Thursday, May 28, 2009

Peggy's Guest Blog Number Two

Peggy, Zoe, and the ocular prosthesis
The following is a story by my sister, about her dog Zoe.When I was 15, after 5 years of eye surgeries trying to restore my sight, my right eye was removed as it was too badly damaged. Alan has written about me using it to scare the crap out of him, but I don't remember that. I think it was his imagination about what I COULD do if I "popped" it out in front of him!

When my children were young we had a favorite game....."Find Mommy's Eye". Some kids go on Easter egg hunts, my kids hunted through garbage cans for an artificial eye wrapped in a Kleenex. Like too-tight shoes, a fake eye can also be uncomfortable. Sometimes the eye would get to be so irritating that I would pluck it out and set it on the table, carefully wrapping it in a tissue. Then I would forget and toss it in the trash with any loose papers I was gathering up. At some point a sick feeling would wash over me as I realized it was missing and the 'finding mommy's eye' game was on. The winning kid would always get a prize, and I got my eye back!

Fast forward, now my kids are grown and gone, and I still put the eye down where I shouldn't. Unfortunately I have a wild, devil-dog named Zoe, who picks up anything and everything that she shouldn't. I have pulled tissue, tie-wraps, paper clips, receipts and much more out of her mouth. The other day I was taking the eye up to the bathroom to clean it and put it in its container. Stupidly I stopped to put something in my daughter's old room and must have set it down.....I don't quite remember......all I know is that when I got to the bathroom I didn't have an eye, and the dog who follows me everywhere was nowhere to be seen. I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, and went to find the dog. Zoe tends to hide out in her crate with whatever treasure she has stolen and voilà, there she was cowering in the crate, with my eye laying in front of her staring back at me. After disciplining her, I inspected the eye, and although it hadn't been broken, it did have serious chew marks. Luckily I had a series of my old prosthetics and since I had to work the next day I figured I could wear one of those. One kind of worked, but the longer it was in, the more uncomfortable it became, making me very crabby. By the time I arrived at work I'd had it, I pulled it out and slapped on an eye-patch. Nobody at work asked about my eye, which was kind of a let down, because I was itching to use my old school girl line, "The dog ate it!".Editors note; There will be no anonymous comments allowed for this story, because my sister wants to know who is saying mean things about her. That's understandable, considering this story could have ended with her digging through dog poop in the back yard.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Water On The Brain

I would like to be ecologically responsible, but sometimes just being me makes that difficult. Despite the fact that we have been having tropical downpours every day for the last couple of weeks, we are still statistically in a drought, and we aren't supposed to be wasting water. So today, because of all the rain, I decided to let some of the water out of the pool so that the circulation and cleaning equipment would work properly. I opened the big valve by the pump, and water started gushing out. I figured about ten minutes would be enough to get the level down. While I was waiting, I went back into the house to check on my email. On my way to the email, I made a quick stop at the game site where I started a game of 'Bubbles'. An hour later I remembered the pool. I don't know if this is an early sign of dementia, or that I'm just a numbskull, but if you were to bet on it, pick numbskull. As I ran outside, I could hear the pool pump sucking air, and I could see that the water level had dropped below the intake.After running the garden hose for an hour, and pouring hundreds of gallons of expensive water into the pool, I have it back up to an acceptable level. Just in time for the afternoon downpour, which is filling the pool to the brim again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

He Really Is A Son Of A Bitch

My job, when Mark is cooking out on the grill, is to start the fire. It is the one thing I am really good at. ( Check out me and fire here ) Once the grill is going, I get to just sit back and watch television while Mark makes magic in the kitchen. For the last forty five minutes the aroma of grilled meat, and savory spices has filled the house. Every few minutes I hear the door open and shut as Mark shuttles back and forth between the grill outside and the side dishes cooking in the kitchen. Tonight we are having fajitas with black beans and rice, and the smells coming from the kitchen have the promise of another great meal by Mark. There is one final door closing, followed by what sounds like an angry screech-owl, and a dog running from the kitchen for his life. "It's gone, It's all gone, you crazy son-of-a-bitch!! He ate it all, that crazy dog ate it all!!!", squealed Mark at the top of his lungs. I sneak a peek around the corner, and see one small morsel of steak sitting on the counter where a whole flank steak should be. I am amazed that Chandler missed even that little bit.

