15 March, 2015

Wouf! Near disaster for dog and dragon

15 March 2015

R. Linda:

I don't know what to do with me mother-in-law Lady Dragon. She refuses to give us a heads up when she visits, so to come home from work and open the door to her ample self sitting in me favourite chair, annoys me more than I can articulate.

For someone who has had both eyes rid of cataracts you'd never know it. This surprise visit I wasn't in the door more than two seconds she turns to me, folding the newspaper she had been perusing and says to me, "You moved to Clowntown."

"What?" I asked without greeting her since she didn't greet me but with a stupid observation.

"It says in your town newspaper that Clown Hall is now open. The renovations are complete."

I stood there with me coat half on a hanger and half off trying to discern what on earth she was talking about. Then it dawned on me, she meant the town hall was open after three months of renovations. Gees the woman!

No, I did not correct her, I let her think there was a Clown Hall because it be such a waste of me time trying to enlighten someone who refuses to believe she could be in the wrong.

"To what do we owe the pleasure of THIS visit?" I asked hanging me coat in the closet.

"Big Tony is on a business trip to Japan. I didn't want to be home alone, so I flew up here."

"Oh the broom be working again is it?" I said as Tonya told me to be nice. She had come in with tea for her and Dragon. I was told if I wanted some the kettle was still hot. I don't get served, but Dragon does. Ruffles me feathers that. I went in and thought to have me tea in the kitchen where I could steal a few cookies while I was at it and be happy out of the company of the Dragon lady. But no, no, I was summoned in to sit down and tell Dragon about me day which would bore her to the back teeth if I actually did that. Instead, I asked HER about her day thinking to tune her out as she went on and on and on.

I was elbowed by me wife when I did not give a sympathetic response to whatever the Dragon had been going on about. Turned out she has thyroid trouble and has to take a pill a day to make her feel like moving around. Seems she feels very sluggish and fatigued. I did daydream about hiding the pills and stressing her out to where she went belly up, all depressed and unwilling to move or run her mouth, but I know that wasn't kind of me, so I let it go.

"I understand your dog is sick?" Dragon asked me.

"Oh yes, she's got doggy overactive thyroid, the opposite of what you have, so we give her a pill a day too!" I said brightly, but both women caught the sarcasm. They started talking amongst themselves, ignoring me like that was a punishment, so I was able after 15 minutes to slip away.

The next morning I was in a fog as I usually am in the mornings. I started coffee and as I waited for it to brew, I gave the dog her pill. As soon as the coffee was brewed, the Dragon floated down in her usual haze and poured herself a cup before I could even get me cup down. She popped her pills open and took one and seemed to go into a slight coma which made me glad the pills had that effect, I would not have to put up with Dragon nonsense so early in the morning.

I was off for the week to unpack, so this morning routine became the norm. No matter how much I tried to beat Dragon to the first cup of joe, I just wasn't fast enough. The only good thing was the coma she seemed to lapse into didn't wear off until dinner was served.

By that Friday, I had a veterinary appointment with the dog. I noticed she was acting like she was a puppy, bounding all over the place, running around like a flash and more animated than I'd ever seen her. Very happy dog, adjusting to the new surroundings at last was all I could think. Her thyroid meds seems to have slowed her way down at first, but suddenly it was like a new dog was in the house.

I told the vet about this change and he asked to see the pills. I handed them over and he put his glasses on and inspected the label.

"Uh Gabe, you sure these are the pills you are giving your dog?"

I glanced at the pill bottle and nodded.

"Well, these pills are for one Mrs. . . ." and that is as far as he got as I grabbed the bottle and yes, there it was, the Dragons name! I had been dosing me dog with under active thyroid medication and Dragon had been taking the dog's pills!

Me first concern to the doctor was, "Will me dog be okay?"

"Oh yes, she's fine."

I explained what happened that both pill bottles were on the table and me being in a fog well, you know the rest.

I took Fido home and was pretty sheepish around me wife. She noticed right off and took me aside and asked me what was up. I told her.

"This morning you found this out? You mean for a week both of them have been on the others medication? We have to get my mother to a hospital!"

"No, no, the vet told me it was okay, just switch the pills back. Gees Tonya, they look the same, they are both black and white, the bottles are the same."

"The names are different!" She pointed out annoyed at yours truly.

"We will keep an eye on her if that makes you feel better," I suggested.

"No, we have to tell her."

"Oh no we don't. The vet said both of them would be fine, just make sure she gets the right meds." I protested. "You know what Ton? If we tell your mother she will never come here again nor speak to me, even though it wasn't me fault totally. SHE should have looked at the bottle she had and . . . "

"Gabriel, she can't read as it is. She thought town hall was clown hall. Remember?" Tonya pointed out.

"More reason why we should say nothing because then she'll be embarrassed."

A big sigh from the wife on me last try to not have the Dragon any wiser.

"You know," Tonya said, "she mentioned to me just yesterday she was feeling more herself than she has in a long while."

"See there!" I shouted as she shushed me. "Its fine Tonya both of them are good."

"Still . . ." she countered mulling it over.

"Not to worry, I'll keep an eye on her," I said as Tonya nodded and walked away. "Yeah, I'll keep an eye on her in case she starts barking."

Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved

14 March, 2015

Just gargle with chicken soup and you'll be just fine

14 March 2015

R. Linda,

I can tell you about this now, because it is finally fading from me memory, and that be a good thing. Being a not so good segment of time, I have been reluctant to revisit the whole fiasco, but you were pounding me about being sick so I think it only fair to give you a dissertation on just how sick I was, and how ill treated I became.

It started before we moved into the new abode. The kiddies were sick, Tonya was sick, me Mam -- not so much but getting there, and me just fine and dandy. Then the night of me being attacked by me mattress (see 16 Feb. 2015 - Don't Try This At Home -- for that matter don't try it PERIOD!) happened and soon after as we started the move, both me and Mam got the bacterial infection that wasn't a bacterial infection, but a virus, that turned back into a bacterial infection . . . you'll see what I mean.

So me Mam was doing better than meself. I felt the thing coming on I did, and made haste to call me physician's office to head the illness off because I KNEW from Tonya and the boyos what could be coming. THEY had gone to their doctor and were told they had a bacterial infection, here's a Z-Pack (steroids) and cough syrup, go home get plenty of rest and fluids and all will be well. And that be what happened. Meanwhile, I get nurse Ratchet on the phone from the same medical office, and she TELLS me, that coming in solely for a Z-Pack was out of the question. I got a lecture on antibiotics and how if I did not need them, then I shouldn't have them. Now all I did was mention me family had the sickness and I knew I was coming down with it as well. They were on Z-Packs so I SAID I know this will be bad. I did not say put me on steroids! I said I was coming down with the same thing, could I get an appointment? NO I could not get an appointment because I wasn't freaking far enough along in the sickness to need to see a doctor!

I tell ya!

I was told to drink plenty of liquids, get rest and eat light but sustaining foods like chicken soup. If my throat was scratchy tea with honey (sipping only, no chugging) would soothe the raw tissue. So this I did and I got worse and worse until I was coughing up phlegm and looking a right and sad mess. I was told by all "Call your doctor!" For all the good it would do me, I did not. I had been told by nurse Ratchet that all would disappear in a weeks time. I was now on week number three.

Then on Sunday morning (of week number 3), while breakfast was being prepared (at least I was told it was. I could smell nothing I was that stuffed up that when I rubbed the area between me eyebrows and bridge of me nose you could hear SQUISH! Oh yeah pleasant), I was in the upstairs bathroom blowing me nose while all were downstairs when suddenly a great dry and hard piece of phlegm came honking up to the back of me throat and I started choking. Literally it was blocking me airways and I could not breathe. I had me big fingers in me throat gagging me more as I tried to reach in to pull it out. I know gross, but . . . I was in a right panic I was, and somehow I managed to choke and hack me way down the stairs to the kitchen where everyone stopped and looked at me in horror.

I pointed to me throat and put me hands around it like I was choking meself to signal what was going on when they jumped into motion, and started chattering at me asking me things. Like did I want them to call an ambulance OR, did I want to be driven to the ER? Like I could answer them! I pointed to me coat and choked me way to the car with Tonya getting the keys, coat of her own and telling me Mam to finish off breakfast for the kiddos, she was taking me to the Casualty.

We made it to the hospital where by that time, I had stopped choking but could feel the obstruction still at the back of me throat which was making me gag. I don't know which is worse, choking or gagging. Anyway, me face was blueish and the receptionist told me to take a seat in the waiting room. Tonya told her I was suffocating, but she didn't care, it was take a seat! 

The waiting room was packed to the rafters and there was a notice that said: PATIENTS WILL BE TAKEN IN THE ORDER THEY COME IN UNLESS URGENT CARE IS NEEDED.

I was gobsmacked I was. Suffocation wasn't urgent? Apparently not. So as I walked in everyone was staring at me, and I was trying to keep the choking and gagging to a minimum. But some got up and looked at me aghast and moved away. They'd rather stand against the far wall than sit in me vicinity. This perplexed me terribly that they thought I looked that bad. At least that is what I thought. 

After two hours I was called to the receptionist's desk. By that time the "thing" in me throat had either gone into me lungs or into me stomach, or I was getting used to it lodged in me throat. I had no idea what it was, just knew that I was pissed off and knackered. 

