Thursday, December 30, 2010

Photo Friday

If you remember from an earlier post we were fighting the building of a gigantic, five story, resort in the middle of our neighborhood. They wanted to tear down the church where Chandler poops, and build it there. It was to be a gay resort with an outside disco and party area on the top floor. Nobody in the neighborhood was for it, so we got together and protested it. Our protests included yard signs that said, "No to the G Resort at the Church" (G Resort is the name of the resort).
Well, we won. They pulled out of the deal, and last night we had a little party to celebrate.

Video Thursday

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

China Syndrome

 What's wrong with this picture? (Hint, it's circled)

The unemployment rate in the United States is hovering at just under ten percent, and some people can't figure out why.

We had a very nice Christmas here at our house. I received lots of nice things. I got a new video camera, made in China (Look for Alicia and Alexis in HD). I also got some blank cd's, and dvd's, made in China. A label maker, made in China. A very smart flannel shirt (Just in time for the frigid Florida weather), made in China. Some great headphones that sound better than my speakers, also made in China. And finally, Mark got me a new office chair. It's covered in a very nice leather substitute (Vinyl), and is much wider than my old one so that my fat ass won't feel crowded. Guess where it was manufactured?

So this Christmas, despite my distaste for all U.S. manufacturing having been shipped off to China, I liked everything that Mark got me. My only problem was the new office chair. It came un-assembled. After an hour of struggling to put the damn thing together, it was time to plant my big ass in it and try it out. As I wriggled around in it, I could feel that something just wasn't right. The back was leaning forward, and the seat seemed to be trying to slide me towards the front and off on to the floor. My first inclination was to start cursing the Chinese, and their shoddy workmanship, but that wasn't the problem. It turned out that I had put the chair together wrong. I couldn't blame the Chinese, the instructions were clear, and the labels on all the parts were in large type, and correctly spelled. The parts even fit together easily, and spare parts were included in case I did something stupid and lost one, which I did. So in a fit of cursing and bitching, I tore the chair apart, and re-assembled it correctly. Maybe this is an indication of why American manufacturers have moved all their factories over to China, but I'd like to think that I'm an exception. That is, exceptionally inept at following instructions.

By the way, remember that sewing machine I swore I wouldn't get Mark? It's sitting under the Christmas tree, and it was made in China.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Canine Hygiene

On the day before Christmas our home smelled of fresh pine, the aroma of Mark's preparations for our Christmas day meal, and  two wet dogs. It made my eyes water.

I couldn't have Chandler and Sasha stinking up the house for Christmas, so on Christmas eve I gave them both a bath. The short period of wet dog smell was far superior to allowing them to continue their smelly ways. You see, the fact is that when I walk the two of them together they seem to get into a pissing contest. Walk three feet and pee, smell where you just peed, and then walk three more feet and pee. Chandler, though pretty good at getting his leg up in the air for a clear shot, tends to pee against shrubbery that funnels the urine down the leaves, and back towards his legs, thus producing that lovely stale Frito's odor on his feet. Sasha, always trying to get in on the action of marking territory with Chandler, often can't wait for him to finish, and squats right under him. She doesn't seem to mind getting a little Chandler spray on herself, and my screams of horror don't seem to convey the message that golden showers are disgusting. So it was that I took Chandler outside and gave him a cold bath under the spray of the garden hose. Sasha had it a little better. She is small enough that I can take her into the warm shower with me, and with one small handful of shampoo, get her scrubbed down.

So for Christmas we had two sweet smelling hounds, who even as guests were arriving, were out in the dog run peeing on each other. Later that night, as Mark lay in bed with Sasha snuggled up next to his pillow, I marveled at how stinky theses two dogs could get in just one day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Carlotta

I'm not an atheist because that would mean I believe in no higher power or being with certitude. I don't. Nor do I think I am an agnostic, because that would mean I believe that if there were a god, we couldn't prove it one way or another. What I am is a guy who doesn't believe in religion or any of the theories about life, and a possible afterlife that have been put forward. Don't get me wrong, I love the ideas. Like the idea that we have souls that transcend this physical existence. I really enjoy contemplating what if. What if reincarnation were for real. What if, if you die a martyr, you get a bunch of virgins to hang out with (what an awful thought, inexperienced sex partners). And what of the Christian belief that if you die with a clean soul, you get to hang out with Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost for eternity. That one sounds a bit boring. Satan actually sounds more entertaining, except of course for the burning part.

This holiday weekend was a little sad for me. Besides the sad fact that I had to spend money buying Mark presents that will only end up as more clutter, my oldest kitty, Carlotta died. She was never the friendliest cat, but she loved me. Ever since that October evening seventeen years ago that I bent over and scooped that little gray kitten up into my arms, she was my cat. Not Mark's, not Garrett's, mine. She had no use for anybody but me.

I'd like to think that skinny little Carlotta went on to her next life. Maybe reincarnated as one of those 'Real Housewives' from Bravo. Or, maybe there is a kitty cat heaven. A place where cats chase the dogs, and they get to spend eternity in the warm lap of a human who never kicks them off. Any way, Carlotta was very sick and dying. I made the awful decision to euthanize her. She wasn't the first cat, or dog, that I had to make that decision for, yet it wasn't any easier this time. I was a bawling mess, all for a little gray cat. I only hope that when it comes time for Mark to pull the plug on me, he feels just as horrible.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Photo Friday

The Department Store Santa
What did you expect? He lost his job today.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cussin' Santa

Looking back, it was like there were two different families who celebrated Christmas in our house. The first group grew up in the 1950's and early 60's and had a dad who was a lean, hard working young guy. The group who grew up in the later 60's and 70's, had a father who was a fat old guy, who not only worked hard, but belonged to various clubs, probably as a way to get out of a house crawling with kids. No, my mom didn't divorce the skinny young one, and marry the old man, they were both the same guy.

