Sunday, August 29, 2010

It Only Hurts When I do This

Something happened to me awhile back that I thought would never happen. I was involved in a traffic collision.

It’s not like I have never had an accident before, but all my previous collisions were drunken late-night single vehicle wrecks that involved large stationary objects such as power poles, light standards, a garage (and the car inside), and a 25 foot cement chicken. In all my years of driving, I have never been involved in a collision with another (moving) vehicle. All things taken into account, I consider myself a good and safe driver when I am sober and I never really expected to be in a multi-car accident.

While sitting at a red light, out of nowhere a young girl while talking on her cell phone and traveling twice the posted speed limit, blows a red light. She was traveling in the opposite direction, but as she barreled into the intersection she T-boned some poor guy driving a shoebox, bounced off of him, careened over to our side of the road and plowed head-on into my beloved Hemi powered Dodge Hound Mobile.

She was traveling so fast, that she pushed my truck off the roadway and into a guardrail which proceeded to wrap itself around the other side of the vehicle, literally adding insult to injury. We both came to rest with the nose of her piece of junk Crown Victoria stuffed into what used to be the large shining chrome grill of my Dodge, the Hemi hissing, squirting, and puking vital fluids onto the asphalt, groaning in pain and making a valiant effort to continue to serve me well under very difficult circumstances.

As the tire smoke and Hemi spray cleared, I looked over at the shoebox and watched it’s driver extricate himself from the crumpled wreck. It reminded me of a fat fly fisherman slipping off a pair of too tight rain slicks. I sadly turned the key and mercifully put my baby to sleep for eternity. I was a bit banged up but other wise OK and able to exit my vehicle using the doors. She, unbelievably was still on the phone when she got out of her Hemi killing death rocket, and remarkably, unscathed. I’m not clear that she even missed a sentence in her conversation, and proceeded to talk on the phone until the police showed up.

The police took statements, checked for valid Driver’s licenses, which surprisingly she didn’t have, and asked us all for proof of insurance. Although she produced proof of insurance at the scene, after trying for two days to contact her insurance company I discovered that her policy had been canceled.

I was informed later that my dear Dodge was a total loss. 

I loved my truck. This was the first vehicle I had ever purchased new. It was fully loaded with leather, Infinity sound, hands-on controls, power and heated seats, power and heated mirrors, it even had power adjusting foot pedals. I’ve had this vehicle since new, and it has never given me a hint of trouble. Sadly, because the cellphone talking girl who murdered my dearly beloved works at a local fast food fish store and had no insurance, I was not able to replace my dear Durango and settled on a used trailblazer. It’s nice, but it just isn’t the same..

I still miss my baby, but I know she has gone to a better place and now drives the smooth and uncongested highways in the sky, with unlimited high test fuel and no traffic lights..

Recently they passed a law that bans talking on a cellphone while driving, much too late to save my sweet love. I wonder if someone who drives with no license and no insurance would obey this law?

Dead Man Walking

I have settled into a routine now, and barely notice that The Boss is absent.

Each morning it is up early, release the hounds and feed the hounds, shower, walk the hounds, then off to work at the glue factory. I head home for lunch to release the hounds again and have a bite to eat before heading back to the glue factory for the remainder of the work day. After work, it is a simple dinner, and some light chores before retiring to the recliner for some TV and then bed by 10:00pm where I toss and turn most of the night due to the huge empty space created by the lack of hounds. Because, as I’ve mentioned, in some bizarre doggy practical joke, now that there is room the hounds refuse to sleep in the bed.

This morning started out like every other Monday, I am stirred from sleep at 23 minutes to alarm o’ clock by doggy breath, and open my eyes to see large scary teeth and a huge tongue panting a “get up and let me out before I am forced to cold nose your neck” warning. Like usual, any movement perceived by Cy to indicate I am getting up triggers the jumpy jump, mouthy arm, air snappy, hoppy dance that is designed to block total access to the bathroom and cause deep ironic regret over ignoring the Help-I’ve-Fallen-and-Can’t-Get-Up TV commercials. I have learned over time that release the hounds is first above all other activities no matter how urgent, or very bad and painful things happen to me.

