Saturday, January 9, 2016

Notes From A Shoe Box




Beck woke me. I nodded...yawned. “She’s orange and on the other side of the fence in the dealer’s parking lot”. Don’t remember if I even put shoes on, probably not, but I followed downstairs and, yes, she was orange, I was still yawning, I’m sure, and she was, indeed, on the other side of the fence. I hopped over, grabbed, handed orange back to Beck and hopped back. Nick named her ‘Mia’. We had, unknowingly, been adopted.

The three of us, my brother and sister and I (eventually four, courtesy of my sister’s impending babiness that we were unaware of at the time, Jake) moved in together in a small house at a time when all three of us needed such. The military two of them were back home and I was, well, I was there with them. I just needed.

The first place together turned into another, more permanent place that Beck bought. It bordered a car dealership in the backyard, strong neighbors and an orange cat. An orange cat that had me hop over a fence…a very smart orange cat.

Smart? She knew us already.

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Benny was still an outside cat at the time, until an argument with a car was lost, and he was relegated to lord of the inside manor. But in his travels in his own small world of our neighbor’s lawns, flower patches and doorsteps he had surely caught the attention of a very pregnant orange cat who knew that someone would hop to save her. After all, I imagined she thought, they like our kind…this is a good place.



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There was a cardboard box, comfy with warm towels and human hovering in a perfect spot between two rooms in the unfinished upstairs of a quaint, quiet (soon not so much) Cape Cod and a moment’s pause. There were five kittens…five squirmy, rolling, breathing tiny meow little beings in a comfy cardboard toweled world. Nick named one ‘Cal’, the one he would keep. I eventually named one ‘Shoes’ and mine. Kept friends.

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I remember too much and too little of those early ‘Shoes’ days. A procession of kittens following the unwanted, adored attention of the old man, Benny, growling his affection for this trail of newborns on his tail, from one room to the next, wanting to learn all they could from the master. There was ‘Frenchy’, my nickname for his little undernose stripe that our next doors kept and named ‘Nutmeg’. There was ‘Burgess’ and ‘Pidge’ (Cal was all about Nick with the occasional wake up under the covers with me while biting my belly) and then there was ‘Shoes’. The name was a reference to nothing but became everything. He’s been my “Big Orange” ever since.



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I got home late tonight, too late, as I thought about Shoes waiting for me at the usual time and being disappointed while I worked yet another cold ass Friday Night High School football game. He knows the time, always knows the time, always knew the time and the sound of whatever I drove no matter where our heads lay but he was still waiting, my good man Shoey Brown, with unbound devotion for his rub on the ear and a now late dinner with little Bella. My tear at his waiting was an almost, held back for now, as I saw him still waiting at the bottom of the stairs as always, his clock longer for the day but his ‘Steve’ come home was here again with the sound of my truck outside his tall window. Trying to fathom that waiting, that longing, hurts even more now.



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Nick came home from work and told me of watching head bumps. Mia had a magnetic collar that would unlock the cat door in the basement at her ins. Shoes, had somehow gotten outside and had tried to follow his mom through that tiny door. He wasn’t wearing the “magic” collar. Head bumps.

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Shoes’s favorite spot at the old stead was my computer chair, torn and frayed from Benny’s years of scratching, laying on the Steelers blanket that covered it and still does, old normals. His orange always seemed to blend comfortably with the black and gold to the point where I actually felt as if I had to ask permission to sit. He would agree only if he could then lay in front of my keyboard, my attention not allowed to waver to the screen of the PC. That chair sat in my new bedroom, ignored, for the longest time after I moved yet again, a new computer chair bought in its place. I thought about giving that old chair away or maybe tossing it but it didn’t seem right. It was Shoes’s favorite spot, after all, for a time. But he lays there again now, days waning, the rediscovered and familiar. Old nornals.



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He brought me his bag of treats after discovering that he could open the cabinet above the sink in my little apartment that I moved into, with Benny as well, when I left the house to Beck and Nick, Nephew Jake and latest newcomer Nephew Matty. Specifically, Temptations, or ‘kitty crack’ as my sister and I have called them over the years. I didn’t allow him these for the longest time due to his history of diabetes but I do now damning that history. He brought it and dropped it at my feet in front of my then captain’s chair in that  small third floor walkup in Fishkill, my first place on my own since Pittsburgh and living with Beck and Nick, as I watched whatever diverted on the tube. I had no idea how he came to be dropping this bag at my feet, heck, it was in a kitchen cabinet how could he?....Then I heard, watched, one night, under the dim of the TV’s grey blue shedding enough on my tiny kitchen to see him opening the ‘cookie jar’ cabinet above the sink. He got his treats. A very smart orange.

