Friday, November 24th, 2017

The main dish of our Thanksgiving dinner this year was a lovely roast of lamb covered in pesto and cooked to perfection.

Tim’s mother offered to cut his Thanksgiving lamb into little pieces for him, but he managed just fine on his own in spite of a broken hand and the pain it obviously caused him.  He very gingerly placed his knife in the weakened grip of his forefinger and thumb, then slowly and methodically cut the meat into bite-sized cubes.  It helped that he had a sharp knife.

My Darling B served mashed potatoes and carrot sticks with the roast, so all Tim had to cut was the meat.  And he was very thankful.

He walked over from his apartment, possibly because he didn’t want to muck around with driving the car one-handed, but maybe just because he wanted to walk.  He lives just a few blocks away and walks the distance maybe once a month, just for the hell of it, even in winter.  More often in summer.  He came over at about three and we had a nice chat in the front room for a couple hours while he iced his hand.  B called us to dinner at about six, a little later than she’d planned.

After dinner, we retired to the living room for maybe half an hour to sit and digest, but all of us were quickly fading then.  It had been a long day and it started early.  I drove Tim back to his apartment with two sacks of frozen food his mother insisted he take with him so he wouldn’t have to worry about fixing dinner for himself one-handed.

Maggie, his hyper-shy cat, glared at me from the middle of his living room when he let me into his apartment with the bags of food.  I slowly set them down, hoping not to spook her and maybe ever get a long look, or even get close enough to pet her.  This was only the second time I’ve laid eyes on her; the first time all I saw was her face glaring out at me from under a dresser.  This time, she trotted away into the bedroom after just a beat or two.  “She’ll hide for at least an hour now,” Tim said, laughing.

I wished him a good night, headed back home and turned in early.  Read almost an entire chapter from the book at the top of my “to be read” pile (“Apollo 8” by Jeffrey Kluger) but my eyes were slamming shut before nine, so lights out. Slept the sleep of the dead.

Thanksgiving dinner | 7:08 am CST
Category: T-Dawg | Tags:
No Comments | Add a comment

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

The doorbell rang at three-thirty this morning. Coincidentally, I was lying half-awake in bed trying to motivate myself to get out of bed and clean up the cat yak that I was pretty sure I just heard Boo leave on the floor right next to me. Half of me wanted to leave it until morning; the other half didn’t want to step in it when I inevitably forgot it was there. The doorbell put a stop to this little internal argument.

B’s voice from the other side of the bed: “What the hell?” My thoughts exactly.

I tumbled out of bed and made my way to the bedroom door, somehow without stepping in any barf, where I could look out the the living room window and see Tim’s car in the driveway. Tim didn’t visit last night so there’s no reason he should have left his car there. After crossing the living room and peeking out the windows of the front door, I could see Tim standing on our front stoop. At three-thirty in the morning. He smiled and waved at me.

I opened the door. “Hi, Tim,” I said, as if there were nothing unusual at all about finding him at our door at three-thirty.  “What’s up?”

He said something like this: “Sorry to wake you, but I wanted to know if you thought I was overreacting before I went to the emergency room.” He went on to tell us he woke up about midnight after a dream that involved punching the wall. His right hand was throbbing in pain and he wasn’t able to move his pinkie or ring finger much; he could move the other fingers, but it hurt when he did that, so he tried not to move any of them at all, holding his hand at waist level, away from his side.

After a bit more discussion about what might possibly be wrong with his hand, I threw on some clothes and drove him to the emergency room. The closest one is on the northeast side of town, almost all the way to Sun Prairie. It’s part of a huge complex of very hospitally-looking buildings we had to drive through on winding roads to get to the ER. The route was pretty clearly signed, by the way, an observation borne out by the fact that we found it thought it was dark and we were half-awake and it was four in the morning. I hope I never have to go there again but, if I do, I’m somewhat comforted by the knowledge it’s easy to find.

A receptionist and a bored-looking security guard were alone at a desk in the lobby. There were no other people around. The receptionist perked up when we walked in, but the security guard kept on surfing the internet without looking up at us. Tim gave the receptionist his medical card and after checking him in, she invited us to wait in the lobby. Our butts barely touched the seats before a nurse called Tim’s name and lead us both back to an examination room. Points for prompt service.

After asking Tim what was wrong, probably to make sure his injuries weren’t life-threatening, the nurse asked him a lot of questions like date of birth, phone number and so on, while another nurse took his vitals. Then she asked him to tell her how he hurt his hand. Tim repeated his story about dreaming he punched a wall, obviously feeling a little silly about it. After she got everything into the computer she said the doctor would be with us shortly and left the room.

We were on our own for maybe five minutes until a doctor showed up, made Tim repeat his story again, and briefly examined his hand. He wanted to x-ray it to make a proper diagnosis and also wanted to get some ice on it and some pain killers into Tim. A couple minutes after he left, the nurse came back with an icepack and a couple capsules for Tim to wash down with some bottled water.  An odd thought struck me: that bottled water is going to be on the bill, and I’ll bet it’s going to cost something like three hundred dollars.

A tech came in after that with an x-ray cart. This is some pretty cool tech. They don’t use film any longer. Tim rested his hand on what looked like a computer tablet, except where the screen should have been, there was what looked like a blank grey slate. The tech aimed the x-ray emitter and stepped back, thumbing the fob to trip the emitter. Each time she did, Tim’s bony hand appeared on a screen on the x-ray cart. When she had all the pictures she needed, she bent over the cart to tap a couple of buttons, uploading the pictures to Tim’s record. From there, any radiologist in town could review them by logging into the network. Pretty awesome.

After ten or maybe fifteen minutes at the most, the doctor came back to let Tim know the fifth metacarpal, the bone in the hand under the pinkie, was fractured but not displaced, by which I guess he meant its jagged ends weren’t sticking out through his skin or something ghastly like that. He put a splint on it with some more pretty cool tech: a white slab of plasticky stuff he soaked in water, then formed around Tim’s hand and forearm and held in place with ace bandage until it set. It hardened after a few minutes, making a split that was molded in the shape of Tim’s hand. Cool! (Probable cost: Ten Thousand Dollars.)

I was texting B the whole time because I knew she was sitting up waiting for me to feed her updates. When I told her Tim had a fracture, she texted: “Is it the fifth metacarpal?”  After freaking out just a tiny bit, I texted back, “How the hell did you know that?” She answered: “5th metacarpal is consistent w/punching injury.  AKA ‘boxer’s fracture.’  Did I forget to tell you I went to med school? Or do I just google well?”  And she included a link to the medical web site she reads when she wants to scare herself.

Tim’s got to call the hospital on Friday to schedule an appointment to get a cast put on; after that, then it’ll take six to eight weeks to heal properly, after which they’ll probably want to examine it again, just to run his bill up a bit more. Meanwhile he’ll have to learn to do everything not only one-handed, but with his non-dominant hand, not so easy for a guy whose work is done mostly on a computer.

broken | 11:20 am CST
Category: O'Folks, sleeplessness, T-Dawg
No Comments | Add a comment

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Sometime last summer, My Daring B started making smoothies every morning. We took them to work with us. She drank hers almost right away; I think of smoothies as something you eat rather than drink, so I saved mine for lunch.

At some point during the summer, I started making the smoothies because B usually waited until after she’d had her shower, which didn’t give her much time. I figured I could make them while she was in the shower, a time when I usually twiddled my thumbs or picked my nose or something about as constructive.

Making a smoothie isn’t hard. At least, the way I make them isn’t. Two bananas, a cup and a half of chopped-up frozen fruit, about two cups of vanilla soy milk, then blend it all together in our Ninja smoothie-making blender for a minute or so. Takes five minutes, turns out a very tasty smoothie.

After we came home from our week-long vacation in August, I hit a little bump in the smoothie-making road. Come Monday morning, I forgot to make the smoothies. And Tuesday morning. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just clean forgot about it. For two, maybe three weeks, I didn’t make smoothies. Now I admit that, somewhere in those two or three weeks, I recalled I used to make smoothies, and I thought, Huh, I should start making smoothies again.

But you know how hard it is to get back into the habit of doing something after you fall out of it? That’s how this was. Every evening I found myself thinking, I should make smoothies tomorrow morning, and then next morning I would be on the sofa twiddling my thumbs for five or ten minutes, vaguely troubled by a thought in the back of my mind that I was forgetting something, and next thing I knew we’d be on our way out the door and it’d hit me – Oh shit! I was gonna make smoothies! And that night I’d promise myself I’d make smoothies the next morning, and then next morning there’d be the thumb-twiddling and the oh shit moment, and so on.

Finally, one morning at work, B’s boss handed me a note with a smirk on her face, turned and walked away. The note said B wasn’t able to perform her duties as well as she had when I made smoothies in the morning, and that she would really appreciate it if I’d make smoothies again so she could have her best worker up to speed again. Something like that. I’ve been making the smoothies ever since.

smoothies | 6:30 am CST
Category: coworkers, daily drivel, My Darling B, office work, random idiocy
Comments Off on smoothies

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Isn't She Lovely?B and I went to the Women’s March yesterday. I didn’t know there was going to be a Women’s March in Madison so we almost missed it, but B pointed out that it was being organized on Facebook, which explains why I, the Twitter junkie, totally missed it.

By the time B got out of bed I’d seen more than a few posts on Facebook and Twitter from people I knew who were going to the march in Washington. B asked if I wanted to go and I said something like, I’d love to go, but it’s kind of a long drive. Drrr. I’m kinda slow sometimes. But after she pointed out the Facebook post from the Madison Women’s March and I saw that we had plenty of time to make it to the rally point at Library Mall, I was all in. After I finished my coffee. And had a shower. She was still drinking her coffee, too, so she was okay with that.

I figured we’d go down to Library Mall to hang out with a couple hundred protesters, maybe a thousand, listen to the crowd go rah-rah, march up State Street to the capitol where we’d listen to a speech, and then get brunch somewhere. That is generally what a protest march in Madison looks like. We have no shortage of protest marches, and I don’t mean to make light of the very important issues the marchers seek to address, but if I were a legislator, three hundred people chanting “This is what democracy looks like” would not make me reconsider any position I’d taken.

The Women’s March, as you may already know, was a lot more than 300 people. I started to get a clue as we made our way toward State Street from the municipal parking lot and saw a steady stream of people carrying signs and wearing the signature pink “pussy hats” as they made their way to the mall.
(Fun fact: My Darling B didn’t get the hats at first. We’d been standing in the crowd ten or twenty minutes when her eyes lit up and she said, “Oh! They look like they have cat’s ears!” She knew they were called “pussy hats” but thought the hats were supposed to look like actual women’s, well, you know. She thought everyone had just done a bad job of making the hats because they didn’t look anatomically correct, or even sorta close.)