This morning on my way to release the hounds, I noticed something horrifying out of the corner of my eye that stopped me dead in my tracks and instantly filled me full of horror and dread. I have likely walked past this scene 1000 times since The Boss’s departure, and either I had a psychological block, or the vision simply did not register. We have INSIDE PLANTS!! Or, more accurately, we USED to have inside plants and now have pots on stands, on shelves, on the floor and hanging from corners, that contain brown dry leaves on spindly sticks.

I think I remember The Boss telling me to remember to water something. Honestly, I was not really paying attention, and I figured that eventually I would figure out what I was supposed to do by the lack of water somewhere in the house. I really don’t remember us even having inside plants, and likely, she has placed these here as a test which I have horribly failed.

I “watered” the sticks this morning before I left for the glue factory, and I “watered” them again during my lunch stop over, but I really don’t think there is much hope. On the way home this evening I am going to buy a few cans of green spray paint and some drinking straws and try to repair the damage. Maybe, just Maybe she won’t notice..

The Inconvienence of it All

At the top of our street, across the busy road on the corner, is our neighborhood gas station and inconvenience store. It's existence and whole purpose of being is to add insult to injury and frustration to my life. It is a never ending bad practical joke perpetrated on society, worthy of it's own 24 hour live feed on the comedy channel.

There is no possible combination of bad decisions and poor planning that could have led to the layout of the lot and it's relation to the traffic, so the perpetual joke started right from conception with engineers and civil planners doubled over in laughter while signing the building permits. The franchise is located on one corner of a major 4 way intersection. Each morning I dread the exercise in futility of trying to turn off my street onto the busy thoroughfare while a constant stream of late for work gas buying coffee drinkers pour off the store lot and pull in line with the already packed flow. When combined with the cars turning off the street directly opposite to ours, it can take 10 minutes to a 1/2 hour to complete this task. I usually read the paper at the top sign, and wait until the mile long line of cars behind me, each waiting their turn at the front of the line begins to honk in unison, indicating there is a chance I can turn without being horribly disfigured in a fiery crash.

Although the traffic congestion the store presents is loads of fun in itself, the real carnival ride begins when you pull in to the lot. The store is staffed by a cast of characters that were edited out of Walter Disney's first full length feature. There is a sweat little dwarf that is wider then she is tall, and must use a ladder to reach the cash register. The stock boy, lot attendant and janitor is a cross-dressing ex trucker from South America with a deep voice and even deeper coat of thick wavy hair on his legs and back clearly visible over (and under the dresses), and the afternoon cashier is the hard of hearing father of the owners great uncle from the old country who moves with the speed and dexterity of a senior three toed sloth. Rounding out this cast of characters is Mr. Potato Head, the day shift cashier, who sold his likeness to Hasbro in the early 50's without consulting an attorney, and sadly, is on record as making the worst business deal in history. Although this poor guy is instantly and delightfully recognizable to every person born after 1952, he lives in anonymity selling cigarettes and beer to minors.

In theory, the store is supposed to offer a quick and easy option for purchasing small items accidentally forgotten off the weekly shopping list or enable you to pick up a small snack or a refreshing beverage while filling your vehicle with gasoline. Quick, easy, get in, get out, and on your way. It is supposed to be simple and fast, and in exchange, you pay a slight premium on the items and avoid the long lines and the extended drive to the local market . A mutually beneficial and consensual relationship between you and the store owner. You profit in time, he in taxable earnings, extending the benefits to the local tax base. In theory but not, I'm afraid, in practice.

