Clemens On The Twain

My name is Georgi (Clemens) Abbott and I am the author of 4 humorous books (paper and ebook) about my parrot - Pickles The Parrot, Pickles The Parrot Returns, Pickles The Parrot Speaks and Fifty Shades of African Grey. This is where I will blog about anything that comes to mind. It may be about Pickles but it might be about our yard and pond, the environment, wild birds, our small town, nature, fictional stories - who knows? I don't profess to have inherited my great, great, great uncle's writing talent but I certainly inherited the call. The uncle I'm speaking of is Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) - I was born a Clemens.

would you speak to your oldest friend Cheyenne?

Lol - of course I would!  Where are you these days?  Email me at georgi50@telus.net.  Nice to hear from you. :-)

Posted 121 weeks ago
Posted 121 weeks ago

Roger

(I wrote this story several years ago)

I met a man.  His name is Roger and he’s in my Occupational Rehab class, where I go every day for rehab on my broken ankle.  He’s native, from the Bonaparte Indian Band and lives on the Hat Creek Reservation.  He and I kind of gravitated together and often chat while doing our daily tasks - there are about 15 people in my session.  His injury is a result of being run over by a stagecoach.  I laughed like hell when he told me.  He’s a stagecoach driver for the Hat Creek Guest Ranch and was run over when the horses spooked and took off.  Tore his calf clean off his leg, leaving the bone exposed.

I figure he’s in his late 60’s or early 70’s according to his stories. He’s about 6 feet tall, large (but not fat), with a weathered, kind and friendly face and soft eyes, silver hair, parted in the middle and falling across his shoulders. I don’t think he’s very educated and he often asks me how to spell words when we’re doing our paperwork. Actually, he usually spells it first and asks if he’s correct. He usually is.

Often, while we’re working on our tasks, he just looks over at me and starts to talk about his life. Just little comments, but I ask questions so that I can receive more of the story. He talks fairly matter-of-factly; with no bitterness or anger over the way he and his tribe have been treated over the years. I have a hard time holding back the anger, and especially the tears. I don’t dare show too much emotion, he’s not looking for sympathy.

He told me he never ate at a restaurant until he was 26. He entered a few before then but was always refused service and kicked out the door. While visiting friends in some town near Kelowna, a friend of his invited him to an A&W and Roger said no because he didn’t want to experience that embarrassment again. His friend told him that this place served Indians. He went, reluctantly and nervously, and was surprised to find that nobody bothered them. He said it was the most delicious hamburger he ever ate. His friend had to leave and Roger said he sat there alone for hours, eating and enjoying the people who made conversation with him.

Nearby, he said, was a bar with a sign that said “NO DOGS OR INDIANS”.

When his mother died, he was about 17. His dad followed 6 months later, died of sadness he said. He and his older and younger siblings basically raised themselves with the help of one of his older sisters who was married with children.

All of the children were born at home because native women were not allowed in hospitals.

When his dad was alive, the two of them would ride horseback up and around the hills, just to look around. There were lakes up there then, and lots of creeks that ran through the reservation. Fish aplenty. Hat Creek was about 20 feet deep and now it’s just a trickle. The creeks are all dried up now - the government diverted all the water to the Thompson and Fraser Rivers to drive the natives and the ranchers out. The ranchers left but the natives stuck it out. Actually, he said they were made an offer of relocation to the Stein Valley before the water diversions. The young folks wanted to go but the elders decided to stay put – it was their home, the only home they had all known. He doesn’t fish anymore - there are no fish because there is no water.

I mentioned that I had just recently heard that they didn’t own their homes or land on the reservations and he told me that he had built a very nice house on his reservation but now he was sorry. He tells his kids and grandchildren not to build – that if they stay on the reserve, just plunk down an old trailer.

Apparently, sometime in the 50’s, some sort of flu hit the tribe. He said it lasted forever and they were burying 5 people a week. It was a small tribe, made much smaller by the outbreak.

I asked him if he ever uses feathers for any sort of ceremonial purposes or for his own use. He says he makes native crafts, just for fun, so I asked him if he would like some parrot feathers. He seemed awfully pleased at the offer so I will take some in to him tomorrow.

I hate rehab, but every day I look forward to visiting with him.

Posted 203 weeks ago

Dreaming of a Country Life

Ahhh, country life. Running barefoot in a cheesecloth dress through the meadows, chasing butterflies, laying on my back in an ocean of wildflowers, chewing on a blade of grass as i gaze at the sky. Baking wild blueberry pies and setting them on the windowsill to cool - those big kitchen windows with shutters that open outward, where the neighbors pop their heads in to say howdy - or maybe a horse.

