Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Was it the Blonde Hair, You Decide!

In 1987, I married my second wife, Lulu. (The name has been fabricated to protect me from lawsuit). Although she had a teenaged daughter, the daughter was to remain living with her natural father, a 39 year old man, a Westminster police officer. I tell you his choice of work to instill in you that he was a healthy man and in good health.
We got married on 1-17-87 and I don't thing the poor guy made it through February before he suffered a massive heart attack and dropped dead on the spot. As sad as that was for everyone, it also left a 14 year old girl without a father or a home. Naturally, I jumped in and became the infamous step-monster that step-fathers are known for. Although I felt "out of place" attending the funeral, I flew to CA after the funeral, rented a truck, loaded her belongings and headed for home Arizona, with my new wife and my even newer step-daughter, Cha Cha. Before leaving CA, a man that I learned was the father of the deceased, took me aside and warned me to keep a close eye on Cha Cha, if I didn't she would ruin my new marriage. He patted me on the back and I had the sense to take heed to his unsolicited advice.
As the months went by, I learned that this young girl knew of no limitations. She was without supervision and had a way about her of manipulating her poor mother around her fingers. She was spoiled rotten, dishonest, deceitful, lazy, untrained, dumb and without manners. I had my work cut out for me.
Bythe time Cha Cha turned 18, she had come a long, long way. Although she never called me Dad, she would introduce me to her friends as her father and I took pride in that recognition. Although she chose not to go to college, she became a very successful hair stylist and even though she was never the brightest crayon in the box, I felt that she was at least prepared for the world, and showed a vast improvement during the time that I oversaw her. One comical experience that comes to mind, I'd like to share with you.
The year was about 1989 and Cha Cha had gotten invited to the prom. She and her mother were busy all week buying a dress and all of the things that go along with it. I even liked the boy she was going with, which was a rare thing.
It was about 3 PM, the day of the prom and Cha Cha was busy preparing in her bathroom. When I asked her mother why Cha Cha was taking so long in the bathroom, she explained that she had purchased a spray-on tanning solution and had to stand naked for 45 minutes without moving, so as not to smudge her new tan. That explained why Cha Cha was screaming things to her mother from the closed bathroom similar to, "Mom, my nose itches"! I got a pretty good laugh over that one.
About an hour later, Cha Cha came out from her retreat in the bathroom wrapped in about 3 different towels, one just for her hair. With the most serious look on her face that I'd ever seen on her, she said these words to me and I can still picture the disappointed look on her face. "Mel, can I use your shower, mine's out of hot water"!!!
Cha Cha had a pretty good time that night, in spite of the second half of her shower being just kind of cool....
I had the best laugh of the decade!!!

The Fastest Woman on Earth...

In 1996, I found myself spending a lot of time with a woman that was quite unusual. Quirky, some might say. Once we were vacationing in California around Newport Beach. We decided to go to a popular shopping center that promised to have all of the elite shops and Lolita was anxious to get there already. We were crossing a busy street and in an effort to stay together during this complicated crossing, I either put my arm around her or held her arm, I'm not sure which. Suddenly, Lolita pulled away and screamed, "what are you doing"? Shocked, I just said I was hold on to you so that we'd stay together. Panicked, she replied, "What if I have to speed dart, to avoid getting hit by a car"? I just looked at her for a long time, shook my head, mumbled something, apologized and we crossed the street to the shopping center.
The following day, we were going to the San Diego Zoo. We parked our car quite a distance from the zoo and we were walking along when suddenly the weather changed. A massive cloud presented itself and the temperature dropped about 15 degrees, as happens when a storm is getting close. Lolita folded her arms and told me that she was cold and wished she had brought her jacket along, that was in the car. We were a good 3 blocks from the car and I was getting the impression that she wanted for us to walk back and get her jacket. My first thought was that the cloud would pass and the temperature would rise, but I could see that wasn't going to happen. After a long pause and just staring at her for a minute I answered, "Why don't you just "speed dart" over and I'll wait here. Shouldn't take you but a few seconds"?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mr. Harris, Your Table is Ready...

I called my 34 year old son Brad, for lunch today. He said he was sitting around his office just working, why not? I suggested our favorite Chinese restaurant that we have been going to for a gazillion years, but Brad has been visiting the gym of late and wanted to eat "healthy". I'm hearing a lot of that lately. Ah, Mexican food, aye? Again he commented on eating in a "healthy" fashion and suggested someplace that he does business with, not too far from either of us. It was called the Capital Grill and I had no reason to think that it was anything but a grill that he wanted to eat at. When he told me it was located in the Biltmore Shopping Center, I figured it to be an upscale grill, still no whoopee..
I arrived right on time and looked for the place. I asked a young girl that had parked next to me, but to no avail. I not only scared the crap out of her, but she was so upset by a stranger speaking with her, that she turned around and walked right into her car door. I'm sure she was okay and I split, entering the shopping center in search of the elusive Capital Grill. The first man I asked just nodded his head, no. The next place was the Biltmore Shopping Center Visitors Center. A pleasant young girl asked me where I was from and frankly, I was running late and too embarrassed to tell her I'm from right here in town, but I just don't get out much. That's when my phone rang and it was Brad wanting to know what kept me. I told him I was here, but just can't seem to find the joint.
Finally, Brad said he could see me, just to follow his voice. Very funny, where are you??? I was looking for Brad, my son, not a tall thin man wearing a suit and well groomed and appearing to be a fashion model. I continued to talk into my cell phone, even though Brad had hung up.
There I was, having come from the auto auction, wearing my Costco gym shoes, a pair of old Levis, a shirt that Brad must have bought me for my 50th birthday (it was old) and my new, looks like suede, but isn't, Costco jacket that I'm so proud of. A fashion statement I was not making. We opened the large Mahogany doors and entered cautiously. The hostess said, "hello Mr. Harris, your table is ready, right this way". This was about 3 seconds after she just told someone that it was about a 20 minute wait. I was all full of, what the, how did, is she a ??? Brad explained that he eats there all of the time and the manager is a friend of his and he called ahead..
You know, I went from Art Harris' son to Brad Harris' father, I'm not sure if I was ever just me! Are you understanding my point. In life, you wear a number of hats, you're someones son and then you become someones father, while the time that you are just you, blows by. I'm having a hard time remembering stopping to smell the roses.
You know, in spite of my son's movie star looks and widespread worldly connections, guess who got stuck with the check?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mel's Diner...

2004 Toyota Corolla (mint condition)
Around the first part of August last year, I went on my first date with Julie. The evening is outlined somewhere on this blog I believe. One thing that was never mentioned was that St. Jules is a thriving kleptomaniac. If you don't nail it down, it winds up at Julie's house. I cannot tell you how many items of mine don't get noticed missing, until I happen to notice them occupying a shelf or sitting on a dresser at the "Lovely Jules" house. (Have you noticed how the "Lovely Jules" is slowly becoming St. Jules?) Some time in the mid 90's, someone and I don't recall who, bought me a magnet for my refrigerator that read "Mel's Diner". I thought it was fitting and quickly put it up on my fridge. It sat there for over 10 years, when one day in the beginning of August 2007, Julie came along and stole it. I didn't notice it missing until one day shortly after our first date, I was at the home of St. Jules, and there on her fridge was a magnet just like mine. When I mentioned that I had the same one, she said I know, I took it! She told me the look on my face was worth a fortune that day. She told me that she liked it and thought it would be cute if she took it. I'm glad she wasn't particularly attracted to pictures of President Hamilton, as he appears on the hundred dollar bill! Since then, I've noticed quite a few of my belongings appearing at her house and being worn by her family members. I commented that the Santa hat that her grand daughter Emma is wearing in a picture, is just like the one that I have. With a straight face, Julie said, "Not anymore"! Over her fireplace, the is an elk's head skeleton wearing a couple of my ball caps. Getting those things back from the "Lovely Jules" seems out of the question. She really believes that since she stole them, they're hers. There's only one thing that really bothers me about the whole thing, SHE'S GOT MY CAR!!!



Sunday, January 27, 2008

4-Wheeling at St. Jules...

