Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Midnight Rambler

"Oooohhhhh... Growwwllll.... ewww... "
It's after two o'clock in the morning and something has awakened me. It's a little over two feet tall, weighs around ninety pounds, and has a very wet and cold nose. Chandler has found out that he can make me get out of bed, and let him out the back door in the middle of the night, if he stands next to the bed and makes noises. Yesterday it was four in the morning when I got the wet nose on my face along with the plaintive whine to go out. I dutifully pulled the covers down, even though it was nearly sixty degrees outside, and braved the wintry cold to let Chandler out the back door (Yes, sixty is considered wintry in Florida). As I stood shivering on the back porch, urging Chandler to go poopies, he scooted back and forth chasing mysterious critters in the dark. He never did go potty. It was just a clever ruse on his part to go critter hunting. So I was ready for him last night when he came calling.
"Go back to bed Chandler, and quit your whining and stop putting your nose on my arm."
I tried pulling the covers over my head so he couldn't see me, but still he persisted.
"Oooooooo........ "
Finally in an effort to keep him from waking up Mark, I slipped out of bed, and met Chandler at the back door. When I opened it he shot out the door, squatted, and let loose with a river of very loose dog poop. So while I really want to stop him from waking me up in the middle of the night so he can chase critters outside, I have to realize that sometimes Chandler really has to go. Either that, or he's perfected the art of conjuring up diarrhea just so that he can prove a point.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Did I Say That?

"What is that?"
"That's hair dye, black hair dye."
"You're going to dye your hair."
"No, that's for you."

That is me asking Mark about something he brought home with him on his latest shopping trip.

I like Halloween well enough. What I don't like is dressing up like a fool in a costume. Some people really enjoy it, and I enjoy them enjoying it. Every year I go out and take video and photos of all the clever costumes. I just don't want to be one of them. In the past I have dressed up as a robot, very uncomfortable, as a sort of pumpkin headed guy, very smelly and uncomfortable, and once as a South Park character. Again, very uncomfortable.

"I don't understand. Why did you get me hair dye?"
"Remember, last month you said we should dress up as Obama and Romney? So I got the stuff we'll need to transform you into Romney."
"Uh, I'm not going to dress up like Mitt Romney."
"All you have to do is dye your hair like his, and wear a suit. It'll be easy."
"No, I'm not going to do that. I don't think I said I would do that."
"But you said last month, you said you would do it."

Then it hit me. I'm already halfway there. I changed my mind about something I said I would do, and I lied about ever saying I would.
"Where's my suit coat? I think I'm ready."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Whistling Past the Graveyard

It's probably a good thing that the human mind can put danger away in a little box, and go about it's business. Of course there is the opposite where a few crazy religionists thousands of miles away can get inside that brain and terrify it. Consider that eleven years ago nineteen men hijacked some airplanes, and killed three thousand people in the U.S. We were scared shitless, and committed trillions of dollars, and thousands of lives to defeat this small group of nuts. The terrorists actually were able to kill .001 percent of the population. In the same year there were 29,573 firearm deaths in the United States. In other words .010 percent of the population was killed by firearms in 2001, yet we never rolled out a gigantic army to protect ourselves from the gun nuts. We put the huge threat to our safety by guns away in that little second amendment box, somewhere in our brain. Maybe in the brains dusty attic.

I live in Florida. For many, many years I have been hearing about climate change, and what will result from that climate change. One of the results will be that the bottom portion of Florida will be under water. It is something that I just don't think about much. That is until this morning. I took my dogs out for their walk, and came across this.

