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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

I was sitting on my recliner watching TV wondering what my next post was going to be about when out of the blue I got a message from my old friend Richard. “Hey, you ever think about writing about your fathers train set in Hampstead?”

Suddenly I have an entire post written out in my head. But as I started to write I realized I had nothing. My memory of the train set is only a whisper, an image sitting at the very edge of my mind.

I emailed my father asking him what he remembers about the train set. He did not recall a train set in Hampstead, neither did my mother. They did however remember one in Cote St Luc that took up a quarter of basement. We moved out of that house in 1968, I was three. All of which makes sense. The train set Richard and I remember took up a large portion of the basement. And while Davey Crocket may have “kilt himself a bear when he was only three” I was not so advanced and rather than out killing bears I could have very well been trying to stand on my toes to look at a train set.

The problem is Richard, we met in elementary school there is no way he was ever at the house in Cote st Luc.

Any way one looks at it memory is a fickle beast.

The other day the song “Me and My Bobby McGee” was playing on the radio, the second Roger Miller got to the line ‘windshield wipers keepin time I held Bobby’s hand in mine…’ I was transported to my youth. Vivid images danced through my head of my father and one of his friends sitting in the country house, fire roaring in the fire place guitars in hands singing and playing that particular song. It is a Norman Rockwell moment forever etched in my brain.

The smell of gasoline conjures up memories of my fathers speed boat he had back in the day. I remember having to fill the two little red gas tanks that sat behind the back seats. And from these memories others spill forth. They are wonderful, the good the bad and the ugly.

I love photographs, I’ve got an ipod an ipad a camera many sd cards with loads of photograph’s on each one. We have boxes and albums after albums of photos. And I will keep them, add too them and eventually they will be passed along. But at the end of the day the memories that mean the most to me are not the ones in the photo’s. They are the ones forever etched in my brain regardless of how fuzzy or inaccurate they are.

I’ll forever remember my polar bear teddy bear, (I still have it) and how Teddy saved me from the dark nights and bad dreams. I’ll never Forget the t-shirt with Flipper the dolphin on it. Or how about my brother scaring the crap out of me with the large paper mache indian mask. Or the time the steering wheel wouldn’t turn the wheels on the bumper cars and I was stuck in a corner of the track. Or the theme from the six million dollar man running through my head when the orderly was wheeling me into surgery.

When all is done it is not the photograph, it is not the object. It’s the mind and the feelings that are evoked. I don’t think we can control preserve or dismiss them. They just are.

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We needed a new roof.  We chose a black metal maintenance free roof that is guaranteed for life.  But should you try to call us on the telephonic equipment don’t be surprised if we don’t answer. We only have cell phones and the metal roof blocks the cell signal in certain spots within our house.  Not to worry though, you call always call Millheim Pa ask the Amish person who picks up the phone to speak to Henry, then tell Henry you are trying to reach the guy who lives across the street from Amy, the one with the new lawn mower and the shiny black metal roof, who is making a racket with his working chipper shredder.

Okay, since you asked so nicely I will explain.

Millheim Pa sports a large Amish community has a population of 907 people consisting 322 families. Millheim also happens to be located 45 minutes away from our home.  We were in Millheim because my wife works with Jamie, Jamie’s husband, Nick is a general contractor who owns his own contracting business Nickolas Klaue Construction.  We were hiring Nick to put on our new roof. For you locals, if you are working on a project I’d give Nick a call.  His rates are reasonable.  He does good work, he was done in the time he said it would take and when done he cleaned up everything.  We could not be more satisfied.  My wife started talking to Nick about our two lawn mowers that don’t work.  Nick suggested that we visit Millheim small engine repair because even if the mowers are not worth fixing, Henry the owner would probably take them as a trade.  My wife and I loaded up the ole’ SUV with the incredibly heavy chipper shredder that I have not been able to start in two years and went off in search of Henry and his Millheim Small Engine Repair.  We spoke to Henry and told him Nick sent us.  We discussed the mower situation and he said bring them on down and we can work something out, after all we are friends with Nick.

Two weeks later we went to pick up our chipper shredder.  Rather than bring the mowers down we decided to take pictures.  From the pictures alone Henry offered us a deal.

