My Old Friend Montezuma Stopped By, and He Brought His Cousin, Ralph

happy superfriends birthdayThis year’s birthday really, really sucked ass.  Then again, I should refrain from any toilet-related verbage for awhile, probably.
I appreciate the birthday wishes everyone sent me Tuesday even though I didn’t reply to anyone on Facebook or anywhere else.  I wasn’t being rude intentionally.  I was home in bed and quite miserable- and not because I wanted to be.
Monday, when I’d already arranged (of course) to take the day off for Sophia’s birthday and then to take Tuesday off for my own, I got to spend both days in the company of Montezuma and his cousin Ralph.  They are not nice houseguests.
diarrhea tsunamiNot my idea of a good time.  Ever.
Steve-o and I left early Monday morning with Sophie to go to Easton so she could do Build-a-Bear for her birthday.  We got through the Build-a-Bear (she picked the Hello Kitty- and her clothes) and then I got deathly ill.
I’m just glad I knew where the ladies’ was at Easton, and that I could trot fast enough to get there in time to avoid a most embarrassing and aesthetically unpleasant scene.  Not too many people are “down with the fountain of brown.” Steve-o had to take me home and I spent the rest of the day Monday and most of the day Tuesday between bed and…well, you know where.
overflowI had better aim than that, thankfully, but yeah, it was about that bad.
It was my typical bad luck to schedule days off only to be sick, but then I thought at least, 1. I had taken vacation time already anyway, and 2. getting sick while on vacation saved me the dreaded necessity of calling off, which I won’t do, unless, of course, I am physically unable to remain vertical.
Tuesday night, once I did manage to keep down some saltine crackers and Diet 7UP, I felt a little bit up to reading the pages on fasting in our Lenten study book from church.  I know my sort of imposed fasting of late isn’t exactly what I’d call a spiritual discipline, at least not when the cause for one’s fast is: Don’t eat – unless you want to visit Cousin Ralph.  Even so, I did not fail to see the irony in reading about fasting when all I’d had to eat in the past 24 hours was a few saltine crackers.  Being hungry sucks.  It sucks even worse when you know that anything you think you’re going to put down is going to come right back up.
throw_upNot one of my favorite activities.  It’s right down there with standing in line at the BMV.
I know as a diabetic, fasting from food, in the traditional sense of a fast, is Not a Good Idea, especially when my blood sugar was 60 Tuesday morning (don’t worry, it was 110 yesterday morning and 118 this morning, which is acceptable, so today at least, I’m staying vertical.) For the past few days, though, in spite of being somewhat vertical yesterday and today, I’ve felt like a freeze-dried dog turd.
crappy-mug
However, even in my non-voluntary fast, I learned a few important things.  One is the ever present lesson that my physical body and stamina are quite limited.  Lately I had been burning the candle at both ends as well as in the middle, and it caught up with me.  Sometimes these annoying (though thankfully, usually brief and not deadly in the long term) ailments give one just enough time to stop and rest and realize that there’s too much noise and too much running around and various crud going on.  Saturday I was between Columbus and Marion.  Sunday I was between Columbus and Lancaster and then back to Marion. Monday I’d gone back from Marion to Columbus after staying in my parents’ guest room, being kept up all night by the spooky sounds of the trains.
train2
It’s a backwater, but even in Marion the trains are diesel-electrics, not like the cool steam engine pictured above.
If you live there, you get used to the trains, but when you don’t live there, the incessant noise of the trains is creepy, probably like the airport would be for people who don’t live less than a mile from Port Columbus.
diesel-electricThis is a diesel-electric locomotive engine- the ones that are in use today- constantly hauling thousands of coal cars back and forth across central Ohio.
The bottom line was I was running too much, and trying to cram 10# of fertilizer into a 5# bag.  That’s sort of normal for me, only the older I get I have less and less tolerance for it.  If my body and mind don’t get the rest and recharging they think they need, sometimes they take it by force. Sometimes they hire Monte and Ralph to do the job.
I was forced to step back and realize that no, I wasn’t going to be able to get all the laundry done.  I was going to have to ask Jerry to go get catfood (and hope and pray that the catfood bags still have pictures of cats on the front so he doesn’t come home with hog feed or something.) I wasn’t going to get to spend a day traipsing about Easton with my son and granddaughter.  I was more than aware that if I wasn’t able to get myself vertical and drag myself out the door that calling off Wednesday would have been a distinct possibility (and maybe should have been…)
catfood
Jerry: no, it’s not cat meat in the bag, it’s what you feed the cats.  Just so I’m clear.
It’s hard to take a hiatus from our own demands, (even if we try to plan for it) but it’s even harder to take a hiatus from the demands of others.
I think I understand what John Lennon meant about sitting and watching the wheels go ’round and ’round.  I’d like to get off the merry-go-round from time to time, but it seems the only time I get that opportunity is when my grip on the merry-go-round gets overwhelmed by the centrifugal force of the world spinning.  I let go, and I fall off of it.  Unlike John Lennon, I don’t have the luxury of staying off the bloody thing for too long, but I need to do it more often, and before I have to be pried off of it by illness, weakness and sometimes, even, my own pride.
There is an even more profound lesson to be found in all of this.  All of our provision comes from God.  Apart from Him I am not able to do anything.  It’s not my strength we’re talking about, but His. Sometimes I need times like this to be reminded that it’s not about my plans or what I’ve set out to do.   Sometimes God simply says: “Sit down and shut up and rest for once. You have no power at all save for Me.”  It’s a necessary and humbling reminder.
Monte and Ralph have beaten me up pretty good over the past couple of days.  I will need to change the cat boxes tonight though, because Jerry will NOT do that.  I took him way out of his comfort zone by asking him to unload the dryer and hang up his clothes. 🙂
 Explosive-DiarrheaThen again, maybe not.