Sitting in rockers on the wrap-around porch, overlooking the gravel road and the odd battered old pick-up truck kicking up dust, fans in hand as the warm summer night closes in with just the slightest of breezes. The sound of fiddles, way of yonder, finding it’s way from a neighboring barn dance where unbeknownst to us, one of the McCoy boys has just received the bad end of a broken bottle. It’s been a long time coming though, he’s a bad seed.

The crick babbles in the background amid the droning of the crickets and the horny frogs (not toads). Soon, the only light that cuts through the black dark of night are the multitude of stars and the glow from the window of the shack on the little hill where Ol’ Tom Tomb lives with his teenage daughter. We try not to think about them though, because Ol’ Tom kicks her around like an old dog. Their dog gets better treatment actually - at least Ol’ Tom doesn’t climb into bed with him. The girl’s damaged beyond repair. She walks around town in her own filth, looking for hand-outs - which don’t come without a price. Popped out 3 babies by the age of 17. Nobody’s ever laid eyes on those chilrn’, they say she borns ‘em in the swamp where they just slide out and slip silently into the mire before they can draw their first breath. Some say Ol’ Tom’s wife is there to keep them company, but that’s just rumours.

Early to bed, early to rise. The rooster insists. Gotta feed the chickens, if there’s any left over from the foxes. They dig under the chicken wire fence and kill everything in sight. Bloody carnage, but nothing compared to a Saturday night at Baba’s Tavern. We only go there on Sundays, tippy toeing through the broken glass and passed-out bodies to our favorite little wooden table next to the juke box.

The bar is long and wide, made of maple. The mirror runs the same length and reflects the whole bar, making it appear twice it’s size. The mirror is cloudy, as are the vast pane glass windows, from decades of cigarette smoke. Sometimes we play pool, if nobody’s passed out on the pool table. Most of the pool cues are busted anyway, they’re the weapon of choice. Beer’s cheap, but flat and bitter. Flies often land in it, having fallen from one of the dozens of sticky fly strips strewn along the ceiling.

The odd local stops in after church. They pause between the swinging saloon doors, nothing but a siloutte in the glaring sun. But, they just do that for effect. We try not to look 'em in the eye for fear they’ll come over and preach the word of God. We just keep to ourselves, playing poker, drinking our warm beer and punching the odd quarter into the juke box.

The bar tender’s an odd sort. Long and lanky, dark hair and beard to mid-chest. Eyes that don’t quite focus, but that’s okay because you don’t wanna be caught staring at the ugly scar across his cheek. Once, i sat on an old stool at the bar and listened while he told me the story behind the scar. Twas a racoon. How disappointing, i was expecting a knife fight - fighting for the honor of a bar maid whom he loved from afar, or something to that effect. He’s okay actually, but he has a disgusting habit of picking his nose behind the bar. He tries to hide it by turning his back but he forgets about the mirrors. I’d advise you to never run your hands along the underneath of that bar.

At the end of the night, we stagger out to our horses, tied to a rail in front of the water trough. We always take our horses to the tavern, they don’t charge for impaired horseback riding 'roundhere. Sometimes we just walk 'em back because we’re too drunk to sit a horse and the swaying makes us want to puke. Ever try to get dried puke out of a horses mane the next day? Not pleasant.

Country roads take us home, to the place where we belong. The screen door slaps behind us and we head up to our nice soft beds of inner springs and horse hair - sans the puke. I brush my hair 100 times in front of the vanity mirror while Neil changes into his nightgown and cap. We set the rooster for dawn, climb into bed, turn out the kerosene lanterns, sigh in contentment and anticipation of a new day as we drift off to sleep.

At some point, we’re awakened by creaking sounds from the attic. Neil whispers to me that it’s okay, it’s just our restless ghost stirring in the night and we drift off once again to the sounds of the sweet night songs.

Posted 221 weeks ago

I Ain’t Got No Class

 

My husband, Neil, served two terms on our Town Council.  He was good at it, very knowledgeable and well liked.  Unfortunately, he had an opinionated, loud-mouthed wife who never seemed to know when to keep her mouth shut.

A month after being elected for the first time, all of Council and all of the Public Works Department, and all their wives were invited for a nice Christmas dinner at a local hotel.  Dinner included a comedian act in the bar afterwards.  It was a fairly large room of long rectangular shape.  The comedian was situated on a stage at one end and one entire wall consisted of windows with the exit door right in front of the stage.

Neil and I had had a few drinks so when we were saddled with a very UNfunny comedian who didn’t even have the decency to take a break, and droned on for an excruciating one hour and 45 minutes, our eyes were rolling back in our heads and we were suffering buzz kill.  I’d had enough and suggested to Neil that we leave.  Neil agreed but was concerned that we had a long walk of shame through the long bar and had to exit immediately in front of the comedian.  He felt this was rude.  I agreed, but the comedian was starting to sober us up so we decided to risk it.

