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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Blondie-Dog, Hence the Name of My Boat...

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you perhaps might have wondered how in the heck did I come up with a name like "Blondie-Dog" for a sailboat and why not some lofty sounding name like "Sea-Adventure", or "Starlight", or "Serenity", or some-such.

Well, it was a pretty simple choice. The yellow trim on my newly purchased boat certainly wouldn't have been my choice of color and I certainly wasn't going to spend the money for a new paint job so I did the next best thing and accepted the color for what it was and named the boat after my blond Labrador that I previously cared for.

Blondie was indeed the name I had given to a blond Labrador retriever that I "kind of" adopted from a neighbor back in Ennis, Texas and since family pets are deserving of a middle name, I'd call my dog Blondie-Dog on occasion just to remind her that she was indeed a dog and that she had been adopted and that there was a limit to her house and car-ride privileges.

But "Blondie" hadn't always been her name. My quite elderly and frail neighbor who previously cared for Blondie, had for some odd reason named her "Lady" of all things which was somewhat perplexing because there wasn't a lady-like bone in that dog from day one.

"Blondie" seemed to me to be a much more appropriate name because of her pretty color and because she reminded me of the Dagwood-comic strip character, Blondie who was in my judgment decidedly attractive yet a complete ditz.

Yet I had other ulterior motives for making a concerted effort to endear myself to my neighbor's dog which I'll explain further along.

You see... "Blondie" suddenly showed up on the scene one afternoon upon me pulling into my driveway after my daily commute from Dallas when I was once gainfully employed.

Out in the driveway were my wife and two daughters who were being introduced by my elderly and frail neighbor to her new dog... a blond two year old Labrador retriever who'd just been rescued and adopted from the local dog pound.

Well you can say that I wasn't the least bit excited to meet my neighbor's new dog. It hadn't been but a week or so that her previous dog... an obese, squatty, ugly brown mutt and had finally croaked and died much to my delight. This after the obese mutt had once again relieved herself on my front lawn for the millionth time much to my chagrin.

That obese, squatty, ugly brown mutt had a name... "Daisy". But I'd always refer to her dog as "Tick-Dog" because of her striking resemblance to a big, fat, happy tick.

I well remember that one Saturday morning when I look up from my morning paper only to see "Tick-Dog" once again taking a dump in my front lawn with my frail neighbor non-challantly looking on.

I am silently seething while peering through a window at that dog all the while thinking, "Die dog", "Die dog", "Die!". Well I must have untapped mental powers because a week later Tick-Dog had to be put down and had croaked.

I've now parked my car and am now meeting my neighbor's new dog for the first time. The dog is somewhat guarded at first as I approach to say hello. I meet "Lady" and gingerly hold out my palm so that she can sniff me and get to know me and not bite me on the ass when I'm least expecting it.

I'm dismayed to think of all the poop that dog will surely be dumping out on my front lawn from here on out when it occurs to me not to get mad at the dog but to instead steal that dog's affection... and that is what I precisely set out to do.

I'd get home in the evenings and after a quick shower head on out to the garage, grab a cold one out of the fridge and head on outside to shoot a few hoops. Well Blondie could undoubtedly hear that ball bouncing from next door and assuredly made enough of a dog-fuss that my frail neighbor had no choice but to let her out so she could go run about outside and join the fun.

It didn't hurt that I always treated Blondie to a few milk bones that I secretly kept stored inside the garage either. Soon enough Blondie and I were best buds... I'd throw a rubber ball which she would chase down and then run all throughout the adjacent driveways defying anyone to catch her.

After awhile when she had tired of all the running about she'd get adventurous and roam the neighborhood and get herself into mischief. Neighbors were soon enough commenting about Blondie roaming throughout the neighborhood and I'd grin and shrug my shoulders and explain, "She's not my dog" and leave it at that.

On one occasion Blondie could be seen dragging an enormous prize down the street. Clasped in her mouth was the paw of a pink, four-foot tall, stuffed bear that she had claimed out of some body's garage... in pursuit was a small child wailing away like only an unruly kid in a grocery store can wail.

To my frail neighbor's dismay, I always would make it a point to call out to her dog as "Blondie" and not "Lady". Blondie would come bounding to me in a heartbeat while my neighbor's feeble attempts to call out to "Lady" went unheeded.

Yeah, you could say that I was most successful in stealing that dog's affection and better yet, Blondie for whatever reason would never poop in my yard.

