Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy day

MARK’S ARTICLE – March 29, 2010
“Second best season”

ROOFTOP – Each season has its first roofsit, and this one is spring’s. Spring is a nice season. Of course, it’s not the nicest season. That distinction goes to Fall.

I like Fall the most ‘cause it’s got crunchy leaves, football and two names. Fall and autumn. I don’t know why that is. Between now and the first roofsit of autumn, I’ll try to have an answer for you. Might have to remind me. For now let’s just enjoy the moment.

Do you know what’s particularly great about this moment? It’s the fact that we’re up here, and Kay is at ground level doing stuff like potting plants, digging around in the yard, and talking to birds.

Before I came up here, she commented on a bunch of little birds that were flitting around, getting all excited over the budding trees and the birdbath. The birds weren’t singing or anything, but I could tell they were excited.

I asked Kay what kind of birds they were, but she didn’t know. She called ‘em “little sweet birds.” I think that’s why God let a man name all the animals. -- “Blue-footed Booby.” That’s a man’s name for a gull-like bird. Genius!

What Kay lacks in bird expertise, she more than makes up for in knowledge of plants. Plantimatology. The girl has sap for blood. We went to Home Depot yesterday to pick out flowers and herbs and wedgetables. (I sometimes have trouble with the “vee” sound.) Kay wanted me along just to load stuff for her. She doesn’t want, nor does she accept plant advice from me.

I’ll point out a lovely flower with beautiful blooms and she’ll say, “That’s a creeping trexblat, and needs direct sunlight.” Our yard has few areas that get a lot of direct sunlight. Seems most of the pretty plants like direct sunlight. They’re the ones with cataracts.

Every plant I recommended to Kay was wrong. Just aggravated me no end. I can’t even pick out potting soil. Instead of reading the bag, I read the price tag. That’s a bad selecting indicator for soil. Apparently. And, speaking of manure, Kay prefers sheep over cow. How does anyone stuff like that?

We ended up buying a bunch of flowers and herbs and wedgedable plants. When I saw the tomatoes and bell peppers in the basket, I said, “Does this mean we’re having another garden this year?” It was such a stupid question. It’s like watching someone put on boxing gloves and asking, “Are we getting ready to have a fight?”

I reminded Kay about how much trouble I went through with last year’s garden. Only ended up with five tomatoes. She said, “That’s because it was a bad year.” No joke. I thought it was because I over tilled.

So, tomorrow I’ll be digging out another garden plot. Tomatoes and bell peppers. No carrots, though. I only mention that, because of what happened last night. Kay and I had just gotten into bed after a long day of weed pulling and the like. I was about to roll over for my goodnight kiss when she said, “Did you know that when the ground is 40 degrees it takes a carrot seed 50 days to germinate?”

For a second I thought I might’ve climbed into bed with a pod person. I was going to turn on the light, but realized that you can’t tell a pod person simply by looking. So, I did the next thing that came to mind. I started laughing. Laughed big time. That got Kay to laughing, which was refreshing ‘cause pod people don’t laugh.

I don’t know exactly what Kay was laughing at, but I imagine her carrot news eventually hit her about the same as it hit me. Thirty-eight years of marriage and at bedtime one of us brings up the germination period of a carrot seed in cold soil. And, get this. And we’re not even planting carrots! It’s good when you end up laughing at bedtime. Sets the stage for the next day.

So, like I say, the girl who shared the carrot germination info with me is down there working like a Turk. Spring shows up and Kay becomes one with the soil. Me, I much prefer becoming one with a lawn chair at rooftop. More relaxing.

So, what say we sit back and watch all the little sweet birds? Not their official name, but cute. Wonder what Kay would’ve called a Blue-footed Booby. A Wading Cutie Pie would be my guess. You know, something like that can ruin an entire specie.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Healthy as all get out

MARK’S ARTICLE -- March 20, 2010 “See what I can do?”

Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve really cut down on fried foods. I’m pretty sure you can see the difference. What if I turn this way? See? What’d I tell you?

Yep, since watching a health documentary, I’ve really changed my eating habits. I now not only use a fork, but I also swallow my food before taking another bite. That’s hard for an ex-teacher to do. For 26 years I had 20 minutes to eat lunch. That’ll turn you into a beast.

But, back to the fried foods. I haven’t eaten a real Cheeto in weeks. I’ve switched to baked Cheetos. They’re pretty bad, but they leave your fingers orange, so your mind can be tricked into believing you ate a real Cheeto. Who am I kidding? I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I can sure tell when I’ve eaten a make-believe Cheeto.

I keep dodging the fried foods, though. Last time I went to Luby’s I didn’t even order the fried chicken. Luby’s has the best fried chicken breast in town. Possibly in the world… if you don’t include Rupbuxik, Uzbekistan.

So, instead of Luby’s fried chicken, I got the chopped Angus steak. I wasn’t that pleased. Tasteless. Couldn’t tell it from an Argentine Criolo. What the world really needs is an Angus chicken. That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.

I don’t think I did right by getting the chopped steak, ‘cause you’re only supposed to eat beef once a week. That’s what the TV show said. In fact, three days a week, you’re supposed to go meatless. No beef, chicken, fish or lizard. Like that’s happenin’.

