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Archive for June, 2010

This past weekend my folks, one sister and my four-year old nephew were visiting from Canada.  It was also our 9th wedding anniversary, so we decided to have a little BBQ at our house, in all there were about 25 people and I think it is safe to say we all had a good time.  I lit a fire in the fire ring so we could make smores, the boy, (my nephew) was very interested in this process and pulled up a chair close to the fire,  he was making it quite clear in all his wiggling that he wasn’t overly comfortable. A co-worker/friend and I were standing off to the side where we overheard the following conversation between my sister, and her son. (who she calls in her blog, ‘the boy’)

My sister: walking up to my wiggling nephew and taking the seat beside him, “Boy are you okay?” 

Boy: “Yes”

“Boy you are wiggling around and can’t keep still, what is wrong?”

“My underpants are sticky”

His underpants were sticky because it was hot, and he was wearing long pants rather than shorts to protect him from mosquito bites. My friend went hysterical, he loved the honesty and simplicity of the answer.  Although we work together and see each other just about every day he clearly hasn’t been paying attention.  For my family such an answer is typical, even so I have to admit there was a poetic beauty about it, especially coming from a four-year old. 

Yesterday I was sitting in my office at work, my co-worker was in the other room helping out one of the technicians.  I always keep an ear open just in case there is something I need to deal with.  I heard the following conversation:

Technician: “Hey, what’s up?”

Co-worker: “My underpants are sticky!”

I almost died laughing.

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Whizzing down the highway at 65 miles an hour, (okay 72 miles an hour) I noticed a lawn chair sitting on the shoulder of the road.  How did it get there?  I cannot help but think there is some guy at home putting the new lawn set together and thinking; WTF? “Honey, didn’t this lawn set come with four chairs?”

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Gallagher has a great routine about the english language. English is hard, odd, inconsistent and there are so many ways to speak, write and even hear it.  Me?  I like the literal approach, perhaps it is because I’m dyslexic so I started off at odds with the language. Perhaps I’m just odd. 

I don’t really take things literally, I just like to act as though I do, and most people understand this about me,  although I’m sure I can be frustrating, but then, isn’t everybody?   As I’ve said before in these blogs, my wife often accuses me of having my ‘Mr. Literal cape’ on to tight.  But I like my literal cape, it makes me happy, it amuses me. 

So I’m working on some paper work while my co-worker is eating lunch and watching some police type show over the internet.  Some woman is holding up a corner  store.  A guy on the street looks in the window, sees what is going on and calls 911.  The cops arrive and the following conversation ensues between the two parties:

 Guy on the street: “Over there! That store, I started to walk in and a woman was holding a gun on the shopkeeper and there are some other people in the store and she kept telling them, don’t make me shoot!”

 Police officer: “Sir, are you the one that called 911?”

Guy:  “Yes”

Cops: “How did she sound?”

Guy: “Really nervous and she was shaking badly.”

 Perhaps it is just me, but I would have answered the ‘how did she sound’ question by saying, “She sounded confident, obviously knows her job, very professional, she kept me on the line while she called you guys and kept me informed about how long you would be.  She did an excellent… oh, you mean how did the holdup woman sound?”

It just so happens that during one of the re-writes for this blog I used the word ‘aspect’ and I suddenly realized from whom I learned to play with words.  My Dad!  In elementary school a teacher gave us a list of words which we had to use in a sentence, (I’m sure most teachers have done this).  I took my list home and was struggling over the word ‘aspect’ my wonderfully helpful father suggested, “If you sit on an eagle’s nest you get your aspect!”.

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My wife and I have had a really rough few months.  We both have had a lot of job stress, we are re-decorating our bedroom, my folks, sister and nephew are coming to visit at the end of this week,   We are having health issues with a cat and the dog is on a new medication with some interesting side effects, trying to trap some kittens, (which I think mom has relocated so I don’t think its going to happen).  Lots of little things that we hope to get done by the end of the summer.  In short we have not had a lot of time to sit down and take it easy. 

This morning as we were getting to ready to work my beautiful wife asks me. “Is our anniversary today or Wednesday?”  My reaction must have been pretty close to a dear caught in the headlights.  Being a guy I knew this was a trap.  I had a 50/50 chance of getting this right.   Lucky for me there was something in my wife’s look and the sound of her voice, she really didn’t know.  I figured if she was being honest, so would I.  “Today or Wednesday?  Heck I didn’t even realize it was this month!” At which point we both just laughed.  I suggested that we try to figure out which day our anniversary lands on.  My wife’s response was, “Why? What difference does it make?”

