A Frog, A Hog & A Dog, #2…A Hot Summer Day*

* Note: ‘If You Can’t Be There, Then Write A Story’, #4

By Grandpa

For Ben & Summer

Oh, what to do on a hot summer’s day…

That was the challenge facing the FROG, the HOG and the DOG on a hot summer day…

The first day of summer was so hot and the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog were doing what good friends like doing on hot summer days, or any days, they were enjoying being together…

The day was too hot to hop, too hot to stomp and too hot to romp, nevertheless, the three friends knew just what to do…

The frog, the hog and the dog gathered along the edge of a nearby pond under a huge shade tree. While cooling my feet in the pond waters, I watched them with my trusty binoculars, as they tried their very best to stay cool…

The small friend, the green frog, sat on a lily pad in the pond, which helped cool its smooth skin…

Sometimes, it would slide into the water for a refreshing swim

The small frog thought that staying wet was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…

The big friend, the pinkish hog, flopped its rather big body in the muddy edge of the pond under a gigantic shade tree…

Because the hog was so big and so heavy, it sank into the soft mud, way up its wide sides, over its bottom and nearly covering its curly tail. The hog found the muddy water cool and comforting…

The big hog thought that laying in the mud on its side…

on its belly…

and on its back…

was a perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…

The medium size friend, the black and white dog with thick long hair, decided just to lay on the ground and rest…

The tall green grass nearly covered the dog’s eyes, nevertheless it could still see its friends by the pond, preferring to stay on dry ground, itself, deep in the blanket of soft, cool grass.

The dog thought that laying down and letting its tongue hang out the side of its mouth…

was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…

And while the frog, the hog and the dog relaxed under a shade tree, on a lily pad, in the mud, and on the grass, they could still see and speak to each other, friend to friend to friend, all about the fun times they have together…

And that is how the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog stayed cool on a hot first day of summer…

What do you do with your friends to stay cool on hot summer days?

Ben & Summer, brother & sister and best friends forever

Steve B

June 2021

If You Can’t Be There, Then Write A Story: #2, ‘Daisy The Dog Makes A Friend

The first story was a hit with the grandchildren. The video of our son reading it demonstrated they had great interest and even were able to decipher the sketches as to who was who. It was fun writing and illustrating the story. So much so, that I’m trying my hand at it, again.

As a reminder, the story is based on real events, all the way down to the staring.

Enjoy and any tips to help my sketching are appreciated.

Steve

The Bar Chronicle: #29, ‘There Are No Canaries In The Canary Islands…’*

*strange as it seems. I started this episode of ‘TBC’ in early 2020 and failed to finish it. Just found it, so here we go…

The cold and flu bug sacked two of us from our 29th ‘Bar Night’, including the ‘guest of honor’, tonight was to be his ‘swan song’ before heading for the Sunshine State, leaving us behind to suffer Lake Ontario’s winter wrath.

Of course, going south for warmer weather automatically designates you as the official buyer of rounds upon your return. He knows that and is eager to accommodate. Who wouldn’t be?

However, we still had a quorum, a legitimate excuse to ‘party’, four of us. And, we did, after the appropriate toast and well wishes.

Caverly’s Irish Pub, on South Ave., is still our favorite watering hole and we headed there again, on a Tuesday evening this time, instead of the usual Wednesday, and were surprised to find a full house. Don’t people know it’s winter?

That full house meant a loud house, so we ordered our ‘stouts and lites’ and made haste to an empty back room for some privacy and relative quiet. For me, even a ‘back room’ requires cupping the ear.

Tonight’s conversation seemed a bit different. We tabled any talk of extra terrestrials, for now, and filled our hour with brief , yet serious discussions of declining church attendance, Sudoku and humor, at the risk of repeating stories that we probably told in prior meetings.

We even discussed the importance of drinking water.

I came prepared with an article to share on health tips. One tip urged people to drink enough water, 8 cups a day. I’ve never been a big water drinker and find it challenging to swallow eight cups a day but have discovered that adding a dash of scotch makes it more palatable. Or is the other way around?

Starbucks coffee shops have very good water. It should be, it’s filtered three times and during hot summer months, I add a cup of water to my coffee order. And it’s free.

We ended the night on comedy. Laughing is a prescription for ending the day, or anytime, isn’t it? See what you think.

