Simply Enchanting, Of Rainy Days and Melancholy

melancholy tracks

There’s something about days like today- cold, heavily overcast, with torrential rain, that makes me wish I could stay home in bed.  When I was working out this morning and had done my laps in the pool, I didn’t want to leave the hot tub.  For a fleeting moment I thought about how nice it would be to say screw it all and just plain not do anything today- or do what I want to on my own time. Until I remembered all the crap I absolutely have to do today that can’t just be blown off, that is.

This picture reminds me of the times I spent wandering the railroad tracks that went past my grandparents’ house.  Technically we kids were not supposed to go anywhere near the railroad tracks, as they were live and in use until they were pulled up some time in 1983 or so, but there were two irresistable lures that made the tracks worth the possibility of encountering an oncoming train, and/or being eaten alive by the local insect life.   As far as oncoming trains, one could generally hear and see them in more than sufficient time to get clear.  The bugs were another story. The ground around the tracks was swampy and there were plenty of sources of stagnant water for mosquitos to breed in.   The open sewage creek that ran a few yards south down in the ditch alongside the tracks could be a source of foul odor in high summer, and it was positively rancid when the water levels in the creek got low and the wind blew in the wrong direction.  There was a reason why Dad freaked out when he found us floating paper boats in the creek. We had already figured out we were floating our boats in an open air toilet when we saw the dookie floating in in the creek.  Sometimes there was toilet paper and feminine hygiene items too.   He didn’t have to warn us “not to touch the water.”   Sometimes the dookie made it downstream faster than the boats.

Railroad spikes were worth fifty cents apiece to the right buyer, (if you could find one who didn’t ask questions as to how you got railroad spikes to begin with) which was a small fortune for a kid back then.  There were bushels and bushels of black raspberries to be had (in season) and they were well within reach.  Even so, while picking berries, one still had to be wary of both poison ivy and bugs.

spikesThese were actually worth some money in 1974- don’t know if they’re worth anything today.

Probably the one time I can remember getting a good thrashing from Dad instead of just having to deal with Mom breaking wooden paddles on my ill-fated fanny, was when my sister and I (not the sadistic one) decided to take a big gym bag down to the tracks and fill it up with spikes.  Never mind she was six, I was five, and we were both small for our respective ages.  We loaded this gym bag down until we could barely carry it with all the spikes in it.  It was a good eighth of a mile from the tracks to our house, and in order to get to the house from the tracks we had to wander by the whole neighborhood lugging this thing.

Dad’s friends had spotted us, and he had gotten numerous phone calls before we were even close to getting home.  Back then a kid couldn’t cut a popcorn fart without the whole neighborhood knowing about it.  He was waiting to tan our hides the minute we dragged the spikes in the door.

Back in the day no one would hesitate to narc on other people’s kids, and there was no mollycoddling – or mercy- when it came time for the punishment.  When punishment was administered, the neighbors didn’t hear a thing.  If nothing was broken or bleeding and they couldn’t discern any flaming injuries when your parents were done with you, they figured justice had been served and that was the end of it.

black-raspberriesWe generally got away with the raspberries, though.

The raspberries went when the railroad pulled up the tracks.  It seems as if all the weeds and garbage have come back to over grow the track bed, but the last time I went wandering where the tracks used to be it was rather frightening even in broad daylight.  I spotted plenty of trash, used syringes (not the ones used for insulin, either,) used condoms, had a near-death encounter with some redneck’s pit bull, and all sorts of nastiness, but no berry bushes.

I don’t like going to where my grandparents used to live.  It’s creepy knowing there are strange people living in their house.  It’s never been a particularly nice neighborhood (although when the tracks were pulled up, the city tiled over the sewage creek, which was a bit of an improvement) but it went from ‘po folks to dangerous folks.

