Can Evolution Go Backward?

That’s a thought that’s been on my mind lately.

The impetus for that little question? The appearance on the streets of Portland of the “next” generation of e-scooters…and evolution, so to speak.

Yup. It’s like an e-scooter and a bike had a baby.

A hybrid for people who are too lazy to pedal a bike and/or too lazy to stand up.

For fuck sake, humanity.

At some point, someone on a design team had to say, “This is a pretty lame idea”. But they forged onward with production. Probably the argument for was something along the lines of, “But we can make a buck”…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the few that isn’t outraged by e-scooters whizzing through the streets of my hometown. Whizzing down sidewalks and through our parks is a little aggravating, sure. But I’ve adopted a respectfully proactive approach to that frustration. When I can, I say in as neutral tone as possible, “That’s – sub out that pronoun with park or sidewalk as appropriate – not allowed”.

People are surprisingly ok with that tactic. I’ve only had one person yell at me and try to give chase. He broke off after turning his scooter around. It’s not that I outpaced him with my lanky gait, I think he just saw plenty of witnesses and thought better. Good for him.

But that takes me to my second inspiration for this devolution post. This text exchange from yesterday between my mom and me:

There was not one, not two, but three separate protest marches in the streets of downtown yesterday. And I was working right in the middle of them.

Police in heavy duty troop transport vehicles driving by the front of my store.

Cops in tactical riot gear stopping in for a soda or snack while they waited for the potential melee.

Awkward moments of me staring at a customer’s tattoos or tee shirt trying to figure out if they were aligned with any particular group while the police PA blasted out an eerily Big Brother-esque warning to disband the un-permited and therefore illegal march.

Proud Boys.

AntiFa.

And a new group – at least to me – called #HimToo.

If pressed, I’d bet that last group wasn’t a legitimately harassed or assaulted group of men. I’d go one step further and posit there was a barely discernible Venn Diagram of that group’s members and those folks who’ve spent the last four weeks wonder why they couldn’t have a Straight Pride parade all over social media.

Backward Evolution, I say!

It reminds me of a magnet I bought about a quarter century ago.

Hold on. I’m debating going through a couple of boxes I have packed away in a closet to find it and take a picture for you all…the Silver Fox pointed out last night – because I have plenty of dumb moments, too – that the reason my fridge magnets are packed away unlike his which are plastering the front of his fridge is because his is faced with quality stainless steel and mine is a lesser caliber metal.

Shit faced, if you will.

Ok, I’m not going to go find it. Not because I’m too lazy. Rather, because of this situation:

How dare I disturb Myrtle’s blissful slumber? The poor dear barely gets 20 hours of sleep a day!

Back to the magnet.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

It’s a quote attributed to George Carlin. Boy, was he ahead of the curve with that observation!

Congress.

Gimme all that money!

White People.

Everybody gets a trophy.

Scooter Designers.

We want all the money, too!

Portlanders.

Did someone say trophies?

Stupid Americans…

Here’s hoping that whole Crispr thing works out if only so whoever ends up controlling the technology can finish Hitler’s work…if only to prove the point that evolving forward is about inclusion not so-called refinement.

Sure, I guess that means a certain grumpy old man is going to have to learn to accept those who choose to neither stand nor pedal on an e-scooter.

As another wise, old friend used to say,

Life is lumpy.

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Can Evolution Go Backward?

Murderous Myrtle

Well, it’s finally happened.

Myrt has upgraded her nickname from Mistress to Murderous.

It’s a development that’s only surprising because I’m not dead. I always assumed that in our closed little ecosystem that I would be the only prey available to her.

But, somehow I woke up to this unexpected sight this morning…

I had to turn on the lights to determine that Myrtle hadn’t upgraded her recent poop mischief to that infamous “my cat pooped in my shoe” scenario. Then I thought it was dark fluff from the underside of my box spring.

But, nooooo.

Apparently, Myrtle is trying to make amends for her litter box antics. It’s just a surprising manifestation, since I live in a fourth floor condo with maybe a 20″ wide Juliet balcony.

There’s not a lot of room to work there…plus, Myrtle’s not the best hunter. She hasn’t caught the red dot once since I’ve known her.

Even more concerning is that I left my balcony door open for her while I was out, like I do when it’s nice. But when I got home, it had cooled down, so I closed the doors and put on the heat while I watched a movie before bed.

I had no idea there was a bird in the unit!

Then I slept through the entire death match that I imagine happened after I went to bed. I mean, the bird might have been dead when I got home, but not put out for me yet…somehow that seems more disturbing.

Do you think this more a Santa Myrtle scenario or an escalation of her psychotic behaviors?

Regardless, this is a cat behavior I surely never thought I’d have to deal with in my urban life!

But since people often comment on Myrt’s weight and shape, her litter box shitnanigans do make it easier to put her on a diet. I’m basically using food to positively reinforce good kitty bathroom habits, so she’s leaned down quite a bit in the last few weeks.

Apparently, her new svelteness has allowed her to better keep up with her prey.

Yup, I just found a way to take the blame for this poor bird’s death. Welcome to my head, people.

Murderous Myrtle

I Tried Something New

I know.

Me.

And I’m writing about it to take my mind off of murdering my cat for her ongoing psychotic behavior. Hopefully this distraction works out for her…

Anyway, it was this toothpaste:

I had heard of it, but never tried it because “everyone” on social media had been raving about it. Naturally, if a self-appointed influencer recommends it, I’m out.

That sounds like me.

But there I was, out of toothpaste. Like, way out. That last day was touch and go. Worry not, it worked out but I still immediately ran to the RiteAid for a new tube. I was standing there in the toothpaste aisle, silently grumbling about how expensive toothpaste is – which also sounds a lot like me.

Then, there it was.

Y’know what? I needed a little pick me up, so I splurged on a $6.50 tube of toothpaste.

Plus, when you spit and rinse, you’ll get a lil shock because: black toothpaste!

