Stink Bugs & Me

Stink Bug

Noun

  • any of numerous broad, flat bugs of the family Pentatomidae, that emit a disagreeable odor.
  • any of various other malodorous bugs.

Frankenberry

Dude

  • guy in a Pittsburgh Pirates hat with cats, singular and thin (minus that beer bulb above his belt) of the family Frankenberry human
  • malodorous or disagreeable scents are only for cats to decide and they poop in an open air box so they’re not much to judge

Stink Bugs seem to be fan of my apartment, and me, and I’m guessing some of you might be able to relate.

Stink Bug 02-20-21

Now, I’m not overrun, sometimes in the summer there might come the occasional mini swarm of ‘em but, though it is just a few, there is never a time where that aren’t at least a couple to be found hanging around somewhere in this place, doing Stink Buggy stuff, which is generally just that, hanging around, on or in or under things and usually found with a bit of surprise. They don’t freak me out mind you as they might some and there is no knee jerk to quickly kill them as could be the case with others or even you. It’s not a “me or them” kinda thing, they pose no real threat to my life as far as I can tell, well, except for maybe that one crazy for bug and bug country kamikaze flying stinker who might hit you full buzzing speed fly mid yawn to get lodged in your choking throat becoming a folk hero to Stink Bugs all across Stink Bug Nation but, otherwise, they’re pretty harmless.

My ex, Maria, was on the freak out end of the stink bug, or any bug reaction spectrum and found no humor in me finding humor in her freak outyness or my smiling indifference to complying with her demands to kill them as she cowered with eyes wide and a pointed finger. Even the JG, her son, cowered and pointed the same. And he was a kid. Isn’t gotta crush bugs right in a kid’s wheelhouse? Maybe there was some early childhood trauma associated with bugs I wasn’t aware of before we threw in our hats. A spider on his pillow whispering nightmares, a centipede crawling leg legs legs legs legs over his arm in the middle of the night, an ant that came out from under the floorboards and squeezed his cheek too tightly giving unwelcome kisses? If so, apologies for sounding callous JG, but Stink Bugs, for the most part, are pretty simple, slow meandering things who don’t really do much, flit to flying only on occasion, but usually are pretty easy to gather into my catch and release empty Friskies cat food can … have open window, will Stink Bug travel.

You see Stink Bugs and I here have come to a sort of understanding. You stay away from the bed, especially my pillow, you don’t buzz my noggin tower in the middle of the night, you stay away from my sundries and my bathroom towels, you back off on the Human vs Stink Bug wartime propaganda to try and keep your kamikaze prone in check and I in turn … won’t kill you. I think that’s pretty fair. I will even call all of you Ralph (apologies femme stinkies – and any Ralph’s that may be reading this) to sort of, though generically, personalize our relationship and make you feel more at home and give you a bit more reason to stick to our agreement.

Now occasionally there are those that will break the armistice though some of it is my own doing. I don’t use my bathroom hand towel very often so when I do come across a Stink Bug on it I can’t be overly upset and just resort to a willy nilly lobbing of killings at all Stink Bugs. It’s what they do. If ya leave an anything hanging too long, some rogue Stink Bug will test the waters, or cloths. I can give that a pass, but there was a situation a couple of evenings ago that seriously tested our truce.

After getting home and going about my routine of getting to the top of the stairs and greeting Mimi the Quirky (always waiting just there amid a tappy tappy toe toe tap tap to the floor stretch) with a pick up to my shoulder where she awkwardly enjoys my pets and hello’s in her quirky, old girl shy to the touch squirmy way, giving a pet and a wink to my little Bella, being quiet so as to NOT wake up Cricket the Blind (that’s when the meowling and circles pacing starts if you do), cleaning up after said Cricket the Blind who can take the simplest of cat functions like water bowling or litter boxing and make them the not simplest of messes (she literally fights with the water in the water bowl and splashes it around like she’s trying to teach it a lesson for saying something it should regret before drinking it off her paw), fill some clean bowls with new food, get my own new food ready for my own clean bowls or plates and get changed into some comfies, I made my way to the bathroom for my evening … ummm … well, my evening make way to the bathroom.

When I was finished with my evening make way to the bathroom I stood, and just before my bend down for the pull up a Stink Bug fell … to the floor … from oh God no please … to just between my heels inside my underwear waiting for that pull up and just before slowly Stink Bugging away.

I said earlier that Stink Bugs don’t freak me out, and they don’t, though this came close to qualifying. It had an at first glance obviousness that I was unwilling to consider.

Could that have?

Is it possible it?

Am I a freak?

I detectived.

Did you feel any tickles or scratching during the day I said to a me? No. (penciling notes on my little mental detective notepad)

Did anyone at work comment on your butt muscles moving in any strange way while you walked past them? No. Plus that could have possibly prompted a call to Bev in HR. 

Were you the subject of a coolly looking though horrific scene in a monster movie watching under skin bumps slowly rolling, crawling from your butt toward your brain? No.

Do you have any weird ass entomological predilections you should never, EVER, mention out loud in any company, mixed or not, if so? No.

Then, continuing to detective, I thought of other places that a Stink Bug could have fallen to between my heels instead of out of what was just too much to consider.

Light bulb! (save my thoughts light bulb … please).

