Shadows of Joy

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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.

Nip Him In The Butt

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Our Gramps with Cheryl, Shan, and myself.

Oh man, I never imagined it would turn out so badly. The best laid prank gone wrong.

It is Saturday morning and our cousin’s, Elaine, and Eric had come out to the farm with their parents to visit. In general Eric and I would pal around. I was the tomboy of the family. Eric was younger than I by a couple years. I held the hammer in our relationship. Sorry Eric. My older sister Cheryl, and younger sister Shannon would usually hang out with Elaine, who was the same age as myself.

On this particular day Gramps was tinkering over a motor in the garage. It was probably a push lawn mower or a rotor-tiller. Gramps was handy. He could fix anything.

His bulky form is bent low over the mechanical issue. His work pants are dusty and his farm cap sits tight over top of his balding head. His flaunted fanny seems a tempting target on this day of hatching ingenious plans.

I vaguely remember Elaine and my younger sister Shannon being present for roll call, but I lost my list, so Cheryl may have been there too. What I know for sure, is that my cousin Eric really should have known better than to listen to me— and the girly girls. Truth be told, it was probably all my fault. I love pranks. I grew up watching Wiley Coyote and Bugs Bunny running amok. I lay partial blame on them for my disastrous idea. Well, them, and Eric’s lack of restraint.

So, there we are, tucked behind a disc, parked in front of the garage spying on Gramps. We are just what every Grandpa has ever dreamed of having —conniving little grandkids.

We are all lined up in a row, as though we’re watching a show in a movie theatre.

I’m beside Eric plotting out a masterful prank.

I lean into Eric, “Hey Eric,” I said pointing to a pair of needle-nose pliers sitting on a rickety shelf by the door, “Why don’t you grab those pliers and give Gramps a little pinch on the bum?”

Eric looks at me with wide eyes. They look even larger behind his glasses. “No,” he replies shaking his head. “I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

Cheryl, Elaine and Shannon look in our direction hoping for more entertainment.

I give the girls a brief toss of my head, “What do you think? Do you think Eric should give Gramps a little tweak on the buttocks?”

They glance at each other and giggle. I don’t know if they’re laughing at the prank, or the word buttocks.

Shan covers her hand with her mouth and snickers, “It’d be like the cartoons.”

Great mind think alike.

We all stare at Eric.

He flushes red all the way up to the tops of his ears, “Ok. Fine.” He said, not sounding fine at all.

He crouches down and darts into the cluttered garage.

Gramps is focused on the task at hand.

All of us girls squat down even lower, like frogs in a pond, ready to take a dive if necessary.

Eric is on his tiptoes moving silently.

Gramps straightens up.

We hold our breath.

He puts his hands on his hips and leans his shoulders backwards stretching out his back.

Eric freezes.

Gramps grabs a different screwdriver and bends down continuing to work.

Eric flicks us a look with raised eyebrows.

I stand up and motion him forward nodding wildly.

He soundlessly picks up the pliers.

I feel the giggle building inside my belly. This is going to be sooo funny.

Cheryl, Shannon, Elaine, and I flash grins at each other.

Eric continues forward in stealth mode. He is within reaching distance of Gramps gluteus maximus.

I see Eric’s hand shaking as he moves in with the pliers. He has the needle nose pliers wide open.

WIDE OPEN. Suddenly, I realize this isn’t going to be funny at all.

Eric swoops in and clamps Gramps butt cheek. Eric’s bicep and forearm muscles flex and bulge. I didn’t even know Eric had muscles.

Gramps roars like a grizzly on a rampage, he swings around with his arm extended smacking into Eric.

Eric sails across the garage and clatters into a pile of stuff. It is hard metal stuff.

We scatter. We scuttle like cockroaches hearing the footsteps of a human.

As my feet fly down the road all I hear is Eric screaming and wailing, and Gramps yelling.

Then I hear other adult voices raised and angry. It is chaos.

We run to the hayloft in the barn, a group of fugitive females on the lamb. We contemplate our sins and eat candy. The general theme of the discussion is poor Eric. Poor sod.

Eric never did roll on us. I think the whole question of whose idea was it? Was never asked, due to the commotion that ensued after the heavy-handed nip.

I found out years later that Gramps whole buttock was black and blue for weeks. Poor Gramps. Damn conniving grandkids.

Who knew Eric had the hand of the Hulk?

I certainly didn’t.

Be Warned, Be Damned

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This morning I learned my inversion table could cause my death.

Should I be fearful? Perhaps my updated inversion table attire should be a hardhat, steel toe boots, and a brilliant orange safety vest with a glowing yellow x on the back.

