Bee Careful

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Gramps heard my scream.

He bustled over to see what was the matter.

Only seconds earlier I had been admiring the beauty of the forest, and smelling the newly opened wild flowers. In my six-year old mind I had been anticipating the arrival of some sort of a fairy. On a day such as this it seemed inevitable that one would appear. I had grown weary of waiting and so I sat on a log. I failed to see the bee. As my rump crushed the normally meek and mild creature, it stuck me with his barbed stinger sealing his fate and mine. I jumped to my feet with a screech, clutching my buttock. Poor little bee didn’t stand a chance. After a bee uses his stinger it will die. My fate was much kinder. A tender tush is preferred over death. However death from a sting might yet come for me.

Throughout the years I was gifted with a great many stings from the insect world. The majority occurred on the farm. Once I was stung three times by an aggressive band of wasps. It happened whilst fencing through a thick grove of forest. I vividly recall accidently stepping on their nest and the onslaught of the swarm. The red angry swelling from each individual sting was immediate. No big surprise that I got stung. That was my life as a youth, if I wasn’t falling off of horses and tripping over pebbles, I was tramping through wasp-infested areas like King Kong through New York City. There I am swatting away wasps like a giant ape on the top of the Empire State building bashing away planes. I can’t even accurately count the number of times I was stung throughout the years. All became normal ouchy tender swollen spots, until one day, my body’s immune system morphs into the Hulk offering death as a solution to the invading toxins of the wasp.

The official bulking up of my immune system transpired on a camping trip. We were meeting long time friends and their boys for a weekend of boating and fishing at Pinehurst Lake. We arrived at the campsite; our truck, camper and boat are coated in a thick film of brown dust from the bumpy gravel road. It is a remote lake. Most of the camp stalls are occupied. We stop momentarily, in awe of the view. We gaze upon camping spots shaded by poplar and spruce trees following the edge of the lake. The water along the shore sparkles in the late day sun. A warm summer wind tickles the branches on the trees until the leaves twist in delight. Certainly last but not least, a gaggle of children race their bikes along the road, towels over their shoulders, heading to the wooden dock for a swim. We are jolted out of our viewing pleasure by the honking of a horn. Using the Universal symbol of greeting Rick sticks his hand out of the window forms a fist and slowly extends his middle finger. Way to win a friend Hubby.

We spot our friend’s camper in a site close to the dock. It’s convenient to loading and unloading boats. An empty place beckoned to be filled alongside them, perfect for our camper.

I can see Margie’s slim form sitting in a cloth camping chair. Her blond hair shines in the sun. She smiles and gives us a wave.

Once camp is set up, Rick begins to fiddle with the motor on the boat. He has a small fix to do before he can put it in the lake. Margie and I stand by the fire pit.

She is eating sunflower seeds and throwing the shells in the pit.

“Are you getting tired of camping yet?” I ask. “It seems like you guys have been camping most of the summer.” An annoying fly is using the back of my calf as a landing strip. I feel it crawling on my leg. At least I thought it was a fly.

Margie chuckles. “Are you kidding Deb? I live for camping. All my work is at home. Dwayne likes to cook out here, and the boys are always off fishing or swimming. It’s a holiday, “ she said tossing her head and brushing her windblown hair from her eyes. “The only thing I don’t like about camping is going home.”

I bob my head in agreement, “Yeah, I know what you mean, going home means laundry, grass to mow, and a garden to weed.” The assumed fly is still pestering me. I lift my leg up towards my butt thinking the fly will take flight. However, the fly is not a fly, and the sting is immediate. It’s like a thousand little spankings all on top of one another. I couldn’t even blame the insect— it had to defend itself from being crushed.

“Dammit! Fricken son of a bitch!” I mutter hopping around sideways. I swipe the back of my leg insistently in case the toxic critter is still on me.

“What? What Deb?” Margie questions with motherly concern. “Did you get stung?”

I look down at my feet to see the black and yellow wasp squirming on the ground. “Yeah I did. Dirty little bugger.” I said. My calf muscle throbs. I step on the wasp squishing him into the dirt effectively putting him out of his misery.

“You’re not allergic to bees are you?” Margie asked.

I shake my head, “No. But I’m going to grab some ice to take the sting away.” I walk towards my camper, “Hey?” I turn back. “Do you want a cooler?”

“No Deb, I’ll grab us a cooler. My treat.”

I nod, “Ok, but the next ones on me.”

I grab my ice and return to the fire. Margie’s three boys and our two kids are seated around the metal fire pit spitting sunflower shells into the flames. Our husbands Dwayne and Rick are organizing their boats for a quick fish before dark. It wasn’t going well for Rick, he would occasionally utter curses and stomp around to the toolbox for a different tool.

I took a seat beside Margie and put an ice pack on my sting. The relief was nearly immediate. “So what else is new?” I ask.

She leans back into the cocoon of her camping chair and crosses her legs taking a sip of her cooler before answering. “I’m painting the downstairs in our house. I’m choosing bold colors,” she said with a shake of her head. “I never thought I would use such intense colors but I seem to be drawn to them lately.”

I raise my eyebrows, “It’s a gutsy move,” I comment. “But maybe you need a big change.” I said as I feel a warm flush spread through my body. An intense itchiness begins to develop on my buttocks. I wiggle inconspicuously.

Margie is oblivious. “So, after the basement’s done, I’m going to paint the feature wall in the kitchen red,” announces Margie looking at me expectantly.

