Thursday, April 29, 2010


The absolute best way to get to The Hospital of University of Pennsylvania (HUP) from Lancaster is by Amtrak.   It is deceptively expensive however.    Parking at the Lancaster train station is $5.   The half of a 3 X 5 card taped to the parking meter post says, if you plan to park there for more than 3 hours it will behove you to find the dude in the shed and pay him.   The Lancaster, PA Amtrak station is under construction and there are about 8 little sheds with dudes in them.   Careful inspection reveals only one with an electric wire running to it.   That is where I went.   The guy inside was only visible from the bridge of his nose to the baseball cap.   Kind of like the neighbor on Tool Time,  or a superhero, Parking Lot Man!   Or a super villain.   Mysterious Dent In My Car Man!   I don't know, but his voice is familiar, "Its five bucks, for the day."  Who is that?  "You over there?" the eyes glanced toward my car.  After I assured him I was between the lines, I took the receipt and headed for the train.  The ticket agent inside asked for an photo ID and $36?  But people buy tickets on the train.   "They don't need an ID.   They are already on the train."   Stephen Wright! The guy in the shack sounds just like the comedian.   I know now where Stephen Wright spends his time off,   in the shed at the corner of the parking lot in the Lancaster, PA Amtrak station.

I had a good time waiting in the station.   Everybody was texting or calling somebody and looking at the schedules until the train comes.  This one is an express, we make one stop at Paoli and we are soon gliding though the badlands of north Philly on our way to 30th Street Station.   Perfect timing, the $2 University City bus is waiting right outside and I was crossing Spruce Street 9 minutes before my appointment with the guy who sliced 3 levels of cancer riddled lymph nodes out of my neck.   No waiting in a crowd for the elevator to take us to the 5th floor.   Only an hour and a half on the plastic chairs to get the anti-histamine and numb stuff blown up my nose holes in a little room.   The Dr. breezes in about 35 minutes later, glances at my chart, clicks some stuff off on the computer and says "We call this a cure."  He might have said more.  I do remember saying thanks.  He was matter of fact.  I was no longer interesting to him.  Cured.  Dismissed.

Apparently I came back because here I am.   Cured?  No cancer?   Ha Ha HA.   How about that?   It feels weird.  Not bad weird but nice.   Better than graduation or a divorce.   Kind of a tattoo that nobody can ever see.  Like when you have a real good lawyer who gets the charges dropped or when a cop pulls over the guy driving right behind you.   It's like the Sound a bullet makes when it goes right by, close.  There is no other sound like that in the world.  That is exactly what the Doctor said      Buzzzwwwwrrrrssssh.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The cats have fleas.  At least Siamese has fleas.  We are not able to burrow all the way down through the fur to check Maine Coon's skin.   We will assume that they both have them.

Off to Soriana supermarket to get some flea killer.   We found beer, roasted chickens, cat food (but no litter), olives stuffed with cheese or anchovies or tuna.   Where is the pet stuff?   When we did find the pet isle.   They have all kinds of dog stuff but they act as if having a gato for a mascota is kind of foolish, having an inside cat is very silly and worrying about it having fleas is bordering on insane.   The cat supplies take up about the same amount of shelf space as bird seed and fish food combined.  P looked on the bottom shelf under the leashes, rawhide chewies and dog bones and found the flea powder.   Flea, by the way is "pulga."  She found the flea shampoo and the flea powder.  Talco antipulgas y antigarrapatas.   We brought it back home.

The instructions on the can of powder prompted a flurry of activity among the English speakers here at the condo.   The instructions on the flea powder direct us to... evitando los ohos (eyes), oidos (ears) and el hocio.   What the hell is a el hocio anyway?   Now we don't just run to the phrase book right off.  It's way more fun to holler out off the balcony "Hey what is a hocio?"  That always prompts a response from somebody.  They usually say "A WHAT!?"   "Hocio."   "Hocio?" we repeat back and forth.   The next group process is trying to decode the meaning of the word by context.   After we all decided we didn't know that word, we finally looked it up.   It means "Snout or Muzzle."   Go figure, don't get the flea powder on their snout.   Duh.

