Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Travel”

“Little Krafty Sunshine”

 

EVERY SUMMER I ENJOY SITTING OUTSIDE in the sunshine even if it is hot and humid. Call me crazy. OK! OK! No need to do so with such enthusiasm. It was a rhetorical thingy anyway. A simple nod of agreement would have been sufficient.

No matter your opinion, it is a fact – I like the hot and humid days of summer. Do I sweat? Sure I do, like a nun in a whorehouse, but all I can tell you is that it all feels good on my skin. It physically feels good.

I have mentioned this to my Doctors and they just look at me and shrug,

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Packing Luggage Is An Art

WHENEVER MY WIFE, the lovely and transportationally adept, Dawn, and I go anywhere we are faced with a dilemma – What should we pack and what should be left at home.

Some things are obvious – Socks. I need socks so I make sure that I pack them. Other things like….oh, the refrigerator, stay at home. A notebook and extra pens go with me. My Giants beach umbrella with the built in beverage cooler stays at home too. Other things are not so easy to decide about.

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Theoretically Speaking

 

TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF JUNE. I’m sorry, but didn’t this year just start a week or two ago? How can we be closing in on the halfway point already? I know that time can slip away if you don’t pay attention, but I have been keeping my eye, both of them actually now that they are cataract-free, tightly focused on both the calendar and the clock.

Hmmm? Is something fishy going on around here?

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Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “Baaad, Baaad, LeeRoy Brown”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 

 

Baaad, Baaad, LeeRoy Brown

manandgoat1WE HAD A VISITOR TO TERRE HAUTE (That’s French for “Care for a donut?”) a few days ago. Actually, it was two visitors – a fellow named Steve Westcott and LeeRoy (His spelling, not mine) Brown, his goat.

Mr. Westcott is from Seattle, undoubtedly heavily caffeinated and trying raise money to help build an orphanage in Kenya. He has the goal of walking all the way to Times Square in New York City. Why he is taking the goat with him remains unclear.

Making these treks across country to raise money for various charitable causes is not new. Taking a goat with you is a unique twist, however.

Mr. Westcott has a webpage about all of this:

http://www.needle2square.com/

He even has a blog running about it, but it looks like he hasn’t added to it for several months. The goat hasn’t said much either.

I looked at a number of his blog entries and my first reaction was, “Who’s crazier, the guy with the goat or the people he meets along the way?”

Blog date: 9/1/2014

Place: Denver, Co.

“Now, as I am walking down 16th Street about five blocks I was surrounded by four motorcycle cops.  No joke!  The first thing they said to me was, “Hey man you were told not to bring your llama down here.”  I said, “I am sorry, I don’t have a llama.” 

“You can’t walk on 16th Street.  You need to go over to 15th Street.”  

Now, I get towards the edge of 15th Street. There is a 7-11 and I want to get myself something to drink.  I tie LeeRoy to a flag pole out front, I come out and there are people all around. This lady comes out of nowhere in a full head to toe peach pant suit. She is yelling, walking up to me screaming about llamas.  She says, “You were told by the police not to bring your llamas down here!”

I start yelling back.  I say, “LADY, IT’S NOT A LLAMA!” I tell her, “I am trying to leave!  You are in my way! I am trying to leave!  It’s not a llama!”  I finally just start yelling, “IT’S NOT A LLAMA, IT’S A GOAT!  IT’S NOT A LLAMA!”

I would have thought that the people of Denver would have a better understanding of what a goat looks like. Obviously not.

Mr. Westcott has reported that he and the goat can cover anywhere from four to twenty miles a day – depending on the attitude of the goat.

What must the goat think of all this? They have been walking for more than two years. LeeRoy has to be wondering about Mr. Westcott’s sanity.

I really do doubt that the goat appreciates the goal of building an orphanage in Kenya. After walking across country for two years I doubt that I would appreciate anything but a hot tub and a cold drink. I know that I would NOT appreciate Mr. Westcott and as far as LeeRoy Brown is concerned – I’ve eaten goat before.

I do wish them both well on their journey. I am concerned that when they get to New York City things might get dicey for LeeRoy. The coyotes that live in Central Park might see Mr. Westcott leading LeeRoy up the street and say to themselves, “I didn’t know that we could get food delivered here.”

