Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Here and There...

Its 9:56 am

    Looking at a gloomy,muggy day outside the window. Where it was bright,sunny and 95 degrees yesterday,we got a late night thunderstorm dropped rain for 20 seconds and left us with the aforementioned mugginess.
   How was everyone's weekend? I worked (wow,does that feel good to actually say!) Saturday and Monday. Our store was extremely busy and I was asked to be a jack of all trades for the past two days,which was pretty cool. Gives me a chance to show that I can do various roles and do it well. Got a lot of nice comments on how well I did which is always nice to hear. Of course I'm feeling the bumps bruises today....I am not quite capable of bouncing back like I was once did when I was younger...
    But it wasn't all work and no play as Lori and I had Sunday off and we crammed in a lot of activities as we normally do.
  Sunday morning saw us take in the first Farmer's Market of the year. It was pretty sparse which is normal because the produce isn't quite ready as of yet. But was exciting was seeing several new vendors with tables at the Market. This bodes well for the Market as the past two years has seen the number of vendors down due to the economic downturn. You just hope this small sign is a good one for our area,we really need all the good news we can get. I can tie this in with the fact I have seen lots of folks who are buying their first homes and are getting all the supplies to remodel these houses at the store. Of course the areas are not the best but when new blood moves in and pushes out the dead weight,many neighborhoods can be reborn again.
  We didn't buy anything at the Market and we did the avoidance dance with the high powered spice seller who tries to force you to buy things you really don't want to.
 We next headed to Taylor,I have written before these trips...we go to the Christmas Tree Shoppe,they always have some cool bargains that we stumble across and this trip was no different. Found a nice cookbook for 2.00,a pair of autobiographies for .74 cents apiece and the first City of Ember for 1.25. We also picked up some items for the pantry. It was a smaller trip as we saved our budget for Block's and headed there next.
   Block's was busy but not crowded as we pulled in and shopped for some plants for the yard. We spent about 30 minutes poking around at plants and ended up buying 2 flats and a hanging plant. I think we'll have to invest in a couple of Shepherd's hooks for the new plants.
  Our neighbor Marlene was coming over for dinner so we headed back to home,we needed to stop by the Eastern Market of Canton, aka "Marv's" to pick up a extra steak.
 I also have written about this store as well. Its a small store tucked away in a run down mini-mall. We had went there on the word of a good friend last year. We found some deals and made it a point to revisit it. When we did so,we found that it had been sold to a guy named Marv...this guy is aces. Super friendly,very glad to see you and always has the freshest meat in town.
  Now when we went back in Feb. of this year,we shocked to find the store closed,it had been hit by a fire a mere 2 months after Marv had taken over.
 We thought the worst since the market was next to a pizza chain that had been getting hit by a serial arsonist at the same time of this fire.
   So when Marv's was reopened,we stopped and got the scoop. Seems like it was a pure accident,one of the workers had done a load of laundry at the laundromat,which included a huge pile of towels which she dried and wheeled back. Instead of emptying the basket to help the heat disperse,she left them there in a storage room....at the towels ignited due to how hot they were,the fire destroyed a lot of shop,including Marv's inventory.
  The sad thing....he didn't have renter's insurance so now he owes the landlord 200k for the repairs to the store. He is really up against the wall as far as if he'll make it. Being off the beaten path plus being in such a beatdown mall,he might not make it but as long as he is open,we'll support him.
  I set the BBQ up and we grilled the steaks,had a baked potato and fresh broccoli for dinner. Had a real nice visit and talked about the upcoming yard sale Marlene is going to host in a couple of weeks. We are to combine our stuff and see if we can make a few bucks for the chair fund. Our first try at selling stuff at a consignment store didn't really go well as we only made 11 dollars. Now we have shopped at the store and its a nicer store except we (once we had items up for sale that is) glaring problem. The staff doesn't sell,they don't engage the customers and don't highlight pieces that may appeal to buyers. Now while that may work during the winter months,its a big mistake in the summer time as yard sales and church sales take away customers and dollars..and if you are just sitting there on your ass and not engaged,you're going to struggle.
  But we have done pretty well with yard sales,I don't mind sitting there and selling,Lori hates it...having people pick and comment on your stuff and tastes is not always a fun thing to hear. How do I know this....well,I have been guilty of doing just that when I am looking for items.
   Wow,Derek Jeter is in 14th place on baseball's all-time hits list. He is on pace for another 200 hit season if he stays healthy,he is having another good year. Too bad the Yankees aren't.
Speaking of sports,I added my buddy Jay's blog on Blogs to Follow list. Jay,like me,is a college football fan and follows a smaller school in South Alabama. He has created a Sun Belt Insider blog which covers the schools in that league. Its a damn good read and if you love college football like we do,you'll enjoy it...just tell him I sent you!
Last item.....Detroit Lion defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested again this past off-season,he has been busted twice for pot and now for driving recklessly and having a open container. The local sports media is shaking its head...between Delmon Young's anti-Jewish remarks,Titus Young sucker punching a teammate,and 4 Lion players being busted on various charges,question has been asked...what athlete has disappointed you the most? Have all the promise in the world and then shoots him/herself in the ass?
Its a good question and the one I throw out may surprise some folks being I am a Yankees fan....but Los Angeles Dodger's pitcher Steve Howe is my pick....a hard throwing lefty,Howe derailed what could have been a special career with a nasty drug problem that had him bouncing from team to team,suspension to suspension before he could fulfill that early promise. Howe ended up killing himself while loaded in a car accident.

Other players included Jim Leyritz,Len Dykstra and Len Blias who died of a cocaine overdose after being drafted number 1 by the Boston Celtics.

