Tuesday, September 30, 2008

All In The Family

A while back, Mark and I were going to see a movie and we witnessed a gay couple going to great effort to let everyone see that they had a baby. "Oh, David don't forget the baby's bottle. Yes William, and I'll get the baby's blanket.", they shouted loudly across the parking lot. Of course, even if it was biologically possible for two men to have a baby, we knew it wasn't theirs. The baby was black and they were pasty white. We also knew that they weren't from Florida. That's because here in Florida being gay is considered a contagious disease, and the politicians don't even want a black baby to catch the dreaded gayness, so they have made it illegal for two men to adopt.

The problem with that scenario is that it prompted Mark to opine, "We should get a baby. You would make such a good parent.". There are obvious problems with that statement. First of all, I have, all my life, known that I didn't want children. Not my child nor anybody else's. I asked Mark, "How do you figure I would be a good parent?". "You are so good with Molly.", he answered. So I had to explain to Mark that being a parent and owning a dog are vastly different. You cannot put a baby in a cage when you go out drinking, and leaving a big bowl of food on the floor isn't considered proper child nutrition. On top of all that is the fact that I inherited some of my dads temper, and I know that at some point a child would figure out exactly what buttons to push just to see daddy go off like a Fourth of July fireworks display.

Having grown up with ten brothers and sisters, I can safely say that I had my fill of babies. I don't know how my mother did it, I guess that large bottle of Mogen David in the refrigerator helped. When I think back on all the crazy things we did as children, it is a miracle that my mom wasn't carted off in a straight jacket. I know that just trying to bring up my new dog, Chandler, is enough to set me off. This morning he figured out that wallpaper has delicious glue on it, but that to get to the glue he has to peel the wallpaper off the wall. I of course disciplined him in a civilized manner, and realized it isn't all that bad. At least he wasn't doing it while sitting in a poopy diaper.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happiness is a New Toy

Kellen
Nothing is more exciting to a kid than a new toy, and although I'm not a kid anymore, a new toy can get me excited. The last toy I got that really excited me was TiVo. Before the invention of this wonder, I used to fumble with the VCR to record my favorite television shows. The problem with the VCR is that it had multiple variables that had to be met so that you could record, and the more desperately I wanted to record a show, the bigger the chance that I would mess it up. First and foremost was that flashing 12:00AM. If you hadn't set the time correctly after the last power outage, you were screwed. Instead of getting a football game, you'd get an infomercial that aired at three in the morning.

When I was a little boy, one of the best toys I ever received was a Lionel train set. Train sets were the video games of my youth. Instead of sitting in front of a game console for hours on end, I disappeared into the basement for hours playing emperor of Plasticville USA. I was the Mussolini of that place and the trains always ran on time.

As excited as I am when I get a new toy, nothing can compare with the sheer joy my dog Chandler gets when I present him with a new, stuffed, squeaky toy. If he wore pants, he'd be peeing in them. He is the first dog I have ever had that actually plays fetch, meaning he will release the toy when he brings it back to me. Last night he brought his new squeaky kitty cat toy back to me a few hundred times, and every time I threw it, he was as excited as if it were the first time.

When I finally got tired and put an end to the game of endless fetch, Chandler proceeded to walk around the house with the new squeaky kitty in his mouth. A constant squeak, squeak, squeak filled the room until I couldn't take it any more. While Chandler was sidetracked by a sudden offering of doggy treats, I made squeaky kitty go away. After all, poor kitty was soaked with dog spit and really needed a rest, and so did I.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lizard Breath

Now that Fat Kitty has been living in our house for the last six months, and has been eating right, she has lost all of her fat. I actually feel bad that I named her Fat Kitty, but that's her name and she's stuck with it. I'm not sure why she was so fat when she lived out in the yard, but I suspect that it was because she was on a steady diet of lizards, plus the food I was feeding her. The reason I feel that she was eating the lizards is because while she lived outside, the lizard population plummeted. Since I moved her into the house, the yard is crawling with them again. I now have lizards that are fat and sassy, who hang out every night near the porch lights waiting to feed on the bugs that are drawn to them. I have to admit, if I were a cat they would look quite succulent, and tempting.

