Pickles The Parrot

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.

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 666 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.

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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 662 weeks ago

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