Jim Varagona

Category: storm

>My Dogter, The Victim

>After an easy day at work last week, the wife and I decided to take our dogter for a walk and pick up dinner while we were out. Gray skies loomed overhead though in a physical and metaphorical sense.

We arrived at our local St. Louis Bread Co. (Panera Bread to non-St. Louisans–yes, it is ours) with a light drizzle falling. My wife went inside to order the eats. I took Sadie, our boxer, over to some sidewalk seating to wait. A rough looking homeless man was at the table adjacent to ours.

“That’s a boxer, right?”


At that point, I was actually quite impressed that he recognized her breed, considering most people think she is a pit bull for some reason. He asked me to bring her over, to which I did. He pet her and seemed so pleased. I was happy to make an unfortunate person’s day for a minute even. He explained how he had a full bred boxer as a child. Her name was Sadie too. He kept saying how good looking my Sadie was.

My wife came out while waiting for her pager to go off signalling the food was ready. The man told us we should breed Sadie, but we said she was fixed. He kept saying he didn’t understand no matter how many times and different ways we tried to explain it. She needed a companion, he kept saying. She needs a man.

She was perfect though. The right color and everything.

The rain started to come down. We moved under the little bit of shelter available outside the front entrance. My wife went inside to check on the grub.

The man followed Sadie and I and pet her as we stood in the rain, which was quickly appearing to be a monsoon. She sit and let him do so. It felt good to put a smile on his face. He did ask for money, but I explained we didn’t carry cash on our walks, which was true. He seemed to take it okay and said he knew we were good folks and would give to him if we could.

My wife started coming outside with dinner, but the rain was starting to come down sideways, so we moved into the lobby area of the establishment. Yes, we had our dog, but these were special circumstances. Once again, the homeless man followed. He had a seat towards the rear of the area while we stood closer to the door.

We watched the winds collapse umbrellas on three different people. It didn’t look like we’d be moving anytime soon. We thought about calling my mother-in-law who lives closeby, but that was nixed because we didn’t have pocket space to bring a phone.

He called Sadie to him to pet her and I smiled at him. His voice was rough. It had a Black Jesus quality to it.

She stuck her butt right out at him, waiting for him to pet it. The homeless man obliged and rubbed her beautiful coat. So perfect. He took one look at her positioning and told us, “She’s horny, see.”

“No, she just is friendly and wants attention,” I replied.

A woman walked through the lobby. She glanced down at Sadie and the man and made a gruesome face. Confused, I smiled back. She ran into the rain, turning back at us and screaming something unintelligible. I looked down at the two new friends and the man was rubbbing my dogter’s genitals. There was full motion that made it easily identifiable, yet unbelievable. I was in shock. He had reached third base with her, with us present.

If someone were to present the situation as a hypothetical, I’d say I’d stomp on his crotch, kick him in the face, and tell him off. The shock of the situation overcame us though. I yanked Sadie away and stared into the storm. Never would my wife run out into something like that, but she agreed and we did.

We screamed as we ran through the rains across the busy street. We had to run what had just happened by eachother to confirm it. I felt horrible and disgusted. I felt guilt for not annihilating the animal that I thought I was just being friendly to by letting him pet my dog.

It all made sense. He kept saying she was perfect and needed a companion. I think he already had an agenda. Having no home and not being able to afford a prostitute, what’s a guy like that to do? I would never come to the conclusion of getting his jollies from a dog in front of its owners, but now I can.

We raced home throught the storm, which was still close to full force. We felt disgusting and wondered what Sadie was thinking. Once we arrived home we put our wet dinner to the side and gave Sadie a hot bath to rid her of any of that man’s germs. I thought about what exactly he was doing back there. Did he stick to one entry point? How long was he doing that before we caught on? Does this make me a horrible father?

It’s been a while since this happened, but it still affects me when I look at my dog or go near that part of the neighborhood where this occured. My wife doesn’t want to discuss it and is considering leaving the neighborhood, which we couldn’t imagine ourselves leaving until this incident. So when walking you best friend, be weary of where folks are petting, and stay away from those that may be needing some sexual healing.

