Holiday Letters: Bah Humbug…



Just once I’d like to see a real holiday letter.

Season’s Greetings from (…ohhhhhh, let’s say…) the Simpson’s!

Good god, has it really been a year since I wrote last year’s pack of lies?  If you are reading this, consider yourself lucky.  The mutt ate most of the address book because the economy is so bad and groceries are so expensive we stopped buying dog food, except for grandpa.

2013 really sucked big gnarly ones.  Nobody did anything.  Nobody achieved anything.  Nobody was awarded any medals for anything.  I didn’t get a raise.  My job still sucks.  The people I work with still suck.  I still suck.  That’s why I’m still stuck in this dead-end job ‘till I die of a heart attack.

Lisa is still playing her saxophone.  God help us, she’ll keep playing the blues and probably marry some loser drummer and have to live with us while her sorry husband searches for that pot of grunge drummer gold.   At least she’s not pregnant, yet.

The baby is still sucking on that nunu.   Her teeth will be messed up but it does keep her quiet.

Bart managed to stay out of jail this year and, to date, as far as we know, has not sired any offspring.

Marge is still my blue haired old lady.  I can’t believe we’ve stayed married all these years.  We have managed to work ourselves into subsistence, requiring a minimal amount of communication and sex only on a seasonal basis… whether we need it or not.

But truth be told, I am thankful for Baby Jesus and the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  You see, even though it was used as a medical ointment and burial spice, myrrh was also used in early recipes for mead.  And from mead we got…beeeer, mmmmm.  For that I am truly thankful!

DOH!  Happy Holidays!

Mom’s Sweet Potato Recipes (for Thanksgiving)

Mom's Sweet Potato Pie Back

With Thanksgiving coming up it’s time for some home cookin’.  This is 1/2 the recipe at the bottom of the back of the card.  Mix well and cook in buttered dish at 325 about 45 to 50 minutes until middle rises.  Move to bottom rack if you add the pecan topping.


I prefer it without the topping.  Also don’t be afraid to brown the edges, the sugars caramelize and get nice and gooey.


The interesting thing about all of Mother’s recipe cards is that she dated and credited them.  Also, how they changed over time and how her communication was really intended for her and intent is not always clear. There are a lot of secrets NOT on the cards.  For instance, she sweetens her sweet potatoes after they are cooked and peeled and still hot, adding 1 1/2 cups of sugar per quart.  Sweeten to your taste, I only use 1 cup.

The Mockingbird and I Return


Fall has finally arrived here in Tampa Bay.  The calendar’s change of seasons proved to be rather uneventful with both the pool and air temperatures remaining unaffected, continuing in balmy late-summer fashion.  The only real evidence affirming summer’s dismissal and the hope for prospective seasonal relief is the mockingbird’s return to his customary status as songbird divus.

Daddy always said that mockingbirds didn’t sing during dog days.  In recent years I’ve been paying particular attention to the neighborhood birds and sure enough, by early July each year they stop their enthusiastic melodic recitals and take a break during dog days. I’m really not sure why, but they do. The heat obviously must play a role in their decreased activity, it most assuredly affects mine.  Based on the number of feathers I skim off the pool and his general scruffy appearance, I’m guessing molting has something to do with it as well.  After all, de-clothing remains one of my primary dog days coping mechanisms, among others.  There is some conjecture that dog days also coincides with a non-nesting period.  Who can blame the poor fellow?  If my only choice for nesting didn’t involve air conditioning and was primarily outdoors in the deep southern summer heat, I’d be celibate too.

It is rather uncanny.  For the last three years, our yard bird that prefers the poolside foxtail palm and the neighbor’s bird that sings from atop the magnolia tree outside our bedroom window resumed their vigorous vocalizations either on or within one day of the autumnal equinox.  Regardless of the lack of any overt environmental clue that suggests impending seasonal change, the mockingbird has finally emerged from his dog days funk this year, and so have I.

I hope you will forgive me, but I haven’t been a very good blogger or blog follower these past few months.  Blame it on whatever I will, dog days, the heat, the rain, work, molting, or just life, I took some time for myself.  Oh, I’ve been using the camera pretty much as always but I just haven’t felt like or taken the time to edit, crop, write or post much.

It all started the second week of January when my already ailing father took ill and was hospitalized for what turned out to be the final time.  He fought a good battle, but the end of his life caught up with him in April.  Truth is I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.  I insisted on preparing and delivering his eulogy mostly because I felt someone that really knew the man should honor him, not some preacher with shallow, albeit well intended platitudes.  It was rather cathartic.  However, moving on with daily life without someone’s physical presence is indeed a different matter altogether.  I imagine I’ll be working on this one for a while.

One of the lessons in death is that the cycle of life continues, regardless of how we feel.  Within a week of the funeral, I attended my eldest daughter’s high school graduation.  After having experienced some difficult life changes, though still finishing with honors, she needed a change.  I moved her home to Florida with me the day after graduation.  We had a wonderful summer living together for an extended period for the first time in several years since her mother moved her and her sister to Louisiana.  She was able to gain a new perspective on life through the summer and managed to get her head in a better place for the start of her next chapter in life, college.  The cycle of life continues.

To top it all off, the love of my life has agreed to marry me.  We are making plans to wed in an intimate ceremony this December when all of our families are together for the holidays.  It is a magically special thing to find someone that loves you simply for who you are.  I am so happy to say that at this stage in my life I was able to find that person that I can respect and love for the remainder of my life.  I’m just happy that she finally agreed to make an honest man out of me.  The cycle of life continues.

Thoughts of dad are never far, especially now.  Fortunately, he did meet and got to know and love my bride long before his cognitive abilities failed.  He was, however, not without opinion regarding weddings.  Amongst all the family and both my brother and nephew’s multiple attempts, he attended more weddings than he wished.  Sometime in recent history, my nephew announced the possibility of yet another matrimonial event, to which Dad replied, “I’d rather be in hell with my back broke.”

So, here we are the mockingbird and I.  You’re stuck with us for a while.  I will resist the urge to climb the tree outside your window and yelp.  I’ll humbly be content to digitally insinuate myself into your life at your convenience, for now.

Addiator Universal Standard


I found this mechanical slide adding machine in my father’s desk.  It spent many years in his shirt pocket in the time before calculators became portable and inexpensive.  They were produced in Germany starting in 1920 through the mid 70s.  I can even remember my mother using it to keep a running tally while shopping for groceries.