One among us knows how to set up a joke and he did it perfectly during our talk about stations in military service. He was in the Canary Islands at some point and dutifully noted for our consumption that, believe it or not, there are no canaries in the Canary Islands. I have no idea on the veracity of that statement, but he was setting us up, after all.

In the course of our discussion, the same gent offered that he also had been to the Virgin Islands. And guess what’s not in the Virgin Islands. That was my first thought, but no, it’s canaries, again. Think about it.

We headed home shaking our heads and chuckling because, it’s true, laughter is the best medicine.

Steve

Note: this was the last time the ‘Bar Nighters’ met before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down our gatherings. We next met in February 2021 via Zoom.

For more stories, check my WordPress blog, S’amusing, at ‘srbottch.com’

Bar Night Chronicles: No. 27, ‘The Reunion’

A year! A whole damn year! Oh, the stuff we ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ gabbed about. I say ‘gabbed’ because that’s what we do, six of us sitting around a beer stained table, ensconced in a mishmash of creaky, sometimes wobbly chairs, gabbing.

It’s a foggy description but if you let your imagination wander, you can picture us. Six older gentlemen, beer in hand, leaning in to hear the conversation over the din of background noises from bar talkers, dart players, and big screen ‘whatever game is playing’ television watchers.

Stop the show! I got carried away, delirious with wishful imagining, we have none of that tonight. A year has passed since our last actual bar soirée but it’s still Covid-19 season, hence we’re still following protocol; social distancing, maybe even self imposed isolation.

Tonight’s gathering, the first in a year, is via Zoom. Each of us has dialed in to a Bar Night teleconference, managed by a Zoom expert. Imagine faces in rectangular boxes arranged across the top of a PC monitor, like panelists on a game show. Think ‘Hollywood Squares’, the old television game show.

Tonight, it was ‘B.Y.O.B’ to the ‘Zoom’ experience and we raised them in a toast, giving thanks that each of us has maintained our health through the Covid months. We grinned proudly when showing our bottles to the group: Buds, Guinness, a lemonade…a lemonade? Boyish grins, revealed a playful innocence in holding up our bottles, like teens and boasting their first ‘nip’ with the gang.

Some of us had our Covid vaccines while others wait, a bit frustrated by the slow rollout and computer competition to try and snag available time slots when enough vaccines do arrive. But they will and we’ll all get ‘stuck’ by late Spring.

Did you see the news? A pilot on a commercial flight reported seeing ‘something’ he couldn’t identify pass over the plane. Something he couldn’t identify? While ground control couldn’t, or wouldn’t, one of our group could, and did. It’s ‘them’ and it’s been ‘them’ for years. Whoa, now the conversation got interesting.

The conversation has always been interesting over the past few years. Adding in UFOs and aliens to the mix gets everyone’s attention. Throw in the fact that even the US government is telling us in drips and drabs that there have been numerous spottings, unexplainable spottings, by legitimate sources (military pilots) over years, and this topic goes from kookie to classified. You can feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

This will make you sit up pay attention: https://www.history.com/news/skinwalker-ranch-paranormal-ufos-mutilation

Have any of you, the readers, experienced UFO sightings, or paranormal action? This is great topic for Bar Night. Fortunately, since I was already indoor, I didn’t worry about being outside, y’know, in ‘their’ environment, tonight.

Steve

“Oh, honey, would you mind taking out the trash tonight?”

February 2021. Click the Follow button to catch a story whenever I get the energy to write. They’re fun and cover a plethora of topics…

5, 4, 3 …’Weighing In’, In The Age of CoronaVirus

Life has its ups and downs, back and forths, give and takes, and, if we’re lucky, we just roll with the punches and things work out…..or get bigger.

Take waistlines, for instance. They start off small and stay that way for awhile, years, even. Then, one day you realize something has changed, you’ve ’rounded out’ in the middle, ‘widen’ in the posterior and ‘sagged’ a bit in the chest & abs. Six pack? Forgetaboutit!

The time has come for action to refine this one and only body and restore it to the sculptured look you once had, a temple. Hyperbole, maybe, but a wake-up call for sure.

So, you hit the gym and get to work, hard work, and it shows. Maybe you’re not quite the Adonis you once were but when you see yourself in the mirror, shirt off, and the scale has good numbers, then yes, total satisfaction. Your hard work is rewarded. It’s taken months, maybe years of sweat, soreness and sacrifice, but you did it. Give yourself an attaboy.