Overall! I gotta tell you, go buy this toothpaste! I’m not trying to be an influencer. I’m telling you to do it, not suggesting.

Since the first time I used it, my teeth have looked whiter. Three times in three weeks people asked me some version of if I’d gotten laid because I looked different.

I hadn’t.

And believe it or not, I just felt better!

Ever since the second time the murderous Myrtle tripped me, sending me to the emergency dentist to repair my broken off front tooth, I’ve been increasingly self-conscious about my smile. I’ll take a minty little pick me up to undo some of the damage that cat has done to me.

At $6.50, that’s a very reasonably priced nice side effect. Not as nice as if I was getting laid once a week like a few of my friends insanely think I could. But I’ll take it.

The hyperlink above is for two tubes and a free toothbrush for like $13, plus free shipping for Prime members. I think that’ll be my option next time I need toothpaste.

I also like getting packages, so why not just treat myself to getting one for no reason other than not going to the pharmacy? It’s way better than ordering a case of these ridiculously tasty treats. Although, seeing them in a 4.5 ounce package is nice. I’ve bought the 7 and 11 ounce packages and they both ended up being single servings. Less might be more, in this case! Plus, the last thing I ordered off Amazon was Myrtle’s favorite treats…look where that’s gotten me. Time to do something for myself!

I really should try to figure out how the Amazon Affiliate program works. This would have been two good ads to use! Hehe. But, no…I had to “test the waters” with clickbait!

I Tried Something New

Petty Minds Matter

You might remember that not quite a year and a half ago I moved one door over in my building over a rent dispute with the lady who owned the condo I’d lived in for two years. Well, the short of it is that after sitting vacant a year – which gave me an admittedly petty pleasure – she rented it.

At the rent I’d wanted the year before.

Go figure.

Not long ago, I met the new neighbor.

That one time was enough.

I’d decided when I heard him moving in that I wasn’t going to mention that I’d lived there before him when we eventually met.

It was such a good idea.

However, when we finally met, I was leaving and he was standing at his door in gym clothes with two bags of groceries. My assumption was that he was just getting home from work and had stopped for provisions on the way back from the gym.

He asked how long I’d lived here. Told me he was new to the area.

I had accidentally Mrs Kravitz-ed him when closing my bedroom blinds one night and seen two men getting cozy on the couch. Meeting him at his door affirmed my assumption that he was a big ‘mo.

The worst part was I could tell he was one of those clenchy, uptight types.

Sure enough

Whoever lived here before must have had a cat because it took me three days to clean before I could move in.

Definitely uptight.

He went on to make a couple carelessly pretentious comments about things that really made me stand back on my heels to put as much space as possible between us. Myrt, realizing I was just on the other side of the door, decided to scream a few times.

Oh, you have a cat, too?

“Yup. I actually got her when I lived in your unit.”

Beat.

Beat.

Oh! You lived here?

“Yeah. I moved about a year ago.”

So, you must know the person that lived here before!

I lean against my door frame, “Kinda.”

Well, he wasn’t much of a housekeeper is all I know.”

He makes one of those awkward laughs that you have to watch out for, the kind where if you laugh it’s interpreted as tacit agreement? Naturally, I remained stoically neutral. Maybe my eyes narrowed just the teensiest bit.

“I’m sure I couldn’t say. I guess not by your standards, at least. But I do know the owner had a professional two person crew in here for a day a few months back…”

Me: level gaze

Him: blink

Me: level gaze

Him: blink, blink

“Maybe there was just a lot of hair in the ducts, who knows?”

I’m sure that’s it.

Me: level gaze

Him: blink, picks up grocery bags

“Of course, I shouldn’t keep you. And I’m sure my friend is waiting outside now! I should go. Have a good night!”

I go to the elevator and push the button, looking back just in time to see him disappear into the building’s stairwell.

What the? Who leaves their house in gym clothes with two bags of groceries?!? And we’re talking produce on top type bags of groceries.

Maybe he was cooking for his couch canoodling friend.

I dunno.

What I do know is that he was pretty judgy for a guy who’s balcony has looked like this for three full months now

Even worse, there’s one of those countertop compost pails sitting out there now, too. How gross is your compost pail that it can’t sit in your kitchen?

Must be more gross than a bit of cat hair.

Anyway…that’s not the petty part.

The other day I was running a bag of Myrtle related items to the trash chute – she’d had a day. First, she pooped on the living room rug for whatever subtle bit of feline logic. Then a few minutes after I served her highness dinner, I hear

Hurr. Hurk. Hurr…huuuurk!”

coming from the front door and just as I get to her, Myrtle uneats all over the entry rug.

Huzzah.

So, I’m cleaning the rug and hear doors opening and closing all over the floor. Which is kind of my new normal. I’ve gone from a random door closing once or twice a week and occasionally seeing a tacky wine bottle in the recycling as evidence of the old lady who lives on the other end of the floor’s presence to having a neighbor who is one of those people that can never leave his unit successfully on the first try.

So, I’m cleaning and I hear a door close. A minute later, I hear another door close, then another again.

About this time, I head out to throw my cat barf in the trash chute and just as I reach for the trash room door knob, it opens. My old lady neighbor just about dies on the spot – I swear, I saw her soul try and leave her body.

She makes some urgent “Oh, my!” sounds as I excuse myself and she disappears into her unit again. That’s probably the last time I’ll see her in 2019.

I drop Myrtle’s barf bag into the trash chute and head back to my unit.

As I’m passing my old doormat, I see there’s a note sticking out from under it. Curiosity tugs at me, but since I now know that I’m unaware of my neighbor’s whereabouts, I keep going. All I can see is that it’s a piece of copy paper with laser printed text on it.

I’m kind of thinking it’s a note for a delivery driver or something and put it out of my mind.

The next morning, I’m heading out – probably for coffee – and as I’m grabbing my jacket, hear my neighbor’s door slam.

Then open again.

Then shut.

Open.

Shut.