One thing that carried through during all those Christmases was that my dad swore a lot. Whether the skinny young dude, or the fat old man, Christmas meant my dad would at some point get frustrated, and break out into a really decent string of profanity. I've even heard of him being referred to by some of the younger ones, as the Cussin' Santa. Sometimes it would be so bad I feared that a major blood vessel would burst out of his forehead like an out of control fire hose. I am totally sympathetic to my dad's plight back then. He had a lot of responsibility, and quite often we acted like he was some intruder into our lives who's only purpose was to pay the bills, and make sure Christmas happened. I have it easy. I only have Mark to piss me off, and he pretty much gets me into a cussing frenzy once a day during December. I can't imagine being dad to a bunch of selfish little kids, I couldn't do it.

Dad isn't with us any more, but as bad as the yelling and cursing was on some occasions, the truth is that I'd love be able to spend another Christmas with him, just to hear that Cussin' Santa again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It Was Like a Breakfast Buffet

I live with a fantastic cook. This coming Saturday, Christmas, I am looking forward to our prime rib dinner which will probably be spectacular. There is a reason I weigh fifty pounds more than I did the year I met Mark, and it is Mark. He loves to cook, and fat, salt, calories, and cholesterol mean nothing to him. If it tastes great, he does it. Which brings up another thing that's gone up besides my weight, my cholesterol. My doctor freaked out last year when he checked it, and promptly put me on pills. So, how come Mark is so damn skinny, and I'm so fat? The answer is he eats like a man who has just come from an all you can eat buffet. When we sit down to eat, he just pushes his food around on the plate, and drops a good part of it into the mouths of dogs waiting at his feet. The dogs look real healthy.

So I get great dinners, and even sometimes lunches, but almost never does Mark cook breakfast. Believe it or not, Mark has me do that. I remember how it started, "Just whisk some eggs up in a bowl, and fry some bacon. It'll be just fine." But it wasn't. Mark hated my eggs, "Too grainy, don't add milk.". I'd put toast on his plate, and it would end up in the dogs bowl, along with the bacon that I hadn't done just perfectly. "I like my bacon crisp.", Mark told me while gagging on a piece of unfried bacon fat. It seems that no matter what I try, breakfast sucks. Yet he still insists I keep cooking breakfast. So this morning I tried something new, chocolate pancakes. I loved them. They were like very light and fluffy brownies with maple syrup on them. How did Mark like my special breakfast this morning? Well, I noticed that he didn't try to feed the pancakes to the dogs. At least they won't get sick, and leave me with diarrhea to clean up off the neighbors lawn. Instead Mark just dumped them in the garbage can, figuring that even the dogs didn't deserve such slop. Some people might be insulted by having their hard work just dropped in the trash, but not me. I was flabbergasted that he would throw away food that starving children would love, or at least food that I would have eaten. Anyway, that's how Mark stays skinny, by not eating what's on his plate, and I stay fat, by eating pancakes out of the garbage can.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Farts

Admit it, farts are funny. Disgusting, rude, juvenile, and nasty, yet funny.

I remember going to the doctors office with acute appendicitis. I was eleven years old and the doctor asked me, "Have you been passing gas?".  Passing gas? Sure, we passed a Shell station on the way to the doctor's office. What the hell was this passing gas thing? We certainly didn't use such refined language in our house. At least once a day I'd hear my mom berating my dad, "Oh Al, do you have to fart like that all the time?" She never asked him, 'Please Al, if you must pass gas, take it to the lavatory'. No, she told him not to fart.

My dad was a virtuoso of farting. Some of his intestinal explosions were legendary. With the right combination of pizza and beer, he could inflate his pajama bottoms like a Macy's, parade balloon. Although I seem to have inherited his abilities, I blame some of my flatulence on Mark and his cooking. Last night we had delicious empañadas, stuffed with beef, eggs, olives, and raisins. A virtual gas factory neatly wrapped in pastry. It was while experimenting with different sounds, fluctuations, and pitches last night, that I discovered Sasha is afraid of farts. The poor girl was curled up on my lap, and sound asleep, when I let loose with a chair shaking fart. She jumped up and ran off under the dining room table. Later while lying in bed, I squeaked off another one, and Sasha, who had been nestled comfortably above my head in the pillows, again jumped up and ran out of the room. Meanwhile, at the foot of the bed, Chandler continued to snooze, totally unfazed by the commotion. So either Sasha is afraid of them, or she's the smarter of the two dogs.

One last thing about farts in our house. It seems that Mark is channeling my mom sometimes. At least once a day he lets me know how disgusting I am, and berates me for farting, which I think is unfair. I always let him blame the dogs for his silent killers.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Photo Friday

Generally I like to watch Chicago Bears football on my own
big screen television, in the comfort of my own home.
This past Sunday however, they were getting beaten so badly that
I needed to commiserate with someone. So at halftime
I went up to Sidelines bar where they show all the games.

Sonya, another Bears fan, greeted me at the bar.
She wanted to show me something.
Her new tattoo.
I might get Brett Favre's face, tattooed on my ass.
.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Still Warmer Here

I knew it must be pretty cold out this morning when I woke up to find one dog wedged under my pillow, the other one curled up between Mark and me, and the two cats squeezed in between. Just the fact that the cats were allowing Chandler to touch them was remarkable. At seven thirty this morning, when I stepped outside to feed the two outdoor cats, the thermometer read thirty four degrees (1 degree for the rest of the world). I fully expected to find Britney kitty and Lindsey kitty ice skating on the pool. But no, they were both safe and sleeping in the entrance hall, and the pool had no crust of ice on top of it.



