Thursday, June 22, 2017

Shopping With Big Al (A Re-Run From Nine Years Ago)

Mark and I went to the supermarket today, and I was amazed at how fast the price of things are going up. I am actually starting to appreciate Mark's coupon clipping and sale searches. We went to the CVS store the other day and they almost owed Mark money by the time he was done with his coupons. Thirty dollars worth of stuff for a little over five dollars, even the store manager was impressed.

When I was a kid, I don't ever remember my mom doing the grocery shopping. That was my dad's job and I think it was like a game to him. It would start with the shopping list my mom would make up over the course of the week. Then early Saturday morning, my dad would go over it, comparing what my mom needed, to what was on sale at the supermarkets. Next, he would list everything by which store had the cheapest price for that item, with sub-categories for those items he had coupons for, with sub-sub-categories for those items with coupons that were also on sale, below the cheapest price possible. When all was in order, he would get into the gigantic, empty, Ford Station Wagon, with all the seats folded down and head out. Never were children allowed on my dad's grocery shopping safari's. We not only would get in the way of his well oiled shopping machine, but we would take up precious space needed for the quarter ton of food that our large family would consume over the course of the next seven days. Like the great white hunter, off he went to Jewel, National, Motto's, Dominick's, and some other markets that I didn't even know existed. After what could only be called speed shopping, my dad would return a couple of hours later with the station wagon full, and groaning, under the weight of a weeks worth of food. Then with a loud bellow, he would call for all his offspring to help unload the Ford. Like a line of worker ants, I and my siblings would grab bag after bag of groceries from the car and trudge up the steps to the kitchen. It is quite the opposite of when I shop on my own. I just grab whatever looks good to me. I am a sucker for a shiny package, and I am totally susceptible to an elderly woman cooking stuff, and giving it away at the end of the aisles. That's why it's a good thing I have Mark and his coupons to shop for me, he is never distracted from his mission, more for less.
Big Al and the Big Ford

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Scout's Big Test

Eleven months ago we adopted our little dog, Scout. She was a shelter dog out of Indiana, who had passed through a number of homes before she landed with us. It became apparent why she had a hard time finding a home. She peed on everything, including our bed, our guest bed, and when she visited my sister Lisa, peed on her bed. She was like a lawn sprinkler. Scout also had an urge to chew things. Mark's glasses, my shoes, Mark's shoes, the television remote, pillows, blankets, and just about anything loose around the house. She tore the bottom part of the sofa completely off and dug a hole through the foam rubber in the same sofa, presumably looking for a place to bury her latest chewed up treasure. Scout was a terror. But I gave her the benefit of the doubt, knowing that she had been in a shelter, and been in a couple of foster homes. She needed structure in her life. I do know that for a short while she was adopted by an elderly couple, but she terrorized them too and they had to give her up to Cairn Rescue USA. Which is where Mark and I come in. Seriously, Mark suggested on more than one occasion that we should send her back. I said no. In my youth I had a couple of terriers who I did not do right by. I was in my twenties and I did not know anything about what it took to have a dog. To this day I have guilty thoughts about the little black terrier that I returned to the Anti Cruelty Society after two years. So no way was I ever going to give up on a dog again. I am so glad that we didn't give up on Scout. She is a sweet and beautiful little dog. No more peeing, no more chewing, no more problems at all. In fact, she and Mark have become close buddies, much closer than I thought they would become. Now it is time for Scout's real test, the big final exam. Today I am going to take her with us to visit Mom. She cannot pee on Mom's floor. She cannot chew anything up in her house, and there will be no leaping into Mom's lap. There can be no running around the house like a crazy girl and no barking at Mom's Hoveround®. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Out of the Griddle and Into the Fire

At our house, Mark is the dinner cook and he does a fine job of it. I am the breakfast cook, and I'm not horrible. Not good, not horrible. The food is usually edible. My problem is that I need to be left alone in the kitchen. If one thing interrupts me when I'm preparing breakfast, it all goes to hell.

