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Menards for the win!!!

My homies. Microsoft Word is telling me that is the incorrect way to spell “homies”, but neither does it have a suggestion to spell “homies” the right way. Nothing like telling someone they are doing something wrong when you have no idea how to do it either.  Microsoft for the win!

I wanted to apologize for the serious delay in the bloggage. I wish I can say it was because I was out saving kitties, or selling homemade lemonade or doing something heroic like stopping the entire USA from going bankrupt, but truly I have to blame Neil Armstrong for the delay in the bloggage. Yes, Neil. I AM TALKING TO YOU!!! The crazed moonwalker has been boarding with us for the past 3 weeks as he teaches a low gravity cooking course at the local high school. Whenever I get home from work all he wants to do is “watch Star Wars and do the manly bonding”. Turns out that while watching Star Wars, all 6 of them, he slowly became more and more sullen, finally slipping into a chocolate pudding and Nutella binge which lasted for 4 days. When he finally kicked the calories and went into withdrawal, he confessed what had been bothering him. He pulled out an old photo from 1969 and placed his photo next to a picture of his all-time #1 hero and role model. Here is what I saw:

Um, Neil, you look like something I pick up at the Taco Bell drive through window. I can see why he would be upset though. Instead of an awesome lightsaber which says "I own this room", he got stuck with tin foil underwear. Instead of a black cape of villainy, he got a shiny black umbilical cord. What does that connect you to, Neil? Do they feed you lunch through that? I have to admit that Neil's shiny aluminum space boots are far more social that Darth Vader's combat greaves. I mean, if these two guys step into a nightclub, Neil is ready to dance in his boots while Darth will be klutzing around the room in his battle greaves. Then there is the issue of helmets. Darth Vader's helmet screams "I DARE YOU!!!" while Neil's helmet manages to gasp, "Do you have any Windex?" I always pictured Philistines' helmets from the Bible times to look like Darth Vader's, while Neil's reminds me of the Jamaican bobsled team. Ya man! The final item of comparison is the setting of the photos. Neil's picture is taken........in a nursery? Sea world? A couple blue pieces of cardboard shoved together? Meanwhile let's evaluate Darth's. He is on a mountain top in a thunderstorm. His Star Destroyer obviously just finished scorching this lame planet free of life and he personally led the ground team to mop up any residual resistance. He is now waiting for his Tie-fighter to come pick him up. What do you got, Neil? Apollo 11, which looks like something I could kick over my neighbour's fence.

Obviously, none of the above points went over very well with Neil. Anne and I have been beside him night and day for the last 2 weeks in case he felt tempted to pull out his black umbilical cord and end things. Many sleepless tear-filled nights with Neil have passed, but I believe now we are firmly on the road to healing and recovery. We bought him a Lego Apollo 11 model which has been helping him cope.


Upon deep reflection, I believe there will truly be no references to weapons, Nazis or catapults in this edition of the bloggage. A sure sign house construction is going well. In fact we had a very special guest visitor at our house……..truly! My dear, canonized Nonna. My only living grandparent. She ranks in the top 3 women in my life. Do you have a top 3 women list? You should have one, they’re great. Anyhow, allow me to introduce 2 of the 3 women in my top 3 list:

My Nonna (on the right obviously) - Maria Bastone. I guarantee you, Jesus has booked her to cater the Supper of the Lamb when we all get to Heaven.

My Nonna is simply an epic woman, for better lack of a description. Her heart is humongous. One of the most dedicated women I have ever encountered. She and Nonno came over from Italy after their country was ravaged during WWII. She still remembers running from American fighter planes who were bombing the Nazis out of her village and living in a cave for 3 months.  She even remembers the Germans coming to her house. My great grandfather, Dominic, begged them not to harm his family. Instead the Germans simply took off with food and cooking utensils.

Man, if I was a German invader, I hope I would realize what a goldmine I had just stumbled across. I would yell to my sergeant as he climbs back into his Panzer: “Yeah boys, good luck in your battle for the Fuhrer, I am gonna chill here, get all agricultural and stuff, work with Tony at the bakery AND EAT NONNA’S PASTA!!” Yet another reason why the Germans lost that war. Panzers over garlic bread is a lose-lose situation on any reasonable day.

Here are German soldiers who are eating pasta and loving life. Mangia my friends, mangia.

............and here is a German soldier who decided to fight rather than eat pasta. Notice how unhappy he is.

Side Note: Did I really just talk about Nazis again, 1 paragraph after saying I wasn’t in this blog???? Net Nanny just gave me a withering look and sent me to the corner with a crust of bread and a glass of lukewarm water.

Back to my Nonna, another thing you should know is that she has a black belt in Italian cooking. In fact this woman invented Italian cooking. If you come to our house right now, you may not leave. Ever.  She will strap you to a chair and feed you pasta until you bleed sauce. Italians don’t take no when it comes to feeding people. “Never Say Never” was an Italian cook book written by my Nonna before Justin Beiber bought the movie rights. I am not kidding when I say she arrived in Sioux with a suitcase of sausage and cheeses from little Italy, praise the good Lord. She took one look at me and said “Jose! You a lose a weight! NO MORE!! MANGIA!!”

At which point my eyes glazed over and my inhibitions dropped away like the fuel tanks off the Challenger shuttle. YES NONNA!! LET’S START RIGHT NOW!!

And then the eating started. It is still going on. I have stopped using water for my showers and have switched to pasta sauce for the next month. Tomorrow night we are going over for Tiatelli. I have no idea what that is. But I am pretty sure it is not a sports car. Not unless it is a car slathered in sauce with a robust side of garlic bread.  Bring on the tiatelli, Nonna. I will be sitting on the floor at your feet, eagerly begging you to stuff more foods that end in “elli” down my gullet.

