Saturday, December 27, 2008

Honey, I'm Home.

We picked up Cooper yesterday. Actually, we'd need a crane to pick up Cooper, but we fetched her home yesterday. We were expecting someone a little shy and nervous about strangers, but what we got was a big affectionate moose who jumped in our car and plopped herself in the back seat before we even got to introduce ourselves.

She's big. Eighty pounds and still filling out, and her head can almost rest on the countertops, which makes feeding the cats interesting. The "bed" we bought her now looks more like a throw pillow, but somehow she manages to curl up like a corkscrew and fit herself on it.

She's met all the cats and only got her nose scratched once (but that may be because only one of them has claws). She likes them ... they aren't sure about her yet, but at least they don't loathe her, which is more than I can say for some dogs. She's completely non-threatening, even though she's the size of small pony. Sage is still a bit reticent, and Cooper looks a little too interested in the ducks for comfort, but she understands the notion of "sit" and "stay" and "no!" so we'll see how that goes.

I bought her some edible Nylabone chewies thinking that she could gnaw on them for awhile, but they only lasted about 30 seconds. Perhaps something in the cow leg department might last longer?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Home for the Holidays

Ev and I are getting each other a Christmas present after all.

It involves a Christmas Eve shopping trip to Rural King and a four hour drive to St. Louis and back to pick it up, and her name is Cooper ... and, of course, there's a story behind her.

Cooper is a seven year old female weimaraner who was surrendered to a rescue organization a year ago and placed in bad foster care. A different rescue organization got her in August ... hairless and nearly starved to death with a large hematoma on one ear ... and put her in veterinary care. After a month with a vet she was placed back in foster care, where she's bounced around a bit waiting to be adopted. She's gained her weight back, had her ear operated on and is trying to grow back her hair. We found her on the WonderWeimsRescue website last weekend and applied to adopt her. I got the official notification yesterday that she can come home with us.

We're going today to buy her a dog bed and some bowls and toys, and we'll drive to Missouri on Friday to fetch her home.

This is how we acquire pets, and these are the kinds of pets we acquire.

Our elderly dog, Sage, was adopted from the Humane Society when she was a year old. She'd been adopted and abandoned three times before I got her and she'd been beaten so much that she was hand-shy and had become a destructive chewer. She didn't chew up underwear, she chewed up upholstered furniture and berber area rugs. It took six months to cure her and turn her into a wonderful dog.

Cuppy, the one-eyed cat, was purchased from a breeder when she was "retired" from a breeding program. She was infected with Feline Herpesvirus and had a chronic upper respiratory infection. The FHV eventually led to corneal ulcers and the loss of her eye, and requires us to clean up copious amounts of cat snot, but she's worth it.

Melon Kiwi was a greasy gray and black kitten living under a truck in the parking lot of the local barbecue joint when Ev found him, bloated with worms. He grew up to be the handsomest and fluffiest black and white cat in the world, and Ev's soul mate.

Brian and Slipper were the products of the unplanned teen pregnancy of Carrie's cat, Princess Sophia, who started out life as a runty and boneless kitten found in a box in the PetCo parking lot. Brian isn't very bright, probably owing to some lack of oxygen during his traumatic birth, but he's our world-class string game guy and we love the tuxedo boys to pieces.

Mrs Underfoot was an outdoor cat who was abandoned when her people moved away and became the neighborhood cat. She was living on mice and birds and the kindness of strangers when Ev's ex-husband brought her to us the summer before last and asked if she could live in our yard. She moved indoors last winter after six months of coaxing ... and an ice storm.

When Ev and the kids talk about the pets they've had in the past, they all have stories. They were snatched from a sack of puppies tossed in a pond, picked up on the side of the road, plucked out of a litter of feral kittens living in a basement or under a shed or saved from some other bad fate. My first dog was a black lab dropped out of a truck that sped off from a local lake on a busy weekend ... my first cat was found wandering across a busy street in downtown Phoenix.

And now there'll be Cooper. She'll come to us already getting on in years, with patchy hair and a food allergy. She'll be wary and unsure of us. The cats will hiss at her and Sage will be afraid of being pounced on. She'll probably chew up something and she might chase the ducks. But she'll be home, and she'll turn into a good dog, and life in Nowhere, IL will be the best thing that's ever happened to her, just like it's the best thing that's ever happened to the rest of us.

The fact that it will happen at Christmas will make a great story for years to come, and we're all about the stories!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Meaning of Christmas?