Somewhat thereafter I couldn't help but notice that Blondie was no longer to be seen running about and playing in the evenings after I'd get home from work. Blondie had unknowingly to me been confined to inside my neighbor's house. I kinda missed not having Blondie running about and playing chase yet I had to remind myself that Blondie wasn't my dog.

I was only much later to find out that a number of neighbors had banded together and filed a legal complaint against my elderly and frail neighbor. The court had already mandated on two prior occasions that Blondie be confined at all times and that if the dog were to be seen roaming about the neighborhood one more time, my frail neighbor would be held in "contempt of court" and who knows what kind of a dire jail sentence would have been imposed upon her.

Some three or four years later one weekend afternoon, I happen to observe an obese, blond dog waddle out of my neighbor's garage. A delivery truck had shown up at my neighbor's house to make a delivery of some sort and her kitchen and garage doors had been left open.

It broke my heart when it dawned on me that that obese dog waddling aimlessly about in the driveway was Blondie. The dog was as fat as an ugly tick and had a sad and lethargic demeanor about her. Once again I had to remind myself, "She's not my dog."

Soon thereafter my elderly neighbor was confined to a hospital bed and later a nursing home after taking a fall on her kitchen floor and breaking both hips. She had reportedly been on that kitchen floor for a good three days before a family member finally showed up to check up on her.

Blondie had now been living alone in that house for a good three months or so with the sliding glass doors wide open to the back yard so that she could go in and out. Family members would periodically come by to feed the dog and fill her water bowl.

I too unbeknown'st to anyone else would occasionally check up on the dog as well to make sure she had plenty of water. I'd simply unlatch the picket fence gate out in the back and let myself in. There was a gawd awful stench emanating from inside that house not that I ever wanted to venture in there anyway.

At first, I'd hear a low growl from inside that house but after calling out to Blondie a few times, she'd come waddling out to greet me. It was obvious that she was no longer as morbidly obese as before as she was now being fed regular dog food and not a steady diet of sliced baloney.

One weekend afternoon while out driving, my wife tells me... "You like that dog... don't you?" and then proceeds to tell me to stop off at Wal-Mart for a few purchases and that I'm not to make any fuss nor am I to object to anything.

We enter the store and my wife proceeds to load up the basket with a large leather dog collar, a leash, two metal dog dishes, a box of milk bones, and a huge bag of Purina dog food.

Once home I'm told, "Now go get your dog" and as I once again sneak inside that picket fence gate to let myself in, my wife places a phone call to a family member of my neighbor and to inform him, "By the way, we have claimed Lady as our own dog so you now won't have to worry about feeding her anymore".

It is a brief phone conversation, one that I did not partake in but could somehow hear a huge sigh of relief from the other end of the line when that call ended. Blondie now had a new home.

Months later I take Blondie to the vet at the insistence of my wife. Surely Blondie hadn't had her shots in awhile and could possibly use a medical checkup as well. She was most certainly a part of the family now and had to be properly cared for.

Once inside the vet offices, I explain that I had only somewhat recently gotten the dog after the attendant had commented that she looked familiar. I go on to further explain that Blondie previously belonged to my neighbor and that she use to be called "Lady".

Soon enough the attendant is back with the dog's old medical records and is marvelling at how fit and gorgeous the dog is now. Blondie was previously recorded as weighing 90 pounds at one point and now weighed in at a fit 60.

I was asked what I had done to get her weight down and I responded, nothing... just feed her regular dog food and take her on long walks in the evening. The attendant couldn't help herself and had to call in all her fellow staff members to see first-hand Blondie's transformation.

You could say that I miss my wife and my daughters and my dog for that matter.

Incidentally not that anyone has asked but the picture shown above was of me and Blondie-do​g attending a poochie-do​g promotion night at the Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

This was a fun Petco sponsored event. An advance ticket purchase entitled one to bring their poochie-do​g to the ballpark and join in a dog parade along the perimeter of the playing field before game time. Also included in the purchase of the tickets were two gift bags with an assortment of doggy treats.

Upon entering a stadium gate reserved for those parading their dogs, I was singled out by an attractive female television reporter and asked whether I'd be agreeable to a brief interview.

No sooner had I said yes, when that reporter asks what had brought me and my dog out to the ballpark that evening. And with that I turn to Blondie-Dog and feign asking my poochie-dog the question just asked of me. I then proceed to tell the reporter, "I think she said that we're both here tonight because we're both single and we're both looking!"

The reporter along with the cameraman immediately crack up as she responds, "Well you've certainly come to the right place tonight!" And with that I grin real big into the camera and exclaim "bye!!" before striding off in search of my ballpark seat.