I give her an odd look and say, “Red? You really want to go red?” I couldn’t imagine red in a kitchen. Mind you, I was picturing fire engine red— like the color my butt must be. Oh, I was ridiculously itchy. I discreetly waggle in my seat again.

Margie flips a few strands of loose hair behind her ear and continues to explain, “It isn’t the candy apple red color I want, but more of a brick red.”

I nod aggressively noticing my neck is now uncomfortably warm and itchy as well. “You’re pretty brave to go with that much color. I don’t think I could do it.” I confess as I feel my ears begin to grow hot and itch inside.

“Margie smiles, “Well the hard part will be getting Dwayne to go along with it.”

The urge to scratch becomes unbearable. I leap to my feet and start scratching, my neck, my back, my butt— everything. I rub at my ears massaging them into my head trying to relieve the itchiness inside.

Margie and the kids stare at me like I’ve lost my mind.

I continue scratching. “I think I’m reacting to the sting.” I said to no one in particular.

I race to my camper to look for an antihistamine. I remember that antihistamines are good for allergies. Nothing. I had nothing. Damn you children of mine! Why couldn’t one of you have allergies?

I lift up my shirt to look at my stomach. I’m covered in hives the size of dinner plates. I look at my sides, my shoulders— they all have giant raised red areas.

I bolt out of the camper and call to Margie,” Do you have any antihistamine?”

She doesn’t.

The fellow who is managing the campground walks up at that precise moment.

I greet him with a flurry of questions, “Hi, how are you? You wouldn’t happen to have any antihistamine in your truck would you?” I ramble on, “I just got stung by a bee— well not a bee— but a yellow jacket— and now I’m having a reaction.”

He looks at my flushed face. “Do you feel like your ears are swelling, got hives, and is your throat is tight?”

My eyes bulge a bit. I do have a tight throat. That was new. “Yes. All of those things. I have all of those things, “I fluster.

“Then I think you should go to the hospital,” he said, “People can die from reactions like that.”

I glare at him. Thank you very much. You jolly, jolly, little man. That is exactly what I wanted to hear.

He writes something on a piece of paper and hands it to me. “This is the number for the hospital in Lac La Biche. It’s about a forty-five minute drive. There’s no phone service for the first half hour.” He peers into my face, “You know, I read somewhere that you should stay calm when you have a reaction. If you get worked up your heart pumps faster and your symptom time speeds up.”

Hmmm, it seems to me I read that somewhere too. Yes, now I was scared. I try to swallow, and my throat resists.

“Deb, are you okay?’ asks Margie.

I could see from Margie’s expression that she didn’t think I was okay— and I sure didn’t feel okay.

“I think I’d better go to the hospital.” I said with tears filling my eyes.

We walk over to Rick where he is working on the boat. I am still scratching, although at a much more controlled pace now. Calm, I must stay calm.

I can feel the negativity hanging in the air where Rick is working. He is bent over the engine at the rear of the boat. A dark cloud encircles him and tiny sparks of lightening shoot out towards us.

“Rick, I need you to take me to the hospital.” I announce.

“Yeah, in a minute.” He rumbles not bothering to look up.

Margie examines me with her eyes. “I think you should go now. Do you want me to take you?” she asks in a quiet voice.

“No.” I said stubbornly, Rick can take me.” I didn’t want to ruin Margie’s evening— like she was going to have a big party now anyway. Silly me.

Margie frowns and then glares at Rick. She puts her hands on her hips to hold up her big girl pants. “Rick.” She orders. “You need to take Deb to the hospital right now.”

He throws his hands up and turns to us with anger in his eyes. “I’m trying to fix this!” he growls. He notices my swelling head and flushed face. The storm in him subsides and a calm acceptance crosses his face. “Lets go.”

As we pull out of the campground I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever see my kids again. I focus on calm breath, in and out. Rick speeds down the road and dust billows behind us. He suddenly realizes how serious this could be. The tightening in my throat increases, but the air continues to flow in and out of my lungs.

We arrive at the hospital. The admitting nurse takes me into the examinations room immediately. She takes my blood pressure and concern emanates from her face. Nausea rises up and I fight against it.

The doctor arrives. “You’re having an allergic reaction.” He said.

No shit Sherlock. Tell me something I don’t know. Maybe I was getting edgy.

He looks at my hives and scopes out my throat, “We are going to give you some medicine to counteract the reaction, and we’ll put you on IV to raise your blood pressure artificially.

My color was gone, the nausea rolled through my guts.

The nurse pushed a needle into my arm and injects me with the miracle cure. I instantly feel cold and dizzy. I can barely lift a hand and I think I might have to puke. My blood is gone and I am a ghost.

The nurse is sweet, an older lady with warm hands. She tries to insert the IV for fluids into my hand. She fails three times. My veins are collapsing. I see the worry in her face, and the raw edge of panic. She switches to my other hand and after three more tries she succeeds in getting a vein. After about five minutes with fluid running into my body I start to feel better.

The nurse wipes her brow and sighs with obvious relief, “Whew. I haven’t had that tough of a time getting a vein for years.”

I close my eyes and smile. I’ll get to see my kids in a while.

When they release me the nurse pulls me aside. “Make sure you carry your Epi-pen, everywhere you go. Next time you might not have as much time. I haven’t seen a reaction that severe in a long while.” She shakes a finger at me. “I’m not kidding. Carry your epinephrine pen.”

I admit to becoming lax about carrying my pen. This story is my reminder to start carrying it again. My hulk of an immune system is just waiting for the opportunity to bust out and run rampant once again.