I was asked why I was there, I told the woman. I even said, "I be suffocating slowly, it be hard to breathe, can't catch me breath without having a choking spasm." 

She typed it in, took me insurance information and told me to go back out and have a seat. I tell ya! 

So out I go and everyone who had sat back down after I left, flew to the wall when I came back. I was truly feeling like I had cooties. I had no clue what the feck was the matter. Finally, I was called after 45 more minutes of trying not to have a choking fit which was torture!

I walked into the cubicle and the nurse told me not to worry me eye will be just fine. MY EYE? Then she asked me what was wrong and I told her, all the time wondering what she meant about me eye. So she told me usually what they do for choking like mine, is turned the person upside down like you do a baby, you know hold them by the heels and pound their back to bring up whatever be choking them. I be over 6 feet and weight a good 13 stones, so really? I don't think so. That procedure did not happen so no cause for me concern. Instead, she went on about the eye. That the breakage of blood vessels would heal in two to three weeks time. Did I happen to see an article in some magazine about eye tattoos? Well, no I hadn't and I had no clue what she meant. She said I could tell people I got one. Again, REALLY?

I still didn't know what she was going on about. She left me assuring me doctor would be in soon. Soon was 10 minutes later this squeaky clean type comes in. He was about me age maybe a little older, and he tells me his name and shakes me hand and says, "That eye is nothing. Is that why you are here?"

I told him I didn't know anything about an eye, I was choking and explained it all again for the umpteenth time. He seemed pretty unconcerned and dismissed what I told him. I told him me whole family had a bacterial infection and that I had got it worse than the rest and here I was. He said, nah it wasn't bacterial, it was a virus going around. He said everyone in the waiting room was there for the same thing. He didn't feel inclined to hurry any of them in or out because he's been seeing this "cold" for a few weeks. Great. So he looks in me ears and down me throat and he says, me Ph isn't balanced and to go home and . . . are you ready (because I wasn't)? I should go home and gargle with chicken soup! Why not just eat it? I could gargle with warm water and salt and get the PH balanced, why chicken soup? For the throat I was to take a jar of honey and spoon it in slowly letting it "glide down your throat to soothe and hydrate" and THAT would help with the soreness. But that eye, now that eye needs no attention, the blood can't go anywhere so it will absorb back into the body on its own. Give this all another week and I'd be much better. Yeah right, I had enough. 

What kind of meds do I need? Well, not antibiotics and then came another lecture on how antibiotics worked, followed by a dissertation on the human immune system, followed by ph unbalancing acts caused by illness, what to look for if I should choke so hard I break a rib (oh thank you doctor for that warning), and water was the best remedy for what ails ya. Yes indeed. Oh, and chicken soup too!

I got straight to the point. This homoeopathic stuff was for the birds when feeling as sick as I did. I knew none of it would work fast or help right away. Maybe in a year after a straight diet of chicken soup with spoonfuls of honey I might improve a little, or I might be walking and clucking like a chicken and buzzing like a bee.

Don't take NyQuil it be all alcohol and will do nothing for you, he told me. Just chicken soup and honey. Tylenol only if you have aches. Well, I had that too! Gees. Mucinex? Oh no, that stuff doesn't work. Really? QUACK QUACK QUACK!

When I got to the car I looked in the mirror and was shocked. Me left eye was completely blown out. The white was red! No wonder the waiting room full of patients took flight. I was one scary looking dude, with a red eye and a blueish face! I tell ya! I had choked so hard I blew the blood vessels to Kingdom come and back. 

So I told Tonya all this, we stopped and got Mucinex and guess what it DID work. Not completely but it was some relief. I ATE the chicken soup I did not gargle it, I tried the freaking honey and I have to tell you the combination of the two be YUCKY. 

I ended up calling a new doctor, I got an appointment right away. I went in, was thoroughly examined, it was found I had a BACTERIAL INFECTION. I was given a Z-Pack and for the cough (which had developed as a result of the choking), cough syrup with codeine. Within the week I was much improved. But it was five weeks of this! It wasn't until that fifth week I had come to me wits end and called that new physician. Me only problem was the codeine in the cough suppressant put me to sleep and made me major sleepy, thus no stories on the blog.

That's the story and now you have all the bizarre details.

Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved

10 March, 2015

Losing her mind and taking mine with it!

10 March 2015

R. Linda:

So here's the thing, me Mam be so done with me Da . . . so done that last night she comes to the dinner table with a plan.

"I be going to be changing me name!" She declared.

"To what?" I asked idly.

"To O'Sulivan." Says she.

"You are an O'Sullivan." I said.

"No, the L."

"The L?" I looked up from me dinner perplexed.

"I be an O'Sulivan with one L instead of two."

"Let me get this straight," I started when Tonya told me to just let it go.

Who does that? I can see dropping the O from O'Sullivan or just going by Sullivan and even more likely dropping the O'Sullivan all together and becoming a Duddy or reverting back to her maiden name O'Connor. But no, she's dropping one L and that's supposed to make her different.

I broke out the Jamesons after dinner because there was no talking sense to her. So she's going to petition some court (not sure where) to change her name. Yeah that was another thing.

"So you will petition the court in Newry?" I asked stupidly.

"No I tink I can goo here ta one of yers."

"I don't think so Mam, since you are a citizen of Northern Ireland. You have to go there."

"Noo, I will change it here."

This led to another discussion that went the same way the first one did with Tonya telling me to leave it be. I did. For now. Because it's all going to start up again when she asks me to drive her to the local courthouse.

Not to be on me Mam's case but she was on mine within the hour. Seems there were seeds lying around the garbage disposal in the sink, did I know what they where?

I looked at her puzzled as I had no clue what she was talking about.

She explained that the seeds were from something I must have eaten because, "Men be none too thorough when putting dishes in the sink. Ye don't rinse em', ye don't clean em', ya jus leave em' fer da wimin of da house."

Yes, that is what she said in her Irish accent that she swears she no longer has, since she's been living in this country for a few months and lost it. Right. So I tried defending men of the world when it came to dishes in the sink and it was to no avail. Tonya even told me to "give it a rest." But it wasn't me that needed to do that it was me Mam who went on about the seeds and did I remember what kind they were, and did I know that there was a plant growing out of the garbage disposal. Oi!

I got up and followed her to the disposal where THIS was growing.

I be guessing tomato
There in the dark recesses of the garbage disposal, exposed to a shaft of sunlight that comes in the kitchen window was the mysterious green thing. Why this green thing be associated with yours truly, I have notta clue. I suggested the ladies of the house dropped one of their bean sprouts from those horrendous salads they make (in the name of a healthy diet), and it never got ground up and there you have it, instant garden! But no, both of them (Tonya included) say it's got to be tomato from the BLT I ate some days ago.

This be troublesome as it may indicate that the garbage disposal is clogged up that not everything is getting ground to a pulp, or a renegade seed stuck it's sticky self to the side of the disposal, just above the grinders and there you have it! The sunlight was just enough to encourage it to grow and I told them both they will be famous for SINK GARDENING. Who knew?

But the downside be they (neither of them) will allow me to use the disposal because the "seed" be a growing!

"THAT be a terrible idea you know," I said to them, "the roots will go down the pipes and then what? There will be no more disposal!"

They don't care, they cannot bring themselves to "kill" the baby seedling. This weekend it gets moved, I will try to be gentle about it, but it gets moved!

Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved

16 February, 2015

Don't Try This At Home -- for that matter don't try it PERIOD!

16 February 2015

R. Linda:

I bought a home! And since we bought it we’ve all been sick. It started with the eldest bringing home a bug from school that went through the family like gangbusters. Its been five weeks and I be still under the weather, thus, with the move, everyone ill, and numerous unforeseen repairs to the new abode, I haven’t had time for me blog.

I still don’t, but I have heard from enough followers I decided I best get something up before you all accuse me of being part of the winter blizzard blues condition.

When we bought the new abode, I had to replace the furnace liner, and so someone had to be there to let the furnace people in. Since the heat was sketchy, it was decided to move a bed over so I could stay there overnight. Well, we got the bed over, we got the mattress over, but we could not get the box spring moved. It was on the second floor of the old abode and since I put in the spiral staircase, nothing that large that was not bendable would make it to the first floor. 

So I set up the bed. I put in the slats and I had the mattress on the floor beside the bed. I laid down on it to find it was very uncomfortable. Tonya and the kiddos had come over while I was doing this so it was to her I said, “Do you think we can rest the mattress on the slats and it’ll be okay?”

“I don’t know,” said she, “why not try it?”

We moved the mattress onto the bed frame slats, she and the boyos went home, and I settled down thinking to make it an early night since the furnace men were coming very early the next morning and there was no telly nor Internet. 

Well, the night became eventful to say the least. When Tonya and I had put the mattress on the bed frame we thought it looked sketchy but we ignored our thoughts. I went to bed and realised my legs were slightly elevated, but I was comfy so I fell asleep.

About 2 a.m., I awoke to me legs straight up in the air, along with me head. I was quite literally a Gabe sandwich.