That is the Atlantic Ocean coming up through the grate on the storm sewer in front of my house. Every spring and fall we get higher than usual tides. This year the tides are higher than ever. I don't know why, that storm called Sandy was well away from us. I consulted with my neighbor Diane who has lived in her house since 1956, and she said she had never in her life seen the tides so high. This is Diane's back yard.
I am afraid that I am living only a few inches above the sea, and that some day it just might come right in through my front door. Oh well. I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Like a Baby's Ass

Why is it that razor cuts won't stop bleeding. I have smashed my fingers, ripped open my elbow, and taken sheets of skin off my leg without as much bleeding as the tiny cut I opened up this morning while shaving. For the last half hour I have dabbed at it with toilet paper, and still blood dribbles down my lip. When I was a young man my beard was so sparse that I could use the same razor for a year. They didn't wear out because I only had to shave four or five whiskers off my smooth, baby face. Now at the age of sixty two I have had to learn how to really shave. As you age the face becomes a craggy mess of lumps, bumps, and strange growths that you have to maneuver your way around. On my neck the skin changes from smooth right under my chin, to something that resembles the face of a cliff further down. As I shave my neck I have to be very careful that I don't slice open my carotid artery as the razor suddenly grabs one of those outcroppings. I have to go now. The blood has soaked through the little Band-Aid I put on my lip, and is dripping on the keyboard.
                 * * *

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Ivan Pavlov showed that a dog will salivate when a bell is rung if the dog has been conditioned that food will be served at that time. Even after cutting out the serving of food, Pavlov showed that the dog will still salivate when the bell is rung. He called it conditional reflex.

For the tenth time today our phone has rung. Well not really rung, because new fangled phones play a series of tones instead of ringing a bell. Anyway, for the tenth time today I have picked up the phone, pushed the TALK button, and said hello.
"What kind of Democrat would vote for... "
Goddamn it! The bastards got me again. The robo-calls, the never ending, mother-scratching robo-calls. Even though it says right on the caller ID that it is not somebody I know or would want to talk to, I answer the goddamned thing. I pick up the phone and hit that button before my brain activates the 'do not answer' circuit. It wouldn't be so bad except that I truly thought that I had found a way to stop those crazy campaign calls. My neighbor Dave told me that if you vote by absentee ballot, when you return that ballot to the Supervisor of Elections, the calls stop. So ten days ago I sent in my ballot. I think Dave was drunk.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


As with most early evenings, Mark and I are sitting around watching the evening news, this time in our bedroom. Everything is going along fine. The news ends and Brian Williams says, “We sure hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. Good night.”, followed immediately by the intro to the next program. It blasts into our ears, "EXTRA! EXTRA!". Easily the most irritating program on television. Not because of it's content so much as for the fact that they scream at you for half an hour.
Suddenly Mark jumps up out of his chair.
"What time is it? Goddamn I hate that clock."
Mark is speaking of the clock on the bedroom wall. The clock that has had a dead battery in it for the last week, and is stopped at 6:45pm.
"I thought I had plenty of time. Why the hell don't you fix that clock?"
Of course it's my fault that Mark is going to be late meeting his friends for cocktails. So I start the search for a battery. None in my office where I keep all the spare batteries. None in the kitchen catchall drawer. No spare batteries in the house at all. So I go to my usual plan B. What gadget do we not use very much that has the same battery as that clock? There is Mark's "massager" in the drawer next to his side of the bed, but I'm not touching that thing. I check every game controller, every gadget Mark has in the kitchen, but they all have the wrong battery. Finally, after checking everything, I find a double A battery. The only problem is that the next time 'EXTRA!' comes screaming onto the television screen, Mark is going to reach for the spare remote on his side of the bed, and he won't be able to mute that bastard.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Uh, What?

Is it possible that there are a finite number of combination of words that my brain can produce? Could it be that I have used up every bit of creativity that I was allotted at birth? Honestly, I am right now feeling that way. Conversation is a chore, and all I want to do is sit in front of the television and have it spew it's content all over me. Maybe I could soak up another few years worth of the ability to form coherent sentences just by sitting in my big recliner and letting the television re-seed my brain.

It all started a couple of years ago when Mark started nagging me to write a book.
"I like your writing. It's pretty good, and if you sold a book you would have enough money to support me in the way I feel I deserve."
"No, it sucks."
"You sit in front of that computer all day writing comments on other peoples blogs, and writing your own blog. I know you can write a decent book, make a lot of money, and give that money to me."
"No, it sucks."

