Saturday, February 26, 2022

A Friday conversation with my charming, always bubbly friend Danielle

Yesterday afternoon I emailed my friend Danielle, asking if her husband Josh was enjoying his stay in San Diego.  He had to fly there this past week for several days, for a big work project.

DANIELLE:  Yeah he said it’s beautiful.  He hated the plane ride.

ME:  Wonder why he hated the plane ride?  Not surprised to hear it's beautiful though, San Diego’s always listed as one of the most beautiful cities to live in the continental US.  The most expensive too.

DANIELLE:  Because they were packed like sardines and people wouldn’t wear masks.  I’d like to see it someday, it looks nice.

DOUG:  I suppose I wouldn’t enjoy a plane trip nowadays.  The first time I rode a plane was in the mid-1990s, my girlfriend Renee & I went to the Bahamas.  I said "I wonder if they'll roll one of those portable stairways up to the plane door when we land?  We can come down them and pretend we’re the Beatles when they first arrived in America!”

Renee said "You watch too many old movies and things!  Airlines haven't used those in years!"

When we landed in the Bahamas, they rolled one of those giant staircases on wheels out to the door of the plane.  TAKE THAT, RENEE TOMATO!

Y’see, Renee's last name was Romito so when she exasperated me, I called her Renee Tomato.  Here’s a photo of us on that trip.


DANIELLE:  I’d love to be in the Bahamas right now.  I’ve never been there.

ME:  You've been to much better places, trust me.  It's 99% poverty with 1% devoted to their few resorts for the bourgeois.  What I mean is, forget any sightseeing.  It's all tin shacks and sugar cane when you leave your resort. 

And you’re right on the equator, so the sun is beating down directly on top of your head.  If you don't have a hat on the entire time, it’ll burn your hair and scalp right off!  Also, the smell of mildew is like nothing I've ever experienced.  The humidity level is 3000% 24 hours a day.  We have beaches here that are 100 times nicer!

DANIELLE:  Well, I did want to go to Russia for vacation, but I guess that’s out.  I heard they have nice beaches too.



DANIELLE:  It’s like Americans who go to Iran to go “hiking”, and end up in Iraq.  Dumbasses.

DOUG:  What the hell, I send you a hilarious Danielle at the beach in Russia meme and this is your response?  You need to go take a bath or nap or something!

DANIELLE:  I took a bath! I’m just saying that’s what happens when you go to places like that.  I’m very intelligent and serious Doug, and I don’t do memes!

DOUG:  Fine!  My God!


Sunday, February 20, 2022

Some of us have no taste, but I haven’t given up yet

A few weeks ago (January 25 to be exact) I wrote about losing my sense of smell & taste after becoming sick with covid over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, and was wondering when they’d come back.

A blogger I know (DJan) lost hers, only to gain it mostly back in a couple weeks.  For my sister’s daughter-in-law Jessica, it’s been months.

It’s the weirdest thing—my taste buds just shut OFF on the fifth day of that virus, like a light switch. 

Enjoyed toast and coffee that morning, when I went for a second cup a couple hours later, it was hot water.

It’s been close to 4 weeks now, and I’ve been reading up on various methods people have used to awaken theirs.  I’ve been making the same efforts, but with limited success. 

I’ve been eating fried eggs topped with yellow mustard, loading up mashed potatoes with minced garlic, adding crushed red pepper flakes to soup & pasta.

And for the first couple of bites, I think I’m tasting something at least.

I bought a 2 pack of these Neti Inhalers on Amazon for $17.95. 

They’re pricey buggers, but packed with peppermint, eucalyptus, menthol, and lavender essential oils. 

I zonk my nostrils first thing in the morning, again at noon, and again before bed

Anyway, I was at the store on Saturday and in the produce aisle, they had a display of jalapeno peppers on promotion, regularly $3.99 a pound, on sale for $1.99 per lb. 

I’ve eaten my share of these things, but I’m a hillbilly in the kitchen and have never bought or cooked a jalapeno pepper in my life.  But hey, there’s a first time for everything and if these don’t wake my olfactory senses up, what will?

Behold the Pizza from Hell!


Doug’s Pizza from Hell

  • Pizza dough
  • 1/3 cup pizza sauce blended with 1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded Pepperjack
  • 3 large Jalapeno peppers, sliced (one layer underneath the cheese, one layer on top)

It looks overcooked in this photo, but it really wasn’t—I think all of that edible heat gave it a “scorched” appearance.  Anyway, it was around my third slice that I noticed my ears were sweating, and another bite later my throat & sinuses felt like I’d been inhaling rocket fuel!

I ran to the kitchen, glugged down half a quart of milk, then went to the bathroom to soak my face & head in some cold water.  As I was rubbing my head with a towel, I suddenly got a whiff of Bounce fabric softener.  I stopped what I was doing and could smell citrus in the air too.

It was coming from the air freshener on the back of my toilet.  What the—!!

I went back into the kitchen, put a scoop of peanut butter twirl ice cream into a bowl, took a bite, it was utterly delicious.  I was healed!

