Category Archives: Lexington-Today

A Ghost of Canine Past

Dogs.

We don’t deserve ‘em.

And we can’t forget ‘em.

Before Chloe, the Queen of Facial Debris, bounded, crashed, shook like Southern California, and howled like a banshee into our lives, there was a predecessor.

She left us before this blog commenced. That’s not fair. She should be part of this foolishness.

Please indulge me.

Lilly was a pup of many, mostly odd, parts. From the racing stripe on her nose to the tightly curled tail and in between with the bow legs, bat ears, and a galaxy of speckles – the ingredients invited the constant query; “What kind of dog is she?” Our answer would vary. “She’s a pan-mixian”. “She’s a custom blend”. You get the idea. The answer was simpler when it was just Janie and me and Lilly in the room and the question was posed; “She’s a good dog.” It was a true answer and one that accurately summed the total of Lil’s aspirations.

She was a dog of several titles. She was the Princess-of-Providence-Road, the Bane-of-Lawn-Care-Trailers, the “Great Speckled Pup” (she would roll her eyes in embarrassment) and of course to every child just learning to speak she was the Cute-Little-Doggie (she really hated that one). She even had a stage name, Miss Lillian Smackerbutt, though the actual stage career never materialized – the world’s loss there.

I was lucky enough to be with her at magical times.

One afternoon I unleashed her on the old rugby field at UK and stood amazed as she turned that grassy meadow into the Bonneville Salt Flats. I swear I heard a sonic boom. She was so very fast and so very pleased with herself.

I was with her on many of her epic vole hunts, including the day she made one fly over six feet up in the air. It gave the poor vole a moment of stratospheric (for a vole) glory before it plunged to its doom.

Lil and I had a never-resolved 15-year debate on the subject of what constituted “food” and what was “non-food”. She was radically more liberal and inclusive than I on the subject.

She had strong cinematic opinions (her avocation) and a complete and total devotion to Janie (her official occupation).

I could write a book.

But it’s simpler than that.

She was a good dog and a better friend.

Mission accomplished.

The Busy Bee Club

I like children.

My first job was as a clerk in the Children’s Department of the Lexington Public Library. For three years or so, I shelved, catalogued, read, recommended, and checked-out books by Seuss, Blyton, Kendall, Lofting, and multitudinous others.

I also listened to books…long before audio books were popular.

We would have clubs to spur reading in the kids. I remember the “Busy Bee Club.” Kids would receive credit for every book they read. The credits would translate into little paper bees bearing the child’s name, which would then be placed on a large poster of a bee hive for all the world to see. Of course, the claim of readership would have to be verified to earn their bee.

That’s where I came in. I would sit and quiz the child about each book.

“Tell me about Oobleck.”

“What is this picture of a two-headed animal?”

“Who is Muggles?”

“What would you do if you ran the zoo?”

“If you could really talk to the animals, what excuses could you make?”

I didn’t really ask that last question, but there were days…

These sessions could be wearying and repetitive, but mostly they were just the opposite. These children had discoveries to relate. To them, Walter Farley’s Island Stallion gave them an individual special power of speed that no one had known before. They could feel the wind and heat and freedom of the gallop. It was a little bit scary…but it was only a book. Horton’s defense of the Who’s was exhilarating and noble and yes, a little bit scary, but it was only…a book.

And the bees proliferated and buzzed.

I liked these kids. Their passions about their discoveries were immediate and not premeditated. Their instincts bent toward the right thing to do. I flinched at times when they shrank from those good instincts because they had been taught to distrust them. I flinched more often when their instincts cast a revealing light on my own distrusts. We both survived, and I think, were made better. The bees buzzed happily.

I say I liked these kids.

I say I like children.

But…

…I can’t honestly say I like them equally.

There were some children who came prepared for my questions. They were just as passionate about their stories, but they were not un-premeditated. They had been schooled on how to phrase their answers, by their parents…or perhaps, simply by their parents’ expectations. That was okay by me. I still liked them. But they were children being adults as best as they knew how. Bees still buzzed.

Children being adult-ish…nothing wrong with that, I suppose…but a touch…sad.

It’s certainly better than the reverse.

Adults being childish…not so exciting, not so charming, certainly not so helpful.

Complaining about wearing a mask to protect others…childish and cruel. Weren’t we taught as children to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves? We shouldn’t even have to be told.

Judging people by their appearances and then acting against or for those people based on our superficial judgement…childish and cruel. Weren’t we taught to not judge a book by its cover? We shouldn’t even have to be told.