I can’t fault anyone for having dogs, but when I bring Clara with me (partially because she likes to explore, and partially for protection) I don’t need someone’s pit bull coming at her as if it were going to tear out her throat.  Clara is formidable (she’s half Malinois, after all) but if a pit bull really wanted to get aggressive with Clara it would be ugly, and it would break my heart to see either her or another dog injured unnecessarily.  One of the most important tasks of a dog owner is to teach good socialization skills and appropriate behavior with other dogs.  Protection breeds are more prone to dog-aggression than most, so I try to keep all my dogs’ encounters with other dogs as positive ones.  Clara is particularly well mannered with other dogs and I want to keep her that way.  Should she have a bad encounter with another dog, it would be harmful to her physical well-being as well as her mindset toward other dogs.

pit-bull-dog-pI have mulled over the possibility of getting a pittie- though I am more familiar with the herding breed mentality.

I don’t have a problem with pit bulls- or any other dog breed- when the dog is handled responsibly.  A well trained and properly socialized pittie can be a fantastic, gentle, intelligent dog, but even an ankle biter can be dangerous if it’s ill-treated and improperly trained.  A pit bull can be deadly in the wrong hands, just as a GSD, Malinois, Doberman, Rottie,  and just about any other breed, etc. can be as well.  No dog is born aggressive or dangerous.  He / she has to be made that way.

Today I’m just trying to keep my mind off the rain and the funk and the dreariness.

basketball

Then I remember the damned basketball tournament is going to be all over TruTV, and I hope and pray I DVRd a whole lot of episodes of Top Gear and the bizarre 90’s cartoons I love so well.  Mmm, three middle aged Brits playing with cars, Cow and Chicken and 2 Stupid Dogs.  I guess that will have to be intellectual enough for me.

2stupiddogs

The End of the World, Take # 479, Pragmatism Has Its Advantages

goodinbed

I was fortunate enough this weekend to pretty much not have to do squat.  So I didn’t.  It was lovely.  I missed seeing my granddaughter, but I had such a horrific headache yesterday that it was good for me to simply stay in bed.  After awhile I felt better and figured since I pay for premium cable (mostly because Jerry has to have all those stinking sports channels I don’t watch) I might as well watch TV.  The only thing that sucked is that it seems right now everything on TV is all centered on the same theme- that 12-21-12 is going to be the end of the world.  Never mind that the Mayans, while technologically advanced, were superstitious enough to pull beating hearts out of live humans, to sacrifice to demons.

sacrifice

I really want to trust my apocalyptic timing to guys like that.  I think that the whole Mayan calendar thing is sort of the same concept as going through the calendar on my cell phone and coming to the conclusion that the world must end on December 31, 9999 because no programmer thought it necessary for there to be a provision for a five-digit year. Never mind that by the time the year 10,000 rolls around either a.) all the humans will be dead, or b.) if there are humans they will be using different technologies than we use today.

People have been trying to set a date for the end of the world for forever.  Odds are they’re wrong this time, just like they were back on May 21, 2011.  And all those other times too.

the-end-of-the-worldIs this the End of the World- or just Detroit?

Let’s face it, the odds are against the date setters, and if I were God (good thing I’m NOT) I wouldn’t let them have the satisfaction.  I’d pick a day and a time that’s completely off the radar and surprise everyone which is exactly how God said He’s going to do it:

(Jesus said-) “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” – Matthew 24:42-44 (NIV)

I don’t know when the End of Days is going to be, and I’m not really that worried about it, because it’s one of those things I can’t change, but I could almost bet it won’t be on December 21.  Maybe whenever it is, it will be at the end of February when the world (at least Central Ohio’s portion of it) is at its most dark, dreary and depressing.

There are, however, websites devoted to Doomsday 2012  who claim true believers with all the credibility of Britney Spears.  Yeah, the crazy chick who went nuts and shaved her head.  I’ll believe it when Ozzy endorses it.

ozzy

Ozzy Rocks!  Never mind he’s the same age as my Dad.

I just don’t see too many believable authorities giving the 12-21-12 doomsday theory much credence. Unless proven otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, the doomsday sayers are simply modern-day Millerites.  We’ve all heard that noise before. NASA has pretty much shot down most of that hoo-hah.  I figure if these guys could send people to the moon and get them back then they probably know a thing or two about stuff that’s going on- or not going on- in outer space.

