Friday, December 30, 2011

Photo Friday

Bougainvillea blooms year round, but it seems to go crazy in the cool, dry winter months. Unfortunately I cannot capture the brilliance, and color on my little digital camera. I noticed that the bougainvillea down by the church looked even more vibrant in the setting sun of the late afternoon. Here's two photos that still don't do it justice.



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nature

I was born sixty two years ago yesterday, and from the beginning nature has been trying to kill me. Nature has been both subtle and obvious about it. It was obvious on that day in 1949 when nature put the ice and snow on the road that made my dad veer off into a ditch, bouncing the new born baby Alan on his head, and off the floor boards of dad's ancient Ford. More subtle is the psoriasis that nature has cursed me with. Dry, flakey, skin popping up on my elbows, on my forehead, and worst of all, on my unmentionable man parts. I'm sure nature is trying to itch me to death.

I've gone through cancer, a burst appendix, mumps, measles, chicken pox, and an infection in one of my testicles that gave me a 104 degree fever, and blew the offending orb up to the size of a baseball. The only difference between the cancer and the infected testicle is that the testicle cleared up after a few days, otherwise they both sucked the same.

I was not happy when I woke up this morning with a ninety pound dog laying on my throbbing, twisted ankle. All I could think was, there she goes again, nature trying to make me die an agonizing death by dog. After shoving Chandler off the bed, and dragging myself across the floor to the bathroom, I sat there and reflected on turning sixty two. From that vantage point it wasn't very pretty. But after finishing up in the bathroom, I hobbled out to the backyard to feed the cats, and this is what I saw.
Thank you nature.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dog Shit Does Not Break The Fall

Just over a week ago Mark, Willie, and I, put up the Christmas tree. The final result was a beautiful display of ornaments and lights, twinkling, and glittering in our living room. It was one of Mark’s finest years for decorating. Unfortunately, yesterday we determined that Mark was allergic to it. Not just the tree, but the lovely live pine boughs that Mark had used to decorate various other rooms in the house. All day long on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, Mark slaved away in the kitchen making Puerto Rican pasteles, sliced baked potatoes with cheese and bacon on top, spinach gratin, delicious prime rib roast, and a red velvet cake. The problem was he couldn’t breathe because of the live pine in the house, and he had to stop every few minutes to huff on his nebulizer. That meant either the tree, or Mark would have to go. By a slim margin it was decided that it would be the tree.

So yesterday, on the 26th of December, Mark removed himself from the house (He went shopping), while I dismantled Christmas. To start, the decorative boughs from on top of the china cabinet went, then the bits of live pine from on top of the television cabinet, and finally the Christmas tree itself. Sounds easy, doesn't it? After removing the pine branches, I had to dispose of them. I gathered the large pile up in my arms, pushed my way past the ever present dogs, opened the back door, and started walking down towards the front of the dog run. That was when I stepped halfway off the sidewalk. My foot turned ninety degrees inward, my ankle made a popping noise, and with excruciating pain shooting up through my leg, I slammed down onto copious piles of dog shit. Dog shit of various ages, and freshness. As I lay there writhing in pain, and screaming at the top of my lungs, I did have the wits about me to not curse. After all, I was sure the neighbors could hear me, and all the kids are home from school and playing outside. Despite my bloody screams, nobody came to my aid.

Realizing nobody was going to help me, I dragged myself back into the house, took two Excedrin, and rested for a half hour before I continued with my next task. After stripping the tree of all ornaments, and lights, I undid what I had done the week before. I loosened the bolts holding the Christmas tree upright. It immediately flopped over, spilling the water I had put in the stand just before Mark decided it was to be taken down. There it lay, splayed across the living room floor, pine needles everywhere, and a flood of water moving towards the carpet. Now I cursed, I cursed good and loud. I used every foul, and dirty word I could conjure up. Then I dragged that damn thing out the door, and to the street, leaving a trail of pine needles and a few filthy words floating in the air behind me.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Photo Friday

Is there a five hundred dollar blender under that tree?



Christmas morning.
More on the blender Thursday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Slipper Thingys

I have bad feet. Part of it goes back to when I had chemo-therapy. The chemo caused what is known as peripheral neuropathy. As a result of that I hate to wear shoes because they cause pressure on my feet, thus causing pain. So you'd think I'd be running around barefoot all the time, but no, I also have pinched nerves in my feet and pressing them to the hard ground causes more pain. So my remedy for the foot pain is to wear my little slip-on thingys that are sort of like flip flops without the toe thong. They do the job, but they are also somewhere around ten years old, and quite beat up. Three years ago Chandler used them as chew toys, which makes sense because of the sheer funkiness of them. And by funk I mean dirt, smell, and well, more dirt. Each and every year around Christmas and my birthday, I throw the hint out to Mark. I need new slipper thingys. They need to have a thick sole, not be too tight, and be easy to slip on and off. It's only four days until Christmas, and seven days until my birthday, and this is an obvious hint to Mark. He says he never reads this blog, but once a week I get yelled at for making him sound too shrill, petty, and mean. He's not. He's the finest, most caring, and loveable man on earth. Now get me those slipper thingys!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Season's Greetings. Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas.

Each day I go out to the mail box and each day there are more, and more Christmas cards. I love Christmas cards, they are sort of an acknowledgement that you mean something to somebody. Even if they only printed out an address label, signed a card, stuffed it into an envelope, and went to the post office to mail it... like I do, it means something.