I struggled to get out of this peculiar and decidedly uncomfortable position, and the more I struggled the deeper smushed I got, and the bedclothes wrapped tightly around me like lettuce in a flat bread sandwich, making me situation worse.

I had visions of the kiddos finding me suffocated by me own mattress the next day. 

I gave it one last effort when I hear CRACK! One of the bed slats broke and now I was encased in bedding and mattress. Fearing the end was near, I propelled meself sideways and got me arms (which had been straight up over me head) free. I pulled (more like wrenched) meself along the floor like out of a toothpaste tube. I extracted meself from the killer mattress in what was for me, a great deal of physical strength and endurance. Once out, it took 30 minutes to pull the mattress out of the slats and onto the floor. I tell ya it was some kind of fright night!

When I think back on that night, I have to smile ruefully in memory of me first night in me new abode. Since then more crazy stuff has happened, but being on cough meds with codeine me mind be not exactly sharp. Me cough be better, but I sleep a lot. Did I mention I be on week number five of this illness mess? Yup two calls for appointments I couldn’t get, one harrowing trip to Urgent care, and finally I got an appointment and here I be. Still sick. 

Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved

28 December, 2014

An Unusual Christmas Present

28 December 2014

R. Linda:

Be careful what you ask for, and too much of a good thing . . . Well, I can attest to both of those old sayings. I have for weeks seen commercials for the juicer machine. You can put whole fruits and vegetables in this thing and with one flip of the switch you have liquid. The canister even comes off and you can take it to work or wherever you may go. Oh yeah, I just had to have one of THOSE!

And for Christmas, the wife got me one. Oh I was like a little kid when I saw it, I was antsy the kiddos should finish opening their gifts so I could race into the kitchen and use it. And once they did finally finish, I made a beeline for the kitchen counter. I tore that machine out of its box, I didn't even bother to read the instructions, no me head was in the fridge getting out veggies, fruits, berries, and yogurt. I put a entire handful of kale, followed by two celery sticks, some black berries, blue berries, a half a carton of yogurt, all in the mixing tube and flipped the switch. I watched those babies go from green to a strange shade of grey.

What I had, looked like the most unappetising drink ever made. Tonya had got hold the instructions and was shaking her head until she saw the final product.

"YOU are going to DRINK THAT. You are not going to waste all that stuff. Now drink it mister."

"But it's grey." I pointed at it wrinkling me nose.

"You could not wait to get out here and look at that! You drink that. I want to see the reaction."

"But Tonya it's Christmas, drinking something grey just isn't a part of Christmas."

"Well, it used to be green, but now . . . " she mused, and then thinking about the waste she said, "drink it!"

So not wanting to appear like a wuss, I took the canister off the machine and holding me breath I took a sip. If not for the unappetising colour, it was pretty good. I handed it to Tonya, who reading the pleasurable expression on me face, decided it had to be okay. She took a sip and nodded letting the taste sink in.

"Not bad, I am surprised with what all you put in there." She admitted as her tongue searched her teeth for tiny blackberry seeds. The exact same thing I was doing. She looked at the brochure and read to me that blackberry seeds would not be pulverised. So not to use them. Well, drink and learn.

She read all about the machine that night and even told me that if we wanted to have a super drink with nuts, we'd have to put the nuts in the machine and turn it on for 30 seconds. Then we could add other ingredients.

"Lets try it!" I said all enthused.

I got some nuts I put them in the machine and switched it on. Only I turned the machine off after 20 seconds instead of the 30 which was pointed out to me by me wife.

"What's ten seconds?" I said with a shrug.

Well, ten seconds means a lot let me tell you. After putting in strawberries, bananas, and a kiwi, we were once again searching our teeth with our tongues for nut particles AND kiwi seeds.

Every morning now I get JUICE. Not because I want juice, but because someone bought me the machine I just had to have and so I, and me kiddos, are getting juiced whether we want it or not.

"Oh Gabe, where you going?" Tonya had called after me Friday when I was making me way to the front door. Some of us had to work and well . . .

"I be going to work, why?" I called back over me shoulder as I reached the door.

"Because you forgot to drink your JUICE." She said hurrying in me direction with a green concoction that in the morning looked totally unappetising. Maybe if it was orange, I'd have not objected, but I did and I was given a good dressing down for all the good it did me. SO I took the green cup and drank it and oh my God was it terrible. I choked as I asked her what was in it.

"Let's see, all the healthy things you said you needed. Like celery, spinach, a bell pepper, and some leftover kale. I thought green for Irish people."

"You did did you?" I said forcing the vile stuff down. "I think I shall be sick."

"Oh no, how could THAT happen when you are drinking HEALTHY?" She smiled big as she took the empty cup and went off humming and I went off gagging to me motor.

Ever since Friday, I have been subject to the morning juice routine. Me kiddos run as soon as they hear the machine noise in the kitchen. They are quiet for hours I tell ya, and for that I should be thankful, but that I can't do the same. I never know what I am drinking, just that I don't like most of the selections. I have had red, green, yellow, orange, and beige drinks. None of which was very good. I don't know why Tonya has taken over the machine, but I wish she'd stop it. She particularly likes to ask me if I'd like some "juice" in the middle of a movie or telly programme. I think she does that just for spite. I am not sure what the deal is, but I can tell you this, just tonight, I went into our bedroom and found the box of Russell Stover candies she had hidden in her nightstand.

I took the middle layer and put it in the blender with a shot of rum and some heavy cream. May I say, it was deliciously decadent. She savoured it until she went to get her box of candy and discovered the entire middle layer gone. Yeah, so much for the ooh and ahhing over the delicious chocolate drink. I think it was the caramel we were both using our tongues to dislodge from our teeth that made her suspect. Uh huh, now its "HOW COULD YOU? YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LIKE THAT CANDY! YOU WILL BUY ME ANOTHER ONE IF IT IS THE LAST THING YOU DO. AND DON'T YOU DARE EVER DO THAT AGAIN! THAT JUICER IS FOR HEALTHY DRINKS, NOT CANDY IN LIQUID FORM!"

Yes indeed, revenge be SWEET. Indeed, indeed. I do think I will have caramel stuck to me teeth for weeks. What a treat!

Copyright © 2014 All rights reserved

20 December, 2014

The Poisoning of Snow White OR . . . Gabe O'Sullivan

20 December 2014

R. Linda:

At me office we had our Christmas Party Thursday last we did. But before the party we had the secret Santa fiasco, where weeks ahead we all pulled names out of a hat and had to buy a gift costing no more than $5.00, wrap it, but the name of our person on a tag, and leave it under the small Charlie Brown office Christmas tree.

It is very hard to find anything for $5.00 but if one goes to the Dollar Store, well now, problem solved. Otherwise, one would be tempted to buy over the amount and it is stipulated in no uncertain terms NOT TO DO THAT. But truly it makes re-gifting hard as well if one wanted to go THAT route as one doesn't truly know the price of the unwanted gift.

As I say, the Dollar Store was me only choice. OH for sure there be Staples, and most stores have aisles where one can buy sundry items at very little cost. I did try Staples thinking that that is just what someone would want, more office supplies when they can go to our supply closet and get whatever for free! I must say to the person who recommended Staples to me, I may find a pen for $5.00 but little else unless one wants to buy the next cheapest item, a Bankers Storage Box for $12.00. Something one might want that isn't found easily in the office supply closet would be ink. Forget the price of an ink cartridge way too much! So Dollar Store was me destination.

I found a variety of cake mixes for $4.50 and I could buy one of those with a small can of frosting attached, AND for $1.50 more I could throw in paper plates! Yes, genius I thought, once the cake is baked the lucky recipient will have paper plates to serve it on! There ya go, done! I know I exceeded me limit but not by much.

Me only big problem was wrapping the round canister of cake mix with the paper plates. When I finally got finished it looked like what it was, a platter at least on the bottom with a canister of cake mix probably on top. Oi! Well, beggars can't be choosers and that's how me secret Santa gift looked and well, I put it covertly under the office tree with the rest of the gifts that it wasn't too hard to figure what they were by the odd wrappings.

I be not a wrapper and well the wife be busy and the mother has arthritis, so it was all up to me and I made a right mess of it I did, but it was wrapped! Sort of.

The person's name I got was one Mary McGee and I do not know her or even what she looks like. I was hoping she liked to bake and then eat what she baked. In me masculine mind, baking and paper plates were the ideal.

Thursday, before the office Christmas Party, we all gathered around the pathetic tree to open our secret Santa gifts. Before I go any further, may I say the tree is fake, it has been around since I've been working at the office and it was around long (I think) before I was born. It is gnarly and most of the toilet brush fibres that make up the tree are missing (thus, the reference to Charlie Brown), and almost all the arms are missing except maybe five. It is over decorated to make up for its deficiencies.

So there we were standing around this thing when one of the bubbly mail persons (dressed like an elf) came down the aisle shaking sleigh bells to get everyone who wasn't already at the tree, out of their cubicles so we could start the gift exchange.

Once all of us were out, and I must remark it looked like none us got out from our cubicles much or maybe it was the florescent lighting, be we all looked pale and greenish almost like a group of Grinches ready to go grinching upon the world. Our elf looked around and shushed us as we could hear more jingle bells and someone shouting, "HO, HO, HO!" and sure enough there was Santa coming up the aisle with another two elves (also from the mail room). I counted meself lucky I wasn't selected to "play the role" of Santa since (as you well know) I be the go-to-guy to "play the role" of the Easter Bunny. One fantastical creature is enough.