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He has always known his ‘spot’. All I’ve had to do over the years is to say “C’mon Shoey, let’s grab your spot” and he knows its lap time or bedtime if I tell him it’s time to “hit the rack”. Little Bella isn’t much for laps, maybe in deference to Shoes, I don’t know, nor is she much for kisses on the head as he is, (though she is getting accustomed with my insistence) but she has known a good ‘spot’ herself. Sometimes on an old pair of torn flannel boxers layed, just right, next to me but mostly anything that’s in proximity, as long as she’s close, she just has to be close. It’s almost a daily game now to catch Bella with a head kiss. But with Shoes? Close could never be close enough. He welcomed the kiss head bumps, forehead to forehead welcome homes from my day, or burying his head in my belly when he would jump on the counter on these same welcomes, plus nose scratches on the brim of my ballcap…left and right. Always have to have both of course, left then right. Even now he seems disappointed when I’m not wearing one.

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You know, I walked to the kitchen the other night, pausing a movie as I so love to do (a habit understandably annoying to anyone that has had the (dis)pleasure of living with me) to think on it and wash a dish or two or organize something that didn’t need such or even take in the night through a window in the tiny corner of this apartment that constitutes a dining room including gazing neighbor’s windows across the way wondering of their pauses, and I thought of Shoes. His favorite box sits on the kitchen table still where he would often lay, another reason’s proof of my singlehood. He’s been on my mind more recently, a month and half removed from his passed day. I put a favorite framed picture of him above my studio board at work, one I recently pulled from the dreaded cardboard box of my former office at the old job. I thought it would be a comfort but it just hit me that it wasn’t. I tried not to cry. He so loved our little ‘best of little new places’ with little Bella. It was ours. Though it is not quite the ‘best of little new places’, like that first apartment with Danielle and I was so many years ago, or the house with Maria and JG and all the fur, it is still the same in spirit as that first one, one he didn’t know, but I did and remember well. This now was our spot. Amazing what the littleness of 4 letters can mean huh? Spot.  Especially if it’s yours and theirs with you. Your small spot in a large world.




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Beck searched all around our immediate area of Beacon, NY for a house to buy, even further actually. She had made the decision to buy something with Nick and I in tow to help her with the payments, our rent, and after the longest of searches, forever it seemed, she found just the right place, amazingly only block from the place the three of us were in. We slowly moved in and when I say slowly, I mean slowly. The house was vacant, we had almost a month on the current lease left and with having to do it around a very small one and a half year old Jacob it was perfect (Beck popped Jake out after about a month or so of us living together with me and Nick becoming immediate bachelor dad/uncles). Benny of course already knew the neighborhood so he had no problem keeping up and throw in the fact that we had time to actually just fill up the backseat of our cars or even occasionally walk some of our things down the street and it was the easiest move ever.

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“You ready for our walk?” as I would lay my bag at the bottom of the steps, grabbing my keys and heading out with Shoey for our daily/nightly. I worried about little Bella though, and leaving her behind, when I came home those last two months, I didn’t want her to feel left out. She would occasionally venture onto the little porch outside the front door with Shoes and I as he sniffed around the same shit he sniffed at every day in front of our second floor neighbors like it was brand new, but then she would scamper back in after a sniff or two. Maybe, though, there was an understanding on her part that Shoes was ill and that this was just part of what we did, for him, at what I didn’t want to think about being the end. Bella knew. “You ready for our walk?” and Shoes was there. I’ll never know how badly he was feeling, and it had to be awful, especially for how quickly the monster inside him grew and how, even more quickly his lungs just drowned on his last day, but he was there. “Yeh Steve, let’s go explore, I know the way” And explore we did. God, it was nice.

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When the first big rains came at Beck’s new house with me and Nick and little Jacob we weren’t prepared at all. We had no idea the basement would flood. But it did. It wasn’t too long after Mia had had her brood of Cal, Shoes and the rest of the orange tiny ones. Now, I had already saved Cal once after coming downstairs from waking after my overnight shift and demanded silence. Beck and nephew Jake were my demand. “shusshhh” I whispered. How they didn’t hear what I did, upstairs, astounded me “I mean it, shusshhh”. I walked into the kitchen while both of them spoke questions aloud “Just Shush!” I said one more time. Then I opened the refrigerator door. “Hello Cal”. No idea how she snuck in there. Probably nephew Jake who had already mastered the human curious need to constantly open the refrigerator door and peer inside every time you were near it like, magically, something new would have appeared since the last time you looked, say, 5 minutes ago. Cats were the same with the magic fridge. But then it was the first flooding of the basement. I came downstairs wondering of Shoes after the night’s downpoar. He wasn’t with me. Beck hadn’t seen him, Jake hadn’t either but I heard a sound. This sound, though, was entirely different from Cal’s almost silent cries of distress in the fridge, this was the sound of…curious cat talk. Then I noticed the door to the newly flooded basement was open. Closed was the norm, always. After a few steps down and a peer through the stairs below I found that curious ‘cat talk’. Shoes walking chest high in the water, sniffing around, gleefully cat talking away in a flooded basement. So much for cats hating water. So much more for why I loved this guy.