Back when Fat Kitty was living outside, she had a friend who hung out with her, Tigger, the cat from next door. Or at least he used to be from next door. He now stays in my back yard almost all day long, and is always begging at my door for some food. But Tigger is no slouch either when it comes to eating the wild life. He doesn't seem to have an appetite for the little lizards. No Tigger goes for the big ones, iguanas. Iguanas can grow to six feet long and look like something from Jurassic Park. It can be very disconcerting to be strolling through the yard and see Tigger munching away on one of those things. The worst was the day I was showing one of the apartments to a potential renter, a young woman. As I was bringing her through the backyard to show her the laundry, there was Tigger with a small iguana in his mouth head first, with just the rear legs and the wiggling tail sticking out. You could hear the crunching as he chewed away on the thing, and I thought to myself, 'this can't look good', and I was right. The woman didn't take the apartment. She just let out a little scream, and scurried out the front gate. Obviously she was not an animal lover.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Photo Finish

I don't mind publishing pictures of me in my blog. At my age it isn't like I will be insulted if someone says I look old and fat, I am old and fat. There was a time that I hated photos of myself, especially when I was in my teens. That was back when my face was covered with gigantic, oozing, pimples, and I felt like the president of the dork club. I don't get too many pimples any more, but the scars are still there. At least now I can just delete the bad photos and fill in the pimple craters with my photo software.

Digital photos and the software I use to fix them help me out a lot. I can make people I don't like look worse, or make others look a little bit better. It's the same thing that the National Enquirer has been doing for fifty years, just ask Brittney Spears.

Now that I have scanned a bunch of old photos from my mom's collection, onto my computer, I'll be able to make myself look a little better than I actually did. With a little patience I can shrink those big ears down to normal, and I won't be mistaken for Dumbo anymore. I've tried it with one of my photos and put the before and after pictures at the bottom of this entry. I think I've improved upon my looks quite nicely. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Playing Cards With God

Every once in awhile I am jolted awake from my slumbers by the realization that at some point, my life will end. Out of all the momentous occasions in your life, death is the biggest. It dwarfs your first time having sex (that is, with another person), and winning the lottery. Weddings, birthdays, and being at Wrigley Field for a World Series game, pale by comparison. When I think of it, I can understand why people cling to religion, it makes death a little more palatable if you think you are going to survive in another form.

As precious as life is, we all waste a good portion of it. I personally wasted almost five hours of it on Sunday, watching a Chicago Bears football game, and all the pre-game crap that I could find. I probably wasted the equivalent of a months time, this past summer, watching Cubs and Marlins baseball games. Although, watching baseball could technically be considered needed sleep time.

One of the worst forms of wasting time, was given to us by Bill Gates. Every time I sit in front of the computer to start writing one of my little stories, I get sidetracked by the card games. Before I know it, two hours have passed and all I have done is played fifty hands of Free Cell and a few games of Hearts, and don't even get me started on Solitaire.

It's times like these, when you are lazing your life away, that you think back to when you were a kid and realize just how important your mother was. She was the one who came into the living room, turned off the television, and forced you to go outside and do something, anything. Unfortunately I don't have my mother here to stop me from screwing around, but if I try real hard, I think I can kick the computer card game habit. Right after I get my win rate up to eighty two percent on Free Cell.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Phillies 3, Marlins 2

On Saturday, my friend Tommy and I went to see the Philadelphia Phillies play the Florida Marlins. I expected the place to be full of fans from Philadelphia who have forsaken their city, but not their baseball team, and I was not disappointed. As expected, being in a stadium full of Philly fans, there were rude, loud, and obnoxious, assholes everywhere. But it wasn't the Philadelphians who were being a pain in the ass, it was the Marlins fans. The Philly fans were loud, yes, but they also had a sense of humor and paid attention to the game.

The problem with Florida fans is they get bored easily, and a baseball game is not the place for someone with the attention span of a goldfish. When it became obvious over the years, that doing the 'wave', and bouncing a beach ball around the stands wouldn't be enough to draw a crowd, the Marlins started adding things. One of the more interesting ideas was a hot tub out in the right field stands. It creeps me out to think of all the puking drunks that have been in that thing. Another family favorite, are the hoochie girls dressed in skimpy outfits, who dance on top of the dugouts between innings. This is one attraction that really gets all the little boys in the stadium to pay attention. They are so provocative that some of the men feel compelled to go up and stuff a dollar into their cleavage. It's like a family friendly strip club, with baseball as an added attraction.