To get on with this painful episode, Santa began calling out the names on the gift tags and that person would go up, get their prize and open it in front of everyone. I will say the gifts were tame and tedious.

The name Mary McGee was called out and I literally cringed, because I just felt like what I bought was cheap and it was! Before I even saw her I overhear two women behind me and one says, "Oh Mary McGee, isn't she the one that lost 250 lbs.?" and the other says, "Yes, and have you seen how good she looks! Must be a size 0 now."

Uh oh, I thought to meself but too late! There she was this wee whisp of a person, red faced in embarrassment for her turn at being the centre of attention, looking very svelte in her ugly Christmas sweater, her shoulders hunched up around her ears in delight of receiving a present.

"Oh, oh," the woman behind me said, "Deb, is that what I think it is? Looks like plates and something on top, I hope it isn't fattening food, she'll just plotz." OH YEAH IT IS! I wanted to turn and shout it at them but I found I was trying to shrink me tall self so I wouldn't be towering above the crowd, me red face giving the gift giver away. Oh you don't know the angst and agony. I was thinking of grabbing the present and running or shouting out, "Wrong Mary McGee! Take that present over there, THAT'S hers!" I did not do any of those things it was too late, she had the suspicious looking gift in hand and was totally clueless unlike most of us, and with a rip of the paper, it was pulled back to expose the fattening cake mix with canned icing on top and a barrage of cheap paper plates to eat it off.

The look on her face was of shock and I was waiting for her to burst out in tears and me having to give it up that it was ME who gave her such an awful gift and me going forward taking the wee thing in me arms to comfort the great sobs, and me saying I had no idea, and how wonderful she looked, and maybe she could bake that cake, ice it and have a piece because she deserved it. Nah, that wouldn't fly and I knew it. But it was a miracle, all me thoughts disappeared as her look of shock turned into a look of pleasure.

"This is wonderful, I have been wanting to treat myself with a taste of something sweet," she looked around embarrassed, "just a little something sweet and this is just perfect. I can bake the cake and frost it, and serve it to my department and the best is I get a little taste." And that was it.

"Lucky for you she took that well." A voice said behind me.

I turned to see Cruella looking at me with amusement.

"How did you know it was me?" I whispered.

"You always try to shrink yourself when you feel you are in trouble. I recognised the shrink."

I rolled me eyes and she promised she'd never tell, "it will be our little secret," said she. Which I know it will be until she wants something like making me go with her on another sea sick whale watch or for a ride in that shark monster boat at the seaport. Yeah I know how she works.

I know you are wondering what I got. Well, I got a luscious caramel apple. It was a core less apple that had a thick layer of caramel over it, rolled in wee white and dark chocolate bits, with sprinkles. It was in a lovely holiday box and sheathed in a cellophane wrapper. I was very happy with that as you know, food be a hobby especially sweets and anything that has to do with chocolate.

Almost too pretty to eat, I tell ya!
So, last night I was home alone. The wife and me mam took the wee ones to see Santa. Because I was coming home at the hour the line for Santa would be long, they decided to go earlier without me. Which is fine because there is nothing I like least than driving an hour in heavy traffic, going dinner-less to stand in a line with screaming, howling kiddos for a two minute photo session. Yee-ah.

I got home, I fed the animals because if I didn't attend to them first I would get no peace at the dinner table. Usually, when I be cooking by meself I have the telly on for company and this was no exception. I ate me dinner, had me a glass of white wine, and realised I had no dessert. But then it dawned on me I did have dessert, I had me caramel holiday apple!

I poured more wine, got a sharp knife and opened that sucker up. Yup it was a thing of beauty it was, and I couldn't wait. I cut one huge side off and sat munching, savouring it R. Linda! The juicy apple combined with the sticky sweet caramel, the chocie bits crunching along with the green, white and red sprinkles. I was in hog heaven, piece after heavenly piece I was UNTIL . . . this came on the evening news:

"The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Americans not to eat packaged caramel-coated apples, the suspected source of a multi-state Listeria outbreak that's killed at least four people.

"Of 26 people hospitalised with Listeria food poisoning, five have died, and the bacteria was a definite factor in four of the deaths, the CDC reported. Fifteen of 18 Listeria patients who've been interviewed said they'd eaten commercially produced, packaged, caramel apples before they became sick.

"The CED is urging consumers to avoid all packaged caramel apples -- including those with nuts, candy sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings."

Me chewing had gone from total enjoyment to slow chews, as I listened and then looked at me empty cellophane wrapper and the stick completely devoid of apple. UH OH! There was no mention of what  brands so I didn't know if I had a tainted apple or not!

I was pacing wondering when the sickness would come upon me when the family came home all cheery to see me worried and pale face. When asked what was the matter I told them, the kiddos brushed it off with a shrug and ran to play, me own grey haired apple cheeked mam shrugged and said, "well be glad yer not an American." And me wife informed me sorry arse that it took 3 days for Listeria to raise it's ugly head. So until then enjoy life and off she went to wrap presents.

That's what I call sympathetic . . . NOT!

Well, we be on day number 2 and notta twinge, I be still alive and standing. I know that will get one of me followers upset that I be not in hospital, grovelling in pain on a gurney (and you know who you are), and the rest need not be sympathetic, it seems to be going so far so good, I may be around to write a few more stories. Though when I told the Captain, who I happened to email me sorry tale, he said it was karma getting me back for giving Ms. McGee a fattening present. Well, Cappy not yet mate, not yet.

Copyright © 2014 All rights reserved

07 December, 2014

Its That Time Of Year

07 December 2014

R. Linda:

Well, it be that time of season it be. Last month the turkeys quaked at their fate, this month the Christmas trees. Yes, it be that time of year again, go on out and kill a Christmas tree!

Up here we have tree farms that raise fir trees specifically for that sole purpose to be slaughtered after years of tender, loving care by the hand of strangers with laughing children wielding axes. I tell ya!

Me wife and kids had gone Christmas shopping and I was by meself outside walking the dog. I had waved at me neighbour below and he came up and asked me what I had planned for the day. I told him nothing much and he asked if I'd like to help him with the family Christmas tree. I hesitated, but felt like I had no choice, so I put me dog up and drove on down and followed him and his kiddos to the tree farm.

The wee ones were all excited and carrying axes as I followed the merry family out into the tree fields where they went about the selection process. It was like Sophie's Choice the way they stood there talking out loud discussing the merits or non merits of a few select trees. I was wondering what the trees thought of all that being rooted to the spot and unable to pick up their lower branches and flee!

"Oh daddy, look at that one, it's got branches all around, no holes in it, THAT'S THE ONE!" And wham with the axe, cutting deeply into the lower trunk, the sap glistening in the sunlight blinding one as the life force runs out like dripping molasses and then another WHAMMO and chips of wood flying everywhere! I could just imagine the tree screaming, HELP THIS WEE PERSON IS KILLING ME! DON'T JUST STAND THERE LOOKING HORRIFIED, STOP HER!

I had to look away from the quaking branches that I knew were shaking with fear and angst. Can no one do something to stop this I thought. But no, that small tyke had her a tree and now the big man, daddy, was finishing the job by lobbing off the trunk from its base and Santa's your gift giver and it was done. I wanted to cry at the inhumanity.

I looked down filled with sad remorse at the felled tree that just moments before was smiling in the sunlight, looking beautiful, and now reduced to a silent, not moving pile of needles and wood. Oh the tragedy of it all!

With no formality the poor dead thing was lifted onto the sleigh and tied down, the final humiliation! But it did not end there, as soon as we got to the parking lot a worker came and untied it, shook the poor thing out, gave a price and then into a machine that netted the poor tree to look no longer fluffy and fine, but like a stick encased in a cocoon of mesh plastic.

Up it was hauled onto the top of the car! Not even a last consideration to be IN the car, it was placed on TOP of it and again, now skinny as a stick lashed to the vehicle tightly.  I followed in me treeless Saturn and watched the poor thing tied to the top of the roof of the car in front. It shook with terror it was not cushioned to each pothole we hit, no it was crushed to the top of the car and the wind was pulling at it, needles flying. Oh my God the heartache!

When we got to the abode the children were jumping up and down like this was a great thing, the death of a Christmas tree. Yes, they wanted to decorate the corpse. Yes, they did, they couldn't get inside fast enough and I will say because it was in the netting it seemed they took no care at all. Down it was thrown to the hard frozen ground, tears hit me eyes at the sight. The netting was clipped off with no regard to a few fingertips, I mean branches going with it.

Then it was dragged, yes R. Linda dragged inside and placed in a holder that had screws that tore the wooden flesh to keep it upright. Water with BLEACH was put in the well where the cut limb sat and I had to think, ouch that must sting. I was told the bleach PRESERVES the tree so it doesn't shed it's needles too quickly. They even got wire they attached to the branches to hold it upright. The wires constricted around the tiny branches and affixed to teeny hooks in the ceiling. Oh this was like a crucifixion.

