Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dinner Out...

Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of having dinner with an old friend. I don't really mean she's old, but we've been acquaintances for some time. For the sake of anonymity, let's call her NMS, a series of initials that have become familiar to me. Because NMS is currently a member of the "Fat Chick Club" our choice of restaurants was rather limited. NMS is a BIG fan of pizza, but due to her current profile, it was completely out of the question. She suggested a place at the Biltmore that specialized in all natural cuisine, but food sans the chemicals might upset my artificially seasoned stomach, so I opted out of that choice. Next she suggest the Pita Jungle, but something about eating at that place didn't seem right, plus eating in a jungle just confused me. We settled on a trendy place at 32nd and Camelback that serves a variety of dishes that allowed me to indulge in my normal diet of hamburgers and sweet potato fries, while it still offered a variety of salads for porky NMS. Let me clarify something before going on. NMS is a delightful 5' 7" and 128 LB, but feels that if she gets down to her normal fighting weight of 115, she'll feel better. That settled, let's move on. NMS told me the restaurant's name was "Blue", but it turned out that it was merely the color of their sign. I think the name was Finest's or something close.
It was the perfect night for outside dining, the heat was finally leaving our valley and the temp was about 75 degrees. NMS leading the way, asked for outside seating and since AZ is a non-smoking state, that was fine with me. We were seated on their patio that was adjacent to the parking lot, allowing us plenty of interesting topics to choose from including the waiting section that just so happened to be right smack dab against the left side of our table. I wasn't sure how to portray this particular part, but our table was really part of the parking lot, but cordoned off to be separate, with a railing around the seating portion. For a waiting section and apparently we got the very last table, they placed several chairs, really in the parking lot but placed up against our table with only the railing dividing us. We chatted as NMS read me the menu because as usual, I forgot my glasses. We chatted along sharing a conversation when out of nowhere came a young couple in their early 20's sitting down in the waiting section.
I couldn't help but notice that the young lady could not have been cuter and her companion looked to be gay. Most cute girls have a gay friend and we were almost kissing distance from this couple when our conversation went to where we went wrong in our relationship that was about 2 years earlier. NMS said we may have felt differently about one another had we slept together, but since we didn't there was no bond to hold us together, although there was that was a connection. I replied something to the effect of, that perhaps we should just go back to her house and sleep together right now!
I could help but notice that the young girl, who was alone now as her gay friend went wandering off somewhere, moved her head about 2 inches closer when NMS said we had not slept together and my remark was definitely playing to her, as an audience. When I dropped the bomb of, "Let's go back to your house right now and sleep together" our youthful audience turned around with her glass held high and toasted us with her Martini. All three of us fell into a fit of laughter, when suddenly our food arrived changing the mood to famished...
Another odd thing about the restaurant was their restroom. I found it by passing a double sink in a counter and to the left was a door reading MEN'S. Upon entering I saw a urinal and a toilet. When I finished, I turned around and looked for the sink. There was not one. I went out of the men's room and used the sink in the hall, next to a young lady already washing her hands. For some reason I felt very European and mentioned it to the young lady washing her hands next to me. She told me she'd never been abroad and left.. Humph....

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Martha Stewart Show...

A very odd thing just happened to me that I felt I should share with humanity. After showering and skipping happily down the stairs, (yeah, I still skip) I turned on the TV and proceeded to the coffee maker for a hot cup of Joe. I was hungry after skipping dinner last night and opting for a few cookies to staid off hunger. I decided on a full American breakfast that not only could close off all of my veins, but bring on cardiac arrest in a heartbeat. I had the special of the day, the Blue Plate Special, sausage friend in butter, 2 eggs fried in butter, hash brown potatoes (ready) friend in butter and toast, plied in butter, but don't worry, I take Lipitor to lower my Cholesterol.
As I prepared my feast, the TV was turned to ABC and the Martha Stewart Show was on in the background. I didn't really pay too much attention to what was going on, on the TV, as I was busy preparing my breakfast and being careful to dodge splattering butter. When the meal was ready, I carefully carried it to my table to enjoy and that I did. Now listening to the Martha Stewart Show for the first time, I was too interested in eating to actually leave my meal to look for the remote. I ate and listened. The topic was preparing Halloween muffins for parties celebrating the holiday. I was truly bored but listened on. That's when it happened!
Out of nowhere, my male genitalia started shriveling and began forming somewhat of a pocket. I was horrified! Then I started feeling misty-eyed and just wanted to be held. Then the cramps and the desire to nest and be like Sara Palin!!!
Falling to the floor, I dragged myself to the remote and hit the "off" position. As I laid there with my breakfast congealing into a firm stick of burned butter, my body parts resumed their normal characteristics and I ran to the sink to splash some cold water in my face, trying to catch my breath.
I'm better now and feeling pretty much like normal, but later I'm going shopping for shoes and maybe a matching purse...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Chicago Trip...