In the future, I can envision holograms popping up as informational warnings before using allegedly dangerous items. I imagine myself stepping onto the pedals of my inversion table. A hologram in the form of a safety officer wearing a brass badge on his sky blue uniform springs to life. He holds up a hand, “Stop right there little lady. Do you realize you could drop onto your head, and break your neck if you don’t fasten your ankle straps securely?”

I bat my eyelashes at the handsome hologram, “My hero,” I simper, “Thank you Mr. Safety officer. I had no idea hanging upside down without having my feet secured could cause me harm.”

Are we for real as a society? I’m seriously questioning the evolution of the human species. Here is a short list of warnings and cautions on random items.

An iron on transfer for a t-shirt— Do not iron on while wearing the shirt. Where is your thought process to try this? Do you take it as a challenge? Hmmm my husband tells me I’m hot, it’s not a problem for me?

On a bag of peanuts — Warning: Contains peanuts, not suitable for nut and sesame allergy sufferers due to the methods used in the manufacturing of this product. I have no words.

Warning label for front load washing machines— During high-speed spins do not put any person in this washer. Is it okay on the gentle cycle? But really, if you are stuffing another person into a washing machine you’re intentions are not aligned with the safety and welfare of others.

A warning label on a warning label—Read before using, read directions, cautions, and warnings carefully. If you do not understand, or cannot read all directions, cautions and warnings. Do not use this product. The idiocy is self explanatory.

Safety rule for a drill—This product is not intended for use as a dental drill or medical appliance. We’ll be sure to let the mafia know.

Danger, do not feed or molest the alligators— Gators cannot be tamed, and feeding them can result in them mistaking a hand for a handout. The law prohibits the feeding or molesting of all alligators. I want to meet the person trying to molest an alligator.

Found on a hair dryer, Instructions for use— Do not use while sleeping. At first I thought this was a ridiculous warning. However, after researching it, apparently there is an addiction to sleeping with your hairdryer. Who knew?

A warning on matches—Caution, contents may catch fire. In a surprising turn of events the matches were the best fire starter of the day.

On a box of rat poison— Warning: has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice. It’s poison? I would surmise it’s best not to touch poison with bare hands, but there are those more reckless humans out and about, the same ones trying to molest alligators.

Are people really neglecting to connect the dots, or are companies just covering their substantial buttocks from the possibility of being sued? I think people are quite brilliant when it comes to technology, but when it comes down to survival, the warning signs are all over the place.

Are we becoming more STUPID? IQ scores are decreasing – and some experts argue it’s because humans have reached their intellectual peak
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2730791/Are-STUPID-Britons-people-IQ-decline.html#ixzz4nmSjVc3u

Trial and error creates genius, experience is the best professor on the planet. I vote to remove the warning labels and let natural consequences prevail.

Sunshiny Days

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Happy days at the polo barn with Carlins car and dogs.

“I’m sick of this shit!” Tracey screams flinging her arms in the air. Her baseball cap is snug on her head, and in her agitation she reaches up and tugs it down even further. Now it presses the top of her ears outwards, and she resembled an elf, or maybe even a pixie. Regardless, her face holds the color of blood. “I’m done!” She fumes with concrete in her tone, “You can go.” She says to me.

“You’re fired!” Tracey shouts throwing a hand out towards me.

“But—“ I begin.

“Get out!” she rails.

Tracey turns on her heel. She shouts out to Dick who is watching with open amusement. ”Take her home. She’s done.”

I stand in her dust. My head hangs and tears gather in my eyes. I just wanted to say goodbye to the horses, to the dogs— to the life I had a minute ago. I didn’t expect this. I was naive in my expectations of how this would play out. I was living in the moment. I had finally worked up the courage to tell her about Dick’s attack on Janine. I didn’t consider the consequences of my big mouth.

Gone in an instant— my job, my transportation, my floor to sleep on, and the food on my plate. With all that gone, the only thing that really mattered was— I would never see the horses again. I would never again lay a hand on Charlie, my honest hardworking steed, Fleet, the spunky colt, Jupiter, a gentle giant, and the list of loss is too long to face. I stuff down the ragged sobs building inside.

I can feel Dick’s eyes on me. I feel his satisfaction as he watches my pain. I refuse to feed him my sadness.

I numbly climb into the passenger’s side of the truck.

I stare ahead ignoring Dick. I focus on holding back my sorrow and watch the road being eaten up as we drive.

“I told you.” Dick said with a smile in his voice, “You shouldn’t push Tracey too hard.”

I said nothing.

