Bird Eating Pomeranian

You’ve heard of the dangerous Bird Eating Spider (Theraphosa blondi) of South America? It’s an ugly looking thing famous for attacking Steve Irwin’s fingertips in the “Crocodile Hunter” movie.

I present to you the Bird Eating Pom (Canis lupus familiaris obnoxiousiiii; as in, “iiiiiiiiiii a bird eating Pom!”)

(Note the jazz hands. )

Praise the Lord and Pass the Plate! (I’m going to hell for typing that.)

Curiously, this animal is somewhat related to the Grinch who stole Christmas, as evident upon examination of her Grinchy paws.

Little known obnoxious facts:

Michelangelo had a Pom who would sit and watch him paint the Sistine Chapel.

Queen Angel had 2 Poms.

Sir Isaac Newton had a Pomeranian who once upset a candle on his important papers, which contained more than 20 years of research.

King Edward had 3 Poms.

Queen Victoria had 2 poms - one named Turi.

Ohio Spring: first yard work of 2008

I fell in love with the Ohio (or “back east”) springtime when I flew out from Colorado to attend a cousin’s wedding in 2004. Colorado lacks color and life during its drought phases; the wash of green invading my cousin’s minivan windows during our drive from the Pittsburgh Airport left my senses overloaded in a spiral of spiritual ecstasy.

That May, I awoke each morning and sniffed the air sifting through my (clandestinely opened!) guest bedroom window. My Aunt’s property slopes downward from the house, snuggling a stand of trees and a small stream at its boundary, and the verdant grass and woodsy tang were as soothing balm on a burn. My family out here remarked that the mornings were “too cold” or the air “too wet”. I found both to be agreeable.

I returned in the late spring of 2005 to hunt for a house. Again, I found myself surrounded by people who felt Pittsburgh was “too far away”, the summers “too humid, you’ll see!” I found a charming little place that fits us just fine; during the winter we appreciate our home’s old-fashioned quirks, but springtime is when we revel in our surroundings. I woke up today and sniffed the crisp early morning air dancing in from the open windows and my spirit was invigorated once more. It is humid but we adapt. Pittsburgh is not too far away. The crisp air is perfect. Wet beats Colorado dry.

Better Half mowed our lawn yesterday and I tended to the edging. Our trees are in bloom and the scent of the blossoms permeates the office and our bedroom upstairs. My clematis is coming back (although I am biting nails over one of the plants, which may not have survived the winter.) We have hung our wind chimes and placed our old fountain. Next month I shall find a few inexpensive plants for the front bed.

I leave you with a few photographs of the things that bring me healing.


SS #106: Fearless... at what cost?

The Don made me “an offer I could not refuse” and I did, thinking myself untouchable. He made sure to show me the error of my way. So now, I cave in out of fear of further retributions and I give him what he wants. I should learn to be fearless, but at what cost? Whose head will it be on the pillow the next time?

(No actual greyhounds were harmed in the making of this post. It is a gag.)



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I will leave you with this macho gem (tucked ever so neatly into my email this morning. Life would be dull without my FABULOUS friends.)



A bit of spring, 2008

Our front yard never ceases to amaze me. This year we had new flowers pop up. These delicate wisteria-blue flowers had a gorgeous darker midrib on each floret with pale yellow anthers. I’ve never seen this particular species before but the consensus is that it’s a hyacinth. A little research produces “Sky Jacket Hyacinth”. We did not plant these and I can not tell you where they came from (there are none in the neighborhood.)

Our crocus is doing well (if we can keep the animals out of it.) The C. vernus Grand Maitre is thriving and multiplying. We had some white pop up as well (again, we have not planted any of these bulbs!) I think it might be C. biflorus Purity but I am not certain.

We placed the last of our winter seed mix into the feeder and I strung some old apples on garden twine so that Better Half could hang them from the trees. I also slipped some of the apples onto bamboo skewers for the ground dwelling creatures to enjoy.

We have some more work to do in our corner flowerbed. We are going to enlarge it to make room for the thriving hostas and daylilies. Better Half and I drove along the 7 yesterday and found some rocks scattered from a recent slide. We placed these and a few choice (tiny) slabs from one of the local rivers into the back of the Vue and started creating an edge. I will attempt to move our clematis (God, I hope I don’t kill them) and the trellis to a better location in the bed.

Tomorrow I will wash down the front porch. Were I in better health, this would take me only a short amount of time. I fully expect it to now take me two entire days. We shall see.