How about you? Who would you pick and why....

See you on Thursday!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sad week...and a lesson being learned.

  Its 4:19 pm

     Greetings! Wow.....great responses to the Carl Henry interview! But I forgot the weakness that is Blogspot in regards to posting comments. We still have 2 signed CDs to giveaway....so how are we to give them away?
Thats easy......the first two people who read this and send a email to strikeninja1700@hotmail.com with "Carl Henry" in the subject  line will win.....the next contest will be better thought out as far as determining how a winner will get picked.
 Sad news to report.....the kitty I blogged about,Harlow,who shared a life with actress Monique Parent,passed away. Seems like the tumor had invaded her brain and just would have made poor Harlow's life a living hell. So being the awesome cat lover that she is,Monique made the call to help ease Harlow's pain and allow her to cross the Rainbow Bridge. I love that so many of you sent prayers and warm thoughts to Monique after this happened. Losing a pet is just as bad as losing a person in some families. I know one day my own cat will leave  this world for the next and I will be very frank,I am so scared of that day. Because I love my cat,he is more then a four legged animal,he is my friend. He has provided me with comfort,laughs and joy during his time with us. (and has cost us 3 chairs but that is a different story). I have lost pets before but I have never had such a bond as I do with Derek Jeter. Monique had the same bond with her Harlow so I can't imagine how much she must be hurting.

Saturday 4:39 pm

    I know...I still haven't posted this. I'll see if I can't change that.

Last night,Lori and I went to run a few errands,we got our bathroom window screen replaced at ACO Hardware,Lori got a curling iron,picked up some wood stain as we are redoing our deck this summer. Stopped by the Dollar Tree and I picked up a DVD set of this cool little series called "Daybreak" which Taye Diggs and Victoria Pratt of Mutant X fame. I remembered when it came out on ABC but it only ran for 5 episodes before getting the hook. I never got the chance to check it out until yesterday when a copy of the entire 13 episode series was in the DVD section.
  But coming home,it was getting dark. As we pulled into the driveway I noticed our neighbor's kids had left their bikes out in the open,carelessly. I told Lori that I wanted to speak to the boys about being more careful because someone could walk by and steal them.
  I knocked on the door and instead of the kids,the mother,Cindy answered. I changed tactics on the fly and asked her if we could teach her kids a lesson about leaving stuff unattended. She quickly said "yes". I told her I would put the bikes in our garage and see how they reacted. The plan was originally to be played up when the boys came over and knocked on our door.
  About 30 minutes later,the boys got home with their dad,Simon. It took 25 minutes before they noticed the bikes were "missing". Lori and I watched from the window as they started looking around the house. Cindy told them the bikes were gone...and when the boys thought she was playing around,she opened up the garage and then the boys knew something was very wrong.
   Pretty soon the three of them came to the door,we were prepared to give back the bikes...until the older boy,Alan,asked if we had seen their bikes!! We instantly knew what the mom wanted and so we went with it. We said "no,we haven't seen your bikes. What happened to them,didn't you put them away like you should have?" We played along with Cindy as I asked why hadn't they taken better care of their stuff. Cindy let it known to use that we should hold the bikes! I told her I won't be home til 3:30 but Lori would be home til 2 pm in case the boys wanted the bikes.
  So you can imagine my surprise when I got home and the bikes are still there! My little neighborly "advice"idea has taken a life of its own and we are waiting on Cindy to let us know when to return the bikes. Its 5:05 pm and the bikes are still locked up.
   Work is good.....getting used to the pace again....and the best news is I have lost eight pounds this past month. Still can't see my feet but its a start,right?

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... 

For Harlow......(and we'll keep a eye out for your mama).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

8 Questions with.......Detroit musician Carl Henry

    • Welcome to another edition of my interview series called "8 Questions with.....". Today,not only are we talking to a very talented artist in Carl Henry,we are also offering 2 FREE SIGNED CDs as well. You'll have to see the details after you read the interview...*s*

      I met Carl via FB while we were swapping comments on another mutual friend's Wall. We were both agreeing and disagreeing on some subject related to something or another. When I clicked on his name,I noticed he was a very active local musician here in the metro Detroit area. Well being that I am big supporter of local music,I sent him a friend request which he accepted right away. 
        Now I got a first look at just how hard this man WORKS. Carl gigs tirelessly at gigs both large and small...like playing for senior centers around the area. Music is the universal language and the fact Carl travels everywhere playing his music for folks who normally would never get out again to hear great live music,well,how can you not respect a musician like that?
        So asking Carl to do this interview was a no-brainer. I was dying to ask him some burning questions and his craft and how it relates to him. I really hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I loved putting it together!

      This interview is dedicated to San Jose bluesman Andy Mazzilli.

      And now......8 Questions with......Carl Henry.

      TIC:  Where you born and what was life like growing up in the Henry household?

       I was born in Troy Michigan, back when Maple Rd (15 Mile Rd) was still a two lane dirt road. Growing up I watched it change until it became the five lane road it is today! We were kind of from the poor side of the tracks in Troy. My father was a steel worker, who had never made it past the sixth grade in school. He came from a family with seven kids, and during the depression years, he had to quit school to work to help the family. My mom was a stay at home housewife who also came from a family with eight brothers and sisters. Always made some great big get togethers  at the holidays. I am however, a only child. (I think I was born so big my mother said "never again"!)
      I lived in Troy in the same home all through my school years, and our life was rather good growing up. We had a cabin up north on a lake we would retreat to almost every weekend. And always I was having fun, spending a lot of time with one of my Uncles, Norm Nieman who used to be a race car driver. (Late Models) You could usually find me at a race track when I wasnt up north fishing or hunting with my dad. 

