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Other People's Stories...

The Accidental Fisherman

Muddy-Fish
Muddy by the Water

I have this buddy who is an incredible cook and a hot-shit photographer. My kid is very partial to him, because he spoils her with pickles. She calls him “Muddy”, and I think he’s rather partial to her, as well, because whenever we walk into his restaurant, he has a bowlful of pickles up on the chute before we even get to the table.

As it happens, Muddy’s restaurant is one of Ruby’s favourites, and that’s where she took us out for dinner the other night (Ruby is very partial to my kid, too – I only got to tag along because I have the wheels).

Once we had our bellies crammed full of comfort food (and pickles), I noticed Muddy had snuck out the back, so I followed him out to smoke cigarettes and talk (Photo)shop…

He had just come back from a fishing trip, although he doesn’t fish. At all. Has no interest in fishing whatsoever. When his pals go off a-fishin’, Muddy tags along with his camera…

This particular trip, nobody was having any luck. The fish weren’t biting. At all. The Muddy-Buddies were disgusted. So much so, that they decided to all wander off on a hike, trusting Muddy to watch the gear. Muddy figured he could handle this, although he only knows the business end of a fishing rod because it’s generally the one pointing at the water.

Muddy wanted duck pictures, anyway, so he was happy to “watch” the gear…

The ducks weren’t cooperating any more than the fish that day. They kept swimming so that the fishing rods, propped up against the rocks on the shore, lines still in the water, were between themselves and Muddy’s camera.

Muddy was determined to get his shot, however, and he finally decided to get rid of the rods….

Of course, this was not a matter of just picking up a rod and moving it. No… Muddy had to figure out how to unlock the reel and wind the line in first – which he managed – he’s fairly bright. Easy-peasy.

What he didn’t expect, while reeling in the line, was to nearly have the rod yanked out of his hands. Yup. The non-fishing photographer/cook caught himself a fish. Illegally, too, considering he didn’t have a fishing license.

He got around that one, though, by throwing it back – after yelling at one of his buddies to come back and take a picture first. I’m not sure how he convinced the guy to take the shot and not just throw the camera in the water; he was that mad that Muddy had caught a fish by accident when the rest of them couldn’t pull it off for trying…

I was rather impressed, though, and talked him into letting me have the picture… and posting it… and telling the story. Thankfully, he agreed to it all, ‘cuz I was tapped, story-wise.

I might actually have to go back to writing my own, if this keeps up.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Trumpets” – Flipsyde

Categories
J.O.B. Real Life

Good God, What Day is This?!

Image: Bright Raw
Bright Raw
Taken March 16, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

I’m not kidding, either. My days are like this: get up, eat, shower, dress, eat again, pack a lunch, cross the street to work, where I suck back 8 to 10 cups of coffee, eat one lunch, buy another, eat everybody else’s leftovers, dance in the parking lot, cross the street to home, check the mail, sit in the sauna, eat, try not to fall asleep whilst checking up on Blog-Family, eat, collapse. Start over.

I’m switching back and forth between three to four nights “on”, a day – sometimes two – off (the first of which I generally sleep through entirely, along with the following night), followed by three to four day shifts. Rinse and repeat. If they start throwing afternoons at me, I’m not going to get a chance to eat the million meals it seems to take to keep me conscious. I’m not gaining any weight, but at least I’m not losing any, either.

Fluffy took me out to dinner a few weeks ago, and swears I fell asleep at the table. I did not (there were two whole beers to drink; I’m not one to sleep through beer), but I did fall asleep during the car-ride home. We’re going out to eat on Saturday night coming (how many sleeps away is that?) and I hope to stay awake for three beers, this time.

I am not exaggerating when I ask what day it is – most of the time, I really don’t know. As long as I remember how many of such-and-such shift I have in a row, I’m good.

I have to smarten up. I want to write. I want to record. I want to blog my Dad’s stories. I want to drive the Prissy-Van to Teeny-Tiny Town to visit my mom.

It’s like permanent jet-lag. How do I fix this?! One of these Saturday mornings I’m going to drop the Idiot Child off at a locked and empty school, if I don’t get a handle on my time.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Hey There, Delilah” – Plain White T’s

Categories
Other People's Stories... Real Life

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

Categories
It Helps If the Whole Family Is Crazy Oh Mother...!

