Archive for May, 2011

Don't Worry, It will be okay!

Currently there are three Snapple bottles sitting on my desk.  Two empty one almost full.   For those of you who don’t know Snapple puts ‘interesting’ facts on the underside of the lid.  My three caps read:

Fact #912 Meteorologists claim they’re right 85% of the time. Personally I’d like to see some independent study in order to back of the claim. 

Fact #905 The side of a hammer is called a cheek.  Good to know, however in the odd time (probably never) I need to refer to the side of a hammer I’ll probably just avoid the confusion and call it, ‘The side of a hammer’.

Fact #879 Most Koala bears sleep about 22 hours a day.  Just one more reason to love, idolize and emulate Koala bears.

In other strange news the ‘weird news’ section of the CDT or Centre Daily Times ran a story from the associated press about a Dairy Princess who is lactose intolerant.   I too am lactose intolerant, which is probably a benefit of suffering from Crohn’s disease.  All I have to say is Go Princess!  And when the time comes, I hope to be at her inauguration when she becomes Queen.   I wonder if she will marry a vegan who has to eat meat.

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A Conversation

My folks usually come to visit during the summer with my sister and nephew in tow.   The other day I get an email informing me they will be visiting on the 24th and could I get a room for them at a hotel.  I’m assuming that since the 24th is a Friday they will be spending the weekend, meaning they would need a room for the 24th, 25th and 26th.   But I have found it is always good to get confirmation.  So I called home and had the following conversation. 

Me: So, you are coming up on the 24th.

Mom:  Yes

Me:  So you need a hotel for what dates exactly?

Mom:  We will be leaving on Monday.

                This is where the conversation took a turn.  Normally I would assume that would mean they are leaving State College on the Monday.  But it could also mean they are leaving Montreal on Monday.

Me:  Are you telling me you are leaving from Montreal on Monday and getting here on Friday? Or, are you telling me you are leaving State College on Monday for Montreal?

Mom: We are not making our usual stops this time we are only coming out to see you.

Me: Okay, what dates do you want me to reserve a room for?

Mom: Monday is St. Jean Baptist day which is a holiday in Quebec so we have an extra day.

Me:  Pulling my hair out in fist full’s why does this have to be so hard?

Mom:  It is not so hard.

Me: Okay then what days do I need to reserve a hotel room for.

Mom: It usually takes us a few days to get there, but since we are not stopping anywhere else it will only take us two days, but we may try to make it in one.

                I try another tactic:

Me:  Are you staying for 3 nights and four days or 2 nights and 3 days?

Mom: Let me talk to your father for a minute.  I hear mumbling in the background, my wife is sitting beside me trying not to laugh.

Mom:  We are going to be there 3 days.

Me: Friday, Saturday and Sunday?

Mom: Yes we will be leaving on Monday.

Me: I’m really glad we are having this conversation.

Mom: Why?

Me: I’m running out of things to post about on my blog.  But I’ve got something now! This is what I am going to do.  I am booking you in the hotel room for three nights, the 24th, 25th and the 26th.

Mom: Okay, sounds good. 

Unfortunately I still have one more question to ask.  I ask with great trepidation.

Me: Do I need to book one or two rooms?

Mom: The girl (my niece who usually stays home) is getting to old to leave behind on these trips.

Me: So she is bringing both my nephew and my niece? I say hopefully

Mom: No

Me:  So, one room or two?

Mom: Your sister just got back from Vegas.

Me: So…?

Mom: I think she is out of vacation time from work.

Me:  Okay, this is what I am doing.  I am reserving one room for the 24th, 25th and 26th of next month.

Mom:  Are you following the elections here in Canada?


After editing this several times I find I feel a little bad for my wife, who sometimes asks me why I can’t answer a simple question.

…and of course one has to wonder what the views are on the other end of the conversation.

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I have always wanted to write.  I realized there is a discipline in writing novels that I don’t have.  I am also dyslexic, in my younger days I went at least twice a week to the children’s hospital to get the issue ‘corrected’  while I can see my letters and numbers straight I don’t believe one ever becomes un-dyslexic so writing is that much more of a challenge, but of course not impossible.

 I’ve made many attempts to sit and write, but always, after a few pages the words fall flat, all the character’s sounded the same, they all sounded like me.  If I, the writer feel they are flat, why would anybody want to read them?  Despite everything there was/is always the desire, that belief that if only I could find the right medium, the right angle then I would be able to write.

In high school I wrote two papers that I was really proud of.  One was a letter to my mother.  We had a substitute teacher who had no control of the class. In my letter I wrote about the chaos that was unfolding around me.  My mother told me that in reading my words she felt like she was there with me. Of course that is what she is supposed to say, she is after all, my mother.  But a year or so later I heard her talking to a friend about that letter and how, while she was reading it she felt she was there with me.  Those comments have always stayed with me, fueling the fire to write.

