Saturday, March 26, 2011

“Adventure on the rooftop’

ROOFTOP – Quick, sit down! Everybody sit! There’s safety in numbers. I read that somewhere.

You just missed a couple of hawks. Big ol’ bubbas. Might’ve been eagles. Hugemongous. And, yes, I know the difference between a buzzard and an eagle hawk.

They sat in the big oak over there. Made all kinds of noise, and then flew over to the pine tree. No, don’t look! Don’t wanna attract attention. Did I mention they were big? I’d duplicate their call, but one of ‘em might come over here and do the eagle hawk mating dance on my head. No way could that come out good.

Some of you move in a little closer, would ya? That’s better. That’s what mullets do before the dolphins come. Hey, I’ve seen ‘em.

Okay, we didn’t come up here to be bullied by Rodan and his sister, so let’s talk about my lip. Look at the inside of my lip. Just a second. See? It’s a blister. I burned it on my first sip of coffee this morning.

I’ve burned my tongue, my nose, my neck and ear lobe, just not on coffee and not in the same incident. But, this is the first time I scorched my lip. I was too impatient. You’re not supposed to pour boiling water into your French Press. It said so in the instructions. It also said you’re supposed to wait four minutes before pressing the plunger down.

Well, I boiled the water and waited two minutes. See what I got? You over there by the edge of the roof! Harold? Hey, wanna see this? Well, I’ll show you later. No, I don’t mind. Really.

Anyway, now my lip is burned and I’ve got a couple of Pterodactyls waiting to pounce. The good news is I bought a new weedeater. Uh, a new grass trimmer. That’s what you’re supposed to call it. “Weed Eater” is a brand of grass trimmer. I believe it was the first, so everything after that pretty much caught the name. ]

Same thing happened with Coke, Popsicle, Band-Aid and Jungle Gym. Did you ever hear anyone say, “Hey, let’s go play on the menagerie of wood and/or metal that you climb on thing?” Jungle Gym, so much easier.

Speaking of which, I can’t believe my wooden Jungle Gym is still standing. I fully intended to dismantle it this winter. I’m always afraid Kay is gonna hurt herself on it.

But, I hated to call on the brothers for help. They get here and immediately want to eat. After they’re fed, we sit around and gab for a couple of hours, then throw the Nerf football around, take a nap and then eat supper. After that, all they want to do is go home. Didn’t used to be that way. They’re just getting old, you ask me.

But, let’s forget about the brothers. They’re always getting me off the subject. I was talking about my new grass trimmer. It’s battery powered. I got it because my gas powered one won’t start. Well, it probably will start, just not for me.

My battery-powered trimmer doesn’t cut very well, but it’s easy to start. Just wish it had more muscle. It purrs like a cell phone on vibrate. The dainty fish line slaps at the grass. I can do the whole yard in about 20 minutes. It’d take me longer if I actually waited for the line to slap the grass in two. As it is I just kind of rough it up. Leave the weeds laughing at me.

But, the thing starts. Did I mention that? By the way, does anyone want my old trimmer? Anybody? It still looks great. Just has a cracked rubber bulb thing that you’re supposed to push before you try to start it. I suppose it cracked from over mashing. I did a lot mashing.

If a few of you walk down to the edge of the roof behind us and look down, you’ll see where Kay and I mulched in front of the hedge. Kay’s got this wild idea to plant flowers in front of the yaupon hedge next fall. She wants the mulch to kill the grass, so she can more easily plant.

If I could get the neighbor’s cats organized, they could kill the grass for us. But, you can’t organize cats. The Soviet Union tried it back in ’87. Look where it got them.

Have you ever picked out mulch with your spouse? You need to do that. They’ve got all kinds of mulch. Cypress, pine, cedar… Even rubber. They also have “red mulch.” That’s the name of it. Red. What kind of material is red? Is somebody too scared to tell you what it really is? “Oh, you need the red mulch. It’s over there. It’s made from, uh… red.”