Yesterday turned out to be an interesting and delightful day. That seldom happens around here, lately. Who knew that women can't measure things? It was obvious when I told St. Jules that I was 6 feet tall and she had thought I was much taller than that. Due to poor previous information on most weight and measures, poor St. Jules was left without a lot of information on that sort of thing. She told me that Lake Pleasant was only 10 minutes from her house, when in fact it took over 30 minutes to get there, poor thing.
When we arrived, St. Jules already had her hand in her new Coach bag retrieving 6 bucks entry fee for the park. Always being a little slow on the draw, I missed that one terribly. Oh, well. We drove into the park and parked our Expedition fairly far from the Marina where we decided to have lunch. We passed campers that looked more like they were living there than camping, but that's their choice. We passed men fishing that resembled enthusiastic fisherman because the weather was not idea for fishing a breezy 55ish with direct sun. When we entered the Marina we thought it was closed, but quickly saw about 4 people sitting and eating. I guess cool weather didn't bring a lot of boaters out. We ordered sandwiches and shared an order of fries that killed any idea of a future life for about 3 large potatoes. We left about 2 1/2 of them on the table. This time I was quicker than St. Jules, particularly when she asked if I was going to "get" this one or not. The word, "huh" came from my mouth as she tossed the check my way. I mumbled something about $40 for 2 sandwiches and we left, only to return to find the missing sun glasses that eluded poor Julie, never to be seen again.
We headed out to the lake to take some pictures and exited the Marina area. St. Jules assured me that we would be able to re-enter as long as we left our receipt on the dash. This turned out not to be true and the very next time we tried to re-enter the park a nasty woman with an attitude told us that we had to pay again. This pissed me off and I turned and exited. We tried another entrance where the gentleman that manned that gate never even looked, but rather waved us through. We headed for a small portion of the lake that looked lightly populated and practiced my off road skills, only to find out that Jules is not a fan of off road travel, ever since they rolled a mustang while 4-wheeling with her little daughter Nikki in the car. How you 4-wheel with a Mustang is beyond me, but that was her business. St. Jules tried to exit the moving vehicle just to impress upon me her non-acceptance of the off road adventure. I thought she was joking and continued to push her out the door a little!
St. Jules decided to climb the next portion of mountain to the summit as I drove up along side of her in the Expedition. When she refused to ride back down with me and insisted on walking along side the Expedition, I got the impression that she was serious about all of this. (note to self, don't take Julie 4 -wheeling)
We left the park about 3 and headed to a shopping experience at Kohl's, our least favorite place to shop in the world. We found a pair of matching corduroy shirts for $7 each and bought them with Julie beating me to register as I stopped to tie the laces on my loafers. (2nd note to self, try to pay faster than St. Jules)...
We left for home, a 10 minutes drive to some and arrived there some 30 minutes later. Pawpaw was glad to see us. I think St. Jules had had enough of me as she pushed me out the front door. I managed to grab her vacuum cleaner to take home and fix, as I'd promised about 6 months ago. I went home to the Dynamic Duo that were clearly ready for dinner, making this evident by ripping the sleeve off of my shirt.
Before leaving Julie's house, we made dinner arrangements. St. Jules was going to go to the store and buy baby-back ribs for dinner and I was to return around 7:30. In spite of the store being out of baby back ribs, Julie got spare ribs and made scalloped potatoes with home made Cole slaw and for dessert a chocolate mocha raspberry mousse'. Dinner was awesome in spite of the fact that Julie was unhappy with the ribs. I thought they were fine, but Pawpaw got the majority of them and never complained once. Either did I!
St. Jules and I shared my Mousse' with me feeding her every other spoonful, while hers remained in the fridge. She doesn't think that I know she got it out and ate every spoonful alone as soon as I left. Shh...... It's her secret..
When I left, Julie was asleep on the couch and I went into her fridge and not only scooped a fingertip full of her Mousse', but stole 2 of her eggs to harvest at a future date.
We had a pretty nice day all and all and Julie only really fell out of the car once...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sunday, Hiking!

Sunday is hiking day, I'm praying for rain! The "Lovely Jules" has told me twice this week that we are going hiking this weekend or she is going alone. I'm more than happy to go along with her, a little exercise never hurt anyone, unless you've been a couch potato and really take it seriously.

The "Lovely Jules" has really never been famous before, this is her first time. My son Brad called earlier this week and I made reference to Julie and I doing something and he retorted, the "Lovely Jules"! Well, I cracked up laughing as I didn't even know he read my blog. Hell, I didn't know he could even read! Just joking here, it's for his benefit. I also got an email today, from someone that was soliciting my business to purchase some Girl Scout cookies, that by the way I would be pleased to and she referred to the "Lovely Jules" too. Then there was Cindi Ann that wrote to me this morning regarding an issue and she also refers to Julie as the Lovely Jules. I asked the "Lovely Jules" what she thought about all of this and she replied, that as long as she isn't required to sign autographs. Truly, she got this great big smile on her face and I knew it was worth the mention..

There was a time when I hiked almost everyday, that time was when I was in my 40's though. When I'd reach the top of the mountain, it was almost like arriving in heaven. It was quiet, isolated and beautiful. That was when I felt the closest to God, never in a man made church. I used to hike Shaw Butte pretty often and at the summit, people would hang glide. I was always amazed at how someone could gather the nerve to just jump of a cliff with a man made apparatus and just hope for the best, but we'd seldom hear of an accident. Me, I was content to climb back down the mountain with the ground securely under my feet.
Well, it's Sunday and it rained all day. The only ones hiking today are the ducks. It seems that after yesterday's outing, there was not only rain, but no need for hiking today. The "Lovely Jules" spent the day "holed up" harassing everyone she came in contact with, myself included. What she didn't put in writing she shot out of her mouth today. She decided it was "HER" Sunday and it didn't belong to anyone else but she. She had borrowed my extra car for the weekend, as her truck was loaded up with product for Monday's delivery and when I asked for it back she told me she likes it and is keeping it. I reminded her that I have her vacuum cleaner and I'm holding it as collateral. She felt that it was a fair trade and told me where to put her vacuum cleaner!
I, in turn spent the day entertaining 2 constipated Great Danes that are as fond of the rain, as turkey's are of the oven. I've been told by a reliable source, that if write about my dogs one more time that I might lose 1/3 of my readers. I take heed.
I'd best close for now. It's been raining non-stop all day and the smart money is saying to build an ark!
Bogie's 10th Birthday~

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Accordin' to Gordon...

