the corn.

    While the roast cooked, I started a fire on one of the grills and, when it was ready, tossed six ears of corn on the fire. When the corn was done, I sprinkled a spicy barbecue rub I found in the same Southern Living magazine on the corn, cook it a few minutes more, then we served it with the roast, my wife’s cucumber and onion salad and a couple of glasses of Chardonnay.

    “How was it?” you ask.
    “What do you think?” I ask.

    Hey, again to paraphrase Mr. Jenkins “Nobody said life wasn’t going to be semi-tough.”

    So, no, I don’t think I’m going to spend much time moping. Instead, I’m going to continue the reverse-engineering of my life.

    And lazing.


    As promised, here are a few recipes.

    Watermelon-ginger mojitos

    This recipe is from the July 2019 issue of Southern Living. My wife only loves it.

    1/2 cup granulated sugar

    5 fresh mint sprigs, plus more for garnish

    8 cups seedless watermelon cubes

    3 cups (24 oz.) light rum chilled

    1 (12-oz.) bottle ginger beer, chilled

    1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 limes)

    Ice cubes

    Small watermelon wedges, for garnish

    Bring 1/2 cup water and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan over high. Simmer, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; add mint and stir until submerged. Refrigerate until mixture is completely cool, 1 hour. Pour mint mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Chill mint syrup until ready to use.

    While syrup cools, place watermelon in a blender, and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup, pressing gently to squeeze out juice. Discard solids and refrigerate 15 minutes. Repeat straining procedure. (You should have about 4 cups juice.)

    Stir together mint syrup, watermelon juice, rum, ginger beer, and lime juice in a large pitcher.

    Pour evenly into 10 highball glasses filled with ice (or one really big glass); garnish each with a mint sprig and small watermelon wedge cut to sit on rim of glass.


    Fiesta Shrimp Salsa

    I found this recipe, a few years ago, in Weber’s New Real Grilling cookbook.

    1 poblano pepper

    24 large shrimp (21/30 count) peeled and deveined, tales removed

    Extra-virgin olive oil

    2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced

    1 small Fresno chili pepper, seeded and diced

    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

    ¼ cup finely diced red onion

    1 large glove of garlic, minced or pushed through a press

    3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

    ½ teaspoon kosher salt

    ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

    Tortilla chips


    Grill the poblano over direct heat with the lid closed, until blackened and blistered all over (the pepper, not you) 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally. Put the pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to trap the steam. Let stand for 10 minutes. Peel away and discard the charred skin (Again, from the pepper, not from you) cut off and discard the stem and seeds, and then cut the poblano in a ¼ inch dice. Put the poblano back in the bowl.

    Lightly brush the shrimp on both sides with olive oil. Grill over direct heat, until they are firm to the touch and just turning opaque in the center 4 to 5 minutes. Cut shrimp into ¼ inch pieces.

    Then, to the bowl with the diced poblano, add the shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, the tomatoes, Fresno and jalapeno peppers, the onion, garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper; toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. Serve the salsa immediately with tortilla chips.

    Note: If I can’t find a Fresno pepper, I add another jalapeno pepper. Also you can settle for tortilla chips from a bag but I prefer to fry my own. To steal part of a Steve Martin joke “My doctor says I’m not getting enough fat.”


    Mike’s Pork Loin Roast

    I took part of this recipe from a Giada De Laurentiis cooking show. I once saw Giada (I can call her that) roast a spatchcocked (not as dirty as it sounds) chicken on a bed of sliced lemons, so I figured it would also work with a pork loin roast. The lemons, not the spatchcocking.

    1 pork loin roast, 2 to 3 pounds

    Salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. To taste. By the way, in recipe-speak “To taste” means “As much as you damn want”.

    1 large lemon

    Season the roast all over with the herbs and spices (Wasn’t there a music group in the 60’s called “Herbs and Spices?).

    Slice the lemon into slices. Place half the slices in the bottom of the roasting pan and set the roast in the pan. Place the other half on the top of the roast and bake in a pre-heated 325-degree oven for about 1 to 2 hours or until the meat thermometer reaches 170 degrees.


    Grilled Corn with Smokey Barbecue Rub

    This recipe also came from the July 2019 issue of Southern Living.

    Working with six ears of corn take one ear  at a time, grab the silks at the top of the corn slowly peal back the silks and husks. Discard the silks; pull the husks together to form a pony-tail-handle. Tear off 1 small husk piece and use it to tie a knot around the husks.

    I did this when I fixed this recipe but I think it’s mainly for show. If you wanted to you could just pull the husks all the way off.

    Coat the corn with cooking spray and place on the grill. Grill, uncovered, turning occasionally until charred in spots. About 15 to 18 minutes and remove from grill, add the smoky barbecue rub to each ear and return to the grill, turning occasionally, until the sugar melts. About 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from grill and either serve immediately  or wrap each ear in foil with a generous pat of butter and keep warm until ready to serve.


    Smoky Barbecue Rub

    Stir together 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar; 1 tablespoon smoked paprika; 1 teaspoon fresh lime zest; and ½ teaspoon each of ancho chili powder; kosher salt; black pepper; and garlic powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture over the corn.


    My Wife’s Cucumber and Onion Salad

    Since this is my wife’s recipe, she wrote all of it for you. For the record, when I asked her to include her recipe she said “You shouldn’t need a (bad word) to make cucumber and onion salad” Read at your own risk.

    This is the way I cook – Mike’s eye roll here)

    Take two cucumbers.  Wash and peel.  Cut off ends, cut in half and then slice down the middle. Take a table teaspoon and rake to remove the seeds.  Then slice the cucumbers into half moons.

    Put them in a glass Anchor Hocking bowl.  Add 1/2 of a preferably red onion, by cutting in half and then slicing so they are pretty little half moon shapes.  Sprinkle lightly across the cucumbers.  Sprinkle veggies with celery seed to your liking.  You can add cracked black pepper, as well.

    Cover the veggies with Nakano Rice Vinegar.  (Sounds fancy, but you can find it in a big-box store with the other vinegars.  You could use plain vinegar and add sugar, but if you can buy and use the Nakano Rice Vinegar, why not?)

    Put the lid on and shake like hell so it’s mixed well.  Best when chilled at least all day while drinking beer outside, or overnight.

    Enjoy!  “Mike’s Wife”

  • Visit to Italy best spent going with the flow

    We overslept on Friday, and by the time we got to the lobby of our hotel in Sorrento, Italy, the breakfast buffet had closed.

    But we are nothing if not experienced travelers, so we opted to walk a couple blocks down the main street of town and within a few blocks found a nice little place for Italian pastries and coffee.

    You know, see a problem, solve a problem.

    My wife and I are in Italy because we offered to help our 21-year-old daughter, Emma, pack so she could return home after spending a semester studying in Florence. Well, to be truthful, Emma didn’t need our help. We just wanted to go to Italy.

    MIke Pound getting wine out of a wine vending machine while in Italy.
    I’m getting wine out of a wine vending machine. That’s right. A WINE VENDING MACHINE.
    Is Italy a great country or what?

    The three of us are in Sorrento now, but yesterday, we were on the island of Capri. A few days ago, we were in Rome, and a few days before that, we were in Florence. Tomorrow, we hop a train back to Florence and then fly home.

    a front view of the trevi fountain in rome italy
    This is the Trevi Fountain in Rome . I looked for Audrey Hepburn but I didn’t see her.


    a veiw from behind the trevi fountain. Mainly what you see is a large throng of people. As opposed, I guess to a small throng of people.
    As you can see, we pretty much had the fountain to ourselves.


    Here’s what I’ve learned so far about Italy. First of all, there’s the language. To quote the great Steve Martin, “It’s like they have a different word for everything.”

    Fortunately for us, just about everyone here can speak at least a little English, which I don’t really think is fair. I mean, if an Italian family were to visit the United States, I’m not sure many of the people they would encounter would speak at least a little Italian.

    Another thing I learned about Italy is that if you had a death wish, all you would need to do would be to go to Rome, rent a car and drive.

    It would be over in five minutes.

    Italians — at least, Italians in larger cities — tend to drive with a sort of restrained insanity. They weave in and out of traffic at incredible speeds, occasionally honking their horns or stomping on the brakes, sometimes backing up without looking or changing lanes without bothering to let the cars behind them know what they’re planning, all while somehow avoiding running over pedestrians and at the same time talking to their passengers in the backseat of their cars while gesturing with both hands.

    They do this driving mainly on streets that in the United States would be considered one-way alleys but in Italy are busy, multilane thoroughfares.

    It will get your attention is what it will do.

    A few days ago, we hired a driver to take us up the Amalfi Coast. I’m still having nightmares.

    a picture from the front seat of our car as our driver barely avoids al large tour bus entering the same tunnel we were trying to exit.
    A near death experience on our drive up the Amalfi Coast. Or what our driver called “Thursday”.

    Actually, the drive was wonderful once we got used to traveling on a steep, winding road so narrow that we could exchange phone numbers with the people in the cars heading the opposite direction.

    Because there is only one road running up the coast, what happens if there is an accident? I asked our driver that.

    “Problem,” he said.

    “So everyone is stuck,” I said.

    “Yes,” he said. “But it’s OK.”

    What our driver explained is that the only way to survive driving up the Amalfi Coast is to — I’m paraphrasing here — go with the flow.

    While we’ve been in Italy, we have, of course, met a few people who may have fit that stereotypical Italian image of a person with a short temper who yells a lot. But mostly we’ve met smiling, friendly people who seem to enjoy just going with the flow.

    A picture of a plate of pasta with clams. Bright pasta covered with opened black shelled clams topped with tomatoes
    See, this is what you do in Italy. You eat.

    Oh, one other thing I learned about Italy: The people here seemed to know a bit about food. And wine. And as an extra bonus for me, beer. While we’ve been in Italy, we’ve met many wonderful people but — at least for me — my newest, bestest buddy is a beer called Nastro Azzurro.

    a picture of a tall class of beer sitting next to some sort of wine spritzer with a slice of lemon in the glass.
    When in Rome. Or, in this case, Capri.

    There is a lot to do and see in Italy. But for me, here’s the best way to enjoy the country: Find a table somewhere. Eat some pasta, sip some wine or beer.

    And go with the flow.


    A picture of mike pound standing in front of a store called "Mike" on the Isle of Capri.
    Look! Someone told the people on the Isle of Capri that I was coming and they quickly named a building after me.
    Take that Trump!


  • Another bike parade, another battle of wits

    I thought I was in trouble but somehow, I skated.

    It was the annual Fourth of July bike parade and I was in my usual spot doing my usual bike parade work: Sitting in our backyard outdoor kitchen sipping a cold bottle of Budweiser and listening to Jimmy Buffett’s radio station.

    Hey, somebody’s got to do it.

    a girl on her bike before the parade. Wearing a red white and blue stared dress.
    It’s all about the look when it comes to the parade.
    picture of a young boy on his bike before the parade. He is wearing a blue patriotic shirt, red shorts and a red, white and blue, fedora along with red framed sunglasses.
    Styling for the Fourth of July Bike Parade.

    Wednesday night was the 18th running of the Fourth of July bike parade which, by the way, is never held on the Fourth of July. I have written about the bike parade for all 18 years of its existence. Mainly what I write about is how, like a battle between the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, my wife and I battle over my role before, during and after the parade.

    Hard to believe that just 18 years ago  our daughter Emma was in the same spot this kids are in.
    kids on bikes and scooters lining up for the start of the 19th annual 4th of july bike parade
    This is how the parade begins. I think it’s how it begins. I’m usually in our backyard sipping a cold Budweiser and listening to Jimmy Buffett’s radio station.

    My wife has always been of the opinion that my role before the parade is to help set things up. Then, during the parade, my wife is of the opinion that my role is to watch and encourage the roughly 1,493 kids on their bikes, scooters and anything else that rolls on wheels as they make their way up our street. Then, after the parade, my wife is of the opinion that I should mingle with all the people who are sipping lemonade and eating cookies while roughly 2,493 kids run wild.

    The danger of the parade: If one falls down, they all fall down.

    And I mean “run wild” in a good way.

    a tight shut of the begining of the race. A kid in a red shirt with a red helment riding a bike surrounded by other kids on their bikes
    The parade, which is not a race but actually is a race, is officially underway.

    I, on the other Roman candle, am of the opinion that my role before the parade is to help set things up. Then, during and after the parade, I am under the opinion that my role should be sitting in our backyard outdoor kitchen sipping a cold Budweiser and listening to Jimmy Buffett’s radio station.

    The Fourth of July bike parade is the brainchild of Lana, who lives across the street, and my wife.


    Because Lana and my wife are female people, they not only came up with the idea for the bike parade they also organized it and do most of the work so that it goes off without a hitch.

    On the right is Laurel Rosenthal the principal of Mark Twain Elementary School and the Grand Marshall of the Fourth of July Bike Parade. On the left is Patty Rosenberg. Laurel was my wife’s kindergarten teacher and Patty was her sixth-grade teacher. I think that’s something.


    If two male people had come up with the idea for the bike parade their involvement would have ended at that point. The actually doing of the parade would have been passed on to female people.

    pic of a table of snacks for the parade. a bowl of sliced waetermellon with trays of cookies and cupcakes
    In case you’re wondering, I hauled this table to the parkway. You’re welcome.

    At least that’s been my experience.

    I don’t like that. It seems to me coming up with an idea is the easy part. It’s making an idea a reality that’s the hard part.

    That’s why I seldom come up with ideas.

    During the early years of the parade I had three main responsibilities. I had to haul our picnic table out of our garage, clean it and set it up in the parkway in front of our house. Then I had to help our daughter Emma line up for the parade. Then I had to walk behind Emma in the parade to make sure she didn’t either fall off her bike or crash it causing a chain reaction that would result in roughly 3,459 kids collapsing like a string of dominoes.

    And then I had to mingle.

    But Emma is 21-years-old now and hasn’t ridden in the parade for nearly a decade now so I’m not really needed during the parade and, since I’ve never been good at mingling, I figure that my time would be better served sitting in our backyard kitchen, sipping a cold Budweiser and listening to Jimmy Buffett’s radio station.

    Which is what I was doing Wednesday evening when my wife stormed into our backyard and said “I COULD REALLY USE SOME HELP RIGHT NOW!”.

    Sensing I was in trouble, I set down the beer I was sipping and reached into the cooler for another one.

    You know what they say, “When the going gets tough you might as well get another beer.”

    I think they say that.

    But it turns out I wasn’t in trouble. A few people attending the parade had expressed an interest in having a beer and my wife wanted me to help pour a few into plastic cups and carrying them to our front yard.

    A job for which I was born.

    For the first time in 18-years, Emma wasn’t at the parade. She’s studying in Copenhagen, Denmark. Last year, her friend Katie, who is Lana’s daughter, was working in Chicago, Illinois and, for the first time missed the parade.

    This year was to have been the first year that both Katie and Emma missed the parade but Katie, who is living and working in Springfield, drove over for the parade to surprise her parents and my wife.

    For some reason Lana and my wife cried.

    But I guess that’s OK.

    After all, the parade was their idea.

    from left to right. Lee pound, katie griffiths, lana griffiths and laurel rosenthal
    From left to right: Lee Pound, Katie Griffiths, Lana Griffiths and Laurel Rosenthal.
    a picture from left to right of Benji Rosenberg, Patty Rossenberg, Lee Pound and Himself.
    From left to right: Benji Rosenberg, Patty Rosenberg, Lee Pound and some moron.
    Bill Griffiths, his wife Lana and his daughter Katie. Bill helps way more with the parade than I do.
    When this woman says “Jump” I say “How high?”
  • Mike Pound: It’s OK to get back to living in the moment

    It had been a while since I traveled down the road, and I was surprised how much and how little things had changed.

    It was Monday morning, and I was on the way to Wichita, Kansas, to spend a couple of days with my aunt and uncle.

    There was a time when I was much younger and much singler (probably not a word, so I didn’t look it up) when I made the trip to Wichita from Pittsburg just about every weekend.

    I was working at a radio station, and when I finished my shift on Saturday afternoon I would hop into my car and drive to Wichita to visit a girl I knew.

    I didn’t think too far ahead in those days. I think when you’re young and single, you don’t tend to make many plans. At least I didn’t.

    In those days, when I would start that drive to Wichita the only thing I knew is that I had to be back at the radio station by 4 p.m. on Monday.

    That’s it. That was as far ahead as I planned.

    When I was much, much younger, my family lived for a while in Fredonia, Kansas. My dad, who was in the U.S. Army, left in September for Okinawa, Japan, and we were to join him there after the first of the year.

    Every few weeks, my mom would pack my brothers and sisters into our station wagon and drive us to Wichita via that same road that I would later drive to visit my girlfriend and that I was driving on Monday morning.

    When my mom would take us to Wichita, we would have to stop at the hospital at the U.S. Air Force base and get the necessary shots for our trip to Okinawa.

    Have you ever ridden in a station wagon with brothers and sisters knowing that in a few hours you were going to get a series of painful shots?

    Don’t. It’s not as fun as it sounds.

    I didn’t think too far ahead when I made those trips to Wichita with my family, either. Sure, I knew that in a few months I would leave my new friends and move to Okinawa, but I didn’t think about that much.

    Even though I was only 9 years old, I was already used to moving; I was used to saying goodbye to friends and then making new friends.

    You learn to go with the flow when you move a lot.

    As I got older, I knew people my age who did think ahead. I knew people my age who made plans about serious things — things such as careers, marriage and kids.

    My plans tended to be more in the moment:

    “Let’s see. We’re going to be at the lake for five hours, and that means I need to get a case of beer and not just a 12-pack.”

    You know, important plans.

    Then, I got married and we had a daughter, and without even realizing it, I found myself making more serious and more long-term plans.

    That sort of things tends to happen when you get married and have children.

    And that’s not a bad thing. When you’re married and have kids, you have to make plans, or life will run right over you.

    Have you ever had life run right over you?

    I haven’t either, but it doesn’t sound fun.

    But now Emma, our daughter, is 21 and currently studying in Copenhagen, Denmark. My wife and I don’t have to make plans the way we used to, so I’m thinking about getting back into the moment.

    Instead of planning so much, I think I’ll concentrate on experiencing.

    When I finish this column, I don’t have any idea what I will do next.

    And I think that’s great.


  • The deeper reason some parents run late

    My wife asked me one of those questions again. They are the same questions she asks every time she sees me watching sports, eating Cheezdoodles out of the bag and drinking beer.

    “Who are you? And what happened to the guy I agreed to marry?”

    Don’t you hate that?

    Actually, this time that wasn’t the question my wife asked. The question my wife asked is a question that I have absolutely no way of answering. The question my wife asked was purely to appease me before we leave on a trip.

    “What time to you think we should leave?”

    See what I mean?

    In all the years that we have been married I have never been in control when we leave for a trip. Sure, I can say, “We must leave no later than 10 a.m.,” but that in no way means that we will leave no later than 10 a.m.

    Instead, what it means is that at 10 a.m. I will become angry and remain angry until 1 p.m. when my wife finally comes downstairs and says, “Ready?” although I have clearly been ready for several hours.

    Throughout the years, I have detailed in this column the number of things I have attempted to do to control our departure times, but just like Wile E. Coyote’s elaborate plans to catch the Road Runner, my plans wind up blowing up in my face.

    I can tell my wife that me must leave for a trip at 10 a.m. even though I know we don’t need to leave until noon, but my wife will see thorough my ruse and think, “He doesn’t mean 10 a.m.; he means noon. So I’ll be ready at 1 p.m.”

    We are scheduled to leave for Kansas City sometime this afternoon. Yesterday, when my wife asked me what time I wanted to leave for Kansas City, we had the following conversation:

    Me: Why are you asking me that?

    Wife: Well, I made dinner reservations in Kansas City for 8 tomorrow night.

    Me: Then we need to leave now.

    Wife: OK, I’ll be ready by 7 p.m. tomorrow.

    Making dinner reservations used to be one of the tricks I used to try to gain control of our departure times. I figured a restaurant deadline would force my wife to adhere to a departure schedule.

    I figured wrong.

    When my wife discovers that she is running late she just says, “Oh well, I’ll just call and have them push back our reservations.”

    And she does, and they do.

    A few minutes ago, my wife called me from Joplin, where she and our 21-year-old daughter, Emma, were running errands.

    “Do you think we can leave by 4 this afternoon?” she asked.

    “Why are you asking me that?” I said.

    “We want to get there in plenty of time,” my wife said.

    “Then we should leave now,” I said.

    “OK, we’ll leave at 4,” my wife said.

    “No, we won’t,” I said.

    But I said, “No, we won’t,” to myself because my wife had already hung up.

    We’re going to Kansas City because Emma’s flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, leaves early Saturday morning. So part of me suspects that my wife will delay our departure even more than normal. My wife isn’t anxious for Emma to leave for Denmark, just as six months ago she wasn’t anxious for Emma to leave for Italy or, three years ago, she wasn’t anxious for Emma to leave for college or, before that, for Emma to go to high school, junior high school, elementary school, pre-school and day care.

    I’m trying to make a point here.

    My wife doesn’t like it when Emma leaves our house. I’m not saying that I like it either, but I just figure it’s a circle of life sort of deal.

    I just hope this time we can leave at 4 p.m.


  • Mother-daughter fashion fight? No thank you

    This column first ran in the Joplin Globe on April 25, 2004.

    My wife and our 6-year-old daughter Emma had a fashion discussion the other morning.

    Well, it wasn’t so much a discussion as it was a debate.

    Wait, “debate” might not be the right word either. Let’s see, I’m searching for the most accurate word to describe the fashion discussion between my wife and Emma.

    Oh I know… “fight.”

    As I understand it, the fashion fight began because Emma rejected the dress that my wife handed her to wear to school. In my wife’s defense, this was the same dress that Emma had asked her to iron the night before.

    But something happened to Emma between the time she asked my wife to iron the dress and the time the ironed dress was presented to her.

    This was Emma’s reaction when my wife handed her the freshly ironed dress.

    “I don’t want to wear that dress. It’s hideous.”

    My wife’s reaction to Emma’s dress rejection, I thought, was fairly restrained.

    “Fine. Go to school naked then.”

    My reaction to Emma’s dress rejection?

    “Well, at least she used the word ‘hideous’ correctly.”

    Like most veteran husbands, I tend to stay out of mother-daughter fashion fights.

    Most veteran husbands would rather get involved in the Middle East peace process than get involved in a mother-daughter fashion fight.

    After the initial positions on the dress were established my wife and Emma exchanged several “I don’t want tos,”at least three “toughs,” 27 “fines,” and much stomping of the feet.

    The stomping of the feet is the high point of almost all mother-daughter fashion fights. Here is the conclusion of  a typical mother-daughter fashion fight.

    Emma: Why?

    Wife: Because I said so.

    Emma: But I don’t want to.

    Wife: Tough.

    Emma: FINE!!!

    Wife: FINE!!!!



    Me: Who wants waffles?

    As it turns out the problem that Emma had with the dress in question was that it was “too puffy.”

    Now, from a veteran husband’s perspective a dress that is “too puffy” is not a big deal.

    But to a 6-year-old female person wearing a dress that is “too puffy” is like Britney Spears wearing a dress that is “too covery”.

    Eventually my wife and Emma came to a compromise. Emma would wear the “too puffy” dress and my wife would let Emma wear sandals to school.

    My wife’s decision to let Emma wear sandals to school was a major concession. Imagine if George Bush at least week’s news conference had said “Weapons of mass destruction? OK that was our bad.”

    Emma had been wanting to wear sandals to school since…well since she had been going to school. But for some reason my wife had taken the position that Emma would not wear sandals to school.

