Blog Milestone

WordPress was kind enough to let me know that I had reached the 5 year blogiversary this week.

Wow! Five years of blogging. To my followers – THANK YOU! As many of you know, I started this blog as a way to put my thoughts to “paper” so to speak. I was and is therapy for me.

The fact that so many of you read my blogs and comment regularly means a lot to me. Many of you I have come to know as friends. I look forward to reading about your lives, reading your stories and poems, taking part in your blogathons, submitting thoughts on your features, and more.

In the past, I have written guest blogs for friends and been “interviewed” by others. I really enjoyed that. As a reader, you are familiar with the content I post and if you ever feel inclined to write a guest blog for me, please reach out and we can discuss that. Much like the days of radio where DJ’s cross-promoted each other, I am always glad to help promote other bloggers – especially those I follow.

Thank you again for reading. Here is to another 5 years (and more!)

Keith

Monday Memory

Do you remember SRA cards?!? 

I remember these from elementary school.  I want to say that we started using them in 4th grade. 

Basically, it was a box of card that were color coded based on difficulty level. Each card contained a story on a topic and questions to answer about it. There were also vocabulary words you had to find in the story.

I remember there being some very interesting topics, but I seem to remember a lot of topics that just didn’t peak my interest.

A search of the internet found these pictures of an SRA card:

After reading the story, it was time to answer the questions:

Grading was on the honor system. There were answer key cards in the box as well.

As I recall, in our classes anyway, there was a specific number of cards you had to read and tests to pass before moving on to the next level.

Some people read faster and comprehended better than others. There was probably a chart up on the bulletin board with everyone’s name and gold stars for every test you passed.

I had never heard of Arthur Ashe (the tennis player) before SRA cards. The only reason I remember this is because I kept calling him Arthur Ash-ee and the teacher corrected me.

Thinking about these and writing about them reminds me of other things from elementary school that I should write about later….

* Academic Olympics

* Weekly Readers

* Book Fairs

* Paint shirts

Maybe another day ….

Turning Pages

I often question whether I should post about books I read. Then I remember that more often than not, I only read that book because some blogger I follow posted about it!

Now I understand that just because someone praises a book doesn’t mean I will enjoy it. If, however, it sounds like something I find interesting, I will pick it up. That’s what happened with the latest book I just finished.

I don’t recall who suggested it, but the title caught my attention. As a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I recognized the name of his arch nemesis. Sure, enough, that is who the title is referring to.

I found out after I had the local library order it for me that he has actually been commissioned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write a new Sherlock Holmes mystery. It was called House of Silk (which I have on order from the library now).

Moriarty takes place after Holmes and Moriarty are “killed” at Reichenbach Falls. A Pinkerton Security man arrives to investigate something connected with Moriarty. He meets a man from Scotland Yard who is working a case closely connected with him too.

At any rate, Sherlock is mentioned in the book, but is not a character. It did not take away from a good story. I found it entertaining enough to not only order the Sherlock Holmes story from the library, but to pick up another one of the author’s books. I am reading that one right now.

It starts with a woman who walks into a funeral home and pays for and plans her entire funeral. Six hours later she is murdered. That was enough to hook me. I just started it, but so far I am enjoying it.

I hope that the Sherlock story will be as good as Moriarty. You never know what you are going to get when you have a new author writing for a familiar character.

In the past that has worked. I enjoyed the new Columbo novels, the new Perry Mason stories, and hope the Sherlock one is just as good.

We’ll see….

Thought of the Day

I have a few blog ideas running around in my head, but nothing I am ready to write. So today, I thought I would offer a short bit of wisdom for you as we head into the weekend.

It is no secret that I still love to read the Sunday Comics. Many of them (Drabble, Peanuts, Overboard, etc…) make me laugh out loud. Sometimes, however, you can pull out a nugget of wisdom from them. With that wisdom today – Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes (written by Bill Watterson):

Make the weekend count!

I may have to frame that – or this version:

Friday Photo Flashback

Welcome to another edition of the Friday Photo Flashback feature! This time around we go back to 1988 (and 1999).

In the past it has been fun for me to find a picture and examine the things in the background. The picture I have chosen really doesn’t allow me to do that, because there’s not really anything more than some of my favorite people.

In going through photos, I came across one from my graduation party and it made me smile and sad at the same time.

The photo above features from left to right: Papa Joe, my Uncle Tom, my dad, my grandpa, and Mr, Kanne.