Wednesday it will be our 9 year anniversary and the actual day doesn’t matter.  What matters is we found one another, we are in love, we are best friends, we are happily and solidly married.  Every morning we wake up beside each other is an anniversary. The time we spend together, that is what matters.

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Today celebrates my first guest poster and I am honoured that it is my mother who, through this example shows us that this is not just a small town, or a small country, but a small world.  So, take it away mom!

Somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago, my daughter received a frozen turkey from her boss at Thanksgiving. That was the good news. The bad news was that it wasn’t Kosher and my home is.

After some consideration I decided to give it to my non-Jewish friend, Joni. She kept it frozen and made a scrumptious turkey dinner for Christmas and invited us. That bloomed into a tradition that still exists, even though she moved from Montreal to Kitchener Ontario.

Although we were friends prior to the turkey and often got together on a Saturday night, we always ate out.  Since that time, whenever a turkey was involved we were invited. We were not the only ones at the table. There was usually an assortment of interesting people there.

For instance, while still in Montreal, Joni and her husband, being skiers, shared a chalet in Stowe, Vermont for the winters with a bunch of other people from Canada and the U.S. who were skiers.

One day Joni called to invite us for turkey dinner as one of the people who shared the chalet, Ron from Washington, D.C, was in Montreal for the Tour de l’Ile, an annual bicycle race around the island of Montreal (I think it’s a race or marathon) and people come from all over to take part in it. Ron, Joni, her brother and the regular writer of this blog used to partake in the race. Anyhow, here we are all sitting around the table enjoying our dinner while Ron told us stories about his recent trip to Tibet. He went with a tour. They were at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and the guide asked if anyone was interested in climbing. He was. It turned out that only he and a couple from Montreal were fit enough to make the climb. He said the three of them became friendly being the only ones there and the fellow he befriended gave him his card and told him to call if he ever came to Montreal. I asked the person’s name.

“Oh, yah, right. How many people in Montreal, 2 million? I don’t think you know them.”

“You never know” I replied.

He took out the business card and handed it over to me.  I freaked. The person on the card was Irving, the son of my father’s close friend. My father and his friend were both custom tailors. They were part of a group that used to play gin rummy every week, often at our home. When I told Ron, he thought I was pulling his leg. But the best is yet to come. When my husband saw who it was, he said that the Irving’s father made his Bar Mitzvah  suit for him some fifty years ago, and he has a movie of his Bar Mitzvah* where at one point they are showing off the suit and show the label.

So before I even knew my husband we were connected. I did know that my father’s friend made his suit.

When my Dad was phoning the whole world to tell everyone his daughter was getting married and to who, his friend said, “What do mean, do I know them? I made his Bar Mitzvah suit for him!”

It’s a small world, after all!

*For those that may not know, a Bar Mitzvah is when a young Jewish boy (13yrs) is called upon the read from the Torah.  It is a right of passage where the boy becomes responsible for his  adherence to the laws, traditions and ethics of the religion. Before such time it is the responsibility of the parent.

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I don’t play a lot of jokes on people I think practical jokes are stupid, mean and usually don’t end well.  But in this instance I couldn’t help myself.

Back in my banking days a co-worker, (Kim) was given a betta (Siamese fighting fish) from one of our customers.  Kim kept the fish (who we will call ‘fish’) on her desk and grew quite attached.  One fateful day Kim asked me to look after Fish while she went on vacation.  I don’t know what came over me.  Two days before Kim was to come back to work I found a fish bowl exactly like Kim’s, I found the same blue gravel the same plant the same everything.  Then I got a fish, Kim’s fish was red, I purchased a blue one.  On the day of kim’s return I exchanged the red one with the blue one.  Kim went right to fish as I pretended to count the money in my teller drawer.  It took about 15 minutes before Kim came running across the bank;

“Brian what happened to Fish?”  

“Nothing, why? is everything okay?”

“He is blue!”

I didn’t really have a plan.  I figured she would assume Fish had died and I tried to cover it by replacing it with an imposter only I was too stupid to buy another red one.  But something in the way Kim looked and sounded told me that Kim thought it was still Fish, so…

Me, “Yeah, and?”

“When I left he was red!”

“Really? how long have you been gone, two weeks?”

“Brian, Fish was red! is there something wrong with him?”

Blink! “Uhm no, I thought he changed while you were still here, I guess he changed colour after you left.”

“He changed colour, why is he sick or is that normal?”

Now I have to be fair, Kim is an extremely intelligent woman and somebody I greatly respect.  Clearly however this was not her strong suit. “Kim, Fish is fine all Betta’s are blue I thought you knew that.  They start out red but turn blue almost overnight when they reach a certain age.”

