Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chain, Chain, Chain...

On my front gate is a chain attached to a latch. The idea is that you reach in between the dowels, pull the chain which unlatches the gate, and walk in. The mail man gets it, I always find my packages sent by the USPS on the porch. The little kids in the neighborhood have figured it out, and regularly come inside my gate to fetch their goddamned balls, arrows, and Frisbees. Even those idiotic Jehovah's Witnesses have figured the damn thing out. So for crissakes why can't the stupid UPS driver figure out how to open the gate. He is a professional, and you'd think he would have come across every type of gate, and door there is. But no, instead when I go out to the front of the house I find that little yellow note stuck to the gate. He didn't even try, I was home all day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Paint in the Ass

Carefully I taped off the tile so as not to get any paint on it. For the areas around the ceiling, and window I slowly drew the paint brush along, creating a crisp line. This is called 'cutting in' in painters jargon. The problem was that the paint wasn't going on as nicely as it had in the kitchen. It was the same paint from the same can, or so I thought. In fact it was when I thought to myself that this paint should be going on the wall just as easily as it did in the kitchen that I realized it wasn't the same can. This was the paint I had bought for the baseboard and crown molding, an enamel. It wasn't for the walls at all.

See the theme of my posts this week? My mind is going, I'm getting old. I went and spent an hour screwing around in that bathroom, and then had to turn around and repaint every damn thing I had just painted. Today I am going to blame it on Mark. I say my mind wasn't as sharp because of all the wine, and vodka I drank at his Oscar party Sunday evening. Also, I was the guy who spent two hours cleaning up the kitchen after the party while Mark laid in bed watching Jimmy Kimmel. I was tired, and hung over, and the labels on the paint cans kind of looked the same. Yeah, that's it, it's all Mark's fault.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Ever since February twelfth I have been a slaving away redecorating the empty apartment in our building. I'd like to get it rented out for March, but I don't see that happening. Craig's List isn't bringing in the calls like it used to. One thing I have to keep me going while doing all the crap needed, is the radio. All day long I work on the apartment while listening to 102.7, the oldies station. Now right there I should realize that it's called the oldies station, and no kid is going to be listening to it, but it freaks me out every time they have a contest.
"Be caller twenty five, and win two tickets to see Styx in concert!" The deejay screams.
What freaks me out so much is when they put the twenty fifth caller on the air it always sounds like some old fart or like my grandmother is the winner.
"Oh thank you very much sonny. I just love the Styx."
In my mind I still think of people who like rock concerts as young. Who the hell are all these old people who are listening to a rock station?

Growing old is freaky. I don't like it. Paul McCartney, and all the other rockers faces look like a relief map of the Badlands, and almost daily one of the people I grew up listening to croaks. I could listen to 'Y100', the younger peoples station. I did that the other day in the car, and heard some guy singing "I got passion in my pants and I ain't afraid to show it. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle."
So I guess that unless I want to listen to crap like that, I'll just keep listening to the old codgers radio station and hope I don't break a hip trying to move like Mick Jagger.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Photo Friday

I was sitting having breakfast, and the "juice" bottle was right in front of me.
There are so many things wrong with this label.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Video Thursday

It's corny, but Mark was recording me tiling the apartment kitchen for posterity.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Subway Walls

Mark; "I'm not sure if we should get the glass mosaic tiles or the subway tiles for the backsplash."
Me; "I don't know about 'we', but 'I' am getting the subway tiles."
Mark; "Waaaaa...., I want the glass mosaic.... waaaaaa"
Me; "I don't care. I'm the guy doing the tiling, and besides it's a rental unit."

That's us in the tile aisle of the Home Depot. It's not a pretty sight when Mark and I go shopping together. I often end up screaming at him, usually with profane punctuation.

I swore after tiling Mark's bathroom floor, that I would not be tiling another thing for the rest of my life. It appears that my word is as good as dust, because here I am tiling again. And the worst part about it is that I don't even get to enjoy the end result because this is for our next tenant. I do have to say it is turning out even nicer than I thought it would, and tiling a wall is much easier than doing a floor. In fact you can even sip a cocktail or a beer while doing a wall.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras

Thirty six years ago I got off a Delta jet in New Orleans, Louisiana, with a friend of mine. We were going to Mardi Gras. What happened on Fat Tuesday is a little foggy, but here is the little bit that I do remember. First there was a parade on Canal Street, and the people on the parade floats were throwing worthless, aluminum coins and beads to the people watching. It was bedlam. Old ladies pushing and shoving, little kids running everywhere, all vying for those stupid coins and beads. I managed to get quite a few, but after getting my fingers stomped on by a little black kid, we decided it was time to go over to Bourbon Street.