Speaking of outer space, you really don’t hear much about UFOs anymore.  I mean, they’re sort of in the same category as Bigfoot.  I’ll believe there’s such a thing as Bigfoot when someone can either capture a live one or find a carcass.  How can a giant ape live in the forest without ever leaving a dead body or even scat?  I mean, bears live in the forest and they leave carcasses and scat.  People catch live bears too.  It would be as if someone is alleging the existence of redneck men but can’t provide evidence of beer cans, Hershey splatters in the toilet bowl, and a trail of cigarette cellophanes and dirty clothes behind them.  Redneck men exist.  Even should they try to hide, we can prove the existence of the redneck male by virtue of all the PBR and Natty Lite cans and Slim-Jim wrappers they leave behind, as well as all the fudgy whitey-tighties.

rednecktatooUnfortunately, most rednecks are not shy.  Even when they should be.

I think I should have some sort of celebratory “The World’s Still Here” party on December 22.  Then again, that’s the day I will probably be at CVS around midnight, buying all the candy my sisters don’t want my nieces and nephews to have.  This year I am really only bothering to buy the good stuff for my granddaughter.  Steve-o has already gotten a high dollar pair of shoes and a car seat to put in his car- early- so I’m not getting him anything else.  I got Mom a velour sweater that isn’t fugly, and I got Dad a gag calendar (so far) that has Toilets of the World on it.  I’ll probably also get him some socks and some long johns or something.  It’s hard to buy for the man who has a taxidermied squirrel on a skateboard.

toilets-of-the-world-calendar-2013-5239-0-1345046806000At least Dad appreciates my humor.

Snot, Snot, Everywhere, Interesting to Visit, and Sadness vs. Euphoria

Interesting to visit, but I don’t want to stay.

The Haunted Prison experience was awesome.  I’ve been to some really good haunted houses, haunted hayrides, etc. but this one takes the prize.  The bad thing is that you can’t take pics inside the prison- I took this one from the road outside, but we had to leave the cameras and the cell phones in the car.  I will say that I was a bit taken aback when I noticed the tickets include a warning that the management is not responsible for anyone losing control of his/her bladder and/or bowels.  I remained continent, which is saying a lot probably considering that I was one of the oldest people there, but I am really glad I used the ladies’ before I got in line.

The fact that the Mansfield Reformatory was a working prison for about 100 years adds to the creep factor quite a bit.  It’s a huge facility, but only a very small portion of it is used for the haunted prison excursion, and most of those areas are in the oldest parts of the prison. Some of the cell blocks are five stories high.  As the building aged, certain parts of it were left to decay while newer additions were built on.  I don’t see how it would have been feasible to heat the cell blocks with the five story high ceilings- let alone to work out some sort of plumbing arrangement.  Ohio winters can be deathly cold- and summers can be deadly hot as well.   Suffice to say without decent HVAC provisions this part of the world is unlivable even if you’re in prison. Some of the cells we saw had toilets while others didn’t, but then it was hard to tell which parts of the prison were shut down when.  The whole place was decommissioned in 1981, so all of it’s been sitting around rotting for over 30 years anyway.

As one who is cursed with the respiratory funk anyway, a bloody head cold really sucks.

I hate snot.  I hate drowning in it.  I hate hawking it up all over the place.  Green snot, brown snot, yellow snot, clear snot, I would love to go for a day without choking on it.  Even when I’m not suffering from any acute contagion of the respiratory system, the snot drainage down the back of my throat is constant, and I choke on it unless I sleep with my head elevated at a 45° angle.  When I am suffering from an acute contagion of the respiratory system, I am a veritable snot Niagara Falls. Elevation does not help, unless I am sitting straight up.  Vast quantities of anti-snot medications are required to keep me breathing at all- in between hacking up huge snot balls.  Think the Ghostbusters movies and you have it.

 No, I am not exaggerating.  I wish I were.