      TIC: Who influenced you to want to play music and how did they do it?

      CH: My mother was my first big musical influence. We had a upright piano at home, and she was a classically trained piano player, but she was also horribly shy. She rarely played when people were around, she was always nervous. But besides playing selections of Bach, and Brahms, she also had a hidden love that was frowned upon by her parents. She loved to play boogie woogie on the 88. I can still hear her playing the "Bumble Boogie" in my mind to this day. My father was a country music fan until later years when he started liking blues and other types of music. They bought me my first guitar when I was thirteen. Been going ever since.TIC: Walk us through the very first time you played in public,how did you get the show,what did you do to prepare for it?

      CH: Funny you should ask this, because I through the magic of Facebook, just hooked up with the super gentleman I played with in front of the public ever, and he was my chemistry teacher in Troy High School, Mr Mark Stern. He had a love for bluegrass and country music, so we worked up two songs together "The Wreck Of The Old 97" and a song by Micheal Parks of "Then Came Bronson" fame called "Sing That Song Again". We performed them at a talent night show at Troy High in 1975. It turned me from total 'loner' status in school, over to the 'cooler' side. After that I was hooked on not only the music, but the love of pleasing a audience.
      TIC: You mention in a interview how much you love Johnny Cash and his music....so why the blues and not country music?

      CH: Well, the answer to that is easy acutally. I do it all. I have been blessed to play all kinds of music through the years, and most people know I dislike the pidgeon holes that the mere suggestion of 'genre' tries to limit you with. For example, I even play Irish and Folk music well enough to be asked to perform in this years Motor City Irish Fest. It is very true I have a ton of experience in the blues, and a great love for blues music. I really got my whole education in stage performing from some of the greats in the blues. My first real club gigs were with super people like Uncle Jesse White, and "Mr." Bo Collins, and I've always learned a lot not only about the music, but indeed about life from these great people.
      But, to get back to your question, I do play country, and the newer styles of it, as well as the old. I even do "Western" music, which not too many people do these days. My next cd, which is in production now, will be titled "All Folked Up" and will be a mixture of country, folk and blues. I always tend to call my music "American". Because I love the melting pot that America is when it comes to music. To me the only genre label that should be attached to it is, 'is it enjoyable?'
      Johnny Cash I think would agree with me. He recorded all kinds of folks' songs in his day, and sounds just as good doing a Trent Reznor song as he does singing a old gospel tune. 

      TIC. Blues musicians have a seriously bad history for hard drug abuse,what is your take on this?

      CH: I think you can say that about a lot of different music too, but a few things rings true for me, about the drug and alcohol abuse that is very alive in many folks in music. You will find that songwriters and performers of all kinds face many evils. I often say that to write a song you 'open your heart and let it fall out'. Which means you are sensative. To feel the hurts of others, as well as the hurts of yourself. Add into that mixture the fact that most all musicians work in clubs, which not only serve booze, but at which many drugs are available all the time, and it's hard not to fall into those traps. Now, add the fact for the touring musician that the road is not the glamourous place most think it is...you live from a suitcase, hotel to hotel, and usually your very lonely during those times, missing someone you wish you were with, or, thinking of problems elsewhere that you wish you were there to address...I myself was a raging alcoholic for many years in my youth, which led me to quit the booze for five years. I have the occasional shot or beer now, but I now have control of it, and can walk away, where at one time it did indeed control me. I am so happy those years are behind me.
      Today yet I worry so for the younger performers, who believe that a drug leads to greater creativity. I never ever found that to be the case.

      TIC:  Do you agree that blues music is too constricting,that fans are less tolerant to artists playing their own original music then the classics? Explain your position on this.

      CH: Wow, you do ask good questions! I think you can ask fifty different people to describe the blues, and you would almost get fifty different answers. It is not a easy genre to define with solid walls. And also much depends on where you are in the country at the time. I will give you a example. I toured in Texas a few years ago. In Austin, San Antonio, those areas and more, they do not want to hear you do one single 'cover' tune. They want all original music. In Detroit, you will find most people wanting to hear the cover versions, with a original tossed in occasionaly. So the blues audience here is a totally different animal than in other areas of the country. Blues you will find also has it's ups and downs in popularity. Right now I would say it is in a down trend here, because there are very few clubs left that make a commitment to being a 'blues' venue. And radio airplay, unless your listening to public radio, or internet radio, for blues is almost non existant. You will not hear the blues on a Clear Channel station. On places like Sirius, and satellite radio yes. But on local radio, unless it is a WDET or WHFR, or another public radio station, forget it. It is one reason I always try to support public radio. When you're a entertainer in the clubs, your job is to make the people in those clubs happy with your music. These days, it is increasingly difficult to do just a blues show. You better be ready to play other genres to keep the crowds happy. When I am hired for a blues show however, as I am many times through the year, then you can play just the blues, because that's what the people there came expecting to hear. In clubs, I get all kinds of requests of all genres. I earned the nickname 'The Human Jukebox' by being good at many different styles. You absolutely have to do that to be a good entertainer in my opinion. You will always have the people who want to yell "Freebird", or "Mustang Sally", you cant escape that. Original artists who do their own music all the time, are always going to be in for a lot of work. Because as I mentioned, especially here in the D, people simply love hearing cover songs. It is one thing I never minded really, I just want the audience to have a good time, because that's why they are there. 

      TIC.How has the music scene evolved since you started playing? Is it easier to record,tour and put out music or harder?