A Lei for a Good Marriage

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Diamond Head Lighthouse on Oahu 

Testing a marriage has never been so easy as missing a flight. A number of years ago my sister Shannon, and I met in Honolulu for a small holiday. I live in Canada and she lives in Australia. It seemed a logical place for us to meet without having jetlag tag along too.

My sister’s husband, Kane is Australian. Back then, he was an officer in the Australian Army. By some odd coincidence Kane was also in Honolulu on Army business with his unit. Kind of like an exchange of military minds. I’ll show you my machine gun if you show me yours. How far can your soldiers run, mine can run farther and faster with their pants around their ankles than yours can. It is a full-fledged testosterone festival really— whose is bigger, faster, and more powerful.

I like Kane, he’s fairly easy to be around— Which is good— I mean he would have to be, since he’s in charge of the big guns and gets to blow things up. But seriously—Talk about stress relief, boom! Blast another hole in the ground.

Kane picks me up at the Honolulu airport. Shannon’s flight doesn’t arrive until the evening. So we take a tour around Waikiki beach, which includes a walk through the local park. I can’t help but notice the women are more unclad than clad, and it would take less effort to get undressed or dressed than in the frozen wonderland of Canada.

The hours whizz by and then it is time to pick up Shannon from the airport. Did I mention that people are excellent drivers in Honolulu? They are excellent to drive you to the edge of a nervous breakdown. In the end I just stopped looking at the traffic and looked at Kane’s white knuckled hands on the steering wheel. No worries— Hang loose. No wonder there is a soft drug culture on the island, they need something to get through the daily death defying commute. I assume that since they are Islanders, they are better with boats, but I never confirmed that theory.

At the airport we sit outside the terminal for international arrivals, the terminals themselves are in the building, but they have a spacious open area outside with concrete planters, benches, and wide sidewalks. The evening is warm and balmy, most people sit outside while they wait. Kane and I are chatting. Actually, I’m listening because that’s my area of expertise, and Kane is chatting because that’s his specialty.

A loud round of laughter erupts from across the way. It’s a couple of female security guards, one is sitting on the bench, and the other is standing facing her. They begin a little jostling type horseplay. It becomes louder, and more aggressive. Then in one angry motion the security guard that was standing grabs the other one by her pony tail. She pulls her backwards slamming her head into the concrete planter. I quickly get the feeling they are not practicing members of the Hawaiian ‘Hang Loose society’. As my jaw hangs down loosely in shock, all I can think is: I will not now, nor ever, create problems for the Honolulu airport security.

Finally Shannon’s flight is called and the people who cleared customs begin emerging from the building. We watch other people being greeted by family, friends, and tour groups. Still no Shannon.

Kane and I exchange glances. She should come out soon.

The arrivals dwindle and it is only ourselves, and one tour company waiting.

Where was Shannon?

A disheveled older couple enters the waiting area, they glance around in confusion and then the tour company representatives greet them with open smiles. They leave.

Now it’s just us.

A security officer pushes his way through the doors.

Kane steps up to the man, “Excuse me, are there anymore passengers left to come through from that last flight?”

“Just one woman.” he said giving us a reassuring nod. “She should be through shortly.”

Kane and I exchange glances again.

We turn our focus to the door willing Shannon to walk through.

The door swings open and an thickly built woman walks past us towards the taxi cabs.

Kane gives me a clenched jaw look. I’m sure his head would have popped off if he didn’t have such a thick neck. He marches to the phone muttering “She missed the bloody plane, I just know it she missed the bloody plane.”

Oh I felt like laughing until it hurt— but then I would be the one getting their head smacked against the concrete planter. What can I say? My unfortunate response to stress is to laugh.

Kane’s response to this particular stress is to get wound up so tight his face turns crimson and his ears get sucked into the sides of his head.

The phones were no help. Shannon was not at home, and all the phone numbers he had that might help him locate her were on the army base. So off I went with my half-crazed brother in-law to the army base.

Did I mention we had to drive there? Did I mention how the Hawaiians drove? I think I did. Well at this point Kane drove worse.

I tried to reason with him, “You’re right Kane, she probably did miss her plane. She probably got her flight time wrong.” I proclaim while trying to remember a Merry Poppins tune to sing to calm him down. Anything… I would have said anything to have the calm, rational, within a decent speed limit Kane back. But no. Now he is hunched over his steering wheel like a demon in a flaming red minivan. He looks like Taz off of the cartoon Loony Tunes. “Me got to get me wife!!!” At that point I knew I had better just sit back and take my revenge by writing this all down.

Once we arrive at the army base Kane is out of the van in a dash. He is bearing down on his subordinates (Did I mention Kane is a Major in the Australian army), they stand at attention while Kane barks out orders to locate one of the Captains. Shannon was friends with the captains wife, she was supposed to drive Shannon to the airport.

I took a seat at the front of the barracks right where Kane indicated I should sit. Exactly where he indicated I should sit. I did so immediately and without hesitation.

“Stay there.” He orders me.

He stalks to the phone on the desk and dials a number. Some poor soldier on the other end of the phone gets his ears blasted off when Kane didn’t get the information he requested.

Kane slams the phone down and stalks down a hall.

While Kane is gone I observe a drunken soldier making his way toward the front entrance. His eyes turn to me like a mouse to a piece of cheese.

I turn my chair and face the other way hoping to avoid any type of contact.

The fellow zigzags his way behind me. I can see his shadow on the floor. His breath is coming over my shoulder in fumes. I sit very still hoping he will leave. Nope. No such luck.