We grabbed our coats, weaved through all the tables, got to the front and just as we thought we were safe and reaching for the door handle, the comedian boomed through the microphone “WHERE YA GOIN’?!” then jumped off the stage, ran over to me, grabbed my coat off my arm, held it up in a gallant display of chivalry and asked, “Don’t you think I’m funny???”  This was the first laugh he’d received all night but somehow, I felt the laugh was on me.

As I reached my arms into my sleeves I was facing the crowd as I answered, “Sorry.  You’re funny, but I’m hornier”.  As I stared into a room full of drop-jawed, wide-eyed faces, I caught the Mayor’s eye and prayed to God that I hadn’t just said that out loud.  I saw Neil’s short political career flash before my eyes and I started to blame him for dressing me up and taking me out when all of a sudden, the entire place exploded in laughter, applause and cheering.  Get out on a high note, I thought – then I grabbed Neil’s arm and dragged him in one quick flourish out the door.

Once out the door I realized, with horror, that we still had to walk the sidewalk, the length of the windows, still a spectacle.  The comedian, too thick to understand that he was really the butt of the joke, decided to prolong the laughter by running along side the window, banging the glass and yelling, “Where ya going?  Come back!” as the crowd roared and I just walked gracefully onward, blessing them with the Queen’s wave and a big smile.

Well, I managed to get myself out of that one – good thing they had all been drinking – and I was the talk of the town for weeks.  People approached me on the street asking, “Did you really SAY that?” while I answered, “Yes” with a grin.  It didn’t feel right, being proud to admit something like that but who was I to argue with comedy.

Neil and I laughed about it for many years, still do, and it didn’t affect his popularity (what does that say about our town?) so my big mouth never harmed anything … this time.

Posted 299 weeks ago

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Summer, Finally

Summers are short enough as it is, in this high altitude town we live in, but the long awaited summer has finally arrived this first week of August.  The vegetable gardens are far behind, and we may not get a harvest before the frost come at night.  But in the meantime, the trout are healthy (they love the cooler weather and water) and the pond is looking beautiful in it’s summer foliage.

The view can be seen from our diningroom but mostly we sit outside watching the fish jump and play and rise for flies while dozens of varieties of birds drink and bathe in the waterfall.

Heaven.

Posted 299 weeks ago
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Posted 299 weeks ago
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Posted 299 weeks ago
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Posted 299 weeks ago

Dad And Christmas (Written in 1997)

It was a few weeks before Christmas in 1969 and I was 14.  Dad had been laid off his job as a truck driver and I knew money would be tight for Christmas.

On a rainy Saturday morning, my girlfriend Debbie and I struck out with roller skates, laces tied together and flung over our shoulders.  We bussed it the mile or so and spent the early afternoon at Rollerland, situated on the PNE grounds.  We spent a lot of time there on weekends, both day and night and had gradually worked our way down the side of the rink to where the ‘cool’ kids hung out at the furthest end.  We had put our time in, slowly got to know the elite and learned how to skate backwards just as fast as forward.  We too were cool cuz we had stoppers on both back and front of our expensive white skates.  And we smoked Player’s Cigarettes – you had to smoke to be cool.

On this day we stopped at the new McDonalds on the way home.  Hamburgers were 14 cents, 15 cents with cheese.  Across the street was the Dolphin Theatre – also new.  Progress was ongoing in our little corner of Burnaby, BC.  How great was it that we could buy hamburgers and then walk across Hastings for a movie – all within a 5 minute walk from home.

As we walked through the McDonalds parking lot my dad drove up, offered to buy us a hamburger and invited us to join him in the car.  My dad was tall, handsome and hip – all my girlfriends loved him, just as all the boys lusted after my beautiful and young looking mom.  I was never one of those kids who were embarrassed to be seen with my parents, I was always proud and liked to show them off.

The three of us sat in the front seat of the car eating, talking and listening to the rain on the roof as the windows steamed up and isolated us from the rest of the world.  After eating, my dad pulled a package of Rothman’s cigarettes from his breast pocket, pulled 2 to the forefront and held them out to us.

I hesitated, wondering if it was a trick.  Did he know I smoked?  Was he testing me?  “It’s okay” he said, “I don’t mind if you smoke.  I can’t really stop you anyway.  But, if you insist on smoking, don’t smoke in the streets because you’ll look like a whore and don’t steal them from me.  If you’re going to smoke, buy your own.”

Holy smokes.  I never felt more like an adult than at that moment.  We accepted graciously and nobody cared about the thick smoke cloud building inside the car.

Dad engaged us in some silly talk and had us laughing until our sides ached.  Then suddenly he got serious.  He informed me that Christmas would be very lean this year and they wouldn’t be able to buy me the tape recorder that I really, really wanted.  I told him I understood and that it was okay.  He seemed so sad and I felt so bad for him.