By the time we’d made our way down to the 600 block, the street was filling up. We got to within about half a block of the mall before we came to a full stop. We couldn’t go any further. There were too many people in the street. And they kept coming. The crowd started on Bascom Hill, filled the Library Mall and was packed shoulder-to-shoulder through the 600 and 500 block of State Street. The chief of police of the UW Police Department estimated there were at least 75,000 people there, maybe as many as 100,000.

It took us a half-hour, maybe forty-five minutes to slowly make our way up the street to the capitol in that crowd. As we marched up State Street (shuffled, really; it was still kind of hard to move), we caught glimpses of other people in pussy hats or carrying signs walking toward the capitol on the side streets. The west corner of capitol square was jam-packed with people when we got there; we had to carefully pick our way through the crowd to get close enough to capitol hill to see what was going on. We didn’t stay for the speeches, but I did get close enough to snap a photo Miss Forward wearing a pussy hat.

I’m glad we went. This event was a big deal.

Women’s March | 12:06 pm CST
Category: current events, My Darling B | Tags: ,
Comments Off on Women’s March

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

The other day I peed my pants like a little boy and survived to tell the tale.

It all started with breakfast at the Avenue Club, a venerable Madison supper club on East Washington Avenue. We went there to take advantage of their New Year’s unlimited pancake breakfast. They brought each of us two freshly-baked pancakes as big as a dinner plate, invited us to visit the table where they had set up dishes heaped with toppings such as pecans, almond slivers, chocolate chips and the like, and said if we wanted more, we could help ourselves to the mountain of hot cakes on the steam table they were continually refreshing.

As it turned out, “all you can eat” means the two giant pancakes they brought me in the beginning. This was a classic “eyes bigger than head” situation. I was really very proud of myself just for finishing those two.

I ordered a tall glass of orange juice with my breakfast, and after we stuffed ourselves full of pancakes, we lingered over coffee for a little while. That was my third coffee of the day, after our customary hot cuppa (or two) to wake up as soon as we got out of bed. My kidneys were doing their best to keep up, and I made a couple stops at the club and again as soon as we got home, so I sincerely thought output had caught up with input. I was so very wrong.

I was maybe four blocks from home when I began to replan my route. I’d thought of going as far as the library, which reminded me there were no public buildings open anywhere today. Maybe not such a good idea to get too far from home. By the time I was walking along Winnequah Road down by the shore of Squaw Bay, I was sure than shortening my route was a good idea.

I had the stop sign at Maywood Road in sight, two blocks away, so picked that as my turnaround point, hung a right at Kelly Place and squiggled through its twisty turns until I got to Panther Trail, which I followed up to Bridge Road, a total of maybe three blocks. By the time I got to Bridge Road there were enough alarm bells going off in my hind brain to make me nervous.

It’s a two-block walk up Bridge Road to Frost Woods Road, and one block along Frost Woods to Sylvan Lane. I was speed-walking all the way. By the time I was in the home stretch I was sure there was going to be an accident in plain sight of the whole neighborhood, but I managed to hang on until I unlocked the front door of our house and stepped inside.

I remember playing in the living room with our son Sean when he was maybe three or four years old. We were on the floor setting up a skirmish with a bunch of plastic dinosaurs or something like that when all at once he jumped up and began a fast march across the room as if he’d just received a coded message by radio wave from the mother ship. Halfway across the room he yanked his pants down and tried to manually stop himself from emptying his bladder on the way but failed, squirting a trail that pointed into the hallway and continued into the bathroom.

That was me as I ran across the living room. It’s kind of funny when it’s a four-year-old, not nearly as funny when it’s a fifty-six-year-old.

kegle | 6:29 am CST
Category: daily drivel, falling apart, random idiocy, Seanster, TMI Tuesday | Tags:
Comments Off on kegle

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Oh my god this new cat sinks. Walking into his room is like being hit in the face with a fresh cow pat. The alchemy in his guts that turns water and kibble into mustard gas is something the military should probably check out.

For many years, we have relied on our cats to tell us what their names are, rather than just giving them whatever cool-sounding name popped into our heads. Bonkers got his name because he liked to butt his head against us when saying hello, and also because he was a little howling-at-the-moon crazy. (Literally.) Boo poked her face out from beyond the stuff she was hiding behind. She didn’t say “boo,” but she implied it. Scooter is a bit of a doofus, the kind of personality you’re talking to when you begin your retort, “Listen, Scooter …”

This new guy seems to be telling us he will be called Stinky. From day one, he has been sending up smoke signals, so to speak. My Darling B is not in agreement with me on this. Neither does she agree that his name might be Fart, Poop, Stench, Miasma, Musty, Toxic, or Peppy le Pew. And she herself suggested Peppy le Pew, but then immediately vetoed it.

She is also against Fragrant, Flower, or any sarcastic variation thereof.

So I don’t know what his “official” name eventually will end up being, but I’m very confident that, whatever name he eventually gets, his nickname will probably always be Stinky. At least, that’s what I’m going to call him.

stinky | 7:00 am CST
Category: Farts & Farting, O'Folks | Tags: ,
Comments Off on stinky

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

The view from Ishnala Supper Club's dining roomWe had dinner last night at the Ishnala Supper Club near Wisconsin Dells. It’s a bit of a drive, just under an hour, but as things turned out, our visit there was worth every minute on the road.

We learned about Ishnala from “Old Fashioned: The Story of the Wisconsin Supper Club,” a documentary we watched at the film festival. If it sounds a little dry and boring, it really isn’t; it gave us the urge to visit every Wisconsin supper club in the film. We didn’t, but ever since then we have wanted to visit Ishnala, a relatively short drive from Madison.

I have to admit, I wanted to go there for the ambiance alone. The supper club is in a log-cabin themed building perched on the very edge of Mirror Lake. The bar is the most prominent room, jutting out over the lake and surrounded on three sides by picture windows that gave us an uninterrupted view of the fall foliage. The dining room is much the same: a long, open room with floor-to-ceiling picture windows on the side facing the lake. Our visit was maybe a week past the peak time for fall colors, and the evening was overcast so the colors were a bit muted, but it was still gorgeous.

I frankly didn’t expect much from the food, but was pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was. B and I each ordered a seven-ounce fillet mignon with sun-dried tomatoes in a wine reduction, one of the specials, and it was fantastic. I ate every bite and used my potato skins to sop up as much of the wine reduction as I could. The little bit of sun-dried tomato that was left over got buttered onto slices of melba toast and I shared it with My Darling B.

Tim treated us to his company on this trip and reported that the New York strip steak he ordered was every bit as wonderful as our fillets. We were there a little more than two hours, lingering afterwards over a slice of chocolate gateau and coffee before hitting the road back to Madison.

Our First Dinner at Ishnala | 9:36 am CST
Category: food & drink, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, restaurants, T-Dawg | Tags:
Comments Off on Our First Dinner at Ishnala

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

I went to the laundry basket with dripping hands and started pawing through it.

“What are you looking for?” B asked.

“Hand towel,” I answered, pulling out what I thought was a hand towel.

“Don’t use that,” she admonished me. “That’s a rag. Just look at how dirty it is.” She held up a neatly folded hand towel. “We’ll put this one out, because we’re having guests tonight.”

I held out my hand for the towel.

“You can’t use it now,” she said with a verbal eye-roll. “I’ll put it out before the guests arrive, so it’s clean. You can use that dirty thing now.”

It’s like we speak two completely different languages sometimes.

hand towel | 10:45 am CST
Category: daily drivel, housekeeping, My Darling B, Our Humble O'Bode
1 Comment | Add a comment

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

After our weekly visit to the farmer’s market on Madison’s west side, My Darling B and I crossed the street to the Hilldale Mall where B had to shop for a dress to wear to a wedding. B hates shopping with the blazing white intensity of a thousand exploding suns, but the wedding is just two weeks away, so, even though there was still some time left to procrastinate, she decided it was time to get it over with. As luck would have it, she fell in love with the very first dress she found, but it’s fire-engine red and apparently there’s some rule about wearing a dress to a wedding that would upstage the bride. She put it on hold and kept shopping, eventually ending up with what she called “the granny dress,” a cream-colored, knee-length dress with lots of sparklies. B loves sparklies.

While she was trying on dresses, I wandered down the street a few blocks to a garage sale on Midvale Avenue that I spotted as we drove past. There wasn’t much that interested me, and the only thing I eventually bought was a book published by the Associated Press to commemorate the 1969 moon landing. Titled “Footprints On The Moon,” it was a coffee table book chock full of familiar photographs of the space race, starting as usual with Sputnik and ending with lots of lofty prose about how Neil & Buzz walking on the moon had ushered the world into a new era, yada yada yada.

When I picked up the book I had no intention of putting it down again. I’ll buy almost any book or commemorative nick-knack that came out of the space race. I’d never seen this book before and as I opened the cover I thought, Oh nice, something new for my collection, but I didn’t think it was anything extraordinary at first. Then the book fell open to the middle where the folded newspaper pages were tucked away. My heart sped up. It was the first four pages torn out of the Wisconsin State Journal dated July 21, 1969. “ON THE MOON!” the headline on the front page blared in block capital letters over a full-color photo of Armstrong and Aldrin in a training scenario, using tongs to pick up rocks in their space suits. An inside page ran a snapshot of the video feed from the moon, unfocused and about as black-and-white as any photograph could be. If you didn’t know what you were looking at, you might not realize what was going on.

I tucked the pages back in the book and carried it reverently to the front of the garage where a quartet of old friends were bantering with some customers about one of the items for sale. When one of them turned to me and offered to help, I handed over the book, which he opened to the inside cover to read the price: two dollars. “Footprints on the moon,” he said conversationally, flipping through the first couple pages before it fell open to the middle where he found the newspaper pages. I was sure when he saw those that he would either take them out because they weren’t part of the book, or at least charge me for them separately. He barely looked at them before he snapped the book closed. I held my breath. “Two dollars, please,” he said. I dug two singles from my wallet and handed them over; he thanked me, and I walked away with a tiny piece of history.

Shopping for dresses took a lot out of B, so we headed straight home where she planned to spend time in her garden to decompress. It had been raining for the past two days so the ground was probably too wet for her to plant anything. Even so, she figured she could at least pull weeds, but when we got home she wasn’t up for that any more. “A new bar opened in town with fifty-zillion taps,” she informed me, and she wanted to go there to see what that was about.

The bar was Mr. Brews Taphouse, a Wisconsin chain of bars that specializes in craft beers and features loads of local brews as well as national craft beers. I don’t know how many taps there were; it was too way many for me to bother counting them. We settled in at a hightop table next to the beer menu chalked on the wall, where I studied the options long and hard. I spotted a specialty brew called Sixty-One from Dogfish Head that a friend had raved about; I wish I could say it was as good as the hype, but I couldn’t be bothered to finish it. B ordered a delicious barrel-aged porter called Barrel Aged Brrrbon with Vanilla from Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland OR. She let me taste it, then she let me taste it again, and then I tasted it some more. Eventually she just said to hell with tasting and we called it sharing.