Then the fire stairs door slams and I wait.

Nothing…he’s gone.

I leave and see the note is still there, but it’s been moved. I push the button for the world’s slowest elevator. There’s plenty of time as I’m waiting to sneak a peek at the note.

Dear Neighbour,

You may be unaware of how the sound of your music travels through the walls…

It becomes clear to me that the series of doors I’d heard the night before was my old lady neighbor delivering this note before taking out her trash. Additionally, for whatever reason, she’s used English spelling twice in her note even though I’ve never detected an accent when we’ve exchanged words in passing.

Whatever. I don’t really care. I do note, however, that it’s a shame my new neighbor’s music has made a bad impression on my old lady neighbor, since they both seem rather affected.

Seems like they should get along fine.

But the petty part of this whole thing is me thinking that I lived in this guy’s unit for however long and never got a snotty, passive-aggressive, nearly-anonymous note from my neighbor about my music.

Must have been the extra insulation from all that cat hair…

Petty Minds Matter

Do You HQ?

I’m not going to lie…I’m slogging this morning.  That bums me out, since it’s supposed to be a blogging morning.

Although, revisiting that writing discipline structure for a minute – it seemed like a good idea, setting out specific goals for book writing and then blogging on my “free days”.  Here’s the struggle:  it’s hard to write for five days in a row.

Poor Blanche.

It’s sounds pathetic, but it really is rough. Kinda.

My shoulders get all tense after about day 4 and my brain starts to hurt.  My stomach gets a little whiny, too – go figure – because I have about two cups of cold brew each day that I write, so…yeah.  Good problems to have, I suppose!  

Nonetheless, I’m thinking about splitting it up a bit.  Maybe write on Monday and Tuesday, take a breather day on Wednesday to reset the shoulders and rest the brain and then write again Thursday through Saturday.  

Or, I could always have a ghost day like yesterday, where I just didn’t feel like writing, so I didn’t.  I’m just pretty sure I know what results a lack of discipline can produce already.

Needless to say, you aren’t getting my best today.  Maybe this will warm me up for a little more significant writing later today.  If not that, then I always have tomorrow to look forward to…The Fox has invited me to his Fox Family Estates beach house for a few days of R&R.  I’m not entirely sure that I’ll go, but I do have a caretaker lined up for Mistress Myrtle, so I could go without feeling like a schmo pet owner…

But back to the burning question of the day.  Have you heard of HQ?  It’s a Trivia Game app for your phone and it hosts live games at least twice a day.  

It’s 12 questions for their classic game, which airs at 9 PM EST, so 6 PM here on the Best Coast.  You get three multiple choice answers to choose from and ten seconds to make your selection/answer/guess.  The prizes usually run from $1000 up to $5000 with occasional event games that can be $10000 or more.  I know that there are often $25000 prizes and I have even played – and lost – a couple of the Winner Take All games for $100000!  Those Winner Take All games go until there’s only one winner, so it can be an unlikely 12 questions or go as long as it takes to get down to one winner.

Here’s the deal, though…you usually split the prize pot with the other winners, so that usually boils down to a couple of bucks each. It’s still entertaining, though! Even if you only get to Q6…

I went in very enthusiastic about the idea. I have a pretty trivial brain, so I thought I’d place pretty well.

Flash forward to three months of me not getting past question 6.

Damn sports questions.

Then I had a couple weeks where I’d sneak in a run to Q7 or 8.

Then I quit for a while. A friend of mine on the Facebook played – so I found out – and posted a win one evening. I was all,

I’m smarter than that guy!

Very mature, right?

It took me a couple months to loop back around to playing regularly. I had to remind myself that HQ was like running or golf…you’re only playing against yourself.

Then they started a word puzzle game called

Wait.

For.

It.

HQ Words.

You get a clue and a Wheel Of Fortune type set of blank tiles and guess letters until you reveal the puzzle, strike out or time is up. You get 10 strikes over a 10 question game. Use ’em up, you’re out!

This was where I got my first win. Words has smaller prize pots, usually $1000 – at least that’s what it was when I won. They’ve ramped those up to $2500 on average now. But you can see, my split was $.13, so there were a lot of winners!

Something had finally happened!

I’m not saying my luck had changed or this was the start of a trend, but I’ve won Trivia twice since then.

While it wasn’t luck that changed, there were two changes to the game that helped change my results.

The first was streaks. Play five days in a row, get a free life! A free life can get you back in the game if you miss a question. You can only use one per game, though, so you have to use them strategically.

The other change that happened was the introduction of levels. For each question you get right, you earn points. Those points accumulate over the course of the games throughout the season. The points accumulate and translate into free passes for the different questions, so let’s say you have enough points for a free pass through Q4, you can skip answering until Q5 if you want or play like regular, earning points on questions you answer correctly or getting your free pass to save you if you’re wrong.

My free passes started saving me and getting me through the first half of the games and then, the more I played, the more free lives I earned because of my streaks. I’m at level seven now, between that and an occasional free life, I’ve racked up two more wins.

The disadvantage, of course, is that I’m not the only one who’s benefiting from this structure. As you can see, my big win was only $.21, hardly the coffee money that winners used to claim after a win. I’m up to about four bits now and level seven. Maybe by the end of the season – which I believe is this Sunday – I can break into whole dollars.

Regardless, it’s a fun way to kill 15 or 20 minutes while dinner cooks. Feel free to give it a try. My player name is Galbatron – and you can see that The Most Dangerous Cat In The World is my avatar – so use my name when you create your profile and maybe I’ll get an extra life for the referral.

Coffee money riches…here I come!

Do You HQ?

The Red Shirt Diaries #24

It’s been a while since I wrote a Red Shirt entry. I wasn’t itching to, but last night, it just demanded to be so…so, here you go.

Last night, after eating a really salty dinner of sausage and pepperoni pizza, I made an early night of it. I was tired and my belly was full. Sleep came easily.

Until about 1 AM.