I've decided to give a name to the wonderful new computer that the "Lovely Jules" gave me for Christmas. Gordon is his name and he's clearly a male computer. I know he's a male computer because he's never going to shop online. In the future, whenever I look up something on the computer, I'm going to refer to my found information as, "Accordin' to Gordon".. I kind of the ring of that...
Shortly over 33 years ago I moved to AZ, Along with my (then) wife and 2 sons, ages 18 mo. and 5 years. One of our very first stops, when we arrived in Scottsdale was a real estate office as we were in search of a family home. We met a salesman named Bill Barham and he seemed pretty good at his job and we got together and searched the area for a dwelling that would appeal to a family of 4. We eventually found a place that was 2500 Sq. ft along with a swimming pool and an acre of land that had a coral and chicken coup. We were in "pig heaven" having come from the Chicago area and getting a chance to live in what we called the country. Mr. Barham did a great job for us and even though the house was a "fix-up", it was just what we wanted and all for less than we sold our little house in the Chicago suburbs.. A little paint and a few repairs and we were cowboys living the dream.
We met some of the neighbors in that area and eventually I got involved in the automobile business at the suggestion of the neighbor across the street who offered me a partnership in his business. When Bill Barham needed a car, he came to me and I sold him one at a very fair price and we had what you might call a working relationship. After about 5 years we wanted to sell that house, we'd had enough of the fresh odors of horse manure and we looking for more of a city lifestyle. Bill, not only sold our old house, but found us a new one, again a win, win situation.
When it came time for us to put down an earnest check for the new house, I didn't have my checkbook with me, so Bill offered to lend me a thousand dollars and put it down for me, along with our offer contract. I paid him back the following day and we were even once again. Several years went by and although I would run into Bill occasionally, we really didn't keep in touch as friends. Bill was several years older than me. One day I got a call from old Bill and he was telling me that he'd been going through a tough time. His wife had died of cancer and he had lost his job somehow and was just buried with bills, but had an opportunity to buy an existing vacuum cleaner repair business in a city named Casa Grande, about 50 miles from Scottsdale. He said he was going to need a car for his new business, a station wagon for transporting vacuum cleaners to and from customers houses. I didn't have one at the time, but found him one shortly after. That's when he told me how short he was with money and could I finance it for him? In other words, can he have the car for a small down payment and make payment directly to me, as his credit at the bank was "shot", after paying for all of the medical care his wife had received. I normally didn't do business that way. That's a good way to go broke in the car business and I knew that, but I agreed because it was Bill and he'd gone through such a tough time. About 6 months after that and Bill was not regular with payments, he asked me if I could give him a clear title for the car, in spite of the fact that he still owed me the entire amount of $1500. Bill told me that if he could show some assets to the bank, they would give him a business loan to get his new place rolling. I felt real bad about the whole thing. Bill had met a new woman and she had been a poor influence on him. The Bill I used to know would never have gotten himself into this kind of a situation, but reluctantly I agreed and had the Department of Motor Vehicle erase my lien on the car. Bill gave me a $300 payment and I was feeling a little better about it. That was the last money I ever saw. I'd call and get so mad that I would scream into the phone how he had conned me, but nothing mattered, no money. Then, around Christmas time in 1987, I got a call from a woman that claimed to be Bill's widow. She said she found my name and number in one of Bill's jacket pockets and wanted to know how I knew Bill. I told her that I was the fool that loaned him the money for the station wagon and he never paid me back. She said she was sorry, but it's too late now, he's dead. She did tell me that the car is still running great and she loves it and hung up. You know, I never really believed that he was dead, but more likely it was another scam to get me off of his back for my money. I tried calling a few times, hoping that he's slip up and answer, but that never happened and it was before the Internet was so readily available too. That was all 20 years ago.
There is a search engine for people that I've had a great deal of luck with, being a single man now. It's called and it finds everyone. All you do is fill in the name and state and any other pertinent info you can supply and it will give you current addresses, "real" dates of birth, phone numbers and so forth. You'll thank me for this one for years to come. I even got my vet's home number when my pup was sick, try that!
Well, "Accordin' to Gordon" old Bill is alive and well living in Casa Grande, just not answering the phone, HA! Today, I called a friend of mine that's in the collection business and he advises me that debts are only good for 3 years without a signed contract and 6 years with a contract, that I'd be better off to just leave old Bill buried, he'd probably stink either way... but can you imagine faking your own death over $1200???

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Three Years and Still Kicking...

Today is a big day for me. First, it's once again moving day, but I'll get to that a little later.
Three years ago today, was the day that some insane doctor accidentally poked a hole in my heart during a routine procedure that caused me to have to have open heart surgery to correct it. The entire story is outlined under "Has This Ever Happened to You"? I consider today my 3rd birthday as I probably should have died that day. In addition, I've been alcohol free for 3 years as well. I just kind of felt that if I was going to be given the privilege of life, that I didn't want to go through it in an alcohol induced stupor. Getting back to moving day....
Some time in December, the "Lovely Jules" convinced me to re-take up residency in the upstairs bedroom of my Luxurious Palatial Estate (joking here). All kidding aside, this is the largest house I've ever lived in, particularly alone and it has a downstairs guest suite complete with restroom. Sunday is Bogie's birthday and he'll be 10 years old, rather old for a Great Dane, particularly one his size. I know I've mentioned it in the past, that Bogie is between 275 and 300 LB. the biggest Dane I've ever seen, personally. He has trouble making it up the 17 stairs to the second floor causing me great concern. When he falls, as he did last night, it causes a great panic in him, as well as me. Last night, we were almost to the top step, wearing his magic collar. Bogie thinks the collar has magical powers and carries him up the stairs, but it's really me pulling him upward. As I was saying, he fell and his 275+ LB was just caught in an awkward position with his feet in front of him and his big butt plopping down one stair at a time until I could gain control of him. Try picking up a Great Dane of his size, while he's screaming in panic and resembling a bag of jello. These was no place to grab a hold of and all I could do was stop him from dropping down all of the steps, one by one. If he falls, there is a great chance of him breaking a bone and then what will I do? With my 61 year old back, I was trying to stop him, pick him up onto his feet and get him going up the balance of the stairs. Bogie, being smarted than me, turned around and made it to the larger stairs of this circular stairway, where he once again could turn and attempt the stairs again. This time he made it, running around the bedroom in victory yelling to everyone his accomplishment. I collapsed on the bed, gasping for air and feeling like I just smoked a pack and a half and waited for the heart attack to take me, but that never happened. As I regained my ability to breathe in a normal fashion, I decided I can't do this again and need to move down to the guest suite again. Bogie's all for it!
The "Lovely Jules" called this morning and wants to go hiking this weekend, so after I get all of the dog's beds down to the new sleeping accommodations, I'll dust off my old hiking boots and get out my hiking gear. Where will I ever find a mountain that only goes downhill? Between that woman and those dogs, I'm a dead man... I wonder if Bogie would loan me his magic collar???

Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm the King of My Castle...

King Bogart

Queen Zoie

We used to have 3 sofas in our family room, but Bogie wore his out a couple of years ago. It was so bad that when it came time to push it to the curb and have the city pick it up, that I waited until the next door neighbors were out of town on vacation and pushed it in front of their house! There was no way I wanted anyone to think it was mine. I also felt bad for the neighbors and put a couple of palm fronds on top of it to hide the condition of the horribly used up sofa. At one point, some refuge pickers tried to steal it, but after a closer inspection, reconsidered and put it back.
At this point, my 2 Great Danes were forced to share one sofa. Zoie the queen of the castle usually insists on having one to herself, which leaves my baby-boy to fend for himself and he usually crawls into the crate where there are approximately 6 old bed spreads and comforters piled up.
Lately, he comes over to my sofa, rubs his massive neck on my feet and growls. This makes me laugh hysterically because I know it's his way to tell me to move my feet, he wants up. What he really wants is for me to get off the damned sofa and find myself a place to lite. Several evenings a week I go to the "Lovely Jules'" house and he's got this sofa to himself anyway. So, laughing like a hyena, I submit to his aggressive demands and sit upright, a position I'm not terribly fond of when I'm tired. Bogie climbs up on the sofa and occupies the third cushion...................... for about 5 minutes and then he sits up and then lies down again, this time taking up at least 2 cushions. Before long, he's laying on me and inching me off the sofa all together. The above photo was the end result, as usual.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Basketball was Really Never My Game...

Basketball, although was always one of my great loves, has never been good to me. Many years ago, I was trying out for the high school basketball team and made it all of the way to the final tryouts, when I didn't make the final cut. I was devastated. It truly changed my life. If I was to travel with the sports team to games and be occupied everyday after school, there was a good chance that I wouldn't have gotten onto a lot of the trouble that I ultimately got into. Not that I was a troublesome kid, but I guess I ran with a group that was a little more creative than most. I'll leave that to the reader's imagination.
Directly across the street from me, lives the Rabbi and his family. They've been neighbors for about 5 years now and pretty good neighbors, I might add. I've watched his little boy grow over the past few years and the one thing that I've noticed is this little 7 year olds ability at basketball. He is literally phenomenal. I've never seen a kid with such natural ability, at such a young age. I tend to watch him shoot hoops through my front window and he rarely misses. It's a miracle that he's able to get the ball high enough given his short stature, but he is "right on".
I told you all of that, so I could tell you this. Around Monday, this past week Ethan, that's his name, posted an ad on the light pole next to my property and it read, "forming a basketball team, if you want to join, sign here" and he made lines and actually taped a pencil to the pole beneath it. Then he signed his name on the first line and waited.... and waited, and waited some more. No one signed to join his team and I started feeling a little bad for poor Ethan, so I signed my name just below his, thinking other kids would see there were two guys now and sign up too.
Today, I went out there to get into my car and walked over and looked at the sign Ethan had posted and someone had scratched out my name! See, basketball has never been that good to me!

