Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Cloudy Morning

Everything was so calm. Sasha was resting on my pillow next to my head. Chandler had his big ass stretched across the bottom of the bed, snoring. On the television was 'Morning Joe', which I hate, yet watch. Mark meanwhile, was over at his desk puttering around on the computer. Suddenly he jumps up and starts cursing, and flailing around like a crazed marionette.
"I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate that goddamn cloud."
The morning calm was shattered.
"What's wrong?"
"That damn cloud. I was putting all my music on my tablet, and it all got deleted from the cloud!"
I'm not really sure what the 'cloud' is, but I know I don't like it. When I buy something, I want to possess it. Mark has been buying music and storing it on the cloud which is a nebulous creation of Amazon. The cloud isn't on Mark's computer, it isn't on his desk, it isn't even in the house. The cloud is out there somewhere, and if Mark were to ever cancel his cloud account he would lose everything on the cloud. Or if he were to accidentally hit delete, the cloud would turn into a storm... like it did this morning.

I have never used the cloud. I didn't even know what it looked like on a computer screen until Mark started doing his little crazy puppet dance around the bedroom.
"Stop screaming. You're scaring the dogs."
"I've lost every bit of music that I purchased. It's gone, it's just gone." he sobbed.
So I put on my glasses, sat down in front of Mark's computer, and clicked on the button that said "Restore Deleted Materiel"

Believe it or not, Mark was once in charge of the whole county court computer system. He used to be the person they went to when there was a problem. Most amazing, they liked him.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Walk of Shame

January 1, 1979, around seven in the morning and I am trudging down Foster Avenue in Chicago, through thick, stinging snow. I am heading west away from the lake front, not on the sidewalk for that is already impassible. No, I am walking down the middle of the street. I don't have to worry about being hit by cars, taxis, or buses. There are none. It is the first day of the blizzard of '79.

This had all started a few hours earlier when I met a guy in a bar, and we decided to take a taxi to his place on Marine Drive. All I really remember from that night is standing in front of the guy's large window and looking down on the pure, white blanket of snow some twenty stories below. That, and the long walk home. The rest was pretty much forgettable.

I thought of that incident as I was walking Chandler around the block this morning. It was around seven thirty and I noticed not one, but two different young men walking out of our neighborhood. They were both dressed more for a night out on the town than for going to work. They also looked slightly disheveled, and maybe a bit hung over. I assume they were walking to their cars sitting forlornly in some bar parking lot. This happens a lot. Guys meet, and decide that they should take one car. Probably not too bad of an idea if they've been drinking. The sticky part is when their little tryst is over, and the guy whose house it is, is passed out. Nothing to do but extricate your arm from under his pillow, and quietly leave. Mark calls this the 'walk of shame'. I don't see it that way. I say it's the walk of good sense, and the earlier you do it, the less people who might see you. And the best part about walking out of our neighborhood after a night of debauchery, no snow.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oskar Partee

Seven o'clock on Sunday morning, and I am up and out the door walking the dogs. A normal Sunday morning and I have the street to myself. Also on a normal Sunday, by the time I get back with Sasha and Chandler, I would be able to eat a bowl of cereal and go back to bed. Not this time. I walk in the door and there on the kitchen counter is a bowl with butter and eggs in it. Mark is getting ready to bake for his party. From the bedroom I hear Mark call out to me, "Clear off the dining room table, start cleaning the house, scrub the kitchen floor, dust the ceiling, wash the cats, and clean up whatever is left to clean up and then clean that up." It's Mark's Oscar Party Day. Bigger for him than almost any holiday except Christmas, and that's getting close to being eclipsed.

After cleaning all morning, and schlepping crap around the house for Mark, it's time to eat lunch. Mark has been in the kitchen all morning cooking, baking, and generally creating odors that are making me salivate. But those things are not for me, not for my lunch. Instead Mark runs out to get us a bag of our traditional party day snack, McDonald's. Thirty minutes later I'm in the bathroom taking my traditional McDonald's party day snack dump. Nothing does it better than a Big Mac, not even Ex-Lax.

