Monday, April 20, 2015

Arsenic and Old Cat Shit

In ancient Egypt they treated psoriasis by smearing cat shit on the affected areas. In the 1800's arsenic was introduced as a treatment for the disease. I guess they figured if you were dead the problem was solved. I remember my dad having psoriasis when he was in his forties and taking baths in a coal tar solution while washing himself with oatmeal soap. Lucky for my dad, they came up with better treatments after a few years of those stinky baths. Unlucky for me, I inherited the propensity for psoriasis from dad. When I first had troubles with my skin I went to a dermatologist, Dr. Fastandloose. A visit to Dr. Fastandloose never took too long. Not because he wasn't a good doctor, but because he would have you strip down in an examination room while you waited for his appearance. You would be sitting there all naked and vulnerable when the doctor swooped in, asked you what was the problem, turned you around once to get the full view, and then quickly wrote out a prescription.
"You have psoriasis. Go to the pharmacy and get this cream. Apply it to the affected skin once a day. You'll be fine."
He would then disappear out the door and on to the next patient. Elapsed time, one minute.

The problem with psoriasis is that it attacks the most tender skin areas first, and on a man that would be the place he most wouldn't want flaking, painful, crusty skin. Yes, I had psoriasis on what was absolutely my very favorite body part. Over the years I have found that I don't need to get a prescription for the expensive salve that the doctor wanted me to use. I buy over the counter Hydrocortisone. As long as I smear that stuff on the affected areas once a day, I'm fine. Unfortunately, as I get older other areas are becoming affected. My ears, and my scalp now have the scaly, itchy, flaky skin problem. The ears are easy. A Q-tip dipped in the hydrocortisone does the trick, but the scalp is a bit more difficult. I am using that Scalpicin stuff, and it does work, but it's expensive. What I figured out is that the shampoos I have been using aren't helping matters. They're full of chemicals, and perfumes that irritate things. So I came up with the brilliant idea of baby shampoo. I now use No More Tears by Johnson's, and it has cured my itchy scalp. It has one other benefit, I now smell adorable. 
Grandma and me

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pet Semetary

So Saint Joseph and been buried with his toes up, head down in the yard now for three weeks and we have not had one offer on the place. It's almost as if he knew I was an atheist and is refusing to do his magic for us. If his wife's paramour (aka; baby daddy) truly wanted me to believe, you'd think he would have compelled old Joe to get his ass in gear and sell this place. The real estate agent assures me that out of all his listings, mine is getting the most action. That may be true, we've had a lot of showings but no offers. I've got the house showings down to a science. First of all, the house is always kept nearly clean so that it only takes a short while to whip it back to show quality. Before the prospective buyers show up, Mark automatically disappears thirty minutes ahead of them, while I stay behind to wrangle the dogs. I have my tenant leave her dog with us when she goes off to work because the first time we showed the house they couldn't get in her apartment. Her fifteen year old, feeble mutt, turned into a ferocious guard dog that day. So when prospective buyers arrive, I herd the dogs out the back door into the dog run where I join them, hiding at the far end so that I will have no interaction whatsoever with anybody. I don't want to talk to the people looking at my property, I don't want to hear what they have to say, I don't want any contact at all until they sign those papers and give me the money. Yesterday we had another couple of old guys come by to look the place over. Once again I went through the house and made it look very special, I sent Mark away, and I took the dogs out into the dog run where I sat in a chair, out of sight and out of earshot. It only seemed like a few minutes before the real estate agent opened the door and motioned me back in. For whatever reason the two guys looking at our house breezed through it. Disinterested, is what the agent said. They seemed to be very disinterested in asking any questions or paying any attention to what he had to say, and took the least time of anybody to look the place over. I think we may have a buyer this time. I think they didn't care about the building because they just might want to buy the property, tear it down, and build a couple of townhouses. Come on Joseph, make me a believer.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Video of The Birthday Dogs Photo Shoot

