Joy at a burger joint?

One would never expect to find unbridled joy at a burger joint. Oh,  I suppose it is possible to witness the occasional jubilant  patron gushing over a good burger. I myself have been known to express plain old fashioned giddiness whilst consuming an onion and cheese festooned hamburger (and NO tomatoes!).

No, the unbridled elation that I refer to was witnessed by yours truly just the other day at a South side White Castle™. I had an early morning meeting to attend so decided that I would stop by the local White Castle for coffee and a sausage biscuit. White Castle, by the way, is known to have one of the better cups of coffee in town and their sausage and egg biscuits are among the best you’d find anywhere. That’s a given at any White Castle upon whom you would care to render your custom.

What made this visit exceptional, though, was Tanya. I think that’s her name. I had to go back later that morning to ask. I think I have it right. Anyway….She will tell me if I don’t.

I deduced that Tanya was the manager in charge at that hour of the morning when most folk are still waking up and coherency is often challenging. The first thing I noticed about her was that she had a contagious grin and everybody, from customer to employee, was addressed as either baby or honey. There may have been the occasional sweetie tossed in as well. Further, she went about her task of tending to her patrons and encouraging fellow employees with more joy than I have seen as of late anywhere. It is not common to see that kind of effervescence at that hour of the day. In a burger joint no less! I must confess, I was taken aback by it.

I had to hang around the front counter whilst Tanya constructed my breakfast. She went about her task with the smile and joy that I bet made everybody’s day. I had never, before this moment, seen anybody cook up a sausage and egg biscuit with the joy I saw in Tanya.

I wanted to ask her the source of her joy. She was far too busy engaging her world and putting truth to the old adage, “In all labor there is profit.” Tanya is rich beyond words.



This week, I want to share a story from my childhood in the Texas Panhandle that fits right in with the “Snowmaggedon” that we’ve had here in the Midwest.

Sometime in the late sixty’s, we had a terrible snow storm in Amarillo, Texas where I grew up. Amarillo does not get snow like we do here (least wise not as much).  Anyway, a snowstorm came in with lots of wind, the result being a fair amount of drifting. School was called off for the day so it was just me, Mom, and our dog, Brutus. Brutus was a thoroughbred St. Bernard. We had a good sized fenced in the backyard and Brutus spent most of his time out there, weather permitting.

The day after the storm I let Brutus out the back door so he could do his business. After about ten minutes or so, the front doorbell rang. It was early in the morning and we were surprised that somebody would be out in this lousy weather. Mom answered the door to discover it was Brutus. He waltzed in the house like he owned the joint. I went to the backyard as I thought the back gate was open which would explain how Brutus showed up on our front porch. It was, in fact, closed. I figured the wind had slammed it shut and gave no more thought to it. By and by, Brutus announced his desire to go outside again. I let him go without a second thought but, within the span of ten minutes, he announced himself at the front door.

He pulled this same stunt twice more. Mom and I were at a loss to explain how Brutus could get out of the fenced-in back yard, go to the front door AND, ring the durn doorbell. I went outside again to make sure the back gate was shut and it was. There were no tracks in the snow by the gate either. I was flummoxed as to his trick until I turned around. There at the point where the house and fence joined was a large drifted pile of snow that had frozen. On that drifted snow was paw prints. The snow had drifted up on both sides of the fence allowing Brutus’ escape.

To this day, I do not know how he figured out how to ring the door bell.

Getting organized

I have to get organized. Course, I say that every year and repeat it at least once a week. I do manage to drag myself through the years without missing too much but it’s getting harder.

As of this writing, I am in the possession of, or have exclusive access to, two desktop computers, a laptop, a tablet, smart phone, and a paper planner. I have a business card scanner and an app on my smart phone for the same purpose. In short, I have every possible tool that could or would make my personal and professional life the envy of my neighborhood. The end result of this state of organizational copiousness is nothing works.