I noticed that the rest of the tellers vanished into the vault, they obviously couldn’t keep it together as the conversation progressed, I also realized I had nowhere for this scenario to go and it had to come to an end.  Kim had bought the story hook line and sinker and the look of relief on her face was priceless.  But all I could think of was how to back out of the situation without making Kim look stupid. Making her look stupid was the furthest thing from my mind.  I figured she was going to be mad at me for trying to cover up the fact that Fish had died, I could live with that as Fish was fine but this reaction while even more funny, had the potential to cause some hurt feelings. 

“Fish is fine Kim”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am sure, wait one second I will prove fish is just fine.”

At which point I got the real fish and showed Kim.  The next line was spectacular.

“Brian! You also got a fish!”

“Well yes I guess I did, this however is your fish, the blue one your desk is an imposter”  There was a pregnant pause while Kim’s brain kicked into gear and the gales of laughter that came from her was music to my ears.  She laughed till the tears were pouring from her eyes, she saw it all,  she saw the funny part of the joke, she saw how stupid she must have sounded and how funny that must have been.  She took it the way it was given a humours, harmless joke among friends. 

I write this for a few reasons.  1) is I think it is funny.  2) I watched a YouTube video of a magician making a fool out of his audience and was reminded of why there are people who don’t like magicians.  To my magic friends, please respect your audience, they are there for you, shouldn’t you be there for them? 3) We would all be better off if we didn’t take ourselves so seriously.

By the end of the week each teller had a fish at their window.  We loved them, we looked after them made sure the bowls were always clean, they gave the bank a really nice atmosphere.  The customers loved them and the regulars would come in and check on each fish.  Some of the tellers allowed the customers to name the fish.  I however named mine ‘Stick’. People would ask me why his name was stick.  I just told them to think about it.  Usually as they were leaving the bank they would start to laugh.  They got it! ‘fish stick’

We had the fish for about 6 months or more when the powers that be told us we could not keep the fish at the bank.  We tried to fight the decision,  customers called the manager and district manager telling them how much they liked the fish, but those in power were not hearing any of it, and in the end we each took one home.  Stick, like all our pets became part of the family and lived for a good three years.  Today, a good four years after his passing my wife and I still fondly remember Stick.

 

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I don’t like painting, actually I don’t like the prep work or the clean up.  Fortunately they have made technological leaps and bounds in paints since I’ve last painted.  We got a paint with no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) so it doesn’t have that toxic smell.  Paint also dries quicker, perhaps it is just me but the paint itself makes less of a mess.  For the most part you don’t have to use primer, the good people who manufacture the paint now found a way to mix it all together.  But as we all know, you cannot have a light without a dark to stick it in. 

First you have to move everything, sand and clean the surfaces then tape everything you don’t want painted, put plastic on the floor.  It is tedious work that takes forever.  Eventually you get to paint.  An hour later you have to clean it all up.  It is frustrating that the main event takes the least amount of time.  Is everything like that? Could very well be.

Even though they mix the primer in with the paint there are certain surfaces that you simply have to prime first, and of course, we had two such surfaces.  Unlike paint, primer has not made such leaps and bounds in technology. Not only is it messy, it stinks. If you ever find yourself asking, hmm I wonder what they did with all that VOC in paint? The answer is, they put it all in the primer.  Now you have done all the tedious prep work, you have messed up the brushes and the rollers you have white crap on the walls, on your hands, your clothes, your hair! You have to clean it all up and  YOU STILL HAVE TO PUT PAINT ON THE WALL!  Talk about injustice.

Volatile Organic Compound.  I don’t recal ever having a headache that bad, I couldn’t move my head.  I’m not a hypochondriac but just a few days before we painted I saw that Gary Coleman died from a brain hemorrhage!  After listening to Brett Micheals talk about his near death experience due to a brain hemorrhage I was reasonably sure my brain was bleeding.  I was wrong of course. But it was bloody painful.

I don’t like flying,  but like painting, it didn’t take me long to figure out it wasn’t the flying, it was the airport.  The packing, the trip to the airport, all the people running around like bees in a hive,  finding the ticket counter, checking luggage, security, finding the gate it is all too much.  Once I’m on the plane I’m fine, I don’t have fear of flying I can’t control what happens so why worry about it?  I take two Benadryl (because two puts me to sleep) So I snooze, watch a movie, eat and sleep a little more. What could be better?   

In the end the airplane got me where I wanted to go and the room is looking great. While you can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in, it’s all good once you can finally turn the light on.

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