That's What Friends Are For?

First, Bill and Kathy brought me a picture of a toilet from Spain.

Now, another bud, Randy, shares a memento from his trip to Las Vegas.

"I saw this and thought of you!"

Carrot Top sign




We landed on CNBC, which was celebrating nutcase Hugh Hefner's 80th birthday, with, apparently, his current young threesome of insipid, shellacked, blonde, faux-lady companions.

Twenty-five years of marriage. Actual conversation:

Mike: That's kind of creepy.

Donna: I agree.

Mike: I mean, the minds of those three women together don't add up to you.

Donna: [Laughs]

Mike: Together, they're not as bright as you are asleep.

Donna: [Smiles]

Then, again, you don't have six breasts. So there is a trade off...


There's a Kind of Flush All Over the World Tonight

Our pals, Bill and Kathy, have concluded their epic vacation adventure in Spain, which I wrote about in "Smile and Say 'Queso'" and "Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk." They hiked 100 miles through the beautiful countryside from Piedrafita to O'Cebreiro to Santiago de Compostela through the Camino de Santiago in a bit more than a week.

The minute they returned home, Bill remembered me with a special gift. He wrote:

From our pilgrimage...

Actual men's room toilet, in a pub in Spain.

NOTE - this was the only Turkish toilet we saw in Spain. The only other one I've ever seen was in the south of France on our honeymoon. There it was in a public restroom along with some regular toilets.

Ladies room has regular toilet, or at least Kathy said so.


My grand friends went to Spain and all I got was this lousy tee-tee shot.


Phonto: Bee, Bee, See

I heard a clamor outside on our porch. I looked over at the table, where I spotted a pair of carpenter bees rolling around in what appeared to be a wrestling-style brawl.

I ran for my cell phone camera to snap a shot of the surprisingly noisy event. As I returned, they dropped off of the table and fell to the floorboards below. Their animated skirmish continued long enough for me to take a fuzzy, buzzy picture.

Suddenly, the top bee flew elsewhere, and the other was left splayed, seemingly dazed. I realized I hadn't witnessed a mugging. They were making carpenter's apprentices.


Phonto: Springtime

Another picture via my new cell phone camera.

Spring is in residence at the house. What you don't see are dogwood blossoms. At the same time in previous Aprils, this view would be overpowered with white flowers. So many that the substantial creek below was obscured from sight.

Squirrels have designated our yard The Food Court. They've systematically gorged themselves on every bud from every dogwood tree, feasting on every branch and every twig.

I went a week without an alarm clock. I'd awaken to the sounds of arboreal rodent burps, starting my days all blight-eyed and bushy-tailed.


More Phontos: Morty

To test my new cell phone's camera, I booked a pictorial session with catcake Morty.

Here, Morty surveys the wild from our porch overlooking the creek. Nefarious, marauding squirrels in the neighborhood drive him nuts.

Only Morty's head can be seen protruding betwixt the rails. He's shy -- and feels somewhat vulnerable about appearing in the nude.

I assured him he was not selling out for some cheap, high profile spread. Not at all, nobody reads this.

Morty insisted on a moment to collect his thoughts, resting under the weight of the world on a nearby table. I was forbidden to shoot below his waist during the break, therefore, I complied with this head shot. I have no idea where a cat's waist begins anyway.

"Work with me, kitty, work with me," I said, ready to click dozens of exposures.

But Morty was adamant to have his way. He showed me his oversized fist, blinged with claws.

He meant business. I agreed to his demand of no more warm weather shedding of his coat until after the camera disappeared.

The young lion -- his contract prohibits the use of the term "the crabby tabby" -- granted me a final phonto, one I feel smacks of the overly artsy.

A designated house cat, Morty insisted on striking this pose, a silent roar to protest his imprisonment. He's behind bars and in stripes.


World Premiere Cell Phonto

My cell phone had ceased reception at the house, so I was forced to purchase a new one nearly a year before the usage agreement lapsed, when I would have qualified for a freebie.

Here's the first phontograph (my word) from the virginal device, taken outside the store.

That's a man thrilled to be spending $237 for an unanticipated replacement and accessories.

Awhile back, I drove my car over the old phone, possibly twice.

Apparently, there is a known issue with doing that and the service providers frown on such.

