Sunday, October 31, 2010

My house is haunted!

It makes sharp cracking noises, which I find very upsetting. I'll be snoozing peacefully on the couch or my bed in the living room, or sometimes just on the living room floor, and all of a sudden--SNAP! I come to attention pretty fast. It happens a lot if I'm in M and J's room, too.

M says the house is not haunted. It's just that the wooden frame joints and siding creak when the sun heats them up. He says it's worse this time of year because the sun appears south of the equator and beats down more on the living room and the master bedroom.

But I think he's pumping a little sunshine of his own. This place is H-A-U-N-T-E-D. Those snaps and pops are the ghosts of Animal Control officers stepping on twigs as they try to sneak up on me.

"What about that noise that comes from the utility room every morning and evening?" I ask him. "The sun doesn't hit there."

"That's the water heater clicking on and off," he replies. "It's on a timer."

I'll let him believe that if it makes him feel better. But after about the second or third SNAP! from whatever alleged source, I head for my other bed, which is in J's office. It's darker and cooler in there anyway.

M says that this would be an appropriate time of year for the place to have ghosts, though, because tonight is Halloween. He says that lots of neighborhood kids--and even kids from other neighborhoods--will dress up as ghosts and goblins and witches and maybe other stuff like ballerinas or zombies or George W. Bush, and that starting around suppertime they'll go from house to house knocking on doors, yelling "Trick or treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat!" Then if you don't give them a candy treat, they might play a mean trick on you.

"Like what?" I want to know.

"Like throw eggs at your car or TP your house or write on the screens with soap."

"Will they really do that?" I can imagine myself sitting at the living room window all evening, warding off the little buggers by barking and scaring the bejeezus out of them, letting them know that they can just take their shenanigans elsewhere.

"Probably not," he says. "We're not participating, anyway. You'd scare the bejeezus out of them as they came up the driveway. And besides, candy is expensive and the sugar will rot their teeth and give them diabetes."

So the treat turns out to be its own trick. How cool is that?

I ask how they'll know not to stop here, and he says we'll leave the porch light off. That's the signal we're not doing Trick or Treat. But I think I'll still sit at the window so I can bark at them if they get too close. Or maybe I'll just bark at them anyway.

When M was boarding Arlo at our cats' vet last week, he took these pictures of a couple of dogs (fake ones, not real ones) dressed in Halloween costumes. I'll admit they look pretty neat, but I don't think I'd like to get all gussied up like that. If you've followed this blog for a while, you know I prefer to go nekkid!

Hi-yo Halloween, everybody!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy birthday, Auntie Julia!

Today is M's sister Julia's birthday. We all wish her the very best.

When they were kids, M sometimes talked his sister into trading him her dimes for his nickels, which she fell for because nickels are bigger. He would now like for me to pass along that he sincerely regrets being such a crook. He'd make restitution, except he can't begin to remember how many dimes he snookered her out of. More than a few.

I asked M if there was something he could do to prove he isn't a total D-bag. He thought about it and said there's a song he'd like to dedicate to her, but unfortunately he didn't write it. I told him so what, he should dedicate it anyway. Disc jockeys do that for radio listeners all the time with stuff they didn't create. So he hereby does, and if anyone has a problem, they can file it with me. To hear a nice rendition of the song (sung by John Lennon, the guy who did write it), click here. Auntie Julia, this one goes out to you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How many dog hotels can there be in this one-horse town?

At least three. I know, because I stayed in my third one this past weekend while M and J went to stay at a human one. Mine was at my doctor's office, and it was pretty basic, though at least I had a double room. One room had a good view of the woods outside. The other was very close to where the doctors and their helpers work, so they spent a lot of time stopping to chat with me and scratch my head and make me feel not too abandoned. All things considered, it was an okay experience, but I'll bet M and J had a better time at their hotel, which is called the Sheraton Sand Key Resort. Don't know why they didn't just take me with them. I would have gladly stayed in the room if they wanted to go swimming.

I don't think they did much swimming, though. The reason for their trip was so they could attend M's 50-year high school reunion. Holy cow, I can't even count to fifty except by fives. M says he enjoyed meeting up with some favorite classmates after all these years, but was distressed to learn how many of his old chums are no longer alive. Heck, I could have told him life isn't for the fainthearted.

He showed me the pictures he took and said he wishes he'd taken a lot more. I especially like this one of his friend Jim, who is taking a picture of M at the same time. That's pretty cool. It's sort of like having a shootout where nobody gets hurt.

I also liked these pictures of M's friend Sandy, who danced around and lip-synced a Patsy Cline song while she pulled a bunch of stuff out of her shirt, including a rubber chicken. I don't think I ever heard of a lady doing that before.

I can assure you none of the people at my doggie hotel did anything like it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

See you in the funny papers!

Stone the crows! This could be me and the Mike-ster on our walk most mornings:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy birthday, Grandpa Dave!

Today is my adoptive step-granddaddy's birthday, and J and M and I want to take a moment to wish him all the best. We were hoping the Buckeyes of Grandpa Dave's alma mater, Ohio State, would add a little present for him with a win last night over the Wisconsin Badgers, but such was not to be. M says that as a consolation gift, he'll be glad to share FSU's lucky, come-from-behind victory over Boston College.