It was time to go so dad dropped off Debbie at her house and we went home for dinner.  Saturday night was always spaghetti or chili – I loved them both.  Saturdays were always bustling in our house with a family of six – I had a sister and 2 brothers, all younger than me.  Dad never missed Hockey Night In Canada and to this day, the theme song and/or the tinkling of dishes always takes me back to Saturdays as a child.

After dinner, dad announced he was going to go sit in the car and listen to the rain.  I said I’d join him but he said no, he wanted to listen to the hockey game by himself.  I was hurt because there was nothing I liked better than listening to rain on the roof of a car, as did he.  Off he went without me though.

Christmas morning came and as always, us kids were only allowed to open our stockings until mom and dad got up and made the traditional quick breakfast of strawberries and toast.  Stocking were always chocked full of really neat little fun and useful items.  My mom was good at that.  I don’t think anybody ever got a chunk of coal after being threatened with it – and we had a basement full of it for the coal furnace.

One person was always designated to hand out gifts then we would all sit and open the gift handed to us before moving on to the next round.  My brother Richard would drive us crazy because he would open gifts very carefully, slowly peeling off each and every single piece of Scotch Tape, carefully folding back the wrapping paper then folding the paper nicely so that it could be used again.  We would all inspect, try on or play with our gifts, thank each other and show the gifts around – then on to the next one.

My mom had made most of the gifts that year, she was a whiz with a sewing machine.  She sewed me a beautiful, white satin blouse and a black satin tie to wear with it – all the rage that year.  I was wearing both as we all sat talking and playing after the gift opening ceremony when suddenly my dad glanced under the tree and exclaimed that we had missed a gift.  He pulled it out, looked at the tag and read MY name.  Oh joy!  One more gift for ME!

I ripped it open and there was my tape recorder.  I leaned my elbow on the arm of the couch and put my hand over my eyes to hide the welling tears.  I was overwhelmed, sad and elated at the same time.  I felt bad that they had spent money they couldn’t afford on me but overjoyed that they cared enough to do it.  I couldn’t talk for fear of a sob escaping, I was ashamed for crying and I sat there trying to hide the tears but when I looked down at my chest I realized I wasn’t fooling anyone because the tears were beading and rolling down the tie.

“Turn it on” my dad said, so I wiped away the tears and hit the ‘play’ button.  A strange voice emitted from the recorder – mine.  It was the first time I had ever heard my own voice and it made me uncomfortable.  Then I realized I was hearing the conversation from McDonalds that day in the car.  It was weird but fun.  Soon it ended but a very poor rendition of Elvis Presley took its place.  It was my dad, singing his heart out – recorded in the car the night he wouldn’t allow me to join him.  I laughed and I cried.

I had a lot of fun with that little tape recorder.  I taped myself playing guitar, singing, conversations with my friends – some secretly.  How I regret that I taped over the original tape of that Saturday. 

It hits me now, the irony of that Saturday.  My dad started to treat me as an adult, thought he was doing something nice by offering me a cigarette, is the day he stamped his approval on my lifelong addiction of smoking – the addiction that eventually killed him, and will probably kill me.

But he loved me, and I adored him.  I miss him and I would give anything to listen one more time to that tape.

www.picklestheparrot.com

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001506453441

One of my books: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/31179

Posted 303 weeks ago

What A Waste

All televisions must be digital by August/2001 here in Canada - I think it was earlier in the United States.  I guess the landfills aren’t full enough so this will help by adding millions and millions of discarded TVs.  We have no choice in the matter and it makes me furious.  I’m trying to be a responsible earthling - recycling, using less gas, growing our own food, xeroscaping the yard and and barely watering at all, turning off lights and appliances, providing habitat for wildlife etc. - but really getting into composting to take the pressure off landfills while providing black gold for the gardens.  With the state of the environment and climate change, I’m doing what I can to help while government makes bad decisions and electronic companies get rich on polluting our environment.

Applicances, computers, cel phones and other electronics are built to barely last through their warranties but if they do, companies are confident that you will toss your old products for their new and improved items.  I have an old rotary dial phone that has lasted decades and yet, I can’t find a ‘newer’ phone that will last more than a year or two.  If they manage to last that long, the batteries sure don’t.  With the old phones, power outages didn’t matter but with the new ones, God help you in an emergency.  If I want cel coverage both in and outside of town, I need two phones and two providers.  My mom has a mixmaster that is older than me (55), uses it all the time and I’ve gone through three in the last decade.

Beta, VCR, CD players - they all work but we are gradually forced into the newest fad each time they come up with one.  I have a brand spankin’ new TV but now I have no way to tape a movie or TV program because there is no such thing as a digital recorder.  But there will be, and my VCR and CD players will no longer be functional.

As far as I’m concerned, this digital change is nothing short of a crime against the earth. 

