Thursday, April 29, 2010

Video Thursday

  Britney and Lindsey take their afternoon nap. It was preceded by their morning nap, and will be followed by their evening nap.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Inspector Gadget

When I was a kid, I remember my mom having a spatula, a ladle, a large wooden spoon (it doubled as a disciplinary device), and an electric mixer. With these few items she was able to whip up meals and treats for her large family. Everything from meat loaf to chocolate cakes came out of her sparsely appointed kitchen. This is a woman who was able to prepare meals and deserts with the precision of an army mess hall using no more than the few tools she was given. In fact, I think she may still have the originals somewhere in her kitchen today.

I almost had another clutter attack this morning. The only thing that kept me from ripping Mark's gadget drawer out of the cabinet and tossing it outside was the squeaky voice in the back of my head saying "Don't you dare!" (Yes, even when Mark isn't around I can still hear him). It all started when I tried to close the drawer, and instead of sliding nicely into place, it made a loud crunch and stopped. When I tried to open it to see what was in the way, something in there got caught and the drawer jammed. After a few minutes of cursing and pulling, I gave it a mighty yank. For just a second I thought I had opened it as the front of the drawer ripped loose and I fell back against the kitchen sink, the rest of the drawer still firmly wedged in the cabinet.

I managed to patch the thing up, and while it's not quite right, it does open and close again. What I can't figure out is, what the hell does Mark do with all those contraptions? That drawer and the canisters on the counter are filled with weird shaped devices, and implements that would have made the inquisitors of medieval Spain happy. In fact I'm glad my mom only had her small choice of weapons when we were kids. She could have done some serious damage with some of the things Mark has in there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chew on This

I'm sitting in 'Big Fluffy', my recliner, and a familiar odor comes wafting past me. It's dog shit. Now I know that my dog would never do it in the house, and I hadn't been walking over by the church where he does do his thing, so where was it coming from? The answer was that it was coming from my shoes, and I had picked it up out in the dog run. It seems my tenants hadn't picked up their pug poo, and I stepped in it. The pugs in the front apartment are the cutest little things, but they always leave their little Tootsie Roll sized turds out on the sidewalk. My usual response is to take a stick and launch them like a golf ball over to the fence.

Thinking about those little turds brought back memories of my grandfather. He had some bad habits that by today's standards would be considered bad form. For one thing, he smoked White Owl Cigars, in the house. Even on a good day, with the windows open, and with an expensive Cohiba cigar, the odor is nauseating. Make that cigar the cheapest brand available, and it gets worse. Another thing he did was chew tobacco. Every once in a while gramps would send little Alan up to the drug store to get him a bag of Plowboy Chewing Tobacco, which the store clerks would happily sell to me without batting a eyelash. I probably should have got some beer at the same time, they seemed that unconcerned about an under aged kid buying tobacco. My grandfather chewing tobacco wasn't the disgusting part of this picture. It was what he did after he had chewed all the flavor out of that wet wad that turned your stomach. When the chew he was working on had reached it's limit, he would open the front door, and let loose, spitting the mess out across the porch. All around the front of the house were these little wads of what looked like turds. Sort of a mosaic in tobacco and spittle. Oh, and there was one more eccentric thing grandpa did. He saved his teeth as they fell out. It was always a thrill for us kids when grandpa would pull out that mason jar in the kitchen, and proudly show off the teeth that ninety years of chewing tobacco had ruined.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Top Chump

One of Mark's favorite shows is on Bravo, Logo, or some other gay channel like that, and it's called 'Top Chef'. In Mark's mind, I think he thinks, he could beat most anybody on that show, and I don't disagree. In reality Mark's cooking is better than almost any restaurant meal I have ever eaten. I didn't gain fifty pounds sucking down Hamburger Helper, and Kraft macaroni and cheese. But Mark as a contestant on Top Chef? I don't know. Mark has a disposition that I don't think would take to the rejection and criticism of cooking competitively.

