Pets, Plants, Views... Oh My!

As fate—that fickle old rascal—might have it, a few weeks back, when summer was in full swing, and those silly little battery-powered fans you can clip onto your baseball cap, didn’t seem like such a silly idea after all, myself, the missus, and the little squirt, ended up going on vacation. Well, it was more of a glorified weekend trip to PA, but for a family of New Yorkers that most certainly qualifies as a prim and proper vacation with all the trimmings.

According to the tenets of New York City life, any activity which includes pets, greenery, and a decent view, can be considered a vacation, because daily life in the apple that never sleeps includes none of the above. Pets are not allowed in our (expensive, but too small) Bronx apartment, and plants of all religions and denominations worldwide consider me their mortal enemy (having not two, not three, but TEN brown thumbs), and the view from our apartment is exactly what one might expect from a place named after a man who unironically sported the last name of Bronck.

Thus it is with great pleasure I present to you, dearest reader, Gracie—the closest thing I'll ever have to a pet.

Gracie lives a quiet, equestrian life on a small farm in rural PA. Our eyes met the moment the blond-headed Amish boy led our small tour group into the whitewashed stable, filled to the brim with the unmistakable aroma of reality. There she stood with a yearning look and a mouthful of hay. Within a mere moment the air was abuzz with the sizzle of magic and romance (It may have been horseflies, though. I'm not 100% sure).

I said: "Why, hello Beautiful." She playfully nuzzled my forehead. I laughed gaily and pulled an extra-absorbent napkin from my pocket. I then offered her a big lump of sugar, of which I always carry a few (you never know who you might meet!). She excitedly stepped forward, graciously accepted the sweet treat, and returned the favor by giving me a massive lump on the shin. Stars filled the room, ecstasy overcame me, and twenty-two simple words imprinted themselves upon my heart: Sometimes love, true love, pure love, the kind of love that makes you go "Mhm, mhm, mhm," is so real, it hurts.

"But, Casual-T," I hear you say, "what about Mrs. Casual?" Yes, of course, you are right. I am a married man, and I love my wife dearly. I would never leave her (for a horse). But I simply can't bring myself to forget those tender, honest, and ever so bittersweet moments I shared with Gracie on that hot summer's day in Pennsylvania. I will remember her for as long as I limp. (Have you ever seen a shin the color, shape, and consistency of an eggplant? It's quite a sight to behold.)

When It Rains...

It's a rainy day, here in NYC; glum and damp, and quiet. Quite lovely, actually. The perfect opportunity to grab a good book (Wyrd Sisters won!!), maybe pull a glass of my finest cranberry juice from the rack in the cellar of my imagination (the 2011 is just delightful; nutty, yet smooth, with the tiniest twang of a tingling after-bite), and crawl into a warm corner, right next to the fireplace.

Well, so one might think. Problem is, the landlord of my over-priced NYC apartment hasn't turned on the heat yet (and probably won't until icicles make it a sporting event to dangle from my nostrils, seeing which one can hold on the longest). And a fireplace (with actual logs crackling and sparking!), let's face it, is something I only know via fairy tale descriptions by the Brothers Grimm. And just to make the experience perfect, I've existed on bread, water, and Alka-Seltzer for the last couple of days. Yes, the sickness of doom (as my family calls it), once again, has me tight between its clutches. As every year around this time of changing weather, I welcomed it like an old buddy returning from his yearly summer vacation in the southern hemisphere. "Good to see ya again, old chum. BRCHL!!" I coughed gleefully.

Sick or not; rain or shine; daily duties won't accept rain-checks from anybody, least not me. So out we go, into the wet, cold, gray, grim, fall weather (but with golden,warm sunshine, and rainbow farting unicorns in my heart!), waiting to see who's going to win this time around. "Bring it, Fall. Lemme see watcha got!" I croak, with a reverberating cough and jolly sniffle every once in a while. Then I take another dizzy step, supported by the ropes of the boxing rink of life, just to let good, old Boreas know that I may be down, but I'm not yet out.

Perhaps I'll rewatch Rocky I tonight, just to get pumped up about drinking raw egg yolk with Tabasco Sauce, and running through the rain at 4 in the morn. I'll have to pass on the one-handed push-ups, though. Every time I try, I end up with a bloody nose... So maybe just another episode of Star Trek will suffice. They just poke a phallic looking utensil with an orange light-beam shooting out of it, up your nose - Problem solved. No push-ups, running, or egg yolks required. Now where's that remote?

Reading, Writing, Oreos

With things being as they are in the world, I thought it might be a good idea to start this blog on a decidedly positive note. Here are some things I'm glad to be looking forward to, this week...

In lieu of
  1. A garden to do garden work in (Did I mention that gardening is a fairly uncommon hobby in the Bronx?)
  2. The fun prospect of moving cross-state (Did I mention that I'm quite passionate about hating moving?)
  3. A 3-year old to visit an 82-year old with (Did I mention that I told my kids not to have kids any time soon?!)
I'm mainly looking forward to reading.

Last night I finished Sourcery by that man with the uncanny talent for fanciful wordsmithery, Terry Pratchett, which leaves me with the major task of figuring out whether I want to jump right into the next book in his Discworld series, Wyrd Sisters (can't get enough of Pratchett at the moment), revisit Solaris by Stanislaw Lem (another one of my favorites), or if I'll finally undertake the massive 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (it's been on my list for a little while)!. Whichever way I'll decide to go, thanks to the suggestions of some fine folks out there in virtual land, I've gotten myself a copy of Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin, which I'll delve into alongside the winner of my little what-to-read-next competition.

I'm also looking forward to writing, in the hopes of being able to string together three or more words in a somewhat sensible fashion, with the intent of getting the hapless protagonist of my opus in progressu—a fancy space tale expected to hit bookstore shelves sometime within the coming millennium—into even more trouble, so as to amuse, beguile, or perhaps even enlighten any future readers (presently myself).

It's a fine concept.

Alas, what usually happens is that I write the three trouble-inducing words and then find myself rather confused as to how to get the poor lad back out of said trouble. To solve this dilemma I quite often end up devouring a pack of double-stuffed Oreos, while trying to think up that elusive fourth word, which will surely make the previous three make perfect sense.

Last but not least, I'm looking forward to looking backward and saying: "Hey, it could be much worse." Although it'll probably sound more like: "Mh, hm phmm hmpf mhh hhfm." (Did I mention the Oreos?)

Prey, do tell, what might you be looking forward to?