Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Caesar, and Harry, and Spike

Many times, when I have gone to walk dogs at Abandoned Pet Rescue, I've wondered, where did this particular dog come from? Who did he live with? Did this good girl spend her nights curled up at the foot of somebody's bed, secure in the safety of a good home? How on earth did you end up here, in a cage, at our shelter?

Two years ago APR took in a sweet old German Sheppard/Malamute mix. He had matted fur and a bad odor about him. It seemed as though he was on his last legs. Despite all that he was the nicest, most easy going dog in the shelter. Walking him was as easy as taking a stroll down the street, never pulling on his leash, and following me like a lamb. He was one of those dogs I wondered about. He had obviously been somebody's loved pet. His gentleness made that clear.

The shelter employees named him Caesar. Most of us didn't think Caesar would make it, he had lost so much fur, and his health was so bad. After many months of care by the APR staff, Caesar's skin and fur problems cleared up, and his health improved greatly. Despite his health improvements, Caesar always seemed somewhat depressed. Laying in his cage, and barely eating.

About two and a half years ago there was a woman in the Fort Lauderdale area who was suffering at the hands of her husband. Apparently one day she decided she wasn't going to take it any longer and escaped the brutality, moving to the safety of another part of the country. Unfortunately in her haste, she had to leave her two dogs behind, two sibling dogs named Spike and Harry. In one last expression of meanness, the husband opened the door and kicked both dogs out to the street.

Over two years later the woman was on the internet, looking at dog photos from the various animal shelters around Fort Lauderdale. When she clicked on Abandoned Pet Rescue, she saw the photo of Caesar. Through careful comparison between the photos of her dogs, and the photo of Caesar, she realized it was Harry. Caesar was, is, Harry. She had found one of her beloved dogs, alive, and in the safety of a no kill shelter.

Over the last couple of weeks APR has been accepting contributions to finance the shipment of Harry across the country, back to his owner. This past weekend Harry was taken aboard a cross country semi-truck driven by a truck driving couple who volunteer with a group called Operation Roger. He was transported by the two drivers, a husband and wife, and their four dogs, in the cab of the truck all the way across country, to his loving owner.

Harry is home now. It was reported that he recognized his 'mom', and covered her with kisses, something he never did in his cage at the shelter. Already they say he's showing more snap in his walk, and eating more. Unfortunately nobody knows what happened to his brother, Spike, but at least Harry made it home.

When I first volunteered for Abandoned Pet Rescue, I never figured I'd feel this good, or this sad for Spike. With every new dog I ask "How did this one get here?" and too often it's through animal control. No history is known. That's when I peer into their eyes and wonder, "How did you get here?"

For even more about Harry, Click Here

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All Hopped Up On Pot Stickers

Nothing like a late night snack. It was around ten thirty, I had walked the dog, fed the cats, and I was scrounging around the refrigerator looking for some kind of goody that Mark may have squirreled away in there. After finding nothing in the fridge, I checked the freezer, and found a big bag of frozen pot stickers, or pork dumplings for those unfamiliar with that term. Perfect, a quick and easy snack before I go to bed. I fired up a frying pan with a little oil in it, and threw in eight of the little dumplings. While those were cooking up I mixed a brew of malt vinegar, and soy sauce to dip them in.

A few minutes later I was sitting in front of the television, snacking on my pot stickers. Before I knew it, it was one in the morning. I didn't feel tired at all, but realized I needed to go to bed so off I went. After laying in bed sleepless for about an hour, Mark came home from his night out.
Cue the dog barking wildly at this intrusion.
"Why are you still up?" Mark asked.
"Don't know, just am. For some reason I can't sleep."

Two hours later, still laying awake in bed, grinding away, our house guest arrives home. It's four in the morning.
Cue the dog barking wildly again.

After a while the house settles down again, and everyone is sleeping soundly. Mark next to me, the dog draped over his legs, with the cat curled up by my head, deep in feline dreams. I however am still awake, my mind vibrating as if I had taken some kind of drug. It was now six in the morning, and I knew that in one hour there would be a dog standing next to the bed whining to go walkies. Why couldn't I sleep?