What I love about this picture is the connection to another picture, which connects some friendships. Look at the photo below, which I may have posted on here in the past. It was taken at my first wedding in 1999:

I think it is extremely cool that the two photos are almost identical in that Papa Joe is on the left in the top picture and his son, Joe, is on the left in the bottom photo. Mr. Kanne is on the right in the top picture and his son, Steve, is on the right in the bottom picture. My dad is in the center in the top picture and I’m in the center (center-left) in the bottom picture.

(In the wedding photo: Joe, my brother Chris, Me, Steve, Jeff, and Steve)

Sadly, in the top picture, my grandpa, my uncle and Mr. Kanne have all passed away. My uncle and Mr. Kanne are buried in the same cemetery as my mom and are not that far from each other. I often stop at all three graves when I am there.

Collectively in those photos are 10 men who all played (and continue to play) important roles in my life.

On a humorous note, I can’t help but think that both photos look like a police line up …

… or maybe a funnier line up ….

Macaroni and Beans!

I have never been diagnosed with OCD. That being said, I do tend to be a creature of habit. I tend to take the same way to work every day, I like my coffee the same way every day, and such, but I don’t think I am OCD. My books and DVDs are NOT alphabetized, crooked pictures don’t bother me, etc… There are, however, some things that take my anxiety through the roof.

I love my wife, but I think sometimes she suggests things that she knows will drive me crazy. (Side note: This is probably because I do NUMEROUS things that drive her crazy. She is WAY more OCD than I will ever be!) So let me give you an example of what happened this morning.

After breakfast this morning, she sat with the kids and I for a bit before going to bed. She received some text messages from Andrew’s speech people about things we could do with him. One of those things was to so some sensory games with beans or rice. She came out of the bedroom and went to a cabinet in the kitchen and grabbed a bag of beans.

She told me as she grabbed some Tupperware and cookie sheets what she was doing. She suggested I get a blanket or sheet to put down on the shag rug we have in the living room so they wouldn’t get stuck in the rug. She then grabbed a box of elbow macaroni and opened it. She said, “Ella will want to play, too.”

I put the sheet down and out came the beans and macaroni. Sam gave them a couple mixing cups so they could scoop from one Tupperware dish to the other.

It started out fine. Ella was playing with the macaroni and Andrew had the beans. At some point they swapped.

They also were good about just dumping from one container to the other … for a while.

I’m truly surprised that this photo didn’t catch the beans and macaroni that Andrew was throwing up in the air and all over the living room. (Side Note: Yes, he is wearing his sister’s underwear over his pants. She is potty training and he wanted to wear a pair, too. Does he look ridiculous? Yes, and I am happy if he is happy.)

Half the battle was getting Andrew to NOT eat the raw beans or noodles.

Slowly, but surely, the beans mixed with the macaroni and vice versa. My anxiety was at an all time high as I was trying to keep the beans and noodles out of the carpet. It was everywhere!

Eventually, they lost interest and got lost in a show on TV. When the alarm went off to tell Ella it was time to use the potty, I took advantage of her being off the sheet and wrapped all the beans and macaroni in it. I wrapped it in a big ball and put it in a shopping bag.

Hours later I was still finding beans and noodle on the carpet! I’m sure as a kid, I was making messes with stuff like this, but it was all I could do to not wrap it all up 10 minutes into them playing with it!!

I know my wife, and I am sure the beans and noodles will reappear sometime in the near future. I guess I will just wear socks when I am walking around in the living room ….

Breakfast Fun

For the most part, it was a normal morning. Andrew was up first, followed almost immediately by Ella. As I was getting them out of bed, Sam came home from work.

Sam recapped her night at work with me and the kids were taking turns being in her arms. During this time we asked what they wanted for breakfast. We offer them a few choices each day. Today, it was pancakes, waffles, or French toast.

“Waffles!” Ella said!

“French toast, actually sounded good,” Sam said.

I was thinking the same thing, but I figured waffles would be easy for the kids to eat. They usually just hold them in their hand and walk around eating them. Sam reminded me that we had blueberries in the fridge and I would add those to the batter.

I reached up in the cupboard and grabbed the Bisquick. I could tell by the weight of the box in my hand that there probably wasn’t enough for waffles – or pancakes for that matter. So, French toast it was!

Ella always wants to help, so I cracked the eggs into a bowl and had her shake some cinnamon in. She helped me mix it up as the griddle warmed up.

“Do you want smiley face French toast or bear French toast?” Sam asked.