Yes, I admit it, I'm a bad Christmas card sender. Other people take the time to jot down a personal note, or at least an extra 'Love ya' in the card, but not me. Every time I try, it just looks so hokey, not to mention my bad, no terrible, penmanship. I wish that I had that beautiful, flowing handwriting, and the ability to come across as truly thoughtful, but instead the recipient of my holiday card is stuck with the troubling task of trying to decipher my scrawl. So thank you all for the cards. We do appreciate them and display them around our living room. I just hope you all won't be offended when you get my pre-printed envelope containing our holiday greetings, with 'Love Alan and Mark' scratched across the bottom.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stress

It was nearly ten in the morning before I heard from Mark. I had got up at six trying to move my office project ahead and maybe get it all done before Christmas, while Mark stayed in bed watching his Saturday morning cooking shows. Staying the hell out of my way was a good call on his part because the stress of redecorating the office, and the further stress of Christmas had finally got to me.
"What's all the screaming?" Mark asked as he finally emerged from the darkened bedroom.
"Owww, ouch, goddamnitsonofabitchfukkityfuckbastard!" I continued to scream, "I drilled a hole in my goddamnedfukkityfuckfinger!"
I hadn't actually done that. I did not drill a hole in my finger, but had only grazed the cuticle just below my middle finger. There was very little blood, but it sure hurt like hell, and I wanted the world to know it. Considering we had gone out drinking the evening before, and I was a bit hung over, the fact is I could have done much worse. The amazing thing is that Mark hadn't heard my first screaming fit earlier in the morning. That one was launched while I was trying to finish mounting the new light fixture. Honest to god the Chinese must truly hate us. Why else would they continue to sell us products with screws that don't fit, parts that don't align, and instructions written in some kind of Oriental code.

But Saturday wasn't all Chinese lamps, painting ceilings, nailing up crown molding, and rewiring electrical boxes. Later in the afternoon I finished putting up the outdoor Christmas lights. Now two doors down from us it looks like they are trying to run up the highest residential electric bill in history. They have every tree, bush, and every part of the house wrapped in lights. I think my display, while not as ostentatious as my neighbors, is quite beautiful. I spent an entire fifteen minutes on it. What do you think?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Video Thursday

 Caution: cursing, blasphemy, and rudeness in this video.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Screwed

'Plink, clatter..... ' and the tiny screw was gone. I had been trying to insert the damn thing into the new light fixture Mark had bought for my office when it leapt out of my fingers, and in slow motion, plummeted to the floor. I thought that I had a very good idea of it's trajectory, but after twenty minutes of searching I still have not found the little Chinese bastard. Yes, it's the curse of stuff made in China again. Looking at the lovely photo on the package it came in, you'd think installing this new fixture would be so simple. But no, once you break the box open, count all the parts, and read the instructions, it became quite obvious that you had to be a contortionist, an electronic genius, and you would need to understand the Chinese mind to put this thing up. So I've given up for today. I'm going into the living room, pouring myself a gigantic vodka cocktail, and hope that the miniscule screw crawls out of it's hiding place before morning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pizza, pizza

Last week when I was in Chicago, my friend Dennis and I went to Leona's Pizza for some authentic Chicago pizza. No, no, no, it was not that overstuffed, leaden, deep dish stuff. It was the pizza I grew up with back before Pizzeria Uno started with their publicity campaign to convince everyone that a five inch high, doughy pie full of cheese, was Chicago pizza. For decades Chicago pizza was a very thin, round disk, covered with tomato sauce, cheese, little globs of sausage, and then sliced into squares. Besides the thinness of the crust, the cut is the most important part, for that allows little triangular pieces at the corners, which are more like a cracker with pizza toppings on it, my favorite part.

So this past Saturday, fresh from my trip to Chicago, I was craving that pizza. Trouble is, you can't get it here in Florida. We have plenty of greasy New York pizza, and of course all the bland chain pizza places, but no Chicago pizza. So to assuage my cravings I ordered from a place called Humpy's. As pizza places go, Humpy's isn't so bad, but it isn't my Chicago pizza. When the pizza arrived I flipped open the box, and dug in. What I got was a mouthful of chewy, spongy crust, with flavorless pepperoni and cheese. The sauce was good, but it couldn't overcome the letdown of knowing I wasn't getting what I craved.

Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, Domino's, none of those are pizza, and I refuse to eat that crap. So I keep trying local pizza places here, hoping that sooner or later I might find what I'm looking for. Either that, or make more trips to Chicago.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tradition

Hooray, it's Christmas time again. Mark is in the living room right now decorating the tree. I was in there for a while watching football, but I got tired of Mark constantly stepping in front of the television, and singing Christmas carols off key.

When I was a kid we never went with my dad to pick out the tree. That was a financial thing to him, and kids would only get in the way of the deal. The deal being that when he found the cheapest place to buy the cheapest tree, that was the day our Christmas tree would suddenly show up. Kids would only gum up the works, demanding something large, and nice looking. Mark and I have begun our own tradition surrounding the buying of the tree. We call our friend Russell, who works for Home Depot, and find out when the truck is coming in with fresh trees. We then zip over to the Depot right after the trees are unloaded, and while Mark wanders around making the Home Depot guy hold up each and every tree so he can compare, I go inside and wander around. When Mark has finally picked out his tree, he brings the tag in to me, and I pay for it. Not quite like slogging through the snow to chop down a fresh tree, but a tradition none the less.