    I’m not sure why my wife didn’t want Emma to wear sandals to school. It’s possible that, at some point, my wife carefully explained her reasoning to me but it’s also possible that when I heard the word “sandals” I quit paying attention.

    Veteran wives know that veteran husbands quit paying attention the minute a clothes-related topic is raised. Unless, of course, the clothes-related topic is lingerie. Then we’re all ears.

    After resolving the fashion fight Emma came downstairs wearing her white sandals. As she watched me place a chocolate cupcake in her lunch box Emma politely asked if she could have two cupcakes.

    Me: No.

    Emma: Why not?

    Me: Because I said so.

    Emma: But I want two.

    Me: Tough.

    Emma: FINE!

    Me: FINE!!


    Turns out it’s sort of hard to stomp your feet in sandals.

  • When it’s too early for a beer

    Our 21-year-old daughter, Emma, is off having fun, and my wife is not happy.

    “She should want to spend time with us,” my wife said last night.

    And, of course, by “spend time with us,” my wife means that Emma should want to spend time with her.

    When I pointed out to my wife that Emma has spent the past three weeks with “us,” my wife said, “So.”

    As most veteran husbands know, it’s hard to respond to a well-said, “So.”

    A well-said, “So,” from a veteran wife to a veteran husband is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ear and saying “NANANANANA, I can’t hear you.”

    So when my wife issued her well-said, “So,” I moved on. And of course, when I say I “moved on,” what I mean is I got another beer from the refrigerator and went back outside.

    Like most veteran husbands, I’ve discovered that the best answer to a well-said, “So,” from a veteran wife is to get another beer from the refrigerator and go back outside.

    Relationships are all about learning to adapt.

    Emma spent the past semester studying in Italy and in a week or so is set to leave to study in Copenhagen, Denmark, for about six weeks, so naturally, my wife thinks Emma should want to spend time with “us”  instead of having fun.

    This may come as a shock to some of you who don’t remember what being 21 was like, but Emma is of the mind that she should be having fun instead of spending time with “us.”

    Currently, Emma is in Kansas City spending time with friends from college. I’m not sure, exactly, what Emma is doing with her college friends in Kansas City, but I’m assuming that having fun is part of the what she’s doing.

    Call it a hunch.

    It’s also possible that Emma’s having fun is a way to put off the inevitable. In this case, the inevitable that Emma is putting off is the unpacking of her suitcase that she brought from back Italy.

    Emma was supposed to unpack the suitcase last week, but somehow, having fun has managed to get in the way of the unpacking.

    A few minutes ago, my wife walked into the room where I’m writing this to complain about Emma’s unpacked suitcase.

    “I can’t believe she still hasn’t unpacked her suitcase,” my wife said. “When she gets back from Kansas City, I’m telling her she HAS to unpack.”

    “But you haven’t unpacked the suitcase you brought back from Italy either,” I said.

    “So,” my wife said.

    Sigh. It was too early to grab a beer and go outside. Even for me.

    I have faith that Emma will eventually unpack her suitcase. I think she’s putting it off because the thought of packing for six weeks in Copenhagen terrifies her. It’s not the trip that terrifies Emma, it’s the thought of trying to get six weeks of clothes in one suitcase. Granted, it’s a large suitcase, but still.

    One of the many things that Emma learned during her semester in Italy was how to get the most out of her clothes. It’s not a lesson that she wanted to learn, nor is it one that she wants to repeat. But it’s something she knows she’ll have to do.

    It would be like me having to learn how to get the most out of beer.

    But you know what they say, “When the going get’s tough, the tough get beer.”

    I think that’s what they say.

    Emma is due home sometime this afternoon, and she’ll spend a few hours with “us,” then she and her friend Kelsey will go to Springfield to spend the night with their friend Katie, and my wife isn’t happy about that.

    “They’ve been friends all their lives,” I said.

    “So,” my wife said.

    Sigh. Still too early for a beer.


  • There are benefits in a lowered bar

    I’m the beneficiary of a lowered bar.

    It’s not so bad to be the beneficiary of a lowered bar. Sure, on one level, having the bar lowered for you assumes a certain lack of confidence in your ability by the people controlling the bar. But if you don’t really care what people think about you, then let them lower away.

    At least that’s my thinking.

    The other day I was working on some equipment in our backyard. Specifically, I was trying to get a hose attached to a pipe so I could run a bunch of water through it. Technically, the hose should have been attached to the pipe by the guys we hired to work on the equipment in our backyard, but apparently they forgot about it.

    I hate trying to attach the hose to the pipe. See, the hose has to be attached very tightly to the pipe in order to be able to run a large amount of water through it so it doesn’t — to use a technical expression — spew water all over the neighborhood.

    I spent roughly two hours trying to get the hose onto the pipe.

    I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking, “But Mike, how hard can it be to attach a hose to a pipe?”

    To some of you thinking that I refer you back to the lowered bar of expectations.

    I’m not handy with tools. Actually, I’m not handy with anything — including hands. So for me, even something as simple as attaching a hose to a pipe is a major undertaking.

    By the way, I think my dad served with a Major Undertaking in World War II.

    After about two hours, I finally got the hose attached to the pipe, but then I discovered that the clamp I needed to use to secure the hose was — again to use a technical expression — older than dirt.

    So I drove to the large hardware, lumber, appliance and just about everything else store in our town to buy a new clamp. While I was there, I remembered that we were supposed to change the water filter in our refrigerator five years ago, so I bought a new filter.

    Then I drove home, reattached the hose to the pipe and secured it with the new clamp. Then I went inside, opened the refrigerator and changed the water filter.

    Later that day, my wife called me to complain about something. I don’t remember exactly what my wife called me to complain about, I just know that she did. See, that’s what my wife does. She’ll be at work and feel the need to complain, and she’ll call me.

    Me: “Hello.”

    Wife: “So how’s your day?”

    Me: “Fine. I just fin…”

    Wife: “Great. You won’t believe what Broom Hilda (not her real name) just told me. …”

    Me: (15 minutes later) “OK, talk to you later.”

    But the other day when my wife called me to complain, I mentioned that she didn’t need to buy a water filter for the refrigerator.

    “Why not?” my wife asked.

    “Because I bought one and changed it already,” I said.

    There was a long pause, and then my wife said, “You changed it?”

    “Sure,” I said. “I needed to buy a new clamp for the hose so I bought the filter while I was there.”

    “You bought the water filter, a new clamp, changed the filter and got the hose attached to the pipe?” my wife said.

    “Yes,” I said.

    “By yourself?” my wife said.

    “Yes,” I said.

    “I don’t believe it,” my wife said.

    I tried to convince my wife that I had indeed bought a water filter, a new clamp, changed the water filter and attached the hose to the pipe, but she wasn’t buying what I was selling.

    Because the bar had been lowered.

    Sigh. Good thing I don’t care what people think about me.


  • Squaring off with backyard shed daunting

    By the time you’re reading this, I will know whether I survived my annual battle with our backyard shed.

    My annual battle with our backyard shed is one of those rivalries that always seems to bring out the best or the worst in people.

    Cards/Cubs. Yankees/Red Sox. Chiefs/Raiders. Trump/Truth.

    Wait, that last one is too one-sided to be a rivalry.

    My annual battle with our backyard shed dates back to 2002, our first full summer in the home in which we now live. We moved into our home in the summer of 2001. Toward the end of the move I took the leftover stuff that wouldn’t fit into our house and tossed in the shed and slammed the door a nanosecond before the leftover stuff was able to tumble out of the shed and onto the ground like clowns out of a clown car.

    I didn’t think much about the backyard shed until the following April when I needed to get my lawn mower out so I could spend two hours trying to start it and two days mowing our yard.

    We have a big yard.

    When I opened the door for the first time since last summer, I remembered why I had to slam the door so quickly. Well, that’s not exactly true. I remembered why I had to slam the door so quickly, after all of the stuff in the shed tumbled out and knocked me to the ground.

    “Oh yeah,” I said to myself. “I forgot about all that stuff.”

    “Sorry to interrupt you,” myself said. “But I think I hurt my back.”

    Myself can be kind of a wimp.

    Over the years, my annual battle with our backyard shed would grow fiercer as we accumulated more stuff that needed to be tossed into it. Making things worse is that after a few years, the door to the shed — to use a technical term — broke.

    The way the shed door broke was that it tore off from the hinges. Because I am nothing if not a handy and resourceful guy, I fixed the door by picking it up and shoving it into the door frame.

    This worked. For a while.

    But after a few years, the door served not so much as a door as it did a slightly ajar portal.

    Thankfully, eight or nine years ago (the years are sort of a blur), my wife decided that we needed to redo our backyard. This backyard redo included the construction of an outdoor kitchen, a new patio and a new shed.

    “What’s wrong with the shed we have?” I asked my wife.

    “The door doesn’t work, the floor has come apart, the window is broken, and it smells like something died inside,” my wife said.

    “Other than that, I mean,” I said.

    So now I have a different shed with which I do battle.

    “But Mike,” some of you are thinking. “Because you were given the gift of a new shed, surely you learned from the experience with your old shed and carefully stored your stuff in it so you wouldn’t have to have an annual battle. Didn’t you?”

    To that, some of you are thinking that I say, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, you guys kill me.”

    a picture of Mike Pound's backyard shed in the picture are in no particular order a dumped over red tub with sports equpiment pouring out, a red gas can, bikes hanging from the ceiling a host of crap too numerous to list.
    This is the shed halfway through the battle. So far it’s a draw.

    See, part of what happened when my wife decided to redo our backyard is that she purchased a bunch of new backyard stuff. The problem is the new backyard stuff, in order to stay new looking, needs to be stored away during the winter. And guess where it needs to be stored.

    That’s right. In the shed.

    So every fall, I take the backyard stuff, shove it in the shed and slam the door a nanosecond before it can come tumbling out on the ground.

    It’s Friday as I’m typing this. On Saturday, I plan to battle the shed.

    But first I’ll let my wife know what I’m doing. She’ll need to know where to look for my body.

    A post script, if you will. The shed is clean.

    For now.


  • Finding calm in chaos is easy with burgers and beer

    The key in situations like this is to stay calm.

    My dad served in three wars and raised seven kids. Now, if you had to guess, which of those two things that my dad did caused him the most stress?

    That’s right — the part about raising seven kids. Look, if my dad had just had to raise me, I’m pretty sure he would have gone crazy. Imagine raising seven of me.

    I’m not saying that my three brothers and three sisters are exactly like me — that, of course, would be weird, if not some sort of freak of nature. I’m just saying that raising seven kids would take a toll on anyone, even a veteran of three wars.

    One of my favorite pictures of my dad was taken on a Christmas morning. In the picture, my dad is sitting in his recliner, surrounded by what looks like a New York City-sized landfill of Christmas wrapping boxes and the sort of debris you would expect to see early on Christmas morning in a house occupied by seven kids. But my dad seemed oblivious to the chaos that surrounded him. He was just calmly reading a book as if he were sitting under a tree on a sunny, warm spring day.

    So I’m trying to remain calm even though, as I’m typing this, there are at least four people scurrying around me cleaning, installing pictures and hauling stuff in and out of the room in which I’m currently working.

    My wife is decorating a place at the Lake of the Ozarks, and I volunteered to help her. Well, I volunteered in the sense that when my wife said, “You’re coming with me to the Lake of the Ozarks. I need your help,” I said, “I don’t want to,” and she said, “Tough.”

    You know, in that sense.

    Because my wife believes in a decorating system known as “buy way too much crap,” we had to haul the stuff to the lake in a semilarge U-Haul truck.

    This may come as a shock to some of you, but I’m not a semilarge U-Haul truck sort of guy. I’m, at best, a medium-sized SUV kind of guy. So driving a semilarge U-Haul full of way too much stuff to the Lake of the Ozarks was sort of stressful for me.

    Lee and Mike Pound in the front seat of a U-Haul truck. Lee is on the left and is holding up a drink cup and smiling. Mike is driving the U-Haul and not smiling
    Lee and I on our way to the Lake of the Ozarks in our semilarge U-Haul. I am a bit on edge. Lee is not.

    Well, it would have been if I were capable of stress, but I’m not. Well, at least not like my wife. My wife is always telling me how “stressed” she is. I’m not sure why my wife is stressed, but then again, I didn’t even know until I met my wife that “stress” could be used as a verb.

    But just because I’m not capable of stress doesn’t mean sometimes I can’t at least get on edge. And driving a semilarge U-Haul full of too much stuff put me a bit on edge — until we got to the lake and I had a chance to get on the outside of a big bacon cheeseburger and a couple of beers at a Jimmy Buffett-themed establishment.

    A photo of a bacon cheeseburger with farmer fries and two bottle of beers in the background
    The bacon cheeseburger and beers at The License to Chill Bar and Grill at the Margaritaville Lake Resort at the Lake of the Ozarks that backed me off the edge.

    Getting on the outside of a big bacon cheeseburger and a couple of beers at a Jimmy Buffett-themed establishment is the sort of thing that can back me off of the edge.

    So now I’m trying to write this column on Friday morning while chaos swirls around me, and I’m remarkably calm. Sure, in a little while I’m going to have to load some of the “way too much crap” my wife brought to the lake along with a mountain of cardboard back into the semilarge U-Haul and drive it back to Carthage, but that’s in the future. Granted, it’s in the very near future, but I believe in living in the now, and now I choose to be calm.

    Besides, if I find myself on the edge again, I can always turn to cheeseburgers, beer and Jimmy Buffett.

  • Serving tray evidence of another world

    My wife and I live in different worlds.

    I suppose on one level, my wife and I have always lived in different worlds. I think that’s how men and women are able to get along.

    Eventually, if a man and a woman lived in the same world all of the time, one of them would probably say something like, “I just have to run to the store a minute,” walk out the door and never come back.

    Worlds can be small places, and if two people occupy the same one for too long, something has to give.

    I was single for a long time, and one of the reasons I was single for so long was because I lived in a world that didn’t exactly have a lot of room.

    It was a world of few personal responsibilities. It was a world in which I didn’t have to worry about much other than reminding myself to occasionally take out the trash and open my apartment windows to let the cigar smoke out.

    Then, against almost all odds, I got married, and slowly — without me even noticing — my world began to change. I didn’t completely join my wife’s world, and she certainly didn’t join mine. But both of our worlds changed. Granted, my world changed a whole bunch, but in my wife’s defense, her world changed some too.

    After all, she did marry a moron.

    But even though my wife and I merged our worlds a bit, we still managed to keep them slightly different. My world consists mainly of beer, barbecue and sports, while my wife’s world mainly consists of … well, I’m not exactly sure what her world consists of. I just know that it’s a bigger and different world than mine.

    On Thursday, my wife left for work, and I sat down for some serious writing — after I finished the paper, completed the crossword puzzle and searched the internet for St. Louis Cardinals baseball news. About 10 minutes after she first left our house, my wife returned.

    “I forgot something,” she said. “I was going to call you to do it for me, but it’s too complicated.”

    Then my wife opened a cabinet under our kitchen counter. The cabinet is one I seldom venture into because it’s where my wife keeps some of her special serving trays, bowls and platters.

    I don’t know much about serving trays, bowls or platters.

    My wife dug through the cabinet until she found what she was after. It was a serving tray that she bought in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, last year at that Pioneer Woman’s store. My wife and our 21-year-old daughter, Emma, love the Pioneer Woman.

    My wife explained that a group of ladies is planning another trip to the Pioneer Woman’s store. But she said she didn’t think she could go.

    “Too bad,” I said.

    My wife said the reason she couldn’t go was because the bus trip had already sold out. Then she said her friend Jana called to say some women had canceled and now there was room on the bus.

    “So you’re going with Jana?” I asked.

    “No, Jana can’t go now,” my wife said.

    “So you’re going anyway?” I asked.

    “No, I can’t go,” my wife said in a tone that meant, “You don’t understand a thing I say.”

    Then my wife took a picture of the serving tray. She told me she was going to send the picture to someone else she knows who was going on the Pioneer Woman trip.

    “I need another one just like this one,” she said.

    “OK,” I said in a tone that meant, “OK.”

    “It’s for the shower,” my wife said.

    “OK,” I said in a tone that meant, “What shower?”

    After my wife took the picture, she put the serving tray away and happily returned to her world.

    And I happily returned to mine.


  • ‘Sprinter’ puts damper on warm-weather plans

    Did you catch it?

    You know, the other day. Did you catch it?

    You know the day I’m talking about. It was just a couple of days ago. It was that day that, just for a while, maybe a couple hours, half an afternoon tops, that it almost felt just a tiny bit as if, perhaps, just maybe, possibly it might almost be spring.

    Did you catch that?

    Our dogs caught it. When I let out German shepherd, Shilo, and Caicos, our assistant dog, outside the other day, they both gave me a look that either said. “Is this spring?” or, “I’m hungry.”

    With dogs, it’s sort of hard to tell.

    But because I had just fed them an hour earlier, I opted to go with the “Is this spring?” look.

    “I don’t know,” I said to Shilo and Caicos. “It could be, but it could also be a cruel hoax.”

    By the way, you can tell when you’ve been working from home alone too long when you find yourself talking to your dogs about the weather.

    The problem with trying to catch spring around here is that we seldom have an actual spring anymore. What we have is sprinter. First, we have winter, then we have sprinter, then we have spummer and then we have summer.

    I don’t know what happened to spring, but somewhere along the line, it got hijacked.

    When I was a kid many, many, many, many (I’m trying to indicate here that I’m old) years ago, spring used to last forever. And I once lived in Ames, Iowa.

    That’s right. I remember a time when there was spring in Ames, Iowa.

    But now we pretty much go from winter to summer with a token mild day or two thrown in between extremely cold and extremely hot days.

    Here’s what usually happens:. Sometime around late March, we get a sort of mild but not too mild day, and we all rejoice the arrival of spring. Then the next day, we find ourselves looking for the coats that we foolishly stored away when we naively thought spring had arrived.

    Then we get a couple weeks of not too cold but certainly not warm, cloudy, dreary weather. Sort of like spring in England without the soccer riots.

    Then, just when we think spring will never get here, we jump right into summer and we find ourselves saying, “Wait, what happened?” to ourselves.

    Well, that is if you work at home alone. If you work at work with other people, you probably say, “Wait, what happened?” to each other. Assuming you actually like the people you work with and aren’t instead saying, “Gee, I wish I worked at home alone,” to yourself.

    Almost as bad as the vanishing springs are the vanishing spring weekend days. Sometimes we’ll get warm springlike weather from, let’s say, Monday through Thursday. And then on Friday, just when we’re looking forward to a nice springlike weekend, winter comes back.

    And then, of course, Monday rolls around and spring returns.

    Don’t you hate that?

    This weekend, I was looking forward to spending time in our backyard, sipping beer and watching baseball while a couple slabs of baby back ribs slowly cook on our outdoor smoker.

    Instead, it looks like I’ll spend time in our living room, sipping beer and watching baseball while some sort of winter food simmers on our stovetop.

    See how weather impacts my life?

    Our weather patterns have become so screwy that we have to change our weather adages and rhymes.

    You know, like, “March comes in the lion and goes out like a … well not quite a lion but certainly not like a lamb. I want to say like a slightly irritated lemur.”

    So enjoy your sprinter. And before you know it, October will roll around and it will be time for — you guessed it — fummer.


  • Getting into the world of ‘Real Housewives’

    It’s Friday afternoon as I’m typing this.

    I’m sitting at the kitchen counter in our room at the Lake of the Ozarks, and my wife is sitting in the living room watching CNN and impatiently waiting for me to finish this column.

    The reason my wife is impatient is because she wants to go to something called an outlet mall. As I understand it, an outlet mall is a mall where they sell things for less money than they would cost at a non-outlet mall. When I asked my wife how outlet malls can sell things for less money than non-outlet malls, she told me to mind my own business.

    So I did.

    On Saturday we are leaving the Lake of the Ozarks and driving to Kansas City to go to something called a home show. My wife tells me that I will like the home show, but I don’t know. She also told me last fall that I would like going to a fashion show in Kansas City.

    Me: “Why would I like a fashion show?”

    Wife: “Because your daughter is in it.”

    Me: “Oh.”

    So I went to the fashion show, and I liked the parts that involved our 21-year-old daughter, Emma, but pretty much hated everything else.

    Emma won’t be in the home show, so I’m thinking there will be little in it that will interest me.

    I’m not even sure what a home show is. I’m guessing it’s a show about homes, but I don’t know.

    My wife is excited about going to the home show. But she is more excited about seeing someone who she said is a New York housewife who will also be at the home show.

    I’m not sure why my wife is excited about seeing a New York housewife, but I think it might have something to do about the “Housewives” shows she and Emma are always watching.

    The New York housewife my wife is excited to see at the home show is Bethenny Frankel. My wife said she and Emma love Bethenny.

    I don’t know anything about Bethenny, but I do know a little bit about the “Housewives” shows. The shows center around the lives of housewives from different parts of the world. You’ve got your New York housewives, your New Jersey housewives, your Orange County housewives, your Atlanta housewives, your Dallas housewives, your London housewives and — I think — your Fredonia, Kansas, housewives.

    I think.

    What happens in the “Housewives” shows is that one, or several, housewives do something that makes one, or several, other housewives mad. Then they all get together to argue about who did what to whom and who was right and who was wrong.

    There is a lot of arguing in the “Housewives” shows.

    Basically, the shows are pretty much the same as “SportsCenter” on ESPN. On “SportsCenter,” guys get together and argue about which teams will lose and which teams will win, and then later they get together to argue about who was right and who was wrong.

    There is a lot of arguing on “SportsCenter”.

    My wife keeps looking over my shoulder as I’m typing this. My wife doesn’t want me to write about the “Housewives” shows.

    “You’ll make fun of them,” she says.

    But I won’t make fun of them. First of all, other than what I just told you about them, I don’t know anything about the “Housewives” shows.

    Unlike our president, I try not to talk about things that I know nothing about.

    Also, because the housewives in the “Housewives” shows are women, I know better than to make them mad.

    I mean, I don’t know the women in the “Housewives” shows, but my wife is a woman and I know I don’t want to make her mad.

    So I’ll go to the home show, see Bethenny and not complain.

    Because in June my wife has to go with me to St. Louis to a Cardinals game.

    She better not make fun of baseball.


    After going to the home show and meeting Bethenny I can honestly say that I like her.

    The home show? Not so much.

    What happens at home shows is you walk up and down aisles while people try to interest you in whatever it is, they are trying to sell. After about 30 minutes at the home show I discovered that the secret was to not make direct eye contact with the people trying to interest you in whatever it is they are trying to sell.

    My wife, on the other home product, loved the home show.

    “This is fun,” she said, picking up her 27th brochure and her 129th business card.

    She also bought new bed sheets. That’s right. My wife bought new bed sheets at a home show. I didn’t even know we needed new bed sheets.

    “We don’t,” my wife said when I said that I didn’t know we needed bed sheets. “But at this price we have to buy them.”

    “I see, “ I said, even though, as usual, I didn’t see.

    But back to Bethenny. I liked her a lot. She was funny and she used many of the same bad words that I use.

    I think that’s something.

    “So, do you want to watch the “Housewives” shows with me now?” my wife asked after we met Bethenny.

    “Do you want to watch “SportsCenter” with me?” I asked.

    My wife said “No” when I asked that.

    But that’s not all she said. She also used one of Bethenny’s bad words.

    From left to right. Lee Pound, Bethenny Frankel and Mike Pound
    The nice lady between my wife and me is Bethenny Frankel. I liked her but I don’t think I would want to make her mad.
  • Get out the shillelagh, it’s St. Patrick’s Day

    Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and to celebrate I will do what I usually do on this holiday.