Bourbon Street was packed side to side with a human tide of drunks, a few religious zealots, and me. I almost immediately got separated from my friend, so I spent most of Mardi Gras alone. Here is an interesting fact about New Orleans. It is a place where you can drink liquor on the street, and the bars where you get that drink are open twenty four hours a day. That would prove to be problematic for me, as the rest of the day was a blur of wedging myself into bars packed tightly with drunks, trying to find a place to pee, and then trying to buy another drink from the over worked bartenders. I do remember at one point being on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street, and seeing a lot of women showing off their bare breasts. They were standing under the balcony of a gay bar yelling for beads. Surprisingly, they got quite a lot of beads there. I also remember seeing naked people in the pool room of one bar. It is quite possible that I was one of them. Other than that, the day was truly a blur of drunkenness.

As you can see, I had a terrific time. So if you ever have the chance, go to Mardi Gras. Everybody should do it at least once. And if you do, try to keep your clothes on. It's probably for the better that you do.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Plumbers Crack

From my vantage point I could see down into the narrow canyon. It started at a dimpled clump of scraggly back hair, and disappeared as it widened, down past the leather belt into a damp, dark void.
"This bath fixture doesn't quite fit. If I have to replace the entire connection behind the wall, you'd be running into a bit of money for that."
My new plumber pulled himself up from his squat, and turned towards me, "I tell you what, I'll come back tomorrow with a different faucet. I'll install that toilet, and fix those kitchen sink connections then."
It was late in the evening already so I acquiesced.
"Okay, what time tomorrow?"
"I'll be here by nine."
This past week I discovered the golden rule of hiring plumbers, don't let them leave until the job is finished.

After my last experience with a plumber I decided to try a new one that a neighbor recommended. The last guy charged me twenty four hundred dollars to rebuild Mark's shower, and it took him over a week to do the job he said would take three days. I didn't have that kind of time for the job of fixing up my rental apartment, nor the money. I needed to have the place ready to rent out on the first of March. So nine the next morning I waited for the dogs to go crazy when the plumber knocked on the door. They didn't, because he didn't. In fact when I called the guy at noon, he gave me some excuse and promised he'd be there before five in the evening.
At six he called.
"I'm so sorry, I had an emergency job. I'll definitely be there tomorrow morning."
Again I waited. It was around two in the afternoon, the next day that he returned my call.
"I'll be there in an hour. Or better yet, are you doing anything Sunday?"
Now this was Friday afternoon, and yes, I did have plans for Sunday.
"Sure. Come over on Sunday and finish the job."

Yes, this plumber has the proverbial 'Plumbers Crack', and it was disgusting. But that isn't the plumbers crack I'm talking about. I'm beginning to suspect this plumbers crack is in a pipe that he smokes. It is now Monday, and the guy still hasn't shown up, or even called.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Photo Friday

My friends, Garrett and Russell in 1997

Russell and Garrett fifteen years later. At least they learned not to drink out of such gigantic glasses.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Video Thursday

I tried very hard to get Mark to help me with this one.
 He refused. I don't know why, he would have been just perfect in the part.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Warning: Bad Words in This Post

Yesterday I tore out the kitchen in the front rental unit, and each one of those dots in the previous sentence represents how many times I said the word fuck. I actually may be short a few. I forgot how dangerous it was to tear out those fifty year old cabinets. The last time I did it, surprisingly enough, was on September 10th, 2001. It was the cabinets in our own unit that I tore out on that day. Of course that date sticks in my mind because the next day when I was supposed to be prepping the kitchen for the new cabinets, I instead sat in front of the television for about eighteen hours. I blame the terrorists for my kitchen not being put back together correctly.

In an effort to get more rent out of the front rental unit, I decided to goose it up a bit. So I am putting in new kitchen cabinets, a new vanity and toilet in the bathroom, and I am plugging up all the gaping holes that the rats, and palmetto bugs use to gain entry to the apartment. My first task was to remove the newer cabinets along the side wall. It turned out that because of the leak in Mark's shower on the other side of that wall, all the press-board cabinets that had been installed some years ago had soaked up the water like a sponge. As I picked up the first one to carry it outside, the damn thing disintegrated, dropping a heavy chunk of it on the instep of my foot. I now have a nice bruise there, and a bit of pain. I also introduced the next door neighbors to a new record for the number of times the word fuck could be said without taking a breath. That record was soon shattered when I pried the upper cabinets over the sink off the wall, and they came crashing down tearing into my shin. This time there was blood, and skin was peeled away from the shin bone.

I have a lot of work to do in that apartment. I also have to scrub clean, and repaint the entire place. But the most daunting task isn't any of those things. The job that will take the most time and effort, is getting the stench of cat piss out of the place.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Heart You

Such a lovely, and romantic day, Saint Valentine's day. Lovely for florists, and romantic because they love making huge profits. As for me, it's just another gigantic waste of my money. I am just now recovering from the shock of spending for Christmas, and Mark's birthday, now they want more. The bastards. I'm not even sure who the hell Saint Valentine was. I surely don't remember reading about a saint who loved chocolate, and flowers in my Catholic school catechism.