I had just put on a long sleeve shirt that was laying on the futon from the Saturday before’s laundry and had been for almost a week (my futon is kind of like a dresser, just minus the folding, the drawers and the picture frames, my actual dresser envious of the use and attention). Yeah, that’s it I thought. That’s the ticket. It must have just fallen from the inside of my long sleeved shirt I kept thoughting.

I went with that.

I had to.

Could I have, again, possibly started lobbing killings as this could be considered a breaking of our Stink Bug & Me treaty or do I instead go with the aforementioned understanding that the unattended can be considered fair game in Stink Bug Land?

Alright Ralph, we’re good for now. We’ll just call this a one off. But please, if ya can, just grab and hold on to shit in my closet that I never wear will ya? Stop falling out of the seeming unimaginable. It’s uncomfortable at the thought.

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Yesterday morning, after a stand up from my … ummm … make way to the bathroom in the morning pre-shower make way to the bathroom a something fell to the floor between my heels. It was a little on the hairy side. Bella, who is always my company around my legs and feet before I jump in the shower in the mornings, stepped over my feet to sniff at it … then promptly hightailed it out of there as if she had just sniffed at a cat demon or been bitten in the ass. It was nothing more than laundry fluff from yet another recently washed and dried long sleeve, layed on the futon dresser, but it scared the shit out of a cat enough to a mad sprint. Truthfully, it kinda concerned me a bit too. Well, at least it just stayed there, sat, all hairy and maybe worrisome but, still,  just sat.

In Bella’s defense it was some pretty frightening looking laundry fluff – something that John Carpenter might have imagined could sprout legs and scamper off malevolently  – but it was still just laundry fluff.

Seems agreements need now be reached with fluff as well I guess.

Dark Days – They Wish (Song) … Your Beer’ll Just Have To Wait

Just a few weeks ago I got a notification at Facebook of being tagged. It was a tag to a posting of a link to Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish”.  Seems the hearing of that song has always reminded a them of a me and our fond days of inhabiting a place called “Monico’s” in Pittsburgh back in the early 90’s.  A Rock ‘N’ Roll bar I bartended at part time around my radio schedule at WDVE back then. I responded back that I could still see myself playing the “air horns”, elbows up and dancing back and forth behind the bar, as if in choreographed unison with some unseen other members of the horn section, ignoring all drink orders until the song and my horns and imaginary bandmates were done.

It got me to thinking though. Could I maybe sing along with this one with some new lyrics as I’ve done quite a few times in the last couple of years deservedly skewering Great Leader/former great leader, the orange one, with some other tunes? Maybe a little something about our current state of surreal affairs? 

Yeah, I think I could. 

“What? You want a beer? Sorry, you’re just going to have to wait … hell, just milk it will ya? … I don’t give a fuck about your warm backwash … just wait … can’t ya see I’m air hornin’ and dancin’ and singin’ about some bat shit insanity?”

 

 

Dark Days (They Wish) – 02-05-21

Looking back on lost years and an orange headed lyin’ boy

Whose one and only con-cern was power and just how earn from ploy

We watched and listened sadly, the starkness of the thing

That had support too many, discipled GOP

 

Truth went out the window, propaganda became the truth de jour

Echoed many sides now, podiums to pundits even went on tour

The press tried too late stem tide, point out all the lies

But they opened up that window, just tryin’ now save hides

 

They were dark days … you’d … think we’d want no more

Some truly sad … days … attack norms at the core 

But some still want … those … days to darken doors

Now hold se-di-tious dreams, yeah, they hold a torch 

They hold a torch

 

The time came to be counted, a real count not a one that aimed at steal

Enough of us did stand up, a threat was posed and seen saw to be real 

But even then some hundred plus signed on to a deal 

To stand with former power mad with fraud as the new spiel

 

That led to insurrection, encouraged violence for a new rule

With help also from inside who even took some to tour of new school

Useful idi-ots follow dumb as useful tools

The Gaetz, Hawley’s, McCarthy’s fools who know the fools

 

They were dark days … you’d … think they’d want no more

Some truly sad … days … attack norms at the core 

But some still want … those … days to darken doors

Now hold se-di-tions dreams, yeah they hold a torch 

They hold a torch

 

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doodah doo

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

 

Trump: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election”

“Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Olivia Troye: “very concerned that there will be violence on January 6th because the president himself encourages it.”

Ted “Bad Beard Breath” Cruz: “We will not go quietly into the night. We will defend liberty. And we are going to win.”

Trump and Jr.: “fight like hell.”

Jr.: “We need to fight.”

Trump: “They’re not taking this White House. We’re going to fight like hell.”

Giuliani: “… and we fight, we fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

“Let’s have trial by combat´

Mo “Box of Rocks” Brooks: “… Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

Trump: “American Patriots,”

“… We love you, you’re very special.” 

Trump: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!

Aunts

My sis, yesterday, posted, with a few pics, of a hangin’ with the girls, the blessed old guard, and of games played and laughs had, Mom, Aunt Lib and Aunt Elfriede, her own girl being one of mostly smiling fond observer status I’m sure (unless there were $ involved in the games – then I know all bets were off/on and someone definitely got fleeced). Cousin Josephine noted in a response to that post that all that was missing was her Mom, my Aunt Anne, Aunt D’Artagnan, to round out the three musketeers to the right four. Growing up these four were a mainstay and our rocks. if only Aunt Marie could have joined more often they would have made quite the formidable team and screwed up so many musketeer stories, but Aunt Marie was always a bit lost, not of her own accord mind you. For some, the world can just wear ya down.