Mocking people who are afflicted…or different…or simply disagree with us…childish and cruel. Weren’t we taught…? We shouldn’t even have to be told.

Isn’t it interesting that in these distracted times, the bees are disappearing?

…more than a little bit scary…

…and it’s not a book.

Snarling Charles and the Case of the Christmas Gas Bag

“Look at the fog!”

Chuck peered out his front window at his first Christmas season in his new neighborhood. After decades of Christmases living under the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, clearing the bougainvillea droppings from his hot tub, and watching reruns of Bing, Rosie, Vera, and Danny thrilling to the snows of White Christmas, coming home to a Bluegrass blurry Christmas was nettlesome.

Bouncing around his ankles, also aspiring to be nettlesome but too wee to succeed was Nigel.

Nigel, Chuck’s fierce and tiny Yorkie was on a biological schedule. “Itstimeitstimeitstime – DadDadDad – letsgoletsgoletsgo – Igottahikemyleg-g-g-g.”

Chuck continued to survey the smudge of a yuletide evening that was far from being “…just like the one I used to know.”

“I haven’t seen fog like this since my first trip to London.”

Early in Chuck’s successful screenwriting career he wrote two most excellent Sherlock Holmes screenplays that also provided an extended stay in London as the “screenwriter-in-residence” on the set of the filming. He had spent much of the residency turning his well-nurtured Anglophilia into full-blown Angl-Oh-h-h-sweet-mystery-of-life.

He savoured (note the spelling) Scotch eggs, marmite, warm beer, and old champagne. He favoured (sic…and sick) cricket over baseball and snooker over pool, though he still couldn’t play any of them.

He adopted a sort of uniform for his post-prandial wanderings through the misty streets of night-time London. He had an ulster-ish coat. He eschewed the arms of the coat and draped it over his shoulders like a cape. He had acquired a billed cloth cap with a hounds-tooth pattern. It wasn’t exactly a deerstalker but in the fog…

He also had a cane.

Not a mere cane for walking assistance, but a cane of hidden menace.

A twist of the handle and voila – a twelve-inch blade!

But wait…there’s more, and I’m not talking Ginsu knives.

With a commanding arch of one eyebrow, a radical lift of lip, and a sideways glance worthy of Sam Elliott, Snarling Charles was born and the city on the Thames trembled.

Tonight, now that he thought of it, all those ingredients were still in his possession…and the fog…and the dog…

“Alright Nigel, you silly bugger, let’s venture forth.”

“Charlie! Wait. I have something for Nigel if you’re going out.”

Chuck’s Lovely Wife Julieanne (she was contemplating a legal change of name to “Lovely Wife” but had not yet committed) ran up waving a plastic straw. It was one of those light sticks that, when violently bent and twisted, emitted a sickly green chemical glow. She wrapped it around Nigel’s neck (twice – tiny bugger that he was). Nigel bounced; “nownownownownow!”

Cap, cape, cane, canine, and sneer all in place, Snarling Charles and his noble beast were on the street and on the prowl. Thomas Burke would have approved.

Alas, there were no ill-lit shops inhabited by Quong Lee, no lamplights, no hansoms, no foghorns or chimes, no newsstands, no blind match-sellers; just prim, new residences hunkering down in the murk. Even the murk was marred by blobs of harsh light bobbing on the lawns.

There were blob reindeer, and blob Santas, and blob angels, and blob snowmen. They were inflatable plastic yard decorations, garishly lit from the inside, and staked to the earth to limit their contagion. At least that’s how Snarling Charles thought of them.

“Nailing‘em to one place is good for a start, but I can think of a more permanent cure for this infestation. I’ll nail them gas bags fer good!”

He approached a six foot high snowman doing a handstand. The sheer fantasy physics of a glowing snowman cavorting on his hands was maddening.

“How would his hat stay on?”

Charles gave his cane a twist and voila!

“I should name this little sword ‘Voila!’” He thought.

He hovered in front of the offending balloon. Nigel bounced about in triumph; “LooklooklookDad! It’s a quality poop, just like they promise on TV! Pickitup-pickitup-pickitup! We’ll add it to the collection!” Nigel had long been convinced that somewhere there was a gallery of The Poops of Nigel, the Silly Bugger.

Just then, the front door of the house to whom the prancing abomination belonged, opened and a man’s voice bellowed; “Ay! What’re you doin’ out there?”

Snarling Charles bristled at the tone, but maintained a civil front.

“I’m simply admiring your yard…art.”