Kay decided on cedar because it was the only kind I’d load into the Highlander. All the others had a smell that didn’t agree with car interiors. The cedar smelled great. If I still had my pickup, I would’ve bought any kind of mulch Kay wanted. Within reason. I think they injected some platinum into the rubber mulch. Way too expensive.

The cedar wasn’t cheap, but it did give the car a nice cedar smell. When I roll down the windows, the moths stay clear.

And, I can now call an “all clear” for us. Seems the raptors have left their roost and it’s time for us to leave ours. It’s been a super outing. Full of adventure and, uh, other stuff. Oh, and my lip!

Harold, before you climb down, I’ve got to show you where I burned my lip. No, get over here! The coffee was boiling, I’m telling you! Like sippin’ on a hot coal. Most men would’ve cried. Not me. Not all that much, anyway.


To view Brad and Mark’s restaurant review of Kobe's Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi, click below.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kay's comin' up with stuff

“Dr. Phil and Bulgaria”

I don’t know about you, but springtime is hitting me hard. And, it hasn’t even arrived yet. By the time it gets here I’m going to be in full swing loony. I’ve been there. Not pleasant.

It’s Kay. You wanna know the truth, that’s who it is. She’s outside right now taking pictures of the house. Says she wants to frame pictures of the house and hang ‘em IN the house. Bring the outside inside. It’s either genius or the subject of an upcoming Dr. Phil episode.

If she did make it to Dr. Phil, the guy would end up hammering me. “And, Mr. Hayter, -- May I call you Mark? -- Why do you wish to stifle your wife’s creativity?”

“Uh, Dr. Phil, -- May I call you Dr. Troublestarterguy? – She’s bringing the outside of the house inside the house. What’s next? Hanging pictures of our bedroom on trees? That’d be like getting a picture of your spleen and sticking it on the seat of your pants. The world is not yet ready for such creativity. Due respect.”

I know where Kay’s coming up with this stuff. She gets it off those decorating shows. There are billions of ‘em. A lot of times I say “billions” as a massive exaggeration. Not this time. There are literally billions of decorating shows.

I walked over to the loveseat to give Kay a kiss yesterday, and during that two-second smooch heard the word Bulgaria coming from the TV. I can go two, three years without hearing anyone say “Bulgaria.” Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

Kay told me the program involved going to other countries and helping people pick out places to live. Find a place that suits their needs, that has designing potential and meets their budget. Kay said that house prices in Bulgaria are quite reasonable. Just slightly above those in Chernobyl.

I threw in the “Chernobyl” part. It was a cruel attempt at humor aimed at Bulgaria. Not the people of Bulgaria. I love Bulgarians. Many of my friends come from Bulgaria. -- Wait a minute. That’s a lie. None of my friends come from Bulgaria. Willis. That’s it. I’ve got some friends from Willis.

Point is, someone imagined that people would enjoy watching a camera crew follow a couple around Bulgaria in search of a place to live. And, get this, the guy was right!

If series has already broadcast from Pazardshik, Bulgaria, one can only imagine where they’ll go next. Ukarumpa, New Guinea. That’s just a guess. I think I’m close, though.

Matters not. Not to me, anyway. What does matter is that Kay is picking up some serious stuff from her design, house hunting, build a patio, redo a living room programs. Wouldn’t bother me, but her application of the shows is seeping into my realm… into my living space. I don’t like seepage in my living space.

Remember that loveseat I mentioned back there? Well I did. We bought it last week. Kay decided we should give away the twin bed in the guestroom and replace it with a loveseat, and then replace the old red recliner in the room with something new. I loved that recliner. I took many a nap in that recliner. It’d put my left leg to sleep, but that chair was a friend of mine. Might’ve been from Bulgaria, even.
The Loveseat... oh, and me.

Right now, it’s in the mudroom. You enter the back door and you’re met with a recliner. We can’t give it away. But we have replaced it with a brand new green recliner. Looks good. Feels… oh, it’s okay. I can force a nap in it. I’ve been known to nap on a ladder.

Kay asked me help her pick out the loveseat and recliner. I don’t know why. She saw the loveseat she wanted right off. I thought it was okay. I particularly liked the price.