I stopped in there the other day because I noticed the Princess's Trolls had consumed all the milk yet again. I grabbed my quart of milk and actually had to exit the store with it to get to the end of the line waiting for Mr. Potato head to mash the keys and collect the money with his oversized paw like hands. As the line moved along snaking through the isles between display shelves, I browsed the items available to purchase. There were dusty cans of peas and carrots each with a price tag of $4.23, one pound bags of sugar for $7.67, the one canister of salt for sale had broken open at the bottom and was taped closed and looked to be about 3/4 full. They had those plastic lemons and limes that contain synthetically produced fruit like juice substitute for that emergency 4:00am Margarita, and many jars of maraschino cherries who's purpose here I could not fully understand. Of course there was the $3.00 loaves of bread to go along with the $3.00 micro tubs of the I CAN"T BELIEVE IT'S NOT BUTTER butter, and the frozen wieners and hamburger patties which proudly contain 10% real meat and/or meat by products.

As I get second to the head of the line, I place my now warm and quite heavy quart of milk on the counter. The 13 year old in front of me pays for his beer and smokes, and exits the store to his waiting crowd of fellow skateboarders who zoom off through the lot weaving in and out of the sea of vehicles waiting in line for gas, or trying desperately to merge in to the steady stream of traffic on the street. Mr. Potato Head asks, what I want and I point to the Milk. "Dude." says Mr. Potato, "That other guy just paid for your milk. I thought it was his". So I pay yet again in case the kid comes back for his money, exit the store and start the daring and dangerous process of trying to merge into traffic then make a quick left turn without someone smashing full on in to the back of my Doggy mobile.

Once I get home, it's time for a nice cold glass of refreshingly over priced milk. As soon as I open the lid I realize that the best before date listed on the jug is a distant memory which is further punctuated by the sour aroma and chunky texture. Great .. sour and expired.. I could have gone back and exchanged it, or even just got my money back, but is it worth the inconvenience? Sadly no. I put it back in the fridge hoping that the trolls will become to ill to mess up the house for a few nights.

DEGA Baby!!

Dega Baby!! For anyone who follows Nascar, or lives in the south, that line is instantly recognizable as a call to all rednecks to drop what ever it is they are doing, jump into the least likely of the many vehicles parked in their front yard to make the entire journey, and head to the Talladega Super Speedway for the spring race. Like moths to a flame, the annual spring Nascar event attracts backwoods, barefooted hillbillys out of the hills and on to the surrounding interstate freeways, driving disintegrated scrap piles and rusted, smoking, bastardized caricatures of former road worthy automobiles, and causing madness and mayhem with the area roadways.

If you have never experienced a Nascar event, I urge you to get that to the top of your bucket list. There is no other event like it on the planet. Imagine if you will 100,000 drunken, screaming fans, gathered together to watch 43 cars travel 500 miles in a circle at 200 miles per hour nose to tail hoping to see a spectacular firey crash. Everywhere you look there are over-indulged, shirtless, sweaty good ol boys swilling budwiser and shouting JUNIOR every time the AMP Energy 88 car roars past the stands..

For full effect, you must purchase an RV and do the entire weekend camp. It is stated very clearly in the Nascar Fanclub Rule Book that the RV MUST be worth at least 3 times the appraised value of your home, and twice the value of the pickup truck needed to tow it. You need to fill that RV with as much beer as possible. If necessary, any other essential item is to be sacrificed to make room for more beer. Hotdog wieners are recommended as the sole food item due to the convenient square packaging that can be crammed in to the small cracks and crevasses between beer cases or stored in the glovebox. There is no reason for any other items since beer and wieners on a stick will now be the only source of nourishment between Thursday evening and Sunday's checkered flag.

About 25 miles out from the racetrack, traffic on the interstate will come to a complete stop. You will spend the next three hours either at a total standstill, or traveling at 0.5 miles per hour. Along the route you will pass many smoking and hopelessly broken vehicles on the side of the road some on fire, some with no wheels, usually one or two surrounded by police cars, each and every one having DEGA BABY!! written on it somewhere, along with the number 3. As you get closer to the track, hoards of people walking and vendors selling everything from more beer to fire wood will be passing your near stationary vehicle as helicopters, blimps, and planes circle overhead, and cops on ATVs race up and down the shoulders of the roadway. Always buy more beer, because no matter how much you've managed to cram into your vehicle, it is not enough.