“Well, you just admire it from the sidewalk and get offa my lawn!”

There was a final duet of a door slam and a vocalized “Pervert!”

Charles was left in a silent fog, the darkness broken by a radiant upside down snowman and a bouncing Chernobyl green glow stick.

No…it wasn’t London.

No…it wasn’t the snowman’s fault.

But someone must be made to pay.

He sheathed his sword and left the poop.

And by the light of his good dog Nigel, he wended his way home.

Full Day

I’ve had a full day.

My never-ending scrimmage with the trumpet-vine hedge that shelters and intimidates our back yard continues; with blade and badinage. I’m holding my own, but I sense the trumpet is initiating a new aerial assault. Five feet over my head, it now reaches for a trio of overhead wires running to the house. Unfortunately, ladders and I have a more dubious relationship since my recent bicycle face-plant, but I’ll have to respond somehow. Mere wit will not deter this charming and well-connected vine.

I completed a second covid-19 test this afternoon. It was another grueling five minutes and a sneeze to prepare for a regular medical procedure next week. By the way, if you haven’t been tested, quit being a child and do so. It’s free, it’s quick, and it’s the next right thing to do.

And yes, I wore a mask. If you’re not wearing one, quit being a child and do so. You don’t need a governor to tell you it’s the next right thing to do. Sheesh! Does he have to tell you to brush your teeth or to look both ways before you cross?

Speaking of my bicycle disaster, the stitches are out and my face mostly healed (I’ll show you my Heidelberg Scar!), and now my new eyeglasses have arrived. I’m very excited. I can again read all the signs and chyrons, and pick out the stars and planets……and once more see exactly how lucky I am in marriage. The things you miss…

Our day-lilies are beginning to shout; “Rum Red!”, “Wild One!”, “Raspberry Pixie!”, “Stella d’Oro!”

The decadent hibiscus murmurs.

The begonias persistently party on, disregarding all social distancing.

The knockouts are giddy.

The hummers continue to criticize every recipe I concoct for them.

The frogs croak, the squirrels scold, the tupelos continue to silently amass power (to what eventual end…I shudder to think), the rabbits tease the hawks and are sometimes summarily punished for their sauciness…

Yes…

…a full day…

…full of nothing in the face of the aches of the world.

…full of nothing in the aches of Mr. Floyd, Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Arbery.

…full of nothing in the shadow of Trump and McConnell and Putin.

But it’s my day. A day I’ve striven for…a full day.

But not really full. There’s something missing.

You.

All of you.

Every one of you. Every color, tint, and shade. Every gender. Every flavor. Every size. Every accent.

Until everyone has a path to their full day, and feels physically safe in pursuing that day…my full day can never quite be.

Obviously the work is not done.

My full day…is not…

Full.

What’s the next right thing I must do?

Bobble Head Day

The last two or three years I worked were a strange mix.

I traveled a lot. I hated the travel, but was quite intrigued with the places to which I traveled…when I rarely got to actually see them.

The buttes of Scottsdale were novel to see…through the sliding panel of my hotel room. The stunted, green-deprived palette ditto…through the rental car windshield.

The fierce mountains looming over Anchorage didn’t intimidate me as much as navigating the dust and gravel-strewn intersections of sections of town where no cab nor cruise ship bravely went.

Streaking between the hurricane-scraped concrete slabs of Biloxi and the white, featureless sands of the Gulf to get to the Mecca of the local casino was a mite disheartening.

Boston, a week after their two biggest snowstorms in 20 years was…white.

Edmonton in February was……not……Biloxi.

And getting home was no picnic either.

Days lost to never-ending red-eye flights from Seward’s Folly, landing on less-than-the-prudent number of wheels in the midst of flashing red lights in Chicago, returning to Atlanta because the runway in Lexington was considered a touch too short for the pilot’s liking that evening, luggage too often scheduling an itinerary of its own…

…no, no picnic.

The assignments in Kentucky were mostly delightful.

I enjoyed the city council meetings I attended in Danville and Bowling Green and Hurstbourne and, of course Louisville and Lexington. I found them to be mostly validating in their local expressions of democracy.

There were the odd exceptions.

One night, I found myself in an obviously expensive house in Louisville surrounded by dark suits and dead animals. Big game trophies jutted their deceased faces and horns from every wall. I did a quick check to be sure Marlin Perkins was not in attendance. He was not.

One of our major political candidates running for re-election at the time was.

He looked pitiful and small. His handshake was pitiful and small.

I felt pitiful and small.