While filling out paper work the woman who works for Henry noticed our address and says to my wife.  “Do you know Amy?”  To which my wife replied yes we do, Amy lives across the street from us and is the sister to our neighbor John with whom we are good friends.  The woman explained that she knows Amy and her husband quite well but does not know John, but knows of John because Linda’s daughter is currently dating John.  “Really” we said, we know John is dating but we didn’t know who, nor do we know this Linda.  The woman explained that she knows Linda well but not Linda’s daughter and it is Linda X.  The name to me sounds familiar.   Suddenly I perk up, I know a Dean X we work together or at least in the same company, just different departments.  Dean also lives on our street.  Yes the woman explained, Dean is Linda’s son so John is dating Dean’s sister.

So 45 minutes from home, a complete stranger is informing us of the socio-geographic landscape of our street.  Nothing like life in small town, but wait my big city friends, the saga continues.

The woman helping us with the paper work notices that my wife works at Penn State.  “Oh, I used to work there” she says, “where do you work at Penn State?”  My wife starts to explain and the woman interrupts my wife because the woman used to work at the same lab my wife works!  And their time over lapped each other!

So we ended up supporting two local businesses, learning the gossip on our street, a working chipper shredder, a new riding mower, and a new roof.

Do you remember Nick?  Yeah, well after all was said and done Nick purchased one of our non-working mowers from Henry.  It is the circle of life I’m tellin’ you.  THE CIRCLE…

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As some of you know, because you were there, I was at the dentist again.  Upon entering the lobby the receptionist was busy with another person so I just sat down at which time the receptionist said, “Brian, I’ll let the dentist know you are here”.  The other person turns around and says, “Well we could have just rode in together”  by coincidence it was a friend of mine who is also having work done, also I am told by his wife that he is just as much afraid of the dentist as I am, but like me eventually pain rules and something had to be done.  Just as Chad, not his real name, (okay it is) sat down and I was about to start a conversation another lady comes into the lobby who I did not know and comments on the strange weather we were having.  Ignoring my first rule of all things social (do not make eye contact) I went straight to ignoring my second rule of all things social (do not engage).  Breaking both rules I looked at the lady, smiled and nodded.  She commented again on how warm it was and I responded, “yup”.  She then started a conversation with me that went something like this.

Weirdo:  I like you, you know why?

Me: No.

Weirdo: Because you didn’t ask me where I’m from.  Everybody always asks me where I’m from and I don’t understand why.  Why do they assume I am from somewhere else, I don’t have an accent.  I spent a little time in the south so maybe my vowels are extended but not obviously so.

At this point I will point out that this lady was easily in her 70’s and had a pretty thick accent, I thought perhaps Ukrainian and it turned out to be Polish. So I just sort of shrugged. I was just about to open my mouth to speak to Chad when she pipes up again.

Weirdo:  I don’t use Novocain or any drugs when I’m at the dentist

Me: Raised eyebrows

Weirdo:  I use self hypnosis, and once I am properly relaxed I press hard on my pinky.  If they are working on the left side I press on my right pinky until it hurts, but it doesn’t really hurt because I am in a very relaxed state and pressing on the pinky takes away the pain.

Me:  I’ll take whatever drugs they give me.

Weirdo: I don’t like State College very much there is nothing to do.  When I lived in Virginia there was so much I could do, go to the movies, see plays, go out and eat, see the gardens.

Me:  I like it here.  By the way, everything she mentioned, you can do in State College there is plenty of movies, restaurants, theatre’s, concerts.  But I wasn’t about to argue.

At this point Donna, Chad’s wife came out of the examining room, she seemed to be quite proud that I was at the dentist on my own like a big boy.  We laughed, She texted my wife and then the weirdo interrupted us and asked me.

Weirdo: Are you going to vote for Obama?

Me: No

Weirdo: Why not?

Me: I’m Canadian

Weirdo:  Do people kill themselves in Canada?

Me: What?

Weirdo: Do they kill themselves? I bet there are a lot of suicides because of all the rain.

For the first time in my life, I couldn’t wait to see the dentist. Anything to get out of that waiting room, remember my friend Chad?  He was of no help. I started to wonder, if I pressed on my pinky finger, would she go away?

Me: I guess it is like everywhere else. 

Weirdo:  I bet a lot of people kill themselves.  So do you like Obama?

Me: Never met him.

At this point a soldier walked into the room the conversation quickly changed.

Weirdo:  War is such a horrible thing.  Poland has always been occupied either the Russians or the French or the Germans always war.  And now war is so much worse I hate to think about it.

Me: Yup, not pleasant, it never was. 

At this point the hygienist came in and saved me, “Brian we are ready for you now”

I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast from the waiting room to the dentist’s chair. 