Insomnia Strikes North Scottsdale...

When I was young, I used to watch my poor father struggle through the endless night, suffering from insomnia. When I'd wake up I'd see him pass my bedroom door on one of his trips to the kitchen looking for something out of the fridge or a look out the front window to see if the paper had yet arrived. I felt sorry for him and never thought I'd suffer from the same malady. I'm pleased to say that I don't, but occasionally have that sleepless night like everyone else and Friday night was one of them. I went to bed about 1 AM and slept non-stop until 3 when for no apparent reason I awakened never to be able to go to sleep again. I laid in bed for about 2 hours when I finally threw in the towel and got up with the Dynamic Duo following close behind. First Zoie, then about 5 minutes later Bogie followed her. Zoie always goes straight to her spot on the sofa accepting what's going on, while Bogie always requires an explanation. He comes to me and looks up awaiting the situation report. I give it to him and he usually farts and finds a comfortable spot to lay down, usually the crate.

At 5 AM, I saw that Barry was online so I called to discuss the economy with him. He lives in Florida and is 2 hours ahead of us. Barry suffers from insomnia, so there was no explaining why I was up. He understood. When we hung up I took refuge on the sofa and was able to fall asleep for a couple of hours, after which I ascended the stairs to sleep 2 more hours in bed, while the Dynamic Duo followed suite.

At about noon, the "Lovely Jules" called to give me the construction report. She along with several young men from her crew at work volunteered to help build a house for a group not far from her own house. She reported she was tired and sore and I asked if she just wanted to stay home tonight and order out. She said no, she was hoping for a second wind. It really never came and when I arrived at her house right at 6 to see the Glendale Lights Festival, she seemed to still be tired, in spite of her bath that should have relaxed her.

We promptly headed on our way to see the event in downtown Glendale, a largely Hispanic community, but not before stopping to get the elusive lottery ticket at a local 7 Eleven. Because of the neighborhood, I insisted on going in with her. As we entered a man that was clearly drunk had his finger in the face of the middle-eastern clerks face, who was proudly wearing his Bluetooth ear piece and speaking to someone in a language that we couldn't understand, either Farsi or Arabic. The drunk exited, tripped, got up and continued his trip to oblivion. Jules bought her ticket and we left.

As we got closer to Glendale, the neighborhood worsened and pretty soon we were looking for a parking place where I was sure they'd vandalize the car, a parking place that never became available. The streets were mobbed and parking was never going to happen when Julie said, let's just go, we're never going to find a parking place within reasonable distance from where we were supposed to be. I was never more pleased! We headed North to look for a place to eat. Julie wasn't hungry and I was famished, as usual. After driving North on the same street that took us to the ghetto, things got better quickly and I talked Julie into going to Tutti Santi's for a quick dinner. When we finally arrived it was mobbed and people were everywhere. Like baby birds in a nest, everyone wanted the attention of the hostess/mother-bird. She was literally beside herself with chaos when Lao the owner walked up and waved and said hello. We asked if he could get us a table and he just kind of said no, with his Italian accent it sounded better than just NO in plain English, but never the less, it was still NO! Julie overheard the hostess saying that the walk-ins were waiting 45 minutes at that point and she's having a hard time even seating the people with reservations. That's when Julie gave me the elbow and said, let's go. We did. Directly across the street was another place that had been heavily advertised as being good and new and we tried there. As we got closer, we could see the door open and the mob inside and stopped dead in our tracks to head for the car. Julie said she knew of a place called North, that's good and never crowded. We went there and the hostess was telling the gentleman just ahead if us there was a 35 minute wait, that usually means close to an hour and we left again. This time we headed to an upscale grocery store where they sell cooked dinners and bought 2 bacon wrapped New York strips. along with all of the fixings and went back to Julie's to eat. By then I was literally starving. so was Pawpaw who got most of Julie's dinner. We settled in for a relaxing night of TV and I was home by 12. I slept until 9!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Addictive Personality

I have an addictive personality. I find a place that I like and I go there and it takes an awful lot to change my mind. I like Chile's grilled chicken sandwich. It's a marinated chicken breast, grilled to perfection served with Swiss cheese and bacon, on a bed of lettuce and tomato, along with a secret sauce. Every time I want to go there for lunch, the "Lovely Jules" moans and groans and suggests other places. Evidently, she does NOT have an addictive personality. We arranged to have lunch today, since she's going to bed early tonight so she'll be ready to build a house tomorrow. She, along with her employees have decided to donate time to a charity and tomorrow they're helping in the building of a house, from start to finish.
Somehow we wound up at Desert Ridge, not my favorite place. It began with a woman driving a Buick almost running us off the road in her effort to get on the freeway first. Through the grace of God we survived the ride there and Julie pointed to "The Office" and decided that's where we ought to eat. I was all for it as I've never been in a restaurant in Desert Ridge that was adequate.
As usual, we had a difficult time finding the front door to the place, as each door had an arrow in it as if to say, "Nope, not this one"! Finally, and it was only our second try, we entered through a foyer area that had a greasy looking man standing there, asking us how many? He doubled as the bartender, as it turned out. We were seated in the empty restaurant in a knotty pine booth that was not the least bit enticing. Although someone had spent a fortune decorating the place, it reminded me of a dark tavern deep in the heart of somewhere in Wisconsin. The ceiling was lined with TVs showing it was a sports bar. The word overkill, comes to mind. We were offered a menu that boasted of great treasures ahead indicated primarily by the pricing. Someone had to pay for all of those TVs!
Our waitress may have been the sister of the host/bartender and had that same greasy look to her. The place was enormous and she was the only wait staff there. This was okay because there was only one other table in the place that was occupied. It was occupied by 6 people that clearly left work early to get drunk...
I chose the grilled chicken breast with bacon and avocado and Julie ordered the Greaseburger. Both of our entree were named after their most predominant ingredients... Julies was literally dripping and it saturated her bread. She only ate half and brought the leftovers home to Pawpaw.
My chicken sandwich came and before the waitress could leave, I tried to tell her that I don't want it, but Julie assured her that I was just joking, I wasn't. Sometimes I wish I had a camera phone so I could have taken a picture of this monstrosity. Here is what she brought me. It was a dried chicken breast that was overcooked atop of an over sized piece of that fancy lettuce leaf that you have to tear up to begin with. Way under everything was a piece of french bread toasted and I couldn't find the top to the sandwich. Julie said it was open-faced! Well, how in the world am I supposed to eat that thing? On top the the chicken breast were 2 pieces if fake looking bacon and on top of that was a half of an avocado with 3 little slices made in it to make it look good, it didn't! I tried to get the waitresses attention, to tell her to either bring me the top of the sandwich or take it back, I didn't want it, when I found the other piece of burned toast under the whole mess.. With the first bite the whole avocado squirted out the back end and everything just fell apart. Grrr..... I ate the balance of my sandwich with a fork and knife.
If you had told me that I could order a burger and chicken sandwich along with 2 soft drinks and it was going to cost me $35, I would call you a bold faced liar, but the Office proved me wrong! Next year, when the Office is gone, I guess we'll try the new place, but we won't be back until then!

Once a Beautiful Palm Tree.....

2007-2008 Project...

Today is January 18, 2008 and I have been working on the removal of this deceased palm tree for about 3 months now and no end in sight. I recall removing another one once and I didn't have anywhere near the same trouble with time frame or difficulty, but it seems that the roots of this one are somewhere in China. It might seem odd, but when I dig into the Earth on this one, I can actually smell the fragrance of garlic and peanut oil indicating someone is cooking Chinese food near by. Upon further investigation however, the odor is coming from the hole that I dig indicating that I've gone too far, yet the tree stump is still in place. Evidently this particular tree came with a stronger constitution than most.
The poor tree was the victim of last winter's extreme weather. Our palm trees cannot withstand the cold temperatures we've been experiencing ever since Al Gone invented "global warming"... I wish he would just stick to politics where we can simply ignore him.
Moving on, I've investigated what permits I am required to get in order to use dynamite. Surely that will remove the stubborn stump and perhaps even the house?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursdays are always Quiet...