I had to turn away as they got strings and strings of lights and they threw those on the poor thing as if to give it life, electric life I suppose. Then they put tinsel garland in hills and valleys within the tree, and then they put heavy ornaments that meant something to each child of which there were three! Then came the creme de la creme the placing of a tree topper on the one lonely and gnarled branch that was at the very top, the head of the tree! This was an old world Santa Claus and he looked heavy. No angel, no a Santa -- the symbol of commercial shoppers everywhere. The poor thing couldn't see for the Santa topper! What is the world coming to I ask ya.

It was too much for me, I had to turn away. They weren't finished though, no they got a tree skirt to cover the butcher job at the base of the tree. Yes, they covered their brutal work up. Then a few gifts were put under and it was declared done.

The hot cocoa was brought out and they sat around admiring their dead tree as they played Christmas carols in the background! Music R Linda! They were playing happy music to a nearly dead tree. I was sobbing profusely by that time.

I do wonder what the poor little guy be thinking tucked away in a corner, weighted down with lights and heavy ornaments, humans shoving presents underneath him, trying to trip him up so he can't leave that corner. Sigh.

So get your boots on and get out there and kill a Christmas tree. You know you wanna do it. Just don't tell me you did the deed.

Merry Christmas!

Copyright © 2014 All rights reserved

03 December, 2014

Thanksgiving in New Hampshire - Not Exacty A Currier And Ives Picture

03 December 2014

R. Linda:

You know how much I like me turkey and of all the American holidays, THANKSGIVING be me fav. Yes, it was. Well, not anymore it isn't.

Let me start with Wednesday last shall I? Yes, I shall like it or not. Me house was in a flurry of activity it was, yes the turkey day shopping had been done, the preparations for the next day were about to commence and all was right with the turkey prep world. Except for one small detail, a few of the items needed to cook the bird were sold out at the market. Oh no what to do? I'll tell you what was done, I was sent to the store! AND another small detail, it started to snow. Not flurries, I mean snow in earnest that you couldn't see two feet in front of you for the white stuff like you find in Colorado. Just a sheet of white is the best way to describe this. Well, okay it started sticking on the grass but the pavement was too warm and this meant only one thing, since it was surmised by the womenfolk that this was a STORM yours truly should go out and get what was missing from the shopping list, since I was not included in turkey prep. For joy!

Here, take a look outside at the time, it was doing THIS!


So off I went and the roads were not bad at all. I get to the small mini mart and I found most of what was sold out at the big market the day before and out I go into . . . into a blizzard! I be like what happened? I was inside the market for no more than 10 minutes and I come out to two inches of snow! I got everything and meself back in the Saturn and start for home and find someone put skis on me car because I be sliding all over kingdom come. Somehow I fishtailed me way home and then had to get me vehicle up Mt. Everest which be me neighbours driveway. Well, R. Linda the beginning of the drive goes straight up it does, so I know not to slow down because if I do I will slide down. So I gun the Saturn and like a bat out of hell I start up and I am almost to the top when the auto goes into a skid and I release everything and slide back down. So I step on the gas but me tyres spin. Again and again same thing, Gabriel is going nowhere. I back down the road, stop to put the gear in drive and spinning tyres again! Now I am getting frustrated which is another word for angrier than an Irishman banned from a pub. I back the auto down further and before I stop, ram the gear into drive (yes, I know I could ruin the transmission) and Gonzo's your father I am off like Sterling Moss in a Grand Prix start. Up that sucker I go and slam down on the other side free of the incline and because I had momentum going I kept me big hopper on the pedal and roared on passed me old neighbours house on up me non-existent driveway to me abode. I vaguely remember seeing the old man's face as he looked out his large window admiring the landscape as I shot by a blur in a bluish silver bullet up into the woods. I think amazed and stunned would adequately describe his expression.

I get up to me abode and find that stepping on me brakes is a waste of time because now I be driving sideways! Yes, on passed me own abode and nearly to the old shed before I stop facing the way I came. I tell ya! Well, nothing to be done about that, so I shrugged, gathered the sack of what was missing items that no longer were, and out I go to find . . . wait for it . . . I be stepping out not on snow, but snow covering black ice and down me and sack go! I was floundering out there for five minutes trying to get me footing and no one in me abode was looking out the window to help me but one person and that person was me youngest and he doesn't talk yet! Though it looked to me from me position on the ground that he was laughing.

I finally got meself and the sack up off the frozen ground, and I was literally ice skating without skates to me front stoop. I thought it sounded awfully quiet and realised the freaking power was gone out!

I dump the shopping bag on the table and immediately am told to go back outside to the shed where I had just been and go get dry firewood from inside because it was going to be a long day and probably night and next day and day after that because in New Hampshire when one loses power it isn't for an hour, no it's for WEEKS ON END!

I was mumbling it was much too early for this crap to be going down, and slamming wood and generally having a free for all of wood slinging mayhem in the shed. SO I get three slippery trips of wood in with our dog bouncing around me barking because she thinks all this wood toting is fun, and finally get a couple of the hearths going, sit me exhausted self down only to be told to get up the fuel truck has pulled in and tell them we don't need fuel because we have no power. Oi! Without thinking about this, and this was told me by me own sainted mam, I went out jacket-less in the blizzard and informed the driver we didn't want any fuel. He was happy to get the hell out of Dodge as he told me he had spent over 30 minutes trying to get up the old man's driveway to me abode. I'd say I watched him tool on up to Lois's but the snow was so thick I couldn't see which way he went. He could be lost in the woods for all I knew.

When I came in the door the kiddos were pointing and laughing at me, and I knew why with a glance in the hall mirror, I looked like a snowman, that's how covered I was. Tonya got me towels to dry off and asked me what I was doing outside without a coat and when I told her she looked at me like I had half a brain.

"That's great Gabriel, you saved some money but you know the electric will come on and we won't have any fuel. Go back out there and hunt the fuel guy down."



Uh no.

Yes, I had succumbed to me Irish Mam's way of stretching a pound or saving one by thinking I was still in Ireland when I realised just where I was. O M G the woman has done things like that to me since she's been here. She lulls me into reminiscing about the old sod and me like a dumb eejit starts thinking I still be there. Well, being COLD will learn me won't it?

I was driven from me reverie by being told to go out and get the generator out of the shed, and to look for the fuel driver while I was at it, but this time wear a coat, hat, galoshes and gloves. This I did, still wet to the skin thinking the entire time I will have pneumonia by midnight and nothing of this will matter. I don't have to tell you I could see hide nor hair of the fuel truck.

I got the kids sleigh and heaved the generator on it and pulled it toward the side of the house where the connections were. I got the fuel, poured it in, and then pulled on the cord to start it. Nothing. I must have pulled that cord fifty times before I remembered I didn't get the fuel pump fixed last summer like I was reminded so often by the wife.  Oh boy was I in deep poo. I stood there remembering the generator's problem as the fuel I just poured in, poured out of the bottom of it onto the ground. Oh and not to mention the kiddos when seeing me with the sleigh, had got dressed to the nines in snow gear, all for me to pull them through the heavy thick snow to the sound of the silent generator. So I had three pointing (ok two pointing) children telling me the generator was bleeding I must have hurt it when I kicked it. Uh huh.

In the process of pulling kiddos through heavy snow, I did have reason of mind to call me old neighbour and ask him if he could look at me generator if I brought it down to his workshop by the barn. He was gracious I should say, and so with kiddos slogging along with me, I had got the generator back on the sleigh and pulled that sucker what seemed like two miles to me neighbour.

To make a long story short, he tinkered with it, said he could rig the fuel pump with some glue because it was cracked and he did. We had to leave it to dry and then we'd know if it worked or not. This, after the two of us drained what was left of the fuel I put in it which was no easy or light job.

All the way home I was going to think of a plausible excuse as to WHY the generator was not running to tell Tonya, but the idea of all that glue doing the trick had me thinking it wouldn't work no way, no how, and gees what were he and I thinking until I stepped in the door realising I hadn't thought a good lie up to tell Tonya. So I told her the truth and she was not happy. No she was not talking to me unhappy, ignoring me existence unhappy, but she did inform me not to get too cosy under down comforters because I'd be making lots of trips to the woodshed all night to keep her, me MOTHER and the kiddos warm. Yup got it, ay ay sir.

The stopping of preparations for turkey day took place much to me whining about we can make do somehow. The word 'somehow' was bandied about that "Somehow YOU forget to service the generator, and now 'somehow' we all would be trying to keep warm and somehow, we'd all be huddled together," except for ME because I'd be keeping warm by going for wood every five minutes.

Well, with the boyos help I got the wood stacked so I wasn't going to the woodshed every five minutes. Me old neighbour told me the generator was taking longer for the glue to dry but he thought by tomorrow it would be ready to go. Just come down early and he'd have it ready. He would invite us down but all his family was there and there wasn't much room but we were welcome. I told him I had plenty of wood we were fine, but I was secretly disappointed the generator wasn't ready.

