May 29, 2011

From Another Archive

Two years ago this summer, Jan and I took our first real vacation all by ourselves. Sure we were in our late 50's, but that's life.  Instead of the usual cruise, or a trip to the Caribbean, we chose to get in our car, and drive west, all the way to the Pacific coast. We spent almost a month on the road and had a great time.  I kept a blog that I updated at the end of each day.  Sometimes we stayed in some great places ... sometimes we didn't.  Over the next several days, I'll post selected days.  This was one of the places that we stayed that wasn't so great ... Green River, Utah.

The Town That Time Forgot

We just got back from what I guess passes for dinner in this town. I'm going to guess that Ben's Cafe lost the classification of greasy diner back in 1965 and took the title of "dump" soon after. But there was really no where else to eat. Gaze on the front sidewalk and entrance to Ben's at the right. Jan had pork chops, which was incredibly brave of her. The chops were supposed to come with a baked potato and vegetable, but they ran out of potatoes and vegetables and all they had left was fries. They had nothing left of what I wanted, so I had a BBQ burger. Ecccch!

The rest of the town looks like life gave up on it in the last several decades and the residents all look like they are close to committing suicide. Who can blame them? Join me as we go up and down Main Street in Green River, Utah ...

Abandoned Cafe (not the one we ate at)

Abandoned Bank across the street from Ben's

Abandoned gas station

Main Street
Tomorrow, we're going to visit Arches National Park near Moab, UT ... and then head for Colorado.

More later ...

May 27, 2011

Nothing Happened - WTF?

Jan is a teacher in a Middle School in one of the suburbs that surround us.  Where I came from, they call these institutions of learning “Junior High”, but that’s down south and we’re all stupid down there, so “Middle School” it is …

Anyway, last night was the commencement ceremony for the 8th Grade Class, and as a teacher, Jan was required to take part.  I’ve never really understood the need for graduation ceremonies for 8th graders; or for Kindergartners for that matter.  But I guess it’s tough enough going to school for 12 or 13 years in a row without some kind of hoopla to break it up.

In order to appear to be a supportive partner, I told Jan that I’d go with her.  Even if you have been married for almost 36 years, it’s important for a guy to try to build up a brownie point stash in case he needs an unreasonable favor at some point in the future.  Besides, I thought if these forced affairs of family and friends go as they normally do, there might be something to put into a post.

The event started on time, there were a minimum of speeches and the whole thing was over in less than an hour.  The kids were all dressed nicely, seemed very happy; and their parents, grandparents and friends were all justifiably proud.  What’s more, I felt a sense of belonging, being a part of an American tradition.

What the hell?

I’m losing my fucking edge …

May 26, 2011

Running Scared

I used to run as a hobby.  Some people call it  running, some  people call it jogging.  To me there was a difference.  If you couldn’t keep up with a person walking at a brisk pace, you were jogging.  If you could pass the same person, you were running.

I remember the exact minute when I decided to start.  It was our first year in Northern Illinois and Jan took a picture of me carving the Thanksgiving turkey.  When the photos came back from the lab, there I was … a fat-ass pig, picking pieces of fowl flesh off of a turkey carcass.

So I began running.  Short distances at first, then farther and farther until I figured that five miles was about the right distance and the right amount of time.  The weight came off … more than 60 pounds of it, and I became semi-addicted.  I ran in the cold, heat, rain and snow.  I even ran the morning of the day Jan was scheduled to have a Caesarian to give birth to our son.  It was an afternoon affair, so I had time.

One of the odd things about running, is the fact that you come across a lot of crazies.  I don’t know what it is about people who run, but there are an inordinate amount of other people who don’t like it.  A majority of these people are driving cars when they show their displeasure toward you.

I first noticed the phenomena almost immediately after I started.  At first, it was the occasional “finger”, then people (guys only) would swerve their cars at you while grinning manically.  And then it escalated to thrown objects from cars … coins, beer cans (full and empty), vegetables, lit cigarettes, rocks and firecrackers.  Some runners talk about getting into a “zone” when they run, but I was never able to do that because I was always on the lookout for deadly projectiles.

