Friday, November 21, 2008

Have you ever been to Kalamazoo?

Written for my son, Hunter, but really for all the little (and big) kids in my life....

Have you ever been to Kalamazoo?
They have the most amazing zoo,
With animals you’d never think
Could live and eat and dance and drink.

They have the Pink Alurahoo
The most popular sight at the zoo.
It’s tall and thin and pink with green
Once thought to be very mean,
Until a Kalazoologist found
They’re extremely shy and don’t like loud sounds.

So to view the Pink Alurahoo
You go in pairs, NEVER more than two,
Then quietly stand behind the wall
And don’t make any noise at all,
Look behind the Loohura tree
And the elusive Alurahoo you will see.

Another creature at the Kalamazoo
Comes from the bogs of Tir Na Nu.
It’s long, and brown with shiny scales
And likes to munch moss and little green snails.
It has big eyes that constantly blink
Unfortunately it sure does stink.
They call this creature the Odiferous Nog
Of The Almost Unknown Tir Na Nu Bog,
An awfully long name for something that smells
And sits around munching on snail shells.

They have the Horsog of Crosby Falls.
Who likes to dance by the light of the moon
On a summer evening toward the end of June.
He looks a little bit like a dog,
with the legs of a horse and the eyes of a hog,
But it’s truly the friendliest little thing
And sometimes when he dances he sings.
So if you are in Kalamazoo in June
You can watch the Horsog dance
By the light of the moon.

I like the Alurahoo and the Odiferous Nog
And I especially like that little Horsog
But I never leave Kalamazoo without going to see
The especially smart Tingtang Turakazee.

He’s a little grey mouse with the softest of fur
That comes from an ancient forest in Kur,
He’s very well read, enjoys Black Pekoe Tea,
Recites rhymes, quotes the sages, and can just talk for ages;
He answers the questions his visitors pose
Usually in song or the nicest of prose.
If you bring him some vegetables and a dumpling or two
He’ll make you an amazing Kurama Stew.
He’s a popular fellow
You must call in advance,
But you must stop to see him if you get the chance.

So next time you’re traveling out with your friends
And you need somewhere to go that you’ve never been,
Take a trip to the spot found in Kalamazoo
You’ll find all kinds of creatures
And have lots of fun too.

Copyright 2005 – all rights reserved

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not plane, nor bird, nor even frog.....

I'm on a cartoon roll now, trying to remember all my favorites. This, obviously was one. So you can sing along if you'd like....

"When criminals in this world appear,
And break the laws that they should fear,
And frighten all who see or hear,
The cry goes up both far and near for
Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!
Speed of lightning! Roar of thunder!
Fighting all who rob or plunder!
Underdog! Underdog!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Daryl's Hot Peppers

This spring my friend Daryl gave me some seeds from a pepper he had wrapped up in tinfoil. He had been to a restaurant for dinner and complimented the chef on the meal and particularly the peppers. Well, the peppers were imported from Italy and he gave Daryl an actual pepper (hence the tinfoil wrapping). Well, Daryl knows I like to grow things and he was very excited at the prospect that he was going to be able to end up with bunches of these delicious peppers. I sprouted the seeds in the windowsill, transplanted them in the garden and they were growing steadily, getting big and green and bushy when I had a Japanese beetle invasion, so I lost a number of the plants. Fortunately I had kept some plants in pots on the porch and I didn’t lose all the pepper plants in the garden, one disaster averted. I watered them, I talked to them, and I picked the bugs off their leaves. At the end of the season I had a fair number of interesting looking, long, multi-colored (some green, some yellow, some orange) peppers to harvest.

