Categories
The Landlady

For Mushy – I Think We’re Wearing Her Down…

Joycie, Rex, and Ruby – 1928

Hey, a picture is a picture, right? Ruby dug this out especially for me to post here. That’s her on the right, sitting behind her brother Rex, on their tricycle – doesn’t she look like a little devil? And I’ll bet Rex dropped Joycie on her head off that trike about 30 seconds after the shutter clicked. Not that he did drop her on her head – just that he probably did. Just sayin’.

Rex is the brother of Blackberry Summer fame. Ruby hadn’t told me much about Rex up to this point, so when she presented me with this photo, saying, “There. I wonder what that Mushy fella will say to that?”, I asked her about him.

Rex was about 18 months older than Ruby. She was about three in this photo, so he’d have been a little over…. five maybe? He had asthma and it plagued him all his life. When he was eight, it almost killed him because of a Scarlet Fever vaccination.

They didn’t have a doctor in Northland, so every year or so, one would come in by train and stay a few days, checking up on people and taking care of any emergencies that might crop up while he was there. The rest of the time, Northlanders most likely were doctored up by midwives, veterinarians, and God Himself.

On the last day of an annual visit, if there were any school kids of the right age, the doctor would innoculate them all one after another, just before he jumped back on the train out of there. The kids would all be lined up, and with the midwife assisting, the doctor would stick them all, assembly-line fashion, no questions asked, no names taken. Prick, prick, prick, prick, pack up and go home.

Rex had asthma, but the doctor didn’t know that, and he didn’t bother to ask. If he had bothered, he’d never have given him the shot. Five minutes after the doctor left for the station house (which, ironically, was where Rex’s dad was, being the section foreman, after all), Rex went into convulsions. The quick-thinking midwife scooped him up and ran for the station house, where the train was just pulling in, and Rex’s dad watched the doctor save his boy in the nick of time.

When I asked Ruby what the doctor did to save him, she said she hadn’t a clue, just that it had been close. She also laid dollars to donuts that the doctor never gave another shot without asking a kid’s history first.

Rex survived, though, and grew up to work for his dad on the railroad, which kept him employed until World War II. He tried to sign on, of course, but his asthma did that idea in. He ended up working as a time-keeper for a chain-gang of POWs for the duration of the war, at a camp further up the ACR.

The POWs he was in charge of were mostly Italians. The were a friendly bunch, and the Canadian government treated them very well. They may have been called a “chain-gang”, but not a one of them wore a chain. Where would they go if they ran? Into the Northern bush to starve or freeze to death? No, they weren’t that stupid. Better off where they were, where they were housed and fed fairly comfortably, considering, and each and every one of them worked hard, Rex said.

In the evenings, some of them built tiny little ships, with masts and sails that were squished magically through the necks of whiskey bottles and glued down. The masts, sails all furled up, would be stuck to the ship with rubber cement, and laid flat on the decks with little strings attached to the tops of them. The tiny dab of rubber cement stayed flexible long enough that when the whole works went through the bottle neck, the strings could be pulled gently and the masts would stand up straight and the sails would unfurl. Rex said it was a great thing to watch. By the end of the war, he owned three ships in bottles, and had them ’til he died.

A lot of those POWs applied to stay in Canada when the war was over. We must have been pretty decent people back then, I guess. Who would choose to stay here otherwise, and freeze for six to eight months of the year?

Random Song for the Day: “Belgium or Peru” – Cuff the Duke

Categories
Photography

Lazin’ Around…

Lazin' Around
Lazin’ Around…
Taken February 25, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Fat Man” – Kevin Coyne

Categories
Little Bits of Stupid Real Life

About Me

For Carl, with tongue in cheek…

02152008-Sheikh-in-a-Tuba.jpgAs of February 23, 2008…
My name is Les Becker. I’m 42 years-old, and I live in Northern Ontario, Canada with two teen-aged girls (one, I actually gave birth to!) and two cats (I didn’t give birth to either of them, though.). I don’t own a tuba. I do however, own a broken bodhran, which I proudly display on my living room wall.