Then, almost overnight, the gym closes, the walking paths shut down, the heathy food flies off the shelf (along with toilet paper) and you’re sitting at home, in a daze, bloating on carbs and crackers and wondering what the hell just happened,

It’s the CoronaVirus curse and in no time at all, the ‘countdown’ starts, you’ve gone from the 5 hole on your belt to the 3 hole. You can feel the difference. And you know others can see it.

You want to get out and do something, something big, something that makes you shrink. A workout, that’s it. But you’re not a runner, not since a drill sergeant chased after you, barking all the way.

No, you’re a bit slower now, a little sedentary, accustomed to sitting around, thanks to CV. Besides, the ramped up cookie production in the convection oven needs tending, coffee needs brewing, the sofa needs fluffing.

The governor says, ‘Stay home!’ Such profundity! You like it. Besides, you’re in ‘that group’. Yes, the one everyone is worried about. So, you’re going nowhere, doing nothing and heading to the 1 hole, fast!

Hell, maybe you won’t even need a belt at this rate…

(Above courtesy of @markedman24 on Instagram)

Steve B

Srbottch.Com for more stories

To everyone who is anxious for the ‘lockdowns’ to end and we can get back to being ‘normal’.

‘Sweet Sapphires’ and Senior Moments

There they were, in tightly arranged rows of open plastic bags, next to the buck ninety-nine a pound red grapes.  With a deep blue color and elongated shape that reminded me of ‘Good & Plenty’ candy I enjoyed as a kid, and a name that rolled off my tongue, ‘Sweet Sapphires’, there they were.  I was mesmerized.

However, at ‘two bucks ninety-nine’, these little jewels were going cost me a bit more than I normally would pay for grapes this time of year.  Nevertheless, if they tasted as good as they looked, and they looked good (the picture doesn’t do justice) the decision would be easy.

I like ‘observing’ people, not staring but just noticing their behavior, idiosyncrasies and habits.  Aren’t you repulsed by folks who stand over the grapes, pinch a few from open bags to sample, then walk away or buy a different bag?  How uncouth! And the ‘perps’ generally are Seniors, older people who should know better.

Yet, I must admit these ‘Sweet Sapphires’ were tantalizingly attractive.  I sensed they were teasing me. Then, I reminded myself, ‘Hey, I’m a Senior’ and there was my ‘in’, my excuse, the justification for what I sensed was about to happen.

In a moment of personal weakness, I was overcome with the same sense of entitlement these Seniors seem to have when fiddling with the fruit. My values became compromised, my judgement clouded and like Sandburg’s fog, I was surrounded by silence, guilt free, or so it seemed, as I stood fixated on those ‘Sweet Sapphires’.

My mouth was awash with the swill of free flowing saliva.  Discipline, be damned, I cast caution aside and succumbed. Delicious! No one grabbed, scolded or even glared contemptuously at me. Ahhh, entitlement, Senior style, it could be addictive.

I didn’t stop with grapes, I moved on to bananas and separated my number from the bunches. I peeled back the corn husks to check for worms and even squeezed the plums for firmness, putting each one back and moving on.

This freedom to pick and choose exhilarated me as I made my way to the check out with a bounce in my step, albeit slowly and with a gimp. For here was the final payoff of my newly awakened older self, the Senior Citizen discount.

What? Not available on groceries?  I knew that but I’m asking anyway. The new me, the entitled Senior, will ask every time. I will tell corny jokes, drive at slower speed and use subpar hearing to my advantage. The wrinkles, baldness, sore joints and rounded shoulders tell the world that I’ve earned this status. It’s an entitlement world for me now, and I’ve got the ‘scars’ to prove it.

Now, if I can only remember where I parked my car…

“Excuse me, young fella!”

“Why? Why? Why?…”

BANG!

I thought I’d been shot.

My wife came running and was startled to find me flat on my back, expecting the chalk police to arrive any second to outline my perimeter on the hot blacktop and wrap our house with yellow ‘crime scene’ tape.

“What happened”, she asked, with a bit of worry in her voice.

“I misread the ‘psi’ on the tire and over inflated the damn thing, it blew itself to smithereens”. Sometimes, I impress myself with how quickly I can answer her deposition-like questions, but she saw right through me this time, as I tried to misplace the blame on the tire, itself.

wheelbarrow 1

‘How could you be so careless (you nincompoop)’? Wow, that hurt more than the ‘shot’.