The next step was to figure out exactly how to preserve them. I wanted to do Italian style preservation in what I assumed would be just olive oil, but every recipe I found was more towards pickling. I had all kinds of friends and relatives looking high and low for recipes on preserving peppers. Finally I modified one recipe from many. Then I looked at our “harvest” and I worried that if the recipe was bad I’d have no peppers to give Daryl. I assembled all my ingredients on the counter, picked out some jars for packing, got out the pots and pans; then I started getting really nervous, actually I had a panic attack. So I went and rearranged the pantry shelves and drank a couple beers while I was doing that. Then I looked at the pepper plants lined up in front of the windows. I rearranged all my pepper preserving materials on the counter again because they were in the wrong order. I called my girlfriend Suzanne who reviewed the recipe with me and gave me a pep talk. After hanging up the phone I circled the counter a few times and then looked at the clock and decided it was too late to put by peppers. I went to bed.

After a fitful night of tossing and turning and dreaming about all the horrible things that could go wrong, I got up a the crack of dawn, picked a peck of peppers, washed them off in the sink, rearranged all my stuff on the counter and decided to make myself a fortifying cup of tea. After feeding the piggies and circling the counter numerous times I yelled, “F**k It, it’s just damn PEPPERS!”, and I jumped in. I did one small batch and snuck them into Daryl’s fridge when he wasn’t looking. Then I went out for a few cocktails and put the whole experience out of my mind. I figured if Daryl didn’t like them I’d try something different, and if he liked them, well then it was worth all the worrying wasn’t it.

Guess what – he liked them, he really, really liked them. He told Paul (my better half) that they were good and he was looking forward to getting more. Needless to say the recipe has now become my “secret” Daryl’s Hot Peppers recipe. Here’s what it looked like when I put the rest of the peppers up. I saved a few that are drying for the seeds and I’m already looking forward to next year’s crop.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I need your opinion. Have I told you about 100 Words? (See Campville Preferred Links on the right of this blog)

100 Words is a website where you sign up to write 100 words a day - exactly 100 words, no more and no less.

I failed miserably.

I wrote 100 words a day for 12 days and then I got backed up, bogged down – work, kids, other writing, laundry, dishes, feeding the animals (I currently have 3 piggies, 2 boys, and a dog) – Arrgghhhhh!

It was challenging writing in such a restricted form; seeing what you can come up with, see if you can keep the thoughts in some kind of sensible form. The problem is I seem to always start and never finish. (See my previous blog post
Friday, April 18th – Continuation of a Short Story); an idea that has not reached maturation either.

So I need your opinion. Please make a comment; good, bad or ugly I would really like your opinion on both pieces. Is this something I should continue, or should I give up the ghost and move along?

The note said, “If you can’t love me enough to let me be me without cursing my ways, just let me go. This is who I am. You can’t change me.”

The paper it was written on had been opened and closed so often that it was soft as buttery lambskin, the edges indistinct, the writing beginning to blur.

He folded it once again and placed it carefully under the torn lining of his wallet. The wallet he slipped back into the pocket of his jeans.

“Mitch?” his wife’s voice drifted across the yard. He rose slowly from the picnic table.

All under control, dear,” lifting the lid of the grill he turned the control knobs to high and hit the starter.

Two clicks and propane flames licked the edge of the burner. It burned blue close to the element that released the gas, yellow as the flame licked at the air. Just like always, two clicks of the button and the flame burst forth.

Staring at the flames, her laughter, lilting, musical, floated on the air. Just the thought of her ignited a burning in his stomach and spread toward his balls. Just thinking about her did that to him.

He knew her smile, her laugh, could start a fire in most men. It made them do stupid things. It made them crazy. It made him crazy, he’d really loved her. She’d said she loved him, then wanted to leave; was that love, was it?

Mitch grabbed the thick, red sirloin and slapped it down on the hot rack. It sizzled, spit, protesting as the flames reached hungrily higher and hotter searing the flesh; just like she had sizzled, her flesh burning, her smile melting away.

Nausea boiled in his belly. He closed his eyes against the world swirling by.


He hurried around the corner thinking of the morning’s first hot cup of Joe, of glancing through the New Milford Times as he sipped that coffee at the counter, of picking up Molly’s watch from the jewelers when he finished with all that.

As he rushed along headfirst, looking down at his feet instead of where he was going, he almost knocked her down.

“Well, hello handsome,” she said as she giggled that luscious giggle of hers. “Why are you in such a rush?”

