Nut Rage.


In my defense, your honor, I would like to reconcile

The truth behind my story, with the prosecutor’s guile.”

“It’s true I threw a tantrum when my nuts came in a bag,

And that I threatened all the staff to mutilate and scrag.”


“Consider, please, your honor, that my nails had just been done

And opening that bag of nuts would not have been much fun.”

“I only did what any woman does at insurrection;

I knew that this was not the time for quiet introspection.”


“I had to discipline the crew; recall them to their duty.

Otherwise they might insult our guests by being snooty.”

“I’m truly sorry if by chance I broke some obscure law;

And now if you’ll excuse me I am due back at the spa.”

Those Minnesota Winters . . .


The Minnesota winter makes great heroes of us all;

Knowing we survived it gives us right to stand up tall.

The blast of arctic wind chill and the minus temp’ratures,

Along with lack of sunshine make us frostbite connoisseurs.


Working outside in the polar currents is a breeze.

(If you wear ten layers of thick flannel you’ll not freeze.)

Eat a hearty breakfast, drink hot choc’late by the quart,

And in the highest snowbanks you’ll play horseshoes, you’ll cavort!


We feel sorry for all those now stuck on tropic beaches,

Making do with coconuts and flimsy linen breeches.

It is almost shameful to be happy when outdoors,

Unless you are encased in puffy Gore-Tex under drawers.


The Ballad of Two Shoplifters, or Crime Doesn’t Pay But the Hours are Good.


The wind chill, it was bitter; the snow had drifted down,

When the Bad Girls drove in to the prosp’rous little town.

They ate a meal at Denny’s, and paid the check with cash;

Then at Kohl’s Department Store they collected their first stash.


Oh, they were very clever; these daring racketeers;

They boosted dresses left and right, and swiped five chandeliers.

Their vehicle was parked away from prying spying eyes.

They had no trouble packing up their predatory prize.


Next they struck a Walmart, and stole fine jewelry;

The clerks were careless, on a break, or some tomfoolery.

Their luck held with Cabela’s; they looted it in style,

Secluding tons of spinner baits as they walked down the aisle.


At Target it was cell phones; at Lowe’s a sack of nails.

At Barnes & Noble they made off with books about Versailles.

Their crime spree wasn’t over; they couldn’t stop themselves –

They had to visit Walgreens and swipe Bag Balm off the shelves.


Their car was near to bursting, but one more heist they gaily planned;

They’d sneak into Schmitt’s Music to kidnap a baby grand.

Although it was fantastic, they did turn the trick by golly –

And even got a salesman to transport it with a dolly!


Their wiles were subjugating the whole retail industry;

Was there no way to prevent their sad skullduggery?

The big box stores laid traps amain, but it was all in vain;

These female kleptomaniacs had good fortune as their swain.


But at last the fates decreed these women bandits must

Be thrown down from their pedestal and eat a peck of dust.

(For ev’ry epic ballad must detail the rise AND fall

Of the bad and prideful, of the tyrant or gun moll.)


And so it came to pass that our two scofflaws one day went

Into a nearby dollar store to buy some Pepsodent.

But force of habit made them hide two tins of plain sardines

In the pockets of their stolen, stone-washed Levi jeans.


Alarums sounded ev’rywhere and cops showed up in haste.

They put the two offenders in a dim cell, cold and chaste.

They’re locked up until sunshine comes in many hues of green,

Until the big box stores decay . . . and Congress grows serene.

The Nude Calendar.


I am not a prude, nor do I seek to overbear

All the many nitwits who display their underwear.

But when it comes to calendars I think a birthday suit

Used for illustration is so very far from cute.


I know it’s “all for charity”, but that don’t make a diff

When the bodies on display look like a river skiff.

The human body is not celebrated for its symmetry

After it has reached about the tired age of fifty-three.


Just tell me how much money your group’s trying to collect,

And I will pay in cash, with no nude photos to inspect.

There’s such a thing as dignity when helping hands are wanted.

I wish the best to any cause (love handles, be not flaunted!)


The Soup Kitchen.


The men – they’re mostly men – line up before the doors are sprung;

Some of them are older, but then some of them are young.

They’re boozers and they’re bruisers and they’re losers as a rule;

Hard knocks being the subject they have studied most in school.


They don’t say grace and finger bowls are definitely scorned;

They eat what’s put before them, overcooked and unadorned.

Their words are harsh and bitten off like strips of fibrous jerky;

Their eyes reflecting nothing but a desperation murky.


And then someone sits down at the piano on the edge,

And plays a little Chopin – maybe softly, maybe sledge.

The jaws do not stop chewing, nor the forks pause in their lift –

But ev’ry Lazarus enjoys that happy little gift.

Today’s Reason to Celebrate: National Bicarbonate of Soda Day!


December 30, 2014 is

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

It’s National Bicarbonate of Soda Day! Sodium bicarbonate (commonly known as baking soda) is used in baking, cooking, de-odorizing, cleaning, polishing, and countless other applications.

The ancient Egyptians used natural deposits of sodium bicarbonate as a cleansing agent like soap, but it wasn’t until 1791 that French chemist Nicolas Leblanc produced sodium bicarbonate in its modern form. In 1846, two New York bakers named John Dwight and Austin Church established the first factory to make baking soda.

Baking soda is a white, odorless, crystalline solid that is completely soluble in water. It is very useful around the home, the kitchen, and for medical purposes. Did you know that baking soda can even be used as an antacid to treat indigestion and heartburn? Sodium bicarbonate certainly deserves a whole day of celebration!