Now it's nearing Oscar time, and we expect guests to arrive at any time. First, however, I have to re-clean the kitchen. In the last eleven hours Mark has turned my clean kitchen into a mess. There is cake batter on the walls, cheese on the floor, chocolate smeared across the back of the stove, and something very gooey on the ceiling. I can't even begin to imagine what it is or how it got there.

It is now after midnight. Twelve hours cleaning, five hours of watching the Oscars, and you would think I would be dead on my feet. I am not. I am full of food. Mark went crazy again and made three times more than he needed. I am also feeling very good because some of our guests brought enough vodka to last me until at least April. As for the Oscars, it was very entertaining and I think Jack Nicholson won something. I might be wrong about that, but I do remember seeing him at some point.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dollar Will Make Me Hollar

Mark took me shopping today. Another hated activity that I am constantly finding myself being roped into. The itinerary today was B.J.'s, one of those places that you have to 'join' so that you can shop. I don't know how much money Mark saves at B.J.'s but I think he has to buy a lot just to make up for the forty five dollar fee. But that’s not what has me all atwitter. No, it’s the Dollar Store Mark dragged me to before we went to B.J.'s. As we pulled up to the Dollar Store I noticed a big sign that said, “Everything One Dollar!”
“Really, nothing over a dollar in there? If I find something that they try to charge me more than a dollar, can I make a big scene at the checkout?”
“No, and don’t embarrass me.”
It’s nice to know that Mark is capable of being embarrassed, considering how many times I’ve wanted to crawl into a hole while he went berserk. So I’m wandering around inside the Dollar Store, and it seemed to me that most of the crap on the shelves isn’t even worth a dollar. Up and down the aisles I went, looking at garbage, looking at things that I wouldn’t even pay fifty cents for. And then I saw it. Toothpaste. The very same toothpaste I had paid three dollars and fifty cents for just the day before. Sure, I felt like a hypocrite as I dumped half a dozen on the checkout counter, but they were only a dollar!
“Did you check to see if those were produced in the United States?” Mark asked.
“Uh, no. Where would they be made, and why would that matter?”
“Just saying, some places don’t have the same high standards as the U.S. does.”
I suppose that is an important consideration. And I guess if my teeth start falling out, or I have some other problem with the toothpaste, I can always use the money I’ve saved to pay my dentist. But, the were only a dollar.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

And the Oscar Goes To...

Mark is having another party. I hate Mark's parties. It always involves inviting too many people, and me trying to figure out where to store the mountains of clutter that pervades our home. I am the designated maid when it comes to these things. Anyway, the party theme this time is the Oscars. For weeks Mark has been dreaming up snacks and dishes that relate to the nine Best Picture Nominees. He's doing some kind of humus dish for the two that involve Iraq and Iran. For The Life of Pi our friend from India is bringing over one of his spicy, curried, gut burning dishes. Mark has the menu all figured out except for Lincoln. For days he's been wracking his brain trying to figure that one out. Yesterday Mark came running into my office, all excited, and announced,
"I have it. I have the menu entry for Lincoln!"
I'm going to tell you what it is, and it is quite clever, but I'm not giving out the recipe. Not until after his party. What Mark has dreamt up for the movie Lincoln is 'Bloody Mary Todd Lincoln Shots'. It's brilliant, and don't try to steal his idea without crediting him. I've copyrighted it for him. So come this Sunday we'll be washing down that throat burning, gut wrenching Indian food, with Bloody Mary Todd Lincoln shots. My only problem with the whole thing is that the next morning I'm afraid my head is going to hurt really bad.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy President's Day