Pomeranian vs. Crocus

"Look at this purple stuff what grows out of the mulch. It wasn’t here when I arrived at this house months ago. I must investigate."

"No! Noooooo! I must know what this purple thing is! It smells funny and is like sniffing mommy’s soft towel. Stop pulling me away!"

"Now you tempt me with it. Foul villainess. "

"Bleeeech. It doesn’t taste as good as it looks! Why did you let me lick that?"

"Hey, obnoxious puppy. Down here. Look down here. Pay attention to them when they tell you, “no”; you won’t end up with crocus pollen on your tongue."


Goodbye to another legend: Charlton Heston

His star sits at 1628 Vine Street, a block south of Hollywood Boulevard. He is in good company, grouped with Henry Fonda, Alan Ladd, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Bing Crosby, Donna Reed, Ray Milland, Frank Sinatra, George Burns, Rita Hayworth, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn.

Few can appreciate Charlton Heston's talents. His name flickers through their mind and it conjures up an effigy of Moses grasping stone tablets. If they are savvy movie watchers, they might recollect a scruffy man snogging an ape. The news junkie can summon up a litany of Heston’s involvement with the NRA. Perhaps a handful of people know that he had been married to Lydia (Clarke) for over six decades.

What caused this charismatic Libra from Illinois to evolve into a Hollywood legend? I believe his rugged good looks played into his fame, however there was more to Heston that a chiseled jaw and having a body that was toned enough to drape with a loincloth. Heston took his work as an actor seriously. He threw himself into each project. He survived on talent and a healthy dosage of lucky circumstance.

Our aging legends are slowly dying off only to be replaced with the odiously plastic hacks of a new era. Buster Keaton never felt the need to shave his head bald in a bid to garner a touch more media attention. Katherine Hepburn did not resort to departing her limo sans panties. Ella Fitzgerald would not need to strip to her bare minimum and gyrate in a 50 Cent vid just to boost her record sales. There was a share of "outrageous" scandals that rocked the Hollywood scene of the bygone era yet the stars themselves behaved with politesse and poise. After all, these were their fans and "the fans must be respected" rather than "the star must make a spectacle of itself to maintain a fan base."


Your Bad 80's Challenge

Age can be determined by the amount of pills one swallows in a given week, multiplied by the amount of lyrics one can recall from songs which made their debut nearly 30 years ago, and then divided by the square root of the year one graduated from high school.

We should never do anything INXS, right? The Cure might be worse than calling the Sheriff, who will arrive and serve a Warrant prohibiting you from owning that damn White Snake.

U2 can avoid The Clash by refraining from shooting yourself with a .38 Special. (The Police would not be amused by that Synchronicity.) But go ahead, Jump In The Saddle and Journey to Boston in your B-52s. Remember that Bad English is accepted by the Grateful Dead as well as the General Public.

Go West, I say, after Boston, and find that Golden Earring! Take Giant Steps to get there! You might have to burn the Midnight Oil to reach this New Order. It will put holes in your Nu Shooz… and ruined shoes do make for Violent Femmes! If The Vapors don’t do you in, stay Laid Back, look at the Landscape; you can’t always be Living In A Box!

Take that Loverboy out on that Love Tractor, beware the Los Lobos barking at the door. Always close your eyes when looking up at the Flock of Seagulls on the Beach, Boys. A Taste of Honey never hurts, the Art of Noise is never silent, and Cheap Tricks in a Crowded House won’t fly in The Church, so Cher and Cher alike.

If you do find yourself in Dire Straits, and the Dead Milkmen are competing with the Dead Kennedys in a Soul II Soul bout to take you across the river STYX, you can always beat The System by pulling off a few moves from the Spandau Ballet. Don’t have Suicidal Tendencies – don’t blow The Weather Girls to Smithereens.

Simple Minds fret over Stray Cats and if you don’t know how an Icicle Works, you never will. The Information Society has Pictures In Vogue but the Ministry has Madness. Men at Work (oh those bad Men Without Hats) throw a World Party. When In Rome, do as The Ramones do; if you mess up on the Expose, borrow my Erasure.

WHAM! You’ve just run into the Wall of Voodoo! Your head made a Pseudo Echo even as your eyes swam with Psychedelic Furs. Better a wall than a Power Station. I suppose I should KISS your wound? I simply don’t put Faith No More in a Foreigner. They’re just a bunch of Fine Young Cannibals but I prefer the Faster Pussycat, Fat Boy. That might cause a Quiet Riot.

