Monday, December 30, 2013

2012: Fort Lauderdale, Neptune Beach, New Orleans, Des Moines, New Place Not To Be Named

Okay, it's almost 2014 but I want to mention 2012 because I didn't post anything that year. It all really started in the latter months of 2010, when Fru switched jobs and moved to New Orleans . . . At that time I was still teaching at the University, (in Miami-Dade County) and we had our house in Fort Lauderdale. I get a little confused, but anyway. Second Daughter was in her senior year at the high school and we didn't want to take that away from her by moving the family at the time and (as I said) I was still teaching and was basically contracted to teach Creative Writing classes through the spring semester. So, off Fru went to her new job, securing her a condo on Camp Street in the CBD where she could walk to work. First Daughter was, I don't know, back from a disastrous semester at FSU but was preparing to return after the new year . . . So, we got through the rest of 2010, then into 2011 with Fru in New Orleans, First Daughter in Tallahassee and Second Daughter and I in Fort Lauderdale. Many many visits to New Orleans were made and we were all excited to move there, despite the many great things about our home in South Florida. But then the bank where Fru worked got sold--merger!--and then it was uncertain if she would be kept on. Then it was another bad semester for First Daughter and she went to live with Fru in the Crescent City while Second Daughter and I stayed put (because employment and everything else was up in the air). This situation lasted until September of 2011, then Fru and daughter finally came back to Fort Lauderdale where, very quickly a new job was secured and we had plans to move back to the midwest. Well. We put the house up for sale and it sold much quicker than we anticipated and we had no house yet in the new place (new place was in the midwest and shall not be named) (at least not yet) and so Fru went on up to start work, (First Daughter eventually joined her, just before the new year)--staying in an apartment paid for the her employer while she looked for a house. Meanwhile, Second Daughter had started college (at FSU) so I did the prep work for the movers and was the last one in the house--that was January 7th, 2012.

Yes, 2012.

2012--the year some said that world would come to an end... Well, that year I had no house, had a carful of belongings, had two older cats and a 45lb dog. I couldn't quite move to the New Place in the Midwest with Fru and First Daughter because no pets were allowed in the place being paid for by her employer. Plus, I really didn't want to go. Had dreams of not even going, to be honest. Anyway, I stayed at Billy's across the street for a while--which was too sad and my dog could not figure out why we didn't cross the street and go home. So I hit the road and drove to Jacksonville--to Neptune Beach to be precise and I stayed three days with Bill. That was okay but also was not. Bill was great but he had a roommate and it was small and it wasn't conducive for two cats a dog and his semi-feral cat. But, I then called and re-rented the same condo in New Orleans, which allowed pets, which these pets had spent time in (the animals, as you can imagine, were quite confused and upset). Much more than all this, but I'm trying to be quick here . . . Anyway, the day I was driving up to Jax my brother called and said my mother was in the hospital. I was in flux and said I'd get up there (Des Moines, Iowa) if I had to but for now she was okay (though she wasn't). So, after three days there I moved to New Orleans, stopping in Tallahassee to visit Second Daughter. By then all the animals were infested with fleas. So a vet in Tallahassee sold me some of those flea kill-off pills and, when I got to New Orleans and single-handedly moved all the crap from the car into the condo at about eight or nine at night, I administered the flea kill-off pills which did indeed kill off the fleas--right on the condo bed. That was okay ....

This is 2012.

I'll try to keep this short but obviously I'm not. Anyway.... My very good friend from Montreal, Francis, decided to come visit me in New Orleans. I also already had a very good friend--Mike--who lived in town. Things were good, in that sense. Though the condo was small and I had two cats and a dog, now a French Quebecer would be added to the mix (there was a pullout couch in the front room). But he was going to help me drive up to the New Place even though I didn't really want to go. Well--then my brother calls and my mom has taken a turn for the worse and I need to get up there. So, I leave Francis in New Orleans to take care of my animals while I fly to Des Moines to see my mother who, essentially, going to die. She didn't. I was there a week, but she was to be placed in a hospice. So. I had animals and a friend and no home, no family... Blah...and going to have to move to a place I abhorred. yes. Abhorred.!!!

Okay, 2012.

Let me be more succinct. Had to move away. Spent the first few months sort of homeless with 3 animals while my mother became terminally ill. Was used to warm South Florida and was moving to icy midwest town. Then got up there and had to stay in a furniture-less condo for over a month while the house Fru chose was moved out of and then worked on a bit. All the while I was going back and forth to Des Moines to visit my mother. And in 2012 my mother died. And then, a month or so later, Bill from Neptune Beach died. Yes, I said died.

2012: My mother died. My good friend from Montana days and more, Bill, died. I moved to a town I don't care for.  I don't know. I wasn't good. So, I wrote nothing. Nothing . . . Is that succinct enough?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Getting A Puppy: Fort Lauderdale 2006

It was my second daughter who wanted a puppy. She had wanted one for a while but I had put it off for a number of reasons: 1. because both girls were still quite young and that was trouble enough. 2. because we had two cats and that was trouble enough. 3. because dogs are trouble enough and a puppy is even more trouble. But, what are you going to do? Getting a dog is somewhat like having a child, there's never the perfect time to do it so it's best, at some point, to just jump on in.