Once you get to the site, you will be overwhelmed by the level of activity and excitement. Constant traffic, constant sirens, people passing, the noise of race crews working on cars in the distance, all of which will not stop until late Monday evening, transforming the area temporarily into the third largest city in Alabama. It is a site to behold for sure, and no other state in the union takes Nascar partying as serious as Alabama. It is a thing of beauty passed down from father to son and mother to daughter like a priceless heirloom or secret family recipe.

Dang, I love it.. Dega Baby!! Yeah!!

No Problemo

Well I think we've settled into a routine. Apart from the horribly failed experiment of placing eggs in the dishwasher at night, thinking I would have nice hard boiled eggs in the morning, things are going pretty smoothly. (Blog Note: The egg in the dishwasher thing may sound brilliant, but I assure you it's not).

Up every morning, dogs out and fed, cold crippling Troll torture, and off to work. I've been slipping home at noon to check on the hounds the past few days because I worry about them, but they have been perfect. After work it's a nice meal for one, being careful to leave The Princess something. Every morning the food I leave for The Princess is gone and the plate is rinsed, which always reminds me of those cookies left for Santa in my Black and White TV days... Mysteriously gone, and surely enjoyed.

I have started to pick up little extra projects to keep myself occupied. With out The Boss, things get a little quiet. Getting baked on egg out of the interior of the dishwasher was a good one, as was unblocking the beta fish gravel from the kitchen sink drain (that's a whole other story). Yesterday a new project presented itself, and I look forward to starting on it as soon as I return from work.. Turning pink shirts, undies and towels back to their former brilliant white.

I really think I'm getting the hang of this..

Nervous Nelly

OK, I admit it.. I’m a nervous wreck. Yesterday was the first time the hounds have been left alone all day.

I have various options to “store” the hounds during the day such as the basement or the crates, but I don’t want to have them confined for such a long period of time. Before Cy, we used to crate Karson and Mickey when we left the house, but this was never for extended periods. Neither Mickey nor Karson mind the crates at all, and often insisted on being in the XXL crate together. Once Cy arrived and got a taste of free roam, he started to really dislike the confines of the crate, so we quit crating all together thinking it was not fair to crate some and not others.

Yesterday it was up at 6, walk the hounds, FOOD, ice shower, and walk again. I was torn with what to do with the pups, and decided that they would be left with free roam of the house. All day I was a wreck worrying about the dogs, the stuff, and the hardwood floors. Cy barks at anything that moves which gets the other two excited. I had thoughts of Cy running around the house, barking and growling at the leaves blowing in the yard, and agitating the others into a seek and destroy mission.

At noon, I struggled with taking a trip home to check on the pups and turn them out, but I resisted the temptation. By 4:00pm I was totally locked in a worst case thoughts loop. I couldn’t concentrate on anything and still had an hour’s work left to go. By 4:30pm I couldn’t take it anymore and left for home.

Traffic was unusually horrendous even for Birmingham which is 2
nd only to Mexico City for traffic nightmares. On the way home, I hit every red light on the route as well as every construction zone, school zone, and traffic collision. There were lines of traffic stopped for no apparent reason what so ever, and at one point, the line I was in started to move backwards. Adonkey pulling a cart actually passed me while I was stranded behind the circus caravan from which two monkeys and a llama had escaped, and the guy driving the cart shook his fist in my general direction in the most ironic case of roadrage ever encountered.

Finally, I turned on to our street and could see our house in the distance. It was still standing, and not surrounded by fire trucks as I thought it surely would be. I pulled into the garage and could hear the happy dance of twelve paws tapping excitedly on the floors above. I rushed up the stairs fully expecting to find the place in shambles, blood everywhere from some nasty wound caused by climbing into the kitchen cupboards, and piles and puddles of horror all over the floors.. Nothing.. Perfect, happy, excited hounds at the door..Whew.. Relief.. Good Pups.. What Good Doggys!!