I looked at her puzzled and asked what she meant. She told me that you cut up bananas and can use them for eyes, ears, and a mouth. The kids were excited to help with this step, too.

Ella has a step stool, which Andrew has been using to get to things on counters and why have you. He was standing on it, so Ella needed something to stand in. Sam brought in an laundry basket and turned it upside down. So the two of them were standing on their “stools” and helping mom cut bananas

Once the French toast was done, she dished it out and made bears or smiley faces. Then she cut it up in small pieces for Ella to dip in her syrup, and in slices so Andrew could hold it in his hands.

They both stood on their respective stools and ate as I finished fishing out French toast for Sam and me. After that, we all were just standing in the kitchen, plates on various spots on the counter and each of us eating our breakfast.

As silly as it sounds, this was one of my favorite family breakfasts to date. I shared French toast with Andrew, Sam and Ella were sharing bananas, and we all just enjoyed the moments together as a family.

What a great start to the day!

Flatpack Wisdom

One blog that I follow belongs to a friend in Scotland. She’s a poet named Britta. She has fascinating backstory and through her blog I have come to know a bit about her.

You can read her blog here:

In a recent blog, she mentioned that her son had purchased a desk/chair set from IKEA. She described the various bumps and noises that she heard from her son’s bedroom as he put it together.

We bought something for Ella from there and I recalled the challenge of trying to put it together while looking at the “directions” or lack thereof! It was certainly a challenge.

There is an episode of Bluey called Flat pack that comes to mind. The dad andom have purchased a porch swing and they are trying to put it together while following the “instructions.”

Anyway, I say all of that to get to the nugget of wisdom that came about while commenting back and forth with Britta. I mentioned that there are plenty of jokes about IKEA’s lack of real instructions and stated that it is kind of like life. “

“Life is kind of like an IKEA flat pack. It doesn’t come with any real instructions,” I told her. She agreed and reworded my sentiment. “Life. The flat pack without instructions!”

We’re all just trying to get through without no real directions, so grab your Allen wrench and tackle life day by day!

A Big “Thank You” to “Mr. Puppet”

I believe the saying goes “A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet!” Thanks to this blog and social media, I have been able to connect with some friends who I have never met face to face. One of those friends is Mr. Puppet.

A few days ago, I posted a blog about random acts of kindness. Today, I need to thank Mr. Puppet for an act of kindness that I was the recipient of. Before I tell you about that, let me tell you about him.

Mr. Puppet is Bob Abdou. He is a ventriloquist and puppet master who has been entertaining folks for many years. As I sat here trying to recall just how I connected with him, I realized that it could have been quite a few ways (all of them on Facebook). For example, it could have been because we are both Beatles fans. I belong to a few Beatles group pages and I may have met Bob on one of those. Is Bob a big fan? Well, he has “a few” Beatles collectibles.

….and a few more ….

… and a few more

….and remember the famous Abbey Road album cover?? Yeah, his Beatles puppets actually walked Abbey Road!!

It could have been through a Beatles page I became acquainted with him. It also could have been one of the Batman pages I follow. He’s a fan of the Caped Crusader, too!

Of course, maybe it was through a love for Spiderman or Marvel comic characters…?

Or maybe it was on a site about collectible Lunch Boxes or Classic Movies or TV Shows?

A better guess might be through a Three Stooges page …

In all honesty, however, I think we met through a mutual love of the legendary Soupy Sales.

He even has an original White Fang puppet in his collection!

Before going on, I think it is apparent from the above photos (all stolen from his Facebook page), that Bob is quite a collector. While I have never been to his home, I understand that it is not an odd thing for people to stay overnight at his place. I would imagine from all of the many photos that I have seen, his house is more like a museum. This incredible collection is simply amazing!

He has amazing stuff from Happy Days that even Henry Winkler would find fascinating!

And I can honestly say, no one I know – except Bob – has a Welcome Back, Kotter collection!!

Back to Soupy and how we met. Bob can correct me if I am wrong, but on one of the Soupy pages on Facebook he posted that Soupy Sales attended his wedding! I couldn’t even imagine how cool that would be! He posted a picture of Soupy with him and his wife, June.

Bob actually remembers the first words Soupy spoke to him at the Friars Club. He has them hanging in his home.

You can learn more about Bob, his shows, and more by surfing to his website:

https://mrpuppet.com/index.php

Thank You!