    I will spend the entire day sitting in a bar and drink beer until I can no longer pronounce “shillelagh.”

    Wait, that’s what I used to do on St. Patrick’s Day when I was young and single. But I’m no longer young and single, so I don’t do that anymore. Instead, I sit around my house drinking beer until I can no longer spell “shillelagh.”

    I’ve grown.

    In the interest of fair disclosure, I should point out that I couldn’t spell “shillelagh” sober so I don’t know why I would think I could spell it after drinking a few beers.

    Raise your hand, out there, if you can spell “shillelagh.” Go ahead. I won’t judge.

    Wow, that many huh? Looks like a few people spent a little too much time paying attention in school.

    When I tried to spell “shillelagh” I wound up with too many A’s and not enough L’s.

    But that’s not my point. My point is that, for me, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has sort of evolved. And by “evolved” I mean “gotten incredibly boring.”

    That’s what happens you get old and get married. You become boring. I suppose that’s a good thing. Let’s say instead of getting old and married, I just got old. Then I would become that irritating old guy hanging out at a bar on St. Patrick’s Day muttering what sounds like “shillelagh” to himself.

    Nobody wants to be that guy.

    Traditionally what I’ve done on St. Patrick’s Day since I got married is sip an Irish beer (usually Guinness or Harps), fix some sort of Irish-like meal and watch “The Quiet Man.”

    What? I told you it was boring.

    But there is something to be said for boring. For example, when I stay home sipping Irish beer, eating Irish-like food and watching “The Quiet Man,” I don’t have to worry about wearing green.

    I don’t know who decided everyone had to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, but I bet whoever did wasn’t Irish. I’m thinking your typical Irish person would probably say, “Wear whatever you want. I don’t give a shillelagh.”

    My wife and I talked about driving to Kansas City to spend St. Patrick’s Day at Kelly’s Westport Inn (the greatest bar in the world), but like a lot of things we talk about doing, we got lazy and wound up staying home.

    While I’ll be spending St. Patrick’s Day at home, our 21-year-old daughter, Emma, will be spending the day in Dublin. You know, the one in Ireland.

    That’s right. While I’m sitting at home with my boring St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Emma will be in Dublin, Ireland.

    Is it wrong to be jealous of your daughter? It’s not? OK then, is it wrong to be (long string of bad words) jealous of your daughter?

    I thought so.

    Emma, who is a junior at the University of Kansas, is studying in Florence, Italy, this semester, and when a couple of months ago she told me that she was going to meet a group of friends in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, I said, “That’s great. I’m very happy for you. I’m sure you will have fun.”

    On the outside.


    Not that I’m bitter or anything.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy Emma is spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. It’s just that I would happier if I were also spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

    Trying to pronounce “shillelagh.”


  • St. Patrick’s Day and Basketballs

    In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day a TBT column that ran in the Joplin Globe on March 17, 2002.

    St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays.

    But it’s hard to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without thinking about Monsignor Keogan bouncing a basketball off of somebody’s head.

    Keogan was the pastor of St. Xavier’s Catholic Church in Junction City, Kansas and by extension the superintendent of St. Xavier’s Catholic school which I attended.

    Every year on St. Patrick’s Day Keogan would call the whole school to a special assembly. He would tell a few jokes that most of us had heard many, many times, sing an Irish song or two and then, depending on his mood, give us the rest of the day off from school. Which was cool as far as we were concerned but, looking back, I’m wondering if Keogan bothered to tell our teachers or parents that he was planning on cutting us loose.

    He was kind of unpredictable.

    When I was attending St. Xavier’s Keogan, who was an Irish immigrant (Go figure, an Irish priest. What are the odds?), was probably in his 60s.

    But even at that age he loved soccer and never missed a chance to show us “lads”-which, I think, is Irish for “punks”-the proper way to kick a soccer ball. Of course, since we didn’t have any soccer balls Keogan had to settle for whatever he could get his feet on. Which in most cases meant the schools limited supply of Wilson basketballs.

    Every year Keogan would drop by the first day of high school, junior high and sixth-grade basketball practice to give each team a rambling pep talk that touched on such diverse topics as St. Joseph, Bob Cousy and boiled potatoes.

    I think.

    Keogan was kind of hard to understand. Think Casey Stengel with a thick Irish accent.

    Keogan would always end his pep talk by calling for a basketball and then asking a volunteer, normally some new kid, to run to the other end of the basketball court.

    Keogan would then kick the basketball at roughly the speed of light and bounce it off the unsuspecting volunteer.

    I remember when Keogan stopped by my sixth-grade basketball practice. Gerald Butler, in a misguided effort to curry favor during his next confession, agreed to be the volunteer.

    Butler ran to the other end of the court and Keogan, who seemed remarkably spry that day, stepped forward and kicked the holy water out of the ball which managed to hit Butler in the head so hard that his glasses flew off his head and landed in the top row of the bleachers.

    After making sure that Last Rites weren’t needed, Keogan laughed and said something that sounded like “Gaad bless ya. Ya little punk” and ambled on to the next practice.

    Butler, by the way, wasn’t hurt too badly. He did miss a few days of school and, later, developed a strange habit of occasionally laughing out of context.

    But other than that, he was fine.

    Keogan also liked to drop by the locker room before our sporting events to lead the team in prayer.

    For example, before our football games, Keogan would lead us in “The Lord’s Prayer” and then after a solemn “Amen” would yell “Now go out there and slaughter them”.

    It was kind of a mixed message.

    Speaking of Butler’s kicking mishap, at least once a year a nun would get tattooed in the head by a stray kickball. This was always an accident because no one that I knew-not even Jimmy Becker-had the guts to take on a nun.

    It was some kind of mortal sin, I think.

    In those days nuns still wore habits. The habits weren’t like those big, jumbo 747 things that Sally Field wore in the “Flying Nun”. They were more like the outfit the nun in “The Blues Brothers” wore.

    Whenever a nun would get hit in the head by a kickball the top of her habit would bounce one way and her head would bounce the other way. It looked kind of like a really slow-moving tennis match.

    But no matter how funny the nun with her rotating head and habit looked, every kid on the playground knew better than to laugh.

    Laughing at a nun who has just gotten hit in the head by a kickball is always a mortal sin.

    So, instead, what you heard was 50 or 60 fifth-and sixth-graders all trying to stifle their laughter.

    It sounded like frogs with hiccups.

    So, tonight, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I will pop in our well-worn copy of “The Quiet Man” open a Guinness and toast Monsignor Keogan.

    I’ll also take a moment to wonder what ever happened to Gerald Butler. And if he’s still laughing out of context.


  • Annual trip to basketball tourney not the same without daughter

    She was four the first year we attended the tournament in Kansas City.

    She’s 21 now.

    I’ll let you do the math, but suffice to say, my wife and I and our daughter, Emma, have been coming to the MIAA Basketball Tournament in Kansas City for a long time — about as long as the tournament has been held in Kansas City.

    Emma isn’t at the tournament this year. She’s in Florence, Italy. Because I am nothing if not a kind and generous parent, I asked Emma a few days ago if she wanted to leave Florence and come to Kansas City for the tournament.

    She said “No”.

    That’s not as much of a knock against the MIAA Tournament as it is an endorsement of Florence, Italy. I mean, I love Kansas City, but come on, we’re talking Florence, Italy.

    On a sort of related/unrelated topic, about a month ago, Emma said she ordered pasta with clam sauce at a cafe in Florence. She said the pasta with clam sauce that I make at home was better.

    Did you hear that, Giada?

    That first year of the tournament, I spent quite a bit of time with Emma. See, for my wife, the tournament was a work deal, so sometimes she was a tad occupied. For me, the tournament was generally a chance to watch a lot of basketball and drink beer. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was taking care of Emma while my wife worked.

    Don’t get me wrong here: As much as I liked watching basketball and drinking beer, I loved taking care of Emma.

    That first year of the tournament, Emma fell in love with the downtown hotel where we stayed. Toward the far end of the hotel lobby, there is a winding staircase that leads up to the mezzanine.

    Emma loved that hotel and the lobby staircase. She said it was like a castle, which of course meant that Emma and I had to walk up and down that staircase.

    Over and over again.

    In fact, the next year, when we told Emma we were going back to the tournament, the first thing she asked was if we were going to stay “in that castle.”

    Emma and I also spent a great deal of time in the hotel’s indoor pool. When you’re a kid, one of the great perks of staying in a hotel is the hotel pool. In those early years of the tournament, Emma only had a few rules regarding the indoor pool. One of those rules was that when Emma asked me to watch her do something, I was expected to watch her do something.

    Over and over again.

    The other rule was that when she wanted to climb onto my shoulders and jump off of them into the water, I had to let her do so.

    Over and over again.

    The last rule was that when I said it was time to get out of the pool and she said, “Can’t we stay a little longer?” we had to stay a little longer.

    When Emma was younger, she also used to wear a Missouri Southern State College cheerleader outfit. It rained and snowed that first year of the tournament, and by the second day in Kansas City, Emma had run out of white tights that were covered in mud. But she didn’t care.

    As long as she got to walk on the castle staircase and swim in the indoor pool.

    Over and over again.

    It’s actually been a few years since Emma attended the MIAA Tournament. I’m certain she missed the tournament during her senior year of high school, and of course, she missed the tournament during her first two years of college.

    So I’m sort of used to her not being here with us at the tournament.

    But I don’t know. I guess I wouldn’t mind walking up and down the castle staircase with her just one more time.

    Or over and over again.

  • Clutter leads to vicious cycle

    It had been such a long time I almost didn’t recognize it.

    That happens sometimes. You lose track of something, and eventually, you forget it was ever there, forget where it was and what it looked like.

    So on Thursday evening when I walked into the office/guest room that really wasn’t an office or a guest room and saw the rocking chair, it didn’t seem real.

    The rocking chair, I mean. Not the walking into the office/guest room. I knew walking into the room was real. It’s the chair I was unsure about.

    The reason the office/guest room wasn’t an office or a guest room is because, for a long, long time, it had been full of so much clutter that there wasn’t room for an office or a guest room.

    The office/guest room had been so full of stuff that we long ago lost track of the rocking chair in the room.

    It didn’t start off that way. At one time, the office/guest room was actually an office with the potential of becoming a guest room. My wife spent months designing and decorating the office/guest room with the intention that it would be a comfortable, relaxing room in which to work or relax.

    Then, as they say, stuff happened.

    And when I say “stuff happened,” I mean clutter happened.

    It’s the classic story. My wife’s car gets cluttered, so to unclutter it, she moves the car clutter into the breezeway. Then when the breezeway gets too cluttered, my wife moves the car/breezeway clutter into our dining room. Then when the dining room gets cluttered, she moves the car/breezeway/dining room clutter upstairs to our bedroom. Then when our bedroom gets cluttered, my wife moves the car/breezeway/dining room/bedroom clutter into the office/guest room, and before long, we lose sight of the rocking chair.

    Sigh. Don’t you hate when that happens?

    Adding to the clutter was the fact that several years ago my wife decided to take up scrapbooking.

    Now, in order to take up scrapbooking, my wife had to buy a whole bunch of — to use a technical term — scrapbook stuff.

    “It will be great,” my wife said. “I will finally have a place to put all of the clutter in the office/guest room you want me to get rid of.”

    “No, you won’t,” I said. “You will get bored with scrapbooking, and the office/guest room will be full of the clutter I want you to get rid of AND scrapbook clutter.”

    Guess what happened.

    For several years now, my wife has vowed to get rid of all the clutter in the office/guest room that really wasn’t an office or a guest room and turn it back into an office/guest room.

    And for several years, she has tried. But the clutter would always defeat her. Oh sure, my wife would start out strong, but eventually the clutter would wear her down.

    “But Mike,” some of you are asking, “if you wanted the clutter out of the office/guest room, why didn’t you help your wife get rid of it?”

    To some of you saying that, I can answer your question in three words: Not. My. Clutter.

    Last weekend, my wife once again challenged the clutter in the office/guest room. And this time, the clutter didn’t defeat her. My wife didn’t defeat the clutter, either, but at the end of the weekend, my wife and the clutter agreed to a partial truce.

    On Thursday, my wife opted to use a day off from work to launch a sneak attack on the clutter.

    And it worked. So the good news is we now have a real office/guest room.

    The bad news is my wife just mentioned that her car was getting cluttered.

  • When did dressing like a clown become a thing?

    The other night I saw a young man on a late-night talk show.

    I assumed he was famous because he was on a late-night talk show, but I don’t know. I’ve discovered lately that you don’t have to be famous to be on a late-night talk show. Sometimes you get to be on a late-night talk show because you’re not famous. In fact, sometimes, not being famous is just as good as being famous.

    Famous-wise, I mean.

    This happens to me a lot lately. Someone will be on TV that I assume is famous but I’m not really sure because I don’t keep up on famous people like I used to.

    I realized that was happening to me a few years ago when I discovered I had no idea who the person hosting “Saturday Night Live” was and why he was famous enough to be hosting the show. At the time I was shocked by my ignorance of famous people, but now I seldom know who the “Saturday Night Live” host is or why he or she is hosting the show.

    My wife does though. Well, she says she does, but again, I don’t know.

    Me: Who is that person hosting ‘Saturday Night Live?

    Wife: Oh, you know.

    Me: “o, I don’t. That’s why I asked.

    Wife: Sure, you do. She was in that show.

    Me: What show?

    Wife: Oh, you know.

    Me: Sigh.

    The reason I noticed the young man on the late-night talk show was because he was wearing a nice-looking suit. And a pair of red high-top tennis shoes.

    See, this is why I get accused of dressing like an old man. When I was a young man, no one would ever think to wear red high-top tennis shoes with a suit. Even clowns wouldn’t wear red high-top tennis shoes with a suit. And when I say clowns, I mean actual circus clowns, not random strange people.

    When I was young, if you asked a circus clown to wear red high-top tennis shoes with a nice suit, he would likely say, “Are you crazy? I would look like an idiot.”

    This from a circus clown.

    When I saw the young man on the late-night talk show wearing red high-top tennis shoes with a nice suit, I thought, “What a clown.”

    Then I thought, “Wow, I guess that’s what it means to be old.”

    I first sensed I was getting old years ago when kids started wearing baseball caps backward.

    When I was young, the only time you wore your baseball cap backward was when you were pretending to be a moron.

    So years later, when wearing baseball caps backward became a craze, I figured young people were morons. But they weren’t. I mean, it wasn’t their fault. They weren’t around when I was young so the young people didn’t know wearing your baseball cap backward made you look like a moron.

    It turns out that wearing tennis shoes with formal clothes is a thing now, much like saying something “is a thing now” is a thing now.

    But for old people like myself who grew up with different fashion values, it’s hard to wrap our heads around tennis shoes being worn with formal clothes.

    So we refuse to follow along. We continue to wear dress shoes with formal clothes even though by doing so we run the risk of being accused of dressing like old people.

    But it’s a risk we are willing to take.

    For one thing, we are old.

    And for another thing, we don’t care. We just know that we are not going to wear red high-top tennis shoes with a suit.

    Or baseball caps backward. Even it if is a thing.


  • Soap operas same as they ever were

    It’s Friday afternoon, and my wife is upstairs watching a soap opera on TV.

    That’s what my wife does whenever she gets an unexpected day off from work. She watches soap operas on TV.

    Well, that’s not exactly accurate. My wife doesn’t just watch any soap opera. She only watches a couple specific soap operas. I think the names of the soap operas my wife watches are “Days of Our Nights” or “Hearts of Artichokes” or “I’ve Been Stuck on This Damn Soap Opera for 30 Years Why Can’t I Catch a Break?”

    But I’m not sure.

    The thing about soap operas is that they never change. My wife has been watching the same soap operas for more than 30 years. But because, normally, my wife is working during the day, she only gets to watch the soap operas a couple times a year. But whenever she does get a chance to watch them, she is immediately able to figure out who has done something horrible to a family member, who has cheated on which spouse, who has been charged with a horrible crime that they didn’t commit and who was offsides, therefore nullifying an interception that would have ended the game and sent the Kansas City Chiefs to the Super Bowl.

    Wait, that last one might have been something I watched. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

    My point is, as I think I’ve already mentioned, is that soap operas never change.

    Or at least that’s what I’ve been able to gather from my wife.

    Friday morning, my wife announced that she was going to be busy from 11 to noon.

    “That’s nice,” I said.

    “I mean it,” my wife said. “I don’t won’t to be bothered. I will be watching my soap opera.”

    “That’s nice,” I said,

    See, I had no intention of bothering my wife from 11 until noon on Friday morning.

    I intended to drink some more coffee, finish the crossword puzzle in the paper and, at some point, try to figure out what to write about in this column.

    I’m not exactly a deep thinker.

    It’s good not to be a deep thinker. If you make a habit of being a deep thinker you have to worry about drowning. That’s why I prefer being a shallow thinker. I try to just think up to my ankles so I don’t have to worry about drowning. Or getting washed away.

    When I think, I try to never get to far from shore which is why I’m writing about soap operas and not, let’s say, a certain orange president declaring a national emergency that he said he didn’t actually have to declare but did so because he wanted to because the country was in the worst shape it’s ever been except for when he said the country was in the best shape it’s ever been in the history of it ever being.

    I think that’s what he said, but I don’t know, what with me not being a deep thinker and all.

    Later, after watching her soap operas, my wife will watch shows where women sit around and yell at each other, shows hosted by doctors who probably aren’t really doctors and talk shows where everyone is happy because the people in the audiences (women) get great prizes that only women would appreciate.

    All of this is why, when I’m home by myself during the day, I never turn on the TV. I’m not a fan of soap operas, shows featuring women yelling at each other or hosted by doctors who probably aren’t really doctors, or talk shows where everyone is happy.

    Instead, I work on this column. And when I said I “work” on this column, I mean I search the internet for news about the St. Louis Cardinals or the Kansas City Chiefs. And then write about soap operas and not a certain orange president.

    I did mention that I wasn’t a deep thinker, didn’t I?


  • Relationship advice for men

    This column first appeared in the Joplin Globe on Feb. 14, 2013.

    If you know anything about me at all, you know that I am an expert on romance and relationships.

    Look, some people can hit a curveball, and some people can help others with matters of the heart and if ever there was a day when matters of the heart really matter, today is that day.

    Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when men everywhere can express their love for their significant others by purchasing a card with a heartfelt, romantic message written by someone else or by buying red flowers picked out by a complete stranger,

    Sadly, some men still are confused about their role on Valentine’s Day. In the past several weeks, several of these men have reached out to me, seeking advice on ways to woo their love on this romantic day.

    The first thing I told them was to quit using the word “woo.”

    Women hate that word, and if you say it the wrong way, it sounds like “WHEW” which doesn’t suggest romance as much as it does relief.

    One gentleman named Rufus wrote me to say that his wife complains that he doesn’t share his feelings with her.

    “Mike, what are these things called ‘feelings’ that my wife speaks of? Do I have them, and if I do am I legally obligated to share them?”

    Rufus, I get this question a lot. Feelings are the things that make you tear up when you watch that Coke commercial where the football player tosses his game jersey to that little kid. Feelings are also the things that make you smile after a really good burp.

    And, yes, you are legally obligated to share your feelings with your wife. But trust me, after you’ve shared your feelings with your wife for a few days, she’ll ask you to stop.

    Burt wanted some advice on gift giving.

    “Mike, I have been married for 10 years, and I keep hearing people talk of Valentine’s Day. What are my responsibilities vis-a-vis my wife when it comes to Valentine’s Day? Also, did I use ‘vis-a-vis’ correctly?”

    Burt, according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, instead of using “vis-a-vis” you should have used “whom.”

    Now, to your more pertinent question. It doesn’t really matter what you do for your wife on Valentine’s Day as long as you do something. Burt, like most men you have set the bar so low that simply knowing that it’s Valentine’s Day will win points with your wife. I bet if you go home tonight and greet your wife with a heartfelt “Hey, I read on Twitter that today is Valentine’s Day,” then grab a beer and plop down in front of the TV to watch “SportsCenter,” your wife will wait at least 30 minutes before she leaves you.

    Finally, I received an email from a guy named Ralph who also said he was confused about what to do for his wife on Valentine’s Day.

    “I just don’t get her. Last year she complained that I never give her anything on Valentine’s Day, so I got her a bowling ball, and she got even madder at me. I pointed out that I went to the trouble of getting her a red bowling ball, but she told me that she didn’t even bowl. My question is this: Do you know anyone who wants to buy a red bowling ball? If so, email me at”

    You raise an interesting point, Ralph. Sometimes what we think is a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift is not so wonderful to our wives. For example, scented vacuum bags make a lousy Valentine’s Day gift.

    I know that now.

    Also, be careful with workout DVDs, gym memberships and subscriptions to Sports Illustrated.

    I hope this column has been a bit of help for those of you out there who are still trying to find the perfect gift for that special someone. Just remember, when you give your loved one her Valentine’s Day gift, ask her if she wants you to share your feelings with her.

    I’m guessing she won’t.


  • Weather threatens, and so does wife’s chili

    I should have been able to get ahead of her and stop her from doing what she did.

    But I wasn’t. In retrospect, I suppose I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of items she brought into the house and just overlooked some of them.

    Because had I noticed that hidden among all of the plastic bags she brought home from the large, 24-hour retail store in our town were ingredients for her chili, I would have headed her off at the culinary pass.

    But I didn’t. So I didn’t.

    It was Wednesday evening. Earlier, my wife had called me on her way home from work.

    “I’m going to the large, 24-hour retail store in our town,” she said. “Do we need anything?”

    “No,” I said, because — follow me here — we didn’t need anything.

    Then I said, “So don’t buy a bunch of stuff just because we think we’re going to get snowed in.”

    “I’m just going to get a few things,” my wife said.

    “Sigh,” I said.

    Any time my wife hears a weather report calling for as much as snow flurries, she acts as if we live on the frozen tundra in the Northwest Territories and buys enough supplies to last us until the spring thaw, which she somehow believes won’t come until late July.

    I tried to tell my wife that the forecasted freezing rain was only supposed to last a little while, but she interrupted me.

    “You never know,” is what she said.

    I wanted to say: “You know what? I do know. I know that you always buy a bunch of stuff we don’t need, and then it sits in our pantry or our freezer until we have to throw it out to make room for all the stuff you buy the next time snow flurries are in the forecast.”

    But I didn’t. Because whenever I’ve said that in the past, my wife hasn’t listened to me.

    So about an hour and a half later, my wife walked into our kitchen carrying a bunch of plastic bags full of stuff we didn’t need and dropped them on the floor.

    “I’ll be back,” she said and went back to her car and brought in more bags. She repeated this process about five more times.

    To help out, I decided — while my wife was unloading her car — to make room in our refrigerator.

    I took a beer out of the refrigerator.

    As a veteran husband, I have developed a motto when it comes to my wife’s snow flurries shopping. Here is that motto: You bought it. You put it away.

    It is, I think, a good motto.

    The only problem with the motto is by not helping my wife put away the roughly six-month supply of food that she purchased, I didn’t notice her chili ingredients.

    It’s important to note that there is a considerable difference between ingredients for my wife’s chili and ingredients for my chili.

    Here is that considerable difference: I like my chili. I do not like my wife’s chili.

    To be fair, my wife prefers her chili to mine. Although that hasn’t always been the case. For years, my wife said she loved my chili. Until she found the recipe for her chili. Then she dropped my chili like — well, like a bowl of hot chili.

    Things like that happen in a marriage. At some point, a husband might — using a purely hypothetical example — announce that he can’t stand his wife’s roast beef. And the wife will not take it personally, understanding that her husband is merely reflecting the ebbs and flows of marriage.

    He hopes.

