Saturday, March 28, 2015


 "So that was our winter, huh?"

            ROOFTOP – I hope you’re all happy. It’s springtime again. I was one of three people who wanted winter to keep going for at least a couple more months. But nooooooo. The Earth continues to have this tilted axis thing going that causes all four seasons to have the same duration.

So here we are sitting all red-eyed, sniffing and snorting on this pollen-covered roof. Last person to have the box of Kleenex pass it over, please.  I’m tired of blowing my nose on Melvin’s shirttail. -- Hey, it’s a joke, man! But, I’d still tuck my shirt in were I you.

First off, no one is to focus on the backyard. I said-- Why do people do that? When we’re told not to notice something we automatically turn to see what we’re not supposed to notice. Leads me to believe that if you’re ever in some real trouble instead of “Help!” you need to scream, “Don’t look at me!” – The first person to look at you will say, “Whoa! A cat is attacking that guy who doesn’t want to be seen! Someone should probably help him!”

Well, now that you noticed the yard, let me say that for months I’ve had an excuse not to do anything with it. It’s been winter. I thought I mentioned that. You’re not supposed to do anything outside in the winter. And, right now I can’t do anything because  say is that the yard is too wet. I’ve already lost one boot trying to walk across it.

We had a bunch of digging done to install an aerobic septic system. I’d tell you more about it, but it’s sewage related. I pretty well hammered the topic last week. Long story short, a crew came out and buried a concrete contraption that was about 15 feel long, eight feet tall and eight feet wide. Then they ran a sprinkler system in several directions away from it.

What was beneath the topsoil in our yard was clay, iron ore and about four feet of concrete stuff. Caliche. Now, all of that stuff is all mixed up on top of the yard. Water can’t soak through it. It’s a bog I tell you. There are areas that need to be mowed, but I’ve got one of those non-floating mowers. The thing not only won’t float, but it no longer pulls itself. It’s evolved into a push-mower. In time it will become a hose holder.

I could use my battery-powered weed whacker, but my three batteries no longer hold a charge. I switched to battery powered lawn equipment and got rid of my small gasoline engines, because trying to start a small gas engine is comparable to trying to spread frozen butter on a thin slice of Sunbeam. I’d use electric, but I don’t have the patience to untangle the 150 feet of extension cord. I’d roll it up all neat and pretty, but it’d be like trying to roll yarn with a cat in your lap.

So, here I sit. I can’t mow, can’t weed whack, trim the hedge or wash the car. (I can’t use the hose, ‘cause the pipes and faucets are still wrapped in case of a late freeze.) I think the only thing left to do is go on a trip. Kay has been after me to take her somewhere. It’s been a couple of months since she took the cruise with the girls, so she’s antsy to travel. The last trip I got to take with her was to see the opening of Sea World in San Antonio.

And, speaking of San Antonio, did you see the tour map for a round trip drive across the entire lower 48? A grad student plotted the trip so that you could drive through part of each of the 48 states. The trip covers 13,699 miles and can be driven in a little over 9 days… assuming you never stop for gas or food or rest.

Fortunately the grad student who came up with the map didn’t intend for people to drive non-stop. Instead, he came up with a site in each state to visit. Each is either a natural landmark, a national park, national historical site or national monument. Or a Dairy Queen. I made that one up.

There is only one stop in Texas and it’s in San Antonio. See, that’s what led me to the map topic. Guess what the stop in San Antonio is? You nailed it. It’s Fred Silva’s Rattlesnake Farm. -- Scratch that. It’s the Alamo. Could’ve knocked me over with a sneeze. Speaking of which, “Kleenex! Somebody!”

From San Antonio, you skip Houston and go to Dallas. You can’t stop in Dallas, however, ‘cause you’re supposed to drive directly to Chickasaw National Recreational area in Oklahoma. And, I thought it’d be the Ardmore Red Dirt Brew House.

Each state has a site to see… except Delaware. When you click on the icon for Delaware’s national site, you get  – “Delaware.” There is apparently nothing there in Delaware. In fact that’s the State Song. (I joke, Delawarians.) Delaware was the first state in the Union. And, its state bug is the Lady Bug.