Well, Mr. Westcott and LeeRoy – Bon Voyage, bon appetite, and, remember, New York doesn’t want you bringing in any llamas either.

UPDATE

To bring everyone up to date on this saga – I have learned that the goat “LeeRoy” died before they got to New York. The cause of his death wasn’t reported, but I suspect it may have been a suicide.

John

I Think I’ll Take The Bus

 

“HOLY LIABILITIES, BATMAN!” Yet another reason to stay off of Interstate 70 has just reared its ugly head. The first “Driverless Car” has come to Terre Haute (That’s French for “Who is your insurance agent?”).

Maybe it is a coincidence or someone is making a sly statement, but the headline on the story in the local fish-wrap reads thusly: “First Driverless Car Hits the Market in Terre Haute.” Given the recent problems with this new technology “Hits the Market” may be more prescient than they think.

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Time After Time

TOO EARLY THE OTHER MORNING I was up and scampering about, unable to sleep. I had the TV tuned to TCM and watched a movie made back in 1979 – “Time After Time.”

“Time After Time” came out shortly after I’d moved to San Francisco. The movie was filmed there and it was fun to see places in town that I knew.

The storyline was about H.G. Wells, the author of “The Time Machine,” using his invention to chase after Jack the Ripper who had used Wells’ Time Machine to leap ahead in Time to modern day (1979) San Francisco. It was a fun little thriller of a movie, but I bring it up today because it got me to thinking – a dangerous activity even on a good and well rested day for me.

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We Need The Real Thing

IN AN ACT OF SELF-PRESERVATION I have decided to start thinking about where, when, and how Dawn and I might squeeze out some vacation time this Summer.

It has been a while since our last true vacation. Our last vacation was a real doozy to be sure – seven weeks in Ireland, but that was then and this is now.

I know – it seems like we have been going to and from Texas every other day, but those trips don’t qualify as vacations. Those are family visits. I’m not complaining. They are all wonderful people, but visiting with Family is no vacation. We need the real thing.

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Fifteen

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Fifteen

There was a lot of Fair yet to see and if the first few minutes were any indicator, Marlee thought, it was going to be a day she would never forget.

Falafel, enchiladas, kielbasa, satay, crepes, sauerbraten, they all called out to her senses, begging her to stop and sample the exotic flavors – sharp, subtle, sweet and biting. Aromas blossomed and vied for her attention as the street filled to overflowing with smiling people. Banners and flags lolled in the quiet air.

Marlee made a point to stop and peruse the goods at each booth, not wanting to miss anything as she worked her way up Haight Street.

Out in front of Mom’s Body Shop she got a washable tattoo to adorn her neck: a small black swan. For today, at least, Marlee could feel like a rebel.

At the mythical intersection of Haight and Ashbury a neighborhood garage band had set up their speakers, amps and mike stand. They didn’t have any permits and weren’t an official part of the Fair, but nobody really cared. They kicked that part of the street into high gear. The charismatic lead singer quickly gathered a gaggle of new young fans moving to the beat.

Just beyond this unofficial concert was a large flag adorned with a painting of a flying baby. It caught Marlee’s eye. The baby had wings and blue hair. She worked slowly across the intersection, trying to get close enough to see what the booth could possibly be selling.

While she was still “Pardon me”-ing and “Excuse me”-ing her way, she heard a loud female voice from up ahead.

“Yo! Marlee, Babe!”

Marlee was a bit taken aback at the familiarity of the greeting. She didn’t think she knew anyone that well yet, here in San Francisco.

“Marlee! Straight ahead, Sweetheart!”

Marlee plowed on, her pace a bit faster. She was uncomfortable hearing her name being yelled in the street by an unknown voice. Finally, she broke through the moving river of humanity and stood in front of the woman who was yelling for her.

“Marlee, Honey!”

It was Scar, the tattooed and pierced Madonna from Spider’s party. Perched high on Scar’s back, peeking out at Marlee was little Lucifer, smiling and drooling. His baby fine hair was worked into a bright blue Mohawk.

“Hi, Scar. How are you and how is this cutie pie?”

