Saturday, September 27, 2008

Painting With Dogs

Lucy "Van Gogh" Casey, contemplates her next
artwork while lounging in the yard.

Mrs. C has been away in Dallas for a conference since last Saturday, and returns tomorrow. While she was gone, I took the opportunity to paint the foyer and stairwell, which has a 20 foot ceiling and walls. Mrs. C had already picked out the color she wanted, and last Saturday, after I dropped her at the airport, I stopped by Lowes and picked up the paint and other supplies.

But I still had three dogs in the house to help me.

So I've got this big blue tarp covering the foyer's tile floor. I happen to spill a small spot of the mostly white paint on the tarp. no big deal, right? Guess where both of the all black dogs managed to step? Guess what they tracked all over the carpets? And just when I get that all cleaned up, Fat black little Lucy decides she should get around the gate and rub her fat black side against the freshly painted wall. If I was planning to paint the floor, I'd just dip her in the paint and roll her around! Kidding!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weed Whacker Safety Tips for the Tool Impaired

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a Bolens gas powered Weed whacker at Lowes to use at Fairview Cemetery. I have a pair of glasses I put on when weed whacking, to protect my eyes. You never know when something is going to come flying up, so you have to take precautions, right?
So my eyes are protected.

For the longest time, I used an electric weed whacker at home (and I still do). Every once in a great while, I'd accidentally nudge my own foot while whacking, but there was no harm, because the electric weed whacker, while getting the job done, wasn't all that powerful. whacks grass, but doesn't hurt feet in shoes.

But a three speed gas powered Weed whacker? That baby reeks of testosterone! If you squeeze the throttle to full power, and aim it into an area where the grass is a couple of feet high between some grave markers, it annihilates the grass. Grrrrrr! There's just one thing. When you are maneuvering it between markers, make sure you keep it clear of your feet. In my case, your left foot, to be specific.

Weed whacking grass is good. Weed whacking foot/toes is bad.

Funny thing is, I didn't feel a thing. It wasn't until I went to shower that I saw what I had done. Then after I cleaned out around my big toe, that's when it started to hurt. Oh, well, that's why they make neosporin, and I have an industrial sized tube at home, because I'm always using it on something.

I do own a pair of steel toed tennis shoes, believe it or not, and I have moved them to the garage to have them handy. I'll be wearing them each and every time for now on. After reflection I think I didn't feel it, because I had already tweaked my right Achilles heel, having stepped backwards into a gopher hole, and aggravated it. Probably a strange kind of "Casey" version of acupuncture, you know? I didn't feel pain from my left toe because my right Achilles hurt more.

So that's my yard tool safety tip for now. Always wear steel toed shoes when working with a gas powered weed whacker, and watch where you are stepping, because you never know where those gopher holes are hidden in the high grass.

And for all you viewers of the Secret Spy satellite cable network in China who were waiting for a new episode of "Chris Casey, Home Improvement Moron." Your long nightmare is over. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Do Dogs go to Heaven?

Unequivocally, I believe the answer to that question is yes.

I would like to think that the companionship, the unconditional love and devotion that a dog shares with its human masters, give us a glimpse of what God's true love for his children is.
"In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind"
- Book of Job, Chapter 12, verse 10.

In recent weeks, two of my neighbors had to put down their beloved pets, as did a blog acquantaince have to put down a friend who wasn't all that old, yet had congenital painful conditions. Then yesterday I read another blogger's post concerning the loss of a canine friend.

In May 2003, I took the best friend I ever had, Fred the dog, to the vet. He was 16 years and 5 months old. He had deteriorated quickly in a matter of days. He couldn't control his bowels, and when I tried to bathe him, I found a large purple lump on his belly, that I hadn't noticed only two weeks earlier when I had last bathed him.

Fred had been fighting various illnesses for over 3 years. I knew what was coming, but I still hoped it wasn't. My buddy dog was in a great deal of pain, barely able to stand and whimpering incessantly. The vet told me there wasn't much to be done. Pain medication was an option, but his time was extremely limited.