Today was unseasonably cold. We don't really have the wardrobes to dress for this weather. For the most part, the early morning was in the upper 30's and eventually got to 58. To us, that's frickin cold! I opted not to go to the auction this morning, as the wind was blowing and frankly, if you live in a place where it's almost always ideal, there's no reason suffer the extremes of the climate, when you can just wait a day or two for it to warm up... Sound like I'm spoiled, I am...
I ventured down to my car lot today and "weathered" the extreme elements. This is another example of adverse weather conditions. The trailer that I occupy for an office is not heated and after a cold night like last night, it was a good 20 degrees colder inside than it was outside in the sun. In the summertime, it's the same, but the other extreme. That trailer gets up to 130 degrees in the summer without using the AC, which is currently not installed. It will be a deal breaker this summer and if I know Paul, my landlord, he'll wait until the very last moment to do anything about it. It will be 110 degrees in July when he finally puts on the right hat to install the AC that sits on the ground next to the trailer. It's a shame that he's so predictable.
When I got there, Paul already had his menagerie of onlookers. They consisted of old Bob, a 70 year old man that sells cars occasionally and works full time at a furniture store. With old Bob, was his son, a 34 year old man that seemed to know everything about everything, we've all seen the type. In addition was Al, an old friend of Paul's from high school that just hangs around Paul's when he's got a day off from his job at Avis where he changes oil on their rental fleet. The most important thing that happened to him this decade was driving school that the state insisted upon, after his last speeding ticket. Al quotes from the "Rules of the Road" like nobodies business! So, there you have the entourage plus me, a 61 year old man that's trying to find out what he used to do for a living before he retired 3 years ago. I seem to be in the right place, I just seemed busier back then.
I stood around listening to bullshit for about an hour and left after putting the sale price on my 07 Chevy truck and rearranging a few cars that I've owned since before the invention of the wheel. I headed home and noticed my gas gauge was screaming for me to stop and fill up. I paid about $290 a gallon for fuel and thanked my lucky stars for Toyota! I headed home for a late lunch... and a nap.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your New American Idol.....

Off Limits!!!
We're going to Hollywood!
My best friend in the world has 4 legs and fur covers his entire body. He goes by the name of Bogie, from a long line of Bogies, but he has proven to be number one in every possible way. His personality and emotions shine through in every incidence. He's understanding and embarrassed when he makes a faupaux. Bogie is having a birthday in about 10 days, he'll be 10 years old and for a Great Dane, that just great longevity. He's been the ideal companion and as he gets older, I just let him have whatever it is that he wants. Our living room has always been "off limits" to Bogie and the other morning I awakened to find him just sprawled out across the white carpets stretching after his nights sleep. I smiled and thought, that's the least I can give him, a leisurely morning in his "off limits" living room that no one goes into anyway.

The thing that makes me think of him right now is, I was lying on the sofa watching American Idol, as bad as the first ones of the season are, and Bogie walked from his own sofa, he has his own, and came over to me and looked at my feet and said something in Great Danish, that sounded like, "move your feet"! I was shocked to say the least. Then he nudged my feet over and began to slowly climb up onto my sofa as I laughed like a hyena at feeding time.. That's what I call, "Pushing it"! This boy is currently so spoiled that he thinks he can get away with anything. And he can!

As he gets older, he has trouble navigating the stairs to our bedroom. Last night, after a failed attempt and falling down and rolling over, he was reluctant to try it again. I coaxed him and told him there were cookies up there waiting for him. He finally got his running start and launched himself successfully up the 17 stairs, where there were no cookies. That required an addition trip to the kitchen for me, as Bogie waited anxiously.

Zoie, on the other hand is a finicky eater. I'll give her a cookie and she lets it sit in front of her for hours, just taunting poor Bogie. He comes to me whining that she's not going to eat it, why can't he just have it?

After the Dynamic Duo go out for the last time at night, when they come back in, I give them each a cookie. Bogie wolfs his down and Zoie takes hers to the crate to guard and taunt poor Bogie. That's when Bogie gets creative. It bedtime and I've already turned out the lights and ascended the stairs. The Dynamic Duo are having a standoff. From upstairs, I can watch as Bogie stretches and makes Zoie think he's going off to bed. He starts to go up the stairs and waits about half way up. As soon as Zoie takes his lead and comes out of the crate, Bogie doubles back and gets that cookie as Zoie growls from the stairs looking back. When these two take their leave for that big kennel up in the sky, I'm sure going to miss them.

Bogie is becoming a little incontinent lately. I called the lady that I know from the Great Dane rescue that has become a friend over the years.. Linda tells me that she's got an 18 month old male that's available, as well as a 12 month old female fawn, but the "Lovely Jules" and I both agree that these are our last dogs....

Speaking of the "Lovely Jules", I ventured over to her house late last night. She was suffering from the 3rd day of a migraine headache and was badly in need of a shoulder and neck massage. When I arrived, Pawpaw was nowhere to be found, but we could hear him barking announcing my arrival. I found him hiding in Julie's walk-in closet, where the door had closed behind him. It appears that he's afraid of the wind and was hiding from it. We were going to throw him a coming out party celebrating his "coming out"...

Jules got a massage and quickly fell asleep as Pawpaw snored his night away and I got a lonely midnight ride down the 101, to the waiting Dynamic Duo.... A couple of cookie starved pups!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Pancakes for EVERYONE!

If you think it was easy getting this picture, you're WRONG!
You really can't get a good idea of Bogie's size from this picture, but he's 35" at the shoulder and 275 LB. He's a big boy and he got that way by eating anything that wasn't nailed down. He's also one of Pavlov's dogs and drools non-stop when he's going to eat. All I have to do is mention "cookies" and he's flooding the floor, thus slobber towels are everywhere around here. Now that I've enchanted you with a description of what the house looks like with Bogie living here, I wouldn't have it any other way. On the other hand, Zoie is petite quiet and an anorexic girl. She has to be plied to get her to eat anything. For me to get her to eat her kibble, I have to lace it with cheddar cheese and pretend I'm having the same thing for dinner as she. Thus the difference in their weights. Zoie is a slim 110 LB.
From the moment that Bogie heard me open the kitchen cupboard, his ears perked up and he could only hope that we were having pancakes this morning, clearly his favorite. When he saw me take out the mixing bowl, he knew it was going to be a pancake morning and let the flooding begin. I insist he wait on the sofa until I'm through making them and I eat first, letting the remainder cool on the counter. He watches me like a hawk as I finish mine and he knows it's his turn. This is when Zoie gets interested too. The two of them start to crowd me as I insist that they behave, lest I get mauled for my pancakes. Bogie catches his on a fly as it goes soaring through the air and Zoie runs to her crate where she can take girlie sized bites and enjoy hers. Bogie literally inhales his 2 big pancakes in less than 7 seconds and is at the back door waiting to be let out to get a drink. If I let them drink water in the house, it tends to look like a swamp around here.
You just got a bird's eye view of what it's like to live with almost 400 LB of Great Danes. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bread n Butter...

Years ago, actually a lifetime ago, I was a young boy living in my parent's home and at every meal, there in the middle of the table was a plate that held about 7 or 8 slices of bread, white bread and not far from that plate was another dish that held the butter and they were the staples of the meal. I believe it was my father that professed, " you should eat bread and butter, it's good for you". What a long way we've come since those days? Now, bread made with bleached flour and butter are our enemies. Bread is now compared to sugar and it's a bulk food that causes weight gain and of course the dreaded butter clogs our arteries and shortens our lives.
There used to be expressions like, communication is the bread and butter of any relationship. Doing business with Sears is the bread and butter of my business! These expressions are obsolete now, so is the dish of bread in the middle of the table. I guess we've come a long way, or have we? There is no longer a meal that the entire family eats together. The kitchen counter has replaced the kitchen table and families no longer gather at mealtime. Grab what you can and run is the new philosophy. Frozen favorites, mac and cheese from a box and sandwiches have replaced sit down meals and our society reflects the change.
At one point, both of my son's families lived here in town and when they'd invite me over for dinner and I mean a Thanksgiving dinner, it was buffet style and grab a place to sit if you can find one. Your lap is the table, good luck... People ate in shifts, too... I guess I'm just old fashioned, but I sure miss the sit down dinners, they were the "bread n butter" of my day...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Spiders for Dinner?