She wiggled her fingers at Lucifer. He grinned and two teeth were almost visible. He was teething on a piece of fabric.

“How ya likin’ the Fair, Toots? Havin’ fun?”

“Oh, it’s marvelous, Scar. What are you selling here?”

Scar leaned forward and pointed to the sign right above Marlee’s head.

“Robin’s Nest Baby Carriers. That’s what Lucifer is riding in. Cool, huh? I designed it myself. My real name is Robin.”

The baby carrier was more of a sling. A swath of fabric, at least nine feet long by Marlee’s estimation, draped and looped around Scar’s short frame. At the junction of three passes of cloth sat Lucifer, snug, secure and blowing saliva bubbles.

“They come in various lengths depending on the size of the Mother and of the little pisser.”

Marlee reached out and tickled Lucifer’s chin. He gurgled.

“Hello, Lucifer. How’s my little friend today?”

Scar looked back at her baby, her sky blue lips arched in a big smile.

“He is a cute one, ain’t he? I don’t know where he gets it. I’m really kind of plain under this rig and his father fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.”

“Well, Scar, I think you and Lucifer are just darling.”

“Yeah, real Norman Rockwell, ain’t we? So, tell me, girl – you havin’ a good time here in S.F.?”

Marlee’s eyes widened.

“Oh, wow, yes. I just danced in the street with a perfect stranger and it was….” She groped for the right word.

“The word is ‘Fun’, Marlee, and you need more of it. Kick your heels up and your knickers off a little more often, if you catch my drift.”

Marlee reddened.

Marlee never thought of herself as a prude. Not even close, but by the standards of some of the people she’d met recently, she was feeling like a cloistered nun.

She was a product of the Midwest. She had standards and a strong sense of right and wrong. Maybe it was acceptable for Scar to “kick off her knickers”, but it was still something special, sacred even, in Marlee’s heart.

It was close to two years since Marlee had buried her husband. Two years since she had felt a man in her arms and tasted a man’s skin.

She was still mourning her loss and still felt a “loyalty” to his memory. It was how she was raised, but it didn’t mean that there weren’t the yearnings. She had the primal desires to touch and be touched, to hold and be held, to possess and be completely possessed.

She missed the look in a lover’s eyes, urgent and intent. She ached for the feel of hands holding her in the dark, pulling her close. She lusted after the sound of a deep voice whispering in her ear, “I love you, Marlee.”

That was all missing from her life, but she knew that “kicking off her knickers” wouldn’t supply it.

Marlee was aware of her senses calling out for the raw ecstasy of uninhibited sexual love, but she also knew that what she really needed to fill was the hollowness in her heart.

This time, however, Marlee wanted a different kind of love than she had experienced with Phillip. Her mind had generated a checklist of what she needed and required of any man who would be considered for admission into her heart. She was a different woman than the one who had said ‘Yes” to a blushing and stammering Phillip years earlier and a continent away. She had loved Phillip, but it was an immature love – the love of a pair of 20 year-olds.

Now, after all she had been through and almost a decade, the first thing on her list for a new love was Maturity. When she was a girl, a boy had been right for her, but she was a Woman now and she needed – no, insisted, upon a Man.

Marlee had not come to San Francisco looking for that Man, or any Man, but, once there, her mind opened to the possibility and The List was born.

Creating “The List” was the kind of thing that Marlee did on Sunday mornings while lying in bed, half awake and her mind randomly flipping through the file drawer of her brain. It started as a romantic musing, but as time passed and her hopes and needs for the future crystallized; The List became a practical, no-nonsense set of criteria. Any man who wanted to reside in her heart and soul would have to withstand serious scrutiny and measurement against The List.

Marlee sipped at her tea and walked off to the side of the intersection at Haight Street and Cole. Ad hoc entertainment was everywhere. An old man sat in a folding chair playing a banjo. The Mother-Of-Pearl inlay on the neck sparkled in the light.

Setting her plastic cup on top of a newspaper vending machine, Marlee let her eyes focus on the smiling musician as his fingers flew and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” caromed off the brick walls nearby. She looked at him, but her heart retrieved The List from its file in her mind.

#1 on The List of qualifications for any future Love was “He must understand my passion for my music.”