By the way, I did help Mark with the Christmas tree. I carried it in from the car, placed it in the stand, and crawled around on the floor tightening down the large bolts that hold the damn thing upright. It only took five tries, accompanied by profuse cursing, to get the thing to stand up straight and true. Look for the video of that, courtesy of Mark, on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Office

I was hoping that when I got back from Chicago I'd find my office all painted. You know, like maybe the guy who is wishing for that five hundred dollar blender would try to get on my good side by spackling, and painting the place. But no, the room was still a jumble of furniture, computer equipment, and crap when I walked in. The walls were still a mess from the stripping of the wallpaper. Mark's excuse was that his friend that I had paid to scrape the wallpaper off, got himself a job in a bar and wasn't available any more for doing my shit work. So now I'm the one doing the painting. I'm not very good at it, what with my crappy eyesight, and bad knees. I find myself kind of cutting corners where I know furniture will be hiding the freshly painted walls. If it is very low on the wall chances are I've missed a spot. Also there will be some paint slopped over onto the window frames, but that might be a good thing. It'll convince me to replace the windows sooner. With any luck, this will all be done before New Years, or until Mark's Puerto Rican friend gets tired of working in that smoky bar.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Coming Home

The Train

Chicago, 6:30 in the morning, and I'm standing on the platform of the Brown Line at Montrose waiting for the train downtown. It is damn cold. I can see my breath, and the few other people who are waiting are huddled under the one heat lamp provided. The Brown Line goes to the Loop where you can change to trains that will take you almost anywhere else in city. I'm going to Midway Airport.
My train arrives, and I take my seat. I look around. There is not one smile on this train, it is as if we were going to a funeral. It's obvious why. It's Monday, and these folks are going to work.
At Washington Boulevard, I changed trains to the Orange Line. It's like I'm in a different city. There are smiles, and at the Roosevelt stop a gaggle of young women get on, all giddy and talkative. It's obvious why. This train is going to the airport, these people are going on vacation.

The Airplane

God bless my sister Peggy. She paid for my plane ticket to Chicago on Southwest Airlines so I should not complain, but I will. First there is the tension at the boarding gate. Where will I be sitting, what old lady will I have to fight for a seat? I like to know where I'm going to sit. This scramble for a seat is like riding a bus, you blink and you lose. On my way home from Chicago, the first seat I took was broken. It sagged and had something sticking me in the butt. But hey, I was on Southwest, so I got up and went for the seat across the aisle. Almost the same thing, except for the lump sticking me in the butt. Once again I got up and took the next seat back. This time the seat seemed to be sloping towards the front, and was very uncomfortable, but by this time all the seats around me had been snatched so I stayed. One hour into the flight and I had managed to get somewhat comfy by snugging the seat belt as tightly as possible so I wouldn't slide off. I then closed my eyes for five minutes. Apparently Southwest Airlines has a hard and fast rule. If your eyes are closed when the flight attendant zips past your row, you don't get a beverage, nor do you get the tiny bag of cookies that I had been depending on for breakfast. By the time we landed in Fort Lauderdale, I was starving, and my back was killing me.

The Dogs

After an uneventful taxi ride home from the airport, I opened the front door of my house, and two tail wagging, leaping, slobbering souls greeted me without reservation. Suddenly I wasn't hungry, and my back felt fine. I was home.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Going to Mom's Party

By the time this is posted I will be on a plane, on my way home to Florida. This weekend I went to mom's house up in Illinois, for her 90th birthday party. While I'm sure I had a very good time, and nothing worth writing about happened, I won't know that until this is already posted. This is being written on Friday, December 2nd, and I have other worries. First of all there is the packing. I am going from temperatures in the mid seventies, to possible freezing rain and snow. I am trying to stuff all my warmest clothes into a carry on bag that will fit snuggly in the overhead compartment, yet will still allow me to look my best in Chicago. I don't think that will happen. I know that no matter how hard I try, when I put on my pants and shirt for ma's party it'll look like I just crawled out of a sleeping bag with my clothes on.

When I finally had everything in my bag, Mark started up.
"Do you have socks?"
"Yes."
"Do you have enough underpants?"
"Yes."
"Gloves, hat, scarf, sweaters?"
"Yes, yes, yes, yes."
I have packed my bags for years before I met Mark, and I never had a problem. Not packing something is not what I am worried about. I am eating a hole in my stomach with worry about Mark and the animals. For just over forty eight hours Chandler, Sasha, and the two kitties in the back yard will be at the mercy of Mark. Mark, a man who has never, ever, walked a dog, fed a dog, has never picked up dog shit, the guy who calls me to rinse out his shower after Sasha pissed in it. That man will be taking care of the living things in my house that I most care about. Okay, non-human living things. I am truly worried that I will come home to starving cats, dog shit in my office, or worse. It's not that I don't love Mark, and care for him, but I told him the first day he moved in here fifteen years ago, "My dog comes first. If I ever go away and come home to a dead dog, you'd be wise to disappear."

Friday, December 2, 2011

Photo Friday

There goes the neighborhood.
Wouldn't that be a Caucasian-American Family?