Aunt Blanche

Aunt Blanche - 192?
Aunt Blanche – 192?

Aunt Blanche was my mother’s older sister. She was the first born – and she wasn’t very old before my grandmother realized she was a little, well, different. I suppose the proper, “politically correct” term to describe Blanche would be mentally challenged. She never went to school, never held a job, and never married.

I have a photo of Ky, when she was about 4, that looks just like Blanche. Ky hates that picture, which is why I’m going to dig it up someday and post it, ‘cuz I think it’s cute that she looks like a modern-day version of my Aunt Blanche, and I’m the Mom, and she can’t stop me.

Categories
Real Life

Where Did the Time Go?

Image: Where Did the Time Go?
Where Did the Time Go?
Taken March 1, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

Whew! That was a hiatus I would rather not have taken. The Real World sucks compared to this one, it really does.

That said, it could be added that my time “away” basically consisted of two types of events: losses and gains. These are some of them.

Lost: My hatred for cooking… sort of.

I’ve had to get into some tight routines during the last month, and since I already had the problem of rarely thinking of what’s for dinner, the idea of not having time to rush around anymore when I finally did realize we hadn’t eaten didn’t appeal. Starvation just doesn’t suit me. So, I smartened up (only took me a quarter of a century – not bad, huh?), and sat down and wrote a list of every meal ever known to man… er…. woman-kind, and wrote them on the calendar. Voila! Dinner is served. I’ve since discovered that it isn’t cooking that I hate, it’s not knowing what to cook. Problem solved.

Gained: Several pounds that have stayed with me.

Finally. No, it’s not from cooking – I was doing that anyway, I just wasn’t liking it, remember? It’s all muscle-mass, from the regular work-outs. Yes, Suzi, I’m working out! Every. Freaking. Day. My arms and legs hurt like hell, but I now have an ass again. Boobs can’t be far behind… 😀

Lost: One of my Ortho lenses.

This totally sucks, because now I’m back to glasses, which are heavy and hurt my already bumpy nose (bumpy because of the F-ing glasses, I might add). I’ve decided not to replace the lens, for several reasons: they cost an unreal amount of money – it took me so long to pay for them, in fact, that I’m too embarrassed to call my optometrist and make an appointment. And I’ll probably just lose one again. And, since they wear out and cost so much, I let them go too long and they cause a freaky sensitivity in one eye that makes it hard to sit in front of the computer for long. Or watch a movie. Or blink. I’m going to go to some eyesight mill and pick up a new prescription instead, and then get lasik surgery in another year or so. Take that blindness. Ha.

Gained:  A new desk.
Gained: A new desk.

It was Ruby’s. She didn’t know she even owned a desk. Now it’s mine. 😀 I will have to post about it, because it’s so cool.

Lost: My love for The Patch.

Freaky-Deaky dreams aside, the thing itches, and half the time I forget to put one on anyway. I’m only still using them at all because I still have some left and my mother says I “shouldn’t waste them.”

Gained: A new couch.

And a chair to go with it. To be delivered Wednesday. How cool is that?! I made sure to get a colour that will match the sheddiest cat.

Lost: One of four “I Want” lines between my eyes. I’m told they’re from stress (not from old age – who’da thunk?!), so I guess that’s a good sign. Who says wishes don’t come true? I’m going to erase my entire face with wishes, you just see if I don’t.

Gained: A sleep routine that works.

That might be why the “I Want” line disappeared, come to think of it. Mind you, all the sleeping, nice as it is, messes with my blogging. I wonder if “Remote Posting” is a possibility… It’s not like I make a lot of sense while awake, so what’s the difference, really?

Lost: The “Slow It All Down” button.

Or I’d have posted long before this.

Gained: A ton of new stories from both Ruby and my parents.

So, I’d better find that button, huh…?

Lost: David Letterman and Craig Ferguson.

The sleep routine just doesn’t allow for them anymore. The worst thing I’ve discovered out of this particular loss is that I can’t discuss U.S. politics with Ruby anymore (it’s pretty bad when everything you know about U.S. politics comes from David Letterman). We now watch movies after the crossword instead.

Gained: A new address.

Eventually. Maybe. I haven’t decided on this one. I hate moving even more than I thought I hated cooking. It’s a bigger place, though, and The Turkey wants to go. She may win this one. I have time yet to mull it over, though, and mull I shall.

Lost: The Hummingbird.