Well another President's Day is here and I have to admit, the President's Tree that Mark put up is lovely. We opted for an artificial tree this year because a real tree is so damn messy what with the leaves dropping constantly. Maybe if they figure out how to keep a chopped down cherry tree alive for a week or more we'll forgo the fake one next time. Mark has made the traditional holiday treat of cherry pie, and I procured some Lincoln Pecan Log Rolls. Those pecan log rolls are not an easy item to come by here in South Florida. The nearest Stuckey's is in Yeehaw Junction. That's a two hundred and seventy mile round trip, but it's worth it to have a traditional, authentic President's Day. We all got up early this morning to open our President's Day bribes. It was lovely seeing all the packages wrapped in plain brown paper under the tree, but within minutes they were all ripped open and scattered across the floor. I got Mark a framed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. He seemed to really appreciate it. As for my President's Day bribe, I got a DVD of some of my favorite Presidential moments. It has Nixon doing his choppy little wave as he climbs aboard Marine One for the last time. It also has one of my real favorites of all time, Clinton looking seriously into the camera and saying "I did not have sex with that woman." A real classic now that we know what a great actor he was. Speaking of actors, I forgot all about getting Mark the special gift he requested. A copy of the New York Times with the 'Obama Wins' headline. Oh well, let's just call that my Reagan moment.

No, none of that really happened. It's just a nightmare I had that I think could actually come to be some day. After all, there is that long gap between Valentine's Day, and Easter when nobody is out shopping for useless stuff. Besides, you knew it wasn't true when you read that Mark "seemed to really appreciate" the gift I got him.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Compared to What?

I was looking at a chart that converted dog years to human years today. Chandler is thirty six according to the chart, and Sasha is fifty two, although she lies about her age. My neighbor's eighteen year old Akita is off the chart, but by my calculations Fritzy is one hundred and sixty years old in human years. He looks it. This morning as I got ready to walk the dogs, I wondered if there was a Florida temperature to Chicago temperature, conversion chart. For instance, in the summer when it is ninety degrees here in South Florida, with ninety percent humidity, what would that compare to if that happened in Chicago? You have to remember that Florida humidity is chunkier than Chicago humidity. While Chicago humidity has that tasty chemical smell and feel, Florida humidity is pure liquid, so that at ninety percent it is almost as if you were swimming through it. I'd say a ninety degree, ninety percent day in Florida would be Lucifer like in Chicago, comparable to near boiling.

As I got dressed this morning to take out the dogs, I was reminded of my youth in Chicago. Long pants, a tee shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a hoodie sweat shirt over that, followed by a heavy coat with hat and gloves. It was forty two degrees out there and I don't like to be cold. I say, forty two degrees in South Florida is comparable to ten degrees below zero in Chicago. I remember getting up to go to school on frigid days in Illinois. I'd be packed in layers including long john underwear, sweaters, boots, gloves, a stocking hat, and a big puffy, oversized coat. Even with all that, I would still be shivering by the time I got to school. That was exactly how I felt this morning in our forty two degree, deep freeze. The dogs however, didn't seem to mind it at all. They still stopped and did their sniffing, and peeing, and greeting of all things living with the same languid manner as if it were a normal Florida morning. The weather doesn't seem to bother them at all, which leads me to believe that there must be a dog weather, to human weather, comparison chart somewhere.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love, and Flowers, and Butterflies, and Rainbow Unicorns....

Am I wrong? I hate Valentine's Day. I hate the candy, the flowers, and the fact that I am forced to buy dinner on this specific day. I hate that I must pretend to be more in love on this day than on any other. I hate that I must spend money right at the point that I am starting to recover from Christmas. I hate that I am going to get in trouble because I did not buy flowers this year, nor any candy. We do have reservations for dinner at 6:30, and I will order wine and whatever my beloved requires on this day, but it will not solely be out of love. It will be because I feel obligated. All year long I show my feelings in little ways. I do things for him all the time. I allow him to pick out the color that I will paint the inside of our house. I allow him to pick out the furniture. Hell, just the fact that we are still living in the same house and neither of us has killed each other should be proof enough that I don't hate him. Wouldn't it be better if flowers showed up unexpectedly on some random day of the year? Wouldn't a nice night out without the pressure of Valentine's Day show more feelings? I'll tell you what I hate most. It's when Mark starts reading my blog and comes across this post. Dinner had better be really nice tonight.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Let Your Fingers do the Walking

