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. 

Realtor.com 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!