 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Video Thursday

 Alicia is busy helping me with my office redecorating. 
I hope this video entertains you while she's gone.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Troubling Tuesday

Tuesday was a crazy day. It was one of those confusing, frustrating, and hectic days that come along once in awhile. As you may know, I am re-decorating my office, and I have hired a friend of Mark's to get the old wall paper off the walls. I tried my hand at it, but after five minutes I realized that this was actually labor intensive. Lucky for me, Mark's friend Willie is a six foot, two inch tall, young Puerto Rican and very capable of doing the job. Later in the afternoon A.T. & T. called to inform me that the cheaper upgrade for my internet and voice that I ordered was actually going to cost me more money, and I would have to install an extra phone line if I wanted to keep my second phone number. I told the  A.T. & T. lady to cancel the order. She told me that I would have to talk to a special department for cancelling orders if I was going to do that. I ended up on hold for forty minutes waiting for 'John' to help me. By the time 'John' picked up the line I was fuming, but that's okay, I'm sure he's heard most of those words I used before. Finally, there was breakfast with Mark. We went out for breakfast, and at the restaurant I informed Mark that I was not going to fulfill his full Christmas wish list. There was no way in hell that I was going to buy him a goddamned, five hundred dollar food blender. That's right, five hundred dollars. He pled his case by telling me that it actually made soup right in the blender. I countered with the fact that I can actually make soup right in a pot on the stove, or even in the microwave oven. Mark countered my argument with pursed lips, an icy stare, and silence. The silence lasted all through breakfast.
I just know his mother never gave him a good slap in the puss when he was a kid.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Puppies

I kept trying to look away, but the woman kept asking me questions that I had to answer, and it just wouldn't be right for me to be looking off into the distance as I talked to her. As hard as I tried I couldn't look her in the eyes when I was looking at her. I was distracted.

On Sunday I helped the shelter do an adoption meet and greet event at the Los Olas Boulevard, Children's Winterfest. I brought out little Blackie the poodle, and Iggy, a large ten month old puppy of dubious heritage. My duty was to walk the dogs around and entice folks to start petting them, and then to breach the subject of adopting them when it became apparent they had fallen in love. It was Iggy that had caught the fancy of a woman of indeterminate age who obviously had spent too much time in the Florida sun.
"So what does it take to adopt a dog?" she asked while down on her knees petting Iggy. After asking the question she continued cooing to Iggy about what a good puppy he was. The problem was that her puppies were hanging out of her low cut top. The two leathery, and pendulous, silicone sacks would swing out for full viewing every time she bent over to whisper sweet nothings to Iggy.
"Uh, yes how to adopt...ahh, just swing over to the shelter, and pop in, and they'll help you fill out a form."

You know, many cities, and states have laws against young men wearing their pants halfway down their asses. It's obscene they say. I say they never saw two softballs in two old brown paper sacks swing their way. However I don't think it was obscene so much as it was traumatic for me and the little children in the vicinity.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Left Behind

Friday afternoon, and Mark is hungry.
"Where's the gravy, where's the damn gravy?"
He is in the kitchen shouting as loudly as he can, which isn't so much loud as irritatingly screechy. Crap, I thought to myself, I must have thrown it out.
"I don't know Mark. Maybe somebody took it home with them."
But I knew that wasn't true.
"I'm never cooking Thanksgiving dinner again, you bastard."
It looked like just more stuff in the bottom of a pan to me, and I threw it out. After hours of Mark in the kitchen cooking, roasting, and baking, we all sat down for a gigantic meal. Turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, and finally collard greens. After jamming as much as possible down our throats, and drinking copious amounts of wine and vodka, Mark and the dinner guests moved over to the living room. I moved into the kitchen. I felt gooey. I could barely move, and the fact that my pants were unsnapped, and my belt unbuckled didn't help. In the kitchen it looked like a tsunami had hit, followed by a hurricane. All I wanted was for it to all go away. I started throwing food in containers for the guests to take home, and much of the rest in the garbage bin. I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't have taken Mark's hard work and just dumped it, but I was tired, and the wine had taken away my reason.

"Where are the collard greens? Where the hell are my collard greens?"
Mark was on the rampage again, it seems that I had dumped that too.
"Uh, I think Garrett took that home with him. There wasn't very much left anyway."
I did save the turkey, ham, and stuffing. I had saved plenty of that, but the refrigerator was bursting on Thursday evening, and I dumped a lot of food out.

Mark was still pissed and scrounging around for his lunch, "Where the hell is my macaroni and cheese? Did you throw out my macaroni and cheese you asshole?"
Ah ha, I didn't. This time I could turn it all around on Mark. It was pushed way towards the back of the fridge. Finally I had won one.
"Here it is." I said, as I smugly tossed the Tupperware container on the table. It didn't help, there may be no turkey dinner for me next year. Of course there also won't be a horrible mess for me to clean up afterwards either.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

 Oddly enough, I am in the extreme right in almost every one of these photos.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Clusterz Futz

Help! I've got a monkey on my back, and it's called Clusterz. I don't remember when I discovered this stupid game, but I am addicted to it. I'm not sure if it's the hypnotic music that accompanies it, or the sound of the bubbles popping that keeps me coming back, but I do come back. Last week I managed to play all the way to level 20. One week later, and after at least five hundred attempts, I was still playing level 20. I have a house to clean, my office to re-decorate, and plenty of other chores to do, yet here I sit playing this stupid game on the computer. There was one good thing that happened this afternoon though. I finally broke through and beat level 20. Now I'm working on level 21. I'm sure it'll be much easier than the previous level.

