Saturday, October 21, 2017

Squirrel bacon

Tonight, after work, I get to work some more. One of the problems with living in the city is the number of squirrels that need places to live. The large furry rats seem particularly adept at finding the worst possible place to homestead.

Such as the rafters in my house. This evening I will be repairing the fifth hole in my roof line where the obnoxious and definitely not cute little rodents have chewed their way into my humble abode. Obnoxious? That isn't even near to the best word to describe them. When you are woken up at four in the morning because of their skittering around in your walls and ceilings (I do so hope they're only skittering around) the thing you want most is a shotgun. Which is probably why it is good that I don't have one, or I would be repairing dozens of holes in my inside walls too.

They make my wonderful daughter say bad things: things that wonderful daughters definitely should never say except, one day, to husbands who deserve it. But as she has a loft type bed which puts her very close to the ceiling, I will cut her slack. The dancing of the rabid giant rats is closer to her than me in my more traditional bed, so I assume more startling and maddening. Still, I am mad enough all of five feet farther below them.

Some folks go on and on about animal rights. Animal rights? There is no animal with the right to wake my family in the wee hours of the morning. Well, maybe the dog, if she has to go out. But she's trained to do that and saves me a worse issue later, so she's being considerate. She has a reason.

I am told squirrel tastes like bacon. I like bacon. The little fuzzballs might be in worse trouble now.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cloyce in reverse

A good friend of mine back in high school, I'll call him Cloyce just to give him a name, was the first of our troop to earn his driver's license. He was proud of that, as a teenager would be, and we envied him, as teenagers would. But the first time I rode with him proved to tarnish some of the luster on his driving ability.

I happened to be around when his mother asked him to go to the store for something or other, so I went with. He drove the few blocks to the old A & P and, seeing the parking lot jammed, decided he would show off his skills by parallel parking on the street. He pulled just past a space, lined up his seat with the driver's door of a parked car, shifted, then turned all the way around in his seat, arm over the back, and began to gently give the family's old station wagon gas. Rrrrrrrrr, the engine revved easily. But the car didn't move.

Cloyce looked confused, but went on applying the gas. RrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRR...but still nothing.

RrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. He was soon giving it too much gas. The engine was racing as though participating at Indianapolis yet would not even try to move. He finally let off the accelerator, and saw that he hadn't shifted all the way into reverse. The car was only in neutral. Seeing this myself, and seeing as this was in the days before texting, I began rolling on the floor laughing out loud.

Cloyce punched me in shoulder, hard, and made me swear I wouldn't tell anyone about this tale. But as I haven't seen him in ages and the statute of limitations having surely ran out, I decided to tell it today.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I'm not who you think I am

I certainly hope this post comes across as innocuous. That's my intention, just to write a fun post based on something that actually happened.

Last week I found myself needing a valve stem for an old sink. When I say old, I mean sixty to seventy years, if not more. Fortunately I knew where to go for the stem. There's a place called Tenny's Plumbing in Hazel Park, and they specialize in old, hard to get parts. They've helped me before, and I highly recommend them.

And they did have the part I needed. But before paying, I had to take a call, so I stepped back from the counter and dealt with it.

When I apologized and returned to the counter Mr. Tenny was there. He looked at me and asked, "You're Cosgriff, right? Bill Cosgriff?"

"No, he was my dad. He passed away a couple years ago," I answered.

He coughed and said, "Sorry to hear that. But Cosgriff was a black guy, wasn't he?"

"No," I replied.

"But he had two black guys working for him?" Mr. Tenny pressed.

"No. Just my brother and I."

He studied me more closely and ventured, "Your shop is across from Murray-Wright High School, on Rosa Parks. Just after a green house, back from the street."

"That's right," I said.

Tenny just kinda shook his head and said, "But Cosgriff was a black guy. He had black guys working for him."

"I'm afraid not," I responded. I even showed him my license, just so he'd know I was me. He then shrugged his shoulders, and I paid for the valve stem and left. It was all on good terms, and he just seemed to have a mental block about it.

And I think he still thinks we're black guys. Ah well. No harm no foul, right?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What I could buy with enough money

What would I do if I had all the money in the world?