It's funny how much of a pussy folks from up north become after living in Florida for a few years.
"Ewww, below fifty degrees tonight? I don't think I'll survive."
Just to walk the dog around the block, I bundle up in layers of shirts, sweat shirts, a big heavy coat, gloves, and a stocking hat. Meanwhile, visitors from Chicago are wandering around town in shorts, flip flops, and in a nod to the cold, their best Chicago Bears sweat shirt.

I know we have it good here in the winter. By Wednesday it will be back up into the seventies, and we will forget all about this morning. I also know that when it's a bit chilly down here in Florida, it is miserable up north, which is a good thing. It means all you folks will be swarming down here soon. Just be sure to bring a lot of money, and leave Mark a parking space when you go out to the bars. He gets real pissy if he has to circle around too many times.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Faceless Crowd

I hate it, that flash of recognition on their face as a person walks up to me, "Hi Alan, how are things, how's that dog of yours?".
"Oh hi, I'm fine, dogs fine. How are ya?".
The 'ya' being my substitution for a name because I have no idea who this is greeting me.

I have a problem. I can't recognize people. Mark and I will be watching a television show and I'll ask, "Who is that woman, and why are they so impressed with her.?".
"My god Alan, you just watched her in that movie last night. That's Kirsten Dunst."
It doesn't just end there. I can't recognize a waitress who just seconds before stood next to me taking my order.
"Which one is our waitress Mark?"
"It's the blonde with the huge mole on her face, and one arm standing over there."
Then there's the woman on the next block, who I see every day when I walk the dog. Recently she had the huge hump on her back removed, and if it wasn't for the fact that she yells at me for letting Chandler on her lawn, I'd have been at a loss.

Last Friday Mark and I were invited to a party. I hate parties. I don't do small talk well, and by the time I loosen up so that I can feel comfortable conversing, I'm usually drunk. Parties also are usually filled with people I have met on occasion, yet I don't remember them. This party is no exception. Now I'm standing here with 'Ya', and I don't have Mark within whispering distance to ask, "Who the hell is this guy?". Later when I ask Mark, it turns out that we've all been out before, had dinner together, and even been over to his house, yet his face might as well be a blank piece of cardboard.

Don't get me wrong, after repeated meetings, I do eventually remember people. I'm pretty sure I could pick my mom out of a line up, at least I could if she doesn't change her hair or too many other things about herself.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Floating Pile Of Crap

"Are you going to bake some bread?", I said, noticing that the bread making machine had been removed from it's spot on the floor of my office.
"No, I'm trying to de-clutter your office for you."
Great, I thought, maybe all the crap that has been stuffed in my office to make room for Christmas, will get tossed or moved. Maybe I'll actually be able to walk around in there.

In our house there is what I call the floating pile of crap. It consists of boxes, unwanted furniture, and various other useless things that Mark has purchased and forgotten about. At some point the pile may be out in the sun room giving the cats a nice place to hide, or it may be scattered about two or three rooms. The scattering ploy is how Mark tries to make it look like it's less than it is. Anyway, at this moment the floating pile of crap is in my office.

"I was thinking that you could move all that stuff in your office, out to the shed.", Mark shouted from the other room.
Ah yes, the shed. The shed I built so that we would have extra storage space, or as Mark would have it, a place for him to stuff the things he's lost interest in. The shed, a place to make room for his latest shopping spree. The shed that I cleaned out a couple of years ago because it had gotten completely out of hand. That right there is the big problem. If I clean something out, like the laundry room, the shed, the sun room, my office, it only means to Mark that he has that much more room. It creates a space that is screaming at him to fill with useless junk that he just had to buy.
"It was on sale. I couldn't pass it up. Sure we don't need ten cases of votive candles right now, but what if there's a hurricane?"

So that's how it went from my thinking that I might have some homemade bread, to me cleaning out this filthy shed. Of course there's always the 'yard sale' that Mark has been talking about for the last five years. Just as I'm thinking about all the money we'd get from that yard sale, I open a box that was sitting on a shelf in the shed. Immediately, hordes of insects, big, gigantic ant like creatures with wings, swarm out of the box and up my arms.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Worst of all, No Toaster

I was probably eight or nine years old when my brother gave me part of his paper route. It wasn't out of the kindness of his heart, he just didn't want to get up and deliver that one paper at six in the morning. This resulted in my having for the first time in my life, money of my own that I had earned. It didn't take long for my dad to notice that I was awash in cash. In probably what was the best thing my dad ever did for me, he took me down to the Tinley Park Savings and Loan, and had me open a Christmas account. There at the S&L they allowed this little boy to open an account with one dollar. Over the course of a year I would take all that cash I was earning by delivering that paper, plus my five cents allowance, and deposit it. By December I had a whopping twelve dollars in the bank. I don't remember exactly what I bought everyone for Christmas that year, except for my mom. She got a lovely bottle of Prell Shampoo. It was a pretty green, and I figured every mother could do with some clean hair.

Think of it, a bank that allowed you to open an interest bearing account for one dollar. Mark and I had an account at a local bank here that we used solely for travel. We would put all found money, such as tax refunds, coins that we had saved up, and what ever I could hide from Mark, into that account. Back about a month ago we took a little weekend trip to Boston, so I used that account to pay for the plane tickets, the hotel, and our carrying around money. Imagine my surprise when I opened up my statement the other day to find that the bank had taken five of my dollars and called it theirs. They called it a fee for allowing the balance to drop below two hundred dollars, I called it theft of my money. I don't get it, the bank has my hundred and eighty eight dollars that they are using to loan to people, and make money off of that, yet they couldn't help themselves. They couldn't just use my money, they had to take it. So I marched right over there today and closed that account, all the while bitching as loud as I could about the bank stealing my five dollars. It was really very unsatisfying. Not only didn't the bank give a damn that I was closing the account, all the other customers looked at me like I was one of those crazy homeless people that wander around talking to themselves.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Can't Touch This

Damn it! Why don't I check to see if I have towels in the bathroom before I get in the shower? This is the second time in the last few days I've done this. Last time I was lucky, Mark had left a hand towel behind when he took the rest of the towels out to the wash. I was able to do a pretty good job of drying off with that little thing. This time however my only options are to either run out into the hallway naked, and dripping wet to get a fresh towel out of the closet, or use one of Mark's decorative towels.