      CH: The music scene changes so much it has changed while I was writing this sentence. It's much easier to record these days, everyone has a home studio, and that is a good thing. I am very far from up to date as far as the latest tech, with auto tune, and all the other things that have burst on the scene in the last ten years or so. And it is also good that it is much easier to get your music out to the public. CD Baby, and many other digital download resources are available at affordable prices to all artists now. The only down side is, you had better be up on all the latest greatest avenues to sell your music, and I am way way behind in that regard. My latest cd was the first recording I ever really made that was truly public, the others you had to come and purchase from me directly at a show. And still I am not out with it on the various outlets like CD Baby, and the other digital outlets. And I know I shoot myself in the foot by not being there yet. It is a priority for me to work on. This last cd sold more than I ever have of anything I have ever done, and was the very first time I ever purchased a 'bar code' for anything in my life. So the old fella is catching up, but too slowly for my liking. I do everything myself, and there simply aren't enough hours in a day sometimes. Touring, has never been a problem for me, usually I can submit some songs to someone, make a few phone calls, and set up dates. I have also been awful lucky to have made friends with people who like what I do, that have been kind enough to book me for the larger festivals, and larger club dates I have done. I can't thank those folks enough. Being the chief cook, and bottle washer all at once is not a easy chore, and I have been very lucky and blessed. My days consist of bookings in the mornings and afternoons, when I dont have a afternoon show, and playing in the evenings. I like to think I work hard for the people I play for, and after over 25 years of it, I still love what I do.

      TIC: What are the five freshest blues acts playing today and why should we check them out?

      Now THAT is a hard question because there's so very many talented acts. Detroit is full of them, of all genres. I will give you five favorites.
      First, The Broken Arrow Blues Band. I've known the guys in the band many years, and they are rockin the houses wherever they go.
      Second, A young group from the thumb area Gasoline Alley, these kids are fantastic, and are creating a sound of rock and blues and country that defies genre, and is just plain full of good energy. These young men will go far.
      Third, I would have to add The Clay Adams Band, I've known Clay a long time, and he's just now beginning to get the credit he deserves as far as being a songwriter and artist.
      Fourth, a group that is breaking out bigger into the national spotlight, The Rusty Wright Band. Rusty and Laurie and the group have almost limitless talent, and Rusty is just a plain old guitar monster.
      For the Fifth, I'm going to break out of the blues, and tell you go see The Codgers. They are a group of fellas I have known since my old days of playing at the Tipperary Pub in Detroit, and may be the only band who can out drink Shane McGowan and the Pouges. And your guaranteed a superb time anytime you can see them play. They bring a energy to the stage as well, that anyone will enjoy.
      And my apologies to anyone I left out here, with only five to pick from. This is the D my friends, and we are so loaded with talent here, that to be honest I dont know why anyone would pay large dollars to see a national act, when the music we make right here is just as good as anything you'll see on any national stage. I am honored to be a part of it.

        • TIC: What advice would you give a youngster who wants to play blues? What is more important,the chops or the songwriting?

          CH: The first thing I will tell you, is keep your day job. Playing blues, or any live music is a hard hard living. But when your bitten with the perfomance bug, I know how it is. As John Lee Hooker would tell you "It's in you, and it's got to come out". I would say to you, learn with your heart. Feel it. If you cannot feel it, your not going to have the chop on the instrument you want, and your sure not going to write anything well, unless it indeed comes from inside your soul. And never quit. Because when you do, your not quitting music, your quitting your own soul and being. Dont look to imitate. Look to create something from inside yourself. Study the old masters, research them, understand what and why they did what they did, and when you play their song, stay as true to it as you can. But when you make your own, do just that, and make it your own whenever you can. You will always have your influences, and they will show up in your own music. But be sure to stay true to what you feel, and usually you wont go wrong.

          Thanks so much for having me share so much of my insanity. If I can add one thing, it's to tell everyone a thank you from the bottom of my heart, for giving me the honor, and the privilege to play music for you. Go see a live show, and keep supporting blues, and all forms of live music, so we dont turn into a nation where we 'used to hear live music'. Every dollar you spend on live entertainment will come back to you in joy.

          Thanks to Carl Henry,we have 2 free signed CDs to giveaway. Simply drop a comment on the interview below and let us know what you thought of the interview. That is all you have to do.......not so hard,is it? 

          To learn more about Carl Henry and his music,including news updates,touring dates and the release date of his upcoming album,please go here:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Prayers for Harlow

Its 4:34 pm

    I was going to post my Carl Henry interview today but am pushing it back til tomorrow....I hope that Carl and the rest of my readers will bear with me.
 Just feel like I need to just freestyle today...have a few things to post about....

This is Harlow....Harlow,named after the famous Jean Harlow,shares a life with actress Monique Parent. It was because of our mutual love of cats that Monique and I have become friends. We have swapped mail about our crazy cats and how much they mean to us. For Monique,this is especially true as between movie shoots and traveling up and down the state of California for her other job,she is often away from her Harlow. Many times she has posted how much she is looking forward to heading home because she knows a certain kitty is waiting by the door just as eager for her friend to come home safely.
  I know this emotion as well as does every person who shares a life with a dog,cat,pigeon,iguana (hi Zorro!!!). I see this every day when I'm home and the garage door opener starts to open. Derek and Ginger will start walking to the door to greet Lori. Or if its me,Derek will meow a greeting. Its such a comfort knowing you are missed and are welcomed home every day. Of course when we go up north or on vacation,the cats are a lot aloof because they don't like that they are left behind.
But I have never heard Monique mention that Harlow does this. I know she loves to curl up on or by Monique or Chris (Monique's boyfriend).
   But now Harlow is very ill with a tumor in her head that needs to be operated on in a hurry. And so next week,Harlow is being operated on and in the process,will lose a eye. While this is a major ordeal,dogs and cats seem to adjust to such major trauma so much better then humans. Harlow will recover but going through this must be pure hell for Monique and Chris. I know I would be a basket case if this was Derek. I am aware that DJ is now 12 and will be 13 in October. I try not to think about this but its in your head,though who have elder pets know what I speak of.
  I am asking that you please keep Harlow in your prayers and thoughts on Tuesday and that she comes through her operation in good shape and recovers quickly.