She didn’t actually call me a nincompoop, but after decades of marriage, a husband knows his better half’s thoughts. Her eyes spoke ‘Nincompoop’‘.

However, it seemed a good time to employ a favorite troubleshooting tool of quality control personnel, the ‘5 Why’. State the issue, then ask a series of ‘why’ questions that lead to the root cause.  Let’s try it…

My wheelbarrow tire blew apart.  Why?

I over inflated it. Why?

I misread the psi number on the sidewall. Why?

I didn’t look at it carefully. Why?

Because I’m an old guy with bony knees and if I get down on the ground to look closely, then I may not get up again. Why?

It’s Life!

There, it works, doesn’t it. I seemed to have discovered the irrefutable and undeniable root cause of the tire explosion and deafening sound, Life, and I’m not sure there’s a ‘corrective action’. More ‘Whys’ might help, but Life is very challenging. Agree?

Fortunately, no injuries were sustained other than a momentary loss of senses, a temporary deafness and total embarrassment.

Have you ever crossed paths with ‘carelessness’? A friend cut a live electrical wire at home with nary a tickle. A brother-in-law used an electric hedge clipper to trim fingernails and only suffered 32 stitches. ‘Lady Luck’ was on their side this time. Or a Guardian Angel!

Unlike cats, we have 1 Life, so let’s be careful with it, not careless. And if you are the latter, try asking yourself, ‘Why?’. Ask it as many times as necessary to find the root cause of your ‘nincompoopness’. And, yes, while she may not say it, you’ll know she’s thinking it. Just look at her eyes…the ones that have been watching your faux pas for years.

Steve
July 2018
srbottch.com

To husbands, everywhere, but especially Steve P and Gary C for ‘giving’ me a story!  Be careful!

Let’s Face It…You Can’t Fight Gravity

My audiologist laughed, maybe scoffed is a better term, when I boasted that I was writing a story titled, ‘My Ears Are Getting Bigger, But My Hearing Is Getting Worse’.

“You may get a few chuckles, but you’d be technically incorrect. Our ears actually stop growing at age six.” Six? Well, that explains the teasing by an older sister, whom, I suspect, had already ‘grown into her ears’.

“It’s probably gravity that’s making your ears look bigger, unless you wear heavy ear fashions”, he snickered. “I suggest you change the one word to ‘longer’.”

Gravity, huh? It started me thinking, is it the same gravity that caused my six pack abs to drop and cover my belt? Truth be told, I never had six pack abs. Have the bags under my eyes settled there because of gravity? What about the sides of my mouth turning down in a constant frown? Gravity? I used to blame my mother who, strangely enough, had the same look. It’s become a workout of constant smiling to keep them turned upward.

So many other areas of the human body change over time and gravity must be the catalyst there, as well. How else can we explain drooping shoulders, double chins and sagging fannies? The inch of height I lost must have gone into my feet because they’re wider and flatter. Gravity, again!

Given enough time, I’ll be measured as one foot high x three feet wide. And it’s happening fast. One day you can stretch like a rubber band, and the next you’re locked up tighter than a rusty nut.

You add Move Free to your daily supplements to help your joints, and suppositories to actually help you ‘move free’.

When did it all change? When did we cross that imaginary line of tight skin, standing tall, get up and go, to drooping, stooping and pooping? It’s time to fight back.

Tug on those loose fitting sweats (yes, mine were form fitting once, too, but that train left the station years ago), tie up your laces (if you can still reach them), and kick the mp3 into high volume (don’t worry about damaging your hearing, it’s probably shot, anyway) and move to the rhythm of an upbeat tempo (personally, I’m stuck on Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’).

You may not draw that loose skin back to place, a doctor can do that if it’s important. But I bet you’ll feel better and look better, at least in your own eyes, if they’re any good.

Let’s face it, this body, longer ears and all, has served us well. Take care of it and have fun moving.

Steve
srbottch.com
January 2018

To Sir Issac Newton who gave us an ‘understanding’ of gravity

The Bar Chronicles: #13, The Gift

Bar Night 2

This evening’s soirée found us at a classy sports bar, The Back Nine in Pittsford, NY. The word ‘soirée’ seemed appropriate for this place, a cut above the ‘corner bars’ where we’ve been accustomed to resting our elbows.