After the first draughts were out of the way, we ordered a flight of four beers: Dynamo Copper Lager from Metropolitan Brewing in Chicago; Bean Me Up Scotchy from St. Francis Brewing in St. Francis WI; Shake Chocolate Porter from Boulder Beer Company in Boulder CO; and Quinannan Falls Lager from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo MI.

We’ve been to Chicago on our own, but we have to go back soon on a proper beer tour because there’s some really good brews coming out of there. If Dynamo’s any indication, I could probably spend all day in the taproom of Metropolitan Brewing, sampling their beers.

St. Francis is just north of Milwaukee and we’ve enjoyed their beer before. Bean Me Up Scotchy is a barrel-aged version of their scotch ale, known as Pride, and I would guess they’ve added vanilla beans to the recipe to boot. Very smooth, and yummy enough to make me want more.

I don’t remember drinking any brews from Boulder Beer before, so that’s something I’m working on correcting, starting with this excellent porter.

Bell’s has been one of my favorite breweries ever since I tried Two-Hearted Ale, a very hoppy beer. I’m not so much into hoppy beers any more, but fortunately Bell’s has produced plenty of other styles that are ever so tasty, and this lager, I’m happy to report, is no exception. Plus, it comes from Kalamazoo, which gives me an opportunity to say Kalamazoo. I love to say Kalamazoo. Who doesn’t love saying Kalamazoo? Boring people, that’s who.

I can’t remember whether or not we visited Widmer Brothers when we were in Portland. Looking photos of the place and where it is on the map, I’m pretty sure we didn’t. If we didn’t, we were stupid. It looks like a pretty great place to visit. Plus, the vanilla porter we sampled was scrumptuous. Getting some right from the source would’ve been a treat.

Our sufficiencies well and truly serensified, we retired back to Our Little Red House to pass the rest of a quiet afternoon reading and napping until supper time. And that is a satisfying way to pass a Saturday afternoon.

walking on the moon | 9:04 am CST
Category: beer, books, entertainment, food & drink, hobby, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, space geekery
Comments Off on walking on the moon

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

B&O at the moviesNow you see him, now you don’t.

shades | 11:07 am CST
Category: festivals, My Darling B, vacation, Wisc Film Fest | Tags:
1 Comment | Add a comment

Friday, April 10th, 2015

My Darling B experienced a sustained moment of panic last night when she discovered that she couldn’t shut off her smart phone. B is a stickler for rules, so when the theater captain asks everyone to “shut off” their phones and I’m only silencing mine, B shuts hers all the way down – power off, cold as a stone, needs to boot up to make a noise or flash any lights.

But last night when she tried to shut her phone off, it wouldn’t respond. The screen remained blank, although a little blue flashing life-light kept blinking, so obviously it was powered up. I tried calling her and texting her, and even though I could hear it ringing through my phone, her phone gave no clue at all that I was trying to contact her. She sat through the movie with the phone in her hand, terrified that it would light up and start bleating in the middle of the show. It never did, so she got lucky. The guy sitting next to her, though, had a phone that made a noise so crazy loud that he just about jumped out of his skin trying to shut it down.

We did a hard reboot to it later by pulling the battery, waiting a minute or two for it to completely die, then reinserting the battery and powering up. Works like a charm now.

smartypants | 10:29 am CST
Category: festivals, My Darling B, vacation, Wisc Film Fest | Tags:
Comments Off on smartypants

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Hello, boys and girls! Welcome! Welcome to Story Time with Unkle Knuckles. Gather round and I’ll tell you the story of how Silly Putty came to be banned from our Christmas stockings. Ready? Let’s begin.

This would’ve been so many years ago that Sean was still a toddler and Tim was no more than a notion. Back then, my Mom and Dad lived in the O-Folk Ancestral Manse, far, far away in The Frozen North. In the year which our story takes place, we made the long voyage there to spend Christmas day with them.

In Sean’s stocking, he found one of the classic toys: A plastic egg with a blob of Silly Putty inside. It was the first Silly Putty he’d ever played with, so we showed him all the nifty stuff he could do with it: Bounce it like a ball, break it like a piece of china, and copy a panel of Calvin & Hobbes off the funny pages. That last one was the corker: He was having such a good time that we left him to play and didn’t give the Silly Putty another thought.

Long after we had opened all our gifts and the morning had lapsed into the time of day when we were all blobbing out on a sofa or were slouched in an overstuffed chair, my Dad decided he had to get another cookie or a drink from the kitchen. When he tried to rise from his chair, he discovered that the chair wouldn’t let him go! He sank back into the chair, then tried to get up again. The chair seemed to be following him! He tried once more and finally bulled his way into an upright position.

Good thing the chair he’d been sitting in was one with a removable seat cushion, because the cushion was well and truly glued to his butt. The glue? Silly Putty, of course. As we all learned that day, if you sit on a blob of Silly Putty, your body heat makes it spread itself evenly across your whole butt, and if you’re wearing pants, it works itself so deeply into the fabric that it’s never going to come out. Same with the fabric of a chair cushion, if you happen to be sitting on one. The only way Dad could get away from that chair cushion was to take his pants off.

And that’s why Silly Putty was never seen again in the stockings of the littlest O-Folk.

silly | 5:56 pm CST
Category: Dad, O'Folks, Seanster, story time
Comments Off on silly

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

The tip of Boo’s tail was broken when she was a kitten, sometime before we got her. Sean was petting her last night and mentioned how much he liked the hook at the end of her tail because it reminded him of a scorpion’s stinger, and then added something typically Sean-like, like, “Too bad she’ll never be able to sting anybody with it.”

“Ah, but if evolution favors cats with stinging tails,” I pointed out, “then in a million years her direct descendants will be the killer scorpion-cats you would like her to be, and how cool is that?”

Sean thought it would be very cool for the cats, but not so much for humans.

“If there are any,” I put in, “which I doubt.”

Sean was more than a little shocked that I thought the human race would not survive a million years. He thought that humans would venture out into space and colonize other planets, driven by a biological imperative to spread our race far and wide to ensure survivability.

Holey moley. This is the same Sean who has spoken out repeatedly against the imperialist, colonial practices of European governments that have overrun the world in the name of securing more room to live. I could hardly believe my ears.

So I asked him, Assuming we could find a planet enough like ours that we could be reasonably assured of settling a meaningful population of humans, did he think we could colonize another planet without affecting the native life?

But more to the point, if we had the technology to build a space ship big enough and fast enough to transport a million people across the galaxy, that same technology would surely be awesome enough to ensure the viability of our own planet, the one we’ve evolved to live on, for a million years.

And yet, even though the technology we’ve got right now is telling us that we’ve got to clean up our act in order to leave a planet that the next generation will be able to live on, we’re not doing that.

Yeah. In our house, a crooked cat’s tail routinely ends up in discussions like this one. You should’ve heard the one about gender roles.

colonials | 2:58 pm CST
Category: Seanster
Comments Off on colonials

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

We played Bourbon Jenga last night, which is like regular Jenga but with cherry-infused bourbon. You can use regular bourbon if you like; it doesn’t have to be infused with cherries. It doesn’t have to be bourbon, either, but then it probably wouldn’t make sense to call it Bourbon Jenga. You still could call it that, I’m not going to stop you. It’s a free country, theoretically.

Anyway, Tim came over last night, thinking that he was going to have dinner with us but finding out as he came through the door that B & I were just on our way out to yoga class. Our instructor was recovering from a sinus infection that knocked her out for last Monday’s class but she was feeling well enough again to talk us through some restorative yoga exercises that mostly involved very heavy breathing and trying turn all the way around to face the same way as my butt. Couldn’t do either very well. I’m not a huffer-and-puffer kind of yoga guy; I think I get the importance of controlling my breath, but I don’t see why it’s important to make a big production out of it. Maybe that understanding will come later. And I’m not flexible enough yet to turn all the way around like an owl. I’m not sure that’ll ever come to a guy with a back as tired and crooked as mine, not that I won’t keep on trying. Our instructor can fold herself all the way over so she can stick her head between her knees, so I can see with my own eyes that it’s possible. I just can’t comprehend doing it myself yet.

By the time we got back home from yoga it was almost eight o’clock. Sean announced almost as we came through the door that they had been too hungry to wait for us, so Sean fed himself from the kitchen and Tim ordered take-out from the Indian place up the road. And kudos to him; that’s some of the best Indian take-away anywhere in the city. B & I were mighty hungry, though, so we sat down and tucked into the sloppy joes that B made earlier and left warming in the oven. When Sean caught the aroma, his face lit up and he took a seat at the table to devour a sloppy joe, too.

Then came the Jenga. I’ve wanted to play Jenga for weeks now. Can’t say where I got the hankering, but it’s been there long enough that I mentioned it to B a week or two ago and she put in an order with Amazon last week. I think it came in the mail the next morning. Same thing happened to the cook book I ordered and wanted to give to B for Christmas. I thought it would come maybe a couple days later and I would be able to fish it out of the mail before B would see it, but no, it came the very next day and was in a big bag with all the other stuff that she ordered from Amazon, so naturally she opened it. I didn’t even know it was in there until I heard her say, “What the hell?” and turned around to see her holding the cook book with a look on her face that went from puzzled to shocked realization to Oh Shit I’ve Opened My Christmas Present Early. I kissed her and wished her a Merry Christmas.

Okay, so back to Jenga, which became Bourbon Jenga when B got out the jar of infused bourbon and ladled out a shot for everybody while I set up the Jenga tower. We didn’t make it a drinking game; there weren’t forty-two overly-complicated rules about when you had to drink, it was just Jenga with drinks. Play the game, enjoy the bourbon, have a good time. Those were the only rules. We had a little trouble with the first one because I just wanted to play the game but B wanted to follow the instructions. Who reads the instructions for Jenga? But eventually we sorted that out and the game was played, the bourbon was enjoyed and I think everybody had a good time.

bourbon jenga | 9:53 am CST
Category: booze, entertainment, food & drink, games, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, Seanster, T-Dawg, yoga | Tags: , , ,
Comments Off on bourbon jenga

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

My Darling B doesn’t get sauerkraut. “What is with you Sconnies and kraut?” she asked. Given the choice between mushrooms and sauerkraut, she’ll eat the shrooms, but she won’t like them, either.

saurkraut!

sauerkraut | 6:30 am CST
Category: My Darling B
Comments Off on sauerkraut

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Happy Birthday, Sean!

Sean and B

Happy Birthday Sean! | 3:54 pm CST
Category: Seanster
Comments Off on Happy Birthday Sean!

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Boo the Cat gets called anything but her name. After we adopted her from the pet rescue center on Misawa Air Base, we named her Chessie and called her that for, oh, maybe a couple of weeks. Seemed like a good name at the time. But as she became more comfortable with us, she started playing games, and her favorite for a while was hide-and-seek. Poking her head out from around a corner or behind a door, she would make the strangled, gurgling sound she makes instead of meowing, and we would answer, “Boo!” because what else are you going to say when someone does that? And gradually, or not really so gradually I suppose, everyone came to call her Boo. It became so solidly established as her real name that, years ago, we stopped telling people her name is Chessie; now we just say she’s Boo.