We love you Harlow!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Singing the gutter blues

Its 8:15 am
    Traffic has really slowed on here....still stuck on 8 followers. But very happy to have them and you (if you're reading this) here. I know I don't write the most exciting entries but it feels good just to be able to put some words on "paper".
   Its yet another awesome day here in SE Michigan,with weather like this coming now...its telling me its going to be a great summer. I guess Arizona is already feeling that as it hit 104 degrees this week and even in Portland,Oregon,where my brother lives,it hit 90!. Good time to be working on that tan!
   I would have liked to tell you how happy I am with my clean gutters but I cannot. Trying to get a simple task done is turning into a major pain in my ass. This is rather a surprise as well since I used a Angie's List type of service to help a good company. Its called Service Magic and you place what you want done and up to 3 local companies will call and try and get the job. We have used this service before and had good results,so this what we did again. First guy was very nice and drove out to take a look but he wanted 200.00. The second company,Chimney Cricket offered to do it for 125 which included taking away the trash/debris in the gutters.
Strangely,we didn't get a 3rd call....so we went with Chimney Cricket. Made the appointment for last Saturday only to have them call and say the guy they had coming out had a accident and broke his thumb. So scratch that off....rescheduled the appointment for yesterday which I covered in my last post. Spent 2.5 hours waiting for the new guy to show up....when Chimney Cricket finally showed up at 3:30 pm,they sent one guy....the guy with the broken thumb!! His hand looked terrible and I said "Nope. No way in hell am I letting you go up there by yourself with just one hand!". Appalled this "company" and I use this term lightly,would put a worker at risk by sending him out to do a job like that with just one hand! He thanked me  because I don't think he felt confident in attacking my high roof with just one hand either.
  So back to square one....going to to try new company who offered to do the job for 75.00 but am leery of a lo-ball offer like that because the work might not be done very well. So despite this snafu,might have to gamble and let Chimney Cricket have one more chance at this. But I'm also thinking it might worth spending 14.00 to join Angie's List as well. Has anyone joined that service and if so,how has it worked so far? Would love to get some feedback......
   On Thursday I'll be posting my next interview in my "8 Questions with...." series with Detroit blues legend Carl Henry. As a added bonus,we'll be giving away 2 signed EPs of Carl's music to some lucky readers. I will fill you in on the details once I post the interview.
Well that is all I have for now.....going to dive back into Lisa Ann Walter's book. "The Best about My Ass..." may have a funny title but its a very moving autobiography by one of the sweetest people you would ever want to meet. Normally I speed read through my books but this one is demanding that I read it slowly.
Leaving you with a little Pittsburgh Dad,this is quickly becoming a "must see". Funny,funny stuff!

See you on Thursday!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Musing on a Monday (and happy Booday to Boo)

Its 8:58 am.

       First and foremost,I like to wish Boo,a slightly belated birthday. After watching the videos and hearing about Boo's background,you come to realize that Boo really is a "Cinderella Man" type of dog.....click on YouTube and "Your daily Boo" and prepared to be enchanted by Boo and his fun loving buddy,Craig.

  I like to say a big thank you to everyone who came by and read the interview with Joan Lemon. Already have the next one ready to go and seeing who else will want to drop and chat with me here.
  Its a beautiful day today...the sun is shining,the sky is blue and the weather is getting warmer. The neighbors across the street are having new siding put on their house so you can hear the work crews already at it. Have seen a couple of morning walkers of which one of them will be me.
   Like to to report that our gutters look nice and clean but I can't. Seems like the guy with whom we had coming from Chimney Cricket broke his thumb last week and couldn't make it on Saturday. Sort of hard to lift and place a ladder with a broken thumb but no worries,they already called and are coming out this afternoon to get the job done.
   Like I wrote before,being a 99er means a lot things don't happen,like simple things like cleaning a gutter or planting a flowerbed,you don't have the money to do these small little take it for granted projects. So I hope folks can understand why I'm so tickled with being able to write about my gutter or getting the carpets cleaned or bathroom painted. Makes it seem like life is returning to normal a project at a time.

