Monday, November 30, 2009

My Thanksgiving Guests

It must have been the aroma of Mark's Thanksgiving meal that attracted them. No, not the gaggle of guests that I didn't necessarily like. They were invited by Mark. No, it's the rats in the attic. Around five o‘clock Friday morning, I awoke to take one of my many nocturnal trips to the bathroom, and I could hear the unmistakable patter of little feet in the ceiling above me. The beasts were having a party up there, running back and forth, knocking bits of plaster loose that rattled just above my head.

It’s the start of the rodent season here in Florida, that time when the iguanas go dormant, and the rats look for a warm, inviting home to invade. The lovely smell of turkey and stuffing, combined with a nice cold snap has drawn the little bastards into my attic. So it's off to Home Depot later to stock up on rat poison.

Sixteen years ago, when I bought this property, I inherited a couple of yard cats, Attica and Carl. In addition, one of my neighbors allowed her cat, Tigger, to hang out over here. Combined with my two indoor cats, they kept the rat population down to just a few hundred. The last of those yard cats disappeared a few months ago, and I am afraid that we are going to have a rat population this year of biblical proportions. It will be okay, the poison will get them out of my attic for the time being. It usually works fast, and within a few days I won‘t hear them dancing around up there all night. At least It'll be easier to get rid of the rats than it was to get rid of Mark's guests Thanksgiving evening. Those bastards stayed here forever, sucking down wine, food, and my vodka. If I hadn’t eventually hidden the booze, and turned out the lights, they probably would still be here.

(Click on picture for disgusting details)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Does This Taste Funny To You?

It was about ten years ago that I thought I had been poisoned at a local diner. Not wanting to be sued for slander or some such thing, I will call it 'Pee Pee's Diner' (not the real name). At the time I was pretty sure that the meal I had eaten there, which I had mentioned to Mark "tastes funny", made me sick. After I recovered I made a pronouncement to Mark that Pee Pee's was now off limits. Mark was a little sorry to hear that since it was one of his favorite places for cheap eats, but I stood my ground and we didn't eat there for years.

A couple of years ago I let Mark talk me into trying Pee Pee's again. I was swayed somewhat by the glowing reports of others who swore it was the best place for breakfast, and that they never had a bad meal there. So for the last couple of years we have been eating breakfast there at least once a week. Two eggs over easy, home fried potatoes, and two pieces of toast, every time. Then there was this morning. I ordered the usual, and started in with the same gusto I do every time. After a couple of bites I said to Mark, "These potatoes don't taste fresh. They taste like they've been sitting around for a while." I then continued to shovel potatoes, eggs, and buttered toast, down my gullet.

Well, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and you can't be fooled again, or something like that. As of this afternoon I have hugged the porcelain five times. The first four times I barfed up small amounts while Chandler stood next to me lamenting such a waste of food. Finally on the fifth visit I opened up like a fire hydrant on a summer afternoon, and emptied the contents of my stomach and maybe even a few feet of small intestine into the toilet. I feel much better after that last barf, but I have made the pronouncement again to Mark. We will never, ever, even if Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, and Sarah Palin tell me it's the greatest food on earth, eat at Pee Pee's Diner again!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sweet Potatoes and Other Brown Foods

Chandler and I have just returned from our morning walk, and he has jumped up on the bed to give Mark his customary wake up kisses. Mark seems to enjoy the love he gets from Chandler in this morning ritual, so I let it go on. What I don't have the heart to tell Mark, as the dog lays a big slobbery kiss on his face, is that Chandler has been sampling his favorite street food again, dog shit. It's something new for him. Lately Chandler will find a particularly sweet smelling spot in the grass where another dog has pooped, and start licking. He does it so fast that it takes me a few seconds to realize what he's doing, and by the time I can jerk him away from it, he has had his taste.