Click on Clusterz!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It Gets Better (With a little help from mom)

I hear a lot about bullying on the news these days, and I hear about how schools are trying to stop it. That's very commendable, but sometimes simple is better.

I was talking to my mom on Sunday and she related a story to me that had me rolling. It wasn't that the story was out of her character, because she was always one to stand up for her children. No, it was funny because it was the definitive mom that I know, and have known. Way back nearly forty years ago one of my little sisters was having a problem with a boy spitting in her hair and hitting her on the way home from school. Mom said, "Fine, I'll pick you and your sister up after school tomorrow." Now my mom had a good twenty four hours to think about this, and I'm sure it was irritating her more and more to know her sweet child was being harassed. So at the end of school that day she rolled up in the gigantic Ford station wagon, and picked the girls up. They were about three blocks from the school when my sister piped up, "That's the boy who spits in my hair." pointing to a knot of boys walking on the sidewalk. Without hesitation mom gunned the engine, sped across the little drainage ditch between the road and the sidewalk, onto the sidewalk, and stopped inches from the little punk. She then got out of the car and told him that if he ever picked on her child again she would not stop next time. He would be road kill.

My sister was never picked on again, by anyone. The word was out, her mom was crazy. I called my sister to verify that story, and it was true. in fact she says she ran into that boy, now a man, and he remembered that day. He said it terrified him. So all the school anti-bullying programs are nice, but sometimes having your mom threaten to kill the little bastards works too. The only down side to that are the monthly trips to see mom in prison.

Monday, November 21, 2011

And Don't Forget That Meow Mix Under the Desk

'Crunch, crunch, crunch...'
What the hell is that? Somewhere in the corner of my office something is munching away on something. My first suspicion is a rat, and I shudder. Mark has been bugging me for the last few months about re-decorating my office, and I have finally given in. Saturday I started the deconstruction of the place, and there is crap everywhere making it a bit harder to pin point the source of the munching sound.
'Crunch, crunch, crunch....'
The sound continues as I come around the back of the sofa, and try to see what's in the corner. I'm a bit tentative, fearing that I may come face to face with a filthy rat. I move the side table out of the way, and there it is. Two shiny brown eyes look up at me, "Well hello there Sasha. What the hell are you eating?"

It seems that Sasha has found a pile of cat food left behind by the late Fat Kitty, and is feasting on the stale treat. Either that or maybe some old cat yak that had been hiding under the sofa. There is no telling what will turn up as I continue tearing apart my office. I haven't moved anything in here since a year ago when Dennis visited. Hopefully this job won't be too complicated. One of the things I have to do is strip off the wallpaper that Mark put up fifteen years ago. When he first moved in here, he convinced me that he knew what he was doing. By all the crooked seams, and patches of wallpaper that are falling down will attest, he didn't. I have put my foot down this time, and for the future, no more wall paper. It's a pain in the ass to put up, and a pain in the ass to remove. From now on it will be paint on the walls only. As for cleaning up what's on the floors, that will be up to Sasha and Chandler.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Bitch

I just had a horrible, shocking realization today. Thanksgiving is just nine days away. I was watching television and somebody mentioned Thanksgiving next week. Next week? That couldn't be, Halloween was just yesterday, wasn't it? I should have noticed the hints Mark had left in the kitchen, like all the crap that was taking up counter space. He apparently has been stockpiling the makings of next weeks feast for the last month.

As much as I love the Thanksgiving dinner, and all that goes with it, I have come to hate the day. When I was a kid, hell, even as an adult, all I had to do was show up at moms table, and a fabulous meal was there for the eating. There was no cleaning of the house, no helping peel potatoes, no running out for this and that. All I had to do was watch a football game, and at the appropriate time I'd be called in to dinner. After attacking the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and that weird thing with the marshmallows on top, I'd push away from the table and go watch the second football game. Not so anymore, I am required to help Mark now. I am responsible for cleaning the house, carrying in all the groceries from the car, and cleaning up the kitchen. I don't mean cleaning up the kitchen just once on Thanksgiving day. I mean that Mark makes such a mess it requires at least four cleanings, and at least one hosing down on Thanksgiving day. So now I have to gear up for the extravaganza coming up next week. I'll have to get my rest, and prepare to be Mark's bitch for a week. Maybe a little carbo-loading, and vodka will make it easier to take.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Twinkie, a Glass of Vodka, and a Cigarette

Mark bought a box of Twinkies Friday, and left them on top of the refrigerator. Each and every time I walked through the kitchen they would call to me seductively.
"Alan, psst Alan, remember us? Remember how much you loved us when you were a kid? Don't you want to taste us again? We still have that soft, and moist sponge cake with the sweet creamy filling you loved."
I did. I certainly did love Hostess Twinkies when I was a kid. I also loved Hostess Sno Balls, Fruit Pies, and Cupcakes. I would often stop at Vogt's Store on the way home from school to get me some Hostess. I was like a snack cake junkie. My mom and dad certainly did not waste money on such things. After all mom baked plenty of cakes, and pies, her kids didn't need to get their sugar fix from store bought confections. But I did. I can't count how many times I came home from school with Twinkie cream on my shirt, or fruit goo on my face.