I looked my buddy in the eyes and told the Vet I knew it was time. They gave me a few minutes, while I held him, talked to him, told him what a good friend he had been. I held him firm while they inserted the intravenous line, and I nodded when the Vet asked if I was ready. Fred didn't struggle, but he seemed to stare at me in gratitude that I was doing what I thought best to ease his suffering. After all the love he had given me, it was the least I could do.
I was still looking into his eyes as he went limp and the light of love that had shown so brightly for so long flickered out and dimmed to nothingness.

I believe that Dogs go to heaven, they are part of God's creation, and they await us there as much as any other friend or relative. With that in mind, I can't help but wonder if there are more dogs in heaven than people. I don't believe that God plays favorites, but with the wonderful relationship that exists between humans and dogs, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that God was a "dog person."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Today's lesson in Gym Etiquette

I belong to a gym. I go there 4, sometimes 5 times a week. One of my favorite things to do after working out is to sit in the jacuzzi for 20 minutes and rest my tired legs. I do a lot of walking around the Warehouse each day, and having bad knees and a titanium right hip, I ache a bit by the end of the day. My gym has an Olympic size pool with lap lanes, and swimming laps for a half hour is great low impact exercise for me.

Using the Jacuzzi is also great therapy after a couple of hours of pushing a lawn mower around on the hills of Fairview Cemetery. It is great for soothing joint pain. I've belonged to that gym for a couple of years now, but last month I made my first complaint. Why?

I was sitting in the jacuzzi with a couple of the other regular members, talking baseball, when a guy I will only describe as a "JERK" comes in, his face fully lathered with Shaving cream. He takes a seat, and calmly starts shaving, flicking his razor in the very water in which we were sitting.

We protested, but he shrugged, saying, "hey, it's got filters." Well, we all climbed out, and I went to the check in desk after showering and dressing, and informed them of the miscreant's behavior. One of the things I like about this gym is that they regularly clean everything. It's not uncommon to go there Sunday afternoon and find the jacuzzi closed, because they are cleaning it.

Anyway, upon reporting the disgusting behavior, I learned that there was a similar problem in the ladies locker room, with women shaving their legs in the jacuzzi there. Amazing, isn't it? Now there are signs, saying please don't shave in the jacuzzi, and there was a write up in the Club's Monthly newsletter.

So you think that is disgusting? Guess again. Sunday Afternoon I come out of the shower, and am heading back over to my locker, when I see a guy using the hand held hair dryer on his CROTCH. Yep, he was combing and drying his pubic hair with the electric hair dryer.

Now I'm bald, I'm never using that appliance anyway, but the mere thought of using a the same hair dryer everyone else uses (with comb attachment) on one's groin area is horrifying to consider, at least for me. I guess I could understand some women using it that way, in the privacy of their own home, but a guy, in PUBLIC?! As a guy, I have never, and would NEVER, have thought of doing such a thing. (I don't want anything electrically powered anywhere near me, if you get my hint.)

So here is my gym etiquette lesson for today:

Please don't use the common hair dryer on your private area, EVER! It's just not nice, and you never know who used it before you, or what they might have used it on. Plus you never know what can happen with electricity, and that should be considered as well.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bowling Alley Dreams

I have a recurring theme on my dreams. Some of the most vivid and memorable take place in a Bowling Alley. In fact, it is a specific Bowling Alley that I worked in and out of for over 6 years.

It was a 50 lane super center, and has since closed. I've had some pretty detailed dreams involving this place, but the latest was a doozy.

On my latest, I had died, and my job in the afterlife is to work there, and keep the incoming deceased who want to bowl while waiting to get into line for their "entrance interview" for Heaven happy.

My first thoughts about this are that I am damned.

Yep, damned.

