Fuzzy Flannel Sheets Warm The Winter Night

by Curt Kovener

I’m going to clue you in on a bedroom secret at our house. This isn’t X-rated but it is Z-rated as in ZZZzzzz.
When colder weather arrives in the wilderness, our bed gets covered with flannel sheets: top sheet, bottom sheet and pillow cases.
Yep, the same material we all wore as footed PJ’s as we toddled through the house in diapers and training pants. It’s the same material I wear three seasons of the year in my outdoor work shirts.
Becky and I have found that in our “mature years” that comfort is playing a larger role in our lives.
Satin sheets are way over-rated for sleeptime. They are cold and never warm up. The percale and muslin cotton sheets might be fine for summer night sleeping, but beginning when the frost is on the pumpkin and the snow is on the rooftop, ice on the pond, and the thermometer is even too cold to rise, we switch to the soft, warm embrace of old time flannel sheets.
I think growing up Mom called it a sheet blanket—a flat, white cotton flannel sheet that covered you. But you still had to deal with the initial cold bottom sheet.
The wilderness home now has an assortment of flannel sheets in a variety of colors—mainly plaids and outdoor scenes.
After a day of working outdoors, followed by some warming up in front of the fireplace with a toddy or two, the flannel sheets and thick comforter offer a warm hug for the night’s slumber.
In the winter we forgo electric blankets. Instead, the bedroom thermostat is set in the mid-60’s range and we pile on blankets and comforter over the flannel sheets.
And the snoozing is never better. I don’t feel cramped up fearing to move to a new sleeping position because the sheets where your body isn’t are cold. No matter where you flail in the flannel through the night, there is warmth.
There is a downside to flannel sheets. I do not advise wearing flannel pajamas or sweatpants because flannel on flannel acts like Velcro®. You stay put for the night and may need assistance with morning extraction.
In addition to flannel sheets and flannel shirts, I have found another comforting cold weather application for the fuzzy cotton fabric: flannel boxers. But maybe that is best left for a topic for another column.

I Was Just Thinking…

by Curt Kovener
(This is an encore column from the Curt Comments archives.)
Some people think too much. Others only think when they have nothing else to do.
An online friend must do a little of both, I surmise, for I received the following for use when I suffer writer’s block. In other words…when I can’t think.
I was just thinking… everyone has a cellphone in their pocket, purse, or clipped to their person. People think I’m a little odd wearing my garage door opener.
I was just thinking… I have spent thousands of dollars in my life on deodorant and I realized that some people don’t like me anyway.
I was just thinking… that since we put the photos of missing children on milk cartons, women should put pictures of missing husbands on beer cans.
I was just thinking… about old age and decided it’s when you still have something on the ball but you are just too tire to bounce it.
I was just thinking… about making a fitness video for folks my age and calling it ‘Pumping Rust’.
I was just thinking… that I have that senior furniture disease—that’s when your chest falls into your drawers.
I was just thinking… that when visitors see our cat’s litter box that always say, “Oh, do you have a cat?” I have begun responding, “No, it’s for company.”
I was just thinking… about how mothers feed their babies with tiny spoons. I wondered if Chinese mothers use toothpicks for their infants.
I was just thinking… that employment applications always ask whom to notify in case of an emergency. I believe the best answer “A good doctor!”
I was just thinking… why do they put up pictures on criminals at the post office? Why don’t they put their pictures on postage stamps so mail carriers can look for them as they deliver our mail?
I was just thinking… about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older and suddenly it dawned on me—they’re cramming for their finals!

Pithy Truths & Observations

by Curt Kovener

I am not precisely sure of our relationship. Bill is the son of one of my mother’s cousins. So whether we are second or third cousins once or twice removed I am not sure. I just call him Cussin’ Bill, which he doesn’t do but it is just fun to say.
So Cussin’ Bill forwarded these aphroisms. We all use them even though we did not know what they were called.
The following are statements of truth or opinion expressed in a concise and witty manner. These pithy observations containing a grain of truth should bring a smile to our countenance.
•I read that 4,153,237 people got married last year. Not to cause any trouble, but shouldn’t that be an even number?
•Isn’t it ironic that the colors red, white, and blue stand for freedom until they are flashing behind you.
•Relationships are a lot like algebra. Have you ever looked at your X and wondered Y?
•My therapist says I have a preoccupation with vengeance. We’ll see about that.
•Money talks. All mine says is good-bye.
•I’m not fat, I’m just easier to see.
•You know that tingly little feeling you get when you love someone? That’s your common sense leaving your body.
•If you think nobody cares whether you’re alive, try missing a couple of payments.
•I always wondered what the job application is like at Hooters. Do they just give you a t-shirt and say, “Here, fill this out?
•Isn’t it ironic that there is a mature women’s clothing line named, “Sag Harbor.”
•The location of your mailbox shows you how far away from your house you can go in a robe before you start looking like a mental patient.
•Money can’t buy happiness, but it keeps the kids in touch!
•Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age regret.
•The simplest questions are the hardest to answer.
•Even a proverb is no proverb until your life has illustrated it.
•’Tis education forms the common mind; just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.
•The reason Mayberry was so peaceful and quiet was because nobody was married. Andy, Aunt Bea, Barney, Floyd, Howard, Goober, Gomer, Sam, Ernest T. Bass, Helen, Thelma Lou, Clara and, of course, Opie were all single. The only married person was Otis, and he stayed drunk.