In other college gridiron news, M was surprised to see the University of Florida Gators dump their third straight game, including two in the Swamp! But he says the whole team has been playing sick lately. I asked him with what, and he said it's something called a reptile dysfunction.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hello, Columbus!

"Today is Columbus Day," M announced on our morning walk.

"What's Columbus Day?" I asked. To which he replied:

"In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus didn't know what to do.
He turned a flip, caught a ship,
And sailed the ocean blue."

"Thanks, M, " I said. "You cleared that right up."

He gave me one of his oh-I-keep-forgetting-you're-a-dog looks. "Christopher Columbus," he explained, "was the guy who discovered America."

"What's 'fourteen hundred ninety-two' got to do with it?"

"Hello-o! That was the year he did it. The poem is what we call a mnemonic device, something we used to say when I was a kid in school, to help us remember 1492."

"You needed a rhyme as long as my tail to remember a little four-digit number? Sounds like overkill. Besides, what if you accidentally started it with 'In nineteen hundred forty-two' or 'In eighteen hundred ninety-two'? The thing isn't exactly bulletproof."

"Okay," he admitted. "Everyone could remember the year. We recited the poem because it sounded cool."

"So you lied to me," I said. "But that's beside the point. You never answered my question. Read my big ol' lips: What is Columbus Day?"

"It's the day he landed in the New World."

"He landed today? But you said--"

"Of course not! It was on this date in 1492. We just celebrate the anniversary each year."

That M is such an easy mark.

"Let me make sure I've got this right," I continued, "so I don't need to memorize a special poem or anything. Columbus actually landed on October 11, 1492?"

My man looked a bit disturbed. "Well, actually it was October the 12th, but we celebrate it now on the second Monday of October. That way we always get a three-day weekend--or at least about ten percent of the workforce does. The second Monday happens to be on the 11th this year."

The mention of official three-day weekends rang a faint bell. "Like that Memorial Day thingy you told me about last May? And George Birthington's Wash Day in February?"

"Exactly," he replied. But his face told me something was still bothering him.

"M, are there any other liberties our government has taken with the truth?" I asked. "About Columbus Day, I mean."

"Um--well, if you want to split hairs--Columbus landed on the 12th under the old Julian calendar that was in effect in 1492. If we use the modern Gregorian calendar, which took effect in 1752, the real date is the 21st."

"And what year did the U.S. government take effect?"

"That would be 1776."

"So it's always operated with the Gregorian calendar?"

"Pretty much. Except for stuff like this."

"Incredible," I said. "Is there anything our political leaders are unwilling or unable to mess up?"

"I'll let you know if I find something," he said.

When we got home I asked him where, exactly, Columbus landed in 1492. He got a big map of the Western Hemisphere and showed me a little hangy-downy thing at the bottom of what he told me was the United States. "This is the State of Florida," he said. "Where we live."

"He landed right here in Florida? How exciting!"

"No, his first landing was out here to the east a little bit, on one of these islands, which he named San Salvador." He pointed to some specks that looked like spilled cat food but that were labeled "The Bahamas."

"Sweet," I said, trying to bury the pinch of disappointment. "Why did he call it San Salvador? Was he Spanish?"

"No--Italian. But his trip was financed by Spain."

"What did Columbus find at San Salvador?"

"Just a bunch of plants and trees that he'd never seen before--and some dark-skinned people that he called Indians, because he thought he'd found a western route to India."

My head was starting to spin. "So he was an Italian sailing for Spain who thought he was in India. Where else did he go besides San Salvador?"

"On this first trip--he later made some others--he visited what are now Cuba and the Dominican Republic."

"Where he found . . . ?"

"More exotic plants . . . and more Indians."

This whole "discovering America" thing was starting to smell like a dead mackerel. "Wouldn't you say that the Indians probably discovered America first?"

"That's fair," he replied. "I should have said that Columbus was the first European to discover America--though there's even some controversy about that." I raised an eyebrow as he continued his wild little story: "There's pretty good evidence that an Icelandic Viking named Lief Ericson actually made it to the North American coast up here in Canada"--he pointed again to the map--"a number of years before Columbus began his voyages."

"Oh? How many years before?"

"About 500." He changed the subject by showing me on the map that the capital of Ohio was named for Columbus and that there's a big Army post near the city of Columbus, Georgia.

"Did Columbus ever get to Georgia or Ohio?" I asked.

"Not so far as I know."

We did some quick Googling and made an interesting discovery of our own: In three subsequent voyages to the New World, Columbus made it to several other Caribbean islands, much of Central America, and a spot or two along the northern coast of South America. But he never once set foot on the North American mainland, let alone what is now the United States of America.

"You know what I think?" I said. "I think this whole Columbus Day thing in the U.S.A. is an overplayed hand. We oughta call it 'Indians Day.'"

Just before this went to press, I found that others share my conclusion. Two states and several localities on the U.S. mainland don't recognize Columbus Day, but instead celebrate what is variously called "Native American Day" or "Indigenous People's Day." And in Hawaii, in place of Columbus Day they have "Discoverers' Day," which celebrates the discovery and settlement of the Islands by Polynesians.

Happy [fill in your choice] Day, everybody!