Pasta in my family is as necessary as oxygen and gravity. We have never questioned life without pasta. Such a thing borders on madness…….why would you not have pasta? Why not walk down the street shirtless flogging your own back with a whip? Going pasta-less in this Italian family is comparably just as mad. In fact, one of the last things I heard my Mom ask her brother before Nonna spent the night at his house on Saturday was “Do you have canned tomatoes in the house?”

That’s right, ’cause we Italians don’t go anywhere unless there is canned tomatoes in the house.

I love my Nonna. Rivaling Peter for sainthood, she is an absolute shoe-in for my top 3 women list.

Anyhow, all that to say that Nonna visiting was a major highlight of the past 2 weeks. The second highlight was traveling to Utopia to buy all sorts of goodies for the new house.

In legends of old, there is rumor of a store staffed by intelligent humans, not monkeys, who are knowledgeable in what they are selling. A place of legend where what you see on the display shelf can actually be purchased. A place where goods can be purchased at prices not requiring you to go into slavery to the store owner for the next 10 years, making mud and straw bricks in an outdoor kiln like the Israelites did for their Egyptian masters.

I doubted such a store existed – until yesterday. My eyes have seen, my ears have heard and my tongue hath tasted the sweet bounty of this fabled store. Behold, allow me to introduce the topic of this week’s bloggage:

Through the magical forest, past the wicked witch's house, and through gumdrop pass, lies Menards. This place is for real.

I have babbled far too much in this bloggage already. With no further ado, allow me to take you on a walking photo tour of our shopping trip to this store. Our visit in the store lasted 5 hours; 5 hours of unadulterated home shopping bliss. My eyes are already moist.

Upon entering the store, I screamed out in pain, as my retinas were singed by the home lighting department. Burning like a supernova past aisle 417, it easily contained more lights in it than I have ever seen in one location in my life. In fact, the outdoor lamp section alone (shown above) has more lights on display than than all the houses in Sioux Lookout combined.

After purchasing a welder’s mask to facilitate entry to the lighting department, we encountered Tom. Tom was the bomb. In fact, I am pretty sure Tom is still alive so that should read, “Tom is the bomb”. Behold:

Tom. Tom definitely assisted Mr. Edison in the creation of the light bulb. What a gentleman and such a help!

The best, bestest, bestly part of shopping at Menards was that we could buy things off the shelf. We could literally walk into the store and see something for sale and they would sell it to us. That doesn’t happen here in Sioux. They mostly just tease you and jest that things are for sale then tell you they are out of stock because their supply ship got hit by a rogue artillery shell off the coast of Mozambique and it will be 37 years before they get another light/handle/piece of wood in that you need.

"Look Honey!!! They have lights for sale on the shelves that we can purchase!!!"

In fact, the combination of purchasing excitement and the 5 million candela power of the lighting department caused me to spontanesouly start bleeding. Anne stemmed the flow with a small nightlight, which was surprisingly comfortable.

We got a couple of these for our washrooms.

There are 3 too many zeros here for my comfort.

This photo has not been edited. What you see here is a wide variety of door hardware for sale in quantities more than ZERO. In Sioux, they ended up ripping the models out of the display boards because "we don't have any more, and we haven't taken our display down in 3 years and we can't order any more either, and in fact, we are pretty much useless but still pretend to be a store, and in fact we sell gumballs and Resse's Pieces up front".

Here is my wife looking fabulous with her door hardware. In her right hand is the main entry handle set which costs 130% more in Sioux. 130%. Is that some sort of joke??? What's going on here? Why does door hardware cost so much in Sioux? Is Sioux Lookout door hardware made in a dwarven forge with Thor's hammer Mjolnir?? Does it cost alot to rent Mjolnir from Thor?? Why not sub the work out to Mexico?? Way cheaper than Thor, God of Thunder.

My stunning wife found 2 mirrors for our washrooms......these mirrors tell you how hot and brilliant you are every time you brush your teeth. On sale this week. It was a steal.

This cart was so unbelievably loud and unruly to steer. Seriously, it was like the running of the bulls in Spain trying to get this thing to the checkout counter.

We rolled a freight train of shopping carts up to the checkout line and promptly sent the cashier shrieking madly out of the store into the night waving her hands wildly above her head. She was not seen again. I offered to sell myself into slavery to Menards for a season to help pay for all this but was refused. Anne, Neil and I are going to be selling alot of lemonade this summer.

We then celebrated the depletion of our bank account with a trip to a local pizzaria "Giovanni's". We ate pizza and then I swooned my wife with the epic Italian ballad of Mario and Luigi, the poor twins from Sicily who aspired to be more than sheep herders and ended up revolutionizing the plumbing industry and video gaming. Brings a tear to my eyes every time. Anne was sobbing openly by the end, too.

There was some serious number racisim going on at the gas station we filled up at. It's ok #5, we love you.

And so we find ourselves at the end of another bloggage, and as we all know, there is only one way to finish this off properly….

Dinner in the kitchen, al la carte. I managed to seduce the waitress into eating with me. Yikes!

In all seriousness, we are truly blessed by all these secondary things. Our thanks goes to our Heavenly Father above who makes all this possible and so enjoyable and for blessing this marriage with such compatibility and friendship.  Blessings are what we are experiencing and we need to be careful and realize that blessings are exactly what it is, not something of our own efforts. Tough times will surely come, but for now, we want to enjoy the blessings:) We hope you can come visit us and Neil when this is all over.

Until the next bloggage…….





One response

  1. Wow another epic bloggage! I am only a portion through and rofling with laughter. CAnnot wait to see you buddy. Also maybe the warsaw photo was a bit far … he does not look like he is enjoying the non pasta.

    August 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

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