Enough of Gloom and Doom for the Last Week of the Year


So that post I had up for yesterday was certainly depressing.  Well, I had an antidote for that today.  After getting home from an errand this afternoon, I had all four grandsons over for a viewing of the extended version of the “Return of the King.”  This includes my personal favorite scene from the motion picture series, “The Ride of the Rohirrim.”

There’s nothing like hanging out with my young descendants to cheer me up.  This was the first viewing of this decisive completion to the trilogy for the two younger fellows.  And there was much excitement over the visually impressive Battle of Minas Tirth.  We cheered on the good guys and laughed when the various orcs and trolls were splatted by projectiles hurled from the battlements.

Camera Girl, always the gracious hostess, provided grilled cheeses sandwiches, mac and cheese and desserts.  There were several pies, various flavors of ice cream, cheesecake and cookies available.  And this being a vacation week we all ate way too much.

After the movie ended, we debated many important points of Tolkeiniana.  I expressed my opinion that regardless of the violence done to the plot Sam should have been allowed to liquidate Gollum.  In all honesty, in the movie version, I despise both Gollum and Frodo almost equally.  Frodo is such a hopeless basket case that it defies imagination that Sam was able to finally carry him over the finish line to Mount Doom at all.  If they had taken along a ten-year-old girl instead it couldn’t have been any more pathetic.  I think if Elrond had given the ring to Sam, he would have chucked it in Mount Doom a couple of months early and been back in the Shire in time for potato planting.

My younger relatives seemed to enjoy most the scenes where Gimli and Legolas compete to kill the most orcs.  I have to confess the liberties that the movie makers took with the dialog around Gimli borders on the farcical but I will admit that sometimes the lightheartedness is a welcome addition.  Although I do draw the line at the dwarf tossing and elf snowboarding scenes in “The Two Towers.”

Eventually some of the discussions spilled over into arguments about the actual text in Tolkien’s books.  I had to bring out my copy of the trilogy in order to provide authoritative answers to questions like which were older, the Oathbreakers on the Paths of the Dead or the dead soldiers in the Dead Marshes?  As it turned out they were both from the same time period, the Last Alliance of Men and Elves against Sauron at the end of the Second Age.

And so, we ended the get together and I brought them home in time to finish their chores and prepare for the next day of their Christmas vacation.  But if life in this confused world still includes time with such admirable characters as my grandsons, then it can’t be all bad.  We’ll have many good things to do in the days and weeks ahead.  And I’ll get to see them grow up to be fine young men.  As for problems, well, helping family with their problems is what family is all about.

14OCT2022 – Coming Up for Air

Today the younger cohort of the grandson army invaded the Compound with ruthless abandon and bottomless appetites.  So basically, all writing efforts were abandoned and we settled into a format of games (chess, billiards and scrabble), junk food (chocolate chip pancakes, mac and cheese and ice cream sandwiches) and Dinotasia.  And it was a lot of fun.  The little guys are getting alarmingly good at pool and chess.  I find myself feeling more and more like a trapped beast.  Their mockery of my performance in these games of skill is becoming crueler.  But I soldiered on pretending that I was just toying with them.

Camera Girl spent her time in the kitchen whipping up breakfast, lunch and endless snacks to keep these ravenous locusts from attacking the woodwork and linens.  When their mom showed up to cart them off, I collapsed into a pile of shattered nerves and vowed that when they show up tomorrow morning that I will shackle them to the wall of the deepest ancestral catacomb and promptly wall them up.  Well, we’ll see.  Maybe we’ll skip the Dinotasia.  Tomorrow there’s a local soccer game we’re attending with the littlest guy and then they’re back with their siblings for whatever weekend events their parents are presiding over.  But I like when we get them in age groups.  The older and younger cohorts no longer overlap in tastes and activities.  In fact, I suspect I’m no longer grown up enough for the older kids.  They’ve outgrown Dinotopia and I’ve started to balk at some of the Marvel Comic Universe that is their staple diet.  I’m going to have to pick and choose to find stuff for us to watch together.  But we can start thinking about ways to treat them as adults soon.  College age grandchildren is something new for me.  But we’ll figure it out.  Maybe I can get advice on computer coding problems I’m having.  It’s sort of a return on investment for the forty-five years I’ve invested in this social experiment.  Am I asking too much?

So, I’m way behind my reading for the day and I’ll see what’s worth writing about.  What is interesting is a sense of panic seems to be slowly oozing from behind the façade of the fake news industrial complex.  It’s as if they’re slowly signaling to the true believers to prepare themselves for the fact that maybe the abortion crusade isn’t going to save them from the Mid-Term wave that seem to be regenerating.  For all of the happy talk about Joe Biden’s renewed popularity, inflation is ravaging the household budgets of the working and middle classes and urban crime is frightening the pants off of even the suburbanites who live within fifty miles of the dumpster fires that used to be our cities.