Our new stove has a griddle that sits in the center of the range. It comes in handy for all sorts of things that need a large, flat surface to cook on. On Friday morning I was using the griddle for pancakes. I ladled out the batter in six little discs on the griddle and just as I was about to flip them over, the dogs started "arguing". As I yelled at the dogs to shut the fuck up, the pancake I was flipping over slid right off the pancake flipper thing and onto the stove. The more I tried to maneuver it back onto the griddle, the deeper it slid under the burner grate. In my frantic moves to try and pull the errant pancake out from the spot it had wedged itself into, I knocked another pancake off the griddle, and under another burner grate. This caused an explosion of cursing. The most foul and filthy of cursing. I finally turned off the gas, put on oven mitts, and removed the grates allowing access to the pancakes underneath. I flipped them back up onto the griddle. Now my timing of breakfast was all screwed up, so I tried to make up for it by reaching over and hitting the brew button on the Keurig coffee maker. No reason not to have the coffee ready before the pancakes are done. So, I stood there in front of the stove fussing with the pancakes, trying to make them look palatable, when I noticed the sound of water gurgling. I glanced over towards the coffee maker. I had forgotten to put a mug under the Keurig. Hot, brown coffee was running all over the kitchen counter. Very strong coffee, just as I like it... only not in a mug. When I had cleaned everything up and made a new mug of coffee for myself, I served breakfast to Mark in the dining room. Mark, sitting across from me, stuffed a forkful of pancakes into his mouth.
"Gack! It's not cooked in the middle. This pancake is not cooked all the way through."
And with that, Mark pushed his plate of blueberry pancakes away and announced that he'll just have some coffee. We had bowls of cereal Saturday morning.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fun With Grandma

We had quite a downpour yesterday evening. Caught me by surprise while I was preparing the grill for Mark so that he could do some kabobs. I built a little mound of charcoal briquettes, soaked them in lighter fluid, and lit that sucker. I had some nice flames licking at the sky. While I was dreaming about those chicken kabobs and how good they were going to taste, there was a  lightning strike. It was close, scared the crap out of the dogs and me. I looked down the gangway towards the west. Sure enough, it was black as night. Within minutes my lovely fire was doused. We still had our chicken kabobs, just not grilled outdoors.

After dinner we were sitting in the living room when Mark looked out the window and saw a kid riding his scooter through the giant puddle in the street.
"Ewww.. there's a kid playing in that filthy storm water, and his grandmother is out there with him. What's wrong with her? Why would she let that kid do that?"
I looked out the window. Yes, a kid was playing in the puddle, and yes Grandma was standing there with her umbrella watching him. They were laughing. That's because it is fun to play in dirty, filthy storm water. I know because we used to do it when we were kids. In fact, because sewage was simply flushed out into the storm drains when I was a kid, there was many a time we'd be playing as turds floated by. The trick was to always wear your boots, and never let the water get in your mouth. Mark squealed in horror when I told him that. So while Mark looked out the window and saw an irresponsible grandmother, I saw a grandmother having a good time with her grandson. Good clean fun.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Scout's Story in the Cairn Rescue USA Newsletter

HAPPY ENDING: "Scout Masters" Alan & Mark Prove There's a Family for Every Dog 
In June of 2016, Midwest Adoptions Director, Shell Lewis, was contacted by an elderly woman in a small Indiana town who was desperately seeking to re-home her terrier "Scout". Scout's owner was a volunteer at a small animal shelter that was stretched for funds and space. So, when Scout was adopted out but then returned, she feared for the young terrier's future and decided to adopt her herself. Although she had good intentions, the new owner and her husband quickly came to realize that Scout had far too much energy for their sedate lifestyle. So, within the week, Scout was on her way to a foster home in Chicago with veteran terrier owners, Larry and Janet Eaton.  
Scout proved to be a poster child for "the naughty terrier". Recalls foster mom Janet: 