But that’s not her only name. Depending on the situation, she’s also called: Boo-ness, because she’s kind of a princess; Boo-pants, because I have no freaking idea; and peanut-peanut, because My Darling B likes the sound of it, I guess. And those are just the ones I can think of right off the top of my head. Boo is apparently the cat of a thousand names.

boo-pants | 5:55 am CST
Category: Boo, O'Folks
Comments Off on boo-pants

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

The moment we heard it, we recognized the sound Boo was making as the “I’ve got a mouse for you” announcement. She’s getting better at catching mice; we’re getting better at understanding her communicating with her.

She didn’t hesitate to jump up on the bed and deposit the mouse, dead this time, at B’s feet. I scooped it up and took it out to the trash can while B heaped praise on Boo’s newfound skill as a mouse catcher. I don’t know why Boo is suddenly so determined to catch every mouse in the house, but I’m really very happy that she is. Now if only we could train her to drop them in the toilet and flush.

mouser | 9:01 am CST
Category: Boo, O'Folks | Tags:
Comments Off on mouser

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

We were sitting up in bed reading last night when Boo came to the door howling in the weirdest way. I thought she might have been sick until My Darling B said, “Yah! She’s got a mouse!”

She did have a mouse. She was carrying it in her mouth and didn’t want to let it go, but wanted to let us know she had something for us. Hence, the weird noise. I climbed out of bed and started to try to figure out how to take the mouse away from her, but she was way ahead of me. She jumped up on B’s side of the bed and dropped the mouse at B’s feet.

B has an irrational fear of mice that makes her jump and squeal just like women and elephants do in old cartoons. I’m sure than if she wore petticoats, she would gather them up around her knees and jump on the nearest chair. When Boo dropped the mouse on the bedcovers, B yelped and jerked her feet back because her little gift from Boo definitely wasn’t going to use the “play dead” strategy. It started scampering all over the quilts right away, looking for a likely escape route. I grabbed a sock I’d discarded beside the bed when I climbed in, put it over my hand and started chasing the little booger around. It didn’t take long to catch, and while B heaped praise on Boo for being such a good mouser, I chucked it into the neighbor’s yard across the street. I sure hope he’s not reading this.

jumpy | 4:35 am CST
Category: Boo, My Darling B, O'Folks | Tags:
Comments Off on jumpy

Monday, August 25th, 2014

To celebrate twenty-five years of wedded bliss, we took Monday off and made a long weekend so we could hang out and relax with each other. We thought we might like to travel, maybe to Minneapolis or to Door County, but in the end we decided that we’d be a lot more comfortable here, and we could use all that money we were going to blow on lodging to pay for entertainment, food and booze. Best decision we could have made.

Yesterday, for instance, we saw a show, Kiss Me Kate, the musical version of The Taming of the Shrew, then went to Ikon, a tapas restaurant just up the street, for cocktails and a lovely dinner.  Or this morning, when My Darling B got a craving for grilled shrimp, we went to Edo Garden, a local Japanese restaurant, for brunch.  When we weren’t going to a show or spoiling ourselves at a restaurant, we sat on the sofa and read books while teasing the cat. Or, last night we played tunes on Spotify and tried to see if we could remember how to foxtrot. (We couldn’t.)

In retrospect, the one thing we would have done different is take two days off to make a four-day weekend out of it, because it’s been so much fun. Next year …

Happy Anniversary | 3:44 pm CST
Category: My Darling B, O'Folks
Comments Off on Happy Anniversary

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

As I was saying, the biggest thrill of the weekend was the mouse that came up the stairs into the kitchen on Sunday night. I’m not kidding. Don’t judge us. We don’t get out much.

The little booger literally came up the stairs. I’m almost one-hundred percent certain of this because when I turned on the lights to go downstairs Friday night, there on the second-to-the-top step was a mouse, frozen in mid-step. Hm? Where was I going? Me? I was, ah, just going to the bathroom! Yeah! That’s the ticket! The toilet downstairs is backed up, so I was going to use the one upstairs, if you don’t mind! Yeah! What? You do mind? Well, then, heh-heh-heh, I guess I’ll just go back downstairs and piss in the corner again. See yah!

When I spot a mouse in the house, my reaction is just a little manic. I hope nobody ever records it, because I don’t want it to be immortalized on YouTube for the rest of recorded human history. But here’s what it sounds like in print: “I SEE YOU! I SEE YOU, YOU LITTLE BASTARD! I’M GONNA STOMP YOU! YOU CAN RUN, BUT I’M GONNA GET YOU!” It goes on like that for pages as I scramble around, huffing and puffing until I have to stop to catch my breath. I’ve never caught a mouse this way. Really, there’s probably nobody who spends more energy on not catching mice than I do.

But if I have a cat as my wing man, then I can get things done. Boo spotted the little invader Sunday night after it tried to sneak under the stairway door into the dining room. She happened to be ambling by, headed for a bite of kibble from her bowl, which was probably what the mouse was thinking of doing, too. Boo let us know what she’d found by leaping into the air, scrambling back and forth across the floor, and finally sticking her face in the crack between the base of the oven and the linoleum, snorfling up more air than a Hoover vacuum cleaner. Subtlety is not Boo’s way.

When we went looking for the mouse to see if it was, indeed, trapped, My Darling B spotted it between the oven and the fridge before it scurried to relative safety behind the oven. So we worked out a way to catch the little vermin: I would sweep under the oven with a stick while B made sure that Boo wouldn’t wander away. Her attention span can be a little short sometimes.

But it didn’t take long to flush out the mouse. One or two quick sweeps with the stick and the mouse popped out from under the oven like it was shot, straight past Boo and through B’s feet. That’s when she squealed like a girl and jumped back three feet. I thought that was something that happened only in cartoons. Her reaction wouldn’t have surprised me more if she’d lifted the hem of her petticoat, jumped up on a chair and squeaked, Eeeek! A mouse!

The mouse made a hairpin turn to the right and I thought at first that it headed for the stairway door and the safety of the basement, but for some reason it went instead into the living room where Boo chased it back and forth across the floor like two of the Three Stooges. Whoo-woo-woo-woo! and Why I Oughta! would’ve been the perfect caption to the photo I didn’t get a chance to take, because I chased after them, making sure that the mouse couldn’t find another hiding spot. I had to move one piece of furniture away from the wall so Boo could get behind it, and twice I had to play goalie, slapping the mouse back into play with my foot when it tried to run for the hallway, but Boo did most of the work, finally pinning it down by the front door, the perfect place for me to slap a plastic tub over it. It was late and I didn’t want to keep it overnight, so I suspended our usual no-kill policy and that particular mouse went on permanent sabbatical.

Boo can move pretty fast for such a tubby cat. She’s usually the epitome of a princess-like cat, mincing across the floor in carefully measured steps, but when she saw that mouse, she went batshit crazy, and she scrambled across the living room like a maniac. It was hard not to be impressed.

yelp 2 | 6:07 am CST
Category: Boo, entertainment, housekeeping, Life & Death, O'Folks | Tags:
Comments Off on yelp 2

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Bonk and BooWe adopted Bonkers and Boo from a shelter on Misawa Air Base in 2003, not at the same time but within a month or two of each other. Boo was just a kitten when we adopted her and we called her Chessie back then; she started playing hide and seek games with us almost right away and that’s how she became known as Boo.

Bonkers was about six years old and the oddest cat we’d ever met, really more of a dog than a cat. He was dog-friendly; everyone he met was instantly his friend. If you weren’t petting him, he would insist that you correct this oversight immediately by bonking his head against whatever part of you he could bonk into soonest. This was not the face-rubbing hello that almost all cats do – he head-butted you. Repeatedly, if you didn’t start petting him right away. And that’s how he became known as Bonkers.

That, and the fact that he was genuinely bonkers, as in crazy nutso weird. He used to bark like a dog, usually while standing at the back door looking at something in the yard. Not quite like a dog, but just enough that one of us would cock our heads and say, “What the hell was that?” when he started barking. He was a stray before the shelter brought him in; they found him wandering the streets, which made me think he might have been pining for the outdoors. If so, it didn’t take long before he got used to being indoors. He stopped barking within a year of his adoption and became a very contented house cat.

bonkyboyHe never stopped howling, though, another of his odd quirks. He would almost always howl after his belly was good and full, and he stood at the top of the basement stairs to do it. I assumed that was where he thought the acoustics were best. If he got up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water or use the litter box, usually both, he would announce to the whole house that he was up and about by howling, howling, howling on his way from the bedroom to the kitchen. I tried but never found a way to break him of that.

At the time we adopted him, he had deep black stripes and a bright golden undercoat that faded by the end of the first year he was with us. His belly remained orangish but he never regained the tiger-like appearance he had the first time we met him at the pound.

He and Boo made the trip from Japan in a mesh carry-on bag under the seat on the airplane, instead of stuffed into the cargo hold with the baggage. The last time we tried that, our cat got lost with our bags! The carry-on option sounded like a better idea, and it was, sorta. We didn’t lose the cats, but cat bladders aren’t made to hold it for twelve hours. Poor Bonky needed a sponge bath by the time we got to Los Angeles.

I had no idea what a fierce mouser he would be until we moved to our little red house, which has a ready supply of them. Boo will chase mice and on occasion trap and kill them, but Bonkers pounced like a predator, batted them around until they were deader than a doornail, then ate them whole and finished by parading up and down the floor, howling Who’s the baddest mouser? That’s right! I’m the baddest! Bring it! I had no idea that cats really ate mice. I thought maybe they just gnawed on them a bit, so the first time he trapped a mouse I took it away from him. After that he wouldn’t let me, gobbling them up almost as soon as he saw me coming. So there!

As he aged, he became one of the lappiest cats I’ve ever met. He might be curled up on the sofa, sound asleep when I tiptoed into the living room with a book and sat down in a chair to do a little reading, but as soon as I settled in, his lapdar would alert him to the nearby appearance of a lap, jolting him awake. He would jump down from the sofa, have a good, long stretch, then trot across the room to claim his rightful spot on my lap – after he gave it a good kneading and turned around a couple times to make sure the feng shui was right, and probably bonk my hand once or twice to make sure I knew it was time to pet him.

Bonkers the Pirate CatHe was part of our household almost exactly eleven years, and we’ve never had a pet that so easily and completely made himself at home in our hearts. He was, no question, the greatest cat ever.

bonky boy | 9:04 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, O'Folks
Comments Off on bonky boy

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Found it! I snapped this photo of Bonkers in 2003. It’s always been one of my favorites and I thought I had it saved somewhere online but couldn’t find it, so I had to go digging through the collection of CD-ROMs that My Darling B won’t let me throw away. And finding Easter eggs like this one is probably why.