Sure, you say, just don't spend that much. Well you don't live with Mark. You don't know the ramifications of ignoring these goddamn holidays. Last year after buying the flowers, I went to CVS for some cheap chocolates. Turned out that the flowers were nearly dead, and Mark immediately called me on the CVS chocolates.
"Russell Stover candy? Well I hope you like hotdogs for dinner."
So this year I was going to try a little harder. I still got the CVS chocolates, but this time they are Dove raspberry truffle hearts. I also went on line for some decent flowers, forgoing the route I took last year which was buying them from the car window at an intersection. When I went on line for the flowers I was shocked. I soon realized that if I were going to get Mark some flowers, I would have to pull some money out of my rainy day fund. Well it isn't a rainy day, and I am not spending over a hundred dollars for something that will be dead within the week. Instead I got Mark a Macy's gift card. It combines the thoughtfulness of allowing Mark to go shopping, and me spending money I really didn't want to spend. Just call me a romantic.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm Too Damn Nice

Three years ago
It was the strangling stench of cat urine that caught my attention first, then I noticed that all the windows of my front tenant's apartment were open. Oh god, I thought, what the hell is in there.

It was moving day Saturday for my tenants of three years. Over that time I had become comfortable with them, and I was sad to hear that they would not be renewing their lease.
"We found a nice apartment down on the beach. We really loved living here, but have always wanted to live on the beach."
I understood, and told them to have a nice time in their new digs, I'd find a new tenant. One thing that was weird about them, is that they always kept their window shades drawn, and I couldn't look in. When they had first moved in they asked me to watch their cat on occasion, which I did. However, over the last year or so I was never inside the apartment, but that wasn't so odd. They were busy folks. I would see their dogs out in the yard, and Chandler would play with them. We were friendly.

Back to the stench. Sunday I found the front door unlocked, and nobody home. They had said they would be out by the eleventh of February, so I opened the door and walked in. All the furniture was gone. There was garbage everywhere, and a kitty litter box overflowing with clumps of cat piss, and shit. Worst of all, there were two cats in the apartment meowing at me. They were hungry. I fed them and went back over to my apartment to ponder what I had on my hands. A filthy apartment, two cats, and a lot of work ahead of me.

And now an update. As I was writing this the tenants came back, and tapped on my office window. Thank god, they were here to feed the cats. They said that they would return tomorrow to clean the apartment, and take the cats away. Which is a good thing, because I gave them back their security deposit last year.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Photo Friday

Mark made a Coca Cola cake on Tuesday. It's a traditional southern cake that we first tasted at the Hi-Life Cafe in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I think this is my all time favorite cake. If you want to bake your own, click here for the recipe. If you don't want to bake your own, the Hi-Life Cafe is at 3000 North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Video Thursday

 Somebody call Rikki Tikki Tavi
I fear for my little outdoor cats, Britney, and Lindsey.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Warm and Fuzzy Critters

Text to Mark; "Hey, do palmetto bugs bite? There's one in the house that keeps attacking me."

"I just got a text from Doug about a palmetto bug in the house. How should I answer him?"
Doug is a friend from Chicago who's staying at a house near here. My answer to Mark was that he should step on it, and that they make a nice popping sound sometimes when stepped on. Mark, however had another idea. "Let's scare the crap out of him."

Text back to Doug; "Yes they bite, and they also like to keep warm, so they will crawl into your bed at night while you're sleeping."

The sick thing about it is that they do sometimes show up in your bed, and just about anywhere else you don't want them. Luckily they don't show up by the thousands like the smaller German cockroaches we had up in Chicago. The reason we're seeing so many palmettos inside is that we've had a lot of rain over the last two days, and rain will always drive the mostly outdoor living palmetto bugs indoors.

Big news this week here in Florida. Pythons have eaten all the possums, raccoons, and deer in the everglades. So what do hungry pythons do when they run out of food in the everglades?

Future text from Doug to Mark;
" Hey, do pythons eat people?"
"Yes, and they like to crawl up into your bed at night to keep their food warm."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wedded Bliss

When I was a kid, I'd visit my grandparents quite often. As much as I loved them, I did notice one thing about them, they argued and screamed a lot. It seemed that they were always shouting across the house at one another. Not in a mean way, but they'd shout none the less. It's how they communicated. Grandma would scream from the kitchen, "Bill, where's the ....fill in the blank.", and gramps would curse and scream back while peeling himself out of his old recliner chair, "It's right where you left it...".