Today, I let them roam free again.. It’s just before noon now, I’m going to go and check on them for my sanity, they couldn’t care less.

The Fickle Finger of Sleep

When you share your life with someone for an extended period of time, you get used to that person being there all the time and slowly, very subtly,you stop making decisions on your own. The Boss’s departure has given me certain freedom that I didn’t even realize had been missing.

Honestly, deep down inside, a part of me was looking forward to The Boss’s departure. There were many things I was looking forward to such as having control of the TV, eating what and when I wanted to, wearing the same shirt two days in a row, not making the bed if I didn’t feel like it, and staying up as late as I wanted.. Someday soon, I might even have a beer before noon. But the biggest thing I was looking forward to was having more bed space.

Our two Greyhounds insist on sleeping with us. Mickey sleeps on top of my legs every night, pinning them hopelessly to the mattress. Effectively trapping me in one position from dusk until dawn, and ensuring the loss of all feeling below my knees until 11:00am every morning. Cy will only sleep in between The Boss and I, stretched out like another full grown person, head, and Greyhound drool, on pillow. Every night I will be awakened multiple times by Cy’s nails scraping down my back as he runs barking and growling after what ever it is Greyhounds chase in their dreams. Even though there is a large comfy dog crate and a full sized loveseat in our room, which both dogs love to lounge in during the day, turning out the lights for the evening is a signal in doggy code that it is time to make the humans as uncomfortable as possible for the next eight hours.

Last night, as I prepared to retire for the evening, both dogs had already picked out their spot on the bed. Mickey, miraculously, was at the foot on what is traditionally The Boss’s side, and Cy was curled up on her pillows. A tear came to my eye, and I could barely choke back maniacal laughter as I realized that I would be getting a sound and restful sleep for the first time in what seems like ever. As I folded back the covers to climb in to this new and surely remarkably comfortable bed space, both dogs jumped down. Cy went into the crate, and Mickey took a position on the loveseat. Now overjoyed, I did let out a crazy little laugh and climbed in to the big, glorious, and empty bed.

I laid in the bed for what seemed like an eternity. Tossing this way, tossing that way, fluffing pillows, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not get comfortable and sleep would not come. The bed’s comfyness was foreign and hostile. Cold, sterile, lonely. “Cy Boy” I say, patting the bed covers, “Come up… Here Boy”…. Nothing.. “Mickey Girl, come to Daddy Baby Girl”… Nothing... Traitors! Fine.. Sleep somewhere else then, see if I care.. How the heck is a guy supposed to get any sleep with out his legs pinned to the mattress and deep bleeding wounds to the back?

A Promotion

Long before dawn's crack had even begun to peek above the belt-line of life, The Boss boarded the plane that would take her North, mere inches from the arctic circle on our desk globe. With a wave, a tear, and the roar of a jet engine, I was instantly promoted from a laborer in Grounds and Facilities Maintenance to Interim Managing Director and Acting CFO. For the first time in a long while I returned from the airport to an empty home. Empty that is except for the three bouncy hounds, as happy to see me after an hour's absence as they would be had I been gone for days..

Managing Director has many responsibilities and is not a job to be taken lightly. There are many important decisions that need to be made, and the chore now rests squarely on my shoulders. This is my chance to shine, or, an impending disaster so great the story will be passed down through the family tree for generations to come. Each decision has an affect on the next, so all options are to be weighed carefully prior to action..

First order of business.. rearrange the furniture. While it may LOOK comfortable, the livingroom furniture is arranged to allow easy conversation between parties, my easy chair is not planted perfectly square to the TV, and this definitely needs remedy. Couch, loveseat, wingback chair and ottoman all to the garage along with various tables and nick nacks. The living room furnishings now consist of my recliner (planted squarely in front of the big screen), three dog beds, my prized work of art which depicts dogs playing poker I had to retrieve from the attic, and the fully stocked bar fridge from the basement used as an end table to rest the lamp on. Perfect..