Hanging from the main towel rack in the bathroom are Mark's special towels that are not to be used by anyone, at any time, ever. They are there only for show. Who the hell they are there to show off for, I don't know. It's not like we get hoity toity visitors every day, after all Lady Diana is dead, and she never did answer our invitation. After pondering the situation for two seconds, I decided that it didn't matter, I was wet, and the towels were dry. It turns out that lace and satin towels are lousy for drying off. They are very scratchy, and non-absorbent.

Mark isn't as bad as somebody else I know. This person has a beautiful house up in a Chicago suburb, with a beautiful living room that is only accessible if you are on her list. Otherwise you are ushered past the velvet rope that delineates the extent that commoners are allowed into her home, and on into the 'family' room. The living room is for her yearly Christmas display, or for that rare occasion that the Pope visits. At least I think that's who she's saving it for. Of course I am just kidding about my mother. We have all been allowed into her living room at least once in our lives. However, I now need to re-fold these towels I've screwed up before Mark sees them. He isn't kidding.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shock and Barf

Snap! A spark flies, and Carlotta kitty runs away from me. Zap! Little Sasha backs off and gives me a quizzical look. I have lived in Florida for so long I had forgotten about static electricity. In the last few days I have discovered that my new recliner chair with the nifty micro-fiber upholstery, is a great generator of static shocks as long as the humidity is low. Usually the humidity around here is so high that mold grows on you, but over the last weekend a beautiful cool front came through and dropped it under fifty percent. Now every time I slide my ass into my chair, I'm locked and loaded. I know that the dogs and cats think I'm some kind of sadistic bastard every time I touch them, so I try to disarm the built up static by giving Mark a little touch if he's near.

Despite the static shock drawback, I love micro-fiber upholstery. I have gone through numerous chairs, and sofas over the years, usually destroyed by slobbering animals and some nasty human behavior. In just a few short years, upholstered items in this house look like some kind of science experiment gone awry. Stains, snags, rips, and various mystery patches show up before they have even been paid off. Not the micro-fiber stuff. I have a sofa and a recliner chair covered in it. After two years of Chandler lounging on it, and leaking slobber, the sofa still looks great. As for the new recliner chair, Fat Kitty christened it with a huge pile of barf last week, and after I cleaned the thing up you couldn't tell where she puked. I love my new recliner chair. It's comfortable, looks good, and when the humidity drops, I get to zap Mark with a nice little shock every time he walks by.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Grouchy Old Fart

'Strings of streetlights, even stop lights,
blink a bright red and green,
as the shoppers rush home
with their treasures'

Yes, yes, I know. Cheery people, smiling as they wish one another a very happy holiday season. Out in the mall parking lot, folks are almost falling over one another to be nice.
"You go first."
"No, please you have the right of way."
In the stores themselves even more goodwill towards each other.
"Can I help you reach that, dear elderly lady?"
"Oh thank you young man, that's so nice of you."
Maybe somewhere it's like that.

Maybe this season really will be better than most. Maybe all the things I hate about December, and the Christmas season really have faded into the background. It is a fact that Mark didn't get up early on the Friday after Thanksgiving to go shopping. That shows that he might be evolving away from his compulsive shopping habits that I hate. And then there is the fact that I didn't encounter any hoggish drivers over the weekend, everyone seemed to be courteous. Yes, maybe it is getting better......

On Tuesday the packages started showing up. Mark is still a compulsive shopper, only he's been doing it on-line. And the drivers out there? They're still just as bad, it's just that I don't drive. I can't tell if someone is being rude if I'm reclining in the passenger seat. Finally, I read the paper this morning, and I saw this headline. 'Man and his 12 year old son beat 83 year old man in mall parking lot'.  December sucks.

My birthday is in December. I'll be turning sixty one. That means I'm only twenty two years away from being beat up by some dork and his punk son. What the hell is so merry about December? December means those years are flying by like fence posts on an interstate highway. December means I'll have to spend money I don't have. Of course it also means parties, and people baking cookies. That's not so bad. And thanks to the internet I don't have to even step out of the house to buy that sewing machine that Mark wants, and will use only once. It's not so bad. You'll have to excuse me now, I have to start shopping for Mark's Christmas presents. I think I can get a spool of thread and some sewing needles at Amazon dot com.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ass Burrs, and Schnauzer Hair

It's five o'clock in the morning and I've awakened to a sharp pain emanating from between my ass cheeks. It's another burr that little Sasha has brought into the house, and somehow it has found it's way into my underpants. Over the last few weeks I've learned that schnauzers are like Velcro. Literally like Velcro. When I take Sasha down to the church on the corner to take a poop, she comes out of the weeds they call a lawn, with burrs all over herself. Burrs of all kinds including the most painful, sharp, and prickly of the little bastards. While I manage to get the most obvious ones picked out of her hair, there always seems to be that one that hangs in there, hiding until the dog jumps up into the bed where it manages to come loose.