Last Friday, our favorite bartender, Tanner, suggested that Mark enter the bar's chili cook-off on Sunday. What a great idea I thought. Mark is so damn good, he would have a great chance at winning. So with my encouragement, and about fifty dollars, Mark went out and got all the ingredients he would need to make a kick-ass chili. After cooking all afternoon Saturday, and on Sunday morning putting the finishing touches on it, we carted Mark's delicious chili on up to the bar. All I can say is it was damn good. In addition to ground beef, Mark took a beef brisket and after pressure cooking it, shredded it and added it to the chili. Even with my bleeding ulcer, I couldn't stop myself from eating a large bowl of it. Unfortunately, the judges at the bar decided that another contestant's chili filled the bill as the winner. According to Mark the winner's chili tasted like, "Taco Bell on a bad day". I have to agree, it had that weird aftertaste to it that you only get when hitting the drive through after a night of sucking down vodka.

After a while, Mark accepted the fact that he lost, and a bar employee had won. Mark did have the consolation prize though, he won the people's choice award. The drunken bar patrons all favored his chili, and voted him the winner. Unfortunately when Mark went up to accept his prize, the third place contestant, who was shit faced drunk, came stumbling up claiming he was the winner, grabbed the prize, and staggered off into the sunset.

I can't imagine Mark competing on Top Chef. If what I witnessed yesterday is a small inkling of what to expect if he were to lose, then I don't want to live through that. No, if the bitch-fest I had to endure in the car on the way home is any example, I think he should just stick to fattening me up, and screw feeding a bunch of drunks at the neighborhood bar.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Photo Friday

It's been raining all night. When I walked Chandler this morning I was half expecting to see night crawler worms all over the sidewalks and pavement, but this is Florida and we're more likely to see poisonous toads after a rain. I actually like overcast days, they don't bother me so much and give relief from the relentless sun of Florida. I also think the garden takes on an interesting look in the grayness of the day.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hot Peas and Butter

Do kids play outside anymore? We did, all the time. In fact we had many kids games that we'd play besides the standard baseball, and Whiffle ball games. Red light, green light, one two three, was one where you had to sneak up on the 'It' person between the green and the red lights. Red Rover, was a game we played where you would pick a person from the opposite side to come tearing across the lawn and try to smash through your team which was strung across the lawn with clasped hands. You would never call on the big fat kid, because he or she would just blast through. I was terrified enough at some kid running full tilt at me, without it being the neighborhood cow.

Mark and I were reminiscing about these childhood games, and I mentioned one that we would play at night in the house. It involved hiding some glow in the dark, toy light bulbs, and then turning out the lights. The first person to find them was the winner. It was a simple and fun game that we enjoyed. It was then that Mark told me about a game that he used to play with his brothers and sisters, back in the Bronx. It was called 'Hot peas and butter, come and get your supper'. Apparently kids in the inner city played much differently than us little vanilla wafers out in the suburbs. This is how Mark described the game. One person would be 'it', and all the other kids would be at the 'safe base' with their eyes closed. The it kid would then hide a leather belt somewhere in the playing area, and then yell "Hot peas and butter, come and get your supper!" The other kids would then start searching for the belt. As someone got close, the it kid would give them clues using the old 'your getting warm' routine. Now here is where the game gets good, the person who finds the belt, if he is smart, will not let on that he has found it, but will lure the others close by letting the it guy keep yelling "You're very warm, you're on fire!" When enough kids are close he will then whip out the belt and start beating on the other kids with it as they run screaming in terror for the 'safe base'.

I sat there awestruck as Mark told me this. "You mean you get to beat the shit out of your brothers and sisters, and it's all legal and within the rules of this game?", I asked. "That's what I said.", Mark replied. I thought about it for a while, and then I asked Mark, "Were there any other versions of this game, you know, like with guns?"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Long Hair, Goats, and Grain Belt Beer

I was sitting in the big fluffy white recliner yesterday, and I started to add up how much it was costing me to entertain myself. Eighty five dollars a month for satellite television, plus an extra fifty during football season. Then there's the price of the gigantic flat screen, high def television that we have, and the electricity to run it. It made my butt clench just thinking about it. Used to be that all I had was a black and white television with rabbit ears. That was very low tech, but at least I could go to bed at night without fretting about how the hell I was going to pay for it.

It made me think back forty years, to when I was living on a hippie commune out in Iowa. We didn't have any television, nor even a radio. What we did have was long hair, goats, and an ability to entertain ourselves in strange ways that often involved chemical or herbal enhancement. One of our favorite venues of entertainment was the unused feed silo out in back of the big old farmhouse. Many an evening you would find a bunch of us sitting in the bottom of that thing with guitars, drums, tambourines, and a couple of six-packs of Grain Belt Beer. That big round silo reverberated as if you were actually inside the guitars, or drums.