Well, I didn’t lose her, exactly (although, I couldn’t tell you for certain where she is, either), but she’s not here. I’m both heart-broken and greatly relieved. And up to my neck in “Oops, I take it back” government forms.

Gained: Hot water.

Gallons and gallons and gallons of it, now that I’m minus one teenager.

Random Song for the Day: “You Never Can Tell” – Chuck Berry

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Oh Mother...! Photography The Landlady

Mish-Mash

Little Red Shoes
“Little Red Shoes”
Taken October 20, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550

The Little Red Shoes sit in my mother’s Etagiere, if I spelled that correctly. Elle? Wanna let me know, Betch?! My mom calls it a “What-Not”. I think it’s because it’s to display all your knick-knacks and what-not in. Anyway, that’s where the Little Red Shoes are, when they’re not in the bathtub, with me and my camera. Bathtubs make great backgrounds for some pictures. Wet bathtubs are not necessarily good for cameras, but mine’s tough.

I love the Little Red Shoes, but I don’t have a story about them. I just couldn’t come up with a pic for this post.

I’m having trouble catching up with all the posts I have in draft. Hence the title – “Mish-Mash” is about what this one will be – just a couple of bits and pieces that I’d like to get out of my hard drive and onto the blog. This clip from today’s post by Cardiogirl reminded me of a bit about my mom when she was a kid, which, in turn, reminded me of one about Ruby’s mom…

clipped from www.cardiogirl.net

So essentially we have a socially-accepted version of a wealthy pretty woman (former Ford model who must have earned a lot of cash) whose hobby is traveling the globe and shopping. So she finds “amazing stuff” and brings it back to New York to re-sell it. Do I have that right? I thought so.

And these aren’t your mother’s baubles. A telephone table finished in frog skin. I’m understanding this, though I find it crazy, until I get to the shagreen part. What is shagreen? Is it like shazam?

  blog it

A million years ago, when my mom was a little girl of about 12, she and her sister were down at the nearby fishin’ hole with their cousin. My mom is the older of the three, but for some reason, it was Auntie and Cuz that did the ordering around of my mom. This was the story that made me realize that my mom was a little mouse when she was a kid. How she managed to grow up into a stern (SERIOUSLY stern) School Marm, I will never know. My mom was the teacher you didn’t want to get, because you couldn’t get away with any monkey business, and you might even (OMIGOD!) learn something!

At any rate (as Mom would say), they were down at the fishin’ hole, dib-dabbling around in the water, when the conversation turned to frog legs. As an appetizer. Because that was what the rich people ate. Probably every day, even. Imagine, they told each other, all the rich people in the big cities paying unbelievable amounts of money for a plate of frog legs, when there were hundreds of frog legs attached to hundreds of frogs right in front of them. For free.

And so Auntie and Cuz decided that they wanted frog legs for dinner. My mother didn’t think that was a very good idea. She thought it might be a little hard on the frogs. Auntie and Cuz didn’t give a damn about what the frogs thought of the idea, and they didn’t give much of a damn what my mom thought about it, either. They just sent my mom up to the house to get a knife. And my mom went. Slooooowly.

The whole walk up for a knife, she tried to think of a way to save those frogs. She couldn’t think of a thing. She considered just not going back to the fishin’ hole, but decided she might pay for that later, so instead, when she got to the kitchen she decided she would bring back a dull butter knife. She reasoned that it would hurt the frogs less than a sharp one would. At 12, my mom was all for “less hurt”, apparently.

As it turned out, a dull butter knife does NO hurt to a frog, because it wasn’t long before the other girls gave up trying to saw off frog’s legs and quit in disgust. They didn’t get their frog leg dinner that day, but there were probably a few pissed off frogs in the fishin’ hole before they gave up.

Years later, one of those girls ate frog’s legs in a restaurant – by accident. She saw someone else’s order of what she thought was chicken and just pointed to it, telling the server, “I’ll have that.” Served her right.

Ruby’s mom, now, would have got the legs off those frogs lickety-split. She was a woman who got things done (she also had no forearmsthere’s a story for the blog, huh? Soon. Honest.).

Despite being a woman who “got things done”, Ruby’s mom had a heart of gold, and hated to see any animal suffer. She lived a hard, rough life on a farm, though, and there were times that some animals just had to be “taken care of”. Chickens had to be killed. Pigs had to be slaughtered. Sometimes, you had to shoot your dog. And there were always kittens that couldn’t be kept, and had to be “taken care of”.

