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Lit Lovers Rejoice! Sir Archie Ferndoodle Rides Again.

28 Mar

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Fellow time/space voyagers and other occasional devotees of “This Old Blouse,” I am more tickled than a coffee can full of dung beetles to announce the return of my dear friend, back-porch expectorational master, and legendary raconteur of the obsequious and purulent, Sir Archie Ferndoodle (applause, applause, applause).

As I’m sure you remember, the esteemed Dr. Ferndoodle holds an associate’s degree in postmodern comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspondence College and has been featured five times in the American Anthology of Poetry. Just a few of his classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” and possibly his greatest epic, “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today.”

Sir Archie has a rare treat for us in this installment. In his inimitable style, the Fernman has taken several classic tunes from the songbook of popular culture and rendered them as his own, with updated, shall we say, acerbic lyrics so pertinent to today’s manic milieu. Or something.

Disclaimer: The Spouseman—and the newspaper/periodical/bathroom wall compendium in which this diatribe appears—doesn’t necessarily agree with the views and opinions of Sir Archie. He is his own woman, and we bear no responsibility or legal burden for his espousings. So there.

With this heartfelt caveat (and sincere attempt to head off legal action), I give you Sir Archie’s renderings. By the way, it’s important to keep the tune of Archie’s specific song choice in your head for these to make any sense whatsoever. If that is, indeed, possible. So. Archie’s first offering is called “Ivanka in the White House”:

 

Ivanka in the White House

(to the tune of “Drive My Car” by The Beatles)

(verse 1)

“I asked my girl where she wanted to be,

In New York City or in D.C.,

She said Daddy, I wanna be near you,

In the White House with Jared the Jew.”

 

(chorus)

“Ivanka, you can have the West Wing,

We’ll set you up with all of your bling,

You can sell your furs and your rings,

And Dad will tweet for you.”

 

(verse 2)

“Barron’s got a floor to himself,

With a team of counselors for his mental health,

But Melania and I aren’t sharin’ a bed,

So you could move in with me instead.”

 

(chorus)

“Ivanka, you can have the West Wing,

Or you-know-where, I won’t say a thing,

Damn, it’s so good to be the king,

And Putin, I owe you.”

 

“Tweet, tweet n tweet, tweet, yeah!”

 

Um, ok. For his second favoring, the Fernman has rendered this ditty entitled “Perry in Charge”:

 

Perry in Charge

(to the tune of Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady”)

(verse 1)

“Well, I’m the Energy Top Dude,

And now solar power’s screwed ’cause oil’s my cash cow,

Yeah, I ran for president,

I told Donald to get bent, but that’s all past now.”

 

(chorus)

“I’m Rick Perry, woah, woah, woah,

I’m Rick Perry,

Those rumors are false, ’cause I’m no fairy,

And I’m towin’ the Trump line.”

 

(verse 2)

“Well, I’m not sure what I do,

But I think I make the rules on nukular weapons,

But this can’t be as hard

As Dancing with the Stars, man, I was steppin’,”

 

(chorus)

“I’m Rick Perry, woah, woah, woah,

I’m Rick Perry,

Renewable power’s our adversary,

Let’s build that pipeline.”

 

And last, and surely least, Ferndude gives us “Lysergic Wood,” which he says is his ode to psychedelic substances:

 

Lysergic Wood, An Ode to LSD

(to the tune of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”)

(verse 1)

“I once ate a squirrel,

Or should I say the squirrel ate me,

He showed me his brain,

We baked it into a nice quiche lorraine.”

 

(chorus)

“We smoked purple crayons,

As the walls melted into the sea,

Then Timothy Leary appeared

And said why’d you take three?”

 

(verse 2)

“I played canasta with Jesus,

His Holiness beat me two games out of threezus,

Then me and the squirrel flew to Mars,

But squirrel wasn’t squirrel, he was Pat Benatar.”

 

(chorus)

“We smoked purple crayons

As robots made love to the cow,

Then Hunter S. Thompson said man you’re in big trouble now.”

 

(verse 3)

“And when I awoke,

I was in a cell with a large man named Mel.

He kept pinching my ass,

Dear God from now on, I’m sticking with grass.”