Meanwhile, there was no lull in the storm and it continued. By evening I could hear the hum of generators when I took the dog out as I got more wood. Inside the house it was getting quite a bit cooler unless you were saddled on up to a fireplace which was rather crowded, one area was pets and kiddos, the other the women, two grumpy women so that was where there was room for me, but truly I couldn't take hearing about me forgetfulness or worse laziness where generators are concerned, so I stayed on the fringes of the warmth. I tell ya even me green blanket was pressed into service by O'Hare putting it around the dog! I started to say something but was quickly hushed by me Mam saying, "Well sonny boy, if ye had remembered to git da genny serviced da dog wouldn't be cold."

Me Mam boiled water over the fire and we had warm tea and cold biscuits. The turkey was fine, it was cold so not going bad, but the idea of having a turkey and not getting to eat it was dispiriting to say the least. There was some discussion on grilling it outside, but oh yes Gabriel let the propane run out so THAT idea was no good. Well, we could get a giant stick and rotisserie the bird over the fire, but no THAT idea wouldn't fly because we'd cause one hell of a grease fire and set the abode ablaze. BUT (I pointed out) we'd all be warm! No one laughed so that was me last attempt at humour and getting into their good graces.

After a rather sleepless, cold night the day dawned like snow never happened.

Glorious Thanksgiving Day and well . . . still no power.
I went to the neighbour's and we filled the generator and tried it and wow it actually held the fuel and it worked! I packed it back up on the sleigh and installed it by the side of the house and was never so happy to hear the hum of the thing. I ran inside turned on lights and informed the womenfolk turkey could be started, only to be told, the hook up for the generator did not include the oven only the stove and the bird was too big for stove top cooking. So there!

Yup I had the electrician make sure the heat, water, some lights, stove and fridge worked. Not the oven though. Yes, me fault once again. Say nothing, just know I can hear what you are thinking.

It was declared by me uneducated in New Hampshire Power little grey-haired apple cheeked mam, that tomorrow we'd celebrate the day with the turkey since for sure the power would be back up. I looked at Tonya over me Mam's head and she looked at me like - who is going to tell her and break her heart that there will be no turkey tomorrow either. I did, yes, I had no choice because it was mouthed at me, "She's YOUR mother, YOU tell her." Oh the disappointment in the little woman when I had to sit her down she didn't up and swoon away.

We had no clue anyone but our town was out of power. I found out after that this was the fourth biggest power outage ever in the state, 60% with no roasting turkeys! I thought the mega snow storm on Halloween a few years back was bad, but when it comes to a favourite food not being cooked on THE day well . . . I can only say it wasn't just us in a grumpy mood. 60% of the state was not happy, a clear reason for revolt from the power companies.

For a whole day we saw no power crew, we heard nothing and certainly smelled no turkey dinner cooking. The next day being in a fouler mood it dawned like this:

Really cold that the snow wasn't melting
It was shortly after I took this picture I ran out of petrol for the generator. Yup. Not only that, I ran out of petrol for the furnace too. Oh and yes, you know it I heard about both. I called the fuel people and asked them to come out and put fuel in the furnace tanks. Then I syphoned petrol out of me car for me generator. Yes, I did. So me generator fired up, but me auto didn't. But at least I wasn't driving around looking for a petrol station which I already knew was not running as no one had power restored as of then.

The fuel guy pulled up none to happy to have had to attempt Mr. Everest a second time when the first would have been enough -- had I let him fill the tanks. Lack of turkey made him as grumpy as the rest of us I suppose.

It was shortly after I drained me auto of fuel which I had thought twice of doing, that the power came on and now I had an auto that had no petrol. Yes, Murphy's Law is alive and well and still incorporated at me abode!

Anyway, turkey was had a few days late, it wasn't as wonderful a dinner as it usually was because we were all still fighting off chill and grumpy to have had to entertain each other (if you can call it that). The worse thing about losing power wasn't the loss of a hot delicious turkey dinner, no it was the fact we had NO CABLE!

We had no news of the outside world, AND worst of all, there was no TELLY to watch. No, notta, nothing. I tell ya one can lose one's sanity without Cable TV. When forced to talk with family members fighting or misunderstandings ensue. Board games one can play for just so long before rampant cheating starts and more arguments destroy any fun one might have had had as a cheating winner. So there was THAT little detail that has been very painful to write about. I don't understand why me emails all come once a day and I could send but one email, that was it. The wife was upset over all the discount coupons for Black Friday and such she couldn't print off or retrieve. Me, it was the freaking CABLE! How is it we could get emails and send but one email, but no cable? I simply don't understand.

I wanted to share the misery with your wee self since I know you've been there, done that.

Copyright © 2014 All rights reserved

25 October, 2014

The Grumplesons go house hunting

25 October 2014

R. Linda:

I have been very remiss on keeping the blog up to snuff. I know you have dusted it until you are blue in the face but I have an excuse. Probably not a very good one, but talk about draining the creative juices, house hunting will do that. By the time you have viewed 8 houses in one day and 8 more the next and each one begins to blend into the last one, you begin to feel like you would rather live in a tent. I am very tired of Realtors telling me they can be a facilitator or a buyer agent, which would I like. I would like you just show the house and answer me questions and nothing more, but no, no now you have to sign papers before you even head out so they get a commission as one kind of agent or the other and it becomes all about the money and after a bit of this I SIMPLY DO NOT CARE.

As you and a few others know, I be looking for a new abode. With the family expanded we are falling all over each other and it lends to grumpy Grumplesons all over the place. I have actually started referring to us as the Grumplesons and embarrassed the wife when we had reservations for dinner and they asked me for the name of me party of two. Yes, I said Grumplesons not realising I had said such. There was a loud audible TSK from the wife who then corrected me with O'Sullivan.

Well, that be the last straw for Mrs. Grumplesons because as soon  as she got home that night she was on the computer looking at homes for sale. I tell ya! I thought this would all fade away but no, no, she found a few prospects and dragged me out to look with her.

Having since June (or was it July? Can't remember which) I have looked at a grand total of what seems like 3 million homes but in reality (I am told), was about 43 houses on the market. I will say since I looked at these 43 homes, none have sold but one, and 3/4 of them have come way down in price. Which is a good thing if I liked any of them, but I didn't.

We decided that if we bought a home it would be an older home as we rather like the charm and character of our own antique cape. So if we could find another just a wee bit bigger that would be great. And we wanted quiet as we like to not hear traffic, all those leaf peepers going by I tell ya! We wanted a few acres like we have now, so we aren't right on top of our neighbours but not far enough away we can't at least see their chimney.

Let me regale you with one choice property. It stands out to me this mid century Victorian, that was restored beautifully, airy rooms, high drafty ceilings, big drafty windows, acres of green grassy land and a barn which at the time of the showing had show horses in it. Well, we looked at the wonderfully decorated interiour, and then went outside. The first thing I noticed was the smell of horse. Yes, indeed horsey manure o'de' smell! The horses were turned out up by the house which intrigued me as there were acres (at least 10) of prime pasture land. So why up by the house I wanted to know.

Flood plain. Flood what I asked? Corps of Army Engineers came down and dug out so when the river which is right behind the house (hidden by a slope so you don't see it), when it overflows its banks, the water comes down into those nice grassy lower pastures and floods for about 8 weeks in the spring! The house and the ones on the road don't get flooded because of this engineering marvel which happens to be in (if I bought the place) ones own backyard. For joy instant boating. I don't think so. Anyway the floods had only subsided a month ago, the grasses were coming in and they were keeping the horses off it until established, and the horses come up near the house when it floods. So there you go Mr. O'Sullivan (not that I'd have horses, but flood waters in the backyard?).

We took a walk to see this river and oh my goodness me, but it is a huge belt of water and rapid and I thought me kiddos would not be safe if they took a tumble down the steep embankment. I was told I could build a dock and put a boat down there. How was one to get down there to build anything I wanted to know. The Realtor's bright idea was to get slabs of stone and pound them in like stairs into the steep slope. Can you see me doing that and trying to get wood down the stone stairs to build a dock? Me either. And the rushing water would not allow one to build a dock so just what the feck? But while we were there, on the other side of the river were these rather sketchy looking characters walking along and I asked about that. Seems there is a nature trail across the way. And at close observation of these three "nature lovers" I spied what looked like cannabis ciggies. Oh wonderful NOT. This sighting prompted the wife to ask about the crime rate and home invasions. We were reassured this "probably" was a safe area but the Realtor would look it up when he was back at office. Yes indeed the drug trade in one's backyard!

I also asked what was on the other side of the hill where the 'nature lovers' were and was told -- trees. In fact, as we later drove over that way, there is a strip mall and a busy highway which was somewhat buffered by the hill on the other side of the river with a belt of trees inbetween. I thought I heard traffic but couldn't understand where the sound was coming from. Well . . .

So as we came back through the "flood plain" up toward the very lovely screened in porch we passed by six whitish stone objects protruding out of the ground. I saw them from the corner of me eye and thought Halloween had come early, or the owners never put the decorations away. But me wife was more observant and actually turned and looked hard at the "decorations." Seems not decorations at all but the real thing, headstones. Yes, the headstones come with the house as the original owners are buried there, yes R. Linda, right in the backyard where if you were enjoying the first of many martinis you would be looking down on their headstones, wondering WHY. For joy! NOT.

"Could they be removed?" I wanted to know and was told, ha ha no they are grandfathered on the property and are a permanent fixture or fixtures to the place. Halloween year round, just your sort of thing I suppose, but not mine.