Ruby’s mom hated that job, but it had to be done. She believed that the most humane way to “take care of” kittens was to drown them. Most people would shove the kittens in a burlap sack and tie it shut, and pitch the poor buggers in the nearest river. Not Ruby’s mom. That wasn’t humane enough for Ruby’s mom.

No, Ruby’s mom would pull on a pair of heavy gloves, fill a pail full of water and, one by one, she would hold each kitten (gently) under the surface until it was dead. Oh yeah, and she would make sure to fill the pail with warm water, so the little dears wouldn’t die shivering…

Random Song for the Day: “Alive” – Pearl Jam

Categories
Oh Mother...!

Jimmy Prentice & the Radio

Philco_Radio_1941
Philco Radio, 1941

Jimmy Prentice was somewhat of a local oddball, to hear my parents talk. I don’t know if he actually had a home, or not. My mother talks about how sometimes, just before dinner was set to be “lifted”, Gramma would be looking out the kitchen window, and say, “Better put another plate on,” and they knew Jimmy was walking across the field.

He’d come in and have dinner with the family, and afterward, off he’d go with the men to do the afternoon chores. They had a farm of dairy cows – help with the chores was welcomed, and well worth a meal or two, even during the Depression. More than likely, Jimmy would be in for supper that night, too. And then for breakfast in the morning…

He’d stay on a few days (or weeks), help with the farm, eat with the family, sleep wherever there was room. Then he’d mosey off across the field; to the next farm, maybe, or into town.

One winter evening, during the War, Grampa opened the door to a very, very sick Jimmy Prentice. Flu was a pretty serious thing to come down with back then, and Grampa put him right to bed. He was sick for a long time.

Gramma and Grampa fed him up, cleaned him up, generally took care of him for the duration. No way would Grampa turn Jimmy out. Not because it was winter on the Manitoulin. Not because Jimmy had the flu. Nope. Jimmy Prentice had a radio.

Now, Grampa wasn’t necessarily against technology, but in the early ’40s, with farmhands and livestock to feed, not to mention 8 kids (minus Bill, who was overseas fighting a War), purchasing a radio was not high up on his list of priorities, to say the least. They got “The Family Herald” once a week for the War news; what did they need a radio for?

Family_Herald
The Family Herald

The Family Herald would be read cover-to-cover by Grampa, the day it came. Then Gramma got her turn, and then it was passed around the household until everyone had had a chance to read it through. Sometimes, clippings would be mailed out to a sister or an Aunt. By the time the next issue came to the farm, the last would be in tatters, most likely relegated to the outhouse, where it was read again, and reread, and then “recycled”.

Letters from Bill (and he wrote to everybody from overseas) would also be passed around. Sometimes the letters were delayed, or lost altogether. News was shared. As worried as they were, the family knew that last month, at least, Bill was alive.

And then… Grampa discovered that the War News could come every supper-time, if somebody turned Jimmy Prentice’s radio on. Meals became sombre affairs, quiet, other than the static-y voice coming out of that little box on the sideboard. No one dared make a peep, for fear Grampa would shout them back to silence. World War II got closer to home.

Of course, over the next several weeks, Jimmy Prentice got better. Pretty soon, he was taking supper at the table, listening to the radio, and then, slowly, out helping with the chores again. Eventually, he decided it was time to mosey over the field to wherever it was he would go; the next farm, maybe, or into town. And, of course, he took his radio with him when he went.

Supper was eerily silent for the next few days. Grampa was out of sorts without the static-y voice on the sideboard. Withdrawal. They all missed Jimmy Prentice’s radio. The Family Herald was days away yet, and the news in it would be “old” news. Bill seemed farther away than ever, and World War II might never end…

And so, one day, Grampa came home with a radio of his own, and everything seemed that much better. The world was smaller again, and if it – the world or the War – should finally come to an end, he would be among the first to know.
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“There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow
Just you wait and see.

There’ll be joy and laughter
And peace ever after,
Tomorrow
When the world is free.

The shepherd will tend his sheep
The valley will bloom again,
And Jimmy will go to sleep
In his own little room again.

There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow
Just you wait and see.”

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “The White Cliffs of Dover” – Vera Lynn