The Landlady

Blackberry Summer

Taken May 2, 2007
with Canon PowerShot A550
©Les Becker, 2007

I have a “Landlady” excerpt. No, I still haven’t got my first funny Landlady Story written yet, but that’s because I’m going to end up with a based-on-a-True-Story kind of piece; which pisses my landlady right off, to tell the truth.

I told her my plan, to take her funny memory of her barmaid job of fifty-odd years ago, change her name and the rest of the characters (to protect the stupid, mostly), and change the ending. Her ending was too boring; it just was. She will, henceforth, be known here as “Ruby”.

Tonight, the crossword puzzle was too difficult for either of us, even armed with two different dictionaries. It was hot, it was humid, and we were almost out of cigarettes. We had no beer (I was pleased to learn, a few months back, that Ruby is not adverse to a cold beer or two on a hot summer afternoon. It’s gonna be a good summer.). So, Ruby did what she always does when we run out of crossword: she started to talk.

I don’t have a story tonight; just a little bit of a memory, but it’s a nice way to introduce her to you, I think…

“Must have been in the 30’s, I guess – I was just a little wee kid anyway – my mother and I would walk up the railroad track to pick blueberries…”, Ruby said.

I reached for a notepad and a pen. Ruby scowled at me and stole a cigarette from my pack.

“I’m gonna quit talking to you, if you’re gonna make fun of me on the internet!” she said, and lit the cigarette. “There! I forgot what I was gonna tell you!”

In her own words, Ruby has “no use for computers or the dang internet, whatever that is. Invasion of privacy, that’s what that is.” I pushed the pad of paper away from me, wishing I’d brought my digital recorder. She doesn’t mind the recorder so much, maybe because I’m not scribbling furiously, instead of listening raptly, laughing in all the right places. I think she might even forget it’s there once she gets talking, even though it sits in the middle of the table, blinking at her; silent witness, non-interrupting.

“I know, I know – I was telling the wrong story from the start. It wasn’t about me and my mother picking blueberries up the railroad track at all. It was about my brother and the blackberries.

Every summer, my mother went away for a few weeks to a month to visit her family. The blackberry summer, I was about 11 or 12, and I was the one in charge of the meals while she was gone. That’s where my hate of cooking came from, I think. Isn’t it a hoot that I grew up and ran a restaurant for all those years?

That year, there were more blackberries than anybody had ever seen. They were everywhere! Well, every dang day on his way home from work, didn’t my dang brother pick his whole lunch-pail full of blackberries?! I swear, his fingers were purple all summer! He did it on purpose, too, the bugger, ‘cuz he knew I’d have to put them up into jelly. It was the only dang thing I knew what to do with them! I was only 11 or 12… but I could make blackberry jelly, I’ll tell you, and just as good as my grandmother made it.

Well, one day he comes home, lunch-pail just all a-brim with blackberries, and I was sick to death of blackberries, and blackberry jelly, and my brother, the bugger. I was half set to pitch those berries out the kitchen window, but I thought better of it. We didn’t have much back then, and most times we didn’t even realize it, but I knew I’d feel pretty bad if I pitched those blackberries, so I just set to work on that jelly.

By the time the jelly was in it’s pail and setting, I was still slamming around the kitchen and stomping my feet. I was probably swearing under my breath, too – I was that ticked at my brother – and I turned too quick and knocked that pail of blackberry jelly right off the counter! I saw all that hot work turned to nothing, and was wishing I’d just pitched those blackberries out the window after all, but wouldn’t you know it? That pail of jelly landed flat on it’s bottom, right-side up!

And the whole batch of jelly flew straight up out of the pail and hit the ceiling! I swear, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

Well, by the time my mother came home at the end of the summer, I had more blackberry jelly put up than any one family would ever use up in two years! No preserves, no jam, just blackberry jelly. She was some mad! She’d have been a lot more mad, let me tell you, if she’d looked up at that ceiling. If you went in that house today, I’ll bet you two cents you could still see the blackberry jelly, even now.”