I sat in the middle at family get togethers when I was a kid. I loved the stories my dad would tell, joyfully being part of the rapt, while I kept my cousins at bay, never quite fitting with a kid’s day, playing just enough, but I always thought to be in the kitchen listening to Mom and the girls talking shit over a dinner’s prep and glasses of wine, sometimes Aunt Marie even giving them a nod and a smile from a table in the center.

These pictures Beck?

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Aunt Lib has never forgotten my birthday in my 50 + years and always with a dollar or two in a card and a “Hey Kid” phone call knowing that however old I am I could use it, the dollars sure but more importantly the phone call. I can never do the same as how are you going to send a card with a 5 or 10 or 20 spot to your Aunt at 50 + years old? You can’t repay such things as an overgrown “kid” with dollars in a card so I make sure to well spend a call caught or a one back or make one myself and joke briefly about how we don’t agree on some stuff and how about them Steelers but most times just to listen to Aunt Lib doing all the talking rat-a-tat-tat-like as she always does, agree or not.

She talks … fast.

I dare you to get a word in edgewise.

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Aunt Anne and Uncle Don welcomed me with me with open arms, so many years ago, when I needed a place to escape to from broken things, to try and start again, some Florida sun seeming the ticket and to join my cousin Connie, even taking my Benny (the Ben) at the time into the fold. They had their couch spots and chair spots in the living room for some TV at the end of a day so you just had to be Ok with floor spots crosslegged if you were going to hang. I was good with that. Always so much more room and nothing uncomfortable or too close on a floor anyway. Aunt Anne always allowed a stretch out with a welcoming, hearty and so infectious laugh. I’d fall asleep there sometimes if I had a pillow for the stretch.

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Aunt Elfriede has the most perfect of names. Elfriede. It seems to fit and not just because that is all I’ve ever known to call her but that it seems elf-like and fantastical just like her. She calls me “Stephen” in the most wonderful of tiny lady German accents, accents that just can’t be lost no matter how long the time stateside, like my Mom’s English. I can joke about how I might take a step back at the calling me Stephen, a stop, the full name call indicating that I might have something to explain or apologize for. I’ve always just been “Frankenberry” a name with silly distinction but one I’ve tried to own since a pink sugary cartoon character arrived with bad jokes and prank phone calls when I was 7, on the radio or “Hello customer service? Name? yes Stephen with a “P H” and “Frankenberry” just like the cereal.

But when Aunt Elfriede says “Hello Stephen” I’m good, no stop. There’s no admonishment to follow. It’s just warm. And who doesn’t love the lilt of an accent at the sayin’ of your name?

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I get lost on occasion, I anger at the world and the stupid we seem forced to endure, the dangerous empowered stupid that keeps us on an edge that none of us want, especially now, a stupid that is almost too much to bear sometimes but then my sister posts a picture, pictures, of the girls, and I remember that there is a tether.

Thanks Beck.

A New Air Fryer And Singleness

Been experimenting with the air fryer I got for Christmas from Celie (my landlady), another cooking thingy to add to my countertop kitchen. It joins my age old convection oven who I have spent so much quality time with over the years that I have come to lovingly, almost intimately refer to as convection oven, my hard boiled egg egger which is quite possibly one of the greatest little inventions since electric light, the DVR or shoes you could pump for some unknown benefit back in the early 90’s, and LAST year’s Christmas present from Celie, and my double burner coolly streamlined hot plate from a company whose name I actually recognize, which was yet another Christmas present, this one from my Sis and Bro and my Mom. Seems Christmas still does hold a little bit of magic, even just a one of please feed yourself Stephen with anything other than a microwave or that grimy convection oven that even those in the middle ages, had it somehow worked, would have thumbed their dirty middle agey noses up at … boil something … how about some soup, it can cure all ills … make some pasta for Christ’s sake … something … if for no other reason than to make us feel better knowing that we tried.

Tonight’s experimenting was only me attempting to perfect the one thing I seem to have gotten down … cheese fries. Garlic and onion powdered, Sweet Baby Ray’s hot sauced cheese fries with four different cheeses to be specific. Sounds kinda tasty cool when you detail it like that right?  Some other experiments have become nothing more than almost useful doorstops or paperweights or the thing you hope to be holding in your hand at response to a house break in but the cheese fries? I got ’em bangin’ with some salsa and sour cream.

I even picked myself up a little air fryer cookbook, the one I used to first figure fried potatoes, ie French fries ie cheese fries (I got to the cheese part all on my own). Page 59. There’s already stains on that page now which makes it seem grandma legitimate replete with admonishments of the terrible life you’re living. That page, and all the others, are filled with recipes of some of the tastiest sounding of things, Chickpea & Avocado Mash, Chicken Mushroom Casserole, Parmesan Crusted Tilapia, Prawns (my God, now that sounds like some fancy shit huh?), Special Maple-Glazed Pork Ribs, which of course are special, how could they not be, it’s in the name. But being a lazy single guy my cooking has only ever consisted of a something with a few spices and hot sauce on aluminum foil in a too well worn pan for 25 minutes with nothing on the side while I watch (or re-watch) whatever episode of M*A*S*H was on Me TV then when I first bought it, right after I had moved out of the house into a new little place on my own or now of whatever Pluto TV’s next Star Trek Next Generation episode is that I’ve seen before after Celie killed the cable star, but not without asking me first if I was Ok with that. Have Firestick will travel I told her, I’m good Celie, whatever it is that can save a couple of bucks and whatever it is to distract until I hear a “ding”.