While I agreed that the loveseat was nice, I suggested we look at another one over in the next display. Kay glanced at it and said, “No, we’re getting this one.” Put me in my place right there in the furniture store. Right in front of God and the couple over there by hide-a-bed.

I wanted to tell the couple by the hide-a-bed that I was in charge of our TV remote, but they wouldn’t have believed me.

I had to borrow Freeman’s truck to get the two pieces home. The price of the furniture didn’t include shipping, but I’ve got a friend born in Willis who has a truck. When Kay and I unloaded the loveseat and recliner, phase two of the fun began.

Kay decided she wanted to put the new recliner in the living room and haul a living room chair back to the guestroom. I don’t know how she sees stuff like that. The girl has vision. Vision born of a billion or so designer shows.

Kay's recliner... oh, and Kay.

I don’t ask why anymore. I’m just the swapper-out guy. Tomorrow we’re going to swap out a table from the master bedroom for two end tables in the guestroom. Why? Why are lizards always doing pushups? I don’t even think they know.

Yesterday, we had to clean out the study. Had to. I’d tell you more about it, but the hurt is still with me. I lost some serious stuff during that clean out. Serious stuff. But, I deserve it for the grief I brought my Bulgarian reader. I was way too calous about his homeland. Sorry, Stanislaus, but I’m under a lot of pressure here.

It’s Kay. It’s spring. It’s what spring is doing to Kay. And, it hasn’t even started yet.


To view Brad and Mark’s restaurant review of Jasper’s in The Woodlands, click below:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

“Cats, cookies and coffee”

ROOFTOP -- A nicer day we’d be hard pressed to find. Even the birds are excited about it. Excited about something. Listen to those bubbas. They’re going nuts.

I can’t really tell by their chirps if this melting pot of birdom is happy or upset. Crows I can tell. When crows aren’t saying anything, they’re happy. They only caw when they’re ticked about something. I read that somewhere. Or made it up. I can’t remember.

Of course the birds at the feeder may be upset at one of the neighbor’s couple dozen cats. Outdoor cats have no idea where they live. Most of us realize that home is where we do most of our eating. Outdoor cats? Home is where they happen to be at any given moment. You’d think I had a sign nailed to a tree, “Please, come stalk the birds, kill the lizards and defecate somewhere in the perimeter.”

By the way, I’m just talking about the cats around my house. Your cats are tops. Loveable, well mannered, giving and thoughtful. The ones around here? They don’t care. I don’t even think their mother loves ‘em. – “Hey, get out of here, the bunch of you! Go next door and irritate that idiot on the roof.”

Speaking of Dennis, he and Dardon Ann visited yesterday. I transitioned from cats to Dennis because of what we talked about when he got here. The girls were upstairs doing… I don’t know. Giggling and talking about us. Whatever they do. Dennis and I sat at the dining room table and drank coffee and ate cookies. Sam’s has this weird coconut pecan cookie that’s so good you’ll wanna slap your mom.

I don’t really know how slapping your mom relates to something tasting good, but I did hear it once. “Make you want to slap your Mom.” Wait a minute. Now I remember. “He was so ugly it made you want to slap his mom.” That’s what it was. It has nothing to do with cookies. So, go back to being nice to your moms.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, cats, cookies and coffee. By the way, Dennis drinks decaf. Absolutely ridiculous. It’s like someone who really loves Hershey Bars trying to duplicate the flavor by sucking on a galvanized nail. Anyway, I made Dennis a separate pot of decaf just because I’m one super host.

At some point during our coffee, cookie laced conversation, Dennis mentioned Neapolitan Squares. You know, from the bakery? Layers of light wafer and whip cream toped by a cherry? – What? Well no. They’re in no way related to the cat story, so let’s put Neapolitan Squares out of our minds and get back to cats. Sheesh, Li’l Mr. Bossybritches.

Unfortunately, before we return to cats, we’ve got to take a detour to coyotes. You see, Dennis said that last week he was gazing across the field next to his house in Pasadena and he saw a coyote looking at him. I asked him if perhaps what he was seeing was actually a chupacabra. Dennis thought for a moment and then told me he was pretty sure it was a chupacabra. Right there in Pasadena. Just odd as it could be.