Mono Sodium Glutamate. The goddamned pot stickers had MSG in them. I grabbed the flashlight, went into the kitchen and checked the ingredients on the bag. Sure enough, MSG listed in small print on the back of the bag. Nothing gives me a buzz like mono sodium glutamate. It's what I should have been eating when we drove to Chicago because it keeps me awake better than coffee, or caffeine pills. In fact that gives me an idea. Chinese restaurants at all truck stops. It would make the streets safer, and keep truck drivers from abusing illegal drugs. Imagine, no more truckers barreling down the highway all hopped up on bennies. No, they'd all be buzzing along, high on Chinese take out.

Monday, September 27, 2010

M Bomb

Well here we go again. Just this past week Mark went to his doctor and found out his blood pressure was through the roof. I don't think there is any doubt as to why this is. He is like a Chihuahua on meth. He gets hyper-excited over things, and not in a good way. Last week it was his health insurance people denying him a prescription. That led to nine hours of him on the phone screaming, ranting, and threatening to find their offices, go down there, and scream and rant in person. Yesterday it was the meeting of the Save East Wilton Manors group, where Mark got all disturbed by what he was hearing, and in his loud squeaky voice let everyone know how he felt.

Then there is today. I received an email informing me that our flights to and from Boston in November had been changed. Knowing that there would be no recourse, I clicked on the 'Accept Changes' button and continued playing my game of hearts. When Mark found out about the changes he grabbed the phone, called the airline, and it was on. He's been screaming at them for about an hour now, and I've been hiding here in my office with Chandler curled up next to me, his paws over his ears. I don't know when Mark's crazed phone call will end. His voice keeps going up, and at some point I think he will become totally inaudible to humans. That's when I'm afraid the throbbing vein on his forehead will burst, and I'll have to call 911. Of course if he manages to get some kind of refund or a discount on a future flight from the airline, I'll be happy. I might even bring him flowers when I visit him in the hospital.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Photo Friday

I removed (broke out with a hammer) a pane of glass from the 
door to the entry hall so that the outdoor cats could come
in during thunder storms.

It has worked out well, and it is small enough that
Chandler can't get out into the backyard, and bother
the cats.

At least I thought he couldn't get through the tiny opening
until last night when he spotted a huge possum eating the cat's food.
Somehow Chandler got his big old eighty pound body through an
eight inch by twelve inch opening.

I hope the possum got scared real good, because the cats didn't.
They sat there and watched, just like when the possum is eating
their food.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fruit Poops

My mom and dad must have been frustrated farmers, because when they bought their first home in Tinley Park, they filled the back yard with apple trees. I remember every fall, the house was filled with the smells of my mom making apple sauce, apple pie, apple jelly, apple butter, apple slices (sort of apple pie, but squares with a heavy coating of frosting on top) and around Halloween, caramel covered apples. It was usually our job as kids, to harvest the hundreds of apples off the trees before they started rotting and falling to the ground. Of course if they did fall to the ground, and were rotten enough, they became kid weapons. I think we enjoyed throwing those things at each other as much as we loved those apple slices my mom made.

Fall is here again, and all the fruit trees here in my neighborhood are starting to ripen. It's not at all like back home in Illinois. Here in Florida we have avocado trees, banana trees, mango trees, and the ever present citrus trees, all of which attract rats. This is the time of year when the mango trees start dropping over ripe fruit like so many piles of poop, and the avocados are just the right density for a hurricane to come along and blast them through windows. Fruit takes on entirely new characteristics when launched by hundred mile per hour winds.

So far two of my neighbors have presented me with some of their harvest. I've received a large bunch of bananas, that I've turned into banana waffles, and banana smoothies, and then there is Paul who gave me the first star fruit off his tree. Ahhh, yes autumn is here. Can the pitter patter of little rat feet in the attic be far behind?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Dandy Visit

My dog Chandler and I were on his morning walkies when we came across a cute little Maltese named Snowball and her owner. One thing I have to give Chandler credit for is his gentleness, and patience with other dogs. This is totally at odds with his predecessor, Molly. She also liked little Maltese dogs, mostly she liked the flavor and how they fit in her mouth so neatly. To see Chandler with other dogs you'd think he was a total angel, and mostly he is.