So, we jumped on in.

She wanted a purebred golden retriever, a male, that she would name Oliver. My second daughter was--what?--in sixth or seventh grade maybe? Still pretty young but old enough to help take care of her own puppy/dog. (Or so I told myself.) Anyway, I nixed the idea of a purebred. Too much money, too many nice dogs at the animal shelter that needed homes. She said okay and started looking. I also made her wait until school was out (in June) before we got one. So she looked online (they had a website where they listed the animals for adoption with photos etc) and we went in person to browse. Well, the day came--Last Day of School!--and we went to the shelter where there was a puppy that was part golden retriever (and who knew what else). It was a Friday, during the day, and not many people were there. So, we saw the dog--a cute puppy alone in a pen who jumped and frolicked, who played by herself with a worn dog toy, who looked you in the eye and was happy to see you. We asked to see her and the attendant took us to a room and then brought the puppy in.

The dog--small as a puppy but not a small dog--came bounding in and went right for my daughter. Happy happy puppy. Happy happy girl.

Well, that was that. We'd take her . . . But wait! Someone else was interested in her. The puppy was on hold. The other people were deciding if they wanted her and we were next in line. The attendant took our names and number and said they'd call tomorrow around noon if the other people decided they didn't want this little bright eyed reddish puppy with a white freckled nose and white feet and white belly and fluffy ears. So, we went home without the dog. Second Daughter told First Daughter about the puppy (First Daughter was pretty much strictly a cat person) and then told Fru--her mother--about the puppy. But, we had to wait . . . The next day--Saturday--I got up and my daughter wanted to call about the dog. "No," I said, "we have to wait for them to call us. Maybe we won't get her." So, we waited, noon came and went, and then we got the call: "Do you want this dog or not? We've got ten people on the list who want her!"

Well (again). No mention of the other people. No call to tell us the puppy could be ours. But I didn't complain. I just said, yes we want the dog. And so all of us got in the car and drove over to the Broward County Humane Society Shelter and met our future family member. And she was as bright eyed and lively as before. When we went to see her other people were admiring her and wanting her and when we got her one poor girl cried and cried. Sorry. Even the attendant who did the paperwork and took our money (yes, shelter dogs cost money) cried a little to lose this dog. And we bought a leash and collar, a tag, a water bowl, food bowl, food, a bed, treats, a stuffed duck for a toy (more money) and then she was ours. We took her outside and she just jumped and jumped and wanted to play and then in the car she was quiet and good and we took her home and the two cats freaked out for months.

Having a puppy was akin--at first--to having a camel in the house. There were trials and tribulations but also great joy. This all happened after Fru's breast cancer, after her chemo and radiation (such truly profound trials and tribulations). So, it was time to have a dog. Something new. Something positive . . . And she turned out to be more my dog than my daughter's. She turned out to be a wonderful wonderful dog who is still with us.

She wasn't a male purebred golden retriever named Oliver. No. She was much better than that.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Smelling The Ocean: Fort Lauderdale 1996

When we first moved to Fort Lauderdale, we lived at the Riverside Hotel. It was downtown, on Las Olas, and Fru's job paid for it. Next door to the hotel was a small Lebanese restaurant. I liked what they made. The owner--Lebanese--ran the place and I talked to him a bit. He was the one who directed me to Victoria Park as a place to find a home.

So, we rented in Victoria Park for one year before we bought a house in the River Oaks neighborhood..

My two girls were very little--had just turned five and three. When we moved to the rental on 10th Street in Victoria Park, I often drove Fru to work downtown--which was not far away. The girls would come with us. And after we dropped Fru off at work, I'd just head straight down Las Olas to the ocean.

This was summer. It was hot. Yes: HOT. Humid. But when we got to the beach and I drove down the road there (A1A), I rolled down all the windows. The Atlantic was to our left and I always said to the girls: "Smell the ocean."

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Job At The Original Pancake House: Champaign, 1990

When Fru and I moved back from Montana and I needed a job, I applied to be a cook at The Original Pancake House.

I got the job.

When I showed up for the job, I filled out some paperwork, stood around the kitchen where a woman was using a huge mixer. I said something to her; got a curt response. Then the manager came and took me out front and showed me how they bussed tables.

I worked my shift.

The next day I called their office and said I quit. They asked why and I said I was supposed to be a cook.

I found a landscaping job.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Still Here

I was living in Florida but am no longer there. This year I revisited New Orleans and Santa Fe and The Great Sand Dunes of southern Colorado. I've been to Des Moines and Iowa City, to Milwaukee and Chicago numerous times. Montreal and Quebec City, Baie-Saint-John. Las Vegas! Denver and Albuquerque. Tallahassee. Was in San Francisco less than a year ago, Ft. Lauderdale, Seattle--Pacific City, Bend, Oregon--and Missoula a little more than a year ago. Riggins, Idaho; Spokane.