 

Roger White Sir Archie Ferndoodle holds an associate’s degree in comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspondence College. Sir Archie’s classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” and perhaps his greatest epic, “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today,” For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

The Squirrel Who Came in from the Cold

24 May

by Roger White

 

My spidey sense tells me of late that the critters in our attic are not Rocky Raccoon and his pals this time around but creatures far more cunning and insidious: squirrels. Yes, those habitual loungers and loiterers of college campuses and street darters who run straight in front of your car and then suddenly become bewildered as to their destination. That’s right, those squirrels.

 

Three clues have led me to determine that these little bushy-bottomed, nut-chomping rodents have replaced the raccoons as our most recent non-rent-paying top-floor dwellers: (1) the scratching, nesting, wire-chewing, and squirrel squatterscurrying sounds are more lightweight and frenzied (but still as annoying as a Twisted Sister album); (2) that high-pitched chittering and jabbering can be coming only from squirrels—or my mother-in-law (I can’t tell whether the critters are having wild parties or heated family disagreements up there); and (3) they have a spy squirrel who sits on the roof, tipping off the squirrel squatters when it’s safe to come and go.

 

I’ve gone over every square, round, and triangular inch of our humble abode’s perimeter, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how these tiny little tramps are getting in. I do know, however, that they employ that scout squirrel on our roof. Not unlike a tower guard, scout squirrel sits there keeping an eye on the human enemy. He chatters out signals decipherable only by other squirrels as to our whereabouts.

 

“Chich-chip-chich-chipchip-cheech!” scout squirrel screams when I near our bedroom window. Two pack members in the grass nod. One of them gives the “OK” sign, and they dart off giggling into the woods.

scout squirrel

“Get lost, ya little snitch!” I yell, banging on the window.

 

Scout squirrel sneers and runs away, chattering. “CHIP-CHICH-CHEEP-CHIP!!” Which sounds much to me like the squirrel version of “Your mother!”

 

And if you don’t think squirrels and other animals are smart enough to act as spies, think again. I read in the news not too long ago about a vulture that flew into Lebanon from an Israeli nature preserve and was captured on suspicion of spying. No kidding. An Israeli game warden who kept tabs on the bird tracked it to a southern Lebanese village. Then the Israelis started getting reports that the bird was being held by locals who suspected it was a spy because it had Israeli tags and devices. Turns out the vulture was part of a conservation project to restore the raptors in the Middle East and had a GPS transmitter attached to its tail. The poor bird was finally released when the locals were assured it was “not carrying any hostile equipment.”

 

OK, not a spy but it could have been. Just like the time last year when the Palestinian group Hamas claimed to have captured an Israeli dolphin equipped with spying devices. They knew it was an Israeli dolphin because of dolphin spythe waterproof yarmulke on its head. All right, I made up that part. The Israelis denied that the animal was sniffing around Palestinian waters on porpoise. (Insert groan here, if you will.)

 

But get this, declassified documents from the 1960s revealed the CIA’s attempt to wire a cat as a listening device, using its tail as the antenna. True story! The project, dubbed “Acoustic Kitty,” was abandoned after the cat was sent into a park to eavesdrop on purported bad guys but was run over by a taxi before it could get into position.

 

And then there’s this: In 2007, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported that they had broken up a British squirrel spying ring. Fourteen squirrels were reportedly captured by intelligence officers in the border region of Iran, each allegedly sporbrit squirrelting listening devices. The British Foreign Office reacted characteristically, stating “The story is nuts.”

 

Aha! I would bet good money that our home’s scout squirrel is a surviving member of that British squirrel spying ring! Now that I think about it, his chattering has a certain accent to it, and his teeth, ooh….

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

Andrew Tackles Yak Parts–and a Letter from Ralph

10 Aug

by Roger White

So I’m parked in the den the other day, sprawled on my comfy couch, watching my favorite TV show not shot in black and white or from the 1960s—that being “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”—when I notice Ralph the dog strolling by with something in his mouth.