So I was home alone this afternoon, and I gave in. I raided Mark's Twinkie stash. I slowly unwrapped the plastic from one of the little yellow cakes, thinking of how delicious this was going to be. I took a bite. Hmmm, no flavor. I took another, still no flavor. By the third bite a flavor did start to develop. It wasn't a good flavor, it was kind of a pasty metallic taste. Where was the sweetness I remembered? By the time I finished that Twinkie, my mouth was filled with a spongy mush that I couldn't wait to wash out. It was nasty. I'm sitting here now with a foul metallic aftertaste in my mouth, wondering if it is me. Or could it be Hostess? Did they change the recipe, replacing good, delicious fat with Olestra, and sugar with corn syrup? What ever they did, it aint right. Then again it could be that I now have adult taste buds that are severely degraded after having had years of cigarette smoke, and vodka splashed across them.

(Note; I do not smoke any more. I gave it up twenty eight years ago, but the nineteen years I did smoke must have done some damage. Oh, and one more thing. Keep the comments clean please.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Human Squirrels

My usual Sunday morning ritual starts with me getting up at seven, and walking the dogs. On my way into the house I pick up Mark's Sunday Paper, and bring it in to him, usually tossing the twenty pounds of newsprint onto the bed. It's the best way to wake him up. I then go make breakfast while Mark goes through the paper, separating the different ads, and spreading them out on the bed (You didn't think he got the paper for the news did you?). It all seems harmless enough. After all, Mark does all the grocery shopping and pays for it, so I would expect him to look for bargains.

Yesterday I walked into the bedroom, and I was horrified. Mark was watching a television show called 'Extreme Couponing', a show about folks who clip coupons and use them. They don't just clip one or two coupons, but hundreds of them, and then go shopping and bring mountains of crap home. The part that horrified me so much was when they showed one of the homes of an extreme couponer. The woman had enough toilet paper to last until 2049, and enough tweezers to tweeze the eyebrows of the entire country of Greece. Another person had bottles of water she had purchased with coupons squirreled away in her house. If she drank one bottle of water a day, she would be able to slake her thirst for sixty seven years. As cluttered as our home is I shuddered at the thought of Mark getting into this. As it is, our kitchen is already bursting at the seams, and I have no idea where we would store all that crap. Luckily, while I stood there with my mouth hanging open staring at the television, I heard Mark from behind me say, "These people are crazy. I just don't understand why you would buy all that stuff and keep it in your house."
Thank goodness, Mark has sense, and would not be turning into an extreme couponer. The only thing that bothered me about that is when I turned around, Mark was sitting there clipping coupons.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Video Thursday

My two home towns.

Wilton Manors

 
 Tinley Park

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Piddles

I've given Sasha a new nickname. Piddles. I even made up a little song about her.

Piddles the dog
The wonderful, wonderful dog
When ever she needs to take a leak
It's in to my office that she'll sneak

Piddles the dog
The wonderful, wonderful dog
When her bladder can't hold any more
She pisses on my office floor


The most amazing thing is that I have never, ever caught her peeing in the house. You don't think Chandler is setting her up, do you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just One More Thing Sir

Errrrr, errr, err, clack, clack, clack, clack.......
The sound of a dead battery. I had told Mark that turning the car on and off rapidly, over, and over again would not be good for the battery. He insisted it was the only way to get rid of the squealing sound under the hood. No, the only way to get rid of the squealing sound under the hood would be to take the car to the mechanic, and have him replace the bad belt. So last week we finally took the car in to replace the bad belt. It was too late. Just a day later the battery died. Our sixty five month battery died a premature death at just sixteen months. That meant we had to take the car back up to Goodyear, where we had purchased the battery just a year ago.

I hate taking the car to places like Goodyear. I like their prices for tires, and batteries. What I don't like is sitting there waiting for the car.
Thirty minutes into the wait, the guy comes out and tells me, "Your overdue for an oil change."
"Okay, go ahead and change the oil."
Five minutes later he reappears holding a squat little bolt.
"Sir, the drain plug on your car is worn, and you are leaking oil."
I had no idea if that was true or not. He could have swapped out the damn thing for all I know, with a bad one he had on hand.
"Go ahead and replace it."
Ten minutes later he comes into the waiting room again.
"Sir, you need a new anode cable to your battery."
"Sure, why the hell not."
Ten more minutes go by, and he's back.
"Sir, your gas filler cap is missing. Would you like a replacement?"
"Sure, and return the rag I had stuffed in there please."
Ten more minutes later.
"Sir, your wiper blades are streaking. You really should replace them."
At this point I had enough. I was stuck in his crappy waiting room, watching QVC, the only channel his television seemed to pick up, and I was being nickel and dimed to death.
"No. Leave them alone. Just finish up and let us get out of here."
Twenty minutes later Mark paid the bill (Yes, I know. I was just as flabbergasted), and we turned to leave.
"Oh, and one more thing sir." he called out to us, "Your engine mounts are worn out and need to be replaced."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Psst, Wanna Buy a Bridge?

Do you remember that stupid fad back about ten, or eleven years ago called Beanie Babies? People were collecting those little bean bag creatures, and trading them back and forth as if they were gold, or stocks. The more insane put all their life savings into them, hoping that they would increase in value over the years. Have you ever wondered what kind of nut would put their money in Beanie Babies? Well here's a hint, they might just be a tall, skinny, hyperactive fifty one year old black man.