In an all out effort to become a food critic, Julie and I went out for dinner last night. Although I've complained about many foods in the past, doing it and writing it down may be beyond me. Once you mention the steak is overdone, you've pretty much said it all. Frankly, to complain and have someone pay you to write it down is beyond my comprehension. I've been giving it away for years!

I arrived at Julie's house about 7:15 and she looked radiant. She had been to what she calls the spa and had some treatments done, all of which were too complicated to mention, so we'll leave it at that. She'd bought a new black sweater that truly complimented her figure and after she explained that it was NOT a maternity top, I felt better. We were off to the new Tutti Santi's on 59th Ave.

When we entered, I opened the large antique door and about 3 people fell out! It was mobbed. We scurried our way to the hostess and she asked if we'd had reservations. I replied, no but we'd like you to act like we did. Evidently that went over her head as she handed us down to her subordinate, a very confused young girl that asked if we had reservations. No, seemed to be the answer of the day. I told Julie not to worry as Lao, the owner came walking up with his hand outstretched and a smile on his face, saying my name. We greeted, exchanged niceties and he abandoned us. I told Jules not to worry, they know me here. We sat on a nice comfortable love seat when Julie said, why don't we wait in the bar. Okay, I replied and we headed to the bar to stand around, as there was no seating in there either, humph!

As we headed back to our private love seat, Julie mentioned that we were the only ones that were waiting, that everyone else was being seated. The 15 minutes seems to fly by and the hostess pointed a finger at us and pointed to a table in their Art Room. Her confused assistant escorted us to be seated, said something indistinguishable and left. Ah, the Art Room, named that way because there was some art on the walls, nice...

I picked up the menu and realized I'd forgotten my glasses and simulated reading the menu by Braille. That got me an elbow to the ribs by the "Lovely Jules". Back to business! Julie was kind enough to read me the menu and truly, the reason that I was there was to sample their pizza, that I'd heard was sensational. Julie doesn't like pizza and ordered an appetizer of Calamari and squid in a marinara sauce. That sounded interesting until it came. The other choice was to have it sauteed'. Julie and I got into an argument over what saute' means. She insisted it meant in a sauce and insisted that it meant fried. I just looked it up and it means to "fry in a small amount of oil". I knew I was right, but our waitress settled the argument by saying that fried is frita, but that's in Italian, I meant French! I can't wait to tell her I was right, that'll piss her off!

I excused myself to the men's room and when I returned our appetizer was offered. It looked scary!!! Okay, it was calamari un-breaded and floating in the marinara sauce that was good. In addition to the calamari, was the squid that looked a great deal like tarantula spiders that met a horrible death, like by drowning. One had crawled up on top of a calamari to try to avoid the burning hot marinara sauce, but to no avail. When Julie mention that the calamari tasted like ear lobes, I looked for a place to spit mine out! Julie used her napkin wisely and we were about done with appetizers, no fault of the restaurant's, just poor choices. We should have had the s-a-u-t-e-d selection...

The pizza came and it was great, but Julie doesn't really like pizza and took 2 bites and left the rest. So as not to leave her sitting alone while I feasted, I opted to eat a couple of pieces and ask for the balance to be bagged up. Julie mention that both times we had been here, that the service was under par and I agreed. It will probably take them a while to get the bugs out of their system, and their marinara sauce! Julie grabbed the check explaining that it was her turn to buy. I've never let a woman pay my way before, I'm old school, but I kind of like the new woman's movement, particularly when they pay! As usual, Julie WAAAAY over tipped and we left.

With out pizza boxed up, we forgot it on the table and headed home, where Pawpaw was delighted to see us and actually ran in circles to prove it..

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Costco Olive Oil
Over the years, I've spent a lot of money at Costco. Before that I belonged to Price Club at the same locations. I've been a member since the early 80's. I've brought many new customers to the locations and all of them were not only impressed with the operation, but they were thankful for me to introducing them to warehouse shopping. This is clearly not the case with my current steady girlfriend, who shall remain nameless, but lives in the Arrowhead Estates with a wonderful dog that has accepted me as a pack member, named Pawpaw.

One of the nice things about buying in bulk when you are a single person is sharing the values by splitting them up, each taking half. This sort of activity in self explanatory and ready shouldn't have to be explained. Today I instant messaged my "steady girl" and asked her if she'd like to sell me 1/2 of her purchase of olive oil that she purchased some weeks ago. You are required to buy 2 full gallons of the healthy oil at one time and the last time I did that it lasted me 10 years. I fear that I might not live long enough to use that much olive oil again, making me think of asking the "Lovely Steady Girlfriend" to share hers. That's when she informed me that she already gave 1/2 of her oil to her daughter, weeks ago. Well ain't that just ducky? Not only did I introduce her to Costco, but her daughter gave her her own membership to "my" Costco for Christmas. I feel jilted, jaded and all of the other "J" words that apply... Looks like I'll be needing a new partner to shop with and "partner up" with as well!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Deep Tissue Swedish Massage...

Julie invited me over for dinner last night. All I had to do was beg for about 30 minutes and she just went ahead and asked me. I told her that all I ever eat is junk food and cookies and banana bread with peanut butter and she simply caved. It was nice of her, I thought. When I got there, she had already eaten, but made me a big bowl of homemade chicken soup, loaded with chunks of chicken, little potatoes, peas, carrots and lots of other vegetables. It was more like a chicken stew, but since I have a son with that exact name (Stu), I've learned not to use that name next to chicken. When he was young, we used to tease him and call him Chicken Stu. With that said, I should probably go ahead and describe the salad.
I'm told it was wonderful. It had avocado, eggs, croutons and lots of other goodies. When I got there, all that was left was chopped lettuce, cucumbers sans the seeds, tomato slices and my choice of dressings. It was great and the best thing I'd eaten all week.
I noticed that Julie was favoring one side of her back and asked what was wrong. She told me that the massage chair that she had bought me for one of my Christmas presents became available a couple of days ago and it had been kicking her ass! The one that she gave me for Christmas didn't work when we plugged it in, so the Sharper Image was going to notify her when they got one in stock. I guess that happened over the weekend, but somehow no one ever notified me, the recipient. Instead, said giver of such gift kept it to her little self and used it all weekend while I just wondered about it, hmmm........
I was pretty excited about it and wanted to try it out. Julie volunteered to me that I probably wouldn't like it. Imagine that, she thought I wouldn't like a nice gentle massage by an inanimate creation that promised not to get tired when it first started feeling good. With a full belly, I settled into the big reclining chair that vibrated and massaged all in one. Upon Julie's advice, I leaned back into it to really enjoy the deep tissue Swedish Massage that it offered. That was around the time I first screamed out in pain! Julie laughed her ass off and I was trying to get out of this monster that was trying to kill me! The more I tried to escape, the more it sucked me in. It had a mind of it's own while Julie was holding her stomach laughing. I told you , you wouldn't like it, she kept saying as this gang member attacked each rib independently. I finally escaped the reach of this deadly chair and screamed for the gun. Shoot the mother I kept saying, while Julie kept giggling like a hyena. When I left last night to come home, we agreed it should stay at Julie's house and I can go ahead and use it whenever I'm there. (Like that's gonna happen).
I found my good sunglasses! It was the best thing that happened to me today. First, let me tell you that I'm the type of anal person that doesn't lose his things and when I do, I HATE it. Right now, in my car is a box of Julie's breath mints, on my dresser is a pair of her earrings and around my house there are several tubes of Blistex. I'm not like that, I try to hold onto my things.
One time I lost my sunglasses for almost a year. Firstly, I replaced them with a pretty nice pair and then one day, my son and I went to our favorite Chinese restaurant and the owner saw Brad and ran to him saying, "I've got your sunglasses"! I had been on a diet and not gone to that restaurant for a very long time. Diets and Chinese food don't get along. When the gentleman put down the sunglasses in front of my son, I almost screamed in delight. My old friends had come back to me. Why he thought they belonged to my son is beyond me, but the important thing was that we were reunited.
One day about 2 months ago, I noticed that my old sunglasses had disappeared. I looked everywhere, including Julie's house, all of my cars, all of my drawers and pockets of clothes I'd worn................ nothing! Today, I got into a car that has been sitting around my car lot for waaay too long and decided to try to start it. I climbed inside and there on the passenger's seat were my old faithful friends, just sitting there waiting patiently for me to reclaim them. You know what? This made for a pretty boring story!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

My Banana Bread Recipe...