I woke up thirsty. Not just thirsty, THIRSTY-thirsty.

Luckily, I sleep with a glass of water by my bed. It’s a 20 oz glass that I’ve had since the last century.

And it was full.

Mistress Myrtle was laying between me and the night stand, so I had to negotiate my reach without disturbing the dear. My tired ass had gone to bed without turning off the heat, as I do, so exacerbating my thirst was an elevated body temperature. I had somehow worked my legs out from under the covers to help remain comfortable, this is also how Myrt ended up on a side of the bed she does not normally inhabit.

Side note: Myrtle would expect me to tell you that her place is the center of the bed.

This all manifested as me using my exposed legs to leverage my torso up so that I could drink without spilling my water all over. Picture the bowl of a martini glass with a really big kalamata olive in the bottom of it and that’s the basic shape I’m in.

There I am, sucking in water, thinking life is good. I put the water back and lay back down. Five minutes later, I’m thinking that the other half of that glass sounds like a pretty good idea, so I repeat the whole ordeal…and barely avoid choking to death on a cat hair floating through the air that my thirsty ass sucks in while I’m initiating my lip to water connection.

Of course, this – in turn – caused me to narrowly avoid drowning as I aspirated water.

When I laid back down, that’s where my mind went.

I mean, not right away. It took a circuitous route getting there. I didn’t just lay down and think, “Gee, Myrtle, that could have been it for me…” and immediately let my mind wander onto wondering how long it would have been before someone came looking for me.

Lips.

Ears.

Fingertips.

Toes.

That’s how long I suspect it would have been before someone saved Myrtle from her smorgasbord of me.

Y’know, like six hours.

“What? I didn’t want it to go to waste…” – Mistress Myrtle

No, where my mind went on its way to reminding me that I had nearly drown in my own bed was stranger.

It started off with a flash onto into an Albert Brooks movie. The scene where people awake on a tour trolley dressed in Tupas – long white robes tied at the waist with a sash – that everyone wears upon arrival in Judgment City. This is usually also the first clue that they’ve died in real life.

Then, of course, I had a stop at Albert’s brother – Bob Einstein, aka: Super Dave Osborn, who passed away earlier this year – sitting there in a trolley arriving in Judgment City.

“They really expect this place to be a one size fits all joint?”

Bob was pretty tall, and I could hear him kvetching about the length of the robes.

Oh, you’re still surprised to hear that Bob Einstein and Albert Brooks are brothers? Yeah, Albert changed his last name to avoid being confused with the other famous Albert with whom he shared a last name.

Anyway, on from there, I went to some mental Beetlejuice purgatory. You know, the type where there is no dress code? You just show up in whatever you died wearing. Yeah, so I was there in my Oregon sweatshirt and a pair of Pump boxers.

I’ll wait while you readjust your mental image of my martini shaped description from earlier.

Good?

Well, not GOOD-good, but…ready? Make sure you got the legs skinny enough.

I’m sitting there in Hell’s waiting room in my death suit – which my father would like for you to know is University of Oregon colored, not Oregon State colored, so I’m spending eternity in an “outfit” that he does not endorse – and the guy next to me is one of those chatty newly dead guys.

“You from Portland?”

Huh? Yeah. Uh…yeah.

“How did ya die? You don’t mind my asking.”

Oh, yeah. I’d rather not talk about it. We just met and all.

“Stabbed, right? I bet you were stabbed. I’ve heard that about Portland. Ya’ll are weird out there.”

Are you from Jersey or the South? I can’t really decide. I guess it doesn’t matter now, but wherever it is, you should pick a regional dialect and stick with it, y’know?

Me…making friends wherever I go. Quick reminder, this is all taking place in my subconscious. What does that say about me?!? Here I am, in the afterlife, telling people how to live their deaths.

“Whoa. Geez. Touchy. Relax, it’s a long afterlife. So, C’mon…How’d you go?”

It’s too embarrassing.

“C’mon. Me? I got here via blunt force trauma. Wife caught me tipping the sitter, you get what I mean.”

Let’s just keep our elbows to ourselves, here. And, yeah. Doesn’t take much to get your meaning. I hope she made it look like an accident. For her and your kids’ sake.

“You really not gonna tell me?”

Well, A) this isn’t kindergarten, so just because you showed me yours, I don’t have to show you mine. But, B) how about this, I’ll just say that I got here because it’s true what they say, “you get what I mean” and leave it at that.

Because…apparently last night, it was true…you can drown in a teaspoon of water.

After five minutes of not falling back to sleep, I get up and take a Mellie, but just one. I also refill my glass, because what are the odds of that happening again?

The Red Shirt Diaries #24

Tappa-Kegga-Day

That was what we called kegger night in college.Literally.

Ok, maybe just too old for a birthday on a three day weekend. Because the MLK day/Xtopher’s birthday alignment means my birthday was celebrated for four damn days.

Today is a day of rest.

Also, I have a handyman here (not) fixing things.

Having been busy yesterday, I just checked the Facebook for the first time since…maybe Saturday? Friday?!? Oh, the social media birthday love. It motivated me to share some of my weekend with you, which I wasn’t planning on.

My brain is fatigued and more than slightly pickled, though…fatigued from three weeks of daily writing. Im thinking of hanging that initiative up this Friday or Saturday. My goal was daily blog posts for a month. Would the 1st-26th count?

My original goal was to wear myself out writing so when I go in to try editing my book again, I make notes on what I want to edit. Last time I went in to try and edit, I started adding and fracked up my timeline.

I figure wrap up my January writing initiative, take a few days to read a book a blog buddy sent over – I’m seriously burnt out on words enough that I’m barely reading the blogs I follow. When I sat down to his book, the only opinion I had was

Nope. Cannot do.

(I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

So, take a few days to read my friend’s work then get cracking on some damage control on my own.

Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ve already figured out the pickling problem.

Or, not-problem.