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I wrote once of a “best of first little places”. That was the first apartment that Danielle and I shared on Potomac Ave in Dormont after our wonderful, sweaty wedding day in the middle of a stifling Pittsburgh August in a beautiful hall on the South Side with no AC.  The whole family was there, a band named the ‘Rat Bastards’ accidentally showed up from Chicago, after meeting Johnny Webb amidst his bagpipe warmup in the parking lot, to eventually take great pictures while drinking free beer, my dad was in his glory, my mother smiled her immense warmth. And, yes, Johnny Webb played the bagpipes. If you knew anything of this family this was the expected. If you were baptized, christened, married, dead, Johnny Webb played the bagpipes. Then Danielle cried later during my entering on the wedding night. Different story entirely but this was my first clue of the future that was closer than I knew. It took me quite a while to see the rest. But, for then at least, that was the first of ‘best of first little places” and it also included something equally as important as my new wife…a first Christmas present to Danielle and, more importantly, to myself courtesy of the East Liberty Animal Shelter. I walked in the door a little while after calling and inquiring about kittens. They said there were some to be had. Not so when I arrived, they were gone between call and arrival. Instead there were only a couple of slightly older kits still left. One was a little black ball sleeping in an empty water bowl near the front. I said “yes”. The other chose me when I went to the back and a room full of cages of all dogs and one cat. I was his chance to escape the barking din and he made it known to me. I went back up front and said ‘yes’. Benny the little black water bowl ball and Merlin the very vocal escapee. To me the “best of first little places” would now be compete, whole. I had cats.

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It’s hard to be fragile while trying your damndest to be strong. Now this isn’t a ‘put my head on your shoulders’ moment but is instead an observation on part of the nature of being human. Needing to show strength in the face of profound sadness and loss especially when that sadness and loss actually has a face, one that’s looking directly at you. A Fathers maybe, a Mothers, sibling, wife or husband, friend or neighbor or, in this immediate case, a true, devoted companion. Though Shoes wasn’t human I never viewed him as anything less. All of the fur that I’ve had the pleasure and good fortune to call family, friend, were just that, family and good friend. I’ve always treated them as I would any other human that was part of my life. I just recognized in them their differing ‘humaness’ is all and with Shoes, he was more. The difficulty in being fragile while trying my damndest to be strong? I didn’t want Shoes to see my sadness because he would have known. Oh, he would have known (though I  knew he surely did). But I needed to try and help him to move to his forward stop on his own without that burden, to move to this forward stop with me doing all in my power to make it as easy as I could for him to get there while still enjoying his final moving with me at his side. To remind him of us and the grand living we did together. It was a revelation, really, and then one of my greatest heartbreaks.

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Trains Pass

The trains pass, past the overgrown couch
cats comforter
Bella, Shoes
unawares maybe not
through my tiny comfy disturbing
nothing
not even a dining room chair

A neighbor’s dinner unawares throws tasted
stereo scents I don’t know from every corner of this tiny boring
that way but wishing I had a fork and an invite

The trains rumble and clack, rumble in order, order, rumble, clack, clack back such to wake
not
yes,
but

There’s rhythm, melody, music in trains
and scents in the linger of a stranger’s daily
below my feet waking, cooking, fighting, living
the couch
overgrown comforter
hungry
while trains pass in tune carry scented music
sleeping cats and their soon breakfast

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There were nicknames, always nicknames. Merlin was ‘Magic’ and not just bellying his name but from his crystal blue eye stare at me human, red tipped ears and his extra cat thumb toe that allowed him to pick up, as with a hand, crimpled balls of paper I would throw and even open the occasional cabinet. Benny was ‘Benny Brown’ for Charlie, aka “You’re a good man Benny Brown” but also from the way his black fur tinted after days spent cat lounging in the Florida sun he so loved. My little Bella is just that, ‘little Bella’ and her non-meow little squeeks. Shana was ‘Shana Girl’ in all her snorty glory napping on my chest on an any Sunday and Shoes? There’s been a few. Though there was ‘The Big Orange’ and the Benny similar ‘Shoey Brown’ there was also my favorite of all the nicknames ‘Stamps Bagman’ (he would occasionally get ‘Lumpy’ as well but that was one I’ve used with all at one time or another). ‘Stamps Bagman’ though was a favorite and was coined by Maria in our first apartment together. A nice three bedroom place on the first floor in a complex of apartment buildings in New Windsor, Knox Village. It came from two entirely different sources. One was for the plastic shopping bags that he had an affinity for trying to eat. It was important to be ever vigilant on not leaving any unattended or he would eat a small portion and then, eventually, puke it back up. No learning curve was involved with Shoes and the bags. It was every time. Two was for, like any cat, loving a good spot in a window to assess the world and its’ squirrels, humans, birds and sun. Shoes though, in his assessing, would always manage to leave a small ‘stamp’, a small butt stamp of proof on whatever window sill of choice he was enjoying, marking his time spent. Thus ‘Stamps Bagman’ came to be, replete with the persona of a good time 40’s gangster sidekick cartoon character and the appropriate New York or Chicago mobster accent provided by Maria, myself or even Jagger. “Yo, Stamps! Mugsy’s got a job for ya!” He was Stamps, the Bagman. Koo Koo Sha Shoes.