My dogter, the victim

>Diabeto the Hermit

>I’ve been laying low as of late. After the power came back on, the DSL at our flat was turned off because we’re too poor. We are now attempting to reconnect through Earthlink and leave AT&T hanging. In the meantime, I am mooching off my parents’ connection.

I have been working for the past few weeks for one of those publications that helps you sell your vehicles. My job is as a “field photographer”, which means I drive around and take pictures of cars. Why this job still exists in the age of the internet and digital cameras, I have no idea, but it pays for now. And I told this to a customer not long ago, that he could simply take the photo on the digital camera he told me he had and upload it to internet that he also confirmed he had, to which he responded, “But this is so damned convenient!”

I called a customer in a location 35 miles from me, most likely the land of the Lord, to confirm his address, which wasn’t showing up on MapQuest (a godsend for this job). To clarify, I was already in his vicinity and calling, figuring that the street name would bring me close enough. The address listed was 1939, but on this particular street the addresses only went up to 959. Trust me I drove around to check. So I call this guy and say I am by 959 so-and-so street and ask where his location is. He tells me again “It’s 1939. Wait I’ll go outside to check again for ya. (PAUSE) Yep it’s real big out here under the sign with the name of the place, the phone number, and the address…1939. You can’t miss it.”

I ask for landmarks because this just didn’t make any sense. He tells me to go back to the main road in town and find a BP and an auto repair joint. I should turn in between the two and it’s a block away past some railroad tracks.

I follow his directions. Sure enough there was a BP and an auto repair shop at the beginning of the street I was on, but quite a few blocks back. I drove past the tracks and see the truck I was to shoot. This was the first building on this street with an address of 100. Right away I see his mistake. There was a big sign with the name of the place and its address, and underneath it was written “Since 1939”.

I deal with the public for the entertainment value.

My daughter, Sadie, was really sick about a week ago. Whenever she moved, she would yelp. It was sad to watch. She was moping around. Days went by before she ate or drank on her own will. I resorted to giving her water through a syringe…a needleless one. We spent two separate nights at the animal hospital with the vets troubleshooting her. Guesswork costs a lot, especially for us po’ folks. She has been on two separate drugs and had x-rays done that showed nothing.

We are pretty sure she has
Aseptic (Sterile) Meningitis, which two of her brothers also have been diagnosed with. Apparently it will flare up from time to time, but can be kept under control with Prednisone. She takes after me with all the diseases and medication.
In February, I blogged about mice in our flat. We caught 9 in a 2 day span, to which our landlady told me that “the key to urban living is to keep a clean place”. I bagged 4 of the nine and labeled them for her at the time. She kept them in our basement by her work bench. I decided to lay them to rest today in a dumpster, since they have molded over a few times within their Zip-Loc bags, and she wasn’t too concerned about moving them. I took some video which I hope to post soon, when our internet situation improves. In the meantime, check out this other cool mice video.

UPDATE (11/1/06): The disposal of the moldy mice…


>Let There Be Light…and A/C

>The power was restored to our apartment around 9:30 this morning. I am grateful that we had a cool place to stay (with my parents), but nothing beats being at your own home. It just sucks cleaning up remnants of food that I didn’t save earlier on. Leftover peas, zucchini soup, and barbecued chicken stink to high heaven after sitting in a luke warm fridge for a few days. The peas were fuzzy too. I flushed most of the potent liquids down the toilet because that’s what I was raised to do when you don’t have a garbage disposal. The water pressure was sub par with the faucets sputtering before kicking in completely. I know that has nothing to do with electricity, but it shows how messed up things are around here. There was a massive water main break less than two miles from here, but I doubt that is the culprit.

Oh well. It’s good to be home.

*And as a response to a comment on my last post, my 200+ mile route for work involves weaving through the St. Louis Metropolitan area and beyond. We reside in St. Louis city, the epicenter of the chaos that ensued after the storm.


>Ridin’ the Storm Out

>These are strange times in St. Louis.