I was cleaning out my office on Saturday, and I came across Mark's collection of Beanie Babies stashed away in the back of the closet. My first impulse was to take them out to the garbage can immediately, but I hesitated. Might Mark have been right, could these stupid little things be worth something? The short answer is no. Beanie Babies are not worth the crap they are made out of. I went to EBay to check them out, and I found about a billion of them for sale there. Most sat for sale at ninety nine cents, with not one bid. One even sat unsold for fifty nine cents. The only one that seemed worth anything was the Princess Diana Beanie Baby, and I think that was actually a joke. After all who would pay $375,000 dollars for a bean bag?

So I once again started towards the garbage can with Mark's bean bag dolls. As I stood there with the lid open I thought, somebody might want these, I should donate them to Goodwill. So I went back into the house, and left them by the front door. As soon as Mark came home I would put them in the back of the PT Cruiser.

I was wrong. As soon as Mark came home he squealed with delight, "You found my Beanie Babies!"
"Yeah, they were in my office where you said nothing of yours was."
"Why are they by the front door?"
"They're going to Goodwill."
"The hell they are." and with that Mark disappeared with the box of Beanie Babies.
It really pisses me off. I was so close, so close to that garbage can I could smell it. I had the lid open, and the box of Beanie Baby crap ready to dump. Mark would never have known, he never takes out the garbage. When will I learn? When will I realize that you cannot compromise with a hoarder?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Video Thursday

It rained so much this past weekend that I did not go out for my annual Halloween excursion.
On Monday, Halloween, I went to my regular bowling league. Only one team showed up in costume.
I went as an old bowler.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

As Is

I know I've bitched about it before, but at what point does purchasing things for the household, things that you need and don't need, become hoarding? Mark is on my ass to redo my office. He wants me to strip the wall paper, paint it, add crown molding, put up a new ceiling fan, and new window treatments.
"Fine." I said, "As soon as you get all of your crap out of my office, I'll start."
"There is nothing of mine in there." Mark chirped.
"What about those blue plastic tubs?"
"Christmas stuff."
That's not my stuff. If it were up to me Christmas would consist of a string of lights out on the porch, and Christmas cards taped to the mirror in the dining room.
"What about all those clothes?"
"Those are old."
"Again, not mine."
With that Mark started grabbing his clothes out of the closet and stuffing them into a box.
"There, you can take those to Goodwill."
So after a few more exchanges like that it became clear, most of the crap in my office will stay. That is unless I start throwing all my stuff out of there. At that point it becomes Mark's storage locker, not my office, and that's not going to happen.

Some guy called today from a real estate office, asking me if I wanted to sell my house. I said no, but that just may be the answer. I could sell it as is, meaning with all of Mark's crap in it. Maybe even with Mark in it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How I Wet My Underpants at Three in the Morning

I opened my eyes, awakening from the weird dream I was having. Pressed up against my side was ninety pounds of dog. Beyond my dog Chandler, was Mark, snoring away, oblivious to everything. And literally clinging to the top of my head as if her life depended upon it, was Sasha. Sasha is afraid of storms, and outside I could hear the commotion. Thunder, wind, and rain. Not just any rain, but the kind that is as if a million fire hoses had been turned on and aimed at my house. Fine, I figured ten minutes and it'd be all over. An hour later the rain was still coming down in thick, torrential sheets. I decided to peel Sasha off my skull, and get out of bed to take a look. Outside the living room window I could barely see the swimming pool overflowing through the limited visibility. Then I remembered the cats, Lindsey Lohan, and Britney Spears. They live out there in the yard, so I opened the door to check up on them. Sure enough they were huddled in the entry hall, a little moist, but safe. There was one problem, the water was rising and lapping up against the door sill. It was just about to come over and would end up flooding my tenants apartment. So for the next hour, I stayed out there in the wind, and rain, stooped over, wearing nothing but my underpants, bailing the rain water back over into the yard. This was at three o'clock in the morning. You can't say I don't go the extra mile for my tenants.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Searching for signal.......

Rupert Murdoch is a dick. I have had DirecTV satellite television since 1995. It isn't the greatest, for instance when it rains out I don't get any television. The signal simply can't pass through rain, or even an occasional flock of pigeons. The only, the one and only reason I have it, is NFL football. None of the other television providers can give me every NFL football game on Sunday so I am stuck with DirecTV. Now I find out that Rupert Murdoch wants forty percent more in fees for the privilege of watching his television channels, and if he doesn't get it he will pull his channels from DirecTV. Those would include National Geographic, FX, Fox sports channels, and the Fox Movie Channel. DirecTV has assured me that the Fox News Channel would not be affected. Too bad. My question to Rupert Murdoch is, don't you get advertising dollars from those channels? Won't your properties be worth less if they are getting less exposure? I guess this is what you would expect from one of the greediest men in the world, the guy who has polluted our political system with his twenty four hour propaganda machine, Fox News. The bottom line is, I will stick with DirecTV. I value being able to watch the Chicago Bears from the comfort of my recliner here in Florida, more than I do those Fox cable channels. I will miss 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia' though.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

911

I was sitting here writing up today's post when phssst, the electric went out for a couple of hours, AGAIN! I think this is the fifth time this year the electricity has gone out here at Casa de Alan y Marcos. I had a hilarious story about Mark having forty dollars stolen from right under his nose, half written, and then nothing. The whole thing was gone. That's what I get for using Microsoft Works Word, instead of Microsoft Office Word. The difference being that Microsoft Office Word saves the project constantly, while the simpler Works Word only backs up when it feels like it.