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I ran into a downstairs neighbor the other day at the grocery store, Matt, a young guy who shares his apartment with his brother and their small dog. He had met Shoes a number of times in Shoes’s usual sniffing of that same (only a cat knows) around the front of his place or the other neighbors at the next door. It was at the time of Shoes and I’s daily walks and Shoes was in the cone. Matt had never had the pleasure of meeting Shoes coneless or with both ears complete, as they were originally made. I wish he could have. But he still gave him a gingerly pet or two and called him by name before Shoes and I would embark on our adventures of the world that we knew. A boy and his cat in a cone plastic hat. At the store Matt told me that he had added a kitten to the human and fur in the world he knew. He said he had named the newbie ‘Zippers’ and that Shoes and his name was the inspiration. There ya go Shoey, ya Big Orange lump, living on for a while past your forward stop. I smiled, welling up later.

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On a Saturday afternoon I saw Brenda downstairs as I made my way around our building to my truck for a quick errands run. She choked up a bit when she told me of Shoes sitting in her lap earlier the night before and her realizing what a special orange he really was. Brenda was Brenda of Bren and Bob, my downstairs neighbors, good people who remind you that there are actually some of those. I became friends with them after a challenging day in my car. A day where the challenge came up short, in the back end of an SUV. It wasn’t much of an accident really but was enough for my 13 year old car to be considered ‘in the wind’ and I ended up in something a bit larger. My Durango, ‘Grey’. What? I name stuff. I then started to park at the back of my building instead of the front, mostly because of the difficulties parking seemed to present for some of my neighbors. It was far less complicated down there and only required a few steps to get back around front to my place. That’s when I got to know Brenda and Bob, and their beyond lovable furball ‘Sandy’ who loves me back in turn when I see her, occasional bounces of joy sniff kisses included . That getting to know turned into a friendship and Brenda helping me out with feeding my two on nights where I was late to my regular get home. It was on this Saturday, after one of my Friday night football gigs that she told me of sitting with Shoes. The stopping in to just feed them when needed had turned into Brenda coming up during the day to just give Shoes some company and to wonder if little Bella actually existed. Bella hides. Shoes sat in Brenda’s lap on my couch on this night and she cried at the wonder of it. She has remarked on this often, how knowing me and then Shoes showed her the connection that can be made and was with me and my big orange ambassador of catdom.

Brenda was the one I asked to join me when I had an idea to take Shoes to the small fenced in dog area at the complex here on a pretty Sunday afternoon. I got him in his carrier and drove down. Knowing time was now suddenly limited, that it had a clock, I wanted him to finally get a chance to walk in the grass, to bask in the sun he so worshipped in his tall windows over the years. To actually get to taste what he had only dreamed of. Our after work daily’s came from this. I miss them dearly.




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Little Bella squeaks at me now from behind my chair at the computer. She has taken to the old Benny habit of scratching it to shreds even though there are many other cat scratch options available. No, she scratches then squeaks in her little Bella way (not once a meow in 4 years). Like Shoes’s daily walks she squeaks now for my attention to come away from my mundane human and play. This is her daily. Play time. The rings from the tops of Gatorade bottles, acorns, some crimpled paper balls and her spinny ball scratch toy. She doesn’t need much else. Yeh, this is her daily. It’s play time.

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Shoes hugged me. It was on arriving at Middlehope Veterinary Hospital after leaving him there for the day again while I went to work. I lost count on the number of times I had to take him in during those last few months, dropping him off on my way to work and picking him up on my way home. I’m sure though, he knew the count. Too damn many. Though he enjoyed all the attention from a staff that adored him on these days, his cage right in the middle of all the action in the back of office, he was tired now. Tired of the hurt, tired of not being home in his spot, tired of the not understanding of just what was happening to him or why. And this day he was a bit cranky too, I was told. I didn’t know it then but this was the last time he would be there before I would walk out one more time alone but in this moment, when he saw me, the cranky he had been that day slipped away and he stood up on the exam table and grabbed me like he would never let go, both front legs/paws wrapped around my chest, head buried and I know, if a cat could cry, he would have, just like me.



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He was at the top of his cat scratch tower, a kitten clutching and staring at my face inches from his. Our understanding of each other started right there. And it didn’t stop. A perfect pair of Shoes and a boy. I can’t tell ya the miss kid





Friday, October 16, 2015

A Tiger's Tale

I tried to catch tigers by the tail when I was small
mom told me how
but I was always sleepy and woke up tigerless
like I do now trying to catch sleep
as elusive as those tigers
instead envisioning mad worlds of the tailess
turning over and over and over the sheets getting tangled 

my feet always trying to push them whole
so if I do sleep I'll wake up in a real bed made
the way it should be
tight with corners sharp hospital ready
when I earned a dime from mom to do it right
never understanding the reason for such a 

bed like I do now.
I hear the trains near my house at night
like rain waking me to rythmically loll me back
the cadence of the water spot on
the equal clatter of the trains just as spot
carrying wet tigers
licking wet paws and hinds
before they sleep as I try to with a wet face and coarse towel
before my tight bed with corners calling a good night
for only a dime
not much of a cost in these costly times for a tale
of mom stories and sleepless nights where tiger's tails
take guises of whatever it is that keeps you awake.
I don't know what it is that keeps sleep at bay
but trains and rain and tigers help
the clock of my mother's heart
beats and ticks to
lull me to furtive sleep
when I think of her tigers
and their tales.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Stuff Under Construction

With new attention let it be noted that the author of this page has finally decided to get off his lazy ass/mind and get to crackin' again with a pen/keyboard. Details forthcoming....;

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Notes from the Attic...warts an all.