I’m in a state of continual amazement, by the way, at the things this guy puts in his mouth—Andrew Zimmern, not Ralph the dog. Have you ever watched this Andrewshow? Andrew’s job, apparently, is to travel the world, find every culture’s most unusual and/or disgusting food, and eat it. He’s ingested everything from pig brains, camel head, and cow rectum to just about any and all arachnids and nightcrawlers known to mankind. He’s also consumed the “man parts” of just about every earth creature on four legs. Yeah.

Two of the most repulsive things I’ve ever seen Andrew scarf down, however, were something in the Philippines called balut—fertilized duck eggs, complete with half-formed baby duck tendons and feathers and appendages—and a fetid, rotten fish dish in Alaska called stink head. I think I could smell this stuff wafting balut oohup through the television. Stink head is exactly what it sounds like: fermented fish heads dug up after decaying in the ground for weeks and served on a platter with a side of botulism. To quote Mr. Z, “I’m never eating that again as long as I live. That’s really, really harsh. Ammonia, rotted flesh, spoiled onions. All these flavors come to mind.”

But Andrew does get to tour the planet on the show’s dime. And who else can say that they’ve eaten the testicles of the native species of every continent on the globe? OK, let’s leave that one alone for now.

Anyway, not the point. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I tend to ramble in this forum. But come on, people, that’s my schtick! Just trying to keep the conversation lively.

So I interrupt my watching Andrew tackle fried yak penis in China to reach down and see what Ralph the dog dropped near the couch. It looks like a note.

It is a note, scrawled simply but legibly:

“Deer Dad,

I luv you and Mom like you were actual dogs, and you are extreemly good to me, but some issues I must bring to lite. They are the following:

Ralphie1. I reelly hate it when you get impatient when you take me out to the yard to “do my bizness,” as you so quantely put it. Pooping on command is no picnic—and yelling at me when I go in the house becauz you haven’t taken me out in six hours doesn’t help any eether.

2. Wouldn’t you be fritened of a cat that was bigger than you? Max is si-cotic, man (sp? I don’t have google). Pleez stop telling me to “man up,” whatever that means, and get Max therapewtic help with his anger issues.

3. Pleez refrane from tugging on me to get me to stop smelling something when you take me on my walk. This is my time; this is me reading the sunday paper. Besides, did you no that we dogs possess up to 300 million old-factory recepters in our noses, compared to about six million in you humans? And the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analizing smells is, praportionally speaking, 40 times greater than yours. Chew on that.

4. Why yell at me when I bark at the cable or peezza delivery guy? I don’t know these guys. If you have somebody coming over, let me know, will ya?

5. And listen, I have gas just like you, so there’s no call for scolding me when it happens. Yours don’t smell like rozes, eether, ya know. And this whole blaming me when you know you did it routine? Getting purty old.

I love you guys, serioshly, so pleez take this in the spirit intended. And pleez pass this note on to Mom. Luv, Ralph the dog.”

Damn. I didn’t know Ralph could write. His spelling could use some work, however.

 

Roger White is a freelance human living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spousal human, two precocious offspring humans, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Faith and Begorrah, They Have Old Dog Homes!

5 Jun

 

by Roger White

 

Well, Faith and Begorrah, you can learn something new every day. Sometimes that—and little chocolate donuts—is the only thing that spurs me to drag my sagging carcass out of the sack most mornings.

LCDAnd speaking of learning something new (and in the true spirit of the stream-of-consciousness rambling rhetoric this forum prides itself on), do you know where the term “Faith and Begorrah” comes from? Or from which it comes, to avoid a prepositionally ended sentence?

From what I’ve been able to gather, “F&B” is a traditional Irish epithet that roughly translates into “By Gosh!” The Irish, of course, being a true Almighty-fearing people, didn’t want to come right out and say “By God!” when exclaiming some revelation or sense of amazement, so “F&B” was used to avoid taking the Supreme Dude’s name in vain and thereby summoning the furious wrath of the All-Knowing One. Kind of like how we say “Jeez!” to show astonishment (or when we smack our thumb with the hammer) to be able to quasi-curse without perturbing the Head Cheese. I believe it was W.C. Fields who used to exclaim, “Well, Godfrey wcfDaniels!” to approximate the G-D swear words. It’s all a bit silly, if you ask me. I mean, do we really think that (a) we’re putting one over on the Omniscient One; and (b) they’re actually keeping a Heavenly Tally?

