Thursday, December 22, 2022

Tis the season for remembering, an upcoming storm and Christmas of course

Sorry about the stubble, I only shave Mon-Wed-Fri

It’s Thursday morning, and I’ve been sitting here admiring the twinkle of lights on my ceramic tree and door wreath, and sipping a cup of coffee flavored with white chocolate creamer (how come I only buy this flavor at Christmas?) and listening to dicey weather reports on the radio, and classic Christmas music. 

Andy Williams singing ‘The First Noel’ always makes me a little melancholy for some reason… 

The day before yesterday I got up earlier than usual to catch the 5:50am bus downtown (to UPMC Mercy Hospital for some blood work) and it was so nice seeing Pittsburgh all lit up in those pre-dawn hours.  It reminded me of the years I spent working in the city, and holiday shopping displays and fancy, hectic parties and get-togethers.  I’m glad I was a part of things then, but don’t miss it now.

After I got to the hospital and had 4 vials of blood taken, the nurse said I should go to the cafeteria and get something to eat before heading out, and that’s just what I did.  I had a prune danish and some very strong coffee, and watched the sun come up over the city.

When I got home, the first of my 4 test results was already in my inbox on my computer; it said my total cholesterol was 198.  When I told my friend Danielle, she said “You’re fine!  My number is 248 on a good day, that’s why I’m on statins!”

Anyway, I’m just sitting here and thinking about things.  Remembering my family’s Christmases at the farmhouse (my favorite was in ‘72 when a giant snowstorm forced our Grandma Morris to stay with us 2 days longer than planned) and then there’s today, the 18th anniversary of my mother’s passing on December 22, 2004.

My favorite photo of my mom from the early Eighties, and how I’ll always remember her

With six kids, Mom worked year-round to ensure our holidays were the stuff that kids dream of.  We’d come down those stairs Christmas morning with our mouths hanging open in surprise & wonder. 

Anyway, I don’t have anything else to write about, but wanted to say thanks and Happy Holidays to everyone out there who visits my blog and takes the time to leave feedback. 

Whenever I post a new blog, then return later to see if anyone’s been here and left a comment… it’s a little like seeing those presents on Christmas morning.

Does that sound corny?  I hope so. Winking smile

Merry Christmas Arkansas Patti, Art & Kay, Bobi, Bohemian, Carole, Celia, Chuck & Robin, David & Gigi, David Hofstede, Danielle, Debby, DJan, Elisa, Erin, Florence, Joanne, Cool Joe, Joyce, Kim in PA, Linda in Kansas, Maebeme, Margaret, Mary, Neena, Pam S, Peter Tibbles, Rian, River, Shawn, SpacerGuy, Susan, Tom & Everyone else who kindly visits here.


Saturday, December 17, 2022

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth—and a laptop (the laptop will have to wait)

I thought I’d share this because of the song and the irony, as it’s almost Christmas.  Last Saturday I had just finished reading blogger Tom’s post on Sightings Over Sixty, The Tooth of the Matter when I turned off my tablet to go downstairs and get my mail. 

Instead of the elevator, I took my building’s iron stairwell but wasn’t wearing my glasses, and one floor down I decided to go back up and get my specs.  When I turned around and headed upstairs, I tripped and fell.  I banged my lower face against a step and heard an awful crack.

When I got back inside and looked in the mirror, my one front tooth (on the right in this photo) was broken off halfway and very jagged.

I took a photo and sent it to my sister Shawn (I don’t want to post it here, it looked pretty awful).  I knew my dentist’s office was closed until Tuesday, but messaged them anyway and sent the photo and what happened.  I sat here the rest of the evening in shock, afraid to eat or drink anything.

That wasn’t the worst of it—I went to bed, and a little after 2am woke up gagging.  Now my SECOND front tooth was broken and in a crumble in my mouth.  Apparently I’d fractured that one too.  What a mess.

I dug out my TMD guard (a bulky acrylic dental appliance that fits over your top teeth) and lived on coffee, ice cream & chicken soup for a couple days.  Tuesday morning my dentist’s office called and said to come in at 2 or sooner if possible.

Shortly after getting there and filling out a couple forms, I was led back for x-rays and told to sit tight.  15-20 minutes later, a thin 41 year old woman with heavy eyeglasses, long blonde ponytail and the thickest Southern accent this side of the Mason-Dixon line appeared in the doorway, hands on her hips.  “Young man!  WHAT DID YOU DO?!”  

It took everything in me not to burst out laughing, I love her dearly.  Doctor Shannon Passineau.

She studied the x-rays, examined my teeth then said “Douglas you have two options.  Both come with good news and bad news.”

“If we do crowns on those two teeth, we can have temporaries on them in no time at all.  And when your permanent crowns come in, they will probably last you a lifetime.  Since you don’t have insurance, they will cost you $1750 for the pair.”

