Friday, January 31, 2014

The BIG Day is Almost Here

Here we are on the last day of January only to be greeted by another morning of sub-freezing temperatures. 

There was yet another dusting of snow on our walkways during the week…which, down south, shuttered entire cites because, you know…southerners think of snow as some sort of fungus.

But hey, it’s January, soon to be February; it’s winter…it’s what winter is.

We might as well complain about too much heat and humidity in the summer.

Oh, wait…we do that too.

So I guess it’s a pattern.

The good news is it’s supposed to get progressively warmer as we head towards the BIG day, coming up this weekend…even into the 40s, which would be like a tropical vacation, around here…especially, as I said, we head towards the BIG day.

There’s no longer any spurious, premature talk of a massive snowstorm that would have had the potential to squash everyone’s fun and bring the BIG day to its knees.

Nope…all systems are a go, and all the days of sweat, hard work and planning will be rewarded with one super event that everyone has been looking forward to  since…well, since the last BIG day, a year ago.

And on Sunday…the wait will be finally over.

And once that little rodent slips out of his hole and either sees his shadow or doesn’t see his shadow…well, then something will happen in regard to how much longer winter will last…but I can never keep that straight.


You thought I was talking about something else?

What could be bigger than Groundhog’s Day?

What could be bigger than incontrovertible proof that finally…finally…there’s an end in sight to the winter to end all winters.

Whatever that means….

I’m not sure…because I’m pretty sure were still gonna have more winters.

But somehow everything is contingent on…as we in the know like to say…this odd little Marmota monax, which, as I’m sure you're aware, is a member of the Sciuridae family, from New Jersey, whose boss is a little chubby rodent named Tony.

But let’s keep that between us…know what I’m talking about?

Anyway, thanks to the mostly accurate information to be gleaned on Wikipedia, I can tell you that Groundhog Day, at least in the US of A, can be traced back to the German communities of central and western Pennsylvania, which also boasts the origins of the #2 pencil and subsequently standardized testing, which measures your ability to color in little holes on paper.

The custom—Groundhog day, not standardized testing—can be traced back even further to ancient European Lore, where the weather prognostication was  attributed to, not a groundhog at all, but a big sacred bear, which is widely acknowledged also to be the start of Al Roker’s career as a weatherman. 

So you can’t really argue with that kind of tradition, let alone accuracy, which is stated to be almost 40% correct, most of the time, except for when it isn’t and the percentages go down.

But nobody likes to dwell on the negative…not when it comes to Groundhog’s Day…unless it’s that movie with Bill Murray that goes by the same name...which I happen to like and can watch all day long, over and over again.

And folks all around the country, but especially here in the tri-state area of New York/New Jersey and Connecticut are really getting into it, this year. The grocery stores are jammed with folks making preparations for Groundhog Day parties, like never before,  even if the little fellow—the groundhog, not Al Roker— does see his shadow, which is bad…I think.

They’re even giving them a football theme for some reason, but I’m guessing that’s just because all the stores are already sold out of their Groundhog paraphernalia and decorations.

You know how it is…the early worm catches the groundhog…or something like that.

But shhhhhhhhhhhh…don’t wake him up.

There are still a couple of days until Sunday, and no one wants a grumpy Groundhog messing up their Fersommling.

You can look it up….

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days?

You know…one of THOSE days.


How was it?


I’m having one of those days, today.


I woke up in a bad mood.

I think it was the sun.

The sun was annoying me.

It was right there, as usual, shinning in over the curtain…but at an odd, irritating angle.

I mean, who needs that, first thing in the morning.

Then the heat was acting up.

Yep…the heat.

And that’s the last thing you want giving you trouble, first thing.

The heat…..

I don’t know what it was, exactly; it was just different.

It seemed a bit out of place.

And maybe a smidge drier than normal.

I’m not sure….all I know is, it wasn’t the heat I was expecting.

The water was fine, so no complaints there.

Well, actually now that I think of it, the hot water wasn’t quite itself either. 

I think the hot water might have been a smidge on the dry side, too.

Then I had to throw away my old toothpaste and open a brand new tube.


I couldn’t squeeze out a single plop more….even with the vice in the basement.

So there was that.

Then I lost another bristle off my toothbrush.

Now I’m down to four.

Bristles, not toothbrushes.

What…you think I’m made of money?

Then I was all out of bagels…so I decided to have apple pie for breakfast…just because I wanted to.

Plus I have trouble making toast….

With or without the bread….

I also like to butter my bread…on both sides.

People say that’s wrong.

I say…why?

If there are two sides I’ll butter it.

If there are three…I’ll butter that one too.

But it does get a little messy.

And don’t even get me started on the milk…or the orange juice.

Especially the orange juice.