Me at Pearly Gates: “So, St. P, do I get in the club?”

St. Peter: “Well. You did say ‘Jeez and Crackers’ six-hundred-seventy-two-thousand times. And don’t think we don’t know what that’s about.”

Me: “Aw, Jeez.”

St. Peter: “Ya see? That’s what I’m talking about.”

Me: “Sorry.”

St. Peter: “Oh, go on in. But we’re watching you.”

Aaaaanyway. Original point coming. I opined “F&B” earlier because I received a very kindly response to my recent column about aging pets and comedian Louis C.K.’s “countdown to sorrow” routine about pet ownership. I pondered why we don’t have any old pooch’s homes. And by golly (oop), we do have them!

Reader Elaine Courtney sent me this:

“Hi, I read your column today, and as I do most weeks, enjoyed it. (Most weeks? Hey.) Dogs are my favorite subject, and I mostly rescue seniors. The reason for that is I don’t want a dog to outlive me. My oldest is Baby, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu. He is now snoring away beside me. I have three other ShihTzus, two Corgis, and one recent find, a 14-year-old Basset-Corgi, whose momma went to assisted living in March. I’ve had to say goodbye to two seniors in the past three years …. It is very difficult to let them go, but they all had several years of a great spoiled life that they might never have had.  It’s usually a circus around here, but I love my dogs, and I am lucky that I work from home.

dog-retirement“Two things: One, there are several senior doggie retirement centers around the country, and it is such a great service. I would love to do that myself. I once thought of opening a pet cemetery, but that ran out of steam.

“The other thing I wanted to mention is your Bubbie, I hope you find a good residence for her. Hopefully, that decision is much further down the road. I do older adult services, helping people with errands and chores so that they can remain in their homes or even just have company, someone to play Scrabble with.

“If you need that kind of assistance for her, if it would make her or your life easier, let me know…. Oh, and cute picture of the labradoodle puppy in your article!!”

Well, that photo was provided by Editor Will. Kudos, Will-man. And thank you, Elaine. You’re a sweetie. Payola’s in the mail.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

Learning about Love & Loss — from your Labradoodle

27 May

by Roger White

 

Here’s a quote from comedian Louis C.K. I’ve been pondering lately: “It’s true, everything that makes you happy is going to end at some point, and nothing good ends well. It’s like, if you buy a puppy, you’re bringing it home to your family saying, ‘Hey, look, everyone, we’re all gonna cry soon. Look at what I brought home. I brought home us crying in a few years.’ widdul puppyHere we go. Countdown to sorrow with a puppy.”

I’m not sure I completely agree with the “nothing good ends well” bit, but I do understand what Louis is saying about pet ownership. The animals we bring into our lives, the furry little family members we choose to share our homes and our years with, wriggle and wag and romp their way into our hearts—and then they leave us, as they must. Ralph the rotund long-haired dachshund has been a loving and much-loved part of our family going on 13 years now, and though I pray he isn’t leaving us anytime soon, we do see the youthfulness waning from our once-rambunctious puppy, little by little. Especially lately, Ralph’s step isn’t as spry and bouncing as it once was, trips to the vet have become more frequent as aches and pains and digestive upsets pop up more often, and we’re finding more indiscretions around the house—a sure indicator that old dachour usually well-behaved Ralphie can’t hold it and wait for his bathroom breaks like he used to. Basically, it’s a lot like what’s happening to me. In fact, I would guess the old boy is aging a lot better than me, considering in dog years Ralph is going on about 91 now. I’m not yet 60, and my trips to the vet—er, doc—are a heck of a lot more frequent than Ralph’s, for sure.

Another life event our little family is going through presently involves an aging parent. My dear wife’s mom is at that point where we’re having to seriously consider the assisted living option. At 89, Bubbie is still as sharp as ever—smarter and quicker still than I’ll ever be—but physically her life is becoming demanding, challenging, and increasingly more difficult. I can only imagine how hard that step has to be, contemplating giving up one’s independence for the safety of a care facility. But I must say that some of the places we’ve visited in trying to make our determination are actually quite pleasant. Heck, I could live at some of these places right now—good meals, regular card games, pool and hot tub privileges, awesome meds, no daily rush-hour hell. And you can watch TV all you want!