It seems that Chandler has discovered that he can now reach the top of the kitchen counter, and that spells trouble for all of us. This has happened before with my previous dog, Molly. She only did it once, and after unleashing the wrath of Mark, she never even considered doing it another time. In addition to Mark's ear splitting screeches that only a dog can totally hear, I realize that I must imprint upon Chandler the gravity of eating daddy's dinner or there will be many more evenings of scouring the refrigerator for leftovers. After a good bawling out, Chandler gets to watch me eat what is left of my dinner through the bars of his prison/crate. "Mmmm, yummy black beans and rice.", I taunt him. "Oooh, such a tasty tortilla with beans.", as I pretend to be enjoying my dinner. But, I don't think it's working. Chandler is laying in his crate, calm as could be, with an entire flank steak digesting in his belly. It makes you wonder, who's training who?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Video Thursday

Finally, after a long drought, we are getting the rains. Our yard is turning green, and the pool is over flowing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tracker Scalp 1997

Well here comes old crotchety Alan again with the good old days.

Back in the late sixties, and early seventies, I went to many rock concerts where I was able to witness groups like The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix, and The Doors. The difference between then and now was that the most I ever paid to see these groups, was eight dollars. The concert that I paid the astronomical amount of eight dollars for was the Rolling Stones, and the seats I got were fifty feet away from Mick Jagger. What's more, I bought those seats a couple of days after they went on sale. Flash forward twenty eight years, to 1997, the last time I saw the Rolling Stones in Miami. For the privilege of sitting as far up in the Orange Bowl as is humanly possible without using supplemental oxygen, and seeing what appeared to be Mick Jagger, the size of an ant, cavorting around on the stage a football field away, I paid seventy five dollars. Is it that there are just more people trying to see these events, or is it the ticket scalpers that have driven the price up?

I have done my part in the past to help encourage the scalpers. Back in 1997, when my older brother called and asked if I wanted to go to the seventh game of the World Series in Miami, I quickly said yes. The only snag was, we didn't have tickets. So on game night I slowly cruised down the dimly lit streets around Joe Robbe Stadium in my little convertible, while my brother asked the various ne'er-do-wells hanging around if they had any tickets. When one guy finally said yes, we stopped. "Four hundred dollars", the guy said. Almost at the same time that I replied "No, too much!", my brother pulled out a wad of cash the size of a Chicago soft ball, and said "Okay!". This was not a good neighborhood, and when I saw my brother pull out that cash I put the car in reverse, and started pulling away. The guy with the tickets ran after the car, waving frantically and yelled "Okay, okay, two hundred!". I slammed on the brakes, and we got two tickets to the right field stands, where we got to see the Florida Marlins win their first World Series. When I think back about it, we didn't know if the tickets were authentic, we were two white guys cruising around a neighborhood where we, shall we say, stood out, and my brother was waving around a huge wad of cash. I guess that's what's called dumb luck.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Write It Down

It's Saturday morning, and I am cleaning out my pockets from the night before. There are a pile of one-dollar bills, a couple of fives, and a lot more twenties than what I thought I had. I must have used the ATM to get that last round of drinks. Among the cash are two free drink chips, and a pack of matches. I don't smoke. I use matches, or whatever is handy, to write down ideas for stories when I am drinking in a bar. You would be surprised how many ideas I come up with after a couple of vodkas. I open the matches, and yes, there it is, I have scrawled something inside. The problem is that my handwriting is so bad that I don’t have a clue what it is that I wrote down. It looks like I wrote something about 'twelve years'. Mark and I have been together for twelve years, so maybe it’s an idea for a story about living with Mark. I have also written down something that looks to me like ‘tracker scalp 1997’. What the hell does that mean?

I have always had horrible handwriting. My scribbles today don't look much different than what I did in first grade. My cursive penmanship is even worse. No matter how much I try to write beautiful flowing letters, it all comes out wrong. When I send out a greeting card and include a nice heartfelt note, it looks more like a chimpanzee wrote it. If you add alcohol to the equation, my writing becomes totally incomprehensible. Thank goodness for the computer. At least with Microsoft Word, I can communicate clearly, and do it in at least a hundred and fifty different fonts. As for what I wrote down in the bar Friday night, I guess I will have to down a few vodkas and re-read that matchbook.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Are We Rolling?

I was standing outside a bar on our main street the other evening, when, like a ghost out of my past, a forty something year old Volkswagen Microbus clattered by. In 1969 when I was nineteen years old and a budding hippie, I purchased the de rigueur vehicle for all hippies, a Volkswagen Microbus. I hippied it up with a little paint and some curtains, and voilà, I had a rolling pot den. The problem was that I should have known better than to get a Volkswagen with all the bad luck I had with them in the past.

My first bit of bad luck came some years before, while I accompanied my older brother on a trip up to Great Lakes Naval Base, in his 1954 VW Beetle. While tearing down the Illinois Tollway at the Beetles top speed, about sixty miles per hour, I noticed a tire and wheel rolling along side our car. Seconds later, as a horrible scraping sound filled the car, the source of the rogue wheel became apparent. We screeched along the pavement for hundreds of feet, sparks flying as the brake drum gouged a groove in the road. With a grassy ditch and bridge quickly approaching, I screamed like a little girl while my brother fought to control the car. Luckily my brother did manage to guide us to a safe stop a few feet before we would have plunged off the bridge to the highway below. I think my mom had to use extra bleach on my underwear that week.

