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’

The Bar Night Chronicles: #30, ‘And The Survey Says…’

Five of the Bar Nighters ‘Zoomed in’, again, for an evening of general talk, laughs, useful tips, and, of course, beer. Yes, beer.

Our entire reason for gathering is ‘brotherhood’, but beer enhances it, and we can manage 1 for the night. The one among us who opted for Jack Daniels* Tennessee whiskey, America’s top selling whiskey, might believe he gets more enhancement with ‘JD’. No doubt, he does.

As usual, and most importantly, the night began with a toast: ‘Here’s to our group and…” (In Zoom, you need to raise your bottles high enough for the device’s camera to find it) “…to the good news that we’re all well and getting shots, Covid shots. Here’s to our friendship. Cheers!

And, the survey says, ‘what’s your favorite breakfast?’ Thought I’d open the ‘beer clutch’ with a probing question. And, since I asked, then it’s best to go first.

Oatmeal!

But not just plain oatmeal. ‘WOODSTOCK’ 5 Grain Cereal (it’s oatmeal) topped with raisins, crushed walnuts, sliced bananas and blueberries. WOW!

Flood it with milk and let it ‘stew’ in the refrigerator overnight for a morning concoction that makes your taste buds yell, ‘Hallelujah’ with the first spoonful. Who knew oatmeal tasted so good?

Apparently, just about everyone. Oatmeal was the favorite of three of us, cold or hot. Kashi cereal had a vote and one opted for tea and toast every morning. A nice, but dainty, ritual. Not surprisingly, it seems that we stick with our favorite on a daily basis. Creatures of habit or sensible eaters? Both, most likely.

Join the survey, what’s your favorite breakfast meal?

After my last ‘Chronicles’ posting, a few readers expressed a sentiment that the Bar Nights would be fun to join. We’d love to have you. And while our conversation isn’t titillating, at evenings end we’re emotionally satisfied. A social gathering is meant to be like that, isn’t it?

A ‘Zoom’ Bar Night is okay, but sitting alone in a sterile environment, our homes, isn’t the same as gathering together amid the sights, sounds and, yes, smells of a pub. I’ve alluded in earlier ‘Chronicles’.

However, upcoming Bar Nights may find us social distancing in a backyard, the next step up from Zooming. Under the stars would be great since we’re certain to discuss aliens/UFOs, one of our favorite topics, especially since we have an amateur ‘ufologist’ (yes, that’s a word) in our group. When he talks, the group is silent and attentive, like kids listening to a spooky story. It’s fun, now, as it was then.

Maybe, just maybe, a one in a million chance that we could have an alien join the circle of friendship. How would the ‘authorities’ report that in official government files?

Keep posted to the Bar Chronicles for upcoming information on UFO reports. And don’t forget the survey!

Steve (March 2021)

On WordPress at ‘srbottch.com’. On Instagram at ‘@srbottch’

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…

The Bar Chronicles: #22, UFOs (and you thought we only came for the beer)

Bar Night 2

The forecast called for rain, freezing rain and a quick blast of snow. Our plans called for beer, a cold beer and a heavy dose of camaraderie.

We would not be denied!

However, as veterans of western New York weather (a.k.a. ‘old guys’) with familiarity of the dreaded ‘black ice’, we walked cautiously from car to bar, looking out for each other as friends are wont to do, ready to reach out at the first slip.

A good thing, too, because tonight, at Caverly’s Irish Pub in the Southwedge neighborhood, our first Bar Night of 2019, we had a potpourri of topics on our agenda. In truth, we don’t have an agenda, we just get our beers, sit down and talk, ‘unplugged’!

First things first, goodbyes were in order for one of our dear friends in the group. Oh, Heavens no, not that kind of goodbye. he’s only going to Florida for a couple of months. Will be back here in March when he hopes winter will be just a fading memory. We all know, of course, that winter along the southern shores of the Great Lake, Ontario, lingers well beyond March, often with big surges deep into April.

We lifted our mugs high, or as best we could with sore elbows, bum shoulders and oil can joints, and wished our friend safe travels, warm weather and a speedy return because next time, he buys.