Okay, this morning it was time to clobber Maine Coon with the toxic powder.   So I took her out on the back balcony.   The one overlooking the street.    I had some cotton shorts on.  That's all, but they have pockets so I was decent enough at 7:45 on a warm Sunday morning to just jump out there and powder the cat and come right back in.    Did you ever hear a sound that registers way back in your lizard brain but all the stuff going on around you kind of forces that important noise out of your stream of consciousness?   That is exactly the kind of sound the sliding glass door made as I locked myself out on the balcony with a recently powdered 19 pound cat.  I peered inside the apartment.  I could see P.  She was way off in the kitchen at the counter, checking her e-mail and having a cup of coffee.   Tap, Tap, Tap, on the door with the flea powder container.     Maine Coon was shaking and rubbing against the railings.   A cloud of flea powder drifted by.  Some of it got on my Hocio!  Tap, tap, tap, tap!   WTF?   P didn't move.   Bang, bang, bang.   She sort of turned her head a little, or was it only wishful thinking on my part.   Maine Coon joined me in wanting back inside.   Meow!   Boom! Boom! Boom!  Would the glass break?   Can the people getting in their cars below see up my shorts?  I got away from the edge and smiled sheepishly to the family down there on the street.  They had been alerted by my frantic scrabbling and Maine Coon's helpful wailing.  "Hola, buenas dias."  MEOW!  P was suddenly at the door laughing as she let me in.  She was looking past me.   Who is she talking to down there?  Our neighbor was returning from his walk.   Maine Coon and I retreated inside as P exchanged environmental information with our perambulating friend.   "Nice day huh?"   "It's a warm one."

From March 7, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lawn guys

New lawn guys came the other day.   They showed up early and got right to doing weird stuff. I was parked in the driveway in the camper because there is so much stuff going on in the house. Son and company are working like crazy.  They are keeping the business open and remodeling all at the same time.  No small task.  Anyway the kitchen is piled high with stuff from the shop and there is one big, immovable tote in there.  So no kitchen.

From what I understand new tenant had to wage a chemical battle (sorry) against Fuzzy Fridge Syndrome.   The shower has therefore become a recovery area for some plastic vegetable drawers from the bottom of my Super deluxe, high capacity, Kenmore, which are were obviously casualties of that battle.  So no shower.

Even if the couch were accessible it would be impossible to see the TV due to a pile of boxes golf clubs and snowboards, so no TV, couch, or living room.  