Well a little over a year ago, Mark and I were sitting in bed sipping our cocktails, when Mark started to tell me stories about his family moving to New Jersey from the Bronx. It was kind of funny, and kind of sad, and under the spell of vodka seemed interesting. So after mulling it over for a few weeks, I started writing. Sixty four thousand words later, not including the sixty thousand words I threw away, I am finished. It is a work of fiction based on Mark's stories, and some of my childhood memories. That is why I feel so used up lately, and haven't been posting a lot of things on my blog. It is as if writing this thing has sucked the words right out of me. Hopefully the hours of television watching I've been doing this weekend will help restart my brain. Although most of it is football, and very little thought is generated watching that, I'm hoping the ads will contribute to repopulating my mind. One more thing. Does anybody know a literary agent? 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Great Pumpkin

I hear Mark come in the front door, and I go out into the living room to see what he has brought home today. It's frightening. On the dining room table is a large pumpkin. Behind it is Mark with a big smile on his face. So what's so scary about that? I'm pretty sure that I just threw last years pumpkin in the garbage, that's what's so scary.
"What is that for?" I ask.
"Halloween, it's Halloween."
"Are you sure? Wasn't it Halloween just a few months ago?"
Each year Mark brings home a pumpkin that he swears he is going to carve into a jack-o-lantern, but never does. What actually happens is that the whole pumpkin will sit on the dining room table through Halloween, through Thanksgiving, and on into December as a table decoration. Sometime around Groundhog's Day I'll mention to Mark that there is quite a gamey odor in the house.
"Do you think it could be that orange and greenish blue mound of goo on the dining room table?" I ask.
"You mean my pumpkin?"
"Is that what that is?"
"Can I throw it away?"
"Hmmm..." Mark ponders the idea, "Okay, I guess that would be alright."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Done deal. The debates are meaningless now.

They warned us that the ballot was going to be very long and confusing. It is. Eleven amendments, most of them Tea Party inspired, plus a bunch of judges. So I ordered my mail-in ballot on line so that I could research each vote. Normally when I go to the polling place on election day, I don't know everything I should know to vote intelligently. Really, who knows all those judges and school board members? And then there is something called the soil and water conservation district, what? I sat in front of the computer yesterday, and looked up each and every vote. I found the most valuable resource to be the Tea Party web site. I just looked at their endorsements, and voted the opposite. I had to be careful though. There were a couple of amendments that actually made sense, and I agreed with, like giving us old farts a bigger Homestead Exemption on our property taxes.

I was very tempted to vote for Roseanne Barr, but that would be very irresponsible. Like that write-in vote for Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Poor Craig

Overheard today while walking past a young man talking on his cell phone.
"When Craig dies, I'll have my life back."

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I'm covered in sweat, and have multiple burrs sticking me in the ankles. I've been working in the yard today, and it all started like this.

My neighbor Mandy; "Hi Alan. Hello there Chandler, are you a good boy today?"
Me; "He's been good so far."
Chandler; "Arf, arf, arf, yackk, ackkk!"
Me; "I put that special choker collar on him. He's been barking at little kids, and people on bikes too much lately."
Mandy; "What doesn't he bark at?"
Me; "Honestly, he's been getting better."
Mandy: "Sure he has. By the way, speaking of misbehaving, tell your tenant to pick up his dog shit. He lets his dog crap where ever he wants to, and leaves it."
Me; "I don't tell my tenant what to do when he's not on my property, but please be my guest and tell him yourself to pick up his dog shit. I would only care if he was letting his dog shit in my yard."
Mandy; "You mean your weed patch?"

I couldn't argue that point. I hadn't done any yard work since coming home from Chicago, and that was in August. I just kept telling people that the stuff in the front yard was ground cover. Which it was. Weeds do cover the ground, even better than what you actually want to grow there. Anyway, so that's what I've been doing today, weed whacking, and bush trimming. Oh, and I also discovered that my tenant has been letting his dog shit in my yard. I just couldn't see it in the two foot high weeds.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hot Wet Dogs

Today was dog bath day. I took out the hose, the dog shampoo, and then the dogs to the deck out back where I proceeded to wash off the shit that Chandler had been rolling in, and the piss that Sasha had been stepping in. They both now smell like fruit and flowers instead of piss and shit.

