Joy of Comfort Food…

It’s a gorgeous day! We’re working on a project that has us going back and forth to Kansas City and today was one of those, so we had a short meeting and then hit our new fav spot for lunch, where today’s specials were ham & beans, and hot-beef sandwiches. That big hot-beef plate looked and tasted like what my dad and I used to get at Mrs. Taylor’s Café in Dodge City America when I was in grade school, and that makes three times in as many weeks when I’ve been close to tears over food. Daddy would take me with him sometimes on sale days and treat the two of us to Mrs. Taylor’s on the way to the sale barn, sometimes sharing a piece of pie if cattle prices were up. Sight, sound, taste, aroma, all the things intrinsic to memory, were there today while I devoured the whole meal, leaving Kim shocked and grinning. And yes, good ol’ Wonder Bread, which I hadn’t eaten in decades. Feels like I’ve been hungry for a year but couldn’t make it go down – this was like buttah, and life is good. It was a fun day out, all three hours of it, but ask me how I know I’m in my third trimester of living and I’ll tell you it’s because I’d rather be home than anywhere else on the face of the earth.

Thoughts shared on a Thursday…

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Good times…

Kim Smith 04/16/2021

A good thing to do on a rainy Friday is to make your own fun, so we took Rita to the restaurant where we had the killer roast beast the other day. She and I ordered the meatloaf, trusting that it would be the real deal, and there may actually be a god somewhere because our Aunt Bette could have made this one. Plus real mashed potatoes, brown gravy, green beans… and enough meatloaf left over for Rita to make a nice big sammie later, the best part of the whole meal. This time Kim had warm peach pie ala mode, and I took my requisite bite(s). Yes, it was good… but one day soon I have to remind both Kimmers and Rita that I’m the champion peach-pie maker of all time. In seventeen years I’ve made exactly one for Kim, so long ago he has no memory of it, but it’s the best, write that down, and it needs to happen at least one more time. We had a nice little drive over there in the rain… and back… and now it’s a “destination place.” Kim said monthly, I was thinking weekly…

Lunch was one of those sweet little chunks of life when everything feels right, which doesn’t happen nearly often enough. We’re in a new little town, in an establishment new to us, twice now, but we haven’t felt new there the way you do in some places. We might be chagrined to know that we’re sitting bold-faced in a roomful of dyed-in-the-wool MAGA faithfuls, but it doesn’t have that vibe at all… in fact, I just realized that I haven’t seen a single red cap there so far, and everyone comes in masked. Just this week alone, the news from the camo-and-neckbeard side of society has been crushing beyond words, with one after another Black unarmed citizen, often underage, shot on sight by police who are either terrified by the specter of black skin or it triggers an urge to kill… or both.

And Pam Bondi called Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha killer, 17 years old, “a little boy.” Depends on which POV you’re trying to sell, I guess. Whatever it is… it’s.too.much.

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I’ve totally fasted from the news today, which I’m highly recommending to myself as a repeat event – it’s made that Old Home Week lunch settle delightfully.

Sweetness being at a premium, we tend to soak it up like flowers in the rain, and today has been nurturing. I’m looking out at the light rain still falling, and how green the world is, just since yesterday, with leaves already obscuring the neighborhood… and reminding me to appreciate… everything. Especially the guy who leadfoots us around the countryside to seek adventure and do exploits, while listening to our nonstop blather without hearing most of it.

That guy asked me about Ramadan the other night and what it entails. I told him that among other things it’s an entire month of fasting from morning ’til night, and then people gather at sundown to celebrate with food.

HIM: Oh, that’s why they’re called Ramadan Noodles!

ME:

HIM: And the people stay in Ramadan Inns, right?

ME:

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Wow, it’s Wonderful Wednesday…

Kim Smith 04/11/2020

It’s a beautiful day and Kim’s on his way to Menard’s on his e-bike to research a project – he wasn’t made for indoors so spring is especially timely this year. Just when I think I couldn’t love him more it’s another good day, and yesterday was one of those. After a morning meeting, we had lunch at a Bar & Grille new to us and got our socks blown off – wow. The menu is amazing, and we weren’t surprised that they were nearly at COVID-restriction full-capacity before we left. The specials were meatloaf, chicken enchiladas, and pot roast, the last of which we glommed onto before the waitress could walk away, and it was… OMG, so good. Fall-apart roast beef cooked with carrots, brown gravy, mashed potatoes, and cornbread… with real corn in it… and a bit of streusel on top. Felt like coming home to a big Sunday dinner and we couldn’t stop grinning at each other. We had no room for any one of the four desserts listed, but there’s always next time.