The unexpected outpouring of well-wishes I encountered on the Facebook surprised me, as usual. It also kinda washed over me and extended my birthday feels another day.

Friday and Saturday were pretty low key, drinks and shenanigans with my own version of Fox & Friends. Little Buddy shot me an invite, all spur of the moment, to go see a Power Point Improv show we’d discussed a while back. I couldn’t make it, prior engagement.

Birthday weekend shenanigans…

I debated not telling her it was birthday-related. I really am low key about my birthday. Swearsies.

Saturday when I was out with the Silver Fox, I asked him

My family has been quiet about my birthday. Are they up to something? If they are…I kinda feel like I should get a haircut.

He assured me that they were not. Then he casually remarked that I might want to get a haircut, though.

Jerk.

Hehe. I assumed he was commenting about my overall shagginess.

Resolutions for the new year?

Not exactly my thing. But when I do make them, they are me all the way.

1) Write and post a blog entry daily, which you all know.

2) Not cut my hair.

I’ve been trying to grow out a longer style for the last six months or so. Around June, I figured if I wasn’t going to work, maybe I should indulge my back of mind musings on having crazy old man hair.

Why not?

Only, the last few times I’ve gone in to get it cleaned up around the edges, I’ve ended up long on top, trimmed back to above the ears and looking like a Flock of Seagulls refugee.

So, I gave basic hair maintenance two tries and then embargoed it til the end of January. When I make up my mind about these types of things, I always feel bad for my friends. They’re the ones that have to look at – no, endure the fallout.

Anyway, I don’t care, my family isn’t planning anything, so I don’t give it much more thought. A little later, my mom texts me and invites me to brunch on my birthday.

Perfect. Nice and low key, just the way I like it.

For Sunday afternoon, The Fox and I had just planned on going to the hotel bar next door for a few beers. Then we were going to come back to my place and watch some Grace & Frankie. It was a perfect plan.

When we meet up on the corner, he announces that Owl X had texted him that Pallet Jack was back at Big Legrowlski.

Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

I’m laughing and crossing Everett before I even finish the sentence.

All things being equal, it’s Sunday afternoon. I know either bar will have some of my favorite staff working – all of whom definitely fall into the Guy Candy category. But Joey at Legrowlski is in his last couple of weekends before leaving the country to work overseas and has a habit of “accidentally” oversharing the most scintillating personal details. Unless the Tanner Creek boys are working in jock straps for my birthday, Pallet Jack and Joey win!

We walk in and I’m immediately irked by the twosome sitting in the corner. They brought their dog in. I love the dogs that come with or walk by at The Fox and I sit outside sipping away the Summer.

But not inside.

I’m trading hellos with Joey while I hope the Rug Room isn’t too packed, cuz I don’t want to sit on the small bar side with a dog.

Are you surprised?!?

I’m debating how to answer:

– Surprised you let a dog – other than me! – in?!?

– Surprised that I don’t see Pallet Jack on the tap list?!?

Don’t let anyone tell you that being a grumpy old man is easy.

Decisions, decisions.

The Fox is pulling me out of the way. I’m trying to look behind me to see whose way I’m in and he’s shoving me into the Rug Room.

Surprise!

My parents, siblings and brother in law are tucked around a pub table in one corner. Their table, I notice, is blocking the fire exit. The Fox is standing behind me, trying to get me into the group. They certainly know me.

Little Buddy, 2.0 and JOrtis are sitting around a low table, looking pretty happy with themselves.

Diezel and Linda Belcher are wrapped into the far corner, flanking some other guy. It’s kind of dark and the walls are all black in the Rug Room, but I really don’t know if I don’t remember him, can’t see him well enough to recognize honor if someone brought me a present.

Nah…that would be weird.

Not unwelcome…just weird.

What I should have said is:

Do you know what this could do to a man my age?!?

Or,

Surprised someone throws a surprise party for a something-ty-first birthday?!?

But instead I just stood there with my mouth hanging slightly open.

The Silver Fox is chuckling contentedly behind me and still nudging me, so I begin hugging my way into the room. As I’m finishing, people start shifting their comments toward birthday beers.

It’s not that they are out of Pallet Jack, it’s that in order to ensure they have Peej for the party, they’ve been sitting on a keg for the past two weeks! Owl X and I had even discussed it the prior week as I was leaving, neither palleted nor jacked and she said, “See you soon!”

You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

“Maybe. I’m not sure. Brendan” – the owner and Dude enthusiast – “said he wanted to keep it on tap always, so probably?”

Sneaky.

Joey takes me into the walk-in and I’m resisting saying anything about Three Minutes in Heaven. Somehow we manage to get about five people into the walk-in to document the transition. Several of us are lecturing Joey on how tapping a keg used to be a lot harder than what he talked me through…when we were your age.

I’d actually seen the new tap mechanisms back in my grocery working days a few Great-Job-Hunts-ago.

The Fox was talking about Rent Parties that we would have in college. Get a keg for $35 and invite your friends over for a $5 all-you-can-drink night!

I was telling Joey how we would have to manually pump the taps at those keg nights.

My sister was angling for a good pic. Hint: I no longer have a “good side”!

But here ya go…

Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

A little later someone rectified the situation on the tap list, too.

That eventually – after we got booted from the rug room three hours later so the band could set up – evolved into having a Secret Tap “for the regulars”. A few of them stopped by over the course of the afternoon and evening and shared a pint with the party. Owl X had been a little late arriving and missed the tap moment, but she found the light controls and smoke machine! Karaoke was briefly discussed and abandoned.

I think we’d held the festivities – and the bar side – hostage with our sheer number of people for another hour before people started heading off into the cloudy evening. No Blood Wolf Moon viewing here in Portland!

Diezel and his date – the stranger was his. I mean, geez, D, it’s my birthday…you gotta let me unwrap something! – had another birthday party to go to and we’re the first to leave. I got to chat with them a while and I have to say, I’m glad Diezel may have found himself a good old keeper.