I said ouch but they sounded good, and she said “But they will offset your bite just a fraction.  And it COULD be enough to trigger your TMD again.”   No. NO.

She said “Then I suggest Option #2.  Normally we don’t recommend fillings or composite rebuilds of teeth requiring more than 50% restoration.  And your two front teeth are over half gone.  But I AM a restoration specialist and I think I can do a nice job.  It will probably set you back around $400, and it will require a minimum of 2 hours on our parts.  Are you up for that?”

I said “Dr. Passineau, I will happily spend the night in this chair if necessary.”  She said “We don’t want you doing that!  My husband is taking me out tonight to dinner and a show at Heinz Hall and there is no way I’m missing that, my young man!”

After she numbed my mouth and began working, she said “You should see my new red dress Douglas, the one I’m wearing tonight.  Tell him, Amy.” 

Her assistant said it was red alright.  Doctor Passineau said “Yes it is RED and I look just fabulous in it.  Amy hand me that No. 4 please.  Now Douglas a Southern lady would never wear red unless she was some jezebel, but if it’s CHRISTMAS—“

Amy on the left, Dr. Passineau on the right

Dr. Passineau stopped and said “Young man, are you alright?  Did I numb you enough?”   I was clutching the armrests, doing everything I could not to laugh at “jezebel”. 

A couple hours later, she handed me a mirror and asked what I thought.  My jaw hurt like heck, but I was delighted.  I said “One of my front teeth was misshaped, and I always had a small gap between them.”   She said “Oh, I went ahead and fixed all that!”   As you can see in the photo above, she sure did. 

My total for these repairs was $345.00.  Dr. Passineau told me she still needs to do filler on the left one, and repairs on two at the bottom.  According to the printout below, those bottoms will set me back another $335.00 in 2 weeks.

She told me all 4 of these teeth were structurally unsound and were ready to go anyway.  (I knew one of the front teeth was fragile, but not the other ones.)  

Anyway, with my recent gallbladder issue in November that cost me $550.00 after insurance ($150 for the ambulance, $75 for the ER and $325 for the abdominal ultrasound) and now this, there goes the money I had allocated for a new laptop, and then some. 

I’m typing this on a laptop from 2012 that still uses Windows 7;  I heard Windows is up to version 11 now!

Oh well, I’d prefer a healthy gall bladder & my front teeth anyway Nerd smile


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

When it comes to my former classmate Diana, no news is good news

Diana is in the center row, the only woman on the far right

These are my former classmates at my last high school reunion in August 2014, for the Jefferson-Morgan HS Class of 1979.  I didn’t go, at the time I was still working and up to my ears in a new product installation for the Pricing Group at UPMC Health Plan. 

(And truth be told, I had no one to go with and didn’t want to attend by myself.)  But from the very small turnout, I was far from alone in my choice.

They were going to do a “60th birthday party” reunion in 2021, when most of us turned 60, but then covid came along in 2020 and pretty much nipped that in the bud.

Anyway, for the last 10 years or so I’ve been in occasional touch with one of these former classmates, Diana (in the center row).  She would reach out just to say hi in email, and when I developed a serious TMJ disorder a few years back, Diana would write with suggestions on natural treatments and the like.

The irony of it was, as small a graduating class as we had (around 100 students total), Diana & I were not friends back then.  We ran in different circles.  But we attended one class together.

The class was On Your Own (which wasn’t really on your own, we learned how to co-habitate, budget & navigate the rocky terrain of marriage).  Here’s a photo of our very first class, “Wedding Day”.  That’s myself & my friend/wife Karen dead center, and Diana and her ‘husband’ Ron third from the right.

But this is my only memory of Diana, that class.  I remember she spoke very softly and had a nice laugh.  But in the 50 years I’ve known her, we’ve never once talked in person or on the phone, until the other night.

One day last week I was cleaning out my email folder on my laptop, and saw an old message from Diana where she’d included a phone number if I ever wanted to chat.  I wrote and asked if that was still her phone number and would she like to talk sometime.  She said yes, how about tonight.  She’d be working late but to give her a call at 8:30pm.  We could talk until 10pm, when she went to bed.

I did call her that night promptly at 8:30, and we talked 4 1/2 hours, until 1:00am.  Whoops!  She was just that easy & comfortable to talk with.  The entire time of our conversation, I thought “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”

In a nutshell, Diana married 1-2 years after we graduated.  She had 2 kids, a boy and a girl by the time she was 20 (and they are both in their forties today, which is strange.  I have a sister in her mid-40s).  Several years ago her daughter moved west to Salt Lake City, and then her son followed his sister to Utah to find his fortune.  