While walking Sasha around the block today I noticed a strange black man on the street. I don't mean strange in that the man was behaving oddly, or had worms growing out of his ears. I mean strange because there are so few black faces in our neighborhood that I know each and every one. I didn't know this guy. What's more, I noticed he had something yellow clutched under his arm and he was moving quickly away from me. Before I could act on my primitive notions I realized he was delivering The Yellow Pages. Do you remember those? I looked around, and on each porch was a plastic yellow bag containing that obsolete publication. I don't think I've looked inside the Yellow Pages for at least ten years. For a while, each year, I would pick the fresh Yellow Pages up off the porch and bring it inside. There it would sit for a whole year, untouched, and unloved. Sure, it did have a few uses. It held the office door open on breezy days, and served as a device for flattening things that needed flattening, but other than that I have no use for it. It just takes up valuable space here in our very cluttered home. So when I got home with Sasha, sure enough, there were two yellow bags laying on the porch. As I gathered them up and put them in the place I have reserved for them, all I could do was think of the poor trees that gave up their lives for this ignominious end.
Reserved for the Yellow Pages

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Roll With It

Geez, the sun's been around the corner of the house for at least a minute now. Why isn't that fat ass getting ready to walk me? Look at him, sitting in that big chair, stuffing his face with those salty, crunchy, delicious things from that bag. I'll just stand here drooling on his foot until he gives me one or takes me for my afternoon walk, or better yet, does both.
"What's the matter Chandler? Are you ready to go walkies?"
Walkies, walk-walk, whatever. I have to poop damn it. I'll dance around in front of the chair and make a few whimpering noises. That always seems to get my point across.
"You do? Okay big boy, let me put my shoes on."
Oh joy! He's putting those things on his feet. We're going walkies! Quick, quick, put that harness on me, open the damn door. Wheeeee! I'm free...  Okay not free. Open the gate, quick open the gate. Wheeeee! I'm fre... gackkkkk! Damn, I forget that leash every time.
"Calm down Chandler. Walk like a good dog."
I am a good dog, not like that evil dog Brody over there. He is such an asshole that Brody. He stole my girlfriend Cammie. She is such a hot looking bitch, and she was all mine until Brody came along.
"Grrrr... Arf, arf, grrr."
"Stop it Chandler. Sorry Ralph. I just don't know why he hates Brody so much."
I'll show that Brody who owns this street.
"No Chandler. No peeing on the neighbor's car."
Okay no peeing, but oh my god, what is that delicious smell? It's over there, in that grass. Come on big guy, let's go.
"Quit pulling me Chandler."
Oh yeah, this is so fine. What a bouquet, what aroma. This is like heaven.
"Chandler! Quit rolling around in that dog shit!"

Monday, February 11, 2013

Orange Crush

"Whoa, I need my sunglasses."
"Say, are you a human traffic cone?"
"Oh geez, that reminds me. I have to clean up that vomit I left on the bathroom floor."
All weekend long and during the week, I have been hearing those kind of comments. It has happened every time I've gone out with Mark. I don't know what's got into him. First it was the bed spread, now it's his shoes. Early last week, he came through the front door and lit up the living room.
"Do you like my new shoes."
"Uh, um, sure. They're very nice." I lied.
He was wearing the brightest orange shoes I have ever seen. Actually the only orange shoes I have ever seen, not counting Ronald McDonald's. The most embarrassing encounter was last night when we went out to an Irish pub/restaurant. The Irish don't look kindly on people wearing orange. Actually nobody said anything, they just burned his fish and chips, and spit in his Guinness.