So now I thought, I have a roadmap, a roadmap of food preparation, a cookbook. But one of the drawbacks of being that lazy single guy, whose cooking, as I said, has only ever consisted of a something with a few spices and hot sauce on aluminum foil in a too well worn pan for 25 minutes with TV distractions? I don’t have any of the ingredients it calls for other than that main something and I probably never will. That would require thought in my shopping and we can’t have that. I know where the beer and cat food and litter are with some other things grabbed quickly in step along the way.

Damned cookbooks and their details.

Cheese fry anyone? … hold on, let me grab the sour cream. Do you like salsa … yes, I do have a little bit of rhythm … I’d love to …

A Proud Uncle Gets A Text

(I think I may have to expand on this soon but for now, at least, consider it a part one)
 
Now, I don’t have any kids, well, at least no strangely familiar 20 to 30 year old’s have shown up out the blue at my cat welcome mat (just a regular one by the way – the one that meows when you step on it costs WAAY too much and sounds almost weirdly cruel) with surprise stories of moms and nights I might only slightly recall begging me ask the déjà vu question of if I have ever met them before, so I think the knowledge of my life and the marks on its doorframe’s timeline is pretty safe, though I think I’m getting shorter (my feet also seem to be getting smaller but that is another concern entirely).
 
But, I do have two nephews and a JG (the son of my ex), two of the three of which I did spend a good deal of time with in their early, post production testing the new wheels and horn stage.
 
One of them, Jake of the two nephews, which sounds like something that should have it’s own crest, the older, at 21, of my sis’s two boys, who is a uniquely funny and wonderfully smart, eclectic young guy, texted me last night, and, no, not to tell me that he had run into someone a little older than him who looked surprisingly like me, but to ask if I could take a “wild guess” at what book it was that he had just bought. Book? I know. What the hell is that thinks the youngin’s?
 
“Ummmmm, something Gene Wolfe?” I replied aware that he knows that Gene Wolfe is the absolute favorite of the sci-fi/fantasy geek that is his uncle.
 
“Nope” he replied back.
 
“Isaac Asimov, “Foundation”?” was my next guess. That one has just been in my head lately with a film coming and the thought of a reread, plus I might have mentioned such to him.
 
“One more try”
 
“Everyone Poops?”
 
“No, Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”
 
Oh, a kid after his uncle’s old silly heart. Bless you son.
 
“Damn!” I said, hoping it would be “Everyone Poops” as classics need be recognized “I should have known to guess Hitchhikers”
 
He then went on to tell me how he keeps dropping the “so long and thanks for all fish” at work and how it infuriates him that no one gets it. Now, I’m sure those drops are missing a bit of context but I said I could understand the frustration and added that knowing something they don’t, like this, is still pretty cool.
 
He jokingly responded back one more time with “these uncultured swine”.
 
I did a bit of a genuine spit take at that one knowing that that is exactly the type of thing I might say, but just imagining it in the dry, sardonic way that is all Jake.
 
Ahhhhh, I may not have any kids but Jake? Ya just made your uncle proud.

Amazing Grace and Chuck … A Long Lost New Review

When I was courting my ex-wife, yes, I said courting, what of it, I hoped to get myself on the ins and into the good graces with Mr and Mrs P (Danielle’s last name started with such) as any gentleman caller would when it comes to a Mom and a Dad. I thought of anything I could to ingratiate myself to them. I already knew the question would come, I knew that from the first time I saw her, yeah one of those, across a bar at Station Square in Pittsburgh where we both worked, she at a little cigar shop and me part time at a little CD store, “Jukes”. I knew right then and there as I decided on a stop for a beer and a snack and a sit down before home that that question would come eventually, maybe with a bended knee, maybe with a wild plan or maybe even with a simple over lunch and a “hey, by the way would ya like to …” I don’t really recall exactly what that moment was, I just knew that it would and did happen. I don’t know of any other time that I was as in love as I was then … suddenly.

I’d eventually be introduced to Mom and Dad and would be invited to the house doing my best to cut down any awkwardness by, well, being awkward. It went awkwardly, but I’d like to think that I’m a fairly likeable guy just with awkward moments for stuff like this that can maybe be almost endearing and soon we were all watching the X Files together with me on the floor leaning against the couch next to Fish the dog, Danielle behind me at my shoulders, her Dad in his captain’s chair and her Mom at her side and we talked between commercial breaks of the goings on of the show but also about the goings on’s of goings on’s. We would soon have dinners, I would take Fish for walks around a wonderful little suburban dream Mt Lebanon neighborhood, I’d start calling them Mr and Mrs P, I’d meet her sister and her brothers, one of which was a Pennsylvania State Cop who told great cop stories and kept me straight backed (my own choice) just in case and we slowly came to be family which was so welcome for a guy whose own family was back in NY, 500 miles away and who had been alone for quite some time.