And then the day just went downhill from there.

Don’t ask why….

Because then I’ll have to make up more stuff.

And that will annoy me, too.

Not to mention, you.

Then you’ll be having one of “those days”.

And so on and so on….

Of course, now, I have no idea how to end this thing.

Which was to be expected I suppose.

It’s been one of those days.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Sunday Archive of Retort - 1/16/12

The last time I posted this Z wouldn't speak to me for a week...and I didn't even get to pick the week..

But it's one of my favorites, and it seems topical I'm willing to risk it.

From January 16, 2012:

It's Nippy Out there


Friday, January 24, 2014

Icy Cold Remains

Another winter storm is behind us but the icy cold remains.

The icy cold always remains.

It’s just how icy cold is.

Not that there isn’t a place for icy cold.

Any icy cold beverage on a hot summer day is always welcome.

Or an icy cold stare is appropriate for that woman who you overheard saying to your dentist, she thought you walked like a duck.

And an icy cold response is often called for, under the proper circumstances, such as that time you may or may not have been caught going through your best friends sock drawer claiming to be admiring his argyle collection.

So we shouldn’t just decide to eliminate icy cold across the board.

No…I would save that for wishy washy.

No one ever needs wishy washy.

Or willy nilly, for that matter.

Two pointless qualifiers, at least in my opinion, neither of which is used all that much anymore.

I think….

But getting back to this intemperate weather—which, in all fairness, is working very hard to correct its wayward ways—we collected about 11 inches of the white stuff, the other day.

White stuff, of course being snow, although I suppose I shouldn’t automatically assume you would know that’s what I meant.

I mean, there are a number of other white substances that one might collect at any given time…like the stuff you find in your navel at the end of the day

Or Mothballs.

Even Cotton balls.

All of which would be weird, but hey…who am I to judge.

11 inches of the nicest, whitest, fluffiest snow you could ever imagine, if sitting around imagining snow is something you do.

Of course Z was up long before the sun, raring to get out there. I wrote about Z’s fondness for snow shoveling way back when I first started writing these things, in May of 2011.

Why I was writing about snow in May is beyond me, but hey, I was new at this, and I tended to just write about anything that popped in my head at the moment…unlike now, where I write and I hope something will pop into my head by the time I finish.

So, instead of re-telling, I’m just gonna pop in the old description, in the interest of redundancy prevention, plus the fact that it allows me to write less and take a much needed break.

So here’s me from the past…..

Snowy days are the worst since Z has a love/hate relationship with snow. She loves it on weekends and holidays but hates it during the week.  I guess maybe because she has to drive through the slop, down to the Bronx and back, while I, as I said, have about a 12 step commute

After a large overnight snowfall, she's been known to pop out of bed at 5 AM, speak in tongue, run down the stairs, grab a shovel, bolt out the door and immediately start shoveling, long before the sun comes up. 

But she really enjoys it…at least that’s what I tell myself…and my neighbors.


That’s the awful sound I’ve woken up to on many a frozen morning. Awful because I know I HAVE to get out there too. I mean I’m not a complete schlub.  And to be honest, I kind of like shoveling, myself…once in a while.  Not every other day. Not before dawn.

I usually get out there by the time she reaches the end of the front walk, which is moderately long. Sometimes she’s already made the turn and has carved a meticulously clean path half way down the sidewalk, as well. 

I’m usually greeted with, “You didn’t have to come out!”

I usually mutter something unintelligible in return and grab my shovel. 

Then she continues, in the cheeriest voice you can imagine, “I’m gonna  finish up here, make breakfast, do a load of laundry, iron, clean the bath tub…and then shower, dress and get to work by 8!  How’s your day look?”

It’s about then that I begin hacking at the wall of ice that the snow plow has left at the end of my driveway.

Hey…okay…I’m back in the present…sort of. And since Z and I are nothing if not consistent, if not boring…that’s pretty much exactly how it all went down the other day.

So I guess there really isn’t any point in complaining about the snow or the cold weather. It comes and it goes…and then it comes back again…year after year…unless you live in Las Vegas or Florida, where a bunch of little snowbirds are constantly telling me how nice it is.

So I guess I can complain about that.

Or about the people that only shovel a path about 10 inches wide, which really isn’t so bad because you get to practice your tight rope walk, or the ones who only shovel the part of the path that they actually walk on, from their door to their car…or the ones who leave about a 2 foot patch of snow at the end of their property because they think it might belong to the neighbor...even though the neighbor has already shoveled.

Is there really any need for that?

No…not if you hire a surveyor to draw a line exactly where your sidewalk ends and theirs begins…not that I know anyone who would have done that…maybe.

Hey…why should I have to shovel one inch more than necessary.

It’s a long winter.