I am meeting some interesting people at my job.....had a guy come in wearing a BP (as in BP oil spill) gas station shirt and buying some things for a project. I asked him where his station was at,he says "Detroit". I made the Sign of the Cross because owning a gas station in Murder City might challenge a crab fisherman or a bomb disposal expert for the most dangerous job in America. While most of us go there for gas and a slurpee,niggas go there to get beat and shot. A man and a woman were beat senseless this week when the man,who is black,said "Hello" to a couple of other black men in a gas station. The two thugs took exception to that and started jacking him up...when the guy tried to run outside,he ran into four other black men who were friends of the attackers,who then proceeded to sock both the man AND his girl up.
   The gas station owner shook his and smiled at my gesture...but he said "But no more. I'm getting out,its too dangerous for me anymore. I don't want to get robbed anymore or even die". It was pretty sad to hear him this because you know he had invested his life savings into trying a piece of the American Dream,owning a business that helps the community,going home to family and friends. And now being forced to sell because of fearing of who or what might happen to him....just sad.
   And the other person I met this weekend also was interesting,a dealer at Greektown,a local casino in Detroit. She was wearing her uniform and I asked her what she did at the casino. When she said "Dealer",I said "That must be pretty exciting" to which she replied with a sad voice "No,its actually pretty crappy. I deal with a so many people who can't afford to be there losing their money and blaming me for it. I just don't understand it,how they blame me...I didn't put them there,didn't force them to gamble and lose the rent check or house payment".
  After she left,we talked about about casinos,while a couple of my co-workers have been,they rarely go because they don't like the idea of losing money. Can't say I blame them. But with casinos now opening in Ohio,including Toledo,the fear is Detroit is going to lose about 30-35 million dollars a year in revenue from the folks in Ohio who will stay home and gamble instead of coming to Detroit.
  Guess the wackiest story this week happened when a man was (all together now) shot in Detroit. All three local stations sent crews out to report on the shooting. The Keystone Kops of Ralph Godbee,the "chief" of the police went out and worked the crime scene,throwing up a yellow taper barrier to keep the shooting site off-limits to everyone.

As the news crews waited patiently outside the crime,the cops wrapped up the scene and left. The crews interviewed the people around the area asking what happened. Fox 2 sent journalist Robin Schwartz to cover this murder and as she and her camera person were in the van,another camera person from WDIV 4 tapped on Robin's van and showed them what he spotted right by the Fox 2 newsvan...something the hard hitting dicks from the DPD somehow managed to overlook:

A gun lying in the open....in some grass but visible to the naked eye. Robin called the police who then came back and took control of the weapon. The murder victim,a 23 year old man,Marcus Anderson had been shot 5 times and when the cops opened up this gun,there were 5 spent shell casings. The local media had found the murder weapon!! Pretty  surreal to say the least. But glad the gun was found and hopefully the Keystone Kops don't fuck it up even more so justice maybe can found for Mr. Anderson.

  Still haven't seen The Avengers yet,but so far no one has knocked on my door and asked for my fanboy card back as of yet. Fact is,my wingman and fellow fanboy,the infamous Farm Boy,has been galloping around the countryside working and is rarely here long enough to check out a flick. But am keeping out hope that one day before its run ends,I'll be able to see it.
  Alrightly then.....guess that will be a wrap for today! Time to put on some socks and get ready to mow some grass,get the gutters cleaned and start working on my new 8 Questions interview,one that I think will inspire a lot you.

Happy Mother's Day to all those mothers out there!

Friday, May 11, 2012

8 Questions with.......writer Joan Lemon

Its 2:01 pm

   Welcome to the 2nd installment of "8 Questions With......" here on my new blogging home. After a sluggish start in trying to reboot my series,I think its finally picking up some steam. That makes me pretty happy since there are a lot of great people I like to ask a few questions of.
    I met writer Joan Lemon back in August of 2010. She and her very hard working husband live in Pennsylvania along with her family. When she asked me to read and review her first published book "Nightshade",I jumped at the chance. I am so glad I did as Joan's skills at weaving both horror and mystery along with the human condition made her book one to remember.
 Besides her love for all things horror,a good Michael Connelly or Stephen King novel,Joan is also a huge fan of black and white cats. You can see how nice of a person Joan is just by the last statement. But again,who isn't right?
That said,please take a few minutes to enjoy getting to know Joan. If you are interested in getting a signed copy of her book,you can contact her via her FB page listed at the bottom of the interview.

    1. Where were you born and what was your childhood like?

    JL: I was born in Antigo, Wisconsin – 1967. My father was in the US Air Force and stationed there. The family moved 18 months later to Glen Burney, MD, then to Glenn Burney, Maryland and then to Fort Meade, Maryland...Iowa Park, TX...Omaha, Nebraska...Lackland AFB, TX. Needless to say my childhood was spent moving from here to here and back again. My authoritarian father made my childhood very difficult. The only emotions I remember feeling were fear, shame, and loneliness. I can't explain the shame it just happened somehow. I remember feeling “judged” for everything I did, therefore becoming very secretive about what I liked, needed, or wanted. Those feelings continued into adulthood and never ended.

    2. Who encouraged your love for reading and words?

    JL:  Who did you read as a child/teen? I didn't read much as kid. For me, television was my habituation. Moving around as much as we did, It was the only constant in my life. But, where ever we went our television programs remained the same therefore provided a sense of security and feeling of “home.”

    3. When did you know you wanted to write?

    JL:  I didn't know I wanted to write until I entered college later in life when I was told by a professor that I exhibited a talent for it. However, I always had a love for movies, since we went every Saturday for over 4 years, and I began to invent stories in my head. The first story idea I had was when I was about 12 years old. I was floating on a raft in my mother's pool and imagined how scary it would be to fall asleep in the pool on that raft and wake up in the middle of the ocean. That idea became “Adrift” many years later. Since I was always criticized by my family for my “silly ideas” and “that's stupid” responses. I stopped sharing these thoughts and ideas and therefore was never encouraged.

  • 4. What goes into your creating a subject matter to write about?

  • JL: Things just pop into my head, literally, and I go from there. The idea for “OOPS” hit me like bolt of lightening and I had the story written in a matter of hours. I wish that bolt would hit me more often.
    Do you look at today's world or within your own life? I look at the world and say “what if...?” and go from there. I have a plethora of Adolf Hitler scenarios that could sink a ship – hence, “OOPS.”

    5. How did writing your first book come about?

  • JL:  After I graduated from college I went through my meager collection of short stories and decided to write a few more in order to have a substantial collection to actually do something with.

  • 6. Where did you come up for the idea for "A Buxton Tale"?. 