Happy National Bicarbonate of Soda Day!

The Story of Big Ike, an Icicle.



When fuel oil was retailing for around 35-cents a gallon, back in the late Fifties, nobody cared about insulating their houses against the boisterous Minnesota winter.  Least of all my dad.

We ran out of fuel oil a few times over the years, and when mom informed dad of the disaster he told her to turn the oven on and keep the oven door open and he would attend to the matter in due course. “Due course” for my dad usually meant “i morgen” (tomorrow).  We would huddle around the oven door like Eskimos around a seal oil heater until the old man grew tired of the pinochle game he was in and go over to Olsen’s Oil Company on Larpenteur to plunk down a twenty dollar bill.

That did the trick; the greasy Olsen truck would show up, pump the green metal tank in our basement full, and soon the house was warm and toasty again.  And the snow would melt off the uninsulated roof about as quickly as it fell.

One of the consequences of this heedless fossil fuel profligacy and the general neglect my dad bestowed on our house was that the gutters, which were already choked with leaves, refused to do their duty until large icicles formed along the roof line.  They were picturesque in the extreme, and when they came crashing down they often brought patches of shingles with them.

For reasons that a climatologist might explain, but which remained a mystery to me as a boy, the southeast corner of the roof always grew the largest, thickest icicle.  It was an icicle that did not choose to plummet to the earth when all the other small fry obeyed the dictates of gravity.  It held on like an arctic limpet.  At the top it was as thick as a tree trunk, slimming down to a deadly point just beyond my eager grasp.

My mother was at pains to warn me frequently that if I threw snowballs at it, it would undoubtedly detach itself to impale my impudent body in the cruel snowdrifts underneath.  This was all the motivation I needed, and I and my pals spent many a frigid afternoon in January and February using it for target practice.  Our snowballs glanced off it with absolutely no effect.

About the middle of March there would be a warm spell when the temperature would actually climb above freezing for a few days, turning the landscape around our house into a slushy swamp.  And Big Ike, as I called the gigantic icicle, would come crashing down in the middle of the night.

The crash inevitably awoke my father and confused him.

“It’s those damn Rooskies at last!” he would yell excitedly at my mother, and then jump into his pants and run downstairs to turn on the radio, which was always tuned to WCCO, to find out when the troops from Moscow would be landing.  All he got was the mellow voice of Cedric Adams, and this would upset him even more.

“They’ve already taken over the airwaves” he’d cackle as he looked for my brother Bill’s shotgun – which my brother wisely kept hidden in the footlocker by his bed.

“Get back to bed, you tosker!” my mother would holler down the stairs at him.  “It’s just ice falling off the roof!  And don’t you sneak a drink before coming back up, neither!”

By now I was up and looking down the stairwell to see what the hullabaloo was all about.  Mom bundled me back to bed with a none-too-gentle swat on the behind.  The next morning when I went outside I would find the shattered remains of Big Ike scattered around the southeast corner of the house.

When the OPEC oil embargo hit in the early Seventies, sending fuel prices into orbit, my folks finally had insulation blown into the attic, and that put a stop to Big Ike.

But after a big snow storm I still like to amble along looking for icicles hanging off garage roofs, so I can knock them down with a stick and enjoy their tinkling death throes.  The neighbors think I’m a crank, but so what?  At least now we’re safe from the Rooskies, right?

Eulogy for Minnesota’s Joyce Lamont.


The voice that launched a thousand nods, approving of her diction;

Listening to Joyce Lamont was almost an addiction.

Her crisp yet kindly household hints, her recipes sublime;

Somehow made the day seem bright and took away the grime.


Her presence on the radio bled Midwest sanity;

A welcome change from worldly cares and ceaseless vanity.

Unruffled as the prairie sage upon a dewy morn,

She never used theatrics or would stoop to chintzy scorn.


Indeed, her dulcet tones were cherished when I was a child,

Because I had a tendency to drive my mother wild –

But when she had chased me down and had me finally at bay,

The voice of Joyce distracted her . . .  and I could get away!

A Financial Guide to Investing in Dairy.


Forget about your stocks and bonds and others of that ilk;

What you want to buy up now is plenty of cow’s milk.

I’ve been reading in the papers that the price of dairy

On the Chinese mainland is now making Wall Street merry.


Of course the folks who milk the cows will see such little gravy

That their sons and daughters will leave home to join the navy.

But the brokers and investors, who have such milk-white hands

From never doing labor will build houses in posh Cannes.


What with tariffs and the glut of whey upon the market,

I advise you raise great sums and in milk futures park it.

You will never find a better way to fend off rank inflation

Than piling up a million cans of impregnable Carnation!


Cooking with Cannabis.


You can cook delicious food, without a chef named Wolfgang,

If you use a steady hand and put in lots of good bhang.

Now that states are legalizing pot in all its forms,

It is being eaten from McMansions to school dorms.


You can put it in a pie or in a cake or in soufflé;

Serve it as the main course or a freaky canapé.

Instead of wine with dinner or a beer before your lunch,

Stir a little loco weed into a bowl of punch.


The taste may be repulsive, reminiscent of raw lye,

But what is that to connoisseurs intent on getting high?

And I am making odds with all those tight Las Vegas bookies

That cannabis will soon appear in all our Girl Scout Cookies!