Diana’s first husband died young from cancer, and sadly her second husband died from covid last June.  She said “Doug I’m not as lucky as you, I still have to work.  I do like my job... I just didn’t expect to be alone at this stage in my life.”   

We did our share of reminiscing, and (for not knowing Diana that well) I was surprised at the same memories we shared.  I have friends I enjoy talking to as young as 45 and old as 80-something, but there’s something “kindred” when talking with someone your own age.

For example, I was sharing a memory from our senior prom, when the lead singer of the band said “Who’s ready to boogie?” and got silence and a few groans in return.  Another band member nudged him and said something, the guy at the mike said “Who’s ready to get down tonight!”  and the students cheered.  Diana laughed at that, she got it.

Diana did tell me something interesting which has been giving me a new perspective on things.  She doesn’t follow the news.  Local, national, celebrities, political—none of it.  She’s aware of the really big stuff, like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but that’s the extent of things and she wants to keep it that way.

She said it began years back when the lead story on the news one night was about Lindsay Lohan, and she simply had enough.  I have to admit, I’ve been finding myself turning off the news more & more this past week after hearing that.

Do I really need to know Prince Harry & Meghan Markle have a new docuseries on Netflix, or the latest going-ons at Twitter?  What a waste of time.  I’m happy that Brittney Griner is out of Russia and home with her family, but I only had to hear it once—not 30 times over in 3-4 days. 

And what about NASA and the success of their Artemis 1 moon rocket?  Okay, I did want to know that!  But I still think Diana’s on to something.

Finally, I was surprised when she asked if I’d like to make our chat a more regular thing, like once a month.  I figured she’d had enough of me for a lifetime.  But I said yes, for sure.  We’ve got over 4 decades of catching up to do.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

My Christmas Wreath Conundrum—darn it, this shouldn’t be a conundrum

A couple days ago after getting a haircut, I stopped in the hardware store to have a look around.  While I was looking at their (pretty meager) holiday display, the thought occurred to me I hadn’t hung a Christmas wreath on my front door in maybe 10 years.

I asked if they had any in stock, the clerk said she had one remaining from last year.  I bought it (in a box, sight unseen) for $25.00. 

When I got back to my apartment building, two of my favorite 4th floor residents, Opal & Sarah were sitting downstairs in the lobby chatting after getting their mail.

Opal’s my friend, but I love Sarah—she’s a quiet black woman in her mid 70s who’s very sweet and always calls me John, then apologizes profusely.  She is just so nice.

Opal asked what was in the box and I thought why not and told her.  She said “Well open it up so we can see!”   I peeled off the tape and lifted the lid.  Inside was a skinny ‘O’ ring of green encased in clear plastic.  Opal slapped her knee and laughed.  She said “I wouldn’t want that on MY door!”  I checked my pocket to make sure I kept the receipt.

But after bringing it upstairs and cutting off the plastic, this artificial wreath REALLY sprang to life, so to speak.  I got my door hook to hang it up and fluff it out (that’s it above).  It wound up looking just wonderful—and twice as big as the pizza-style box it came in.

I also discovered something really special.  It had a tiny green box embedded in the branches that took 3 AA batteries.  When I installed them, the wreath came to life with 40 led lights, in a variety of twinkles.  (There are 9 settings to choose from.)  Nice!

The thought occurred to me, why don’t I hang it on the INSIDE of my apartment versus the hallway on my front door?  I live down a dead-end hall (no one sees), plus I don’t have a Christmas tree other than the ceramic tree that sits on my dining table. 

I’d love to have something in here with pine branches, without getting an entire tree.  Would that be too selfish?

I remember several years ago seeing a news story where people who lived in NYC (in apartments) hung their wreaths inside to enjoy more (and to keep them from getting stolen).  But that’s NYC, this is Pittsburgh.

I moved it to my closet door, then went down the hall and asked Opal if she wanted to see the wreath again.  When I told her I was going to hang it inside instead, she said “You men are all alike, your front doors are bare!  Only the women bother to decorate!” 

She did surprise me later though, when she returned with Sarah and both agreed it would be nicer in here.  (Now my conundrum is which door to hang it on.  The closet door seems better, it faces the center of the room.)

Still, I felt guilty.  That all changed though, when I googled my conundrum and found this article on Apartment Therapy:

If You’re Not Putting Your Wreath in this Spot, You’re Missing Out

The article says if you live in an apartment and your door doesn’t face a public place like the street, you’d probably be happier hanging your wreath on the inside.

All’s well that ends well—yesterday I came across these 12” wooden door plaques with a sparkly bow-tie and got one for my own front door.  Opal said “That’s perfect!” 


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Kids! I don't know what's wrong with these kids today

A couple months ago, my sister Shawn let me know that my 18 year old niece Sophia was in her first serious relationship with a boy and his name was Colby.  I asked if this Colby was a nice boy, Shawn said yes, he’s nice. 

