Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pet Cemetery

Each time, as I dig deep and the shovel hits something solid, I wince. Oh please don't be don't be one of the cats. You see, after last week's removal of the giant schefflera tree there is a large blank spot along the fence that I need to fill in. So I have been digging holes and filling them in with transplanted palm trees from other parts of the yard. Luckily I have many small palms that have sprouted from seeds fallen from mother palms. The reason I am so fearful that I might strike a cat is because that fence line is also where I have planted at least six dead cats and one dog. It is my pet cemetery. Totally illegal I am told, but very convenient and cheaper than cremation or a real pet cemetery. So from south to north along that fence, I know that I have Carlotta, Kiva, Roger, Nina, Fat Kitty, Amanda, and just outside of the dog run I have Carl. Carl was a stray that took up residence in my yard for years, yet for some reason I felt he did not deserve to be inside the dog run with all the inside pets. The only drawback with having this pet cemetery right outside my back door is if I move. If I sell this house and move away who will respect those graves? There is that problem and the fact that I have forgotten exactly where some of them are buried. I just pray that I don't hit a decaying shoe box while digging out there.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Picklelilly (That's what we called it when we were kids.)

A few days ago Mark opened the refrigerator and a jar of sweet relish committed suicide. It leaped off of the shelf I had squeezed it onto and smashed into a hundred pieces on the floor. Mark screamed as if he had just witnessed a true horror.
            "I just bought that jar of relish, why did you put it there?"
            "What relish? You mean that jar of picklelilly? I tried to stuff it into that mess you call a refrigerator. It was the best I could do."
As we stood there accusing each other of causing the demise of the picklelilly, both dogs scrambled into the kitchen ready to slop up whatever food had just hit the floor. After shooing the dogs out of the room and cleaning it all up, I vowed to straighten out the hoarder's hole that is Mark's kitchen and most importantly, the refrigerator. So that is what I did yesterday. Besides moving the stove and fridge to clean behind them (found some long lost flatware and a dried up piece of cheese), then scrubbing down the stove and floor, I cleaned out the freezer and the refrigerator. Going through the freezer was amazing. It was like taking core samples in the arctic ice. I found a whole chicken dated from November 2012. Deeper in I found pasteles, a Puerto Rican holiday food from Christmas three years ago, five packages of frozen empanada dough with various expiration dates, and numerous tupperware containers with long forgotten leftovers in them. When I moved over to the refrigerator side it was somewhat the same, only the dates of expiration did not go as far back since I had cleaned it out about six months ago. I did find five packages of hot dogs which I think never go bad so I kept them. I found lots of cheeses, many of which had a blue fur coating. I also found a nasty, green and yellow goo at the bottom of the produce drawer. Mark's problem is that he never looks in the refrigerator to see if he already has what he needs to cook, so what happens is that he brings home duplicates. I swear to god I threw away at least fifty pounds of food yesterday. Fifty pounds of wasted food that could have probably fed a village in Africa for a month. What I didn't find when I cleaned out that fridge, was a jar of picklelilly, a.k.a. sweet relish. That was never replaced and I had five packages of hot dogs staring at me.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bette Davis meets Gershwin

Our little schnauzer Bette is named for Bette Davis. Of course Bette Davis wouldn't be caught dead dating beneath herself, so she's been on the lookout for an acceptable celebrity mate. I think she's finally found the man of her dreams. Our neighbors a block over have a cat named Gershwin and Bette seems interested, although that cross species thing might be a bit troublesome.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pussy Pink