Rediscovering A Colorful Community On The Bay

by Curt Kovener

Gulfport, Florida is an open, welcoming, age and culturally diverse ‘Old Florida’ community on Boca Ciega Bay nestled between St. Petersburg and Clearwater. We learned about it in early 2018 after hearing it had a ‘Key West vibe and a Costco price’. We stayed; we liked.
After a flight to Tampa, we returned to the colorful little city by the bay on Christmas Eve and spent a restful and exercise filled two weeks.
Chuck and Karen Colley were our hosts at Gulfport Beach Cottage. Fans of John Mellencamp will be pleased to know that their 1925 vintage ‘little pink house’ fits right in with all of the other colorful community locations.
Looking out the front window of our second story quarters we can see the sailboats and yachts on Boca Ciega Bay, some always active beach volleyball courts, and The Tiki Hut Bar & Grill is only 23 steps across the street from where we stayed. A stroll down Shore Blvd, will bring you to The Neptune Grill, then Caddys, followed by Salty’s Gulfport Bar and finally O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille. All have music every night and all are within a two block crawl of where we stay. All offer indoor and outdoor drinking/dining and a relaxing view of the bay off the Gulf of Mexico.
Walk north in the middle of the two block strip onto Beach Blvd. for more restaurants. Stella’s (THE place for breakfast), along with Tangelo’s, Fortunato’s, Backfin Blue Cafe, Isabelle’s in the Historic Peninsula Inn for classic southern cuisine along with coffee bars, and artsy boutiques are within three blocks of the bay.
Gulfport got its name in the 1800’s when the area was palmetto scrub and tidal flats. A road was cleared (Beach Blvd.) to allow residents, businesspeople, and fishermen access to the bay to take a ferry across through the inland isles to the Gulf of Mexico, thus the city’s name: Gulfport.
We ate at different places (none of which were franchises) nearly every day and never had a bad meal.
Pia’s Trattoria, a wonderful Italian restaurant on Beach Blvd., deserves a second or third visit…but then we might have missed Crabby Bills in St. Pete Beach, Ted Peters Smoked Fish in South Pasadena or Central Ave. Brew & BBQ in St. Petersburg.
Gulfport is very walkable which is good, otherwise Becky & I would have returned from our vacation 10 pounds heavier.
We enjoyed looking at the eclectic homes, some with well manicured lawns and some looking like an overgrown jungle. Nearly wherever we went, little brown geckos and skinks scurried about. On the east side of the community, Clam Bayou offered a peaceful stroll over crush seashell paths and wooden bridges in a grotto offering refuge to manatees (which, unfortunately, we did not see). But we did see Osprey on the nest, brown pelicans fishing and white egrets dining on those brown geckos.
Having none in this area, we learn a lot about the value of public transportation. Bus 23 quickly became our favorite tour bus into St. Petersburg and the city’s art and museums along Central Avenue. And it was only $1.10 to ride.
A 40-minute trip to Myakka State Park provided views of some large alligators from the safety of our tour boat.
Times Square has nothing over Salty’s Bar in Gulfport on New Year’s Eve as we and about a thousand close friends awaited the colorful grouper to drop heralding in the new year.
And except for New Year’s Eve, all the bars and their music close at 11 p.m. each evening. And we are grateful for the quiet night sleep with our windows open in December and January.
On our last afternoon in the eclectic community, we took our umpteenth stroll on the Williams Pier where we saw what made our southern trip complete: dolphins swimming in the bay.
If you’d like more information about this little know community close to everything long on to: www.gulfportflorida.us or www.gulfportbeachcottage.com.