Everyone Loves Dirty Laundry, Mystery Meats Revealed, and How’s That Diet Going?

See! I’m not a criminal, just a tomcat!

Don’t we all just love a juicy scandal?  Even though John Edwards didn’t technically commit a crime, you still kind of feel like the guy is a sociopathic, horny scumbag.  I feel most sorry for his kids, especially the youngest one.   Yeah, the media did have a bit of a field day with Edwards, and in a way rightfully so, but how many people cheat on their spouses in equally egregious fashion and never get caught?  If the truth were to be told there are plenty of men (and women) out there harboring various paramours and breeding unplanned children.   I know even though I shouldn’t follow scandals, sometimes I just can’t resist the temptation.  I think humans are hardwired with an insatiable desire to stop and gawk at others’ mistakes and tragedies.  Comedy is, after all, the flipside of tragedy.  No wonder I enjoy watching shows like World’s Dumbest or Most Shocking.  It feeds that primal desire to slow down and stare at the three car pileup in the opposite side of the freeway.  Worse yet, for me, as far as car accidents on the freeway, is the morbid curiosity I have to determine how badly the cars are damaged.

I find it interesting how one person’s fine dining is another’s barf fest.  In some places sheep heads are considered a delicacy .

One nice thing about the sheep head recipe is they provide the very handy information that one head serves two people, so I guess you’re supposed to bisect the head with a hacksaw or something before you serve it. Sort of like pigs’ feet.  Yummy.  I sort of hope cannibals don’t do head eating like this:

I find it hard to imagine that there’s much meat in either a sheep head or a human head.

However, most of us have (even if it be unwittingly) eaten meat that could once be found on the heads of animals.  Chorizo (Mexican hot sausage) is made from hog jowls including the salivary glands- even so- I adore chorizo in my hot chili.  Many old-time European sausages also contain some pretty gross stuff:

Blutwurst (the French call it Boudin Noir- “black sausage,” while the English call it blood pudding) has got to be one of the grossest sounding foods going, but it’s not terribly popular here in the States.

Head cheese Which is really much more gross than it sounds.

Not dairy cheese.  Not even really made from heads.  Just leftover bits and pieces congealed into this sort of gelatinous mystery meat mass.

Lamb Fries– made famous in the movie Funny Farm – that’s something I don’t plan on trying.  Something about eating testicles-even if they’re just the leftovers from neutering sheep or pigs- is just plain wrong.

