Friday, July 29, 2011

The Greek Bee

Every year I attend the glorious Greek Festival. Ah yes... the music, the dancing, the art, the history! What fun!!!

I know Greeks are most famous for their delicious traditional foods, but it’s rather rich for my delicate digestive system, so I was happy to enjoy everything BUT the eats.

The live band played their Bouzouki, and the fabulous dancers kicked their feet high, grape-vining to and fro. There I was, sitting on my mobility scooter enjoying the show, when a woman clad in traditional Greek dress placed a tray of pastries under my nose.

“Free sample?” she shouted over the booming music and the audience screaming out OUPA!!!

I knew better than to sample the baklava: it gives me the winds worse than kid-gas, ya know what I mean? So I pointed to a benign looking treat, similar to a simple glazed doughnut hole. “What’s that?” I asked.

I know she answered with something else, but it sounded to me like, “Lo-la-kapou-su-ka-ka.” Yup, that’s right, “Lo-la-kapou-su-ka-ka.” It’s some kind of bread soaked in Bee honey. “Bread and honey?” I thought to myself. “Harmless!”

Thus, I gobbled up two small Lo-la-kapou-su-ka-ka. Mmmmmmmmm! It was absolutely DELISH!!! I shook the crumbs from my fingers, licked my chops, and settled back to enjoy the rest of the music and dance.

Twenty minutes later...

I suddenly learned that Greek Bees, and American Bees are quite different; while American Bees produce a product that we call honey, Greek Bees produce a product called Colon Blow.

You know that feeling you get when you suddenly feel that nightmarish gurgle in the pit of your stomach, normally occurring about ninety seconds before you have explosive diarrhea? Yeah.

Panic set in. The band was playing Zorba the Greek, but all I could hear was the Jaws theme. I frantically switched on my scooter, U-turned, and made a Greek-Beeline to the Ladies Room.

When I arrived and saw the long line of little Greek ladies spilling out the door, Jaws became Psycho. I had only seconds before the Lo-la-kapou-su-ka-ka became actual KA-KA. This was survival, folks--the famous Battle of the Bowel! And so, I did what I HAD to do... I pulled the Handicapped Card. Yes, that special little invisible card that can send you to the front of the line. Before I knew it, the little Greek ladies had parted like the Red Sea to allow
me safe passage.

Once safely inside the stall... well... um... you remember that famous bathroom scene in the movie Dumb and Dumber? Yeah... Imagine that echoing off the walls of a public bathroom filled with (now silent) little Greek ladies. Thank goodness the toilet flushed.

Lesson learned: Greek Bees could corner the market in laxatives. Lo-la-kapou-su-ka-ka may have cleaned me out, but ooooooooooooh was it good!!!

While we may never know for sure what delicacy Mixer enjoyed at the Festival, in doing some online research we think it just might have been Loukoumades


• Bee with Honey clip art & Greek Dancer with Crowd photo:
These images were found at more than one location on the internet, making ownership unclear. If you are the copyright owner please contact us for attribution.
Photo of Loukoumades snatched from the Karinatic web site.

• Check out the Sacramento Greek Festival Facebook page. CLICK HERE AND LIKE THEIR PAGE!
• Greek website

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tico the Evil Cha-hoo-ya-hoo-ya

I’m certain that most of you have delightfully warm memories about your childhood dog. I, however, do not. While my friends were cuddled up with their sweet Boxers, Labradors and Collies, an evil five pound Chihuahua had me fearing for my life.

His name was Tico, but he was better known as The Antichrist.

I swear, this dog hated everybody except for one person: my mother. Mom felt obligated to keep him because she figured that if she gave him away to another family they would either bring him back or have her arrested for attempted murder. Mean and vicious wouldn’t even begin to describe the temperament of this dog. To put things in perspective: the theme song to The Exorcist would play in your head whenever he approached.

Tico didn’t even growl normally; it sounded more like a possessed chipmunk gargling Scope. Just before he would strike his lip would twitch and curl, exposing his razor sharp, gnashing yellow teeth. His tongue would quiver and his eyes would bulge out of their sockets. Then he’d take a deep breath, hold it in his lungs for a moment, and then begin gargling, "...ethzzz...ethzzz...ethzzz..." building in intensity, "...ethzzz...ethZZZ...ETHZZZ..." until he was ready to attack. And it was never just one bite! His vicious little jaws would come down over and over with a loud and ferocious, "Aye-aye-aye-aye-aye-aye-aye-aye!" ...Yeesh! Makes me shiver just thinking about it.

When my friends came to my house to visit they would run in mortal fear as soon as they saw Tico round the corner and he would chase them down, nipping at any exposed skin within reach. If he wasn’t in the mood to bite, he’d quietly sneak up on you, lift his leg, and piddle on your ankle instead. This happened to my dear friend Maggie, who to this day still refers to him as Pee-co.