The two desktops have different versions of the same time and task management software. Neither one of them will talk to my cell phone though they will talk to each other if they are in the mood. The laptop is old and works when it feels like it. Because it was the workhorse of the bunch until a few days ago, much of my history is on it. I can get it switched to a desktop when the beast is up to working.  It’s just plain ornery in its old age. The tablet is so conceited it won’t talk to anybody. The smart phone tries to get along but it’s tough when nobody will talk to anybody. Oh, I failed to mention that I have a twelve-plus year old customer relationship management software that will talk to nobody but itself.

I bought a business card scanner and its attendant smart phone app in the hopes that I could, at long last, get this crowd of braniacs to talk to one another and help me get my act together. The end result is I have to load each card twice. Once into the desktop scanner and again into the cell phone with no advantage at all to me.

The only “system” I am not having problems with is the paper planner. It never crashes, does not NEED to talk to anybody but me, and does not require any weird stuff or tools. It’s also cheap. Its sole downfall is the entry clerk. “He” can’t write worth a hoot.


Toby the cat met his maker last Monday at a little after 10:00AM. I think he was somewhere around sixteen years old. I was with him at the moment of his passing. You will be comforted to know that his passing was peaceful.

Toby is survived by his keepers, namely, the wife and I. He did not, so far as I know, have any siblings and I never did meet his parents. His house, two cars, and remainder of his worldly goods have been left in our care until such time as another cat takes up residence. Toby was insistent that the heir to his fortune be an orange short hair such as he was.

Toby liked eating, sleeping, and otherwise ordering his keepers about. He was devoted to his cat nip mouse, the likes of which remain in the house until the new owner arrives. There is also an assigned spot on the front room couch that he instructed not to be set upon by any human at any time. It is reserved in his memory and for the sole use of his heir.

He and I had a conversation not long before he passed. He was angry with me, as I recall, because neither I nor my wife had given him any food, as of late, that he considered worthy of his pallet. I tried to explain to him that he had diabetes and this new food was meant to treat that. Cats, as you may know, have zero knowledge of medicine so he took instant and violent opposition to my claim. He had the temerity to accuse me of changing his food to save money. When I defended myself he excused me from the room. I spent the rest of that day in my bedroom.

On the day of his passing, we had our last discussion, during which he dismissed my claim that he was sick in the strongest of terms. I made the observation that he had gone from a very healthy sixteen pounds to just over eight in a few weeks’ time. He responded that his weight loss had been the direct result of the lousy food we had given him. His final comment to me was to pee on my jacket.

Toby was a special part of our lives. We will miss him. Rest well, little buddy.


Liar’s Contest

When I was a young’un on the south side of Amarillo, Texas I could not tell the truth with a gun to my head. I was, arguably, the most accomplished liar there was in our neighborhood. I could lie myself into, or out of, pretty much anything. Now, I did realize at some point in my early adulthood that a career based on lying would get me nothing more than a cot in the county jail. So it was a life of “the gospel truth” for me. Until last Friday night

I heard tell that every year at the Indiana State Fair, they hold a Liar’s Contest and I decided that I wanted to go see this “legal lying” for myself. On the way up, I tossed a story or two around in my head but figured my “lying ways” were so stale that I would not be able to compete anymore. The wife and I got there about a half hour before they would be starting. The lady running the show asked me if I was a “competitive liar.” I asked her if I looked like one and she said yes. There was a fellow named Oliver standing nearby who added his own opinion that I did, in fact, have the appearance of an accomplished teller of tall tales. I told Oliver I was a retired prognosticator of falsehoods to which he replied that I should, for the benefit and amusement of all, resurrect my former ways. So it was that I entered the 2013 Indiana State Fair Liar’s Contest.