Not eggs. Not at all.  Tasty testicles..mmm, mmm good!

There are times I wish I were one of those people who are easily grossed out. While it may be inconvenient to be an impulse puker, I have to be dehydrated-deathly-ill-time-to-go-to-the-ER sick before I can puke.  I can discuss all sorts of macabre things over dinner and not bat an eyelash, I can cut up whole chickens or turkeys without flinching, and I have no problem cleaning and filleting fish.  I’ve skinned and cleaned rabbits and squirrels too, no big deal.   It may help that I have a very limited sense of smell and I had an extreme passion for ’80’s slasher flicks back in the day.  I can’t see myself ever being a bulimic either.  Very few things cause me to lose my appetite, which sort of sucks when you’re one of those people who has to dole out every sip, every bite, every carb, and count every calorie to prevent my ass from being the same size as the front end of my car.

I wish that I naturally had the appetite of someone like Calista Flockhart and could survive for weeks on Diet Rockstar and lettuce, but that is not my destiny.  Better yet to be one of those lucky bastards that can eat like a feeder hog and not gain an ounce.  I used to work with a guy like that.  He was 6’2″ and about 80#- a walking freaking skeleton- who pounded down Big Macs, fries, chocolate shakes, greasy pizza, Bahama Mamas, chips, pastries, etc. you name it, all day long.  For awhile I thought he might be a puker, but bulimia is uncommon among dudes and I don’t think he really liked being that skinny.  So I asked him how he could eat like a Sumo wrestler all day, every day, and be that god-awful thin, to which he replied, “If I don’t eat like this, I lose weight.”

Bastard.  I wish a plague of Richard Simmons on him.

It’s just not fair.  I could run 20 miles a day, and eat nothing but lettuce and Diet Rockstar and probably would still have meaty arms and that nasty leftover skin flap from abdominal surgeries.   I got the shit end of the stick in the metabolic lottery,  just like almost everything else.  But I did get straight teeth- somehow.

Potty Trained and Literate, and Other Parenting Goals

Dad always said that he enjoyed children once they were potty trained and literate.  Mastering these basic skills can occur for some children by the age of five, but I do not have a whole lot of confidence in a young child’s toileting accuracy, and few children gain reasonable command of the written word until about the age of eight or nine.  I can understand why Dad is rather uncomfortable in the presence of infants, toddlers and preschoolers.  He’s sensitive to smells, and he has an almost phobic reaction to the bodily effluvia of others.  After the age of eight or nine kids are a bit less messy.  It is far less likely that they will pee, poo, puke or snot all over you by that time.  They understand using the toilet, and hopefully before they hit puberty, they will understand snot is not a condiment, and they should also have a rudimentary knowledge of how to use Kleenex. 

Steve-o has been potty trained and literate for about ten years, which for a male is pretty good.  When I say “potty trained,” I mean fully trained, as in (for males, anyway) we aim and achieve our target without spraying the entire bathroom floor, AND we both wipe and flush every time, after dropping a deuce.  He could read relatively well by the age of seven, but it took a long, long time for him to get “wipe and flush every time” down.  

There are few things more disgusting than walking into the bathroom to find a huge corn-loaded turd floating in the toilet bowl, coiled up all alone, without any paper to keep him company.   The only thing worse than walking into that sensory gag-fest every time young Steve-o pinched a loaf was his “science” experiment involving Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.   I will comment a bit on this.  If you eat nothing but Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for three days straight, your feces will be exactly the same color as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

I do have some standards.  If you want to see hot red-orange poo, go troll about on Rate My Poo for awhile.  Trust me, there you will find all things poo and then some.

We are working on the Holy Grail of parenting right now, which is: Gainful Employment and Independence from the Parental Units.

Steve-o did work at Taco Bell during his last two years of high school, but for some reason he either can’t seem to find a job or (my personal suspicion) doesn’t want to find a job while going to college.  This is vexing to me- and a major contributor to my constant state of poverty.  The only thing I can hope for is that when he graduates he finds gainful employment and becomes an independent, self-sustaining, meaningful contributor to society.