Here at our house, we are getting ready for a different taste. Thanksgiving! This is the holiday that Mark plans for all year. For weeks he has been scouring his cook books for recipes, and tearing out coupons for the grocery store in anticipation of this one meal. It looks to be another overproduced, overstuffed, and delicious holiday. I only have a couple of problems with it. First of all, Mark has invited people to dinner that I don't like. It seems that all my friends, and the friends of Mark that I can tolerate, have other plans, so I will have to put up with the guests we have, not the guests I want. Luckily Mark has stocked up on extra bottles of wine, and I have a full bottle of vodka in the bar, so at least I'll think I'm having fun. The other thing I would like to change, is the fact that Mark makes too much food. Too much in quantity, and too much in variety. Some things must be on the menu, like turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes, stuffing, Mark's mac and cheese, and of course his famous greens. Unfortunately, Mark does not do it in moderation, and I end up eating that stuff for weeks. What I have told him that I don't really need to see, are the sweet potatoes. I really don't need to have that orangey, brown colored goop, with marshmallows on it, sitting on the table. The worst part about it is if I eat the sweet potatoes, Chandler will probably think I'm doing the same thing I yell at him for doing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Not Fast Asleep, Just Fast

It is around four thirty in the morning and I have given up. Mark is snoozing soundly, the dog is sleeping draped across the foot of the bed, while Fat Kitty sleeps without care just two inches from my face. Not me, I have been tossing and turning for two hours already and I have decided to just stop trying. I hate insomnia. It always starts the same. I go to bed feeling very sleepy, and fall into it quite easily, then something jars me awake. Tonight it was Mark coming home from another one of his festive nights, dancing, and drinking without me. Don't get me wrong, I love it that he goes out. It leaves me home alone, in a house that finally has fallen silent. Honestly, sometimes staying home all day with Mark is like living with a parrot on crack. He loves to talk, and after too many hours of it, the silence is like a soothing balm to my nerves.

The problem with laying in bed awake, in the middle of the night, is that your mind starts grinding away. Laying there tonight, I was thinking about crazy things I've done in the past that I have no way of ever changing. I found myself feeling bad about something that I used to do almost forty years ago. I used to scare the hell out of passengers when I drove a taxi in Chicago. Instead of falling asleep, I was feeling bad about the terror I had inflicted on total strangers. You see, I could have been a race car driver when I was young, but without any way of breaking into that profession, I became a cab driver. I had great vision, great timing, and excellent depth perception. Add to that the fact that I was not afraid to drive as fast as possible, made driving a cab, a natural. What was bothering me tonight is that I put people in danger. I used to have a trick where I could catch all the green lights on Michigan Avenue, from the Hilton all the way to the Drake, a distance of two miles. To do this I had to get up to sixty miles per hour, and weave in and out of traffic, all the while leaning on the horn to scatter unwary pedestrians who had wandered out into the street. Meanwhile, the hapless saps in the back seat were desperately holding on to whatever they could, and if they were screaming, I couldn't hear them over the incessant horn honking.

I never got a ticket for driving like that, nor was I in an accident, and my passengers would always pay quickly, usually throwing the money over the seat and shouting over their shoulder as they ran away, "keep, it kid!". I might have even seen one of them kissing the ground after he got out. I guess karma and conscience have a way of getting back at you when you've done wrong. In my case it is writing about feeling bad at five o'clock in the morning.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Photo Friday

This is $600 worth of pipe, valve, and chrome.

For sixteen years my bathtub has had a slow drip.
The cats liked it because it was always a source of fresh water when daddy was drunk and forgot to refill their water bowl. I have finally got around to getting it repaired, and now I will have to be more attentive to the cats needs.

(Russell thinks it looks like a Studebaker)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Video Thursday

I was watching the news and saw this on the local NBC channel here in Miami. Stupid me didn't think to TiVo it, so I had to find the video for my blog from another source. Here is the WGN Television video of it. Basically it is about the top places to raise children in the United States. The number one location made me pee in my pants.