The strangest incident happened to me one Saturday in January.  I was running around our still developing neighborhood.  I passed a house under construction and noticed that a man wrapped in full winter gear was working on the roof.  As I passed he yelled at me “FUCK YOU FAGGOT!”  I stopped and looked back up at him, which prompted him to continue with a longer soliloquy, which included something about real men work on the weekends and don’t prance around like pussies.  This sort of flummoxed me, so in my best 3rd grade comeback, I told him that at least I was smart enough not to be perched up on a roof, freezing my ass off and squawking like a parrot.  Oh, and I might have told him to go fuck himself.

The next thing I knew, he was scrambling to the edge of the roof and was taking the ladder down five rungs at a time.  I’ve only been faced with the “fight or flee” thing a couple of times in my life, but when you have a full bearded nut clad in classic Carhartt winter wear and wielding a claw hammer bearing down on you, I choose flee every time.

Besides, being a seasoned runner, I knew I could lose him.  And after a few steps, he seemed to realize the same thing, so he headed for his truck.  By the time he had fumbled around getting the thing started, I had finally comprehended the fact that this clown might actually be trying to hurt me, so I jumped a couple of fences and cut through a couple of yards; making it through the front door of my house in time to see the guy roaring around the neighborhood, looking for me.

After a few minutes of this, I thought it might be a good idea to call the police.  They came, took a statement and went up to the house under construction, looking for Mr. Carhartt.  Of course, he had vanished, and I never heard anything else about it.

Soon after, I decided it was time to stop running.  It was probably the best thing for my aging body too, since after years of pounding the pavement, I’m left with gamey knees and a network of broken capillaries in both ankles.

Nowadays, I prefer walking.  Jan can join me when she wants to; and it seems much more sedate and dignified.

And no one has tried to kill me.  Not even once.

May 25, 2011

Thoughts On Random Thoughts

A few of the blogs that I read have one day set aside for “lists”.  They pick a subject and just do a list of about 10 things.  Maybe it’s supposed to be sort of like David Letterman’s Top Ten things that he does on his show once in a while … only not as funny.  A lot of times, when these bloggers write their lists, they encourage their readers to send in their own lists.  I figure that all they’re doing is trying to steal ideas.

I guess I do the same thing when I do my “random thoughts” posts.  Only I don’t ask any of my readers to send in their random thoughts so I can steal them.  I’m real ethical that way.  I think the main reason I do the “random thoughts” posts is because they are subjects that just have enough air in them to make up about a paragraph at most.  I don’t like to put them on my facebook or twitter pages, because those things are for brain farts that you don’t care if you even see again.  I want something a little more permanent … so I put them here.  So, on this rainy Wednesday afternoon, here are some more random thoughts.

  • Last night my next door neighbor, “Hillbilly Ron” was nosing around on both sides of our fence in the back yard.  He was especially interested in the back corner, where I always pile my yard debris.  I figured he was pissed because I was piling organic shit up against his rotted out fence and he was going to come over and say something to me.  So I decided I’d be ready for his accusations, and answer him only in iconic dialog bits from the Dirty Harry movies; like “Go ahead, make my day”, “Did he fire six shots or only five?”, and “A good man knows his limitations”.  But he never did come over, so I wasted about 10 minutes on 20/20 foresight.

  • This morning I picked up my Styrofoam cup of scalding coffee the wrong way and spilled it all over my hand and my desk … and my phone and my keyboard.  Even though I was burned like hell, I made sure that all of the mess on my inanimate objects was cleaned up before I bothered to do first aid on my hand, even though it had started to blister.  Why?  Because I was embarrassed that someone would see the mess I made in my office.  This is what polite society has done to me.

  • Jan I were out doing some errands and I must have broken some sort of traffic etiquette, because some guy fingered me not once, not twice, but three times as he drove off.  Isn’t just once enough?  And why are the guys who finger you always driving 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlos?