And I can’t seem to convince icy cold to take a trip down south.

So I guess we’re stuck with it for a while.

Besides…icy cold isn’t all that bad.

At least it keeps my beer cold.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Arctic Air and Janus…Locusts and Toads

I just heard Arctic Air is returning today

How embarrassing.

I still haven’t changed the guest room sheets from the last time it was here.

Or cleaned its room.

To be honest I was kind of hoping it wasn’t coming back…at least this year.

I mean, aside from being cold—and to be honest, a little on the aloof  side—Arctic Air is kind of a slob.

I know…I wouldn’t have expected that, either.

Maybe from Tropical Air, with its inherent laid back tendencies but certainly not Arctic Air.

But who can tell with unstable air masses; what they’re thinking from day to day.

Certainly not the weather people.

The weather people pretend they can predict on Monday what’s going to happen on Friday, when the truth is, they can’t even tell you with any certainty what’s going to happen by the time they get off the air.
They might say sunny skies and warmer temps, but when it turns out to be snowy and cold…or worse…they just act like they really knew all along.

No explanation.

And they never get the biblical stuff right.

Locusts in January...sure, we knew that…not to mention the toads.

They just don't want us to start getting all apocalyptical before we need to…that just puts a drain on the milk and bread supply.

So we should have known.

Okay…maybe I’m taking the sarcasm a little too far, but who could blame us for being a little skeptical of these long range predictions.

But I’m changing the sheets and cleaning up the guest room, anyway.  I don’t want Arctic Air blowing in here and thinking I’m a bad host, uninvited guest or no.

And now I hear this Artic Air is bringing one of its Winter Storm Buddies along for the ride.


Just what we needed, this year…more snow.

But I guess, so far, the snow—at least around here— has just been of the nuisance variety…a few inches to shovel off, here or there and then gone…so I’m not complaining…too much.

Okay…I am.

But this one could be a little bit more substantial, even without the locust and the frogs.

Oh, and its name is “Janus”, by the way.

That’s right….

They name all of these things now, I guess because storms with names get better ratings and sell more storm staples.

But I only have the one guest room so Janus is going to have to bunk with Arctic Air for the duration, which is good because then it will probably move out sooner rather than later.

I mean who wants to share a room with a slob…Arctic Air or not.

So I better get the shovels ready…again.

And it’s not as if these house "gusts" are going to pitch in and help out in the morning.

No, they’ll be sitting inside, having  a good time, eating breakfast and watching Al Roker get all hysterical on the Today Show, while Z and I clean up their mess…as always.

Uh oh....looks like it's starting, now.

Hey…it’s winter…in the Northeast.

We might as well make the most of it.

That’s what fireplaces and hot chocolate are for.

The locusts and toads are optional….

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Sunday Archive of Retort - 1/25/12

I walk all the time…which makes sitting difficult, let alone sleeping.

Through all seasons, I’m out there putting in my miles.

Winter walking is different from summer walking…mostly because it’s cold, and I get a lot strange looks from people…much different than the strange looks I usually get.

I wrote all about it here, back in January of 2012.

“Winter Walking”


Friday, January 17, 2014

No Chit…No Chat

If you’re like me you probably don’t chit chat with your friends much, anymore.

You might communicate…but actually speak to them…probably not so much.

Texts, Facebook, Twitter and possibly even E-mail…although I’m finding I receive and send less and less personal e-mails these days, as well.

It's really nothing new; I've written about this before.

People just don’t want to talk…to you or anyone else, for that matter.

They want to get their message out in the fewest possible words, if not characters, and be on their way.

Dinner – Tues - 7 30 – Tony’s –  Bring Cannoli

Nothing personal…it’s just the way the culture is evolving.

No time for chit, and don’t even think about chat.

If you should call someone and actually speak to them you automatically ask how they’re doing.

It can’t be helped.

Like sneezing in a room full of cats.

Most of the time, people will just say “pretty good” or “fine” or more to the point…“OK”.

The two most succinct letters in our shared lexicon…O and K…sum up everything.

Even if the person you’re speaking to just caught their left arm in the mechanism of their new Lazy Boy chair, while digging for an old M&M, and has been stuck like that for the past 4 hours.

“I’m OK…whatsup wit you?”


Hey…it happens.

Of course there are always going to be those who take you at you’re word and then go on to actually tell you how they’re doing.


“Well, I’ve been having A LOT of gastrointestinal issues…and you know what that means!”

Or worse….

“Oh I’m good, but the cat is spitting up fur balls by the dozen!”

Then there’s also all that smiling involved in a personal conversation…even if you’re only on the phone.

If you’re telling someone how much you enjoyed their party, without smiling, you come off sounding like you just returned from a lobotomy, and maybe you didn’t really enjoy the party all that much...even if you could remember it.