Space precludes me from recounting my lie in this column save to say it involved an ever lengthening water moccasin, my momma, and the toughest woman that ever lived. The event was filmed so I imagine it will come back to haunt me sooner or later. You can see the video here:

There were, as I recall, some fifteen or so liars of various levels of believability and I happened to be the last one to speak. For reasons unknown to me, the judges decided that I was the most convincing liar among the adult speakers. Much to my surprise, I won First Place and the Blue Ribbon for The Indiana State Fair Fifth Annual Liar’s Contest.

I will hold that dubious title until the 2014 Fair in which I will, Lord willing, defend my title. Maybe.

I am not a cook…but

I can state with complete confidence that I will never make the grade on any of those cooking shows one sees on the television. No, I am sure the Almighty did not intend for me to make my living cooking for somebody else.

Up to now, I have been fortunate enough that my three children are pretty handy in the kitchen and so I have been able to escape any and all culinary duties. My eldest son is considered close to a master with the outdoor grill. When he is here, I can rest assured that I will have no cooking duties foisted on me. His younger brother is on his way to equal the older sibling in skill and mastery of the outdoor grill. An added plus.

Both of my sons and my daughter are grown and gone now so I am, more often than not, left on my own to do any grilling that may be required. I can get out of it once in a while with a suggestion geared towards one of our fine Southside restaurants. This day was not one of those days.

I was assigned the job to fire up the grill and b-b-q some salmon that my bride had bought. That would be all well and good if the grill had cooperated. Try as I might, I was unable to get a fire of sufficient heat going. Lucky for me, my younger son was in residence as was my brother-in-law who is currently visiting from Seattle. I was able to delegate my grilling duties to them and assume my customary duties as a host of the evening. It is a task I excel at and would consider the duties as a professional host as an absolute specialty except it does not pay enough to evade the poor house.

As I write, my younger son and brother in law are hard at it preparing the salmon for dinner. Once the actual cooking began, I excused myself from the proceedings on the grounds that I have to write this column.

Time to eat! Dang, I’m good!

Where have you been!?

Well, I have been right here. Not exactly here, but close by. My day job has kept me busy and we had a death in our family. That, plus I now write three columns for three different papers in my neck of the woods. I am getting back to this website at long last and hope to put something up here once a week. In hone of that, I am pasting just below, the first column to be published in the Center Grove IKON.  Enjoy.

Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Sunday has been family day in our house since I don’t know how long. There is this idea in my head that Sunday is the day I get to be with my family and enjoy the fruits of my labor, so to speak. The vision of a lazy Sunday with one’s spouse and kids enjoying uninterrupted time to play and just be a family is in the minds of most of us I think. The reality however:

Have you ever noticed that your to-do list never seems to get any attention until Sunday right after Church and before the game or movie? It is as if time had stopped and nothing further would take place in the free world until YOU made some sort of dent in the honey-do list you have been promising to attack all week. Have you ever noticed that the honey-do list from last Sunday morphed into a small book in the weeks’ time since? Last week, the list comprised fixing a leaking faucet, mowing and trimming the yard, fixing a couple of screens that have popped out, and washing both cars. This week, the list has all of that PLUS completely cleaning out the garage so both cars could fit inside and cleaning out the mini-barn.

Now, this would not seem to be too long a list particularly if you have sons at home. I have two and neither of them lives with us anymore. There is nobody here to pawn off, I mean, delegate the jobs to. It is left to me and me alone. Sometimes, I can get the wife involved but not too often. She cooks and I don’t want her to be distracted from THAT job!

This is also the time that nothing works and/or multiple trips to the hardware store become a necessity. I have decided that there is a universal rule that states that any household chore will require not less than three separate trips to the local hardware store. Propriety forbids me from disclosing the number of times I visited our friendly hardware store during my assault on the aforementioned list. I can tell you that they like me a lot there. Maybe a little too much.

I can report to you here and now that I did make a huge dent in the honey-do list. Next Sunday will, no doubt, bring an ever larger and longer list of things to do. Can’t wait for Monday so I can go to work and get a rest.