Because nobody at the Purgatory Bowl (and that's what I've decided to call it) is happy with the lane conditions. The waiting customers seem to think that they should be able to throw a strike every time, just because they're dead. They also want their beer cold, and to be able to smoke all they want.

I hate to break it to them, but it's purgatory, or limbo, or wherever the hell I am (Maybe it is hell, I grew to hate working nights at that lanes) and not Heaven.

Anyway, that's my dream, except last night it had a twist. I had made it out of the Bowling Alley and was playing golf with my Dad. It was great! We were about down to the 12th hole, (I specifically remember it to be the 12th) when some guy showed up and said I had to go to a meeting.
Next thing I know, I'm standing at this table, and my wife and some of her friends (all still living) are sitting on the other side, and they are crying, and there's this psychic lady asking me questions. I'm giving her answers, but she's smirking and telling my wife exactly the opposite. Then the guy who dragged me to the meeting says I have to stay on earth as a spirit until I get it all worked out.

Then I woke up.

Is that not a fouled up dream, or what?

A couple of other notes... all my dogs from my life are regularly in my dream, and they are all happy to see me. This makes me think that I'm in a good place, but I had cats too, and I don't remember seeing any of them. I'm wondering of maybe I should lay off the coffee before bed?

Coming up Next: What I saw a guy do with a blow dryer at the gym today. And I thought the idiot who shaved in the jacuzzi was bad, wait until you read what this guy did.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lucy and Ethel: Not Blogging

Lucy is on the left, Ethel on the right. I took this last week before mowing. we have invisible fence, and they are both 12. They are pretty well behaved, and not all that inclined to test the boundaries.
After what I saw and wrote about this morning, I felt like posting a picture of happy, peaceful, contented puppy girls.
Lucy, if she could blog, would probably detail her need to have food available at all times. Ethel, as you know, is the shopper of the household. Sally, who has A.D.D., could not be bothered to blog, she's too busy chasing her tail.

Friday Morning Sorrow

My Morning went to hell at 5:20 AM. I was on 309 heading south just north of Quakertown, and the new WaWa, when it happened. I saw a dog, a golden retriever trot out into the road in front of me. I hit the brake and slowed. The truck in the left lane beside me did not. He hit the dog full speed and never stopped. The dog landed on the side of the road in a manner that I knew indicated instantaneous death. I pulled over and went to it. It had no collar, no tags, no anything. Just a big, lovable(?) Golden retriever, dead on the side of the road, her eyes (It was a female) open in blank emptiness. Did she realize what happened to her? Did she feel pain? Is there some family somewhere who wonders where their friend and companion went, and is worried about her? I grabbed her limp rear legs, and dragged her completely off the road, and up into the grass. She's still visible to passersby, so maybe someone will see her and recognize her, but her body won't suffer the indignity of further injury from strikes by more vehicles.

The possible circumstances are numerous, but I let the tears flow as I got back in the car and continued on to work. I know how I would feel if that happened to one of my dogs. Sure it could have been a stray, but you don't see many Golden's running wild. It's been bugging me all morning, so I sat down at my break and wrote about it. If I hadn't seen it, and that big wagging tail seconds before the life was ended, I probably would have thought nothing of another animal dead on the road. But I did see it, and it was so senseless, so heartless. The Trucker didn't even slow down. Maybe he didn't even notice at all that he hit her.

Maybe that's the analogy I'm trying to find, that we are running things over in our lives, and don't realize the consequences of what we don't see, and what we have lost. What a crappy way to end what had been a pretty productive week.

10 PM update: When I drove home from work in the PM, the body was gone. I hope that it was retrieved by her family, but I don't know.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Adventures in Yardwork

We have three dogs. They live, for the most part, in the house.
We also have skunks. They live, for the most part, in the area surrounding the retention pond/swamp behind our house, on the other side of the railroad tracks. Sometimes, the dogs and the skunk(s) cross paths. Those are very bad times.