    So anyway, whenever one of us feels like chili, we say, “I’m going to make chili,” which means, “I’m going to make my chili, not yours,” turning the other person into a chili hostage.

    All of this to explain why, Friday night, we had my wife’s chili for dinner.

    Oh well. It could have been worse.

    We could have had her roast beef.


  • Roman numerals notwithstanding, pulled pork in oven, cold beer in fridge

    At first, I wasn’t sure I was even going to watch the game, which this year is called Super Bowl CCCLLLX.

    I think.

    By the way, do you think that the NFL marketing genius who decided to use Roman numerals for the Super Bowl thought the idea all the way through? Don’t you think it should have occurred to the NFL that sooner or later the number of Super Bowls would outpace our knowledge of Roman numerals?

    We couldn’t even catch on to the metric system, so why would the NFL think we would be able to track Roman numerals past X?

    Be honest, when was the last time you used Roman numerals?

    The reason I wasn’t sure I was going watch the Super Bowl this year is because I don’t like either of the teams playing in the game.

    I don’t like the Los Angeles Rams because their greedy owner tried to hold up the city of St. Louis for a Mississippi River-load of money and when he didn’t get it decided to take his team to Los Angeles. For even more money.

    But then I realized that it would be stupid to dislike an NFL team just because its owner was greedy when being greedy is the way you get to own an NFL team.

    It’s the first question on the NFL team ownership job interview.

    NFL: Tell me, why should we let you own an NFL team?

    Prospective Owner: Well, I’m a people person.

    NFL: WHAT?

    Prospective Owner: I’m just kidding. I’m a greedy (bad word).

    NFL: HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA. Here’s your team.

    The reason I don’t like the New England Patriots is because they beat the Kansas City Chiefs to get to the Super Bowl. But I realized that was a pretty stupid reason to dislike a team.

    As a Chiefs fan, sure, I would rather that they were in the Super Bowl. But then I realized that the worst thing that could happen — as a Chiefs fan — is for the Patriots to look bad in the Super Bowl. Better for them to win and the Chiefs to be able to say, “Well, at least we got beaten by the Super Bowl champion.”

    So I can’t really hate the Rams just because their owner is greedy, and I can’t hate the Patriots just because they beat the Chiefs.

    I mean, I could, I guess. But it would be misguided hate.

    So this year, I’ll do what I’ve always done: Watch the Super Bowl but not care which team wins.

    Seriously, when was the last time you really cared who won the Super Bowl?

    So sometime Sunday afternoon, I will turn to one of the Super Bowl pregame shows, most of which began last month, and listen to morons babble. Then to drown out the babble, I will get a beer and check on the pan of pulled pork from Clouds Meat Processing in the oven. Then, I’ll turn off the morons babbling for a while and read a book while the pulled pork simmers in the oven.

    Oh, and I might get another beer.

    Later, my wife will probably come into the room and ask me what time the game starts. Only she won’t actually ask me what time the game starts. Instead, she asks me what time the Super Bowl commercials start.

    Like most people, my wife has never cared about who wins the Super Bowl. She just cares about the commercials.

    Later, I’ll watch the game not caring who wins, and my wife will watch the commercials. At halftime, a band called Maroon XXLL will perform, only no one will care because they will either be:

    A: In the bathroom.

    II: Getting a beer.

    C: Waiting for more commercials.

    And then, sometime around midnight, the Super Bowl and the commercials will be over, and it will be time to look forward to next year.

    Super Bowl CCCLLLXX.IV.

    I think.

  • Midwinter brings lull in sports world

    Today marks the official beginning of the TV sports-watching dead zone.

    You know how when you’re riding in your car, checking things on your phone and then suddenly you hit a spot where there is absolutely no cellphone service and your phone goes dead?

    That’s what the TV sports-watching dead zone is like.

    Although, to be honest, I’ve never been riding in a car, checking things on my cellphone and then had it go dead because we hit a spot with no cellphone service.

    But my wife has.

    It happens to her every time we go to Kansas City. See, there is an area near Rich Hill that has no cellphone service, and it always seems to catch my wife by surprise. We go to Kansas City a lot. And my wife is aware of the dead zone near Rich Hill. Yet just about every time we go to Kansas City, my wife will decide to call someone as we approach the dead zone.

    Here is how those phone conversations go:

    Wife: Hello, Broom Hilda (not her real name). You won’t believe what Blanche (not her real name) did.

    Broom Hilda: (I’m guessing here) Hello? I can’t hear you. You’re breaking up.

    Wife: Hello? Can you hear me now?

    Broom Hilda: (Silence).

    Wife: (To me) What happened?

    Me: (Sigh) Beats me.

    Unlike my wife, I am aware when I enter the TV sports-watching dead zone. For me, it officially begins on the weekend before the Super Bowl. Now, understand when I say “TV sports-watching dead zone” that I don’t mean there is a complete TV sports blackout.

    For example, late this afternoon, some unlucky network will air the NFL Pro Bowl. I think it’s called the NFL Pro Bowl, but I don’t know. It could be called the Trump Campaign Indictment Bowl for all I care.

    Actually, a Trump Campaign Indictment Bowl would be pretty cool. But instead of the announcers wearing dorky-looking Hawaiian shirts like they do in the NFL Pro Bowl, the Trump Campaign Indictment Bowl announcers could wear striped prison shirts.

    It’s just a programming idea.

    But the Pro Bowl is not really an NFL football game. The difference between a real NFL football game and the Pro Bowl is like the difference between chess and fetch.

    Although, now that I think about it, fetch may not be a game people play with other people as much as it is a game they play with dogs. But you get my point.

    Sure, on Saturdays during the TV sports-watching dead zone, I can usually find a college basketball game I want to watch. And at least once during the week, I might be able to find another college basketball game to watch, but that’s about it.

    What about NBA basketball, you ask?

    Please. Nobody cares about NBA basketball until at least the second round of the playoffs.

    Not even the players.

    The TV sports-watching dead zone doesn’t end until some time in March, when the college league basketball tournaments begin. And by then, spring training baseball has begun. Later, the NCAA basketball tournament will kick off, and so will the regular Major League Baseball season.

    By the way, I may get in trouble with that last paragraph. I may be wrong, but I think the NCAA has trademarked the words “basketball,” “tournament” and the letters “N,” “C,” “A” and “A.”

    Oh well — if they sue, they sue.

    The good news is that I tend to get a lot more reading done during the TV sports-watching dead zone. It’s amazing how much more reading you can get done when you’re not watching TV sports every night.

    And this year, I know that if I run out of things to read, I can always count on that gift that keeps on giving:

    Trump campaign indictments.


  • Dad reflects on daughter’s milestone birthday

    The first time I mentioned our daughter, Emma, in this column, she was 3 years old.

    On Saturday, she turned 21.

    I think that’s something.

    The fact that Emma turned 21, I mean, not the fact that I’ve been writing a column since Emma was 3.

    Have you ever tried to write a column? You should. It’s easy.

    The reason that I think Emma turning 21 is something is because many years ago, when I turned 21, I thought that was something.

    See, I was a moron, but unlike most morons I knew that I was a moron. So making it to 21 — for me — was a significant beating of the odds.

    When I turned 21, I never figured that many, many, many (I’m trying to make a point here) years later I would have a daughter turn 21. Heck, I never figured I would get married, what with me being a moron and all.

    But I did get married. Granted, I got married on a sailboat off the coast of Key West, Florida, so you could make the argument that we were in international waters so the marriage wasn’t official, but I don’t think that argument would work. The reason I don’t think would work is because, shortly after we were married-my wife tried to make that very argument and it didn’t work then.

    I do remember a time, long before we were married, when my wife and I were watching an actress on TV. The actress happened to be named Emma, and at one point, my wife looked at me and said, “I think Emma would be a good name for a girl. What do you think?”

    I said, “Uh, is there any more beer in the refrigerator?”

    What that means is that long before we were married, my wife was thinking about having a daughter named Emma and I was thinking about having another beer.

    Some things never change.

    I’m actually OK with Emma turning 21, just as I was OK with Emma starting kindergarten or junior high or high school or college. I’ve always figured that because life goes on, Emma’s life is supposed to go on.

    I’m also not one of those people who, when their child turns 21, says, “It all happened so fast.”

    When I look back, it didn’t happen so fast.

    Of course, that may be because I spent a significant portion of Emma’s life sitting in a dark auditorium watching dance recitals. Nothing slows life down like sitting in a dark auditorium watching dance recitals.

    I’ve always tried to live in the moment, and when you do that, time doesn’t pass quickly — or at least it didn’t for me. That may change some day, but if it does, I’ll figure that it’s just part of life and go along with it.

    On Monday morning, Emma will get on a plane in Kansas City, and she’ll fly to Florence, Italy, where she’ll spend the next several months studying.

    That’s right, Emma turned 21 on Saturday and leaves for Italy on Monday.

    I remember the conversation, several months ago, when Emma first asked about studying in Italy.

    Emma: “So I have a chance to spend a semester in Flore—”

    Wife: “ARE YOU CRAZY?”

    Me (at the roughly the same time): “That’s great. You should definitely do it.”

    My wife and I approached Emma’s Italy plan from different directions, is what I’m saying.

    But my wife has gradually come to terms with Emma’s plans to study in Italy and then dedicated the past few months to helping Emma prepare for her trip. And when I say “helping Emma prepare for her trip,” I mean “driving Emma and me crazy.”

    So sometime Monday afternoon, my wife and I will return to our empty house, and our now 21-year-old daughter will be on her way to Italy.

    I think that’s something.


  • Wife asks, doesn’t really want husband’s opinion

    I don’t even know why it still surprises me, but it does.

    You would have thought I had learned my lesson early in our marriage when wife my held up two different shoes and asked which I liked best.

    Me: I don’t care.

    Wife: But you have to. I value your opinion.

    Me: Oh, OK. I like those.

    Wife: Really. What’s wrong with these?

    Me: You told me to pick a shoe.

    Wife: Yes. But not that one.

    When it comes to questions of opinion, my wife is Lucy holding a football to be kicked, and I’m Charlie Brown.

    Each time I think my wife actually wants my opinion, she just yanks the football away.

    OK, it’s not a perfect metaphor. But you get my point.

    Well, you do if you’re a veteran husband.

    See, I have long ago learned that when my wife asks for my opinion, she really doesn’t want it if it’s not the same has hers. I long ago learned that what my wife wants is for me to agree with her. But even though I know this, I still think that somehow, this time, my wife really, really does want and value my opinion.

    So I give it to her.

    And she yanks the football away again.

    Understand that when I say “yanks the football away again,” I don’t actually mean a football. I mean she yanks my opinion away.

    Sigh. I told you it wasn’t a perfect metaphor.

    That reminds me. When I was in college, I had an English professor who was from somewhere in Texas, and when he would say metaphor, he would say “met-a-fur.”

    I thought that was funny.

    Our 20-year-old daughter, Emma, is preparing to go on an important trip soon, and a couple of days ago, my wife asked how much cash I thought we should send with her. Because I had been down that road before, I told my wife that whatever she thought would be fine with me.

    Wife: No, I want to know what you think.

    Me: I’m OK with whatever you think.

    Wife: Are you sure?

    Me: Yes.

    About an hour ago, my wife called me from work.

    Wife: I need to know how much money we should send with Emma.

    Me: I told you whatever you think is fine.

    Wife: No. I want your opinion.

    Me: OK how about (I suggest an amount)?

    Wife: Really? That’s all? I was thinking (bigger amount than I suggested).

    I can still hear the whoosh of the football being pulled out from under me.

    Again, the football being the elusive thought of my opinion being valued. Not an actual football.

    It’s a metaphor.

    Whenever I ask my wife for her opinion the reason I do is because — follow me, here — I actually want her opinion.

    If I ask her which sport coat I should wear with the slacks I have on and she says “the brown one,” I don’t say, “Really? You don’t like the blue jacket?”

    That’s because when I ask my wife which jacket I should wear, I really don’t know which one I should wear. That’s why I asked her.

    To me, asking someone’s opinion about something you’ve already decided on is a waste of time, and I don’t like to waste time.

    Well, that’s not true. I love to waste time. I’ve pretty much made a career out of wasting time. I just don’t like to waste time on something that I don’t want to waste it on.

    And asking opinions that I don’t want is not something I want to waste time doing.

    That’s what beer and sports are for.

    And that’s not a metaphor.

  • Try to avoid that long, slow crawl through winter

    The Christmas decorations are down, so I guess that’s a wrap on the whole holiday thing.

    Now, it’s just one long, slow crawl through winter, and then — hopefully — we stand up, shake ourselves off and find that, at long last, spring has arrived.

    Well, to be honest, it’s not that long of a crawl. A couple months really. And there really isn’t any crawling involved. That would be silly. Who wants to spend the winter crawling around waiting for spring?

    Sure, I did that once, but I was in college and I wasn’t really waiting for spring,

    I was just trying to make it back to my dorm from the Red Lion bar in Emporia, Kansas.

    So except for the part about the Christmas decorations being down and the holidays being over, let’s say we agree to ignore that stuff about the long, slow crawl.

    The Christmas decorations came down, as they always do, on New Year’s Day. There was a time in my life when I spent New Year’s Day in bed trying to recover from New Year’s Eve, but that was a long time ago.

    This past New Year’s Eve, my wife and I sat on the couch and watched CNN anchors make fools of themselves while we waited for our 20-year-old daughter to get home from a party.

    There wasn’t much to recover from this New Year’s Day, is what I’m saying.

    By the way, what moron at CNN decided it would be a good idea to let CNN news people host New Year’s Eve shows, drink on camera and generally make fools of themselves? The only reason my wife and I watched the show was because it was such a train wreck.

    And at the risk of offending my conservative friends out there, I like the CNN news people. I think they do great work. I just don’t think they should be hosting New Year’s Eve shows.

    Can you imagine (warning to young people: Incredibly dated TV news reference coming) Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney co-hosting a New Year’s Eve show?

    “And that’s the way is Tuesday, Dec. 31, 196 — hey Rooney whada do with my (bad word) martini?”

    Every year, my wife spends hours putting up Christmas decorations and then, on New Year’s Day, I spend hours helping her take those same decorations down, hauling to the basement and then putting up winter decorations.

    How are Christmas decorations different from winter decorations, you ask?

    I asked my wife the same question, and this is what she said:

    “They just are. That’s how.”

    So there.

    Actually, I didn’t so much take the Christmas decorations down as I did stand around and wait until my wife filled a box with decorations. Then, when the box had been filled and the lid placed on it, I carried it to our basement, then I came back upstairs and waited for my wife to fill another box with Christmas decorations.

    It wasn’t as fun as it sounds.

    We also had to take the ornaments off the Christmas tree, put them away and then haul the Christmas tree outside where it will sit until I remember to take it to the landfill. Often, it’s spring before I remember to take the Christmas tree to the landfill. And by then, it’s not so much a tree as it is a dry stick.

    My wife said that it always makes her sad to have to take down the Christmas decorations.

    For my wife, the end of the holiday season signifies the passage of time and brings back memories of past holidays.

    For me, the end of the holiday seasons signifies the beginning of the NFL playoffs and college basketball conference play.

    I guess it’s a yin and yang thing.

    Well, I’m done here. Time to crawl to the refrigerator and get a beer.

  • Musicals are great — if you’re into that sort of thing

    Well, at least I got out of the house.

    I mean, that’s the only way to look at it, really. If you look at it any other way, it will just depress you.

    Really, when you have to drive eight hours round-trip to do something you don’t want to do it’s best to-as the great Eric Idle once sang-always look on the bright side of life.

    What I did a few days ago was to drive  eight hours round-trip to spend two hours in a theater in St. Louis watching a stage production of “Anastasia,” which is loosely based on the animated movie of the same name. The animated movie was, in turn, loosely based on the legend of the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, who some claimed had survived the execution of the Russian royal family during the revolution.

    It’s not exactly a comedy.

    The reason I drove eight hours round-trip to sit in a theater in St. Louis to watch a stage production of “Anastasia” is because of our 20-year-old daughter, Emma.

    When Emma was much younger, she loved the animated version of “Anastasia” so much so that to this day, I can still recite lines from the movie. It’s the same reason I can still recite lines from the remake of Disney’s “The Parent Trap.”

    It’s what happens when you’re a parent.

    My wife was the person who discovered that the stage production of “Anastasia” was playing in St. Louis.

    “We should go,” my wife said to Emma.

    “You’re right. I’m excited,” Emma said.

    “That’s great,” I said. “You’ll both have a good time.”

    See, I thought my wife and Emma would drive to St. Louis while I stayed home watching sports on TV and drinking beer. Turns out I was the only one who thought that.

    “So,” I said after my wife told me that I was also going to see “Anastasia” in St. Louis, “you want me to drive four hours to a hotel in downtown St. Louis. Then you want me to dress up, spend at least two hours in a theater watching a play I don’t want to watch, drive back to the hotel, go to bed, get up the next morning and drive four hours back home?”

    “Yes,” my wife said.

    “I see,” I said, even though — as I think has been well-documented in this column — I seldom see.

    For those of you who aren’t feeling sorry for me yet, I should point out that the stage production of “Anastasia” is not just a play. It’s a musical.

    That’s right. A musical. That I drove eight hours round-trip to see.

    What happens in a musical is the play will be moving along fine and then, for no apparent reason, the people on stage will start singing. Then, when they finish singing, the people on stage will go back to talking as if nothing happened.

    I don’t know about you, but if I were talking to a woman and that woman all of a sudden started singing and then, when she was finished, resumed talking to me as if nothing happened, I think I would be forced to say, “Excuse me, but did you just break out into song for no apparent reason?”

    And if the woman said, “Yes. Yes, I did,” I would probably say, “I see.”

    And then I would run away as fast as I could.

    But maybe that’s just me.

    The one good thing about sitting through the stage production of “Anastasia” was the fact that they sold beer at the theater. But the problem is if you finish your beer, you can’t get another one right away. You have to wait until halftime. So what I tried to do was sip my beer slowly so it would last the entire first half of the play.

    I didn’t succeed.

    Oh, there was one other thing about driving eight hours round-trip to sit through the stage production of “Anastasia.”

    Emma and my wife loved it. The musical, I mean.

    So I guess it was worth the trip. But, they better not make a musical out of “The Parent Trap”.

    I mean, I don’t like getting out of the house that much.


  • Sometimes you just have to wing it

    The menu has been expanded.

    At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but then I figured it wasn’t my place to stand in the way of progress.

    It doesn’t matter if I happen to think that the only thing Rick Walker needs on the menu at Bernie’s roadside tavern in Avilla is the double cheeseburger with bacon and jalapenos. What matters is that Rick and his customers are happy, and as far as I can tell, they are.

    I know for a fact that the two customers who were with me last Saturday at Bernie’s were happy because they said they were. Here is how that conversation went.

    Me: Are you happy?

    Wife: Yes.

    Twenty-year-old daughter Emma: Leave me alone. I’m trying to eat my burger.

    By the way, I’m proud to say that while my wife ordered the single

    A picture of the cheeseburger my wife ordered at Bernies. The burger which has a couple of bites taken out of it is on a paper plate along with a side of onion rings.
    My wife’s single cheeseburger seconds after Rick sat it in front of her. Note that she opted for the onion rings instead of the fries.

    cheeseburger, Emma opted for the double. Although to be fair, Emma told me that I should have warned her how big the double was before she ordered it.

    Oh well, live and learn.

    For some reason my wife and I hadn’t made the short trek across Missouri Highway 96 to Avilla in some time, but now we’ve been twice in almost as many weeks.

    I think that’s something.

    Emma had never been to Bernie’s before last Saturday, and I wasn’t sure what she would think about the place. See, Emma runs in a sorority crowd at college, and, at least to me, Bernie’s doesn’t seem much like a sorority sort of place.

    This may come as a shock to some of you, but when I was in college I didn’t hang around much with the sorority crowd.

    I tended to hang out in places like Bernie’s. Last Saturday, I told Emma that much of my misspent youth had been spent in places like Bernie’s.

    Emma gave me a look that said, “I don’t even know you anymore.”

    But Emma also really liked Bernie’s. A lot.

    I think that’s something.

    I told Emma that years ago, when I was working in the oil fields around Pawhuska, Oklahoma, I took most of my meals in taverns like Bernie’s.

    Emma only knows about Pawhuska because of that Pioneer Woman who cooks on the Food Channel. I told Emma that Pawhuska is a little different town now than it was when I worked there.

    I don’t know, but there is just something about stopping in a roadside tavern after a long day on an oil rig and having an ice-cold beer followed by a burger and an order of fries.

    I think some of my finest meals have been served up at roadside taverns.

    Bernie’s has all the requirements that I look for in a roadside tavern. Beer, of course. The aforementioned excellent cheeseburgers. A great jukebox. A pool table, and friendly people.

    A few weeks ago, when just my wife and I ate at Bernie’s, we sat at the bar while my wife played Keno. My wife said it was the best afternoon of her life, which I thought might have been an exaggeration.

    But then again, she’s married to me.

    So there is that.

    Last Saturday, after we finished our burgers, Rick said he wanted me to try something new to his menu.

    “We do wings now,” Rick said.

    I have to admit I was uneasy with that news. “Why would a perfectly good burger tavern add wings to its menu?” is what I thought.

    Sure, I love wings, but shouldn’t great cheeseburgers with bacon and jalapenos be enough?

    Then I tried the wings.

    An order of fried chicken wings sitting on a paper plate at Bernie's Tavern in Avilla, Missouri.
    Rick’s wings. New to the menu at Bernie’s. They be good.

    And suddenly I was OK with adding wings to the menu. Rick served up a plate of stinging honey garlic wings and a plate of just really, really hot wings, and we finished them all.

    After our cheeseburgers, fries and onion rings.

    I guess sometimes progress is a good thing.


  • Christmas stress? ‘Tis the season

    It’s quiet.

    Or it will be once my wife leaves. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s not that I want my wife to leave, it’s just that as long as she’s here it’s pretty much the exact opposite of quiet.

    Again, I don’t mean that in a bad way. My wife is just not one to suffer in silence and she tends to equate this time of year with suffering.

    My wife treats this time of year as a stress-filled, pressure-packed, insane-driving, temper-tantrum-throwing, “Holy (bad word) I need more wine” four weeks.

    While I, on the other wreath, treat this time of year as December.

    Of course, as a veteran husband, I long ago learned not to say: “Hey, why are you so stressed? Don’t you know it’s Christmas?”

    Here’s a piece of advice to you rookie husbands out there: Never ask your wife why she’s stressed out during Christmas.

    Trust me.

    Here’s another piece of advice for you rookie husbands: When your wife says “Oh, you don’t need to get me roses on Valentine’s Day,” what she means is “You (bad word), you better get me roses on Valentine’s Day.”

    Again, trust me.

    This actually just happened. I stepped away from my computer to help our 20-year-old daughter, Emma, print something, and when I came back my wife said she read the part of this column when I described how she views the holiday season.

    My wife said what I wrote made her laugh. Then she told me she was in the middle of unloading Christmas-related gifts out of her car when she decided it would be easier to just wrap the presents in our driveway.

    Several Christmas gift items sitting in our driveway waiting for my wife to warp them. In our driveway.
    Actual presents from my actual wife’s car in our actual driveway which she will actually wrap. Actually.

    That’s right. My wife is wrapping Christmas presents outside. In our driveway.

    She also asked me how much wine we had on hand. I think the two things are related.

    Oh well. ‘Tis the season.

    I decided to work on my column sitting at our kitchen counter because I thought it would be the quietest place in the house. Emma is upstairs doing whatever it is college kids do when they’re home from school. In case you’re wondering, mainly what college kids do when they’re home from school is sleep or say “I wish I was back at school with my friends.”