There is no doubt we had a good time back then, but I don't think I would want to depend on that to entertain me now. For one thing I don't have a twenty year old body anymore, and the idea of sitting cross legged in a pile of old hay, filled with chiggers, and ticks just makes me itch thinking about it. Besides, it didn't smell all that nice, and the silo had no air-conditioning. No, I'll just sit back here in 'Big Fluffy', my recliner, and control the world with my collection of remotes at my side.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Anniversary To Us

I have acknowledged before that my memory isn't all that good. Despite my best of intentions not to forget things, I still repetitively forget the same things every day. This is a boon for the cats and Chandler, because sometimes what I've forgotten is that I've already fed them, and they get an extra dose of food. Of course this also opens them up to the opposite happening, and after hours of animals bugging me I will suddenly realize that I haven't fed anyone yet today.

This past Christmas my sister Lisa sent us all a really nice calendar with all our family birthdays, and anniversaries, with the year they happened printed on the appropriate dates. I'm not sure but she might also have included her dogs on that calendar. Either that, or I have some grand nieces and nephews that I don't know about. The calendar is a great idea, however it doesn't always work the way it's supposed to. I was sitting in my office this morning and I happened to glance over at that calendar, and a horrible feeling came over me. I didn't even have to walk over and check, I knew. I had forgotten Mark's and my anniversary. There it was clearly marked, with a nice photo of us on the top page of the calendar, yet it had completely slipped my mind. Not only had our anniversary slipped my mind, but the idea of looking at the calendar every day or at least once a week had slipped my mind. I was five days late, so sheepishly I mentioned to Mark, "Did you know Tuesday was our anniversary?".  "Yes, I do know that.", he replied. As I waited for the inevitable guilt to be put upon me, Mark went on to say, "I just remembered it yesterday." Ah ha! I was off the hook. Mark is getting old too, after all he just turned fifty. That old fart is almost as bad as me. The only thing that proves he is a little younger is that he was able to remember it one day before me.

Last Tuesday instead of celebrating our anniversary, Mark and I were at the Home Depot buying a new tile saw, and a toilet. This morning after a short discussion, we both agreed that those were our anniversary gifts to each other. My only gripe is that I got the toilet.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Photo Friday

Chandler, busy making friends with my neighbor, Mike. (Thirty seconds later he was barking madly at him as he drove away)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Video Thursday

 The Greenhopper is an electric powered bus/glorified golf cart, here in Wilton Manors Florida, that will pick you up, and give you a free ride anywhere in town. It comes in especially helpful on nights I want to go out to a bar without Mark. It's a lot nicer than listening to Mark whine about having to take me where I want to go, and I don't have to help the driver find a parking space.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I haven't been feeling well lately. Not horrible, or really sick, just not well. My stomach has not been upset, nor have I had any other intestinal problems besides the occasional gas emissions that I've been a master of for decades. It was just that I was feeling sluggish, and I was having a little more acid indigestion than usual. I found myself grabbing the Zantac, and slugging down Alka Seltzer at an increased rate. So it was quite a surprise to me at what happened Sunday Morning and all the rest of that day. I'll try to put it as nicely as possible. Things were coming out of me that I have never seen before except maybe when I've had Cuban black bean soup. It really did scare me, and of course things like this always seem to happen on a weekend. One thing was for sure, I was not going to the emergency room and sit there for hours with all the other poor suckers who picked the weekend to get sick.

Monday morning I immediately called the doctor, and went over to see him. After some questions, and very uncomfortable probing, It turns out that I have a bleeding ulcer. The ramifications of this did not sink in at first, but after the doctor sat me down and explained everything, the horror of it all came crashing down. No more of Mark's delicious, highly spiced food. No more junk food like White Castles, and Wendy's double stacks with cheese. No more Mexican food. Oh, and did I mention, no more vodka, wine, or beer. I know that as time passes, and I start feeling better I'll begin to cheat back towards eating what I want. I just wonder what vodka and Maalox tastes like.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sweet Thing

I’m amazed at all the fat kids I see walking around these days. Fat kids were a rarity when I was growing up. Back then if you had only the slightest hint of chubbiness you were called 'the fat kid'. By today’s standards, the tubbies of my youth would be considered fit. There is a reason for that, mothers of my childhood had grown up during the depression and never wasted any food. You got exactly what you needed to stay alive. When it came to sweets, my mom was the candy Czar. One piece of candy per child, per day, and of course if you were bad, you got none. Every evening before bedtime my mom would pull out the bag of candy that she kept hidden away in her secret vault, and dole out the one hunk of candy that you’d get all day. My favorite was the orange slices. Blobs of sugary gel in the shape of an orange slice, and coated with even more sugar. It’s no wonder I couldn’t sleep at night.