Some people hold lofty goals for their children, but I’m a realist.  So far Steve-o’s done pretty well, especially when one examines the lame track record of his age cohorts.  He’s stayed out of jail, and as far as I know he doesn’t have a horde of baby mamas after him, nor has he fathered any offspring that I know about, anyway.  I am not opposed to the whole grandmother thing- I’m old enough for it and I like kids well enough as long as they’re not mine and I can send them home- but he’s got to be able to pay for his own rugrats.  I’d also like to request that he be married to the potential baby mama, although these days that’s a lot to ask. 

In some ways Steve-o is better trained than Jerry is.  Jerry is gainfully employed which gives him the overall advantage, but Steve-o is getting close, and he has already surpassed Jerry in matters of etiquette.  While Jerry generally does wipe and flush, aiming is still a weak area for him, especially after a twelve pack or so of Natties.  Older men should sit and pee anyway, because it’s a long, long time and a far, far distance to have to keep that stream steady, and I’m getting too old to have to keep scrubbing dried up stale pee from the toilet and vicinity.

Jerry does reasonably well when he’s sober, considering he was raised by wolves.  When he’s wasted of course, all decorum goes right out the window and he has the potential to piss in the closet, moon the picture window, run outside in nothing but whitey tighties and a smile, and to play horrible old country music at obscenely loud volumes.   I’ve tried to socialize him somewhat, but in practical application, I’ve had better luck with Sheena.  Sheena has learned to sit and be polite if she wants a munchie, she will go to her crate on command, and she knows her name.  She is also very affectionate and sweet.  This is no small accomplishment for a dog who has only been with us for about 90 days.  Granted, Sheena is not the most intelligent dog I have ever encountered (Huskies can be a bit stubborn and dim-witted, and Sheena is no exception) and her physical coordination is abysmal, but she’s a lot easier to manage than Jerry when he’s 15 beers or so into it.

Dogs are easier than kids by a long shot- the worst thing a dog might do is to drop a deuce on the floor or knock something over.  Kids can get into all sorts of trouble, cost all kinds of money, and can end up in jail.  What really sort of sucks is that even after they turn 18 and you should technically be done with them they still cost a boat load of money, hence my anticipation of the day that Steve-o truly takes on his own adult responsibilities for himself. 

The main problem with breeding is the wrong people are doing it.  I was watching an episode of The First 48 (yeah, I love cop shows) last night and one of the murder suspects being interviewed admitted to, “well I have about five baby mamas and two on the way.”  The same scum bucket was found to be guilty of capital murder and received a life sentence.  Guess who’s paying for those seven kids?  Daddy certainly isn’t, that’s for sure.

I don’t believe in abortion or infanticide or anything Godless and evil like that- it’s not the kids’ faults their parents are scum.  I find it ironic that the same people who advocate mollycoddling violent criminals and murderers oppose the death penalty, but have no problem with abortion.  Isn’t that more than a little backward?

I do, however, believe in preventing ill-advised conceptions in the first place, and I have absolutely no problem with society carrying out its obligation to preserve public safety and to deter crime by executing violent criminals (murderers, rapists and child molesters) swiftly and publicly.

Stuff I Could Care Less About, The Perennial DD, and a Sober Eye on the Festivities

Ah, the joy of carting the drunk and stupid from one destination to another.  I am so grateful Jerry and his former friend and “drunk and stupid enhancer” Terry had their falling out a couple of years ago. These two guys had the potential to be plenty drunk and stupid by themselves, but get them together and the drunk and stupid and just plain annoying factor increased by a factor of 100.  One night when Terry was staying with us he got incredibly shit-faced, wandered into Steve-o’s room, pulled up the edge of his mattress and proceeded to whiz all over the Christmas presents I had at the end of the bed as well as all over Steve-o and his sheets. I was so pissed I threw Terry out and was rid of him for all of about a month, when Jerry begged me to let him come back over again.  Somehow it just doesn’t seem right to let a “guest” return to your home after pissing all over your kid and your family’s Christmas presents, but what the hey?  When I had to ferry them both back and forth to the campground for Saturday night poker it was occasionally a real nightmare.  One evening they got into a punching match in the car.  Another time, Jerry thought it funny to yank the car out of gear and grab at the steering wheel when he was having a drunk and stupid argument with Terry and Steve-o.   That is not funny at all on the freeway when you’re doing 70 miles an hour.  I do not look forward to shuttling the alcohol impaired, regardless of who is involved. 

