Saturday, August 31, 2013

This is Getting Very Scary

So, I walk into a CVS a few days ago. I hadn't been there or, apparently, any other stores for awhile. But, I had to pick up some presciptions, so there I was. As I'm walking to the back to the actual pharmacy area, something catches my eye.

Out of the corner of my eye, I start seeing skulls. No, not real ones! Rememeber, this is CVS not Wal-Mart. These are decorations. Skull lights, skull ornaments, talking skulls. And, they're not alone. There's spiders with them and ghosts, too! Then I see the wind-up walking Frankenstein toys and, of course, baskets full of bags of candy.

So, it hits me. This is all crap for Halloween. But, its only freakin' August. Is all this junk going to be hanging on the shelves for over two months?

I like Halloween, I really do. When I was a kid I loved making my own costumes, fake blood, fangs, everything. One year, I had a Frankenstein mask to die for. The Universal Studios Frank. Then, in the late '70's, us babyboomers took over Halloween as party time. I went to some killer parties. Plus, Halloween was always a great time to crash parties. The masks? Nobody could tell who you were? Are you following me here?

Yes, there were some great times at Halloween. Making costumes, planning parties, there had to be some time to prepare. Maybe a couple of weeks! Not two plus months! What the hell is going on here? I start thinking about this and I'm saying to myself, what about this freakin' candy. This stuff is sitting out here for over two months? Or, is it? So, retailers have caught on. You like Halloween, we'll give you Halloween. People are going to buy this candy in August, start having a nibble or two and they'll be back in a couple of weeks for three more bags. The night before the little goblins show up at the door, they'll be running out for more.

They do have us trained, don't they. Folks will be hanging those decorations in the front windows right after Labor Day weekend. Those bite-sized Butterfingers will be showing up at the office in no time. But, I'll still have my fun. The fake blood is coming out, I'll find my fangs, I'll get a CD with spooky music and come All Hallow's Eve I'll be scaring the bejeesus out of those little urchins!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Old Neighborhood

This past week, I got into some Facebook exchanges with a couple of guys from an early neighborhood I lived in. For one thing, its just really interesting to even hear from these guys since its been over fifty years since I ran around those parts. But, another thing that strikes me is how different we turn out after thinking we were just kids hanging out doing the same things.

I have to say, I had a pretty damned good childhood. My folks were the picture of middle-class. They struggled to make ends meet, all the time. However, I remember Christmas mornings waking up and finding some nifty toys under that tree. I also made the best of what I had. World War II was not a very distant memory for the country when I was starting my formative years. So, kids like me, we went out and played "war". That's how we said it, too. "Hey, Allen, let's play war." But, we would just pick up a wooden stick and in our minds it transformed into an M-1 or a Thomson machine gun.

Parents didn't make a big deal out of us kids pretending to kill each other. I don't know, it didn't seem like such a big thing to us, either. We were left to our own imaginations, a lot. The neighborhood mothers didn't hover over us. We didn't have a lot of schedules to meet. We seemed to be on our own a lot. I remember the first time going into Ray's Corner Store on my own. This place was just two blocks away from my house, but it seemed like such an adventure. Ray was a cranky guy sometimes, but you never felt like you might be in any danger in that little store. I guess you could say grownups throughout the neighborhood seemed to look after us kids.

We forged some memories during those years. I know they're memories that stay with me decades later. The guys we hung around with, we thought we were all the same. We had fun playing "war", we took our sleds down Gertrude Street in the winter, we pushed the envelope every Haloween to see just how many streets we could cover and how many pounds of candy we could end up with. I guess we never thought how different we might be from one another. We all did the same things why would we be any different. But, life comes along and starts shaping you. Experiences you encounter, impact each of us in they're own way. The gang from the neighborhood start heading in many different directions.

So, it can be quite interesting to touch base with men you only knew as young boys. Sometimes finding that these men have outlooks vastly different then your own. It makes you wonder what paths they may have gone down during their life's journey. Then, again, you might just sit back with a glass of wine and say to yourself, "Ray had some great penny candy in that store".

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Maybe I Need to Invest in Combat Gear

I've been doing a lot of bicycling lately. Ten to fifteen years ago, I got into mountain biking. I got a rugged bike and I rode through the dirt roads and trails of the Lynn Woods Reservation. It was really quite exhilarating. I also could have broke my damned neck.