I haven’t heard anything in awhile, so recently I asked if Sophia & Colby were still an item and my sister said yes.  I said “So how about a picture of this young man?”  I got the pic above.  What the—!!  These two look like they fell out of the Disney Channel, you have got to be kidding me! 

I mean, of course I’m very happy for them (and even happier for my sister that Sophia’s young man isn’t a 32 year old Hell’s Angel) but these two take the cake.  I said “So what do they do for fun when they’re not posing for adorable selfies in matching comfy pants?” 

Shawn said “Well, they enjoy putting puzzles together” and sent me these 2 pics.


While I was looking these two photos over and wondering if this is what 18 year olds were really doing for fun in the 21st century, my sister sent the one below and remarked they were excited to recently vote in their first election.  They’re wearing their “I Voted” stickers.

I said that’s great, but I’ve seen enough.

Frankly, these two were making me feel like white trash.  Around the time I was their age during the holidays, I had recently broken up with my chain-smoking girlfriend Sherri and was involved with a girl named Kelly from work.  We were invited to her cousin’s trailer for a Christmas party, and inside was a keg (filled with beer I assume) and this metal washtub filled with purple liquid and swollen oranges bobbing around in it.

When I asked what the concoction was, someone said “You want a Purple Jesus?  Jesus is the reason for the season!”  I learned the liquid was grape kool-aid & grain alcohol.  You drop a couple sacks of oranges into the stuff, they soak up the drink and… voila.  A Purple Jesus.

While I was mulling over the possibility of trying one and not making it to my 19th birthday, Kelly said “Gimme one of those things!” and chomped into one.  A few minutes later, she was face down on the floor, passed out cold.  Ah, good times.

These kids today… what can you say!  Winking smile

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Candace’s Christmas card

Can I share something not so merry here?  I don’t want to sound like a Dougie Downer, especially around the holidays, but this is such a good reminder—to myself, at least—to appreciate my home, my health, the people in my life—everything.

This past Sunday I was putting out my meager holiday decorations and looking at this Christmas card from last year.

For as long as I can remember, after Christmas is over and I’m packing up my ceramic tree and the like, I keep 1 or 2 Christmas cards for next year.  Sort of like “holiday bait” to lure in those new cards next Christmas.  Am I a weirdo?

Anyway, in 2020 I chose my friend Erin’s “Star Wars Christmas” card.  And then last year, it was my friend Candace’s card seen here.

I chose Candace’s card because I liked it’s old school vibe—plus I appreciated the good wishes inside.  Both of us had recently been in the hospital for kidney-related issues, mine was two stones blocking my right kidney, a large & small. 

Candace’s would turn out to be far more serious.  Both of her kidneys would shut down a month later, and she’d die in early April—a week before her 60th birthday.

(I shared her obituary here.)

Besides being heartbroken (I’ve known & loved Candace for 22 years), I could not believe her bad fortune.  Just a few months before, Candace and her husband John were visiting relatives and stumbled upon a house for sale.  They weren’t even looking for a new home, they lived in a rowhouse in the city for 37 years. 

But her husband had just retired, and Candace was planning to retire in the summer of 2022, and they figured this house in the suburbs would be a nice place to retire to.  They put in an offer and got it. even posted an article about them, finding your retirement home when you’re not even looking.  Candace got to live in it for a couple months, at least.


It really was beautiful inside, with a big sun porch in the back

Anyway, the reason I’m sharing this isn’t just because I saved Candace’s card from last Christmas, but because recently her husband John died too.  He was 68 years old, took a bad fall in their house and then got progressively worse. 

He became paralyzed within a month, then died several weeks ago, in October.  Here is John’s obituary.


While I wasn’t as close to John as I was Candace—she was a liberal like myself, John wasn’t—he made a point of reading my blog and sent me feedback whenever I posted a food blog.  

In fact, every time Candace made chicken parmesan (from a recipe on my blog) he would email me.  Apache, we’re having your chicken parm tonight. 

And now, he’s gone too.  It just amazes me, what can change in a year.  They had no children, so I don’t have a clue what will happen to their home.  The last I checked a week ago, it hasn’t gone up for sale yet. 

All I know is, a year ago they were here and Candace was wishing a healthy 2022 for us all.  I miss them both, yet feeling more thankful than I’ve felt in a long time.  Thanks for letting me share.


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

With the tumble of Twitter, it’s time for some microblogging: Teepee style

It occurred to me a couple days ago this was my 16th anniversary of blogging on ApacheDug’s Teepee. 

(My official start date was November 12, 2006.)

I remember when I set up my page, posted my first blog and told a couple people.  I got some mixed reactions, one person suggested I set up a Myspace page instead.

