17 October, 2016

First there was Hillary and David, then Drew and Jonathan, but it was Chip and Joanna I wanted to make a dream come true . . . I think

17 October 2016

R. Linda:

Tonya and I were featured on Love or List It. Yes, we were thinking our abode was too small and we needed to move, at least that was Tonya who thought that. I was of the mind, that if we busted out the porch we could build an extra room there and we could live very happily. Somehow, we got on the show (I suspect me old neighbour turned our names in telling the show's producer that there was this nice young couple who he didn't want to see in divorce court over staying or leaving the cozy abode up in the woods).

Imagine me surprise as I be leaving me house for a cup of well needed joe with me wife following me out the door telling me in no uncertain terms the merits of house hunting, and me throwing over me shoulder the equal merits of staying put and building an addition, when there standing next to me motor is David Visentin and Hillary Farr watching us banter.

Both Tonya and I stopped our yammering as Hillary moved forward to shake me hand and say, "Gabe, I can make it so you will love your home." And then David extending his saying, "Gabe, believe me you will thank me when I find you a house that will fill all your needs and you will want to leave this hovel."

Next thing we are all sitting in me parked car in the front of me "hovel." Tonya and I in the backseat and David and Hillary in the front, all of us with a glass of wine.

"I can assure you Gabe, I can find you a home that meets your criteria guaranteed. You'll be saying LIST IT." David said to me.

"And I can assure you Gabe, I can make your home exactly what you want and you'll have Tonya here saying, I LOVE IT!" Hillary challenged.

"Now down to basics, what price range are we looking?" David asked Tonya.

"Uh . . . uh . . . lets say $250,000." Tonya said not sure.

"$250,000? Your house is worth $250,000 -- just," David said as if his feathers were ruffled, "you might as well stay. Have some more wine."

"Ok, $350,000," Tonya said taking a sip as I made a face like WHAT???

"And how much do I have to work with?" Hillary said all smiles to me.


"WHAT?" She near screamed at me. "David gets $350,000 and for renovation I get a measly $25,000? Now Gabriel if you want me to do all the things you have on this list," (list produced like Santa's role call of good and naughty children) "I can't possibly do it on that amount. Can you do better?"

I was embarrassed as the TV camera pushed in through the open window for a closeup of me face.

"Uh . . . $11,000 more." I squeaked shrugging me shoulders and making a "well I tried" face to the camera then took a healthy gulp of the wine.

"Still at $36,000 that doesn't give me much leeway. But I can guarantee you will have the nicest closet in town." Hillary said, pouring us more wine.

"Closet?" Tonya and I both croaked mid sip of wine.

"I can see the foundation is rotted out from here which means new joists and sills, and since we don't have the money to fix THAT, we can put a few rocks to bolster the foundation, and well we will have to move the toilet, sink and bathtub to make room for the closet, but unfortunately we won't have any money in the budget to fix the holes that will be left in the floor, OR to put in a small water closet to replace the bath we take out for the closet space. Add to that your roof is sagging and needs replacement. Can't do that either." Hillary explained to our incredulous looks.

"But . . . but we wanted an addition not all that other stuff." Tonya said in a little voice.

"No downstairs bathroom?" I muttered startled I'd be losing a bathroom and gaining a . . . closet!

"Well guys, you gave David a good figure and my budget is like miniscule. So yes, I have just enough to do the closet you wanted." Hillary said, in a no nonsense voice ignoring the question.

Tonya and I looked at each other mouthing the word 'closet' which we did want in the new addition that was to be an extra bedroom.

"What about the addition?" I piped up trying again one last time.

"No can do, not enough money in the budget YOU gave me." Hillary said adamantly. "But the closet will be out of this world."

"Ok we are out of here," I said as Tonya opened her side since mine was blocked by cameras and sound equipment. We rushed out as Hillary and David did the same in the front seat and chased us inside our abode. We got there first and locked the door. I cracked open a window and yelled we were done, they could pack it up and go home now. I drew the blinds shut all the windows and made sure the doors were locked.

"You know they were trying to get us to drink the wine so we'd be more accommodating with the budgets. Notice they never touched theirs?" Tonya said as I nodded, wow the tricksters those two were. I looked out the window and the Love Or List It crew were outside the abode for three days before they finally left, Hillary shouting last chance for that fabulous closet and holding up a bottle of wine and two glasses at us. But we were not budging. We were done, or so we thought. We had just opened the blinds and unlocked the doors when there was a knock at the front door.