Those times involve me giving very stinky dogs baths in the garage, usually between 9 PM and 5 AM, when I'd rather be sleeping.

Today's short tale involves a skunk. Fortunately, the dogs were not involved, Unfortunately, I was. Fortunately, the Skunk was dead. Unfortunately, It still stunk, like a Skunk.

So what happened?

One of my neighbors, a nice woman, has hired me to undertake a great deal of yard work and landscaping on her property. I work 5 or 6 hours a week, and among other things, I have been reconstituting several defined areas of bushes and plants, weeding them and putting in fresh mulch. Late last Friday, before taking the beloved Mrs C to dinner at Outback, per her wishes for our wedding anniversary, and I was out on the aforementioned property, working near some underbrush close to the railroad tracks.

I kept smelling skunk spray, but I didn't see it any where. I was on my knees, working my way around the flower bed. I grabbed a hold of a weed, and worked my hand down through the surrounding grasses, to try and grab the 4 + foot tall weed as close to the ground as possible and pull it out. It felt soft near the ground, and I let go, pulled the grasses back, and peered in to take a curious look.
I damn near jumped out of my shoes to see the face of a skunk staring back at me. It took a couple of seconds, but I realized it wasn't moving. The smell was bad, but not too bad. It was dead, and the evidence behind it suggested a battle of the food chain of epic proportions. It wasn't all that big of a skunk, it was probably not all that mature, but there were a great deal of very large feathers on the ground behind the body and around it. We do have a very large hawk living in those trees, and he has been seen snagging squirrels and such to eat.

I have never heard of a hawk or bird of prey snagging a skunk, or maybe it was one of the owls that lives back there, I couldn't tell you what the feathers were from, other than it must have been big.

I didn't touch the skunk again, and I didn't tell the nice lady who owns the place about it. No need freaking her out, was my thinking. I took my shovel and scooped it up. I took the corpse to the rear of the property and buried it. It's only 4 doors down from me, so Wednesday night, when I was out in the yard with Sally at dusk, and I saw Sally start heading for the black and white striped critter waddling along our property line below the railroad, I quickly grabbed Sally dog and dragged her into the house.

I wonder if the skunk was looking for a departed friend? I know it's a skunk, but I feel bad for it. Hey, they're one of God's creatures too. I wonder if we smell as bad to them as they do to us?
Think about that for awhile.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Introducing a new "Tools of Testosterone" Family member....!

Aah, there's nothing a real American guy loves more than his wife, but if anything is even close, a true guy loves getting a new tool for use around the castle!
That's right! I purchased a brand spankin' new, Bolens' 17 inch gas powered weed whacker! Can you not feel the Testosterone that is being released just by my writing about it?!

Now I didn't just purchase this for use at Casa de Casey, no, no, no. This baby is going to get some heavy duty use around the Veteran's graves and a few others over at Fairview Cemetery. Beware, Groundhogs! I might not be allowed to blast you bastards with a shotgun within city limits, but there's nothing to stop me from going all "Leatherface Texas Chainsaw Massacre" on you with my weed whacker, with the throttle wide open, it will do some damage, you oversized rodents! Take that! Ha!

Sunday night I took my new weed Whacker out of the box, assembled it, mixed the fuel, and gave it a try. That baby fired right up! Boolyah! I took it for a test run on a couple of my neighbor customer yards, trimming the curbs.
The best thing was, it had all the parts! You know why? It was made in GOD BLESS AMERICA! not that damnable China! Ha! You people at the Secret Chinese Cable Satellite Spy network thought sending me all those Lowe's gift cards would get me to buy more of your products! Ha! Sure, you will probably get a few new episodes of "Chris Casey, Home improvement Moron", out of it for your viewers, and God knows, I might end up accidentally amputating something yet, but I'm doing something every god fearing, respectable, true blooded American would do, cleaning Vet's graves, so there!