Linda and I made it to Chicago to pick up the Toyota, but only one of us made it back. I'll get to that later.
The flight to Chicago was my first time flying since the events of 9/11 and I wasn't quite sure of what to expect, but it was pretty uneventful as we just cruised through all of the hoopla. I had brought cash to pay for the Toyota as we had agreed upon and was reluctant to let anyone know I had that much cash on me, but no one asked and no one cared. I was a little annoyed that the people in front of us had both a new born and a baby about a year old, but both slept through the entire flight after a screaming take off. The highlight of the flight was when Linda tapped me on the knee and asked if this flight flies "as the crow flies" or does it make turns? All I could do was look at her in disbelief at her question asking, "do you think we go to Denver and turn right?" Just then the flight attendant was passing by, a tall African-American gay man. I offered up Linda's question to him and he stopped and answered, all the while massaging my heterosexual shoulder, as he spoke. Just so you know, "we" don't like other men to massage our shoulders one little bit upon meeting them. This may have been my first homosexual experience! (and my last). Franco explained that it was the best question of the flight and the "asker" was to receive a free beer, as Linda boasted of her accomplishment.
After 3 hours and 25 minutes of feeling kind of light in my loafers, we landed. Feet safely on the ground, I learned why my Cricket phone is so cheap. It doesn't offer any service out of the Phoenix metropolitan area. I called my nephew Scott using Linda's phone, who was waiting outside the sliding doors. All we had to do was cross 6 lanes of moving traffic to get to him, when suddenly I remembered that people driving in Chicago would rather run you down than let you cross. I longed for a little "pedestrian has the right of way" action...
Scott, a rather large man, tossed our heavy suitcases into the backseat of Uncle Hanks car like they were feathers and we took off for a place called Northbrook and my dream car. Scott showed us the performance of the 2008 Chrysler 300 and it's Hemi engine while all we could do was hang on. It kind of reminded me of myself about 40 years ago.
It was cold and rainy in Chicago in preparation for our visit. Scott dropped us off at my friend's brother's house and gave us detailed instructions on how to find Aunt Pat's house, where we were to spend the night.
I almost forgot to include that my tooth had taken this very moment to abscess and was just killing me. As luck would have it, my car seller was a dentist and took me to his office for a quick evaluation. He took an x-ray and discovered it was fractured and needed to have a root canal or an extraction, neither of which he could perform on the spot. He prescribed an antibiotic and didn't even tease me as I looked for loose nuts to fill my other cheek. I looked like a squirrel preparing for a long winter. Whoa is me!
We arrived at Patty's house about 10 PM and sat up late and chatted. I'm glad I got a chance to see them. Patty is the lady that flew out to take care of me when I had my heart episode and I'll always be indebted to her for that, however I learned almost the hard way that a democrat should probably remain quiet when his host is a republican. We retired to bed where I was in so much tooth pain that I watched the sun come up while Linda gently snored. We were in a double bed, placed up against the wall and I took the inside position because Linda was complaining about a sore hip. I got stuck up against the wall, as Linda fell asleep right smack dab in the middle of that bed. I was literally stuck between a rock and a hard spot!
The following day we went out for breakfast after sitting in traffic for about 40 minutes to go 1/4 mile, while I inserted toothpick in my eyes to keep them open. We never did find out why the traffic was backed up. Then we went to a Walgreens to get my prescription filled, only to find out my health insurance is only good in AZ. Why should it be good in Chicago? You really don't need it when you're on vacation, right? So I had to pay full price for my Z-pack, whatever that was? I think that's when Linda reminded me that I promised that we could see downtown Chicago! But that's 50 miles in the opposite direction, right? She was pretty adamant about it so we headed to downtown Chicago on a Friday afternoon, when the direction we were supposed to be going was the opposite direction. Then she asked me if I could stop down there and she could jump out and buy some T-shirts for her kids that say "CHICAGO"?
She doesn't understand big cities and how you cannot park in downtown Chicago to run in and buy ANY-FUCKING-THING. You just keep on moving or get run over by buses or taxis or trucks. One thing you NEVER do is stop and run in. Naturally she got mad at me because I'm not understanding and all I wanted to to was get the hell out of Dodge (Chicago)..
I think that's when she rolled down the window and reached outside with her camera to photograph what used to be the Sears Tower and I pushed her out the window! She landed pretty square on her butt and I think she'll be okay. She's a resourceful girl and should be able to find her way home... The car got over 30 miles to the gallon on the peaceful ride home. It was nice...