I had central air conditioning installed in this house back in 1993. The first unit I had installed lasted sixteen years with only two failures, one of them caused by an electrocuted rat in the condenser. I replaced that unit three years ago for both reliability and cost reasons. I was told that the new one was the best money could buy. After washing two dogs, I was sweaty and hot. It is 85 degrees with 74 percent humidity outside right now. Inside my house it is 81 degrees with unknown humidity. I suspect it is quite high because the two wet dogs aren't drying off very fast. My very expensive, very reliable air conditioning unit that I just finished paying off, has quit working. Of course I don't take such things with a calm demeanor.
"Mark! Aren't you hot? Can't you tell that the air isn't working?" I screamed.
"Uh, no."
Sure, Mark is five foot eleven inches, and weighs ninety eight pounds. A breeze from a blast furnace would give him a chill. I am double his weight, and easily sweat like a pig. Anyway, the temperature in here is now up to 82. I am waiting until it is hotter in here than outside before I open the windows. The air conditioner repair man is supposed to be here some time between now and midnight, and I have to stay here just in case he comes around. Meanwhile my house is starting to smell like a very wet dog. A fruity, flowery wet dog, but I'm not sure how long they'll stay smelling so nice.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chex Whore

Is that Mark?
When I was a kid one of my favorite cereals was Wheat Chex. They weren’t pre-sweetened so I would have to sweeten them to taste. That meant I poured mounds of sugar over them. So much sugar that when I finished eating the Chex, there would be a half inch layer of sweet goo at the bottom of the bowl. I don’t need that much sugar anymore, but I do still like a bit of sweetness in my cereal. That is why I was so happy to find something called Cinnamon Chex at the supermarket. Not only does it contain sweet, cinnamony Chex cereal, but it has a picture of Mark on the front of the package. So I grabbed a box, and over the course of five mornings I finished it off. The only problem was the very last portion that I poured into my bowl yesterday. Not only did those little woven squares of sweet goodness come tumbling out, but they were accompanied by a rock. My first thought was that it was some kind of free give away, like a toy or something. But no, it was a rock, or so it seemed. I dropped it on the counter, and it sounded like a rock. I inspected it up close, and thought for a moment that it might be a rock of crack cocaine, so of course I licked it. It was sweet, and very cinnamony tasting. What I think it might be is a bit of sugary goo that had formed on the equipment back at the General Mills factory. I figure it became dislodged at some point and fell into my box of Cinnamon Chex. It really doesn’t matter, because I ate that bowl of Cinnamon Chex before I ever determined what the rock was. That is how good Cinnamon Chex is. In fact the more I think about how addictive that cereal is, the more I think it might have more than just cinnamon in it.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I was watching the debate on Wednesday and
 Mitt Romney reminded me of the movie Zelig by Woody Allen.
Although I agree that President Obama was not good in the debate,
it is kind of understandable. He prepared for the Mitt we have seen for the last year,
not the new Etch-a-Sketch Mitt. He should have seen that coming.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

He's a Good Egg

The View From my Seat
Hmmm, look at that. A cracked tile on the floor. I didn't see that before. Oh that blue paint, I'm not happy with that blue paint. I really need to paint in here. And there is that little spot I missed on the door the last time I painted in here. That sure bugs me, it has ever since the day I painted it. Look at those shower doors, I really need to get some of that Kaboom soap scum remover. I continue looking around the room and then another wave of cramps and nausea sweeps over my body, taking my mind off of the things I need to do in the bathroom. I have had a lot of time today to look over what needs to be done here in the bathroom. I've probably spent a total of two hours in here since the first rumblings this morning. Not all at once, but in fifteen to twenty minute increments I have been sitting in here, enduring gut wrenching cramps and diarrhea.