Dick continues to prattle, “You can’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s too bad you couldn’t keep your mouth shut.”

I tune out his voice and stare out the side window. I watch the trees and fields whip past. I wipe the tears that escape my control.

At the condo Dick waits in the truck not wanting to make the extra steps into the building. It’s better that way.

I enter the condo and close the door behind me. Tabby and Zack are at school, and the only sound I hear is the gentle hum of the fridge. I lean with my back against the door and let out a sob. I suck in a quick breath, and fight my feelings. I’m not finished yet, no time for tears now. I need to get out of here.

I dial Carlin’s number at her barn. I hope she is somewhere she can hear it. The phone rings.

“Hello, Hillcrest Stables,” answers Carlin.

My friends voice triggers a release on my emotion, “Oh Carlin,” I cry, “ I know your working, sob —but ddo you think you can come and pppick me up?” I clench my fist hoping the idea of holding can bring my sadness under control.

“Crap Deb, what happened?” She exclaims.

I snuffle, “Tttracey fired me after I told her abbbout Janine.”

“Jesus Deb! That sucks,” Carlin sympathizes, and then she hesitates, “Sorry— of course I’ll come get you. It’s just so unexpected.”

“I know, I’m ssorry. I hate to bbug you, but I have no one else to ccall.” I hiccup through my words.

“It’s ok Deb, I don’t mind. I’m just trying to gather my thoughts, I’m scattered all over the place as usual,” Carlin responds. “Umm, I’ll just clear it with my boss. I’ll call you right back.”

The phone clicks and I swallow hard. I gather up my stuff, shoving my memories into my suitcase and zip it up. The phone rings.

“Hello?” I said.

Carlin rushes her words, “I’ll be there right away, give me ten minutes.“

I steel myself to leave the building and endure Dick’s presence.

I sit at the bottom of the steps to the condo in the shade of a palm tree. The cement is cool. A tiny lizard scurries under my leg, a cute little green guy. I wonder if he is going home? I think about my home in Canada, my parents knew my job with the Fatterods was strained. In the last letter mom sent, she reminded me that I could always go home and work for dad on the farm until I found something else. He’ll pay you, she wrote. I didn’t want to go home. It would be like going backwards. I heave a sigh and get to my feet.

Dick is sitting in the truck. He motions me over. No horn honking for a change.

I reluctantly make my way over to him.

He hands me a cheque. “Here’s your pay up to date,” He clears his throat and gives me a shit eating grin, “I added two weeks severance pay.”

I feel my grudge against him ease. “Gee thanks Dick, that’s very generous of you.”

“Well, it’s the least I can do. It’ll take some time to find another job,” Dick surmised.

I nod.

Now, before you feel your heart softening towards Dick, let me tell you— the cheque bounced. It bounced like a kangaroo on steroids. I never did get paid— but really, after everything else I should have seen that coming, his promises are farts in a windstorm. Nonexistent.

Carlin zooms up beside me in her bright red Camero. I heave my life into her car.

We zip down the road. Her white blonde hair flits around her face and I can’t see her sparkling blue eyes behind her dark sunglasses.

“So what happened?” She asks.

“I told Tracey about Dick assaulting Janine.” I said, “Shit, I really shouldn’t have. It’s none of my business.” I slap my leg with frustration, “But Janine asked me to tell her, and I like Tracey. She should know. I wanted Tracey to open her eyes and see what kind of scuzball she is married to.”

Carlin glances over, “So what happened between Dick and Janine?”

I sink down in my seat, and rub the side of head. I feel a headache coming on. “I guess Tracey, Joe and Dick were on the patio having drinks while Janine went into the condo to change. Dick came into the room where Janine was changing and pushed her down on the bed.”

“Holy shit,” gasps Carlin.

“Yeah, Dick was on top of her when Joe showed up. Lucky for Janine, Joe was coming in to use the bathroom. From what Janine said, all hell broke loose after that. In the meantime Tracey is drinking on the patio oblivious to what’s going on inside.” I shake my head, “Poor Tracey. If only the condo wasn’t so soundproof. She would have heard the commotion and walked right in,” I guessed.

Carlin cocks her head towards me, “You would still have a job,” she declares.

“Yeah,” I said wistfully.

“What then? How did you get in the middle of this bullshit?”

I look to the sky, “I’m a sucker.” I said, “Joe and Janine left the Fatterods immediately and came to the barn. They begged me to tell Tracey. They didn’t want to do it at the condo because Joe thought he’d kill Dick if he spent one more second in the same room with him.”