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Death in the Family!

With all of the confusion of the Chicago trip, trying to arrange with a third party to get the title notarized, when he claims Illinois doesn't require it, while Arizona does, I completely forgot to celebrate today's anniversary. Today, 17 years ago, I closed on this house. I think it was a young man that handed over the down payment to some disinterested lady that was my closing coach. Sign here, here, and here, press hard, 5 copies. Do you have the check, "what, oh here!" I walked out of there a marked man. I was now to be the "HOMEOWNER"! The gentleman of the house as the telephone solicitors referred to it. When kids rang the bell asking for money for a Girl Scout Cookies, I was the man they were looking for. On Halloween, I was the guy with the candy. I was the "Gentleman of the House". I was a young man about 46. That's young when you're 63, trust me.
One of the things that happened almost immediately after moving in here, was my avocado washing machine took a crap and died. My son Brad and I went to Barry's Home Appliances and picked out a brand new one. I truly believe that the old one committed suicide because of it's color and it felt kind of out of place in the new digs. For that I will always be grateful. The new sparkling white one took it's place proudly.
Tonight is a banner night. That new white washing machine served us well for all of these years. She went through one wife and several girlfriends and never once complained and frankly, all of those women were not necessarily nice to "Whitey"...
Several months ago, Whitey started complaining. Her spin cycle got kind of loud. She screamed for attention, but I just yelled, "suck it up" we've all got problems. I ignored her warnings. Recently she got so loud you couldn't hear the TV playing and I still chose to ignore her. I just yelled "It's your bearings, you'll be fine"... She continued. Two weeks ago was the last time I bothered her with a load of laundry. She was slow starting and just screamed during her spin cycle. I turned the TV louder to ignore her. She finished and went right to sleep.
Tonight, needing clean underwear and jeans, I loaded her up, turned up her water level to "high"and pressed the ON button. Her agitator moved s-l-o-w-l-y and I asked her, what's wrong? She said nothing and her agitator stopped dead and the only thing I noticed was a constant hum coming from her motor and a steady stream of water coming out from under her overweight body...... Whitey was DEAD! Where do you bury a 150 LB washing machine?
I quickly ran for a bucket and some towels. I grabbed a big plastic cup and started baling out water as fast as I could. I had to stop that water before it hit the carpeting. Come on, we've all been there. I ran out to the garage and got my syphon, but only a kid stealing gasoline could ever make one work! Jeez...
As I sit here, I have about a hundred pounds of slushy dirty clothes in my drying just rolling along. I guess tomorrow I'll go washer shopping.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

That Angel on My Shoulder...

(2005 Toyota Camry LE)
Isn't it funny how ideas form and work their way through your head until they seem reasonable? Here's the idea and this is how it went.

My lifelong friend Barry mentioned to me that his mother, in her late 80's is moving to an assistance home at the end of this month and that she has to take the driver's license test again and surely will not pass it, therefore she has finally agreed to give up her car, a 2005 Toyota Camry. I listened and gave my opinion and we hung up, but only after Barry asked me what it was worth, as he was considering buying it. He didn't have a lot of information on it, so I had a difficult time giving my considered value. A few days went by and Barry called me again Tuesday morning and told me his brother, who lives in Chicago took it to Car-max and got a price of what they would pay for this car and it was $12,000 and that the car only has 7200 miles on it. Yes, you read that right. Almost 5 years old and 7200 miles, total. The wheels in my head started turning and I thought it was a pretty good value at that price. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I could resell that car for about $15,000, but the cost of getting the car here would make it prohibitive.

I think that's when Linda said, sounds like it would be a good road trip for us... The wheels started really turning then and without telling anyone, I started researching transport charges to ship a car from Chicago to Phoenix. After about 5 calls the time difference got in my way and I never did get a cost figure, but I knew it would be over $1000. For that kind of money, we could make a little mini-vacation out of the jaunt.

Finally, I made some more calls and arranged to buy the car from Barry's brother Len. Now I confirmed with Linda that she was indeed interested in this getaway and it was "all systems go!"