This past week I baby sat for one of Chandler's best friends, Dandy. Dandy is a little bit larger than Chandler, but just as playful, and I figured they'd love to spend a few days together. For the most part that was true, at least until I pulled out the chewy strips, one for each of them. Suddenly cute, gentle, little Chandler turned into the devil dog from hell. He grabbed his chewy strip, and then turned on poor Dandy and demanded he give his up. I was seeing a side of my pup that I didn't know existed. I can pull his bowl of food right out from under his face, no problem. Apparently I have some kind of magical powers over him because when Dandy strayed too close to his bowl, Chandler snarled and chased him away. It was the same with his toys, very territorial. It was Chandler's house and that was it. All his little friend Dandy could do was stand next to my recliner chair panting away, and stare at me, his eyes pleading with me to take him home.

Dandy and Chandler are still friends, they get super excited when they see each other out on the street. Sometimes best of friends should never live together. I know I've tried that a couple of times, and it got kind of messy, only it wasn't over chewy strips. I tend to get a little possessive about my vodka bottle, and the television remote.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Less Fluffy Chair

I was sitting back in my big fluffy chair, slogging through the five hundred hours of television I have queued up on my DVR, and the phone rings.

"I'm at Home Goods, and I've found the prefect recliner chair. Do you want me to come and get you so you can try it out?"  It was Mark calling from the jungles of shopping mall land.

My first impulse was to be irritated, because my most treasured times are when Mark has disappeared on one of his shopping safaris. It's one of the few times I get to relax in the unusual quietness of a Mark free home, and watch whatever the hell I want on television without him talking through the entire show. However, I've been wanting a new chair for a long time now so I agreed, "Sure, come on and pick me up." Thirty minutes later I'm standing in Home Goods, looking at a nice little recliner chair.

"Go ahead, try it out."
I maneuver the thing out of it's display area, into the aisle, and plop down in it. At first impression it seems fine, then I give it the Sunday football test, and lean back. Suddenly the thing has shrunk. My feet are hanging out over the end of the foot rest, and my head is flopping around where there should be support.
"It's too damn small. This thing is for a midget, not a full grown man.", and before Mark can sputter out a protest, I'm halfway to the exit.

Mark doesn't give up easily. Since he was driving, I became his prisoner, and was zipped off first to Carl's Furniture, where everything looked as if it had been trapped in a time warp, and then to Rooms To Go. At RTG at least there was a large selection of recliners to choose from, and I suddenly went into my Goldilocks mode.

"This one is too big, it's Rush Limbo sized. This one is hideous, it looks like somebody's ass cheeks.", and on, and on it went. Finally, I turned a corner, and there it was. Good color, looks like the right size, and wait....   I sat down, leaned back, and the angel's sang.
"This one is just right."

"Sir, that chair is on sale for $244 with another twenty percent off today."
And again the angels sang.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Freedom of Speech

I've been to anti-war rallies, gay rights marches, love ins, and political gatherings, but I've never been to a city commission meeting. You know, the place where the actual laws are made. Where people get to stand up and tell the politicians whatever is on their mind, even if it makes no sense at all. Even if they've been drinking all afternoon, and they think the government is out to implant a tracking device in their head. (Everybody knows that, that's already happened, so why whine about it?)

So I'd never been to a city commission meeting that is, until last night. That's when Mark and I joined a large contingent of red shirted, middle aged, middle class, homeowners, demanding that no G-Resort, or any other kind of resort, or bar, be built on the sight of the Church of the Mind Science. We'd rather have the hippie church than a Sunday T-dance with a thousand shirtless gay boys, dancing around a rooftop pool until two in the morning. In fact I think a Muslim mosque would be welcomed with open arms if the neighbors knew it would keep out the resort.

One of the most interesting things about the city commission meeting was the public discussion segment, where anybody can say anything, provided they can say it in three minutes or less. For an hour folks got up and praised this guy or that guy, or read little speeches protesting the resort, ending with some guy who came to read a speech begging for his job back with the city. (Very uncomfortable)

After about an hour of citizen speechifying, the mayor started talking, and explaining why nothing could be done about the resort right now, and why he and the commission couldn't come out for or against it. At that point I noticed Mark was starting to vibrate next to me, and the longer the mayor spoke, the more Mark flipped out. That's because the mayor was lying. Commissioners can come out for or against things. Unfortunately once the open speech segment is closed, the audience cannot speak up, and it was all I could do to keep Mark from exploding. Maybe this will encourage Mark to speak up at the next meeting. I really hope he does. It would make for a great Video Thursday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eye Strain