He makes his way in front of me and pulls up a chair across from me. He is struggling with obvious issues of balance and focus. He stares at me with bleary eyes. I imagine I seem very out of place to him. A female civilian on the base who appears to be alone. He flops down into the chair, and leans forward about to open his mouth.

I could sense what was coming. I was cringing, knowing for certain whatever he would say would not go over well with Kane. After all Kane had designated himself my protector. With Kane due back any second I don’t think this man could fully appreciate the danger of speaking his chemically altered, at this moment, no IQ mind.

The first half of a word began to come out of his mouth— And that’s when Kane flew back into the room.

“Can I help you soldier!” snaps Kane.

Amazingly the drunken sod bolts out of his chair and stumbles up the stairs as if Kane had ignited his butt on fire.

Kane looks at me and demands, “Was he rude to you?”

“No Kane he wasn’t” I answer quite truthfully.

By then Kane had the cell number for Shannon’s friend. Within minutes we found Shannon. She was at that moment sitting in a restaurant having supper with her friends getting ready to leave for Hawaii. Have you ever traveled over the Date Line? It can be very confusing, after all it was Friday the next day there, and she would arrive Thursday the day before. Or was it the other way around? Anyway, Shan missed her flight and she did not even know it until Kane broke the news, talk about a shocker!

Shan arrived the next day, I was so glad to see her. The moment I saw her I endowed her with a brilliant blue orchid flower lei. The Hawaiian lady who sold it to me said it was good for marriages.

Grace

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She is grace.

It transpires without effort within the flowing rhythm of her heart.

She is unacquainted with the dictionaries definition of grace, which is bound and emotionless within the confines of a book.

Her grace is a feeling far more than bold print, and practiced words.

Her image inspires my heart.

A bud to a blossom in a flick of the wrist.

She is a sigh of the spirit.

She is a breath from the soul into flesh.

And my eyes and my heart are in awe.

 

Shadows of Joy

Version 2

Inner joy is reflected everywhere, even in your shadow. Sometimes I look at peoples shadows and think “Damn.  That’s a happy shadow. The maker of that shadow must be off the charts ecstatic. I wish I was that happy.”

The thing is, sometimes I am that happy. But I want more. I want merriment to walk in my shadow every day. And I can do it. And so can you… because in the long and winding road of life, I’ve come to understand the path to joy, is easiest to follow by taking each moment as it comes. The shadow people had no plans that day except to go to a parade. They didn’t know it was going to be sweltering, or that the fire engine would shower water for people to enjoy. They had no plans to dance in the street. Living in the moment led them into that spirited moment. The only plan they had that morning was to go to a parade.

Taking each second in your day as they come, does not mean, to have no plans. You still have certain hygienic obligations to fulfill in order to maintain the benefit of companionship. And then, there is the small but large business of having a job, doing household chores, paying bills, and much more in order to survive.

It was ten years ago I realized I was a control freak. It took one conversation with a friend, to recognize how absurd I was, when it came to controlling the details of my life. We are discussing some vague health issues I was experiencing. I am pondering the numerous symptoms, and searching for the possible diagnosis on the Internet. As I fretted over my situation my friend finally asked, “Why don’t you just go to the doctor?”

I pulled back and stared at her with a shocked look in my eyes, “I can’t possibly go to the doctor until I know what’s wrong with me.” This answer seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Wasn’t I in charge of every possible outcome in my life?

She stared at me with equally wide eyes, and began to laugh at the preposterousness of my answer. After a moment I saw it too, and joined in with a hee-haw chuckle.

She called bullshit on me. It was my dazzling moment of enlightenment, when I realized I needed to learn how to let go. At that moment, I understood my thoughts had a strangle hold on my life. By preplanning for every action, I killed the possibility of joy. Happiness cannot live without freedom of expression. I still fight the impulse to create outcomes for my plans because of my need for perfection. I am a self-confessed recovering control freak. I am by nature tenacious. Which can be a good thing, if you fall over a cliff, and are holding on by the tips of your fingers. Don’t let go. But if you’re teaching a 4-H calf to lead, and it suddenly darts away at breakneck speed. And you are being dragged behind leaving the peelings of skin on the gravel. Let go— For God’s sake let go! Being tenacious in that situation is not a wise choice. That was my youngest sister, by the way. In our family, we always felt like we had something to prove. We mimicked the processes our parents used to live their lives. We were unwittingly brainwashed into feeling everything we did needed to be beyond reproach, or we were proved lacking. We were taught if we were not perfect, we fell short as human beings.

I lived the majority of my life thinking that way. Shoring up against failure, so I could appear perfect. Now I know, both perfection and control are an illusion. Not that it made it any easier to change. Quite frankly it’s hell. I still struggle. Sometimes it takes a crowbar and ten strong men, to pry me away from planning all the negative outcomes of a situation. Especially when I am feeling frightened, or vulnerable. Generally, that’s when life looks at my scared scenario’s, and hands me one I’ve never thought of, saying, “Hey! Do you really wanna be perfect? You forgot this one.” It’s proof that living your life in the future, and trying to head off all the possible calamities, will only give you a sore neck from looking for all those conceivable catastrophes. The only influence we have over our lives, is that— if we look for problems we find problems, and if we look for solutions we find solutions.

Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. — Kahlil Gibran

So hey, lets think in general terms with positive endings, rather than planning for the possibility of World War 3, or a zombie apocalypse. Go to a parade and see what happens. I guarantee, we too, can be joyful shadows and obscenely happy human beings.