A Christmas Treasure

by Curt Kovener

“Silent Night,” which has been translated into nearly 300 languages, has become an anchor for Christmas celebrations throughout the world. Its lullaby-like melody and simple message of heavenly peace can be heard from small town street corners in mid-America to magnificent cathedrals in Europe and from outdoor candlelight concerts in Australia to palm thatched huts in northern Peru.
Although we may never know the exact circumstances and emotions which inspired Joseph Mohr to write his poem, we do know that he wrote the words in 1816. At that time he was assigned to a pilgrimage church in Mariapfarr, an Alpine village near the home of his grandfather in the southern part of the province of Salzburg, Austria.
We hear many fairytales concerning the composition of what has become the world’s best loved Christmas carol. These include silly stories about mice eating the bellows of the organ and Fr. Mohr being forced to quickly compose some words for a new carol so there could be music at Midnight Mass.
Did mice really chew the organ bellows and thus prevent it from working on Christmas Eve in 1818? Probably not. Hungry mice were an ongoing problem in the harsh winter environment of an unheated church and repairs could be easily made to organ bellows. A Franz Gruber sketch of mice nibbling the organ bellows has been published in several books.
Some historians feel that the constant flooding of the Salzach River in Oberndorf, Austria caused rust and mildew in the organ. Others think that Joseph Mohr simply wanted a new song for the Christmas service.
Although the words were written by the poet-priest-musician, Joseph Mohr, in 1816, it was not until the music was added by Franz Xaver Gruber on December 24, 1818, that “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” became a gift to all mankind. Although some fables claim that it was set aside and forgotten. Creators, Joseph Mohr’s guitar arrangement, penned around 1820, and several Franz Gruber arrangements (through 1855) can be seen at various museums in Austria.
The popularity of “Silent Night” can almost be termed “miraculous.” After all, the words were written by a modest curate and the music composed by a musician hardly known outside the province where he resided. There was no celebrity to sing at the world premiere and no mass-communication systems existed to spread the fame of the carol. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Snapchat or whatever the latest app is since I wrote this. However, its powerful message of heavenly peace has crossed all borders and language barriers, conquering the hearts of Christmas-celebrating people everywhere.
The original church of St. Nicholas, in Oberndorf where “Stille Nacht” was first heard in 1818, was torn down in the early part of the 1900’s after sustaining damage from the flooding of the nearby Salzach. The Silent Night Chapel was erected on the spot in front of the main altar where Gruber and Mohr by it stood with the choir to introduce the six-stanza carol. In a higher section of Oberndorf, another church was built and the original pulpit and altars from the old church were moved there. Every Christmas at Midnight Mass, singers stand in front of the same altars and recreate the moment when the song heard ’round the world was first performed over 200 years ago.

Ghost Riders Soiling Town Sidewalks

by Curt Kovener

Did you ever wonder why we have so many laws, ordinances and rules? Some of them seemingly so asinine because they try to enforce what most of us consider common sense. Usually laws come about because only a very few people do things offensive to others.
(Now cue up the Bobby Fuller Four “I Fought The Law & The Law Won” for background music.)
Why do we have speed limits? Because some people think they have to be somewhere faster than anybody else and are frequently careless about driving at higher speeds. Maybe they are a Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt (Sr. & Jr.) or Shirley Muldowney wannabe.
Why do we have parking restrictions? Because some people think they should park for long periods of time or even overnight on streets too narrow for others to safely pass.
Why do we have laws about the maximum height of grass and weeds? Because some people are irresponsible, lazy or don’t live in the community therefore have to look at knee high weeds. So the town passes laws about the height of vegetation. Let lawn grow too high & you’ll get a warning letter. Continue to let nature take its course and the town/city will mow it for you and send you the bill. Don’t pay it and it will go on your property taxes.
So now the Town of Crothersville has become an Anti-Defecation League community. Already on the books was an ordinance about not allowing your dog or cat to ‘do its business’ on public or someone else’s property without picking up the au natural offerings.
Hint: a plastic Wal-Mart bag makes an excellent pooper picker-upper device. You can grab the pile, turn the bag inside out therefore never touching the shi … um, stuff… and warm your hand if you like until you find a proper disposal device.
But recently some unknown cowboy has been riding his/her horse on town sidewalks and the equine is leaving road-apples on the concrete people walkways.
Apparently no one has identified the horseman/woman and the only evidence of his/her visit in town is the horse’s calling card.
Town officials are convinced that the ghost rider is from out of town because it is against town ordinance to raise or harbor livestock inside the town limits. Want to guess how that law was needed?
So now the town has amended its animal ordinance requiring owners of not just dogs and cats but now all animals to clean up after them.
One left bowel movement will cost you $25, poop again and it be $50 from your wallet, and the third time it’s $75 because you failed to wipe afterwards.
But many inquiring minds want to know what kind of candy-ass hombre rides his/her horse on a sidewalk? Some say that’s akin to a Harley rider cruising town with training wheels. Roy Rogers, Hop-a-long Cassidy, Tom Mix, The Lone Ranger, Matt Dillon and even Clint Eastwood are ashamed by your lack of sanitary actions and courage to fess up to your crime, Festus.
So because of this lily-livered sidewalk ridin’ side-winder whose obviously a worthless good for nothing cowboy wannbe, the town taxpayers are paying for this desperado’s messy deeds.
You hear that Sugar Foot? The town is calling you out, you yellow-bellied, chicken-squat, hidin’ behind your mama’s skirt coward. The showdown will be at high noon on Christmas Day in front of the police station on Moore Street.
So show your lowly carcass,unless you have a yellow streak down your back.
On the other hand, I guess we should be thankful the ghost rider doesn’t have a cattle drive through town. But don’t be surprised…