Remember Myspace?  It pretty much fell to the wayside when Facebook came along in 2009.

And now it looks like Twitter’s time is almost up, given Elon Musk’s crazy shenanigans after spending $44 billion for it.  (Do you know you could make 44,000 people millionaires with that much loot?)

Anyway, I never followed anyone on Twitter, let alone tweeted; I blog, there’s a big difference.  But I thought I might give this microblogging thing a try, see if I like it.  So as Jackie Gleason would say, “Awayyy we go”!

1.  Why was I reminded of this character the night Trump announced he was running for President in 2024?


Because these goons share a hangup about Christmas?  Because they’re full of hot air and would burn everything given the chance?  Because they’re both clenching tiny fists of tiny fingers and are more cartoon then men?  Yes, yes & yes. 

The difference is, the Heat Miser is funny.  The other one should be in federal prison.

2.  Happiness is…


Remember those ‘Happiness is’ quotes in the 1970s? Happiness is a warm puppy.  Happiness is a big hug from Grandma.  Here’s my idea of happiness—a hot cup of coffee and a new Star Trek magazine delivered to my mailbox early Saturday morning!

3.  I’m in love with an older woman—I just didn’t know how old.

I confess, I watch the first 30 minutes of The View Monday-Friday at 11:00am before heading downstairs to the exercise room.  I watch it for one reason, Joy Behar.  Not only could I listen to her talk about Republicans all day, I think she’s feisty & cute.

The other day I googled her birthdate to see how old she is.  She’s 80 years old.  SHE’S 80 YEARS OLD.

4.  The price of Hulu on my tv has gone from 99 cents a month to $15.00—and I couldn’t be happier.


Last Thanksgiving I got a 99 cent deal for Hulu that lasted one year, but it came with ads—lots of them.  My year is up, so I signed up for the commercial free Hulu ($14.99) and couldn’t be happier.
UPDATE:  If you can live with ads, Hulu is running another deal this Friday—$1.99 a month for an entire year!

5. Now that I have one, I don’t know how I lived without one.

After using a paring knife the last 50 years, I bought a couple vegetable peelers recently from Amazon.  HOW DID I GO THIS LONG WITHOUT ONE?  I SKINNED THIS CUCUMBER IN 30 SECONDS! 

6. I finally met Chantilly, the young black woman who moved into the apartment down the hall from me.  She is funny, sweet & absolutely gorgeous.


So it just me, or is there something a bit awkward about a white man in his 60s being so enchanted with a black woman in her 20s?

7.  A hot meatloaf on a cold Sunday afternoon.  Does it get any better?


No, but a cold meatloaf sandwich on a Monday comes close!  FYI, I love this two-pan gadget that drains & traps the grease.  I hereby appoint myself the Meatloaf King.

8.  A woman who lives on the first floor put this Christmas tree in her window the day after Halloween, and my neighbor Opal had a fit.


Last nght, our neighbor Sarah pointed out Thanksgiving was in 2 days and asked Opal when she was taking down her Halloween stuff.  Opal’s expression—priceless.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

It sounds like a Hallmark movie: The Magic of Mom’s Christmas Reindeer

Can I share something both corny and strange but true?  As I’ve never married and always lived alone, I’ve never really done any holiday decorating.

(That changed a couple years ago, I do a little decorating now for Christmas.)

Anyway, before my mom died in 2004, this always frazzled her.  One year in the mid-1990s when I was back home for my birthday, Mom asked what kind of decorations I had up in my apartment. 

When I said I didn’t decorate for Halloween, she almost blew a gasket.  “But it’s your BIRTHDAY!”

She offered to buy me a truckload of spooky fixins, I declined.  So the very next year, she gave me an oversized Jack-o-lantern mug filled with candy. 

She said “Can you at least set this ONE thing out for Halloween and make your old mother happy?”  I actually liked the mug very much, and for the last 25 years or so, I’ve set it out every October.

It was a few years after that, around 1999 or 2000, when I went home for Christmas for a couple days.  Dad was still with us (just barely) and we were going to open one gift each on Christmas Eve.  Mom wanted me to open something small she got me, and the package was squishy & soft, and I assumed it was a ski cap and gloves.  But when I tore off the wrapping, there was a small reindeer inside. 

It had a goofy face & antlers, and it was VERY soft, silky to the touch.  It’s toy fur sparkled with glints of silver, and it wore a jingle bell collar.  Mom said “I know you’re a Grinch when it comes to Christmas and don’t decorate your bachelor pad—but I thought you could set this ONE thing out on a chair or your bed.  Would that be asking too much?” 

Every year after that, I plopped that goofy plush reindeer on the pillows on my bed or on my couch a couple weeks before Christmas.  I became pretty fond of that little guy, especially after Mom died. 

