The Bear Hunter

The Bear Hunter

Bear Claw

Bear Claw
Taken March 1, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

I found this bear claw in a box full of little trinkets and treasures in my father’s closet nearly a year ago. It was in the same box with his pocket watch, along with some other neat stuff.

This was during my Walk-About days, when I would hoof it all the way across town once a week, to see my parents at The Old-Age Home, have a visit, a meal and a story, and then hoof it all the way back. I had a tight ass, then, dammit. Not even a year ago. Man, things change fast.
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The Day the Earth Stood Still…

The Day the Earth Stood Still…

Tilapia - photo

“A Fish of a Different Flavour”

A couple of months back, I was invited to dinner by a friend: a 6’4 cook I worked with at The House of Fracas, my temporary placement, the first J.O.B. (and so far, only) in my brand new field, after I was out of school.

This invitation was a long time coming. He kept inviting me… but I would either decline, or he wouldn’t be able to come up with a date for the “date”.

In my case, I needed some guts; not to mention, a kid-free evening so as not to freak my daughter out.

For a long time, whenever “man” or “men” came into a conversation, she tended to go a little squirrelly with the idea of her mother um… meeting one/talking to one/associating with one/going out with one/being seen in public with one/dating one/falling in love with one/marrying one… in a nutshell, she didn’t want any man, be it friend/co-worker/date/pick a label, anywhere near either one of us. Grampa and her Uncle Trespasser were the only two male human beings she trusted. I suppose I could say the same for me.

In The Cook’s case, he needed an evening that he wasn’t working, when his room-mate was working, that included finances allowing for a nice meal for an extra stomach, that fell the day before a scheduled day off – presumably to allow for cleaning the kitchen long into the night and/or not waking up hung over and having to go cook three meals one-after-the-other for a bunch of other stomachs.

Finally, the last time the invitation was extended, we hammered down a hole in both schedules and labeled it Tilapia. As the date got closer, we both had an idea that something would screw it up, but miracle of miracles, that day, the earth stood still for once, and everything worked out in favour of fish and a good story.

Ky had a sleepover that she didn’t kak out on at the last minute… The Cook managed to get out of The House of Fracas in time to shop for Tilapia… the store didn’t run out of Tilapia before he got there… I didn’t get lost on the way to an unfamiliar place… so far so good.

Dinner was nice. I ate a type of fish I was not familiar with, that I very much enjoyed, declined the wine in favour of a Cuba Libre (always the better choice – fish or no), and sat back to conversate with a Someone that turned out to have more in common with me than I would have imagined.

He likes Archie Bunker, which amazed me, because he never struck me as the type that would. He’s a city-boy – an implant from Trinidad and Tobago, raised in Toronto – who loves music, but seems to listen to black artists exclusively, dances while cooking, and can’t seem to understand why people from Sault Ste. Marie do not act like people from Toronto. We argue often about why “we” do not change our behaviour to accommodate him.

He didn’t seem to me to be the average Archie Bunker fan. In truth, he seemed more like a black Archie Bunker.

Anyhoo…

We had some odd revelations come up during our long conversation, the TV muted until All in the Family was set to start… and eventually, the conversation got around to me writing, and why I wasn’t, much, and “What the hell is a freaking blog?!”

So, I told him about my life online, and my Blog-Family, and the stories about Ruby, and my dad, and blah, blah, blah, and the look on his face was priceless.

“What?!” sez I, thinking he was just astounded that people can have a second sort of life, completely digital, which in my case, is more important than my dirt-side life. I’ve seen that same expression on the faces of other people, after all…

Most of the people I meet face-to-face use the internet, but live in the “real” world (not including “gamers”, who have a whole ‘nother existence, but try telling “real” people that bloggers and gamers are two different species – I dare you – cuz they just don’t get the difference), and just can’t imagine how bloggers connect with one another.

He surprised me again, though.

“I have a story! If I tell it to you, are you gonna put it on the Internet?”