Well, whad’ya know…? There was almost a whole story in there, after all. Almost.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Chasing Cars” – Snow Patrol

Real Life

Fatso Ratso is No More…

5 Things I’ve Learned About Brown Rats That I Didn’t Know Yesterday:

1) A brown rat may not understand English (else why would he not cooperate and stay in the cage once warned of the consequences?), but I know of one that certainly picks up on “change of heart” quickly.

2) A brown rat can scratch you, bite you, and swear at you all at the same time.

3) A brown rat can escape a triple-taped cardboard box in under 15 seconds using the top of his head, hence is best locked into a normally “fun” rat ball (also triple-taped for security) to make the trip to Death Row.

4) A brown rat can be humanely euthanized for a measly 10 bucks.

5) If a brown rat and a cat “get it into it”, the brown rat will win. Even when it was the rat that instigated the war, and even though it won, the rat will hold a grudge, and exact revenge (which is what prompted the final decision to make the trip to Death Row).

I would post details, but I honestly feel guilty. Until I look at poor Patchouli, still creeping around here terrified, no doubt wondering if Fatso Ratso is hiding somewhere, lying in wait.

Amazon Products Gift Shop Little Bits of Stupid Movie Mentions Real Life

The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Creepy…

The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Good

I slept last night! Oops. I guess I mean the night before last. Friday night, anyway.

I’ve been having sleep concerns since before I quit the Dream Job; it’s a big part of the reason I quit to begin with. Still wide awake, staring at walls, ceilings, clocks, tvs, computer screens, or the insides of my eyelids until sometimes 5:30 am. Nasty. I thought quitting the Dream Job would solve that. Nope. Maybe it’s that I’ve spent the entire school week that just passed listening to Larry, Darryl, and Darryl drop all those cars on my roof, instead of working. I’m a little nervous about my schedule again, now.

Whatever it is, it could be a lot worse. One of my blog buddies has been going through a bout of “Fall Asleep and then Pop Awake Again Every 20 Minutes Syndrome”, which I’ve experienced on occasion and it’s much worse.

Worse still, is if insomnia turns into a full-blown White Night, which, if you’re familiar with the works of L.M. Montgomery, specifically, the Emily series, you’ll understand why I consider it so. Luckily, I haven’t suffered a white night in a long, long time.

Anyway, I slept! Through the night! (hooray!)

The Bad

I woke up from my wonderful, sound sleep this/yesterday morning staring Kyla’s brown rat, Fatso Ratso in the face, he smiling and nudging my chin, having chewed through the base of the replacement cage that he got as a reward for chewing 18 holes through the base of his old one.

And so, we must part ways. I haven’t figured out how that will happen yet. I like the little (huge) guy, and don’t want to be cruel and set him “free” to be eaten by a bird. He could probably take a bird, if he had any meanness in him, but he’s a friendly, little (huge) goofball, and the only living creatures that are afraid of him are the cats. I imagine that’s because he’s bigger than they are.

But go, he must. He chews everything. Like my modem cables. And Kyla’s underwear, which would probably cure her of leaving it on the floor if she had any left. I’m hoping the pet store will feel sorry for us and take him back. Not give us a refund – just take the damned rat off our hands.

The Creepy

Kyla and I watched a horror movie tonight. We’ve been into the recent “exorcist/possession” kind of movies that have come out over the last couple of years. Most suck, truthfully. She wants me to rent the most recent version of
The Exorcist
with all the scenes that mankind couldn’t handle in the 70s put back in. I saw the original (pardon me, I heard the original; my head was in a pillow through most of it) and I’m not sure I can manage the “new” one.