It's less than a week before Christmas, and I don't care. Not in that depressed way that people don't-care-because-they-might-as-well-be-dead-because-it-doesn't-matter-anyway. I don't care because...well...I don't have to. Our kids are grown. We have no money. The kids have no money. So instead we've decided to have a nice family holiday with good food...sort of Thanksgiving, Part Two.

It feels tremendously liberating. I'm not a Christmas person anyway...I'm an Atheist, so the Jesus part doesn't speak to me. I hate shopping, so the consumerism just pisses me off. Oh...and I loathe Christmas music. The only part of it I really like is the food and family, decorations with twinkly lights, and the smell of pine trees and a roast cooking.

I've been talking with friends and coworkers, and there seems to be a consensus brewing that Christmas isn't fun anymore. I don't know if it was ever fun for adults, really. Did our parents stress about the money too? I remember going to Chicago with my mother to see the Christmas display in the window of Marshall Field, but I don't remember the money part. I wonder if my parents put their heads together and tried to decide which bills to put off or which credit cards to max out in order to buy us Six Finger cap pistols and Easy Bake ovens.

My childhood family managed to fuck up holidays in much the same way we managed to fuck up every other event, so this is yet another place where I have only the vaguest idea of what "normal" people do. And I'm somewhat suspicious about the existence of normal people anyway. Who are the mythic functional families that provide the counterpoint to our dysfunctional ones? No one I know. Maybe there's an undiscovered pocket of emotionally healthy people who can enjoy their holidays without angst...I'd like to meet them. Maybe sit at their feet and learn their secrets.

So this year we get to have the parts I like without the parts I don't like. That'll make me happy, but I worry a little a little about everyone else. It's one thing to say we want our Christmas to look like this, but another thing to actually live it. I've had 45 years to hone my dislike of Christmas to a razor's edge. I sort of understand that the rest of the world may not feel like I do about it. I love my family more than anything in the world, so...I worry. A little.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ice Storm '08.3

The weather forecast is for a massive ice storm today. Our local news program, which scrambles around to find any actual news to report ("Three car wreck on Rt. 3! Glass broken! Film at 10.), has long ago settled on being the Weather Catastrophe Channel. Their favorite kind of news is forecasting upcoming weather catastrophes, but in a pinch, they'll relive weather catastrophes from the past. Lori and I love the segments where they interview people who lived through news-making weather in bygone years.

"What was it like, the ice storm of '08?"
" was cold. Real cold. Mama din't come out da house for near a week."
"Does your mother plan to leave the house in the face of this storm?"
"Naw. We got a freezer fulla squirrels. We can hunker down for nigh on a month."

So now the Weather Catastrophe Channel is forecasting our first ice storm of the season. Lori had to go to East Bumfuck, IL to see patients who won't actually show up, since there's an ice storm and they're elderly folks who can't see. They didn't make it this long by being stupid. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that if there's an inch of ice on the roads...stay home.

Except for Lori's boss. He's going to get to East Bumfuck from Evansville, Indiana in his 4 wheel drive Tundrapalooza SUV with the roll bars, fog lights, studded tires, GPS, and the cow catcher on the front. And he wants Lori and Pamela to meet him there.

I feel like Christopher Columbus' gay lover (Hello? Didn't you notice the tights?), waiting for Chris to discover something (maybe East Bumfuck?) and get the hell back home for a cup of hot cocoa and a change of tights.

If Lori and Pamela end up in a ditch because Dr. Testosterone wants to test the limits of his lunar lander SUV in inclement weather, be forewarned. Somebody's Hoosier ass will be kicked. Don't make me plant a Yak Trak up your ass, Big Guy. I'm a mother...I'm scary when I'm mad. Just ask the kids.

In the immortal words of my son, "I tried anger management, but I had to stop going because it made me angry."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I hab a co'd

I never used to get colds. I have one now, though, and it's a doozy. Coughing, sneezing, stuffy head, runny nose, sore throat and that weird feeling like your eyeballs might melt. And I can't even enjoy it, because we're about to have weather. The midwestern kind you need to be aware of and plan for. This is a most inopportune time to be sickie-poo.