All right, a week of vacation starts tonight and it was kicked off with almost getting knocked down the basement stairs again by Jackson and Brady’s usual “hello Steve…hello…lick, lick…hello…hello Steve…” jump to the crotch greeting and my eventually calling one “knuckle” and the other “head” for eating my dinner (it was in a bag I left on the counter, my mistake). I mean I probably would have forgotten I brought it home in the first place so at least someone or somefur ate it, but damn, that was my dinner.

So anyway, a week of vacation starts tonight and it looks like a stay at home, project kind of week. One of the intended projects is to finish painting the outside of the house as long as that lady that controls the weather allows. I’m sure the first question is “have you done this before? You sound almost confident in a definitive statement kind of way?”  The answer to that statement is. No.  But in my first foray into house painting, round one a month ago, I successfully got about two thirds of it done without it looking like it was done by a six year old in need of their first trip to Sterling Optical so I’m hoping to continue the work. Brushes crossed.

Now since it’s been so long since I’ve taken time in this Frankenberry’s Attic for some key scribbling I figured I’d catch you up on how things have been going in Frankenland with some new Notes from Attic part whatever…haven’t a clue.

-          My Buccos have been making me an extremely happy fella these days what with them making the MLB.com Power Rankings top 10 consistently an all for the first time since there wasn’t an MLB.com and pulling into August with the best record in Baseball.  Do I take such an occurrence with a Gibraltar sized grain? Well, of course. I’m an elephant on the last two seasons. But that salt rock is starting to grow perceptively smaller with each passing day and win and, dare I say that I’m confident they can be playing ball in October? Yes. Not quite sure what to do with myself actually but hell, I’ll continue to wear my Pirates boxers, don whatever Bucco hat that I have that hasn’t been eaten by Jackson, call it lucky because and pull the same socks out of the hamper that I wore last night while watching them win on the PC here. Yes they smell, but they won while I wore them, so there! As to the above mentioned  October baseball in Pittsburgh? I didn’t say it out loud, so keep it to yourself.

-          Riddle me this? How many knives does it take at the FrankenGreco Ranch for the JG to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Now, how many knives should it take to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the real world? Answer? 3 and 1. Yes here at the stead we are not in the real world as it apparently takes JG 3 knives to make such a sandwich. One for the peanut butter, one for the jelly and then another to actually cut the damn sandwich. Sometimes it even requires 2 plates! This is all in an effort to make sure the peanut butter does not taint the jelly nor that the jelly taints the peanut butter and that the cut of the sandwich be clean of either. I, by the way, am considered to be some sort of ignorant peasant for even considering making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich any other way.  And my Maria is where Jagger learned of this architecture of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I live with crazy people. Crazy people who also don’t, in the planning stages of peanut butter and jelly sandwich constructing, have a post construction plan. They don’t do the dishes. 

-          Turned to Sports Center the other night for some ballgame highlights but instead they led with golf and a parade of the gallery, the envy of a Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks skit never done, breaking away almost, but not quite, yet quickly enough to the second most boringly exciting moment in all of sports. The next hole. Like making the highlights when you catch a foul ball do you think the lead gallery guy walks slowly/quickly to his car to drive slowly/quickly home to check the match replays to see if he made tonight’s sports?

 “Hey honey, look…it’s me on the 8th! Had that guy next to me in my pocket! Psyched him out…he almost tripped!”

 
…“Yes dear (sigh) I can see. You looked silly. Chicken or frozen pizza tonight? Oh, did you pick up wine? Please tell me you picked up wine and please say frozen pizza.”

 
-          The first most boringly exciting moment in all of sports by the way? The slam dunk.  You’re tall. Got it.

-          On a bathroom break a couple of days ago at the station I looked in the mirror and noted that my left eyebrow had a mind of its own. Apparently it wants to point northeast…at all times. Is this a concern? A friend noted, after I posed this question on Facebook, that it was OK as long as the eyebrow didn’t fight with my ear hair. I responded with a “never fear” as the arms of my glasses serve as a sort of face grocery divider. Just gotta watch that the nose hairs don’t get rebellious.     

-          Still waiting to see how Kanye saying, a while ago, that he doesn’t want the baby to be on reality TV works out. At the time Kim agreed, saying she would be Ok with just “sharing her experience as a mother-to-be vicariously with television viewers.” Is there a definition I’m missing? This was before she popped out “North” West. Now I realize it’s incredibly important in the otherworld of entertainment land to give your child some sort of singular, boutiquely unique name. It is what it is, right Blue Ivy, Pilot Inspektor and Bronx Mowgli? But I think Kanye and Kim both missed the boat with the cute play on words of naming the poor child “North”. I think they should have gone with something more uniquely original to them bothand Kim’s family. “Talent.”