I received no memo.



While strolling to a theatre on yesterday's sunny afternoon, my wife blurted a candid admission. If only I were chewing gum, so I could have swallowed it.

Actual conversation:

Donna: I'm not wearing hose today.

Mike: What?

Donna: I'm trying to be more hip, like the girls at the office. They don't wear hose anymore.

Mike: No hose?

Nothing on their legs.

Mike: I stopped doing that years ago. ... The stores never had my color. Midnight Hunk.


The Best Dog Ever

This boy loves to fetch. In his youth, he'd chase and return twist ties, pipe cleaners, and cotton swabs all day long. He is a master athlete.

When middle age set in, we advanced to plastic drinking straws. He prefers the bendy kind because they make the most exciting noise when they're repositioned into the fascinating '7' shape.

We don't fetch much now, but the house rule stands, plastic straws are stocked by the hundreds so a fresh one can be introduced into his domain often. He likes that. He forgoes his naps several times around the clock to prowl throughout our habitat, stalking this prey.

A roar of victory will soon be heard in the distance, several rooms across the house. And here he comes, with his most recent find clenched in his teeth. He halts at my side to show off the *kill* -- and, to express our appreciation for his fine hunting expertise and unparalleled value to our pack, he gets a frisky head tickle and the cherished full-throated chin scratch.

For all of his blue-eyed manliness, he doesn't much care for vehicular travel or medical strangers. He prefers to go out and about incognito, as seen in this recent photograph on his way to an appointment at the clinic.

Ironically, this is as he looks on Halloween, costumed as D'Artagnian of The Three Mouseketeers.

We've never known the exact date of his birth, but he did arrive in April, for certain, and into our lives a few short weeks later.

So, today, we say "Happy Birthday" to our nutty Professor Kelp, a few short 19 years later.


Show People

Since I see a lot of touring Broadway plays, I've developed a little ritual over the years to celebrate my very favorite productions. I buy the souvenir shirts.

I've acquired quite a few, including "Les Miserables," "Show Boat," and "Miss Saigon," and scarcely a week goes by that I don't have "Damn Yankees" or "The Producers" proudly emblazoned across my chest.

Last night, we attended an event worthy of such accolades. The performances were of the highest order. I was moved and, after the standing ovation at the curtain call, I made a beeline straight for the merchandise in the theatre lobby.

"What's your hurry?" asked Donna.

"I want to get to the counter before they sell out," I said.

"What? A t-shirt? That 'show your passion' thing again, Mike?"


"I... don't... think... so..."



Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk.

As I mentioned, our pals, Bill and Kathy, are in Spain. This morning, they were to be driven many, many miles, far out into the country to be deposited alongside a primitive trail with only their backpacks and each other in the strange land. Over the next 12-14 days, they will walk back to Santiago de Compostela, where today began.

Sheesh. It's not like they haven't seen it already.

Here's what they're up to, described by Backpack45:

Camino de Santiago or Camino Frances is an ancient pilgrimage trail, in use for over 1000 years. There is a belief that St. James the disciple's bones were found in northern Spain, and are interred in the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. People would travel there to get forgiveness for their sins. The tradition goes on today ... The Spanish part of the trail is about 450 miles.

I got winded copying-and-pasting that.

The pilgrims today do it for various motives - religious, spiritual, other personal reasons.

I think Bill and Kathy are doing it to be in my blog.


I wish them luck along their path and pray they encounter no spaghetti western banditos.

Now, I must soak my legs. I'm experiencing sympathy shin splints.


Smile and Say "Queso"

My friends, Bill and Kathy, are always insisting I take their picture. They won't accept "No" for an answer either.

So, early this morning, I got a telephone call. It's Bill and Kathy. They're in Spain!

They wondered where I was. Why wasn't I in Spain with my camera?

Can you believe some people? They know I don't fly. They know Saturday is my morning to watch cartoons.

"Where in Spain are you?" I asked, pausing my Fudd.

"We're at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela," said Kathy.

"Go stand out front," I instructed.

Being a child of the Internet, I punched up a Webcam and grabbed their screenshot.

Bill's the one blinking.

"Got it," I said, as I slapped the cellphone shut and resumed the cartoon, the one where Bugs gives Elmer Rabbititus.

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