There's a big angry arctic front bearing down on Nowhere, Illinois (I blame Chicago and Rod Blagojevich for this, by the way). Starting tonight, and lasting through Wednesday, we're expecting freezing rain, ice, sleet, howling winds, ice again, more sleet ... repeat as necessary. Ev is working this weekend so this means that today I need to be battening down the hatches. My "to do" list includes filling the utility room with firewood, making sure we've laid in enough cat food, dog food and duck food (the 50 pound bag of corn is in my trunk), securing the severely depressed ducks in their dome and spreading more dry straw for them, stocking up on coffee and cigarettes in case we can't leave the house for a couple of days, and doing a zillion things that require me to be out of my jammies, off the couch and out in the cold, windy world.

I don't wanna.

I hafta.

The days are wicked short, and since I slept until noon (thank you, Nyquil) I have about three hours to get it all done before it's dark again.

So much for a gay lifestyle of irresponsible wanton hedonism.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New and Improved!

Dear Mr. O'Cedar:

There is nothing new and improved about a mop. It's a sponge on a stick. The only thing "new" about it is that this year's sponge doesn't fit on last year's stick, forcing me to purchase a whole new sponge on a whole new stick, for which I won't be able to buy a replacement sponge the next time I need one. This is not an improvement.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Lori and I joined Facebook this week, which means several things. Firstly, it means that we've been finding our old friends and acquaintances and reconnecting. Secondly, it takes up solidly out of the "pathetic old dinosaurs" category, and into "trendy and shallow"...which is a much more amusing place to be. Lastly, it means that any of you who are on Facebook and don't friend us? You suck ass. I mean that. Just stay away from my humble little blog. Go read something like Pandagon or some other popular blog where they don't need friends.

Now that we're on Facebook we've made some interesting reconnections. Lori friended (and then unfriended) a guy she used to go to high school with who's now an unrepentant bible-thumping homophobe. Oh...and she unfriended Paula Poundstone after Paula's automated update shook her down for cash. Lori's pretty ruthless that way. She refused to bail out GM also.

Paula and General Motors? Don't come to Nowhere looking for a handout. It ain't happening.

Lori tracked down one ex that still likes her and one that doesn't. My two long term lesbian exes include a deeply closeted woman who'll never appear in public somewhere where she might be caught being gay (like Facebook), and one who is happily technologically-impaired. Not much likelihood of bumping into either of them on the Internets. But I did meet up with her son, and he turned into a man when I wasn't looking. I guess they do that.

Since it's my day off and I've got a cold, I'm extra low on ambition. I took a nap on the floor in front of the fireplace with Cuppy, ran the granddog out in the field, and learned to navigate Facebook. Now I'm prepared. Friends, quasi-friends, pseudo-friends, and frenemies...bring it on. I know how to send Mistletoe and fishes now. I'm ready.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two Mules for Sister Sarah

Q: What does Sarah Palin hate worse than Democrats?

A: Illinois Democrats.

Sarah is so last week.
In the finest tradition of Chicago politics, we're having our own little Turkey Massacree in three part harmony here in the Land of Lincoln, and I'm afraid Sarah's been kicked off the front page by an Illinois Democrat again.

Sarah, step aside for the new leader of the Governor's To Watch Out For pack. You may have cool glasses and Naughty Monkey pumps, but Rod has those beady sunken eyes ... that sneery non-existant upper lip ... that prodigious cappilosity! (He looks a little bit like Alvin the Chipmunk, doesn't he?)

You can see Russia from your house, but I can hear the ink drying on the drawing boards of political cartoonists all over the globe from mine.

Thank heaven we can finally be done with all those puerile "gosh darnit"s and "you betcha"s, also too. With Rod you get pure unadulterated gutter profanity ... and no damn winking! President-Elect Obama doesn't want to play ball and fork over an ambassadorship, a cabinet position or the high paid chairmanship of a specious non-profit organization? "Fuck him!" A seat in the Senate? It ain't just a chair, it's a "fucking golden thing and you don't fucking give it away for nothing." If Blagojevich's phone had a cuss-o-meter the needle would redline.

I don't ever want to hear about Sarah Palin's abuse of power again, either, also. She's a total lightweight.

The Governor of Alaska got one teensy-weensy little public servant fired. The Governor of Illinois tried to blackmail the entire Tribune company into firing every journalist who ever wrote anything negative about him. Now that's some firin'.

Palin's pedestrian little per-diem ripoff? Peanuts. Rod won't even entertain a guest in the Governor's office for less than half a mil.

So head's up, Alaska. Your Governor may be a goof-ball, but our Governor can kick your Governor's ass in the National Embarassment sweepstakes!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Dead Guy

Last night Lori and I drove to Evansville, IN, 3 hours east of here, for her annual Christmas party. We would have been right on time, except we got a little doubt due to faulty intelligence. The directions were crappy, I swear.