Tonight’s movie is NOT the one pictured at the top of this post, but it started out pretty good: decently freaky visuals, definitely terrifying audio… but the best stuff was in the first part of the movie, and the thing kind of turned into a stupid flick to watch if you like horror movies. We said as much to each other as the credits were rolling, when…

The bedroom door creaked. It was a loooooooong drawn-out creak, one instantly recognizable to us both, because we hear it anytime we open the door all the way to get in there, or close it half-way to hang something up on the back of the door. Needless to say, neither one of us did it; we were both sitting on the couch on the other side of the wall. Neither of the cats bother with doors unless one is closed tightly, in which case the Patchouli-Cat sits in front of it and yells at us, because she feels we should not be allowed to close doors. Sheikh just sleeps – doesn’t give a damn what side of the door he’s on.

Kyla looked at me and said, “You are going in there.”

Now, in that split second, I remembered that not ten minutes before, after going up the hall for something or other, I had come back down the hall toward the living room and noticed that the bedroom door was closed tightly. For reasons unknown, Patchouli hadn’t yelled about it, and I opened it so the cats could move back and forth again. We only ever close that door so that Sheikh can have his mushy food in peace, instead of pieces, which is what would happen if Patchouli got in there while he was eating. She would beat him up and take it from him. Patchouli has decent teeth, and Sheikh does not. Sheikh gets mushy food in the evenings. Sheikh is The King.

So I opened the door. And came back into the living room, and we watched the rest of the by now stupid movie.

So somehow, by the sound of it, the door creaked itself to the half-way open position.

I said, “I am not going in there.”

Ky said, “I’m only twelve!

Yeah? SO?!

Okay, so I didn’t say that. I made her turn the lamp beside her on. The hall light was already on so we could get to the bathroom throughout the movie without running into demons that might leak out of the dvd player, and Ky tried to crane her neck around the living room door while sitting on the couch, five feet away. When that didn’t work, I decided to be brave and actually go into the hall and look. I stood up.

She said, “Can I sleep in your bed tonight?” I suddenly felt much more brave.

And just then the bedroom door slammed shut.



I don’t mind telling the Internet at large that I damn near shat. I’m pretty sure, when I look in the mirror (assuming I have the guts to leave this room to do so), that every hair on my head will have turned white.

And then Ky said, “Don’t say ‘hello’.”

Have you seen 28 Days Later?! Have you?! I had absolutely no intention of saying “hello”. I had absolutely no intention of doing anything other then sit back down and put my head under a pillow at that point.

I’m not sure how long it took, but I finally got the guts up to go look. Yes, the door was closed. When I got up the nerve to open it, the bedroom light was on (yes, I suppose I could have left it on.). There was a sleeping cat on each bed. The window was open (very slight breeze), and I said, “It was the wind.” Like I really believe it was the wind.

Kyla felt much better though, laughed it off, and in about ten minutes, was sound asleep in her own bed.

I hope she’s still there, un-possessed, in the morning. It’s 3:26 AM and I’m never leaving this room again.

Good thing Julie taught me how to pee in a coffee cup.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Home” – Daughtry

Little Bits of Stupid Real Life

Beam Me Up, Scotty…

larrydarryldarrylOne has a crinkly beard that grows half-way down his chest. I’m not sure how he manages to keep hammers and such from becoming entangled. Perhaps that’s where he stores his tools?

One wears suspenders, which I find odd; he looks to be all of 20 years old, and I’ve never seen anyone wear suspenders with industrial workwear before today. Then again, I’ve never claimed to be a fashionista.

The third is the only one who speaks. Loudly. It’s like Larry, Darryl and Darryl, without the flannel.


When I first moved into this building, I screamed every time a truck went by, because the whole building shakes. Like, really shakes. Enough to make windows rattle, pictures skew on the walls, computer cables jiggle out of their ports, and realtors powerless to impress clients with the “positive” features. Sometimes things on shelves shimmy just close enough to the edges to sit wobbling, unnoticed, until I walk under them later. It’s an exciting place to live.

I grew accustomed to the trucks, eventually, and I automatically push all the cables true before I boot up in the morning, now. And I’m no longer afraid of earthquakes. California, here I come.