It’s been a heartbreaking week, and with more deaths and assaults of young Black men, I lack the stomach for watching the defense of George Floyd’s murderer. It pains everything I’ve got when people tell us we didn’t see what we saw, nor hear what we heard, nor do we recognize the evil that wears the killer’s skinsuit. It’s too much, all of it. Why do all the “accidents, mistakes, and errors in judgment” happen to Black people? A taser (8 oz.)… a gun (2 lbs.)… all same difference unless it’s a white person in the line of fire – then it matters. The anguish of Black mothers is gut-ripping, and even loving Anthony like I do I cannot register the depths of his mother’s love for him and his brothers and sisters, nor know her sleepless hours. It’s too much.

“I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won’t take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and I won’t stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I’m too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won’t break down (Corey Jones). When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I’ll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won’t stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson). After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won’t even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We’ll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor). These are things white people simply do not have to think about.”David Gray

“Today’s policing is nothing more than modern slave patrols.” -Bishop Talbert Swan

It’s.Too.Much.

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I read this morning that Lawrence still has some 200 people living outside, sleeping rough, and that efforts are being made to alleviate that, in keeping with the tent city already operating in “midtown.” Living here heals us in ways we could never have asked for.

Safe shelter for those who have none.

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Tuesday-ing right along…

Kim Smith 03/21/2021

Yesterday was an eventful day… I took a stroll over to the barbershop so that’s one thing done for now, and I got an epidural at the Pain Clinic in the afternoon. Had an allergic reaction to one of the cocktail ingredients in the injection because WHY NOT?? but Kim got Claritin and it worked for me in time to watch USC crush the Jayhawks in the NCAA. Since everybody missed out on the tournament last year we’ve been watching lots of basketball this time around and all the games are fun, no matter who’s playing… except for this one. Decidedly not fun… 3rd-biggest loss in Jayhawk b-ball history. But Shelby told me a story while she was cutting my hair: Someone in their family March Madness pool thought the higher the little numbers in front of the team names, the better they were, so she filled out her bracket with 16s… and she’s winning most of the upsets! 😂

It’s been birthday week/month for both John and Kim, and today Kimmers finally became a card-carrying member of my decade, bless his heart. We took Rita Jo with us to Ottawa for his semi-traditional b’day lunch at Luigi’s, which was fun and delicious, not to mention our first dine-in experience in more than a year, if memory serves. And with linens and nice cutlery, no less! Birthday boy got his Shrimp Diablo, so he had a good day. Also there was wine, because it isn’t good to keep things bottled up.

So… yeah… this blog remains a journal until life opens up and starts happening again. Just getting it out there, still, remembering where we’re going so when we arrive I’ll know it. I’m not a writer, I’m a sifter of events and a wise-ass keeper of the record. Poetry and haiku used to bounce around in my head in The Before Time and I hope that will come back soon, along with thoughts that go beyond the same tired old arguments.

We heard babies cry today and squeal from happiness… and watched people doing life together in a way that seemed awfully familiar. And we met the new owner of Luigi’s after lunch, a young woman named Kristin knocking it out of the park in her first week, who took us through the upstairs of the old building, where there’s a dance floor and a speakeasy. It was a good day… rainy and sweet and full of humanity. And Kim doesn’t seem to mind reaching a nice round number at last.

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Monday, but not blue… page 219

Day 344 – 02/22/2021

It was a good weekend. Rita came over and watched the Jayhawks beat Texas Tech with us, and Kim made tamales, street tacos, beans & rice and all the other stuff for lunch – fun, happy afternoon. Sunday was the two of us all day, with the TV on low and ambitions the same. Which brings us to Monday, full of sunshine, and the week ahead is looking like this:

Almost 70º tomorrow, OMG!!

Sunlight changes everything, as Pluto, in its distance, is acutely aware – the sun’s warmth makes everything doable. Not wishing time away, but when spring arrives I’ll feel like I’ve been sprung from the slammer. We get our second shots on the 4th, and two weeks after that we shouldn’t be a threat to man nor beast so a semblance of “out & about” might start happening. Kim’s been out a lot during the pandemic, but not about – just all the shopping, and playing PickleBall under strict guidelines – so things will get better for both of us.

Over the past year, though, I’ve finally settled into the happy loneliness that’s always been who I am, and it’s good.

And the simple truth is…

It’s not that I so value my own company, but I feel better when I’m not inflicting myself on unsuspecting humans.