To add to our enjoyment of the game, we had a drunken Little League coach with ten of his players sitting behind us. All through the game, between sips, he passed out sloppy nuggets of wisdom to the kids while spilling beer down my back. Finally, at the end of the game there was supposed to be a concert by the rock group, 'Foreigner', but we decided not to stay for it. After all, with nine innings of dealing with the drunk behind me, I'd had enough old fools for one night.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nuts

For little Chandler, today started out like most others. He was let out of his crate all happy and tail waggley, and he ran straight outside to do his duty. It was when he came back inside he should have known something was up, because the cats were being fed before him. In fact he kept looking at his bowl and back at me, with a dumb happy look on his face. "Surely I am going to be fed next", he thought. Even as he walked into the veterinarians office, he was wagging his tail and giving everybody kisses, oblivious to the fact that he was about to give up his little testicles. They really look so small and harmless, but we know that some day they will create problems, so off with his nuts.

I understand that neutering him will not change his behavior that much. He will still tear through the house with a kitchen towel clenched firmly between his teeth, with Mark in hot pursuit like some kind of crazed Keystone Cop chase. I will still find the bathroom door left open with a double sized roll of toilet paper spread out all over, unraveled, shredded. Bills that have been left in the middle of the dining room table will still mysteriously end up in Chandlers crate, ripped open and unpaid.

The one thing that I do know, is that when a female is in heat, Chandler won't care. I can be safe in the knowledge that if he did come across a fertile female, he won't be adding to the pet overpopulation. The overpopulation that created a need for the shelter I got him from. He is just as happy tonight as he was this morning, which makes me wonder. Why can't we do the same for some of these irresponsible men who keep making babies and don't fulfill their fatherly duties? I think they will still be just as happy as before, maybe happier.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Green Ache-rs

Due to the high cost of produce, Mark has decided to plant even more edible stuff in the back yard. So, being the dutiful spouse I am, I went out and cleared a section of the back yard where I had previously planted flowers, and a cat named Carl. The biggest problem was digging up the flowering plants that had rooted themselves quite nicely, without digging up Carl. After pulling out the easily removable plants, I was left with a mass of deep roots that were quite difficult to pull up. My first idea was to douse them with gasoline and light them on fire, so as to burn away the roots. This turned out to not be so wise, because when I tossed a match onto the fuel soaked ground, flames shot ten feet up towards the utility wires that hang only ten feet off of the ground at that point. While Mark screamed in horror, I stumbled around in the bushes looking for the water hose that I probably should have already had at hand.

Mark has made attempts to garden before, but it has taken him a while to figure out the Florida gardening zone. He has finally found out that when the rest of the nation is getting ready for winter, it is time to get ready to garden here. In the past, Mark has planted things in the spring, with dismal results. From pathetic little tulips that melted shortly after sprouting from the earth, to zucchini that never produced a single thing. I was actually happy about the zucchini not working, because I hate zucchini.

I hope the garden works out alright, and Mark can produce a bumper crop. He tells me that vegetables at the grocery store are extremely expensive. I figure that they must be approaching the price of gold, because it cost me a lot of money to purchase the supplies, tools, and seeds for this tiny garden. I figure at the price I paid for all that stuff, the string beans he grows will be worth about one dollar per bean.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blowhard

The first home that my parents purchased was a tract home that had sprouted, along with a few hundred others, in the middle of a former corn field. One of the first things they did was to plant trees and shrubs. My mom was apparently a tree hugger before they had a name for that, and she managed to squeeze six elm trees, six apple trees, a weeping willow, a dogwood, two poplars, and about twenty lilac bushes onto that lot.

I have inherited that tendency, and then some. Over the years I have continuously inserted trees of all sorts into my yard. Even though there is absolutely no room left, I always seem to find room for just one more. It is so bad that my dog Chandler gets lost in the shrubbery, and has actually got tangled in the undergrowth while trying to go poopys. For his sake, today I went out and did a little brush clearing. After a couple of hours of weed whacking, chopping, and cutting of branches, there is now at least some room for my little dog to go out and do his thing without calling in a search party.

