Monday, December 26, 2016


In my various posts I've occasionally alluded to my father's influences upon me. indeed, he was a great teacher. I still remember the day that he taught me how to tie my shoes as well as his many other lessons in life. Mixing concrete, fixing a car, building a fire, and using tools were all parts of the many things he taught me.

But the best thing he ever taught me was a skill that I still carry with me to this day. He taught me how to make great mashed potatoes.

Here's how it came about:

Like most families, we often had potatoes with our dinners. The possibilities were baked, mashed or boiled. Mashed were the best, baked weren't bad and boiled were not worth eating. Now, the difference between boiled and mashed lied only in my father's willingness to mash them as my mother despised the task. Unfortunately, after a hard day's work, my father would often times rather do anything than mash potatoes.

Here's where I came into the story. When I realized that it was incumbent upon me to save my family from the misery of boiled potatoes, I begged my father to teach me how to make them like he did. To that end he gave me some basic instructions which were overheard by my overly-attentive mother. Here's how the conversation went:

Pa: "Mash them as fine as you can get them, add milk and mash them some more. Now add some pepper..."

[My mother now interrupts]

Ma: "Not too much! I hear pepper isn't good for you."

Pa: "Then you add some salt..."

[My mother interrupts again]

Ma: "Not too much! I hear salt isn't good for you."

Pa: "Then you add some butter..."

[My mother interrupts again]

Ma: "Not too much! I hear butter isn't good for you."

And so it went. I became the go-to potato masher of the family. There was one problem however. Even though I followed my parents' instructions, my result was embarrassingly terrible.

After many unsuccessful attempts to create great mashers I asked my father (while out of earshot of my mother) what his secret was.

Ensuring that no one else could hear, he whispered to me:

"Lots of salt, lots of pepper, lots of butter, don't tell your mother."

From that day she always raved about my mashed potatoes...

...and she never suspected a thing.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Having bought another guitar yesterday, I wondered how many I have bought and sold over the years. It took me the better part of the four-mile walk to figure it out. Not that it was hard to figure; I'm kind of A.D.D. and I was distracted along the way. (You know, the usual highly distracting things - seagulls eating from a dumpster, the clock on the county building chiming, clouds overhead, etc.) Alas, I came up with a total of 22 guitars. Truth be known, the total includes 2 banjos, which are a variety of guitar played mostly by Republicans.

I thought for a long while as to why I have bought so many guitars over the years. Truthfully, there's something unique about guitars. Let's face it - how many pianists have bought 22 pianos in a lifetime? Even Liberace probably bought only a couple. Furthermore, think about other instruments - bassoons, clarinets, trombones - how many do you think that their owners have bought in a lifetime? I'll venture a bet that it's less than 22 and probably less that 3.

Then what is it about guitars?

As I approached the end of my walk, I pretty much had it figured out: guitars make me happy. There's something about the sound and feel of a guitar that brings me comfort and peace. To that end, I encourage others to learn the guitar and find the inner peace that I have found.

To help you to better understand this phenomenon, you may also want to know my playing routine. Here it is:

Around 4 p.m. I'll pour myself a beer and run through my scales as a daily refresher. Then I'll pour myself another beer and rip through some David Gilmour style leads. The next beer will find me learning a new arrangement of a Muddy Waters or B.B. King tune. Ray Charles has done a great version of the blues tune "Sinner's Prayer"; playing that tune usually requires a beer or two.

Yes, playing guitar makes me very happy.

Readers, enjoy your day.