Posted 304 weeks ago

Clemens On The Twain

My name is Georgi (Clemens) Abbott and I am the author of 4 humorous books (paper and ebook) about my parrot - Pickles The Parrot, Pickles The Parrot Returns, Pickles The Parrot Speaks and Fifty Shades of African Grey. This is where I will blog about anything that comes to mind. It may be about Pickles but it might be about our yard and pond, the environment, wild birds, our small town, nature, fictional stories - who knows? I don't profess to have inherited my great, great, great uncle's writing talent but I certainly inherited the call. The uncle I'm speaking of is Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) - I was born a Clemens.

would you speak to your oldest friend Cheyenne?

Lol - of course I would!  Where are you these days?  Email me at georgi50@telus.net.  Nice to hear from you. :-)

Posted 121 weeks ago
Posted 121 weeks ago

Roger

(I wrote this story several years ago)

I met a man.  His name is Roger and he’s in my Occupational Rehab class, where I go every day for rehab on my broken ankle.  He’s native, from the Bonaparte Indian Band and lives on the Hat Creek Reservation.  He and I kind of gravitated together and often chat while doing our daily tasks - there are about 15 people in my session.  His injury is a result of being run over by a stagecoach.  I laughed like hell when he told me.  He’s a stagecoach driver for the Hat Creek Guest Ranch and was run over when the horses spooked and took off.  Tore his calf clean off his leg, leaving the bone exposed.

I figure he’s in his late 60’s or early 70’s according to his stories. He’s about 6 feet tall, large (but not fat), with a weathered, kind and friendly face and soft eyes, silver hair, parted in the middle and falling across his shoulders. I don’t think he’s very educated and he often asks me how to spell words when we’re doing our paperwork. Actually, he usually spells it first and asks if he’s correct. He usually is.

Often, while we’re working on our tasks, he just looks over at me and starts to talk about his life. Just little comments, but I ask questions so that I can receive more of the story. He talks fairly matter-of-factly; with no bitterness or anger over the way he and his tribe have been treated over the years. I have a hard time holding back the anger, and especially the tears. I don’t dare show too much emotion, he’s not looking for sympathy.

He told me he never ate at a restaurant until he was 26. He entered a few before then but was always refused service and kicked out the door. While visiting friends in some town near Kelowna, a friend of his invited him to an A&W and Roger said no because he didn’t want to experience that embarrassment again. His friend told him that this place served Indians. He went, reluctantly and nervously, and was surprised to find that nobody bothered them. He said it was the most delicious hamburger he ever ate. His friend had to leave and Roger said he sat there alone for hours, eating and enjoying the people who made conversation with him.

Nearby, he said, was a bar with a sign that said “NO DOGS OR INDIANS”.

When his mother died, he was about 17. His dad followed 6 months later, died of sadness he said. He and his older and younger siblings basically raised themselves with the help of one of his older sisters who was married with children.

All of the children were born at home because native women were not allowed in hospitals.

When his dad was alive, the two of them would ride horseback up and around the hills, just to look around. There were lakes up there then, and lots of creeks that ran through the reservation. Fish aplenty. Hat Creek was about 20 feet deep and now it’s just a trickle. The creeks are all dried up now - the government diverted all the water to the Thompson and Fraser Rivers to drive the natives and the ranchers out. The ranchers left but the natives stuck it out. Actually, he said they were made an offer of relocation to the Stein Valley before the water diversions. The young folks wanted to go but the elders decided to stay put – it was their home, the only home they had all known. He doesn’t fish anymore - there are no fish because there is no water.

I mentioned that I had just recently heard that they didn’t own their homes or land on the reservations and he told me that he had built a very nice house on his reservation but now he was sorry. He tells his kids and grandchildren not to build – that if they stay on the reserve, just plunk down an old trailer.

Apparently, sometime in the 50’s, some sort of flu hit the tribe. He said it lasted forever and they were burying 5 people a week. It was a small tribe, made much smaller by the outbreak.

I asked him if he ever uses feathers for any sort of ceremonial purposes or for his own use. He says he makes native crafts, just for fun, so I asked him if he would like some parrot feathers. He seemed awfully pleased at the offer so I will take some in to him tomorrow.

I hate rehab, but every day I look forward to visiting with him.

Posted 203 weeks ago

Dreaming of a Country Life

Ahhh, country life. Running barefoot in a cheesecloth dress through the meadows, chasing butterflies, laying on my back in an ocean of wildflowers, chewing on a blade of grass as i gaze at the sky. Baking wild blueberry pies and setting them on the windowsill to cool - those big kitchen windows with shutters that open outward, where the neighbors pop their heads in to say howdy - or maybe a horse.