A few days followed after that event when my youngest daughter confronts me to tell me that I had been seen on TV and that all her classmates along with their parents were now having a good laugh at my expense. She proceeds to emphatically inquire, "Dad! What did you say??!! And what did your shirt say??!!. All my friends are laughing at you!!"

(btw.. My shirt is a small fib.. if you're female, sensible and attractive​, then I'm interested​!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Driving through the Everglades on Tamiami Hwy 41. p

It's early Monday morning after my even earlier "walk of shame" and I now find myself on the road driving back on down to Boot Key Harbor. This all after having been enlightened on not just the correct pronunciation of Tamiami... as in State Highway 41, but also how the name came about.

I had for some time in my totally discombobulated mind been at a total loss on how to pronounce the road-signs stating Tamiami. Not only had I all along been mentally mispronouncing the name, but I also had incorrectly assumed it to be the name of some obscure and long forgotten Indian tribe somewhere out in the Everglades.

But no. My dear friend from Marco Island with the enticing swimming pool enlightened me as to its correct pronunciation and explained to me that Tamiami was simply short for Tampa-Miami.

Tamiami is a two lane road cutting across the Everglades. There is little more than low growing brush and swamplands on either side of that road... and I only thought that west Texas was as forsaken as it gets.

All I ever heard from the locals down in this part of Florida was that there were plenty of alligators to be seen sunning themselves along the Tamiami highway and since I have yet to see my first gator, I had my eyes peeled looking out for one.

Well I still have yet to see an alligator and I'm beginning to believe all the talk of alligators languishing throughout that swamp is but a myth at best and an outright fabrication at worst to get tourists to purchase gator trinkets and stuff.

I drive on past a billboard along side of that two lane road. It's trying to entice me to turn off up ahead and wager my money at the Turner River Preserve Casino. For all I know it very well could have been the same casino that claimed a slot machine had malfunctioned and thereby refusing to pay out millions of dollars of prize money to some little old lady who had been playing that thing day after day.

No thanks... I'm not interested and I'm not stopping.

I keep driving and see a crow the size of a turkey intently feeding on some roadkill. That bird hardly moved as I drove on past.

I later drive on past some forsaken place called "Indian Village" and later on past "Clyde Butcher Big Cypress" whatever that might be, and then on past "Shark Valley"... yeah right... Sharks in a swamp?... go find some other gullible tourist to tell that story to.

Up ahead just on the outskirts of Homestead I stop off at a 7-11 for a quick pit-stop. A sign on the glass door advertises "Alligator-Snake Ice cream" of all things. Thanks but no thanks... I believe I'll stick to Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream if you don't mind.

Homestead wasn't anything like I was expecting it to be. I well remember Homestead being decimated by Hurricane Andrew awhile back but was still somewhat surprised by all the Plant Nurseries alongside the road.

Homestead had a Latin American feel to it... all the business signs seemed to be in Spanish and many of the businesses along that road were adorned with flags from every Central and South American country.

I even spotted the Puertorrican flag among the many flags and we all know that the reason why the Cuban community living in South Florida happen to love Miami is because they believe it to be so close to the United States... wtf??.. ha..ha.

I finally drive on down to the upper keys and the scenery has vastly improved yet it seems as if I've hit one traffic light after another. Traffic doesn't seem to go faster than 35 at best with all the road construction.

Eventually I make it on down to mile marker 50 and that can only mean one thing... my four hour drive is over with and I have a car to get around in!

Incidentally, Tamiami is pronounced Ta-MEamE if you figured it out already.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Booty-Call, Protocol"

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It's early Monday morning as I stroll out to my car a day after a most welcomed respite of doing little more than watching football, grilling outdoors, sipping on wine and dipping all ten toes in my friend's nice enclosed swimming pool.

I've got a four hour drive ahead of me before I get on down to Marathon and I've indulged long enough and there is no point in delaying the infamous "walk of shame".

Just about everybody at one point or another has walked the "walk of shame" but simply didn't know what to call it, but even fewer people will know that the first tenant of "booty-call, protocol" is that one never delays the "walk of shame".

I'll explain to the uninitiated... no matter how much one might have enjoyed the previous evening or prior day and no matter how much one would prefer to linger around a while longer sipping on coffee and what-not, one just has to get on with their morning and make sure that they are in full compliance with "booty-call, protocol".