  • JL: That was a very inspired story, by the way. This is a very interesting construct. One night I was watching a movie titled “Wide Sargasso Sea” and it wasn't until the very end of the movie that I realized who it was about. It was about the wife who was imprisoned by her husband, Edward Rochester in the Charlotte Bronte classic, Jane Eyre. Brilliant! That's what I remember thinking. The next movie I happened to see was The Shawshank Redemption and I remember having the epiphany about one of the characters. I wanted to give the heavyset man in the beginning who was killed a story, an explanation as to why he was there. I truly felt that the character was innocent and I wanted to prove it somehow.

7. Take us into a typical day of a writer,how does one go about in writing a book?

JL:I realize that I can't wait to be inspired. I have to think of it as a job or chore – I'm too lazy. I believe I would be much more prolific if I had the pressure of deadlines. 

8. What was the publishing aspect like as a new author? In other words,how did you get discovered?

JL:I was reunited with an old friend on Facebook. I found out she was in the publishing business and I told her about my collection of short stories and she said she could help me. I went the self-publishing route to avoid any form of rejection. 

9. What genre do you like the most to read/write about and why?

JL:  I love to read crime dramas and horror. And with the latter, the more shocking and gruesome, the better. I like to write horror mostly. I was influenced most by The Twilight Zone as a kid. I really love the “what if” premise.

10. And when you write another book and if you already doing so,can you give us a hint about the plot?

JL: I have a few more short stories in the works. One in particular is title “Apartment for Rent.” It's about a very vain, yet, solitary man who is cursed by his landlord and slowly turns into something grotesque. I need someone to tell me to “hurry up” so that I can finish it soon. I need that fear and pressure.

  To learn more about Joan and her current book,"Nightshade"along with keeping updated on her new project,you can find her here:

I like to thank Joan again for taking the time to answer my questions.
Next time we'll be visiting with Carl Henry,a local Detroit music legend who has been playing the blues and holds nothing back when he is playing or answering 8 Questions! Thanks for reading! Comments and feedback are always welcome!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Its 11:46 am

     Looking outside at a cool cloudy day here in SE Michigan. Its a been a rough week for me here....very saddened by the loss of a real warrior in Amy Rauch Neilson. Of course this also brings home to me that our own fight is hardly over as well. Just because a cancer patient gets told they are in remission,does it mean the struggle is over.....not for 5 long years does one get to say that. It takes that long until doctors can call you cancer free. Until then,you are going to get checked,you are going to have labs and you are living knowing that your cancer could come back. Doesn't mean you cower in fear,it just means you are aware of what could happen...
   Tomorrow is another reminder for us as Lori is going to get her port flushed. The good news about this is if she stays cancer free for a year after her last chemo treatment,she'll have outpatient surgery to have it removed.
We are really looking forward to that,I can assure you! The U of M hospital set us up with a flushing schedule across the way for us so we now know when we can go..
  So am getting our gutters cleaned this Saturday,so happy we are getting this done and for a good price. Two companies came out to give us estimates,one was 200.00 and the other was for 120.00,needless to say,you know which way we went. I wasn't here for the 2nd estimate so I don't my wife told them the upper gutters have been cleaned in 5 years! Guess they'll find out on Saturday!
  Speaking of yard work....trying a new tactic in growing some grass in several bald spots that we have tried over and over to fill. Laid down some topsoil,then some seed and after that...straw that our neighbor gave us. Hopefully this will allow the new grass to take hold and finally fill in. If it works,then I'll do the same to a thin strip that has popped up in the front yard. Keeping my fingers crossed. After that,I attacked the backyard and met a old nemesis,the braodleaf weed. Damn those things are awful...and unless you have a heavy duty set of electrical gloves,you can't pull them by hand because the leaves are needle sharp! But since I do have a pair (bought for 5 bucks at an estate sale a few years back),I am able to pull about 80% of them out by the root. Which is a good thing otherwise they will spread like....like.....weeds!
I can't express how good it feels to be able to actually get some badly needed repairs done around here. After the gutter gets dealt with,then we'll get the sprinklers fixed and start to plant some new flowers in the front yard and lay down some fresh mulch in the back porch area. And as soon as it warms up enough,we're painting the back porch as well. Last summer we couldn't do these things because of Lori's illness but this year.....
   Awesome....Craig Bierko just sent me a message saying he is posting a new "Your Daily Boo"!