Groovy

September 2009 to March 2010-18

Be groovy or leave man. – Bob Dylan

I love you Bob. Thank you for those five words of wisdom. And if you’re not sure what groovy means let me inform you, it means to be boss, splendid, with-it, and fantastic. All of those words are exceedingly positive. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with somebody groovy? According to Dictionary.com, groovy people are highly stimulating and excellent.

We don’t need the naysayers, and doom and gloomers in our lives. We need cheerleaders, and whoo whooers in our lives. We need people who live with enthusiasm and hope. We don’t need people continually griping about every little thing. Anyone can moan and groan about how bad life is, oh I have a zit, oh I’m in overdraft, and oh I have furniture disease— my chest fell into my drawers. Heads up friend, if all you see are the imperfections in your life, then that is all your going to get. If you are looking for negatives, it will be all you can see. My brother-in-law was complaining about his daughter’s boyfriend, he said, “I can’t stand him. I can’t find one thing I like about him.” Personally, I like the young man, he has plenty of good qualities. But my brother-in-law can’t see any of them, because he is only looking for the negatives. It’s like life—  poor me, look at how terrible life is treating me. And around and around you go.

Have you noticed the happy people in life rarely complain? It’s not because their life is perfect. It’s because they prefer to focus on the positive aspects. Preferably positive people look at the bad stuff briefly, they have a cry, eat a carton of ice cream, and a chocolate cake. Then in no time at all they are high on life again— well, that, or high on sugar. But seriously? Look around— the sun is still shining in the sky, and the moonbeams still create a silvery walkway on the water. So far Trump has not turned our beautiful planet into a fiery hell. Let’s be grateful for the multitude of good things in our lives.

Life would be tragic if it weren’t so funny. –Stephen Hawking

Now isn’t that the truth. In my family, we have joke about our Grams killing our Gramps with her cooking. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t because she was a terrible cook. She made the most delicious perogies with cream sauce, fried chicken, deep fried donuts and cinnamon buns. Her cooking could make a corpse’s mouth water. It was delicious full fat and full sugar. My Gramps liked to eat, and my Grams liked to cook. He died of a massive heart attack. Most of our family silently pondered the idea that Grams killed Gramps with her style of cooking for years before uttering it aloud. The words were finally spoken after Grams passed away. And then we laughed.

Life is funny. Look for the opportunity to giggle and play. The amount of time we have on this Earth is far too short. Why do we hold grudges, or worry about how people are treating us? If people aren’t treating you well, spend less time with them— or no time with them. If your joy and self worth is tied to how other people respond to you, then your ego is in control. And that son of a bitch has no business in your happy place. Keep that fun sucking wally wanker on a short leash. Your ego is there to keep you groomed, fit, and well attired. Anything after that is like feeding the hounds of hell, insatiable. Your ego is never satisfied with a job well done unless everyone else says it’s a job well done. It wants people to fawn all over you, and worship the very ground you stand on. Here are five strong words of advice— Keep the ego in check— Don’t be afraid to Taser that sucker, and don’t listen to your ego telling you how other people should treat you. If your ego could put you on a pedestal and call you King Trump it would. Realize this— The only expectations you can have, are from yourself. It is the only thing you can control. So gag your mouthy ego to stay in a positive flow, and know that you can add or delete people from your life accordingly—  just like Pinterest.

So in the wisdom of Bob Dylan, dare I say it? Yes I do.

Be groovy or leave man.

 

Fowl Encounters

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Apache, the conquering hero.

My heart is beating wildly in my chest. Is he hiding around the corner? He used to be so cute. Now, he is a monster. The hormones of puberty took over, and this particular young rooster is filled to the brim with brutish impulses. He is Rambo of the chicken yard, defending his territory. He wants to slit our throats with his razor sharp spurs. He’ll do anything to keep us out.

The first time he attacks me, he approaches from behind. He leaps up with a flurry of flapping wings. His claws extend searching to latch onto my flesh. He is squawking loudly. His shrill war cry echoes off the chicken coop. I feel his claws penetrate my skin. I screech in pain. He pecks at the back of my head.

I run. I wave my hands behind me smacking and shoving at him blindly. He tumbles off my back.

I make a beeline for the exit.

I dash through the gate slamming it behind me.

I turn to hook the latch. My attacker stares at me with red-rimmed eyes. His brilliant crimson comb stands rigid on the top of his head. He crows, and his wattles wiggle as he declares his triumph over the human.

I feel the stinging of scratches on the tops of my shoulders. I reach up and touch the sore spots. My fingers come away coated with blood. I sprint to the house.

“Mom!” I yell, throwing the door to the house open. “Mom! The rooster tried to kill me!”

“What?” Mom answers. “Come here, I can’t hear you.”

I race up the stairs.

Mom is kneading dough on the kitchen counter. She pounds it with her fists.

I feel my stomach rumble. “You’re making bread?” I ask.

She looks my way, “Yes,” she replies as her eyes drop to my hands. “What’s that on your fingers.”

I think about the soft bread with melted butter. “Um. Blood— When is the bread going to be ready?” I question as my tummy speaks again.

Mom wrinkles her brow, “Where’s the blood from?” she demands.

“The stupid rooster. I think he’s trying to kill me.” I said in a nonchalant way, still thinking about the bread. The bread turns into cinnamon buns in my mind. I like them much better than bread. “Are you making cinnamon buns?”

“Debby! Focus,” Mom grumps, “What happened to you? And where exactly are you hurt?”