Please excuse the crack in the banana bread, we had an earthquake here!

A few days ago I wrote about how I'd bought a couple of cake mixes. What I really bought was banana bread mix and Saturday night, in lieu of having anything else to do, I compiled the required ingredients and cooked up the mother. Feminists would have you believe that this was something that can only be done with great concentration, but the truth is that students from the short bus could do it. Here is where this educated genius did get into little trouble. They made a big deal about having the right sized pan and I didn't have one of those and I think that's why mine kind of collapsed in the middle a little. Also, even though I used Pam on the pan, as instructed, it did stick to the bottom a little, I think I used the wrong kind of glue.

After cooking it an indeterminate amount of time, as it varied depending on your pan size, I stuck a toothpick into it and it came out clean as suggested. Voila! I had me a cooked banana bread fit for a king that likes his banana bread broken up a little.

Now pay attention here: This is the reason that I'm even bothering writing about such a mundane experience. This was given to me by an ex-daughter-in-law that is fat and fat chicks know their stuff about eating. She told me to spread a little peanut butter over the banana bread after heating it up just a little in the mike, like 15 seconds. These are 2 flavors that compliment each other. You'll LOVE it. I did! Evidently, so did the fat ex-daughter-in-law....

John Thomas has Passed On...

Around 1980, I met a gentleman named John Thomas. I met him in a business capacity, but we soon developed a personal relationship of lunches and meeting each other's families. Tom, as I soon started calling him, was a used car manager at a local Buick dealership and I owned a used car lot here in Scottsdale, AZ. Over the years we developed a long term relationship that included inviting him to my second wedding and to share weekends and holidays together. Although Tom was about 10 years my senior, that really never entered into the equation.
Tom changed jobs several times and I was right there supporting him, as any friend would. He knew my children well and I knew his wife and kids too. At some point Tom went to work for me, buying cars and we were able to survive that awkward time, as well.
Then around 2004, I was opening my current business and Tom was to drive a truck that he borrowed from me and pick me up at the location that was to be my used car lot. It currently was just an open lot on a hot summer day in Phoenix AZ, it was about 112 degrees that day. I hadn't put up the building yet and there was no escape from the blinding summer heat. Tom didn't show up for 2 hours and when he did, I asked where in the hell he'd been? Tom exploded, jumping out of the moving truck and stamped off and decided to walk home, even though it was about 12 miles. I knew he called his wife for a ride and I was not about to beg him to get back into the truck. That year, many things ensued. Tom's wife developed ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease and quickly died, actually within 30 days she was gone and I had the heart episode that took me out of the game for waaaay too long.
During that time, Tom and I didn't communicate until one day I received an email, something about a monster truck. I wrote back to Tom that "I haven't heard from you in 18 months and all you have to tell me is about some big old truck"? Tom replied that he doesn't even have that email address any longer and he sent that email to me almost 2 years earlier. Sure enough, I checked the date and it was 2 full years old. I thought, the Lord works in mysterious ways! He held off on me getting that email so Tom and I would reunite for some reason. He asked what was new and I told him about my heart episode and replied asking him what was new with him? He said, Fay died! I called him and got the details and made arrangements to meet with him for lunch. He explained to me that he's been suffering from a series of strokes that have left him similar to a man with Alzheimer's disease and he has a really hard time remembering anything. He explained that he's had it for awhile and fay used to be his reminder, but since her death, he's had to write everything down. I told him to write down that he's supposed to meet me for lunch and then made arrangements to meet with him.
Here is something that he didn't tell me. The disease that he suffers from has rendered him a liar. That he doesn't tell the truth about anything and cannot remember places or dates or times. I sat waiting for him for over an hour when he walked in explaining that this is just how his life is now. I wouldn't accept that, but didn't tell him that. I suggested that next time, I'll just pick him up and we'll go to lunch. He agreed.
During our lunch, he told me how he had joined a dating service for seniors and met a woman that lived in Sedona and was deeply in love with her. He'd spent about a month shacked up with her in her Sedona estate and they had big plans for the future. Although I thought it was a little too soon after Fay's death and they had been married for 45 years, I was still happy for him. He never mentioned her again and when I asked him about his new love, he had no idea of what I spoke. Now, I don't know if he lied to me and doesn't remember or if he's forgotten his great new love all together... That's when I kind of realized there wasn't enough of Tom left to be friends with. I guess Tom got some money when Fay passed away, so he went to the Dodge dealership and bought a brand new Dodge Charger GT for cash, in spite of the fact that he already had a new car. Then he met a woman in Florida, online and drove his new car down there and got her and brought her back. I never met her and I'm sure she's very nice, but she's 78 years old!!! Tom is 70.
Tom was calling repeatedly and when I don't return his calls promptly, he comes to my house and beats on the door until I answer. He insisted on making another lunch date with me, even though I knew he wouldn't be able to keep it. Because I agreed, I went to the restaurant and waited 20 minutes for him, then left. Tom either never showed up or was real late and figured I didn't show up. Either way, he's mad at me and hasn't bothered me for quite some time. This was the first time he didn't even send me a Christmas card in years. Although I feel guilty, it's just easier to make believe that the Tom that I knew has passed on...

A New Nash-Rambler!

My dream car...
Although I risk aging myself radically, I dare bring up the memory of an automobile that suddenly disappeared off the face of the Earth. The Nash-Rambler, that was later known as just Rambler, that was finally known as American Motors. They were manufactured in a place called Racine, Wisconsin. Myself being born and raised in Chicago, as a teenager we often took the ride to Wisconsin to take advantage of their reduced drinking age of 18. Picture a carload of teenagers driving North to Wisconsin with nothing on their minds beside getting drunk on beer, then driving home. MADD would have a field day with us in modern times. Shortly after crossing the border, we would hit a town called Racine and we would start the fun rolling, as every resident of Racine drove an American Motors car. It didn't matter whether it was a Rambler Ambassador or just a Rambler American, it was going to be a Rambler. Here lied the secret. Rambler offered a ridiculously generous discount to the residents of Racine to purchase and drive a Rambler.

Can you imagine growing up in Racine and dreaming of the day you turn 16, so you can get your driver's license, so you can eventually drive a Rambler. Kids across the country were dreaming of Mustangs and Corvettes, while your dream was to be the Rambler American with the twin stick, 6 cylinder... How sad?

Everything in life is part of a continuum. It's what you expect out of life. If you expect more out of life than a Rambler, then that's what you will achieve. It's where you set your sights. It's whether you raise or lower the bar. But a Nash-Rambler, really?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I'll Have the Chateau Briand, Please....

As excited as I am about the new computer, let that not overshadow some other great news that happened today. New Year's Day, Julie told me that she was going to audition for the local newspaper's food critique section. As an employee of a newspaper that serves 5 million people, her/our responsibility would be to eat at and enjoy the efforts of numerous restaurants and clubs here in the "Valley of the Sun" and write a critique of that establishment the following day. As many as 4 people can be in the party and of course the food is FREE!!! In addition she will be paid for her efforts, because let's face it, no one would do that for FREE!!! Hellooooo, are you kidding me? This is a fat guy's heaven! Neither Jules or I are, heh heh, but try us next year.....
When Julie called to tell me that the computer had come, I almost didn't hear her tell me that she also got the job working for the newspaper. She's, ahem "We're" in! Since this occurred, I sent out an email to a few friends telling them about Julie's wonderful accomplishment and almost every one of them has replied and offered to join us... Who would have guessed?

Christmas in January...