Our state bug should be the Marsh Fly, better known as the Love Bug. They weren’t any problem during the winter. Nooooo. But, now they’re going to join the pollen, and the Spring forward and the April showers and the lawn mowing and everything else that is Spring. Not a fan of Spring. – Okay, one more time. Who’s got the Kleenex?


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Toilet evolution

A Flushing Development

            There is an old saying that is as accurate today as it was the day I was born. I’m sure you’re familiar. It goes like this – Toilets never change. That is so profound. The author really had deep thoughts.
            How true. Toilets have always clogged, they still leak in weird places and the flapper will eventually get stuck in the up position. No one knows why. Why has the toilet not evolved along the way of many household appliances?

            Stove tops and ovens have changed a bunch. They’ve got ‘em with flat-surfaced non-burner tops. You can get a microwave oven that cooks stuff by, uh, microwave. We’ve had our borrowed microwave for a dozen years. The thing has a crack in the back, but hasn’t fried the wall or counter top.

Recently, Kay and I bought an induction single burner cooker. It’s a flat, black piece of something that cooks by magnetism. You can stick your hand on that thing when it’s set on high and you will not feel a thing. But you put a non-aluminum pan on it and it will boil water before you can locate the lid to the pot.

            I could mention pens and computers and phones and TVs, but you get the point. Just in case you forgot the point, go back to the part where I mentioned how toilets never change… appreciably. Oh, you can get ‘em taller now. They call ‘em “comfort height” toilets. Up until last week, all our toilets were “uncomfortable height.” We recently had a new toilet installed and I went ahead and paid a few bucks extra for the taller version.  My feet no longer go sleep when I nod off.

            Other than height, you have a choice of elongated or round seats. We’re a round seated family. I don’t know why. Kay was going to explain it to me, but I had to stop her. Some things you just need to accept.

            You can get a toilet seat that will occasionally slam down and wake everyone in a two mile radius; or you can get the one that eases down. You’ve got to pay a little more for an “ease-down” but it’s worth it.

            You can get a toilet that flushes when you wave at it; when you touch the top of it; or when you simply walk away. Any walk-away-flusher I ever used had a mind of its own. Those buddies flush when they feel like it.

            But, these toilet-related changes have nothing to do with the workings of the toilet. The concept we use today is one discovered during the early Bronze Age. That being – Water seeks its lowest level. -- So, when the toilet handle is pushed down, the flap is pulled up by a chain, releasing water in the tank that is at a higher level than that in the bowl. This forces the water in the bowl to exit due to air pressure from the new water rushing in, and due to gravity. (See Figure A) There’s usually a Figure A.

I think that’s how a toilet works. It uses a lot of water, thus quadrupling the amount of contaminant. Very inefficient. It is my intention to get scientists and entrepreneurs off their posteriors so they’ll come up with a better waste disposal concept. We’ve already got the technology.

            During cremation, your 100 to 250 pound body is turned into a pile of ashes that can fit in a coffee can. If, instead of cremation, funeral homes disposed of your body using the toilet concept, it would take about 2100 gallons of water to flush you. That sounds like a lot, but we flush our body weight every six weeks. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sure helps my argument.

            We’ve got lasers that will melt a hole through a four foot wide block of stone. Do you think anyone could think of another way to use that much destructive force? How many holes do we need in rocks?

            What about a microwave toilet? As soon as you stand up, lower the lid and set the microwave flusher to medium for 25 seconds. (Caution: make sure you get up first.) The microwave will either cause the stuff to evaporate, or will shrink it down to pellet size. Pneumatic tubes like the banks have will then carry the pellets to factories which will turn ‘em into shoe soles, tires and lawn chairs. And, maybe Legos.

            I realize none of this is going to happen. Truth be told, most of us don’t even care. Most of us never even think about toilets until we need one. Need one bad. As long as a toilet flushes, we’re happy. But they’re not going to keep flushing. No, they’re going to give out just like your toothbrush after a good sink cleaning. Then where are you? You’re in a bind, both literally and metaphorically.

            The only choice you have is between elongated and round. Between torture height and comfort height. Handle flush vs touch flush vs hand-wave flush vs walk-away flush. Still, you’re using two to three gallons for a simple wee.

            Come on America! Let’s get off our buns and demand a more efficient HWDP. (Human Waste Disposing Process) Let’s make this a cause. Beat the Chinese to it. At least beat the French. I don’t even want to talk about what those people do to their toilets. It makes the round vs oblong toilet seat conversation suitable dinner discussion.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

"No, nope, nada, not happenin'!"