I love music of every genre – so much so, that I have every song on the playlist loaded at once and set to random for the ultimate in eclectic mixes, and share what’s playing right now on every blog post (even this one). I carry my mp3 player at all times, playing – sometimes in only one ear, as I now and again have conversations with real people, on the phone, or face to face, and I consider it a little impolite to YELL at my friends and family during a conversation. Or the bank teller, or the waitress (oops. Server.), or the sales agent.

I like old people. Especially this one.

I’m a writer, an amateur photographer, and I dabble in media production. None of these things pays the rent, yet. I’m working on it… It would probably go a lot faster if I would pick one and stick to it.

Up until April 2006, I worked in sales and customer service at a store Formerly Known as Stereo Hut (name changed to protect the poor saps who are still stuck there). The nicest thing I can say about that decade is that it was a kucky job, but it could have been worse. Probably.

I have recently finished school (again), receiving certification in business, marketing, finance and web development. Strange mix. Still unemployed. Oddly, this neither surprises nor worries me. If the pantry gets low, I can always eat a cat.

Random Song for the Day: “Mystified” – Fleetwood Mac


* * *

03142009-Hiding_450px-Ky.jpgAs of February 23, 2009…

My name is still Les Becker, but I’m a whole freaking year older. I’m minus one teenager. Come to think of it, I’m minus the broken bodhran, too. Still don’t own a tuba.

I’ve moved. I left four rooms with walls for one room and a sauna. My leftover teenager, renamed “The Idiot Child” for several good reasons, and I haven’t killed each other. So far.

She spends most of her time in the sauna, mind you.

Singing.

The same song over and over again.

The lack of walls and sunlight are now too much for us, as well, so we are planning our next move. We are becoming “Cave-People” here. Singing Cave-People. Ugh.

Still love music – but don’t have the mp3 player welded to my person any longer… the Grand New J.O.B. (pumping gas at a 24-hour full service gas bar) does not condone it, so I must dance in the parking lot to whatever music happens to be playing in my head. Brrrrr! I do, however, listen to music constantly while at home, and still share what’s playing right now on every blog post (yes, including this one).

I still like old people. I lost one this past July, though. 🙁 And I don’t get to see this one as much as I’d like to… Thankfully, I still get to see this one, quite often. 😀

I still write, and am currently looking for representation. I still take a lot of photos, and I’m back into audio again.

Being a gas-jockey is a weird thing, but oddly, it’s actually a lot of fun to do. Zero stress. Crap wages. As are those I earn with Louie, having sworn never to work for him again, every time I’ve worked for him since. Ah well. I mentioned I’m still writing, right…? Ahem…*

I have yet to eat a cat.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Little Green Bag” – George Baker Selection

* * *

Other “About Me”s…

November 23, 2008
What to Post When You Can’t Keep a Train of Thought on Its Rails…,

October 31, 2008
I *HATE* These Things…

Categories
Photography

Pink Fantasy

Image: Pink Fantasy
Pink Fantasy
Taken February 22, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

Categories
Little Bits of Stupid

You Want Fries with that Burger…?

Les and Goldie, 1971
Ain’t I Angelic… “looking”?

Ah, yes, appearances can be deceiving, though, can’t they? The dog knows differently, you can tell by the look on her face.

This picture was taken by my father in 1971. I would have been around 5 at the time. The dog (her name was Goldie), was 4, and I think my dad might have loved her as much as, if not more than, he loved me. He never once forgot her name, whereas I still get referred to as “Vel-errr…Kar-errr… Lisa! No…. Diddly-Do-Over-There”. He does that to all his kids, mind you, so it’s not like I’m singled out. He had too many kids, and just the one dog.

Goldie is in nearly every photo taken of me by my dad from the time she was brought home to the time she was “put down” when I was about 13.

She was old and had been through some tough times – surgery for removal of an “India Rubber” ball she accidentally swallowed (my dad still has that – ask him where my first tooth is, though) … rheumatism resulting from being accidentally run over (by my dad!!!!)… poor ol’ dog.

My parents didn’t tell me they’d put Goldie down until 4 days after the deed was done, because I was in the middle of a monstrous school project. They were worried I would be so upset that I’d get a bad mark. I cried. A lot. Not because the dog was gone, so much as I felt guilty that I hadn’t wondered where she was for 4 days. Some friend I turned out to be.