But, Roofers! Roofers have tools that make truck drivers jealous of the power [INSERT “MANLY TOOL-TIME TIM” GRUNTING HERE]. There’s a guy up a ladder cutting a hole through what seems to be six layers of the laundry room ceiling right now. I think it’s Darryl #1, but I can’t be sure because he is now nearly waist-deep through most of those layers. I suppose I’ll know it was him if his beard is noticeably shorter later.

The ladder is tall enough to scrape the ceiling – I’m not sure how they got it up the stairs and through two short doorways (not to mention around two corners), but it took all three of them. I wish I could post pics, but there is no room in there for me. And the floor is jiggling enough that I’m nervous to walk around; so this is what it’s like to literally “walk on air”.

Anyway… whatever saw-thingy Darryl is using, it puts transports to shame. I’ve finally got the answer to what would happen to the building if trucks were to go by in a steady stream instead of just two or three in a row. The shake turns to a “thrum” – like how your jaw thrums when the hygienist uses the cleaner-thingy on you – only the cleaner-thingy would be the size of a Volkswagon, and it’s Gulliver getting his teeth cleaned.

The longer Darryl saws, the stronger the thrum is getting. This is what my cell-phone feels when I turn the vibrate-alert on, I’m certain. The whole building feels like it’s about to spout fire at the base and launch upward. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Hopefully, it won’t be me and my chair hitting pavement.


UPDATE: 12:36 PM – What Happens Next…


Cats shriek in terror. Continuously.


Les considers abandoning building for the nearest bar, Roofers be damned. Let them climb in from the hole in the laundry room ceiling. I think I heard bricks falling on Cathcart Street, I swear.

UPDATE: 5:08 PM – What’s Happening Now…


I thought, a couple of hours ago, that they had gone home. Apparently they just wore out the first car they were dropping, and left to get another. It feels like a much bigger car.

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Space Oddity” – David Bowie

J.O.B. Real Life School The Father Chronicles

And That’s the Way It Is…

Taken May 13, 2007
with Canon Powershot A550
© 2007, Les Becker

I’ve quit The Dream Job. School was (is) going down the crapper and I’ve been spending catch-up time in school worrying about The Dream Job, and catch-up time at The Dream Job worrying about school. Nothing was getting done.

If I can “fast-track” through school somehow, I might manage to give myself a buffer of a few weeks to look for a job before the funding runs out. I’m at a point financially, finally, that I can start to sock a way a bit of an emergency fund against having no income, but I doubt I have time to build much of a cushion. Not to mention, that this situation is temporary. The funding will stop. And hell, I’m not even sure I can finish school by the deadline, let alone early.

At this point in my life… well, let’s just say that this is not where I expected to be.

Random song for the Day: “The Joker” – Steve Miller Band

Little Bits of Stupid

The Every-Day Average Conversation That Goes Something Like This…

AKA – Why I Really Don’t Like “Real” People.

(If I had the guts to say what I’m thinking, that is; but that would just be MEAN, now wouldn’t it?)

She: ….and it was lime-green! Now, normally I don’t go for lime-green but it IS so IN right now, and it’s EVERYWHERE!! What do you think?

Me: What do I think “what”?

She: Do you think I should BUY it?

Me: I couldn’t give a rat’s ass.

She: What?

Me: I couldn’t give the asses of two rats, actually.

She: What?

Me: I don’t give a shit what you want to buy at Walmart. I don’t give a shit what you want to buy ANYWHERE.

She: What?

Me: Do you have anything INTERESTING to say to me?

She: What?

Me: Do you like music? Do you have hobbies? Do you read? Do you DREAM, for Christ’s sake?



Me: Never mind.

Random Song for the Day: “Streets of London” – Cat Stevens

Kyla Becker Music Video...