Anyway, here's the gist of what I had written. Mark was asked by a lady friend of ours to watch her sandwich shop for fifteen minutes while she ran off to do something. Within minutes three children, from the age of around eight to sixteen entered the store. I was at home, and the phone rang. It was Mark.
"There are some people here." he whispered.
"And???" I replied.
"They aren't buying anything. I think they're going to rob me."
"Okay. Just tell them to leave."
"Alright." he whispered back.
After I hung up the oldest one asked if the youngest girl could use the restroom. When Mark said sure, she asked Mark if he would go back there with her to show her where it was. Here is where Mark made a mistake, he momentarily moved towards the back, then stopped. When he looked back, he saw the middle kid hanging around the cash register. Like I said, they took him for about forty dollars.

So the lesson today is, don't trust those little fuckers. Oh, and don't call me, call 911 if someone might be robbing you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Worlds Collide

For a little over three years I have volunteered at a no kill pet shelter. It is run by a very dedicated staff, and they are supplemented by an enthusiastic group of volunteers. One of the activities we volunteer for are the 'Meet and Greet' events. These consist of taking some of the dogs, and cats to fairs, stores, and other places where people gather, so that they might find adoptive families. Usually the meet and greet crew consists of various old ladies, nice man/woman couples, and the ever present gay man or two. So when the call went out for help at a meet and greet at a local gay bar, of course I immediately signed up. The bar is called The Ramrod.

The Ramrod is a leather bar. That means that the guys get dressed up in varying degrees of leather costumes, and play different roles in their little alternate reality. Some are into S&M, some bondage, and some... well who knows. Many years ago I used to go to this bar on occasion. I am not into that leather scene, nor do I own any of the accessories used in that scene. Mostly I went for the cheap drinks, and the fact that once in a while those guys do go vanilla. What I remembered about that bar was that it was very dark inside, had different forms of restraining devices placed around the bar for customer use, and that they showed hard core pornography on the video screens.

Never the less, what could go wrong with us bringing some of our dogs over there? I figured we would set up a table with our flyers, and promotional stuff right outside the front door, greeting the leather boys as they arrived. It was when Barb, the organizer of this event, informed me that no, it wouldn't be out front but on the 'patio', that I started to worry. Maybe I waited too long, but on Saturday afternoon I emailed Barb asking her if she was aware of what that place was. She replied back that she did, and besides it would be in the early evening, before the leatherwear crowd showed up.

So early Sunday evening, we arrived with our dogs. Our crew consisted of me, Mark, two other gay men, Barb, and another middle aged lady. After making our way past the dildo gift shop, we stumbled through the nearly pitch black inner bar area, and out back to the patio. The patio was just a narrow area between the back of the building, and the property line. It was damp, and smelly, but there was a bar, and bartender out there, so we set up our little table next to the pillory (a medieval restraining device). The dogs immediately began sniffing things of uncertain origin that were jammed into the corners, and trying to taste the moist spots on the floor. Besides the pillory, there were chains, ropes, and video screens. On those video screens they were showing porn movies, hard core gay porn movies. Big, beefy, hairy men doing what your mother always told you not to do. If you tried to avoid looking at the porn by casting your eyes downward, you were greeted by men in assless chaps. I looked over at Barb, and then over to the other lady. They seemed unperturbed. Instead of their heads spinning, and them gouging their eyes out, they were both busy talking to guys, trying to find those who might possibly adopt a dog. All I can figure is that either they are blind, kinky themselves, or just troopers, doing whatever it takes to find a home for the dogs.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Won't Give In

There are two eyes looking longingly through the window at me. A few moments later there are four eyes out there. It's Britney Spears, and Lindsey Lohan, my outdoor kitties. They're working on me, trying to weasel their way into the house, I just know it.

It's been two months since my last indoor cat, Fat Kitty, passed away. I do miss her but the relief from cat allergies has been welcome. I've had at least one cat living in my home with me since 1975, and for thirty six years I constantly popped allergy pills. I don't miss that. I'm still cleaning up the cat hair, and it will probably take a year to get it all out of the house. Because of that I refuse to have any more indoor cats. Not only because of me, but because of Mark, and his breathing problems.

So what am I going to do? Every time I open the door to feed the little darlings, they run into the house. Three feet in, and they come face to face with Chandler. Amazingly nothing ever happens. When I step outside with their bowls of food, they follow me back out. It's a routine we've been doing for the last year or so. They seem to not be afraid of the big dog, and Sasha isn't much more than a nuisance to them. It's as if they're trying to show me they can get along with dogs. See what I mean? They're working on me, testing me, trying to break down my will.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Photo Friday

Last Saturday afternoon at the JetBlue Health and Safety Fair

Those are my scratched up shins.
In front of me is Otis, a five month old Boxer/Pit bull mix. 
He's looking for a home. Don't let the Pit part bother you. He's a sweetheart.

This is his brother, Opie.