This month is Bette and Chandler's birthday month. I've given them April 15 as the arbitrary day of their birth. I wanted to photograph them both in front of little birthday meat cakes. It was easy, and here is the video so you can see just how easy it was.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I've heard that people who lose their eyesight sometimes increase their other senses. I have lost around fifty percent of my vision to glaucoma and from some recent incidents I'm thinking that it may be true. For instance, the other evening I let Bette out in the dog run to do her thing. As I stood there urging her on, I noticed a familiar aroma wafting through the air. It was the unmistakable odor of one of my neighbors. Beer, body odor, and cigarette smoke. Then the same evening, much later, I was walking Chandler around the block and at one point a young woman walked past us in the dark. Chandler gave a bark, which he always does to strangers in the night, and the young woman scurried on ahead of us. As she moved away I picked up an odor that I remembered from some people I knew in Chicago. It was the smell of poverty. I know that one component of the poverty smell is unwashed laundry, usually being worn, plus body odor, beer, and cigarette smoke. Notice that my neighbor is not poor. They have a washer and dryer and do laundry almost daily. I know that because I can smell the fabric softener. I thought about all this sense of smell stuff because I was just in the bathroom taking a leak, and I was reminded that Mark made asparagus for dinner.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Confession

When we were kids my mom used to let us roam around Tinley Park without many restrictions. If we were going to the woods all she would say was, "Be careful, don't go near any hobos". I think that was a prudent caution. She didn't tell us not to smash coins on the train rails, nor did she ever tell us not to walk along the train tracks for that matter, just "Don't go near the hobos". So of course we would smash coins, and walk along the train tracks. If you walked far enough along those tracks you would find yourself in a whole different woods than the woods behind our little housing development. We would join up with the railroad tracks just outside Vogt's Woods, walk about a mile east along them, and end up in Yankee Woods. On the south side of the railroad tracks was a portion of Yankee Woods called Tony's Slough. Tony's Slough was a shallow pond full of large tortoises, snakes, and various amphibians. It was really cool. One day, when I was about twelve years old, my friends and I grabbed our hiking equipment and walked down the tracks to Tony's Slough. I grabbed my brother's canteen and filled it with water. We also took along some snacks and a few books of matches. Back then every drug store, gas station, grocery store, hardware store, every store in town, gave away free books of matches and they didn't care if you were only twelve years old. On arriving at Tony's Slough we all sat around eating our snacks and lighting matches. At some point somebody suggested we play a game called fireman. It was played like this. One person would take a turn at being the fireman while the rest of us would light the woods around Tony's Slough on fire. The point of the game was for the "fireman" to put out the fire. If you couldn't put out the fire alone, and you needed help after awhile, you lost. I was very good at lighting the fires. I was not so good at putting them out. In fact, we burned down the woods at Tony's Slough that day. I still remember us running back towards Tinley Park along the railroad tracks and looking back at the smoke billowing from the woods while off in the distance you could hear the wail of the fire truck sirens. Anyway, that isn't what this post is about. This post is my confession to my older brother Dave. I think the statute of limitations has passed after fifty plus years, so here it is. Dave, I left your canteen at Tony's Slough that day. I left your canteen to burn up in the inferno that we had caused. I remember when you came back from the seminary and was looking for that canteen. I denied all knowledge of its fate. So there are two confessions I have to make. I burned up your canteen, and I lied about where it was.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Prison Yard

It's Monday, the day I go out front and blow the leaves back onto the neighbor's parking lot that they blew into my parking lot yesterday, that I blew into their parking lot last week. It's a never ending cycle of "Out of sight, out of mind". Or as it is known here, "Out of my yard, I don't give a damn".

It has taken me twenty two years to get my yard to grow on its own without my watering it, mowing it, or paying any attention to it at all. I think it was about five years ago that the last blade of grass gave up and withered away. Now it is all ferns, trees, vines, and odd things that have taken to growing around the place. About once a month I do have a guy come over and chop back the jungle, making paths through it so that I and my tenants can get out to our cars. If I didn't do at least that little bit of maintenance we'd probably never be heard from again. So yes, I've learned how to maintain a Florida yard with the least amount of effort. What I am worried about is moving back to Chicago. We plan to buy a house with a Chicago type yard, something I haven't had to think about in nearly forty years. I don't know if I'll remember how it's done. I figure I'll have to buy a snow blower, a lawn mower, a weed whacker, various rakes and shovels, and maybe a tractor. I'm not sure what I would need a tractor for, but I see them advertised all the time on television and it looks like the homeowners are having a lot of fun on them. It's either that or I just order up a truck full of concrete. I'd only have to worry about the snow blower then. Oh, and I'd also need a shovel for the dog shit in the concrete back yard.