ANYWAY…. that’s not what this post is about. It’s about an incident that happened around the year this picture was taken – and probably the reason I hate cooking so much…

I think we were on Cockburn Island (stop laughing, Suzi), but it could have been one of a myriad of other islands in the North Channel that we “boated” to. I know there were other families there –

1) because my dad (along with several other dads) was three sheets to the wind (ummm… for those not in-the-know, “three sheets to the wind” is Sailor-Talk for Drunk.), and it took other dads present for such a thing to happen, and

B) because My Brother the Trespasser wouldn’t play with me, and it took other kids present for such a thing to happen.

So, all the other kids, being older, were… I don’t know…. gone, and I was left all by my lonesome 5-year-oldness to amuse myself. Under the arguable watchful-eyedness of a bunch of drunks. I could hardly help but get into trouble.

We were BBQ-ing that night. Well, the other families were BBQ-ing. Ours was “Hibachi-ing”. My dad loved his little Hibachi, because it didn’t need any dismantling for storage (we lived on a boat in the summer, remember?), or have to be strapped down on the deck.

hibachi
It looked exactly like this.

Yes. Very small. Very low to the ground. About up to a 5-year-old’s shins. Reachable, in other words, to both a 5-year-old girl who only looked like an angel, and a 4-year-old dog who would eat anything within reach provided my dad wasn’t yelling “UUT! Oh, NO YOU DON’T!!” at the time. As I recall, that worked on both dog and girl equally well.

But, as you will recall, my dad was three sheets to the wind. And he did a silly thing. He told me (ME!) to “keep an eye on the Hibachi and make sure Goldie doesn’t get into the hamburgers.” Imagine that! And then he went back to his lawn chair, his rum, his buddies, and Nat King Cole on the 8-track.

So, I picked up the spatula and “kept an eye on the Hibachi”. As well as any 5-year-old who’d never wielded a spatula before could….

Now, this is about the point where the way my parents tell this story and the truth part ways. Ahem…*

To my knowledge, my parents don’t read my blog… in fact, I’m pretty sure that My Brother the Trespasser is the only member of my family who ever has, and I’m not even sure of that, truthfully… but if I get in trouble for the following admission, I will be forced to inform my parents who it was that taught me how to remove a locked wine-cellar door from its hinges quickly and silently, and put it back the way I found it, equally quickly and equally silently. Not to mention the party I swore I’d keep quiet about in exchange for such a valuable education. I swear I’ll tell. Fair warning, oh Brother Mine.

My parents maintain that I was “playing house”. That I “didn’t know any better”. That I just “had quite the imagination as a child”. Ri-ight. Goldie would have ratted me out in a heartbeat if my dad had thought to offer a milk bone. As it was, I think she may have scored the whole meal.

I was trying to flip the hamburgers over. I knew it had to be done; I could smell them burning. No amount of arm-waving, or sleeve-pulling, or “excuse-me-ing” could get my dad’s attention, and truthfully, it never once occurred to me to go to my mother because this emergency pertained to The Hibachi, which was most definitely my father’s turf.

And he ignored me.

And I saw my chance to finally be The Hero, and save supper.

So, I gingerly slid the spatula under a hamburger patty, and attempted to deftly flip it over, whereupon it promptly flipped off the Hibachi. Into the sand. Of course. May I remind you at this point, that I was 5.

You may not be aware, unless you’ve dropped a hamburger patty into the sand, that sand does not scrape off a hamburger patty. Completely.

But it can be disguised.

With more sand.

On all the other hamburger patties.

You can fit about eight hamburgers on an Hibachi grill. It takes approximately ten minutes for a 5-year-old girl-that-looks-like-an-angel-but-who-has-an-imagination to drop seven hamburger patties in the sand (on purpose!), scrape as much sand off as possible, and return them to the grill, sand-side-down.

They didn’t catch on until the second bite, as I recall, but they haven’t let me forget it, since. I believe we had bologna sandwiches for supper that night. Goldie ate sandy hamburger.

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Ramblin’ Rose” – Nat King Cole

Categories
Kyla Becker Real Life

It Used to Give Me Peace of Mind…

ky phone
Now, the bill is causing an ulcer.
Taken February 17, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

As a former “Smother Mother”, placing a cell phone in my daughter’s hands relieved some of the “she will surely be kidnapped/assaulted/raped/arrested or otherwise end up in a body-bag if I let her out of my sight” symptoms. Surprisingly quickly, actually.