I reach up and touch the back of my shoulder. “He scratched me here. He snuck up behind me, and— Bam, he jumped up on my back. Then he tried to slice my neck open.”

Mom rolls her eyes and lifts a floury hand. She waves me closer. “Let’s see.”

I oblige.

She studies my war wounds, and then heaves out a sigh. “ They aren’t too deep but you better wash them out and put Polysporin on them.” She shakes her finger at me, “From now on you carry a big stick when you are feeding chickens and gathering eggs. If he goes after you again— Let him have it!”

“Let him have the stick?” I question with a grin.

Mom shakes her head, “ You know what I mean.”

“Do I kill him?”

“No.” Mom said with exasperation in her voice. “Just give him a whack, so he’ll leave you alone.”

I squint my eyes and look at her through the little slits, “What if I accidently kill him?”

She shrugs her shoulders, “Then you kill him.”

I shake my head and look at the floor, “But I’ll feel bad.” I confess with sadness in my tone.

Mom puts a powdery hand to her head, “Debby, for God sakes— just go and tend to your scratches. I’m sure you won’t kill him.”

“Okay.” I answer with a nod, wandering away. I come to a sudden halt “But when do I get my cinnamon bun?” I ask.

Mom channels a demons glare.

It wasn’t just me that the rooster tried to kill. It did the same thing to my sisters, both my big sister Cheryl, and my little sister Shannon. It even did it to mom. The big stick became a permanent fixture outside the chicken pen gate.

Then one day, Cheryl, Shannon, and I were brushing the horses by the chicken’s pen. We had our horses tied up to the fence across the way.

The sun was shining high casting short shadows on the ground. Our horses were relaxed in the heat of the day. We were all feeling sedate. When out of the blue Shannon shrieks at the top of her lungs.

She is pointing behind us.

Cheryl and I turn to see why Shannon is hollering.

It’s the demoniac rooster. He is free, and now he is high stepping through the grass toward us.

We race away from the horses, far enough away to be out of rooster range.

However, it’s not us he wants. He is captivated by by the horses tails. In particular, Cheryl’s horse Apache. The rooster shows excellent taste, because Apache had the most lavish tail of all the horses. The singer of Cock-a-doodle-doo was smitten. He sticks his head right into the thick flowing tail hairs, and gives his head a shake. The bewitched rooster withdraws his head from the hair and studies the fountain of shining whiteness. He proceeds to pluck out a few strands.

The horse turns and looks at the Cock of the walk to give him a “What the hell do you think you are doing?” look.

The horse stomps a hind foot. It is a fair warning.

Be that as it may, chickens and horses do not speak the same language.

The rooster tilts his head studying the shining hair before him. Once again he darts in with his beak, snatching a cluster of hair. The rooster yanks.

Apache lashes out with a rapid kick. He connects with the rooster’s body.

We watch with broad smiles as the fowl sails through the air.

He lands with a thud to the ground. He lays there motionless.

We giggle, cheer, and slap each other on the shoulder. The evil rooster has bought the farm.

We warily approach the lifeless bird. He seems as dead as the turkey on our table for Christmas dinner, not nearly as delicious looking though.

“Poke him with a stick.” Shannon said. “Make sure he’s dead.”

Cheryl and I look at each other.

“I don’t want to poke him.” I said, “You poke him Cheryl. You’re the oldest.”

She looks at me with a frown. “Fine,” she said grudgingly, giving in to the unspoken rule the oldest is responsible for the younger kids. “But you get the stick,” she negotiates.

I smile, happy to be free from poking the rooster from hell. I retrieve a long stick from underneath a nearby tree.

Shan and I both stand back. We huddle together and watch closely, just in case the rooster jumps up to attack us.

Cheryl tip-toes in. She is barely close enough to reach the chicken with the stick. She leans over with tension in her limbs; she is a spring ready to uncoil. She prods the rooster.

The bird is no different than a log on the ground, unmoving and freed from life.

“Whoo hoo!” Shan shouts.

The reign of the rotten rooster is over.

We all go back to brushing the horses.

Every once in a while I shoot a look behind me to make sure he’s still lying there. It’s like I have a hunch all is not as it seems.

We leave the area and put our horses away. When we come back— the rooster is gone.

We never saw him again. Maybe he went back to hell where he came from, or maybe he’s still out there, waiting around a corner for you. Mwahahaha.

Actually, the truth is, the kick from Apache knocked all the cockiness out of our rooster. He became as peaceful as a dove.

My story happened a long time ago, now a days, they say you can quiet aggressive roosters by catching them, and carrying them underneath your arm while you are going about your business in a chicken pen. Apparently if you do this repetitively it will cure the roosters aggressiveness. My question is, how do you catch them, when they are stalking you? Is this where the stick comes in?

Showing Appreciation

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This is my world, blue skies graced with glorious clouds.

Thank you for reading and/or following my blog. I know you can’t see me, but I’m giving you all a standing ovation. Of course it’s not very impressive in my kitchen with just my dog, Mica and myself. The dog refuses to clap. But she has leapt to her feet and is wondering what to do now. Anyway, the point is, I’m appreciative, and my brains neurons and synapses are appreciative too. I know I don’t always hit the mark with my stories or ramblings, but I keep trying. I keep going because it feels good to make contact with people through words.