Sasha has been with us now for about three weeks, and I have to say it's been a learning experience for the both of us. Sasha has learned where the bathrooms are, and pees in both Mark's shower and my bathtub. For Mark that has been a traumatic experience, while as for me, I just turn on the shower and rinse it down. One thing I haven't figured out yet is where she gets her sustenance. I put her food out at the same time as Chandler's, yet long after Chandler's bowl is empty, hers is still sitting there with food in it. The fact that she is in the kitchen at all the same times that Mark is in there, and the fact that she has taken up the spot next to Mark's right arm while he is eating dinner, may explain that.

Sasha is a good dog, and has quietly blended into the menagerie. She causes few problems other than the fact that I have had to rethink the logistics of feeding the cats. Although she seems to have no use for the dog food I put out for her, the cat food is irresistible. And while she does want to eat the cat's food, at least she doesn't seem to have a taste for Chandler's secret snack, the kitty litter box.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Just a Simple Meal


November eighth, on the airplane coming back from Boston, I heard this from Mark's mouth. "This year I'm going to keep it simple for Thanksgiving. Only five dishes, I'm not going overboard."

This is what was served last Thursday.
  • Bacon wrapped dates, stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese and chorizo.
  • Butternut squash ravioli, with mascarpone cheese, fried sage, and a candied pecan.
  • Salad of greens with sliced pears, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, more candied pecans, dried cranberries, topped with pear vinaigrette.
  • Macaroni and cheese.
  • Spinach soufflé.
  • Collard greens.
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mashed potatoes
  • The Turkey
  • The stuffing from the turkey made with sausage, dried cranberries, chunks of apple, and who the hell knows what else was in there, but it was delicious.
  • And finally, homemade pumpkin cheese cake. In fact everything was homemade, including the candied pecans.

This feast took Mark three days to prepare, not including the shopping. When I confronted Mark with the fact that he hadn't kept it quite so simple, he protested and pointed out that he hadn't made any sweet potatoes, and other than the appetizer, amuse bouche (that's what he called the ravioli), turkey, stuffing, and desert, there were only five other things on the table.

I don't know of anyone who would have attempted a dinner of that magnitude without four other people helping them. As it was, by the time dinner was served I was already beat. Just about every two hours a call would come from the kitchen for me to go in there and clean it up. As each dish, and course of dinner was prepared, Mark would somehow turn the kitchen into a battle zone, with food everywhere. On the walls, on the cabinets, and on the piles of implements he would use for cooking. The only place that wasn't covered with food bits was the floor. Sasha, Chandler, and the cats kept that relatively clean. After dinner it took me hours to clean up, and the dishwasher ran non-stop for about twelve hours.

Next year I have a plan. I am going to save up money for the next twelve months, and on Thanksgiving day I will present Mark with a paid helper. His very own kitchen slave. Someone to help him prepare, serve, and clean up. I will then wrap the invoice up for that persons pay, and put it under the Christmas Tree with  'Merry Christmas Mark' on it. I'm sure that will go over nicely.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Photo Friday

Thursday Afternoon, Thanksgiving Day


Sasha isn't quite sure what the hell Thanksgiving is,
but she sure likes the fallout from under Mark.
.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Chance of Showers

I first noticed it a couple of weeks ago, pee on the floor of the shower. Yes I know, so what's new, doesn't everybody do it? Yes, I think so, but this was showing up when nobody had been in the shower, and besides I only do it while the water's running. My immediate suspicion was Fat Kitty. That cat is always hanging around the shower, and licking up water off the floor. Anyway, it didn't matter to me, I'd just wash it down. The fact that she was doing it in there and not on the rug was a relief in itself. After all she is getting older, and they don't make kitty Depends.


Last night after bowling I came home to find Mark cowering in the corner of the bedroom.
"Look in the shower. I haven't been able to go in there all night."
I figured a dead rat was in there, so I walked in, turned on the light, and there it was. A dog turd in the shower. A dog turd deposited in the middle of a puddle of pee in the shower. The mystery was solved. Sasha is shower trained. She could poop on the rug next to Mark's side of the bed. That would be exciting, especially in the middle of the night. Or, she could leave one behind the sofa, or under the dining room table, causing me to search for the aromatic gift. But no, she being a well brought up little dog put it in the most convenient, easy to clean place she could find.

Sasha was supposed to be Mark's dog. He has in fact walked her twice in two weeks, fed her zero times, and has never picked up one of her turds. He also wants to change her name to Toto, and he wonders why she never comes when he calls her. No, the fact is that Sasha is Chandler's dog. She is the one that entertains him now, chasing around the living room every evening instead of him bringing me a saliva soaked squeaky toy to throw a hundred times. So if she wants to poop in Mark's shower, I say fine. If she wants to poop next to Mark's side of the bed, she has to warn me. I need time to go get the video camera.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Where Were You When......

It is one of the most vivid memories of my youth. It was on a Friday and there were two boys brawling in the playground a block down from school. It's the noon hour, and after lunch we all hung out at that playground. Parents weren't so paranoid back then as they are now. Kids were allowed more freedom, and one of our freedoms was that we could leave the school yard at lunch time. Rudy's candy store, the playground in the park, or if we lived close enough, home.

So why is that particular fight so vivid in my memory? Because I also remember a kid running up from the street, telling us that the president had been shot. That stopped the fight, and I remember us all making our way back to the school. I remember the announcement by the principal, coming across the speaker in our classroom, that the president had died. Many of the incidents of that weekend are still so clear to me, yet so many other occasions of importance in my life draw a blank. Why do I remember watching on a Sunday morning Oswald being shot as clearly as if I watched it a day ago? I think it is because I was paying attention. More attention than I do for most day to day occurrences.