It is pointless to fret about any neighbors noticing anything untowards going on because it's already too late to make a discrete getaway and they've long since stepped outside to pickup their morning paper and have long since figured out that there is a car in the drive-way across the street that hadn't been there before.

Never mind whether or not I slept on that hard mattress in the guest room the previous night or whether there is a set of bed-sheets that will need to be laundered later that day... the moment has arrived to walk the "walk of shame".

I say my goodbyes and walk that awkward "walk of shame"... fumble for my car keys, start the ignition and drive away.

Goodbye Marco Island... for better or worse, I'm now en route to Vaca Key to reunite myself with S/V Blondie-Dog bobbing on a mooring in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Driving on down to Marco Island...

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It's eleven P.M. or so as I start the ignition on my fully depreciated car and pull away from my parking space at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin Marina. I'm hungry and somewhat worn out after a long day of riding a bus on down to Key West and later hanging out at a dockside bar for a good part of the afternoon.

I've got tired-head after hearing bikers talk of nothing other than motorcycles at that bar and of later finally boarding the Key West Express catamaran-motor vessel for a four hour sail on up to Fort Myers Beach.

As I drive on past alongside the marina, I see two sailing vessels still tied up in the same slips they were at a month ago... one belongs to so-called Captain Jacobo, the chain-smoking geezer previously described with saggy skin. The other vessel belongs to "Big Dumb F***", the over-sized former corporate hotshot with a crapped-out sailing vessel.

I've got but one thought as I drive on past those two vessels and that is... "Adios MOFOS", to quote a certain corporate-interest governor still in office.

Cleveland Avenue still looks like it did a month ago... depressed with shuttered store -fronts and what-not. I later make a turn to hit the interstate that will take me on down to my evening's destination on Marco Island but not before getting a tank full of gas and going through the late night drive-thru at McDonald's.

I'm revived after wolfing down, (woof!!), a double-patty burger with plastic cheese and fries along with a chocolate milkshake. Well I'll admit that it's not quite plastic because my youngest daughter's fourteen year-old best bud had once explained to me that American pasteurised cheese slices was but one molecule away from being categorized as plastic crap by the FDA.

Her dad also happens to be an experienced chef who knows all about this kind of stuff and because there has got to be a compelling reason for all the morbid obesity wadling about and of all the clogged heart arteries among burger eaters. Nevertheless, I was somewhat famished before stuffing that burger and plastic cheese down my gullet.

My order somehow got screwed up while chatting it up and flirting while on that intercom. I've got an extra single-patty burger in the bag to which I know is a freebie because I checked my receipt.

Just for the record... that slender, young lady and with a fine looking dark complexion who happened to take my window order, was exceedingly attractive and I was only too pleased that all my "dear" and "thank you sweetie" commentary on that intercom didn't go for naught. Damned... that chick was hot!

An hour or so later I found myself on Marco Island. It was a welcomed relief to shower and collapse upon that hard mattress in the guest room.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A False Car Alarm Goes Off...

The day before I had decided to head back on up to Fort Myers to retrieve my car, I notice a voice message awaiting to be heard on my cell phone.

The voice mail is from the Fort Myers City Yacht Basin Marina informing me that it had been noted that my car was no longer parked at the marina and that it was assumed that I had been by to pick it up and that I had yet to settle my parking fee.

The message is a bit unnerving to say the least because first of all, I certainly don't have custodianship of my car and second of all the tone of the message is somewhat accusatory that I didn't hold up my end of the bargain and pay my prorated parking fee.

I'm now wondering whether my car got towed off somewhere or whether someone might have had a greater need for my fully depreciated, crapped-out yet still running car than I did and had swiped it.

I promptly return the phone call to get a clarification of my car situation and inform the office that I am presently in Marathon but had yet to return to the the marina to retrieve my car.

I corroborate the make, model and color of my beat-up car and the parking space number as well. I'm asked to wait on the line while they do a little investigating. I'm anxiously wanting to hit the showers and suggest that I'll call back later to inquire about the car.

After my quick and not so leisurely shower, I do call only to have the marina personnel inform me that my car is indeed parked where it had been all along for the past month and that one of their employees had incorrectly reported that it was gone.

I take the opportunity to explain that I will be retrieving my car in the next day or so and to go ahead and charge my debit card for the parking fee in case I were to reclaim it after business hours.

I am relieved that the whole car situation was but a false alarm and that my car is waiting for to be reclaimed. I've owned that car for over ten years and it kind of unnerved me to think that my last link to Ennis, Texas was suddenly and unexpectedly a thing of the past.