A year or so later, I was invited to an afternoon meeting with another of our major political candidates running for re-election at that time.

There were about 50 dark suits there, no dead animals, two suits were female, none were other than white as far as I could determine. And, except for me, everyone’s head bobbled…for real.

The candidate’s head cocked and bobbled as he pretended to be discovering for the first time the same points he had been making for two years. The dark suits’ heads bobbled in agreement.

It wasn’t that he was sounding crazy, but the bobbling heads were pretty funny.

And the big eyes on the younger members of the throng…you know what I mean…those big rookie baseball player eyes that say; “Ah’m jes’ glad to be here an’ I hope I can help the team win some games.”

It was when the candidate had responded to a question with an implication that after a “welfare mother” had birthed two or three young’uns that maybe she shouldn’t be birthin’ anymore…I surveyed the room to see all those dark suits still a’bobbin’ those heads.

Folks…

…we can surely do better than this.

Pandemic Ponderings

Janie and I take Covid-19 seriously.

We are of the “most-vulnerable” contingent because of age. That’s worrisome.

My mom ditto, but she’s an obstinate cuss who won’t let just anybody into her house, especially someone named “Coronavirus.” (I can hear her now; “I don’t know anyone named that…what kind of name IS that? …mutter, mutter, mutter…”)

Janie and I light up green every night, order our groceries for pickup, wear our masks (made by Janie, of course), tip the food delivery folks, and pine to see our friends.

We also watch Governor Andy Beshear’s daily 5:00 update every day.

Every day.

We’re proud of our state for responding with vigor to the challenges of sheltering-at-home. We’re pleased the response seems to have reduced (so far) the damage other states and countries have suffered.

I’m not ashamed to admit I weep for our fatalities and I cheer for our recoveries.

I now practice sign language. That alone makes me a better person.

These sessions with Governor Andy are useful and inspirational. I applaud the local TV stations for carrying them in their entirety.

Tonight, I was arrested by three things Gov. Beshear said.

  • “The truth is always the best answer.” – I think I first learned this at about the age of three under direct interrogation from my parents. Practicing it has produced the best results ever since.
  • “We need to do better.” – There has never been a day in my life when this has not been true. Not one…but I still hope.
  • “This is our chance.” – Damn straight! Our chance to be exceptional. Our chance to show some justifiable pride. Our chance to value and sustain all of our neighbors; red, blue, white, black, young, old, left, right, east, or west. Our chance. Our neighbors. All of ‘em.

These are all part of my growing up in Kentucky.

Why would I not be moved by them now?

Why do I not expect to hear any of them from our current president?

We will get through this.

We will get through this…together.

Ourselves.

What If They Don’t Come Back?

Our recently acquired tree frog is in rare voice this evening.

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

I’m reminded of a description I once heard of the “Om-m-m” chant. This is my memory of that description.

It’s a four-syllable chant;

  1. It begins with an aspirant release of breath that almost has an “H” in it, framing the “O” to come. It prepares the way.
  2. The “O” ascends from your diaphragm, through the aspirant to the parted lips. It is powerful and inevitable.
  3. The parted lips close, turning the “O” to an “M-M-M-M-M.” It roils and is eternal until;
  4. The air is gone. The aspirant, the “O”, and the “M” are gone into silence. The silence is the final syllable. The silence is the final……

until;

  1. It begins again and again……

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

As if on cue, the frog pierces the evening outside my window.

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

Every amphibious aria lasts for about eight seconds.

I’m grateful and strangely renewed by each one.

It’s good to find renewal in this year of the plague, in this presidential term of dissolution, in this week of having mortality painted on your mirror as indelibly as icy swim trunks on a stormy late summer afternoon. Thank you, E. B. White for that thought.

It’s good to be encouraged, to be renewed, and to be turned forward to anticipate a “new normal.”

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m-m-m-m-MMMMMMM-M-M-M-m-m-m-m…………..

I look forward to the new normal and speculate endlessly on what it might look like, what it might contain.

Today, in particular, I’ve been dwelling on a generation shifting notion.

What if, when work and shops open up for future business, folks in their early sixties, who have worked their asses off their whole adult life, decide not to do that anymore, decide the health risk is not worth it, decide this time off at home they’ve experienced is worth more than the eternal carrot on the stick and they should have realized that decades ago and……maybe they did know that long ago…but forgot it…or ignored it?

What if…they don’t come back?

Perhaps un- and under-employment issues would fade as younger people stepped into those abandoned positions.