I got to speak to a bunch of retired teachers today. Teachers are my favorite audience… unless they’re in a faculty meeting. For whatever reason, teachers mirror their worst students when they’re at faculty meetings. It’s so much safer to deliver a talk to them once they’re retired.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with the South Montgomery County Association of Retired Teachers. SMART. (Is that not a cool acronym?)  Everyone was so nice. They gave me a Cross pen that looks like it was stolen from the pocket of an important person.

I also got a giant bag of homemade peanut brittle from my friend Shirley Edwards who introduced me to the group. It was a wonderful introduction. Shirley said everything just like I told her to.

I seldom have a sense of how my talks go. I generally focus on the least happy face, and try to make it smile. And, I usually have a plan about what I’m going to talk about. Especially if I’m getting paid to speak. However, I had no idea I was going to get the great ballpoint pen and the brittle, so I didn’t plan so well this time.

Since I had to write my article the same day as the talk, I decided to feed two birds with one scone. Whatever I talked about would be this week’s column. I decided to go with something each of us in the room had in common. We were retired, and were experiencing many changes in our life during

One thing I’ve been finding myself doing more and more is saying “No.” When you’re retired, people – bad people – expect you to do stuff for them because you’re retired. “What else do you have to do? YOU’RE RETIRED!”

During my retirement I’ve done a lot of stuff out of guilt. Guilt over being blessed with retirement. How sad is that? However, I’m beginning to feel less guilty. Don’t get me wrong, I have a responsibility to help others, but there are some among us who will take advantage of the guilt ridden. At times I’ve been so easy, but lately I’ve been less so. I’ve actually had the courage to say “No” a few times. -- BRAD: “Mark, I’m moving all the stuff out of my garage and hauling it to a storage unit. What are you doing on Tuesday?” – MARK: “Something else.”

Do you realize that it is quite possible that you will not get hit by a rogue bolt of lightning for refusing a request from someone seeking free labor? A study at Sul Ross University back in ’97 proved that. They only lost six bovine in the study.

Do you know how good it feels to say “No” without having to make up an excuse? It’s like caramel covered chocolate cashews.

While we’re talking about honesty, I decided to confess to my SMART audience something I’ve been too afraid to share for too long. Here goes. --  “ More often than not, I can’t understand half of what people are talking about.”

Part of the reason is because people mumble more than ever. Just today Virginia called and told me that Freeman was using her car, so she needed me to take her over to Whopper’s house. I asked her who Whopper was. She said, “Whopper who?” I could see that I was dangerously close to being Lou Costello to her Bud Abbott.

Virginia said, “Mark, I don’t have time for this. I need you to take me to see Barbara.” -- Barbara? Why did she suddenly pull the name Barbara out of the air? What happened to Whooper? -- People have been messing with me like that for a good while, and they better stop. I’m just sayin’.

Even when people aren’t mumbling, I still have trouble figuring out what they’re talking about. Usually it’s because people don’t finish sentences anymore. If they would finish a complete thought, I might be able to catch on.

If I were to stop them long enough to say I had no idea what they were talking about, they’d feel obligated to explain it to me. This is one of those times when honesty will definitely backfire on you. Over the past couple of years, I have smiled, nodded and wept over dozens of conversations that made no sense to me whatsoever.

However, there is something that does make perfect sense to me now. I think I’ll close with it. – The one answer children give practically every time you ask them why they did something is “I don’t know.”  -- “Why didn’t you call to say you were going to be late?” “Why didn’t you study for the stupid test?” “Why are you wearing your sister’s shoes?”

Well, over the past couple of months, God has allowed me to view life through the eyes of a child. And, I’m here to tell you that when kids say, “I don’t know” they’re actually telling the truth. “I don’t know” is a valid answer from any child who has been asked the why-did-you question.

This insight can help parents and teachers in ways that can alter disciplinary actions across the entire country. So, please, spread the word that “I don’t know” is an honest answer.  – Just a minute. I don’t recommend you spread the word to all teachers. Only the retired ones. Those currently teaching aren’t going to give two hoots in a hot place about my revelation.


