Categories
Little Bits of Stupid Real Life

Karma, Zen, & a $60 Waste of Cellophane…

Holy $60 Cellophane Halloweén Costume, Batman
Holy $60 Cellophane Halloweén Costume, Batman

Seriously. SIXTY. DOLLARS. I mean, really: Holy shit!

I had to remind myself (repeatedly) through Halloweén week of my recently adopted “Zen” Attitude. Throughout the scrubbing of ketchup and peeling of chewed-up chewing gum from doorknobs (actually, I thought that was hilarious, but that’s just because Ky, AKA Robin, was the one to turn the knob and gross out), to the near-heart attack over the SIXTY. DOLLAR. CELLOPHANE. SUPER-HERO COSTUME (!!!), to the broken tooth (yes, Karma for the ill-gotten gains swiped sneakily from Robin’s treat-bag), I’ve “Ohm”ed and “Zen”ed my way into a whole ‘nother plane of existence.

I’m Zen, baby.

I think I just like saying the word “Zen”. It just sounds , well… “Zen”, doesn’t it? If ever a word embodies its definition phonetically (now there’s a turn of phrase for you – I just made that up!), it’s “Zen”.

And I think I’ve just proven that just saying “Zen” often enough will make you stoned. Now, that’s “Zen”, right there.

Anyway, that’s been my only recent excitement of late. Behind the scenes now, I’ve been busyish with this new space. I’ve been methodically stealing posts from the old blog, “Where the Walls are Soft”, over to here – particularly The Landlady stories, and The Father Chronicles. Once I’ve got them all moved, I’ll actually begin to post untold stories.

And speaking of untold stories, I’ve been posting chapters of my novella, “Magic” here. They’re not “live” yet, cuz I’ve lost my nerve again. Workin’ on that…

Not-So-Random Song-for-the-Day: “Batman” Theme Song – 70’s

Categories
Little Bits of Stupid

Chicken Collisions

Sorry.

No Pic.

I Don’t Have a Chicken

in my Portfolio…

Just a bit of fun I had, taking the advice of a friend who told me that when I’m stuck in a “non-writing” phase (I refuse to call this “blocked”, anymore – sounds too damned permanent), I should rewrite other people’s stories.

I didn’t like that idea.

Then, while cleaning out the laptop, I found a link to a news story that I somehow saved for reasons unknown about how to avoid wildlife collisions on Northern Ontario highways. Why I saved the link, I haven’t a clue, but when I re-read the story, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” kept popping into my head.

So, I re-wrote the news story, and I’m still laughing. Yeah. Doesn’t take much to amuse me, does it?

Chicken collisions – reduce your risks!



ANYTOWN, ON –
Anytown OPP is cautioning motorists on the increased incidents of chicken collisions on area highways.

Collisions with chickens can result in serious vehicle damage, personal injury or even death.

In 2008, Anytown OPP detachments cluster responded to 222 motor vehicle collisions involving chickens and to date in 2009, a total of 101.

Chickens are unpredictable at all times.

However, there are two peak times when the risk of a collision is highest: May and June when chickens seek road salt in ditches and try to escape biting insects and during the fall mating and migration seasons.

Watch

– Scan the road ahead from shoulder to shoulder. When you see chickens beside the road, slow down and pass carefully as they may suddenly bolt onto the road.

– Watch for the yellow chicken warning signs that indicate an area of increased risk. Slow down when traveling through these areas.

– Use high beams at night where possible and watch for glowing eyes of chickens.

Steer

– Stay in control. Watch your speed and take extra precautions when driving at night as chicken visibility is greatly reduced. Slowing down will give you that extra second to respond.

– Never swerve suddenly. This could cause your vehicle to go out of control or head into oncoming chickens.

Brake

– Brake firmly if a chicken is standing on, or crossing, the road. Never assume the chicken will move out of your way.

Stop

– Stop as safely as possible if a chicken is crossing the road. Remember, if one chicken crosses the road, others may follow.

If possible, avoid driving during dusk or dawn when most chicken collisions occur.

Swerving to avoid hitting a chicken may result in a more serious collision.

If hitting a chicken is unavoidable, remember to stay in control.

Watch, steer, brake and stop.

* * *

…and yes, folks, I am aware that Michael Jackson is no longer with us. I’m less upset over the fact that he’s dead than that he’s hogging all the limelight when Farrah Fawcett died on the same day. I was more a fan of hers than his.