And this got me thinking. Why don’t we have assisted living for pets? You know, an old pooch’s home. It would be complete with miniature pet wheelchairs, senior dog chow in the dining hall, group physical therapy sessions on such things as rudimentary tail-wagging, cat avoidance pup in chairtechniques for the older canine, most effective facial expressions for begging, stuff like that. Ralph would surely dig those Jacuzzi jets on his aging backbone. I may look into starting something along these lines. Call it, oh, the Lazy Days Sunset Retirement Kennel. Or Sam’s Silver Years Senior Shih Tzu Spot. Elroy’s Elderly English Setter Center? I don’t know, I’ll work on it.

Anyway, I believe Louis C.K.is being a bit harsh, now that I think about it. I wouldn’t call owning a pet a “countdown to sorrow” so much as I would term it a valuable lesson for us owners. Caring for and then letting go of a dearly loved pet, to me, is more a lesson in love and loss. Our pets show us the true meaning of selfless love—and, maybe as importantly, they teach us how to cope with loss. What greater lessons are there?

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Question for the Ages: Do Snails Get Mad?

31 Mar

by Roger White

 

So I’m sitting on my front porch on a gorgeously sunlit Sunday morning, while Ralph the dog slinks ever so farther into the fringes of the yard and out of my line of vision. He does this so he can stealthily nose through, roll around in, and snack on various dead bugs, worms, and other dogs’ indiscretions in our yard. And to think we let him sleep in our bed with us. Max the fat cat reasonable maxsimilelazes next to me, casually observing a snail making glacial progress across the sidewalk. I begin watching the snail, as well. The little guy is near the edge of the walk, mere inches from the luscious black earth of our garden. It must have taken this tiny gallant gastropod all of this morning and most of last night to ooze his way this far from the driveway, judging from his slimy trajectory, and I marvel at his determination. I figure there’s some greater life lesson here, presumably about fortitude and believing in oneself and putting your best foot forward and all that. Although technically, snails don’t have feet.

Well, to be scientifically correct, the word “gastropod” is derived from the ancient Greek term that literally means “stomach foot,” which would indicate that a snail does indeed have a foot formed from its stomach. However, this is an anthropomorphic misnomer, based on the fact that to humans it appears as if snails and slugs crawl on their bellies. In reality, as we all know, snails and slugs have their stomachs, the rest of their digestive systems, and all the rest of their molluscal viscera in a hump on the el gastropodoopposite, or dorsal, side of their bodies. In most gastropods, this visceral hump is covered by, and contained within, the shell. This will be on the test, and, no, Leonard, you can’t be excused, just hold it in.

So, technically, I’m still not sure if snails have feet.

Anyway, um. Oh, yes, well, just as Eddie Escargot is about to reach the promised land, Max the cat jumps up and bats the unfortunate mollusk back across the sidewalk. The little guy sits there, stunned, back at square one. I swear I hear a tiny, little expletive. Another life lesson, I’m thinking. You know, if at first you don’t succeed, Rome wasn’t built in a day, cats are evil bastards. Stuff like that.

I shake my head at Max’s playful cruelty, wondering if he realizes what he’s done. “Was that necessary?” I lecture. “That is one pissed-off snail.”

Then it hits me. Is it? Is that snail mad as hell and not going to take it anymore? See, these are the things that I ponder. This, among many other reasons we won’t go into in this forum, is why I don’t own or manage a productive business, am not a best-selling author, and never made it to the professional tennis circuit. I am engrossed, wifey would say distracted, by matters such as this: Do snails get angry?

one pissed snailMy curiosity piqued, I dash to the computer and google the question, “Do snails get angry?” I’m not really expecting an answer, but you never know.

Sure enough, the query comes up word for word on the WikiAnswers site. Some bozo replied, “No, slugs and snails can’t get angry because they don’t have faces and therefore can’t frown, smile, or laugh.”