His Royal Highness Bonkers

I just love this photo. From the regal way he’s posed, he looks like something the ancient people of the desert would have worshipped. Yes, he has purple toenails. We used to cap their claws with a product called, if memory serves, Soft Paws.

But he wasn’t always so regal and well-composed. Here’s one of his more relaxed moments:

Tim rubbing Bonkers tummy

Bonkers | 9:05 pm CST
Category: Bonkers, O'Folks
Comments Off on Bonkers

Good night, Bonky-boy

dsc09487

Alas, Bonkers | 4:00 pm CST
Category: Bonkers, Life & Death, O'Folks
Comments Off on Alas, Bonkers

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Pete OkonskiMy family lived in Green Bay until about 1967 in a little two-bedroom rental at 819 South Roosevelt Street. (Happily, the house is still there.) How I still recall that useless piece of trivia is one of those mysteries of memory that no one will ever explain to me so that it makes sense.

Although it’s not so hard when there are plenty of photos like this one in our photo album. This is my brother Pete. He can’t be more than three years old in this photo, but that little guy had some legs on him. We grew up in that legendary time when parents sent their kids outside to play all day long without worrying about whether or not they’d be snatched off the street by a deviant or a cannibal or a human trafficker. I used to run up and down and all around the block for hours without raising an eyebrow, as long as I ran straight home when I heard my mom calling. If I couldn’t hear my mom calling because I was too far away, or in someone else’s house, one of the other kids would and the word would quickly be relayed to me. That’s how it worked.

Pete was a special kind of wanderer, though. Mom would send him out in the yard to play and five minutes later he was nowhere to be seen. An hour later he might be as far away as Saint Paul, Minnesota. The kid could move fast, and he stayed gone long after word was out on the street that his mother was calling him. Even back then, that worried my mom. After the second or third time she had to mount a search party to find the little booger, she started labelling him to make him easier to find.

They used to sell denim patches with a sticky backing that you could melt over the torn knees of kids’ jeans with an iron. Mom would cut them into quarters and write Pete’s name and address on them with an indelible marker, then iron them onto his jackets, his shirts, and his pants. She used to joke that she ironed them on his underwear just to make sure. I thought she used to write our phone number on them, too, but it’s clearly missing from the label in this photo.

the wanderer | 2:23 pm CST
Category: O'Folks, Pete, story time
Comments Off on the wanderer

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Mom & Pete on the toboggan runFor a couple years, my family lived in Marquette, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It snows there fourteen months out of the year, so everybody knew how to catch fish by cutting a hole in the ice, and every family owned at least one toboggan. I just love that word. I could say it all day. Toboggan toboggan toboggan. Toboggan. So much fun.

We had a toboggan. Here’s a photo of it. I believe that’s my brother Pete in front with a great big smile on his face and my mother in back, holding the wings of toboggan in her vise-like grip to keep Pete safely tucked under its curled-back staves.

If memory serves, the photo was taken somewhere near Ishpeming. I think it might have been on a hill where there were several ski jumps. This isn’t one of them. It’s even crazier than a ski jump. That track that the toboggan is running down is a sheet of ice polished smooth by the passage of hundreds of toboggans that went before. There are two wooden rails on either side, as you can see, to keep the toboggan going straight down the hill, and a good thing, too, because the toboggan and all its passengers are going about a hundred twenty miles per hour by the time they get halfway down.

The way this gizmo worked was, you took your toboggan into that little hut in the background and threw it onto a table between a couple of short fences, which you can just barely see outlined against the window in the back of the hut. Then you climbed aboard the toboggan, and once everyone had a death grip on it, a guy in the hut would lift up one end of the table, which tipped over like a teeter-totter until the low end clacked into the groove at the bottom of the open door. The short fences on the table kept your toboggan lined up perfectly with the icy track outside. As the table was now at a thirty-degree angle and there was nothing to hold the toboggan back, it and everyone on board went VOOM! out the door of the hut and screaming down the chute at terrifying speeds.

When you finally came to at stop, somewhere near Wausau, you picked up the toboggan and carried it in-line back to the top of the hill to do it again, cackling with glee.

toboggan | 8:37 pm CST
Category: Mom, O'Folks, Pete, random idiocy, story time
Comments Off on toboggan

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

In his old age and declining health, Bonkers has become rather sloppy, not that he seems to care much. For one thing, he has trouble drinking, or swallowing, I’m not sure which, so he has to dunk the right half of his face in the water bowl to get water into his mouth, then lift his head and tip it back the way a bird does so he can swallow. I guess he can only get a little down at a time this way, because he has to do it over and over and over, water running out his mouth and down his neck as he does. Makes a huge mess around the bowl, and then again in whatever part of the house he wanders off to before he gives his head a good shake.

He got up at around oh-dark-thirty last night to satisfy his thirst, and he didn’t shake off until he crawled back into bed and was standing about six inches from my face. Gah.

shake shake shake it | 6:26 am CST
Category: Bonkers, daily drivel
Comments Off on shake shake shake it

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Bonkers is eating again. From Wednesday morning until Sunday night he wasn’t, not a good situation for him to be in when whatever medical condition he’s been afflicted with has already caused him to waste away to skin and bones. On Monday morning he was finally hungry enough to eat a few bites, but I called the vet anyway and he prescribed an appetite stimulant. The stuff comes in tiny little pills that we had to split into eight pieces. Eight. By the time I’d carefully cut one pill in half, then in half again, and then in half again, what I had was essentially crumbs, but when we popped one of these crumbs into Bonk and rubbed it down his throat, wow. One o’clock in the morning he was in my face, crying for food. I stumbled to the kitchen with him racing back and forth between my feet. What’s taking you so long, man? Are you still trying to find your way through the living room? Why can’t you see in the dark, anyway? C’mon! I’m hungry! C’mon!

He gobbled up a couple mouthfuls of wet food, then drank and drank and drank and drank and drank and drank and drank. I guess the pills made him thirsty, too. I stayed up about twenty minutes with him, just to make sure his stomach wasn’t going to react badly after going empty for five days, but he seemed just fine, so I turned out the lights and headed back to bed.

Four o’clock in the morning he was in my face again. Holy shit! What did you shove down my throat, anyway? You wouldn’t believe how hungry I am! Get up and feed me! Get up! Let’s go! C’mon! Feed me! And so on. I couldn’t say no. I mean, we did stick that stuff in him, so I was sort of obligated to feed him. And it was a relief to see him eating again, but this time I didn’t stay up with him, figuring that my alarm was going to start bleeping in an hour anyway, so if he barfed, I’d find out about it soon enough. Nice surprise, though: He didn’t barf.

Bonkers update | 9:30 pm CST
Category: Bonkers, daily drivel
1 Comment | Add a comment

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Bonkers paused from drinking just long enough to let go the most comically loud fart I’ve ever heard him make. It was so classically gassy that I looked up from what I was doing, expecting to see a flabby old man standing there. Nope. Just Bonkers.

gas gas gas | 6:22 am CST
Category: Bonkers
Comments Off on gas gas gas

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

So on my way to bed last night I stopped by the bathroom to have a bedtime piddle, and on the way out I noticed the puddle under the door to the closet where we hide the litter pan. If I hadn’t noticed it, I would have gone to bed blissfully unaware of yet another of Bonkers’ increasingly frequent transgressions. But I noticed it, so I went to bed with the lingering memory of cat pee dripping from my fingers. Yuck.

Then, at three o’clock this morning, I woke up to the hork-hork-hork of Boo yakking up a hairball somewhere on B’s side of the bed. Grabbing my phone off the bedside bookcase, I levered myself out of bed with a sigh and gingerly crept around from my side of the bed, carefully scanning the floor with the light from my phone’s screen, hoping against hope that I found it with my eyes first and not my toes. Which I did, thank goodness. After cleaning up that mess, I went back to bed with yet another lingering memory I could have done without.

But it wasn’t over. Apparently awakened by all the activity, Bonkers dropped off the bed, positioned himself by the door and began to whine for his breakfast. For real.

lingering | 6:26 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo | Tags:
Comments Off on lingering

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Bonkers updateBonkers has an icky eye. Well, more icky than usual. He got that big black pupil about two years ago. Then the eyeball slowly sank back into his skull and finally, for about the past year, some kind of horribly sticky black goo that we have to remove with a damp rag has been globbing up in the corner of it. But until last week, that was about as icky as it got.

The ick got ickier at about the same his drinking problem got worse. He’s had a drinking problem for as long as he’s had the icky eye. Poor guy’s falling apart all over. His problem is that he can’t swallow very easily, so to drink, he has to submerge most of his face in his water bowl until he’s got some water in his mouth, then lift his chin up in the air and let the water slide down his throat. Just lately he’s started drinking a lot more than usual, which means most of his face is dripping wet most of the time. And that means he drips all over the place. You can tell where he’s been by following the trail. Or by just stepping in the puddles. That’s how I do it.

That and the fact that the icky eye seemed to be getting goopier made us think that maybe it was time to take him back to the vet again to see if there wasn’t something they could do to help make him feel at least a little better. Last time they weren’t interested much in doing anything other than sending us to the university for an MRI or whatever lab experiments were on special that month, but surely they could see the poor guy could use some antibiotics to make him more comfortable. And I was worried that all that drinking and peeing could mean he might have diabetes. Surely they would be able to test for that.

As it turned out, we met a vet who was considerably more interested in Bonkers’ condition, although not quite enough to read the poor fellah’s chart before he came in to see us. He came up to speed quickly enough after I gave him a quick recap of events, though, and did a quick test to confirm that the cause of Bonk’s icky eye was the result of an ulcerated cornea. Which is just medical-speak for “icky eye.” He gave us a very small tube of something outrageously expensive and told us to give his eye a shot of that four times a day.

They had to spirit him away to the back room to figure out why he was drinking and peeing all the time. Turns out the old guy’s not just falling apart on the outside, his insides are falling apart, too. Specifically, his kidneys. So now we’ve got to get him some medicine for that and put him on a low-protein diet, which is a shame because we finally found a brand of canned cat food he likes but it’s all tuna and salmon, pretty much solid protein. I sure hope that’s not what screwed up his kidneys in the first place.

And that’s all the Bonkers News there is for now. He’s already feeling better now that his eye’s not gooping all over his face. I’m not surprised. That would’ve made me feel a little low, too. More updates as they’re available, of course.

Bonkers update | 8:57 pm CST
Category: Bonkers, O'Folks
Comments Off on Bonkers update

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

salmon7Let’s Go To The Shimoda Salmon Festival With The O-Family!

I think it was only a week or two after we got here, but that could be my addled memory making a hash again out of everything I’ve ever seen. Anyway, we heard about the salmon festival, where you pay a couple hundred yen to get in, put on some waterproof boots – well, you didn’t have to, but it would’ve been a good idea – and when they blow the whistle and release the salmon, all you’ve got to do is bend down and grab one. Simple, right?

salmon2Like so many things that sound simple, this event was a circus.