The part of yard work that I always disliked the most was the cleanup. Sure it's fun to cut and chop things down, but when you are done you have to rake and scoop it all up. That's why I think the person who invented the leaf blower should get a medal. What a fantastic thing it is. Just turn it on and start blowing all your problems out of the yard and into your neighbors. My old blower recently broke, so I went down to the Home Depot and replaced it with a much more powerful one. The one I bought seems to have taken an engine from a Lear jet, and attached a handle to it. It is great. Now I can blow entire palm fronds into the middle of the street. I have even used it to blow away a pile of gravel that had accumulated in my parking lot. The only drawback I can see, is when my neighbors decide it's time to clean up their yards. I guess that's called blowback.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Snot Funny

Young people be forewarned, when you get old, hair will start popping out of every orifice on your body and then some. Even if you have gone bald on the top of your head, the rest of your body will more than make up for it. In my old age it seems that every day I am tweezing hair out of my ears. The hairs seem to grow like weeds overnight, and if I miss a few days it looks like I have stuck a bottle brush in my ear. My nose is even worse. For some reason my nostrils, which for most of my life fulfilled their purpose of sucking in air totally hair free, have become a snarled mass of coarse hair. It is so bad that if I don't trim the hairs regularly, they grow across the nostril and tickle the other side, causing me uncontrolled fits of sneezing.

The problem of the nose hairs is complicated by my allergies. I am allergic to cats and dogs, so of course I have two cats and a dog in my house. Over the years I have tried many different remedies for my allergies, but most of them have been taken off of the drug store shelves because apparently the folks with the 'small town values' are making crystal meth out of them. My most recent remedy for my allergies is Zyrtec, and it seems to work pretty well. It is those times that even the Zyrtec is not working that I realize that I have forgotten to trim those pesky nose hairs.

Because of my allergies, I always carry a handkerchief with me for those random sneezing fits. I have also developed a disgusting habit of hiding handkerchiefs around the house so that when I do unexpectedly sneeze and the snot is hanging from my nose, I have a quick hanky within easy reach. The hidden hanky that my new puppy, Chandler, seems to be quite fond of is the one I stuff between the cushions of my recliner chair. He seems to really like it. So much so, that he has shredded five of them since he has moved in with me. Over the years, Mark and others have tried to break me of this awful habit of hanky stashing. Little did they know how easy it was, just chew them into little bits, and I will stop leaving them around.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Photo Friday

September 11th 2001















I took the week of September 10th, 2001 off to tear out my old cabinets and put in some new ones. There are many flaws in the job because I spent at least two days in front of the television, and then had to rush the job before I went back to work. I remember where I was when I heard John F. Kennedy had been assasinated. I was watching a fight in our school yard.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Holy Ghost

When we were little kids, we often stayed overnight at our grandparents house on South Ada Street in Chicago. It was usually a fun time. We would explore my grandparents neighborhood, which was exotic to us little suburbanites. I seem to remember a house on the corner that I am pretty sure had livestock in the back yard. Down on Ashland Avenue, we could see people panhandling, and at the time I seriously considered that to be a viable career choice. Just stand out there and people give you money, what's not to like. Obviously as I got older, I realized the folly of that idea. Back at my grandparents house, my grandmother often would bake bread, filling the place with a delicious aroma. In the dining room was a player piano that entertained us for hours. Yes there were a lot of wondrous things to entertain us when visiting grandma and grandpa.

As much fun as that house was for us, it also held some scary and fearful things. Their basement was a dark, dank, cave like place, with piles of coal everywhere, and I always expected some kind of beast to come bounding out from behind one of them. In the attic, accessed by narrow, steep, stairs, were the beds we slept in when we stayed overnight. In that small cramped space, that smelled like a pair of old shoes, our Aunt Mary would tell us ghost stories in the dark. If ever there was a boogeyman hiding under the bed, I'm sure it would have been in that attic.

All that paled by comparison, to what was in my grandparents bedroom. In that room was a terrifying apparition. It was up on the wall, and it scared the hell out of me, which is exactly what it was intended to do. It was a picture of dead Jesus with spooky eyes, and if you stared at it long enough the eyes would pop open. So was this a miracle or optical illusion? It kept me out of my grandparents room and messing things up in there, which is probably what they wanted, so I guess I'd classify that as a miracle.