He stared drop jawed like a smitten schoolboy.

“Well, I, umm, getting coffee, yeah, umm, coffee.”

“I drink tea and I could really use a cup. Mind if I join you?”

She locked arms with him, looking up expectantly. Mitch stood frozen; his brain wasn’t working in any kind of cognizant way. He stuttered, he fumbled, all senses grasping at her freshness, her smile, flashing white; her laugh, girlish and magnetic.

“I, you aren’t from around here are you?”

Mitch moved forward desperate to recover his senses, a feeble-minded school boy he was not; reaching up to touch her hand resting so lightly on his arm, a warning flash, the morning sun on his wedding band.

As the light caught his eye Molly’s brunette bob and freckled face flashed in his mind.

“I’m on the run, as you noticed,” he laughed lamely. He moved forward disconnecting his elbow from her hand with little to no finesse at all.

Laughing in return as she kept step alongside him, “I‘ll just walk with you then.”

“Weren’t you headed in the other direction?”

“Like you said, I’m new around here, so I have an excuse for going in the wrong direction. I could really use a cup of tea. My name’s Grace by the way.”

“Well, Grace, I’m Mitch.”


Molly stared out the kitchen window at Mitch lighting the grill. She washed and slowly dried her hands, a light breeze gently stirring the curtains. Her mouth pursed, wrinkles formed between her eyes as she lost herself in thought. Mitch had been acting so different lately. Not like himself at all.

They had known each other since grammar school. What Molly had always loved about Mitch was his steadiness, his dependability. Lately he had been scattered, unreliable, unavailable; just recently she and Mrs. Johnson had to wait outside the Public Library for 45 minutes. He said he’d forgotten; how odd.

The hours he’d been keeping lately were very sporadic. She used to be able to set her watch by his comings and goings, but now? True, he had gotten much busier at work since he’d taken on a new client, the Aspinwalls. Mitch had complained several times that whenever he completed an architectural draft as requested they came back with numerous changes.

Molly sighed. Blowing a wisp of brown hair from her face she turned from the sink to the butcher block. Picking up the knife she absentmindedly began chopping cabbage. The Rhineharts would arrive soon for their afternoon picnic.

She was glad Sally and Charlie would be joining them. The Rhineharts and the Wildes had been close for years now. Charlie, Mitch and Grace had all grown up together. There had been an uncomfortable time for a bit in high school; a love triangle thing, kinda. It had been complicated and confusing, until Grace remembered what she’d always known; she would marry Mitch. He had kissed her in kindergarten under the big oak tree and told her it would be so. Looking into his blue eyes, calm as the sky on a hot August day, she never doubted him.

Charlie had gone on to attend agricultural college in the Midwest. Mitch had headed to the city to obtain his design degree. He had always loved to imagine, to draw, to build. A career as an architect had seemed as inevitable for him, as farming was for Charlie.

For as long as they all could remember Charlie had dug in the earth, driven tractors, milked the cows, baled hay. His family had been farming for generations; it was a lifestyle Charlie embraced.

While they were growing up, Westchester County folk were slowly and steadily creeping toward their quiet country town.

As if overnight old dairy barns were torn down. Large swaths of pasture were cordoned off into postage stamp sized lots; the same little house in different colors grew up as if replacing the cows.

Charlie had always wanted to save the working farms, and each time another family folded under the pressure and cashed in their land, their inheritance, well it was so sad.

At least when that did happen Mitch spun them into what they all jokingly referred to as “new fangled old homes”; he tried to cultivate clients who at least loved the idea of a farm.

Molly worked steadily in the kitchen moving from sink to refrigerator to the counter, chopping vegetables, molding hamburger patties, folding mayonnaise into the potato salad. Stopping at the sink she gazed out at her husband sullenly drinking a beer at the picnic table staring into the flames from the grill.

“Patience, patience; I need to just wait. He’ll tell me what’s going on when he ready. Just wait, just wait, just wait.”

She’d been repeating this over and over in her head for weeks, a silent prayer, a daily mantra, reminding herself of the faith she had in her husband.