Of course I take three days off trying to escape the rat race and all that mess, only to spend those three days (and the weekend too) swilling Nyquil and spewing forth gallons of disgusting, slimy multicolored snot.  Today’s a lot better than the past few days, although I’ve got the Dayquil and the anti-snot pills handy should I need them.  The snots did have one good side effect though.  Jerry pretty much kept his distance and his whining was at a minimum.  As I get better that will probably change.  I did get some quiet time in between being heavily medicated and hawking up infinitely foul goo to watch some of my favorite movies and chill out with the dogs, so it wasn’t a total loss.  I do remember- as if I needed a reminder- why I am almost OCD about being around those with contagions though.  The bad part is that no matter how paranoid you are about hygiene and handwashing and all that noise, eventually you will get down and something will get to you.  Admittedly in the past few weeks I’ve been pretty stressed out and doing too much and getting run down so I think it was inevitable no matter how much Lysol I spray or zinc lozenges I take.  At least today I see marked improvement, which sort of figures, since I have a Dr.’s appointment Friday.  Either I will be completely cleared up or one step in the grave by then.   I never seem to be able to get in when I’m actually sick.  Go figure.  Personally as far as the various respiratory funks go, I think modern science hasn’t progressed much more than the patent medicine hawkers (man, I am using the word “hawk” a lot in this post) of the 19th century.  I’d probably done just as well and paid less for this:

Of course most patent medicines were either opium or alcohol or both.

Billy Joel wrote a song many years ago called “Summer at Highland Falls.”  I sort of wonder if Billy Joel might be bi-polar because the refrain of the song is, “it’s either sadness or euphoria.”  I can’t say I can ever remember being euphoric, but then I’m not bi-polar.  Living with a bi-polar person did give me future reference on how to deal with unpredictable coke head bosses I would encounter later in life.  Mom was never a coke head (thank God) but untreated bi-polar people and coke heads act remarkably similar.  I know the sadness end of the equation all too well, but most of the time my emotional state can be described as a quiet, bland sort of melancholy.  Unless of course I’m watching Beavis deep fry a dead rat as he’s toiling away at Burger World, or listening to Butthead point out every possible bit of double entendre he hears.  I don’t know why I find such puerile comedy so hilarious, but I do.  Euphoria, not so much, but I’ll take what amusement I can get.

The pisser is, as I found out right after having all four wisdom teeth chiselled out, I’m highly allergic to codeine, which is a natural opiate…no good drugs for me 😦

I did have a rather fortuitous encounter- actually two of them- as I was returning from the campground.  I was stopped in traffic coming back from Lancaster only to get a glimpse of the Romney tour bus. (I got a pic- though somewhat crappy since it was moving- that time.)  Then as I was coming home from Kroger’s later on Friday I’m stopped about a block from my house only to discover that Romney and his retinue are chowing at the City Barbeque next door.  That was rather cool.  I didn’t get pics that time but I did get to talk with one of the Franklin County Republicans who got to chow with Romney and company, so that was somewhat cool.  I hope that it’s a portent of things to come.  I’d been pissed if I’d had to wait in traffic for Obama and his minions, and even more pissed to think he was chowing next door to my house.  Both candidates have been spending a lot of time in Ohio.  My condolences- as I’m sure that they’re both used to much more exciting places- but maybe you’ll both see how us ‘po folk live and have a little empathy for us, eh?

The Things We Do For “Health,” and the Scourge of Domestic Drudgery

Tapeworms, tapeworms, jolly jolly tapeworms, eat them up- YUM!

The tapeworm diet was featured on an episode of 1000 Ways to Die not too long ago I know I probably shouldn’t watch that show so much, but it is entertaining in a dark way to see the convoluted manners in which some people have managed to earn their Darwin Awards. While the thought of going from a size 12 to a size 2 in a few weeks is tempting, the thought of flatworms burrowing through my vital organs and feeding on my blood and other important stuff gives me serious pause.  If we give dogs a monthly de-wormer (essentially this is what Heartgard and other products that contain Ivermectin do- kill off any worm larvae that end up in a dog’s bloodstream or intestinal tract) to prevent them from getting tapeworms, heartworms, and other assorted wormy life forms because they’re harmful to dogs, then it would stand to reason that it’s not healthy to harbor tapeworms in one’s innards.

It’s interesting to note that dogs are always susceptible to worms because of the rooting around and scavenging that they do in the course of their daily activity. There are even worms that are spread by fleas and other disgusting insect life, which is yet another reason to avoid insect infestations.  Dogs’ preoccupation with all things feces also predisposes them to exposure to all sorts of nasty things (sort of like little kids.)  The difference with dogs is that they seem to have much hardier immune systems than humans- at least in regard to infectious disease- and digestive systems that can metabolize almost anything.