Chandler (L), Mark, Scout & Alan
"When Scout arrived at our home, she immediately jumped the fence into our newly landscaped garden and in a matter of minutes flattened three new hydrangeas and trampled every living plant. Over the course of the next three weeks, she ate a plastic dog bowl, dug a hole in a woven blanket and tore apart our own Cairn's crate pad. She tore off every diaper we attempted to put on her and peed everywhere in the house, EXCEPT on the puppy pads!"
"Who", you might ask, "would want to adopt this crazy dog???"

Scout and Mark
Well, as it turned out, Alan Putz and Mark Knowles!  
The couple, who had recently moved to Chicago from Florida, were undeterred by Scout's questionable resume. They had recently lost their beloved schnauzer, Bette, and their large-breed dog, Chandler, was missing his best pal. So were Alan and Mark.
Said Alan, "Mark went online and found a photo of a pretty little dog named Scout on the Cairn Rescue USA website. At our home visit, Chandler loved her on sight. They ran around our back yard as if they had been friends forever. Scout's happy personality, quick familiarity with kisses, and downright amazing good looks, hooked me. After all our preliminaries, she became part of our family!"
Alan reports that they were able to house train Scout in less than two weeks, but curbing her enthusiasm for chewing proved to be a greater challenge. Scout added to the "list of destructions" she had begun compiling in her foster home, starting with Mark's new eye glasses, Alan's straight-out-of-the-box $160 running shoes, the television remote, pillows, bed spreads and pens. And oh, did we mention the sofa? Scout "single pawedly" gutted and stripped the covering off the living room sofa. It appears that all items, great and small, were fair game to Scout. 
Today, almost a year later, Scout has settled in and settled down, and the destructive chapter of her younger days has thankfully come to a close. Alan and Mark are amazed at Scout's intelligence and her ability to communicate with them even if they don't always know what she's trying to say. 
Chandler and Scout have formed their own unique and quirky relationship. Observes Alan, "Chandler is old and he'll lay on the floor trying to nap while Scout pulls on his jowls like taffy, trying to get him to play. She'll bite his ankles as he walks through the house and she'll argue loudly with him over squeaky toys; she thinks they ALL belong to her. But put the two of them out in the yard together, and it is just like the first time they saw each other. Lots of romping, chasing, and play. Thank you Cairn Rescue USA, for allowing us to bring Scout into our home. We love her and are pretty sure the feeling is mutual."

You can visit the Cairn Recue USA Newsletter web site by clicking here. Lots of adorable little guys looking for homes there.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Knock, Knock, Knocking at the Bathroom Door

"Alan, Alan.... ALAN!"
Mark is at the bathroom door screaming my name.
"WHAT! What the hell is it now?" I yell back to him.
"Somebody is at the front door."
"And you want me to do what about that? Who is it?"
"I don't know."
I'm in the bathroom, in the shower. I am naked and wet.
"For crap's sake Mark...  "
This is not the first time Mark has done this. In fact, it happens all the time. Sometimes I'm not in the bathroom, and sometimes I am and I am on the throne. For some reason Mark is incapable of answering the front door. Jehovah's Witlesses ring the doorbell, Mark comes and gets me. College kids with petitions and looking for money ring the doorbell, Mark comes and gets me.  Seriously, I'm just going to walk out there buck naked one day and answer the door for him. It's the same with the telephone. The phone rings and Mark goes into a frenzy, running around the house looking for me to answer it. For krissakes, if you can't answer it, that's what voice mail is for. I'll eventually get the message. Anyway, in response to Mark's plea for help answering the door, I threw on a robe and walked up to the front window, leaving behind me a wet trail, much like a slug leaves behind.
"I don't see anybody. There's nobody at the door, Mark."
"Oh, they went up to Dennis' apartment."