While we are on that subject, I am the Tiffany Tierra wearing Queen of Talking Heads. Yes, Aut is a Twisted Sister; a bona fide member of The Timex Social Club, best friend to the Thompson Twins, at least ‘Til Tuesday. The bitter bees of life Sting in the Butthole, Surfers… fly fly buzzzzzz buzzzzzzZZ Top and buzzzzz bottom. (Hey asswad, you make a pun out of that band’s name! It’s a spaZZ TOPic.)

Well, wasn’t this a slice of Utopia? More like XTC for those who remember any of these bands. Have a Heart. These are only just Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark played from The Outfield of my playful mind.

(Can you go through the alphabet and name one band for each letter? That’s your challenge for the day. I’d loan you some of Better Half’s meds to get you on your way, but then he’d keel over dead and I’d have to waste all my time chasing the dogs from his carcass with a big stick.)

The $2 Bill

(A forward from my email this morning)

The $2 Bill. Everyone should start carrying them! I am STILL laughing!! I think we need to quit saving our $2 bills and bring them out in public. The younger generation doesn't know they exist.


On my way home from work, I stopped at Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat. In my billfold are a $50 bill and a $2 bill. I figure that with a $2 bill, I can get something to eat and not have to worry about anyone getting irritated at me for trying to break a $50 bill.

Me: "Hi, I'd like one seven-layer burrito please, to go "

Server: "That'll be $1.04. Eat in?"

Me: "No, it's to go." At this point, I open my billfold and hand him the $2 bill. He looks at it kind of funny.

Server: "Uh, hang on a sec, I'll be right back." He goes to talk to his manager, who is still within my earshot. The following conversation occurs between the two of them:

Server: "Hey, you ever see a $2 bill?"

Manager: "No. A what?"

Server: "A $2 bill. This guy just gave it to me."

Manager: "Ask for something else. There's no such thing as a $2 bill."

Server: "Yeah, thought so." He comes back to me and says, "We don't take these. Do you have anything else?"

Me: "Just this fifty. You don't take $2 bills? Why?"

Server: "I don't know."

Me: "See here where it says legal tender?"

Server: "Yeah."

Me: "So, why won't you take it?"

Server: "Well, hang on a sec." He goes back to his manager, who has been watching me like I'm a shoplifter, and says to him, "He says I have to take it."

Manager: "Doesn't he have anything else?"

Server: "Yeah, a fifty. I'll get it and you can open the safe and get change "

Manager: "I'm not opening the safe with him in here."

Server: "What should I do?"

Manager: "Tell him to come back later when he has real money."

Server: "I can't tell him that! You tell him."

Manager: "Just tell him."

Server: "No way! This is weird . I'm going in back."

The manager approaches me and says, "I'm sorry, but we don't take big bills this time of night..

Me: "It's only seven o'clock! Well then, here's a two dollar bill."

Manager: "We don't take those, either."

Me: "Why not?"

Manager: "I think you know why."

Me: "No really, tell me why."

Manager: "Please leave before I call mall security."

Me: "What on earth for?"

Manager: "Please, sir."

Me: "Uh, go ahead, call them."

Manager: "Would you please just leave?"

Me: "No."

Manager: "Fine -- have it your way then."

Me: "Hey, that's Burger King, isn't it?"

At this point, he backs away from me and calls mall security on the phone around the corner. I have two people staring at me from the dining area, and I begin laughing out loud, just for effect. A few minutes later this 45-year-oldish guy comes in.

Guard: "Yeah, Mike, what's up?"

Manager (whispering): "This guy is trying to give me some (pause) funny money."

Guard: "No kidding! What?"

Manager: "Get this .. A two dollar bill."

Guard (incredulous): "Why would a guy fake a two dollar bill?"

Manager: "I don't know. He's kinda weird. He says the only other thing he has is a fifty.

"Guard: "Oh, so the fifty's fake!"

Manager: "No, the two dollar bill is."

Guard: "Why would he fake a two dollar bill?"

Manager: "I don't know! Can you talk to him, and get him out of here?"

Guard: "Yeah."

Security Guard walks over to me and...... "Mike here tells me you have some fake bills you're trying to use."

Me: "Uh, no."

Guard: "Lemme see 'em."

Me: "Why?"

Guard: "Do you want me to get the cops in here?"

At this point I am ready to say, "Sure, please!" but I want to eat, so I say "I'm just trying to buy a burrito and pay for it with this two dollar bill."

I put the bill up near his face, and he flinches like I'm taking a swing at him. He takes the bill, turns it over a few times in his hands, and says, "Hey, Mike, what's wrong with this bill?"

