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 empaƱadas, 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.