Friday, May 15, 2009

Guilty Saturdays Lead to Potential Wasp Attacks

Dear Editor,

Do you ever wonder what happened to those lazy Saturdays when, as a kid, you probably spent time fishing, playing ball, or watching cartoons? On a recent Saturday morning I thought I’d do something really stupid so I ask my wife if she needed me to do anything around the house. I was going to be gone the next weekend and I suppose it was a case of the “guilts”. “Well, I need to clean out my closet, would you mind emptying it for me”? “And we’re getting ready to open the windows for fall, why don’t you clean them”? That old Kristopherson song played in my head. “Why me Lord, what have I ever done…” Would I mind? Why don’t I clean? An answer would not come and so... trancelike I found myself outside staring up at the kitchen window. The spiders had been partying for months and a smorgasbord of fine bugs had collected on the sill. Dirt dobbers were everywhere and you could write your name in the mildew. To make matters worse, these were storm windows placed there by the previous owners who were so cheap they had put only one electrical outlet in each of the bedrooms. These windows were to remain intact until “the second coming” as I found screws every six inches or so around the frame. No problem, I rush inside to get my trusty battery powered screwdriver and find it dead as a hammer lying beside the charger. Sensing I was going to throw something my hairless Yorkie, Deuce, crawled under the couch.

Clorox works wonders on mildew and the lining of your lungs. I got one of those cute little flower sprayers from the basement, put some clorox in it and began to fill it with water. An acidic like smell rose up in my face…the kind that seems to say…breathe and you’re dead…and so, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I quickly twisted the top on to the sprayer…then coughed my way to the window. We have this rickety ladder I like to use to make getting up high more exciting and just as I was mounting, I noticed a huge wasp nest in the window corner. I retrieve this can of wasp spray and climb up to get a really good shot. I love killing wasps but realize there’s probably some law protecting them from crazies like me. Three were on the nest and their heads swung around to see this crazed, guilt -ridden husband approaching with what, I’m sure to them, looked like a weapon of mass destruction. I placed my hand on the top of the can…being careful not to make any unnecessary moves that might tip them off and then, making a huge miscalculation as to the amount of spray left in the can, pressed the red button. A gob of spit spewed forth eliciting an angry, irritated look from the guys on the nest. They swung their heads around and looked down as if to say, “look, an old fool on a rickety ladder is trying to have an accident”. With that I did the only thing I could…I threw the can, fell off the ladder and went inside to safely clean out a closet. Saturdays just aren’t the same.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

America Deserves Better

I read an article in a “real man’s” magazine the other day suggesting things couples should think about when choosing a pet. Let her choose the size, it said, and then she might let you choose the breed.
The article didn’t mention the couples’ personalities and our dogs were not mentioned as preferred pets. Instead I read about the “recommended” Schnauzers and Pugs. After reading I figured “she” was probably going to choose both size and breed. Thankfully, our dogs didn’t read the article.

Hannah’s a small female dog whose idea of recreation is pulling the male, Hercules, through the house by his tail. This routine reminds me of taking trips years ago in the Ford station wagon’s reversed rear seat. Dad would be driving with mom up front and two of the five of us sitting in the rear seat.
Dad would say, “Look at that” when “that” was coming. Then we would get to see “that” as it was going. This was fun for about five miles of the 1,500-mile trip from Rapid City, S.D., to Knoxville, Tenn.
Dad sold that station wagon in Knoxville, because he was afraid we’d have a skewed view of the country if we rode in the rear seat on the return trip.

I must say, however, that particular Ford made it. As for Hercules, I don’t think he minds seeing things “out the rear window” as long as Hannah lets him eat first. He has other activities of which he’s fond, but I’m trying to get him to do those in private.
My wife’s a lot like Hannah and could be considered “gifted.” They both know what I’m going to do before I do it and they also know where my mind was when I did it.