-          This from a recent National Weather Service recent report: Lightning is a danger to outdoor enthusiasts. Just a heads up.

-          Maria puts the toilet paper on the toilet paper thingy in the bathroom roll sheet down. I put it roll sheet up. Should I be worried about us? You know as a couple?

As to the FrankenGreco Ranch it is business as usual. Controlled chaos.

-          Jackson snuck upstairs to the Attic and ate all the cat food while my Maria was up there with her mother!  (Shoes was even licking the inside of the bowl like some sort of homeless scavenger when I got home). Thankfully Jackson didn’t discover the tasty, granola covered treats in the cat box.

-          Brady again hid some bits of things he shouldn’t have eaten in the first place for later. (none of us knows how he does that).

-          Shoes sat in the mud room meowing at the basement door waiting for me, not realizing I was already upstairs.

-          My little Bella tried to kill me again with her under footness when she got stuck in my sock at the top of the stairs. Then she tried to play cute with a belly rub roll. Devious.

-          The JG cannibalized the remote for the upstairs TV and lost the back of it (I discovered this when the TV didn’t react to my remoting).

“JG? Where the hell are the batteries?”

“I used them for my own TV”. 

“(sigh) Where is the back of the remote?”

 “I left it here on the futon, right next to it”

”So where is it?”

”it’s…wait…Bella!”  (future reference: never leave anything out in the open that can be hockey pucked on a hard wood floor).

But hey, it’s all good. I’ll take being able to sleep in for a couple of more weeks before school starts again. The sleeping in is courtesy of Jagger actually offering to get the boys in the morning for their eat, pee, poop for the rest of the summer. Now, for poor Jackson and Brady,  this “first up” has come  a couple of times in the early afternoon when his highness has decided  to drag his up all night it’s summer ass out of bed. Sorry boys. And he considers this one of his chores. I’m ok with it for the moment. Jackson and Brady can hang, crossed legged, for those occasional sleep ins that I’m envious of but I do have to convince him that walking to the mailbox to grab the mail isn’t also a chore. He’s doing well though, and I do so like living with JG. He is a wonder of energy, curiosity and a reminder of us when.  Thanks kid. You keep me young (and often old).

Well, gotta get to the drama that is Bella is playing with a bug that, for some reason, is Japanese 50’s horror size to JG and Maria. I know Shoes. It’s a bug. What am I gonna do? Gotta go…

“yes babe I got it…you’re pretty by the way…ok, bug first….”

And so it goes………………………..

There were other notes here but they were joyously lost somewhere between Shoes fat orange ass now laying on my keyboard, those Jackson / Brady hello’s to the balls, JG’s youth, Bella belly rubs and my Maria being pretty. Life at the FrankenGreco Ranch. I’m good. Life...                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Momma Nature’s White and Snug Friday


Wow Momma Nature with a vengeance this weekend huh? Mired this time in the white stuff to go along with the cold. Thankfully found a new friend in a guy with a plow named Rich after a call to my Maria’s dad who is still in Florida laughing his ass silly, I’m sure, at the weather reports from a place he is not. After a phone call or two later Rich was found and I just watched round one from my spot in the attic here of him doing what my old man back is glad to not have to. Clearing the driveway of this cursed snow. I love Rich by the way. He doesn’t know this, though, so let’s keep it a secret. He and I just met, and only over the phone. Don’t want to scare him by moving too fast.
Making my slow way home from the station I saw many the bundled person with a hood, gloves, annoyed resolve and a shovel or two and felt the kinship of this annoyed resolve and sure curses, though mine will wait till tomorrow. It is what we do here, I guess, but surely is mocked by those in even colder climes who have this as part of the daily as much as brushing teeth.  We all though share the joy, I hope (for those who don’t, and I don’t say this very often if ever, God bless) of finally getting to the snug. Mine is here in the attic with Shoey’s fat ass keeping me company while I scribble/key a few words of observation to help keep me sane.  
 
It is also knowing that the rest of the gang here at the FrankenGreco Ranch are good and in. The JG, who has been battling a cold for what seems like forever (as have I) as well as dealing with headaches, is downstairs with his iPad and Minecraft and feeling better. How do I know? Maria’s phone just rang with what sounded like a horn announcing a big ship’s long awaited arrival. Yes, he messed with her sounds. He’s definitely feeling better. My phone is safely up here with me by the way, otherwise I’ll surely fly awake, up and saluting or something in the morning or maybe be forced to jump under the bed out of abject fear.
my Maria is comfy under a Jackson and Brady blanket and an actual blanket and little Bella? If she is not sitting in her spot next to the space heater she’s looking for shit to knock on the floor while goading Shoes to wrestle or piss him off at the litter box. Shoes is very much a guy’s guy and if he could grab a copy of Kitty Illustrated or Cat’s Digest for his quiet time in said box he surely would, but for some reason that is just the time that little Bella waits to poke her head, stalker-like, around the corner of the nook in the attic where the litter is and seemingly wait for him to be in mid-moment before she pounces.  Kitty Illustrated/Cat’s Digest plus growls hit the floor running…poor Shoes. Ladies don’t understand…
 