Now it's not that I don't agree with their findings, it's just that I'm amazed that my home town where I grew up is number one. Fifty years ago, when the population was just around 5000, it was a kids paradise, but now? Every time I return it just looks like another cookie cutter suburb, with too many strip malls, and lot's of chain restaurants. Other than the quaint old center of the town, it is boring. Also, the cool, scary woods that we used to play in have been subdivided into homes, and what is left is just a sterile park.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bonnie Hunt x 7

Some people eat meatloaf, and call it comfort food. Others like to try and re-create life as they knew it fifty years ago to make themselves feel all warm and fuzzy. I like to watch the Bonnie Hunt Show. I had never considered why Bonnie Hunt made me feel good before. I just assumed that I was being entertained during one of the most starkly bad programming periods of the day, and just about anything would be amusing. It took Mark to point out exactly why I was drawn to her like a moth to a flame, "She sounds just like your sisters!" he squeaked. It's true, she is all my seven sisters rolled up into one woman. She is loud, and my sisters are loud, she's funny, and my sisters are funny, but most of all she sounds like my sisters. It is the unmistakable nasal tone of the Midwest, and the Chicago area in particular that I hear every day on the television. Creepy isn't it.

So every day I get reminded of Christmas and other holiday's past. Those raucous times, when my sisters all get together and start talking and laughing at the same time, kind of like the View on steroids, except without the obnoxious View hosts. I'm telling you, a family party wouldn't be the same without that shrill, twang of Midwestern female voices filling the house, at decibels well beyond the comfort level. And what of the brothers, husbands, and other various men-folk? Well, that's what basements, rec-rooms, and garages are for. Especially if there is a working TV with a football game on it. My only problem at these gatherings, is that I could never decide which room I'm supposed to be in.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Visions of Sugar Plums...... and Ants

Merry Christmas everybody. Isn't this a wonderful time of year? Disney's 'A Christmas Carol' is showing at the theaters, Christmas shows are popping up all over television, and the Sunday newspaper, and our mailbox are stuffed with fliers filled with Christmas gift ideas. The only problem is that Christmas is six goddamned weeks away. All the horror that is Christmas, is still to come.

In two weeks Mark will start nagging me to pull the musty old tree out of the shed. If things are the same as they have been in the past, I will have to go armed with a can of Raid to fight off the hoards of ants that tend to make their home in the thing. After I drag that vermin infested tree into the house, and erect it in the living room, Mark will start whining about stringing lights outside. In the past, I have tried leaving the lights up all year round, but I got quite a bit of crap about that from Mark and the tenants. Besides all the extra work decorating and rearranging things, I also have to figure out what to get Mark for Christmas. It's not bad enough that I have to buy him Christmas gifts, his birthday is December 23rd, and for some reason he thinks that he also deserves something for that. Luckily, Mark has registered with, and all I have to do is look up what he wants. It's so easy, they have all my information, and all I have to do is pick out what I need, and click, it's purchased, and shipped. I'm sure dreamt that up to get guys like me to purchase things on a whim after we've been out drinking. It worked, I use it often late on Friday nights.

I really wish people would not push Christmas so early, and so hard. The only part about the holiday that I really do like, is around six in the evening on December 25th. That's when Mark puts a fantastic meal in front of me, and I eat until it hurts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Help Me! Help Me!

Right now at this very moment, Mark is being a gigantic flaming asshole. He is calling me names, and throwing crap around in the kitchen. His rant today is being caused by a fly that he claims I purposely let in the back door. "I can't cook with a goddamned fly in the kitchen!! Every goddamned day you let a goddamned fly in! You dumb, jackass, goddamned, sonofabitch!!!", and that's the cleaned up version. He uses even more despicable language than I have the nerve to put in a story my mom will probably read.

It seems that there are a species of fly who have an intelligence above and beyond the average fly. They apparently know exactly what days Mark cooks dinner, and the exact time that I will be opening the door to throw out the garbage, and they are able to coordinate their being outside the door with those times. It is quite amazing, I open the door for five seconds to throw the bag of garbage in the can, and bzzzzzzzt, in a fat hungry fly comes. It happens every time, and I don't know how to stop it. The problem is that Mark has no tolerance for bugs in the kitchen, and for that I am happy, but how the hell is it my fault that these flies have figured out how to get in on eating Mark's cooking? I don't think I'm going to be able to outsmart these flies, but I did just get an idea of what to get Mark for his birthday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Video Thursday

Often, in the middle of the night, Chandler will be snuggled up in the bed between Mark and me. Unfortunately, if one of the cats walks through the room, he will jump up and stomp all over me on his way to chase the offending cat. I don't know how he hears them, they are not audible to the human ear, but I think I have found the answer to the problem in the video below.