With apologies to his family, his friends and his fans, I thought the man/boy was a freak.

* * *

Oh, and THIS?! You MUST click it. Read it. Die laughing. It’s SOOOOOO much more funny than chicken collisions.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Let Me Go” – Cake

Categories
R.I.P.

Goodbye, Maude, and Safe Journey…

Image: Bea Arthur
R.I.P. Bea Arthur
1922-2009

This upsets me to no end. It also upsets me to realize that she was gone for a week before I read the news…

Categories
Photography Real Life The Walk-About

…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

Categories
Oh Mother...!

Great Aunt Emma

"Emma's Knight"Taken October 20, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550
“Emma’s Knight”
Taken October 20, 2007 with Canon PowerShot A550

I must apologize to the memory of my Great Aunt Emma, for this horrible photo of her painting. It’s a water-colour, framed behind glass, hanging in an awkward niche in my parents’ small space. To get the shot at all, I had to jam myself between the fake gas fireplace and the stereo stand, straddling something or other – it might have been a speaker; I don’t remember. I imagine Emma, if she could somehow see them, would marvel at both the fireplace and the electronics in the stand, not to mention the annoying blinds that caused me problems with the reflection shining on her painting, 70-odd years after her death.

The knight in the painting is Emma’s depiction of a Crusader, having his sword blessed before setting off to convert the heathenish sinners into unwavering faith in a God they’d never heard of.

And if you can’t convert ’em, hell – run ’em through.

When I was little, I used to stare at Emma’s painting for hours at a time. I thought, then, that it was Joan of Arc. I used to imagine that maybe Emma felt a little like Joan: misunderstood… ostracized… martyred. Well… “martyred”, I guess, came later for Emma.

She was my mother’s father’s sister, one of three. As you can see, Emma was an artistic soul, at a time and in a place where that was unusual. The time was the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, and the place was a teeny-tiny farming community on the Manitoulin Island – a community of hard-working, God-fearing, good people. “Haweaters”, they still proudly call themselves, and I’m just as proud to be descended from them.

Emma was a “difficult” girl. She was not exactly… dependable. Her moods were sometimes… erratic. Her actions often confused people.

Sometimes, she could be extremely morose. Depressed. Her family worried over her. At other times, she became violently angry, and frightened them. There were days that she was giddy, and loud, or just plain “odd”. There were also days, and weeks, and probably whole months at a stretch that she was just plain “Emma, herself”, and they would be relieved and nervous at the same time, wondering which Emma would be there next, and hoping by some miracle that her “fits” had passed for good this time.

My mother believes, now, that Emma might have had Bi-Polar Disorder, or what at one time was called Manic Depression. I think my mother might be right, but that was an unheard-of condition way back then. And I’m guessing you have a pretty good idea where Emma ended up.

It must have been a difficult decision, sending her away. Committing her to an asylum. The Nut House. Booby Hatch, Funny Farm, Loony Bin. Horrible, terrible names, I know. Back then, though, they were horrible, terrible places to be “institutionalized” – places where, if you were shut up into them, whether by your family, or by a magistrate, you would be shut up with other people that may very well have started out with troubles similar to yours, but over time had really been driven literally mad. By the time you met your fellow inmates, most would be dangerous, psychotic, unrecognizable versions of themselves. And you would probably end up the same way. And back then, they almost never let you out.

Emma’s sisters, Marjorie and Lavinia, would go and visit her when they could afford the trip to Toronto. Sometimes, she didn’t care if she saw them or not. Maybe during those times, she didn’t realize who they were. But there were also visits when Emma was “Emma, herself”, her perfectly normal “self”, the sister they loved. Those visits were especially hard for Marj and Vine, because Emma would cry, and beg them to please, please, just let her come home. She hated it in the asylum. The other patients frightened her. She was going crazy. Please, please, just take her home. But they couldn’t take her home, and they would have to say good-bye and leave her in that awful place, alone.

After awhile, they didn’t visit anymore.

Emma died some time during the Great Depression. My mother doesn’t know if she was still in that asylum or not, but she was still in Toronto when she died. No one had any money then. No one could afford to travel.

There was a man who came from the Manitoulin, who lived in Toronto at the time. He saw Emma’s obituary in the newspaper, and recognizing the family name, he decided to go to the funeral. He knew Emma’s people, and he wanted to give his condolences. He wasn’t able to.

He was the only person there.

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Eleanor Rigby” – The Beatles

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