The above video is from last month but I as told Craig,I see a lot of myself and Derek when I watch Boo and Craig. We may not be able to go outside and romp but we have our own comedy routines we entertain ourselves with.  You can't help but see the bond these two have and these "Your Daily Boo" clips are evidence of that!
   And speaking of beloved pets,our hearts are with our friend Derik in Texas whose Japanese bobtail kitty,Martha,crossed the Rainbow Bridge after 17 years. Derik recently rescued a litter of feral kittens and did his utmost to save them but so far 3 kittens have passed away. And losing Martha,well he really needs some warm thoughts and prayers sent his way. So my friend,we are thinking of you in this sad time and mourn along with you at your losses. Martha was blessed to have had such a great friend in you!
 Have to share this story with you....every Wednesday is trash day here. You put out your cans,recycle bin and trash clippings and sometime during the day,it gets picked up. Now I have been here in my den and have watched the crew empty the cans. They empty,toss the cans back on the yard and run. The recycle crew will set the bin upside down so if its windy,it won't blow away.
  Well last week,I came home after work and went to get my cans on the lawn just like normal. But to my surprise,one of my cans is crushed...as in "run over"crushed. I knew it was the trash crew because the can was lying side by side with the good one and they had the decency to put the wheels in the can itself.
 Its late in the day so I know I'm not going to reach anyone at the trash company so I leave a message explaining what has happened and can someone please call me. We paid 20 dollars for these cans and we had to buy them per the city. So you can see why I was concerned.
  The next day,no one calls....so at 11 am,I do. I get an extremely rude woman who seeks to dismiss what has happened to my can and says "Well sir,if you didn't see the trash crew do it,they didn't". That set it off and I said "Well,I see them toss my cans every single week and I don't say anything because I respect the timetable they are on and don't complain about it. But I tell you what....since YOU don't have any authority to set this right,I'll be glad to call the city and see where I should go to lodge a formal complaint".
 She sensed she had crossed the line and tried to backpedal,saying she was going to have a manager call me and "see if there is anything we can do and you don't need to call city hall." After hearing that,you know damn well where my next call was too and so I did. I lodged a complaint against the woman for her rudeness,we pay taxes for our trash getting picked up,not to listen to a rude trashy woman who won't help.
  90 minutes later,I get a call from Andy,the supervisor,who was professional as all get out. Not only did he come to the house,he offered to replace our can but he also thought he could salvage our crushed one. He took it back to the yard,fixed it (except for a small crack) and STILL offered to replace it. I said that his repair was enough and couldn't thank him enough for his courtesy. He apologized for the woman's rudeness and said she had gotten 3 complaints within a 2 weeks for her actions. Sounded like she would be looking for a new job soon enough. But we got our can and now today,we'll see how well they handle the cans. I just think when they pulled away,they accidently hit it and ran it over. I knew they were sorry by the fact they put the wheels back in the can and as I said,laid it side by side on my lawn. If the cans had been in the street,I wouldn't have known who had hit it.
I know this may read as silly but when you are trying to cope with money issues as we are,a 20 dollar trash can becomes worth fighting for.
  Well,that is I have for today.....thanks for reading!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Saying goodbye to Amy.

Its 2:41 pm

   Last night I read that Amy Rauch Neilson had passed from her breast cancer. She had been fighting for many years which included a period of remission. About two years ago it came back and she had been hitting a brave fight ever since.
   Regular readers here and the IC group have heard me talk about Amy and her fight for a while. I never met Amy or even talked to her except via email but her blog and those emails helped a very scared husband come to understand what my wife was facing in dealing with her cancer. Because of her,I was able to read about therapies,questions to ask our doctors,how to prepare and react to both chemo and radiation. Never once did I ever feel out of my element and a large part of that was because of Amy Neilson.
 I cannot thank her enough for sharing her illness and fight with us,her legacy,one of many,will be how her writing in what she was going through helped so many others either deal or overcome this terrible monster and how not to let cancer define who we are. I am terribly saddened at her passing,I sat here last night and wept for her husband and her little boy. Such a tight loving little family who lived life at its fullest. I have taken that to heart and despite facing many hardships even today,my wife and I are living our lives with that gusto...we never let this slow us down and inspired by Amy,we'll continue to do so...no matter what tomorrow may bring us.

Its a cool chilly day today,overcast and grey. Listening to some Mermaid Kiss on the iPod while typing this entry. Derek has moved his prime sleeping place from the bed to in front of my dresser drawers. He is curled up in a big ball of fur and looks very peaceful.
   I'm waiting for a gentleman named Leon to call me,we decided we are getting the gutters cleaned this week. We have used a website called ServicePro which is sort of like a Angie's List except that its free to help us find a good service. So far we have been very happy with the quality of the help,the repairs we have had done have been fairly priced and as I said,the work is good.
  Would have done this earlier except I had to go to the dentist at noon and after taking advantage of a free coffee coupon from Biggby's,I didn't get home until 1:45 pm so while I'm waiting,I'm doing this blog.
  Last week I wrote about a 54 year woman in my subdivision who committed suicide by setting herself on fire. While we had thought it was on the other side of the subdivision,it turns out it was about 500 yards from our home and I never heard a peep,no sirens,no screaming,nothing. Its pretty sad,I have walked that cul-de-sac where it happened a few times but never have seen anyone outside as I tend to walk at night. Still....its the 2nd major incident in this sub....a couple of years before we moved here,a man was tied up and beheaded by two teens who are now locked forever.
  Overall our neighborhood is very quiet and we have some very nice neighbors. I just wish whatever demon that woman was living with hadn't caused her to kill herself like that.

  My wife called me yesterday morning,she came across a homeless person living in her car and she had parked by my wife's job. She was scared at first because she thought the girl might have been hurt by the way she was lying across the seat. Once she could see inside,she saw the girl was sleeping on a pillow.
The car looked very dirty and the sleeper looked like she may have some mental health issues as it appeared she had hoarder issues based on the look of the car.
   Lori asked if she should call the cops but I said as long as she isn't bothering anyone,no harm is being done. Despite the recession,we have hardly seen any signs of homelessness in our area which does surprise me a little. We have seen 3 people in the past 5 years who have appeared in this condition and that is despite the foreclosures in our town. The only sign that people are still struggling is the skyrocketing of shoplifting that is coming from the poorer people. Not a day goes by that 2-3 cop cars are at the local Walmart/Kroger taking away a shoplifter(s). My wife's store has been a few times by a few folks as well.
  But as far as people walking up and asking for money or food,not really seen that around here.
Lori called her assistant manager and asked her to drop by McD's and buy a breakfast meal for the young lady but by the time it got there,the person had woken up and driven away. Hope she will okay.
  Alrighty then,the gutter guy called and is on his way....so its time for me to scoot.

Thanks for reading.

Thank you again Amy.