Thursday, March 12, 2015


Oh, yeah, the man can cook.
Prep for a "firewood roast"

            I just fished the potato peeler out of the garbage. It was hidden amongst two days of really gross soggy, food scrapings. It wasn’t pretty, my friend.

Fortunately I wore a pair of rubber gloves during the dig. I bought a box of rubber gloves, the kind they give you in the hospital if you’re visiting someone with a flesh-eating virus. You never know when you’re gonna need to put on the ol’ stretchy gloves. I used to be able to do most of my operations with Q-Tips.

Kay’s the one who urged me to check the garbage for the potato peeler, like I would actually throw it away with the peelings. Kay is smart like a hen. The thing is, if I hadn’t needed to peel a cucumber for supper, I wouldn’t have noticed the peeler was missing. A couple of weeks down the line, I would think someone stole the peeler. They’ve sure done it before.

By the way, I have to peel my our cucumbers, ‘case that’s the way Kay like’s ‘em. She wants ‘em peeled and the sides raked with fork tines, to give the slices the look of a coin. A cucumber coin. Kay’s nuts.

  That may be why she’s letting me do most of the cooking around here. If I waited for Kay to start a meal, we’d eat supper in the late evening. Senior citizens are supposed to eat supper between 4:00 and 5:00. Any later than that and we run the risk of thinking we’ve already eaten.

Over the last several months I’ve developed a greater appreciation for our slow cooker. Crock-pot, if you will. You can chunk a bunch of vegetables and meat into a crock-pot and just walk away… leave the house, play golf, go to bed, watch Gone with the Wind twice. Whenever you return you will find a roast so tender that you could cut it with a dull spoon. 

All I do with my roast is mix up a couple of envelopes of dried Beefy Onion soup with a cup and half of water. Chunk the roast in the crock-pot, add the cold soup mixture, and there you have it. I usually set my pot on medium and leave it for at least six hours.

You may not know this, but you can chop off a big chunk of firewood, pour some beefy onion soup over it, cook it in a crock-pot for a couple of days, and it’ll be good enough to bring to a church social. Happens all the time.

Not only am I proficient in crock-potting, I am getting pretty good at casseroles. I’ve only made one, but it was gold, Jerry. It was asparagus. (Pronounced “ass-per-grass) Kroger had asparagus on sale for two weeks running. The first week, it was $1.99 a bunch. I bought some and chunked it into the vegetable bin of the fridge. Might’ve been the meat bin. I get ‘em mixed up.

The next week it was $1.48 a bunch. That’s ridiculous! I didn’t want the asparagus I had purchased the previous week, but I couldn’t pass up $1.48. When I got home I cut the ends off both asparagus bunches and stuck ‘em in a vase of sugar water.

The vase of old asparagus sat on the shelf for a good while. Who can remember how long? Well, two days ago I needed something green to go with our starchy meal. All of a sudden, I remembered the asparagus. Normally I would chunk it in a bag and pour in some salt and olive oil and bake the stuff in the oven. But the tips of the green-stalked veggie were kind of droopy. That’s when the next thought hit me. – Bonk! – Casserole! You can hide anything in a casserole.

I found about 800 recipes for asparagus casserole on line. I didn’t have all the ingredients for any of ‘em. The recipe I picked required a can of cream of mushroom soup, sliced mushrooms, a brick of parmesan cheese, some spices from Nepal, sour cream and those fried onion bits that come in a can.

All I had were the soup and asparagus. In lieu of the sliced mushrooms, I peeled some potatoes and mixed ‘em with the asparagus. I used cheddar cheese instead of parmesan, and cream cheese instead of sour cream.  I layered all that stuff in the casserole dish and tossed it into the oven for 40 minutes. Then I took it out and sprinkled the top with corn flakes and cooked it for another five minutes. I used corn flakes, ‘cause the last can of fried onion bits we had was eaten during Hurricane Ike. The only thing that survived Ike was half a radish and some mustard.

