Monday, February 27, 2017

Electrical Banana

The problem with old homes like ours, is that there are never enough electrical outlets. I know it's wrong, but every outlet in our house is overloaded. Each single socket is responsible for no less than two plugs, and sometimes three. The one in the living room by the windows is even more overloaded. That one is a two socket outlet that feeds electricity to one lamp, Mark's computer and all the peripherals that entails, the big screen television, the Tivo box, and in the summer, the giant air conditioner. Yes, there are other outlets in the living room. Two more to be exact, and they are both overloaded. Every room in the house is like that. At least in the kitchen most of the electrical is new because of the renovation. New wires, new outlets, and addition outlets. There is only one problem in the kitchen. The outlets along the wall that it shares with our bedroom also share the electricity with the bedroom. So, if you want toast, do not use the microwave. If you want lights in the bedroom, do not use the toaster. If you want the television on in the kitchen, do not use the blender. In other words, do not try to use two of anything in the kitchen at the same time if it feeds off of the north wall. If you do, you will have to listen to me bitch and curse as I run down stairs to throw the breaker back on. We have a solution. Login (Pronounced, Logan) the electrician. Login rewired the upstairs apartment last year. Now it's time for our apartment to be rewired. In addition to new wiring we will be getting additional outlets, light fixtures, and wall switches. There will be lights in the closets and a new front porch light. Our house has no front porch light. Who the hell builds a house without a porch light? Anyway, we will be inconvenienced for most of this week. Login starts at 8:30 this morning. I will send the dogs upstairs to Dennis' apartment for the day, along with Mark. I have recharged my phone and Kindle so that I'll have some entertainment while the electric is turned off, and that is a good thing. No television, no computer, no easy access to facebook. (Facebook on the phone is a pain in the ass.) I've been meaning to read Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee for over a year now, and this is my best chance. I assume Login is going to be turning the electric back on each evening before he leaves. I really need my prime time television, Facebook time, and lights. Especially the lights.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Wendy's had a promotion offering a free 'Frosty' every time you bought something else. All you had to do was pay two dollars for a Wendy's key tag. Of course Mark couldn't pass that one up. So far he's collected a free Frosty twice using that key tag and he still hasn't got his two dollars worth. That's because the free Frosty that they give you is barely larger than the key tag, it is tiny. But that's not what this story is about. This story is about how Wendy's cannot, will not, hasn't the ability, to ever get an order straight when you go through the drive in window. I cannot recall even one instance where what we have ordered and paid for, was in the bag when we got home. So what we do now is sit at that window while Mark rifles through the bag, checking to make sure that the order is one hundred percent right. Last night, after seeing a magic show downtown, we drove through the Wendy's over on Western Avenue.
"Is my hamburger in there?" I asked Mark as he dug through the sack of food.
"Umm... yes, your burger is here." Mark continued to dig. "It's all here, you can go."
So I put the car in gear and pulled away from the drive up window. Ten feet later Mark started sputtering.
"Awwkkk... they didn't give me my sweet and sour sauce! Goddamnit... "
So I stopped the car right in front of the Wendy's entrance and Mark jumped out with the bag of food. A couple of minutes later the car door opens and Mark gets back in.
"Gasp... wheeze... shot, almost.... wheeze... wheeze, gasp... guy threatened.... wheeze... shoot me.... "
"Gasp... I squeezed between car and window.... wheeze... guy said he was.... going to shoot.... "
"What, why did you go to the drive up window? Why didn't you go inside? That's why I stopped at the entrance."
"Closed, not open..... closed at ten... Just leave. Drive.... gasp.... wheeze...go home."
So I started driving.
"I didn't know that it was closed. I wouldn't have walked up to the drive in window like that. So somebody threatened to shoot you because you squeezed in there?"
Mark had recovered enough to relate more of the story.
"Yes, only the drive up is open. Can't you see the damn sign? Goddamn fill in blank threatened to shoot me and the fill in blank bitch inside the window treated me like shit. Thought it was my fault I didn't get my order right. We're never coming back to Wendy's.... ever. Not ever."
"Hmmm... Okay, but I would have called the police if I had known that."
We drove a few more blocks in silence. 
"You should have called the police. Anyway, did you get the sweet and sour sauce? Oh, and did you get your free chocolate Frosty?"
"I hate this place. I hate Chicago. I hate you for making me move here. "
I took that as a no.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Windows 2017

