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Back in the day, and by day I mean 30 years ago. I couldn’t tell you exactly what day, but it was a day. A rainy day. An excellent day for lounging around at home, or going to the mall. Which is exactly what we did. My Father, Mother and myself found ourselves at the mall in the middle of a rain storm. The type of rain the elders talk about from long ago. “Noah!” He said, “Build an arc”

Anyway.

Standing just outside the big mall doors but under the safety of the roofs overhang the three of us watched the driving rain as it swept across the parking lot in unrelenting waves. I am not sure why we were in such a rush to leave, but instigated by my mother it was agreed that at the count of three we would all make an insane mad dash for the car.

One…

Gathering my wits, plotting my course.

Two…

Scrunching up my neck between my shoulders creating a smaller target. Taking a breath Getting into the runners stance.

THREE!….

Suddenly there is a hand grabbing my arm, knocking me out of my ‘zone’. I turned, looked at my mother who was holding my arm and laughing hysterically. My father? already gone, lost in the winds and rain, no doubt soaked to the bone before he got 5 steps away from the mall doors. Probably unaware that he was making the dash alone.

I look at my mother in disbelief. Her response? In between fits of laughter “Why should we all get wet?”

For a very long time I wondered why my father didn’t drive home that day leaving us at the mall. It would have been well within his rights to do so, but just a few moments later the car appeared, my father behind the wheel grinning from ear to ear looking like a drowned rat as he maneuvered the car to get as close to us as possible so we wouldn’t have to get too wet.

I am 52 years old now, I’m as old as my dad was back then. And while I am not a father I absolutely know why my father came back and picked us up after we (my mom) played him that way, He did it because that is what Dads do.

And I know why he was grinning from ear to ear sharing the laugh as the rain dripped off his hair and face, laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes as he wiped his glasses free of rain drops appreciating my mothers scheme as if he came up with it himself.

He did that because that is the type of man he is. The type of man I hope to have become.

Love you dad. Happy Father’s Day.

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Sequoia

In the early days, those that came before the magic store my father was in the fruits and vegetable business.  It was an import export business he inherited from his father.

We had an attached garage.  I was in the basement (where eventually the magic shop would go) and I heard the garage door go up.  Just as I got to the end of the short hallway my father came through the door with a husky puppy in his arms.  I believe my father got Misty from a farmer with whom he did business.

I am probably not the one to tell this story, I was very young at the time and I don’t remember everything as clearly as others might.  But alas it has been hinted, more than once, that I should write about Misty, so here we are.

1971:  for those of you taking your socks off trying to do the math, I was six.

Misty was a typical looking black and white husky.  She had one blue eye and one brown.  Like most huskies, Misty was trouble.   My folks started off trying to paper train her.  They covered the entire basement floor in newspaper and put the puppy in the basement.   Misty found a spot where the corners of the newspaper overlapped, she spread them apart and pooped directly on the floor.  That alone should be a lesson to anyone thinking about getting a husky, they are really smart and will try anything to undermine what you want them to do. 

My mother tells the story of the time Misty was getting a treat and as my mother tried to take the treat back Misty growled and bared her puppy teeth.  While cute at the time my mother realized that in a year or so that may not be so cute.  I don’t know how my mother corrected the behavior, but she (Misty, not my mother) never growled at me.

Every day I would walk Misty while waiting for the carpool to take me to school.  By walk I mean I would stand outside on the lawn with the dog and when the car came my mother would take the leash.  For those of you who are un-aware huskies are really strong dogs and it just so happens they really like to pull.  One day the car arrived to take me to school and Misty simply jumped into the car dragging me along chaos insued.  One adult in the driver’s seat a few kids in the back and a rambunctious husky puppy jumping all over everything.  The next day it was decided that it would be best not to have the dog out when the carpool arrived.  That  decision was in vain as the next day the car never arrived.   For years after I thought Misty was a magic dog, no Misty, no carpool.  If only it were that simple!

Back in the early 70’s we used to get snow!  And I mean snow.  That year it was so deep we had trouble opening the door, we had to shove Misty out of a second story window so she could go out for her walk.

We also rented a county house.  Misty used to help us dig our snow forts.  And I have a very vague memory of Misty pulling us around on a sled. 

Years later, in elementary school a teacher asked us to write about our earliest memory.  I remember lots of stuff, I just am horrible with dates and when it comes to my early memories I never know what happened exactly when.  But I remember writing that my earliest memory was when my father brought Misty home.  Even then I knew that was not my earliest memory but it is one of my favorites.   The same teacher asked us to write about our favorite memory.  I wrote the exact same thing.   My favorite memory is when my father brought Misty home.  That same teacher asked us to write about our saddest memory.  I wrote, “my saddest day was when Misty left our home”

It turns out my eldest sister was allergic to fur and feathers.  The allergy was so severe the only option was to give Misty up.  My father says he put two advertisements in the paper one for the dog one for my sister, the dog got the first response.  We are reasonably sure he was joking about the advertisements. Reasonably!

One thing was certain.  Everyone loved Misty.  The kids on the block, even the other dogs on the block, Princess, a samoyed that lived down the street was one of her best dog friends.  I’m pretty sure the girl down the block who used to babysit only did so because of Misty.