Well, hang in there, folks.  I’ll be up to snuff soon and full of annoying opinions and outrageous pronouncements.  I’ve got a new movie review and some other stuff coming up and I’ll astound you with my sagacity and perspicacity.  And if not those then some other -city words that I haven’t looked up in the thesaurus yet.  To be continued.

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Puppies of War

So, what to write about today?  Creepy Uncle Joe buying votes in the mid-terms by canceling student loans?  Meh.  Handicapping the mid-terms?  Boring.  Now there were a few headlines that caught my attention.  Donald Trump implores the senate Republicans to dump Mitch McConnell as leader when they take back the Senate.  Now that’s a great headline.  And it’s good advice.  But what’s there to say about it other than it’s a good idea.

And my current personal projects aren’t really that universal in their appeal.  Right now I’m trying to learn enough PHP and MySQL coding to automate some very time-consuming changes to my website.  The book I’m working from is about a thousand pages long and I’ve just gotten past the introduction so it’ll be a tough slog.

I haven’t read or watched any interesting stories in the last few days.  And I’m way behind on my photo work and the fiction writing.  The whole system is falling apart.

So, what’s causing all this havoc?  Well, we’ve been overrun for the last week (and will be into next week) with grandkids.  The little devils have successfully invaded the Compound and are monopolizing Camera Girl’s time.  Worse still they’ve subjugated me too.  When I’m not overseeing their infestation of the swimming pool, I’m forced to play chess with one of them or read stories to another.  And they even have me ferrying them around to the neighboring towns for tennis practice or school open house or whatever.

Actually, it’s kind of great.  My third oldest grandson is becoming a pretty decent pool player and a very good chess player to boot.  And tonight, my little granddaughter asked for three extra bedtime stories from her old grandfather instead of from Camera Girl.  It seems that she likes the same stories I read to her mother more than thirty years ago.

Really the only downside to all this babysitting is the lack of time.  It turns out I really do need time to write the stuff I post here.  There’s no way to multi-task while you’re refereeing young children at play.  They’re just too dynamic and need to be monitored pretty closely to prevent bickering from exploding into fisticuffs.  I have to rule with an iron fist.  Well, it’s probably more like a lot of haranguing by me but you get the idea.

But honestly, the political scene is just status quo.  After the FBI’s gestapo tactics against Trump there’s not much to say.  We know where things stand and we’re just waiting to see whether the electorate repudiates the Democrats or acquiesces in our new status as a banana republic.  So that just leaves me cultural and general interest topics to write about until the feds do something even more outrageously unconstitutional.

And of course, that’s bound to happen in the next week or so.  Biden is desperate to change the story away from runaway inflation.  He’ll attempt to bribe some other constituency with another illegal executive order.  The only question is whether it’ll be transgender polo players or normalizing monkey pox at America’s gay bath houses.  So, bear with me.  Things will return to normal soon and I’ll be back to decrying civilizational collapse again before you know it.

photog Pitches In

So, this was the tail end of a baby-sitting marathon by Camera Girl.  One of my daughters had a five-day anniversary trip postponed earlier in the year by illness and rescheduled during my marathon trip to Yellowstone.  So not only was Camera Girl watching my young granddaughter on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but she was also watching my two younger grandsons from Tuesday to Saturday (today).

Being the highly evolved and supportive husband that I am, I provided all the help of which I am capable.  This consists of me saying things like, “Honey, are these kids allowed to do this?” and “Do you want me to take them outside while you shop, cook dinner and clean the house?”  Of course, that would be under perfect circumstances.  This weekend I’m jet-lagged, dehydrated and have a sore elbow so I restricted my athletic events with the kids to watching them in the swimming pool, playing billiards and being beaten at chess by young children.  The infamy!

Seriously I used to kid myself that I didn’t have to learn about chess strategy.  I was so smart that my instincts would carry me through with anyone below a grandmaster.  Apparently, grandmasters nowadays are really short and have squeaky voices.  My older younger grandson beat me three games running before I finally got a grip and distracted him enough to win.  Then the littlest guy gave me a run for my money in which I barely squeaked out a win.

But between these duties I had a chance to read a bunch of news and opinion articles.  It seems the Left and the Fake Right are trying to convince us that there is powerful evidence that the January 6th Investigation has turned the tide of public opinion across America and made electing Democrats all the rage.  Apparently, Bison Man cavorting in Nancy Pelosi’s office is much more compelling stuff than $5 gasoline, $10 hamburgers and teachers grooming children for sterilization.

