Thursday, July 21, 2016

Laying Pipe

Our new home has some issues. One of them is the plumbing. Here is the inspector's report on that subject.

"There are plumbing concerns: There are leaks at the first floor bathroom tub valves. There is a leak at the laundry sink faucet and the laundry sink drain pipe. There is a patch on the soil stack located in the basement. There are galvanized water supply pipe. Galvanized piping has a life expectancy of 40+ years. The pipes will corrode internally and externally. When the pipe corrode internally, water flow can be restricted. Recommend having a qualified plumber repair the plumbing issues as needed. The water flow at the second floor kitchen is marginal." 

Other than the date on the inspection, the inspector had it right. He said that the water flow on the second floor was "marginal", that was an understatement. The water flow was actually non-existent when any valve was opened on the first floor or in the basement. If we washed our clothes, the second floor apartment was bone dry. Not even a drip, drop of water. Very hard to rent out an apartment with such water issues.  

About four weeks ago I was getting my hair cut at Level One, the hair place on the corner by our house. I happened to mention that I needed a plumber. Goddamn if the owner of Level One wasn't married to a plumber. So I arranged to have the husband, Frank, come on over and fix everything. We got new pipes, new outside hose-bibs, and valves everywhere. I can now turn off water to any part of the house that I want. Frank the plumber gave us a good going over. It looks like jewelry down in our basement, if plumbing could be worn. Lots of shiny copper piping everywhere. Now our tenant, Dennis, can take a decent shower. He can turn that fancy shower head he has up to "Flesh Removing" if he wants.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Where the Hell Are All the Dogs?

When Mark and I visited the Miami-Dade Animal Control three years ago, we walked into a noisy, smelly, crowded facility. There were a lot of dogs of every breed in there and Mark and I managed to fall in love with a couple of them. But it was when I picked up the scrawny, dirty little schnauzer that I knew Lilo was the one. We renamed her Bette. 

We certainly didn't expect to lose Bette so soon, she was only three years old. Since her death, not only have Mark and I missed that little dog, so has Chandler. So yesterday we drove the long drive to the South Side of Chicago, to Chicago Animal Care and Control. We're looking for another playmate for Chandler, a smallish dog that does not shed. Chandler does enough shedding of fur for two dogs. Anyway, we walked into the place and were surprised at how clean and quiet it was. A large city like Chicago, we expected chaos.  We expected a hell hole of barking, stinky cages, and lots and lots of dogs. After presenting our credentials at the door, we were allowed to go into the dog adoption area. There were about twenty five dogs in there, in very clean cages. Not a bit of doggy odor, no poop in sight. What we didn't see were small dogs. Only pit bulls. It was a room full of pit bulls, of which only about ten were deemed adoptable. I don't get it. Where the hell are the dogs? Where are all the abandoned dogs, the dogs that people didn't want and turned over to the city? Where are the strays and the lost dogs that never found their owners? In a city of nearly three million people you would think that there would be hundreds of dogs in there. Unfortunately, we couldn't take one of those pit bulls. We already have a big dog and at my age I cannot handle more than Mr. Chandler and a small dog. So next time we will be visiting the Anti Cruelty Society, and I hope they have more to choose from. We really wanted to save a dog from being euthanized, so maybe if we take a dog from a no-kill shelter there will be more room for one transferred in from Animal Care and Control.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Almost exactly fifty years ago, my dad took me to the Illinois Secretary of State Driver Testing facility in Joliet so that I could get my driver's license. I passed easily. After all, I had been driving for the previous six months on my learner's permit and had taken driver's ed at our high school. (Do they still do that, or has the Governor cut that out along with music and gym class? Ahh.. the rush to ignorance.) Anyway, to celebrate my passing the exam, my dad took me across the street to Shakey's Pizza. At least I think he was celebrating. He could have just been hungry. I mean, why would my dad be celebrating his sixteen year old son driving the family car? But not to worry, I had my own car. A 1935 Studebaker Commander with a straight eight engine and a four on the floor transmission that could attain the thrilling speed of forty miles per hour. I was free. From the moment I got my license, my ass was nailed to the seat of that car. Forty miles per hour kept me pretty local, but I still managed to put a few thousand miles on the Studebaker.

 Now I am sixty six and I have to go get another Illinois driver's license. Mark does too and he is scared. He started to read some of the rules of the road and they seemed a bit difficult. For instance he didn't know how many feet before he had to dim his lights, or just when he was supposed to use his turn signal. Was it a hundred feet before the turn, or two hundred? From the example other Illinois drivers give me, I'd say never. You never have to use your turn signal. You only would use it if you want to confuse another driver before cutting him off.

I have found a nice web site that gives you practice written tests, and I let Mark try it out a few times. He really has nothing to worry about. Most of it is common sense and things that he has been doing for years. You can get seven wrong out of thirty five and still pass. I am pretty sure Mark will pass it, just as long as he remembers that he is not supposed to take his cocktail to go, or use his cell phone while cursing out the window at pedestrians who are in a crosswalk.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

So we're living in the big city now. Lots of things to do, lots of places to go. But it's Sunday morning and I'm actually ready for a nice quiet day. Two months of putting this new house together and I think I deserve a couple of lazy summer days.
"I'm bored." Says Mark.
"That's nice." I mumble dismissively.
"I've been stuck in this house and I want to do something." Mark insists.
Mark has not been stuck in the house. We get out plenty, but because he didn't get to go out on Saturday night, he considers himself "stuck". So I go online and look for things to do in the city. Ah-ha! A museum that I've never been to and it's free on Sundays.
"Do you want to go to the DuSable Museum of African American History? It's free today."
"Where is that?"
"South side, down by Washington Park."
Mark makes a disapproving face, and with a sneer tells me "I'd like to stay in this country...     Hey, look. There's a sidewalk sale in Evanston. Where's Evanston?"
"It's north of here."
So on Sunday Mark and I went shopping instead of learning about history. Mark and I wandered through Evanston, oohing and aahing over the big houses and pretty stores. Then we stopped along the lakefront to roam through some kind of crafts festival and ate some crappy festival food. And you know what? I actually enjoyed myself. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Riding The Storm Out

What are the state animals of Florida and Illinois?

One thing I kind of missed when I moved to Florida were the Midwest storms in the summer. Sure, Florida has plenty of storms in the summer but they simply blow up right over you. In Illinois you can see them coming for miles, a long black line on the horizon that slowly moves closer and closer. They are a wall of rain, wind, and destruction that descend upon you with nature's fury. Last night there was such a storm on the horizon, but that did not stop me and Mark from toddling on up to Big Chick's for some quesadillas, beer, liquor, and trivia. Every Wednesday Big Chick's has a quesadilla special along with a beer by the pitcher and Maker's Mark special at the bar. For entertainment they conduct a trivia contest. The trivia contest can be fun... if you're not playing with Mark on your team. He takes it so damn seriously. The emcee reads the question and if Mark isn't able to write down the answer and run up there with it within ten seconds, he gets upset. The fact that Mark can be a mean drunk does not help. At the end of the contest, Mark and I were in second place out of ten teams. If we got the last question right, and if the first place team couldn't Google the answer fast enough, we would win. It was at that last important moment that Mark realized he had lost his new glasses. He suddenly turned into crazy Mark, screaming at me and running around the bar pushing people aside as he looked on the ground for his glasses. It was not pretty.

So, the answer to the question was, Florida Panther and Illinois White Tail Deer. We got it wrong, even though it looked like it was written just for us. In my panic, as Mark was going crazy, I blurted out "Raccoon" for both states. Yes, we lost.