But, I am cutting down on fried foods and beef. Oh, and salt. Salt is killing us. If you eat a fried, salted steak, you might as well stick a fork in your spleen. Same difference. I can’t believe our tickers are still ticking. I forget what salt does to you, but it’s not good. Something to do with blood.

Right before I watched the fried food, beef and salt show I bought a couple of jars of dry roasted peanuts. They were salty as all get out. But, on sale. So, I poured ‘em in a strainer and ran water over ‘em for awhile. Then put ‘em in the oven. Not bad.

I have gotten to where I can eat unsalted peanuts without much trouble. I even bought some unsalted cashews the other day. It was a bridge too far. Never do it again.

I did try to desalt my sunflower seeds. Don’t know if you’re aware, but it’s impossible. The salt marries the husk. Till digested do they part. They don’t dry out easily, either. You end up with salty, soggy seeds… which, incidentally, is the name of a popular singing group. Probably.

By the way, not only have I changed what I eat, but I’ve also started an exercise regimen. Started it with Kay. She bought us an exercise tape. We’ve got a bunch.

The exercise guy in this tape is the same person who got Oprah to lose all the weight... one of those times she lost weight. He’s a neat guy. He first tells you about salt and meat and fried stuff (just like the documentary we saw) and then he watches as we exercise. Tells us what we’re supposed to be doing.

I like him a lot, ‘cause he only makes us exercise for about 15 minutes. I can do almost anything for 15 minutes. Except watch a “reality” show. Oh, and brush my teeth. Fifteen minutes would drive me nuts. I can’t hold my breath, or stir Jell-O, or read a telephone bill, or… well turns out there are a lot of things I can’t do for 15 minutes.

But, I can exercise with the Oprah trainer. I can’t do it the way I’m supposed to, but I give it all I’ve got. Some of what I’ve got. A little bit.

You can sure see the results, too. Look at this. I’m gonna sit down on the floor in the yoga position, with my feet folded up in the middle there. And, I’m gonna reach back and, uh… Well, that really hurts. I could do it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been neglecting my regiment a little bit. It’s not that it takes long, it’s just that I hate anticipating having to do it. Anticipation is a bear.

Come back in a week or two, and I’ll show you what I can do when my feet are folded inward like this. Right now, if one of you could just give me a—That’s better. Oh, that hurt. Thanks.

So, give up the fried chicken, cut down on your beef and salt intake, exercise occasionally, and… uh, well forget about the exercise for awhile. Sorry I even brought it up. Don’t think I ever had anything knot up like that. That’s really-- Kay!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Zombies and headbutts

MARK’S ARTICLE – March 13, 2010
“What’s the big deal?”

Too many of my favorite cop shows are beginning to really insult my intelligence. My intelligence is not easily insulted. You have to get way down there.

Each time I see something that disturbs me, I feel the need to discuss it with someone. Kay is usually the only one I have to discuss it with. Unfortunately, with cop shows, Kay is… Kay seems… uh, Kay doesn’t give a hoot.

We were watching NCIS-LA the other night. The series sprung from the bowels of NCIS. You could’ve guessed that even if you’re still sucking on a pacifier. NCIS stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service. I had to look it up. I’m apparently one of only a few who didn’t know what NCIS stands for, ‘cause each time those agents show their badges they are instantly recognized.

But, back to point, someone from CBS figured there are too many crimes involving naval personnel for just one TV series to handle ‘em all. Navy guys are getting bumped off right and left, so we need another series based in Los Angles.

CBS wanted to carry over the same humor that has made the original NCIS so popular. – There is a bloody body in the street, and DiNozzo says something funny about the dead guy not being able to make it to his next dental appointment. Just funny as can be.

So, Kay and I are still watching NCIS LA, and I notice a scene with LL Cool J. He has just tailed a bad guy to a building on deserted street. The bad guy gets out of his car, looks around to make sure he wasn’t followed and then enters the building. LL C J is sitting there in his black Dodge right across the street from the guy. Only other car on the road. His window is down and J is staring right at him. The perp doesn’t notice.

“Why don’t they try to make it just a little bit authentic?” I said to Kay. Kay didn’t know. “Hey, it’s just a show, Sweetie. Don’t make a big deal out of it.”

Don’t make a big deal out of it! I quit the show. It’s insulting. I do like Linda Hunt, though. Hate to see her on such a poorly written show.

I told you all that to tell you this. Jill was over last weekend and we really did some serious making of big deals. One instance involved a zombie movie. It had Simon Baker in it. You know? The Mentalist. Kay loves Simon Baker, remember? But, she hates Zombie movies. Hates ‘em so much that she won’t watch one even if Simon Baker is in it.

Jill and I hate zombies, too, but it was a bad night for TV. We were about ten minutes into the flick when Jill asked a question that should’ve been screamed by every zombie viewer in the land. Jill asked, “Why don’t zombies eat each other?”

No joke! Why don’t they? They’re stumbling around trying to chase live people, when right next to ‘em they’ve got people slowly strolling down the street with their arms sticking straight out! Eat them! Sheeesh, zombies! How dumb can you get?