Tico was also known as “The Dog that Wouldn’t Die."

Allow me to explain:

I came home from school one day and found my mother sitting on the couch crying. Through her sobs, she told me that Tico had been run over by a car… a Chevy van to be exact. He was at the veterinarian with a broken leg, punctured lung, and internal bleeding, and he was not expected to live. I sat beside Mom and held her hand sympathetically, but inside my head I was screaming, “I’m free! I’m free!” …Somehow, Tico hung on. He came home to my mother with a cast on his leg two weeks later.

The next time I came home to my mother crying on the couch was when he was mauled by a German Shepherd. She said he was practically torn to pieces and was at the vet again, not expected to live. I sat beside Mom and held her hand sympathetically, but the same litany returned to fill my mind: “I’m free! I’m free! …I think.” Unfortunately for me, Tico once again survived. He was back home two weeks later.

The final time I came home from school and found my mother crying on the couch was a week after a man rented the house next door to ours. Growing tired of Tico’s constant gargling at him through the backyard fence, he'd pulled out his .22 caliber rifle and plugged Tico through both of his lungs. The neighbor went to jail and Tico went to the vet yet again, not expected to live. I sat beside Mom and held her hand sympathetically, but this time I said to myself, “He’ll be back.” One month later Tico was back in the house, gargling and biting.

I feel it’s important to mention that my mother had to take him to three different veterinarians. The first two were so terrified of Tico they asked Mom to find another vet--yes, he was that vicious. The first vet called him The Snapping Cobra. The second said he was "as mean as a hornet." The third vet was able to handle Tico, but the clinic staff referred to him as Rosemary’s Baby.

It would be another 17 years until Tico finally bit the dust instead of our ankles. Of all things, he died of natural causes. Even in his geriatric years, hair falling out and barely able to stand, he still would try with all his might to bite a passing ankle. Actually, he was "gumming" us because by that time all of his teeth had fallen out, too.

Although living with Tico was like living with a rattlesnake who had free reign of the house, whenever I gather with high school and college friends we talk about Tico the Evil Chi-hoo-ya-hoo-ya with great mirth. Looking back, I guess it wasn’t so bad after all…

Um… No, I take that back. It was definitely a living hell.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Giggle

I finally decided to try acupuncture! However, I didn’t do it for my Parkinson’s disease, but for something mortifyingly embarrassing: I’m terrified of the dentist. I'd heard that acupuncture can do wonders with anxiety control, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I found an acupuncturist close to where I live by the name of Dr. Du, and in no time at all I was sitting on my scooter in the waiting room of Dr. Du’s office.

When I first entered the small waiting room, there were three very elderly Chinese women who were chitchatting among themselves in Chinese. They were so lovely, because the moment they saw me they switched to English so that I could be included in their conversation. Even though it was difficult to understand them through their thick accents and broken English, I thoroughly enjoyed their company.

I heard one woman ask another, “Why you come see Dr. Du for?” The second woman answered, “Headaches.” The first woman put a hand to her back and added. “I come for bad back.” The third woman stretched her fingers and said, “Tendons hurt.” Then all three women slowly turned their heads towards me with raised eyebrows, waiting for my answer as to why I had come. I could have used my Parkinson’s disease as the reason for my presence, but their sweet faces encouraged me to reveal the embarrassing truth. ”Uh... I’m afraid of the dentist,” I admitted.

The room grew utterly quiet. Crickets began chirping in my ears. They stared blankly at me; their minds calculating my ridiculous, yet truthful answer. Finally, the first woman leaned over, patted my knee, and smiled kindly. She said, “Not to worry. Dr. Du do good work.” However, my immature sense of humor heard her say, “Dr. Doo-Doo good work.”

Hence, I started to giggle.

I’m not just talking about a quick little giggle, this one was one of those uncontrollable, shoulders jiggling, nonstop giggles... gawd, I was so embarrassed. I tried hard to suppress it by covering my mouth, which did nothing for my now watering eyes.

I glanced at the three women and saw that they were looking back at me with sympathetic expressions, and I realized that they thought I was crying, not laughing, which only made me laugh even harder.

The first woman leaned over and patted my knee again saying, “Nothing to fear. Dr. Du do not put needle in mouth.” But again, I heard “Dr. Doo-Doo,” which fueled my out-of-control merriment, tears now streaming down my face. The elderly ladies were so sweet and all three started patting me and handing me tissue after tissue.

Thankfully, I was able to compose myself just as I was called in for my session because I didn’t want to meet Dr. Du as a hysterically giggling, sobbing mess. Just as I turned the key to my scooter, the first woman leaned over one final time and whispered...”For relaxation, have Dr. Du put needle in turd eye.” Turd eye? I thought. Oh! THIRD eye! But that was all she wrote, folks, the final straw: I did meet Dr. Du as a hysterically giggling, sobbing mess.