2007 Dell 17" Vostro, Power Steering, A/C & Moonroof!
Well, it finally came! We were waiting for it was open arms. The days went by so slowly that I thought I was 7 again... Remember how when you were waiting for the Sears catalogue delivery of your new toy, or the corduroy pants that we so in style, or better yet, the ones with the buckle in the back? I called Julie about 5 different times today and kept asking if it had come yet. She repeatedly answered that she said she would call me, remember??? Yeah, yeah, yeah... I was anxious. This is the day that DHL is delivering my new laptop that Julie got me for Christmas!! I knew that she said she'd call me, but I thought maybe she forgot or got busy at work. How could I take that chance...

At about 3:30 I was sitting in the waiting room at a blood lab, waiting for some vampire to extract just enough blood to satisfy himself for dinner, when the call came. Right in front of me was a sign that read no cell phone calls allowed in the waiting room! I felt the familiar vibration and I knew if I didn't answer it, it would go off like an alarm clock at 6 AM. I half whispered hello as I ran my ass out the door, creating quite a confusion with the geriatric crowd that frequents such a place. It was Julie announcing it had come... She said she was bringing it over in about 30 minutes. As I re-entered the blood-letting salon, they called my name and I was quickly jabbed, drained and wrapped to dry. I split!!!

I walked in the door and was immediately accosted my the Dynamic Duo. I'd been gone for about 6 hours and that's longer than they were used to "holding" it. Don't forget these are senior citizens now. I don't think I could hold on for 6 hours these days! I no sooner fed them their dinners when Julie used her key to open my front door. Like a little kid, I said hello and then "where is it"? Out in the truck, she replied. All four of us went out to her truck, but between you and me, neither dog helped in the least to carry it in!

Julie whipped out her box cutter, she had thought of everything. We ripped and tore and fought with the Styrofoam. We tore boxes and finally freed the entangled laptop. It was beautiful, but the work was just about to begin.. As usual, it required a phone call to India to complete the installation that took about 4 hours in total. The wireless feature was what took so long. Women tend to have more patience than men when it comes to this sort of thing, but I was questioning that thought when I saw the look on Julie's face after about 3 hours of having the technicalities explained to her. Suddenly, without warning the security was in place and it was ready to rock and roll. Between just us, I was glad that Julie handled it, this way there are no thrown or smashed parts to replace....

About 30 minutes after Julie left, she IM'ed me on the computer and said that if I had any questions, just to call her. Hell, I only called her 3 times so far... You may not be able to tell, but I used this new computer to write this post. It looks clearer than my old one, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Old picture of me in 1963, plenty of testosterone!
Today was Seniors day at Fry's grocery store, the only day a month that I own up to being my actual age and proudly so. If you're over 55, you get 10% off of the bill at check out. This appeals to me, due to my heritage.

A strange thing happened in the parking lot. An older gentleman was sitting in his late model Nissan van waiting for a parking place and I ever so discreetly inched around him and was about to slowly pass him when he changed his mind and started moving ahead to another lane. I was already in that lane and he all but smashed into me. Without honking, I continued on my way and pulled into the new parking spot. Mr. Nissan pulled into the parking spot right next to me and got out of his monster van. I thought certainly there would be some sort of a confrontation, but instead he nodded to me and I nodded back..... Whoa!!! What ever happened to good old "road rage"?

As I walked into Fry's to do my grocery shopping I was utterly dumbfounded not to have fought with the other guy. Ten years ago, the scene would have been ugly and one of us would probably have gone to jail. I've read where testosterone diminishes in men my age and I had been wondering why I seam content to watch Oprah in the afternoons and my eyes well up with tears when she talks about saving some family from ruin. Today I bought a couple of cake mixes too, something I would never have attempted in my youth. The big thing was avocados. I bought 2 avocados. Julie made me dinner a few days ago and she made a special cucumber salad and it offered avocados and I liked them. Men NEVER buy avocados, it's chick food! In my 61 years, I've never bought anything but steaks and eggs and coffee in a grocery store. Today I bought salad stuff, a cake mix, and a blueberry pie. It's got to be the missing testosterone!!!

Talking about losing one's testosterone is a very delicate topic and please don't misunderstand, I'm still getting okay references in the bedroom area, but this is the first time I've lost my male drive in the kitchen or in front of the TV. Do you think it's a problem that "The Notebook" is my favorite movie? I certainly hope the "Lovely Jules" doesn't read this, she's been doing a lot of knitting lately and would love to have a partner!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Julie Got the GOOD One!!!

Happy 2008!
This year came roaring in with a lot more hoopla than last year. Last year, I recall sitting with the Dynamic Duo and watching Dick Clark age just a little more... I said a "Happy New Year" to the dogs and went swiftly to sleep. When I awakened, 2007 was already well on it's way and it was business as usual.
This year I spent New Years Eve with the "Lovely Jules"....

After some confusion about what we were going to do to celebrate this "Holy Holiday", (Only holy to Born Again Lovers"), Julie asked at the eleventh hour, "Is the new Tutti Santi's open yet"? As the light bulb actually lit over my head duh, I volunteer that I'd call and find out, then call her back. First I tried calling Robbie, my Tutti Santi connection, but he didn't answer. I tried the phone book, but that only gave me the other locations. I tried the Scottsdale location and got Louisa, who was nice enough to give me the West Side phone number and after jumping through 12 hoops of voicemail, Jane answered with her Chicago accent and offered to help me. After asking all the right questions she told me that they'd be happy to seat me tonight at either 7 or 9 PM, which is a lot better than the Hammerhead that said if we could get there immediately, they could seat us, but were packed for the rest of the night. I chose the 7 PM seating and she asked how many would be in my party, Mr. Fisher? Completely forgetting about caller ID, I thought somehow she recognized my voice. How vain is that? She asked me to confirm the phone number that I was calling from and I told her to look down and just get it, she laughed.. Suddenly, I had remedied something I'd been worrying about all week. We had plans for New Year's Eve! I couldn't wait to call Julie back and tell her the good news. She was delighted as well.

After telling the Dynamic Duo goodnight and wishing them a happy new year, I left for the home of the "Lovely Jules", about 20 minutes away. I had bought a nice bottle of champagne and thought to prepare it in a Styrofoam box I'd been saving for just the right occasion and filled it with ice and the champagne. That done, I dressed and felt confident that I'd done my part to make this a memorable event. As I drove West on my old friend the 101, I whistled along to the music, that by the grace of God was NOT Christmas music!

I showed up at Julie's house promptly at 6:45, giving us just the right amount of time to get to the restaurant in time for our reservation. Julie looked wonderful, sporting all of her "bling" and a new suede jacket that she had bought that day, to wear with her tight jeans and her turtle neck top, outlined with a giant diamond necklace. Overflow has been kind!

Tutti Santi's was a mere 5 minute ride from her house and we found it without incidence. We parked on the far side of the restaurant and were pleasantly surprised to see the magnitude of the decor. It was elegant, yet warm and done with a great deal of taste. Jane, the hostess, was easily recognized by her screaming Chicago accent.. She asked us if we'd prefer the bar or the Art Room and we didn't indicate a preference. She seated us in the Art Room, that was outlined with Matao's paintings. Matao is the son of the owner, Leo. Matao welcomed us and came walking over with an outstretched hand. I'd never seen Leo with a suit on before and he looked like a little boy wearing his Dad's suit. He must be about 5' 2".

I looked over and could see that Julie was impressed, by the smile she had on her face. Between the beautiful decor and Leo's heavy Italian accent, Julie was being swept away to a sidewalk cafe' in Naples and she'd brought me along for the ride. She looked happy.... and that made me happy...

We ordered and enjoyed the homemade chicken broth along with a delightful loaf of bread and garlic butter. The wait staff worked well together for the most part and everything was at the 9's. That's when it happened. We had just gotten our entrees and were about to eat like kings and queens when Julie reached over and whispered in my ear, "My Tutti Santi's is better than your Tutti Sant's"! I was flabbergasted and overwhelmed, but she was right! She now had a place on her side of town where she can always count on a meal of perfection when she doesn't want to cook and only 5 minutes away....

We finished the meal and took the quiet ride back to Julie's house and brought in the new year like content adults really ought to..... I'll leave the rest to your imaginations...... Happy New Year, 2008.....