I don't know why Mark bought those shoes. He draws enough attention to himself without flaming orange feet. Whatever the reason, I like them. I like the fact that a glow appears in the room moments before Mark does. That way he can't catch me off guard, like when I'm going through the pockets of his pants.

Friday, February 8, 2013

I Should be Dead

I have been bitten by dogs three times. The first two times I put some disinfectant on the bite, bandaged it, and went on with things. Eight days ago was the third time I got bit. I'm not saying what dog, or where the dog was that bit me because of the fact there is some asshole stalker who reads my blog, and seems to have a grudge against dogs. So it is enough to say that I got bit. Again, I put disinfectant on the bite, bandaged it, and continued on with my life. That is until later that evening when my upper arm started twitching. 

I decided to go to WebMD, an internet site where you enter your symptoms and they give you a quick diagnosis. I entered "twitching upper arm" and "dog bite", and WebMD told me that I had rabies. Not only did I have rabies, but it was terminal, there was nothing I could do about it once the symptoms started, and I had seven days left to live. So for seven days I worried. I told Mark that I had to go to the doctor, and then decided that it was too late for the doctor to save me, so why go. Back and forth in my mind I went, go to the doctor, don't go to the doctor. And then yesterday I realized it had been eight days since I had been bitten. That is one day longer than WebMD said I had to live. Not only was I still alive, but my arm had stopped twitching two days earlier. I went back to WebMD and re-read what it said about my symptoms. I had missed one important thing, and that is that the symptom of twitching wouldn't manifest itself until five to seven weeks after the dog bite.

I learned three things over the last week. Don't look up your symptoms on WebMD, it will only scare you. Go to the doctor the minute you think you should, it's better to be safe and look stupid than be dead. And don't try to get too close to a dog that clearly hates your guts, because it will probably bite you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Taking a Leak

I live in a house of cards. A fragile matrix of mechanical parts, electronics, and plumbing. Touch one part of this stew and another reacts.

I was sitting in my big fluffy chair last night watching American Idol, when one of their handy ten minute commercial breaks came along. I decided to take advantage of it and get a snack and a drink, but first I had to go take a leak. I stepped into the hall on the way to the bathroom, and I heard a squishing sound. I looked down, I was standing in a quarter inch of water. I opened the closet door, and sure enough more water. Water everywhere.

Here is the chain of events as best I can figure out. It all had started earlier in the day when I was assessing the damage under the kitchen sink. Some months ago the garbage disposal had sprung a leak. This in turn soaked the cabinet under the sink, which caused the shelf under there to expand and ultimately collapse. The collapsing shelf was to be repaired by me, so I went to the hall closet to get some tools. When I moved the tools, I noticed the condenser pump for the A/C was not positioned correctly, so I moved it back against the wall where I wanted it. Within a few minutes I noticed that the air-conditioning had stopped working so I went around and reset all the circuit breakers. Still no A/C. The only variable was the fact that I had touched the condenser pump. So I returned to the hall closet and gave the pump a tap. It took off working, the A/C kicked on, and all was good with my world. That is until I took that pee break and found that the goddamned condenser pump was leaking. If I had left that mother scratching pump alone earlier in the day, I'd have already taken that pee, got my snack and drink, and still had a few minutes to spare. As it is, I made it back just as Ryan Seacrest was introducing the next sob story. Those American Idol ad breaks are way too long.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pool Poo

Just about every evening, around the same time, the backyard cats step away from their food bowls and let the neighborhood possums eat. Never mind that the possums have rat faces and rat tails, the cats aren't into dispatching them. So instead of the cats killing them, I have very healthy possums who have fur that is quite luxurious, all on my dime. And then there is my dog Chandler. He hates the possums more than I do, and throws himself at the living room window trying to get at them. This happens every evening and I should be used to it, but each time he goes nuts at that window it scares me half to death. Speaking of having the shit scared out of me, it seems that I now have a raccoon that has decided my swimming pool is a great place to take a crap. Every morning this week, I have gone out back and found a pile of raccoon shit on the edge of the pool. In exactly the same spot each day I have found a pile of poo that rivals anything a dog might leave. So each morning I have to hose it off, scrub the coping, and just in case somebody wants to go swimming I dump some chlorine into the pool. I don't mind the raccoon so much. They're cute little guys. Sure they carry rabies, but they're cute. Not like those rat faced possums. I don't even know where they're shitting.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jack Frost Nipping

I called my mom yesterday and she told me about how she had locked herself out of her house when she went to get the newspaper. My mom is ninety one years old. It was fourteen degrees Fahrenheit, with snow and ice on the ground.

