Yurrup calls

Roughly 27 years, 5 months and a couple of weeks ago (but who’s counting?) we spent some time in London, Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Florence, Italy, and Paris… I think that’s in France. They seemed like good places to celebrate my 40th birthday. That happened in Florence, although upon reflection it just meant that age 40 hit me 5 hours earlier than it would have otherwise. But I haven’t noticed any ill effects. So far.

Now, all this time later, we’re planning yet another excursion overseas, which brings back a lot of old memories. Not so much of London, Florence, et. al., but of days and parents gone by.

My parents traveled extensively, especially in retirement, but without ever leaving the United States, and rarely by anything but car, van or trailer. There was enough for them to see right here, at least if you include Hawaii and Alaska, which they did. We’ve seen several states, from Cape Cod to San Francisco and Seattle, but we’ll save any more than that for when we’re too old, timid and confused to venture overseas again. Which will probably be sometime next month.

My dad caught the tail end of WWII, ya know the Big One, as Archie Bunker used to say. He was stationed in Italy, guarding the Allied end of a bridge while Soviet troops guarded the other end and artillery sailed overhead toward enemy holdouts. He and a buddy decided to take a Jeep and cross the bridge to shake hands with the commies, but thought better of it when the Russians declined to let down their guard and offer a big welcome. So Dad and his buddy spun a U-turn and headed back to safety, rather than risk getting shot– after the war was already over.

Beyond that neither of my folks never had any interest in travel beyond U.S. borders.

They picked us up at Detroit Metro when we came back from two weeks of fun and adventure in Europe. We climbed into the back of their car and they were polite enough to ask us how the trip was, and we enthusiastically started up with some amusing anecdotes of the wonders we’d seen and experienced– we did not travel with a tour group, we did it all out our own: two innocent kids sussing out the train schedules and finding our way to hidden hotels in unfamiliar lands where they didn’t speak our language, especially in England. To their credit, my folks let us ramble on for five minutes or so, before Mom said, “well, nothing new here, not much was going on,” then they proceeded to relate everything that didn’t happen in our absence for the rest of the hour-plus drive home. Europe and our experiences were obviously of no interest to them. *sigh*

Which brings me to the point of this tale, the advice given to us by a friend many years ago. She said when you come back from a fabulous vacation and someone– family or coworkers– ask how your vacation was, you have 20 seconds to tell them it was great… and you’re done. Shut up. Move on. They’re no longer listening. Good advice, which I will follow, as I pretty much always have. But that’s not to say I might not write about it here. If there’s anything to say about a couple days in Munich, a couple more in Salzburg, and eight days on the Danube from Passau to Budapest. Well, maybe something interesting will happen with customs or the TSA. It usually does. We’ll see.


Attn: Jeff Daniels

Caving to overwhelming pressure from an untold number* of bizarrely polite Deathe readers– I hesitate to say “fans”– I’ve sent a copy of Bedderhoff Dead to actor Jeff Daniels. Because, to be honest,  I have to feel sorry for poor Jeff.

Jeff Daniels is a Michigander, living near Chelsea, where he owns the Purple Rose Theatre. (His spelling, not mine!) He’s known for such renowned movies as Radio Days, Gettysburg, The Purple Rose of Cairo (for which he named his “theatre”), and of course that super megahit, Dumb and Dumber, to say nothing of the Michigan favorite Escanaba in Da Moonlight. Continue reading

Meet Fillmore (and friend)

This is Fillmore. He’s an elephant ear philodendron. He literally showed up at my door some time around 1974 or so. I was living in a small third floor apartment in Mason when I heard a knock on the door. I opened it to find a homeless plant saying gimme shelter, or something like that. I took him in. Turned out he’d been delivered by my friend Marty as a housewarming gift.

So here we are, two moves from apartment to house to house, three ever-larger pots, and nearly 45 years later. Continue reading

Moderate Speed (for Alice) Run to Deathe

I have in my possession dashcam video from MSP Trooper A.L. Dubose making a quick run to Deathe. Off duty, probably speeding as usual. The YouTube vid quality isn’t up to professional HD standards, and although she was really cranking on Joe Satriani’s The Forgotten, the sound didn’t come through well either. Oh well, it’s the best we got on a tight (read: zero) budget.


Large Appliance Shopping

I don’t understand people sometimes. Okay, pretty much all the time. Some friends of ours suffered a grievous loss a couple weeks ago. Their kitchen range died. No oven, no burners, nothing worked. It’s old, it was tired. We kept checking in. Did they buy a new one? No. Did they find a new one to buy? Nope. Apparently not even looking. Living large with a microwave and toaster I guess.

Continue reading

Life Hack #134 redux

I stumbled onto this Edison original– the Edison Standard Phonograph– the other day at the historic Turner Dodge House in Lansing. Now I’m comparing the original inspiration to my modern, digital-age equivalent here. Full disclosure: my inspiration came from a craft show where a skilled artist displayed at least a dozen of these things, generally using trumpet, bugle, saxophone bells, or bells from who-knows-what different brass instrument. The bell on mine is exactly the same as the one on the Edison. So I guess mine is closer to original than his are. I’d thought I was making a compromise, since this bell is not especially beautiful.

So here we reprise my first photo from Life Hack #134 below, and in this series of pictures we have a 100-year-old original design, plus my proof -of-concept test mock-up, and my original. No photos from the craft show, I’m afraid.All in all, though, a pretty neat find at the mansion.


Life Hacks 001 through 004

Talking with friends and relatives about the (monthly) cost of living today. Life now is so much more expensive than it was when I was young, mostly because there are so many more opportunities. Or ooportunitities, as we might say. As in: oops, I just spent all my money for the month. On day six. There are alternative options. Available to everybody!!! Continue reading

Life Hack #134

Another recent Life Hack. For when you want to entertain your friends with your tunes and carrying a little battery-powered bluetooth speaker in your pocket is just too inconvenient.

I saw these at an arts & crafts fair, and thought to myself, “way cool, but why would I pay $40 or $50 when I could probably build one myself, probably for a fraction of that?” Ha. I did it, but we won’t talk about how much I (didn’t) save or how I had to enlist the aid of a friend who’s a great craftsman, a finish carpenter with a massive woodshop, literally tons of equipment, and more talent and patience than I will ever possess. (See my proof-of-concept rough draft, which I cobbled together in my basement with 45-year-old 2x8s, deck screws and a Skil saw– obviously basic carpentry skills are barely within my grasp.)

Tuck a cell phone in the slot and crank up the tunes! Especially appropriate for SirusXM’s Forties Junction. The horn is removable for easy transport– far more portable than a little bluetooth speaker, amIright? I don’t believe I’m violating any copyrights or patents, but hesitate to post this because I really don’t want to steal ideas from a guy who is a very talented artist and craftsman. On the other hand, what I thought would be a quick and easy job turned into a months long journey. I thought I could pick up a discarded trumpet, trombone or bugle, cut the horn off, and I would have the most vital component in hand– the rest, after all, is just a block of wood. But how to find one? I was advised to go to garage and yard sales, but that just ain’t me. I did find a couple instruments at the local antiques malls– both a trumpet and a trombone, each listed at $250 or so. No thanks. The the block of cherry wood was free, but we won’t speak of how much I paid for the horn I eventually did find at the local antiques market. Not $250, but more than the list price of the finished products I saw months earlier, as I recall. And the spray can of poly finish and the superfine steel wool for polishing were certainly not free.

So trust me on this, if you see one of these in an arts & crafts show and you love it and just have to have it… pay the man!