My second bit of bad luck came while cruising around and smoking pot with my cousin in his Volkswagen Beetle. We drove out into the countryside, so that our pot smoking wouldn't be noticed by anyone. As we puttered along the country roads, the little car filled with a cloud of marijuana smoke, and in his altered state, my cousin misjudged a ninety degree turn. The car slid off the pavement, into the gravel, and started a slow roll down the embankment while I, in my pot stupor, watched the world turning over and over through the windshield. Far out, I thought, until I noticed the blood running down my arm. We survived that wreck, but I still didn't learn my lesson.

For my final bit of bad Volkswagen luck, I managed to blow up the engine in my hippie microbus twice, and ended up stranded in Pennsylvania. That was a pain in the ass, yet when I saw that beat-up old Volkswagen Microbus rattle past the other evening, a twinge of nostalgia came over me. The problem is I'm not sure if the nostalgia is for the Volkswagen, or the pot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Photo Friday

1962 Ford Galaxie 500XL
This is not my photo, but is what I drove when I was eighteen years old.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Video Thursday

This short video is not mine, but when I saw it, it cracked me up.

Then again, I'm easily amused.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lard Ass

Last week Mark brought home a couple of Big Macs, with fries, for lunch. Mickey D's must have been doing a two for one deal, or Mark wouldn't have sprung for lunch at such a prestigious restaurant. Of course, I love Big Macs. Back when I was in my twenties and skinnier than a model with a eating disorder, I was addicted to those things. I think they might have been putting heroin in the secret sauce because I couldn't go for more than one day without one. As good as I considered the Big Mac to be, it was the french fries that really made the meal. You see back then, in the nineteen seventies, McDonald's used beef tallow for frying up its spuds. Beef tallow imparted a delicious flavor that has never been reproduced since McDonalds switched to some kind of "healthier" oil. I just know that I never thought of McDonalds as health food. It was junk food, I knew it, and I wanted my junk fried in beef tallow.

Yesterday, Mark and I went to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. Everything seemed routine, including the waiter informing us not to touch our plates because they had just been put through a blast furnace, but when he put those plates down we knew something was different. The food didn't look very appetizing, not as we remembered it from the last time we ate there. The refried beans were a thin soupy puddle, that oozed out and around everything else on the plate. The fact that I could have made a better quesadilla at home, wasn't the real problem. It was those refried beans. Yuck! Once again, I go back to the nineteen seventies, when I used to eat in Mexican restaurants all over Chicago. Back then refried beans were made with lard. Lard gave the beans a flavor that no bean on earth can duplicate alone. Apparently the whole world has decided that I need to eat more healthy foods, and they are telling me "screw you" if I happen to want something that tastes better than Styrofoam. The good thing is that I always have Mark. Back at home, Mark delivers meals made the good old ways. Lots of fat, calories, and carbs. Maybe that's why he keeps bugging me to write my will.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dog School

Yesterday was dog walking day at the shelter, and for the first time I didn't have any help. I was the lone walker for the big dogs. I walked nine dogs, a total of three miles. Without other people there to chat with while walking the dogs, I had time to contemplate these dogs lot in life, and what I've learned from them.I've learned that sometimes when the sign on the door of the kennel says, 'This dog bites', it means that the dog will bite you. Other times it just means that the dog will bite other people. The only way to figure it out is to open the gate. I have found that Ace the German Sheppard will bite me, Candy the Chihuahua will bite me, but Caesar the Husky/Sheppard mix likes me too much to bite me. I like Caesar.

Here at home, Chandler has been teaching me dog things also. First, if you invite a dog to jump up into your bed just once, you can be sure that the bed is no longer yours, it's his, and he will grudingly let you sleep in it. Secondly, no matter how badly a dog has to go poop, or pee, if the first thing he sees when he goes out the door is a lizard, he will forget all about pooping until fifteen minutes after he has come back into the house. Chasing the lizard is much more important. Finally, I have learned that some dogs develop a respect for a large cat with long sharp claws. While other dogs will continue to harass the cat, no matter how many times he gets clawed. Molly figured it out, Chandler still hasn't.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Think I Hate That

"Mr. Marks, by mandate of the District of Columbia Precrime Division, I'm placing you under arrest for the future murder of Sarah Marks and Donald Dubin that was to take place today, April 22 at 0800 hours and four minutes."
From the movie Minority Report.

That movie was about a government that used psychics to find out who was thinking of committing a crime so that they could be arrested before the crime. That was science fiction, I hope.