Phillip never really did. He was impressed by her skill, but never understood how and why it fulfilled something in her.

At #2 on The List Marlee had placed “A great sense of humor.”

She wanted to laugh. There had been too many tears.

#3 – “Romantic.” Flowers, dancing, old movies and whispers in the dark.

#4 – “Not younger than me.” She had married a Boy. Now she wanted a Man.

#5 – “Dark hair. Maybe with a beard” Marlee found the physical contrast exciting.

#6 – “Intelligent,” which folded neatly into numbers 7, 8 and 9.

#7 – “Creative”.

#8 – “Enjoys the Arts.”

#9 – “Curiosity about…everything.

These four were very closely tied together. Possessing one almost presupposed the existence of the others. Marlee wanted a Man she could look at and regard as her equal and as a fascinating human being.

#10 – “Someone who likes to dance, but doesn’t have to ‘go dancing.’ A Man who will take me for a spin around the kitchen while singing a love song from the 1940s.”

One early morning, while listening to the parrots squawking outside her bedroom window, Marlee added several items to The List that were important to her and, maybe, to no one else on earth.

#14 – “Likes liver and onions.”

#15 – “Likes peach pie above all others.”

#16 – “Doesn’t mind if I eat snacks in bed and will even fetch me the salt shaker if I ask sweetly.”

Some things on The List reflected her growing power as a self-reliant individual.

#23 – “A Man who accepts me exactly as I am.”

#24 – “A Man who will not expect me to subjugate myself in any way for the sake of his ego.”

Her recognition of a basic human need was put forth as conjoined triplets in # 11, #12 and #13, then again as #17, #18 and #19 – “He must be GREAT in the sack.”

#20 followed up quickly on this thought with – “He will hug and kiss at any time, not just when in the mood for sex. Love does not always mean sex.”

Marlee was concerned that she may have gone too far with The List when she noticed that #57 was, “He knows how to use a vacuum cleaner” and she still had more items in mind.

“Jeez, I’m getting awful picky…but why shouldn’t I? After all, I’ll have to stand up against his List too.”

She ended her musing on the make-up of her “Perfect Man” and the likelihood of ever meeting him with, “Well, not in this world.”

“The rent is coming due on the planet. Do you have your share ready?

Shaken from her introspection by a softly insistent voice by her shoulder, Marlee looked down into the dark and fiery eyes of a Haight Street institution: The Kozmic Lady.”

“The planets are all aligned with the signs of water and fire. It means that steamy times are ahead and we may all be in hot water if we’re not careful. I hope you’ve got a fresh teabag.”

“Excuse me?” asked Marlee. “What are you talking about? Planets and teabags?” Marlee was totally confused. Who was this gnomish woman with gray hair and the sparkling eyes of a zealot?

Standing barely five feet tall in her worn sandals, The Kozmic Lady had been spreading her warnings of impending galactic cataclysms for more than three decades. The fact that she had never been right didn’t deter her from continuing her alarms.

“I’ve not been proven wrong yet either, have I?”

Marlee felt that she was looking at someone’s grandmother, who had slipped off course years ago and now traveled a different, yet comfortable, road through life. Everyone in The Haight knew The Kozmic Lady and protected her from serious earthly harm.

“We’ve all been here a very long time, even you, Blondie, and it won’t be much longer until you and I will have to pack up and be ready to run for our many lives.”

“Are you all right, Ma’am? Do you need help?”

“We all need help! I need new sandals. You need a new lover and we all need a new planet!”

Marlee was amused, concerned and a bit unnerved by this tiny apostle for an unknown prophet.

“I need a new what? A new lover? I don’t know who you are ma’am, but MYOB, as Ann Landers would say.”

“MYOB? Sweetie, you are my business and I’m yours. MYOB? No, girl, MYEB! Mind everybody’s business! It’s the only way we can all get off the planet with our socks intact.”

“Our socks?”

The Kozmic Lady reached into her canvas satchel and pulled out a sheet of paper. She thrust it into Marlee’s hand.

“Look, I gotta scoot. Read this paper and you’ll get all the latest news on all the latest news. Carpe Diem and hold the mayo! Andale!”

