Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Oh Uriel, if I could stop talking about you then don’t you think I would?


There’s an old episode of ‘Maude’ where an old college friend comes for a visit over the holidays.  She presents Maude with a gift, a framed, portrait-sized photograph of our favorite 70s feminist from her younger days.  Maude is delighted and runs to show her husband Walter.  “Look Walter, this is me at 17!  I told you I was beautiful!!” 

Walter looks at it and says “Wow Maude, you really were—who knew?!” 

Maude’s deadpan reaction always cracked me up good and thanks to my feisty Russian neighbor Uriel, more & more I’ve been feeling like a Maude-in-training.  (I wrote about my first encounter with Uriel here, if you’re ever curious to check it out.)  

She’s a slender, attractive 36 year old viper who lives across the hall from me, speaks in LOUD broken English and always leaves me at a loss for words.  I’ve been sharing my encounters with her on Facebook (always a ready audience at hand) but maybe I did that once too often, as now there’s a few who think we’re like Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan in ‘You’ve Got Mail’, adversaries who are fated to fall in love & marry.  So I decided to talk about her here instead!

Here’s a couple favorites, followed with what just happened 2 hours ago.

Doug & Uriel in “You’ve Got Mail”

One Thursday afternoon, I notice Uriel has some packages waiting for her in the lobby.  I knock on her door.  “Hi Uriel—hey I know how you feel about people touching your mail, but you have 3 packages downstairs in the lobby, and one of 'em is a huge box from Macy’s.”

She looks at me for a moment, then says “They are not for me. They for my sister Vulvi.” I say oh, okay.  She says “She arrive on Monday. She can get them.”

  Uriel & Carl the Maintenance Man in “Try, try again”

Back in October, we were told our buildings maintenance man, Carl, would be going door-to-door on Tuesday to do smoke alarm inspections. Carl knocked on Uriel’s door, got no answer—but she had a sign taped to her door (first photo). He said “I know you’re not sleeping, I can hear you moving around in there!”

He returned the next day, knocked on her door again, still no answer—but she did update her sign!

 Uriel & Apt #405 in “Hammer Time”

The woman across the hall asked if she could borrow a hammer. She’s a witch by day, nurse at night. She has witch legs that hang on her door that had fallen off & she was trying to hang them back up with the heel of a shoe, making a LOT of noise.

She says “Do you know that woman who lives in 407?”  I said yes, yes, her name is Uriel.  She says “She’s a hothead! She asked what I was doing, I explained my door decoration had come off and asked her if she had a hammer.  She told me when she calls the police to bring me a ticket, I can ask them for one.” 

 Doug & Uriel in “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”

One night around 1:30 am, I wake up & my bedroom smells like a steakhouse. I come out into the livingroom, open my front door and there’s a thin, greasy smoke adrift in the hallway. Uriel is standing out there, swiping her front door back & forth.  I say very softly “hey, what’s going on?”  She says “Getting rid of fumes from my kitchen.”  I said “Why don’t you open your patio door?”  She said “Because kitchen is closer to front door, ok?” I said “Well, it’s really coming into my place.. you might set off the smoke alarm out here too.”

The door next to Uriel’s opens up, it’s the witch nurse rubbing her eyes.  She quietly asks what’s going on.  Uriel looks at me and says  “Arel you going to wake up everyone now?”  

Anyway, here’s what happened a couple hours ago.  I went down to our apartment building’s lobby to see if the mail arrived. Uriel is down there with a big taped-up box, waiting for UPS and smoking a long brown cigarette.  I said hi, but I guess I made a face because she said “Yes I know... dirty habit.”  I said I understood, I smoked myself several years ago and know how tough it is to quit.  I asked her how long she’s been a smoker. She says “ohhh... let’s see.  Probable 10 days now.”  

Happy New Year, Uriel!

Young Maude

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Mr. Winn (and anyone else reading this post)

A little earlier, my neighbor Mr. Winn (a Korean gentleman around my age) knocked on my door to give me a couple pieces of mail delivered to him instead.  He said “Wow look at all your Christmas cards!”  I said “Aw thanks but it’s not that many—in the good old days I used to get & send twice this.”  He said “Did you send a lot this year?”  I said probably as many as I got.  He said “I did better then you then, I only got 3 but I didnt mail any!”  

Yeah that’s great Mr.Winn, I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.  After he left, I opened the mail he brought—3 more cards from my friends Susie, Elisa & Kim Hall.  Hmm let’s see… counting the 3 cards today, this brings me to 20.  But I only mailed out 17, and my cousin Tracy always sends her photo-card out after Christmas so I’ll be 4 ahead… hey Winn, get back here!  