“Well, DUH! Yeah! I’ll change your name, though.”

“To what?”

“I shall call you ‘The Cook’,” sez I.

To which, The Cook took offense.

“I…”, he stated flatly, “Am a ‘Kitchen Manager’.”

Ummmm. Okay….

“I’m not calling you ‘The Kitchen Manager’,” I told him.

He countered with, “Well, you’re not calling me ‘The Cook’.”

In the end, we finally decided that he could come up with his own nom-de-blog once he’d told me his story…

Which he did do, but this post is already way too freaking long, and I’m out of time, and I’m trying to get back at a couple of Blog-Family members for their “To Be Continued…” habits (CardioGirl and Shrinky, specifically, the shet-bags), and this should piss them off nicely.

So I will post the story told to me, by The Newly-Named Cook… Kitchen Manager… ummm… soon. Ish.

And soon after that, I’ll have another Blanche-story up… followed by a Dad-story… followed by a Ruby-story… and I imagine a bunch of gibberish of my own interspersed between them all. That oughtta bring us all nicely into October.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Seven Wonders” – Fleetwood Mac

If a Car Hits a Tree in the Forest…

If a Tree Falls in a Forest

Will My Dad Find Out?
Taken August 9, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

Of course, my Dad found out. He always found out everything I was up to, and he always gave me a chance to own up to it, relating the dirty deed to me in a manner designed to make me believe he really didn’t know who had done it. You know, in case I wanted to get it off my chest. Which I never did. Even though *I* knew that he knew…. nope. Wouldn’t admit to it. Never.

Like that time when I was five, and the kids up the street and I set fire to the empty field behind my house. Somehow we managed to stomp it out before it got away from us, and we all went home for supper, absolutely certain we were in the clear.

And then, my Dad read the “Police Report” out of the newspaper (yeah, the one that had been printed before we found the matches, but I was five and that was beyond my scope) out loud….

“…The POLICE are VERY worried about the three children, 2 boys and a little girl, who were playing with matches in the long grass, today. They are VERY worried that these three children don’t know any better and could have been BURNED TO DEATH, because they don’t seem to understand that fires can very quickly get OUT OF CONTROL and BURN CHILDREN TO DEATH before their parents can get to them. ESPECIALLY if their parents believe their children SHOULD KNOW BETTER. The POLICE hope these three children, 2 boys and a little girl, have LEARNED THEIR LESSON, and NEVER DO SUCH A STUPID THING AGAIN…”

And he turned to me and gave me that chance to own up: “Do you know who those three children are…?”

Me: “No,”

“Well what do you think of what those three children did …?”

Me: “I think they’re very lucky they didn’t get caught and go to jail.”

Right up into my teens, I would stubbornly stick to the “Wasn’t Me” defense, even when handed unequivocal evidence that it was so me.

Like that time when I was 16, and was accused of stealing a magnum of Champagne out of the wine-cellar, drinking it, and hiding the empty bottle under my bed, I said, “Wasn’t me.” Even though the evidence was found under my bed… with the date of the crime etched on the label… along with the signatures of myself and the friends I passed it back and forth with.

“Wasn’t me.”

But about that tree….

When I was growing up, we spent almost the entire summer on the boat. We traveled all over the Great Lakes on one boat or another – at first, sleeping on the boat, which was cool, but then my parents built their camp on Cockburn Island (That’s pronounced “Co-Burn”, remember. Suzi, stop laughing.).

By the way, a “camp” is what Northern Ontarians call “The Cottage” – for those of you who might picture tents, or a lumber camp. The “camp” is now owned by my sister Tootie and her family, and it’s a bona-fide second home. It ain’t “camping” by any stretch of the imagination.

It was a slow build, though. The first year, we lived in the woodshed (huge by woodshed standards) while the main house was being built. We had an outhouse, kerosene lamps, and a woodstove. The refrigerator was a propane unit, and my Dad built a pump system for the water that pulled it from a cream can under the sink with the push of a button. He didn’t think my mom should have to lift a pail to the sink. He was a nice guy, my Dad.