…well the boys have been out for the last time for the night enjoying the crap out of the snow as only dogs seem to do, (I can only imagine Shoey and Bella tiptoeing) Jackson occasionally coming up for air from his snow nosing to look like he learned too many lessons from the 80’s and 90’s and Brady running all willy-nilly as if he has been nosing the same snow dust and needs to work off some hedonistic rock n roll energy. I can only now finally sit in this snug writing you all. I’ve got 5 discs in my ancient 5 disc player (which works just fine thank you, it even has a remote) alternating shuffle between Mumford & Sons, Supergrass, Coldplay, Cage the Elephant and Bob Mould.  I broke out the ancient 5 disc CD because my usual listen on the player on my only a year old PC (I’m old just saying PC huh?) is being a bit wonky. Tried and true I guess and I’m pretty darn ear happy.
So Mother Nature still floats heavy white and pretty, the “gang’s all here” is comfort gained and I sit, write and… well just sit…and it’s a Friday… if you’ve been here in the attic before you’ll know that Friday means I’m doing laundry and for some reason I like it. That seems strange maybe but it is part of the comfort.  It says home and as I went earlier to grab JG’s stuff he reminded me of why it is that I find it says home. He and I butt heads often, as would be expected with him being 13 in two days and me being…well just being with a soon to be 13 year old. I had my flashlight and was looking for his hamper (I like flashlights to the disdain of the masses here that like living in the sun) when he asked what I was doing as I was surely disturbing his Minecraft play.  After I found his hamper I said as much but with the flashlight in my mouth as I grabbed it with both hands.  “I’m getting your laundry.” Flashlight mouth sounded “iummm gettunn iin urrrlawndriss.”  He said “what” and then said “I don’t speak flashlight.”
 Just damn funny and more comfort.
It’s still snowing…a lot. I would normally write “sigh” here but...  
“…Yes I know I know the shovel is right there honey…”  “you’re pretty...”  “Brady did what?...and with his nose…?”…”have you seen my gloves?...”…”Hello Bella…oh damn, Jackson, yes I said her name… leave her alone…”….”Yes Brady that’s Shoes’s ass…” …”My boots are where?”...”Holy Cow that’s some snow…”
Did I say comfort gained?
Did I also say Holy Cow it’s still snowing…?
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Post Note:  Next day, 6:40am. Just woke to take the boys out. Good morning Momma Nature. This is a shitload of snow.
8:30am. Just watched round two of the driveway being plowed.  Did I mention that I love this Rich fella? Sshhh, he still doesn’t know. A shovel awaits and, as I eventually do with a shovel what shovels do I will do so with the gang all snug. Like bugs.  Snug is good. And I don’t mind bugs.
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Saturday, February 2, 2013

New Notes From the Attic...


Notes from the Attic – Friday, January 25th

Been mired in quite a frigid week here in the Hudson Valley as we have enjoyed temps in the singles in the overnight and just barely the 20’s during the day all the while hoping this fictional global warming (according to some who are big fans of oil heat and big cars) would kick in, you know, like tomorrow, damn the future! I’m layering…a lot and I stink under all of them after they are peeled.  I don’t have enough clothes for extended periods of said layering nor do I have the $ for the extra laundry detergent necessary to keep cleaning the aforementioned stink.  Plus when I wear the super long scarf that my Maria got me for Christmas inside at work, sans coat, I look like some sad Steven Tyler wannabe minus the slowly sinking smile that has him looking like an old woman on a cheese line.

                This whole damn cold thing makes the dread of mornings palpable like an arctic albatross taking residence on my shoulder the night before reminding me of how cold my ass is going to be at 5:40a when I wake for my Jackson/Brady morning followed by the extra negative wind chill of passing cars at the end of the driveway waiting for school bus. Those bus lights though, when they finally come, are like beacons from the heavens (I’m just hoping no one up top hears my heavenly character inspired curses at the cold) telling me that precious warm nap time is almost upon you my son…(then moments later it seems)…now get up for work…yeh, we heard you. Heavenly karma’s a bitch.

                At least Mother Nature has promised a relatively tropical break from this cold spell this week with temps in the 40’s by Tuesday. Shorts and t-shirts are in order I think and maybe a bad Hawaiian shirt. Also a quick call to my mom and my Maria’s dad who are both in Florida right now (not together, that would be weird) might be warranted to remind them how much we love them…and hate them.

                So amidst this freaky cold I have a few Notes for the Attic:

-          Found out this week that Charlie Brown was arrested on five counts of felony including stalking. I’m assuming they got him when they discovered foot prints and crushed cigarette butts with his DNA on them in a bush outside the little red haired girl’s bedroom window.
 