Now, as long as she answers the damned thing when I call, I don’t worry much. She may be beyond her boundaries, or past her curfew, but she’s alive, at least.

Just having a cell phone at all was enough for her for a short while. Until she got into text-messaging, and added 20-40 bucks to the bill every month. My previous provider had no intention of giving me a break or a deal on text-messaging until I canceled my account and signed a three-year contract with the current one for the free, unlimited text plan they had – a little late for the other guys to win me back.

The new plan is a little more expensive, but it saved me a lot on the messaging. For a month or so. Now, she can’t be bothered with texting. At. All.

Nope, now it’s ringtones she’s into.

My phone just rings – you know, “Riiiiiiiiiiiing! Riiiiiiiiiiiing!” Like a phone.

Hers rings and it sounds like a party started. If I’m sleeping, it scares the crap out of me. Yes, apparently Everybody Else’s parents allow phone calls at 2 am. Everybody Else’s parents are starting to tick me off.

The ringtone changes every half-hour, as well. It’s hard to tell if someone’s calling, or if the stereo is set to Auto-On.

So now I have that bill to worry over again, because of all the downloading going on. I could pay another $20 a month for the unlimited data package, but how much do the freaking files cost?!

Yes, it’s possible to get free ringtones. Now, I have to convince her that the free ones are as good as the not-free ones, I guess. And are “Hip-Hop Ringtones” the same as “Dance Ringtones”, because apparently, she doesn’t want either one of them. When I ask what she does want, she kind of shrugs.

I think she only wants whatever I don’t know she’s managing to get. Until the bill comes in, that is.

If I had any sense, I’d just quit complaining altogether, and in a month or so she’d quit downloading ringtones. Where’s the fun if it doesn’t cost Mom money, after all? I’m afraid of what might come next, though.

Does anybody out there know what comes next?

What comes next?!

Random Song for the Day: “Choked Up” – Minibar

Categories
Oh Mother...! The Father Chronicles

Whole Lotta Rockin’ Goin’ On…

Dad's ipod
…in the Nursing Home, that is.
Taken February 16, 2008 with Nokia 6275i Cameraphone

Yeah, so my dad bought an iPod. My Brother the Trespasser picked it up for him, set it up and showed him how to use it.

Dad spent about three hours playing with it and yelling at us what a “great rig” it was. The volume was so high that I could hear the lyrics from across the room. Every now and again he’d ask if it was his or my brother’s, and did I think he ought to get one for himself? Give him a break – he’s 87.

He may have his days where he can’t remember what happened five minutes ago, but he has no problem with what happened 65 years ago. He told me the “Cabbage Story” again, at my request.

That was a big ship we went Overseas on. Everybody had a job they had to do, and I ended up doing prep work in the galley. You never saw such a big space, either. There’d be fifty soldiers working down there at once, getting the meals ready.

We’d be peeling potatoes, or cabbages, or brussels sprouts. Those little buggers are hard to peel – I still hate brussels sprouts to this day, don’t I, Maude?

Mother: I guess so.

Dad: You’re darn right, I do! I hated having to peel those things. We’d be down there for hours at a time, hunched over, peeling vegetables – it got pretty boring. Now and again we’d get up to shenanigans, like the time that big Mulatto fella almost stabbed me to death… closest I came to getting killed during the whole war.

Mother: Well, what about when you spent all those months in the hospital with Diphtheria?! That nearly killed you!

Dad: Well, there’s a big difference between dying of Diphtheria and getting stabbed to death by a big Mulatto fella, now, isn’t there?!

Mother: I guess so…

Dad: You’re darn right there is!

Me: So how’d you nearly get stabbed to death by a big Mulatto fella?

Dad: I hit him in the head with a cabbage.

(at this point the conversation pauses… as it does every time he tells me this story, because neither of us can stop laughing for a bit…)

We were bored, see? And we got up to a game of catch. We were supposed to be peeling cabbages in our group, and the outer leaves come off just as easy when you toss a cabbage twenty feet across the room to the guy on the other side. I suppose we could have peeled them faster if we hadn’t been fooling around, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun, I guess.