I think it’s one of those crazy ideas that city commissioners come up with in board meetings, then laugh themselves silly as they watch the gullible boobs slosh around in the freezing water, getting soaking wet and holding up their prize salmon as if they’d bagged a charging rhinocerous.

Okay, I’m being way too harsh. Actually, we all had a lot of fun, and we even took our salmon home and ate them, so I’d have to say that we had a really good time. Once.

Here, Barb and Sean squelch their way across a two-inch wide causeway made out of milk baskets. The water’s only six inches deep, but it’s cold as ice.

salmon4And here’s the prize! A genuine, live, wet, cold salmon, fighting mad and all too willing to slap you right in the face if you don’t watch yourself. I can’t be certain – it’s my trick memory again – but I think we all dropped each of our fish, and had to grab another one. If we ever did this again, and I’m not insinuating for a moment that we would, I think I would just take pictures of the boys, and I’m pretty sure Barb would be cheering them on from the refreshments tent, with a hot bowl of ramen in her hands.

salmon1And That’s All From The O-Family At The Shimoda Salmon Festival! [This has been another Geocities flashback.]

Shimoda salmon festival | 5:58 am CST
Category: My Darling B, O'Folks, Seanster, T-Dawg, travel
Comments Off on Shimoda salmon festival

Monday, April 28th, 2014

England memories:

When Tim heard that we were moving into a house on RAF Digby with an upper floor, he asked right away if it had stairs. His eyes lit up like Christmas when I told him it did. “Cool!” he said. I enjoyed his exuberance even though I didn’t fully understand it until the day we moved in. I was downstairs when I heard what sounded like a god’s knuckles dragged along a washboard. Looking for the source of the noise, I found Tim at the top of the stairs on his belly looking down at me. “Watch what I can do!” he commanded before launching himself downward, arms outstretched like Superman, going flup flup flup flup all the way to the bottom. Made my knees hurt just watching (he was using his as brakes).

superman | 8:29 pm CST
Category: My Glorious Air Force Career, O'Folks, T-Dawg
Comments Off on superman

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Just yesterday, Tim was asking me about our trip to Ireland: Where we went, what we did, will we ever eat smoked salmon as great as that again? I could easily answer the last question (sadly, no), but to answer the first two questions I had to dredge the backwaters of my memory, hardly the most reputable place to find the kind of facts he was looking for.

Way, way back in the dimmest beginnings of the internet (we’re talking Geocities; remember Geocities?) I threw up some web pages with our travel photos and what I thought of at the time as witty commentary for the folks back home to look at. Just for the hell of it I asked The Great Google if there was any vestige of those pages still out there and, what the hell, there was! All of the pages for our trip to Ireland were there, but two of the photos had gone missing: One photo was the introductory page, and I have no idea what that looked like. The other photo is described below in the original text from the web pages.

So this one’s for you, Tim. Here, without further delay, are the photos with the original, unaltered text. I hope they’ll provide some of the answers to the questions you had, because it’s about all that I’m able to provide, with the help of my internet memory.

[Added: I found the original photos in an album and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I’d written the date of our visit on the backs: April 2000.]

The Ofamily at TarbertSome time around the turn of the century, Barb’s great-grandfather, Arthur Marshall, left his family in Tarbert to emigrate to the United States, and for some time now she’s wanted to kick around the old ancestral land. Since our first full day in Ireland was wet, we decided a long car trip to Tarbert would be just the thing. We had no idea what we’d find when we got there. The town hardly gets a mention in any guide book, and then only because they have a jail that they’ve turned into a museum. As it turns out, about the only thing in Tarbert worth showing anybody is my lovely family posed by the sign on the edge of town. They look happy because they haven’t seen Tarbert yet. The place amounts to a t-junction with several pubs and a shrine to the Virgin Mary. I’ll leave you to think about the implications of that juxtaposition.

Torc FallWe managed to squeeze all the wild excitements of Tarbert and drive all the way back to Killarney in time for lunch. As we still had plenty of daylight, we all piled back into the car to have a drive into Killarney National Park to see the sights. The first sight we saw was a cave I don’t remember the name of and which I don’t have pictures of anyway, so why do you care, right? It was a cave. Think of Batman.

The pictures I do have from that outing, though, I took while we were having a bimble up the valley that Torc Fall cuts through. Nobody on earth could have designed a waterfall more perfectly laid out for tourists that Torc Fall. There’s a big car park right beside the road, and the falls are only about a hundred yards up the path. I imagine in the height of the tourist season this place is thronged, but today the rain discouraged them, so we didn’t have to fight through much of a crowd. They were thickest when we were already coming back down the hill, where I stopped to snap this shot of the boys with the falls behind them. That’s Sean to the left of the couple holding hands, Tim to the right. Like you can see them.

Torc Fall ViewWe lucked out just about everywhere we went that day. Every time we stepped out of the car, it had just stopped raining. While we were having a walk around, no rain. Then, each time we got back to the car, usually just as we were opening the doors, it started to rain, and kept on raining until just before we got to our next stop. I can’t explain it, but I’m not complaining.

As the weather was being so kind to us, and there were quite a few pathways to explore in Killarney National Park, we took a short hike up the valley to see the source of Torc Fall. Never found it. We did find this view, which is a great deal more spectacular if you’re gazing upon it in person with your own wet eyeballs, and not staring blankly at a web page on a computer monitor, but this is the best I can to do for you, sorry. The city of Killarney is in the distant right background, beyond the lakes of Killarney National Park. A gorgeous mountain range is immediately off the left edge of the picture. Too bad you can’t see it.

Ladies' ViewOne more shot from Killarney National Park, this time a photo of what they now call Ladies’ View, so named because Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting were so utterly dazzled by this sight they could hardly tear themselves away. It must have been pretty dull to be a lady-in-waiting. I imagine they had better weather, too. We stopped here for quite a while, had a tramp around the rocks, ducked into the Ladies’ View tourist shop, and so on, but the majesty of the place didn’t quite strike us the way other places did. Might’ve had something to do with the thirty-knot headwind or occassional showers. And that’s just about all we saw around the national park; we spent the rest of our time chasing tourist busses in our car, and I know you can’t wait to hear about that, so if you’re still with me, let’s click on to the next page …

green hills of IrelandThis is the kind of scene you expect to see when you think of Ireland, isn’t it? We had miles and miles of this when we finally went out to tour the Dingle Penninsula on Tuesday. (I’ll wait a moment while you finish chuckling over the name ‘Dingle Penninsula.’ Done? Okay.) The sky was clear and blue, the temps were warm, the most gentle of breezes beckoned us to get out and walk whereever we went, and every picture I took that day was a post card — I know you don’t want to look at post card after post card. As pretty as these scenes are, they all kind of run together after a dozen or so. I’ll offer you a few here, though, just so you can sort of get the flavor of the day. I don’t remember where I took this, but I know it was on Dingle (Yes? What’s so funny in the back, there?), possibly in the area of Slea Head, where we stopped several times to walk around — or it might be in the area of Inch, our first stop of the day. Don’t remember. Spent more time trying to soak up the sun and the sights than paying any attention to what I was taking pictures of.

snowy mountains of IrelandThis, on the other hand, is typically not what I imagine when I think of Ireland. Looks more like Japan to me. But Ireland it is, honest. This is off a beach in Smerwick Harbor, on the north shore of Dingle. We were looking for the rolling heads. According to the guide book, there was a massacre on this site back when they used to do that kind of thing in Ireland, and to commemorate the event (I think that’s the right word), an artist with a fat government grant sculpted dozens of severed heads and scattered them up and down the hillside. Or so says the guidebook. We saw no heads, and although this stunning view made up for it, we were still rather disappointed.

Tim at Inch Strand IrelandBacktracking just a bit, this is a shot of Inch Strand, the beach at Inch that runs right round and out into the harbor. It’s very, very long, very wide, rather tidy, and soft enough to invite you to run barefoot, with of course Tim had to do almost immediately. This was our first stop of the day and we couldn’t have asked for a better place with better weather. There was even a tea shop on the beach. Tim started a shell collection here that I believe is still rattling around in his jacket pockets. The rest of us just collected sand. We stayed about as long as we could stand the tourists, then squeeked out between a pair of tour busses and an oversized camper. The main roads that you see on the map are just wide enough for our car to slither between an oncoming tour bus and the stone walls that flank the road on both sides, but only if I clamp both hands around the steering wheel and shut my eyes so hard that tears spurt out. Barb was doing the same thing with her eyes, so I don’t think she caught on to what I was doing. It worked, right?

davebarbflatI’ll squeeze one more snap into this page to make your download really tiresome. Barb’s nephew Alex sent us a ‘Flat Stanley’ — a little cutout doll. Stanley likes to travel, the story goes, and he travels mostly through the mail. Alex sent him to us so he could get a little globe-trotting experience, and lucky for Stanley he arrived just as we were getting ready to head for Ireland, so he went much further than he knew he was going to go. We took lots of pictures of Stanley — way more, it turned out, than the huge number I already thought we were — but I’m not going to inflict that on you. This just happens to be a fairly good picture of Barb and I, and Stanley happens to be stuck to Barb’s fingers. Stanley’s also in the photo of Barb, Sean and Tim at the Leprechaun Crossing that you saw on the first page, by the way, but no way am I going to turn this into a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ competition. (Winner gets a piece of stinky piece of cheese by return of post.)

barbbeehiveHere’s Barb at the beehive huts, near Slea Head. These are supposed to be something like a thousand years old, constructed by hermits or religious devotees or somebody else who wanted to be very, very alone, didn’t care much where he lived and didn’t have a lot to build with. There are lots of flat stones lying all over the ground in Dingle, so these guys piled them up in a circle, like an igloo. Why these are called ‘beehive huts’ and not ‘stone igloos’ is beyond me, but I’m not on the tourist board, so it’s not my call. If you ask me, they look suspiciously like somebody rebuilt them a year or two ago, and it might just possibly have been the local farmer who charges a pound per sight-seeing tourist, or they might actually be a thousand years old and just look as though they’re remarkably clean and well-kept, especially for ruins that thousands of tourists tramp through every week.

dadseantimThe O-Men (trademark applied for) pause somewhere along the tourist circuit on the Dingle Penninsula to vogue for this stunning photograph. Ain’t we a bunch of studs? Especially the guy in the middle? Somebody in the peanut gallery has asked about the toupee. It’s a hat. I will never wear a toupee. You can hold me to that.

The tourist circuits around the three penninsulas in County Kerry are known as the Ring of Dingle (okay, that’s enough of that), the Ring of Kerry, and I forget the name of the other ring right now, but it’ll come to me, I promise. By unofficial agreement, the traffic on these rings moves in an anti-clockwise direction, but the guidebook doesn’t explain why, so I decided to go my own darned way and was feeling pretty good about making my own decision until we met a tour bus. They’re wide enough to take up the whole road and big enough to squish tourists who have the temerity to disreguard unofficial directives. So for crying out loud, if the guidebook suggests something, no matter how whacky, JUST DO IT!

dunquinnThis is a shot of Dunquinn — or Dunquin, or Dun Quin, I’m not sure. Everything in Ireland is spelled at least two different ways. Killarney is also Cill Airne, and everything is labelled in English and Irish. (Which is not Gaelic — that’s what the guidebook says, SO BELIEVE IT!) Since the English is also supplied it’s not a big deal, but there are one or two isolated spots where the road signs are in nothing but Irish, so if you haven’t been paying attention, driving can become a teensy bit more complicated than you bargained for.