One other place where we knew we would get a piece of candy was at my dad’s mom’s house. There on her coffee table sat a cut glass candy bowl with a heavy lid that went ‘clank’ if you touched it. Upon entering my grandmother’s house we would all go sit on the couch, and quietly stare at that bowl waiting for grandma, in her heavy German accent, to offer us a piece of candy. None of us would dare sneak a taste before grandma offered it, because we all knew that damn lid would give us away. Mark has a similar candy dish here in our house. If I go and take some candy, the thing makes a loud clank that Mark can hear all the way in the bedroom. He then starts yelling some crap about me eating all the candy. As you can tell, I still eat all the candy I want. That’s because Mark isn’t my mom, or my grandmother, and I’m not nearly as afraid of him.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Farts, Young Assholes

When I was a pimply faced teenager there were certain things that old guys did. They would yell at kids for cutting across their beloved lawns, and fire off grumpy letters to the editor that railed against all the things I liked. A favorite pastime of the old men in our neighborhood was yelling at the teenagers whose driving habits they didn't approve of. At that age I didn't see any problem with squealing out from a stop sign and smoking your tires, in fact the larger the plume of smoke emanating from the rear wheel wells, the better. On one occasion one of our neighbors, an obese man probably no older than forty, yet in my eyes ancient, came waddling out of his house to bellow at a car load of kids speeding down our street. Smart ass little Alan thought he would educate this stupid old fart, "The legal limit on an unmarked road is 30mph!" I informed him. "You had better study your rules of the road, you little asshole. It's twenty on all residential streets.", he yelled, and then turned and waddled back up to his house. Was I upset that he had corrected me, and been right? Hell no, what I had a problem with was that he called me an asshole. Now my dad had called me that and worse all the time, but I had never experienced somebody who didn't know me that well calling me an asshole. In my mind I was truly one of the fairest and most decent people on earth.
So the other day, my friend Russell and I took a walk around the block with Chandler. As a car came speeding down the street, I casually pointed to the car and remarked to Russell, "Look at how fast that car is going." To my surprise, the asshole turned around and pulled up next to me. "Did you think I was going too fast?", he asked. "As a matter of fact, yes I did.", I replied. "Well I was going thirty, and I've lived on this street long enough to know it's okay to go thirty." "The speed limit is twenty five.", I informed him. Suddenly I was sucked right back to 1966. I was reliving the asshole incident, except this time I was the old fart. Funny thing, it turns out that my overweight neighbor back then was right, I was a little asshole. As my penance for my past assholiness I went home and fired off letters to every member of the city council, and the mayor, demanding speed bumps on our streets. That'll teach those little whippersnappers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Radio Days

Before the invasion of television around 1950, everybody watched 'situation comedies' on the radio. Of course they didn't really watch them, but I do remember when I was a little kid, staring intently at the radio and wondering how they got all those little people in there. One of those shows back then was called Fibber McGee and Molly, and it featured a running gag called 'The Closet'. The point of this gag was that every time somebody opened the McGee's hall closet, all the crap that had been stuffed in there would come crashing out in a loud cacophony, and bury the person who opened it. It must have been very funny because the show ran from 1935 until 1958. I would think that gag would have got stale long before that, but some people like regularity in their entertainment.