I survived though and twelve years ago I moved from Lynn to Beverly. In the past dozen years, I got away from the bicycle. I had things to do in the new house. I also got lazy, I just found more sedentary things to do. The couch became very comfortable.

Well, I've turned a new leaf this year. I bought a lighter bike, more suited to riding the roads. And, there are plenty of roads to ride on throughout Cape Ann. Sunday mornings during this summer have been a pleasure, riding through the hamlets of Wenham, Hamilton and Essex. Sunday drivers seem to be quite respectful of us cyclists. We share the road in harmony.

Taking the bike out during the middle of the week is another story completely. I understand people have stressful lives. Work weeks don't always go well. Hey, that's why I'm on the freakin' bike in the first place. But, driving close to the curb, accelerating to make it to a corner before I get there. I'm sorry, but this shit doesn't make it. The time will come when I have to fight back.

When I was much younger, I remember riding my bike with combat boots from my Army days. I was known to occasionally strike out at a car or two if they got too close. Now, that I'm older and much more mature I can't envision myself doing anything like that. However, if these assholes get any closer, I don't know what may happen.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

If We Could All Just Wear Green Glasses

So, I cut the lawn again on Saturday. Cutting the grass is just something you have to do. Back in May it wasn't such a big deal. Getting the old lawn mower started up again after the winter is kind of a rite of passage. The smell of the cut grass is nice and the lawn looks great after that first cut of the year.

You get into August and that special feeling has come and gone. By this time you've been cutting the grass just about every week. Yeah, its a chore now. The lawn doesn't look so great this late into the summer. There might be a lot of green things but there's not a whole lot of them that could be considered grass.

Who the hell established this whole thing about having a lawn in the first place. Here in New England, I gotta think that having a spread of nice green grass in front of your log cabin was not something the pilgrims concerned themselves with. When did this foolishness start? Did John Adams, after moving from downtown Boston out to the burbs in Quincy, figure it might be a great use of the land by planting grass. It's not a crop, you can't eat it, you can't do anything with it except cut it every week.

When you look around the neighborhood, why is it that everyone elses yard looks better than yours. You cut your grass and as your cutting you see clover, crab grass and some sort of purple looking thing. You look down the street and the neighbor's yard looks like the Augusta National. And, your lawn has an overall yellow tinge.

I guess it is a community thing. This is when we get to see our neighbors. Every week there we all are out there cutting this greenish yellowish stuff and taking solace in the fact that we are not alone. Everyone of us are out there cutting this damned shit.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Cat and Mouse Tale

We have a cat living with us. The cat's name is Pumpkin. This is not a name I would have chose for a pet even if it is a female. We happen to have inherited this cat. The cat had belonged to my mother. However, a few years back, this cat, Pumpkin, had become ill while living at Mom's. Mom decides to call my wife, she knew Karen would try to find out what was ailing Pumpkin.

Well, Karen went to my mother's found that Pumpkin was indeed not looking very chipper. She took poor Pumpkin to the vet's and after a few costly tests, come to find out the feline is starving. Karen brings Pumpkin home to our house and after a few squares Pumpkin is her old self, again.

Actually, Pumpkin was much better than her old self. You see, Mom was never really that great with pets. I can't recall how many cats we went through when I was growing up, but believe me, there were a few. So, Pumpkin is liking her new digs. Karen is getting attached. My mother didn't mind just visiting Pumpkin. And, me? What did I have to say about it.

Anyway, it wasn't too long after this that my mother had a fall. After a stay in rehab, Mom ended up in a nursing home which became her last place of residence. This is how we end up with a cat living with us.

Well, now we seem to also have mice living with us. I would have thought that having a cat would not make the place terribly attractive to mice. Apparently, I was wrong. So, anyway, I've been counting on Pumpkin to do her job. I mean, I've been giving her free room and board for a few years now. I've not asked much of her until now. I've discovered Pumpkin is not cut out for this line of work. She would rather make strange sounds and watch mice. Instead of doing the damned job she is meant to do as a member of the cat species, she makes wailing noises like a banshee in the middle of the night and I jump out of a sound sleep to find her staring at a mouse in a corner of the room. So, now, it has somehow become my job to subdue the rodent.

Oh, yeah, did I mention, Karen is not too keen on killing a mouse. Oh, just catch it and put it outside. Of course, we all know it has come from outside. So, tell me, am I just catching the same mouse over and over again?