 

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Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard (French, pronounced Rocket Rishaaad) was a great Canadian,  he defines hockey.  He stopped playing the game five years before I was born.  He won eight Stanley cups with the Montreal Canadians.  He was the first to make fifty goals in fifty games.  He was the first to make five hundred career goals.  He actually made 544.  We learned all about him in elementary school, we wanted to be him.  You simply could not grow up in the environment I grew up in and not have heard the name ‘Rocket’ Richard.

Alas, this post has nothing to do with hockey.  It has nothing to do with the great Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard.  It has to do with my friend Richard. Sometimes I think of him as ‘Rocket’ Richard and it is not because of his talent with a puck. Rather it is because of an episode with a rocket.

For awhile Richard and I dabbled in model rocketry. A basic model can go anywhere from 300 ft to 1500 ft into the air.  They are easy to make, or you can buy a kit.  The kits can be very basic or incredibly elaborate.  I always went for the cheap simple ones or I made my own because while my successful launch rate was excellent I never had a successful recovery.

Richard decided to buy one of the fancier kits.  This one looked like a flying saucer rather than your standard tube shaped rockets.  If my memory serves me correctly this flying saucer needed a ‘D’ engine which was one of the larger classes of model rocket engines. 

A model rocket engine resembles a roll of quarters they are primarily made of gun powder. Basically you explode the engine and if you have made your rocket correctly the thrust of the explosion goes downward propelling the rocket upward.

When I left Richards house everything was fine.  He was tweaking the saucer and we made plans to launch it in the next day or so.  I wasn’t there for the incident but I was able to piece a few things together, but to this day I don’t honestly know if I ever got the whole truth.

The next day my phone rings:

Richard:  “I launched the rocket” 

Me: “Really?  Did it fly?”

Richard: “Yes”

Me: “But?”

Rich: “I launched it inside.”

Me: “Inside?”

Rich: “Basement!”

I thought about that ‘D’ class engine, I thought about the possibility of this thing launching fifteen hundred feet into the air, possibly more.  I also thought about the low seven foot ceiling of Richard’s basement.

Me: “Damage?”

Rich: “Uhm I think I can get away with it.”

We both know the alternative would not be good.

Me: “Seriously?”

Rich: “Can you come over?”

The basement was poorly lit.  Most of the light came from the tv, the aquarium or the really small street level window. Because of the poor lighting it did take me a moment to find the burnt spot on the ceiling and perhaps a moment longer to find the chipped and scarred molding.  There was a chance his father wouldn’t notice there was also a chance that this was just a bad dream. The funny thing is Richard almost got away with it, almost.  There was one element we didn’t take into enough consideration.  Stephen!  Richard’s younger. The problem with Stephen is that he wears his emotions and his expressions loudly on his face.  He is a horrible liar.  Stephen didn’t purposely throw Richard under the bus but that is exactly where Richard wound up. 

When Richard’s father came into the basement to say hello Stephen could not keep his eyes off the damaged ceiling.  Stephen could not look at us, his father, the TV or the aquarium.  No, he had to stare at that bloody spot.  Of course Richard’s father followed Stephen’s gaze.  So did ours.  There was no choice.  Stephen just couldn’t look away, not even for a second.

Why you may ask did Richard launch a rocket inside the house?  That is what I asked.  He didn’t think it would work.

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For the second time in the history of this blog I have a guest poster.  My friend Penney from Vancouver read my handcuff blog and offered this handcuff story that involves her husband Tony.  The following is actually a response to my handcuff story.  Thanks Penney.

Way back, before 9/11 when air travelers were all considered fairly harmless and Tony’s entire magic collection could fit into a standard briefcase. We were flying to AB, and because he didn’t trust the airline with his precious collection he planned to bring the briefcase as a carry-on. Gotta really hand it to the security lady. She never cracked a smile (though her eyes were laughing hysterically) as she had asked this strange long-haired dude (Tony) to open the case. So he does, explaining to her how the case was filled with odd stuff because he was a magician, and really, she couldn’t possibly understand the workings of what he had in that case of mystery. And when she went straight for the corner of the case and pulled out his handcuffs, he didn’t miss a beat. He said, “That is for my escapism act.” They made him give it to the steward, who I think gave it to the pilot.

For some strange reason, none of the three steward(ess) on that flight could make it through the safety procedures, because they were all doubled over laughing by the time they boarded the plane.

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Maya

I break for chipmunks and anything else that crosses my path.  We don’t automatically squish bugs when they enter our home, instead we try to capture them and set them free in the great outdoors.  Sometimes however, spiders and ants simply make bad life decisions.