It was around then that I discovered that Mr P was a fan of Jamie Lee Curtis, quietly, as if Mrs P didn’t really know. We all spend looks, innocently, and Jamie Lee Curtis was Mr P’s look. When I told him of the smallest of movies that had Jamie Lee in it, that he didn’t know of and made my way to a Blockbuster one night he lit up, well, as lit up as Mr P could be as he was a pretty reserved, quiet guy.

Amazing Grace and Chuck

My buddy Rick, the editor of the school paper at WVU and a guy who helped save my life with a place to stay and a friendship after the fire that had me standing in my underwear in a late 80’s December watching things burn and go away, including “Bob” my first cat, I’m so sorry Bob, dammit! who allowed me some latitude after not dismissing me at my first off the street stranger’s walk into the paper’s offices with queries of writing for him asked me not too long ago if I had a copy of a review I wrote of this movie 30 + years ago.

Now note that I am an awful movie critic as they range only from yadda yadda suck to yadda yadda cool. Movies and words about them are his purview which he has proven over the years and proven really well. But me? Not so much. I don’t know all the words that movie reviewers use, just resorting instead to that yadda yadda suck or cool. But I did write a review of this one back then, a one of those hidden gems type reviews that was actually Ok. I could probably find it for you Rick but that would require me going through the storage bins that have a lifetime’s worth of shit buried in them just becoming things that you move from place to place, giving them a tour of new stops in your small world, always promising yourself that you’ll finally explore them at the next place but eventually just become heavy things you keep moving and placing in windows for cats to survey their world on with a towel or two layed on top for the comfort.

I became “the guy” after that trip to Blockbuster as we watched this fable, this little fairy tale of a movie about nuclear weapons being put aside play out, with a final wondrous Gregory Peck and a couple of equally wondrous movie newcomers, a movie that promised what the best of ourselves could be if we would only just allow it.

What a wonderful little film, a one that would have made a Frank Capra proud, though he would have added that Capra touch that could have made it one of the greats.

It’s not one of the “greats”, it is though still damn good, but I was reminded at the watch this weekend that it is mine, it didn’t/doesn’t have to be great, it just has to be mine and hold memories … and still bring me to tears. Freakin’ thing.

That accepting of the question from Danielle so many years ago now didn’t work out as I would have liked, wished, wanted, planned but I had found a thing that her Dad and I could bond over and her Mom, seeing the connection, bonded with me as well. I miss them.

It’s not the review I wrote years ago that was kind of Ok, not just yadda yadda suck or yadda yadda cool Rick, but maybe this one is a little better and no searching through storage bin cat spots. I can continue to leave them be as they just wait for me to lug them, again, to wherever the next stop on the tour may be.

New Sheets And Not Hopeful Extra Pillows

So, I finally changed my sheets a couple of nights ago, the brown flannel ones that are the definition of comfy  and my go to’s. I didn’t want to let them go. Ok, I realize that “didn’t want to let them go” sounds almost tragic like “let them go” with music and words and tears and dropped flowers from some in veils underneath umbrella’s, but it was just that I had to “let them go” for the moment, nothing overly dramatic, to the time suck that is laundry. But this letting go opened me up, again, to a forgotten world of sheets, almost all mismatched but still whole if you’re ok with flowers marrying stripes and pillowcases seemingly from someone else’s closet in someone else’s hallway.

My hallway closet is a dresser slash mini wardrobe with neat doors that click closed above it’s dresser’s drawers in a living room that I never use other than a walking through it to the bathroom or to belly rubs for Bella on her little circle of carpet that I bought at Ocean State Job Lot for 2 bucks, her circle spot, or her bed that was re-discovered as cats will. I put the mismatched in this mini wardrobe now or whatever has had drawers in the past (though nothing as cool as this current dresser mini wardrobe) and forget them until the cool brown flannel sheets finally cry uncle.

But with the changing I actually did find a new bed lay that do match in this dresser mini wardrobe with the neat doors that click when ya close them above the drawers. I said “oh, cool” almost surprised as I always am whenever I change the bed. Then someone, somefur puked on a pillow the next day, the other one, the one I don’t use for any company I’ll never have or keep. Yeah, funny one universe. You’re a card. It’s sitting on the futon now, drying, along with the “new” pillowcase.

I was mad, for like five seconds at the puking, yelling to the air at whichever of my furry charges might be the pukey culprit, but then I just laughed. You are adorably pathetic Frankenberry in that cat guy kind of way. Hold that pillow and case for the dry on the futon for the moment and then put it back in its spot eventually next to your head for the maybe … or not.

But there was the anticipation, pre-puke, for at least one night and that something about new sheets, especially when you’ve found some that actually match as a bonus, that led to one of the better nights of sleep I’ve had in quite some time and, for how poorly I sleep never really relaxing the action that is my head? That was most welcome.