And of course if you’re face to face, say on Skype or something similar, let alone in person, in the actual room, where deodorant matters…then you really have to emote AND make eye contact…AND keep it.

“You know, I’ve never seen a fur ball…that must be really interesting….”

“Oh, you’re having stomach problems…I thought it was the tide….”

“No one throws a party like you…what were those fuzzy pastry puffs made of…please tell me those were pastry puffs….”

So you can see why you might get a lot of texts.

Of course without the chit and the chat you do lose out on many of the more stimulating conversation starters.


“What’s up?”

“How’s it going?”

“Where you been?”

“Seen any movies?”

“Read any books?”

“Talked to anybody?”

“Still have all your teeth?”

“Didn’t you have all of your joints replaced and most of your non vital organs removed?”

“You look great…considering….”

“No…I never said that was my monkey.”

“Guess what I just paid for gas?”

“Did you hear who bought a boat?”

“You know who totaled their car?”

“I can’t believe how hot cold rainy snowy dry this weather is…can you?”

 “I thought you’ve been dead for at least 20 years…no?”

“Well, you still look great…considering….”

So when you take a closer look at it—at least through my eyes—maybe non-oral communication isn’t such a bad idea.

Who needs all that chit chat.

If you can’t say it in 140 characters then maybe it’s not worth saying.

And if you really need more, there’s always Facebook.

Facebook, where you can add a clever saying or show a poignant picture to emphasize your point.

And if your goldfish should die
choking on a fur ball, you can post that too and then count all the “Likes”. 

But you’re not sure if those are sympathetic “Likes” or “Likes” of approval, which then leaves you wondering what people had against you’re goldfish.

So I guess there are drawbacks to either situation...both Oral and Non-Oral Communication.

Now I’m more confused than when I stated.

But you don’t need me to tell you that…in any form.

Maybe it would just be better not to communicate at all.

Just as long as you remember to bring the cannoli.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thoughtless Tuesday

Tuesday’s blog never showed.


I waited…but nothing.

No call, no text…no nothing.

That’s just how it is these days…you can’t rely on anything…not even a blog.

And the fact that it was Tuesday was kind of disappointing.

I mean if it was Wednesday, from a couple of years ago, sure…I wouldn’t have been surprised.

But Tuesday…reliable, thoughtful Tuesday?

I just don’t know.

I mean it saw what happened to Wednesday.

Of course, maybe it also saw how many chances I gave Wednesday to get its act together.

Maybe that was my mistake.

Because we all know nothing ever changes these days.

A bad day’s a bad day…no matter how many chances you give it.

So now it’s Tuesday.

Oh, it had some lame excuse about getting caught up in all that political Bridgegate hokey pokey going on in New Jersey…but, hello…that all took place last summer, not yesterday, Tuesday.

But that’s how blogs are…they never get past the flashy headline…and they never stick to the facts.

Plus they also think that you do the same, so you won’t notice when they’re making stuff up.

But I notice…and I’m sure you do to.

Although most of the time I hope that you don’t.

In fact I depend on it.

So I did some digging and found out that instead of being here doing what it was supposed to be doing, Tuesday’s blog was still on the Pennsylvania Turnpike getting a little too cozy with some chick blog, at a rest stop …miles outside of Jersey.

They were seen swapping cappuccinos and discussing dirty diaper stories.

Dirty diaper stories? 


Give me a break.

Then, next thing you know, Tuesday starts showing off, pontificating on the plus or minuses of skinny jeans.

Like he’s an expert or something.

I don’t think so.

Everyone knows Skinny Jeans was Wednesday.

So I don’t know who Tuesday thought it was fooling.

Truth is. I’m not sure I even know who Tuesday is anymore…not after this.

So I tried dragging Wednesday out of its forced retirement, which to be honest wasn’t all that easy.

I mean it’s been a while since anything was asked of Wednesday, and it’s gotten kind of used to its time being its own.

And I get that. 

I just thought it might like a chance to get back in the game; take advantage of Tuesday’s indiscretions.

 But I was wrong.

Apparently there was a morning Yoga class to attend and a spin class in the afternoon.

In between—and this one really caught me by surprise—Wednesday volunteers at the Senior Center, serving lunch.

So apparently these days can still surprise.  

You just never know what each one will bring.

Anyway, I had no choice but to go downtown and see the guy who hangs out behind the luncheonette selling refurbished blogs.

I know…that’s the last thing I wanted too, but this whole Tuesday thing caught me off guard and I had to get something up before I lost any more of the 6 people that actually read this thing regularly.

Sure, most of his stuff is recycled garbage, but if you dig enough you can sometimes pick up something that’s at least halfway presentable.


Not all the time.