Rather, I thought I was.  Today (Sunday) I’m back to not smelling or tasting anything.  What happened?  I feel like I’m being punished by the Great Cosmos for something, but what?  My last blog you say?  What about my last blog?

I have six slices of that hellfire pizza left, in a Tupperware container in the fridge.  I’m debating whether it’s worth going thru all that again, or was that just a fluke. 

Well, at least I know my bathroom smells nice…. Eye rolling smile

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

I’ve never met a Christian woman I didn’t want to choke… a little

Isn’t that an awful title?  Now before you shake your head in disgust and click off of my blog in search of something better, at least read my disclaimers:

1) I don’t consider the act of choking someone the same as strangling them.  You strangle someone to death; with choking, all you’re doing is choking some sense into them!

2) I don’t just have it in for Christian women.  I could easily replace that category with siblings, Republicans, former bosses, former Facebook friends, school bullies, Biden fear-mongers, Donald-Trumpers.  I’ll get around to all of them sooner or later, I promise.  But for now…

At 9:27am on Saturday morning, I knocked on my neighbor Janice’s door who lives up the hall from me.  She has a 2 bedroom apartment, where her larger bedroom is on the other side of MY bedroom.  Janice opens her door and greets me in an out-of-breath whisper, like a librarian running behind schedule.  She’s a boxy, dark woman who puts me in mind of Theresa Merritt who played Mama on That’s My Mama.

  • ME:  Good morning.  I wanted to tell you, one of your kids, the 7 year old I’m guessing, is waking up around 7am and kicking the wall behind his bed.  I’m not a big sleeper-inner, but I would like the option.  Maybe he’s an early riser and bored waiting for the other two--
  • HER:  They are not my children.  They are God’s children, and I am their foster caregiver.  I have children of my own, but they’re adults now and live far away.
  • ME:  Yeah, anyway one of your foster kids is kicking that wall behind my bed.  Maybe he could go into the livingroom and read a book or look at tv until everyone else is up?
  • HER:  My rules are firm, no television until 9:00am.  The children are in there now, watching cartoons and eating their cereal.  Did you know I am a minister of God?
  • ME:  Yes, you’ve told me before and so have a couple others here.
  • HER:  And your name is… Douglas?  Your birth name I mean.
  • ME:  Uh… yes.
  • HER:  The Good Book teaches us to love thy neighbor.  Are you familar with it?
  • ME:  If you mean the Bible, yes.
  • HER:  Wonderful.  Douglas, I want to pray for you.  At my next service.
  • ME:  It’s really not necessary, but thanks.  Anyway I thought I’d come to you first before calling Steiner…
  • HER:  I hope you have a wonderful day.  (She closes her door.)


Janice this isn’t over.  Furthermore, this whole “praying for me” nonsense is ticking me off.  A couple weeks ago I sent an old friend a birthday card.  This is someone I worked with in the early 90s and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen since then.

She sent me a thank you email, and included the following in her message:

“I know you don’t believe in God but I pray for you everyday and will continue to do it, I don’t care if you like it or not!”

I’ve been hearing that for 30 years.  I NEVER SAID I DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD.  I said I don’t follow any organized religion.  Furthermore, I said that 30 plus years ago!  For all she knows, I’m a Buddhist monk now! 

I am a white man, free of debt & disease with a nice stock portfolio.  Surely she knows of someone (or ones) far needier and deserving of her prayers.

A few weeks ago, an old friend and former classmate decided it was time I knew she was a Conservative.  After picking myself up from the floor, I said “Well, at least you have the decency and smarts to have NEVER defended or supported the godawful monster that is Donald Trump”  and she said “As a matter of fact I did support our former president.”

After getting myself up from the floor again and asking how is this possible, she said “Well, I’m a Christian.  I don’t expect you to understand.”   SHE’S RIGHT—I DON’T!

But I care about her and if I ever find religion, I’m going to pray for her.  Angel

Finally, my dear Aunt D.  For the first 35 years I lived here in the city, she would ask me the same question everytime she saw me.  It always went like this:

  • HER:  Douglas, I neglected to learn the name of the church you joined after moving to Pittsburgh.  I’m assuming it’s Methodist in denomination, but you tell me.
  • ME:  Aunt D, I have not joined any church since moving to Pittsburgh in 1987.
  • HER:  WHAT???
  • ME:  Furthermore, I’m not exactly a Christian.
  • HER:   WHAAT?!!!

For a long time it bothered me to no end.  Then a few years ago, after developing TMJD (to the extent I lost 65 pounds as I was unable to eat for several months), she expressed so much worry & concern about it that I fibbed to her the Christmas before last and told her my TMJD had mostly healed. 

She said “Oh, praise Jesus.  Praise Him!”    If it makes you feel better Aunt D, I will.


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

So… when do I begin collecting social security?


Several nights ago I got an email from the Social Security Administration.  “Your annual Social Security statement is now available on our website.”   They added that several changes had been made since last year to better assist future recipients.

I liked what I saw:  remember those annual statements the SSA used to mail out showing your benefit amount at age 62, 67 or 70?  If you wanted to see what your benefit amount would be for other ages, you had to gather your income history for all of your working years and load it into one of the SSA’s online calculators. 