Then there is always the potential of the drunk and stupid individual puking in the car.  I remember narrowly avoiding having my 72 Super Beetle spewed in.  Dawne’s sister had been going on with the rot gut whiskey and God only knows what other downers and assorted drugs.  She was notorious for getting drunk and stoned pretty much constantly back then.  I was nice enough to get her a ride home before she ended up getting in a fight, but as we pulled up near Dawne’s apartment, she started to hurl.  Instinctively I reached over her, opened the passenger’s side door from the inside and shoved her out.  Puke smell does not come out of car interiors.  I had to do the same thing to Jerry one night when he got Jagermeister confused with Formula 44.  He narrowly missed spewing all over the inside of my 94 truck.  Of course the Jagermeister Incident should have been more than enough to convince a sane person that drinking to excess is a bad idea, but Jerry isn’t a sane person.

After I had shoved Jerry out of the truck he spewed all over the parking lot and most of the way through the courtyard behind the apartment we lived in at the time.  Somehow I got him up the porch steps and in the door, then he flopped over on the dining room floor, while ranting unintelligibly.  The bathroom of this apartment was upstairs.  The apartment building was built in the late 19th century by German immigrants.  Germans must not have been very tall then, because anyone over 5’9″ would bash their head on the ceiling of the staircase if they failed to duck.  The staircase was also narrow and steep, so much so that the only way to fit a full size bed upstairs would have been to either cut the box spring so it would bend, or to procure two twin-size box springs  and two twin size mattresses and install them on a king size frame.  We put our full size bed in what should have been the living room to avoid this conundrum. 

Anyway, I wanted Jerry upstairs in the spare room (which had a small roll-away bed in it) so he would be close to the bathroom, and so I would be able to try to sleep a little further away from the incoherent moaning, screaming and various noises I knew he would be emitting.  So,  I endeavored to remove his very drunk carcass from the dining room floor and proceeded to more or less drag him up the stairs.  How I got 180# of dead weight up that hideously steep flight of stairs I still wonder, but I do know he ended up with not a little rug burn from the carpet on the stairs.

When Jerry gets to a certain very drunk and very stupid plateau, he doesn’t just pass out like a normal drunk.  That would be too easy.  I got him into the spare room and on to the roll-away bed, only to hear, “Where’sssss my billow, bittcchhhhh?”

I retrieved a pillow from the bed downstairs, opened the door and threw it at his drunk ass and slammed the door.  He had a three day hangover from that little bender. 

I learned my lesson regarding drunk and stupid drinking at age 23.  Waking up in a bathtub full of cold water in a motel room with a half-eaten Domino’s pizza on the ledge has a way of putting one off the liquor.

The New Year’s holiday brings two of my least favorite celebratory activities: drinking (which even if I wanted to, my health really doesn’t permit it) and football, which of course, can be a good babysitter, but it gets old when it seems as if Jerry is going to get bedsores from lounging about in the bed doing nothing but watching football games.  I will find something else to watch or I may take a road trip up to Mom and Dad’s to bring him some beans (gotta love pinto beans and ham) and some pork and kraut.  Perhaps that is not a kind thing to do to senior citizens- bringing them farty food- but I don’t have to stick around long enough to smell it.

I do like the pork and kraut tradition.  I was lucky to find a lovely pork roast (not always easy because there are a lot of people of German ancestry in Central Ohio who do the pork and kraut thing for New Year’s)  so that roast will be wafting its tantalizing aroma throughout my kitchen tomorrow.  The bad thing about pork and kraut is that as far as fart-worthiness, it’s every bit as explosive as pinto beans or White Castles or boiled eggs and beer.

Mmmmm, pork and kraut.  With mashed potatoes and Bean-o.

Next week we return to normal.