Anyway, I was tossing cabbages back and forth with this other guy, and the cabbage we were using for a ball was pretty much peeled, when this big Mulatto fella come walking in between us, just as I heaved my cabbage across the room. Smacked him right upside the head with it.

Cabbages are hard, too, when all the fluffy stuff is peeled off. He was a big fella, though, and even though it smacked him pretty good, it didn’t knock him over. He turned and looked at me and I knew I was gonna pay for throwing that cabbage.

Then he snatched up a knife and started walking toward me, and I knew I was a dead man.

Mother: You’ll notice he’s not walking around dead about now…

Dad: You shhhh – ush!

Me: Yeah, Dad – how’d you get outta getting stabbed to death?

Dad: I don’t know. He just stopped about half-way and put the knife down. He didn’t even say anything, just walked away. Maybe he thought better of it, or figured I wasn’t worth a court-martial. Anyway, he didn’t stab me to death, so that’s good.

Me: What’d you do then?

Dad: I went to my bunk and changed my pants.

And don’t forget to enter The Big “Extra Copy” Caption Contest!

Random Song for the Day: “Friend is a Four-Letter Word” – Cake

Categories
Little Bits of Stupid Photoshop

Does It Really Need a Title?


Fairly self-explanatory, I’d say…

Random Song for the Day: “Low” – Flo Rida

Categories
Little Bits of Stupid Radio Les

Wanted: Used Tuba, Suitable for Cat

Cat in a Tuba
Come on; you can do it!

RadioLes!!

 

Wanted: Used Tuba, Suitable for Cat – © Les Becker, 2008
Click it! Click it!

My site was reviewed today. The phrase “Cat in a tuba” was the the best thing about it. You can read the review HERE, if you like, along with my comment about it.

Needless to say, the “review” was disappointing. Not because it was a little pissy, either – I expected pissy. Pissy is this guy’s schtick. I mean, he calls his site “I Hate Your Website,” so he’s bound to get a little um… rude. In fact, I didn’t find the “review” nearly as rude as I would have expected.

But.

The few other reviews he has up, at least the few I read, actually have some honest (if pissy) constructive criticism about the site thrown in there. Yes! They actually, actually do! Not mine, though. This guy’s dislike of cats and old people is apparently intense enough, and my blog is boring enough, and my friends don’t like me enough, that my site is not worth any constructive criticism about design, layout, content (other than cats and old people), adspace, whitespace, or anything else that might give me an idea about how it might be improved for readability or traffic.

The only constructiveish thing he mentioned was that I needed an “About Page” – because he didn’t know how old I was or what I do for a living… information that is repeatedly interspersed throughout many entries; not that I could reasonably expect him to read enough entries that he could be guaranteed not to miss those two gems. I’m not sure how knowing my age would make him like my blog any better, but maybe I shall, from now on, end each and every entry with the phrase, “My name is Les Becker. I’m 42.”

Yes, Carl, I’m 42. That’s also “The Answer to The Ultimate Question”, how cool is that?! Pretty cool if you’re me, I guess. I’m not that cool, though. I’d be more cool if I owned a tuba.

Anyhoo, all because of Carl, who is also cool in his own little way, I have set up a separate “About Page” – just for him. I even dedicated it to him. Cuz he’s pissy and cool and inconsistent, all at the same time. That deserves recognition.

And –

I hereby declare that from this day forward, February 14th will now be known as “Cat-in-a-Tuba” Day, in honour of Carl. Oh alright, it can still be Valentine’s Day, too, but only ‘cuz it would be too hard to break you all of the habit. Happy VD, btw, people. You, too, Carl.

My name is Les Becker. I’m 42.

Random Song for the Day: “Something in the Way” – Nirvana

Categories
Artsy Fartsy Wasted Time...

I’ll Never Be Blocked Again.

Magic Words
How Cool is THIS?!

I’ve been looking for a set of these for the fridge… now I won’t even have to get off my chair.

Go! Play!

(The above link goes up and down, so if you’re really jones-ing for a similar time-waster, you can try this:)

Then come back here and think up a groovy-cool caption for the groovy-cool caption contest!

Random Song for the Day: “Breakfast in America” – Supertramp