So many of my pot filled moments during my twenties are lost. Even when I wasn't smoking pot, my memories are sketchy. That's why when I know that a moment is really important now, I make it a point to pay attention and try to experience it fully. Yet for some reason only those traumatic times tend to completely burn into my memory, like September eleventh, and February fourteenth, 1988, when I projectile vomited across the hospital room after my first chemo treatment.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thursday Night Football, Bears 16, Dolphins 0

I've always resented those people I see parking in handicapped spaces who hop out of the car, and stroll effortlessly away. It seems that there are a lot of folks out there abusing that system.

This past Thursday night I got to see the other side of handicapped parking, and it was sweet. Well, not so sweet for my elderly brother who has messed up knees and has trouble walking, but for me as a passenger it was great. While everyone else was being herded into the gigantic parking lot a mile from the entrance to Joe Robbe/Pro Player/Dolphin/Land Shark/Sun Life Stadium, My brother and I were waved on through to the parking lot that sits within spitting distance of the entrance we wanted. Easy in, easy out, it seemed like a good omen.

One odd thing about attending a football game at JRPPDLSSL Stadium, is that they pat you down on your way in. They frisk you like the TSA at the airport, except at the stadium that job is left up to bored, minimum wage workers. When it came my turn to be frisked, the poor guy just looked at me with a worn out look on his face and kind of waved his hands around me. As a courtesy to him, I pretended to go along with the 'air' frisking by lifting my arms a couple of inches.

All in all we had a great time at the football game. The Bears won, no fights broke out in our section, and I only had to pee once due to my policy of not drinking anything at football games. I know that sounds harsh, but if you've ever been in a stadium bathroom you know that passing on the alcohol pays off in the long run. The only remotely bad thing about the evening was that my poor brother had to wedge himself into the tiny stadium seat, and every few minutes he had to drag himself up on his bad knees to let some drunken shmoo out to take a pee.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two Visitors

Not much I can write about today. I'm very busy cleaning the house, and getting ready for two visitors. First there is Dennis, my very best drinking buddy. Yes Mark is my buddy, but he is horrible to go drinking with. He just stands around the bar looking cool, slowly sipping his little fruity drink, while Dennis slugs down vodka faster than I do. And besides, I can say almost anything to Dennis, and he doesn't get into a snit or get embarrassed, unlike Mark. Dennis will be here for a week, so my liver should get a workout.

Then there is my brother. He's coming down from Orlando for a Miami Dolphins football game. No, we're not going to the football game to see the Dolphins. We are going to the football game to see the Dolphins get the shit kicked out of them by the Chicago Bears (I hope). The last time we saw the Bears at the Dolphins, the Bears were getting beat badly, and my brother and I left the game with about five minutes left. Between the time we left our seats and got to the car, the Bears came from seventeen points behind, to tie the game. We watched the overtime on television at my house. So this time we will stay until the end. Even if it means we have to endure the insults of victorious Dolphin fans. I think I can take it though, at least they aren't Green Bay poopy Packer fans.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Old Folks at Home

Before I go on with this let me be the first to say I am sixty years old, and I am probably closer to death than I am to my high school graduation. Forty three years ago the concept of actually being sixty years old, was to me, a nebulous image of living in Florida with a bunch of other old people waiting to die. Well, I am not waiting to die, the rest of it is pretty close to reality though.

So here it is. All you youngsters up north in New York, Chicago, and everywhere in between, Quit packing up grandma and grandpa every November, and sending them down to Fort Lauderdale. I've seen them at the airport, and wandering through the shopping malls down here, and they don't look all that happy to be here. They look lost. Have you ever even asked them if they really want to spend the winter in Florida?

Last Monday when we were returning from Boston, we had twelve (I counted) folks from age seventy to a hundred and seventy, in wheel chairs trying to get on the plane. On top of that there were the ones with the walkers with tennis balls on the tips, shuffling around, and bumping into the wheel chairs. When the gate attendant announced that folks who need extra help could board early, all the wheel chairs and walkers moved towards the entrance en masse. The only people left at the gate to board normally after that were me, Mark, and a couple of geezers who slept through the initial announcement.

I just got back from shopping for dog food, and cat food, something I do constantly for some reason, and I couldn't get over how many old people were clogging the aisles at Publix. I don't mean old like me, or even like my mom, I mean old like they actually witnessed the first airplane flight. So please, please, won't you consider asking grandma and grandpa if they'd like to stay up north this year? Ask them if they'd rather be doted on by their loving grandchildren, and children all winter, instead of driving up US1 with their door open and the left turn signal blinking for miles. Because honestly, it's dangerous enough with Mark out on the roads, and me pushing the cart through the super market.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sasha

Despite what happened this Sunday morning, I think I made the right decision. Last Tuesday I was rolling the trash cans out to the street which means that I had the gate to the dog run/utility yard open. The next thing I knew I was standing out by the side of the street surrounded by my tenant's two pugs, and a mysterious little black dog that I had never seen before. John had let his dogs out without checking to see if the gate was closed, again. With a quick whistle and 'come', John's pugs went scampering back to him. The little black dog stayed out front, and ran over to me, wagging it's tail like I was her long lost mother.
"Her name is Sasha." John called over to me.
He then proceeded to tell me the sad tale of Sasha's owner, and how she had asked John to find a new home for her dog. It involved cancer, chemo, and downsizing into a studio apartment. While John talked, we walked with the little dog back to my kitchen door. When I opened it up, Sasha ran in and introduced herself to Chandler, then the kitties, and finally jumped up onto the sofa and said hi to Mark. It's now Sunday and she's still here, so we've decided to adopt her. Sasha is a seven year old miniature schnauzer, is totally house broken, and came complete with AKC papers, and her own bed.