Making these important decisions alone is going to take some getting used to. While I was carrying out various pieces of The Boss's livingroom suite, I half expected her to walk in and catch me in the act. This, I can assure you would not have been a pleasant experience and the actions were carried out nervously, but once done and quite proud of the results, I settled in for a long day of relaxation and sports viewing.

As I opened my first beer from the fridge/table, locked the recliner into full sloth mode, and fired up the big screen, the quiet of the house started to creep in. "So Mickey, what should we watch today?" I ask our old Grey girl. BLINK.. BLINK.. "Cy, what do you think? Nascar? ESPN?" BLINK.. HEADTILT.. HEADTILT.. GROAN..

I can see these dogs are going to be absolutely no help with the decisions around here. Hopefully later, I can catch some of The Princess's trolls and pass a few ideas off of them.

The last Supper

The Boss's plane departs tomorrow morning at a mind numbingly early hour, and since it's an international flight, we need to be at the airport at a time I didn't even know existed. The only people that should be allowed to be up at this time of the morning are night watchmen and milk delivery guys. Since she will be traveling over Easter, she decided that tonight I should cook a nice dinner, take a long walk with the hounds, and get to bed early..

We live in the biggest county in Alabama, in the dead center of this county is an awe inspiring force. A force so powerful, so terrible, and so evil, that it is poised to take over the world.. Walmart. Walmart is a place like no other on planet earth. Walmart pretends to be a simple store that you enter under your own free will, pick items you freely choose from the ample selection on the rows upon rows of merchandise, speedily pay for these items using a convenient variety of methods, and depart on your merry way. All the while, saving great piles of money by paying the lowest prices available. But, Walmart is much more then that. Much more..

There is a special device buried deep under each and every Walmart store. This device was invented by Sam Walton under very secret circumstances. No one else knows this device exists, but I have figured it out. Once started, the device takes over your mind, and you find it impossible to avoid entering the store. You don't even realize that it's happening, but you leave your house with full intentions of doing something fun and exciting, and suddenly find yourself in the center of a Walmart store. I know this to be true, as it happened to me again today..

Apart from almost magically teleporting you into the nearest store, Sam Walton's special secret device also makes you loose all rational thought and monetary judgment, and you walk through the isles zombie like, shoveling unneeded and unwanted items into your over-sized cart. This force is so powerful that the stores never close, as anyone traveling within a 23 mile radius, no matter what the time of day, is magically sucked in. If they closed the stores through the night hours, all the truckers in America would be piled up at their jumbo doors in the morning and freight delivery would come to a standstill. As proof, just think about the distance between each store in your area, and their relative locations to Interstates and major thoroughfares.

Sam Walton's device has some negative side effects that he didn't count on however.. It turns normally well behaved children into screaming, whaling banshees. This is because the device does not work on the young. They are aware of what is happening, and somehow understand that there will never be a collage fund due to the everyday low prices. The device also somehow brings long lost best friends together who insist on catching up on the past 15 years in the center of the soup isle, blocking your ability to load 32 cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup into your buggy. There is also something going on with way too tight clothes and bad hygiene, but I haven't quite figured that part out yet.

Since The Boss demanded a dinner, I had it in the back of my mind that we needed to pick up a few things. I made the mental list; potatoes, butter, milk, and a desert. A few simple items I could pick up at our corner inconvenience store after spending the afternoon at the golf course. The Boss and I put on our plaid knickers, striped shirts, sweater vests and knee-high stockings, load the clubs into the hound mobile and head out to the links. The next thing I remember, I am standing next to a screaming child, in a line of glass eyed shoppers holding a cart filled to over flowing with a nonsensical assortment of items. There is a TV, one car tire, 63 cans of stewed tomatoes, 4 gallons of frozen strawberries, two fish swimming in a clear plastic bag, and a police issue megaphone. The cashier is saying "Sir? Sir? I said that was $1,463.26. Is that cash or would you like to use your Walmart card?".