  • Several weeks ago, I was gloating because I’d went to Home Depot and taken home a lot of  shrubbery at a discount because the cashier forgot to ring up a few items.  Last week I was charged double for some plants that I picked up and didn’t figure it out until I got home.  Karma’s a bitch man.
  • Did you ever break up with someone and then run into them several months later?  And when you did … after talking with each other for a few minutes, did you wonder aloud to each other why you had ever broken up in the first place?  And then did you make a date to go out and see if you could “start over again”?  And then about 5 minutes into said date, did you suddenly remember why you had broken up in the first place?  That’s kind of how I feel now after coming back to work in the same place that I was laid-off from in January.  Thank Jesus it’s only for another month.

Well, that’s only 5 random thoughts instead of  10 … but then this isn’t a list.  Oh, and keep your random thoughts to yourself.  I’ve got my mind clogged with enough of them already.

May 23, 2011

The Ghost Of Sam

Sam the cat died almost 4 months ago.  Well, "died" indicates that she did it all by herself, but we helped her along a little bit.  She had lived over 18 years and in her last days she couldn't even sit up by herself.  So, we had to make the decision we always knew we were going to have to make eventually and had her euthanized.  It wasn't a pleasant thing to watch, and for days afterwards, we both felt like we had murdered her. That passed and then there were the weeks that I kept looking up at the landing when I came in the front door, expecting to see her sitting in her bed, looking at me.

Then that passed too.  Sam now resides in a small box in the hall closet.  I haven't opened the package to see what her ashes are contained in.  I hope when I get up the nerve, it'll be something nice.  And now that a few months have passed, we're getting used to not having her around.

Except Sam still lives on.  Her memory lingers in a physical sense.  The sense of smell.  Now that the weather has finally become warmer, it's become obvious that Sam left us a gift to remember her by.

When I climb the stairs in the afternoon when I come home, house warm and stuffy from being closed up all day, the unmistakable odor of stale cat urine slaps me right in the face.

Apparently, in her final days, Sam was pissing everyplace on the landing except in her cat box.  And since it was dark when we came home, we never saw the evidence.

Febreze doesn't work.  Arm & Hammer Pet Odor Cleaner doesn't work.  Next up, we'll trying renting a rug shampoo machine.  If that doesn't work, it's new carpet time.

I'd like to think that if Sam had human characteristics and believed in the afterlife (would she have been Catholic or Protestant?), that she'd be looking down on us now from kitty heaven and saying "Kill me will you?  YOU FUCKERS!"

Goddamn cat.

May 10, 2011

Almost Total Obscurity

One of the really nice things about taking the opportunity to read through various magazines and articles on-line is the little “gems” that you pick up from time to time.  Events that may have passed you by, that in themselves, point to other events that you never knew anything about.

Case in point:  A man named David Mason passed away in late April at the age of 85.  That in itself is probably unremarkable, except that in 1967, Mason did something that will live on as long as recorded music is available.

He was the guy who played the trumpet on “Penny Lane”.

In 1967, Paul McCartney was looking for something to embellish the Penny Lane track, when he happened to see Mason on television playing the trumpet on Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 2 in F Major.

The morning after, the Beatles’ producer, George Martin recruited Mason to attend a recording session with the band.  Mason said later that he didn’t even know who the Beatles were when he got the call (so many people say that crap … I call horseshit on it).  To him (so he says) it was just another job.

Mason showed up at the session with nine trumpets and by process of elimination, settled on a B-flat piccolo trumpet for the high-pitched solo.  No music was written ahead of time.  McCartney sang what he wanted to hear, producer Martin wrote the notes and Mason played them.

There were two consecutive takes, overdubbing on top of the existing song … and it was all over very quickly.

For his trouble, Mason was paid a one-time fee of 45 dollars.

Holy crap, the Beatles’ sure were cheap shits, or shrewd businessmen, or thrifty … or all of the above.  Probably just cheap shits mostly, especially that fucking Paul.  I never did like him.

Penny Lane wasn’t the only song Mason did for the Beatles.  He also contributed to other songs made in 1967:  “A Day in the Life”, “Magical Mystery Tour” and “All You Need Is Love”.  I’m really hoping he was paid a little better for those gigs.  Probably not though.

The good news about Mason, is that there was a happy ending.  As is so often the case in stories of this nature, the subject, famous for one point in history, goes on to live a tragic life and dies an early death in obscurity.