Manager: "It's fake."

Guard: "It doesn't look fake to me."

Manager: "But it's a two dollar bill."

Guard: "Yeah?"

Manager: "Well, there's no such thing, is there?"

The security guard and I both look at him like he's an idiot, and it dawns on the guy that he has no clue. So, it turns out that my burrito was free, and he threw in a small drink and some of those cinnamon thingies, too.

Made me want to get a whole stack of two dollar bills just to see what happens when I try to buy stuff. If I got the right group of people, I could probably end up in jail. You get free food there, too.

Just think...those two will be voting soon..........................

SS #105: The Photograph

The merry ladies in charge of Sunday Scribblings have come up with a picture-prefect theme. I am an avid amateur photographer. I have a plethora of macro work ranging from delicate flower heads to moths. I have several grand vistas from various states (and quite a few snapshots taken from airplanes.) I have far too many pictures of our pets and home décor. Have you ever seen dried cat snot? I’m certain that I have a photograph of it somewhere on this blog; if I am wrong, I will endeavor to upload a picture.

I thought I would deviate from all the pretty things that I enjoy photographing (cat snot is very pretty when the light hits it just so – not) and share a picture of me. My father took the picture below over a year and three months ago. It is in the Denver International Airport.

We had a marvelous time that day. I had flown out to help take care of Mum while she recovered from gallbladder surgery. We managed to get along without any terrible incidents (how easy it is to slip back into teenage patterns!) Mum didn’t want to make the long car trip to Denver, which meant that Dad and I had an entire airport to play in.

The wheelchair is mine. The arms are not usually on it, but for cargo purposes it is best that they be affixed to the chair. I can’t push myself with the arms in place and Dad offered to be my Sherpa. Security let him through (complete with a shirt pocket filled with miniature screwdrivers and other such tools) and we wandered the terminal. We played with the “name brand” headphone display, traveled upstairs to the bar so that I could have a cigarette (this was when I was still smoking) and chatted. Dad and I never seem to have enough “Daddy-Daughter” days like this.

Right before he left me (Mum had called twice to see where he was) he snapped this picture. I look terrible in it! It is special to me because my Dad took it.


Friday Journey

Fridays should never be “hurry up and wait” days. They should be sampled at leisure, savored like a fine wine. Our Friday was a touch cumbersome thanks to two appointments separated by a span of several hours.

The morning passed quickly; a check-in that accomplished little except the exchange of niceties between us and our “gent’s” supervisor (as the person we were to have an appointment with was not in today.) We did not know why we were there, the supervisor did not see any notes that would explain why we were schedules, and so we bid farewell to him and meandered our way towards Pittsburgh.

We stopped in Robinson for a bite at the Cracker Barrel (they are one of the few inexpensive places that serve fish without all the dreadfully bulky batter.) I behaved myself and didn’t buy a thing in the lobby.

Our Friday highlight was our stop in Squirrel Hill (a Jewish district in Pittsburgh.) We explored the Murry Street Kosher market for the first time – absolutely fabulous. Better Half and I explored every last nook, our mouths watering over jars and packages of delightful foods. The meat and deli counter were closed for cleaning for the Passover so we did not have a chance to sample anything there. Small signs hung long the shelves or in the coolers proclaiming “not for Passover’ or “ready for Passover”. We stood in line like a couple of starving Gentiles clutching our 12 bagels and a loaf of chalah bread (which, sadly, were ticketed “not for Passover”.)

We arrived at Better Half’s dental appointment ahead of schedule and they brought him back in a timely manner. I was left to my own devices and I trekked to the basement and sat in the garden. It was a little chilly but my eyes find peace in the green ivy and Pachysandra. The cement and pebble benches are beginning to crumble and a blanket of moss grows on the northern side of just about everything in that garden. It’s perfect for meditation.

Pittsburgh is a very warm town. The people are generally benevolent even in rush hour traffic. I occasionally envy Spider and Ox, both of whom grew up here. I also occasionally envy TFMM and his beautiful Toronto. Regardless of those feelings, there is a special joy that I hold in my heart – it bursts forth every time I see my own happy home with the maroon shutters and door, my beautiful maple tree and the large porch that is simply perfect for lazy days. My crocus is in bloom and the birds have returned. We will have deer, fox, rabbits and groundhogs running about at dusk soon.

Like the crocus, I am beginning to awaken from my winter slumber. I am feeling alive again. I only hope that this feeling lasts.