As I was contemplating this, there was a buzzing like large saws heard in the background and then grinding noises like a machine eating up tree trunks. I asked about that and was told OH a neighbour down the road was clearing for a pasture. In fact it was (I later found out) not a neighbour but a housing developer clearing to build a development (a large one which means lots of traffic). When I later told the Realtor this, he said he didn't really glance down that way, but maybe. Maybe? No maybe about it. I looked the plans up online and at least 20 homes going in. So we would be subject to the noise of construction for as long as it took to build those 20 new homes.

How would that be, here we'd be in our antique Victorian looking out on a flood in the backyard, and new cookie cutter housing from our side window with across the street a quaint but run down cape and on the other side what looked like muddy, rocky cleared land. And what do you supposed will be going there? Aha! I looked that up too, condos! So the quiet small town housing I was looking for was going to be smack in the middle of a boom town.

And the worst part of this whole scenario was that two days later I get a call from Mr. Realtor telling me that someone else was interested in the property and I should quickly put a bid on it. I thanked him very much and told him no, I was not interested. I must say that every single property of the 43 had someone bidding, or about to bid, or interested ready to pounce if I didn't pounce first. I have observed in passing no one seems to be looking at homes but me and Tonya. NO ONE. So I be getting very annoyed with this hurry up and buy this house or that house. Not gonna happen.

Copyright © 2014 All rights reserved

13 September, 2014

Since We Are On The Subject Of Dress Up

13 September 2014

R. Linda:

You ever go to one of those Ren Faires or King Richard's Faire things? Well, I was told I was going out for a fun night with the fellas. Yeah before you say anything I was lied to AGAIN, I might add. I thought it was not going to be another night of stupid drinking, carousing, and general tomfoolery as is usually the case with WHO? You guessed it the only two idiots in the world I go out with lately. Yeah THOSE two the Irish Twins or in this case the Scottish ones, Weasil and Kincaid. I trust too much that one of these days it would not be that kind of an evening. I am the forever optimist but that is slowly wearing out it is. Oi!

As I was chilling in the backseat of the red speed bucked AKA Weasil's Mustang, clothing was thrown over the backseat at me by Kincaid. It sounded like bells, felt like velvet and silk but I couldn't see it in the dark backseat.

"What the hell is THIS?" I said holding up what looked like a burgundy and black with gold piping JERKIN!

"Jus poot it on," Kincaid threw at me.

Because I ran down me stairs and got into the vehicle without letting the two miscreants get out to come get me, I did not see the attire they were sporting. Well, this taught me never again to do something so stupid as to try to spare me family the stupid remarks the two would make if they were two feet inside me door.

"WOT BE THIS?" I held up what looked like black leggings.

"Yer pants, jus poot em' on," Kincaid sighed like I was the stupid idiot in the car.

I protested much until Kincaid told Weasil to stop the car and he hoisted a meaty green leg up on the dashboard where I could see he had on leggings. I was stunned to see so much fat encased like a sausage in green merry man tights. And I opened me gob hole and said as much. Stupid laughed and so did the other one and onward we went. I should know by now, insults do not work on them.

"Where the feck are we going?" I moaned undressing to put on the silly stuff, BECAUSE I knew if I didn't I'd be that odd and recognisable civilian I always am.

"We iz going to a new pubee," Weasil said, "it be called da Red Rat Inn, I mean da Red Dragon Inn."

"Oh for joy!" I said with acid tripping off me tongue, as I struggled into the leggings. "Oh wait a minute, just because the place is called the Red Rat was it? Or, Dragon Inn it doesn't mean you need to dress like it is someplace out of Lord of the Rings?"

Not a word, they exchanged glances and a slight nod. I leaned over the front seat and that caused Weasil to tell me it WAS dress up time, it was a club for nerds who like to pretend they are a character from Game of Thrones, or part of King Arthur's court. I sat back thinking and then I looked down.

"I am NOT wearing THIS." I held up a court jester hat with bells on the ends of each isosceles triangle. "NO!"

"Coom on Gabby yer needs ta luke da pat." Kincaid said his accent not easy to understand when your own is Irish.

"I need to look like a Pat, a Paddy do ye mean?" I said getting a wee bit of temper up. "Ye tink we Irish are all jesters doo ye?"

"No, it goos wit yer coostoom." Kincaid soothed.

Like I believed him. I knew I was right even if he pronounced part as pat. There was always an Irish joke in there somewhere and it was always on me!

"Yer both prats," I mumbled jamming the stupid looking thing on me head and feeling the right fool. but then I felt something at me feet and it had bells. I reached down and held it up to the passing street lights. There was another one of on the floor. It was a shoe, but not just any shoe, it had curled up toe with a bell attached.

"OH NO, NO, NO, NO!" I threw the jester shoe at Kincaid's head.

He picked it up where it dropped to the floor and without looking threw it back and it hit me in the nose. The bell did, so it hurt.

"Coom on noe Gabe," Kincaid moaned like I was an errant child or more the brat. "Ye got to look like ya belong or ya won't git in. 'Sides dere wuz no other coostoom."

I sighed, defeated. I slipped me big feet into the big stupid shoes and caught a glimpse of me head wearing the idiotic hat in the rear view mirror. Yeah wonderful sight. NOT. I felt the proper fool. Well, I was dressed for the part so I don't know what I expected.

I sat there in the dark backseat fuming that I was a part of the Weasil/Kincaid show, the new Three Stooges. Yup, that's what was going through me mind.

So we pulled up at this place that was a rather badly put together castle, with crumbly walls and something that was to look like an iron grate with chains holding it up from collapse. We walked through this precarious edifice over a wooden plank bridge with a large puddle underneath doubling as a river. Oh yeah. And then to a thick wooden door with big round bolts that was open emanating a red fireplace glow from inside and oh the noise. The boisterous voices, the banging of pewter cups,  I knew I was in for a fine time and not a good one.

I absolutely hated that I jingled when I walked. That damn hat! The equally damn shoes! People knew I was coming and of course I was the one they looked at first. Well, of course! Weasil was dressed in chain mail and leathers with a long sword looking quite the war lord, the other one, was dressed like Robin Hood but come on! He looked to me like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

So Weasil turns to us and tells us he's got this. Yeah okay. There was a wee woman dressed in a long green skirt that was turned up to the waist to reveal a not so white petticoat. She was dressed in a leather corset with a dirty white puffy sleeved blouse rolled up to her armpits. But the most outstanding thing about her was she had a chest like Dolly Parton only bigger! I had to wonder how she kept from tipping over. She was staring into the huge fireplace that was set with what looked like tree trunks burning merrily. It had her in a daze or it was the mead she had just put down.

In that daze she held out a hand and Weasil handed her a pouch full of gold(?) and says, "Tanks, keepie da changie." This she proceeds to stuff down her bosom. We moved on.

Seating ourselves at a long table already nearly full, we were served as a wench came by and offered us, "Red wyne fer ye gents?" She asked her infrequent teeth yellow with rot, her breath REALLY bad and travelled the whole table. Everyone made a face until she stopped smiling. A jack o'lantern had more teeth than the serving wench.

As we started to sip our 'wyne' a voice came over a loud speaker of all things and said, "Cool Duke, please visit keyword RDI to learn how to use these rooms."

Don't ask I hadn't a clue, but there was a lot of laughter as a result. I wondered if this was a dungeons and dragons dress up, but well I was too engrossed in sipping me 'wyne' to give it much thought.

It was a weird feeling came over me, and the smell of fire was very pronounced as I suddenly glanced behind me and there was the wee doorkeeper standing in that same daze just behind us, still mesmerised by the roaring and might I say HOT fire. Some guy sitting next to me turned and looked at her, and then took a pouch and handed it to her outstretched hand saying to her, "Tip money for the serving wench, see she gets it." Then he smiled brightly up at her waiting for a response.

"The fire looks so much smaller now." She mumbled.

Again clueless here but OK. And once again she stuffed the pouch down her front. It dawned on me that that's why she was so top heavy. Cor! She literally stank of fire and I realised the dirt on her petticoat and blouse was not dirt but fire ash. Gees Louise!

Some poor sod was heaving his drunken bulk up to the bar behind us and the same man that gave the doorkeeper the pouch put his leg out and down went "Rafe" with a boom. He fell heavy and the room shook with laughter. I didn't find that funny, and neither did the embarrassed Rafe. Everyone watched him as muffled chuckles broke free as he limped to the bar. Once he was there, the noise and hubbub started anew.

"What is this?" I asked Kincaid but he shook his head and went to sipping his wyne.

I happened to catch movement above me and there was this guy crossing the rafters. He jumped onto a tabletop and with broadsword in hand gave a speech in old English which I understood not a word but he got laughs all the way through.

"This is bizarre. More bizarre than usual," I whispered to the man on my left hoping he felt the same way because he wasn't laughing either.

It was then I noticed the doorkeeper was right behind him staring into the flames like she was going to lose it. Me left seat companion looked up at her and said, "Do you worship fire or something?" Me question entirely what I wanted to ask but was too timid to voice. Her eyes wandered lazily to his face and she just stared him, causing him to look away in discomfort. She was a spooky lady she was.