I’ll just stay in the camper, in the driveway.  The one neighbor seemed very interested.   But the lawn guys didn’t seem to notice.   They arrived and un-hitched their trailer full of stuff.  Right across the driveway, directly in front of the motorhome.  I had another cup of coffee and watched the start of Cheaters.   The one guy started raking around the bushes.  Truck Man drove away leaving him to rake all by himself.   Truck Man returned with a little uncovered load of coffee colored mulch.   Truck Man now began to trim bushes.   He was very enthusiastic about the shrubbery, which he truncated by hand with those long bladed chop chop things, rather than a gas powered trimmer, which his partner indicated with a shrug that he did have in his possession.   The raker guy was re-raking the areas around the shrubs to collect the trimmings.  Truck Man had somehow evolved into a hybrid of  Edward Scissorhands and Freddy Krueger and suddenly attacked the center of a 6-foot tall hedge along the driveway.
“Whoa Cowboy! Take it easy there will ya.”   I admonished as he continued to mutilate the middle of the hedge.   This guy was chopping a hole right in the through the bushes.  Rake man sheepishly began picking up severed limbs with bare hands.
“I am supposed to make it so you can walk through.”   He looked at me with a totally blank stare.  Must-Cut-Hemlocks.  I could read his mind.
“Not the middle of the hedge genius, how about right there?   See the sidewalk? They walk through there.”
Truck Man had chopped a BIG hole in the hedge 4 feet from the sidewalk!   Maybe he didn’t see the concrete path just 2 steps away?    And he was still chopping!  
“Stop it.”   He still wanted to discuss it further but I just pointed with an upturned palm and turned away. Raking guy had come around to my side and was standing there shaking his head and sheepishly trying to hide the severed branches.   I had these hemlocks professionally pruned last spring.   They had been coming along pretty good up to now but I think they are goners.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Sick?   No, can't be.   I really don't remember the last time I had a cold.   Trying to remember what it's like is kind of weird.   Not that I haven't been ill during that period of time.   But this is the first snotty, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, just let's stop here a minute and sit down, kind of of a cold in at least 6 or 7 years.   We had to go to Chedurai today.  I have been waking up in coughing and full blast nose blowing mode for the last few days.   Usually a few cups of full caffeine Mexican coffee brewed with our super deluxe bottled water has done the trick and we have been off and running in no time.   Not today.  
Not that there were not magnificent occurrences today.  There were.   The condo buildings are arraigned in sort of a wedge formation.   The four buildings surround our pool and palapa.   A little alley bisects the rectangle of our lot.  It leads from the street to the pool and separates buildings B and C.   There and on the corners of each building is where the sewer runs.   Rather than use a round manhole the builder has utilized these square lid things that cover a collection box where the sewer pipe changes pitch or direction.   And that is where about 8 or 9 of us gathered this morning, when the exterminator showed up, to witness Cucaracha Carnage.    They were gigantic, red, winged bastards which scurried willy nilly when he applied the poison.   It was quite a sight.   The Insectador went from one box to the next on his murderous rounds followed by a small crowd of maniacally grinning North Americans carrying their morning coffee or cocktail while enjoying the sociability and witnessing the macabre scene unfolding inside the roaches private, fresh, hell.
The next fantastic thing was the return of the water guy.   He is now trained to bring our 20L jug of water up the steps and carry it into the laundry room.   That is the coolest thing ever for  22 pesos, about $1.82usd or $2 with tip.

Anyway, we need more coffee.   So we went to the supermarket, and I almost had to just sit down and take a nap right there.  The realization came to me in a moment of clarity,  I am sick.   Hey, this is Mexico, they have all kinds of over the counter medicines.   Where is the pharmacy department?   The guy at the supermarket drug store rattled off some rapid fire Mexican gibberish as I coughed and thumped my chest pantomiming plague.    Blah hoogie aloogn humma druwo boohaha grip?   Yeah, that's a word I know, grip, except they spell it with an e at the end.  He reaches way over the counter toward my knees and grabs a bottle of Latin American NyQuil from my side of the display.  Esta?   No, anti-biotico, por favor.   Ah!   Si.  he is off behind the counter like a shot, searching the rows of shelves for a specific box.  Aqui, senor, he points to the box he retrieved, obviously pleased with himself and his diagnosis, Bristol-Myers Squibb.   That's a good sign.   Ampicilina.   Ah ha, Ampicilin!  Here we go.   Let's see if it works.   I feel like hell.

from March 10 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Republican Party Reptiles

What I'd really like is a new label. And I'm sure there are a lot of people who feel the same way. We are the Republican Party Reptiles. We look like Republicans, and think like conservatives, but we drive a lot faster and keep vibrators and baby oil and a video camera behind the stack of sweaters on the bedroom closet shelf. I think our agenda is clear. We are opposed to: government spending, Kennedy kids, seat-belt laws, being a pussy about nuclear power, busing our children anywhere other than Yale, trailer courts near our vacation homes, Gary Hart, all tiny Third World countries that don't have banking secrecy laws, aerobics, the U.N., taxation without tax loopholes, and jewelry on men. We are in favor of: guns, drugs, fast cars, free love (if our wives don't find out), a sound dollar, cleaner environment (poor people should cut it out with the graffiti), a strong military with spiffy uniforms, Nastassia Kinski, Star Wars (and anything else that scares the Russkis), and a firm stand on the Middle East (raze buildings, burn crops, plow the earth with salt, and sell the population into bondage). 

      There are thousands of people in America who feel this way, especially after three or four drinks. If all of us would unite and work together, we could give this country... well, a real bad hangover.