After I put all the items away, and cleared 15 pounds of white plastic bags from the kitchen floor I started to make dinner. It would have been good, but we were out of potatoes, butter, and milk..

What's a Vacation

In honor of The Boss's impending departure and inevitable battle against the Great Northern Canadian Mosquito, I did something I have seldom ever done before. I TOOK A DAY OFF.

I can't remember the last time I TOOK A DAY OFF. I may have missed work once in the 80's, but honestly, thanks to youthful substance abuse, that entire decade is pretty much lost to me. I recall something about bad music, big hair, spandex, and shoulder pads, but really the whole mess is just a blissfully blurry blank spot between the Hippies and Grunge.

I have heard guys around the office that TOOK A DAY OFF talking about it, and it seems that this function is always associated with golf, beer, travel, or some other fun and exciting activity. Since The Boss will be gone for quite some time, a fun and exciting activity is exactly how we should spend some time together, and TAKING A DAY OFF is the way that seems to be done.

The DAY OFF started like any other, up at 6:00am, life bringing delicious coffee, take the hounds for the morning walk, FOOD, and an ice cold shower thanks to The Princess's hot water stealing trolls. After the uncontrollable shiver spasms subsided and I was able to get out of the fetal position, I cautiously approached The Boss. I have learned over the years that you must never confront The Boss directly, cautiously and from the side is the best option, but really, when one TAKES A DAY OFF, there is no telling what the reaction will be.

"So, what are we going to do today?" I ask with out making direct eye contact, secretly hoping that the answer includes beer and golf. "Well," The Boss replied, "I thought I should show you a few things you will need to know." At this point, I knew that the Golf Gods would not be smiling on me this day, but thoughts of beer where still close and not yet dashed.

"This is a DISHWASHER", The Boss was pointing at an oddly shaped metal contraption under the kitchen counter. "You place dirty dishes in here, add soap to here, close the door and press this button." I was stunned.. All this time I had never even noticed this weird and wonderful invention. "Once the DISHWASHER has completed it's cycle, the dishes will be clean and dry, and you can put them here." The Boss was pointing at one of the doors in the kitchen. I had often wondered where clean dishes come from.. I had always assumed that the Trolls and the missing hot water were somehow involved.

This process was repeated over and over. Apparently we have a WASHER where dirty clothes go separated carefully by color and texture, a DRYER which turns wet, clean clothes into piles of unidentifiable lumps of wrinkled fabric, and some mysterious unseen force takes away our trash if we place it by the curb every Monday and Thursday morning!! The dog run gets cleaned daily, plants in the house need water (which I am thinking the Trolls can handle), and bills come in the mail and need to be paid ON LINE.. Dogs get heart-worm medicine on the days circled in red on the calendar and flea treatment on the days in blue. Behind another door, near The Princess Suite, there is a doggy torture device that strikes fear and panic in our spook Cy, but removes all the dog hair from the area rugs and furniture. Cy needs to be tormented at least twice a week. Wow.. OK I think I've got it.

The rest of THE DAY OFF followed this pattern, The Boss introducing me to new and scary functions that go on behind the scenes in the household, and me trying desperately to figure out how to include beer in these activities. Whenever The Boss noticed my eyes glazing over and drool running from the jaw opened in amazement she would punctuate the lesson with a stern "Got It?!" Which would snap me back from the 16th green and surely have made me spill my beer had I had been allowed to have one.

Today I have learned many valuable lessons. The biggest of which are that running a home is big work, and one should never, ever, TAKE A DAY OFF..

April's Fools

So, for our first trick, the alarm failed to go off this morning. April Fools!! It is 15 minutes before I need to be at work. As I dash out of the bedroom, I trip over Cy who was lying in wait to pounce on the human, twist my ankle, and jamb my out stretched arm through the shoulder blade and far past the physical limits of the collar bone. I rush to the Princess Suite with Mickey, Cy and Karson in tow, 4 pathetic parade members who desperately need to potty.