I'm sure my dad thought he was doing the right thing when he bought the home he and my mom retired to. They had no more children in the house, no more relatives to care for. They wanted a place that would be maintenance free and pleasant, so my dad bought a home in one of those places that only sells to old people. Little did he know that he would almost be responsible for my mom freezing to death twenty years later.

So there is my mom in her little house dress, slippers, and a coat, pushing her aluminum walker down the driveway as the kitchen door clicks shut behind her. When she returned with the paper, she couldn't get back in the door. Her nearest neighbor is fifty feet away. That's as good as a mile when pushing a walker with tennis balls through the snow, but somehow she did it. She managed to make it all the way over to her first nearest neighbor. The deaf one, the one who couldn't hear her knocking on the door. When that failed, she started across the street to the other neighbor who was just leaving in his pickup truck. As mom flailed away, waving her arms franticly at him, the nice neighbor waved and smiled as he drove off. For forty five minutes my dear mother wandered around trying to get somebody's attention. The problem is she lives in a development full of only old people. People who can't see very well, who probably thought that was just a snowman in the middle of the street as they drove by. A snowman in slippers pushing a walker around. Luckily the pickup truck neighbor came back home and realized mom wasn't waving to be friendly.

There is a reason I live in a normal neighborhood. A place with kids playing in the street, folks walking their dogs past the house, a place with life. If I were ever to lock myself out of the house I wouldn't have much of a problem finding somebody to help me. I wouldn't ever have to worry about freezing to death while a bunch of old deaf, and blind people whizzed past in their Buicks. But then again, I live in Florida. No way I could freeze here. I'd probably get eaten by some exotic beast instead.

Friday, February 1, 2013


I was laying in bed, it was the middle of the night, and I heard the unmistakable sound of bagpipes wheezing out their last gasp of air. Now where in the hell could that sound be coming from I wondered? It was an unusually quiet night other than that. It was cold outside, in the fifties, so I had turned off the air-conditioning and all the fans. The only sound I heard was that wheezing, so I held my breath to see if I could hear what direction the sound was coming from. Nothing, the sound had stopped. It was when I started breathing again that it became obvious, it was my lungs. My lungs were making that horrible, wheezing, bagpipe sound.

Earlier this week I caught some kind of mild bug. A little scratchy in the throat, a little phlegm, and not much else. Apparently last night, it blossomed into something more. My throat is very sore, I'm sneezing, and my body is a bit achy. Not to worry though, I have a full bottle of Nyquil. So when I realized that I was playing 'Scotland the Brave' on my lungs, I got out of bed and took a big swig of the stuff. That was when I heard the potato chip bag in the kitchen rustling. Odd, I thought, what is Mark doing eating potato chips in the middle of the night? Except he wasn't. Mark was in bed, as was Sasha, and Chandler. Remember, it was cold last night, and on cold nights here in Florida the rats like to come inside for the warmth. They just aren't as hardy as their northern cousins. I went into the kitchen, screwed up some courage and started poking at the potato chip bag. Nothing happened. I poked around a little more, but still no rat. After a few more pokes I decided that I was just imagining what I had heard, and went back to bed. No sooner had my head hit the pillow and I heard the potato chip bag again. Thankfully the Nyquil was taking effect, and I was feeling the land of nod beckoning. So I just closed my eyes, and slowly drifted off to the sound of potato chips and bagpipes.