P. J. O'Rourke

Jaffrey, New Hampshire 1986

Saturday, April 10, 2010


We went to a benefit for Doctors Without Airfare or something.   We were sitting at a table on a low Caribbean boardwalk along the beach watching the band.  A couple came up and leaned near us.  They were still down on the beach.   He was flashing money all over the place and fumbling around in his pockets.  She had Chinese eyes and was pretty stiff.  You know, her knees were totally locked and she had one of those store window mannequin grins pasted on her face.   This attracted my attention totally.  Banged up drunk and about $1500 US floating around.  Hello!  He went off to buy another round.  She staggered over to a beach chair and collapsed.   That left their pathetic pile of plastic shopping bags, broken sea shells and empty bottles all alone.  Not too far from my right foot.   Interesting huh?   Before I could devise a cunning plan the dude staggered back.  He stood for a moment pondering through a fruity Margarita haze about what was missing from his new home base there in my little section of boardwalk.   He gazed blearily up at me, blinking because the sun was at my back, wondering where his besotted lady friend was.  The band had been joined by "Barefoot Skinny."   The guitar player slid his way to the third chorus of Folsom Prison in a very thick Spanish accent.   "...yest tooo wach hieem dieee..."  My mind wondered to thoughts of whether the RF energy of those speakers would affect Skinnys pacemaker visibly protruding beneath the skin exposed by his unbuttoned oxford shirt.   I glared down resentfully at the drunk guy before gesturing toward his girlfriend who was by now lying on her side burying a pathetic pile of pink vomit with sand beside her tan plastic lounge chair.   He shrugged at me and staggered over to her, collapsing in the lounger next to hers for a little nap.  While he slept she alternated building a 3 foot high pink barf castle and tending to her shredded, bloody shins with sand covered fingers.

I like it here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lunch in Playa del Carmen

We went on a quest for a lampshade yesterday. Our Neighbors gave us a ride to the Mega. Mega had none. We walked to Wal-Mart. None there either. Trying to walk all the way to Chederaui was futile. We ended up at a restaurant on Avenida Juarez having lunch. 

The circus is in town. We were eating our lunch at El Sarape on Juarez. A clapped out, faded, rusty circus vehicle drove past us out on the street. It was a small flatbed truck with a cage on the back. Closer inspection revealed a pair of gigantic scruffy tigers lying on their sides napping down the main street of town like nothing. I shouted "Tigre!" and bolted to my feet for a better view. The mexican customers and the waiters went on full alert. 

 But they didn't look toward the street where I was pointing but rather started checking back towards the banos and under the tables. Like maybe a 500 pound tiger had somehow slipped into the restaurant unnoticed by the guys out front and was lurking in wait for somebody to take a leak. I repeated "Tigre, Tigre, mire!" waving my arm towards the open wall of the restaurant and the street. Two waiters saw the truck and repeated "Tigre, circus." to the other waiters, busboys and cooks to calm them and confirm I was not a total lunatic and that it was still okay to go pee. Few minutes later very nasty looking Hispanic half clown walked by. This guy was wearing big, chartreuse clown shoes which sort of flashed as he heel-toed down the 2 foot wide park strip they use for a median barrier and the standard horizontal striped shirt, high waisted pants with suspenders. His only other concession to clowndom was his hair. He had two bleached out yellow pig-tails up on the top of his head. It gave the appearance of a demented big shoe human with giraffe fuzz horns. The rest of his hair was either short or slicked down. 

Toward the end of our meal another circus truck rolled by. This one was filled with long tailed monkeys about the size of fifth graders. These were particularly nasty little bastards. One glance revealed they were hardened by years of imprisonment and looking to extract revenge on our species.   A few of them were scowling and reaching out though the cage frantically scrabbling clawing the air trying to reach the people on the street while the others were frantically searching the floor of their mobile monkey cell for a previously undiscovered piece of excrement to hurl at an unsuspecting pedestrian as the cage rolled by on the street. I refrained from any outburst but did alert P. Of course she cried out "Monkey!" at the sight of this freshly visible reeking atrocity. Her outburst prompted another sudden search of the premises for any wayward monkey that might have been under the tables, hanging from the rafters beneath the thatched roof, hiding behind a counter or of course, hunkered down near the bathrooms.

We had a nice lunch and forgot all about the lampshade.

3 march, 2010