In high school I had a very strict English teacher Mrs. George.  She was only really interested in the ‘A’ students.  Each year she would take a handful of students to Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.  Only the best of the best students got to go.  Mrs. George always had her nose in the air, her half glasses balanced on the tip of that nose. If you were one of her favorites you could do no wrong.  And how those ‘A’ students loved her.  If however you were part of the majority and simply didn’t measure up to her strict standards then she only spoke to you if she absolutely had too and then she would not talk to you, she would talk down to you.   I was nowhere close to an ‘A’ student and therefore I was just an annoying blip on her radar that she had to deal with every once in awhile because it was her job.

My big assignment for Mrs. George was to write a report on Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.  I knew there was no way I was going to be able to write an acceptable report for Ms. George. Knowing I was going to fail I decided to fail with style, I wrote the entire report in the vernacular of Tom Joad.  A few days later she handed us back our reports.  She walked up and down the aisle of desks and placed the reports on the respective desks, making comments on each one, both good and bad.  She stood in front of my desk for a moment and did not hand me back my report.  Instead she simply said, ‘see me after class’ I heard my friends snicker.  Sure most of them failed the paper.  I however, obviously failed in epic style.   She ended up telling me that she never had anyone try to write a report the way I did. She handed me my paper and there on the top was an ‘A+’ she congratulated me, she went as far to say that she never thought I would pass.  Mrs. George told me that by far it was the most entertaining report she had ever read. I have never forgotten those words despite the fact that the next day I was once again just an annoying blip on her radar.

Yet, I never understood that you can write something aside from a novel.  For me it was always a novel or nothing.  While the desire to write never went away I couldn’t seem to learn the lesson Mrs. George and my Mother was trying to communicate to me. 

Having reached my mid forties I took a look back at my life and realized I have experiences, experiences I can write about.  I can write about the world around me as it is happening just like that letter to my mother all those years ago.  I could write about my past experiences just as I wrote about the dust bowl through the eyes of Tom Joad.  Best of all I don’t have to write a book, I don’t even have to write short stories, character development is easy because I am the character.   The internet makes it possible to write as I feel when I feel, I don’t have to rely on anyone else to ‘get it out there’ I could blog!

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The air conditioner in our car doesn’t work.  That is the good news.  The bad news is we can’t get it fixed at the moment because the air conditioner in our house isn’t working and that takes priority.  We have central air so we know it is going to be costly and we were not disappointed.  The first time it broke down it cost us around three hundred dollars to get it up and running. This time we got a quote of twelve hundred dollars.  It has been a day or so since we got the quote and my heart is almost back to its regular rhythm.  After doing a little research we found that it is in our best interest to bite the bullet spend a little more money and get a new one, a better one because the one the contractor originally put in is pretty much the bottom of the barrel.  This time we are smarter.  My beautiful wife got on the phone and has managed to set up some appointments with different companies and contractors to come out take a look and get an estimate.

But the above paragraph is not what this post is about.  This post is about small town living.  You may be asking yourself, “What does all this have to do with life in a small town?”  I am so glad you asked. 

The company I work for is moving and we have been setting up the new warehouse.   My wife was picking me up from the new location and we were exploring the area and we saw a company that deals with air conditioners.  We found out that they are strictly wholesale, but the owner gave us the name of a contractor.  In further discussion with him we found out this was the contractor who installed the air and heat in our new building at work.  And I know our facilities supervisor really liked his work.  So my wife added him to the list of people to talk too.

This contractor shares the last name of Norma, a woman I used to work with.  While Norma’s last name is very common in these parts I jokingly said to my wife that maybe they are cousins and we could get a discount of some sort.  My wife called him up and really liked this contractor.  He is related to one of our neighbours who he recently did some work for and he just installed a unit for somebody who lives just down the street from us.   So my wife asked him about Norma.  Not only are they cousins, Norma’s daughter just married this guys best friend.   

There is nothing like living in a small town. And who knows, perhaps my next entry will be from an air conditioned house.

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This picture was taken a few years ago.  It is the crab apple tree in our front yard.  Over the last few years we have not gotten very many blooms. The branches grew out of control, rubbing against each other, rubbing against our roof and the side of the house.  Many were sagging dangerously low.   We also had some type of yew bushes growing around the house that we had become tired of mostly because they were unruly and caught many leaves in the fall.  We decided to yank them out and replace them with a few well behaved burning bushes.   We are getting old, and digging them out was not even in the equation.  We did try and hook them up to the riding mower and simply pull them out.  No go, the bushes were going to simply pull the mower into the earth rather than give up their space.

This winter we met some guys who were starting up a business.  In the winter they clear snow and in the summer they deal with trees and bushes.  During the really bad ice and snow we did have them clear out our driveway.  They did a great job.  As spring rolled around we asked them about removing the yew and triming the crab apple tree.  They agreed the Crab apple needed a desperate trimming.   We were in for a huge suprise when we got home.  After the shock I talked to the tree guy.  He told me that he was just going to trim the tree, but in his trimming he couldn’t find decent healthy wood.  In order to try and save the tree he took some drastic measures and kept going till he found healthy wood. He is pretty sure that next year we should see some improvement.  Amazingly this spring we are getting some blumes:

Crab Apple Tooth Pick

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