Sitting in rockers on the wrap-around porch, overlooking the gravel road and the odd battered old pick-up truck kicking up dust, fans in hand as the warm summer night closes in with just the slightest of breezes. The sound of fiddles, way of yonder, finding it’s way from a neighboring barn dance where unbeknownst to us, one of the McCoy boys has just received the bad end of a broken bottle. It’s been a long time coming though, he’s a bad seed.

The crick babbles in the background amid the droning of the crickets and the horny frogs (not toads). Soon, the only light that cuts through the black dark of night are the multitude of stars and the glow from the window of the shack on the little hill where Ol’ Tom Tomb lives with his teenage daughter. We try not to think about them though, because Ol’ Tom kicks her around like an old dog. Their dog gets better treatment actually - at least Ol’ Tom doesn’t climb into bed with him. The girl’s damaged beyond repair. She walks around town in her own filth, looking for hand-outs - which don’t come without a price. Popped out 3 babies by the age of 17. Nobody’s ever laid eyes on those chilrn’, they say she borns ‘em in the swamp where they just slide out and slip silently into the mire before they can draw their first breath. Some say Ol’ Tom’s wife is there to keep them company, but that’s just rumours.

Early to bed, early to rise. The rooster insists. Gotta feed the chickens, if there’s any left over from the foxes. They dig under the chicken wire fence and kill everything in sight. Bloody carnage, but nothing compared to a Saturday night at Baba’s Tavern. We only go there on Sundays, tippy toeing through the broken glass and passed-out bodies to our favorite little wooden table next to the juke box.

The bar is long and wide, made of maple. The mirror runs the same length and reflects the whole bar, making it appear twice it’s size. The mirror is cloudy, as are the vast pane glass windows, from decades of cigarette smoke. Sometimes we play pool, if nobody’s passed out on the pool table. Most of the pool cues are busted anyway, they’re the weapon of choice. Beer’s cheap, but flat and bitter. Flies often land in it, having fallen from one of the dozens of sticky fly strips strewn along the ceiling.

The odd local stops in after church. They pause between the swinging saloon doors, nothing but a siloutte in the glaring sun. But, they just do that for effect. We try not to look 'em in the eye for fear they’ll come over and preach the word of God. We just keep to ourselves, playing poker, drinking our warm beer and punching the odd quarter into the juke box.

The bar tender’s an odd sort. Long and lanky, dark hair and beard to mid-chest. Eyes that don’t quite focus, but that’s okay because you don’t wanna be caught staring at the ugly scar across his cheek. Once, i sat on an old stool at the bar and listened while he told me the story behind the scar. Twas a racoon. How disappointing, i was expecting a knife fight - fighting for the honor of a bar maid whom he loved from afar, or something to that effect. He’s okay actually, but he has a disgusting habit of picking his nose behind the bar. He tries to hide it by turning his back but he forgets about the mirrors. I’d advise you to never run your hands along the underneath of that bar.

At the end of the night, we stagger out to our horses, tied to a rail in front of the water trough. We always take our horses to the tavern, they don’t charge for impaired horseback riding 'roundhere. Sometimes we just walk 'em back because we’re too drunk to sit a horse and the swaying makes us want to puke. Ever try to get dried puke out of a horses mane the next day? Not pleasant.

Country roads take us home, to the place where we belong. The screen door slaps behind us and we head up to our nice soft beds of inner springs and horse hair - sans the puke. I brush my hair 100 times in front of the vanity mirror while Neil changes into his nightgown and cap. We set the rooster for dawn, climb into bed, turn out the kerosene lanterns, sigh in contentment and anticipation of a new day as we drift off to sleep.

At some point, we’re awakened by creaking sounds from the attic. Neil whispers to me that it’s okay, it’s just our restless ghost stirring in the night and we drift off once again to the sounds of the sweet night songs.

Posted 221 weeks ago

I Ain’t Got No Class

 

My husband, Neil, served two terms on our Town Council.  He was good at it, very knowledgeable and well liked.  Unfortunately, he had an opinionated, loud-mouthed wife who never seemed to know when to keep her mouth shut.

A month after being elected for the first time, all of Council and all of the Public Works Department, and all their wives were invited for a nice Christmas dinner at a local hotel.  Dinner included a comedian act in the bar afterwards.  It was a fairly large room of long rectangular shape.  The comedian was situated on a stage at one end and one entire wall consisted of windows with the exit door right in front of the stage.

Neil and I had had a few drinks so when we were saddled with a very UNfunny comedian who didn’t even have the decency to take a break, and droned on for an excruciating one hour and 45 minutes, our eyes were rolling back in our heads and we were suffering buzz kill.  I’d had enough and suggested to Neil that we leave.  Neil agreed but was concerned that we had a long walk of shame through the long bar and had to exit immediately in front of the comedian.  He felt this was rude.  I agreed, but the comedian was starting to sober us up so we decided to risk it.