I then asked Dennis what chupacabras eat. He said, “I don’t know, but I hope it’s cats.” Turns out Dennis, too, has a cat problem. No pets of his own, but plenty of cats. Can’t stir ‘em with a stick… like anybody could stir a cat with a stick. The only time a cat will stir is when you don’t want it to.

After saying all that, let me clarify that I’m not the one who wished a chupacabra on cats. I think the notion is absolutely deplorable. It was Dennis. He’s my brother. Lives in Pasadena. Direct all hate mail to him. Call him for all I care.

By the way, I doubt you caught it, but I lied back there. It just hit me. I said that Dennis has no pets. Truth is he has a rooster. He didn’t ask for a rooster, it just showed up after a storm? Ike? Is that too old for a rooster? Regardless, I’m assuming the creature blew in from Apalachicola.

Anyway, the rooster ended up in Dennis’ backyard and won’t leave. He’s not sticking around for the affection. Dennis doesn’t do affection. He’ll do attention, but he doesn’t do affection. He doesn’t feed the rooster, pet the rooster or in any way encourage the rooster. Dardon Ann may, but not Dennis. Still the rooster stays. Right in the backyard.

The rooster lives in the hot tub. I thought one of you might be interested. Not Bill Bossybritches. I asked Dennis about the hot tub arrangement, and he started going into detail about the position of his hot tub cover. I tuned him out after the third sentence. I seldom give a rooster-house story more than a three-sentence listen. Life’s too short.

Don’t feel bad for Dennis, ‘cause, I assure you, he wouldn’t even care enough to ask where my rooster lived.

Tell you what, forget the rooster and the cats and coyotes. And, what else? Oh, yeah, the Neapolitan Squares. Let’s talk lawn mowing. If you stick around long enough, you’ll get to witness this year’s very fist lawn mow.

See those weeds down there? And, the fallen leaves. I’m sure you know that I don’t rake. Or even floss all that much. But, I do mow. Those leaves and weeds need a mow. And, if you’re still sitting up here tomorrow afternoon, say 3:00, 3:30 you’ll get to watch me mow. Or, at least, attempt to start my lawnmower. That’s closer to the truth. Stay through April and you can watch me try to start my weedeater.

The year’s first small engine start is always a challenge. I could actually use some of you here. So, stay planted. Me? I’m heading groundward. I may show up later tonight with some coffee for you. No decaf, though. And, no Neapolitan Squares. You need to get those out of your mind.


To see Mark and Brad’s wild and crazy review of Siegelman's of Chicago, click below.
Siegelman's of Chicago

Monday, March 7, 2011

Vick's VapoRub on your feet. Try it.

“How ‘bout a cookie?”

I just dodged a bullet. Kay was snuggled in the recliner in front of the TV; she had the thermometer in her mouth and a warm cloth on her forehead. I was getting ready to run up here to the study to talk to you guys, but stopped long enough to ask if I could get her anything. I actually used the word “anything.” What a gamble!

A wise person once said that if you’re afraid of an answer, don’t ask. That proverb has served me well over the years. I don’t apply it to Kay all that much, ‘cause, hey, what husband would not suffer a bit of inconvenience for his wife? – It was rhetorical. Men, put your hands down, and women, quit pointing.

Fortunately, like I said, Kay needed for nothing. I came off looking thoughtful and loving without having to go to the store, reposition the TV or buy her a dog. Sometimes stuff just works out.

This is only Kay’s second day of sick. I started mine two weeks ago, and am just now over the cough. Whatever the sickness is starts with a runny nose; progresses onto a headache, conjures up a sensitivity at the top of my head, develops into a fear of being touched, scales up the runny nose a tad and then goes straight to a cough. A long, lingering, aggravating cough. Kay hasn’t reached the cough phase yet. I’m not sure she’ll get there.