I don’t like it when I see dead critters such as deer, bear, porcupine, groundhogs, possum, etc on the side of the road.  I was especially upset just recently by a suicidal chipmunk.  Both my wife and I have suddenly applied the brakes several times over the last few days to avoid running over this little guy, always in the same place, it seemed to have a fascination with a particular crack in the road.  His luck ran out, we noticed that somebody ran him over the other day.

In front of our house I discovered a bird nest complete with bird and eggs.  I approached the nest and momma bird flew to a nearby branch and yelled at me.  I walked away and avoided that area, but over the next few days I kept my eye on that nest.  I checked on the eggs when momma wasn’t around, carefully avoided the nest while she was sitting on the eggs.  Yesterday momma bird was suspiciously gone.  I checked the nest, the eggs were gone, no trace.  Something got them either another bird, possibly a snake, who knows?  It’s life in the wild.  But still I couldn’t help but be upset about the ordeal and in my own quiet way I mourned the loss. 

Of course it is different when it is a pet, even when it is not one of my own.

Maya was a great Husky who left us way too early.  Maya had a wonderful human family, human mother T and human sister M.  My wife and I consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have these two people in our lives, to have them as friends.  These are two of the nicest people I have ever met and it was Maya who brought us together.

Human mother T and sister M have had a really rough year, a really rough year.  And through it all they have managed to hold their heads high, handled themselves and their situation with grace, strength and dignity. 

My wife was talking with M on the phone a short while after Maya passed away.  M explained how they have lost pets before but with Maya it was different.  During all the upheaval in their lives Maya was always a constant, always there.  Maya would always crawl into bed and comfort M. 

For the longest time our dog Sequoia simply didn’t get along with other dogs.  Sequoia would growl and lunge and just be keyed up for a fight.  However Sequoia liked Maya the two became fast friends with only the occasional arguments.  Since then Sequoia has gotten along with a few other dogs but none I would call ‘friends’.

So how does one say goodbye?

In Maya’s short time she left her mark, she brought us together, she drove us all a little crazy with her constant yipping.  She made us laugh, she brought us comfort and she brought us friendship.

Maya though your time with us was short the paw print you left on our hearts is deep.  You will never be forgotten.  Rest in peace my friend.  Rest in peace.

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We always intend to go to a movie but we rarely actually get up and go.  Today was different because some friends of ours were going and asked us to join them.  Not only did we go, but we went whole hog, rather than sneak food into the theatre we opted to buy some popcorn and soda! (truth be told, we did sneek in some licorice). The best deal for us was two medium drinks and a medium popcorn for $12.00.  Yes I know it is a scam, they know It is a scam, and yet we couldn’t resist.  But wait! For an extra dollar you can upgrade to a large bag of popcorn and two large drinks.  Hey for an extra dollar what the heck?  The nice lady brought us our two pails of soda and a grocery bag of popcorn.  As I was paying, the food lady told us that the large came with free refills!  I paused mid transaction, I stood on my toes so I could look at her over the shopping bag of popcorn while my wife was trying to figure out how to carry the two pails of soda.  “Free refills?” I said, “Just how long is this movie anyway?”

Remember the days when once the credits started rolling the movie was over?  Not anymore, oh no!  Now it is a guessing game.  You can leave before the end of the credits and miss the very last scene, or you can roll the dice and stay.  Sometimes there is a last scene sometimes nothing.  I watch the credits, not so much because I really care about the last scene that may or may not be there, but it: A gives the aisle time to clear out. B For the price one pays to see a movie it is best to suck every last word out of it.  C. My knees already hurt from being cramped, my butt is numb from sitting in crappy seats so I’m in no rush to get up.  And finally, one of my favourite movies is ‘A Nights Tale’ One of the funniest parts of the movie happens after the credits. This time sitting through the credits paid off.  Not only do I know who all the key grips are, I also know who ordered the food for the cast and crew.  And low and behold there was a final scene. But could I enjoy that last scene?  Not really because I had consumed roughly a quarter of my pail of soda, my bladder saw the start of the credits and decided the movie was over. My bladder didn’t care about the possibility of another scene, didn’t care about the stupid price I paid for the soda, popcorn or the movie itself.  In the end I won, sure my eyballs were floating, sure I almost didn’t make it to the bathroom in time. But I sat through the full 20 minutes of credits for the last 30 seconds of the movie. Which only existed to set up for another movie.  But I won.  I got to go to the movies with my wife and caught up with some really good friends.

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