Carlin shakes her head, “It’s no wonder you got fired. No wife wants to hear that shit. Especially Tracey. She’s all about the horses, and Dick has the horses.”

The horses. It hurt to even think of them. Tears well up in my eyes.

Carlin casts me a look, “You okay?”

I shake my head unable to answer.

She pats me on the arm, “It’s going to be okay, “

I nod, and tears seep out, “I didn’t even get to say goodbye to them.”

“To who?” she asks.

“To the horses.”

She lifts her sunglasses to look at me. Her eyes shine watery blue. “It sucks Deb.”

I stay one night with Carlin. She isn’t set up for a roommate.

Allison invites me to live with them until I find a job. Her husband John, and his partner have moved into a new office. They offer me a temporary position answering phones. It’s trade for room and board. His partner Vince, has connections in the police force, they do a background check on Dick. Apparently he is from a wealthy family in another state. Dick is the classic black sheep of the family. He had several criminal charges against him that quietly disappeared. Eventually his parents had enough of his nonsense and kicked him out. Before he left the state, he and Tracey stole a couple trailer loads of horses from the family stable. The family didn’t press charges because of the bad publicity. Dicks family history certainly explained why Dick is such an arrogant lout. No wonder he felt above the law.

My ties to Dick didn’t end with being fired. Stories began to circulate in the horse community about me, stories I had no idea about. A couple weeks after I was fired, Carlin and I went grocery shopping. I bumped into the two little girls I used to entertain at the barn, Beth and Lauryl.

Beth runs up to me and hugs my leg, she is a koala on a tree branch. I laugh.

Lauryl is on her way to me when their mom Vanessa appears around the corner. Her face collapses in horror when she see’s her girl’s with me.

She hollers, “Beth and Lauryl get your butts over here right now!”

Lauryl looks at me, and then at her mom’s hostile face. She slowly turns and traipses off towards her mom.

Beth reluctantly lets go of my leg and follows her sister down the aisle.

Vanessa shoots me a dirty look and they disappear around the corner.

I feel the size of an ant, a crushed up ant, unrecognizable in nature.

“What was that about?” Carlin asks.

I shrug, “I have no idea. I smell bad?” I suggest without a smile.

The office job is getting old fast. I consider going backwards— going home.

The phone rings in the midst of an ordinary Saturday at Allison’s house.

Allison answers it and passes it to me.

I take the phone assuming it’s my mom. I wonder if somehow she senses my consideration of returning to the nest.

“Hi Debby?” said a women.

“Yes?” I answer trying to place her voice.

“Oh, wonderful,” she gushes. “I tracked you down. It’s Judy, the real-estate agent. I met you a few times at Dick and Tracey’s.”

“Oh yes, I remember.” I said, “How are you?”

Very well my dear girl,” She replies, “Listen, I’ve been thinking about you ever since I heard Dick and Tracey fired you for stealing tack. “

“What?” I exclaim.

“Oh no! Don’t be concerned. I didn’t believe it for a minute. I saw the way you work, and I consider myself to be a very good judge of character. As a matter of fact, I am calling to let you know I gave your name to a polo player who is coming down from Kentucky for the season. His name is Hilary Boone and he needs a groom. I gave him your information. I gave you a superb recommendation… don’t be afraid to ask for the big bucks.”

“Really? That’s so generous of you,” I marvel, “You have no idea how much I appreciate this.”

“You are so very welcome. I’m glad to right one of Dick Fatterod’s wrongs.

Hilary Boone called me the same day and offered me a job at Gulf Stream Polo Club tending to his ten horse stable. I didn’t dicker on my wage.

Out of the office and into the barnyard, exactly where I wanted to be— I began to pay rent for my space in Allison’s house.

The job is ten miles away. I have no car, but I do have a bike, which Allison so graciously lends me.

I leave the house at six am on my trip to the stable. The moon still hangs high in the sky. There is very little traffic. Within the first six blocks the quiet is broken by the sound of heavy bass playing from an oncoming car. It slows as it meets me and pulls a U-turn after I pass. The blue sports car shoots by me and jams on the brakes blocking my path. I stop dead in my tracks. Two guys get out of the backseat of the car.

Oh shit! I think, and swing my bike around to sprint away.

Headlights from a couple cars appear behind me.

The guys jump back in the car and peel out.

Several times that day men yell out their windows, or wolf whistle while I’m on my way. The next day, and everyday after that I put my hair up inside a ball-cap, and wear baggy clothes to disguise the fact I’m a girl.

My new boss Hilary had a kind face, a gentle manner, and a soft southern accent. He isn’t much for small talk. Just the facts’ Madam, tell me nothing else, just the facts. I soon find out the most important fact of all, Hilary lives by the principles of respect and honesty. He is nothing like Dick at all.