Roar!!!! I'm going to need to use earplugs! I can't wait for Tuesday afternoon at Fairview. Beware weeds,I'm coming, and I'm bring the serious heavy artillery!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ethel Mae Casey, Super Consumer!

Meet Miss Ethel Mae Casey, at least that's what we call her, and that's what her name is on somebody's mailing list.
Isn't she cute? She is a very happy dog. She likes to chase bunnies, stroll in the swamp, and roll around in the various poop of our indigenous neighbors, like the deer, the foxes, and even the possums.
Apparently, according to someones database out there, she likes to shop! So today in the mail, she gets the following:

Inviting her to participate in a shoppers survey. Now we have had our suspicions about Ethel, what with the wireless system somehow getting turned on, the mysterious credit card charges to Orvis, and the miscellaneous toys, treats, and padded beds that keep showing on the porch, but now this confirms it!
Fortunately I intercepted this survey before she could fill it out!
Under Charitable causes, I have no doubt she would have checked, "Animal shelter, and under Occupation, "Retired."
There is a section titled "weight Management" which she does relate to, food wise, but under Leisure activities, I'd have to say "Sleeping."

Finally, the last page says if she fills it out and returns it by October 13th, she will be entered to win an additional $2500 dollars! Now that's tempting, almost makes me want to let her do it.
Here's an excerpt from their letter to Ethel:
"Dear Shopper,
As a Pennsylvania resident, you lay a key role in our consumer Surveys. (Really! Our Ethel, AKA Snuffy?! Who Knew!) Once in a while we carefully select individuals in your community - those whom we feel represent the smartest, most value conscious shoppers.
(Oh yeah, that's our Snuffy dog, smart and budget conscious!) Then we use some of our research budget to find out exactly what these smart shoppers really want. (Must be one hell of a budget!)
If our hunch is right, you are such a person. (I hope you guys already got paid!) That's why I'm sending you this private invitation through the mail."
I'm going to skip ahead here, to my favorite part:
"As the Main Grocery Shopper in your household - when you speak your mind, Better products get to market".
Yep, our dog does make the market better. She especially likes the Natural Dog Biscuits fortified with Vitamins and 6 minerals that you can only buy at Sam's club. She likes Nutro dog food for Senior Dogs, but also likes an occasional plain McDonald's hamburger, served after a visit to the Puppy wash.
At the Puppy wash her hair is washed in a creme rinse, giving it that soft feel, and fragrant smell, that only helps to keep her smelling fresh until she finds someone's fresh poop to roll in. Yep, Snuffy's doing her part to help get better products to the market!

On Top of all this, for serving as an OFFICIAL PENNSYLVANIA PARTICIPANT in OUR 2008 Consumer Product Survey of America, Ethel , aka "Snuffy" could win a lot of money. What is sad is we still get credit card offers for her all the time. I toss them in the shredder. That's where this is headed now. But I'm going to give her and the other two dogs a treat first. They deserve it. It's hard work being the subject of a blog, for a dog.
Gee what's next, is she registered to Vote? Oh My God, What if she's a Supervoter!!! Will Sarah Palin make her an official Iditarod spokesdog? Will Joe Biden offer to make her an honorary drug sniffing dog for the DEA? God help us!

9/6/96, Hurrican Fran, A Wet Skunk, and NINE Clocks

So what's new after 12 years of wedded bliss? We went from one dog and two cats (ALL DECEASED) to three dogs. We moved from Allentown to Trexlertown in 2004, and now live at the residence where we had our outdoor wedding. Pretty Cool, huh?!

But the best part is the great friendship I have with my soul mate, the one and only Mrs C.
I have plans for the weekend, but last night we sat on our deck, with darkness falling, we sat in the light of burning candles and tiki torches and reflected on the last 12 years, with three furry children at our feet. We were also hoping to see another moth fly into the flames of the torches and incinerate itself, something they have been doing quite a bit of lately. Now there's a hobby, watching Moths commit suicide!