Haven’t seen much of the ‘rona since the last flare, but my relationship with food is still iffy. I’ll be feeling right as rain, sit down to a meal I love, and my stomach turns on me… but less often every day, and that’s good news because food’s one of the second-best things about life.

Kim has a full day outside the walls and I’ve ticked several things off my list this morning – I’m letting the sunshine soak into my soul, and maybe tomorrow my bones.

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Tots & pears… page 204

Moonset over The Oread – Kim Smith 01/29/2021

Day 322 – 01/31/2021

Here’s to another month in the can and the world moving on, which it seems to be doing. But in this country more evidence of scandal, grift, and greed comes to light every day. Thousands of ventilators have gone missing, likely sold to the highest bidder in a foreign market. Millions of vaccine doses, paid for by our tax dollars, are not there – maybe sold to finance some of DJT’s $900 million in personal loans coming due soon. President-elect Biden’s team wasn’t allowed access to the coronavirus records until the last minute, only to find that the disaster they dreaded is indeed fact, and America pays the price.

Ice holes. Farging bastidges. They let almost half a million of us die and now they’ve walked away to live their self-absorbed lives with impunity. And still people follow them, affirm them, and in DJT’s case, apparently worship him. If I had to unify with any of that I’d need a lobotomy first.

It’s a cold and windy Sunday morning, with good things to look forward to, and I’m here for it, starting with a ranch omelet, which I inhaled, along with fresh-cut pineapple – that’ll work. Kim’s catching the last few of the 24 Hours of Daytona… we’re chillin’/staying warm… writing, reading, drinking coffee, playing music. Life feels so right on so many levels I should be satisfied, but I’m as greedy as those billionaires who make things difficult for us – I want it all. Saying it out loud, I want what we’ve lost. Leaving that right there, Universe.

A woman named Jen posted this on Twitter… and then apologized that it sounded lame. Au contraire, sweet girl, you managed to nail me from the inside out in only a few more syllables than a haiku:

I’m like my aloe plant.

I don’t need much, but when I have what I need, I thrive.

I’m strong but a little bit fragile. 

I don’t look like much on the outside but what’s inside can soothe you. 

I’m thankful for the real people who feed us with love. As for the rest, may whatsoever gods there be judge them justly.

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Christmas Day… page 175

Day 285 – 12/25/2020

When you’re feeling old, tired, and beat up there’s much to be said for simplicity, and after the butt-wippin’ known as 2020, the simpler the better. Subscribing to that point of view, Rita made a yummy breakfast casserole and brought crescent rolls and champagne, with fresh raspberries for muddling. Kim made a skillet apple crisp served with vanilla bean ice cream and warm caramel sauce. Delicious, fun, and clean-up took mere minutes. Preston was not in a mood to be adventurous and get out of the car, even for a potty break, so Rita took him home around 2:00 and now they’re napping. Elma FaceTimed her while she was here to show her all her gifts and I got to see and say hi to Matt. It’s been a sweet day, a little microcosm of connection.

John’s habit since he started his nursing career has been to work on December 24th and 25th to allow a colleague with kids to be home with them, so that’s where he is today. I miss him so much my heart feels shredded, but he’s right where he needs to be and it’s all okay. He made sure to have his own celebration, which makes this heart a little happier. Missing lots of family… the holidays bring it to the surface in ways you can’t say no to and I’m sending a little prayer out into the universe that Christmas 2021 won’t feel like this one.

We create our own happiness, our own sweetness, our own peace, and we did a good job of that today. Rita always brings the joy, and great food, and the love. Life is good. 💙

As we get ready to close out a year we can’t wait to see the backside of…

A silent salute to all we’ve lost in 2020…

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Taco Tuesday… page 159

Day 268 – 12/08/2020

Sunshine again today and we’re soaking it in. Kim gets to play at Lyons Park this morning, and he’ll probably pick up Mexican food on his way home. Meanwhile, maybe the light pouring through the blinds will inspire me to great heights of… cleaning off my desk? … writing something? … doing laundry? … anything could happen.

