Friday, March 24, 2017

Mark Tells Mom a Story

My mom loves Mark's stories. Every time we visit her he tells her some cockamamie story and gets her laughing. This past Wednesday he told her two stories that left her speechless.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Farmer Al

Spring fever has hit. In preparation for the season, I built window flower boxes downstairs in the basement. To my surprise, they turned out pretty good. After all, I am not a very handy, handyman nor a good carpenter. Yet there they are, all ready to be put out under the front windows and planted with lovely flowers. And that's another thing, the flowers. Mark and I went up to the Home Depot and loaded up with all kinds of flower seeds. I figured that I could start them downstairs, next to the window. Plenty of sun there, and it isn't too hot or too cold. Just right for the little seedlings to spring forth. The problem is, I don't know anything about gardening. Yes, I lived on a farm for a year, but that was a hippie farm. We were good at growing certain herbs, but mostly we just hung around and smoked them. So anyway, I set up my little flower factory downstairs. I loaded the planters with soil, getting plenty of dirt under my fingernails. Then I took each colorful packet of flower seeds, opened them up, and poked the seeds into the dirt. When I was all done I decided that maybe I should read the instructions. From what I could see I had done it all correctly, but then I read how long it takes for the seeds to germinate and grow big enough to flower. Fifteen to twenty days before I see a little green sprout, then forty five to sixty days before I have a flowering plant. Hmmmm... in only two or three weeks I'll be able to buy fully flowering plants at the Home Depot, ready to stick in the garden. Meanwhile my little babies will still be struggling to reach puberty. Next year I should start earlier.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


It was a pretty innocent request. I didn't even think Mark would go along with it. I was walking one of the dogs, and as I stopped to let the dog poop on a neighbor's lawn, I looked across the street at our house. It was dark out, but our house was ablaze with light. The giant windows of our living room showed off our art collection, exactly what we were watching on television, and to my horror, all the way at the other end of the house, the dirty dishes from dinner sitting on the counter in the kitchen. It was as if I were watching a play and our living room was the stage. We needed a little more privacy. So when I got back inside with the dog, I suggested maybe sheer curtains on the windows.

Never give Mark an opening to shop. My request for just a hint of privacy turned into an all out hunt for the right curtains, and curtain rods. At some point the idea of a simple, sheer fabric to make it a bit harder to see in, was lost. We went shopping.
"Oh, these curtains are wonderful. It'll look so clubby."
"Like an old fashioned men's club."
So Mark got the 'clubby' curtains and fancy curtain rods to go along with them, and on Saturday he had me put them up.
"Those old brackets have got to go. Remove them." Mark barked.
Those were the brackets that I had thought we would hang rods with the sheer curtains on. Obediently, I removed them. Mark then explained that he wanted the new curtain rod brackets to be above and to the side of the actual windows. Not on the woodwork, but mounted on the plaster walls. I opened one of the packages of Chinese made curtain rods. I took note of the little plastic anchors that were included and found the correct drill bit for the holes that I would need. I measured and marked, and then I drilled fourteen holes in the wall. The first four anchors fit in the holes perfectly. I opened the second curtain rod package, which was exactly like the first curtain rod package. Well, those goddamned, Chinese bastard, mother scratching, evil, child labor using assholes, put a totally different set of anchors and screws in the second package.

 I tried one. It went right through the hole I had drilled and fell inside the wall. I started cursing. Not, "Goddamn, sonofabitch" kind of cursing, but a full throated, loud "Fuck!", which I repeated over and over again a hundred or so times in a row. I never wanted to hang curtains, I never wanted to drill holes, I wanted to put simple sheer curtains on the hardware that was already there on the window. Yet here I was on a Saturday afternoon doing Mark's bidding again, and it was not going well. Oh, did I mention that we had a house guest. (I would like to apologize right now to Jim White. You did not need to see or hear any of that nastiness.)

Four hours after I started my task, and three hours and forty five minutes after Jim White said goodbye and ran out to his car, I finished hanging those curtains. They do look clubby, and they do the job. We now have privacy, which I found that I need when watching television. Remember that I said you could see our television clearly from across the street, from the sidewalk in front of our house, from anywhere outside? Sunday evening I turned on an episode of 'Girls' that I had on the Tivo, and immediately had to run around pulling those new curtains closed. No need for the neighbors to be seeing Hannah's bush. It's bad enough that I saw it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

C'est la Vie


1971, I was living on a hippie commune in Iowa. We supported ourselves with our own rock and roll band called, "Music From the Orphanage." (I was the equipment roadie guy. No musical talent at all.) In the summer of 1971 Chuck Berry came to town, playing a concert at the Col Ballroom in Davenport. At that point I had seen the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zepplin, The Who, Grateful Dead, Joe Cocker, and various lesser bands, yet it was Chuck Berry that we had to go see. Without Chuck Berry, those other bands might not ever have seen the light of day. Sadly, Chuck Berry did not get the respect he deserved in 1971. There were no more than one hundred of us at that concert in Davenport. It was the best rock and roll concert I have ever experienced. We danced, we sang along with Chuck, and best of all, we got to talk to him as he was getting ready to leave in his giant Cadillac. Seriously, that is all he had. A Cadillac, a guitar, and a blonde white woman with him. I have no idea what he thought of the gaggle of dumb white kids who flocked around his Cadillac, but we loved him. One thing though, there was one kid who pissed me off. During the concert (we were right up against the stage), this one kid kept holding a pair of blue suede shoes up in front of Chuck Berry, and shouting out "Blue Suede Shoes, play Blue Suede Shoes." Well for fucks sake, how embarrassing. Blue Suede Shoes is not a Chuck Berry song. That is a Little Richard song. Seriously, what must he of thought of these dumb ass kids in Davenport, Iowa. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lila and Al Move to the Suburbs

Baby Alan

My earliest memory of my home town, Tinley Park, is riding in a canvas baby buggy being pushed by my mom along Oak Park Avenue. Back in the early years the town didn't have home mail delivery. Everybody had to go pick their mail up at the post office. So Mom would stick me in the buggy and my sister Peggy would walk along side, that is, until she got tired. That would happen about one block from home. Then Mom would stuff Peggy in the buggy with me. That's probably when I'd start crying, but I don't really remember the crying. I probably never did cry. It must have been Peggy. Anyway, I thought about how our family ended up out in the suburbs and asked my mom to tell me the story. It turns out that she was the one crying. Mom was not happy with the move at first, and for a year she....  Well, I'll let her tell you about moving to Tinley Park.