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The world has been fucked up. Not that that is any real news I know, but just fucked up and, sadly, we’ve been forced to adapt to it. Did I ever imagine years ago, as I so cavalierly went about my daily, smoking too much, drinking too much, changing sheets not often enough and not paying as much attention as I should that we would be where we got? No, of course not. Not even the best of by rote angst filled drama as happiness defeatests I knew in those days, and I knew many, myself included, could have imagined where these last four years would have brought us. But, the smoking has stopped, years now, though a vape pen still fills the void, the drinking has subsided but not without still measuring the cost of a 30 pack at the distributor vs a twelve pack at the convenience store, adding them in my head as I measure what’s necessary to deal with the fucked up and the still denialists and apologists and the make shit uppers out there. I’m not even sure anymore what is more to be concerned with, figuring the relative cost of beers on a limited paycheck too many times or wondering if I should just ignore the number and the cost completely if I’m going to be able to figure out what to do in the hell’s handbasket that some still want this world to sit in.

But this time around I HAVE payed attention, as evidenced here in the Attic with plain words or words in song with no cavalier, just a need to be informed and speak them such and maybe finally take heart after all of them there words were spoke or sung that there might just be a little light now, finally,  might just be a little bit of hope. A breath.

Yah never know, when I’m even older than I am now I could possibly get a chance to talk to the kids of my nephews or the JG, if they will allow the crazy old guy with an overgrown unkempt face his future seconds (as I’m sure that’s all that may be allowed), about the when we fell into disarray … fell hard. Talk to them about the “when” like some campfire fright story.

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I’m still listening to the Alan Parsons Project, exclusively, ten months later as I noted at the start of all this shit. Even found a way to get the Ladyhawke soundtrack again and hear Time Machine for the first time, filling things out, that/those always elusive or too costly one or two final records in your almost complete collection of whatever band is your fond obsession. Comforts are important.

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Had another Zoom call earlier with three of my bestests from the college days, or any days, who for some reason still find me interesting enough to include on such things. Probably just a phase, an almost 40 year one, yes, but still probably just a phase. If for nothing else a pandemic has allowed the eureka moment of “You mean I can actually talk to my friends and look at them like on my cartooned future Dick Tracy wrist? Holy crap, now there’s a future is now concept huh?” Three hours of our ugly mugs (minus Lori’s of course) laughing and joking and opining and just being us like that dorm room years ago or that spot at Buhl Hall with a couch and chairs people stood around if you weren’t there first or a shared house with tiny bedrooms packed close where you heard everything or that bar where you could raise an arm for another pitcher without seeming a dick, he or her serving knowing that recognition would be handsomely rewarded. No dickishness involved.

We talked. We laughed. We confirmed an almost lifetime.

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It’s cold, winter months will do that of course, kinda their gig, but not as cold as it used to be though the wind I hear rushing around my windows, even shaking them, seems to be trying to hold it’s place in history, remembering old days.

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Mom sounded good on the phone yesterday. I had called her with the need for a brain break and a step away from my little studio to outside the back of the station here, only so much five aspirin were going to do. A touch of air and a call. Sometimes ya just need a Ma no matter how much she knows of or might remember of your call these days. She had a Razzy growling lightly in dog dreams at her feet and a Ricki meowing that need another cigarette sounding meow of hers at the end of her bed. Mom mistakenly calls her Sixpence, the years ago cat that is always the reminder of cats our family all share and have taken with us. But she sounded good and was so much better than any number of aspirin.

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This past week was long, relatively speaking of course, but a long one for me and it kind of beat me down a bit, I guess maybe a subconscious reasoning behind finally changing the sheets,  even with them now not actually being the “oh, cool” find of a matching set as there is a new post puke pillowcase on that one unused extra pillow, but it’s alright. Mismatched kind of suits me anyway. Matching always seemed something of a luxury.

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Mimi the Quirky has her spot, after her halting straight legged stick legs walk to under my feet, like struck out of a kid’s bad art project they might discard for another bad arty attempt with her non-committal but please committal pick me up onto a bar towel just above my keyboard. “There ya go Memes, that’s your spot”.

Bella has her little 2 dollar circle of carpet or that newly found always there cat bed and Cricket the Blind is just being annoying, but in an I still love her kind of way, meowling into nothing non-stop while she walks her blind chasing a tail circles with a sound worthy of a grandma wailing at a funeral while she waits to curl up on the edge of my pillow and make sure she is near her Steve on an always too short a night, especially in the comfort of new sheets.

Sometimes she even grabs that never used extra pillow. Well at least it occasionally gets occupied I guess.

Staring At Walls

As I sit here blindly or knowingly staring at walls into nothing looking for a couple of words with a blank numbing dumb, I realize that gratefulness has it’s moments, that still breathing has it’s advantages, at least when it comes to trying to tell a story. Even with “It was a dark and stormy night” as a best of friend recently joked at the thought of starting her book being enough as long as these digits can still type even a time honored cliché.

2020 couldn’t have been worse, we’re all well aware of that, so much pain and loss, along with so much disarray, so much anger, so much divide, so much stupid, and a stupid that just doesn’t want to give up it’s stranglehold on our everyday it seems, a hopeful tomorrow that you wished might come just a bit easier continues to mock you everyday on your waking.

It’s a bad Groundhog’s Day as I roll over and look to that Pirates clock on my wall that says “Yeah, you’re still here numnuts, but good luck … tick, tick”.