Anyway, back to 9/6/96. Our wedding was scheduled for sunset. The deck was to be lined with candles, the minister standing at the corner, with us entering from opposite ends. Our friends and family gathered around and below. It was a beautiful concept. On the off chance that it might rain, a tent was rented. In hindsight, that was a brilliant move.

At 6 PM, it was overcast, and guests were arriving, including an uninvited one, the remnants of Hurricane Fran. When we started the ceremony, it started raining so hard that you couldn't see outside the tent. But we pulled it off, tears and all. I actually think my wife's Dad cried more than anyone else.

Anyway, by 8:30, the rain had stopped, and the beer kegs were still going strong. That's when our next uninvited guest showed up. The Wet Skunk. Yep, that'll clear a party! That's what happens when you have a swamp behind the house, critters tend to visit at the worst possible time, and still unfortunately do. (Just ask our Sally dog, who still thinks that Skunks should be chased, despite numerous spraying)

Finally, everybody was exhausted, and wanted to go to bed, but my wife's Mom insisted we open all the presents before we leave. She wanted to see who gave what.
Now here's a funny note: We registered at J.C. Penney at the Lehigh Valley Mall. For some reason, we received 9, yes that is NINE CLOCKS. I quickly learned that my wife's family might have been trying to tell me that she had a bit of a problem with being on time. Oh, well.

Out of my years of wedded Bliss, and experience, I have devised the following nuggets of advice.
First, when it comes to wedding gifts, give cash. it's always appreciated, and usually goes for something that is needed. We did get a teapot that is shaped like a cat that I still use, but other than the damn clocks, I can't think of anything else we got off hand.

Second: The Wife is always right. Never doubt here. She might be wrong, but don't tell her. It's better that way, trust me.

Third: When it comes to surprise gifts, Roses = Good, Diet Books = Bad. Don't ever go there. I've been there, and it is a bad place to be.

I could go on and on, but these three pretty much sum up my rules for living a happy marriage. It also helps to keep all the dog poop cleaned up in the yard without being asked, because if she steps in it in those shoes she wears to work, they're ruined, and that means she has to buy at least 5 pairs to replace them. Some day I'll write about the Mrs C Shoe closet and museum, but because it is our anniversary week and I like my wife happy and content, I won't be doing that any time soon, like possibly in the next millennium.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Graveyard Tales

Okay, here is a spooky Story.

So I'm at Fairview Cemetery, and I'm on my knees, moving a marker back onto it's slab, when I swear I feel something pounding on the ground from below me, in the ground. Then I swear I hear knocking, like a fist pounding on a door, and I can feel it vibrating up through the ground. I stood up pretty damn quickly. I actually had a vision of the movie Carrie, you know, the original with Sissy Spacek, and the hand coming out of the ground at the end?
Now there are several Ground Hog Holes in the area, so maybe they were building a new line, and blasing, but who knows?

That happened about three weeks ago. So yesterday, I'm mowing away, and I'm doing this one big open space where they buried a bunch of people from the Good Shepherd Home. There's one big marker with the names of the interred, and after I finished that section, I grabbed my digital camera and started documenting the graves of vets. I'm walking along, and I happen to look down the hill at where I had mowed, and I swear there's someone dressed in black wearing a veil standing in the middle of that open space, appearing to look down at the ground. I started walking towards her(?), and was about to call out, when I stepped in a Groundhog hole and fell down, dropping my camera. When I got up, she was gone.

I walked down there, and despite it being almost 5 PM on a hotter summer day, I got a chill. I wonder sometimes if I let an active imagination get the best of me, but I know what I saw. The Picture at the top is as close as I have of that area. The area where the Good Shepherd residents are interred is to the right and behind the markers facing the road. This is what I call "Casey's Corner" which includes the area around the trees to the right, where my wife's Mom and Grandmother are buried. I'm trying to clean it up, and improve it a little more on each visit. Now if I could only get a few more people to adopt some areas and do the same.