Wait a minute. Snails have faces. Don’t they? So I google “snail face,” only to find a host of sites about snail facials, a Japanese spa treatment in which they smother your head in live snails, which is apparently supposed to retard the aging process because of the incredible properties found in mollusk mucus. Tokyo spas are charging $250 to slather your mug in slugs–$300 if you want to eat them later.

But again, I digress. So I dash back outside to see for myself if our torpid little traveler has a face, only to find Ralph the dog rolling all over the poor thing in the driveway. Yes, Eddie Escargot is escargone. I pick the little guy up and place him gently in the garden, his final resting place. I swear I see a hint of a grin. Snail heaven. Gastropod Valhalla. Hey, there’s a name for our garage band.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Maybe Stevie Should Be Wearing Waders

4 Nov

by Roger White

 

If you ain’t from around these parts, pardner, let me tell ya something about the statue of the late rock/blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan that stands near the shore of Austin’s Town Lake (or Lady Bird Lake or Vince Young Lake or whatever lake they currently call the river that runs through town): Stevie’s clad in poncho and boots not for protection from the elements. No. That was just his style.

 

But given the weather around here lately, SRV’s garb is more than appropriate. In fact, city officials are mulling over the notion of retooling Stevie’s boots into hip-length waders.

 

Translation: Enough with the dang rain already.

 poorstevie

Photographic proof of the Noah-like blessings we’ve been receiving recently showed poor Stevie up to mid-poncho in floodwater. Down here in the southwest part of town, it was even worse. Our community statue of Junior Samples was inundated up past his belly—and it’s a big belly, people. You couldn’t even read the BR-549 sign for days because of all the dang rain. OK, I’m kidding. We don’t have a statue of Junior Samples. I think. Anyway, it’s been bad. You know it’s bad when you sit on your back porch and watch your neighbors waving back at you—as they float by on their back porches. The tiny whisper of a creek that runs behind our home, normally coyote-bone dry, has resembled something flowing through the Amazon Basin of late. Critters of both the hairy and slimy phylum have skittered and slithered in and out of our little domicile seeking refuge. The cat’s about to have a coronary.

 juniorsamples

And sadly, one of the casualties of all this weather has been our community garden. It seems the small sewage facility that butts up (no pun intended) against our neighborhood garden got so swamped from the deluge that it befouled all of our lovingly tended plots of lettuces and kale and tomatoes and arugula with human waste. That’s right. Soylent Green is people poo! This got me thinking: How nasty must the human body be if we can freely fertilize our cabbages and kumquats with cow patties but we run the risk of plague-like death if we use our own, uh, by-products? Regardless, the warning has been issued by the community braintrust: harvest at your own risk! Poo may be present.

 

soylentschmoylentSo the wife and I, who have a plot in the neighborhood garden about the size of a car battery, now watch wistfully as our little squashes and lettuces and tomatoes and strawberries grow and blossom. Do we dare eat them? What if we soaked our harvest in bleach and then ran it all through the washer and dryer? Who exactly in the neighborhood lives upstream of the sewage plant, anyway? Everybody’s a suspect now. Ya smell that? Smells like the family at the end of Canyon Oaks, doesn’t it? And what is that on our Chinese cabbage plant?! Oh, wait, it’s only dirt. Just forget it, I can’t eat any of this now.

 

Oh, well, on the bright side, I was getting a little tired of homegrown cherry tomatoes and squash. That’s the thing about growing your own that nobody tells you about: When the harvest comes in, boy, does it come in. We had so many cherry tomatoes there for a while, I was eating them with lunch, breakfast, midnight snacks, on my corn flakes. I love cherry tomatoes, but please. Kindly remove those cherry tomatoes from my rocky road ice cream.

 

flooooodAnd now. Well, they’re tainted. It’s all tainted. In fact, when next I visit our little garden, I’m thinking I’ll wear gloves—and a poncho and hip-length waders. I’m with ya, Stevie. Dang rain.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Just Chill: Most News You Can’t Use

29 Oct

by Roger White

You’re familiar with the old saying, “Don’t shoot me. I’m only the messenger.” To this I say pish and posh. This old adage doesn’t apply anymore. The messenger today IS the problem. The messenger—this insincerely smiling, hair-weaved, plastic-faced talking head—needs to be shot in the behind with a paintball gun, and his message needs to be torn up, stomped on, and burned to ash. Pish and posh, I say.