This went on for 15 years, until 2016 when I made the ill-fated decision to give up my apartment in the city and move back to my hometown.  I kept that reindeer in a large Macy’s bag with holiday gift wrap & bows, which was lost somehow in the move.  

I wasn’t even aware it was missing for a couple months, until Christmas rolled around.  But there was nothing I could do.  How in the world could I replace a toy reindeer my mom had given me 16 years before? 

A few months later, in April 2017 I moved back to the city and life went on.

And then a couple nights ago, I go on Ebay to look for some old-school Sony headphones for my MP3 player.  I notice on my ‘homepage’ there are various categories of items if you scroll down the page far enough.  Items I’ve bought in the past, Related Items, Household items, Electronics, Vintage stuffed animals. 

Vintage stuffed animals??  I’ve never bought a stuffed animal in my life, vintage or otherwise.  And suddenly I see it—Mom’s Christmas reindeer.

You’ve gotta believe me, I was NOT looking for this toy.  Mine was lost 5-6 years ago, I had no knowledge who made it, no recollection of it’s name.  But the moment I saw those antlers, the red COMET name-tag and “tinsel fur”, I knew this was the same one. 

Shocked, I hit that ‘Buy it Now’ button.  (Oh and I got my 2013 Sony earphones too.)

The little guy arrived via the mail just 3 days later, and here it is.  It looks and feels EXACTLY like the one I lost 5 years ago.  And I know this sounds terribly corny, but I feel like my mom has somehow worked a little of her holiday magic again.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

When your butt’s almost toast, it might be time for a new one (toaster I mean)

Here’s my new toaster, I’ll get to it in a minute.  First, is your own toaster more than a few years old?   You should check the cord.  I’d unplug it first, but you know that already.  Go on, I’ll wait.  Hum de dum…

Here’s what happened to me:  for the last couple weeks, I’d been noticing a faint ‘ozone smell’ whenever I made toast in the morning.  Where was that coming from?  

I looked into the toaster with a penlight, turned it upside down and shook it out… nothing.

And then, in all my infinite wisdom, decided to see if the cord was overheating when my toaster was on. 

I uncoiled the cord from beneath, pushed down the lever and was running the cord thru my hand when it suddenly felt like I was holding onto a lightning bolt. 

No joke, my hand erupted in pain and my forearm felt like it was trying to detach itself from my elbow.  I’ve been shocked a few times in my life, but not like this; my heart was pounding like I just got defibrillated.

Midway down the cord was a large rupture, exposing a thick bunch of metal.  I have no idea how or when that happened.  I bought this Kitchen-Aid toaster 20 years ago, but always kept the extra cord wrapped in its base and the toaster in one spot.


Anyway, after the shock of what happened wore off (cough), I went to the hardware store and got a roll of electrical tape.  But while wrapping that rupture in the cord, I noticed a series of smaller cracks & fissures in other places. 

Dammit, I’d better buy a new toaster before I burn my apartment building to the ground.

Have you shopped for a simple 2-slice toaster recently?  When I visited Amazon, there was 40 vendors selling the same Chinese toaster (a black plastic box with a square of brushed steel on the front) for $29.99.  

The retro-themed toasters were cool looking, but oversized, overpriced and had the worst reviews.  I have a compact kitchen and exactly 7” x 12” available space on my counter for a compact 2-slice toaster.

After reading 250 reviews for every compact 2-slice toaster with the same features (extra wide slots, defrost/bagel/reheat buttons, 7 shades of toast) here’s what I bought:  the Redmond Toaster 2 Slice for $29.99.

I liked its matte black exterior, European look and controls on the front.  (The buttons glow red when it’s in use.)  But here’s the weird thing:

Have you ever picked up something expecting it to be heavy, but it’s so light instead you almost fling it across the room?  My 20 year old Kitchen-Aid toaster weighs a good 5 lbs; this Redmond toaster weighs next to nothing.  Seriously, it’s like 8 ounces.

What I want to know is, is it just a cheap product?  Or has toaster technology impoved so much in 20 years that they’re all lightweight appliances now?  

Well, I doubt this one will last 20 years—but for now it makes great toast!   Nerd smile


Sunday, November 6, 2022

Just the facts ma’am… just the facts

Pennsylvania has approximately 9 1/2 million registered voters. 

Of those voters, approximately 4 million are registered Democrats.  3,450,000 are registered Republican and the remaining voters are Liberterian, Green… hippies.

In Allegheny County where I live, there are currently 525,505 Democrats and 261,784 Republicans. 

In Greene County where I was born & raised, there are 10,000 Republicans to 9,000 Democrats.  (It wasn’t always this way… my dad would be rolling in his grave to know he was now in the minority.)