I come and go and they remain and ultimately who cares--except me.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bird With A Broken Neck: Key West 2001

This was about a month or more after the terrorist attacks of nine eleven and Fru and I and our two daughters went to Key West. Fru's father and his wife flew down (on a near empty plane) from Illinois and met us there. We stayed at the Casa Marina, which is an old hotel on the Atlantic side of the island (north or east or northeast--like New Orleans, I always get my compass points turned around on the island). I think it may have been one of Flagler's luxury hotels . . .So, we had a nice room on the second or third floor, though the window looked out on a lower roof and the air conditioning hardware upon it, as well as the street and the palms etc etc...But on that roof were some pigeons. No big deal, the grey/white birds were hanging out like pigeons do all over the world, whether Queens or St. Peter's Square or downtown Flagstaff or the Casa Marina roof in Key West. But, I noticed that first day, there was one pigeon that  just sat on the roof edge with its head bowed down. Okay. Didn't think much of it. But, But, when we returned to the room much later that first day, that same pigeon was there in the same position.

We stayed two, maybe three nights. Had fun. The girls were young then--not little but very young--Fru and I were young though we didn't know it. Yet each time I looked out the window that pigeon was there with his head bent down and I came to realize that his neck was broken. he couldn't fly or eat or do much of anything. He was just sitting there, in the shade, in the hot sun, in the night, waiting to die. Starving to death. Okay. What can I do?I'm no bird surgeon--bird bone doctor specializing in pigeons. We were ready to leave, drive back up to Fort lauderdale with Fru's father and step-mother in tow. Bye bye.

but I haven't forgotten it. It's not like I dwell or am overtly disturbed by the memory of the pigeon with the broken neck waiting to die, but it still comes to me now and then. Always--as you might imagine--in an unfavorable light. Subtly unsettling. Nature is tough and cruel and doesn't play favorites. So it goes, as Vonnegut would say. Still . . . My own father had died that year and I've always had a soft spot for animals, for suffering. I don't know. Not a big deal, really.

The reason why I thought of it was that I was walking my dog today in the cold of Clark Park here in this town--where I currently live--and I saw two big black crows playing with something and then I saw that that something was a smaller bird. One crow was carrying it around by its foot. I couldn't figure it out--the crow carried it and dropped it and nudged it around then carried it again and dropped it and son on. I went to investigate and as I neared the crow tried to fly away with the bird--a starling, obviously still alive--but it was too heavy and he/she dropped it. I went to it while the crows sat in the leafless tree above me and cawed. The starling (and I have no affection for starlings, really--more affection for crows) was crying and moving but could not walk. I had gloves on and I picked it up and it cried and its heart beat faster than a bird's usually beats and it tried to grip my fingers with its claws. Its neck was broken. It could not fly. I carried it a ways, away from the tree and the crows--though the crows watched and flew/followed me--but I didn't know what I was going to do with it. I though the humane thing would be to kill it. I made sure that it was too injured to live and I placed it on the ground at the base of another tree and I went and got a stick which I broke; took up the heavy end and took it back to the bird which was flapping and rolling on the frozen ground and in the leftover snow. The crows were watching. But, I couldn't do it. Wasn't going to smash its little birdbrains in. So, what's to be done? . . . Leave it for the crows.

Nature really is cruel.

Missouri Rules

 I haven't posted anything on this blog for over a year. I've been busy and not busy. I moved--twice, essentially. I had certain rules of engagement for this blog, a certain code, but now . . . whatever. I'm invoking Missouri Rules, which in essence means all the rules are breakable. Now, the main rule I'm thinking about is that I was slowly making my way through each decade--not in chronological order, mind you, but I tried to concentrate on one decade for nine months while also writing about only the one I had already written about (for nine months). But, no more of that. I'll still try to title posts in time and place, but not try so hard . . . Missouri Rules.

Now, I'm not particularly fond of Missouri, as far as states go. Sure, it's nice enough, has some decent history (Mark Twain, Gateway to The West) and a decent city: St. Louis. I've been in teh state a bit, to the Johnston Shut-Ins and the Lake of the Ozarks as well as Marysville and St. Louis and Kansas City and others, still, I mean, it's Missouri . . . It was Brock and Matt who used the term Missouri Rules--maybe from Brock--and I'm not sure of its origin. I recall it best when I left north Florida in 1987 and drove by myself to Seattle (via Los Angeles) and showed up to stay with them at the apartment on 1st Avenue West in Queen Anne. It turns out they had been having a no-smoking contest going on for months--putting money in a kitty that would normally go to cigarettes, any extra money if they broke down and had one. I think drinking had been kept under wraps as well . . . So, I show up and   !!KAPOW!!   that's the end of that. Brock invoked Missouri Rules and we went out to the bars and drank and smoked and smoked and drank. So, that's Missouri Rules.

I'm not going to drink and smoke, just write. I don't know how often or about what--other than it will continue to be my memories, boring or self-importnat or what. mainly it's just a chronicle of memories in whatever way I can remember them, or care to remember them. It's just an attempt to put it down in easy, truncated fashion. I may even change the name of this down the road, but for now, Combustible Turnip is revived...