-          Saw a video of a kitten jumping up from and then back into a hamper to grab clothes thrown at him. That’s more help than I get from the JG with laundry and he’s 12 and human!

-          Watched a bit of the new season of American Idol. I don’t want a nickname bestowed on me by Nicki Minaj however much it might make me feel “special.”

Notes from the Attic – The week of January 28th

So my good bud J.J. (Jeremiah Johnsen – Cumulus Westchester) got me on face time on my phone yesterday. Hadn’t done the face time thing on my new iPhone yet so it was an adventure, as most of this old dog new figgerin’ on my first smart phone is, but once I got it down I realized Jeremiah wasn’t wearing a shirt. Now before you start thinking weird stuff, you freaks, this isn’t a regular occurrence, plus the lighting wasn’t right on my end, wouldn’t have fit the mood. No, there was a reason he wasn’t wearing a shirt. He was in Jamaica and just coming off the beach or something I’m guessing.  But anyway, he wasn’t wearing a shirt, I figured out the face time thing and he informed me that the reason he was getting in touch with me wasn’t to rub in the fact that he was in Jamaica and I wasn’t (bastard) but that he was there with his radio station for a live broadcast for a couple of mornings for a promotion where they gave away a trip and got to accompany the winner.  His station wasn’t there alone either, as there were a number of other morning shows from around the country there as well for the same promotion and one of them was helmed by my old boss from Dayton, Ohio, Jeff Stevens (who by the way also happens to be my canned competition in the afternoons across the radio street at Lite-FM. Weird huh?)  That old boss of mine thing was 16 long and short years ago and here he was, when the connection was made that his new friend J.J.  knew me, exclaiming “Are you f’ing kidding me? Frankenberry?! I can’t get away from that f’ing guy!” I miss him. It’s either someone somewhere, anywhere that for some reason knows me, of me, wishes they had shot me when they had the chance or it’s a Pittsburgh Pirate fan out of the blue showing up to cry on someone’s shoulder.  I guess it is indeed a small world.

More notes from the attic in a new week (actual day any):

-          Woke up today with a large drool spot on my pillow. That, along with excessive ear hair is not a good sign.

-          Posted on my Frankenberry Wczx Mix Facebook page that I had seen a photo of Adam Lambert celebrating his 31st birthday with a shirtless David Arquette giving him a lap dance. Pic also had another shirtless dude in the background. I posted this along with a picture of my “What the..?” face. Now the only nightmare that Adam Lambert may have inspired in the past like, say, creeping into to my house to give me makeup hints has now been trumped by this one. “rrrrrrr” chill shake face sound effect.

 
-          Open letter to the  NFL on behalf of football fan Roy Fox of Indiana who patented the phrase “Harbowl” about a year ago in anticipation of a possible future meeting of the two Harbaugh brother NFL head coaches facing each other in the Super Bowl.  After being “pressured” by the NFL to give up the patent for his phrase because it could be, according to them, laughingly confused with their trademark Super Bowl Mr. Fox abandoned the patent.  Now, even though the NFL’s case was weak at best I’m going to assume that the “pressure” applied to Mr. Fox to relinquish the patent was more on the heavy handed threatening side. Hell, they wouldn’t even grant his request to simply reimburse him for the $1000 he spent on the patent and throw in some tickets for the Colts and, for some reason, an autographed photo of Roger Goodell. No, I don’t get that either. The open letter goes as such: Dear NFL. Screw You.     

-          This morning I realized as I got up at my usual 5:40a for a Jackson/Brady eat, pee, poop that there is no dog in this wide world that pees on his own feet better than Jackson. Though this morning was only his front right I’ve seen him hit 3 out 4 paws before. Westminster Dog Show talent this Bitches!

-          Ran to Stop and Shop yesterday to grab a sandwich for myself and my sis, Beth Christy from the Wolf (that’s Country if you couldn’t tell from the moniker).  Before I went inside I decided to hit the bottle return as I had about 356 or so empty Stop and Shop 12 packs of soda water cans in my back seat, trunk rolling dumpster of a car. While pushing my nickels into the return thingy machine an older guy came in to do the same in the return thingy machine right next to mine. Right on my hip it seemed. He only had a few returns. When he was done he slowly adjusted the belt on his pants…slowly adjusted the belt on his pants…did I say slowly…and the belt on his pants? still at the machine right next to mine, right on my hip and said a smiling “goodbye” or “take care” or something to that effect. My eleven dollars and ten cents made me feel cheap and used. I should have brought the bag of empty beer cans to make it an even fifteen dollars. Standards.

-          I have Monday off by request after this week of notes. The original request was for the Monday following the Steelers in the bowl a few years ago but now I request, if I can, this Monday just to have a day but to also make it known, in my own small way,  that the Monday following the Super Bowl should be a national lazy holiday. I hate to say it but of all the Mondays that are national holidays, all for good reason, most are days we just say “thanks” and gladly roll back over. But the Monday following the Super Bowl? Shit, that’s a day we need.

Back in the attic again soon…

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