Chandler, despite the glum look on his puss in the photos, seems happy to have her around. They actually have been playing together, running around the living room, and tearing up the place. The cats look at her like she is just another piece of furniture, and she is totally disinterested in them. I have been taking both dogs out at the same time for walks around the block. It means twice the stops for sniffing, twice the stops for pissing, and shitting, and it means I have to pick up two piles of dog crap to carry home. Up until this morning everything had been going just great.

Chandler has a best friend named Dandy. They walk together all the time, playing and romping all the way. They also have a 'girlfriend' named Cammie, a cute dog just a little smaller than Chandler. The problem is that when she's around, Dandy and Chandler are both trying to hump her which causes them to get aggressive towards each other. Unfortunately this morning poor Sasha got caught between them, and when she started yapping they turned on her. As all hell broke loose, I started spinning with little Sasha on the end of the leash, trying to keep her away from the testosterone crazed males. Dandy's owner started screaming something in German (she's from east Germany), while Cammie's owner just stood there grinning. So Sasha is spinning, Mandy is screaming, and I'm trying to reach in to the maelstrom to grab Sasha. Sunday's walk taught me a new lesson, and that is don't let Chandler near that little slut Cammie when Dandy is around. His baser instincts take over, which is kind of mystifying to me seeing as neither Chandler nor Dandy have a ball between them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo Friday

It's black, yaps, and has a short haircut. No, it's not Mark.


 Read about it on Monday

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Boston

So this past weekend Mark and I ventured on up to Boston to attend the wedding of two of our friends. It was a spectacular affair, taking place on the roof of the best hotel in Boston, with the reception downstairs in an opulent dining room. It would have been nice if they could have had the wedding down here in Florida, but because of the narrow mindedness of some people, Boston was the location. I think if most folks could see the happiness of the two grooms, and the happy families on both sides, they'd change their minds about same sex marriages. Unless of course they are heartless bastards.

The wedding and reception took place on Saturday, and lasted for about seven hours. That meant that Mark had about ninety five hours left in the weekend to go shopping. If you subtract the time he slept, and the time he was drunk from the wedding reception, the time left for shopping was reduced to fifty nine hours. Even when Mark is allegedly 'sightseeing', he is actually shopping. It's a fact that every museum, every historical site, and even the hotel we stayed in have gift shops. When I would tire out, and take a rest in our hotel room, Mark would be out shopping. How sick is Mark? How bad is his CSD (compulsive shopping disorder)? We were walking through the North End neighborhood of Boston, and Mark saw a mass of people converging on the front door of a small store. Mark bolted.
"Where are you going?"
"I don't know, people, look at that line....."
He didn't know why they were there. He didn't know what they were selling inside. He just knew he needed to get in that line.
I waited outside.
Ten minutes later a grinning Mark emerged from the store, pushing past the crowd of people, holding a small white box.
"Cannolis, they were all waiting to buy cannolis."

I would have never ran over to stand in line to buy cannolis. I would almost never willingly go towards a line for anything and stand in it. But you know what? I’m glad Mark does. Those damn cannolis were delicious.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Don't Opt Out

It was a simple request, "I'd rather go through the other screening machine please."
It was as if I had just asked for permission to punch the TSA agent's mother in the gut.
"You want to opt out?", I was asked in a loud accusatory voice. "Sir, do you understand what that means?"
Yes, I did. It meant that I wanted to go through the same metal detector that Mark had just gone through, not the scanner. It looked a lot easier than standing there with my hands over my head and giving some TSA flunky a look at my ass. Mark and I were on our way to Boston for the weekend, and as is tradition, nothing goes smoothly when I travel.

"Sir, wait right here.", was the order from TSA guy number one. Immediately a meeting of the minds began on the other side of the security equipment. With many glances in my direction, and a few fingers pointed, TSA was deciding what to do with me. Meanwhile I stood there with my shoes off, and my belt off, while I watched the said belt and shoes slowly snaking their way through the x-ray machine along with my wallet and everything else that had been in my pockets. I was the center of attention. Other passengers looked at me with scorn, and I was sure I heard a few snickers, and curses.

After a few minutes TSA guy number two came over and explained that I would have to be hand checked, and that this would involve touching of my groinal area. He continued to explain that I would be groped from my head to my toes, and asked if I had any areas that are sensitive to pressure.
"No, but all I wanted was to use the other machine...."
"Sir, you opted out and now have to be hand frisked."
I was being punished.
"Okay, let's get it over with.", I replied.
But no. It's not that easy. They have to make an example of you. I was herded over to an area off to the side of the security lines, but not out of view of the rest of my fellow travelers. It was as if they wanted everyone to see me being humiliated. Rubber gloved hands roamed up and down my body, with the TSA agent explaining out loud exactly what part of me he would be grabbing next. Five feet away, a Spanish speaking woman was being treated to the same attention by another TSA agent. Meanwhile, across the great divide was Mark, arms flailing about, and his squeaky voice drifting across. "Just go wait for me at the gate.", I shouted over to him.

It's obvious that I was being put on display for all the other travelers to see. I was the 'teaching moment' for them.
"Look, this is what happens when you don't go along with the script." was the implied message.
Well I can tell you, I learned from it. This morning when I passed through security returning from Boston, I followed each directive like Mary's little lamb, and as my reward I was allowed to watch some other schmuck get frisked as I breezed through.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not All Lesbians Look Like Cubans

You would think that with my brain so damn close, that smarter things would come out of my mouth. Unfortunately the opposite seems to be true. Maybe it's that short route to the tongue that makes it difficult for me to regulate what's about to be blurted out before I actually do. When Mark and I are out at bars, or parties, I have actually seen him cringe when I started making my corny jokes, and observations.

I have said the wrong things in the wrong situations more than a few times in my life. In fact it just happened recently, but I'll not recount that incident as it would only make the results worse. Instead I'll just give you two examples of how I've managed to fit my foot, all the way up to the ankle, squarely in my mouth.