I care for ten horses, I feed, water, exercise, clean stalls and groom for the games. An important part of my job is preparing Hillary’s horses for the polo competition on the field. The job has learning curves— sometimes I am off the rails and other times I swing around them like I’m doing the jive.

After a month of working for Hilary I erase Dick from my mind. I know I will never get paid. It’s better for the soul, to just let it all go.

At our third polo match we are parked with the horse trailer at the edge of the polo field. I prepare the horses for the game. I wrap legs, braid tails and begin to tack horses up for the competition.

I kneel on the ground rolling a polo wrap on a horse’s leg. I’m in a rush to get it done. There is so much left to do.

I notice a movement from the corner of my eye. I glance up and see Vanessa’s husband Ralph, whom I had met at the Fatterod stable. He is hovering close to me.

“Hi Debby,” he said, “Do you remember me?” He asks.

“Yes,” I answer flatly. I remember Vanessa, his wife chasing Beth and Lauryl, away from me in the store.

He kicks at the sand by his feet, “First of all —I’d like to apologise for our behaviour. We shouldn’t have believed that you are a thief.”

“Well, thanks. Better late than never,” I reply dryly, curious as to why he is here.

“Debby, we need your help. Vanessa and I are in trouble. We lent Dick quite a bit of money and now we can’t get it back,” Ralph confesses.

I keep my eyes focused on wrapping. “I’m not sure how I can help,” I said.

“We were hoping you had some dirt on him since you worked for him?”

“Not really,” I answer.

“Please,” he begs, “We lent him the money we had put aside for Beth and Lauryl’s schooling—We really need it back.”

I stop what I’m doing and look up into his face, “You gave Dick your girls tuition money?” I said in disbelief.

He runs a hand through his hair and shakes his head, “Stupid. I know.”

“Jesus.” I said as I huff out a breath of air. “All I know, is that Dick stole the horses he has from his family. But they didn’t press charges so you can’t even do anything with that information.” I shrug. “I’m sorry that’s all I have.”

He nods slowly, “You were our last hope.”

My heart is heavy, “I’m very sorry Ralph. Dick is a — a Dick. My last cheque from him bounced too.”

Ralph rubs the side of his face and groans, “Thanks anyway.”

He walks away, a beaten man.

My heart sits heavy in my chest thinking of the bright bubbly girls, and Dicks devious ways. I sit back on my heels and sag.

“He sounds like a piece of work,” Hilary comments from around the corner.

I didn’t even know my boss was listening. “He was,” I agree.

A few weeks later the barn next to mine is looking for a polo groom. My friend Carlin happens to be looking for a new job. Carlin has an interview with the Polo Player. The barn has a stable-hand residence with two beds and a bathroom on the end of the barn. Carlin gets the job. Hilary pays the other polo player a little extra money every month. Shazam— Carlin and I become roomies. I retire the bike.

It’s funny how life works, sometimes we lose something we love, we get back something better. At least for a little while. When the Gulf Stream Polo season is over Carlin and I go our separate ways. We are forever bonded by the time we spent in hellacious South Florida.

Hilary takes me to his stable in Kentucky. His family owns Wimbledon Farms in Lexington, an elite thoroughbred farm. The polo season is still a few months away, and although I will be grooming for him during the Lexington polo season, I will be out of work for a few months in the meantime.

I decide to go home for a few months to visit my family, work a higher paying job and pay off my car. I need a car in Kentucky to get around. There are no residences for the stable hands at Wimbledon Farms.

I never went back. I paid off my car, fell in love, got married, and had kids. There was no more Kentucky for me.

As for the people in my Great Big Florida Adventure— Carlin got married to a man in Florida, and had three kids.

Tracey and Dick were officially divorced about two years after I was fired for confessing Dicks indiscretions.

Tracey and her daughter now run a stable.

Zack is a home loans bank officer.

Dick has mysteriously vanished. I can’t find him on the Internet anywhere. So he is appropriately obsolete. Or swimming with the alligators— wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

On a sad note, I discovered Hilary Johnson Boone the Third died in a car crash at the age of forty. He left behind a wife and three kids. He was without a doubt the best boss I ever worked for in the horse industry. He was a good man. He is proof money doesn’t necessarily make you an arrogant Dick.

The best compliment Hillary ever gave me was a quote from Yogi Bear, “I would say you’re smarter than the average bear.”

High praise, high praise indeed, coming from a man of few words. Blessings to you and yours Hilary.