Not to jinx anything. Since I’m not involved, I think it’s safe…

Little Buddy took her guys and headed off toward the ‘Couv. She has a kiddo at home to think of feeding. I forgot to ask how the Power Point Improv was, but in retrospect, I think it may have even been a red herring!

My family was the next to go, but almost the last to leave besides The Fox, Owl X and I. Mom was “taking one for the team” as my sister put it and acting as the family DD. Still, having her driving after dark on a cloudy night was a little hard for me to be 100% comfortable with.

On the other hand, I hadn’t been drunk with my siblings since…I dunno. Maybe my sister’s wedding? But I don’t think we were out of control for that. My brother rarely has a beer, let alone what we decided was four for him that night. My sister shocked me by jumping in head first with her first beer. Since Peej was not yet available, she had a Notorious Triple IPA…just an 11.2% alcohol by volume concoction.

Hats off, sis!

My dad took a break from his canned water of choice (Coors Light, which I heard they were giving away in Flint for hydration, j/s dad!) and enjoyed some of Oregon’s Finest.

Tastes a little apricot-y.

My favorite moment of the night!

I’d said the exact same words to Little Buddy the first time her, 2.0 and I had gotten together for beers. LB and I were working together again, her and 2.0 had just decided to give the dating thing another go and I’d been convinced to try an IPA. I’d notoriously hated them for 20 years, opting instead for Ambers and Reds.

They were surprised by my statement.

Well, it’s definitely got a stone fruit note to it.

They humored me. Well, maybe they agreed that I had a weird mouth and I agreed to ignore their assessment.

“It must just be a weird palate thing with your family”, Little Buddy said.

This is why we’re friends.

Joey’s shift had ended and my other favorite bartendress had reported for duty, sneaking a crowler of the good stuff into my goodie bag.

Linda Belcher was the last non-regular to leave. Although, since she passes the bar on her way rom her office to the bus stop, she’s known to wander in looking for me on occasion.

Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

Other times I’m not there.

Still others, she doesn’t see me.

I think I enjoy the times she sees me and joins me most, but those times she doesn’t see me are pretty friggin hilarious.

We got to sit in the Rug Room and chat a little. The band was really good, just a him & her type duo. Not too loud, so we could enjoy both the music and some talk. Her husband – Bob Belcher of Bob’s Burger fame, obviously – is in Nepal for several months and I’ve been meaning to check in on Linda Belcher for a couple weeks…just…life.

There were some folks I’d have loved to see present. Some – like Filipina Fox and her husband – were out of town for the weekend. Others, the Silver Fox just couldn’t contact because he didn’t have their contact info. He’s not on social media, so he couldn’t use Messenger as a tool to reach out to my other known associates.

The biggest shocker wasn’t how well he pulled this off – starting with hiding the keg weeks ago. No, it was that he kept it a secret. That’s truly impressive. He’s always accidentally giving away the twist in a movie or show. I think the years that we’ve been friends have caused some of my sneakiness to accidentally rub off on him.

I woke myself up on my actual birthday morning because I’d been smiling so hard in my sleep that I think I couldn’t actually be unconscious and simultaneously that happy.

There’s worse ways to wake up.

We finally got to watch some Grace & Frankie last night. I know you were worried.

Birthday breakfast.

Birthday lunch.

And then the bottle of wine The Fox got me last year at my birthday to round out the birthday proper while we binged on Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s old-age misadventures.

I was exhausted after four days of friendly camaraderie and about a month’s worth of alcohol in that same timeframe.

My low key day today brought all the feels back just by opening Facebook. I’ve been doing a good job of only checking in once a day. Actually, I’ll miss days now and then.

Yesterday was one of those days.

That big old birthday smile came back. For some, maybe it’s not a big deal…but to me, having over 100 folks take time out of their day to wish me well is a big deal.

Touching.

Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

Replying to these messages is what made me think to blog about my birthday in detail. Plus, this gave me a chance to prove that I didn’t drink too much!

I remembered!

It started out about like this blog…

Then got sweet…

I didn’t even know I had birthday wishes! Outside of the lottery win that refused to comply…

Actually, there was a little WTF moment when I started responding. Check out the background…

Hmmm. <unfriend>? Actually, it fits my personality. Well, not the “god” part. But, it’s the thought, right?

And speaking of my personality. One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters has to weigh in!

And, I’m case you worried, we had more than a few Myrtle mentions…

So, here’s to another year of surviving Myrtle’s Gulag, life and the occasional happy surprise.

Thanks for reading, every one of you!

Tappa-Kegga-Day

Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy

Still!

I went to a movie yesterday. Mary Poppins Returns…highly recommend, Charlotte, as if you haven’t already seen it! But anyone else that loves a good, family friendly story that’s dripping with nostalgia…go see it! If you also like crafty, half-marathoning, Disney loving new moms, then click on the link to check out Charlotte’s blog. It’s like checking in with an old friend, that you just met.

Anyway, The Fox and I enable one another for a drop-in to the good old local for a Pallet Jack on the way home. It’s a moral imperative, I tell ya. If Peej is on tap, I’m stopping in!

All this is to say that after I left the house at 345 for a 415 movie – after giving Myrt her midday snackety-snack – and have myself the teensiest of tasties on the way home…it’s 715. Myrtle’s 6 PM dinner is late!

That cat greeted me at the door like I’d just come home from a solo trek across Antarctica. Sure enough, in the extra 75 minutes, she’d finished her breakfast kibble, which she doesn’t normally do, and reverted to a near-feral state.

Wet dinner, coming right up, Missus!

Fifteen minutes of smacking later, she’s meowing at the door to go play in the hallway. Since getting a new neighbor a few weeks ago, I’m reluctant to let the Missus out into the hallway as often as I used to when it was just me and “another” old lady living on the floor. I don’t know why, I prop the door open for Myrtle while she’s in the hall putting the laying in playing and she runs in and under the bed when the elevator lifts off of the first floor.