When Misty finally found a new home I used to have horrible dreams, in this particular recurring dream Misty was simply hiding somewhere, playing a game.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night and look under my bed I’d sneak out of my room and it was only when I got to the living room did the reality of it sink back in.  Misty was no longer there.   In another dream my friend down the block had found her and was holding her for me.  Boy was I disappointed when I woke up.  Later that day my friend was outside on our walkway, (we all used to gather there and play CHAMP, a game with a ball).  I couldn’t get past my dream even though I knew it was a dream.  He must have thought I was nuts when I asked him if he had Misty.  But I had to ask. 

My mother took it the hardest.  My mother was the one who looked after Misty the most.  You can barely mention Misty’s name without my bringing my mother close to tears.  Lucky for us Sequoia doesn’t resemble Misty and doesn’t bring out that reaction. 

Maya, Sequoia’s only dog friend is a black and white husky.  Not too long ago my folks were in town and we had a few friends over including Maya and her family.  Sure enough there was a tear or two shed when Maya walked up onto the lawn.

Years later, whenever the conversation of pets surfaced my mother would say no, because she is the one that ends up looking after them not us.  So no, we could not have pets.  Years later we learned the truth.  My mother would not let us look after Misty, she knew we had to give her up and she didn’t want us to get any more attached then we already were.  My mother was trying to spare us what she eventually had to endure, because that is what mothers do.

When my wife and I first decided to keep Sequoia I knew I had to call home and tell my folks.

Me; “Hello mom, we rescued a husky and decided to keep her”

Long pause

Mom: “They die you know”

As I watch Sequoia getting older, and I see her slowing down, I hear those words, I hear them every time I see Sequoia struggling to leap into the car, or ever so slowly get down from the couch, yes there are times we have to give them up, yes they get older, yes they die, and no, it is not fair!

Brian and Misty, 1971

 

 

Brother, Father, Misty, Me,

 

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Hit By A Truck

Okay the title is a little misleading.  My friend Richard drove into a truck.  With his bicycle, the truck was not moving.  He didn’t really even hit the truck.  In fact he drove up the ramp and right into the back of a moving van.  No, he did not do this on purpose.  We were riding down the street side by side talking about whatever we happened to be talking about.  Parked on the side of the road was a large moving van.  Rich, did. not. see. it.  All I am saying is good thing there was a ramp otherwise he would have smashed right into the back-end of the truck and the outcome probably would have been a trip to the hospital.

I’m not sure why this is a pick on Rich post, but it is.

Rich, Steve, (Richards brother) and I spent a lot of time riding around on our bicycles.  Often times we experienced technical issues.  I was hit by a car, (nothing serious), Steve lost his front wheel, it just kind of rolled on ahead of us.  On this particular excursion we were headed to Mt. Royal.  Before the journey even began Richard proclaimed; “He who gets a flat tire walks!’  Richard got a flat half way down the mountain.  Steve and I were the ones that ended up walking.

Richard and I survived high school together, I honestly don’t think I ever would have survived if he wasn’t there.  People would look at us in an odd sense of wonder as we would argue and bitch at each other most of the day, yet we always walked home together.  We were in a lot of ways opposite. Richard is a blue-eyed blond german.  His father is direct from ‘The Mother Land’  he was not a nazi, not even close but he did fight in the regular army.  If I remember correctly Richards grandmother was pretty close to Hitler possibly a secretary.  I don’t know it was never really talked about.  Richard will correct me if I am wrong.

I on the other hand am Jewish,  not hard-core, but jewish enough. My great-aunt had the numbers tattooed on her arm.  I don’t like to think about the holocaust I don’t like to think about that particular war.  I’ve never seen Schindler’s List.  It is a sore subject with me and I can’t honestly say why, enough said. Regardless Rich and I were/are very close.  But we had our moments. 

Richard: “Bri, let’s go to McDonalds”

“Okay”  We would get there, order the food.

Richard: “I forgot my wallet, I’ll pay you back”

Richard currently owes me $2,723.36.  I’m starting to think he left his wallet at home on purpose.  I also have come to the realization that I’ll never see that money again.  I did get even.  Richard and I built an HO scale railroad in his garage.  While Rich would work on a particular part I would plug the track in at the exact right moment.  It is amazing how much electricity runs through a model railroad track.  It was kind of fun to watch the sparks fly from his fillings.

Richard built a model rocket, okay we both built model rockets.  The difference is Richard launched his INSIDE his basement.  His reasoning?  He didn’t think it would fly.  Man was his father pissed when he saw the ceiling.  Of course we do have Steve to thank as he sat there staring at the ceiling until his father looked up.

Richard and I purchased some lumber for a deck we were building onto his folks house, (it is a great deck) we strapped the wood to the roof of the car.  How does one secure wood to the roof of a car?  Why rope of course!  The employees at the lumber yard had a good laugh as we looped the rope through the windows and over the roof (and the wood) in the process we tied the doors to the frame of the car.  Of course we only realized this when we tried to get into the car.  Eventually we did the dukes of hazard thing and went through the windows.  unfortunately there was no Daisy Mae waiting for us when we got home.

I think that ends my little walk down memory lane.  Rich we will have to do the Skype thing one of these days.

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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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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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