Do you believe in UFOs, other planets that sustain life? Do we occupy this vast system of universes just ourselves, we earthlings? It’s easy to be a skeptic, isn’t it. If you haven’t seen something, then it probably doesn’t exist. Or, have we seen it?

Got your attention? And you thought we only came for the beer. Not at all, but it helps. As we age and become more erudite (remember, the beer helps) we begin to address Life’s lingering questions, such as, ‘is anyone out there’?

What did the Navy pilots aboard the USS Nimitz actually see when they encountered … what shall we call it, a spaceship… off the California coast in 2004? The US government has records of the incident, an incredible story that involved well trained, experienced and credible personnel.

I know, you have your doubts. Read about it, yourself. Look up ‘USS Nimitz & UFO incident’ for a full version. Don’t take a writer’s word, I’m just trying to get and keep your attention. Maybe this Wikipedia article will turn you a little…

The USS Nimitz UFO incident refers to a 2004 radar-visual encounter of an unidentified flying object by US fighter pilots of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. In December 2017, infrared footage of the encounter was released to the public.

This Bar Nighters were getting into some serious topics, tonight, eh. And it wasn’t the beer talking, heck, we only drank one. No, this was deep thinking material, esoterica, one might say.

I looked at our clear skies differently on the drive home tonight and paused in my driveway after dropping off the last rider; stars as far as I could see, a limitless vista. I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘is anything looking back at me’, as I lowered the garage door and scooted inside.

Here’s a link for more basic data about our skies and those beyond…

https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/news-display.cfm?News_ID=573

And you thought we went out just for the beer.

Steve

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The Bar Chronicles: #20, It’s Nice To Be Driven…(and some Jeff Bezos)

“Dad, may I borrow the car tonight?  I’m picking up some friends and we’re going for a beer, or two, at Caverly’s Irish Pub. No, we won’t be late, nine-thirty, maybe ten.”

Okay, so I’ve conflated two phases of my life into one fantasy.

It was another night of ‘howling at the moon’ for our cadre at Caverly’s. Do ‘old dogs’ howl?  Regardless, this iconic corner bar with all its pub accoutrements wins our support, again, for its neighborhood ambiance…and cheap beer prices.

As we unfolded ourselves from the car, one rider commented, ‘it’s nice to be driven’. That line made me recall my teen years when I was fortunate to have a dad who let me take the family car, almost whenever I asked: high school dances, Sunday night youth group at church, movie dates or a late night snack with friends.  He trusted me with the keys, and I loved to drive.

Nowadays, multiples of teen years later, I still enjoy being the driver. And picking up my friends is the same now, as then, but today’s destination is quite different. Yet, the activity is somewhat similar, sitting around a table with friends and gabbing, with a drink in hand, beer today but a soda, or ‘tonic’*, then.

Caverly’s was irritatingly noisy this night. It was Thursday Night Football on the cursed TV, every bar has them, and one overbearing fan was in his full fan mode. Seemingly, every play required a bellow of approval or disapproval, making our conversation challenging.

But we did manage to discuss Jeff Bezos and his choice of Amazon as a name for his empire. Here’s an interesting speech by Bezos when Amazon was only six and he had hair:  https://youtu.be/YlgkfOr_GLY.

This is the twentieth night of ‘Bar Night’ and ‘The Bar Chronicles’ stories. Looking ahead, I suggested we do something special for the twenty-fifth gathering, sometime next Spring. My idea of a celebratory calendar, ‘The Men of The Bar Chronicles’, was poo-poohed. I was ready to rock ‘n roll with some camera shoots but the reluctance was obvious.

Any suggestions from readers?  Maybe we should just go for some burgers and beer. It would be like the teen years when a coke-a-cola and sandwich satisfied appetites at the local HoJo’s, or Friendly’s.

Times change, years go by, but some things are steadfast.  It’s nice to recall that my dad trusted my driving, and it’s a good feeling to know my adult friends do, now.  I still love to drive…

…and the Amazon River is still the biggest!

*New England speak for soda, pop, etc.

To all who remember the fun of driving the old man’s car

‘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!”

“Whosis, Whatsis and Whatchamacallit”

ALERT: this story isn’t for everyone, just those in long term relationships, say 30, 40 or 50 years. However, you’re still welcome to read it…

“Honey, I’m home from, ah, whatchamacallits. Whosis was there, she’ll see us at, you know, whatsis place Saturday.”