30 minutes later, I’m texting a friend and I hear the distinct sounds of impending disaster.

Hur-uh-hurg-uh-rawlp!

Now, two things to keep in mind here:

First, Myrtle has a history of false alarms. More often than not, a few hacks sets her right.

Second, on the half dozen times she’s hurled since I’ve been holding her hostage, it’s that rawlp that signals real trouble.

I get up and look for the chunky puddle.

Nowhere.

Nor, it seems, I’d my feline overlord. It had sounded like she was by the utility room…

No.

I open the cracked door and Myrtle looks up at me from the doormat next door, her expression inscrutable. No barf.

Maybe it was a false alarm.

Breathing a sign of relief, I give her a distrustful look and turn to go back inside.

Something in my peripheral vision makes me stop. Sure enough, 20 feet away, there’s a clump puddle trying to decide what to do.

Myrtle…!

To her credit, she went to her office, located somewhere in the box springs of my bed, instead of supervising my clean up efforts. Unlike the close oversight I get when tending to her litter box.

Speaking of the Missus and her box of poo.

I know cats cover their waste as a generic throwback – or reminder – to their days in the wild. Covering waste is covert, so others don’t catch their scent. Like you when you use the bathroom on another floor at work to poo – you know who you are.

Anyway, my defective cat…she endeavors to cover her waste. I guess. If by “cover” you mean scratch around at everything near your box versus simply pulling litter over the waste and – y’know…covering it. I’ve watched this supposed superior being scratch at the wall behind the box, the chair or table legs that the box is under and the floor outside the box.

Nope.

The closest she’s gotten is scratching at the lip of the box. Unfortunately, since she was scratching with one paw and balancing her svelte self on the lip with the other paw, so only succeeded in covering her poop inasmuch as tipping the cat box over and burying it under an avalanche of spilling litter counts.

My cat ain’t bright, folks.

But these are her “Aaw, poor kitty!” behaviors.

She has never been a real affectionate cat. Playful is not her thing.

I nicknamed her Murderous Myrtle and The Mistress Myrtle for a reason.

This is our fourth year together. Each year at Christmas, my sister gets Myrt a gift, as she does for each of the family dogs. Usually it’s a crack-version of a treat, which Myrtle loves, and a catnip toy…which she pretends is trash.

Still, every year, I give it the futile college try. A little ignored encouragement and then into the closet it goes.

Until this year.

It might have just been the trauma of going into the kitty carrier and a 40 minute car ride. Or the DMZ meeting of my parents’ chihuahuas in my upstairs guest room – Myrtle has never traveled anywhere previously with me but the vet. But this year, the catnip toys got a little attention. At first, it was just a few

These fucking things again

…swaps after she emerged from under the bed. But then I caught her laying on her side, hugging one between her front paws.

I took some of the loose cat nip and sprinkled it on the carpet and she came over, sniffed at it, sat on it and then flipped over and rolled in it twice before skulking back under the bed.

Promising.

At home, I have no carpets. She diligently destroyed my one and only favorite all time carpet years ago. I think this is why she loves the neighbor’s doormat so much. Anyway, I tried sprinkling some loose catnip on a dish towel at home for her. Sure enough, she luuuuurrved it. I’d even catch her running to the towel and planting her front paws on it so she skidded across the floor, gliding on the towel.

I like this new cat!

Myrtle 2.0!

Until one morning I come back from coffee to find that she’s successfully covered a poop in her box with the dish towel.

That’s more like it.

Still, this is all just inane cat weirdness, right?

She hasn’t put me on my face in two years. That’s saying something!

Or, maybe she just hasn’t succeeded in tripping me…and I’m hardly one to assume the worst.

However, a couple weeks ago…it was 3:40 on a Sunday morning. Billy Joel, this wasn’t, no regular crowd…just insomniac me, watching the Netflix.

And the Murderous Myrtle.

Knowing nothing of the prophet Billy Joel and his song about people being alone together, Mistress Myrtle had just climbed into my lap.

Climbed might be overselling it. She’d scrabbled over the far side of the coffee table, using my ankle for purchase; been freaked out by my cry of pain and jumped onto the back of the couch, landed on my shoulder and connected the claws of three paws with my tee shirt clad flesh.

Here’s the only G-rated and non-humiliating pic I could get of the damage

I’m not sure I could capture the double tracks on my shoulder without also exposing more side boob, chicken wing or Dunlap than I care to admit to. But on the plus side, my ankle looks way thicker than its usual Chankle (chicken ankle – Chrisism) self.

Since I was trying to get her off of and away from me, she settled on my lap. I sat and bled, fearful of the proximity of her claws to my crotch.

This has now become a part of Myrt’s nightly routine.

300: Snack

530: Pretend it’s dinner time.

600: Dinner. Finally!

630: Whine at the door. Or a kitchen cabinet door. Just whine.

700: Pre-bedtime nap.

830: Fully dilate pupils and attack.

845: Retreat, but be creepy about it.

1100: Bedtime!

It’s the addition of that 830 activity that has me on high alert. She’ll just come sit by the coffee table and stare at my ankles, like they are singing a hypnotic siren song that only she can hear. When she feels like mixing it up, she’ll sit behind the corner of the couch. I can hear her paws clickety-click-clack up slowly behind me and I’ll turn to see her sitting there, black eyed…

Meow

“Don’t you even think about it.”

Meooow

“Shoo, Crazy Eyes!”

…and she’s off to the box spring home office.

Clearly, we have differing hobbies. Mine is to cuddle and watch Netflix

…or nap, hers is to kill or maim me.

Maybe it’s because she resents that she’s not a dog and doesn’t get three or four walks a day.

Whatever, there was a couple of moderately non-lethal years in there. Maybe the dark days this winter are just hitting her particularly hard.

I’m still walking around, so she clearly still finds me useful. Even if it’s just as a cushion and occasional scratching post.

Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy

MNSC: Escalation Edition

16 hours ago, I was gifted-slash-bequeathed a 5L bottle of wine by the Silver Fox’s Son.

If you need some forced perspective hyperbole for scale, it’s blocking out my fridge in that picture…

Of course, I joked that I wasn’t sharing it. Secretly, I wondered when I would have occasion to polish it off.

Monday Night Supper Club has died. A victim of its own purpose.

Our foursome became a threesome when the one couple broke up.

Then a five-some, when the third embraced the meal’s mission and invited a couple into the mix.

Then a sixth was added, I think just to prevent the couple from being able to become a voting bloc. Or is it block? Who cares.

But then our numbers crushed us under the weight of scheduling – which I was the gateway for, with my stupid retail schedule. I can’t decide fully if I miss that or not. Anyway, we moved from Mondays to Saturdays to Fridays to delays for travel or moving house.

Our group spanned from the west side to northwest, initially. Then from the far east side of town to inner east side and northwest, The Fox and I being the stalwart downtowners that we are. Then we added in a mix of north Portland, just to prove that for all its reputation as a small town, Portland covers a fair amount of territory.

But back to that bottle. This morning, I was staring at it while I got some water from the tap.

“You…what the hell am I going to do with you?”

Returning to bed to read the early morning email deliveries, I cam across a recipe from Alex Delany and Bon Appetit, he likes to send me little ideas that he’s kicking around.Most of the time, I don’t do anything with them, because these Rent Week notions he has are usually something soup or stew oriented, and I’m saving that entire culinary oeuvre for my 60s.

But leeks? C’mon. Who could not? Truly one of the most undervalued alliums/roots there is, in my opinion.

Add in the scariest ingredient ever – wanna guess? I’ll wait…
Ooh, I’m sorry…we were looking for Anchovies!Good guess, though.

But leeks and anchovies? I’m in.

I text The Fox and ask what he’s doing for dinner.

Nothing.

Drinks with one of our bartendresses – which I’d forgotten to invite myself to, but rectified immediately – at 5:30 and then nothing.

Dinner was cooking!

So, I started procrastinating immediately. Naturally.

All I needed to do was go to the store and buy a lemon, three leeks and a tin of anchovies. Everything else was on hand: pasta, white wine and parm.

It’s a Rent Week recipe, it’s supposed to be simple. If you’re curious, here’s the recipe.

Actually, I think I’ll pick up some more parm while I’m out…can’t ever have not enough of that!

My procrastinating took the form of finishing my pizza from last night while watching a few episodes of West Wing.

Oops, missed my noon spin class.

As I was hefting my bulk off the couch to start finishing a blog entry from last year that I planned to post tomorrow, I get a text from the Filipina Fox, telling me her plans had changed and our 8:30 meet up was now a go for earlier if I was available.

Ok, before you start thinking that my life is super exciting and that I have 5:30 drinks, followed by a 6:30 dinner and then back out for 8:30 drinks…slow down. This was nothing but a calendar fail.

Not that I couldn’t stack shit like that, mind you. It’s just that I don’t want to.

Simple Solution: mea culpa for all I’m worth and invite the Filipina Fox to join.

What’s better than a meal with all my Foxes, after all?

Dinner with all my Foxes and the Filipina Fox’s hubster, that’s what.

I start looking around my little abode of humility and think it looks more like Myrtle’s home than mine and that maybe I should bother to clean up and de-fur the joint a little. Friendship only gets one so far in one’s good graces, if you ask me. Sending the Filipina Fox and her hubby home to their Citra Hop Cat with more Myrtle on them than they left home with of her is probably an politically poor idea, in feline politics, at least. I’d hate to get them in cat trouble.

But now, in addition to a little cleaning – very little…just dusting, wiping down the leather, mopping, washing my shower curtain liner, booking some chamber music and polishing my wood furnishings, no big deal, I’m not even cleaning my windows or making my bed – I was left curious as to whether I should double the recipe.

I normally cook a pound of pasta when I cook, otherwise it’s not worth it. Of course, I usually cook a pound of pasta for myself and make two meals of it. When I made carbonara for the six Supper Club boys, I made two pounds.

So, let’s enjoy me being crippled by that neurotic thought for a moment, entertaining and then rejecting the idea of making a fucking salad to go with dinner.

Forget that, I’ll just get bread.

And more wine…problem solved, right?

But then I remember my morning’s quandary.

Suddenly, I know what I’m doing with that gift from the Silver Fox’s son. I think he and his wife have held onto it for years – its a 2005, but I don’t think they’ve had it that long. I will have had it for less than 24 hours before dispatching it.

That.

Escalated.

Quickly.

Now, I only need a 5L decanter…

PS: For you judgy folk, you better believe I’m serving red wine with a white wine sauce!

MNSC: Escalation Edition

Friday Morning Dance Party

I’m not sure what’s gotten into me this morning, but when I woke up, instead of flipping on the tube, I put on some music. Nothing special, I use Pandora and I’ve been letting the Thumbprint Radio do the heavy lifting for me instead of selecting a specific artist station. I really am enjoying that feature. So I’ve had random great music playing throughout the house as I wander from room to room.

Queen and solo Freddie Mercury

Cranberries and solo Delores O’Reardon

Cowboy Junkies

Genesis and – you guessed it – Phil Collins. Still waiting on some Peter Gabriel

Katy Perry

Sting…but no Police

The Outfield!

Pandora had to dig pretty deep into my musical tastes for that last one…

But all this goodness vibing around my little slice of Portland has had me shaking my groove thing as I’ve puttered through my morning.

While I was making breakfast – oatmeal, I swear – I was dancing in place in front of the stove.

Folding laundry at the counter.

Turning my towel into a dancing prop after my shower.

It’s all made me feel good.

Then I look up after reaching down to dry my legs and see this

She’s so judge-y.

I still laughed. Let her judge. Realistically, she’s probably thinking, “I can’t believe this idiot is who I rely upon for food and water…”

Friday Morning Dance Party