Perhaps nose-to-the-grindstone people who have never felt rich in dollars would find themselves rich in time; time to think, time to listen, time do one thing at a time and do it well, time to tell their story, time to;

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m-m-m-m-MMMMMMM-M-M-M-m-m-m-m…………..

Time to take a chance.

Time to take a chant.

Time to face that mirror and not flinch.

Just a notion.

Out of Quarantine

It’s been an intriguing week in and out of quarantine. May I share it with you?

Out of quarantine?

Yes…for about three hours.

Monday was a lovely Kentucky spring day; sunny, sixty-something degrees, lawns greener than Oz, dogwoods poppin’ cream and raspberry. We don’t tell “furriners” about days like this…why share? We seem to have so little and Carmel demonstrates no eagerness to share their ocean. Without Jack Kerouac, Pebble Beach, and PLAY MISTY FOR ME, it would remain merely legendary. We have spring days. Central Kentuckians resonate with days like this and mostly never understand themselves. It just feels right and rare.

Janie left the house about three o’clock on Monday with Chloe the Wonder Pup for Chloe’s daily adulation tour of the neighborhood. Neighbors, dogs, joggers, hired flacks, and alien spaceships line the lanes to pay homage to the shaggy dog of glee. It can take hours.

I turned the porch light on to let my wanderers know the front door was unlocked, stepped out and noticed that Janie and Miss Wonderful had only made it to the corner where Chloe was basking in the worship of the Pantheon of Chuck and Paula who live there. They might be gone till dark at this rate.

I have written before in this blog about my love of bicycles. Janie and I had our bicycles readied for the season recently and I had been trying to make a habit of tooling about the almost perfectly flat streets of our neighborhood on a daily basis. The recent cool days had interrupted this effort but today… I found it enticing to pedal my ass again.

I zipped out of the garage, down the driveway, and onto the street. I flashed past Chloe and her adoring throng and had a momentary flashback on Tolkein’s warning about the road in front of your house leading to amazing places and hazardous missions. Will I meet goblin spiders or Stupey the Loud Cocker Spaniel on this journey? Will I reach the Mount of Doom or the low hedge by the old baseball field?

Neither, as it turned out

I reached the end of Providence Road and turned downhill and picked up a bit of speed. The gimme hat I was wearing (no haircut!) began to shift and I instinctively reached up to salvage it as if I were 25.

Alas, I was not 25.

The next thing I remember was answering questions from an Emergency Medical Technician in the back of an emergency vehicle bearing me to the hospital trauma suite tout suite.

Stitches, injections, and a cat scan later I was told Janie was waiting for me in the parking lot. I located the nearest restroom and finally saw the damage. I was a blood-drenched Rocky from film number one. I immediately ran the calendar through my battered head and determined I was still six months away from Lexington’s Thriller Event and I couldn’t possibly maintain this look for that long without actually dying in which case my dancing would be even worse than it already is.

So…

…I cleaned myself up as best I could, and tottered out to Janie, laughing at me in the sunny parking lot. It was the best medicine in the world; even better than Lysol.

It seemed right…and rare.

Under her care I feel a little better every day and look a little less outré every day. I think I’m now up to “No, officer, I ran into a door.”

Chloe is totally embarrassed and doesn’t want to be seen with me.

I sleep, and I watch movies…bad movies. I’ll share them with you…just for mean-ness.

I miss my friends. Who doesn’t?

To my friends and others;

…don’t drink bleach…no matter what he says…please.

It doesn’t seem right.

And then I’ll really miss you.

This is Our Time

That’s what Governor Andy Beshear told me today.

What a blessing he has been in this season when America learned to its dismay that “corona” was not something you could drive or smoke, but something that could truncate your season basketball tickets, or hose down your spring beach hormones, or free up your Sunday mornings (but not to play golf), ……or kill you……or kill those you love……or kill what you love.

I do not want to disappoint Governor Andy…or endanger my mom, or Janie, or my friends, or total strangers for that matter. I will stay healthy at home.

But I do miss baseball.

I’m loving the free streaming from the Metropolitan Opera and looking forward to the National Theatre’s stream of “One Man Two Guvnors” this Thursday evening.

Continuing my dubious literary journey though the tawdry Edgar Wallace canon is amusing.

Walking the dog 18 times a day is fulfilling.

Janie’s cooking is jes’ fine.

But I do miss baseball.

That explains the giddiness I’m feeling over the “Baseball’s Greatest Games” series on the MLB Network. Bob Costa zips though highlights of the greatest baseball games in the last 50 years with commentary from participating players. Then the network shows practically the entire game with the original play-by-play.