As for Dunquinn, it’s a small harbor between Dunmore Head and Clogher Head, and features very prominently in the tourists shops this year because a well-known photographer (well-known to tourists) took an artsy-fartsy picture of a flock of sheep winding their way up the stair-step road you see snaking up the rocky point. I couldn’t arrange for the sheep, sorry.

staigueWe visited the Staigue Stone Fort on a rather rainy day and, wouldn’t you know it, unlike the beehive huts, there’s no roof! You can’t count on those stone-age guys for anything! The stone age must have been a very confusing time, because the Staigue fort doesn’t guard anything that we could see. It must have been just a place where the shepherds and beehive hut people could run into when rampaging bands of marauders landed on the penninsula to kick some heads.

This fort really is rather impressive, by the way. Unlike the beehive huts, the walls of the fort are something like ten feet thick and twelve feet high, and the fort’s defenders could climb up the stairways built into the walls to fend off marauders by bonking them with rocks or whatever the cutting edge of weapons technology was at the time. The small door you see to the right of the boys is a storage chamber built into the wall. If you want to see the fort, by the way, you’ve got to REALLY WANT TO SEE IT, because it’s at the end of a long, long one-lane sunken road that winds up a valley choked with sheep, which frequently step out onto the road to greet tourists in the friendly manner that all Irish sheep seem to have. And it’s on the south coast of the Iveragh Penninsula, on the Ring of Kerry — sorry, I jumped ahead without telling you.

(Photo missing)

Backing up to the Dingle Penninsula, this is a view from Connor Pass. For once, all the hype in the guide books is well-placed; this view will take your breath away on a clear day, and we had the clearest, warmest, most breath-taking day of the week when we were up there. We stopped for a quick late-afternoon lunch, and just to make the day perfect, some guy parked beside us, dug a set of bagpipes out of the boot of his car, and played a couple tunes. He wasn’t busking and he wasn’t from the tourist board, he just wanted to play his bagpipes at the top of Connor Pass. I know that’d really spoil the moment for some people, but I dearly love the sound of bagpipes, especially in the open air. Barb, by the way, is one of those people who can’t stand bagpipes. She’s the one with the Celtic blood, and I’m nothing but Slav. Go figure.

roadconnorI took lots of pictures of the roads as we were driving around the tourist circuits because they were so narrow, sunken between berms thickly covered in grass or flanked by high stone walls, and along the coast there was always sheer stone up one side or a sheer drop down the other. Unfortunately, none of those pictures captures the hair-raising feeling of driving along those roads. This snapshot of the road north of Connor Pass, for instance, doesn’t convey to you that there were just inches of clearance between the fenders of my car and the rock on either side. If it had been fairly straight, this might not have been much of a problem, but the road was as crooked as an arthritic woman’s fingers. I chose to show you this photo because I love the warning posts along the stone wall on the left. As if I needed the warning.

The drive up the hills to Connor Pass was so pleasant, and the view from the pass was such sweet eye candy, that when we got back down and were headed home Barb pointed out another scenic route that would take us up another mountain pass, between the villages of Camp and Aughils. I’m pointing this out to you because IT’S A TRAP! The only vehicle you should ever attempt to drive along this road should have at least four-wheel drive, although ideally it should be tracked and armored and powered by a twelve-cylinder diesel engine of at least two-thousand horsepower. This ‘scenic’ road climbs grades that had me spinning my tires against asphalt in first gear. And I thought I knew hairpin turns from my drives through the Rocky Mountains. They were child’s play compared to this drive. And for all that work you’d think they’d give you a scenic view at least as spectacular as the one at Connor Pass, but it ain’t there, if you ask me. Just don’t even think about it.

blarneycastleYou can’t go to Ireland and not kiss the Blarney Stone, right? I mean, there’s something almost irresistable about puckering up and giving a warm, wet buss to a cold chunk of rock that several thousand people have already slobbered on, don’t you think? Blarney Castle just happens to be along the road that we took on the way home, so we stopped in, climbed the stairs with a hundred other tourists, and planted our lips on the legendary stone. It’s on the underside of the wall, so you have to bend way backwards and slide out through the hole that you can see daylight through in the photo of the castle wall.

Barb

Dave

Sean

Tim

The O-Folk in Ireland | 11:45 am CST
Category: My Darling B, O'Folks, play, Seanster, T-Dawg, travel, vacation | Tags: , , ,
Comments Off on The O-Folk in Ireland

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

You know how people say there’s literally nothing you can’t get from the internet? I’m literally starting to believe it. My Darling B just bought a case of hummus chips on the internet last week.

Backtracking just a little bit: There’s this snack food called hummus chips that she simply adores, and when I say “adores,” I mean she scarfs them down with a passion you don’t normally see except in teenaged girls squealing with pleasure at the sight of their favorite celebrity boy on the cover of Teen Beat, assuming Teen Beat is still a thing and that you know what is. Put in a more universally understandable way way, all the Jane Austin fans who live or have ever lived don’t give their idol one-tenth of the kind of love that B holds in her heart for this particular snack food.

And hummus chips are just what you think they are: the brown goop derived from mixing chickpeas and olive oil, extruded at high pressure from the orifice of an assembly-line machine into vats of boiling canola oil, scooped out, bagged up and sold as health food because, hey, hummus! Can’t be bad, can it?

But that’s not why B buys it. She buys it because of that passion thing I mentioned. Trouble is, there’s exactly one store in town where she can find them on sale, and that place doesn’t always have them when we stop. (Sorry, the terms of our non-disclosure agreement forbid me from mentioning the name of the store, the street it’s on or even which city it’s in.)

When the chips are all sold out, this makes B very sad, except for the last time we visited the store and found nothing at all but a gap where the chips should have been. That time she decided to do something about it, but she didn’t ask to see the manager to ask him when they were expecting the next shipment and would he pretty please hold back a couple of bags for her and, just to make sure he did, batting her eyes at him to render him helpless to her feminine charms.

No, instead she logged in to Amazon dot come as soon as she got home, searched for hummus chips, found them and ordered a case. A case. And they were delivered to our doorstep within 48 hours. Twelve bags of hummus chips in a displace case inside an Amazon.com shipping box. This is a thing you can do now. Amazing.

cravings | 12:50 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, My Darling B, O'Folks, story time, this modern world
Comments Off on cravings

Friday, April 11th, 2014

My Darling B has a whole new attitude about mice since she opened her garden shed and discovered they’d pooped and peed on just about everything in there. Before she was on Mother Nature’s side, making me trap them live so we could release them in a nearby city park, but now that she has to hose down everything that was in the shed and throw out all her gardening gloves, her ideology has gone from bunny-hugger to “Kill Every Stinking One Of Those Little Poop-Machines!”

I knew she’d come around eventually.

changeup | 1:59 pm CST
Category: garden, hobby, housekeeping, My Darling B, O'Folks, Our Humble O'Bode, play, yard work, yet another rant | Tags:
Comments Off on changeup

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

4:30 am:

Huk. Huh-YUCK! Hork. Hack. HACK! HAAACK! HAAACK! HAAACK! YAK! huh-YAK! urp. yuck.

Tell me again: Why do we have cats?

yak | 6:12 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo
Comments Off on yak

Monday, March 17th, 2014

He’s his own best meme.

bonke

bonke | 8:51 pm CST
Category: Bonkers
Comments Off on bonke

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Boo the cat was sitting in the spot where I usually leave my slippers this morning. In the semidark of the five o’clock hour, she even looked a bit like a pair of slippers, so I tried to stick my right foot in her. She did not appreciate that.

stuck | 5:35 am CST
Category: Boo
Comments Off on stuck

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

At the Central Waters Brewery 16th Anniversary Party last weekend:

barleywine

“What are you drinking?”

“Barleywine.”

“May I try some?”

“You don’t like barleywine.”

“Maybe I do.”

She didn’t.

barleywine reaction | 6:24 am CST
Category: beer, food & drink, My Darling B, O'Folks, play | Tags:
Comments Off on barleywine reaction

My Darling B and I have been fighting a nasty upper respiratory infection since about, oh, I don’t know, Christmas? Yeah, that’s about right. Mine’s not as nasty as hers is, though. About once a week I wake up with a stuffy head and lots of boogers, and occasionally I have to cough up a loogie.

My Darling B’s infection is a tad more virulent. She would so desperately love to cough up a loogie. “I’ve been trying to cough up this phlegm since Christmas!” she blurted the other day, after yet another coughing fit. “If I could hack up just one good, solid wad, I’d keep it in a baby food jar in the refrigerator!”

Today’s TMI is sponsored by Vap-O-Rub.

hack spit cough | 6:14 am CST
Category: My Darling B, O'Folks
Comments Off on hack spit cough

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

For two hours this morning I played tag with Bonkers the cat, who thinks I have been put on this earth for just two reasons: To feed him, and to provide him with a warm lap that he may curl up on for hours and hours. Whoops! Three things: And, to scratch his ears. He probably thinks all the other things I do with him – bathe him, squirt him in the face with the spray bottle, take him to the vet to have a thermometer inserted in his anus – are the result of some perverted corruption of the physical laws of the universe that he hasn’t figured out yet.

Another speed bump in his understanding of the big picture is the concept of the weekend. I don’t expect that he’ll ever figure this out, but I do expect him to realize that, when I don’t get out of bed promptly at five in the morning, he should keep his mouth shut about it. Sometimes he does. This morning, he didn’t.

I’m not a total asshole about this. I realize that his brain, already the size of a walnut, was probably damaged when his head collapsed two years ago. Even so, he’s retained enough useful brain cells to know when it’s five o’clock, the time I usually get out of bed and, shortly after that, put food in his dish. So whenever I feel I might get a good trade-off, a little peace and quiet in exchange for tramping to the kitchen in the dark, I get out of bed at five on weekends, spoon a lump of brown cat chow into his bowl and go back to bed. Sometimes that works. This morning, it didn’t.

For reasons that The Google is unable or unwilling to reveal to me, Bonk needs to tell the world when he’s done eating by parading through the house, howling loudly. Usually takes about thirty seconds, then he’s done. I give him a pass on that. It’s his nature. Then he licks his paws until they’re soaking wet because he’s still drooling from the food. He’s had trouble swallowing since The Great Head Collapsing Of 2013. He apparenly doesn’t like having paws that are soaking wet because he continues to lick them until they’re as near to dry as he can make them, which takes fifteen to twenty minutes. In warm weather, he’ll do this in the hallway, but in the winter he’ll park his butt next to the hot air register right next to my side of the bed to noisily lick himself. On mornings when I can’t ignore that, I urge him to find another place to do that by zapping him with the spray bottle I keep by my nightstand to communicate my desires.