Now we’re supposed to believe this notwithstanding that this week Creepy Uncle Joe bottomed out below -20 points in the approval/disapproval scorecard for the first time in his presidency.  Apparently the most unpopular president on record is leading the way to a Democrat landslide in the mid-terms.  I guess it’s possible.  But I’m gonna say no.

Other stuff I read seems more like the beginning of panic.  One guy kept asking how the polls could be so skewed against the Democrats when the Trump Republicans are just so evil.  That one was really funny.

Another pundit was worried by a strategy on the Left of voting in the Republican primaries for what they considered “far right” Republicans in the hope that this would increase the chance of Democrats winning in the general election.  This pundit was truly scared that this would backfire and decrease the number of RINOs by electing actual conservatives.  Terrifying!

One little ray of good news did leak through this week.  That Latino guy who was charged with second degree murder for defending himself against some crazy guy attacking him in the bodega where he works had the murder charge dropped.  Apparently, New York Mayor Adams put pressure on the DA and judge to recognize the self defense aspect of the situation and ended this travesty of justice.  Who knows?  Could some sanity begin to reassert itself in New York City?  Nah.

Now that the grandkids will be away for a day or so I can try to start catching up on my writing and pictures from the trip.  But I have to say it looks like time is running out on the Biden administration.  I saw he tried to declare a climate emergency this week but nobody cared.  It’s not like he can wave an energy wand and terawatts of power will just start flowing into the grid from rainbow fairy dust.  He’s out of make believe and the economy is starting to grind to a halt.  It will be interesting to see if they pull the plug on his presidency before or after the mid-terms.  Either way, I’m thinking we’re about to see some really ugly stuff soon.  Enjoy the summer.

Praying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa – Part 7 – The Next Generation

Well as Milo intimated a month ago, our rescued Mantis has laid an egg case.

Currently the proud mother is still alive although I suspect that after laying her eggs her life span may be limited.  I’ll put the egg case in a cold area for the winter and then put it outside in spring.  Princess Sack of Potatoes will probably equate this phenomenon to the story of Charlotte’s Web that we recently watched.  Well, I’ll have to say the project has really paid dividends.

Here’s mom.

Praying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa – Part 6 – Extra Innings

Last night I read that this week we’re expecting a hard frost.  Well, it’s November after all and nothing unusual about that.  I mentioned to Camera Girl that I saw a dragonfly circling the yard the other day and now it’ll be the end of his time with the frost.

This morning Camera Girl was getting ready to go out on an errand and she said she’d stop at the top of the driveway and put a letter in the mailbox.  I said I need some air.  Give it to me.  As I was walking back toward the house she is walking toward me instead of driving out in her car and yelling something excitedly.  She is an enthusiastic woman.  What she was saying was that she saw a praying mantis sitting on top of a gallon water jug that I had left on the porch.  She asked me to catch it and save it indoors.

And sure enough, there it was.  I scooped it up and put it in a convenient cage (the former home of one of my grandsons’ hermit crabs).



And the new plan is to see how long he can live in an indoor environment.  I’ll try to offer him raw hamburger but if that fails we’ll get some crickets at the pet store.  Well, Princess Sack of Potatoes will get a chance to study a praying mantis more closely than I thought.

Praying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa – Part 5 – The Final Chapter

Well, this is the finale of the great mantis experiment.  Yesterday Camera Girl used her hawk-eye super vision to find an adult praying mantis in the jungle-like weeds of her vegetable garden.  In fact, the mantis was on one of her Japanese eggplant plants.  Princess Sack-of-Potatoes will know that praying mantises really do exist although unfortunately they do not talk in an English-accented throaty whisper as they do in an Eric Carle picture book video.  But they are indeed monsters that inhabit the tiny world of our garden.  And that’s a fun thing for a little child to discover.

Praying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa – Part 3 – Dr. Livingstone I Presume!

So the first survivor has made his appearance in the yard.  This one found his way into the stella d’oro daylilies in the swimming pool area.  May he be the first of many that show up.  My little granddaughter will find out that praying mantises don’t talk like they do in her Eric Carle books but they are very exciting for an insect.



Good hunting little fellow.


Praying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa – Part 1

Praying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa – Part 2 – The Arrival

Preying Mantis (photo study)


Praying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa – Part 2 – The Arrival

Preying Mantises, Children’s Books and Pa Part-1


Well, the little buggers arrived two days ago and unharmed apparently.   Some hatched out today so I held onto a few and attached the egg cases to tree and shrub branches around the perimeter of the yard.

They’re minuscule.




But I’ll try to feed them by raising fruit flies and letting them feed on them.  Here is my fruit fly attractant.


The game is on!