On Wednesday, I had finished a 200+ mile route for my new job right before the storm hit. I really just noticed the sky of black moving my way overhead when I made it to the office in West St. Louis County. I still had to finish some paperwork and make copies before I could leave. The only person left in the office was my supervisor, who was staying to collect my work. The strong winds came in pretty fast, but I still thought we had time to get out of there. Not even ten minutes after I arrived, the power shut down. I laughed and paced, because that’s how I cope. We waited for the elecricity to return, so we could finish the work. It did, but just enough to tease us. I kept looking outside at the business park I was in. Parts of trees and random trash were flying by. It was very amusing.

I don’t feel comfortable with severe weather in the county. For some reason, the city avoids serious damage and tornadic activity a lot more than the county around here. Anyway, the building I was in was talking. It was creaking and whistling to the point that I thought there was a good chance of my first tornado. My supervisor gave me a candle that smelled nice. I would have rather been at home though. My dog was there alone in a kennel awaiting my arrival. The supe had to make calls to find out procedure for what to do if the building were to blow away. We were told to go hang out in an office with windows. Seriously. Their reasoning was that the walls of that office were still made of cinder blocks unlike the rest of the building. I didn’t buy it, but I was simply going with the flow. It was only my fourth day on this job, so I wanted to make a good impression.

Then the rains finally came. I watched through the narrow windows at the cloud formations moving by fairly quickly and the sheets of precipitation dumping out. It was obvious the power wouldn’t come back anytime soon. The supe called the higher ups and communicated that we were going to run for it. It takes fine management skills to decide to leave once the rain hits. We did though. The walk to my car 30 feet from the door was enough to soak me.

The drive home was interesting. I had no idea what lay ahead or behind me. The rain in my path though, was enough to cut visibility down considerably. Half of the cars on the highway had their flashers on. Since I don’t trust my own driving, especially in weather such as that, I followed suit. Some of the vehicles swayed in the wind. I could feel the wind pushing my car, but it just added an element of fun to the drive. Most of the cars were keeping a safe speed and distance, so I didn’t have to worry. The shoulder did contain a few results of those that weren’t being so careful.

About halfway through my drive, the rain calmed down a tad. The sky turned a bright orange from the sun setting and the storm exiting. Fittingly, “Ridin’ the Storm Out” by REO Speedwagon came on the radio, so I cranked it up. I am always a fan of mood music, even though I hate REO.

When I got home, the blocks leading up to it were riddled with tree branches and sometimes entire trees. I noticed two streets blocked off entirely by single trees. Of course, considering my luck as of late, our power was out when I reached the homestead, and at this point two nights later, it still is out. Interestingly enough, people three doors down and on somehow have their power. Ameren, the utility company here, gave themselves a 3-5 day window to clean this mess up, but a storm earlier today just added more to their statistics. As I write this, 500,000 homes are without power in this area.

I took Sadie, my boxer, for a walk through the neighborhood since she had been cooped up in the kennel thoughout the madness. Trees blocked our path several times. At the corner of our block, a man’s shed had been torn to pieces and thrown all over the street. This was certainly the worst storm damage I have ever seen first hand. And it is easily the longest I have ever gone without electricity.

The first night, I tried toughing it out with the windows open to the breeze of the 90 degree night air. Sadie and I made it though the night while the wife worked the graveyard shift, but we smelled like blooming onions by daybreak and had a fine layer of greasy sweat on us. My wife made the decision for us to move in with my folks and that’s where I will rest my head again tonight. At least we aren’t camping out on our porch like some people.

Today when I tried venturing out for work, disabled traffic signals made for long waits at intersections. I drove past 4 gas stations before I could find one with power. This is insane. The storm today helped the heat wave dissipate for a bit while we wait on all of these shortages and outages.

The National Guard is in town now to knock on doors to check on folks and give out water and cookies. I guess that beats suicide bombers and living in the deserts of the Mid East. Witnessing giant camoflaged vehicles parading through the city was a strange sight for me. I saw two caravans as I drove around today. The boys were decked out in full uniform. That makes this official disaster control. It makes me feel special. I only wish we were staying in our darkened apartment so the Guard would offer us goodies and a chance to stay in an air conditioned building that they refer to as “cooling centers” in these parts.

So the question of choice in St. Louis has gone from “Where did you go to High School?” to “Do you have power?”

Strange times indeed.


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