This morning I asked Mark what he wanted for breakfast.
"Two poached eggs, and corned beef hash" was his answer.
So I went to the fridge, and got out the last four eggs. I poached all four, and laid them on top of the fried corned beef hash. I also had a couple of biscuits left over from dinner that I buttered and put on the plates. About an hour after breakfast I made my first trip to the bathroom. When I was done, I came out and told Mark that I was having troubles, and where was the Imodium?
"You probably got sick from those eggs." Mark informed me, "Two of them were cracked in the carton."
Just so you know, I have horrible vision. I did not see two cracked eggs in that egg carton this morning. Okay, so I apparently got the two cracked eggs. My question to Mark was, why did you leave two cracked eggs in there? Why did you let me eat two possibly spoiled eggs this morning? His answer was a mumbled, "I dunno." as he left the room. I'm starting to wonder. Last week he brought home some strawberries. That evening I popped half a dozen in my mouth. The next morning, in the light of day, I looked at those strawberries that were still in the little basket. They were covered with blue mold. Maybe I should rethink that will.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

The white flakes drift slowly to the ground, reminiscent of a snowfall on a quiet January night in Chicago. Except it isn't snow, it isn't January, and this isn't Chicago. Also there are bits and pieces of a yogurt cup lid, and candy wrappers mixed in with the tissues that Sasha has shredded. Yes, Sasha is a shredder. She shreds tissue, newspaper, coupons that Mark had carefully laid out, important documents, and my handkerchiefs. One thing we have learned since taking in this sweet little dog, I should say that I have learned, is that she will take any opportunity to rip to shreds whatever she can reach. Chandler shredded when he was a puppy, so did the late Molly, but they grew out of it. Sasha has not. In fact it seems to be a challenge to her, a dare if you will.
"Go ahead, make my day. Leave that rent check on the table."
This time it is the waste basket next to Mark's desk. The waste basket that he knows she will tip over and shred. Mark's reaction when he finds it is to scream. Now Sasha is hiding under the bed, shaking in fear, and distrustful of that big mean man. So I get on my hands and knees and beg her to come out. I try her squeaky toy. No, she will not come out. I tempt her with a cookie. NO again. Finally, from under the bed, she can see me putting on my shoes. There is only one thing above all others that she loves, truly loves, and that is a ride in the car. Unfortunately I'm not taking her for a ride. I'm taking her out for her poopy walk, and as we pass each car on our route she pulls me towards it.
"No Sasha, we aren't getting in that car."
She stops dead in her tracks and looks at me. It's as if she's trying to tell me that this is it. This is how we can escape Mark. Just jump into that car with me. Obviously she isn't as taken with his cooking as I am.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pick, Pick, Pick, Pick, Pick

 If you don't like football, and aren't a Chicago Bears fan, you can skip this today.

Fighting Tooth and Mail

"Mark, did you bring in the mail today?"
"It's on the dining room table." I hear him call from the bedroom.
I take a look over at the dining room table, and it is obvious that we have a problem. Every day Mark leaves his mail on the table. I, being the more organized person, grab mine and take it to my office. I open it, sort it, throw out the junk, and I am then ready for the next day's mail. Not Mark. He leaves his on the table. Each day the mail comes into the house, and each day Mark throws it on the table. He doesn't open it, he doesn't throw out the junk mail, he doesn't seem to care. Last night I had to make a little valley between the piles of mail, circulars, and newspapers just so we could eat dinner. Looking at this mess reminded me of my grandparents. In their dining room, on their table, was an immense pile of documents and mail. You didn't dare touch any of it or they would go nuts. It seems that grandpa and grandma had a clever filing method, and they knew where everything on that table was. Move one thing and you screwed it all up. Looking at our table, and thinking about my grandparents reminded me of another thing. My grandfather used to keep his teeth on the dining room sideboard in a jar. No, not his false teeth, he didn't have false teeth. His real teeth. He kept each and every tooth that had ever fallen out of his head, in a jar on the sideboard. The fact that he chewed tobacco all his life meant that there were a lot of old, brown teeth in that jar. Knowing that Mark has some of the traits of my grandparents including the clutter and hoarding thing, kind of makes me afraid to look in those containers that Mark has up in the china cabinet.