Everybody on Cockburn drove old beat-up trucks and cars. When you bought a vehicle for “The Camp”, you either had it ferried over on a barge in the summer, or drove it across the ice in the winter. These old things could live forever over there, it seemed. Didn’t need a safety, either, although that was still illegal, but since nobody was gonna check…

And it was on Cockburn Island that everybody learned to drive. The unspoken rule seemed to state that once you hit the age of fourteen, you could drive on Cockburn. Everybody did it. That was my argument to my parents, anyway, when they wouldn’t let me drive over there. Their return argument was… well… inarguable: “Well, YOU’RE not gonna.”

But I was determined to be like everybody else and drive, dammit.

So, I went to the camp across the road and lamented to the Neighbour-Lady all my woes. Neighbour-Lady was a nice gal. She always had her long blonde hair wrapped around her head with pins in the mornings after she washed it, because she didn’t like the natural curl it had. She always wore green eyeshadow. And she always had a beer open.

Neighbour-Lady had cancer, but wouldn’t take treatment. Much of the time, she was “tight”, as my mom would say – not “falling down drunk”, but she generally had a buzz on. I guess it was one way to deal with cancer.

Anyway, I was over there complaining to Neighbour-Lady, and smoking her cigarettes. She wouldn’t give me a beer, but she gave me cigarettes all the time. And that day, she solved my “can’t drive” problem for me, by loaning me a car.

Now, to this day, everybody in my family thinks I stole that car. I did not. Neighbour-Lady loaned me that car. Never mind that the car did not belong to her. Or that I didn’t have a license. Or parental permission to drive. She handed me the keys and said, “Take it. Don’t smash it up.”

I was half-way up the road while she was still popping open her next beer.

Ahh…. the freedom! I drove up the long side road and turned right on the “main” road that would take me down to the Government Dock. There was a guy on the Island that summer, that I had a crush on. On the Mainland, this guy ran in a different circle, and wouldn’t give me the time of day, but on Cockburn he would talk to me. Probably because there weren’t many teenagers on the Island at a time. And I was there. So…

I decided to go to the dock, because he would likely be swimming there. I had to sort of “happen to run into him”, of course, so he wouldn’t know I had that crush, you see, or I would have gone to his camp to find out where he was.

As I came up the road, it was fairly obvious that the dock was deserted, so I decided to make a left, and go to the other side of the Island to the sand beach. Maybe he’d be there. And I could drive there, because I had a car. I was cool.

I was so cool that I could light a cigarette while negotiating a left turn, having never driven a car before, and not end up in the ditch.

Or not.

It worked out okay, though, because the ditch was adjacent to a government building where large logging machines and road-maintenance equipment was stored. I found a guy with a grader that yanked me out of the ditch, and promised not to tell anybody. Oddly, I don’t think he did, either, because no one has ever brought the ditch portion of this story up to me.

So, on the road again, I re-lit my smoke without incident, and drove to the beach. And, oh joy! My crush was there! With his entire family and then some.

We swam for a bit. Talked for a bit. And then I tried to convince him to let me drive him back home. Because I had a car. I was cool.

But he would not get in that car. I think his reasons included the phrase, “death wish”, and the fact that he didn’t have one.

I’m not sure how I finally convinced him, but he did reluctantly agree to a lift. Apparently, it was just so he could wax derisive of my driving skills, though, because he wouldn’t stop wincing, advising, and clinging to the dashboard.

I finally got tired of the exaggerated terror he was exuding and decided I’d show him what scared was, and floored it. Of course, I chose to do such a thing while going up a steep hill, forgetting about the curve in the road on the other side of it.

For the record, I missed the tree the car was trying to hit. But I over-corrected, and hit a tree on the other side of the road, dead on. Very hard. Poor tree.