I hope the video is still here when you see this, because it is taken off the television (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and You Tube often deletes those.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Hope He Doesn't Try To Bury A Smart Car

I just got back from taking Chandler for his walk and I am lucky to still have an arm and a dog. It seems that he has picked up some very crazy behavior, and it might be my fault. When he was young, he would try to chase down bicycles, and skate boarders, then one day he tried to catch a school bus. I thought it was funny and kind of gave him a little extra leash. It seemed to amuse the kids on the bus, so the next morning I let him try to catch the bus again. Whatever the hell is going on in his mind when he does that is anybody's guess, but I'm sure he wouldn't know what to do with the bus if he did catch it. Unfortunately, he now wants to run down everything that passes us as we walk down the road.

This evening, As Chandler was pooping in his designated spot on the church lawn, a small car quietly rolled by. It was so silent that I didn't hear it until it was almost right next to us. Chandler, however, heard it. He immediately stopped his pooping, and tore off after the car, barking wildly, and in the process wrenching my arm almost out of the socket. Amazingly, he actually caught this one, and scared the hell out of me as he bounced off the door. Chandler is fine, and the car and it's driver have recovered, but damn, what am I going to do if too many of those new silent electric cars start showing up? I'll have to get Chandler a helmet.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blind Faith

Mark is a news junkie. When he isn't watching Top Chef, Project Runway, Real Housewives of 'fill in the blank', or any of those other un-reality shows, he's watching the news. This morning he came breathlessly into my office, and started going on and on about Sammy Sosa having whitened his skin. In other words, he Michael Jacksoned himself. As usual I kept poking away on the computer until I stopped hearing Mark's high pitched rant, then I started to give my opinion. After about thirty seconds of telling Mark about Blacks, Whites, and my own age-spots, I realized that other than my voice, there wasn't another sound in the room. Mark had disappeared. Once again he had screwed with the blind man.

Because of my poor eyesight, and almost total loss of peripheral vision, I often miss things, like people entering or leaving a room. This time Mark had started a conversation and then quietly slipped out of the room. The worst is when we are out somewhere, and Mark disappears. More than once I have been going on, and on about personal things, only to turn and find some horrified old lady standing where I thought Mark was. It is a good thing that they came out with that Blue Tooth gadget for the cell phone, because now if I get caught in one of my one-sided conversations, I just put my hand up to my ear and say, "I'll call you back later mom, bye".

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chandler is That You?

On television and in the movies, you always see a person in a lovely, roomy, bathtub, surrounded by candles. These people are always happy and obviously enjoying themselves. It's not that way in my life, I find baths boring and inconvenient. I prefer showers.

As part of the therapy that my butt doctor prescribed, I am supposed to sit in a super hot bath once a day. So Saturday night, there I was, sitting in our crummy little tub with the radio on, and no candles. Once in a while one of the cats or Chandler would wander in to say hello and break up the monotony, but other than that it was a bore. I had been sitting there about ten minutes, and had just said goodbye to Chandler when the room suddenly went black. Not just dark, but pitch black, with not even a pin hole of light to be seen. The power had gone out again. I sat there for a few seconds waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, but there was no adjusting to be done because the entire neighborhood had gone black. Still sitting there, naked, in the dark, in the tub, I suddenly felt the warm wetness of Chandler's tongue on my cheek. It was time to get out of there. Lest I leave you with the image of me stumbling around the house naked and wet, searching for a flashlight, I'll tell you that I had a towel handy.