“Okay!”

And with that exchange, we affirm our relationship is stronger than ever…again!

Do you recognize it? Sound familiar? I expect those of you in long term relationships are nodding in the affirmative.  You know each other so well that substitute words suffice in place of real words, the ones that escape us momentarily. Gibberish fills the void and, strangely enough, we understand each other. How does that work?

This behavior confirms my belief that as we grow older with our life partner, our spirits, habits and language meld, allowing us to behave almost as one. There must be a term for it?

With a certain bravado, I proffered this theory to my whosis, a nonbeliever of most of my ‘proffers’. Almost had her convinced until the suggestion that we’re even starting to look alike, the longer we’re together. With a stare that would stop a charging ‘whatchamacallit’ in its tracks, that notion destroyed whatever credibility I may have had with her.

You may disagree but think of your own situation. Do you finish each other’s sentences? Do you say something like, “honey, I know what you’re thinking”? Do you both start to express the same thought on cue? See, you’re coming around, right?

How did all this ‘oneness’ happen? Where did our habits, idiosyncrasies and brains not just intersect, but converge and become of one mind on the graph of Life? When did I start letting her pick out my clothes? And when did she trust me with grocery shopping?

Whenever and however, the fact remains that it happens. And it’s a good thing it does. Think of the waste of time trying to remember the real words when gibberish will do. So,  when the time comes that you can’t think of each other’s names, just throw in some ‘gib’, keep the conversation going, enjoy yourself, no matter who your with, or think you’re with!

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”
Friedrich Nietzsche*  

To all my friends and their whatchamallits…

Steve
Srbottch.Com
October 2018

*(Goodreads.com)

The Bar Chronicles: #19, “But, Your Honor, It Was Only Manure”…The Story Tellers

Bar Night 2

We sat among the boisterous patrons of Cavalry’s Irish Pub, enjoying a break from another long hot summer day. With cold beers in hand, the mood brought out the best in our diverse table-talk, as we prattled on about Leonardo DaVinci, mathematics, world population, and ‘stealing’ manure.  If that doesn’t run the gamut from haughty to hillbilly, nothing does.

Caverly’s was unusually noisy this warm September weeknight, even the normally sedate ‘bar dogs’ were feisty whenever a friendly face sauntered in from the street. Nevertheless, frayed by the season long struggle against heat and humidity of this oppressive summer weather, patrons were enjoying a relaxing evening of camaraderie. a typical bar scene, strangers talking with strangers as though they were long time friends.

It was difficult to hear the sordid details of the one among our small group describing his appearance before the local magistrate on crap caper charges, years ago, of course. A good story was developing and our Senior group leaned in with hand-cuffed ears, straining to hear the narrative and guffawing, as Seniors do, when a funny story is finished.

Seniors are good story-tellers.  With longevity comes a trove of life experiences, good fodder for comedic routines around a drinking table. We are wonderful receptors of these stories, too, because we’ve experienced a potpourri of crazy stuff and can identify with much of it, even when the details are embellished by the story teller.

What we did hear tonight was funny, the misadventures of a young man innocently trespassing onto a farmer’s field for a trunk load of bovine excrement to use as fertilizer, and the resulting incarceration in the back of a police squad car and subsequent court appearance to answer charges. How does one explain a charge of ‘stealing manure” to a judge? We laugh now, years later, but at the time, there was genuine concern for the potential damage to a good reputation.   

Some stories are best told in a bar scene when the collected few are mellow and easily moved to believe, and laugh.  And the teller, himself, is likely more animated by the attentive audience he knew, and the few strangers he didn’t, leaners-in from adjacent tables and stools, hanging on for the verdict.

These stories are the essence of our ‘bar nights’, friends gathering to enlighten each other with opinions, observations and anecdotes. The beer is secondary. We can’t drink that much, anyway. One or two and we’re on our way home, richer for the experience and ready to drift asleep with good thoughts and smiles of another ‘bar night’ with good friends 

Do you have a story waiting to be told?  Tell it to friends and have a good laugh! Maybe have a beer with it.

Steve
September 2018
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