We grabbed our coats, weaved through all the tables, got to the front and just as we thought we were safe and reaching for the door handle, the comedian boomed through the microphone “WHERE YA GOIN’?!” then jumped off the stage, ran over to me, grabbed my coat off my arm, held it up in a gallant display of chivalry and asked, “Don’t you think I’m funny???”  This was the first laugh he’d received all night but somehow, I felt the laugh was on me.

As I reached my arms into my sleeves I was facing the crowd as I answered, “Sorry.  You’re funny, but I’m hornier”.  As I stared into a room full of drop-jawed, wide-eyed faces, I caught the Mayor’s eye and prayed to God that I hadn’t just said that out loud.  I saw Neil’s short political career flash before my eyes and I started to blame him for dressing me up and taking me out when all of a sudden, the entire place exploded in laughter, applause and cheering.  Get out on a high note, I thought – then I grabbed Neil’s arm and dragged him in one quick flourish out the door.

Once out the door I realized, with horror, that we still had to walk the sidewalk, the length of the windows, still a spectacle.  The comedian, too thick to understand that he was really the butt of the joke, decided to prolong the laughter by running along side the window, banging the glass and yelling, “Where ya going?  Come back!” as the crowd roared and I just walked gracefully onward, blessing them with the Queen’s wave and a big smile.

Well, I managed to get myself out of that one – good thing they had all been drinking – and I was the talk of the town for weeks.  People approached me on the street asking, “Did you really SAY that?” while I answered, “Yes” with a grin.  It didn’t feel right, being proud to admit something like that but who was I to argue with comedy.

Neil and I laughed about it for many years, still do, and it didn’t affect his popularity (what does that say about our town?) so my big mouth never harmed anything … this time.

Posted 299 weeks ago

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Summer, Finally

Summers are short enough as it is, in this high altitude town we live in, but the long awaited summer has finally arrived this first week of August.  The vegetable gardens are far behind, and we may not get a harvest before the frost come at night.  But in the meantime, the trout are healthy (they love the cooler weather and water) and the pond is looking beautiful in it’s summer foliage.

The view can be seen from our diningroom but mostly we sit outside watching the fish jump and play and rise for flies while dozens of varieties of birds drink and bathe in the waterfall.

Heaven.

Posted 299 weeks ago
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Posted 299 weeks ago
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Posted 299 weeks ago
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Posted 299 weeks ago

Dad And Christmas (Written in 1997)

It was a few weeks before Christmas in 1969 and I was 14.  Dad had been laid off his job as a truck driver and I knew money would be tight for Christmas.

On a rainy Saturday morning, my girlfriend Debbie and I struck out with roller skates, laces tied together and flung over our shoulders.  We bussed it the mile or so and spent the early afternoon at Rollerland, situated on the PNE grounds.  We spent a lot of time there on weekends, both day and night and had gradually worked our way down the side of the rink to where the ‘cool’ kids hung out at the furthest end.  We had put our time in, slowly got to know the elite and learned how to skate backwards just as fast as forward.  We too were cool cuz we had stoppers on both back and front of our expensive white skates.  And we smoked Player’s Cigarettes – you had to smoke to be cool.

On this day we stopped at the new McDonalds on the way home.  Hamburgers were 14 cents, 15 cents with cheese.  Across the street was the Dolphin Theatre – also new.  Progress was ongoing in our little corner of Burnaby, BC.  How great was it that we could buy hamburgers and then walk across Hastings for a movie – all within a 5 minute walk from home.

As we walked through the McDonalds parking lot my dad drove up, offered to buy us a hamburger and invited us to join him in the car.  My dad was tall, handsome and hip – all my girlfriends loved him, just as all the boys lusted after my beautiful and young looking mom.  I was never one of those kids who were embarrassed to be seen with my parents, I was always proud and liked to show them off.

The three of us sat in the front seat of the car eating, talking and listening to the rain on the roof as the windows steamed up and isolated us from the rest of the world.  After eating, my dad pulled a package of Rothman’s cigarettes from his breast pocket, pulled 2 to the forefront and held them out to us.

I hesitated, wondering if it was a trick.  Did he know I smoked?  Was he testing me?  “It’s okay” he said, “I don’t mind if you smoke.  I can’t really stop you anyway.  But, if you insist on smoking, don’t smoke in the streets because you’ll look like a whore and don’t steal them from me.  If you’re going to smoke, buy your own.”

Holy smokes.  I never felt more like an adult than at that moment.  We accepted graciously and nobody cared about the thick smoke cloud building inside the car.

Dad engaged us in some silly talk and had us laughing until our sides ached.  Then suddenly he got serious.  He informed me that Christmas would be very lean this year and they wouldn’t be able to buy me the tape recorder that I really, really wanted.  I told him I understood and that it was okay.  He seemed so sad and I felt so bad for him.

