Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kay in the downstairs bedroom
“Kay’s trip”

    Last week started with a fall. Bad way to start a week. Could’ve been worse, though. Could’ve been me.

I was talking to Big Al on the phone when I heard a low moan coming from somewhere inside the house. Since Kay was the only other person with permission to be in the house, I figured it was her. Or she. One of ‘em.

Oh, and I also deduced that it was Kay, because anyone else would’ve screamed. Kay can’t scream. She can barely yell. Did I marry well, or what?

So, I’m still on the phone. Right? I told Al I’d have to call him back ‘cause Kay was in some kind of trouble. I tossed the phone to the side and hurried down the stairs where I found Kay on her back by the front door. I thought that odd.

I immediately surveyed the scene and determined that she wasn’t real bad-hurt. Had she been bad-hurt I would have said something other than “What are you doing?”

I soon learned that, while descending the stairs, Kay counted one step too few. In other words, she stepped for the floor prematurely and ended up facedown on the rug by the front door. Though she doesn’t remember how, she managed to miss the corner of the cabinet on her way down.

She ended up with a busted lip, a cut on her nose from her glasses, a bump on her noggin and a scrape on her knee. Before I could help her up, the phone rang. It was Al wanting to know should he call Lifeflight. He was only halfway joking. I plopped Kay back on the ground and explained the situation to him. That’s the kind of brother I am.

For the next couple of days, Kay took it easy while I took care of her and everything else. You could do a lot worse than have me for a nurse. – Just a second. I’ve gotta write that down. I’ve got the start of a song here. In fact, if I repeat it enough, it could BE the song. Songwriters are big into repetition. Have you noticed?

Where was I? Recovery, right. At one point Kay said something I considered a bit disturbing. She suggested we sell the house and get a one-level place. I’m thinking it was the medication.

 The girl trips just the one time and she’s ready to sell the house. Me? I have a good trip at least once a year. On the rooftop, down the stairs, off the ladder, over the hedge… and all of this was during the same fall. (I joke. Only the rooftop and hedge were related.)

Anyway, after all my ground-to-air experiences, does Kay suggest we sell the house in order to save my life? No. All I get is “Honey, you need to be more careful.”

Granted, my falls are different than Kay’s one time deal. When Kay fell, it all happened fast. She steps and then THUD! My trips are the kind that slow time. They begin with me thinking:

What’s happening here? This doesn’t feel normal in the least. Oh, no, this could be really gad, I mean bad. I can see me now. I’m in the bed in the back bedroom with tubes in at least three orifices. Kay is at the mall. She’s put a stupid bell on the nightstand, like she’s going to hear that.

    I go through an entire gamut of stuff. -- Will I still have the ability to enjoy cashews? Will there be people in the room talking about me like I’m not even there? -- “How’s he doing, Kay? Do you think he’ll have any use for the boxer-briefs I got him on his birthday?”

 Eventually, I find myself on the ground, in the hedge or straddling the railing. And, I’m relatively unscathed. I’ll live to trip again. If I could focus better, I’d see my guardian angel over in the corner filling out a report. That’s got to be a tiring job.

I really believe Kay’s angel saved her, too. She missed a couple of sharp corners and ended up plopping down right there on the rug. Could’ve been so much worse. I didn’t tell her that, though, ‘cause it might add to her thought of selling the house.

I like this place too much. Besides, I’m not sure I could survive the ordeal of breaking in a new roof.  


You can reach Mark at

Saturday, August 18, 2012

If they don't ask, don't tell.

Anita Name

I don't recommend... anything.

I used to be great at recommending stuff. You didn’t even have to ask; I’d tell you what was best. Scary thing, friends and family seemed to actually give a hoot about what I recommended. No more.

Now, nobody asks, and I don’t offer. Seldom offer. The termite inspector made his yearly inspection yesterday. And, no I don’t know if the policy is worth it. Wouldn’t tell you if I did.