So, I blindly or knowingly stare at walls into nothing, digits at the ready, while still continuing to breathe, wanting to find a simple, a sense of normalcy that I’m afraid will always now elude us.

So just some trivial notes of a me with a breath instead. It’s the only “normal” I got.

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It was like the arrival of Steve Martin’s phone book, the excitement I felt at another Steve, the boss at WHUD, bringing me a package upstairs to my little studio … and without a sheet or sheets of paper of new imaging stuff in his hand.  I wanted to jump up and shout to M Emmet Walsh “my new underwear is here, my new underwear is here!!”.

It’s silly but I recently posted about my underwear (I know, for like the 11 of you that follow me, you’re saying “that’s why we visit the Attic Frankenberry … underwear”) and being struck by the revelation that I got a gift card from the boss here and from a friend and even some welcome cash from another that I could now actually buy some new pairs and replace the disappointing ones I bought not too long ago at a K-Mart close out that just decided to give up the ghost on doing what underwear does, namely staying on my ass and not, instead, sliding down to my thighs underneath my sweatpants. He even gave me a second gift card as a genuine thank you for my work so I splurged and added some socks and plain solid colored T-shirts to the order … I think.

A livin’ on the edge understandable jumping excitement right?

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For the last week I fostered a cat, a kitten from downstairs. “Drumstick”. An unfortunate name stemming from an injured leg that came about from the indifference of those that just shouldn’t cat or just shouldn’t dog or just shouldn’t pet, period.

He was a cool little guy, let me pet him but only from a bend down, breaths out knee creak grunts, lay on my side on the hardwood outstretched hand underneath the dresser or the couch kinda thing. Though I did see some venturing out from the beneaths, even happily noting that he enjoyed the top of the couch on a comfy blanket on my old man trips to the bathroom only thinking I had to pee in the middle of the night he really wasn’t comfortable here, his anti-social being a thing which I understand

Celie said she would take him to her sister’s place, a one who is better at this type of thing.

To me though it was a bit of a defeat. Yes, I’m happy that he might have a better shot at acclimating with Celie’s sister but my catness took a blow, especially when I consider my stray gray Grayson, my great save, who I took so much time and care with to bring into the fold from his angry combative seemingly feral band-aid inducing lonely outside world to a warm one with friendship, comfort and soft places with Bella and I at the old apartment and who turned out to be the best of friends, even, after a nudge at my nose, sleeping on my arm under the covers on cold winter nights.

Freakin’ Yin and Yang.

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Celie got me an air fryer for Christmas this year which makes that matte black metal hang on small walls pineapple thingy I got her pale in comparison. But she likes pineapples and, as we  get each other gifts every year, things not necessary, but so welcome, I hope a small matte black pineapple might find a spot.

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Got an email that a package had been delivered to the station on New Year’s Eve, just after I had left (I actually got a chance to leave early on one of these “Eves” as is always the case with the boss and the rest of the gang but not always with me. It was nice). It even came with a picture from the delivery person of it sitting atop our station mailbox, though that’s kind of cold. I’m thinking successful delivery pics should come with a selfie and a smile. I don’t know you but for the briefest of moments I did, so maybe a share.

“My something is here, my something is here!!” I bounced happy from home to M Emmet Walsh again, a “something” because, in my glory of a couple of nice sized gift cards and new underwear splurge, I can’t quite remember what I ordered.

Well, I do like surprises.

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One of the cost cutting measures here at the beginning of the nightmare of this past year was to cut our voice folks, the ones you hear with the zips and zaps and quick effects between songs, a female and male voice bouncing back and forth, pieces I build. But those voices have to be replaced if they’re not to be paid, thus I’m the new one on the male end of one of the big stations here. I always thought how cool it would be to be that voice, to tell my Ma or my Sister or my Brother to listen, or even Dad years ago like with a cassette of one of my on air shifts as a jock as a sort of validation for my choices. “Hey Dad, that’s me!”

Has it afforded me much? Well, I guess that’s relative. If somehow continuing to pay the rent and to buy beer and cat food is relative then so be it.

I’ll take being that voice as a matter of pride for the moment though getting paid for it is in order eventually.

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Well, back to walls and a stare … damned words.  Sometimes they’re so difficult to find.

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Another email of yet another package being delivered.

Shit dude, what the hell did your flurry of gift cards bring?

Did I mention that I’m grateful and love surprises?

Still breathin’.

Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper

 
 
A good friend at work thought to try something new this holiday season, a box of different snacks from around the world to maybe share with his family for a bit of fun. Who wouldn’t want to sample snack treats from across the globe, to see (taste) what other folk’s version of chips and cookies and popcorn and other assorted indulgences were like? To maybe make a connection with unknown friends as to what were their favorite munchables were while all doing the same things we do, watching the tube, enjoying little get togethers with stuff in bowls or on plates or just mindless grabbing and popping while working at your desk or working from home?
 
He said it didn’t go quite as planned.
 
I think I might know why.
 
Nothing says “shared snack experience” like a chip that approximates, and I definition quote “a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and boiled in a bag, traditionally one made from the animal’s stomach” … BUT with black pepper in chip, or crisp form (and you don’t even want to go further for a definition of “offal”).
 
I know black pepper could possibly be the game saver but still …
 
Maybe next year just a box of snacks from your local deli my friend and the knowing that we all snack worldwide and just leave it at that.
 