The messenger I’m pishing and poshing on, of course, is the media—namely, the national outlets: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. Do you ever stop to wonder why your stomach is nervous and sour all the time now, why your heart beats out the bossa nova, why you fret and bite your lip bloody just sending the kids to the school bus stop? The media, I tell you. It’s the media. stop the pressesBecause of our nonstop over-exposure to the national news organizations’ sensationalistic babble, we have all come to believe, consciously or not, that our world has become a living hell. As each of us workaday folks tries so hard just to crawl out of bed each morning to keep food on the table, the electricity on, and our children on the straight and narrow, we have to combat that nagging, pecking sense of doom—that we’re only a mere happenstance away from grisly death, violent criminal mayhem, or worse, a government-led socialist agenda.

Two real, recent examples of headlines from CNN: “Weatherman Eats Cat Vomit” and “Teens Attack Mom; Plan to Eat Her Liver.” No lie. Did we truly need to know this? And did these teens plan this liver feast after watching the weatherman scarf cat puke? These kinds of “news items” are not merely useless—they’re harmful.

Every single cotton-picking day you have to digest (no pun intended) BREAKING NEWS of the latest multiple homicide, the most shocking tale of kidnap, abuse, and mistreatment, the most recent sordid instance of demented behavior (and sometimes this doesn’t even involve Congress) such as the headlines above. The thing of it is—and here is where you have to stop yourself and understand motives—the world really isn’t all that bad. Really, it isn’t. It’s the media’s job, however, to make you feel that way. It’s not CNN’s goal per se to give every man, moidahwoman, and child in America a massive case of peptic ulcers, but it is their job to make money. And gruesome, terrible, apocalyptic headlines mean more views, which mean more advertisers, which mean more money. With news on a 24-hours-a-day-eight-days-a-week cycle now, every second of the day we are fed the most grisly, horrific stories that these “news gatherers” can find—because that’s what they think we want to see.

But here’s the deal. We’re not going to hell in a handbasket; it just feels like it. Did you know, for example, that since the early 1990s, crime has actually declined in the United States and that current crime rates are no worse than they were in the 1960s? True, these stats come from the U.S. Bureau of Justice. The homicide rate in America has declined substantially since 1992 from a rate of 9.8 per 100,000 persons to 4.8 in 2010, according to latest figures. That’s still high, as far as the rest of the industrialized world goes, but, hey, in Russia it’s 13 per 100,000, and in Venezuela it’s 48 per. And nobody here commutes to Honduras, right? There, the homicide rate is 78 per. We’re practically a Buddhist monastery by comparison.

Here’s more: A research think tank known as the Millennium Project produced these eye-opening numbers in 2011:

• The average life expectancy worldwide rose from 64 years in the mid-1980s to 68 years today.
• Infant mortality worldwide has fallen from nearly 70 deaths per 100,000 people to 40 deaths today.
• Poverty, defined by the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day, fell from 43 percent of the world population in the mid-1980s to 23 percent now.
• The percentage of the world population with access to water rose from 75 percent to more than 86 percent.
• Secondary school enrollment rose from 45 percent in the mid-1980s to nearly 70 percent today.
• The number of major armed conflicts declined from 37 in the mid-1980s to 26 today.


Unfortunately, these kinds of numbers aren’t found on your average national news site now. In yukkkfact, if you ask me, the best, most useful news you can find these days is in your local, community newspaper. The little weeklies and bi-weeklies that actually cover neighborhood news, civic involvement stories, and human interest items that have nothing at all do with cats in microwave ovens are where you’ll discover “news you can use.” As far as Fox and CNN and all the rest are concerned, pish and posh, I say.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Jet Set Pet Vet Your Best Bet to Get Your Pet All Set

3 Aug

by Roger White

 

You’re in for a treat in this installment, my discombobulated disciples. Today, This Old Spouse talks with Hector Proctor, famed household veterinarian and director of the Austin-based pet advocacy group Domestic Protectors, about some common pet problems and ailments and how to treat them. Regular followers of TOS know that my family cohabitates with rotund Ralph the long-haired weenie dog and moody Dr Hector ProctorMax the psychotic tabby. If your animals are anything like mine, you’ve often contemplated petricide, or at the very least replacing all your furnishings with old cable spools and concrete blocks. Hopefully, some good words of wisdom from the renowned pet vet will shed some light on the darker corners of animal ownership.