Speaking of which, isn’t it amazing how easy it is to connect with other people? It brings to my mind a common phrase ‘The world is my oyster’. It’s originally a line from ‘The Merry Widows of Winsor’. Oops. Freudian slip. (I love you honey.) A line from Shakespeare’s, play, ‘The Merry Wives of Winsor’ in which Pistol states, “Why then the world’s mine oyster, which I with sword will open.” What is my interpretation of ‘The world is my oyster’? To me, it means there are unlimited opportunities to do well as a writer in the world of the Internet. An oyster on its own is disgusting if taken literally. I think the world looks a whole lot better than a brownish greenish glob. My world has rainbows, llamas, blue skies, and pot bellied pigs, not to mention Jason Alexander. Odd how my mind jumped from Pot bellied pigs, to the fellow who acted as George Costanza on the Seinfeld show. My synapses and neurons are playing mind games with me.

Thinking on followers… Can you imagine if all of your followers on Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter physically followed you around? How much fun would that be? It wouldn’t work for everyone though, some people have so many followers, there would be whole cities on the move. There would be news alerts everywhere about mass invasions. I live near a forest. I could probably lose a few in there. And then there is always the briar patch.

Of course I would never do that to my intimate group of followers on my blog. I wouldn’t lead any astray. You guys are special. I’d bring you home, and ask Rick if we could keep you.

But you see where this is going don’t you? Funny, I just got a visual of everyone shaking their heads in a negative way. Ah, see where my mind takes me? My thoughts are like a handful of confetti thrown at a wedding, they are in utter disarray. Oh whoa is me. Wait. Let me spell that again. Woo is me, nope, that’s not the answer. Woo belongs in woo-hoo! And I’m not at the happy part yet. Have you ever seen a squirrel move? That’s how my brain works, in short bursts and then it freezes, and then sometimes it falls out of the tree. Especially when I push it too hard. Maybe I should have put a warning on my blog. Follow at your own risk rabid squirrels on the loose.

So thanks again for following me. I’m giving you two thumbs up because that’s all I have. I’m glad it’s at a respectful distance because I’m kind of flighty and tend to head for the bushes if strangers get too close. Please don’t imagine a gazelle gracefully bounding through, because if you’ve read all my blogs you will know I’m accident-prone. Please imagine a moose, with his front legs tied together bull dozing dirt with his snout. Presenting an accurate image is part of my writing code.

Tip of the day— Leaving a sticky note, as a thank you is appropriate in every work place— unless you work in the adult entertainment industry.

Peace out. Be frank. And if you can’t be Frank, be Abel. Why you ask? Then you are Abel to do anything and everything you want.

A Good Life

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Alvin Richard Mitchell  May 12, 1940 — August 2, 2016

“That was when the world wasn’t so big and I could see everywhere. It was when my father was a hero and not a human.” — Markus Zusak

Dad was the oldest of two children. He excelled at annoying the crap out of his younger sister Shirley. Yet, he still managed to remain the apple of his Mom’s eye. He adored his Mom. “She was a great woman,” Dad said with great emphasis. “A hard working woman —And boy could she swing an axe.”

Being a determined farm boy, Dad was always up for a challenge. He went straight from the field, and right to the oil patch working as a rig hand. When the rigs ran out of jobs, he joined the Navy on a whim. He travelled the seas from San Francisco to Singapore. On shore leave in Victoria, B.C. he met his future wife, Gail.

Then my Dad’s father, Walter, injured his leg in a farming accident. Dad received a compassionate discharge from the Navy to run the farm. When Walter’s leg healed enough to work, our Dad got a job as a timber cruiser. His performance led him into a position working as a Forest Officer for the Alberta Forest service.

During the next five years, at separate intervals, Dad became a proud/confused father to three bouncing/ squealing baby girls. During this time it was with great pleasure he earned his pilots licence by taking night classes.

After a few years of working in the bureaucratic bungling of a government job, Dad escaped the red tape. He bought the family farm off of our Gramps. He worked it for many years until he decided he had enough of cow poop and tractor exhaust.

He retired to British Columbia, with his second wife, Gil, to a life of fishing, curling, and golfing. He even had the occasional game of ‘Why the hell did I play ball? I can hardly walk‘, with a slow-pitch team called the Brew Crew, in Robson B.C.

Dad never considered the possibility that cancer might be the thing to snuff out his life. I’m not sure why. After a lifetime of smoking he should have known the big C would be the logical result. Oddly enough it didn’t take hold in his lungs, it took root in his bowels. They operated, gave him a colostomy, chemo and radiation. He toughed it out. Even though he would have preferred a bolt of lightening rather than the long drawn out treatments making him feel sicker than the illness itself. It was a shocking experience after a lifetime of good health.

When the cancer came back, it sapped his strength and ate away at his body. It angered him, “I look like a goddamn concentration camp victim,” he would say. And he did, I could have learned every bone in a human skeleton on my Dad. Yet he breathed.

He spent his last days staring out the window watching the river meander. I could see in his wistful gaze he wished for the strength to toss a fishing line, and hook a fish one last time. The constant drone of the T.V played, sports, or news. And then for some bizarre reason ‘My Five Hundred Pound Life’ became a short term favourite. He would sip on his coffee and pull deeply on his cigarette finding comfort in those small things.

I asked if he had any regrets. If there was anything he would have liked to change in his life.

He pondered the question inhaling another lungful of smoke. “No,” he said as he paused tilting his head, and tapping the ashes off his ciggy. “Well— I don’t think so. I’ve had a pretty good life.” He nods slowly. “A pretty good life.” And then he gives me a grin, weathered and worn. The familiar smile that all his friends and family loved, the one inviting you to smile along. And of course we all would. That was Alvin, my Dad in his final days. Gil’s cinnamon buns for breakfast, a good cup of coffee, and his smoke. He was a simple man, satisfied with the abundance of ordinary things. Nothing fancy for him in his faded, flannel, thread bare, plaid shirt, his favourite attire— with of course a pocket to hold all the lighters he would inadvertently borrow when looking for a light.