Quacks Like the Cat, She Does…

Sheikh Loungin'
He Quacks…
Taken April 10, 2005 with Polaroid PDC3070

Kyla’s Spring Concert for Thomas Walls School of Music took place on Sunday, May 6th. We woke up having forgotten all about it, believe it or not, and once I remembered, and hustled Ky into a practice, we discovered she couldn’t sing. Seriously. Panic ensued. It’s all explained in the video intro, and she did manage to sing, but I thought I’d give a reason for her “frogginess”. And then there was the Quack, also explained in the video.

The concert was MC’d, as usual, by James Warner-Smith, a talented, radio dee-jayish sort of fella from here in the Sault. Mentioned my blog, he did. He also “called the cut” at the end of the video, and I was dumb enough to do what I was told and turn the camera off… and miss him finding a dryer sheet up his sleeve and pulling it out like a magician. Sucked.


Real Life


Taken May 13, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550

… a little to the left, I think.

Big SNAFU at school. I’m left with a course “half-administrated”, if that makes any sense. I have the book for the next online course, but the course hasn’t been “turned on” online, so I can’t download the work files and do any actual work. It’s one of two Flash courses, too, so I was really looking forward to some fun (mind you, they’re using Flash MX 2004, which means I’m stuck on the laptop…. slooooooooooow. Argh.). But I’m down to ***TEN*** courses left. Hooray!

So, I’m free from school for the weekend. Did I say “free”? HA! Here’s where the listing comes in…

For The Dream Job:

Commercial #1
Commercial #2
Commercial #3
Co>mmercial #4
Business Plan (Talked myself out of any “me” time for the next 4 weeks with this one – at least 4 weeks.)
Financial Forecast (Add another 2-4 weeks, maybe?)
Partnership Agreement Outline (Ditto no “me” time)
Marketing Strategy Outline (Ditto, Ditto.)

For The Blog:

The Landlady Story
Ky’s Spring Concert Video – HA! I done did something! See Quacks Like the Cat, She Does… , in the post above.
Birds Doing “The Nasty” Video
New Cartoon
Mother’s Day Family Tea 2007 Video

For Kyla:

Help with Resume to attract a Summer Volunteer Position at Pathways Retirement Home

For Me:

Big Secret Dream
Reformat of Defunct Sitcom into Something Close to a “Sellable” Format

I think I’m in trouble. It’s not like any of it’s deadlined for Monday, or anything, but, Geez!

Ah, well. At least I’ve got my List. More and more to the left, all the time.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Police on my Back” – Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros

Little Bits of Stupid School

Not My Idea of a Spectacular Return – It’s All Suzi’s Fault…

“I’ll Be In Here If You Need Me”
Taken August 1, 2006 with Sony DSC-S40

I had expected to come back here with a finished “Landlady Story”. Nope. Not finished.

Then, I figured, I’d post the new cartoon I’m working on. Nope. Not finished.

So, I thought, well, it’ll probably be Ky’s Spring Concert video. Sorry. Not rendered.

Then, on my way back from a grocery run this afternoon, I came across two birds doing… well…. let’s say I got it all on tape, and boy, are THEY gonna be embarassed! But, again, something else came to the fore… Suzi, damn her, tagged me with a meme!

But, it seemed faster to do the meme than any of the other things, so, here goes.

The rules:

1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the state/province and country you’re in.

Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
Velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
J (California, USA)
CuriosityKiller (Hong Kong, SAR)
Shelli (Minnesota, USA)
Suzi (Minnesota, USA)
Where the Walls are Soft (Les Becker, Ontario, CANADA)

Okay, done.

2. List your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location (locally).

1) The Sun Kwong Restaurant – I worked here… twice. The people that run it are really a lot of fun to work for, and the eggrolls are to die for. It used to drive me nuts when I had to work on the days they’d make them. The whole family would be in back putting them together and it took all day – I had to smell them cooking for the entire shift. I have to have them every time I go there – it’s definitely my all-time favourite restaurant – best chinese food in town. I think I may have to take the kid there this weekend, now that I’ve written this.