A couple of people have asked me why my staying in does any good if Kim does things outside the house, and I’ve been giving it some thought…

  • It automatically cuts our risk of contracting COVID-19 in half
  • Kim is swift in his rounds, always masked near people, and instinctively careful
  • Anything that gets him outside adds to his overall good health
  • Circumstances keep me from being similarly active, and home is the well I draw from
  • Since I’m privileged to be able to stay home, this is what I can do to help the cause
  • Somebody has to go out and do the things
  • We knew this pandemic for what it was early on and made a conscious decision to follow the protocols
  • *Safe Zones* are like a peeing section in a swimming pool – we’re all still floating in the same atmosphere
  • It’s far from over, so if anything our resolve to help beat it has been magnified
  • And at this point I’m sufficiently disillusioned with the idea of human kindness to stay in my cave forever
For the record, it’s not me I’m concerned about.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the current administration has blood on its hands, is in fact up to its neck in it. If ALL LIVES MATTER, then an obscene number of them have been sacrificed to ignorance, incompetence, denial, hubris, arrogance, and greed. It didn’t have to be this way…

Pollyanna always has to end on an up note or surrender her Optimist card…

He-he…

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Letting Monday gel… page 151

Day 260 – 11/30/2020

Good weekend, chilly with sunshine. The Chiefs and 49ers both won, and Rita came by for a while on Saturday.

Idle curiosity… we had stir-fry, but wondering how many people smoked a turkey for Thanksgiving?

A recipe I saved for Kim a while back, and you could substitute turkey for chicken…

I’d ask Kim to substitute thin crispy bacon for the thick cut, and less of it, but the rest of it sounds like… crack. Speaking of which, I should get cracking on something, like folding the laundry in the other room…

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Falling… page 125

Day 220 – 10/21/2020

… the rain, the temps… here’s where it gets real, Diary, as the weather closes in and the balcony becomes off-limits – how sloooow can she gooooo? Chill and damp out there this morning, with showers in the forecast. BUT… tomorrow’s supposed to be in the 80s, so I barely have time to whine about this, I just know what comes after tomorrow and beyond…

A few stalwarts are on the courts again this morning, but Kimmers opted to stay in where it’s cozier, playing guitar, which doesn’t make me sad. I’m running comfort-food menus through my head and just got to the M’s. I think we have Velveeta Mac, which is always a guilty pleasure on a cold day. Since we usually think of the same food ideas, we’ll see how that pans out…

We did pick Mac & Cheese for lunch, which I’m pretty sure we just had last week but desperate times call for desperate measures. Kim put Italian sausage crumbles in his today, but I’m always reluctant to harsh the cheesy mellow with anything – it’s therapy. We got a brief hard rain when he would have been playing PickleBall, so he called that, too. It’s gray and drizzly, one of those days where I wander from one distraction to another like a dog who doesn’t know where to lie down. Most of it happens in my head, but still…

I’m tuning in to TV news coverage a little more as we get down to the wire – it’s hard to resist keeping tabs on shenanigans and polls. That practice failed us utterly last time, however, so I’m trying to stick with the highlights and take every last thing with a grain of salt. We’re mostly spazzing out over The Voice… they’re doing such a stellar job of production this season we forget there isn’t a live studio audience. Also The Amazing Race, which is new to Kim and an old friend to me from their earliest seasons, before I spaced it off. And maybe a debate tomorrow night, American entertainment at its nadir. We’ll watch… we ain’t scared.

Adding this so I’ll know in the future where things were right now, two weeks out:

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In… page 51

Day 83 – 06/03/2020

Other than a haircut and an overnight in the ER, I’m still sticking close to home for all the reasons, the biggest being that everything I need or want is right here. The hot weather we pined for has arrived… and what were we thinking? Kim has left outdoor PickleBall early the past two mornings because of it, and the A/C’s making up for lost time.

He went for a walk this morning and brought me some alley photos. The one above depicts Gwendolyn Brooks and the introduction to one of her poems: “This is the urgency:  Live! and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind,” along with Oscar Micheaux, Gordon Parks, and Langston Hughes, each of whom had a seminal influence on the character of Lawrence, Kansas.

We’re in awe of this marble bust on Mass Street, not least because of the way it responds to sunlight. It’s an incredible piece of work.

This one painted on tiny tiles next to a doorway took me back to Sunday when we had my sister Rita here for her birthday. Kim’s Mexican Kitchen was in full-on production and the results were Ah-mazing. Alas, so amazing that a picture of the plates didn’t happen.

And the birthday woman, the only pic here I can take credit for. Her blue eyes and beautiful smile light up a room and our lives. 💗

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Gimme Shelter… page 27

Day 33 – 04/14/2020

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross would be gratified – I’ve worked my way through the five stages of grief a few times in various combinations and on this random Tuesday in April I’m a sentient lump of acceptance, or resignation, or “wot the hell.” Where else is there to go?