Lilo (and every other dog on the planet) might consider cat poop to be the highest of rare delicacies, but she won’t eat lettuce.  Unless it’s soaked in Ranch dressing, that is.

I wonder if the health “benefit” one would gain by losing weight on the tapeworm diet would be negated by the effect of the tapeworms munching on stuff they shouldn’t be munching on.  It’s one thing if they’re sharing that chili dog you had for lunch, but quite another if they are making a meal out of your liver, or your brain.  I guess the bottom line on weight loss by parasite is that it’s probably ill advised.

As far as burning up calories the old fashioned way, a rousing round of housecleaning can do that.  Even though it can count as exercise, I hate cleaning.  I consider exercise to be a necessary evil also. I don’t like it, but I also don’t like the prospect of my ass being as big as the front end of my car.  I don’t want to be the one trolling through the Newark WalMart in search of size 20 underwear.

These could also be a car cover for my Yaris.  Just sayin’.

The problem with cleaning, in my house, is that it is an ongoing effort in futility.  Jerry can destroy hours’ worth of scrubbing and cleaning in one drunk-n-stupid episode, as was evidenced last night.  All he has to do is get good and besnookered, go out to “water the garden” at dusk, and then traipse back on in the house, flopping about, soaking wet with dog shit caked on his shoes.

Let me fling poo on your linoleum!  YAY!!

Yes!  My purpose in life has been fulfilled- scraping dog shit off of the linoleum in the foyer, and then in the kitchen (thank God I got to him before he made it to the carpet, which I had also just scrubbed and cleaned Saturday) and then getting to (joy and rapture) scrape the dog shit off his old-man velcro shoes and hose them down.  Then I got to peel his wet and dirty clothes off the bathroom floor, and had to clean the floor up too.  Never mind that I had scrubbed down and mopped the foyer, the kitchen and the bathroom on Saturday.  Apparently I needed to do it again.

I would hire cleaning people.  If I could afford them- and if I wouldn’t be embarrassed at what they might encounter.

I have found beer cans in places where beer cans should never go.  Beer cans next to the toilet (why not just eliminate the middle man and pour the Natties right on down the john?)  Beer cans in his underwear drawer.  Once I even found a beer can in the litter box, which is making me wonder if Jerry is going down there (the cat boxes are in the basement) and helping the dogs sample the recycled feline buffet.  If it were only beer cans, it wouldn’t be so bad, but Jerry’s filth parade goes far beyond beer cans.

Jerry is also an incorrigible smoker.  If he removes a cellophane from a cig pack, it ends up where it lands- on the table, on the floor, in a house with a mouse- wherever, as long as it’s not in the trash.  The cellophanes are just the tip of the iceberg, not to mention the bane of all vacuum cleaners, especially when encountered in combination with copious amounts of dog hair.   Jerry also has essential tremor, so the world is his ashtray, literally.  That’s part of the reason why it pisses me off so much when he smokes in my car.  I don’t think he can actually make the ashes land in the ashtray, (in the car or at home) and I’m doing good when he actually puts the butts out in the ashtray instead of (acck, acck, acck) the toilet (bad enough) or in the sink.  Removing nicotine stains from porcelain is just so much fun.  I need just such a hobby.

It’s just depressing to spend an entire Saturday cleaning and the place is trashed again by Monday night.

Some more enlightened souls may ask, “Doesn’t Jerry do his share of the cleaning?” I know that there are some men who understand the importance of helping with errands, cleaning and stuff like that when their wives also work.  However, the fact that I don’t have 24/7 to fetch stuff for, clean up after, and cook for His Nibs does not register with Jerry.   Not at all.  He was raised by wolves.  He willingly wallows in squalor as long as it means he doesn’t have to think about where the beer cans, cig pack cellophanes, or dog shit lands.

So forgive me if I’m no Martha Stewart.

I can cook, but you can leave the decorating and cleaning to people who don’t live with Jerry.