On January 8th, I posted a small blurb on Facebook about it being Soupy’s Birthday. I included a couple links to past Soupy related blogs that I had written. I later discovered that I had received a private message from Bob:

“Hey Keith. Send me your home address. I have an item to send you soon. Thxs bob

Keep in mind, Bob and I have never met face to face. I know him through Facebook, we have chatted on occasion and we share a love for many of the same things (The Godfather, The Muppets, Dean Martin, Red Skelton, Hanna Barbera cartoons, and of course the other things I mentioned above). If it had been anyone else asking, I just would have ignored the message. But it was Bob, so why wouldn’t I send him my address? A few blogger friends have my address and have sent me books, Christmas cards, etc… So I sent it to him.

Today, I received the “item” he sent me. I was speechless. Truly. Included in the box was a note that reads, “Since we are both Soupy fans, I want you to have this special toy plaque.”

I have never seen this before. It is so cool! It is obviously Soupy doing his dance “The Mouse,” which was a number one song in New York City and a fan favorite.

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, Bob! I will be sure to take good care of it! Your kindness speaks volumes of your character. I am so grateful to have connected with you. I hope to one day get to meet you in person, shake your hand, and compare White Fang impersonations. What a blessing it is to call you my friend! Thank you again!

Bob included his phone number with the package, and I plan on giving him a call in a few days to thank him personally, but for now, his generosity was something that I felt needed a place on the internet. (I also wanted to make sure I gave his website a plug!)

I also wanted to say that it feels good to be the person who performs random acts of kindness. However, when you are the recipient of one of those random acts, it really does feel extra special.

Friday Photo Flashback

Welcome to the first Friday Photo Flashback of 2023. Every once in a while I will be looking for a particular picture and stumble on another. That is the case with today’s featured picture. I came across it while I was searching for a picture from yesterday’s blog.

I truly do not know a lot about this picture. If I had to guess, I would say I am 3 or 4 years old here.

I know that this was taken in Grandma and Grandpa D’s back yard. Whoever took the photo is standing directly in front of the sliding patio door. Directly behind me would be my grandparent’s house. Right up against it was an ugly green metal rocker/couch. It had metal holes in it shaped like squares and you’d get up with the imprints of them on the back of your legs.

To my left in the photo and on the other side of the picnic table, I can see the popular lawn furniture of the era! Remember those aluminum chairs with the straps?

Everyone had these and they were the chairs of choice before the fold up ones everyone uses today. Someone is sitting in the chair in front of the picnic table in the photo. I wish I knew who it was. If I had to guess, it is probably my grandma. Of course, it could be my mom or even my great grandma.

The table is obviously made up for some sort of outdoor dinner or lunch. It looks like 8 plates are set. Grilled burgers or hot dogs, perhaps? I only say that because it looks like a bottle of ketchup on the table next to some red and white napkins.

The bowl at the end of the table looks like a Tupperware bowl. It is anyone’s guess as to what is in the bowl, but I would say that if was the turquoise colored Pyrex bowl, it would have been grandma’s marshmallow fruit salad. I always seem to remember it being in that bowl.

The picnic table was there as long as I can remember. I also remember that wooden half privacy fence. In later years, when I would go to cut grandma’s grass, I remember it starting to fall apart.

It looks like there might be a pack of cigarettes at the end of the table. I may be wrong. I thought it might be Marlboro, but upon looking at the packaging, there are not two red areas on the pack.

Then I thought about how much my grandma loved playing Gin. She may have even played bridge. Maybe they played pinochle. I don’t know, but it could very well be a deck of cards on the table.

I admit I had to take a minute to think about my grandparent’s back yard. What else do I remember? My aunt had a swing set back there. I’d have to ask my aunt if she remembers more, because I could be wrong. I want to say that it looked like this:

For some reason, I can’t recall if it had the bench swing (on the right) or the two seater thingy (on the left) or both. For some reason I remember a tree being close to the swing set, maybe up against one of the ends.

I also remember a rose bush up against the back of the house which often yielded pink or white roses. It may have been right up against the chimney. I know there were also rose bushes on the side of the house.

The one thing I remember most about my grandma’s back yard was that there was a huge fence along the back. There was a swinging gate that opened and closed which led to a cemetery! We didn’t go in there much, but there were times we did. I think my aunt used to tell my brother and I spooky stories about going back there. All I know if I was never out back when it was dark! Even when I was older, I made sure to be there early enough to mow before it got dark!!

This is one of those instances where I wish I could take the picture and “uncrop” it! I would love to see more of the back yard and I would love to see who is sitting there with me.