The anger stage does hang in there under everything, though, so my instincts have steered me toward ultra-light entertainment. If you can’t find me on Facebook, Twitter, in a book, or writing, I’m playing Words With Friends, or hanging out in Gardenscapes or Fishdom. Tried Township but I can’t take the nonstop responsibility, jeez.

Looks like we get low 50s and some sunshine today, and I hear Kim’s key in the door so he’s back from his morning walk. I may or may not have heard talk of waffles…

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Slow food for a snowy day…

*A timely re-post from 2013

Ingredients

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 stick of butter
2 15 oz cans chicken broth
24 oz. frozen egg noodles

Directions

Cook chicken, soup, butter, and broth in crock-pot on low for 6-7 hours.

Take chicken out and shred.

Put chicken back in; add noodles and cook on low for 2 hours. Stir a few times while cooking.

Suggestion: Serve over mashed potatoes, with your favorite side.

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Thoughts of home & family…

Hello, babies, and Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your day and the weekend will surpass what you’d hoped for and the good memories will stay with you through the winter months and whatever lies beyond.

America and all the world rely on tradition to tell us what to do, how to order the months of the year, how to plan our celebrations. It’s been described as peer pressure from dead people, but it holds heavy sway over most of us and proves hard to break with when we try.

This Thanksgiving is unique in our downsized family. Before our mom’s eight siblings and their offspring scattered to the winds, holidays were oversized productions at our grandparents’ house, any work involved taken for granted by kids under twelve, the mountains of food appearing by magic, clean-up accomplished by swanky uncles with shirt-sleeves rolled, children strictly banned from the kitchen.

Those storybook times are long past, but most years since, my two sisters and I and parts of our families have managed to be together, sharing the love and good cooking. This time, for whatever reasons, a perfect storm conspired to keep that from happening, so we deal.

Middle sister and bro-in-love have retired to beautiful but relatively remote environs and their daughters and families are prevented by various circumstances from being with them, nor will they be with each other.

Baby sis has fallen in love, has recently retired, is spending the weekend with her new people, and happiness abounds. We get to connect with her kitten, Big Jade, twice a day while Mama’s away. Baby sis’s kids and grands are on the Left Coast, thus not physically huggable on this holiday either.

Pa and I are here, dead center USA, least traditional of the siblings, he of original hippiedom, I a rebel from jump. One of our guy kids is deep in the heart of Texas, the other two keep Georgia on our mind. The Oncology RN is working, as is so often the case, on behalf of coworkers with families. His other half, one of the youngest in his big family, is trying mightily to be their rock through a stretch of rough road, and it’s likely nobody will even get around to dinner this year.

And how are the non-traditionalists faring? So far so lovely. We made sure the Jadester was safe and warm, first order of business. Loved her up good, then came home and Kim made Belgian waffles in his snazzy hotel-style waffle maker – so right with fruit, syrups, bacon, sausage, lots of excellent coffee. It’s been raining lightly all morning and the fireplace feels wonderful. Right here is where we need to be while I baby my back some more. We could be kind of iffy conversationalists right now anyway, like after the toasts, yikes, wouldn’t be prudent.

And now the day stretches before us, quiet and full of possibility. Kim’s on the other side of the wall playing guitar, I’m here with my coffee, we never lack for books to read or movies to watch. If angst should overcome me, I can always sit back down here, open a vein, and bleed on the keyboard. We might watch parts of the National Dog Show in a bit – it’s becoming a sort of campy tradition with us. Anyway, we’re not allowed to get bored, that would be a crime.

I don’t miss turkey – we could have shoved one into the oven if we’d wanted to. I do miss all the cooking aromas and the happy activity. What I miss for real, though, the only thing that will matter to me, ever again, is my family. I really, this year, miss those hugs, both given and received, those familiar voices, those beloved laughs that are like no one else’s. There’s only one wish in my bucket right now – that at some point in the foreseeable future we could ALL – we three sisters, our amazing men, our kids, their partners, and their kids could be together in one place. And if our brother’s kids and their kids could be with us too – that’s my idea of heaven, which we can choose to make at least a little of right here, right now. Henry-boy, you’re on that list too, kiddo.

That’s where we get our traditions – from the things that mean the most – and now we’ve come full circle, for the non-traditionalists among us.

The sweetest of thankful days to us all. Amen.

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Happy Day…

Wishing all of my blogging community a lovely Thanksgiving with nothing but love, good food, and rest in your spirits. And maybe you’ll get to help someone else along the way…

 

parish-thanksgiving-day-dinner-saint-episcopal-church-latest-news-turkey-table-settings

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