After paw-cleaning time, he either settles down and has a nap, or he decides he’s hungry again. If he decides he’s hungry again, he’ll ask for more not with a full-blown meow or by talking like a cat at all, but by saying, “heh” very quietly, waiting about thirty seconds, then repeating “heh” again and waiting another thirty seconds before saying “heh” yet again, and so on. He does that maybe a half-dozen times before adding a sad little whine to it that dips at the end, “Hehhh.” There are some mornings when I can ignore the “heh” and keep on dozing, but the “Hehhh” is just whiny and pathetic enough that I can’t snooze through it. And he seems to know that. He will keep on whining until I either feed him or drop a piano on his head. Or squirt him in the face. Today, I squirted him in the face. Always takes him by surprise the first time. He fully expects that, when I swing my legs over the side of the bed, I’m getting up in order to feed him again, so he comes trotting up to sit at my feet. He doesn’t even seem to notice that I have the spray bottle in my hand until he gets a face full of cold water.

After he slinks off to his hiding place, I have maybe twenty or thirty minutes to doze until he feels bold enough to come out and say “heh” again. I don’t get why he thinks he’s going to get away with that after he’s been warned, but in all the variations of this game, he has never quit after the first shot in the face. When I roll out of bed the second time, though, he’s not stupid enough to come trotting up to my feet. He usually backs off to a corner where he thinks I can’t see him. Sometimes this even works, but this morning there was just enough pre-dawn light to see him cowering there, and he got shot right between the eyes again, sending him out of the room at a trot.

When Boo and I play this game, by the way, she always retreats silently to the darkest corner of the room and tucks her chin into her chest to hide the white bib of fur on her neck. The rest of her pelt is a uniform color of gray that blends in perfectly with even the pre-dawn light, making her nearly invisible and frustrating all my attempts to target her until I started keeping my smartphone on my bedstand to use as an alarm clock. The first time I swept the room with the light from its screen and stopped with it pointing it straight at her, she was so surprised that I had enough time to get off two or three quick squirts that nailed her before she sprang out of the room. They can find me when I’m lost, they can find my cat when it’s hiding in the dark – is there nothing a smart phone can’t do? I’ll let you know when I find out.

The third time Bonkers comes back to say “heh” again, he hardly enters the room. This morning he sat about two steps inside the doorway to whine, and when I climbed out of bed he ran off to his hiding spot, under the stool in the hallway. I say it’s a hiding spot because I believe he has the mistaken impression that I can’t see him when he’s sitting there. Either that, or he thinks it will magically protect him. Whatever his belief, it’s wrong. I don’t even have to aim much, I just indiscriminately spray two or three shots under the stool and he comes bolting out.

If we continue to play this game, he will always run to his hiding place, so it’s not much fun for me any more. I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to him to find another hidey-hole, but it doesn’t. He must think there’s some powerful juju there and it’s gonna kick in at any moment, even though he gets sprayed every time he goes there to hide out. I didn’t continue the game past the third squirting this morning because by then it was seven o’clock, time for me to get up and make coffee, but not to feed Bonkers. He had to wait until the coffee was on.

tag | 8:24 am CST
Category: Bonkers, daily drivel, O'Folks, sleeplessness
Comments Off on tag

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Sean uses Tim as his lounging pillow. In return, Tim slips Sean a wet willie …

image of Tim and Sean

wet willie! | 8:29 am CST
Category: O'Folks, Seanster, T-Dawg
Comments Off on wet willie!

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Yay. The cat has finally curled up in my lap. Can’t do a thing while he’s turning in circles, looking for the right place to settle down. Can’t type a word, can’t sip my coffee, can’t even set down my coffee cup within easy reach because he would just keep sticking his snotty nose in it. I have to just sit here, waiting until he stops. So who’s the mammal in charge here?

image of B hugging Sean

Sean is home for Christmas. Touched down at Dane County Airport shortly after eight, where we scooped him up and motored into town to have dinner at Next Door Brewing. He pronounced himself very pleased with the taco plate. I had the Atwood Burger, delicious as always, and B loved her salmon sandwich. And of course there was beer. Can’t go to Next Door without partaking of a refreshing libation. B was especially satisfied with the Festivusale, but just a little saddened that the staff apparently forgot to provide her with the grievance form that was supposed to come with each glass. She was looking forward to hanging her grievance on the Festivus Pole.

Aargh! | 8:19 am CST
Category: beer, daily drivel, food & drink, My Darling B, O'Folks, restaurants, Seanster | Tags:
Comments Off on Aargh!

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Bonkers was circling my feet while I tried to make coffee without tripping over him. Trouble was, we were clean out of canned cat food. Still had some dry kibble, but he’s had trouble eating that stuff ever since his brain thing. His lips don’t work right any more so he has to kind of mash his face into the pile of kibble while he works it with his tongue to get any of it into his mouth. It’s a little painful to watch. But, he was obviously very hungry and wasn’t going to stop trying to trip me, so I dumped a scoop of kibble into his dish, which he ravenously devoured. I have every confidence he’ll be horking up every speck of it within fifteen minutes of swallowing the last little bit.

hork hork hork | 7:10 am CST
Category: Bonkers, O'Folks
Comments Off on hork hork hork

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

google bday wishesI have my browser home page set to Google, so the first thing I see when I open a new browser window is whatever cute Google logo they drew to celebrate somebody’s birthday or anniversary. Today it was “Google” spelled out in birthday cakes, so I figured it was the birthday of whoever invented icing or birthday candles or whatever, and because today just so happens to be my birthday, too, I wanted to find out who that was so I went to click on it and the little message that you get when your cursor is over an image popped up and said, “Happy Birthday, Dave!”

I turned to look out the window and waved, mouthing the words “thank you” just in case The Google was out there, watching. Which they are. Always.

google b-day wishes | 5:57 am CST
Category: daily drivel, O'Folks
Comments Off on google b-day wishes

Friday, November 29th, 2013

bonkers gets blow-driedSeeing as how everybody else in my unit took the day off today, and I didn’t want to be all alone at work, I decided to take the day off and be all alone at home. I’ll try to explain later how that makes sense, sort of.

I’m not totally alone; at least I’ve got The Bonk to keep me company, although if he keeps on following me to every room in the house, including the bathroom, begging me for food, I’ll probably have to lock him in a kitty kennel and dangle it from a rope over the shark pool. I didn’t tell you we had a shark pool? Must’ve slipped my mind.

Bonk got an emergency cat bath yesterday morning when he climbed up into my lap and began trying to clean off a paw covered in some kind of oatmealy-looking but otherwise unidentified substance that he slopped on a corner of my laptop keyboard. Before he made an even bigger mess of my computer, I scooped him right up, carried him to the bathroom, plopped him in the tub and hosed him down under the shower. No, he was not at all happy about that.

Washing The Bonk is surprisingly easy. It’s getting him dry afterwards that’s impressively difficult. After I extract him dripping from the tub, his cue that the ordeal is just about over, all he wants to do is go hide in a corner somewhere to attempt to lick himself dry, which might work on a summer day but would definitely not work in the middle of winter. To get him at least damp-dry, I have to pin him down between my legs and swaddle him in two or three towels, hoping that they’ll soak up most of the drippy stuff before he slithers away.

My Darling B somehow got hold of him yesterday as he was wandering around in the living room looking for a private place and, with the blower dryer on its gentlest setting, managed to get him almost completely dry. It would’ve never occurred to me that he would sit still for that.

home alone | 9:17 am CST
Category: Bonkers, daily drivel, O'Folks
Comments Off on home alone

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Bonkers is helping me write blog posts this morning. In a way.

Bonkers the cat

blogging with bonkers | 10:03 am CST
Category: Bonkers, daily drivel, O'Folks
Comments Off on blogging with bonkers

Monday, November 4th, 2013

While I was knocking out windows and cutting plywood in the basement yesterday, it reminded me of when I was helping my dad build a darkroom. When he bought the newspaper in Manawa it came with an office building, sort of. There wasn’t much to it. It was just the basic shell of a building with a wall about ten feet beyond the front door to divide the innards into an office in the front and a work room in back. Behind the front wall was what we rather grandly referred to as the bathroom, really a narrow closet with just a toilet in it, and what eventually became the darkroom, where we developed film and printed photographs.

I don’t think it was built to be a darkroom, but I’m saying that only because the walls were full of nail holes. If the previous owners tried to develop film in there, the photos must’ve turned out just awful. To fix that problem, dad covered the holes with dozens of tiny squares of red cellophane tape. You can expose photosensitive paper to red light without fogging it, and even film would tolerate the small amount of light from the constellation of tiny red stars that swam all around me in the dark as I wrapped it around spools and dropped it into developing tanks.

Aside from the old Kodak enlarger and the few other pieces of precision machinery we bought to expose and develop photographs, almost everything in that darkroom was home-made. A sheet of pegboard and an old vacuum cleaner became a rather clever easel for the enlarger. He made a shallow box with the pegboard on top, then drew outlines on the pegboard that were the standard sizes for the photographs we printed in the paper. All I had to do was center the photo in the outline, cut a piece of photographic paper to size, lay it over the outline, cover it with a transparent sheet of plastic and turn on the vacuum cleaner. The hose of the vacuum was connected to the side of the pegboard box so it sucked air through the holes, flattening the photo paper under the clear plastic. Make the exposure, turn off the vacuum, done!

Dad also made a sink out of plywood. We needed one big enough to hold the three wide plastic trays we used to develop the page-sized negatives that the newspaper pages were printed from, so he took a big sheet of inch-thick plywood, boxed it in on three sides and painted it with a couple coats of epoxy. Drilled a hole in one corner, hung a faucet from the back, and voila! A sink.

The darkroom was full of lots of impressively simple stuff like that. Dad could be pretty clever when he got an idea in his head. There was this one time, though, when he tried to ventilate the room through a hole in the wall over the door that he fitted with a squirrel cage fan. For some reason, he didn’t wire the fan to a switch. He gave it a power cord with a plug, as if it were an appliance that he might want to someday take to another room. That baffled me, but I didn’t say anything. There wasn’t an outlet close enough to plug it into, so he replaced the light switch with a combination switch/outlet, but when he hooked the wires up, he connected them to the wrong lugs. Didn’t realize what he’d done, though, until he plugged the fan in and the lights came on. I think I hurt his feelings when I laughed and laughed and laughed, but dammit, it was funny.

plugged in | 5:49 am CST
Category: Dad, O'Folks, work
Comments Off on plugged in

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Sarah Palin? She just stomps around and makes noise. She’s a political Godzilla.
– My Darling B


political Godzilla | 4:59 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, My Darling B, O'Folks, random idiocy
Comments Off on political Godzilla