I have always been of the opinion that what goes on inside a persons head, their way of thinking, and what they are thinking of, is the most private of realms. The first amendment guarantees freedom of speech. I think there should also be a guarantee of free thought. In fact I think freedom of thought should be even more sacred than freedom of speech, religion, or the right to walk around with a gun.

That's why I don't support hate crime laws. Basically hate crime laws tack on extra punishment if you happen to hate somebody who is black, gay, Catholic, etc., and beat them up or kill them. What's the difference if you assault somebody because you hate the fact that they are gay, or you do it because you are drunk and hate the fact that they looked at you wrong? You still hate them. No, I think hate crime laws open up a can of worms, where the government gets to determine what you were thinking of when you committed a crime, and punishes you extra hard if what you were thinking wasn't correct. A murder is a murder, an assault is an assault, they both hurt the recipient of that crime no matter the reason, and the punishment should be appropriate. It's a slippery slope when the government starts passing laws about how people are thinking, and I would rather they didn't go there.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Photo Friday

Where was this photo taken?

Peggy guessed correctly, Chicago.

Here is another one that I took while on that walk.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

String of Pearls

Chandler is an extremely oral dog. He constantly needs something in his mouth, and whether it's Mark's leg, Mark's arm, or a chewy strip, it doesn't matter to him, just so he has something to chew on. Lately he has taken more of a liking to shoes. I can never count on my shoes being where I left them, often one will be left were I put it, and the other will be in my office with the insole separated from it. Thankfully he doesn't really chew the shoes or the insoles, he just likes to carry them around the house like a trophy.

Unfortunately there are some things that he loves to chew, and then swallow. Besides cat poop, cat gack*, and cat food, he loves anything that shreds easily, or can be chewed into small enough pieces to fit down his gullet. One delicacy that Chandler cannot resist, is used dental floss. Despite my warnings to Mark, he often leaves his used floss in an open trash can that Chandler looks upon as his personal trash buffet. I am not sure what it takes to move that floss from Chandlers mouth, through his body and beyond, but it does make its way on through. More than once I have witnessed the amazing poop on a string effect, caused by Chandlers ingestion of dental floss, or some other fibrous material. The worst part of that scenario isn't Chandler trying to squeeze the offending material out, it's me running around with a paper towel, trying to grab it and pull the string of turds the rest of the way out.

*cat gack: anything that comes flying out of a cats mouth. i.e., hairballs, rat parts, treats well meaning people have been feeding the cat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Does It Hurt When I Poke Your Eye With This Stick?

Yesterday was eye doctor day. Every six months I go to the eye doctor, voluntarily, for a series of tests and procedures that are just slightly more bothersome than waterboarding. After poking at my eyes, taking photos with a flash brighter than the sun, and finally having the doctor personally peering into them with an airplane landing light, I have been declared 'Just as blind as the last time I went through this'. What is amazing, is that as fragile as the doctor says my eyes are, he has no problem treating them like two balls of silly putty. Personally, I think the doctor is just a little sadistic, and he might be milking the insurance company with all these tests.My eyesight is the reason I have quit driving, and the reason my last employer decided that they didn't want me monkeying around with their equipment. There was even something mentioned about lawsuits just before they "laid me off". So now I go through my little bit of torture every six months, and hope that things aren't getting worse. I'm really pulling for the doctor to keep me seeing at least a little bit of the world around me. I just wish he could do it without blinding me with those bright lights.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Trampa Turística

This past week, Mark and I had a taste for tapas, and since I had a coupon for a tapas restaurant in Hollywood, Florida, off we went. I should have suspected this place when we first walked in. It was empty, and there wasn’t another diner in the place besides us. As soon as we were seated we ordered drinks, and at the same time I asked for ice water. Instead of ice water, our waitress brought us a large green bottle of pricey imported water, which Mark immediately rejected. "I want ice water, not bottled water." he told her. Suddenly she couldn't speak English, and pantomimed that our only option was the green bottle. "You have ice behind the bar, right?", I asked. "Si", she replied. "And you have a water faucet somewhere in this building, right?", again she replied, "Si". "Well put them together in a glass and bring it to me.". "No".

I hate it when I get suckered into one of these tourist trap restaurants, but that is what happened. Over priced food, bad service, and you get nickel and dimed to death over every little extra. One crappy little dish on the menu that consisted of just a few slices of cheese and eight micro-thin sliced pieces of ham, cost twenty dollars. I knew we were in a tourist restaurant, when as the place filled up, and the flamenco dancers prepared to start their show, we were asked for a forty five dollar cover charge if we wanted to stay. As tempting as it was to stay and get ripped off for more money, Mark and I paid our bill and got the hell out of there. I’m sure the flamenco dancers were quite entertaining, and after a few high priced drinks the tourists were happy. I suspect though, that the real purpose of the stomping dancers, was to shake whatever money the customers still had, out of their pockets.