This past two weeks my friend Dennis has been our house guest. You'd think that with a house guest, Mark and I would be on our best behavior. Instead we behaved as if Dennis wasn't even around. That's because Dennis is a close friend, like family, and we allowed ourselves to just be ourselves. One thing Dennis pointed out is that we scream at each other a lot, and he is right. An example of that would be the following exchange.
"Mark, why is the kitchen such a mess?" I yelled.
"I was cooking. You want to eat don't you?" Mark screamed back from another room.
"Well you shouldn't be so lazy, clean up when you're done."
Then quite unlike my grandparents, our loud discussion quickly degenerated.
"I'm not lazy you asshole."
"I'm an asshole? NO, you're the asshole."
"You asshole."
"No, you're an asshole."

I know it sounds horrible, but just for reference, grandpa lived until he was just a couple of weeks shy of 102. Grandma lived into her nineties, and they were married for nearly sixty years. Maybe letting off steam is what kept them going, and if I have inherited my grandparents longevity, I could easily have forty more years of this sweet bliss with Mark.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday

It's around 3:30 in the afternoon on Super Bowl Sunday, and Mark has just come in the house jabbering something about a vulture out in front of the house. I stir from my big, fluffy recliner, and go out to see. Sure enough, directly in front of our house a gigantic bird is ripping apart what is left of a possum. When it sees me, it spreads it's six foot wings and lands on top of the house across the street, waiting patiently for me to leave so he can get another chance at that rotten possum carcass. I just hope this isn't a bad omen for the rest of my Sunday.

The reason Mark was out front is that he was just returning from the supermarket with bags, and bags of snacks for this evening. As far as I know, I am going to be watching a football game tonight. Mark on the other hand, has invited some people over for what might be called a Super Bowl party. I hate parties. I can handle small dinner parties, and small cocktail parties, but I hate large gatherings. Maybe this can be traced back to the fact that I come from such a massive family, I don't know, but I hate parties. What I usually do at big parties is grab a cocktail, find a decent place to sit, and then never move again until Mark says it's time to go. I hate Super Bowl parties even more than a regular party, because I actually like to watch the game. All those other people will only be a distraction. Most people at Super Bowl parties aren't even interested in the game. If I hear another person say, "I just watch it for the commercials." I just might shoot them. The same goes for any ass clown who tells me to call them into the living room when Madonna comes on. Hell, that's when I'll be in the bathroom. I've seen Madonna live, and she was quite entertaining, but for me halftime is for peeing, and reloading my cocktail. Oh, and those commercials? They'll be on plenty over the next few months, and thanks to my DVR I'll get a glimpse of them while I fast-forward.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fine Dining at Ikea

My tenant in the front apartment is leaving, and I figured it would be a good time to upgrade the kitchen in that place. The only problem is that I don't have very much cash with which to do it. I could go to Home Depot and get some of those do it yourself cabinets. It would be a little work, but I’ve done it before. That's when the Ikea light bulb went off in my mind. Cheap crap that looks good. Perfect. So I went on line and took a look at Ikea’s kitchen cabinets. I actually liked their line of kitchen cabinets called VĂ„RDE, so I put the base cabinet with the double sink in my virtual shopping cart. When I went to check out, I found that their shipping costs were $99, or one third the price of the cabinet. No problem, I’d just order it from the store near here, and go pick it up myself. ‘Sorry, not available at that store‘, was the comeback. Okay I figured, I’ll just have Mark drive me out to that store and I’ll find something else since the online experience wasn‘t working out.

After winding my way through the maze of Ikea showrooms, I finally found the kitchen cabinet area. The sign said, “Please sign in at the help desk”, so I did, or at least I tried to. At the help desk were two Ikea employees standing in front of the computer chatting. I walked up, and stood in front of them. Their eyes never came close to looking at me. Instead they kind of stared off and continued chatting. We were only two feet apart, but still they did not seem to see me. After a few minutes the young lady suddenly looked my way, startled, as if I had just suddenly materialized, and asked if I needed help. She was standing at the Ikea help desk, in an Ikea uniform, with an Ikea name tag, and she wanted to know if I needed help.

I was not pleased with the Ikea products. They were not the complete knocked down assemblies that I was led to believe. When I asked Miss ‘Do you need help’ if the counter tops had pre-cutout holes for the sinks, her answer was “No, you have to cut those out yourself.” So what I would have to do is buy a cabinet, a counter top, and a sink, all separately, and then do all the cutting and sawing myself. In other words, the exact same thing I’d have to do if I bought the same crap from Home Depot. The only difference being the crap from Home Depot, while still being crap, would be of slightly higher quality crap than Ikea.

Mark and I did eat at the Ikea cafeteria. I can say that the salmon plate was very good. As for the Home Depot, they only have a hotdog cart out front.