The other day the wife said, “I can always tell when you’ve had a few libations, because you leave the toilet seat up.” If that’s not genius, I’m a wiener dog, and if she and Hannah were enrolled in public school today they would no doubt have access to textbooks.
Hannah no longer chases cars and can be trusted to be outside without a leash while my wife is content to sit and bark. My wife and I get along well because she sits to my right on the couch, next to my selective hearing ear. Sometimes she’s concerned with my not knowing whether I’m coming or she’s going but since we turned the couch around things have improved.

It would be interesting to me to know the types of dogs our “leaders” in Washington choose to have in their homes. They say people tend to pick dogs that are matched to their personalities, but if we look at some of these folks it’s clear that many dogs would prefer living at the pound.
One thing about a dog; you can tell it a lie and get away with it once or twice. After that, the dog doesn’t get mad — it simply ignores what you say.
And while dogs may not be concerned with social behavior, they do recognize fabrication (for lack of a better word) when they hear it.

Instead of getting upset with our policy makers when they seem to be seeing things in reverse, we should just ignore them at the polls. They may be seeing the world’s debris from the reversed rear seat, catching a glimpse as it roars by on the interstate of life and then deciding to decide. Or they may be like me, not knowing whether they’re coming or going. Either way, America deserves better than Schnauzers and Pugs.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Beat the Clock Car Wash

Just two dollars to wash my Explorer at the local car wash was a deal I could not pass up. So I’m in there dropping eight quarters in the slot before you can say, “Look at that dummy go!”
This particular car wash was designed as a concrete block “entertainment center” borrowing heavily from that old game show “Beat the Clock” because that’s exactly what you’re playing when that eighth quarter hits the slot.
I’m sure most people have no trouble getting their cars washed in eight quarters but for me it was a hard lesson in time management.
It starts with this dial feature that helps you see all the options available, as well as how much time you have left in which to do them. Without the dial I suppose you’d have no way of knowing what it is you’re supposed to be doing. Then you might have to put another eight quarters in the slot to get things right.

I should have read the dial first. The timer started with the eighth quarter and not with my finger on the sprayer. You hear this humming sound then look down at your flip flops, and the voice says, “You’re not going to make it.”
Having taken a speed reading course, I only spent a few seconds of my allotted three minutes surveying my shoes and the dial. Wash, wax, rinse, foaming brush, bugs, all these wonderful options were available for the mere two dollars. “Rinse” was near the 10 o’clock position so it took me a second to find it. You’d have thought “rinse” would be the first thing on the dial at the 1 o’clock position but… “Wash” was over that way too.
This anteater-beak-like apparatus is stuck in a tube and I grab it and begin to work my way around the truck. It has a long arm attached to a hose that manages to ensnarl itself around the rear view mirrors each time I pass and I have to make like Will Rogers doing a rope trick to get it off.
Time is of the essence here and by the time I perfect my first rope trick, 45 seconds runs off the clock. I go back to the dial and hit the “foaming brush” symbol, then run over to get the brush located on the far wall. Before all the foam runs down the drain this sucking sound greets me, sort of like the sound of money being sucked out of my pocket. The brush is loaded with nothing but air. It takes about 20 seconds to figure this out and then I streak back to the dial to find something, anything, that might work and make me feel better about those eight quarters.
I hit the “wash” symbol and the anteater jumps up like a fire hose gone awry in the street. Whipping this way and that it shoots hot soapy water all over the concrete blocks and I have become the thing being washed.
By now, the two dogs I left in the car are convinced it’s “bath time” and they’re so terrorized by the anteater the next “bath time” will require a visit from the “Dog Whisperer.” The windows are frothed with slobber, and the goo factory I brought in to be cleaned has yet to see soap.
This all takes about 20 seconds but finding the time to look at the time remaining requires time. I’ve got to get some soap on the truck before it’s too late.
I start at the hood and just when I think I might beat the clock with another rope trick, the beeper goes off and another voice says, “I’m sorry Mr. Harmon, you didn’t make it… but here’s a home version of the Beat the Clock Car Wash!” I drop the dogs off at “Barks and Bubbles” and rinse at the house.