It was time to go so dad dropped off Debbie at her house and we went home for dinner.  Saturday night was always spaghetti or chili – I loved them both.  Saturdays were always bustling in our house with a family of six – I had a sister and 2 brothers, all younger than me.  Dad never missed Hockey Night In Canada and to this day, the theme song and/or the tinkling of dishes always takes me back to Saturdays as a child.

After dinner, dad announced he was going to go sit in the car and listen to the rain.  I said I’d join him but he said no, he wanted to listen to the hockey game by himself.  I was hurt because there was nothing I liked better than listening to rain on the roof of a car, as did he.  Off he went without me though.

Christmas morning came and as always, us kids were only allowed to open our stockings until mom and dad got up and made the traditional quick breakfast of strawberries and toast.  Stocking were always chocked full of really neat little fun and useful items.  My mom was good at that.  I don’t think anybody ever got a chunk of coal after being threatened with it – and we had a basement full of it for the coal furnace.

One person was always designated to hand out gifts then we would all sit and open the gift handed to us before moving on to the next round.  My brother Richard would drive us crazy because he would open gifts very carefully, slowly peeling off each and every single piece of Scotch Tape, carefully folding back the wrapping paper then folding the paper nicely so that it could be used again.  We would all inspect, try on or play with our gifts, thank each other and show the gifts around – then on to the next one.

My mom had made most of the gifts that year, she was a whiz with a sewing machine.  She sewed me a beautiful, white satin blouse and a black satin tie to wear with it – all the rage that year.  I was wearing both as we all sat talking and playing after the gift opening ceremony when suddenly my dad glanced under the tree and exclaimed that we had missed a gift.  He pulled it out, looked at the tag and read MY name.  Oh joy!  One more gift for ME!

I ripped it open and there was my tape recorder.  I leaned my elbow on the arm of the couch and put my hand over my eyes to hide the welling tears.  I was overwhelmed, sad and elated at the same time.  I felt bad that they had spent money they couldn’t afford on me but overjoyed that they cared enough to do it.  I couldn’t talk for fear of a sob escaping, I was ashamed for crying and I sat there trying to hide the tears but when I looked down at my chest I realized I wasn’t fooling anyone because the tears were beading and rolling down the tie.

“Turn it on” my dad said, so I wiped away the tears and hit the ‘play’ button.  A strange voice emitted from the recorder – mine.  It was the first time I had ever heard my own voice and it made me uncomfortable.  Then I realized I was hearing the conversation from McDonalds that day in the car.  It was weird but fun.  Soon it ended but a very poor rendition of Elvis Presley took its place.  It was my dad, singing his heart out – recorded in the car the night he wouldn’t allow me to join him.  I laughed and I cried.

I had a lot of fun with that little tape recorder.  I taped myself playing guitar, singing, conversations with my friends – some secretly.  How I regret that I taped over the original tape of that Saturday. 

It hits me now, the irony of that Saturday.  My dad started to treat me as an adult, thought he was doing something nice by offering me a cigarette, is the day he stamped his approval on my lifelong addiction of smoking – the addiction that eventually killed him, and will probably kill me.

But he loved me, and I adored him.  I miss him and I would give anything to listen one more time to that tape.

www.picklestheparrot.com

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Posted 303 weeks ago

What A Waste

All televisions must be digital by August/2001 here in Canada - I think it was earlier in the United States.  I guess the landfills aren’t full enough so this will help by adding millions and millions of discarded TVs.  We have no choice in the matter and it makes me furious.  I’m trying to be a responsible earthling - recycling, using less gas, growing our own food, xeroscaping the yard and and barely watering at all, turning off lights and appliances, providing habitat for wildlife etc. - but really getting into composting to take the pressure off landfills while providing black gold for the gardens.  With the state of the environment and climate change, I’m doing what I can to help while government makes bad decisions and electronic companies get rich on polluting our environment.

Applicances, computers, cel phones and other electronics are built to barely last through their warranties but if they do, companies are confident that you will toss your old products for their new and improved items.  I have an old rotary dial phone that has lasted decades and yet, I can’t find a ‘newer’ phone that will last more than a year or two.  If they manage to last that long, the batteries sure don’t.  With the old phones, power outages didn’t matter but with the new ones, God help you in an emergency.  If I want cel coverage both in and outside of town, I need two phones and two providers.  My mom has a mixmaster that is older than me (55), uses it all the time and I’ve gone through three in the last decade.

Beta, VCR, CD players - they all work but we are gradually forced into the newest fad each time they come up with one.  I have a brand spankin’ new TV but now I have no way to tape a movie or TV program because there is no such thing as a digital recorder.  But there will be, and my VCR and CD players will no longer be functional.

As far as I’m concerned, this digital change is nothing short of a crime against the earth. 

Posted 304 weeks ago
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