    My wife was supposed to be out shopping for last-minute gifts because apparently I “have no idea what it takes to make Christmas happen” because apparently I “am a clueless, hopeless moron,” but at the last minute decided to unload some of the other last-minute gifts from her car and wrap them in our driveway. However, during the course of her driveway, gift wrap-a-thon, my wife feels the need to constantly come inside to remind how much she has to do to get ready for Christmas while I’m “just sitting there making fun of (her) in the paper.”

    Have you ever tried to make fun of your wife in the paper while she is constantly interrupting you to point out how hard she is working to get ready for Christmas while you’re just sitting there making fun of her in the paper?

    You should. It’s a hoot.

    I like the quiet of Christmas. When Emma was much younger, these few days before Christmas were far from quiet.

    When Emma was younger, she spent the few days before Christmas asking me how many days were left until Christmas. Then, a few minutes after I would tell her how many days were left until Christmas, Emma would ask me again … and again … and again.

    Now, Emma just tells me she wishes she was back at school with her friends.

    Again … and again … and again.

    Oh well. ‘Tis the season.


  • Class and the Art of the “No”

    The “noes” are back.

    Every once in a while there is a pause before the “no” but mostly, though, they’re quick.

    Our 20-year-old daughter, Emma, is the one doing the “Noing”.  I will walk into whatever room she happens to be in and show her what I plan to wear. Then Emma looks at my choices and says “No.”

    Emma is home from college for semester break. We helped move her back last Friday and since that time she has told me “No” three times.

    Now, that may not sound like a lot, but you have to remember that I don’t get out much.

    The most recent “No” came just a few minutes ago. Emma and I are planning to go to Joplin this afternoon. So when Emma woke up — well before 1 p.m. — I walked into the kitchen, where she was fixing a healthy breakfast/lunch of banana slices on toast, and showed her the blue denim shirt I planned to wear with a pair of gray jeans.

    “No,” she said.

    To her credit, Emma explained why she said “No.” Apparently, you’re not supposed to wear a denim shirt with jeans. Also, the blue shirt didn’t really go with the gray jeans.

    I told Emma that I didn’t know what that meant.

    Emma said she didn’t understand what I didn’t understand.

    “How clothes go or don’t go together,” I said.

    “Exactly,” Emma said.

    “I see,” I said, even though, as always, I didn’t see.

    When Emma isn’t around, I have to go to my wife for fashion advice. My wife is OK with fashion advice except that she has to make a big production about the whole thing.

    If I ask my wife if a particular shirt and pair of slacks go together, she’ll make me bring them closer to her.

    “Now turn on that other light,” she’ll say.

    “Now hold them to the light,” she’ll say.

    “Not the shirt,” she’ll say. “Hold the slacks to the light.”

    “Now, hold the shirt to the light. Wait. Don’t move the slacks yet,” she’ll say.

    “No,” she’ll say.

    Emma and I are going to Joplin this afternoon to do some Christmas shopping. Emma is the only person who can get me to Christmas shop an entire week before the holiday.

    “You can’t wait until the last minute. It’s stupid,” Emma said.

    “I see,” I said, even though, as I think I already pointed out, I seldom see.

    Emma has some specific ideas about what she would like to buy for her mom. She also has some specific ideas about what she wants me to buy for her mom.

    When I started to tell Emma what I wanted to buy for her mom, she cut me off in midsentence.

    “No,” she said.

    “I see,” I said, only this time I sort of saw.

    Emma has something that I don’t: class.

    Like a lot of people, I would like to think I have a certain amount of class, but sadly, like a lot of people, I don’t. It’s the reason you see people at the 24-hour retail store in our town wearing pajamas.

    Compared with Emma, I am sans class — classless, if you will — and she thinks waiting until the last minute to buy Christmas presents lacks a certain amount of class.

    “Everything is gone by then,” she says.

    “That’s what makes it fun,” I say.

    “Is that why you gave Mom new windshield wipers one year?” Emma said.

    I ignored the question. Instead, I picked out a different shirt to wear with my jeans.

    “What do y—”

    “No,” Emma said.

    “I see,” I said.

  • Beware of visits to The Second City

    I was just sitting there minding my own business when disaster struck and my life forever changed.

    It was early March, my first day as a new fifth-grade student at St. Xavier’s Catholic School in Junction City, Kansas. Because I was nervous, I decided the best thing to do that day was to mind my own business, which worked out pretty well.

    Until Sister Susanne, the music teacher, walked into the room.

    Sister Susanne marched to the front of the room and held up a deck of flash cards with musical notes on them. She pulled one card out of the deck and,  of course, pointed at me, the new guy.

    “But I’m minding my own business,” I thought to myself.

    Sister Susanne took out some sort of round thing and blew into it and  pointed to the flash card.

    “Sing,” she said.

    “Sing what?” I thought.

    Sister Susanne blew into the round thing again and pointed to the flash card.

    “SING!” she said.

    So I did and every one of my new classmates laughed at me.

    I have not sung in public since — well, at least not sober.

    Last Tuesday night, my wife and I were sitting in our seats watching the newest production at The Second City in Chicago.

    The Second City, of course, is the comedy improv club that has launched the careers of hundreds of comedy legends.

    My wife and I loved The Second City, and if you haven’t been, I urge you to go the next time you’re in Chicago.

    But be careful.

    I thought I was being careful. We were sitting in the fourth row — close to the stage but not too close.

    I was minding my own business, sipping a beer and laughing at appropriate times — but not too hard because I didn’t want to attract attention to myself. I just wanted to mind my own business.

    It was near the end of the show when Tyler Davis, one of the six extremely talented and funny members of The Second City cast, jumped off the stage pretending to be armed and looking for a hostage.

    Like everyone else in the audience, I laughed at Tyler. Then he grabbed my shoulder.

    “YOU! GET UP!” Tyler screamed.

    Hoping to lighten the mood, I picked up my wife’s class of wine and took a sip.

    Tyler made a joke about me sipping wine, then he pulled me up, and the next thing I knew I was sitting backstage listening as Tyler explained what he needed me to do.

    Mike Pound on the stage at The Second City TV. The stage is black and Mike is standing under a spot light.
    One minute you’re sipping a beer, minding your own business and the next minute you’re making a fool of yourself in front of 300 people.

    Tyler said that it was an important night for the cast. There were agents and casting directors in the audience, he said.

    “So,” he said, “I’m going to go get a sheet of paper that I want you to read to the audience. Then …”

    Well, I don’t know what else Tyler said. My mind sort of froze at, “I want you to read to the audience.”

    A minute later, Tyler came back with the piece of paper and a microphone. Then he said, “Oh (Bad word), you’re on.”

    Seconds later, I was standing on stage alone with a microphone and a piece of paper in my hand and 300 people staring at me.

    Did I mention I was minding my own business?

    Mike Pound on stage at Second City. Trying to do the Electric Slide with Kimberly Michelle Vaughn.
    Dancing with Kimberly Michelle Vaughn. Well, Kimberley is dancing. I have no idea what the hell I was doing.

    I read the speech, and the audience laughed. Of course, the audience also laughed when I tried to do the Electric Slide with Kimberly Michelle Vaughn.

    So I’m thinking the laughs were “Thank God I’m not that guy” pity laughs.

    Later, I sat on stage with the scarily funny Nate Varrone for what was supposed to be a funny improv scene. Nate was funny. I sat on stage.

    The rest of my time on stage is sort of a blur although I vaguely remember sticking a piece of black tape onto a semi-naked Jeffrey Murdoch’s left nipple. It wasn’t what it sounds like.

    So, to sum up. I was minding my own business and the next thing I knew I was trying to ad lib with professionals, dance the Electric Slide and stick black, duct tape on the nipple of a semi-naked man.

    Mike Pound leaving the stage at Second City. The entire cast is in the picture inlcluding a semi-naked Jevffery Murdock
    Finally leaving the stage. I think Nate Varrone and  Kimberly are pointing me out to security.

    But, you know what?

    I didn’t have to sing.


  • Keeping ‘tomorrow’ and ‘five minutes’ loose keeps the peace

    They’re gone, and I don’t know where they went.

    I also don’t care where they went.

    I assume whoever took them made sure they went to a good home.

    I guess that’s the way it should be. Even though they weren’t my favorite, I at least would like to think they made it to a good home.

    Let’s face it, leaves have feelings too.

    For many years, I was the one who rounded up the leaves in our yard and made sure they got to a good home.

    Well, not every year. One year, I tried to burn the leaves in our yard, which I suppose is the exact opposite of finding them a good home, unless you consider the large metal can where I put the ashes left after burning the leaves a good home. By the way, I put the ashes in the large metal can with the idea of eventually getting rid of them after a few weeks. But then things happened, and the next thing I knew it was July and one day I said, “Hey, I wonder what’s in this large metal can?”

    Most of those years I would spend hours and hours raking the leaves and putting them into large trash bags. If I was lucky, I would get the leaves raked and bagged before we got our first snow storm and I would then take them to the landfill.

    If I wasn’t lucky, the bags of leaves would get covered with snow and then spend the rest of the winter and most of the spring sitting along the fence in our backyard, which would prompt this conversation:

    Wife: “When are you going to take those bags of leaves to the landfill?”

    Me: “Tomorrow.”

    Wife: “Well, all right, then.”

    But then, a few years ago, I discovered that there are people who will come to your house, pick up your leaves and take them to a good home for you.

    “Why didn’t somebody tell me about this?” I asked my wife when I found out that people will come to your home and pick up your leaves.

    My wife looked at me for a second and then said the same thing she says whenever I ask a question like that: “I married a moron.”

    This year, the people who come to our house to pick up our leaves were a little late. The early snow and wet weather threw off their schedule a bit.

    The fact that they were a bit late didn’t bother me, but it sure bothered my wife.

    “When are the leaf people coming?” my wife would ask.

    “Tomorrow,” I would say.

    “Well, all right then,” my wife would say.

    My wife accepts it when I say “tomorrow” in the same way I accept it when she says “five minutes.”

    My wife will call me and when I answer the phone she’ll say that she’ll be home in “five minutes,” and I will say, “Aren’t you in Kansas City?” and she will say, “Yes, I am,” and I will say, “Well, all right then.”

    In both cases, my wife and I know that the other person is lying when they say “tomorrow” or “five minutes,” but we let the lie slide. The reason we do that is because I know that if I call my wife on her “five minutes” she’ll call me on my “tomorrow” and my wife knows if she calls me on my “tomorrow” I’ll call her on her “five minutes.”

    It’s the marital equivalent of a nuclear deterrent.

    But now the leaves are gone, and I don’t have to worry about my backyard for several months, unless we get a really bad snow and my wife asks me when I’m going to clear off our patio.

    What do you think I’ll say?

  • Embrace technology? It’s easier to call ‘a guy’

    I’m not good with technology.

    It’s not that I don’t embrace it. I do — assuming you can embrace technology. I mean you can’t embrace technology in the physical sense unless you attempt to physically embrace one of those watch things that counts your steps, monitors your pulse and changes the oil in your car.

    But if you physically embraced one of those watches, people might think you were odd which you would know because, among all the other things they do, the watches also tell you when someone thinks you’re odd.

    OK. I’m exaggerating here. Those watches don’t tell you when people think you’re odd, but wouldn’t it be cool if they did?

    Think of all the time that would save, and who knows: The watches might even reduce the number of people doing odd things. Or increase the number.

    With technology, you never know.

    So rather than say I embrace technology, maybe I should just say that I appreciate technology. I didn’t used to appreciate technology. I used to mock technology but then I realized I was starting to sound like one of those old guys railing about “them dang-blasted horseless carriages.”

    In case you were wondering, after 19 years of writing columns I think that was the first time I ever used the phrase “dang-blasted.”

    I thought you should know that.

    But even though I appreciate technology, I’m not good at doing technological things. I can’t fix our Wi-Fi when it goes haywire. I don’t even know how Wi-Fi works. How could I be expected to fix it when it doesn’t?

    Actually, I don’t know how most things work. I just turn something on. If it works, I’m fine, and if it doesn’t, I turn it off. Then I turn it back on. If it still doesn’t work, I call a guy. I’ve found that no matter the piece of technology you have, there is always a guy you can call who can fix it.

    Of course, it usually costs lots of money to have a piece of technology fixed, but that’s why there are some many guys.

    If it didn’t cost lots of money, there would only be one guy. One busy guy.

    The other day, I had to go to one of those big stores that sell mainly office stuff to buy a new printer for my computer.

    The reason I had to buy a new printer was because there was something wrong with our old printer. Here is what was wrong with our old printer: The people who make it decided to stop selling ink for it.

    If you ask me, that’s a pretty passive-aggressive way for a company to turn its back on a product.

    “Oh, no, it’s not your printer. It’s the ink.”

    See, I thought that because our printer was only about 5 years old, the people who made it should still be selling ink for it, but I’ve been told that I am naive.

    According to several people I spoke with, a 5-year-old printer is the equivalent slightly used telegraph machine.

    “You’re lucky if you can get two or three years out of a printer,” a friend told me.

    So, basically a printer is pretty much like a member of Trump’s administration

    I looked at all of the printers at the large office store and picked the one that looked the least intimidating. Then I asked a guy who worked there if the printer was hard to install.

    “No, no,” he said. “All you need to do is …”

    Well I don’t know exactly what he said because I quit listening after he said something that sounded like “download software”.

    When I got the printer home, I took it out of the box, and a mere eight hours later, I had a newly installed printer.

    Now, I just need some printer paper.

    I’m going to call a guy.


  • If your hair looks good, thank artificial intelligence

    This may come as a shock to some of you, but I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about my hair.

    When you get to a certain age, you basically look at your hair and say: “What’s the point?”

    Actually, when you get to a certain age, you find yourself saying “What’s the point?” about a lot of things.

    “I should probably get a new suit. But, then, again, what’s the point?”

    When you get to a certain age, you also find yourself asking “Why?” a lot.

    Say your wife, out of the blue, asks if you want to go with her on a homes tour.

    “Why?” is what you say.

    For the record, although my wife has been to a number of tours of homes over the years, I have not.

    “Why not?” you ask. Because I don’t care about other peoples’ homes.

    Now when I was a kid living in Junction City, Kansas, my parents took my six brothers and sisters and me to Abilene and we visited the boyhood home of Dwight D. Eisenhower, but that really wasn’t so much a home as it was a museum.

    And Dwight wasn’t home.

    Wait. Where was I?

    Oh right, my hair.

    The last time I remember worrying about my hair was when I was a member of the St. Xavier’s High School basketball team (The Fighting Rams) in Junction City.

    That’s because Jim Westerhaus, our basketball coach, had a thing about long hair on boys. He hated it. And if you had a chance to take a look at my high school year books you might think that Jim had a point.

    Anyway, if your hair got too long, you didn’t get to play in the next game. So I would worry that when my hair got too long, I wouldn’t be able to play, or worse, my dad would take me to Fort Riley and have a barber cut my hair.

    Ever had your hair cut by an Army barber? As a civilian I mean.


    Let’s just say — at least on me — it wasn’t a good look.

    I guess because of all that I’ve never really worried about having a bad hair day.

    My wife worries about bad hair days all the time. For my wife, bad hair days always seems to happen on the worst sort of day. They seem to happen on  day when my wife  feels that she needs to be at her best. My wife calls a bad hair day on one of those days “a nightmare.”

    I, on the other part,  call a bad hair day “Wednesday.”

    But apparently a lot of people worry about bad hair days because according to a story in The New York Times, a new wave (ha) of shampoo companies are hoping to eliminate bad hair days using artificial intelligence.

    Lest you’re a moron like myself, I should point out that by “artificial intelligence,” the story wasn’t talking about really smart wigs.

    Nope, according to the Times, one of the shampoo companies uses “a quiz, artificial intelligence algorithms and a 6,000-square-foot production space” to churn out hair products that it hopes will be “each customer’s ideal product.”

    I have to admit that when I first read that I had a very specific reaction. Here is that reaction:


    Then I read that Prose — the shampoo company — makes a custom-made conditioner that costs $25.

    When I read that I had another very specific reaction. Here is that reaction:

    “Are you (Bad word used as a verb) kidding me?”

    But then again, have you seen my hair?

    Another startup shampoo company called Function of Beauty also uses quizzes and algorithms along with what the Times called “a Willy Wonka-esque 50,000-square-foot factory of custom-built machines” to produce 8-ounce sets of shampoo and conditioner that start at $36 a pop.

    Here’s a tip. If you buy a product from a factory that is described as “Willy Wonka-esque,” it’s going to be expensive.

    But hey, if using custom-made shampoo based on artificial intelligence algorithms makes you feel better, by all means go ahead.

    I’m sure you’ll look great at your next homes tour.


  • Sleeping in beats Black Friday shopping

    It’s a little after noon on the  Friday after Thanksgiving, as I am typing this, and it’s quiet.

    Not too quiet, but quiet just the same.

    Our 20-year-old daughter, Emma, is upstairs asleep and my wife is in the living room sorting through her catch.

    The reason Emma is upstairs asleep and my wife is in the living room sorting through her catch is because the two of them woke up at 6 a.m. so they could go shopping.

    The reason I know this is because I also woke up at 6 a.m., then I went back to sleep.

    I can’t think of any reason I would wake up at 6 a.m. if I didn’t have too. When I worked in radio I was required to be at work at 6 a.m. so I got up early, but even then I managed to be late more often than not.

    But I write a newspaper column from home now so I seldom need to get up at 6 a.m. I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say, “Quick! We need a mildly amusing newspaper column. NOW!”

    So after telling my wife that she was crazy, I went back to sleep and didn’t wake up until the crack of 9 a.m.

    Then I came downstairs, made coffee, grabbed the newspaper, sat down on the couch and began to enjoy the morning.

    About an hour later, my wife called. She said she and Emma had returned from Joplin and were now on the square in Carthage shopping at a wine store.

    “Do you want to come join us?” my wife asked.

    I wanted to say, “No. No, I do not. I’m enjoying a quiet Friday morning alone.”

    Instead, I said, “Gee, I would love to but I’m not really dressed well enough for that.”

    My wife thought about that for a second and said, “Right. I should have thought about that.”

    I don’t how it is for other veteran husbands but whenever I tell my wife that I’m not dressed well enough for something, she automatically takes me at my word.

    My wife could call and tell me that she was in the process of gutting a fish and if I said, “I’m not dressed well enough for that,” she would agree with me.

    I need to stress here that in all of the years I have known my wife she has never called me to say that she was in the process of gutting a fish. In case you were wondering.

    About an hour later, my wife and Emma came home. Emma, because she didn’t fall too far from the tree, immediately went upstairs to take a nap while my wife took a mess o’shopping bags into the living room.

    I should point out that the only time it is permissible to use the phrase “mess o’shopping bags” is if you woke up at 6 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving to go shopping.

    I don’t know what my wife and Emma bought this morning and I don’t want to know, but at one point my wife set a shopping bag on the floor next to me.

    “Here,” she said, “you don’t know this but you bought this for me for Christmas. I need you to take it upstairs and hide it. Then, later, I need you to wrap it and give it to me for Christmas.”

    Did I mention my wife is crazy?

    After my wife is through sorting through the mess o’shopping bags she will commence with undecorating and redecorating of our house. First, she will take down our Thanksgiving decorations, and then she will put up our Christmas decorations. My wife says doing that makes her happy.

    As for me … I think I’ll take a nap.

  • For one curling team, handicapping holds different meaning

    I didn’t think it was possible, but someone did it.

    Someone made the sport of curling interesting. By the way, you know a sport is sort of obscure when you have to refer to it as “the sport of … .”

    You would never have to say “the sport of football” or “the sport of basketball.” But you do have to say “the sport of curling” because if you just said “curling” people might think you’re talking about what women did to their hair in the 1980s.

    Now, before you send me nasty emails, I realize that a lot people already find  the sport of curling interesting. Just as a lot of people find soccer interesting.

    I’m just not one of them.

    As long as we’re on the subject, I don’t find opera interesting either.

    To be accurate, the “someone” who managed to make the sport of curling interesting wasn’t so much a “one” as it was a team of someones.

    According to The Washington Post, a curling team composed of Jamie Koe, Ryan Fry, Chris Schille and D.J. Kidby were disqualified over the weekend from the Red Deer Curling Classic in Alberta, Canada, for being “extremely drunk.”

    See what I mean? You’re interested right? In the sport of curling. I was too.

    Wade Thurber, the facilities manager for the tournament, told the Post that the team was “extremely drunk and breaking brooms and swearing” while playing the tournament.

    According to the Post, a commentator for a livestream of the tournament said the team showed up around 11 a.m. Saturday.

    “They were sitting over there drinking, about 30, 40 empty beer bottles, and they were doing shots,” the commentator said.

    As far as I’m concerned, anytime you have the words “30, 40 empty beer bottles” followed by “and they were doing shots,” someone is probably having too much fun.

    Do you realize how drunk you have to be to be considered “extremely drunk” in Canada?

    I’ve been to Canada. I love Canada, and one of the reasons I do is because Canadians love beer almost as much as a certain U.S. Supreme Court justice.

    The amazing thing is that, according to the Post, the team actually won its first match. That’s right. They won a curling match after drinking 30 or 40 beers and doing shots.

    How would you like to be on the team they beat?

    I’m thinking that curling is one of the few sports you could manage to play fairly well while drunk. Sure, you can play darts in a bar drunk, but you can’t play the game well.

    Or so I’ve heard.

    Years ago, I played on a slow-pitch softball team, and one time our pitcher got so drunk he fell off the mound. I also knew a guy who got so drunk on a canoe trip that he passed out. In the canoe.

    So, sure you can play some sports or take part in an outdoor activity while drunk. You just can’t do it well.

    But four “extremely drunk” Canadians managed to curl well enough to win their first match.

    Of course, it’s possible that’s because one of the drunk curlers was a bit of a ringer. According to the Post, Ryan Fry was a member of the Canadian curling team that won the gold medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    To his credit, Ryan apologized for his behavior and said the tournament officials were right to disqualify his team.

    But still. Too drunk to curl?

    According to the Post, here is how Wade Thurber, the facilities manager, described the tournament official’s decision to disqualify the team: “So, at the end of the day, it was like, ‘OK, that’s enough of this gong show.’”

    That may be the best thing I’ve ever heard come out of a curling story.

    Now if you will excuse me, I think it’s time for a beer.

    And maybe a shot.


  • Dreaming of a time before FaceTime

    I’m afraid we’ve crossed a line we can’t uncross.

    Although I like to think of myself as a flexible person and do my best to at least pretend to know and appreciate technology, there are some lines that I don’t like to cross. On Friday, my wife made me cross that line.

    I was sitting at my computer trying think of a topic for a column when my wife called.

    “I need you to hang up,” my wife said.

    “Then why did you call me?” I asked.

    It was, I thought, a reasonable question.

    “You didn’t let me finish,” my wife said.

    Silly me, I figured that when my wife told me that she needed me to hang up, she was finished talking. What’s left to say after you tell someone to hang up?

    “I need you to hang up so I can call you back on FaceTime,” my wife said.

    That was the line-crosser.

    Look, I know that people have been FaceTiming (or whatever you call it) each other on their phones for years. I just never wanted to be one of those people.

    See, I’ve always thought a telephone was a giant invasion of privacy and this goes back long before cellphones came around. In the dark, pre-cellphone days, I hated having a phone at home because when it would ring, I was expected to answer it and talk to whoever was on the other end of the line. And if I didn’t, the next day the person who tried to call me would say, “Hey, where were you last night? I tried to call you.” And I would be forced to come up with a lie rather than simply say, “I didn’t want to talk to you.”