With that confusing homily The Kozmic Lady darted off into the crowd and left Marlee dazed and holding a paper covered with tiny printing and complex diagrams. Across the bottom was a handwritten message.

“The future is just ahead of you. Keep your peepers open!”

Stuffing the paper in her pocket, Marlee discarded her empty drink cup in a dumpster and wandered away from the corner and headed up Haight Street. The Fair had several more blocks of surprising temptations to offer to visitors and residents alike.

“People! Please give us a little room here so nobody gets hurt. Oh, hi, Luco. How’s it goin’?”

“Not bad, Mike.” Luco’s eyes went back up to the man in the sky.

“Every year some fool does the same dumb thing, don’t they?”

“Yeah. Well, whatcha gonna do, ‘eh, Luco? People! Everybody move back. Now!”

Luco, along with the still growing crowd on the corner, inched back, complying, but not really. New people were coming over to gawk and the crowd control efforts were becoming futile.

Not wanting to see what looked to be the inevitable outcome, Luco tried to extricate himself from the crush of people. He wanted to see the rest of the Fair.

He turned to leave, stepping around two women with toddlers on their shoulders. He got past them and stopped short as he found himself, nose to nose, looking into a pair of green eyes the color of the ocean at the Big Sur coastline.

“Marlee! Good to see you.”

The crowd pushed them closer together.

Marlee was startled to see Luco’s gray eyes this close up. She gasped and said to herself that there was fire in his eyes, a very controlled fire. For just a split second, her mind wondered what it would take to unleash it.

Picture Me As “Superfly”

 

LAST WEEK MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND EVER OBSERVANT, Dawn, and I were driving around town taking care of some errands when she asked me a question that made me go, “Hmmm?”

Her question: “What ever happened to Whitewall tires?”

Indeed.

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“Tranquilizer Darts in Aisle Seven”

I LIVED IN CLEVELAND, OHIO FOR THIRTEEN YEARS, Most of the time I liked it. How could you not like a city that could have a dozen live theaters going on any weekend? Or a city that had a store called “Lottie’s Delicatessen and Bridal Shop?” Or a city that provided the setting for the classic film “Howard the Duck?” Well, one out of three ain’t very good, but it’s better than Newark.

From 1965 until 1978 I was a resident of The Forest City. In Summer it was hot, but bearable. In Winter it was cold, snowy, and unbearable. It was the winter of 1977-78 that had me packing my bags and heading to California.

I’ve only been back once since then. I had trouble finding my way around. There were a lot of changes, very few of them for the good.

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Se Habla Coffee Aqui?

 

THIS MORNING I DISCOVERED ONE MORE ADVANTAGE to being a retired old Geezer. I am no longer fraught with the problems of making career decisions. All of that is behind me in the far distant past – and in a galaxy far, far away.

I came to realize this about myself early this morning as I was getting my coffee from a young (23) barista down at St. Arbucks. The young barista has recently finished college with a degree in Spanish. With that degree her job opportunities in Terre Haute (That’s French for “No habla Español aqui.”) are rather limited unless you had a minor in burrito making. So, this pleasant young lady has to make some hard choices – either move someplace for a job that can utilize her skills and education or get used to wearing an apron and a plastic name tag.

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Medical Equipment To You, Gizmos To Me

DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS where the Bluebonnets are blooming and some people say that I’m “Blooming” too.

We are down in Texas visiting with family and taking care of business. It is nice that we can stay with Dawn’s mother in the Family home. Being 97 years old makes it pretty obvious that there are medical issues. With medical issues come all sorts of nifty medical Gizmos. Her Home Healthcare people don’t like that I refer to their devices as Gizmos, but that’s what they are – high tech, clever, and wonderful Gizmos. I guess that is why I am not their favorite person.

Many of these things have been around in one form or another for a long time, but they have been updated and are beginning to have similarities to the things used by the doctors on Star Trek.

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Will You Puh-Leeze Make Up Your Mind!

“YES – NO – MAYBE… WE’LL GET BACK TO YOU.”

These people are driving me crazy – as if I need much to get me there…

To give you the opportunity to run away and hide I will tell you now that today’s blog is about my most recent encounter with my favorite whipping boy: the bozos of the TSA.