But we made it,. We ate the free food, drank the free beer, won the table's centerpiece, and bugged out at a respectable hour. We decided to share $40 of her Christmas bonus with the riverboat casino in Evansville, and did what we always do...dinked around on the penny slots until 3 a.m.

At 3 we looked at our watches, cashed in our $20 ticket, cursed ourselves for staying out so late, and headed for the car.

This would be an opportunity to mention that the Casino Aztar in Evansville is HUGE. And we were tired. So we wandered a little looking for the car.

"I thought we parked on level 2."
"So did I. Maybe not."

We checked level 2. Nada. Level 1? Nope. Level 3? uh-uh.

So we put our heads together, finally remembered where we parked.. in the very, very back corner of level two. We got off the elevator and made the trek across the cold parking lot in. And it was cold - really cold - like 18 degrees.

As we approached the car, I saw something in the passenger seat. I was a little bit ahead of Lori and I looked in the driver's side window...there was a guy in the passenger seat of our car.

He was a big guy; his eyes were closed and he was slumped forward with his hands in the om position, in a long sleeve t-shirt with no coat. I said, "There's a man in our car."

Lori said, "What??"

"There's a man in our car. Look."

Lori bent down, looked in the window, and smacked it really hard with the palm of her hand. It made a lot of noise, but he didn't move. We looked at each other over the top of the car, and I sent Lori back in to the casino to find a security guard. I stayed by the car to keep an eye on it. He didn't look like he was going anywhere, but I was thinking that if he did, I'd want to know.

So I stood a few yards behind the car, looking at him through the back window, and speculated about why he was in our car. Was he drunk and got into the wrong car? Did he lose the rent playing poker and kill himself? Did someone else kill him and leave him there? Did he pass out and freeze to death?

The question uppermost in my mind however...was there going to be anything gross in our car?

I was trying to remember how to do CPR if I needed to. 5 and 1? 10 and 2? Maybe he'd be so dead I wouldn't have to remember. Please, please...don't have splattered your brains all over our car. Please. I sort of envisioned being stuck in Evansville, our car a crime scene, calling our family for a ride home.

"Uh, Rob? We're in Evansville and there's a dead guy in our car. The police need to keep it for a while...can you come get us? "

Rob's a nice guy, but really...I'll bet he's getting tired of rescuing us from our weird disasters.

By this time my ears were freezing and I was wondering where Lori was. I started edging back towards the door, keeping an eye on the car, until finally she came out with a security guy. Apparently the security guard she had approached had to interrogate her for a few minutes before doing anything. Was she sure it was her car? Was the guy someone she knew?

No and no. He finally called another security guy...the parking lot security guy. Lori and the security guy walked towards me while she explained to him that we'd come out of the casino to find a large, unresponsive man in the passenger seat of our car. Thy approached the car and the security guy tapped on the window and said, "Hey, buddy?" Nothing. The guy never moved.He opened the door, put a hand on the guy's shoulder and shook him gently. Nothing.

The cop started shaking him harder and harder, saying, "Buddy? Hey buddy? Can you hear me?" No response.

Oh shit, I thought. Dead. Damn it. This is going to be really inconvenient. "Does he look dead?", I asked.
"No, he's drooling, and his eyelids are fluttering.", said the cop.
Lori said, "Don't make him puke, okay? And please tell my he didn't piss in my car."

The cop continued shaking him and yelling in his ear. Finally the guy's eyes slid opened. The cop said, "What are you doing?" And the guy said, "Waiting for you."

He was clearly shitfaced drunk, but he hopped out of the car with surprising agility considering it's so low and he's so big. And drunk. He was mumbling incoherently, and the cop was holding his arm, asking him questions.. Where's your car? Do you have a car? I thought "Holy fuck. You're not going to let him drive, are you?" The cop asked if we wanted to have him arrested and we said no, we just wanted to go home. He led him away by the elbow, and we got in the car which reeked of beer, but thankfully, not of urine or vomit.

Lori said, "On the bright side, I'm not sleepy anymore."

Later, when we were laughing about what a good story this would be, she said, "You know, this stuff only happens to us. We're magnets for this kind of weird stuff. And this stuff never happened before I met you. It must be you that attracts it. And who's going to believe it? Bikers, dwarfs, strange drunk guys in our car...people will think we make this stuff up."

But no. You people know us. You know it's true, don't you. It's just another day in Nowhere with Kwach and Ev.