Kay is turning out to be a much better sick person than me. Or even I. Anytime she asked what she could do for me, I came up with something. “Uh, maybe a Dr Pepper.” -- “Would you turn on the fan?” -- “Cashews! I need cashews!” – “Could you shut that door over yonder?”

I can’t watch TV with the door to the utility room open. Just can’t. Has more to do with mental illness than physical. Just one of the 817 quirks of being me. Kay thinks I’m a heck of a catch. Tells me that a lot.

Fortunately, Kay knows how to handle a sick me. She’s sweet as can be. Unfortunately, she’s now the sick one. That means I have to make-believe I’m sweet. “Oooh, who wants a cookie? Does Li’l Sweetpea wanna cookie? How ‘bout milk? Want some milk with that big ol’ cookie?” I wouldn’t say stuff like that to Kay if she wasn’t sick, ‘cause she’d kick me right in the terminals.

I really don’t think Kay handle being as sick as I was. Near the end, my cough got so bad that I was drinking olive oil at bedtime. I read somewhere that olive oil helps lubricate the, uh, coughing place in your throat. Not corn oil or motor oil. Just olive.

Oddly enough, the olive oil did work… for about 30 minutes. Then I woke myself coughing.

A couple of nights ago, Virginia called and recommended that I try Vicks VapoRub. On the bottoms of my feet. I’m not joking. She said she read that if you generously coat the bottom of your feet before bedtime and then put on some socks, it’ll kill your night coughs.

I told Virginia that the closest thing I had to Vicks VapoRub was sweet pickle relish. Fifteen minutes later, Freeman was knocking at the door with a two-ounce jar of Vicks. I didn’t know they made it that small. He probably paid $10 for it at the Quick Stop.

Freeman and Virginia. If I could sell ‘em for what they’re worth, I’d be like a zillionaire. Then I could buy all the friends I wanted. You’ve gotta think of stuff like that.

Three years ago, I would’ve made fun of Virginia for suggesting I put Vicks or pickle relish or anything other than an inner-sole on the bottom of my feet. But, the girl made a believer out of me after she suggested that Kay and I stick a bar of soap at the foot of the bed to prevent leg cramps. Kay and I had both were having periodic leg cramps. The only thing worse is a big toe cramp. I don’t care to talk about it.

So, Virgina tells us to go to bed with a bar of soap. I did laugh at her about the soap. Made fun of her, too. “Why soap, and not an ear of corn?” But, one night Kay stuck a bar of soap at the foot of our bed, and no more cramps. Like I say, that was about three years ago. Of course we periodically switch out the soap. A bar of Irish Spring loses its anti-cramp power after a couple of months. Any more than two months and I’ll get the twinge of a cramp as I’m getting out of bed. Change out the soap and I’m good to go.

Unlike Irish Spring, Vicks VapoRub was not an instant cure. While I did cough less, I still coughed. I’m not so sure it wasn’t the smell of Vicks on my hands that did the trick. That stuff does not wash off easily. Don’t know if you knew that. Anytime my hand came near my face I could smell the smell of sick. That’s what I always associate the smell of VapoRub with. Same thing with Pepto Bismol. .

Last night was the last night of my Vapofoot application. And, the last of my cough. I don’t know if it was the Vicks or the shot in the rear the nurse gave me, or the inhaler, or the antibiotics. I doubt it was the inhaler, because one of the side effects was “coughing.” I kid you not. Never read the side effects of a medication. It introduces an anti-placebo factor to your brain.

Speaking of something entirely different, I’ve never taken a medication, the side effects of which did not read “may cause the Big C, the Big D, or both.” Don’t make me spell it out.

Like I say, I’m pretty sure Kay’s illness will end without a cough. She’s just too sweet. However, if she does end up coughing, she’ll be wearing my socks to bed, ‘cause no way will she get Vicks on her own socks. That’s pretty much where she draws the line. That and when I speak baby talk to her. Ask her real sweet if she wants a cookie or something. When she gets her strength back, she’s going to hurt me for that. Oh, yeah, she’s hurting me big time.


To watch Mark and Brad’s review of Hubbell and Hudson in The Woodlands click here: Hubbell and Hudson