And poor car! The front end was smushed in. The driver’s door wouldn’t open. I still have a faded scar on one elbow – the only injury sustained in the accident – unless you count the car. Or the tree. And I’m sure my crush didn’t speak to me for years after that. He probably felt bad, because it was his fault I hit that tree. I mean, if he hadn’t been putting down my driving in the first place…

And what are the chances that the first vehicle to drive up that lonely road to happen upon us would be my father’s truck…?

Pretty good, as it turns out. He didn’t speak to me for a while, either.

When I turned 16, though, the first thing Dad did, was register me in Driver’s Ed. I passed, and got my license. And not once would my father loan me his car – not even when I was grown and on my own, and had a perfect driving record.

Except for the tree incident.

Which happened on Cockburn.

And what happens on Cockburn is supposed to stay on Cockburn, dammit!

But still my Dad always said no. Followed by, “Remember that tree you hit on Cockburn…?”

It’s the only time I couldn’t get the nerve up to try “Wasn’t me.”

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Cannonball” – Damien Rice

…Of Wheels and Walk-Abouts

Faeries in the Flowers

Faeries in the Flowers
Taken August 9, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

So, the Mini-Van Saga is finally over…. and it turned out to be a trilogy, at that. I was originally going to be leasing The Fly-Mobile, so-named because it was The Fly-Girl’s ride, and she wanted to get rid of it.

I liked that mini-van. Turns out, the Fly-Girl did, too, and decided to keep it after all, even though she had to pay a bzillion dollars to get it registered in the U.S. after she got married and jumped The Ditch (Traitor!).

I got over it, though, when Fluffy (so-named by Kyla, because he’s, well, fluffy – 🙂 ), the Fly-Girl’s partner-in-car-sharking, found me another mini-van just like the Fly-Mobile, except fully powered and, um… purple. Which prompted Ky to name it The Grape-Mobile. And that prompted me to like it. I like pretty much anything provided it has a cool, freaky, and/or plain ol’ weird moniker.

And then the Grape-Mobile kakked on the operating table during the certification. And I do mean kakked. It barfed out every kind of fluid running through its veins, through all orifices, including new and bewildering orifices that no vehicle should have. So Fluffy shot it. Ky was pissed.

But, Fluffy turns out to be a Genie of sorts, and magicked us up a pristine (albeit older) one-ownered as-yet-un-named mini-van of the Chevy Lumina APV variety, that positively beamed throughout its certification, and Ky loves him again. The two cases of soda, three bags of potato chips, and two large jars of pickles he soothed her with may have had a part in the forgiveness, mind you.

The Pristine Un-Named was delivered to me Friday evening, whereupon, I immediately drove it the three blocks to Ruby’s house to show off. And I drove it the six-ish blocks to the J.O.B. yesterday, and then had to return to the mall from half-way home, having forgot it in the parking lot when my shift was over. Having wheels will take some getting used to…

Anyway… it was decided last evening, now that we have transportation, that we should pick up Ky’s doggish-type companion from her father’s place and get us to a too-far-to-walk-a-dog hiking trail with the camera. I put on a pair of sneakers for the first time in what feels like forever, and off we went.

During said Walk-About, I took the above photo, and noticed when I uploaded it, that there seemed to be a face peering out at me. This face looks eerily like my daughter, until it’s zoomed-in on, whereupon it just turns creepy.

Eeeee-Vil

The zoom-in just looks… Eeeee-Vil

Methinks, Shrinky may have sent a faerie over from the UK. She’s always catching them with her camera. I hope she doesn’t do it again, though, because it gives me the heebie-jeebies.

This afternoon, we will be traveling to Teeny-Tiny Town to visit my Mom, and bring some flowers to the cemetery for my Dad. We will be listening closely for the sound of him rolling over in his grave at the thought of me owning a vehicle. His response to my news, months ago, that I was planning this lease was: “God help the trees on the side of the road.”

Now, that’s a story I should tell some day…

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Love” – John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band