It’s a painful process watching your Dad whither away. He was my hero when I was young. I thought the sun choose him to shine on all day long. I remember being a bobbling child and following his light around just to feel it’s warmth. He walked with giant step, and towered over all things. He was the most handsome, athletic, brilliant Dad that anyone could ever wish for. I felt bad for all the other kids with ordinary Dads.

As age often does, there came a time I saw my Dad as a mortal. He struggled, but he did the best he could. He taught us the basics to succeed in life. First and foremost, he instilled a strong work ethic in his girls— Holy Hannah— the work ethic. Later in life Dad said, “I know I was hard on all you girls, but it’s important to do a good job.” It’s true. If I would have played football, I would have gotten many ass slaps for a job well done.

Growing up on the farm Dad taught us how to drive, disc, rake hay, give a strong left hook, hammer, paint, shoot, fish, and run the grain auger while keeping our body parts safe. He taught me to skidoo—but I missed the part on avoiding trees. He taught us how to dance to the oldies, the jive. I may have kicked my sisters inadvertently. He schooled us on poker, and how to lose the entire contents of your piggy bank at poker. All great lessons.

When he became a grandfather, he literally beamed when spending time with his grandkids, a sunflower would have swivelled on it’s stalk to follow the glow in his heart.

My Dad died at the age of 76, one year ago today. He was the oldest, young hearted  person, I ever knew. He is deeply missed. For such a slender fellow he sure took up a big space in our hearts. God Bless Pops.

 

 

Ragging on Trudeau

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I love Canada, I love the expansive diversity of the people within it, because for the most part we are all top drawer, fly, awesome, all that and a bag of chips. But you know what makes me hang my head in shame? It’s our leader. It’s our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I end up with a permanent sauerkraut face every time I hear him speak. Can somebody get this guy some acting lessons?

I spent a couple of hours on the Internet watching footage during question period in the House of Commons. I couldn’t help but notice Mr. Trudeau rarely answers a question from the opposition. He just reiterates that they lowered taxes for the middle class, and raised taxes for the wealthiest 1%, and increased the child tax benefit. Yes, to his credit he did do those things, but he also implemented an increase in the CPP and the EI. The whole thing made me nauseous. I ended up taking the dog outside for some fresh air. We both ate grass in the ditch to make our tummy’s feel better.

Mr Trudeau’s first budget for 2016/2017 was supposed to bring us into a 10 billion dollar deficit. It ballooned into a 23 billion dollar deficit. In 2017/2018 the deficit is supposed to be 28.5 billion. With all this debt the red ink is running out and the pen with the black ink has been sucked into the black hole of liberal spending— And for what? We aren’t exactly sure.

We all know Justin believes in peace and love. Me too, that’s why I’m not in politics. But did he really need to give $20 million dollars to the Clinton Foundation when we have hungry and homeless people at home? Is he trying to buy his way into fame with the tax payers money? I just want to say, “Let me give you a heads up Junior, you can’t buy love or respect. You can buy sex though. And selfies are free. Not saying you ever bought sex, but the whole country knows about your selfie addiction.”

I would like to believe Justin Trudeau will evolve into a great leader. I want to believe in miracles… but I think I have to face the facts. Here are some Justin Trudeau fact quotes,

Justin— “I can do anything I want, and there is nothing I want more, than to be a teacher, and maybe create more people like me, who recognise the importance of taking responsibility for the world.” (The Globe and Mail, February 3, 2001)

So now you understand where the Canadian taxpayers money is going. He is building a secret laboratory and cloning his DNA to make more people just like him.

Justin—“One of the big difficulties for me, has been all my life, I’ve been an international traveler. I’ve spent years travelling around the world, seeing all sorts of different countries.” (Salam Toronto, March 27, 2014)

It’s a hardship indeed. Was that an arrogant statement? Or a smug statement? Maybe his next quote will clarify.

Trudeau was asked, “Do you regret making the comment about China? That it was the country you most admire?”

“Maybe we shouldn’t be so smug about Canada,” replied Trudeau. (Xtra, November 20, 2013)

Holy horse pucky, damn rights I’m smug about Canada. Would you like to live in China Mr. Trudeau? http://thediplomat.com/2017/03/chinas-human-rights-crackdown-a-global-problem/

Justin “But 15 million dollars a year, which is not a whole lot of money in the grand scheme of things.” (Sun News, March 30, 2012)

Pffff, it’s just a drop in the bucket Justin. Which leads directly into the next quote— Justin said,  “The budget will balance itself.” (CPAC, February 11, 2014)

Justin— “Canada isn’t doing well right now because it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn’t work.” (Tele-Quebec, November 24, 2010.) Hey! Justin remembered the Albertans when it comes to the blame game. I guess he just leaves us out of the celebrations.

Justin— “I am very much in favour of the west-east pipeline.” (Your McMurray Magazine, May 29, 2014)

Justin— “The East Energy Oil pipeline is not socially acceptable.” (Le Soleil, December 13, 2014) Excuse me Mr. Prime Minister— Omega 3 might help with your memory troubles.

Justin— “The thinking that got us into this place no longer holds. We have to rethink elements as basic as space and time.” (Sun News, September 11, 2014)

Beam me up Scotty. Preferably to a space and time without Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister.