The Summer of Orange Discontent

Description=ab23638.jpg AB23638 (RM) Traffic cones along side of road Taxi

Official Flora of Orange Summer

Many have heard the lame joke, made at times like these … “What’s the State flower of (fill in your favorite State/Commonwealth in dysfunction)?”  The punch line is pictured to the right.

It’s been one of those Summers in my little slice of Heaven on Earth.  Seems every week I am running into large rectangular announcements that “This road will be closed beginning on (month-date.)”  The amount of road work going on is enough to set commuters’ neck hairs a quivering!

My guess is that the Silver Lining in all this traffic disruption this Summer is a good sign for The Economy as a whole; but it truly wreaks havoc with the rate-of-productive-effort vs. travel time ratio.  And for some reason this Summer has seen much more infrastructure investment than any other Summer I can remember.

img_0036Summer’s tend to be most beneficial to blooming orange cones; but this one might set a record, not just for orange cones but also for orange detour signs (announced weeks in advance) and the deployment of the Flagger Forces of Evil.  I have joked recently that any hostile power, looking to pose damage and mayhem to American society would – as their first step in subversion – invest heavily in Flagger Force franchises.

Those guys are EVERYWHERE.  And even though they might seem innocuous, they control the smooth flow of American auto society.  Too perfect a cover for a nefarious force looking to nonchalantly position themselves at numerous strategic venues and choke points.  Reminds me of German efforts to sabatage the Allied response to the Nazis’ World War II offensive in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge).  They sent commandos to infiltrate behind Allied lines, disrupting communications and responses by – among other things – changing routing and destination signage!

img_0035It’s getting to the point where I am recognizing Flagger Force operatives moving from one choke point to another.  That cannot be a good thing!

My work commute is generally a non-invasive, relaxing commune with Nature along the secondary and back roads of eastern Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (Hatboro, Upper Moreland, Abington, Cheltenham).  No stress, relaxing scenery, manageable traffic …

Until this Summer anyway …

On any given morning, I can find two or three of my favored secondary roads impassable due to construction or repair work.  From the all too obviously needed bridge rework to road re-paving to power-line tree trimming to sewage and water line installations to God only knows what, it has been a particularly active Season of Infrastructure!

Terwood Road (closed since July 5) has been a real kick in the commute, a direct route slicing east-southeast through bucolic settings guaranteed to settle the most nervous commuter.  Worse yet, the popular route’s closure in an area not exactly brimming with non-invasive alternative routes, throws other east-west secondary routes in the area into complete disarray, forcing me to use primary routes (e.g. Route 611) where the driving is closer to Mad Max: Fury Road than psyche-settling leisure.

UPDATE:  Just days after posting this, Welsh Road (Route 63), another rather vital East-West commuter link, particularly for PA Turnpike access in eastern Montgomery County, had two sections narrowed to one lane (one for bridge work crossing over the Turnpike); had another stretch east of Washington Lane completely closed for God-only-knows-what, and is being resurfaced!!

It’s both maddening and reassuring in the “Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure” way of thinking.

  1. Roads – and the utilities running along and below them – are essential.
  2. Roads take a beating.
  3. Roads require maintenance and semi-regular investment to maintain long-term utility.
  4. Maintenance and Investment Time sucks when moving from Point A to Point B!

There’s NEVER a good time to do it.  And when it’s being done, it’s never a good time for anyone … other than the good people (so far as we know) of Flagger Force!

Just shoot me already … (That was sarcasm, FF!)

Advertisements

Peeves of Grass by W.Whitman*

(* Waldo Whitman, long distance third cousin of renown poet Walt Whitman, was a noted turf-ologist and local laureate to the Bronxville, NY organic lawn movement.) 

.

Peeves of Grass

They gird their loins upon mechanical beasts.

Concern for your Lawn? Not in the least …

Their job is but the turf to mow,

On swaths of green in an endless row.

The call to them is “Mow it short!”

Should Weather their next visit abort.

 

Of consequence is the Heat of Summer

Working to render your backyard a bummer,

Baking grass roots to the color of Lumber.

 

Another lawn threat is an obscure little pest,

Whose potential for damage to grass – no jest.

Existing in stealth and snug as a bug,

Sheltered all Winter by your grass turf rug.

Spring brings cravings for roots to devour,

Leaving your Lawn unfit for a Schnauzer.

 

To know Milky Spore, you need not worry.

But if beetles you see, best move in a hurry.

For the future of dear lawn could become quite gory!

.

Nothing brings a tear to the eye like a good Ode to Lawn!

And though Waldo’s words paint a moving portrait, his flowery expressions have more simple, straight-forward messages.  For one, the guys and gals riding those professional lawn mowing services prefer to leave your lawn short as a Masters Tournament fairway.  If they miss an appointment for weather, the lawn less cumbersome to mow quickly the next time out.

And a lot of homeowners like that close-cropped fairway look …

But that’s not good for strong, sustained grass growth as the following pictures illustrate.

 

img_1117

Tale of Two Lawns:  Can you tell the difference between the professional short-cut vs. Cranky Man’s pillowy mow?

Analysis (above):  Verdant greenery on the left, roughly at least 2-2.5 inches longer.  Note browning already occurring on the right despite rather moderate temps and plenty of rain!  What will it look like in August???

img_1113

Which side looks healthier, richer, more likely to survive the Summer?

Remember the words passed down to us from past generations …

A Lawn that looks like a country club fairway in June will resemble an airport runway in August!

.

BEWARE THE BEETLE!

In southeast Pennsylvania we tend to see the mighty ugly grub beetles around the 4th of July.  I usually see my first ones (and lately the only ones) on a golf course … while conducting turf research of course!

images-13You can pre-treat in March (Too late now …) or wait until you see beetles.  But don’t lolligag once you do see them.  Grub treatments are intended to keep grubs from entering the lawn.  Once they get in there, it may be too late to keep them out!

If you want to live grub-worry-free, get to know the milky spore.  Yeah, it’s a pain in the hinterlands to apply; but it will give you up to 10 years of grub coverage!

Read more here:

Let’s play microbiological warfare!

Help your lawn beat the heat

 

 

Out, Damned Holes!

The holes! Those holes!

Rippling through my cloud-like lawn,

Leaving grass entrails

In bright greens and dark fawn.

Those holes, damn holes … Could be moles

Or voles or Middle Earth lawn trolls.

Had one not known better, they might just consider

This a violent protest by the Lawn Antifa!

Now just settle down, you bloody lawn neophyte!

Both knowledge and experience doth shine a bright light

Where the untrained Turf Brain might see disaster,

The wise, old Lawn Prophet sees good health for your pasture!

corer

How core aerator works

Not quite Shakespeare,
Not quite Milton …

In other words, it’s The Best Time of the Year to aerate your Lawn!

For focused discussions, see the following …

Poking Holes in the Patient – Lawn Year (LY) ’14

Getting a Spring-loaded Start – LY13

Everyone’s Lawn Looks Great in April – LY11

aeration

How Aeration benefits your Lawn

 

Did Putin’s Kremlin hack the Oscars?

kremlin

Possible origin of Best Movie conspiracy

Mistrust in the motivations and actions of the Russian government has been growing since allegations of Russian hacks against the U.S. election process have been made in the fallout from Hillary Clinton’s come-from-ahead loss to President Donald Trump last November.

And let’s face it, why wouldn’t the Russians want to destabilize or at least create disillusionment and distrust in American institutions???  As recently as the Obama Administration, there was an attempt made to sway the British electorate on the Brexit vote, and the dispatch of a DNC (Democratic National Committee) operatives to Israel in a bid to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu.

Yet at some point someone has to draw another red line.  Messing with the Oscars might just be A Bridge Too Far!  It’s not a far leap to suggest the Russkies might be interested in causing Academy Award angst, despite the fact that ratings for last Sundays show came in at an all-time low.

Anyone working in an office where a water cooler might be located, can attest to the confusion, anger, and conspiracy theories bantered about the morning after Warren Beatty looked as if looking for the hidden Punk’d cameras.  At least he collected himself sufficiently to make the best decision – for Warren Beatty – and hand the card to Faye Dunaway, so she would go down in “lone assassin” history.

warren-beatty

Does Warren Beatty appear drugged in this photo?  Was he slipped a mickey by Faye Dunaway?

Come to think of it though, why did Warren Beatty seem to sense the card was wrong??  Was he tipped off by the Kremlin??  Or did Beatty sense DNC-like duplicity in Hollywood???

We need to know!

And if that wasn’t enough to convince you of potential Putin-esque skullduggery, consider gross ticket revenues for the eventual Best Picture winner, Moonlight ($22.2 million), versus faux winner La La Land ($140 million) and Hidden Figures ($152 million).

Talk about ignoring The Popular Vote!!!  There must be an investigation!

Finally, consider these bizarre visuals.

Whatever your impressions of the bollixed Best Picture announcement, you have to consider the somewhat Slavic features of Brian Cullinan, the PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant responsible for the Oscar’s  “nuclear football”.  He looks like a Russian general!

cullinan

PWC’s Brian Cullinan

 

 

Then consider the striking resemblance Cullinan has to Jason Bourne, renown renegade U.S. spy, whose whereabouts are unknown and loyalties routinely questioned.

 

 

 

 

jasonbourne

CIA operative extraordinaire, Jason Bourne

To further blow your mind, did you know Jason Bourne was actually AT THE OSCARS Sunday night?!?

jimmy-kimmel-matt-damon

Bourne doing an unusually poor job of blending in. Did he slip Kimmel the phony Best Picture envelope as Kimmel tried to pick up one of these ladies?  Were these women Bourne plants?!?

Heck … We needed less circumstantial evidence to realize Hillary Clinton was lying and condemning her to the Ash Heap of History!

Now about that Special Prosecutor …

putin-wink

Dream on, Cranky Man …

Looking for a little help interpreting a dream I had last night.  Please help me to understand this, as I am sure there is a message in there somewhere.

When people ask if you dream in color, I certainly do.

SETTING:  I am bike-riding (definitely a dream clue!) in a semi-rural area with a well maintained bike path. The area is not recognizable to me (post-dream analysis).  I come to a bridge obviously under construction with concrete pathways both around and through the construction zone.  For some reason, the temporary path has several rather steep drop-offs that I can barely navigate, but do successfully.

dr_k

Dr. K (Gerald McRaney)

At one such drop-off  another biker joins me, an (much) older guy dressed for some reason in white shirt and dress pants.  It wasn’t until I woke up, replaying the dream that I recognize the gentlemen as none other than Dr. Nathon Katowski – Dr. K – from the NBC series This is us“.

Potential Predilection Admission:  OK … OK … Yes, I have been playing catch-up on the new NBC series I had been hearing so much about. But I can see no basis for a connection between the TV show and my dream.

Gerald McRaney really has nothing to offer in the way of fatherly physician advice or insight.  He simply looks at one of the drop-offs and mutters, “What the f—!”  (Apparently I also dream in expletives.)

As we emerge from the bridge construction site, we come onto a broad field strewn with rough boulders about the size of basketballs.  (Is this a detailed dream or what?)  Here the path separates left and straight across the clearing.  Dr. K goes straight; I go left!

MEATY DREAM ACTION:  As I pedal off, I glance over the good doctor’s way.  He’s about halfway across the field.  Then I see them!  Two … then three cute little bear cubs pop up right in the midst of Dr. K’s path.  He’s off his bike, so I shout to him a warning to “Stay away from the cubs!” … even though at the time I see no momma bear.

momma-bearNot sure if he hears me or not, but at that point one of the cubs breaks off in a run and the stupid doctor (We all KNOW better, right?!?) runs after the cub.  And suddenly, there is momma bear on hind legs though only slightly taller than the now-doomed doctor!

I’m too far away to do anything but yell for help.  Besides, I’m certainly not stupid enough to go bear fighting.  Meanwhile the bear and Doctor Doomed are kick-boxing (I kid you not …).  The bear then grabs Dr. K around one shoulder and starts body punching the crap out of the helpless human.  (For the record, I do like the Dr. K character. So that’s one theory out the window.)

I am reduced to waving my arms (not at all sure what that accomplishes) and screaming for help.

After what seems like an interminable period of time, some guy comes out of nowhere with a handgun – not a rifle or shotgun – and proceeds the shoot THE DOCTOR!!  Then he shoots at the bear …

The last image I had – probably before being elbowed awake for snoring – was Dr. K on the ground, but still alive.  Heck, he wasn’t even bloody, just lying there on the ground.  His shooter/rescuer was standing over him and firing at something unseen in the near distance (likely NOT Mandy Moore).

Please provide your Dreamy Interpretations as a Comment!  One important factor I neglected to mention … This dream occurred in the wee hours of Valentine’s Day morning. (That doesn’t mean anything, right?!?)

Be advised … All first-time commenters must be reviewed and approved before their comment will appear. Thanks for listening!  – Cranky Man

Bad Santa

bad-santaChristmas is definitely more memorable when your kids are young. We had some fun traditions back then, including a few that might now qualify as “psychological abuse” in 17 states.

The first would occur after attending Christmas Eve Mass.

Our tradition would be to ride around the local area to check out the Christmas lights and displays with the Christmas songs turned up to ‘hood bouncing volume, before heading home and allowing the grandparents to give the boys early Christmas presents.

The boys, feeling the freedom of having the church obligation completed, and knowing full well that grandchild presents awaited, were usually quite patient and relaxed as our search for Lights of Christmas progressed. But after 30 minutes or so, their facade of patience would start to crack.

So I would start heading our old Dodge Grand Caravan towards home.

Of course when the kids recognized the more familiar streets and neighborhoods; they would know we were getting close to Christmas Present Time.

So each time we got really close to our house, I’d go right past the street or turn in the opposite direction, announcing to Mom that here was a house up the road I wanted her to see. If I turned down our street, I would make several loops around the neighborhood, sometimes slowing as we approached the driveway, then going right on past to the accompaniment of much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

By the time we got home, the kids were near emotional wrecks, and Mom and I could hardly keep from laughing out loud.

.

Our next fond memory of “enhanced interruptive techniques” was experienced on Christmas morning …

Every Christmas one of the kids (usually that Mischievous Middle Child) would bounce onto our bed at 6:30 sharp. We had no illusions that the little termite hadn’t already been downstairs peeking, so we would waited to exact our own little brand of revenge.

After our MMC crowed one Christmas Eve about how early he was going to wake me up, I felt the dawning of a brilliant idea!

That night once the Children were nestled, all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums dance in their heads, I stealthily tied bungee cords from their bedroom doors to the stairway railing across the hall!

(Yes … Four out of five firemen would probably not recommend such a prank, but our house was virtually new back then. Very low risk, trust me!)

That was a fun Christmas morning with Carol and I giggling like sixth-graders as the wails from the MMC’s bedroom went on for roughly 10 minutes. Finally our resourceful little termite pried his door open just enough to squirm his body out his bedroom door. To his credit though, he immediately went downstairs to snoop at what was under the tree before heading back upstairs to free his fellow inmates.

.

Most Christmases we made the boys wait at the top of the stairs as Mom and I prepped for the morning’s cyclone of torn wrapping paper and discarded bows. We took our grand old time getting our faces ready, usually with one keeping an eye on the inmates while the other was brushing their teeth.

Then I would head downstairs for the Official Opening Ceremony.

You may think I’m kidding, but that’s exactly what it was!

I would prattle around for 20 minutes, getting the coffee going; lighting the tree; fiddling with the old shoulder-held VHS recorder; and putting the dog out for her morning constitutional. All the while the kids are pleading, “Dad, hurry up!”

Which of course that just made me move a little slower.

Finally, I would have everything ready, the VHS recorder in position; and the kids would start creeping down the steps. And then I would launch into my Christmas Morning Speech

It was usually a thing of beauty. Like a condensed senatorial filibuster …

“Mom, he’s doing this on purpose!”

I would set the stage for the day’s event and provide the viewers with an elaborate description of the tree, the number of presents (with a few “Oohs” and “Ahhs” thrown in to turn the screws a little tighter), that day’s participants (by now the boys were pleading with their mother to shut me down), and then a lengthy description of the weather.

Once the wailing had subsided, I would end my speech with a “Merry Christmas to all!”; and the boys anticipation would be at peek levels …

Then I’d say, “Dammit, somethings wrong with the camera/tree/coffee maker.”

The cacophony of wails was both heart rendering and side-splitting funny.

.

Now for those who might think such acts qualify me for The Grinch that Stole Christmas, let me assure you that these stories are repeated year-after-year during our holidays together. Like it or not, like me or not … They are a small – but funny – part of our family’s Holiday tradition!

Merry Christmas to all, and make sure you can get out that door before you Sugar-Plum Dance!

Experience the Couples Massage!

desertskycouples2

Not us pictured … Divorce might result if it was!