This morning I had what I refer to as a 'Clutter Attack'. I opened one of the cabinets in Mark's kitchen, (yes, I have deeded the kitchen over to him) to get the bag of dry cat food so that I could refill the cat food canister. I gently tugged on the bag, but it resisted being pulled from the cabinet, so I firmed up my grip and gave it yank. It was like the Pacific tectonic plate had met the North American tectonic plate. At first a couple of things came crashing out, and I tried to stem the flow. The more I tried to stop it the more it all came crashing out, causing me to have my 'Clutter Attack'. In a fit of anger I started cursing, and yanked and pulled on every piece of shit I could get my hands on. Paper plates, canisters of ancient macaroni, gloves, a mop head, various instruction manuals, a piece of cat poop (don't ask), jars of mayonnaise, ketchup, and finally a waffle iron that I didn't even know existed, came tumbling out. I ended up throwing a lot of it away, and then put the junk that was left back in the cabinet in an orderly fashion. I know that Mark will mess it all up within a month, but at least I can get the cat food out without being crushed. What I don't get, is how was that so funny back in 1935?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Parallel Universe

If you live in a big city or grew up in one, you should know how to parallel park. I grew up in a suburb where parallel parking was never needed because every strip mall, bowling alley, library, every conceivable place you might want to go to by car, had parking lots. Yet I know how to parallel park. Mark on the other hand acts like he's trying to dock the Queen Mary in a bathtub. After fifteen minutes of maneuvering all he has to show for it is a car skewed three feet away from the curb at a 45 degree angle.

I credit my parking ability to my high school drivers ed teacher who, despite one girl in our car who ran over a skunk, never, ever, raised his voice. I remember him saying in a very calm tone, as the car filled with skunk stench, "Next time you might want to avoid hitting the wildlife." He was a good teacher.

When Mark and I go out on Fridays, he often has to park on the street. It took me a while to figure out that Mark cannot, if his life depended on it, parallel park a car. After a few scraped wheel covers, and dinged fenders we have come up with our own routine for parking the car. After hunting down an appropriate parking space, Mark will stop along side it, get out, and I will slide over and do the parking. Yes, it is safer, and easier if the half blind guy parks the car. Even if the spot is tighter than Joan Rivers face, I can get that car in there in two quick moves. I don't know how Mark parks when I'm not with him, I don't want to know, but my only other option would be to buy him a self parking Lexus. That's not going to happen.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Say Cheese

 This is a reprint from January 2008. The end of Lent reminded me of meatless Fridays as a kid, and I had already written about that, so here it is.

I have never liked going to church, even as a little kid. It’s boring, dull, and most of the stories don’t make sense to me. However, living in my fathers house, it was a requirement that you go to church and even worse, you go to the Catholic School. During my childhood the Catholic Church didn’t allow the faithful to eat meat on Friday. This caused my mom to be resourceful. Every Friday evening she had to come up with a meatless dinner that pleased the horde. My favorite was pancakes, because what kid wouldn’t want their favorite breakfast for dinner. Another Friday night meal in the rotation was grilled cheese sandwiches. Not bad, a thick slab of Velveeta melted between two pieces of white bread, fried in a puddle of Oleo. Once again, a kid favorite.

The bad thing about Fridays was lunch at school. Mom would usually make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but sometimes she would get inventive and come up with something completely off the wall. You might open up that brown sack to find a delicious brown sugar and banana sandwich, or the refreshing and tasty, peanut butter and lettuce combination. The one sandwich that I dreaded, was the Velveeta on dry white bread sandwich. Just bread and Velveeta, no margarine or Miracle Whip (which I hated) or mayonnaise (which I had never tasted). It was like a mouthful of alum powder, it had the ability to suck every last molecule of moisture out of my tongue.

My Velveeta experiences made me leery of cheese for most of my life. Unless it was melted on a hamburger or in macaroni, I couldn’t stand the thought of just eating a piece of cheese. Thanks to Mark, over the last ten years, I have been introduced to real cheese. Not the crap that’s wrapped in single slices and has the name Kraft on it, but real stuff made in foreign countries like California and France. I now find myself eating brie, goat cheese, and other exotic fromage.

I’ll bet if I had to eat one of these foreign cheeses when I was a kid, I’d be writing about the horrible French cheese my mom forced on us. So the question is, ‘is there a place in our kitchen for Velveeta‘? The answer is yes! When I crave one of those grilled cheese sandwiches frying in a puddle of margarine, or as plumbers putty under the sink.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Photo Friday

 My Easter Dinner one hour ago, 6:30 PM Sunday. Lamb, Asparagus, and Potatoes. Delicious!

Moonrise, 11 PM Thursday night, while walking Chandler.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Video Thursday

 I didn't have a video for today. Here's one I borrowed from You Tube.