It took the power company three hours to finally turn the electric back on, and having no TV, or even a light to read by, I settled in with a couple of cocktails, and listened to the silence. I’ll still do my little sitz bath in the future, but the next time I’ll light the candles before I get in the tub. It’ll be so romantic.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Have A Stalker

I don't know if it is the same everywhere, but here in South Florida when you are going through the mall parking lot, you often get stuck behind a very slow moving car. The car is moving slowly because the driver is stalking somebody who is walking to their car. There can be hundreds of open spaces just fifty feet away, but no, these mopes are moving along at a snails pace, and then blocking the aisle while the person who's space they are coveting, loads up their vehicle with bags and bags of crap. Mark, is one of those stalkers.

We go out every Friday for a few drinks, and usually the parking is quite scarce, so Mark stalks. This past Friday, Mark spotted a couple of old guys coming from the wrinkle room across from the bar we hang out in. It was an agonizingly slow procession, as Mark pulled up behind them while they doddered along. When they finally got to their car, it took them at least five minutes to just open the doors and get in, then it took almost as long before we finally saw the lights come on, followed by a very slow crawl out of the parking space. At last we were able to pull into the spot. I say they were purposely taking their time and being dicks, just to screw with us, something that I would never do. However, even though I don't drive anymore, sometimes I do like to walk through parking lots with my keys out. I often can get a ten car parade behind me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Alabama Chinaman

"Three? Three? Why do you have three barbecue grills?" my friend Russell asked. It's simple, I have the gas grill that is basically a rusted out hulk, just so that when we get hit with a hurricane I can use the gas burner on it. Then there is the kettle type charcoal grill that Mark has been using for the last three years. It has served its life well, and delivered many a delicious meal, but it too has been reduced to a rusted out shell, much like a thirty year old Dodge. That is why we got the new smoker grill, made in the great country of China. The fact is that absolutely everything you purchase is now made in China, and I have learned to adjust my expectations. When I opened the box up and read the instructions, I wasn't surprised to find out that it was written in bad English and that it contained at least three errors. Believe it or not, I got the thing put together in one try, with only one stripped screw, and about fifty 'f*ck's. I probably did fling around a few racial slurs about the Chinese and there god awful quality of manufacturing, but I figure if I'm the only one out in the back yard it doesn't count. Kind of like the, if a tree falls in the woods thing.

The best part about our new smoker grill, is that I finished putting it together in plenty of time for Mark to make dinner on it. He's out there right now making something called Alabama Chicken, and I'm sure it will be great, but I think he should have done the inaugural barbecue with something Chinese, like Char Siu or maybe some delicious 烤 肉 雞. I'm told that last thing means 'barbecued chicken'. I hope so, if it means anything else, like roast dog, or cat, I apologize.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Skinny Black Guys

When I was a kid, I never liked it when Halloween landed on a Saturday. You just never knew when it was the right time to start trick or treating. Noon, or early afternoon, or did you wait until the sky started getting dark, and scary things could happen like the soaping of windows and the egging of other kids? Of course there were always those greedy little assholes who would come around as soon as the sun came up. They didn't get any candy from our house. Halloween on a school night was easier, because you had no choice. By the time you got home, and put on your costume, the sun had already started its dip behind the trees. I also liked it when the next day was a school day, because you could always see which kid had used indelible ink or shoe polish on their face. It made me feel a little bit better that I hadn't been so stupid.

As usual, this Halloween Mark put a bowl of candy next to the front door. Nobody has trick or treated on this street in the sixteen years that I have lived here, and there is no reason on earth for him to put that out there. I know Mark only does it to sabotage any chance I would have of losing a few pounds. In fact, so far, I have only attacked that candy once, for a Butterfinger. I love Butterfingers, and if that is the only one that I eat over the next few days, then I am sure that I have the self control to modify my diet.

Saturday night Mark dressed up for the big party here in town. He turned himself into Michael Jackson, as if that was such a stretch. Every year he just figures out who is the most famous skinny black guy in the news, and 'BAM!', Mark has a costume. Once again I dressed up as a middle aged, overweight, gay guy, had a few drinks, and then went home. It was perfect.