“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

Food ... or weapon?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I grew up on the eastern high plains of Colorado: no trees, substandard soil. It's basically desert, as you can tell from the random yucca plants and sagebrush.

That said, the area is filled with farms that produce some impressive wheat and soybean crops. What they do is this: fertilize and irrigate the hell out of everything.

Now, the townies do the same thing in their little gardens. And, as a result, they produce some abnormally-sized Hulk-like vegetables. And whenever this happens, they call my dad or brother at the newspaper they publish, and one of them hops on over to take a photo of the smiling, proud gardener for that next week's edition of The Burlington Record.

I always laughed at this ... until now. Just LOOK at this prize-winning coconut that one of my trees produced this year.

I must say, I am rather proud. Makes me feel quite ... virile.

Kitty, what a BAD cough you have!
Saturday, April 25, 2009

In case you missed it, Friday was National Furball Awareness Day.
I must confess that it escaped my calendar.
Those cats' tongues are nasty things, aren't they?
And did you know that a male cat's pecker is barbed?
Don't believe me? Watch THIS!

Does crankiness have an age restriction?
Thursday, April 23, 2009

I was greeted (confronted) by a reader of my blog last night in person who called me a "C.I.T."

Curmudgeon In Training.

Of course, I was insulted. I thought I was a FULL-FLEDGED curmudgeon!

"You're not old enough," he explained.

So I ask y'all: How old must one be to be an official curmudgeon? Isn't it a state of mind?

Call me sexist: Chapter Two
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There's good reason why it's mainly women who drive the diminutive Lexus SUV. Guys just don't look natural driving this thing -- and I'm not sure why. Is it the size? Maybe so. FYI: Out on the West Coast this is the Official Car of Asian Matriarchs.

Call me sexist, but ...
Monday, April 20, 2009

I don't think women should wear aviator sunglasses. They're big and bulky and require a man's larger head and features.


Aviators complement a man's more squarish features but look plain stupid on a woman's more curvaceous face. These glasses were obviously designed for men. Plus, aviators on a woman say one thing: Hippy chick.

My brush with royalty
Friday, April 17, 2009

Okay, so I have finally found a silver lining to having all those phone-bank jobs shipped over to India and elsewhere.

I recently called to order a replacement cord for my Dell laptop (Just how many phone/computer chargers get left behind in hotel rooms these days?), and I was soon talking with a nice woman with an accent somewhere in eastern Asia. She was very scripted and professional, and she kept calling me SIR ADRIAN!! (Adrian's my full first name and the name on my credit card and business transactions).

"Yes, Sir Adrian," she said. "Now, allow me to tell you of some other very good deals we have today, Sir Adrian."

It was so much cooler than the normal "Mr. Hudler."

Yep: From now on, it's Sir Adrian.

Guest blogger: My Mom
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My mom is a newspaper columnist in Colorado. And I got such a chuckle out of this week's column that I had to share it with you ...

Just when you reached the point in your life where you thought you'd seen everything . . .

I was in Florida recently, playing Man of the House (Did you like the way I sneaked in that plug for his latest book?) for Son No. 2, who was in Nebraska for a writer's tour plugging that very volume.

As I said before, it wasn't exactly hard basking in glorious sunshine and high temperatures while folks back in Burlington were suffering through a spate of early spring snows and raging storms.
It did, however, have its moments.

One of them came when I was getting the house ready for an appraisal inspection, that necessary first step for refinancing a loan to better interest rates.

I'd been scurrying about, staging the place to look its best and had just completed my tasks, inside and out, when I decided to give it a final check just moments before the appraiser arrived.
As I walked through the house, with the light streaming in through the hurricane-proof windows, I suffered a moment of total envy for having a home in such a glorious tropical setting.
Kitchen . . . spotless.
Countertops cleared to maximize their impact as uninterrupted food prep space.
Hallway rugs straight.
Beds made and pillows fluffed.
Bathrooms sparkling.
Towels artfully arranged on their racks.
Yes . . . all looked well.
Until I approached the front door from the bedroom hall.
What was that horrid black spot up on the wall between the ceiling and the door frame?
I stepped closer, squinting to better see its origin.
It moved!
Of course it moved.
It was alive!
And it was . . . was . . . so cute.

I stood on my tiptoes and looked up into the blinking eyes of the most adorable little chameleon.
Obviously a baby.
I say that because had it been a grownup, it would have taken off at my approach and dived into hiding in the front room and I'd have had no chance whatever to get it out before the appraiser came.

Baby lizards walk funny.
When they get bigger, they can zip across a sidewalk, almost gliding along on their little toes, the speed of their passing out of sight a real phenomenon. Sometimes so fast you catch yourself questioning whether you actually saw it at all.

When they’re very little, in this case about four inches from nose to tail tip, they . . . wiggle.
Jerky little perambulations that make them look totally spastic, their little tummies wrinkling on one side, then the other, as they bend to the left and then the right, making their way in a wobbly line toward their goal.

I checked the time.
"Little guy," I murmured. "I need to get you out of here. Now!"