We are on the road again down to Texas for a Family visit. We always enjoy going there. No…We always enjoy being there. It is the “going” part that we can do without.

If you have been following this Blog for any length of time you have read my tormented soul screeds about my skirmishes with the TSA. You’ve seen me call them all sorts of names, most of which would get me off of their Christmas Card list forever. Now, after all I’ve said about them and all the names I’ve called them, they have thrown me a curve ball that made me speechless and nervous all at once.

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Throwback Thursday From March Of 2015 – “Congratulations, You’re Still Alive!”

Doctor visit

Throwback Thursday From March Of 2015 – “Congratulations, You’re Still Alive!”

I WENT TO SEE MY DOCTOR this morning. I see him about every three months. He likes to keep tabs on me because of my high blood pressure and the veritable buffet of meds that I take.

The last time I saw him my BP was 120/60 – which is pretty darn near perfect for a human being. This morning it was 110/60 – a tad low. Compared to what it was a few years ago when I first went to see him, he is happy. Back then it was something like 180/170 – not bad if you are a cheetah chasing down a springbok, after having had a half dozen espressos and a pound of licorice.

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“Houston, Let’s Not Have Any Problems.”

I’VE STARTED THE PROCESS OVER AGAIN. Planning what is needed and what is not. We are heading off to Texas once again after a short hiatus of one month. Somehow we skipped February. I think that may be because it was a short month and we just got lazy. Ever since last July we have spent part of each month remembering the Alamo. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. It is just tiring and I guess that I tire more easily these days.

Getting ready to go there requires a surprising amount of preparation. The Pre-flight Checklist for the Apollo 11 Moon shot was shorter than ours. The Astronauts didn’t have to pick out what clothes to pack and somebody else took care of their mail delivery and feeding the cat. Of course, we don’t have to worry about wayward meteors.

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Throwback Thursday From March 2015 “Springtime On The Wabash”

Throwback Thursday From March 2015

“Springtime On The Wabash”

 

AH, THE CHIRPING OF THE BIRDS, the reappearance of the crocus, and the crack of the bat on the baseball – the true harbingers of Spring.

Easter is early this year, coming in late March. That and the fact that the local Dairy Queen has opened reassure me that life will continue.

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What Is The Cure For Freezer Burn?

WE REALLY ENJOYED WATCHING THE OLYMPICS. The Thrill of Victory. The Agony of Defeat and all that. The Unleashing of Whackos Worldwide.

The Games have been held in Korea – not exactly down the block for us here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Where can I buy a tutu?”). Getting from this part of the world to that part can be expensive and time consuming, so we decided to stay home and watch it all on the TV.

No so for one guy.

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Thinking To Tomorrow

I AM A BIG FAN OF CREATIVITY. It comes in all sorts of flavors. Some people are creative with words, others paint, while others create the things that make the world operate on a daily basis. Then there are those whose creativity is manifested by seeing tomorrow in new and amazing ways. Me? I crack jokes and hope to make each day a little more palatable.

That’s OK by me.

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The Same Old News

THIS MORNING’S NEWS FROM OUR CORRESPONDANT IN ASIA carries two related items.

It seems that the air pollution in Bangkok has reached such dangerous levels that the citizens are being advised to breathe only when necessary. The report says nothing about tourists. I guess any visitors to Thailand are on their own breath-wise.

The second alert, also from Bangkok, is that Thailand’s roads are the most dangerous in the world. Given the opaque quality of the air I am not surprised that driving can be a thrill a minute.

Put these two tidbits of information together and if you are in Thailand you are in the middle of a real mess. The only place I can think of that is even more screwed up is Washington D.C. when Congress is in session. Talk about pollution.

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Don’t Give Me The Bird

 

SOME DAYS I THINK THAT I JUST LET THE WORLD WALK ALL OVER ME. Every day I see people who, it seems to me, are just taking advantage of the basic goodness of the world.

I’m not talking about blatant Con Men or people who perpetrate the cruel and nasty on people. No, I mean those who push on the envelope of everyday life for their own benefit. You know what I’m talking about. They are the ones who if they were out Trick or Treating would try to finagle an extra Milky Way from the nice lady at the door.

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