    Then along came the answering machine, which meant that the person who called me that I didn’t want to talk to could now leave a message and the next day say, “Hey, why didn’t you call me back? I left you a message.” And then I would have to lie and say that my answering machine was broken rather than say, “I didn’t want to talk to you.”

    Then, along came the cellphone, and what little that was left of my privacy was gone.

    And now my wife is calling me and telling me to hang up so we can FaceTime.

    “I don’t know how to do that,” I said when my wife told me that she wanted us to FaceTime.

    “Just answer the phone when I call,” my wife said.

    “Oh,” I said.

    A couple minutes later, my phone rang. I answered it, and there was my wife staring at me.

    “What?” I said.

    “Why don’t you have a shirt on?” she asked.

    See, right there, is the problem with FaceTime. If my wife just called me the old-fashioned way, I wouldn’t have to answer a question like, “Why don’t you have a shirt on?”

    I started to explain to my wife that I was going to put on a shirt but got distracted by the fact that I didn’t yet have a column topic so I sat at the computer for a minute to try to think of one but  she cut me off.

    “Never mind. Go put a shirt on. The guy at the store needs to show you something,” my wife said.

    I wanted to say, “Well why didn’t you tell me you were in a store before you called me on FaceTime?” but I figured the conversation would just go downhill from there.

    Turns out my wife wanted the guy to show me some sort of device that will allow us to call people through our computer.

    “I don’t want that,” I said.

    “Tough,” my wife said.

    According to my wife, the device will save us money because we won’t be calling people through our phone. We’ll be calling people through our computer and they can call us through their computer.


    Line crossed. Privacy lost.

    I’m getting a beer. And I’m taking my shirt off.


  • Court ruling turns sure thing into uncertainty

    Well, this is disappointing.

    I had a great idea. A sure-fire winner. A moneymaker. A honey of a deal. A “my ship has come in” worthy plan. A no-brainer. A can’t miss. A hole in one. A full-court shot at the buzzer.

    Wait, I have to stop for a second. One of our cats is in the process of what sounds like coughing up a lung. I can’t think of a worse sound than the sound of a cat trying to cough up something. It’s not just the sound — which is bad enough — it’s the dread of what you’ll discover when the cat finishes coughing up whatever it’s coughing up.

    Stay here. I’ll be right back.

    OK, I’m back. Wasn’t as bad as it sounded.

    Now then, where was I?

    Oh, right. My great idea. What I was planning to do was to copyright the taste of my smoked baby back ribs.

    Genius, right?

    Copyright the taste of the ribs and from then on whenever someone served up a mess o’ ribs, I get a little piece of the action.

    By the way, as I’ve explained many times in this column when referring to ribs it is proper to use the expression “a mess o’ ribs.”

    But now, thanks to those busybodies at the Court of Justice of the European Union, I don’t think I’m going to be raking in the dough, ribwise.

    According to several media outlets, including NPR, what happened was two Dutch cheese companies got into a bit of a dust-up over the taste of cheese spread. A company called Levola had been making an herb cheese spread called Heksenkaas, which is Dutch for “witches’ cheese,” since 2007. Then, a while back, another cheese company called Smilde started making an herb cheese spread that it called Witte Wievenkaas, which, I think, means “We didn’t steal this recipe. Honest.”

    Since the folks at Levola held a copyright on their cheese spread, they asked the court to order Smilde to stop selling its spread. Unfortunately, two justices had to recuse themselves because they were lactose intolerant.

    Ha. That’s just a joke. Not that I think lactose intolerance is funny. I just thought the idea of having two justices, hearing a case about cheese, being lactose intolerant is funny.

    Sigh. It’s never a good sign when you have to explain a joke.

    No, what happened is the court refused to order Smilde to stop selling its cheese spread because it decided that taste is not something that can be copyrighted.

    Because I’m a moron, the European court’s reasoning was sort of hard to follow, but basically, according to NPR, what the court said was that to be copyrighted, a food must be “expressed in a manner that makes it identifiable with sufficient precision and objectivity.” And, according to NPR, the court decided that “the taste of a food product cannot be identified with precision and objectivity.”

    Again, I may be a moron here, but I think I can sum up the European court’s ruling in one word: nuh-uh.

    Here, again in one word, is my case against the European court’s ruling that a food’s taste can’t be identified with precision and objectivity: liver.

    I think that liver tastes like dirt. And if that’s not identifying a food’s taste with “precision and objectivity,” I don’t know what is.

    Here’s another one: Brussels sprouts.

    I think Brussels sprouts taste like dried grass.

    Again, precision and objectivity.

    But I’m not a member of the Court of Justice of the European Union, so I guess my opinion here really doesn’t matter.

    It’s probably just as well. If I had gotten rich off of baby back ribs, I would probably just blow the money on beer and — oddly enough — baby back ribs.

    Now if you will excuse me, I have to figure out what word to use to describe what the cat coughed up.

    I’m thinking: liver.

  • Football viewing could be in cards for today

    It’s possible that I will get to watch an entire Kansas City Chiefs football game on Sunday.

    I mean, it’s Friday as I’m writing this, so something could come up between now and Sunday to prevent me from watching an entire game. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed which, of course, makes it sort of hard to type, but I’ll do my beeeeeeeest.

    Whoops. Sorry. I mean “my best.”

    For some reason, we have managed to fill many of our weekends this fall with activities. And when I say “for some reason” I mean “my wife.”

    My wife will look at her calendar two months in advance and see that we have an open weekend, and she’ll say, “Well, we can’t have that,” and the next thing I know that open weekend became a closed weekend.

    Now, because most of the Kansas City Chiefs football games are played on Sunday, that means we are often traveling when the game is being played.

    Last Sunday, we were returning home from 20-year-old daughter Emma’s college town while the Chiefs were playing football, so I was forced to listen to the game on the radio while I drove.

    Listening to a Chiefs game on the radio is sort of a challenge. See, the Chiefs radio announcer tends to get a bit “worked up” when he is calling the football game.

    Wait, that’s not true. Trump got a little worked up during his news conference Wednesday morning.

    The Chiefs radio announcer gets way worked up.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like the Chiefs radio announcer. It’s just that sometimes he gets so excited it’s sort of hard to figure out what he’s talking about. The only time I know for sure what the Chiefs radio announcer is talking about is if the Chiefs happened to score a touchdown. The reason I can figure out that the Chiefs have scored a touchdown is the radio announcer will be talking in his normal voice at roughly 1,294,456 words a minute when he will suddenly scream “TOUCHDOWN KANSAAAAAAASSSSSS CITTTTTTTTTY.”

    When he does that, my wife will look at me.

    “What’s he trying to say?” she will ask.

    “It’s possible the  Chiefs may have scored a touchdown,” I will say.

    The problem with not getting to see a lot of Chiefs games on TV is that this year the team is really good. I mean, really, really good.

    This Chiefs team scores a lot of points. In fact, they scored 39 points since I started typing this column, and they’re not even playing an official game.

    In some years past, I wouldn’t have minded missing some Chiefs games, but this year I do mind. Very much.

    So, I was very happy when I discovered that while we have something we have to do on Saturday, we have nothing to do on Sunday. Well, I think my wife has some sort of social event she has to attend on Sunday, but fortunate,ly the social event does not require my presence.

    “I have a social event on Sunday,” my wife said. “But you aren’t part of it. Will you be OK at home by yourself?”

    “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA,” I said to my wife. Then I paused and said, “I mean, I will miss you and all, but I guess I could just watch a little bit of football.”

    “You are a (bad word),” my wife said.

    By the way, we have to be out of town next Sunday, but somehow, we have next Saturday open. So Thursday night, when my wife discovered that, she said (and I swear this is true), “Hey, we don’t have anything to do next Saturday evening, so I think we should go to this event where you do yoga and drink wine?”


    Oh well. Maybe the Chiefs radio announcer will be there. I can hear him now.


  • Lowly bachelor pad goes upscale

    And now, for a systematic, thoughtful, well-researched analysis of last night’s election: Some people voted. Some people didn’t. The world is coming to an end. Or maybe it’s not.

    The sun came up this morning. Or maybe it didn’t.

    That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. At long last the election talk is over, and it will be days maybe hours before it starts again.

    In the meantime, how about a column about what The New York Times calls the “Grown-Up Bachelor Pad.”

    Actually, because The New York Times is The New York Times, it also calls the Grown-Up Bachelor Pad a Manhattan “pied-à-terre,” which is French for “way too pretentious.”

    By the way, I really like The New York Times. (Motto: “Are you sure you’re smart enough to like us, Mike?”) But sometimes the paper tends to get a tad too, shall we say, sophisticated for its own good.

    Or too sophisticated for my own good. To some people, the story in Tuesday’s paper about the pied-à-terre might not seem sophisticated at all.

    But it was to me. For one thing, I had to go online to figure out how to put that little accent mark over the “a” in “pied-à-terre.” As far as I’m concerned, if I have to go online to figure out how to type a word in a story, it’s too sophisticated.

    The reason I bothered to read the story about the grown-up bachelor pad is because I was single for a long time (No, really, it’s true.) and  I feel I know a little something about bachelor pads, so I was interested in seeing what a modern one looks like.

    It didn’t take long for me to figure out that things have changed since I was single. Here is a brief description of the bachelor pad in the Times’ story.

    “To furnish the space, Cindy Coscoros … found a mix of vintage, contemporary and custom pieces, including a Zio dining table and chairs by Marcel Wanders for Moooi; a 1970s Lucite coffee table by Les Prismatiques; and an upholstered bed from Ralph Lauren Home.”

    I once lived in a swinging bachelor pad that had a fourth-hand couch I bought for $15 and a 12-inch black-and-white TV.

    Ah, those were the days.

    In another apartment I had a bed that I wanted to replace but nowhere to store it, so I just leaned it up against the living room wall. I called it a Murphy bed.

    In that apartment I also had a better couch. I got it by trading a TV that — technically — wasn’t mine to a friend for the couch that — technically — wasn’t hers.

    Nobody missed either one.

    So I’m thinking that Anthony Bonsignore, the owner of the grown-up bachelor pad in the Times’ story, and I come from different bachelor circles.

    First of all, it’s the names: Anthony Bonsignore sounds like some classic European dish; my name sounds like a place where you store stray Mikes.

    It’s also the bachelor pad price difference. According to the Times, Anthony spent a little over $2 million for his bachelor pad and another $750,000 in renovations.

    I once rented a bachelor pad for $60 a month. And it was furnished. Not well, but it was furnished.

    Speaking of bachelor pads, I may have mentioned this before but when my friend, Gary Bandy, was in college, he lived with a friend in a swinging bachelor pad in Arma, Kansas. That swinging bachelor pad was quickly named … wait for it … “the Arma Pit.”

    I don’t mean to judge here. If I had nearly $3 million to spend on a bachelor pad, I probably would. But I don’t, so I won’t.

    If I did, I think I would call it my “pied-à-terre.” You know, since I now know how to add that little mark above the “a.”


  • Preparing for Dad’s Weekend — with mom in tow

    We’re supposed to leave soon, and this time, I control exactly when that happens.

    While I’m writing this column, my wife is upstairs getting ready. We can’t leave until I finish this column, which is why I’m sort of in control here. I seldom control what time we leave for anywhere.

    Sure, I can make suggestions. Say our destination is two and a half hours away, and we need to be there at 3 p.m. I can suggest that in order to be on time, we leave at 1:15 p.m. But with my wife, a departure suggestion is just that: a suggestion.

    What usually happens is I will be standing by the door at 1 p.m. waiting for my wife, who has insisted that she will be ready in “just a minute,” and then 45 minutes later, finally come downstairs and says, “Are you ready?” And I will want to say, “AM I READY? AM I READY? I’VE BEEN READY FOR 45 MINUTES. WHERE IN THE (BAD WORD) HAVE YOU BEEN?”

    But I don’t say that because if I do, my wife will say, “Gee, why are you always so grouchy?” So instead I say, “Yes, yes, I am ready,” and then my wife will say, “Wait, I forgot …” wepp it doesn’t matter what my wife forgot;what matters is that she always forgets something and has to spend another 15 minutes looking for whatever it is she forgot while I continue standing by the door.


    But this time, I’m in control. This time, we can’t leave until I get this column done. While I’m writing this column, my wife will have plenty of time to get ready. So when I’m finished, all I have to do is pack a bag and then, just like that, we’re off.

    My wife and I are heading to see our 20-year-old daughter, Emma, at her college for something called Dad’s Weekend.

    Normally, I go to Dad’s Weekend by myself, but this year, Emma said that several of the moms have decided to join their husbands for Dad’s Weekend.

    I’m guessing that’s because Dad’s Weekend tends to be awkward. See, dads are male people, and male people sometimes aren’t the chattiest people in the world. In the previous two Dad’s Weekends, here are a few samples of the conversations I’ve had with the other dads:

    Conversation No. 1: Hey.

    Conversation No. B: S’up?

    Conversation No. III: Hey.

    So I’m guessing that Emma and some of her friends decided to invite the moms to Dad’s Weekend to sort of spur along the conversation.

    Actually, I’m fine with having the moms join the dads for Dad’s Weekend. With my wife along, I don’t have to worry about talking and can instead concentrate on drinking beer.

    My wife is a very capable woman, and she can do many things very well. But one of the things she does very, very well is talk to people — not just people she knows, but also complete strangers. The two of us can climb into a cab in Chicago, and 15 minutes later, my wife will know how long the driver has been driving a cab, where he’s from, how long he has been married and the names and ages of all of his children.

    So this weekend, the moms will handle the talking, and the dads will handle the beer-drinking and the not-talking and everyone will be happy.

    Because my wife is excited to spend time with Emma, she wants to leave right after I finish this column. So in a few minutes, I’ll go upstairs and pack a bag while my wife stands by the door waiting for me. Then, about 45 minutes later, I’ll finally come back downstairs.

    “Are you ready?” I’ll ask.

    Gee, I wonder what my wife will say.


  • Accompanying wife on ‘her’ vacation gives husband leverage

    I once worked for a guy who told me that business is all about leverage. Either you have it or you don’t.

    It would have been a great lesson had I not been asking for a raise at the time. Turns out my boss had leverage. I did not.

    Marriage is a lot like business. In marriage either you have leverage or you don’t. In my marriage, my wife has leverage and I don’t.

    Until now.

    After many, many, many years of marriage, I am proud to say that I finally have leverage.

    It’s life-changing, is what it is.

    The reason I now have leverage in our relationship is because my wife decided that we should visit the Miraval Resort located in the desert somewhere north of Tucson, Arizona.

    The Miraval Resort is one of those places where people go to get away from the pressures of day-to-day life. It’s one of those places where people go to rediscover themselves and to recharge their batteries.

    As you might expect, the Miraval Resort is popular with women. This might be an exaggeration, but during our stay I would say that the ratio of women to men was about 50-1.

    If someone accidentally played a song from the “Mama Mia” soundtrack on their cellphone, I’m pretty sure chaos would ensue.

    There were a lot of women at the Miraval Resort, is what I’m saying.

    When you visit Miraval, you have the option of taking part in a whole host of activities, so naturally, my wife signed us up for as many as she could.

    One of the activities my wife signed us up for was zip-lining across the desert. When my wife told me that we would be 45 feet up in the air, I reminded her that I was uneasy with heights and said that I didn’t want to zip-line across the desert.

    Mike and Lee Pound seconds after stepped off a zipline platform. Lee's arms are hanging free and Mike is holding on for dear life.
    Lee and I have just stepped off the zipline platform. Note that Lee has her arms hanging free while I am holding on for dear life.

    “Fine,” my wife said, “I’ll go by myself.”

    But she said it in a tone that meant, “I can’t believe you are going to make me zip-line across the desert by myself. I guess you have given up on any chance of getting any leverage in this marriage.”

    It was, as always, a heck of a tone.

    The second activity my wife signed us up for was something called “A Swing and a Prayer.” Here’s what happens during “A Swing and a Prayer”: You get hoisted 35 feet into the air, and when the instructor tells you to, you let go of a rope, which sends you swinging through air like a human pinata.

    Mike Pound wearing a blue helmut strapped into a harness suspended 35 feet above the Arizona desert waiting to be told to let go of a rope and plunge to his death
    Against my will, I am hanging 35 feet above the desert waiting to die.

    It’s not as fun as it sounds.

    I told my wife that I didn’t want to do that, either, and she said — using the same tone she used earlier — that she would go by herself.

    So, at about 8:30 this past Saturday morning I was hanging in the air some 35 feet above the desert wondering how in the world I got there. Then, when the instructor told me to drop the rope, I said — using my best Chevy Chase voice — “THIS IS CRAZY, THIS IS CRAZY, THIS IS CRAZY,” and let go.

    I’m not sure, but I think at some point I may have sobbed.

    A couple of hours later I was climbing up a pole to get to a large platform located 45 feet in the air. Then, a few minutes later, my wife and I stepped off the platform and zoomed across the desert.

    I’m not sure, but I think at some point I  may have wet myself.

    Mike and Lee Pound posing in their zipline helmets after they're both back on the ground.
    The two of us back on the ground. Lee’s expression says “Let’s do this again” mine says, “Thank God I’ve lived to have another beer”.

    But now, for the first time, I have leverage in our marriage, which is nice.

    I just wish I knew what to do with it.


  • Safety instructions a necessary part of vacation activities

    I thought the first performance was pretty good, but I found the second one somewhat lacking.

    I’m not saying the second performance wasn’t any good; I’m just saying it was lacking.

    To make an airplane safety instruction session special, it’s essential that the flight attendant truly commit to the part. I thought the attendant on the first leg of our trip did a fine job, while the attendant on the second leg sort of walked through the whole thing.

    Not bad. Just not inspired.

    I make it a point to pay attention to flight attendants when they give the safety instructions.

    For one thing, the flight attendant is trying to impart important safety information that could save your life. Assuming, of course, that when the plane you’re on begins plummeting toward the earth, you’re going to remember how to put on the oxygen mask and then “breathe normally.”

    This might just be me, but if I’m ever in a situation on a plane where an oxygen mask feels it needs to drop in front of my face, the last thing I’m going to do is breathe normally.

    The other reason I pay attention to the flight attendant’s safety lesson is because I figure it’s the least I can do. It seems if a person is taking the time to show you where the exits are, where the lights are that will guide you to the exits and how to put on an oxygen mask AND a life jacket, the polite thing to do is pay attention.

    It’s the way I was brought up.

    I’m writing this column on Thursday afternoon in our hotel room near the Tucson International Airport in Arizona. We got into Tucson shortly after 10 a.m. local time, which to my wife and me was really shortly after noon, what with the time difference and all.

    We spent part of our Thursday afternoon wandering around downtown Tucson, which was nice. When we visit places we haven’t been to before, my wife and I like to wander. Over the years, we’ve found that we have the most fun when we just wander. I mean, within reason. On Friday, my wife and I were going to a desert north of Tucson, but I don’t think we would have fun wandering around the desert.

    The reason we were going to a desert north of Tucson was because my wife wanted to go to some sort of fancy resort there. It’s the sort of fancy resort that encourages its guests to do things like yoga, hiking, horseback riding, meditating, banging gongs and basically getting in touch with your feelings.

    “But, Mike,” some of you are saying, “that doesn’t sound like something you would enjoy.”

    To some of you who are saying that, I say, “You’re right. You’re absolutely right.”

    But I’m going to do it anyway.

    “Why?” you ask.

    Because they serve beer at this resort. See, whenever my wife asks me to do something I really don’t want to do, I always ask if they serve beer. If the answer is yes, I do it. If the answer is no, I still do it. But not happily.

    On Saturday morning, my wife and I were going out into the desert where someone would hook us to a long line, give us a push and send us hurtling to our deaths.

    OK, technically what my wife and I were going to do is zipline across the desert, but as far as I’m concerned, it would be the same thing as hurtling to our deaths.

    See, I’m not good with heights, and my wife knows that. I think that’s why she suggested we zipline across the desert.

    But they serve beer at the resort, so I’m going to zipline anyway and I won’t complain.

    But I will definitely pay attention to the safety instructions.


  • Building replica of ocean liner a titanic mistake

    You know how sometimes you hear about an idea that at first seems reasonable but later turns out to be terrible?

    Well, this isn’t one of those ideas.

    This is an idea that from the moment you hear about it seems to be completely horrible. And then, after thinking about it for a few seconds, you realize that it’s even worse than you thought.

    According to numerous media reports, which I read online when I was supposed to be working, a company is building an exact replica of the Titanic and plans to sail it on the original Titanic’s first and only route.

    You might have heard about the Titanic’s first and only route. It didn’t go so well and not just because later, in the 1990’s we had to listen to that irritating  Celine Dion song.

    In 1912, the ship set sail from Southampton, England, to New York and hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic. The Titanic — to use a technical sailing expression — sank like a rock.

    It seems to me that building a replica of a ship involved in one of the worst ocean liner accidents in history and then sailing that replica on the exact same route the original ship took when it sank is testing karma more than a little bit.

    I’ve written about karma before and how it’s never a good idea to mess with it because, as I’ve said many times, karma can be a disagreeable person.

    And it’s not as if karma hasn’t tried to warn the Blue Star Line, the company planning the second sailing of the Titanic, before.

    The first time was in 1912. You know, when it sank the original Titanic.

    The second time was in 2015, when, according to numerous media reports, the company was forced to “stop work on the Titanic II because of financial disagreements.”

    You would have thought that in 2015 someone would have said, “Hey, wait a minute, guys. Maybe someone is trying to tell us something here. Maybe someone is trying to tell us that this is a horrible idea and WOULD YOU STOP PLAYING THAT DANM CELINE DION SONG.”

    But no, the folks at the Blue Star Line decided to go on and on.

    Sorry about that.

    Last month, the Blue Star Line announced it was continuing its work to finish the Titanic II at a cost of $500 million and hopes to set sail in 2022.

    According to numerous media reports, the Blue Star Line plans to carry on its first voyage 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members, which USA Today reported is “almost the exact number of each on board the boat that sank in 1912.”

    Karma, after just reading that: “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

    Of course, this time the Blue Star Line says the ship will have the appropriate number of lifeboats, life jackets and additional modern safety features.

    Of course.

    I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m pretty sure that the people selling tickets on the original Titanic also said that the ship would have the appropriate number of lifeboats, life jackets and additional modern safety features.

    You know, right after telling everyone that the Titanic was unsinkable.

    Once finished with the Titanic II, the company plans to begin work on a second project, which I may have just made up: “The Hindenburg II.”

    Company officials hope to fly the Hindenburg II into New Jersey in 2025.

    Are you listening, karma?


  • If you are reading this, backyard being ignored

    We are entertaining this weekend.

    And, because I’m writing this on Friday, I should clarify that when I say this weekend, I mean Saturday after the Maple Leaf Parade.

    We have been entertaining people at our house after the Maple Leaf Parade for many, many years now. And by “entertaining people,” I mean providing them food and stuff to drink.

    To me that’s the only responsibility of the hosts of a party. Once you provide your guests food and stuff to drink, I think it is incumbent upon them to entertain themselves.

    One of the ways I can tell that people will be coming to our house is that my wife will come home with a car full of groceries, spread them all over our kitchen and start cooking.

    My wife cooks main dishes; side dishes; side, side dishes; side, side, side dishes; desserts; side desserts; snacks; and side snacks. She also prepares special drinks, some of them containing alcohol and some of them not containing alcohol. Then, shortly before the people arrive at our house to be entertained, my wife puts all the food and all the drinks on fancy plates and platters and in pitchers that I didn’t even know we owned and arranges the entire spread into a festive and color-coordinated display of Maple Leaf cheer.

    That basically is my wife’s contribution to our having people over to our house.

    My contribution to having people over to our house is a bit more complicated and certainly more important.