But how?
Though I feel totally unencumbered by the metal in my new knee, there are certain things I just can't do like I used to.
One is jumping.
The other is leaping onto and off of stools and chairs with any speed.

I tore through the house, looking for something.
I certainly didn't want to hurt him.
And smashing him into the plaster with a flyswatter would have caused more problems than his presence.
And then I spotted the answer to my dilemma.
The Swiffer!
Now I know I usually do not use brand names of things in my columns. After all, who wants to give free advertising in a venue that makes its living charging for its space?
You have to know, though, that it was a Swiffer that came to my rescue because, at the time, I could think of nothing else that would have given me the reach yet been soft enough not to harm the little guy.

So I moved over to the door, opening it very slowly so as not to send my little guest any further away, and set to work.
If only he were a little lower and closer to my grasp; I could have plucked him off the wall with my fingers and not had to run this risk of his fall.
Ever so gently, I used my fluffy tool to work him down, down toward the top of the doorway.
He scurried away, almost out of reach, but I did men­tion he wasn't that fast, right?
Another swipe, then another.
Little by little, I worked him to the wooden door­frame and pushed him into the void, sticking out my foot to break his fall on the entryway floor.

He lay there, slightly stunned, for a moment, then started wriggling his way along, me pushing him with the Swiffer out onto the stoop . . .
Just as the appraiser’s car turned into the driveway.
Tragedy averted.
Li'l' lizard still living.
I replaced my fluffy tool of eviction and then went to answer the doorbell, thinking as I did so of the absurdity of the past few minutes.
If you're reading this in a Southern state setting, you're probably wondering why I even bothered bringing the whole thing up, but I can tell you that this was a strange, exotic problem for an Eastern Colo­rado flatlander.
"Leapin' lizards, Batman!" has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

Mystery in the bathroom
Monday, April 13, 2009

I was recently in Nebraska and noticed that, when the wind blows, the water in the toilet bowl sloshes ever so slightly. On one occasion I witnessed this in a highrise hotel.

So, I had to wonder: How does the water in the toilet know when the wind is blowing?


My exquisite lodging in Minnesota
Friday, April 10, 2009

I spent two nights in Northfield, Minnesota as my daughter did overnighters at two colleges. Each room at my inn was based on a book. I just happened to get "Little Women."

"Oh, Dad," my daughter said when we walked inside. "I guess this'll be your chance to get in touch with your inner girl."


Am getting lots of good research for my work-in-progress: a Dad's guide to finding the right college for your kid. Talking with lots of parents and counselors here in Minnesota and everywhere I've been going. I'm thinking Blue Highways meets the Princeton Review.

Now, WHICH way is north?!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I am renting a fancy Infiniti in Minnesota this week. The first thing I don't like: There's no key. To start the car all you do is depress the brake and push a button. Question: WHY?!? What's the purpose?

Also, I have a screen/monitor on the dashboard and a camera on the back of the car somewhere that lets me know where I'm going when I'm backing up. Question: WHY?!? Is there a problem with the rearview mirrors?

Also: I have GPS. I never use GPS. Navigational skills significantly erode if you don't use them; ask anyone who relies on the Bitch in the Box, as my wife calls her.

All this needless technology is making us weaker as a species. You read it here first.

Are we getting nicer?
Monday, April 6, 2009

I've noticed lately in my travels a change in people: I think we are being nicer to each other as strangers. I find people stepping out of their personal bubbles and engaging more with each other, often with humor. I've been witnessing more acts of kindness ... people helping each other with suitcases, for example, or letting people cut in line.

My theory: This is a symptom of the current economic crisis, a misery-loves-company thing. We all have something in common: that 40-percent drop in our wealth.

Gosh, they're polite here!
Saturday, April 4, 2009

Final day in Nebraska, and I have to say this: Manners are not dead in all of American culture....at least not in Nebraska. My hosts, Ann and Bud Pagel, held a reception for me after my reading at a bookstore (Lee Booksellers at 56th and Highway 2), and I soon discovered a wonderful Midwestern behavioral trait: If people in Lincoln, Nebraska have been invited to something and they can't come, THEY ACTUALLY PHONE THE HOST TO TELL THEM. Wow, what a concept! How nice is that! NO wasted food or wine, and you get a chance to converse briefly with a friend or colleague. Ad will RSVP from now on. It's the polite thing to do.

One bad thing about my visit: I was sharing a humorous essay with the audience ... one about growing up next door to the mortuary ... and a couple in the front row had just lost a daughter in a car accident. Sure wish I would have known that. Ouch.

More insights from Nebraska
Thursday, April 2, 2009

In the Cornhusker state, their meals are named breakfast, dinner, and supper.
'Guess they don't "do lunch."
Do they "do power dinners?"
I will investigate.

Drinks at the Embassy Suite
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. I am eavesdropping on people during Manager's Happy Hour. Nebraska women/hotelguests who never order cocktails are ordering cocktails because they are free... and it's adorable. They're ordering everything they imaging themselves drinking on vacation: Sex on the Beach, Grasshopper, White Russian, Strawberry Daiquiri, Bahama-mama, Pina Colada. I'm watching the bartender make these drinks. Yeegads...One of them actually has half-n-half in it!