So…

Tonight I’m watching the first game of the 1988 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers (formerly of Brooklyn) and the Oakland Athletics (formerly of Kansas City and Philadelphia). This is the Kirk Gibson game; a cherished moment for any baseball fan. Mr. Gibson’s one-legged homerun in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off (hop-off?) victory for the Dodgers. I know it sounds like a Monte Python routine but it’s actually quite thrilling.

The play-by-play is by Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola, similarly cherish-able; “He was about three minutes late on that fast ball” or “The ball didn’t get up. It didn’t get down. It just got out.”

I got yer analytics right here. Vin and Joe didn’t need no stinkin’ stats.

Also cherish-able for this baseball nerd is getting to watch Lexingtonian John Shelby play center field for Los Angeles.

An interesting aspect of the rebroadcast is the elimination of 90% of the replays and 100% of the strolling time between pitches. It turns baseball into a rhythmic action sport. It’s gripping. You can’t take your eyes off of it.

“You can’t take your eyes off of it.”

Not even for a second.

Not even to take a bite outta yer hotdog, or turn to the friend (or stranger) next to you to discuss in complete sentences and grunts what shoulda been done on that last play or what should be done on the next, or who’s a bum and who’s not, or whether the so-called poetry of Rod McKuen was simply a long-range pre-publicity campaign for Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me (that’s a close call).

In these re-broadcasts, as much as I’m enjoying them, time has been extracted from the timeless game.

Time for important stuff.

And it’s our time.

Our time for important stuff…

…like staying home…

…being healthy…

…being together…

…protecting what we love…

…protecting ourselves…

…not being part of the problem……

……waiting for the next real pitch.

I do miss baseball.

Quarantine Casserole

I’m a lucky guy.

If you’ve spent more than a half an hour with me, you’ve probably heard that phrase and you know I’m talkin’ ‘bout Janie. The eye doctors in Central Kentucky owe me a moiety of their prosperity for all of the eye-rolling I’ve inspired with that phrase, but it’s undeniable. The day I tricked her into thinking she tricked me into marriage was the best day of my life.

First of all, she’s a pole dancer…for real. We even have a pole installed at the house…for real. How many guys do you know that live in a house with a library (with thousands of books, movies, and music discs), and a pole (with a resident dancer)?

I rest my case right there. I’m a lucky guy.

But wait! There’s more!! And it has nuthin’ to do with Ginsu knives.

Said pole dancer is also one sharp cookie.

Janie went hunting and gathering today at Kroger. She slapped on her pith helmet and sallied forth, sans grocery list (that means “without” – apologies to Groucho Marx). She was spurred to action after hearing about lockdowns in Italy and Spain, and Walter Tunis’ trophy-hunter selfie with the last can of tuna from Kroger.

She returned, sporting a grimly triumphal look.

“I hunted. I gathered. You bring ‘em in.”

“What’cha get?”

“Bags of random crap.”

That’s BORC to the I-can’t-be-bothered-to-spell generation (ICBBTS’s).

She was off to wash her hands while I toted in the nine BORC.

What a treasure hunt! What a jumble sale!

There was evaporated milk, clam strips, blueberry muffins, calamari, two cans of tuna (take that Mr. Tunis), a bag of oddly curled pasta (the last in the free world I’m told), one can of spam, and one tiny tin of anchovies. That last sentence was un-exaggerated and unexpurgated.

There was more, of course, but these were the items that dazzled me.

Anchovies.

I have never owned an anchovy in my life. I’m not sure I even know what one is. We are truly living in historic times.

I asked the Great Red-Headed Hunter, gently mind you, about the anchovies.

“I think I have a recipe.”

I surveyed the expanse of the BORC and pondered.

What kind of casserole could involve clam strips, calamari, tuna, spam, and anchovies? Do I wanna know?

The pondering swirled away (as pondering often will) into a stray remembrance of when I collected baseball cards as a child. I recall one summer when every pack of baseball cards I bought had a Marv Throneberry card in it. I didn’t know Marvelous Marv personally. He may have been a charming fellow, but I hated him that summer. What I really wanted that year was Pete Rose’s rookie card. I never got one. At one point, I offered to trade six Marv Throneberry cards for one Pete Rose. No takers.

Today, as I move the grocery piles to the pantry under the avaricious eyes of the dog (hoping for droppage), I am offering one tiny tin of anchovies for six Marv Throneberry cards…plus a few Ginsu knives thrown in.

Thus far, no takers.

I’m gonna go wash my hands.