 Written Monday afternoon

I should have listened to my mom. Years ago she told me, "Alan! Turn off that television and go outside. You'll ruin your eyes watching that thing all day."
Honest to god, by late Sunday night I was seeing double, and barely could make out the menu on the TV screen. I had been watching at least seventy two hours of football since Thursday. Because I wasn't feeling too good over the weekend, and wanted to stay conveniently close to the toilet at all times, I just stayed home and watched football. Thursday night football, College football on Friday and Saturday, and then the big day, Sunday.

I have the NFL ticket from the satellite service, and I don't feel that I've had my full money's worth unless I watch at least two games that I can't get on local television. That, followed by the Sunday night game means that I've overloaded my brain with sports, and my eyes are starting to spin in their sockets.

I should have listened to mom, my eyes hurt and I really can't even remember which game was which. It is all blurred together in one big scrambled game in my head. Unfortunately I just found out that Monday night football is a double header tonight. I could always listen to it on the radio......  

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Sam and Ella Diet

I remember waking up on a beautiful, sunny summer day in 1961. It should have been one of those carefree summer vacation days that kids live for, but I had a belly ache. By nine in the morning I was on the kitchen floor, doubled up in pain, and crying like a baby. I had appendicitis. My mom called the doctor, who told her to bring me right in.

"Okay Alan, drop your pants and bend over."
I looked at my mom, and she assured me it would be alright.
"Does that hurt?" the doctor asked.
I was an eleven year old boy with a full grown mans index finger shoved all the way up my ass. Of course it hurt! It hurt like hell.
"Well Alan, I know it is a bit uncomfortable, but what I'm asking is does it hurt even more when I do this?", and he proceeded to poke his finger to the left, and then to the right, then up, then down.
I guess he figured by the decibels of my screams which direction hurt the most. By that afternoon I was in the hospital undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

This last Wednesday as I prepared for going over to walk dogs at Abandoned Pet Rescue, I felt a twinge in my tummy. I figured I'd better take care of that before going out, so I made a visit to the bathroom. By the time I was done walking dogs, and on the way home, that uncontrollable urge returned. It was only by a hair that I made it to the toilet in time. As the day progressed the pain increased, and I wore a path to and from the bathroom. I had food poisoning.

Now Mark insisted that it wasn't his food that did me in, and I pretty much agree. We both had eaten identical meals for the last few days, with one exception, breakfast. Mark likes his eggs scrambled, and I love mine 'sunny side up'. I love to dip an English muffin into the runny yolk. I've always had my eggs that way.

Mark had been warning me for weeks that I was playing with fire considering all the egg recalls, but I pooh, poohed his chicken shittedness. Real men eat their eggs runny. Apparently real men also get stomach cramps from hell, and shit until their asses turn into something resembling ground beef. It wasn't a pretty sight, me sitting on the toilet unloading from one end while leaning forward with the waste bucket in front of me, barfing my brains out. I have never experienced that before, puking and pooping at the same time, and I wouldn't wish it on anybody. I was a mess, and even slugging down a bottle of Pepto and overdosing on Imodium didn't put a dent in it.

So why didn't I go to the doctor on Thursday and get some help? It was Rosh Hashanah. Since every doctor in South Florida is Jewish, and took Thursday and Friday off, my only alternative was the hospital emergency room. I know how long it takes to be seen in a hospital emergency room, and I decided that the comfort of my own bathroom would be better than the one in the hospital waiting room. By the way I'm all better now. It took about three days to run (no pun intended) its course, and I'm fine. I'll just have to get used to scrambled eggs from now on.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Fluffy Chair

I used to have a really nice recliner chair until my late dog Molly turned it into her bed. She took a perfectly good chair and destroyed it with dog slobber, dog hair, and all around doggy odors. Whenever I wasn't home or sitting in that chair, there would be Molly lounging in it. Eventually I had to toss the thing, but luckily my friend Dennis was unloading a bunch of his crap at the time. One of the items he was disposing of was a huge, fluffy, white recliner chair. I couldn't pass it up. The price was right, and I only had to move it about thirty feet over to my apartment. Price and ease of moving trumped style. I'm not saying Dennis' chair wasn't stylish, it just wasn't what I liked.