After the zombie movie, Jill and I watched a detective show. I don‘t remember. We weren’t three minutes into this one when it happened. The ol’ head-butt. All shows have at least three head-butts per episode. Even cartoons.

Kay doesn’t care much for head-butts. She can take ‘em or leave ‘em. They drive me right up the wall. With Jill in the room, I could commiserate. I said, “Jill, why is it that the head-butt never hurts the guy who delivers it? It’s like, hey, if your head moves first, you don’t feel a thing.”

When we were kids, we called head-butts, bumping heads. Head-bumping never happened on purpose. It hurt way too much to initiate something like that. But, on TV, you can just ram your head into anybody’s head and it never hurts. Makes the receiver of the butt wish he had thought of it first.

Jill and I ended the evening watching a spoof on superhero movies. It was lame as all get out, but did have a few parts that had us laughing. Visual stuff. Silly, stupid… hilarious.

Kay watched with us for a few minutes. She seldom cracked a smile. Eventually, she left to read her book. I have to respect the girl for that. She’s so much more sophisticated. You see, Kay married into the family. Jill and I were born Hayters. We see humor in the most ridiculous of things. And, we make big deals out of the unimportant. It’s a disease passed on through the ages.

It’s a bad disease, but nothing like the disease that makes you a zombie. Never clear on what that is. But, I do know this. If you ever get caught by a zombie, you deserve to get eaten. They’re slower than slow. Walk with their hands straight out. Give me a break.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Looking and waiting

MARK’S ARTICLE -- March 4, 2010
“Waiting with Margaret”

Last night, I looked all over for a book I had been nursing for the last month. It was one of those whodunits, and I was gonna finish that bubba or know the reason why.

The characters hadn’t been fleshed out enough for me to care all that much who the murderer was, but I had invested too much time to let it go. You ever get that way with a book?

So, I’m looking all over for the paperback. After a few minutes I realized it had been stolen. Same with my houseshoes, the clothespin used to seal the Cheetos bag, the downstairs phone and my erasable crossword puzzle pen. There’s something diabolic going on at the Hayter house. Most days.

Oddly enough, everything mysterious reappeared… in places you don’t even wanna know. Everything except the book. I eventually tried the oldest trick in the book. No, not the lost book. Now, you’re just being silly. No, I tried the ol’ where’s-the-last-place-you-remember-seeing it trick.

After a couple of minutes, I reluctantly realized the book hadn’t been stolen at all. You coulda knocked me over with a truck tire. I had left the book in the waiting room of the Toyota service department! Khaaaan!

Took me another couple of minutes to realize that Ricardo Montalban had little to do with me leaving my book at Gullo. It was Margaret’s fault. Margaret was an elderly woman I sat next to in the waiting room. She did it.

You see, when I entered the waiting room, I took the first seat that became available. Had to push an old man down to get to it. Feisty old codger. Wouldn’t stay down. (A joke! Sheesh.)

When I sat down next to the Margaret I couldn’t help notice that she was knitting. Her lap being covered with a big purple knitted thing gave her away

I didn’t engage the woman in conversation immediately. I was in a waiting room. Didn’t I mention that? It’s quieter than death in a waiting room. Quieter than that in an elevator. Negative sound.

It takes guts to speak up in a quiet place. And, I’ve got guts. Lots of guts. Before even opening my later-to-be-left book, I asked Margaret what she was knitting. She said it was a sweater for her niece.

Her smile and polite manner told me that she was not the least leery of conversation. So, I put my book down and pried into the lady’s past. I can be a prier.

The lady didn’t look nearly as old as her remembrances. They went way back. Margaret has a degree in Chemistry. Don’t know if you knew that. She once attended Syracuse University to get her Masters. She didn’t finish there, though. I think it had to do with the winter. She talked of snowdrifts that buried her car. Being from Los Angeles, she wasn’t used to stuff like that.

Margaret has traveled all over. She mentioned mostly Asian locales: Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan. She liked the Philippines best, ‘cause she said the people were the friendliest.

As she talked, others in the waiting room began to pick up on the conversation. They were all beginning to feel comfortable talking while waiting. When Margaret mentioned she was from Los Angeles and had witnessed a number of earthquakes, a lady to my right asked if, during an earthquake, it felt like you were standing on Jell-O. Margaret said, “No, it’s more like you’re standing on nothing. It’s just odd.”

So much stuff. The conversation took a dive when Troy came in to let me know my car was ready. Troy is one of my ex-students. A nicer guy would be hard to find.

“Mr. Hayter, we just changed your oil. Your brakes are fine.” I told him that was unacceptable and that he needed to go back and find something wrong. I wouldn’t have said that to just anybody. Troy laughed and said, “Mr. Hayter, I’m not back in school. You don’t hafta find something wrong.”

What a great guy. What a great lady. What a super visit. Except for the paperback. I think somebody stole it while I was there. -- “Okay, Mr. Hatesquiet, I’ll just relieve you of this. By the way, the police chief did it.” – That would be doing me a favor.


Troy in 1986 Yearbook