The casserole was a big hit with Kay. We even had leftovers. Kay recommended I fry up some of the frozen ham that I purchased for Thanksgiving 2004 and add it to the casserole. A ham-asparagus casserole? If I am able to pry the ham out of the freezer, I’m fairly sure I’ll have to chunk it in the crock-pot for a couple of days. I doubt I’ll add it to the casserole, but it’ll certainly be s good enough for the next church social. That’s what I’m thinking.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Marriage: learn to lose

Joey Heatherton and me 

            I’m not a real marriage counselor, but I occasionally play one in my column. I don’t know that I’ve helped any marriages, but I’m fairly sure I haven’t messed any of them up.
That’s been my goal in life: “Don’t mess stuff up.” That was originally the 11th commandment, but was omitted with the second carving of the stone tablets. Remember Moses dropped the first set? Pretended that he did it on purpose.  – I got that from the series “Mysteries of the Bible.” Next week, they’re going to reveal the site where they recently discovered the remains of Lot’s wife. Rumor has it that it’s in Canada.

But, forget that if you can.  Let’s get back to me playing a marriage counselor. While I’ve already established that I can’t save your marriage, I will do everything I can to keep it from getting worse.

To start off, let me ask you a question. If you could go back to a year or two before your marriage, and if you were given free rein to marry anyone you wanted, would you pick your current spouse?

I got the idea for this question from the February 25th offering from “Our Dairly Bread.” It’s a booklet of short morning devotionals.* In the lesson of the 25th, the author mentioned once telling his daughter, “If I could line up all the four-year-old girls in the world, I would keep walking down the line till I found you.” Can it get any sweeter than that?

The story gave me an idea to help you determine if you think you picked the right marriage partner. If you could go back and choose from the entire gamut of prospective spouses, who would you select to spend your life with? I can see your spouse stepping out of line and walking toward you in anticipation. What are you going to do?

            Let me tell you what I’d do. Back in the day, Kay was the sweetest, the shyest, and one of the loveliest girls on the planet. But not knowing her all that well back then, I’d have to choose Joey Heatherton. Most of you are too young to remember Joey Heatherton. She was a dancer, singer and actor from the 60s. Oh, and she was the most beautiful girl in the world. Just slightly ahead of Bridget Bardot on the ooga ooga meter.

Speaking of lust, do you remember reading anything in the Bible about the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus was making people view the ten commandments in a different light. He said that you don’t have to murder a person to be guilty of murder. He said that if you hate your brother, it’s the same as murdering him. I have only the slightest problem with that.

            However, He also said that you don’t have to have carnal knowledge with someone to commit adultery. All you have to do is to dwell on the thought. Well, I must confess to you that, by that definition, I carried on an affair with Joey Heatherton during most of the 60s. I shared that information with Kay only after she confessed to having a crush on Roy Rogers. For some strange reason she saw a big difference in the fondness level of the two. 

            Now, if you decided to choose your current spouse all over again, quit reading this thing. I can only mess you up. If you went for someone else, then I have little time to give you hints to help improve your current situation. For one thing you’ve got watch your tone of voice. Would you like to hear your wife say in a drill sergeant’s voice, “Darling, you need to mow the lawn!”  Ladies, don’t ever say that. You need to pretend you’re caregiver at an old folks’ home. What you need to say is, “Sweetheart, it’s about time for us to mow the lawn?”

            See how much better that is? He knows you’re not going to help him mow the lawn, but you’ve deposited the notion that you will be struggling with him in spirit.

            Along those lines, Kay always does our income tax. I could do it, but I’m not nearly as concerned about the picky stuff. That’s why last week I calmly told Kay, “Sugar Pie, we need to do our income tax.” Then I sat down and watched a rerun of “Wanted Dead or Alive.” And, our marriage is still moving in greased grooves.

            Stuff like that is common sense. One thing that’s not all that commonly sensical is something a smart person wrote. – “A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t. A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change, but she does.”

That’s just the way it is. It’s in our chromosomes. So, prospective wives please know that the guy you’re getting ready to marry is as good as he’s gonna ever be. If you’re sure you can put up with his worst, than go ahead and send out the invitations.  

And, men, find comfort in the fact that if your marriage starts out bad, it will certainly change over time. My marriage has continually changed for the better. Granted, Kay has managed to surprise me now and again, but except for some of her odd behavior that I occasionally include in my column, there is nothing about her that really bothers me. Love will really blind you to stuff. Did I mention that she does our taxes?