When I used to live in my old Chicago neighborhood, I enjoyed going for walks in the evening. Best part of those walks were the windows. A lot of people in Chicago do not close their shades at night. Most of the old homes have a lot of windows facing the front because there is no light coming in from the sides of the houses. Too close together. Mark and I leave ours wide open at night, giving the neighbors quite an eyeful. Especially when Alicia and Alexis visit. I still enjoy looking in the windows at night when I walk the dogs. It gives me some insight on who lives around here. There is the lady halfway down the block who has quite eclectic tastes. She has one lamp that I love, it looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Another place decorates their living room with Christmas lights year round. I suspect stoners, but I could be wrong. They could just love the lights. And speaking of stoners, there is one house that has grow lights on in the living room all night long. I see a lot of plants in there, hard to tell the species. The most disturbing windows though, are the windows of the Middle Eastern family down the street. I am not sure what country they are from, but every one of their windows have blackout shades on them. Not one beam of light escapes from inside that house, and I know why. It's the women. They are held captive in there. Oh sure, they would tell you that they want it that way, like a hostage suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. It is very creepy. The men come and go at will, but not the women. I have seen them on occasion, covered head to toe in those flowing black things they wear, just their face visible, laughing and having fun outside on the sidewalk. Always with the youngest male of the house as a chaperone. The minute they see me or any other man coming down the street they scurry inside. Honestly, I do not care what kind of screwy religion or culture you have, but this shit is sick. You know those women and girls have been brainwashed since birth that this is how it should be. The men get to do whatever they want, and the women also get to do whatever the men want. I can respect other cultures, as long as those other cultures respect the humanity of everybody else. But when the lives of some are considered not as valuable as others, I just think it's perverted. Not to just pick on some people from the Middle East, Americans bought and sold fellow humans at one time. Maybe if I dressed Alicia up in one of those tent dresses with the head covering and sent her down there to say hello. Maybe she could find out just what the hell is up. Maybe she could let those ladies know that they are in America now. They don't have to put up with that shit anymore.
Alicia visits the neighbors

Monday, February 20, 2017

Wash Day

That is the washing machine my mom used when I was a young boy. An Easy Spindrier, from the Easy Washing Machine Corporation of Syracuse. I loved that washing machine. It was the best toy I had down in the basement, besides the pilot light on the furnace. You could put your other toys in the tub on the spin side, and pretend they were going on a trip through space. Most of all I liked those big levers on the front of the machine. Those engaged the clutch and sort of made it like the controls of a space ship. I didn't get to play with it all the time because of the mountains of laundry my mom used to have. Even as a kid, when most of my brothers and sisters were yet to be born, my mom had a load of shit to do around that house. But on those rare days my mom didn't have those piles of clothes to wash, that Easy Spindrier was mine. Now, like sixty two years later, I have my own washing machine along with a dryer. I love them almost as much because they are even more like a space ship. Buttons and knobs and LED's flashing, along with music. My washer and dryer both play music when they want to tell me something. I often find myself humming those tunes as I'm roaming through the house. Unlike my mom's washer, my washer and dryer are not in the basement. Mine are in the kitchen. Yes, I know. An odd place for the laundry, but as long as I don't get in Mark's way while he's cooking, it works out fine. Unless he gets drunk one day and I find a chicken in the dryer flopping around on the fluff dry setting.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Shoebox Baby

The Shoebox Baby holding one of his great grandchildren. 1886-1988

One of my sisters recently asked if I knew when our grandfather, our mom's dad, came to the United States. She also wanted to know if there was some story about him as a baby in a shoe box. So yesterday I drove out to Tinley Park and asked Mom. Here's the story. Grandpa was born in Birmingham, England in 1886. He was a pre-mature birth and so small that he could be put in a shoebox. Mom says that his mother, our great grandmother, used to put him in that box, on the open door of the oven to keep him warm. I assume she turned him once in awhile for an even roast and maybe basted him too. Anyway, when Grandpa was two years old his parents moved to the United States. It was their second move to the states from what I understand. They had moved back to England earlier to help a relative who was having trouble with his business.

Little stories like this, that seem so insignificant at the time, may mean a lot to your descendants. I have written down a lot of my life here in the pages of my blog, yet there is a whole lot I've left out. For that you should be thankful. Lucky for me and my siblings, and the children of my siblings, my dad wrote down some of his story. Most interesting and sad, is the story of the murder in 1942, of my dad's father on the street in front of his home. Drive by shootings are not a new thing here in Chicago. Dad also wrote a nice story detailing his time in the Army Air Force during World War II.

So as I was sitting there chatting with my ninety five year old Mom about family history, I suggested that she spend one hour per day at the typewriter telling the story, as she remembers it, of our family. I don't know if she will do that, but next week when I visit I'm going to check out the old typewriter in her office, and see if it's still serviceable. Maybe if I put it out on the dining room table... or better yet, on the table in front of the television, she'll write some.