This morning I got an e-mail from the termite company asking if I was pleased with everything. I checked all the positive boxes… except one. It was the one that asked if I would recommend their company to others. I checked “No.”

If you check “no” on a questionnaire, they’ll ask you to comment. Have you noticed that? Well, they do. I told them what I’m telling you. I don’t like to recommend stuff. Which is good, ‘cause people don’t give a green weenie for my opinion.

I used to recommend my car dealership’s repair shop. That was when Troy worked there. Troy would do you right. Last time I brought my car in, I found out that Troy didn’t work there anymore. He left without getting my okay.

Without Troy to look out for me, the auto repair experience turned out to be less than all right. So now, even if people ask, I have no repair place to recommend. That’s a lot off responsibility off my shoulders.

    It’s the same with movies. There was a time when I’d recommend movies to family and friends. I’d bring it right up in conversation. And, my opinion would actually send people to the movies. I had influence. That’s all gone now. There’s no a soul in my inner or outer circle who appreciates the stuff I watch… except Kay, of course.
Scene from Bernie

    The last two movies I thoroughly enjoyed were “Salmon Fishing in Yemen” and “Bernie.” I heard Kay trying to explain the Bernie movie to a friend of hers. The explanation didn’t remotely sound like anything I cared to see… and I’d already seen it. Her friend said, “And, that’s supposed to be a comedy?”

    There’s no way I’d tell my brothers about Bernie or the Salmon fishing movie. They’ve pretty well given up on me as is. If I didn’t have my Mom’s eyes and Dad’s big nose, they’d swear I was adopted. Those guys wouldn’t trust me to recommend a soothing innersole.

After telling you all of this, I feel a need to confess something. In fact it’s the “something” that caused me to choose this topic. This morning I offered my opinion to someone who didn’t even ask for it. Can you believe that? I gave an unsolicited recommendation. Wouldn’t have done it had it not been so crucial.

Seems Jill went to the pound and rescued a dog. She got a part poodle and part schnauzer. A poodzer. The dog is two years old. She named it Baby. 

I can’t bring myself to call a dog “Baby.” I don’t even call a baby “Baby.” I asked Jill if she’d change the name, and she ignored the request. I then e-mailed her. Put the request in writing. She said she couldn’t think of any other good names that ended in the “eee” sound. Several people told her that dogs like names that end in the “eee” sound. That’s the reason they call ‘em doggies.

I’ve heard stupider things in my lifetime, but nothing today. How do dogs communicate their name preference? – “Okay, let’s try this: ‘Fido.’ What do you think? Nothing? Okay. Rex? ‘Come here, Rex.’ How does that sound? – No? Okay I’m in a quandary here. What? Quandary? You like that? Must be the eee sound?”

I eventually sent Jill a list of “eee” sounding names. She settled on “Kazy.” I picked that ‘cause Jill doesn’t say “Okay.” I’ll ask if she wants coffee and she’ll say, “Okayzee.” Get it? Cool beans.

So, the dog is happy, Jill is happy, and I’m happy that I don’t have to say “Baby” to a schnaudoodle.

Having settled that little dilemma, I can now, go back to my policy of “Unless asked, don’t tell.” It makes life so much easier. And, people seem to get along with me better. Not good, just better.


You can reach Mark at

Monday, August 13, 2012

Patinence, in time the grass is milk.

“A Summer Sit”

    ROOFTOP – Even though there’s a full moon out tonight, I don’t care to see any of you go crazy on me. What say we just sit up here, look at the night sky and sweat?

Boy, it’s hot. Breezeless, too. The bats have to make a running start. The crickets are obviously out in force. Maybe a frog or two. Neeker Breekers is what JRR Tolkien might call ‘em. Speaking of which, did you read where the movie “The Hobbit” is going to be a trilogy? Peter Jackson said there was too much stuff to try to squeeze it all into one movie.

    I don’t take his word for it, but I do take Kay’s. She’s read the book. Multiple times. All the Tolkien books. It can be aggravating to be in a conversation with a person who read the book from which a movie is being made.