I highly recommend Dr. Du, she was professional and had a beautiful smile. The needle in my third eye relaxed me so much, that I asked her if she wouldn’t mind cleaning my teeth, too.

Thank you, Dr. Du. A jab well done.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First Day Out

One of the hardest things about being disabled, at least for me, is the fact that I am a complete shut-in during the winter months. My mobility scooter is put away once the rains begin, and it doesn’t see the light of day until the spring sun peeks out. Don’t mistake me, I do get out during the winter, normally when someone picks me up to take me to teach my classes, minus the mobility scooter, and minus the independence I feel when I’m zipping about town on my own.

Today marked my first day out on my mobility scooter on the most beautiful day of the year thus far. My neighbor kindly pulled out my scooter for me, dusted off the cobwebs and shined it up a bit. Along with my usual tremors that come with Parkinson's, I was shaking with excitement as I packed my bottle of water, my ID, cell phone and house keys into the pouch which hangs from one of the arms of the chair. I was a little frustrated because I couldn’t zipper the pouch closed, it just wouldn’t budge. But I truly didn’t care at that point, because nothing, not any obligation, responsibility or the wet weather would stop me from my first Spring Trek.

I hopped onto the scooter (and I say that figuratively of course, because I can’t hop anymore), pushed the throttle with my thumb and off I went. My first destination: the corner of P Street. The owner of the house on that particular corner grows a large variety of fragrant and colorful flowers that I have been enjoying for the past seven years since moving to Midtown. My heart pounded as I saw the colorful array of flora from a distance, and as I drew closer the aroma filled my senses and I was in heaven. Bright purple, blue, green, orange and yellow surrounded me, and I slowed my speed to take it all in. I breathed deep and it was as though it recharged my spirit, because I felt so incredibly alive. However, accompanying the floral beauty, was the buzzing sound of bees doing what they enjoy doing, which is to scare the living heck out of me. If you know me, you know that I am terrified of bees. No, I am not allergic, it’s just an irrational fear that usually leaves me screaming and flailing about…most embarrassing indeed. So once I saw my buzzing friends, I moved further down P Street.

I found the sidewalk bumpier than last season; lots of cracks and potholes. I was concerned that my keys, ID, cell phone and water might fall out of my pouch since I was unable to zip it up, so I thought I’d ask the first person I saw walking down the sidewalk for assistance. In my experience, I have found strangers to be quite helpful to me when I am in need of something. Some are very gregarious and willing to help with anything, others are a little shy and nervous, but are still willing to offer a hand.
In any case, the large fellow who was approaching me on the sidewalk whom I thought I would ask for help, appeared as though he either just got out of jail, escaped from jail, or should be in jail. I don’t normally judge people for how they appear, or by the mean look on their face, but I ‘ll be honest, this guy looked scary. He had on a black leather vest, torn up T-shirt, worn out dirty jeans, and big black boots. I don’t think I can accurately describe how he smelled - sort of a cross between teenager B.O. and fermenting kimchi. He had an enormously huge, bushy beard, too. He looked like he was either in some biker gang, or a rogue Chassidic Jew. “Excuse me, sir,” I said in a timid voice. He stopped, and raised two thick eyebrows. “Would you mind zipping my pouch closed? It’s stuck,” I continued. Without saying a word, he grabbed the zipper and forcefully yanked it shut. I thought he was annoyed that I asked him for help until I felt his hand on my shoulder. I looked up at him and saw a wide, yet a toothless, smile. “Is there anything more you need, little lady?” He asked with almost a song in his voice. I returned the smile, laid my hand over his and simply said, “Thank you, no, I’m fine now.” He nodded his head, wished me “a wonderful day” and was on his way.

Along with the beautiful sights and smells of spring time, are all the beautiful people as well, no matter how scary they look, or smell. I love these kinds of encounters. I tuck them away in my heart, and pull them out during the winter months when I rarely see a soul.

I scootered ‘round town for about an hour, just cruising along on my own, taking in the life that surrounded me. Many people said hello to me, people I didn’t know who seemed to be just as happy to be outside of their houses I was. I met a young man named Francisco, who was playing his guitar in front of his apartment building. I stopped and listened awhile, and he didn’t seem to mind. In fact, I believe he appreciated the audience. Moving on down the road, I found myself being chased by a crazy Chihuahua, whose owner was frantically running after him. “Paco! Paco! Come!” I heard the owner shout. I stopped my scooter and the owner of the diminutive canine scooped him up into her arms and apologized. Once the shivering, bug-eyed creature calmed down, he let me scratch him behind the ears.

I turned down the street which would lead me back home and enjoyed the final minutes with the wind in my face, the warmth of the sun that my back and the quiescence of the flower gardens I passed. My first day out was joyful, relaxing, and gave me a sense of freedom, and I look forward to the many adventures that the warm months always offer.