Today is Punxsutawney Phil’s Day

Welcome to #GroundhogDay, or should I say woodchuck day. I won’t get into that debate, call your favorite zoologist. Today, I thought I’d share the scene from below ground.

It’s a cold February morning in Pennsylvania. The air is cool and dank, and really all anyone wants to do is stay in bed; including Punxsutawney Phil Jr. His alarm goes off just before dawn and he hits snooze and rolls over. Before the nine minutes are up he hears a shrill call from the other part of the tunneled home.

“Junior, get up! They’ll be calling for you soon. Today is your day, you need to get up and shower.”

Phil rolls over and covers his furry head. “Why was I born into this family?” Phil Jr. had been pressed into action after his father met an untimely passing with a Mack truck.

Every February 2nd since 1887, the Punxsutawny Groundhog Club has shown up outside their family hole to nudge the eldest male out for a reading on the seasons. “Mom, it’s the 21st century, can’t these guys look at a RADAR or weather app!” Phil yelled back to his mother.

Before he could cover his head again his mother was at the foot of his cubby. “Phillip Henry Junior, you get out of that hole right now. We are not going to be the branch of the family tree to fail our legacy. Now get up!”

“I know, but seriously, they haven’t even changed their outfits in over 100 years. It’s the same top-hatted freaks every time! Maybe if I bit one of them, they’d quit this madness. We’re only right like 40% of the time.”

His mother sighs and sits on the edge of his straw and grass bed as Phil Jr. sits up and rubs his eyes. “Phil, please embrace these few minutes for our legacy and for the community we live under.” She pulls a tissue from her apron pocket to dab her misting eyes, “and for your father, grandfather all the Phils before.” Groundhogs can’t count very well, so once they got to Phil X, they started over with Phil junior’s father.

Phil Jr. swings is feet over the straw bed, “I know mom. I’ll do it for you.” His mother reaches over and places a gentle kiss on his head between his ears. “Thank you son.”

And so the legacy and lore of Groundhog Day continues.

Click to tweet: It’s a cold February morning in Pennsylvania. The air has a dank feel, and really all anyone wants to do is stay in bed; including Punxsutawney Phil Jr. His alarm goes off just before dawn and he hits snooze and rolls over. Before the nine minutes are up he hears a shrill call from the other part of the tunneled home.

Ice by Any Other Form is Still Cold

nugget ice

Evidently for some people ice needs to be in nugget form. Not crushed or cubed, not even chipped. It needs to be in nuggets. This shape of ice is a little larger than a pea. A few months ago, those who are fans of nugget ice received a written apology from a convenience store manager when they had to settle for crushed ice. The posted sign over the nugget ice dispenser read: “We apologize, the nugget ice maker is out of service.”

We all have our favorite refreshments, but in the grand scheme of things, I’m not sure I would expect an apology for one form of ice when two feet away I can have another form.

Can we agree that our need for a certain shape, size or consistency of ice should be added to the list of first world problems?

All the best, 



Giving you ONE hour

I was joking with some folks Saturday afternoon about what they were going to do with their extra hour yesterday. The clocks rolled back an hour for daylight savings time at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning giving us an extra hour in our day.

It’s like a gift. How many times do you find yourself saying, “If I only hand more hours in a day.” Well, yesterday you did. Sixty whole minutes. Yes, initially those minutes came in the middle of the night; so most people say their time was used sleeping. Given that my Sunday morning routine was pretty normal, I didn’t feel the extra hour until last night when it got dark at 7:00 p.m. I was starting to get that “it’s time to settle in feeling.” I did get one chore done that has been nagging at me for months so I’ll give credit to having an extra hour in my day.

mertle cartoonI’m not sure if daylight savings time begins or ends in the fall. If it’s ending in fall, are we getting the hour back we gave last spring or are we being given an hour on loan from next spring when we will be forced to give it back. Why doesn’t the time change get confused when during a leap year when we have an entire day added to our calendar? These and others are the questions that confound me about time. It’s like trying to grasp water.

Some fun facts about daylight savings – Some historical leaders are credited with creating daylight savings time to conserve candles and fuels for creating light during war times. In the early part of the century it was said that daylight savings time benefited the farmers as well as summer recreation such as ballgames. Today daylight savings time is used in 70 countries around the world. Most of the US participates in daylight savings time except for Hawaii and parts of Arizona.

What did you do with your extra hour yesterday?


Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.

                — Benjamin Franklin

First Saturday

It’s the first Saturday in May in Louisville, Kentucky.  There will be hats and screaming fans. The turf will be vibrant green and the dirt settled (at least until the stars of the day take the field).  The concession stand will have hot-off-the-grill hot dogs and cool beverages.  There will be thoroughbreds of the sport in the field.  And for some of those in the race, it will be all about the pitching from the stretch. Will the clock or the baseball equipmentdistance win?