I haven’t read many books that have been made into movies. One of Lee Child’s books is soon to be on the big screen. I’m not sure which one, but I do know that Tom Cruise is miscast as the lead. I’ve mentioned the Cruise miscasting to you and to Kay. She acted almost concerned.

Child’s “Jack Reecher” character is a hulk! Six five and built like an Abrams Tank. Tom Cruise is 5’7” and is more like a Honda Fit. It’s like someone went out of the way to really aggravate me.

Speaking of which, have you noticed how calm I’ve been of late? Well, then just pretend. I’ve been working on my patience. Felt a need.

Up until the time I was talking about the Lee Child movie, I was doing pretty well. Take today. This morning I had an 8:45 appointment with my kidney stone doctor. A followup.

The visit usually takes about 10 minutes … the part that happens after the nurse hands me a labeled cup. The doctor’s visit takes only five.

After being called out of the big waiting room, I was ushered into a doctor room where I sat for an hour a half. I could hear the doctor walking into the other rooms and greeting people. Doctor walls are as thin as examining-table paper. The stuff that sticks to you moments after the doctor says, “Okay, you can hop down now.” Hop down and take four yards of paper with you.

As the minutes ticked, I kept reminding myself about how patient I was. I did open the door a couple of times, just so someone could see I was still there. I wasn’t being pushy.

Each time I opened the door, a nurse walked by, told me it’d just be a few minutes and then closed the door. I think they were afraid that, with the door open, I might take off my clothes and sit on the examining table. Some people do that. I imagine.  

After awhile, I started thinking about how there is a fine line between patience and stupidity. Maybe I was being “Punked” by the doctor. There was a camera in there and he was studying my behavior.

At the 90 minute mark, I decided to go to the nurse’s desk and lie about having an appointment. The doctor could e-mail me at the end of his busy day and let me know how healthy I was.

The nurse wasn’t keen on that. She asked what room I had just stepped out of. When I told her, she said, “There must be some mistake. Room Two isn’t even on the list.” Two nurses closed the door on me without realizing I wasn’t on The List.

Did you catch that? Who on earth got credit for my specimen? – “Mrs. Clover, it appears your three-year-old daughter has the urine of a 62-year-old lethargic male with a history of kidney stones. I thought you might want to know.”

Bottom line: if I had been more patient, I would still be in that room. Likely with my bare rear stuck to the examining table. Yeah, at some point I would’ve undressed.

So, losing my patience turned out to be the smart thing to do. There’s a moral to this somewhere. Maybe even a movie.

Tom Selleck could play me. And Tom Cruise could be my urologist. He’d make a cameo appearance. The doc got me a gallon jug and told me to collect my pee for a day. I didn’t know whether to take him serious or not. – “You know, that writer guy that sits on the roof? He’s so gullible he brought me a gallon of his urine!”

Patience? Gullibility? Hard to know what to do sometimes. Right now, the best thing for us to do is to climb off this roof. I’m sweating like Batman in a Guatemalan tour bus. --  Don’t push, people! But, yes, the host goes first. 

By the by: August 9 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and August 10, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the city of Montgomery is hosting its Experience Montgomery Showcase -- Denims to Diamonds. Big Al is the emcee of the Entertainment segments. Google for details. And hug my kid brother. He likes that.

You can reach Mark at

Friday, August 3, 2012

Who took the fun outta car colors?

Jill and Sunny
Car colors: A real drag
We’re living in the age of bland-colored cars. Don’t know if you’ve noticed. Makes me wonder why an industry that strives to create inventive names for its products, rehashes such boring colors to paint ‘em?

    It seems the most significant thing the Soviet Union gave the world was its love for gray. Eighty percent of everything on the road is black, white or some shade of gray. Except it’s not called gray. You’re looking at Dusk, Smoke, Slate, Watermark, Morning Fog, Hi Yo and Gandalf.