Meanwhile, the serving wench plunked down goblets of honey mead when we had all finished our first two goblets of wyne. The stuff splashed over the rim of the goblets and she said to each of us at the long table as she went, "There ya go!" I felt like I was in kindergarten, or worse a geriatric patient in a mental ward.

She returned herself to the bar when she was done with us but the doorkeeper still stood eerily behind me, not moving, still entranced with the fire. I turned to look at her because something about the rather crazy smile breaking over her face made the hairs on the back of me neck stand up. She was, I think, praying to the fire gods and as she prayed her eyes grew brighter and bigger. Oh this wasn't good I told meself.

Before I could say anything of alarm, Weasil got up, clinked his already empty goblet on the table and waved to the crowd.

"Wuzup everyone!" He shouted as the din receded.

Kincaid had meanwhile, reached over to pet a Russian Wolfhound that had come to sit at the end of our long board or table. Weasil found this act one of disrespect because Kincaid noticed the glare he was getting and abruptly stopped petting the animal and muttered a, "Sorry Sor, ye were a-sayin'?"

Just as he finished saying this, the door creaked open and in walked a tall man with shaved head, black arched eyebrows, wearing one gold earring, a long black leather coat with brass buttons down the front and on the cuffs, white pirate shirt and completing the look, a black baldric and sword. The doorkeeper glided over with her hand out. The man took a seat as he dug out a pouch that jingled and handed it to her. The same action of stuffing it down her bodice and she turned and glided back to stand behind me. I reckoned it was the closest to the fire she could get and that just happened to be where I was sitting.

"Hey Iggy man!" Weasil called to him. Iggy nodded in return and was served a splashing, slamming goblet of mead, which he drained in one gulp. He was an ugly man, and a dangerous looking dude which made me wonder at Weasil and Kincaid. Kincaid was nodding and smiling at Iggy as the dog nuzzled its head into his side for attention.

The doorkeeper passed a gold piece with the mark of England on it to Weasil. Weas left it in front of him on the table and shouted at Iggy, "Wots up bro?"

"Howz it goin'?" the Ig asked with a British accent ignoring the question.

Suddenly and without warning the doorkeeper passed to the other side of the table and grabbing a long iron poker started attacking the fire. As she was doing this the Ig got up and with a dexterity not often seen in a man his size cut off two coin pouches of the smaller men sitting nearby. They sat in awe of him as he took the pouches, poured them out in front of Weasil and grinned.

What was THIS about I wanted to know.

"Iggy I thought I wuz goin' nuts in here." Weasil said all smiles. "Cham-pag-ney for all!" Weasil shouted to the wench at the bar.

And champagne it was, the bubbly was uncorked at the bar and the bottles were trayed to each table by the almost toothless wench.

"Wots the occasion?" I asked Kincaid as the wench gathered up the silver and put it back into the two pouches. These she threw on one of her trays and disappeared. Kincaid shrugged and went back to the dog. That made me more nervous. Was something in store for me?

Glass after glass of the bubbly was raised and near the end of the toasts which went something like this:

"To the drink!"
"To US!"
"To the dog!"
"To sweat and bad breath!"

And up and down the tables it went. All stupid stuff until it got to the doorkeeper who stood looking into the fire. She took a coin from her bosom and threw it into the leaping flames and turning to us she stood, her mouth working and her brow all wrinkled in thought. She said to no one in particular, "Takes a coin to keep it goin'." She frowned and then said slowly, "I can't think of anything good to say." With that she shrugged and returned her attention to the flames.

OK THEN, moving ever onward.

Iggy said to the assembly, "I can see yer all chillin' here, specially YOU Weas." And he laughed.

"Bro iz phat to see yaz." Weasil said blushing slightly (as if that was possible).

"Iz there someone else can tend for a moment so I can join the mates?" The bartender shouted.

A few hands went up and the more than drunk among us volunteered. I could imagine one of them behind the bar covertly drinking the profits. One able bodied man did step up and the bartender took his place at the table behind us. He was immediately served by the wench who again did her slam, splash and leave technique.

About that time I heard a rather strange sound. It was the wolfhound and it was purring like a cat. I took a double take and looked around but no one seemed to think THAT was out of the ordinary.

"Iggy dis iz sum kinda roomie," Weasil said gaily. "Dey all got limp wristies."

I sat there me mouth hanging open watching how the assembly took THAT little bit of information. And I can honestly say, not well.

Meanwhile, Kincaid was smiling at the dog and it looked like the purring dog was smiling back! I looked at me glass wondering what I was really drinking.

The barkeep got himself up all burly 6 feet of him. He had his hands on his hips as he glared at the Weasil and said, "Lemme guess, you wanna spar?"

The doorkeeper on that penetrating her brain whipped around and said, "Don't tell me to calm down! Don't tell me to shut up!"

Everyone was silent, the barkeep's eyes were wide with surprise as he sank his big self back in his seat.

"Cool." Weasil whispered, dropping his hand from his sword hilt.

The doorkeeper came forward and stood just behind me AGAIN! Only she was facing the barkeep. Her look was menacing but she went no further. He, for his part looked down at the table. I'd never seen a grown man cringe like that. Just what was her deal? I wanted to ask Weasil, but he slowly sank in his seat across from me with a smug smile on his face as he too looked over at the barkeeper like what are you going to do about it mate, kind of expression.

The room was electric with tension, the fire rose and hissed, the sparks flew as a log fell. Not a sound other than the crackling logs. I was half turned toward the doorkeeper but could see Weasil out of the corner of me other eye. These two I need to keep an eye apiece on if you know what I mean. Yes, I looked strange, one eye focused in one direction the other in the opposite, and yes, I know me eyes could have permanently stayed that way and well then I'd look a lot like Marty Feldman!

The tension began to settle as conversation began in a rumble on the other side of the room and soon rolled over to our side. The barkeeper had slunked his way back behind the bar and was busy drying glasses but the doorkeeper was still zeroed in on him with her death stare.

"Who is she?" I asked Kincaid in as soft a voice as I could.

"She's da Ig's sister." Kincaid whispered not looking at me, but staring into his mead.

"His what?" I exploded and as I rose half out of me seat everyone near me tried to pull me back down, shushing me as they threw side long glances in the direction of Iggy's sister. But she had turned and was looking directly at me with a scowl on her face and I could see the barkeeper sigh relieved the focus was off him. He was pouring himself a shot as I was whipped to face the Weasil side of the room cutting off me view of him and HER. Suddenly I felt the creature's fingers digging into me shoulder and wow that hurt!

"Ye haf a problem do ye?" She hissed into me ear as me mouth wailed a low ouch and me nostrils fought the fire smell.

"Oh no, no, no, no, no," I moaned the pain quite intense as her skeleton fingers with the very long yellow nails dug in.

She threw me away from her and announced to all assembled, "Yer! None of ye are to get apples this day. Notta one of yas."

If I wasn't in so much residual pain I would have shouted, "Apples?" but I was in pain and thankfully that saved me from the probability of a second shoulder squeeze and a hissing question in me ear.

Thankfully, a door on the other side swung open and everyone cheered and rapped their tankards on the tables as two huge pigs with apples in their mouths were hauled out and set on the two bigger tables (one being me own). With a determined step the doorkeeper slid her arm between two would be diners and took the apple out of the pig's mouth and then she moved to the other table and did the same and you will never guess what she did with those apples, she slid them in her bosom! Yup two greasy hot apples right down the old dress front. I tell ya she must have skin of a lizard because she had smoke issuing from her front as she passed by to another table where she took up a pitcher of water and proceeded to pour it not only down the front of her but on the back to the head of the man sitting nearby. He instantly rose up for the ice bucket challenge he didn't know he was a part of and his table laughed as the rest of us sat there watching the doorkeeper's bosom sizzle and smoke as the water produced steam from the heat. With all that water Iggy's sister was overly top heavy and was struggling not to fall face forward.

The Ig got up with the help of the Weasil and a few others to hold her upright and escort her to the bar where she could hold herself up. I was wondering if this night could get anymore bizarre and freaky. I will say I got both miscreants to promise me as soon as we devoured the pig that we would leave and get the hell out of the castle. And we did.

I know what you're saying to your computer screen, why didn't you just leave then Gabe, do you always think of your stomach first? Well uh YEAH.

I was unnerved enough to tell the Weasil I was driving us home, but he would not let me behind the wheel of the speed bucket. So I had to endure a blow by blow of their laughter at ME for botching up the evening. If that console wasn't between them I would have reached over the front seat and bashed their heads together. I spoke not a word, but sat there with me arms folded across me chest, tsking a lot and did not realise as I walked into me own home that I was still dressed the fool. I didn't have long to remember it as me Mam was the only one up with a cuppa watching the telly on a very low volume not to wake the house. When she saw me she turned the volume up and guess what? Yeah all the sleepers in the house awoke to see yours truly in jester dress. Rubbing eyes, double takes, laughter, giggles, pointing, yeah that's what I came home too.

When I tried to explain they told me not to, it was just too priceless.

So thanks a lot Weasil and Robby for making me endure a semi-nightmare, dressed like a complete idiot in the process and then be insulted royally by me own ones. Gees.

I hope it is snowing heavily in Colorado and the two miscreants will leave here and go ski off a mountain. SIGH.

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