I’m talking about baseball of course…make up games for rainouts today to finish the collegiate season. What were thinking, derby? What Kentucky derby? Just kidding, I love the derby and the festive environment it brings to our city.  This derby, its about baseball…

See you at the field,



The Turkey’s Last Stand

a whimsical story to start your Thanksgiving…

You should have seen the farmer’s face when with his sweat-beaded brow and the axe over his head, he heard me say, “stop!”  He looked at me like I had three heads and not just the one he was about to chop off.  Guess he was going to aim for the one in the middle, when I stood up from the wooden chopping block to continue my plea.

I stood up as brave and strong as I could, knowing that ultimately my fate was in his hands.  “Please, kind sir, you have fed me well and for that I am grateful.  Our coop was cleaned every day and in the winter you made sure we did not freeze.  But you see in spite of your generous care giving, I have not plumped up like others.  You would make more on me at market if you gave me just a few more months.  It’s just a thought.”  I started to walk away thinking I had made my point and given him a practical and prudent reason to not chop my head off and sell me at market in the morning.  Thanksgiving was just a few days away and the townspeople were shopping for fresh turkeys.

Before I took my second step, he swooped in with his free hand and grabbed me by the neck; kkkaaahhh!  “Sir, sir,” I choked.  “Please you are not crazy, I am talking with you.”  With a strike of fear in his eyes, he dropped me.  Landing near his foot, I stood up, flipped my feathers clean of dirt.  He dropped his axe and began to back away shaking his head.  I still had a case to plea.  So, I began to walk toward him.

“Let’s talk about this.  I know the missus is expecting you to get good money for your flock at market, I just wish to wait and allow for some fattening up.”

Shaking his head and backing up, “no, this isn’t happening.  I’ve heard others talk about being out in the sun too long and hearing their animals talk.  I need some water.”

I still had not spoken my piece.  I couldn’t rest until I knew I would see Thanksgiving from my nice warm coop.  I walked up beside Farmer.

“You are not going crazy, you know.  We talk all the time in the many hours we are left alone.  It was time for me to speak out.”

Farmer looked down at me with a double take. “Would you please quit talking?  The missus is going to think I’ve finally spent too much time with you chickens.”

With great pride in my voice, “fine sir, I am an American Gobbler, not a chicken.  I take great offense to being called a chicken – to the point that I would rather be headless than hear that again.

Farmer sighed shaking his head and continued toward the farm house; I followed close behind pleading my case.  On the first step, he kicked his boot against the post to knock the dust off just as a robust gray-haired woman came out of the front door with a tall glass of lemon-aid.

“What is that banging?  How many times do I have to tell you to kick the dust off by that tree, there, not on my porch?  I just finished sweeping it off.”  Farmer’s wife nagged as she handed him the glass.  “And why is there a turkey following you?”

“This turkey is talking to me, woman.”  Farmer groused.

“You’ve been in that sun too long, that bird doesn’t talk.”

I fluffed my feathers and extended my neck just a little taller, “excuse me,” I said pointing my wing in her direction, “I do talk and I’ve been having a delightful exchange with your husband,” turkey said with pride and a small gobble.

Farmer looked at turkey, “we haven’t been having any conversation.  You are a turkey and we are going to eat you for Thanksgiving! And don’t point your wing at my wife, it’s not polite.”

“Looks like you are talking to a turkey,” the farmer’s wife said in a matter of fact way.

“No, I’m not.” Farmer exclaimed.

“I believe you are, sir.  And for what it’s worth, I am grateful to have the opportunity to finally talk with you.  Do you know how difficult it has been to keep quiet all this time?”

Farmer shook his head looking from his wife to the bird, “I’m not debating with you both about this.  Turkey, get back over there.  Honey, go pick another turkey for Thanksgiving and which you want taken to market with this blabber beaked one.”

Wiping her hands on her quilted apron, the farmer’s wife shook her head. “Take whichever ones you want to market, we will have ham for Thanksgiving.”  She turned to go back inside and stopped, “except that one.  Never heard a turkey talk before, might help pass the time in the cold of winter.”

On his way back to the barn, the farmer looked at the turkey and exclaimed, “what is this world coming to, turkeys talking and HAM for Thanksgiving?”

Where was the grasshopper going?

Sitting in too much traffic today, I looked over and saw a grasshopper on the side of a potatoe chip truck.  Pretty smart, got a ride and snacks all in one leap.  I wondered where the grasshopper had joined the delivery man.  Was it at the chip factory, the grocery or maybe just somewhere along the way.  How big the truck must have seemed to that grasshopper.  It was too easy to imagine the cartoon version of the grasshopper climbing to the top of the truck and saying “WEEEEEE” all the way down Shelbyville road.

This may seem silly to share with you, but it’s not the grasshopper that is my point.  It’s the small thing that was noticed among the very big loud world we travel in.  It was a blessing to meet Mr. Grasshopper today and allow him to invade my thoughts.

What have you seen lately?