And finally, 1.4 million voters in Pennsylvania requested a mail-in ballot for the upcoming race, and according to Harrisburg & ABC News, a little over 1 million have been returned so far.

I am one of those voters, received my ballot the first week of October.  I mailed it back one week later, and thanks to the bean counters at PA.GOV, my vote was officially recorded on October 14.

I didn’t want to display my filled-out ballot at the top, I read recently that images of completed ballots posted on social media sites can be used to nullify that person’s vote. 


I’ve been wanting to get on here and talk about this for weeks, but I get fired up too easily and I’m trying to watch my high blood pressure.  I would like to say that the thought of Mehmet Oz being our senator sickens me greatly, he’s a flim-flam man and suckered me (and lots of others) before.  I wrote about it years ago, here.

So all I can do is cast my vote and hope for the best.

And in the event Doctor Oz wins that Senate seat, I’ve found a seller on Etsy (with 5 star reviews) who makes customized voodoo dolls.  I will be getting my needles ready.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Thank you for all the well wishes, everyone

I got to (finally) read all the comments left on Monday’s post Wednesday morning, and they had me chuckling, nodding my head & even wiping my eyes a little throughout.  Thank you for the kind wishes & good thoughts everyone.

I got to Mercy Hospital pretty early Monday morning, met with my doctor, he explained what they were going to do—got my meds adjusted, walked on a treadmill & pretty much sat and read the book I brought along.  My birthday dinner was a turkey sandwich, boiled egg, bowl of tomato soup & square of lemon jello. 

(Where was that banana pudding I was promised?)

Everything went as planned, my heart rate & BP numbers reduced and stayed there, and Dr. Ahmed (my new PCP) wants me to return in a couple weeks for blood work for diabetes testing.  After that, I’m to call a number given to me for the hospital’s GI dept, to set up a colonscopy.

I left Tuesday morning around 10:30am, walked almost 2 miles from Mercy Hospital to Pittsburgh’s Cultural District (where my bus stop is to take me home).  I was dropped off in front of Rite-Aid Drugs, picked up my prescriptions, walked to my apartment.  And it would seem then like all hell broke loose.

The moment I stepped inside, my upper abdomen on the right side felt like it exploded.  It happened several times in July, and again this past Sunday night.  On a scale of 1 to 10 the pain is a raging 10, but usually dies down after 1-2 hours.  I’ve been assuming it’s my gall bladder.

I paced frantically, called my doctor’s office and told them what happened, they said if the pain didn’t abate then go to the Emergency Room.

I wound up calling 911 and 30 minutes later I was back at the hospital.  That’s me in that picture above, the nurse is wheeling my bed to the lab for a CT scan. 

(This time I grabbed my smartphone to take to the hospital instead of a book.)

They then took blood & urine, did a chest x-ray and took me upstairs for a very soothing abdominal ultrasound.  The radiologist said they detected no gallstones (which surprised me greatly) but saw inflammation in my upper GI, and didn’t know why.  There was no infections. 

When they recommended I pursue a c-scope, I said If that’s the same thing as a colonscopy I’ll be getting one in a few weeks, and they patted my head and told me I was free to go. 

Instead of making the 2 mile trek to my bus stop again, I called my friend Danielle who was kind enough to come and give me a lift home.

Once again, thanks for letting me share everybody.  And Kay if you’re reading this, I thought of you when I was in the ER and they kept trying to find a vein in my arm to take my blood.  Here’s how my arm looked Wednesday morning!    

Monday, October 31, 2022

I started out in a hospital, it’s only fitting I celebrate my 61st birthday in one

If you can read this post at 7am on Monday, then Blogger’s scheduler worked correctly, and I am on a bus to Mercy Hospital, probably for an overnight stay.

October 31, 1961—yep that’s me.  I’ve been dazed & confused ever since

A couple weeks ago when I went to get my flu shot & covid booster, the pharmacist said I looked flushed.  I said “That’s because I sprinted 1/2 mile to make my appointment.”

Still, he asked if he could check my blood pressure, and said my medical record was flagged for that anyway.  Got my shots, all was well.

But a couple days later my doctor’s office called and said my doctor wanted me to come in for some stress tests and possible adjustments to my meds (I’m on carvedidol to regulate my heart rate and amlodipine for hypertension).

The nurse said I’d be monitored at least 12 hours, and I should bring an overnight bag.  She asked if I remembered doing this a couple years ago, I did.  I asked if I’d be staying in Mercy Hospital’s 5 star catacombs, she laughed and said probably.

Mercy Hospital is a huge place with hundreds of hospital rooms—but they have an ‘underground bunker’ of private cubbyholes for overnight stays and monitoring.  It sounds creepy but isn’t.  Your pulse and BP is taken every hour, and you leave after breakfast or lunch the next day.  You’re not even checked in or out.