I'd get lawn service before anything else. I hate yard work with a passion.

I would buy a Stradivarius, but only allow Orange Blossom Special to be played on it. Okay, and The Devil Went Down to Georgia. It's just a fancy fiddle after all, isn't it?

I would completely rehabilitate the Old Barn. Lord knows she needs it.

I'd donate heavily to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

I'd buy seasons tickets for one year only for the Detroit Tigers, and go to every game that year. And make someone else bring me hot dogs of course. Hell, I might even ride the Ferris Wheel and Merry Go Round. Or at least pay for a couple hundred kids to ride them.

Yeah, my dreams are simple.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pops and Ty Cobb

No, Dad never actually met Ty Cobb. But one of his favorite jokes revolved around a supposedly true story about the famous Detroit center fielder. So why, as they say, let questions of truth interfere with a good story?

Cobb was visiting a ballpark one day in the late 1950s, openly lamenting what he believed the woeful pitching of the era. Finally he was asked, "So what would do you think you could hit against today's pitchers?" Bear in mind that Cobb's lifetime batting average was (and still is) a record .367.

Cobb thought about it for a minute, then answered, ".270."

"You'd only hit .270 against these guys?" the inquisitor responded, taken aback at an answer from someone known to be cocky.

"Give me a break. I'm 70 years old," Cobb said.

Rim shot!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Enough October for everyone

October is breast cancer awareness month. It is also anti-bullying month. It is as well Hispanic Heritage month and Italian Heritage month. It's even Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Month in the Carolinas and Georgia. There isn't a thing wrong with any of these things, of course. They're simply trying to draw attention, at least with some, to very important things. Yet as we strangle our calendars with months of this and months of that all in the name of calling attention to things, how long before everything becomes lost in an ever larger shuffle?

A cursory internet search will find that every month is a month for somebody, and the list offers everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. We find everything from National Fish Month to Political Correctness Awareness month. Thanks to our friends among the Wikipedia crowd, a quite certainly incomplete list can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_commemorative_months .

There are some interesting ideas shared within given months; October further houses both National Work and Family and LGBT History month within its dates. We could go on and quibble about all this emphasis on all these things and about which do and do not merit accolades or jeers; perhaps another time. The main point here is that very soon no one may pay any heed to these causes.

Remember the yellow ribbon faze? It launched ribbon after ribbon in myriad color and design schemes, all meant to make folks sit up and take notice of whatever the promoters had in mind. Does anyone notice those ribbons anymore? Surely not. The market gets saturated and even the most noble ideas become lost in the assault of metallic car emblems in ribbon shapes.

Will anything matter once everything matters? That's the worry we should have should we continue in the direction we tread. When we attach importance to all things great and small, don't we risk minimizing the really critical issues? Short of that, at the very least we ought to agree that we can live without Smart Irrigation Month.

That's July, by the way, if we can trust Wikipedia's editors.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The old bat

I still have it: the old bat. It was the first one I ever bought.

It cost me I believe five bucks of birthday money. It was at the K-Mart in east Dearborn: an Eddie Matthews signature model Hillerich and Bradsby Louisville Slugger. He was on the cover of the first Sports Illustrated as a member of the Milwaukee Braves, you know, and a member of the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers. That last part was serendipity. He was not yet a Tiger when I bought the bat, but I used it proudly once he became one. Mom was with me when I bought it, patiently allowing me to look over the baseball bat selection until I finally made my choice.

I used it for years as I played pickup baseball in the old neighborhood. It served me well in my mind. I might even loan it out to you for an at bat, if you promised to hit with the label away from the ball. I used it until I was 12 or 13. It had begun chipping by then, and I retired it out of fear it would break. That was a thought that I could not stand. It would have killed me for that to happen, so I set old Ed aside.

He now sits in my hall closet more than 50 years after purchase and about 43 years after last use. 16 years after Matthews himself passed away in fact. The main chipping is on the knob, though there is a noticeable crack on the barrel just before the label. And although it is tempting to take it out to a batting cage and swing it one last time, I would never dare do that. I think I'd cry like a baby to break it now.

It's silly to be that attached to something so unimportant, isn't it? That old bat.