 

TOS: Hello, Doctor Proctor.

DocProc: Call me Hector.

 

TOS: Doctor Hector Proctor?

DocProc: Just Hector.

 

TOS: So Doctor Hector, as director of Domestic Protectors, you’ve lectured that—

DocProc: On second thought, Doctor Proctor is more proper.

 

TOS: I don’t want to dicker, Hector.

DocProc: Doctor Proctor.

 

TOS: Doctor Proctor then. So, what factor is better if your Boxer or Setter is a carpet wetter?

DocProc: This may be a shocker, but a Boxer or a Setter is not a Cocker or a Terrier. If you’re stricter on a Cocker, you’ll get caca on your Dockers.

 watulookinat

TOS: Ooh, heck of a specter, Doctor Hector. Tell us this, what’s a greater indicator that your cat’s a dachshund hater?

DocProc: Well, according to Doctor Edgar Lecter, assistant director at Domestic Protectors, a good detector of a dachshund hater is a spate of “hater craters” near your dachshund’s masticator.

 

TOS: Beg pardon?

DocProc: Scratches near his mouth.

 

TOS: Ah. OK, say your Great Dane’s feeling pain in his metacarpal vein. Can you ascertain the main blame for a Dane’s vein pain?

DocProc: Again deferring to Doctor Lecter, who’s a lecturer on corrective vectors at Domestic Protectors, a sore metacarpal connector sector is often a reflector of an infected schlector.

 

TOS: Schlector?

DocProc: Alright, I made that up.

 

TOS: Um. Here’s a question from a Mrs. Harry Nation of College Station. Dally MatianIt seems Mrs. Nation’s Dalmatian suffers salivation elevation during recreation. Any information?

DocProc: Well, salivation is the machination of canine perspiration, so salivation elevation during recreation is no aberration. No need for consternation, Mrs. Nation, unless exacerbation of your Dalmatian’s salivation leads to dehydration. Then perhaps an examination would be indication for medication, sedation, or further investigation.

 

TOS: A salivation revelation!

DocProc: Mere explanation.

 

TOS: Moving along, a Mr. Jubal Roodle of CampCanoodle writes that lately his Standard Poodle, Mr. Doodles, will eat only noodle kugel or Mr. Roodle’s stewed strudel.

DocProc: Poodles are a moody brood. Mr. Roodle, I conclude you’d be shrewd to mix the stewed strudel or noodle kugel in with Mr. Doodles’ Poodle food, then moody Mr. Doodles will chew the whole kit and caboodle. Mr. Roodle should then slowly exclude the stewed strudel and noodle kugel, moving Mr. Doodles to strictly Poodle foodle.

 

TOS: You said foodle.

DocProc: I did? This is brutal.

 

TOS: True dat. Well, before we scat, let’s wrap this claptrap with a cat chat. Doctor Martha McCurgeon, a surgeon from the rural Minerva region, claims her Persian, Bertha, has an odd version of perversion—an aversion to anything but sturgeon.

Persian AversionDocProc: Aha. This is actually a common Persian perversion. In the biz, we call it Persian Sturgeon Diversion. As a surgeon, Doctor McCurgeon should know her Persian’s sturgeon diversion is a minor perversion amenable to conversion to a Persian’s normal food version with minimal coercion. It’s my assertion that with minor exertion, Doctor McCurgeon can effect Bertha the Persian’s reversion to—

 

TOS: Oop, out of time, Doctor Proctor.

DocProc: Thank God. Next time, please connect with Doctor Edgar Lecter.

 

TOS: I’d like to thank Doctor Hector Proctor, director of Domestic Protectors, for—

DocProc: I’m outta here.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.