Now you don’t have to.  They show what your monthly check amount could be (well, before deductions for Medicare) for every start-age between 62-70.  Here’s mine:

Now of course, someone out there is bound to say “Doug, you don’t want to start taking it at age 62!  You’ll be stuck with $1,546 per month (besides small COLA adjustments) for the rest of your life!”

So, what if I wait until age 70?  $2,783.00 a month sounds like a pretty sweet monthly payout.  But how long will it take me to recoup the 96 checks at $1,546 each I forfeited to delay benefits until age 70?  Um… a real long time! 

(1546 x 96 = 148,416 / 2783 – 1546 = 119.6 months or living past age 80 to make the wait pay off.)   Crikey!

So if I want to go with the flow… here’s what other Americans have done, according to the government:

Frankly I find it a bit surreal that I’ll be eligible for these monthly checks in a little over a year-and-a-half.  Age is both a fact and a state of mind.  When I’m online, I feel younger than my years.  I’m friends with bloggers who are 5-20 years older than myself, who have referred to me as “young man” or even “young whippersnapper”!

In the physical world, it’s a different story.  Everytime I see my neighbor Opal’s daughter Jesse, she treats me like an old man.  (Opal is 69 years old, her daughter Jesse is in her thirties.)  Jesse is always friendly and polite, but likes to ask if I have apps like DoorDash or Spotify installed on my phone yet (no) and do I know what they’re for (nope).

The other day, Jesse asked why I don’t go to the Senior Center with her mom.  When I replied the Senior Center is for more older folk, she said “It’s for people 60 and older.  How old are you Doug?”   Sigh!

So when did you decide to take social security (if you’re American and on it) or CPP (if you’re Canadian)?  I’ve got awhile yet to decide about my own social security.  I’m sure I don’t want to delay taking it a long time, though.  My dad passed (from cancer) at age 63.  My mom passed at 64. 

I’m already starting to feel like I’m living on borrowed time.  Eye rolling smile

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Dead Man Walking….again (er, I hope that wasn’t in poor taste)

Yesterday was a red letter day for yours truly; for the first time since October, I managed to do nearly 25 minutes on one of the treadmills downstairs. 

It wasn’t a pretty picture, I looked like Frankenstein in one of those old Universal monster movies, plodding forward, arms outstretched. “Friend… Friend..!!” 

If you don’t remember everything I drone on about here, last summer I experienced some dizzy spells that landed me in the hospital and on various drugs for high blood pressure. 

I developed severe edema in both legs as a result, that made sustained walking pretty miserable. 

From the hips down, my legs were nearly double in weight from fluid buildup; at times the ‘drag’ on my hips (particularly the left one) felt like it was on the verge of being dislocated.

But since then, I’ve been spending my nights on the livingroom floor doing leg massages and exercises to keep the circulation going and most of the pain at bay.  And finally, the same weekend I got Covid (Martin Luther King weekend) the swelling in my legs began to ebb.


Here’s my left leg this morning, after getting out of the shower.  From the knees down my legs look like Popeye’s forearms!  It’s also made my feet look like they belong to the Incredible Hulk

Speaking of feet, that’s where the title of this post comes in.  My normal shoe size is 9 1/2 Extra Wide.  But when I become the Incredible Hulk (usually for 1-2 days after going to the store) I’m unable to put my shoes on.  So I have a couple pair of velcro sandal slip-ons.

Fine for going to the lobby to pick up my mail or the laundry room, not good for walking to the store in the snow.  So I thought I’d buy a pair of Hulk-sized walkers for those giant-sized days (and for working out in the Fitness Center downstairs).  

Hated the idea of spending $100.00 for part-time shoes though…. then it hit me:  Ebay!

Sure enough, I found a pair of Nike Air Monarchs “Size 10.5 4W, like new, gently used, only worn indoors” for $25.00 which included shipping.  Here’s what happened when I contacted the seller, a very nice woman named Pat:

  • ME:  Hi, I wanted to ask if these shoes are counterfeit or defective?  Nike Air Monarchs are $75-80.00.  $25.00 is a deal, especially when that includes shipping.
  • SELLER:  My husband bought them from the Nike store and I still have the box they came in.  I have the receipt too.  He only wore them 2 times on our treadmill.
  • ME:  Okay, great!  So what made him change his mind about them?
  • SELLER:  He didn’t change his mind, he died of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • ME:  Oh, I’m very sorry. 
  • SELLER:  I had another buyer for these but she backed out when I told her my husband died in them. 
  • ME:  Disappointed smile
  • SELLER:  Still interested?
  • ME:  I appreciate your honesty, I have one more question; how recently did your husband pass?
  • SELLER:  Bill died last May.  Is that important?
  • ME:  No, I was just curious.  I’ll take them.

I didn’t tell her the real reason I asked, it might sound a little cuckoo.  But I think spirits need at least 6 months to move on and the last thing I wanted was a pair of shoes with someone’s ghost still in them!

Anyway, they arrived this past Saturday, look brand new and fit my Hulk feet great.  Thanks Bill, I couldn’t have done it without you.