At the entrance to the Princess Suite I am stopped dead in my tracks, and the other three members of the need to potty parade pile up into my hind end. I actually find a person in bed, April Fools!! Either the alarm in the Princess Suite also failed to go off this morning, or I’ve actually caught one of the trolls The Princess sends to fool us into thinking she still lives here. I call out to the person in the bed that it is now 7:48 and she had better get up. I am answered with a muffled unintelligible response and a single bleary eye that looks vaguely familiar. “Look” I say, “You may or may not be my daughter, but no matter who you are, I need to be at work in 12 minutes, you need to get up and use all the hot water.”

Great.. Late for work. My throbbing arm is still out stretched, and I notice something hideously wrong. The hand on the end is not wrapped around a hot cup of coffee! The parade members know that coffee is the first step in the next chain of events that eventually leads to FOOD, and get excited when I move towards the kitchen. Cy jumps up and down and Mickey attacks Karson the beagle. “Mickey! Get the Beagle Out Of Your Mouth!” I say as I head towards the most glorious machine ever invented.. the timed coffee maker. My throbbing out stretched arm which now does hold an empty coffee mug presses the cup against the dispenser and I wait for the hot, black, delicious, lifeblood to pour into the mug… Nothing… April Fools!!! The coffee maker has also failed to go off.. It is then with great horror that I realize that every device we own with a time display is flashing…There has been a power outage in the night.. Great.. NO COFFEE..

In desperation I shovel a tablespoon of dry coffee grounds into my mouth and open the back door to leash the hounds for the morning walk. As I am tugged down the stairs from the back deck by three bloated and urgent hounds, I notice my next door neighbor hopping out to his car on one shoe, his briefcase in hand while trying desperately to get the other shoe on, button his shirt and tie his tie, all the while coughing and hacking up dry coffee grounds.. “Moonfning Bobf” I manage to choke out through the dry coffee I am chewing as I wiggle a hello from the fingers on my still out stretched and throbbing arm. “April Fools!!” says Bob while gasping for air.. Yup.. April Fools..

We sure are..

Bye Bye Dear Wife

The Boss leaves Sunday for back home. Right now she plans to be gone until the end of July or early August. So, for the next 4 to 5 months, it's just me and the dogs.. and Daughter #1, our 17 year old princess who, although she claims to live here, I never see. I actually think she sends trolls in during the night to tousle her bed covers and use all the hot water..

Back home is Northern Manitoba Canada, so while I am here in the deep south hiding from the near perfect vertical alignment to the sun, she will be doing battle with Manitoba's Provincial Bird.. The Mosquito..

Back home is a small fishing town on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. 2,500 residents live there year round, and thanks to Facebook, each of them are looking forward to her visit. Facebook polls is 96% positive on her return. Only 23% are willing to have me back any time soon.. Those that voted in favor were two bar owners, the gas station guy, the liquor control commission manager, and Crazy Louie who used to steal my empty beer cans from the porch.. I kinda miss the place, so hopefully I can make it up there this summer for a week or two.

The Boss's youngest son is graduating this year. Along with the Genius, Daughter #2, Boss's oldest Boy, and both our ex-spouses are eagerly awaiting her return. Daughter #2 and the Genius were with us here until two years ago, but both wanted to return to Canada to finish school. The ex-spouses are looking forward to the visit with high hopes that the kids will be returning to the U.S. with us at the end of summer..

I asked the Boss yesterday if she was going to miss us while she is gone. She mumbled something as she walked towards The Princess suite to make the bed the trolls messed up. Later, she came back into the room with a tear in her eye and her arms out stretched in a hug-me pose. I stood up to comfort her, but she passed right by on the way to the couch where she proceeded to love on the hounds.. "OH..My dogs!! I'm going to miss you sooo much.. Be good for Daddy!"

I'm going to miss her.. but, we have been apart before for long periods due to the transient nature of my work. I AM looking forward to having 2 or 3 more inches of bed space, since the hounds allow us both to sleep with them at night.