*Visit to receive each month’s copy of “Our Dainly Bread.” You’ll get ‘em mailed to your house for free. Or you can read each day’s devotional on line.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rooftop observations

“On the roof with a bunch of cuties”

ROOFTOP – I don’t want to start a riot up here, but I would like you each to take a Cutie out of the box and then pass the box to the person next to you. Can you do that for me?

No, no, don’t stand up to do. You’ll get dizzy and fall and land in the hedge down below. Just stay seated, take a Cutie and pass the box. Don’t make me raise my voice! -- I’m sorry. You’d think I never gave you anything!

Normally I’d have you pass around the thermos of coffee, but I’m drinking less and less of that stuff. I still brew the same amount I always did, but I forget to drink it. That’s ‘cause I’ve gotten to where I can take it or leave it. I think if I had a milk frother, I might better remember to drink all my coffee. (My computer tells that “frother” is misspelled. It says I can use “frothier” or “frothed” but not “frother.” (Spellcheckers aren’t the boss of me. The editor? Yes, she’s a boss.)

Anyway, forget the coffee, we’re getting Cuties tonight. What? – Oh, they’re a type of mandarin orange. Tiny things, easy to peel, sweet as all get out, and seedless. Someone considers them cute.

Anything that’s seedless is preferable to something that’s seeded. That’s because we’re Americans and we don’t have the energy or time to wrestle with seeds. Watermelon, prunes, grapes… we don’t want em with seeds. Miss Manners hasn’t even invented the proper method of spitting seeds. That woman is many things, but she is one lousy spitter. At least that’s what I read.

By the way, there is another type of mandarin orange that is just as cute as a Cutie. It’s called a Halo. I prefer Cuties to Halos. It’s a bias that defies logic

Beg pardon? Oh, the Cutie peelings? Just toss ‘em off the roof. They’ll probably land in the hedge or the flowerbed. I’m doing a study to determine the rot rate of an orange peel. Those things take a good while to decay. Not as long as a bowling pin, but close. Banana peels, apple peels, the skin on grapes? They’re gone in a week. Orange peels turn to a crusted leather. No one understands how or why.

But enough of science. Let’s just take advantage of this clear, slightly cool night. One reason the stars are so well illuminated tonight is ‘cause the moon is on the other side of the world. How does that happen? How can the moon show up at both daytime and a nighttime? And why isn’t more written about that? I really hate that Mayans and Celts who lived 1000 years ago, understood the moon better than I do. They didn’t know moon pies from duck droppings, but they sure knew the positioning of the moon.

Whoa! Red alert! Everyone, look straight up. Not too fast, or you’ll get dizzy and go over backwards. Slowly, lean back and look at that red dot? That’s Mars. I can tell because it’s the Red Planet. Get it? It’s about as red as, uh, that other red dot about two feet away to the right.

What’s happening? There is more than one Mars tonight. There are two Marses. Which explains why auto makers have yet to name a car after the Red Planet. No one knows how to spell the plural of the name.  – “Hey, Sparky, a shipment of four door Marses just arrived.” – How on earth are you supposed to react to something like that?

Speaking of autos, I don’t know if you’re aware, but auto makers are struggling to come up with exciting names for new models. The big problem has to do with making sure the name they come up with doesn't have a hidden meaning in a foreign language.
The Mazda LaPuta: One of the words for Prostitute in Spanish. 

Few people know that in Belarus the name “Buick Verano” translates into “Tadpole Snot.” Yet, sales are still skyrocketing. The Chinese are getting ready to reveal a two-door hatchback they’re calling Light Uranus. I’ve got no problem with the name, but I’m sure someone is going to read something into it. Too many people are so easily offended.

What got this started? Oh, right. Mars. Let’s keep looking skyward. Look to the east. No, over there. To your left! Look to your left! -- Sorry. I’m just trying to tell you that the bright star up there is Venus. You knew that. It’s the Evening Star. And, yes, it is a planet, not a star. No, I don’t know why they don’t call it the Evening Planet.

The real question I’d like answered is why there are no animal sounds tonight. It’s relatively warm up here, yet, no bird sounds, or bat flapping or chupacabra snarling. When the chupacabras don’t want to venture out, you know something’s afoot.

And, that’s pretty much where we need to be -- a foot. It’s getting late. Everyone rise slowly so as not to get too dizzy and fall shrubward. – Yes, “shrubward” is a word. It’s the name of a minivan made in Poland. I’m pretty sure.