I shopped around on the Internet for prices and it turned out that if we could wait 2 weeks, the airline prices just about drop to 1/2, but Linda has to work that week, so that takes us up to the 29th of October, but she'll miss Halloween and her grandchildren.... So we moved it back to the 15th of October, or one week from today and in doing so, once again doubled the price of airfare. So be it. It's just how life is sometimes. I was online about to move the mouse to click "purchase", when I felt something tugging on my left ear...(It's already longer than I wanted it).

I looked over to the left and there stood a little angel with his legs crossed and just leaning there. With a great deal of surprise, I looked at him and asked, what? With a tsk, tsk, tsk, he looked over at me and told me who he was. He introduced himself as the American Express Angel. He said Dummy, you've been paying for this Rewards program for past several years and never cashed in on the benefits. Why don't you call my boss and see what he can do for you? With a puff of smoke, he was gone. (Humph) I called American Express and told them about the Angel, but their menu didn't allow for it, so a guy named Raymond had to do. He told me that I had plenty of points to fly to Chicago, one way, with a guest for FREE! Holy Moley!

So what started out a telephone conversation developed into a 4000 mile round trip. Plus I get to meet Barry's kid brother who was 15 the last time I saw him. He's 61 now, how do you suppose he got soooo old?

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Lull after the Wedding...