So Rudy had two bars back in the 1980's, one was a very upscale place on Halsted Street where older gay gentlemen could come and sing along at the piano bar. That was where I worked and that was the bar that my brother deemed an acceptable place to bring his young daughter. Other than the penny ante electronic gambling machine, everything at that bar was on the up and up. Rudy's other bar was over on Clark Street. It was not a gay bar, it was not upscale, it was not a place that you would bring your young daughter, unless your young daughter was Honey Boo Boo. I bartended at the Clark Street bar once, filling in because somebody had got sick. It was damn scary and I was glad that at least I had the bar between me and the mid-afternoon drinkers. People who drink in the middle of the day have a problem, and I think drinking is the least part of it. Anyway, one of the big issues at the Clark Street bar was the bathroom situation. For some reason people who sit around drinking for hours on end seem to feel a rage in them that can only be mollified by ripping a toilet from the floor or smashing a mirror. After replacing numerous toilets, mirrors, and sinks, Rudy bricked the men's room up. Not the door, but the actual room was bricked up. Brick walls, brick encased sink, and a totally brick encased toilet. There was a hole to pee into and the basin of the sink was exposed enough to wash your hands, but there was no way you could smash them. As for the mirror, there was none. Now the problem with bricks is that they are porous, and after just a few weeks of use, because men are pigs and when drunk do not aim very well, that bathroom started to smell really bad. No amount of bleach seemed to do the trick. As for the ladies room, that was re-done also. The door could only be opened electronically from the behind the bar and only women were allowed in. No bricks in there, just yards and yards of pink fake fur. The walls were covered in pink fake fur, the toilet was wrapped in pink fake fur, the vanity was covered completely in pink fake fur, and on the floor, pink shag carpeting. Guess which bathroom I used.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I called my old friend Rudy yesterday to see how he was doing. Rudy is like eighty seven years old and we don't get to see each other as often as we used to. Other than old age, having had a recent colon removal operation, and feeling a little weak in the knees, Rudy was doing fine. I met Rudy back in 1975, I was twenty five and he was in his forties. Rudy owned bars and restaurants in Chicago, and he was also an undertaker. Each profession complemented the other. The best part about knowing Rudy was that he liked to go out drinking. He always had an entourage that would pile into his big black undertaker's Cadillac for a whirlwind tour of the downtown gay bars. When you were with Rudy you had to drink fast though, because we never stayed more than fifteen minutes in any one bar before moving on to the next one. The evening would stretch into the early morning hours and we'd always end up back at Rudy's bar. It was a bar that closed at four in the morning, which we would then help him clean. Our reward for being the cleaning crew was free drinks until the sun came up. Talking to Rudy yesterday made me a bit nostalgic for those days. It brought back memories of bar fights, stabbings, drunks having sex in the bathroom, and me in the middle of it all. Of course I did not partake in most of those activities. One other thing about Rudy. When I had cancer in 1988 and had finished my twelve weeks of chemo, I came down to Florida to visit Rudy. He had sold all his Chicago businesses and moved down here with a few members of the entourage. As I got off the plane, there was Rudy along with two other friends of ours waiting. They had all shaved their heads in support of me. It was very touching, except for the fact that really only two of them had shaved their heads. Rudy simply took off his wig, which was a big deal because never in all the years I had known him, had I ever seen him without that god awful wig.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


No there is no Kunte Kinte here. Maybe couldn'ta, can'te. A few months ago my neighbor came to me and suggested that I let him cut down the giant schefflera tree that was growing on our property. When I planted that thing twenty years ago, I was only familiar with schefflera trees that I had seen in pots growing in homes, offices, and malls up north. I had no idea that here in Florida they grew into monsters and that even if they didn't topple during a hurricane and crush your house, the root system would wrap around anything that even remotely oozed moisture. That was what my neighbor, a native of Florida, was worried about. My tree hung menacingly over both his house and my house, and in his pitch to get rid of it he kept repeating, "We gotta kill that thing". He was right, the roots had spread under the sidewalk and were pushing my back porch up on an angle. Over by the air conditioning, schefflera roots had encircled the cooling units and were sending tendrils into every possible crevice looking for water. So yesterday the neighbor fired up his chain saws, I pulled on my big boy pants, and together we killed that thing. It is all gone now but for the stump and the roots. The plan is to drill holes into the stump and inject stump killing poison into it. I'm not sure exactly how environmentally sound that idea is. I am assuming that the stump poison is safe, because surely the government wouldn't let them sell that stuff if it wasn't. Right?