Anyway, I’m thinking of requesting a check-in to the hospital afterward (or at least getting a colonscopy scheduled as soon as possible).  I’ve been dealing with some severe abdominal issues for awhile that included a pretty rough weekend and a bout of pain tonight that left me gasping for breath a couple hours.

The irony here is that when they scheduled me to come in October 31 at 8am (and to arrive 20 minutes early) a couple weeks ago, I wasn’t exactly gung-ho.  I said “Um.. that’s my birthday.” 

The woman on the phone said “Don’t you want to spend it with us?”  I said “Well… not particularly.”  She said that was too bad but not to cancel, and I said okay but asked if they could bring me a cake with 61 candles and sing Happy Birthday.

She told me no but the cafeteria had some really good banana pudding and she’d make sure I got some.  I laughed and said okay.  To quote Kay from the blog Musings—“Sigh!”

Thanks for reading, and I hope something good comes out of all of this!  Who me?

PS.  I wanted to give a special thanks to my friend Erin who is taking me out to dinner at the Sesame Inn when all is said & done, and for the awesome birthday cards I’ve gotten from my sisters Donda-Lin and Shawn, and friends Robin & Chuck, Danielle, Susie, Erin, Rick and Bobi. 

(Bobi’s had a crisp one dollar bill inside, you can’t beat that!)

Happy Halloween Everyone


Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Angry Trans & the Draft Dodger: if it’s good enough for him or her…

A few weeks ago I was headed to the laundry room (we have one on each floor) and stopped in front of the second studio apartment on the right to admire something.  My friend Opal lives diagonally from it, and opened her door and quietly said “What are you doing?”

Nothing gets past her—nothing.

I said I was coming to get my clothes and stopped to admire this person’s draft-dodger.  Opal said “Their what??”  I pointed down at the long purple tube at the bottom of their door and said I hadn’t seen one of those in years.  My grandma had one but it had a dog’s head on one end.

Opal came out and joined me in the hall.  She said “You know who lives there, don’t you?”  I shook my head no.  She whispered “The Angry Tranny.”   I whispered back “You’re bad!  I thought that person lived on the first floor?”  Opal said “They used to, not anymore!”

FYI, the Angry Tran she’s referring to is a male figure in their late 20s who’s tall with long black hair and bangs (like Bettie Page from the 1950s).  He-she’s always wearing a gauzy nightrobe and dark lipstick and a pissed off expression.  To be very honest, this person scares me a little. 

I motioned for Opal to walk with me to the laundry room, and I said “So what is Angry anyway?  A transvestite or transgender?”  Opal laughed & clapped her hands.  She said “Douglas I have NO IDEA what either of those even means!”

Anyway, a couple weeks pass and then one night I went down to the lobby pretty late to mail my niece’s birthday card.  I was surprised to see Angry sitting on the small sofa, a book & pen in hand, sipping from a tiny goblet.  I said “Hi, how are you this evening?” 

He-she shrugged their shoulders and said “Alright”.  I said “May I ask you something?”

He-she didn’t answer, just looked at me and raised their eyebrows.  ARE YOU A BOY OR A GIRL!  No, I didn’t ask that—I said “Why do you have a draft dodger at the bottom of your apartment door upstairs?  The hallways are heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer…”

Angry said “Because my door isn’t flush with the floor.”  I nodded my head and said I didn’t think any of them were.  Angry said “It blocks out the light from the hall.  And noise and smells.  And people.”  Well.  I was going to ask Angry where he-she got theirs, but before I could, he-she said “Go on Etsy.” 

I said thanks and good night.  And then I got the heck out of there.

I went on Amazon instead to check some out.  I found this square brown one that’s just right for squares like myself.  Why didn’t this occur to me before?  It’s not only an odor stopper (the hallways in my building have perfumey wall deodorizers that creep into my apartment, plus my neighbor fries a lot of fish) it’s a soundproofer too!  And it works surprisingly well.

I have it on the OUTSIDE of my door (like Angry), so I have to remember to step over it when I open my door.  It included a velcro tape strip to attach to the bottom of my door, but I didn’t want to risk damaging the wood.  Plus, this is so heavy and square-shaped, it stays in place on the floor anyway.

Here’s something important to consider if you want it to fit your door perfectly.  Measure the width of your door (mine’s 36”) and READ THE USER REVIEWS.

Half of these will include the loops on both ends in their length measurements.  You don’t want that!  You think you’re getting one 36” in length and it’s only 34”.  After I made sure this one didn’t include the loops in it’s measured length, I chose the 36” and it fit perfectly.

And finally, here’s Opal’s front door—cute, huh?  But if you look at the bottom, she could use one of these too.