Although I haven't posted anything of late, I have been involved in a relationship with the Lovely Linda for about 3 months now. We have had our ups and downs, but all the while I have remained an important "player" in her life, simply because she hasn't dumped me yet.
In the time that I've known the Lovely Linda, we have divided that time into two separate segments, BW and AW. Those initials representing BEFORE the wedding of her 3rd and youngest daughter and AFTER the wedding of Heidy. As of yesterday, we are officially beginning that second era, indicating the wedding was Saturday in beautiful Sedona.
Here in the aftermath of the wonderful event, let me explain to you a small segment of what I went thru to attend the event some 116 miles from my home. Please understand that I fully realize that my part was only my private event, while LL (Lovely Linda) was the primary hostess of the party completely in charge of planning, orchestrating, nursing, and financing the party, along with the festivities that took place both before the wedding and after the wedding of reserving rooms and keeping guests occupied for an entire weekend. In addition to the obvious things, LL also loves to partake of the artsy craftsie things that make up a wedding. For example she created the wine glasses that the wedding party toasted from by buying square shaped champagne glasses and wrapped wire around the stems and decorated the the wire with beading. As she explained this to me in great detail one evening I couldn't help but wonder who Letterman was having as a guest on TV that night. Life moved on...
At some point I asked what the dress code was, since the event was taking place outside at Oak Creek, down by the water. LL simply told me to wear slack with a nice shirt and quickly hung up the phone. That pretty much left me to my own devices for a wardrobe choice, something that has caused me great grief in the past. I don't think I'd ever been to a wedding that a suit wasn't mandatory attire, but I'd never been to a wedding held at a Creek before either. I racked my brain to come up with a pair of slack with a "nice" shirt. Did she mean a silk type shirt with a Hawaiian scene on it??? I asked about it several times and frankly it wasn't really high on LL's list of priorities, so I worked it out on my own or with the advice of Barry down in Florida. His answer was, do you have a suit? Yes, of course I do. I bought a suit about 10 years ago when I found out the styles changed and I didn't want to get caught with an out of style suit, but haven't had to occasion to wear it just yet. Barry suggested I wear the slacks from the suit. I stopped him saying I have dozens of nice slacks, but they're all pleated and pleats are out of style now. Well Barry was pretty disappointed to hear that. My fashion advisor didn't know as much as me! His idea though, was to wear dress slacks and men our age don't have to worry about latest styles, a nice dress shirt and carry a sports coat. That made more sense to me than just a nice shirt for a wedding. So I took off for my 3 favorite closets. Living alone in a house this big, my stuff is kind of spread out all over the place. I'm sure there's some organization to it, but I just don't know what it is.
Some time in the early 90's I attended a sale at Diamond's Department store that is now known as Dillard's. They were going out of business and had some true bargains. I bought clothes like I was a 20 something fashion model. Shirts and slacks and ties and things I never wore, but one thing that I did get to enjoy was a few pairs of slacks that I normally wouldn't have been able to afford. They were Hart, Shaftner and Marx brand. They're fully lined with a silk inner lining that is so thin, you wouldn't know it was there. I'll bet those slacks cost plenty at full price, but I got them for about $40 then. As for color, they're a dull blue to gray shade and I have a Saks Fifth Avenue shirt I bought some time ago that goes perfectly with them, again in a blue/gray shade. Along with that I own a sport jacket in a light blue/gray pattern and when I put it all together, I looked in the mirror and decided I looked like a janitor ready to fix a leaky toilet! All I needed was a name tag that read MEL. My perfectly designed outfit looked like a workman's uniform. Tearing it all off I was back to the drawing board and went back to a pair of slacks and a "nice" shirt, but that looked like I was headed out to go bowling. Again it was back to the closet of choice for a fresh look. I now know what it feels like to be a 16 year old girl invited out on a first date. What the hell do I wear???
I found a dry cleaner's plastic bag with a pair of slacks inside. Oh, I remember these. They were my favorite slacks before I replaced them for being host to a snag. I forgot the snag until I was already at the wedding, so no problem. They were my taupe slacks. Being color blind, at some point someone told me what taupe was and I liked it. I wore the taupe slacks with a dark brown expensive shirt that someone gave me during a break up a few years ago. She had my house key and sent it back in the pocket of the shirt. I thought it was a nice touch. I also owned a light brown sport coat to carry over my arm, but thought it unnecessary to wear a tie after getting the slacks and a "nice" shirt instructions. Although I was already 90 minutes late leaving, I headed up to Sedona...
After stopping at a Walgreen's to pick up a gift card to slip my check into, I drove the 116 miles North. Wow, what a surprise when I got there? Sedona was commercialized to the point that I HATED it. The 55 MPH speed limit was down to 35 so you could easily pull off to visit the crowded gift shops that lined the roads and some ridiculous circles that allowed every side street equal access to the main highway. The last 15 miles of the ride took almost as long as the first 101...
I followed the instructions and parked in the shopping center call Tellaque Paque and asked the first shop keeper where Los Abrigados was, the resort. She pointed me in the right direction and I chose to walk, as opposed to giving up my parking place and joining the traffic again. I found the hotel, but no one knew where the wedding was taking place. Here I was 90 minutes late and the wedding hadn't started yet according to the hotel. I bummed a ride down to the Creek in a golf cart and spotted Linda's grandson walking along with a lot of people. Guess what! Every man there was wearing a suit and tie!!! Oh, whoa is me. I slipped on my jacket, that just by the grace of God (and Barry) that I even had with me, made a mental note never to listen to LL's dress codes again, hopped out of the golf cart and joined the others walking back to the wedding reception, kind of like I wasn't even late.
I bumped into Linda, our hostess and she recognized me almost immediately with an, "Oh hi"! She looked incredible with a tight brown dress that showed her butt in a good way and full length to the floor. Fortunately, I wore my dancing shoes, because they had hired a disc jockey that played all of the good music from the 60's forward. Linda and I were dancing fools! My poor feet are purple from fighting with the shoes I'd worn. The last time I wore those shoes was my wedding, they were uncomfortable then, as they are now.
After the wedding, I was too tired from dancing to even drive home and Linda let me share the couch she had been sleeping on and I drove home about 5 AM, sneaking out of town without even leaving a smudge on Linda's reputation....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sour Milk Syndrome...

Like so many mornings, I do my thing. I open my eyes, thank God for giving me one more day and start to think about my plans for the morning. Today, I must make the house ready for the people that were no-shows last evening with a call from their realtor saying that they just didn't have time to fit me in, about 2 hours after they were have to been here. He asked if this morning will be okay and I said sure, but how will I know that you'll be here? He replied, because we're making an appointment right now??? He didn't understand my sarcasm. So, I dashed to the John and ran the water to brush my teeth, took a shower, washed my hair and shaved for the no-shows and scurried down the stairs with nothing in mind, but my first cup of coffee. I turned on the the coffee maker and the computer and fired up my cell phone. The computer announced about 4 emails or jokes and the cell phone gave me 2 text messages and the coffee maker gurgled out it's last drops of coffee. I took the gallon of milk out of the fridge, poured a cup of coffee and poured the milk into my coffee, only to see it curdle on top of my drink of desperation... With unbelieving eyes, I stood and looked at the curdled milk floating in my coffee and thought: This might not be that good of a day!

That's when I went out into the backyard and felt the cool breeze and realized, it's over! Summer here lasts for about 6 months and when it's over, you can feel the first of the cool breezes. That breeze might just be in the high 80's or low 90's but it's a start and the triple digits are over!