Example number one. While discussing with a friend the health of his partner, I managed to bring up the fact that I knew somebody who had died from exactly the same malady. I immediately realized how insensitive that was, and my gaffe was hammered home by the few moments of silence that followed. Luckily my friend still talks to me, though not too much about his partners health.

On another occasion, Mark and I were at a party and for some reason I decided to bring up the subject of Cuban women's hair.
I opened my mouth and this came out.
"Why do all older Cuban women wear lesbian haircuts?"
After a few seconds of silence, one of Mark's closest friends who happened to be Cuban, informed me in a frosty tone that, "My mother wears her hair like that, and she is not a lesbian."
Unfortunately it created a rift between Mark and his friend, and they never talked again. That was sad, and I obviously shouldn't have said what I said at that time. Now I'm not saying that the content of the statement was wrong, and I shouldn't think that way. No, it was that I said it out loud.... in front of a Cuban..... at a party in front of a bunch of other people.
  

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Video Thursday

Halloween in Wilton Manors. 
Mark went as Obama again. Not quite as popular as the last time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Political Porn

I was walking Chandler around the block, taking in the vista of political yard signs, and I thought about how horrible this election season has been. Even locally the candidates were nasty to each other, accusing one another of taking tainted money, and acting as if their shit didn't stink. Yet even as the last of the yard signs are pulled up during the next few weeks, we will have to live with the hangover caused by this election. The ones who were actually elected.

Thankfully the phone calls have stopped. It got to the point in the last week, that when the phone would ring, I'd hit answer, and then off immediately if I didn't recognize the number. There wasn't much relief when watching the television either. At least For a little while now I can watch without the ominous music, dark images, and fearful talk about all the horrible things that were done or will be done by the 'other guy'. We all complain about the negative ad campaigns that are run, constantly bitching that we don't like them. Unfortunately I don't see them ending for many elections to come, mostly because they really do work.

Here in Florida there was only one candidate who ran positive commercials telling us exactly what he was for. They were upbeat, and when the ad was over you didn't feel like you needed to scrub the filth off yourself. So how did that guy do? Well, Kendrick Meeks got twenty percent of the vote. It's kind of like pornography. You hear folks complaining about it, forever religion has been condemning it, and your mother scolded you about it, yet pornography is the biggest cash cow on the internet. They only give the people what they want, just like in politics.

P.S. At least one good thing came out of the election. Ken Keechl (read about him here) lost.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Don't Know Why This Isn't In 'Hints From Heloise'

I used to have a good friend who couldn't eat a meal without half of it ending up everywhere except in his mouth. If he were eating spaghetti, you could be sure that after the meal, when you were cleaning up, you'd find a couple of strands of the stuff hanging from the ceiling. On the floor around his chair would be bits and pieces of everything that had been on his plate. Going out to dinner with him was always an adventure. One thing I learned early on was that if there was a salad bar, to make sure I got to it before he did. You see, as he would make his way along the salad bar sampling each offering, food would be flying, sticking to the sneeze guard, and slopping over into the vats of chick peas and salad dressings. It was pretty disgusting. You might ask, why would I continue go out to dinner with this guy? It's because he had an excuse. He had Tourette’s Syndrome, that entertaining neurological disorder that is part acrobatics and part performance art. Goddamnsonofabitch!

That was over thirty years ago. Unfortunately my friend has passed on, and I’ll never get to hear him blurt out dirty words in a crowded room ever again. No more flying food, or sudden herky jerky movements while driving a car down the road. I do however, still get to be around somebody who leaves as much food on the floor, walls, and ceiling, as my old friend did. That person would be Mark. I’m not quite sure how he does it because he doesn’t have Tourette’s, and there is no obvious flinging of the food. It just so happens that when he gets up from the dinner table, there are bits and scraps of food everywhere. Over the years I’ve learned that after dinner, If I take my time cleaning up, my little critter friends will have done half the work for me. Chandler will always deal with the floor, licking it clean of all traces of food. As for the dinner table, all I have to do is clear it of the plates and flatware, and then leave the rest up to Fat Kitty. Sooner or later she will always find her way up there, and graze her way across the table, feeding on Mark‘s leftovers. It may not be very sanitary, but I find it gives me a head start on the overall cleanup after dinner. Now if I could only get one of them to wash the dishes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Very Scary Night

Whoa what a scary night.

Chandler is barking and trying to go through the window because the possum is outside again. That critter is amazingly huge and healthy looking, largely because I am apparently feeding it a diet of cat food that the cats have generously offered up to the beady eyed creature. When I go out there to chase the thing away, it just looks contemptuously at me with those fangs and that long rat tail, like I'm the interloper. Then there is Mark in his Halloween costume, looking remarkably like Obama trying to force healthcare on me. Damn, access to healthcare can really be frightening. Meanwhile, up and down the street a few little kids can be seen in various costumes, threatening to trick the neighbors who don't give in to their demands for candy. Further on up the road is the annual Wilton Manors Halloween celebration, full of drag queens and guys prancing around in skimpy costumes, trying to show as much skin as possible without being arrested. That wouldn't be scary but for the pot bellied, out of shape men who have a completely skewed self image, also showing way too much skin.

But of course that is not the scary night that I'm talking about. Halloween is child's play. Huge possums cavorting outside the living room window, antagonizing Chandler, is something I can deal with. Even Mark dressed as Barack Obama doesn't scare me. No, none of that is part of the scariest night of the year. Tomorrow night when I am sitting in front of the television watching the government being taken over by witches, head stompers, people who see invisible headless Mexicans, and folks who don't believe in evolution or science, that is when I will be scared to death.

Watching those election returns, whoa, that is a scary night.

.