I've had that thing now for about five years, and it's showing the wear and tear of my big fat ass. Across the base of the back, right about where my tailbone rests, is what feels like a two by four piece of lumber that pokes me no matter how I try to avoid it. That and the fact that there are now holes in parts of the arm rests, thanks to Chandler when he was a puppy, says it's time to buy a new chair.

Oh, and that Fat Kitty has taken to barfing all over the thing, and using it for a scratching post doesn't hurt the cause either. The only problem will be keeping all the animals off the new chair, because it seems the aroma of where I've been sitting is irresistible.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is Phil O'Dendron Irish?

I feel the same about yard work as I do about haircuts. I don't like either, although for different reasons. When it comes to my hair, I just don't like anybody touching my head. My skull must be made of some kind of semi-soft material, because the least amount of pressure and I get a headache. The only other explanation that I can come up with is that my brain is way too big. As for the yard work, it's just hot, and buggy, and hot, and messy, and hot, and full of thorns. I'm still carrying some kind of sticker in my thumb from cleaning out Mark's tomato patch/death camp. It's because of those things that I hadn't taken care of either the hair or the yard lately. The yard hadn't been touched since before we went to Chicago, and as for my hair, I finally got that cut about a week ago.

I think it's the atmosphere here in South Florida. The heat and humidity just seem to sap all the energy and ambition out of you. I look out onto the yard and I see foot high weeds with Philodendron vines crawling all over everything. It's obvious the grounds of Casa Alan need attention. The next thing I know, I'm playing hearts on the computer in the air-conditioned comfort of the house and the yard still looks like shit. It was when the Philodendron were grabbing at my ankles as I walked up the porch, that I decided it was time. So over the lovely Labor Day weekend I got ambitious. The skies were a bit overcast, cutting down on the 'sitting in a frying pan' effect that the sun has around here, and I tackled the yard. It all looks quite lovely now, and I expect it to stay that way for at least a few months without attention. Or, at least until I'm in danger of being strangled by the Philodendron again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Photo Friday

They recently totally redid the road that passes by our little neighborhood.
New pavement, new grass shoulders, and all new signage.
So, what's wrong with this picture?

And then there was this from my home town news, Tinley Park.
§  Four concrete geese, a concrete Dutch boy and girl, a couch, lounge chair, two traffic horses, two signs, a metal chicken and a decorative metal flower were left in the front yard of a home in the 17300 block of 66th Avenue between 9 p.m. and midnight Aug. 8. 
 Sorry, no photo.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Video Thursday

I have never seen Fat Kitty show any interest in television, or the computer screen before this. I think it was the poodle with the dreadlocks that fascinated her.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can I come in and tell you about God's good news?

So I've got my clipboard with the petition against the G Resort, and I've waited until around seven in the evening to start canvassing my street as block captain. My reasoning is most people will be home from work and finished with dinner by that time. My plan is to get all the signatures this evening.

Let me tell you a little bit about our block. It is what I call the red-headed step child of the neighborhood. The homes around here are relatively expensive, single family houses on waterfront lots. All of them that is except for the ones on our block. Our street consists of rental units in duplexes and triplexes, of which mine is one of the only three that are owner occupied. The rest are occupied by people of various economic and social backgrounds, and various weaknesses for drugs and alcohol. And that is why I might have wanted to start my canvassing a little earlier.

Knock, Knock
"Who is it?"
"Hi, it's your neighbor from down the street."
"That's nice."  (then silence)
After about thirty seconds I tried again.
Knock, knock
"Sir, I'd like to talk to you about the resort hotel they want to......."
"WHAT THE HELL?!" (the sound of stumbling, and then more silence)

I had waited too late in the day to start, the guy was drunk and pissed that I'd interrupted his evening stupor. This happened at three more houses I visited, in various degrees. Some were too stoned to understand what I was telling them, and others simply ignored my knock at the door. My neighbors had succeeded in making me feel like a Jehovah's Witness, except without the self assurance that they'd all be going to hell and I wouldn't.

Although I did manage to get eight signatures, it wasn't that impressive. Four of those were Mark and my tenants, who probably figured they had to sign the petition or I'd be pissed off at them. They were never more correct.