Hope you enjoy this very carefully, very tastefully written review of our first couples massage experience.  Hopefully I will not end up sleeping on the couch … again, when the incredibly lovely Carol stumbles across this post and discovers I shared an semi-intimate moment solely as a way to promote tourism to the Dominican Republic.

OK … and for the laughs.

As I see it … at my age … any day that starts off with me in a pool with a naked female is a Very, Very Good Day!

When it comes to the massage, one must acknowledge that the ability to render a proper massage is an Art!  The techniques are to be admired and enjoyed, but require training and experience.  Although many an intimate couple will play at the Art of Massage, without the proper knowledge and experience, the massage is just a means to an end.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that ….

I will be the first to admit my skills at massage never advanced beyond the clumsy basics.  After this experience while in Punta Cana, I can honestly state that I had no idea just how inexperienced I was.

The Couples Massage package was an extra to the all-inclusive concept at Barceló Bávaro Beach.  But it’s worth every penny!  The spa is located within the Palace Deluxe Hotel complex. and is accessible at any time by Premium Club members.  Besides the quiet, fragrant massage rooms, the spa includes a large outdoor pool and jacuzzi, indoor jacuzzi and small pool, but no drink service.  (You can bring in adult libations if you so desire.)

The experience begins in the gender-specific locker rooms where one can shed all the decorative physical trappings of modest society … at least on the female side.  The men however were encouraged to keep their swimsuits or shorts on …

Bummer … Completely understandable, I guess … Still a bummer …

car-dominicanrepublic-puntacana-barcelobavaropalacedeluxe

Draperies are closed to enhance the romantic mood, and were opened only after the massage was completed.

Once ensconced in a fluffy terry cloth robe, Carol and I met up in the couples suite.  Quiet, dimly lit by candles, with a romantic arrangement of towels in the shape of a heart and two obviously smitten terrycloth swans, richly appointed with fragrant flower petals.  The atmosphere exudes everything you need to slowly slip into a coma of complete relaxation.

What caught me off guard was finding Carol sans ALL Decorative Trappings of Modest Society, while I was still in a swimsuit.  WT … ?!?

But I guess the presence of two female masseuse explains the discrimination to which I was unexposed.  Not that I’m complaining …  At least one of us was completely stripped of all Decorative Trappings of Modest Society!

Even funnier was the experience of the gentleman in the couple who accompanied us to the DR.  He was instructed to shed his swimwear and sling his … uh … male-hood in a “banana hammock”!

When I heard of this AFTER our massage, I was relieved I wasn’t required to sling The Hammock!  Otherwise Carol would have been laughing throughout the entire massage experience!

The massage itself starts with an exfoliation, cleaning and massage of the lower legs and feet while reclining peacefully and blindfolded, which simply makes the experience a bit more mysteriously unsettling.

“What the heck is she doing?  What’s that stuff??  Oh, that’s nice …”

Next comes the main massage event, complete with security-inducing sheet and coverlet on the traditional massage table.  It was during this transition that I noticed Carol and I were differently dressed.

Have I mentioned that already???

To make a long post shorter, I will not go into a detailed playback of the massage itself.  Rest assured it was expertly applied and deeply relaxing.  This being my first professional massage experience, I can say without reservation that the good masseur at Barceló know what they are doing!

champagnesetup02Once the experts were done, the drapes to our private couples room were thrown open to reveal a small pool set off in an equally private walled-off courtyard.  And when we slipped out the door, we were surprised by the presence of two lounge chairs, a bottle of champagne and two glasses!

As one masseuse bid us farewell and drew closed the drapery, she made a very clear pronouncement, “I will be back in 20 minutes!”

That’s when the light went on!

Hmmmm … Carol still au naturel … champagne … massage oils … a pool and complete privacy … for 20 minutes!?!

Well, I appreciated the optimism, especially as to my personal stamina, but that presumption was a bridge too far.  We did however enjoy the personal intimacy of being secluded in an extremely relaxed state in a very cold pool, and enough bubbly to liberate one’s inhibitions.

But that water might have been a bit too cold …

As it turned out, it was one of the best days of the vacation.  The couples massage is definitely worth the price of admission, assuming of course you get a masseuse who knows what they’re doing!

For me … I hit the daily Double the next day with ANOTHER naked female in the pool.  But it was a dolphin …