    Kay and I were stopped at the light on 105 by Target this morning. In front of us were one white, one black and two gray-shaded autos. There were two white cars at our left and one black to our right. Oh, and our car is white. It’s cooler, okay?

    What happened to candy apple red, plum purple, lime green, banana yellow… And, two-toned cars? Where are they? Jill used to have a Gremlin that was orange and yellow. It was one lousy car that looked cool as all get out. She called it “Sunshine.” No idea how she came up with that.

    “Gremlin” was an appropriate name for the car, ‘cause it was haunted. The thing would bounce when you ran over the shadow of a telephone pole. You could yell the word “Thud!” and it would. But, boy, did it look cute as could be.

    Kay and I owned a ’70 Pontiac LeMans that was a light yellow with a beige vinyl top. The greatest looking car we ever owned. I never needed to wash it, ‘cause the yellow some how hid the dirt. People would often comment on how clean it looked when it hadn’t been washed in weeks.

    We loved that car. Before we got it, I’d never heard of a flywheel. After a few months, I still didn’t know what one was, but I knew where it was and how to tighten it. Great car. We traded it in for a ‘78 Plymouth Horizon. Blue and gray piece of beagle defecation. Didn’t even look cool… which confuses a topic that needs no help.

    By the way, did you notice how I mentioned that the ’70 LeMans was a Pontiac? I thought a few younger readers might not be familiar with the old array of Pontiacs. You had your Bonneville, GTO, LeMans, Tempest, Firebird, Grand Prix, Parisienne… I remembered the Parisienne ‘cause Kay hit a deer and totaled Uncle Ray’s Parisienne. Wasn’t her fault. Deer suicide by big Pontiac.

    It would take a really smart child to keep up with the names of today’s car models. For some reason, kids can memorize the list of state capitals, books of the Bible, cereal brands and stuff like that. I don’t know how they do it.

    Tell you what. I’m gonna give you little quiz here to see if you’re as smart as the normal kid. I’ll tell you the car model and you tell me the make of the car. Now, stop it! It’ll be fun. Here goes -- Journey? How about Avenger? Caliber? All of those are Dodges.

    Try out the C-Max, Edge and Flex. Right, these are Fords. I had to look ‘em up, but I see several of you didn’t. Happier for you, I could not be.

    The Cube, Juke, Quest and Rogue? I recognized only one of the names – The Cube. But I thought it was a Kia. These are all Nissan’s. – Isn’t this a blast?

    Sonic, Equinox and Traverse? Okay, then, how about Morning, Pride, Cerato, Lotz and Mohave? I tried to trick you. The first three are Chevy’s and the last ones are Kia’s. By the way a “Cerato” is Korean for “Silly Putty.” They thought we’d like the sound of it. I jest.

    The award for the weirdest names goes to the company that came up with Amarok, Equus, Grandeur, Tiburon and Trajet. That’d be the same company that gave us The Beetle. That’s, uh, Volkswagen… just in case you were having a Mark moment.

The name “Beetle” we can sink our teeth into. “Amarok” sounds like a Biblical place where a lot of Philistines were slain. It’s actually German for “Buttercup.” The Germans manage to make even the sweetest of things sound brash. (I joke with my German friends.)

So, how did you do on the “Guess the Make from the Model” quiz? Not to worry. They’ll scarp a lot of the models in a year or two. And, they can’t reuse the names. That’s why you don’t see any new models named “Pinto” or “Chevette” or “Stall Daddy.” We used to have one of those last ones.

Unfortunately, it the bland color scheme will not soon change. Maybe people want dull colors so the police won’t notice ‘em. – “Whoa, that car must’ve been doing 90.” – “Really? All I saw was morning mist.” 

Makes sense. You get a car the same color as the highway, and there’s a good chance the police won’t spot you. Nor will the driver of the car backing into you in the parking lot. I think Hyundai has come out with a “gray” it calls “Bondo.”  

The 2023 Volkswagen Beetle
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