Mason went on to play principal trumpet for several distinguished orchestras and was a professor at London’s Royal College of Music.

However, he did hold a lifelong grudge on McCartney and it was reported that he often rang up the aging Beatle late at night, shouting “Where’s the rest of my money, you sodding faggot!”

May 03, 2011

Meandering Musings

Tuesday afternoon.  The Moody Blues composed a song by that name back in the 1960's.  They made it sound like a fun time, but I guess you had to be there.

I'm basically done with work for today, I don't want to do anything else.  So I'll do part of this post from here (can't tell you where here is) and part from home (can't tell you where that is either).  My mind has been wandering for a while, so I think I'll just summarize thoughts for the hell of it.

  • I didn't sleep well last night.  My extended stay on the day bed in the extra bedroom is taking it's toll on my back, neck, kidneys, gonads ... you name it.  I wish Jan's allergies would take a hike so she'd stop snoring and I could sleep in my own bed.  But, for as much as I slept last night, I might as well have been comfortable and listened to the snoring.
  • Sometimes, when you think about a subject too much over an extended period of time, you get to see it in a three-act play in your dreams.  Only it turns out to be really stupid, with the wrong people, and inaccurate.  Then you wake up and analyze it for all of its script failings.  Stupid brain.
  • The first lawn mowing of 2011 was last Saturday.  I always misjudge and wait one week too long for the first cutting.  And a one week error is just enough that the mower chokes down elebenty-million times during the 4 hour process that should have taken only one hour if I had only mowed it one fucking week earlier.  Choking down the lawn mower is bad on the engine.  My 5 year-old lawn mower is now 97 in dog years because of my bad timing.  I have legendary bad timing.  My friends used to call me "Bulova".
  • My new neighbor across the street was mowing his lawn (or trying to) with a reel mower.  You know, those scary looking scythe things with no motor that you have to push because that's the way they used to mow the lawn in 1901?  I think this is his first house and he was trying to save some money by purchasing a cheap lawn care device.  A herd of goats would be better than a manual reel mower.  That's like taking a knife to a gun fight.
  • Jan and I planted a shitpot full of shrubs last weekend in our "new, improved" back yard.  Here's a tip to save money on plants ... Go to a big box store and buy them.  A lot of them, and then cram them all in a cart in no particular order.  The eight-dollar-an-hour cashiers will get super-frustrated, give up and just make a wild-ass guess as to what you have.  They and others know that big box stores rarely inventory plants ... because ... well they just don't. We saved about 50 dollars. 
  • For the past several nights, I've tried counting the number of stoplights between work and home.  I always lose interest after two.  I guess it'll always be "one of those mysteries of life".
  • I heard recently that they stopped making 100 watt incandescent light bulbs. This doesn't bother me much as I don't believe I've ever used them.  Too bright.  Maybe it's because I'm one-third vampire on my mother's side.
  • When you come right down to it, aren't vampires and zombies the same thing?  Vampires are probably more attractive and socially polished, but that's about the only difference.
  •  Year's back I hit a deer with my truck.  I'll always remember the look in it's eyes right before I struck it.  It was like ... "Uh-Oh".
  • An acquaintance of mine is friends with a married gay couple.  One of the guy's name is Roy, so I always call them "Ziegfried and Roy".  She always gets mad at me, but I don't know why.  I like Ziegfried and Roy.
  • Since Jan is tutoring this evening, it's "Make Your Own Meal" night.  This evening I'm having Campbell's soup.  Not the good kind, but the kind you where you pour out the can of glop and then add one can of water to it. When I was a kid, my mom would make it with 3 cans of water and told me that's the way the children at Auschwitz had it, which made me feel very regal and sophisticated.  Then, after I was married, Jan told me that I was only supposed to add one can of water.  She also told me what Auschwitz was.  No wonder I resent my mother.
  • The soup I've chosen is called Minestrone, which judging by the picture on the can, is probably Sicilian for "Vomit".  Since I have some left-over Bushes Grillin' Beans, Ill probably throw those in there too.
I still like to feel regal on occasion.