Why this upscale establishment? I was the recipient of a surprise gift card to The Back Nine by a couple of very savvy young friends who suggested that it might be a good place to go with my ‘senior’ friends (they’re so polite) on bar night. I appreciated their generosity, was impressed with their recommendation and ‘awed’ that my readership is so young.

We ordered Guinness and Rohrbach Scotch Ale, hoisted ourselves onto the ‘bar height’ chairs, raised our glasses with a wish to good health, then started the dialogue.

“I’m throwing them out. Haven’t played in years and I need the space”, one of us began. And I thought, oh my, I’m having a tough time making that same decision. Old golf clubs and other stuff that I just can’t seem to push to the curb.

Old fishing tackle and salt corroded reels that caught whoppers and could tell the same. Old yearbooks with classmates I can’t remember and a picture that I swear isn’t me. And old books, the ‘trophies’ of my intellect, all a reflection of who I am. But all just stuff, old stuff.

Then, it hit me, on our 13th ‘bar night’ we’ve run out of stimulating topics and resorted to ‘end of life’ issues: paring down, getting rid of, throwing away.

“You know that farmers can fix anything”, interrupted the former farm boy at our table. I was thankful for the change of topic, the thought of unloading my personal inventory was getting depressing. But farming?

He continued, “Everyone should be a farmer for a while”! I considered his philosophy and doubted I would survive among all that equipment and stuff you walk in, but I now know who to call to fix my disassembled front door bell, another of my failed ‘DIY’ projects.

With our conversation beginning to drone and eyelids getting heavy, we managed to ‘unhoist’ ourselves from the tall chairs, snapped a photo and headed home. A red fox darted across the road, then stopped to look back. I thought to myself, that critter would look manly stuffed and displayed on my shelf…could a farmer do that for me?

3 Geezers

Steve
Srbottch.Com

To all who are starting to get rid of stuff, saving someone else the trouble.

Special thanks to Alice & David.

.

She Made Me What I Am Today, An ‘Ironman’: The Promise

She made me what I am today, an ‘Ironman’!

Processed with MOLDIV
(photo by Glenn Higgins)*

 Iron2  Excuse me, did I say ‘Ironman’? My bad, I meant, ‘Ironing Man’. I’m an ‘ironing man’: shirts, pants, cloth napkins, aprons (not mine…yet), pillowcases, etc.

Dusting, yes, a critical skill.  It’s tedious but you won’t find creepy bugs housekeeping along our crown molding and baseboard. As for the hardwoods, the Swiffer tool is my choice. Gripping it a certain way let’s you ‘slap shot’ those pesky ‘dust bunnies’ into a corner for easy gathering.

Swiffer

Both chores combine housecleaning and athleticism: the multiple reps of a weightlifter sliding a water filled iron back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and the steady, rhythmic gliding of a ballroom dancer sweeping across polished hardwood. My wristband monitor goes off the charts on cleaning day.

The best benefit, of course, is the ‘come hither’ look of appreciation in my wife’s approving eyes. But, alas, by the time I’ve ‘pressed’ my last pleat, ‘pushed up’ from bunny hunting under the bed or ‘power dragged’ the Hoover over the dog haired rug, I’m too tired to go anywhere, hither or not.

Meantime, the golf clubs have lost their shine, the gym membership is going unused and the resistance bands have dry rot. Nevertheless, I’m staying in shape with squats (toilet bowl cleaning), bends & reaches (dishwasher loading/unloading), heavy lifting (turning a queen mattress) and sprints (“hurry, the dog needs to go out”).

The genesis of these new found domestic skills can be traced back to something I did forty-eight years ago, I made a promise.  Promises, vows, oaths, call them what you will, are important to our own notion of self-worth, when kept.  They measure us for trustworthiness. They address our character and integrity.

Promises call for sacrifice and commitment. In my case, I didn’t commit to housecleaning but I did promise my everlasting support. LIFE changes, doesn’t it?  Priorities get rearranged.

Yet, somehow, IT’s worked out satisfactorily. I have well pressed handkerchiefs and there’s no stress of calling ahead for a tee time.

I just need someone to show me how to fold a fitted sheet…

Sheets
Steve
srbottch.com (July 2017)

To legions of men everywhere who help with the housework, whether you admit it or not, because you want or need to do it.

*thank you Glenn Higgins for the sculptured body photo (GlennHigginsFitness.com)