    I buy the beer. And the ice.

    Look, if you’re at a party and someone says, “Oh no, we’re out of soup,” you’ll probably just shrug your shoulders and eat something else.

    But if you’re at a party and someone says, ‘Oh no, we’re out of beer. And ice,’ you’ll probably say, “Gee, would you look at the time. I need to get going.”

    As always, my wife plans to entertain the people who come to our house after the Maple Leaf Parade on our outdoor patio. And, because our outdoor patio is — follow me here — outdoors, I am in charge of cleaning it before the people come to our house to be entertained.

    The reason I have to clean the patio is because I am a male person and — at least at our house — male people are in charge of all things outdoors-related. I am in charge of taking out the trash, I am in charge of cleaning our patio, our deck, our shed and our outdoor cooking areas. I used to be in charge of mowing our yard and getting rid of the leaves that fall from the trees in our yard. The only reason I’m no longer in charge of the mowing and the leaf raking is because several years ago I decided to hire people to do that, which of course leaves me more time to clean.

    The only thing backyard-related I’m not in charge of is the planting of the flowers into the flower pots. My wife is in charge of the flowers until they all die because she forgets to water them. At that point, I become in charge of the getting rid of the pots containing the dead flowers.

    The good thing about cleaning our outdoor patio for our Maple Leaf party is that when I’m done I can officially begin to ignore our backyard.

    By law, male people can start ignoring their backyard after the last official gathering of the fall. I normally begin ignoring my backyard the day after the Maple Leaf Parade and don’t pay attention to it again until sometime in April.

    So sometime Sunday, after I have put away the stuff in our backyard that needs to be put away, I will come back inside, watch football and begin ignoring our backyard.

    By then we’ll probably be out of the soup my wife made, but we should have plenty of beer.

    And ice.

  • Now it’s a climate crisis

    Maybe this will do the trick.

    I mean, if hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, drought, rising sea levels, blizzards, typhoons, heat waves and tsunamis aren’t enough to make our Congress creatures do anything about climate change, maybe this will.

    Maybe this news will be what it takes for Congress to drop the huge bags of cash delivered to them each day by oil, gas and energy lobbyists and take action.

    I want to warn you that the piece of news that I’m about to share with you is not for the faint of heart. If you’re standing up, you probably ought to sit down. If you’re sitting down, you probably ought to stand up.

    I’m telling you, this news is devastating. Are you ready?

    OK (deep breath). Here it comes:


    I’m sorry I had to break the news to you so harshly, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate actions.

    According to a story in The New York Times, researchers have concluded that by the end of the century, drought and heat will have a devastating impact on barley production around the world. Barley, of course, is one of the most important ingredients in beer, the other important ingredient being — to use a technical term — “Dilly Dilly.”

    The Times story referred to a study published in something called Nature Plants that says declining barley crops could, for example, result in a 20 percent drop in beer supplies in the United States and double the cost of a bottle of beer in Ireland.

    That’s right. In Ireland!

    Now granted, given the death and destruction caused by extreme weather patterns in the world lately, worrying about beer might seem to some to be insensitive.

    But Dabo Guan, one of the researchers who conducted the study, insists that the beer angle is important. Guan said that many of the people who scoff at climate change seem to be under the impression that it won’t seriously affect them. Many of the people who scoff at climate change figure that only poor people in poor countries will suffer.

    But that’s not the case, Guan said. Rich people in rich countries will suffer less than the poor, but they will suffer.

    Climate change “may not affect our bread,” he said, “but it will affect our beer.”

    The idea for a study on what impact climate change might have on beer was hatched in … wait for it … a bar.

    According to the Times, after a day at a scientific meeting in China, a few participants met in a bar. The group included a climate scientist, a crop modeler and an economist.

    Oddly enough, that’s the opening line from one of my favorite jokes: “A climate scientist, a crop modeler and an economist walk into a bar. The bartender says, ‘We don’t get many climate scientists, crop modelers and economists in here,’ and the economist says, ‘At these totally market-based prices, I can see why not.’”

    I didn’t say it was a good joke.

    Thankfully, brave people like Jess Newman, director of agronomy for Anheuser-Busch, have sprung into action, unlike our Congress creatures.

    “We take climate uncertainty very seriously,” she said.

    To that end, Newman said, Anheuser-Busch is constantly monitoring climate studies, working on new strains of barley and collecting data from its barley farms and the farms of its suppliers.

    “The barley nerds are on the case,” she said.

    That’s right. A beer company is doing more about climate change than Congress.


    Who knows, maybe news like this will force Congress into action. Of course, that will likely depend on one thing.

    The size of the bags of cash beer lobbyists carry.

  • Mastering the art of the menacing vibe

    We have a new dishwasher, and I’m uneasy about that fact.

    On the one hand, it’s nice to know that we have a new dishwasher. But, on the other rinse cycle, it’s just a dishwasher.

    As you probably know, dishwashers aren’t cheap. Plus, we had to pay to have the new dishwasher installed. Sure, I could have tried to install the dishwasher myself, but I also could have tried to build our house myself. But I didn’t for the simple reason that I — as I think I have pointed out in this space in the past — am a moron.

    I have trouble installing bread into our toaster. Why in the world, then, would I try to install a dishwasher?

    We spent what I considered a significant amount of money to get our new dishwasher. Normally, when we spend what I consider a significant amount of money on something, I like to enjoy whatever it is we bought. But it’s hard to enjoy a dishwasher.

    It’s sort of like getting a new roof. Sure, you’re glad to have a new roof, but your life really isn’t changed by the new roof. I suppose if you had spent any time at all living without a roof you would enjoy having a new one; but if you’re used to a roof over your head, a new one isn’t so life-altering.

    The reason we needed to get a new dishwasher is because it’s Friday. As you know, almost all appliance issues occur either right before a weekend or during one. Or on a holiday.

    We seldom have appliance issues on, say, a Tuesday. An appliance issue on Tuesday is normally easy to handle. You call a guy who comes to your house and fixes your appliance or tells you that you need to buy a new one.

    But if you have an appliance issue on a Friday, you have to scramble because you don’t want to go through the weekend without said appliance. Making things even more difficult is that you are competing with all the other people who are having appliance issues on Friday and also don’t want to go through the weekend without said appliance.

    Friday morning, when our old dishwasher developed the same issue we had dealt with several times before, my wife said that she didn’t want to go through the weekend without a dishwasher.

    “I’m tired of this (Bad word) dishwasher. We’re getting a new one,” is what my wife said.

    In her defense, we were starting to get to the point with our old dishwasher that, in the long run, it was probably cheaper to buy a new one.

    The key word being “probably.”

    I told my wife that there was no way she was going to be able to buy a dishwasher AND get a plumber to install it on the same day. And on a Friday no less.

    The reason I said that is because I knew there was no way that I would be able to buy a dishwasher AND get a plumber to install it on the same day. And on a Friday no less.

    See, when I call a plumber and say that I need a dishwasher installed, he normally says, “It will have to be next week,” and I say “OK, that’s fine.”

    But when my wife calls a plumber — or anyone else for that matter — and says she needs a dishwasher installed, they almost always say: “We’re on the way.”

    I don’t know how she does that but I think it’s because of this menacing vibe my wife can emit.


    It’s a vibe with which I am quite familiar.

    So we have a new dishwasher. On a Friday.

    I just hope our toaster holds out.

  • Cellphone makers taking us for a ride

    Now my phone is too small.

    I used to think that my phone was the perfect size. When my wife and I bought our new phones a couple of years ago, we were told that we had the latest, most up-to-date, state-of-the-art, best available, completely outfitted, technologically advanced phone of the perfect size.

    And we did. Until we walked out of the store. The minute my wife and I walked out of the store, our phones became — to use a hopelessly outdated expression — yesterday’s news.

    I should point out that when I say, “my phone,” I’m talking about my cellphone. It used to be that you had to differentiate between your cellphone and your non-cellular home phone . But nobody uses non-cellular home phones anymore, so now, when you refer to your phone, everyone assumes you’re talking about your cellphone.

    For many years the people who make and market phones worked hard to make them smaller. Each year they claimed they had created the “smallest, sleekest phone on the market.”

    And it was … until the people who bought the smallest, sleekest phone on the market walked out of the store and the people who make and market phones started working on a smaller, sleeker phone that they began selling as soon as all the older phones had been sold.

    But now I have discovered that the phone that I thought was the smallest, sleekest phone on the market is too small and too sleek.

    At least according to the people who make and market phones. Not long ago, the people who make and market phones unveiled their latest phone. Usually when the people who make and market phones unveil their latest phone I don’t pay attention because I don’t want to hear that using my current phone, which was state-of-the-art when we bought it, has made me the equivalent of a telegraph operator in Yuma, Arizona.

    By the way, I mean no offense to Yuma, Arizona, which I’m sure is a fine community. I’ve never been there, but I’m sure it’s lovely.

    It’s just that when I was trying to think of something terribly outdated, “telegraph operator in Yuma, Arizona” is the first thing that popped into my head.

    The big selling point of their latest creation, according to the people who make and market phones, is that it’s bigger than last year’s phone.

    See, I thought the advantage of a cellphone was that it was small enough so people could take it anywhere. But now we’re being told that the bigger the cellphone the better, and if you have a small phone you’re nothing but a pathetic, outdated loser.

    That’s right. We’re talking about phone envy.

    What the people who make and market phones now are saying is that it’s easier and more enjoyable to use bigger phones. The bigger phone allows for a bigger screen, they say, and that allows whatever appears on the screen to be bigger, which sort of makes sense.

    But I don’t know. How far will the people who make and market phones take this bigger-is-better thing?

    What’s next? A phone with a screen so big that you can mount it on the wall in your living room?

    A phone so big that you never again have to worry about losing it because it’s too heavy to pick up?

    Then what happens? I’ll tell you  what happens. As soon as  everyone in the entire world has purchased the last absolute latest, biggest, heaviest phone on the market the people who make and market phones will come out with the smallest, sleekest phone on the market.

    And we’ll buy it which means  the whole process will repeat itself, proving  once again  that we are all morons.

    Except for that telegraph operator in Yuma, Arizona.

  • Assistant dog needs to get a handle on the barking

    She’s barking.

    Our assistant dog, Caicos, is barking in our backyard after I specifically told her not to. Bark, that is.

    At first, she was barking way out near the fence of our backyard, so I couldn’t hear her as well. But now she is on the porch, and she’s still barking.

    What she is barking at I don’t know. But it can’t be too important because Shilo, our German shepherd who is also in our backyard, is not barking.

    Shilo is a dog of few barks. Shilo is sort of like (Warning: Horribly dated TV commercial reference that only old people will understand coming next) E.F. Hutton. When Shilo barks, people listen.

    The only time I don’t listen when Shilo barks is when someone rings our doorbell. When our doorbell rings, Shilo immediately assumes that whoever rang the bell is desperate to be let in so they can pet her.

    Shilo is not the best guard dog in the world.

    But she means well.

    Caicos, on the other paw, is convinced that anyone who even comes near our house wants to break in and steal her dog toys.

    It would be nice, I guess, if Caicos barked at people near our house because she wants to protect us. But it would also be nice if a potential Supreme Court justice didn’t like beer more than I do.

    So I’m thinking Caicos barks to protect her dog toys.

    Our German shepherd Shilo and our assistant dog Caicos standing at our backdoor wanted to be let inside. Shilo is on the right and Caicos is on the left
    Caicos on the right with her “I wasn’t barking, if that’s what you think” look. Shilo on the left with her “Yes she was” look.

    The thing is I don’t want to be one of those neighbors with barking dogs. So what I do is let Caicos get a bark or two in edgewise and then I open the door and holler at her to stop barking, and she does.

    For a little while.

    Then she starts barking again. So I open the door and holler at her to come inside, which she also does. Then I holler at Shilo, who was not barking and had made herself comfortable under the shade of one of the maple trees in the backyard, to come in.

    When I holler at Shilo to come inside, she gives me a look that says, “What did I do? I’m just sitting here. I was perfectly happy until three years ago when you brought that (bad word) dog into my world. This is all your fault.”

    For a dog’s look, Shilo’s look is a heck of a look.

    I suppose I could just not let Caicos outside every time she asks, but I can never tell if she really needs to go outside of if she is just messing with me.

    By the way, Caicos does actually sort of ask to be let outside. When she was still a puppy, Caicos quickly understood that, when I pushed on the handle of our back door, it opened so she could go out. So then, whenever she wanted to go out, she would stand up and push down on the door handle.

    The first few times Caicos did that, my wife; our daughter, Emma; and I all thought it was cute.

    Then, after a while, we didn’t think it was cute. It was annoying.

    Caicos has what I would call an active mind, so she gets bored easily. When Caicos gets bored, she looks for a cat to try to eat. Then she annoys Shilo for a while, and finally, she walks to the back door, stands up and pushes down on the handle.

    If I ignore her — and I usually do —she runs back to me and gives me a look that says, “Hey moron, I pushed down on the handle. You know what that means, don’t you?”

    Caicos has a pretty good look her own self.

    So I get up and go to the door. But before I open it, I tell Caicos not to bark. Then I let her outside, and of course, she starts barking.

    In her defense, those dog toys aren’t going to protect themselves.

  • Budweiser, balcony help with fashion show foibles

    Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.

    I thought I was through. I thought I had paid my dues. I thought that after more 17 years of dance recitals, dance competitions and dance exhibitions, I was done. I thought after all those hours and hours and hours and hours (I’m trying to make a point here) of sitting in theaters, gymnasiums and convention halls watching thousand of kids dance just so I could watch our now 20-year-old daughter, Emma, dance for three minutes, that I was done. I thought the torch had been passed to a new generation of suckers — er, I mean, loyal fathers — who would take my place.

    But I was wrong.

    Not the dance part. Emma, as far as I know, has put the whole dance thing behind her. No, what I’m faced with now, at least for this weekend, is modeling.

    That’s right. Modeling. A few months ago, my wife and Emma told me about something called the “KC Fashion Week.” Apparently, KC Fashion Week is, follow me here, a weeklong event featuring fashion from Kansas City.

    “Sure, you guys should go,” I said.

    My wife and Emma told me they didn’t just want to go. My wife and Emma told me that, in addition to professional models who model Kansas City fashion during KC Fashion Week, they also used nonprofessional models. All Emma needed to do was to go to a KC Fashion Week model audition.

    So she did. And she got picked to model. Not in just one fashion show but two.

    “We don’t have to go, do we?” I asked my wife.

    “Of course we do,” my wife said.

    “But just one fashion show, right?” I said.

    “No, both, you moron,” my wife said.


    In the interest of fair disclosure, lest you feel too sorry for me, I should point out that I am writing this column on the deck of our room at the Lake of the Ozarks. The deck overlooks the lake, and I currently have a cold bottle of Budweiser sitting next to my computer on a Jimmy Buffett-themed painted table. The table is painted in a Jimmy Buffett theme because the resort where we are staying has been purchased by one of Jimmy’s companies.

    This makes me happy.

    OK, back to my troubles.

    Because Emma was chosen to be a part of KC Fashion Week, this past Wednesday I spent two hours watching a fashion show.

    Emma Pound on the runway at KC Fashion Week.
    This is Emma on Wednesday night modeling a dress designed by Amy Elle. My wife took this picture as I was drinking a beer.

    This may come as a shock to some of you, but until Wednesday night, I had never watched a fashion show.

    Here is what happens at a fashion show: You sit down. Then two people come out on stage and talk about a fashion designer. Then nine or 10 people — mostly women — walk out on stage wearing fashion designed by the fashion designer. Then the two people come back out and talk about another fashion designer and then nine or 10 people — mostly women — walk out on stage wearing fashion designed by the fashion designer.

    This is repeated five or six times until halftime. Although at a fashion show, I’m not sure it’s called halftime.

    The good news is that they sell beer at the fashion show. The bad news is they don’t sell enough beer at the fashion show.

    It’s Friday afternoon as I’m typing this. On Saturday morning, my wife and I will leave the Lake of the Ozarks and drive to Kansas City. Then, on Saturday night, I will spend at least two hours watching another fashion show.

    Emma Pound on the runway of KC Fashion Week. She is wearing a long gown. I'm sorry but that's about all I know to say.
    This Emma on Saturday night modeling a dress designed by Samirah Alotaibi. I took this picture. While I was drinking a beer.

    My hope is that Saturday night will be the last fashion show I have to attend. But I don’t know. I figured the dance stuff would stop after a couple years, but it didn’t.

    Oh, well. At least right now I’m on a deck overlooking the lake.

    And I have a cold a Budweiser.


  • Rebranding doesn’t fool anyone

    Hey, we’re not stupid, you know.

    And when I say, “We’re not stupid,” I, of course, mean regular people, not Congress Creatures.

    The reason I’m saying we’re not stupid is because of David Hoffman. David is the CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, the company that owns the Dunkin’ Donuts chain.

    According to a bunch of news reports that I read online because I clearly have too much time on my hands, David is under the impression that we are stupid.

    David believes that we are so stupid that he can just change the name of his Dunkin’ Donuts chain to just Dunkin’ in the hopes, I guess, that we’ll forget that his company ever sold doughnuts.

    But we’re not Congress Creatures. We will remember. Look, the reason Dunkin’ was included in the name in the first place is because people dunk their doughnuts into their Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

    It seems to me that if you drop Donuts from the name, then you’re left with a lonely verb forced to become a noun, and that doesn’t make sense.

    And in the interest of time, I’m not even going to ask what happened to the “g” in Dunkin’.

    By the way, excuse me if you are confused by the way I’m spelling the word “doughnut.” The folks at Dunkin’ Donuts, long ago, chose the more causal spelling while other people — specifically the folks connected with The Associated Press Stylebook, which most newspapers follow — prefer “doughnuts.”

    I’m told that debates between the “donut” and “doughnut” camps can become quite heated. Those same people also argue over the correct use of the word “whom”.

    According to the numerous news stories I read online, the reason David wants to drop Donuts from his company’s name is to emphasize that it has now become a “beverage-led company.”

    To me, Anheuser-Busch is a beverage-led company; Dunkin’ Donuts is a doughnut-led company.

    But I could be wrong. I guess because I’m an old person I’ve never gotten into the whole coffee/tea shop craze. When I drink coffee, I do it in the morning shortly after I’ve stumbled out of bed. After I have had enough to allow me to move around our house without stumbling, I stop drinking coffee.

    But apparently a lot of people like to drink coffee at all hours of the day at coffee shops with irritating names such as Brew Hut or Coffee Commando or Slug of the Mug or Starbucks.

    That last one was a joke. Who would name a coffee shop Starbucks?

    And, I guess, because people like to drink coffee in coffee shops, David thinks it’s a good idea to drop Donuts from his company name.

    “Our new branding is one of the many things we are doing as part of our blueprint for growth to modernize the Dunkin’ experience for our customer,” is what David said in a statement.

    When I read David’s statement, three thoughts crossed my mind.

    Thought No. 1: Who talks that way?

    Thought No. B: The “Dunkin’ experience”?

    Thought No. III: Seriously, who talks that way?

    To be fair, David might have a point. According to what I read, beverages — especially coffee — make up 60 percent of Dunkin’ Donuts’ U.S. business. The name change, the thinking goes, will allow the company to draw attention to its coffee, teas, speedy service and to-go foods.

    In fact, I either read or am making this up, originally the idea was to change the name Dunkin’ Donuts to Coffee, Teas, Speedy Service and To-Go Foods, but someone did a cost analysis on the necessary signage and opted to go with Dunkin’.

    Now if you will excuse me, I need to examine my blueprint for growth in order to modernize the column experience for my reader.

    In other words, have a beer.

  • When internet is down, thank goodness for TV

    It’s Tuesday morning and our internet is down, so it’s quiet.

    Too quiet.

    Because I work at home and there is no one else around but our two dogs and three cats, you would expect it to be quiet. But this is a different sort of quiet.


    When I first noticed that our internet was down, I did what I always do. I walked over to the cabinet where we keep our internet — I want to say carburetor — and rebooted it.

    The way you reboot your computer’s carburetor is to take a paper clip and stick into the little reset hole on the back. I know this because the  people who provide  our internet service once told  me that’s what I should do.

    I don’t know, though. It seems to me that with all the advances that continue to be made with technology — and 193,033 have been made since you started reading this — you would think there would  be a better way to reboot your computer carburetor.

    The “stick a paper clip in it” method is sort of like “jiggle the handle” method for fixing a toilet.

    For the record, I do know that the computer thing I rebooted is not called the carburetor. It’s called the modem. Or, maybe it’s the router. It really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I stuck a paper clip in it and I still don’t have internet service.

    I called my wife at work to see if the world as we know it still existed. She said it did. She also told me that she had heard that the people who provide our internet service were having problems.

    “So it’s not us?” I asked.

    “No,” my wife said.

    “Whew,” I said.

    I decided that rather than freak out about not having internet service I would get something done, but then I looked around our house and realized there was so much that needed to be done that it was pointless to begin.

    I decided to go online and check out the Cardinals score but realized I couldn’t because, as I think I have pointed out, THERE WAS NO INTERNET SERIVCE.

    So I sat at my desk for a while. I tried my computer again, and our internet worked. Then it stopped again.

    Our internet service was off and on for the next few hours. When I saw the warning thing on the internet symbol on my computer screen go away, I quickly went online. Then, just as I was ready to do some serious internet screwing around, it stopped working.

    It was a frightening experience.

    I remember when I was a kid that sometimes our TV would stop working. When that happened, there were two solutions. The first solution was to  turn the TV off and then turn it back on. If that didn’t work, you had to call a TV guy and he, if he couldn’t fix it in your home, he  would have to take it to “the shop.”

    That’s right, young people. There used to be TV shops.

    When I was a kid, if I didn’t have TV, I felt there was no reason to live. Then my parents would tell me about how they grew up without TV or radio.

    “And we always found something to do,” they said.

    Thinking about what my parents said all those years ago has inspired me. I’ve decided to not let the internet define my life. Instead, I’m going to watch TV.

    I just hope the cable’s not out.


  • Karma is listening

    I don’t want to hear it, so stop talking about them.

    I don’t care if they’ve won two road games and that their new quarterback is doing an impression of some sort of Johnny Unitas, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino all rolled into one person. And, I definitely don’t want anyone talking to me about the Super Bowl.

    So stop it.

    Sigh. I’ve said this before and I will probably say it many more times: I like it better when the Kansas City Chiefs are terrible.

    There’s no pressure when the team you root for is terrible. That’s why Kansas City Royals fans seem so happy this year while St. Louis Cardinals fans, such as myself, are nervous wrecks.

    Right now, the St. Louis Cardinals are a playoff team. But that could change this weekend. Or this week. Or next weekend.

    As a sports fan, that is no way to live.

    Kansas City Royals fans knew on the opening day of the season that their team was not going to make the playoffs. So just like that, they had a stress-free season.

    The St. Louis Cardinals are rarely terrible. They might not always be great but they’re rarely terrible, so every season for Cardinal fans is stressful.

    For most of my life the Kansas City Chiefs have shifted back and forth from great to terrible. When they’re great I’m worried, and when they’re terrible I’m not worried.

    Sure, it’s sort of a backward way to deal with reality, but it’s how I cope with life.

    Worry when things are going well and relax when they’re not.

    Last week I wrote about how I managed to shatter one of our glass, sliding shower doors. Did I get angry when I shattered the shower door? Did I worry when I shattered the shower door?

    No I did not. And you want to know why? Because I shattered a shower door. What else could go wrong after that?

    Now if I had managed to fix the shower door without shattering it, I would have worried because I seldom am able to fix things.

    To me, successfully fixing something is a clear provocation for Karma. If Karma sees me successfully fixing something, Karma will say, “Well, we can’t have that. I’ll break the hot water heater. I know he can’t fix that.”