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 13, 2015

When I look ahead, sometimes it seems a lot to take in

indians watching the railroad

Sometimes I feel a little like those Indians, watching the white man's railroad work itself across the plains.  It just seems in the past week or so, things have been changing, big & small, leaving me feeling uncertain about the future and overwhelmed in the present.

This past Friday marked my one year anniversary of leaving my job at UPMC.  What have I done with this year of freedom?  Not a whole lot of anything.  But is that a good or bad thing?  I guess only I can answer that question, and the problem is I keep coming up with different answers. 

There's one part of me that says "Doug you're only 54, you're not going to just sit there and watch life pass you by, are you?" while another side of me argues "you're in your 50s, you spent 35 years in the workforce more or less and managed to sock away a little money, so what do you have to prove at this point?"   I don't know if I should share this here, but when I was in my teens and twenties my dad (if he had too much to drink) would call me a bum.  "Boy, look at me.  You're a bum."

I just hated that more than anything.  I always thought it was unfair and mean, and now I wonder sometimes if he had me pegged right after all.

So, for the last couple weeks I suppose I've been in a bit of a funk about things in general, and not feeling a lot of motivation to do much of anything besides watch tv, read & sleep.  But again--is that necessarily bad?  I suppose it is when I start coming up with excuses to get out of simple things like meeting a friend for lunch.  (I was supposed to today, wondered what kind of story I could come up with to get out of it, and decided to just tell 'em the truth.)

This past Friday I thought I'd shake things up a little and give my blog a new look.  (Hey, you gotta start somewhere right?)   I came up with a couple different templates, like the one below.

(I'm still deciding; right now ApacheDug's Teepee is in a transitional state.)  But just as I settled on what you're seeing now, and realized I'd have to go back and 'touch up' 255 prior posts because my old format doesn’t translate well to a white background, Google (who owns Blogger) released a statement Friday afternoon that effective immediately, they were no longer supporting Microsoft's blog-writing tool "Live Writer" and us bloggers were on our own.  

(This is my very first post using Blogger's default editor--it's clunky & awkward.)  And while the demise of "Live Writer" was sinking in, the news on my television was about the week's big losses in the market due to falling oil prices and the Fed's plans to raise interest rates on the 15th, and because bad news comes in threes, it was right around then I began hearing an assortment of shuffling sounds and thumps behind the wall behind my couch. 

Aw no--it turns out my neighbors, the best ones I've ever had in this building, were moving out.   Yes, of course I know things could be worse, a lot more than this.  But when you're in a sour mood already... and doggone it, where's the cold temps and snow?  It's two weeks before Christmas and it was 70 degrees today.  Nope, nothing's making me happy!

Well, I've always tried to end these posts on a positive note and while I can't come up with anything at the moment, I can truthfully say I feel a little better after sharing my thoughts here.  I'm certain things will look up soon, and as I finish this, I can hear a train's horn in the distance.  I'm taking that as a good sign.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Yep, here’s my gun—and I’m not afraid to use it

Early this morning while watching tv, I was sipping a cup of coffee and looking down at my carpet & thinking it could probably use a good vacuuming.   So I moved some stuff out of the way, hauled out my sweeper & got to it—but hey, now I couldn’t hear my tv and the King Sisters (from the 1967 holiday special “Christmas with the King Family”) were singing “Have a swingin’ Christmas”, so I grabbed the remote and jacked up the volume.  Ah, better!

I’d just finished the living room, and was now in the hallway leading into my bedroom when it hit me—it’s 8:40 am and I am making all kinds of racket.  The young man who lives next door to me happens to work nights (as an office electrician) and was probably sleeping, or trying to.  I made a whoops face, turned off the sweeper, ran back into the living room, turned down the volume and waited.  Silence; no one was pounding on my front door.  

As I was putting things back in order, I began to wonder about him.  He’s such a quiet fellow, rarely makes a sound over there.  I’ve always taken it as a blessing, but you know what they say about these quiet types… for all I know, he’s over there pounding his fist into his palm, ready to take me out!  Wait, does he own a gun?  All the maniacs have one it seems, and they’re not afraid to use ‘em.  All I have is my phaser from ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ and it’s bark is definitely worse than it’s bite.  Jesus, I’m 54 years old and live alone!  For all I know, I’ve got a killer living next door! 

There’s record numbers of people appllying for gun permits, maybe it’s time I got myself something with a little more firepower!

I know, I’m being silly.  I went back to watching the King Family, and the next time I see my neighbor, I’ll be sure to apologize for this morning’s ruckus.

on my tv