Bloggers are pretty freaking funny. Lucky for me, ‘cuz I’ve been short of time of late, and recuperating after finishing The Waitress, the Whiskey & the Handcuffs. So I spent a little of what time was left over after “re-charging” (ahem…*) picking through my comments of last year. I’m paying homage to a bunch of my Blog Family members and a few others with this list, just because it proves they may be more crazy than I am.
These are great writers, all, and I hope you’ll visit them – ummm… although OldGuy’s site is slightly kaput at the mo’. No, it wasn’t my fault. I don’t think, anyway.
Oh, and Julie may be AWOL. That probably is my fault.
OldGuy of OldGuy’s Tree House:
“Oh, I like Ruby’s mother, I really do. And headless, blood-spurting dancing chickens.”
“I’m getting old and my bladder isn’t what it used to be.”
“Actually I’d like to be there when they replace the skylight coz I wanna make faces and fire paper clips at them.”
“So you walk to the retirement home every time you go out ?”
“Geez, between the powerful zoom and your nifty reshaped eyeballs you must be able to see all the way to Moosonee.”
“Whack job eh ? Well, at least I’m in good company.”
“There was that one year when we didn’t get snow in April … oh no wait, that was in Hawaii.”
“The trick to getting through vacuuming is to imagine the dirt is trying to destroy the universe and you are a hero armed with a powerful weapon that will foil it’s evil plan.”
It didn’t show up in the photo, so Ruby’s sister, who took the original picture back in 1956, wrote what the sign said with a ball-point pen, on the copy she made for Ruby. Yes, that’s Ruby with the mask, goggle eyes and bathing suit. Ummm. Yeah. That’s a bathing suit.
Ruby had no qualms whatsoever about handing it over for bloggery mischief – in fact, she hunted it out on purpose for me in March of this year.
Sorry, folks. This post is a few months late.
* * *
Did I ever tell you about the time I marched in the Community Day Parade on the Island?
Me: No! When was this?!
(laughs and claps her hands together) Wait’ll you see this!
She disappears into her spare room and comes out with the above photo, at which I, of course, laugh.
Me: ‘Splain to me this, Ruby.
Ruby (eyes just a twinkling): Do you think that Mushy-fella will like this?
Me: I think he’d rather no mask.
Ah, well. He’ll have to suffer the mask, then.
Me: So, what’s with the sign? Were you protesting?
Kind of. But we were more making fun, I guess.
Me: Who were you making fun of?
The Town Council, that’s who! A couple years before this, somebody on the council got the bright idea, that if they made a sand beach along the waterfront on one side of the Island, that the tourists would come in droves. There was fighting and voting and more fighting and more voting than you ever would believe over that beach mess, let me tell you!
Me: Looks as if the town wanted it, by the sign…
Nope. Just the opposite. Most people in town didn’t think it would work at all. They figured Lake Huron would just wash the beach away in a couple of years, and wouldn’t that be just a waste of sand and money?
Me: I guess it would.
Your darn right it would! But Council won out, and they must have spent thousands trucking in sand in big trucks and dumping it. They made a right nice beach, too.
And the very next Spring, Lake Huron melted and hauled the whole works away to God Knows Where! (laughs for a long time) Town Council was pretty red-faced about that, lemme tell you!
Me: And so you marched yourself down Main Street in the Community Day Parade with that get-up and a sign, just to make fun of the Council? I wouldn’t have thought you to be so mean, Ruby!
(I said this ADMIRINGLY, though, you must understand….)
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?
I was telling Ruby tonight about posting my Dad’s harrowing experience on the ice in 1938. I had been about to add that I thought he was jealous of all the attention she was getting from my readers.
I didn’t get the chance, because once I told her the story she jumped right in with, “That’s nothing. I know people that drove trucks over the ice to Cockburn Island.”
Umm, well, actually… so do I. My dad is one of them (no, Mushy, not the kind of “ice truck driver” you were telling me about… just stupid Canuckians trying to save a buck). He did it when the crappy truck he had over there already finally died, and he didn’t want to pay The Bargeman a bzillion dollars to get another one over there in the summer. He tossed his snow machine in the bed of the slightly less crappy truck and away he went. Ijit. He drove the snow machine back the next day.
And Ruby continued telling about when one of the Bruce Mines Robinsons (Sandtrampers, originally, they were) “drove over there with his skidoo in the bed of the truck. Smart, he was – that was how he got himself back again, wasn’t it?”
I didn’t dare say another word about my Dad. I have another story from him to post, as well, but I think I’m going to post another from Ruby first. I see her more often, so I guess she should get precedence. Not to mention, she has the fan-base. And I don’t want her to raise the rent…
I did ask her if she’d ever been to Cockburn herself.
“Nope,” said she.
“Why not?” I asked. “Just never had the opportunity?”
“Nope,” she laughed. “I just never had a boat.”
* * *
So I have a favour to ask of you all…. does anybody out there (anywhere on the planet…?) have a Velvet Elvis painting they’re willing to send to Canuckia? I’ll pay for it (I’m poor, though, remember, so go easy on me…), and the shipping, too.
No, my taste in art is not “off” (no offense to Velvet Elvis fans, or Elvis fans in general) – but I need it as set dressing for a soon-to-be-starting web production of “Magnificent” proportion. I would have thought I could find a Velvet Elvis painting at some second-hand emporium here in town, but so far, no such luck.
PS – Day 12 Smoke Free!!! The “Patch” is spectacular. Last night I dreamed that Stuart Little moved in… and for some reason, so did Ky’s dad, and we got into a heated argument over whether Stuart should have his own little cup to drink from (my argument), or whether he should drink from the cats’ dish (The Dad argument), since he was eating cat food anyway. Stuart – not Ky’s Dad. Poor little mouse should have his own cup, dammit…
And Craig Ferguson is still stalking me. In my dreams, that is. Last night, he made his producers hire me for some unknown but extremely well-paid job, and had them commemorate it with a really ugly porcelain plaque that said “Welcome On Board!” That’s right – “ON Board” – not “Aboard”. I KNOW!!!! How weird is that?!
Ruby has gotten used to me writing down everything she says, now. She even seems to be looking forward to reading all the stuff I’m making up about her, if I ever get it printed and bring it over. I hope she still feels that way once she reads it.
Contrary to what I told Mushy in a recent email, Ruby just turned 82 a few weeks ago (I had added a year on – and she wasn’t altogether too impressed with me when I told her that, either). Her stories have made a big difference in getting me writing again. My own mother will be 83 in October, and I’m working on getting stuff out of her, too.
I’m able to visit Ruby more often than my mom, though. Ruby’s just up the street, and full of stories as she is, sometimes it’s the one-liners that she comes out with that make my whole day. I’ve gathered up a few to share. I don’t know if they’ll turn into “Landlady Stories” or not, or if you’ll find them as comical, but they sure struck me funny, as Ruby herself would say.
“He wasn’t really a dwarf.”
“Donkeys aren’t very obliging animals.”
“I can crawl around out there and stick ’em in the ground, I guess.”
“I’d be scared to try it (Pot). I’d get addicted.”
“I wish I could get in and out of the bathtub as easy as I can get in and out of that truck. I got stuck in the tub. Twice. Once was on New Year’s Eve, and by the time I got myself out, I was pret’near too tired to go out.”