    But if Karma sees me shatter a shower door, Karma will probably say, “That poor (bad word). He’s had enough. I’ll leave him alone.”

    Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy being happy or that I don’t want things to go well. I do. I just don’t get too happy when things are going well. Getting too happy is another way to get Karma’s attention.

    And not in a good way.

    That’s why I don’t want to hear all this happy talk about the Kansas City Chiefs. Happy talk about the Chiefs rarely turns out well.

    A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to run into Carl Peterson, former Chiefs general manager, and former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil at a restaurant in Kansas City, and I got to chat with them a bit about football. The two men were responsible for some of the greatest seasons in Kansas City Chiefs’ history.

    From left to right Carl Peterson, Dick Vermeil and Mike Pound. Mike has is hands folded as if offering a pray and Carl and Dick have bemused looks on their faces.
    Here I am preparing to offer up a prayer to Karma while Dick Vermeil and Carl Peterson look at me as if I’m crazy.

    But they couldn’t beat Karma.

    So please, keep all your happy talk about the Kansas City Chiefs to yourself because I don’t want to hear it.

    And Karma, if you hear someone else saying hopeful things about the Chiefs this weekend, don’t get upset. They’re probably new fans. They don’t know any better.

    So Sunday afternoon I will spend my time switching back and forth between the Kansas City Chiefs football game and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.

    And Karma, if you’re reading this, can you do me a favor and cut me some slack?

    I shattered a shower door last week, remember?


  • Sometimes, not killing yourself is the victory

    It’s not so bad being a moron.

    Really, it’s not. Being a moron allows you to set the bar so low that no matter what you do or how badly you do it, people just shrug and say, “Well, at least he didn’t kill himself.”

    That, my friends, is a low bar.

    On Monday, I noticed that one of our sliding glass shower doors had somehow gotten off the track. So I looked at the door a minute and proceeded to put the door back on the track. I got the top part of the door back on the track without killing myself, and that’s where I should have stopped. I should have been OK with only the bottom part of the door being slightly off the track.

    I mean, I know that now.

    But because, as I think I have pointed out, I’m a moron, I was determined to fix the bottom part of the — and here is a keyword —GLASS shower door. So I raised it a bit and attempted to slide it back on the track.

    And that’s when the glass door decided to explode into thousands of little pieces.

    Have you ever been holding onto a glass shower door when it exploded into thousands of little pieces?


    Raise your hand out there if you saw the shattered glass the shower door coming.

    Wow. That’s a lot of hands.

    Now a lot of people might have gotten angry with themselves after breaking a shower door, but not a moron such as me.

    A moron such as me  would just back out of the bathroom, dust hundreds of pieces of glass off himself and say, “Oh, well, at least I didn’t kill myself.”

    And that’s what I did. Then I went downstairs to get a broom and dustpan.

    Well, first I stopped to get a handful of Band-Aids to plug a few recently opened holes in my hands and arms, then I got a broom and dustpan and started sweeping up the mess.

    I also called Brian, who along with a few other guys have done a lot of the remodeling work in our house. In fact, Brian was the one who installed the shower door that I managed to shatter into thousands of pieces.

    Brian said that those doors usually don’t shatter; I said they do when a moron is trying to get it back on the track.

    Brian laughed.

    Then I called my wife, who, to her credit, did not laugh or call me a moron when I told her about the shower door.

    “Did you cut yourself?” is what she said.

    When I told her I had a few minor cuts, she said, “Do I need to drive you to the hospital to get stitches?”

    The reason my wife asked me that question is because I once dropped a knife on my toe while I was slicing flank steak and told my wife that I was fine.

    Three hours later, my wife drove me to the hospital so they could put a bunch of stitches in my toe.

    I’m telling you, it’s a low bar.

    The other reason my wife didn’t laugh or call me a moron is because she really didn’t like the shower door. We were recently staying at a hotel and my wife mentioned how much she liked the shower door in the hotel room.

    So now, instead of replacing the shower door that I shattered, my wife has decided that we should get a new kind of shower door.

    That’s right. I’m not only a moron who manages to shatter a glass shower door, but I’m also a moron who gives his wife an excuse to get a brand-new shower door.

    Oh, well, at least I didn’t kill myself.

  • Writing under duress can be productive

    I’m writing this under duress.

    I don’t write well under duress.  I don’t write well under much of anything, but I particularly don’t write well under duress.

    I once read (or made up) that Leo Tolstoy wrote at least half of “War and Peace” underneath a large pot of borscht.

    Again, I either read that or made that up, but I’m not sure because I wrote it under duress.

    The duress I am writing under is being caused by my wife, who is under the impression that we need to be at the town where our 20-year-old daughter, Emma, is attending college by 1 p.m. today. Because the town where Emma attends to college is two and a half hours away, that means in order to get there by 1 p.m., we need to leave our house — let’s see here, let me do the math — an hour ago.

    I think we’re going to be late.

    Ironically, the last time I remember writing under duress, the duress was caused by Emma.

    It was probably 14 years ago. Emma was about 6 years old and for some reason was with me at the newspaper while I was trying to write a column. I don’t remember why Emma was with me at the newspaper, but I do remember that she didn’t want to be there. She wanted to be somewhere else, and she wanted to be there immediately. So to help me write my column faster, as I recall, she stood right next to me and yelled “FOCUS, DADDY. FOCUS.”

    She made it hard to focus is what she did.

    Now, 14 years later, it is my wife placing me under duress in order to get to Emma’s college town by 1 p.m. today.

    I think (although this just could be the duress talking here) that is the perfect definition of irony.

    When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t under the impression that we needed to be at Emma’s college town at any certain time. I was under the impression that we would get to Emma’s college town when we got there.

    So when my wife asked me what time I thought we should be at Emma’s college town, I made a rookie husband mistake: I said I didn’t care.

    “I think we should be there at 1 p.m.,” my wife said.

    I should point out that I think it’s senseless for my wife to ask me what time we need to be anywhere. The reason I think it’s senseless is because my wife knows that I have no control over what time we get anywhere.

    Yet she still asks me as if my opinion matters.

    It’s like Trump asking for advice from anyone on anything.

    Trump: Does my hair look silly?

    Aide: (Stealing brunch invitation from Kim-Jong-un off desk) WHY NO. WHY WOULD YOU ASK SUCH A QUESTION?)

    So now that my wife has decided that we need to be at Emma’s college town by 1 p.m., I am under a bit of duress.

    Actually, when it comes to writing, there aren’t degrees of duress. There is just duress.

    The reason we are going to Emma’s college town is that this is Parents Weekend. I don’t think they had Parents Weekend when I went to college, but I don’t remember.

    It was a long time ago. They didn’t have a lot of things when I went to college. When I went to college, they didn’t have small phones that cost more than a TV, for example.

    Even if they had Parents Weekend when I went to college, I’m pretty sure my parents wouldn’t have come what with there still be four kids living at home with them at the time.

    I’m pretty sure my parents would have figured that it made no sense at all to drive two hours to see one kid when they already had four kids living with them at home.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I must stop now.

    My wife just yelled “FOCUS.”

    Sigh. It’s like a large pot of borscht.


  • Hard to fake way through sailing class

    When I was in college, I learned an entire year’s worth of world history in one night, took the final the next day and got a B on the test.

    See, on the first day of class, the teacher said we would meet once a week to go over each chapter. Or, he said, we could skip class if we wanted and study each week on our own.

    Tight shot of Mike Pound practicing his knot tying.
    Here I am practicing knots the night before our first sailing lesson. A few minutes later, I tied my hand to the table.

    What do you think I did?

    If you think I opted to skip class and study each week on my own, you are wrong.

    If you think I opted to skip class and blow off studying until the night before the final, you are correct.

    Sailing is not world history.

    The world history test I took all those years ago was an essay test. You can, or at least I could fake an essay test.

    They don’t give essay tests in sailing. In sailing, they pretty much have one basic question and that question is, “So can you sail this boat?”

    If you can, you pass. If you can’t, you don’t. Sure, it sounds unfair, but it’s really not.

    I know that now.

    About a month ago, when my wife gave me the gift of sailing classes, she also gave me a sailing book and said that the two of us needed to study it before our sailing class.

    Lee Pound standing on a dock next to a sailboat. She is wearing a white Lyle Lovett "If I had a boat" t-shirt. Her back is to the camera so you can see what is on the t-shirt.
    Lee’s goal on our sailing weekend was lofty. She wanted a picture wearing her new Lyle Lovett “If I had a Boat” t-shirt.

    We both vowed to study the book together every night. Then we put it on a shelf and forgot about it.

    On Friday night, when we got to our cabin near Stockton Lake, my wife and I pulled out the sailing book and began to study. After studying for about five minutes we put the book down.

    “Maybe it’ll rain tomorrow,” I said.

    On Saturday morning we drove to the lake and met our sailing instructor.

    “Did you study the book?” he asked us.

    “Sort of,” we said, which technically was true.

    “We’ll see,” he said, which definitely was true.

    Because it was actually raining when we got to the lake, the sailing instructor, who was nice if just a tad bit intense, decided he would review a bunch of sailing stuff with us.

    In case you wondering, “bunch of sailing stuff” is not an official sailing expression.

    While the instructor talked, my wife and I listened intently and occasionally nodded our heads. I’m not sure about my wife, but while the instructor was talking, the following thought kept running through my mind: “I wonder if we’ll get home Sunday in time to see part of the Kansas City Chiefs game.”

    The instructor talked to us for about three hours, and then we broke for lunch.

    After lunch, the rain let up and we walked down the dock to the boat we were going to sail. When we got to the vessel, the instructor had us identify parts of the boat.

    Here are some of the boat parts my wife and I identified: “the floor,” “that tall pole,” the “steerie thing” and the “arrrrgggh.”

    I did mention that we didn’t study, didn’t I?

    A few minutes later, we got on the boat and practiced the complicated sailing process known as “getting the

    mike pound at the back of a sailboat holding the rudder and trying to sali. He is wearing a red life vest over a black jacket.
    This is my trying to sail face. This is also my trying not to poop myself face.

    damn boat away from the damn dock.”

    Two hours later, we finally got the damn boat off the damn dock,  left the marina and started sailing.

    For the next few hours, my wife and I took turns trying to sail the boat — in the rain — while our instructor yelled at us.

    It wasn’t as fun as it sounds.

    But, after two days of hard sailing work, I’m proud to say that my wife and I learned something.

    That steerie thing is called the tiller.

    As for the sailing test, we all agreed it would be good idea if we went home, studied some more and took the test later.

    And we will. I promise.

    Sort of. 

  • Sailing plans could be thwarted by knot-tying abilities

    I was a lousy Boy Scout.

    I liked the camping well enough, but I wasn’t a fan of the meetings and the whole merit badge deal. But to be fair, it really wasn’t the Boy Scouts’ fault that I was a lousy Scout. It was mine.

    I just wasn’t Boy Scout material. Even had I been Boy Scout material, I still would have been a lousy Scout — because of the knots.

    You’re supposed to know how to tie knots in the Boy Scouts, and I can’t tie knots. I have a hard time tying a tie, let alone a slip, granny, second cousin, drunk uncle knot.

    I think that’s a knot. If knot (ha!), it should be.

    Given my problem with all things tied, why did I spend nearly three hours Thursday afternoon trying, unsuccessfully, to tie a bunch of knots?

    Well, if you must know, it was because of my wife.

    Our wedding anniversary was a few weeks ago, and I — because I do not have stupid all over my face — gave my wife the gift of jewelry.

    Here’s a tip for you rookie husbands out there: When it comes to gifts for your wife, you can never go wrong with jewelry. And the great thing is you don’t really have to put much thought into buying jewelry. It’s the perfect gift. Minimum input, maximum return.

    Understand, rookie husbands: This is just between you and me. I would hate for my wife to hear about this.

    Unlike myself, my wife does put a lot of thought into the gifts she gives to me. My wife will spend weeks, even months coming up with what she thinks will be the perfect gift for me. The key words in the previous sentence, of course, are: “what she thinks will be the perfect gift for me.”

    I’m not saying that my wife’s gifts to me aren’t perfect. I’m just suggesting that sometimes she overthinks the whole gift thing.

    See, I’m a pretty simple guy. No, really, it’s true.

    To me, a perfect gift would be the gift of beer. And maybe a cigar or two. And a can of peanuts — salted, not that “lightly salted” crap they try to sell.

    My wife, however, doesn’t think the gift of beer, a cigar or two and salted peanuts is a proper gift. So she tries to think outside the gift box. Or 12-pack, as it were.

    This year, for our anniversary, my wife gave me — wait for it — the gift of sailing lessons.

    A neat idea, right? I thought so too until I discovered that in order to learn how to sail, my wife and I have to study a book about — follow me here — sailing.

    Look, I haven’t studied since college. Wait, that’s not correct. I haven’t studied since high school. Wait, that’s not correct either. I’ve never studied.

    We also have to know how to tie a bunch of knots. Apparently — and this was news to me — they use a lot of knots in sailing.

    I think they use them to shiver timbers. Or maybe batten down hatches.

    Anyway, that’s why on Thursday afternoon I spent three hours trying to learn how to tie a bunch of knots.

    At the end of the three hours, I hadn’t learned to tie the knots I was supposed to, but I did manage to accidentally tie up two of our cats. And a couch.

    Did I mention I’m not good at knots?

    On Friday evening, my wife and I will drive up to Stockton. Then, on Saturday morning, we will drive to a marina and spend the next two days either learning how to sail or swimming to shore.

    It’s likely going to be a toss-up.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I have a couple of cats to untie.

  • When it comes to shopping, ‘for a second’ can be an eternity

    This may come as a shock to some of you, but once again it was my fault.

    You would think that a veteran husband and parent who has suffered through numerous trials and tribulations would learn. But if you were to think that, you would be wrong.

    I never learn.

    I guess it’s the optimist in me. Like Charlie Brown wanting to believe Lucy when she swears she won’t pull the football away seconds before he tries to kick it, I believe that when it comes to matters of time, my wife will tell the truth.

    I know. It’s stupid. But at one time I also thought: “Gee, how bad can Trump be?”

    I’m a slow learner is what I am.

    We were in Kansas City. My wife and I and our 20-year-old daughter, Emma, were walking to a restaurant for dinner. Our reservation was for 6 p.m. and it was 20 minutes before 6 when we were heading to the restaurant.

    “Wait,” my wife said as we approached a Victoria’s Secret store. “We just need to stop in here for a second.”

    “Uh-oh,” I said to myself. “This can’t be good.”

    So, I did what I always do when my wife says she needs to stop in a store “for a second.”

    I looked for a way out.

    In this case, because we were very close to the restaurant and because I knew that restaurant had a bar, I figured I would head there and wait for my wife and Emma. I figured that in the “second” they were going to shop in the Victoria’s Secret store I could have one, possibly 10 beers. But because I’m an optimist, I made two fatal errors.

    The first error I made was to ask the following question.

    “How long will you guys be shopping? Because I was thinking of heading on to the restaurant and getting a beer,” is what I said.

    “You won’t have time because we will only be a second,” my wife said.

    The second fatal error I made was believing my wife when she said that she and Emma would only be a second in Victoria’s Secret.

    So, while my wife and Emma headed off into the depths of the large Victoria’s Secret store, I found a vacant wall near the front doors on which to lean.

    By the way, if it wasn’t for English teachers out there, I probably could have phrased that last sentence differently. What I would normally say is, “I found a vacant wall to lean on,” but I’ve been told that is not proper grammar.

    I don’t know why exactly it is not proper grammar, but apparently it’s not.

    The reason I found a vacant wall near the front of the Victoria’s Secret on which to lean is because there really is nowhere in the store a guy can wander without feeling uncomfortable.

    It would be different if I were tagging along with my wife and Emma in Victoria’s Secret because then people would realize that I was with them and not some creepy, middle-aged guy hanging out in a lingerie store.

    But call me silly, I’m not comfortable hanging out with my wife and daughter while they shop for lingerie.

    So, I found a vacant wall on which to lean. And then, to make sure people didn’t think that I was a creepy, middle-aged guy leaning on the wall of a lingerie store, I took out my phone and started checking for baseball scores even though I already knew that the St. Louis Cardinals had lost their game.

    That way, I figured, people would see me checking baseball scores and think: “He’s not creepy. He just believed his wife.”

    Twenty minutes later, my wife and Emma came back.

    “See,” my wife said. “We were only here a second.”

    Sigh. Someday I swear I’ll learn.


  • No free weekends through Thanksgiving

    It was my own fault.

    I got a little too full of myself, so karma — who we all karma can be a disagreeable person — smacked me in the head.

    Not too hard. I mean karma may be disagreeable, but it doesn’t just go around smacking people in the head hard enough to hurt them.

    At least I would like to think karma doesn’t do that, but with karma, who knows?

    Last week, I bragged about the fact that we had a free weekend with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I described it as an “unencumbered weekend.”

    I shouldn’t have done that because after my wife read that column she informed me that we didn’t have another free weekend until after Thanksgiving.

    “That’s not possible,” I said to my wife.

    “Yes, it is,” my wife said.

    Then my wife proceeded to list everything we have to do and everywhere we have to be on every weekend from now until after Thanksgiving.

    The thing is, my wife listed everything we have to do and everywhere we have to be from memory.

    Look, I don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow let alone on every weekend through Thanksgiving, so how can my wife know — off the top of her head — what we’re doing on every weekend?

    We’re different that way. My wife and I.

    My wife’s a planner, and I am not.

    Because my wife is a planner, when some sort of plan for a weekend comes up she marks it down on her calendar and makes a mental note to herself.

    Because I’m not a planner, when some sort of plan for the weekend comes up I look at either the St. Louis Cardinals baseball schedule or the Kansas City Chiefs football schedule to see if the weekend plan will impact my baseball or football watching.

    Then I forget about the weekend plan.

    See, we’re different. My wife and I.

    I don’t how this happened. I don’t know how we managed to have something to do or somewhere to go on every weekend until after Thanksgiving.

    By nature, I’m not the sort of person who likes to be busy. If I wanted to be busy, I would’ve become one of  Trump’s attorneys.

    By nature, I’m the sort of person who thinks sitting in my Jimmy Buffett Adirondack chair on my porch with a beer in one hand and a cigar in the other is something to do on a weekend.

    photo of a aqua blue and orange Jimmy Buffett Adirondack chair with a bottle of Budweiser sitting on the left armrest
    I know where the salt is I’m searching for an unencumbered weekend.

    My wife doesn’t share my philosophy. Don’t get me wrong, my wife does enjoy the occasional unencumbered weekend, she just doesn’t enjoy too many unencumbered weekends.

    So when my wife hears about an activity that might encumber an unencumbered weekend she gets excited and commits us to that activity.

    The problem is, we usually only have a limited number of unencumbered weekends available, so when my wife encumbers some of those weekends, we run out of weekends.

    That’s how we have something to do or somewhere to be every weekend through Thanksgiving.

    To be fair, not all of our encumbered weekends are my wife’s fault. Some are work-related and some involve our 20-year-old daughter, Emma, but had my wife not voluntarily encumbered our few remaining unencumbered weekends, we wouldn’t have something to do or somewhere to be every weekend until after Thanksgiving.

    Not that I’m obsessing about this or anything.

    But I’m nothing if not a survivor, so for the next 13 weekends, I will do what I always do. Every weekend I will be where I need to be and do what I need to do and then I will look for a bar.

    Unencumbered, of course.

  • Tomatoes, ribs, baseball make for good weekend

    It was a fresh tomato-worthy weekend.

    At our house, not every weekend is fresh tomato-worthy. In order for a weekend to be fresh tomato-worthy, it needs to be unencumbered. Now, an unencumbered weekend is not to be confused with an uncucumbered weekend. In fact, oftentimes a fresh tomato-worthy weekend is also a fresh cucumber-worthy weekend. Now I will leave it up to you to determine if “uncucumbered” is actually a word, but if it’s not, it should be.

    Many times my wife will make a cucumber and tomato salad, which, as ol’ Ben Franklin may or may not have said about beer, “is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

    This past weekend was one of those rare times when we didn’t have any plans — a weekend when we had nothing to do and nowhere to go.

    Two years ago, when our now-20-year-old daughter, Emma, left for college, my wife and I figured that finally, after years of school, sports and dance activities, our weekends would be free.

    Turns out we figured wrong.

    Looking back on this summer, I’m not sure what we did with our weekends. I just know that most of them were definitely not unencumbered.

    But this past weekend was unencumbered, which is why, on Saturday morning, I drove over to the Webb City Farmers Market and picked up some fresh tomatoes. I also bought some jalapenos, onions and a box of peaches. My wife loves peaches. I do not. But when you’re married and you see something you think your spouse might like, you buy it.

    You never know when you might need bonus points.

    I planned to use the tomatoes in a recipe for pico de gallo that I found in the new “Margaritaville” cookbook.

    The cover of the new cookbook Margaritaville The Cookbook. On the cover is a bowl of pico de gallo a bowl of seafood stew a margarita in a salt-rimmed glass and some sort of frosted cake
    Margaritaville: The Cookbook. Read it. Use it.

    We have too many cookbooks, and there is a reason for that: We like cookbooks and can’t stop buying them.

    After I made the pico de gallo, I covered it and put it in the refrigerator. Later, that evening, I sliced some corn tortillas and fried them up. Then my wife and I sat outside and dipped the still-warm corn tortilla chips in the pico de gallo.

    Have you ever had warm corn tortilla chips dipped in pico de gallo made with fresh tomatoes, onions and jalapeno?

    You should.

    Still later that evening I took out two slabs of baby back ribs and covered them with a rub that I made earlier.

    Whenever someone asks me for the secret to my rib rub, I always say, “Come closer,” and when they do, I yell, “THERE IS NO DAMN SECRET. JUST ABOUT ALL RIB RUBS ARE BASICALLY THE SAME, AND ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU DIFFERENT IS LYING.”

    Fortunately, not a lot of people ask me that question.

    Still later on Saturday evening, my wife and I cut up the remaining tomatoes, onions and jalapenos to go with a mess o’ tacos.

    In case you’re wondering, “mess o’” is the correct term when referring to tacos. And chicken wings. For baby back ribs, I stick to the traditional term, “slabs.”

    On Sunday afternoon, I grabbed the ribs out of the refrigerator, took them outside, put them on my Weber water smoker, closed the lid, opened a beer, sat on our patio and watched the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Ribs on the smoker, beer in the hand and baseball on TV. It doesn’t suck.

    Hey, somebody had to do the cooking.

    Have you ever sat on your patio, sipping beer and watching baseball while two slabs of ribs slowly smoke next to you?

    You should.

    Occasionally, I would get up to check the temperature on my smoker. Then I would go inside and grab another beer.

    It was a fine weekend.

    It was tomato-worthy, is what it was.


    Pico de Gallo

    This recipe from Margaritaville: The Cookbook is easy and amazing. Of course, using fresh everything helps.

    A bowl of pico de gallo on a plate with home made tortilla chips.
    This be the pico de gallo. It be good. Ditto for the chips.

    1 1/2 cups finely chopped tomatoes

    1 small yellow onion, finely diced

    Large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

    I jalapeno, seeded and minced

    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more if needed. (We always need more. We like lime juice).

    1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more if needed.

    Place all ingredients together in a large bowl and gently stir together. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime and/or salt as needed. Serve immediately.

    I like to serve this with freshly fried corn tortilla chips. “But Mike” some of you are asking. “Is that healthy?”. To some of you who are asking that I say “No. No, it’s not.”



    This your basic rib rub recipe. It is so basic I don’t even remember where it came from but I like it so that’s all the matters.