2) Gran Festa Ristorante – They made me the best broccoli-stuffed chicken I’ve ever eaten. I think it’s probably the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten, too. Worth it ‘though. So worth it.

3) That Italian Place Whose Name I Can Never Remember in the Food Court at the Station Mall – but they have the only pizza I can eat anymore, so they make the list. Ricardo’s That’s it!

4) Joey Calzones – for their calamari… I’d eat there more often if I wasn’t invisible when I go in. Depressing enough to not bother most of the time.

5) Red Lobster – which doesn’t even exist here anymore, and hasn’t for years. If they ever open up another one, I will go back to waitressing, just to be near the lobster. Yup.

Somehow, I thought that would be harder than it was.

And Rule # 3:

Tag 5 people.

Yeah, right. Suzi stole two of them from me. Let’s see….

The PopEye, Rhea, Carol, Deni, and Dink.

Apologies all around if you don’t “do” memes, but like I said, It’s all Suzi’s fault!

As far as my schedule, I’ll probably be popping out again for a bit, unless one of those “I wishes” at the top of the post gets finished. I’m catching up at school, though. I’m down to 11 courses now, and somewhere I think I miscounted the weeks left, because now when I count them, I still have 16 weeks left before my deadline. Perhaps I found that Time-Machine, after all and made an adjustment and forgot? Hmmmmm….

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Code of Silence” – Billy Joel

J.O.B. School

Possible Great and Amazing Disappearing Act Underway…

I’m having serious “time” issues. I’m finding myself squeezed in between The Day Job (AKA “school”), which is a full-time occupation, from which I actually fear being “fired” since I can’t seem to move forward through my courses, and The Dream Job, which has become more of a Nightmare Job, since I’m so behind in things there that I keep waiting to be “fired” from it as well… and we haven’t even launched yet. This has turned into a full-time occupation now, too, and that wasn’t supposed to happen until summer or fall.

I have done some quick catch-up at school in the last week and I’m down to 14 courses to finish. The scary part is that I’ve only got 16 weeks to complete it all before funding stops, and I don’t know with any certainty what happens if I don’t finish before the deadline. Something bad, I’m sure, as I signed a contract with the Federal Government, which was passed over (down?) to the Province in January, and I only manage to get very vague, and sometimes completely contradictory, answers to any questions I ask about it.

Some severe software and hardware issues have been solved in the Dream Job department, so things should start to move along more quickly. I hope.

But…. I also have a few “wetware” issues that have finally started to get worked out: namely, not knowing what to do about a real “me” kind of future. I’ve always been a “Big Dreams/No Ambition” kind of gal. In the real world that translates into “Procrastinator”. I have been known to spend weeks researching how not to procrastinate, rather than just get off my ass and actually do anything.

And now I finally have some ideas filtering in for stories (one absolutely hilarious one from my landlady about her younger days), that I’m just itching to write out… and I don’t have time. And I’m spending too much of what time I do have pissing around on the internet blogging and reading blogs when I should be studying, or working, or hell, if I’m going to procrastinate, I should at least be writing for real. And then there’s my site redesign, which is very creepily appropriate to “Where the Walls are Soft”, if I just had time to “php” it, and learning how to use Hilary Federwhore properly, and Walk-Abouts, and I could go on and on and on….

But, I can’t get the stuff I’m supposed to be doing done, let alone the stuff I’d like to be doing.

So, I’m going to try to cut the blogging/blog-reading out, or at least cut it down, temporarily. I doubt I’ll actually be able to do that. I have to be at the computer for everything, and the Net beckons every time I even look at a computer, let alone sit down at one. Blasted invention.

I’m hoping that the next blog post I write will be my “Landlady Story”. I don’t know when that will be (if I fail in resolve, it’ll probably be tomorrow), but rest assured that the longer I’m quiet here, the more I’m getting done in Real Life.

Random Song for the Day: “Come As You Are” – Nirvana