Some simple, boring Lays chips all around gang … with dip.
 
Haggis & Black Pepper Crisps
 
 
 

An Early Wakeup And Cheap Underwear

So, Christmas Eve morning I actually got up a bit earlier than my alarm, which is normally set at 7:45am with a clock’s math that’s been well figured after 3 plus years in this spot at an hour and a half from the time of wake up to the arrival at work at 9am.

I know, for those quick clock mathed of you, you’re saying “well that clock’s math is a bit off there Frankenberry, that would get you there at 9:15am”. Yes, it would. But I tell myself two things.

One: If I uncurl up yawn legs facing left as always from underneath my comforter a little faster and throw them to the right side of the bed foots on the floor a little quicker. If I wash tomorrow’s cats bowls the night before so they’re at the ready. If I walk with a bit more haste to the shower and only give Bella two belly rubs amid her morning “Steve’s awake” yawn from my other comforter layed perfectly spot in the large closet instead of three, If I don’t tiredly sing that song stuck in my head all the way through, only maybe the chorus, while soaping and rinsing, if I don’t say good morning for too long to Celie in her kitchen downstairs as she coffee’s, if I only also say good morning to just half of the fur and feather here on the hill instead of all of them (which I could never do) as I try to hit the door I might be able to shave a couple of minutes off of the 9:15am.

But you’re probably also saying “Well, why don’t you just set your alarm for 7:30am instead of 7:45?” Nonsense I then say!! 7:30am is always the intention but that 15 “extra” minutes is huge the night before as you time out a wakeup and how much is left of that episode of your latest obsession that you told yourself not to start.

Two: Fudge. You do have an App for the timeclock on your phone and an eye for cops who might think you’re texting or maybe leave the door open to your little studio the night before with your lamplights on as if you were there, leaving any who may get to checking to think you’re just downstairs morning Frankenberry sandwiching.

Anyway, I actually got up a bit early, around 7, right side bed foots and a silencing of my alarm, as I had things to do at work that have been pressing on me and I thought an early start might actually allow the 3pm leave early that is always the hoped case on Christmas and New Year’s Eve which of course didn’t happen (screw you universe). I even tried to take all of the steps in point one to save me MORE time after this early wake up though Bella’s yawn demanded her third belly rub … seconds Bella! You’re costing me seconds!!

But after my shower singing only the chorus of that song in my head which thankfully wasn’t Mariah Carey’s “All I Want Is You” from a couple of mornings ago – what a nightmare, but instead was my head’s go-to  of Counting Crows “Rain King” which, for some reason is always there, somewhere in the back, and as I grabbed my underwear off of the futon dresser from last Saturday morning’s throw of a hamper of the washed and dried I realized I was trying to pick out which pairs wouldn’t fall off of my ass below my pandemic sweatpants, the new pairs I had bought not too long ago. Seems elastics are not all that lasting these days. Hell, I’ve got some sundries older than your kids that still do the purpose and you can’t give me a waistband that will last now? What happened in the interim from my age old undies to this new useless version?

Then I remembered Bruce. The boss, a good boss.

No, hold that Spock-like single raised eyebrow question. Thinking of the boss and your underwear in one thought? Yeah, that worried me too, but you can put that eyebrow down and stop that think of calling Bev in HR. It was just a quick Eureka moment. Dude? You’ve got a gift card. From Bruce. A Christmas thank you. Some bucks to spend. I guess that eureka moment came because I don’t buy things, other than the keep yourself and the cats alive kinda stuff. I’m so accustomed to just not thinking of anything other than that, plus with my never inclination to shop it was a few dollared revelation.

Beer, cat food, Steve food, or cat food, Steve food, beer or, hell whatever order they’re in and I’m good. Ok, litter and toilet paper as well – we all gotta go – and that’s pretty much it. My stuff works though old it may be. My t-shirts t-shirt, my Pirate hats Pirate, my sneakers sneak, though with a cue ball smoothness to the tread on some, my coats coat, my socks sock, my underwear underwears. But, as to the latter, and the “new” ones, they don’t really underwear anymore which is disappointing as I had actually shopped and bought something new. But I now had what can be almost be considered disposable income (woudn’t that be nice). And I have to use it at a particular website, I can’t turn it into cash for the aforementioned sustenance things as is always the first thought whenever I come about an extra. (future reference – always give me specific gift cards if you are ever inclined to do so as I’ll be forced to use them for things for myself).

When our local K-Mart was going out of business a few years ago I took full advantage of their 25%, 40%, 60%, 75% deals as their days counted down. I know I just said I don’t buy stuff, but my one of two “extra” paychecks happened to coincide with their countdown (I get 26 paychecks a year, but I pay all of my stuff with 24 of them, so two are my “extra”) so to not at least check out what they had to offer in their liquidation would have been just criminal. Ok, not criminal, I wouldn’t walk in and stuff my pants and then present an innocent look at the checkout, but just dumb.

Since Christmases or birthdays no longer come with the obligatory underwear and or socks of days of a prescient Mom of old that you shook your head at the time I thought to stock up.

And thus this underwear that proved to be such a disappointment, with a now unexpected gift card, can be replaced.

Yeah, I just wrote a post about underwear. What of it?

Go me.