I foolishly opened it find these two men as tall as meself and as skinny as meself smiling at me. One had on a business suit which reminded me of me when I go to work and the other was in a flannel shirt and jeans, which reminded me of me when I be home lazying around.

"Hi, I'm Drew Scott," the one in the business suit said extending his hand to me, "and this is my brother Jonathan. We are the Property Brothers and we heard of your dilemma and are here to help. I can show you homes in your neighbourhood that will maximise the space you want and my brother can renovate your home for sale."

I stood there with me jaw almost on the ground. Here we go again. Hells no, I thought but the wife pushed me from the doorway where she gushed over these two twinees as if I did not exist. Before I knew what was happening, Jonathan was inside me abode with a metal measuring tape saying things like, "This post is holding the entire house up, it needs to go. If I take that post down you will be able to see from one end of the house to the other . . . maybe."

"But what's going to hold up me house?" I stammered, but he ignored me and went to the back door and measured again.

"This door needs to go, if we put French doors in more natural light will come through and that's a perk for a potential buyer."

"Potential buyer?" I muttered confused.

Next thing I know I am being piled into the back of a car and driven to a mansion where Drew told us to come right in and take a look around. He explained the amenities of the house, indoor pool, marble floors, granite counter tops, wood panelling, gourmet kitchen, patio with outdoor kitchen, a hundred bathrooms, one for every room, a master bedroom with closets that could be bedrooms in their own right, views of mountains and perfectly landscaped yard. This could all be  yours, we are told.

"How much," the wife drooled.

"$3.5 million," Drew said.

"We . . . we . . . don't have that kind of money," I choked out.

"Well, I can make your house look like THIS." Jonathan said with a big smile.

"You . . . you . . . can?" The wife looked adoringly at him, her hands in prayer pose.

"How . . . how . . . much?" I choked out again.

"How much you got?" Jonathan said and that was it for me.

"Tonya," I said aside in a whisper, "forget this lets just up and leave for Waco, Texas." I looked at her knowingly and she got it.

"Yes," she whispered back, "Joanna and Chip Gains. We can buy a broken down old fixer upper and Chip and Joanna can make it look like THIS." She gestured to our surroundings.

I cleared me throat and announced that there was a bald eagle flying around the back view did the Scott brothers see it? It was just magnificent.

"No," they said looking in that direction, and then walking over to what they called an infinity window to look more closely. That's when Tonya and I snuck out and ran, yes ran all the way home. We packed up the kiddos, me Mam and what we needed and are on our way to Waco to buy a piece of crap house so we can be on Fixer Upper.

Well, that was what I thought until I was rudely awakened by the wife asking me "WHO IS JOANNA? WHAT IS SHIPLAP? IS THAT HER LAST NAME?" I had been pleading with Joanna Gaines to fix up me fixer upper in me sleep. "Look at all the shiplap, pull-ese Joanna!" I pointed out to Joanna before I was shaken awake. I blinked realising I was in me new home, no fixer upper needed, what was I thinking, or more correctly dreaming? Yes, I had hotter than hell tacos last night and as you know THIS be  what happens when spicy food influences me dreams.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

07 October, 2016

The Urn In The Closet

07 October 2016

R. Linda:

When me Mam divorced me Da, she moved out of the old abode to come here to live with us. In their bedroom for more years than I can remember, there was this bronze urn that at one time had nothing but Irish pennies in it. I was told it was me Da's, given to him by an old flame before he met and married me Mam. Me Mam never used it, but me Da put pennies in it for a few years and then it stood at the top of the closet empty all these years out of sight out of mind, my mind in particular.

When me Mam moved she left the urn where it was because why would she want it? So I get this phone call from across the pond, it is me Da and he wants to know what for she left him an urn and who be inside it. Further, it has for the past almost two years since she left, been creeping him out.

I at first had no idea what he was talking about. Urn? I don't remember an urn. And why should I? I was never frequenting their closet so like I said, out of sight out of mind and really I didn't know where it came from in the first place. I told him I had no clue what he was going on about and then I wondered if it was HIS cat's ashes Mam had put in an urn.

He had a cat, and that cat he put in the cat carrier one day and told me Mam the cat was sick he was going to the vets. Well, seems the cat was sick a lot and everyday he would take the cat in the carrier, to the vets. Then one day he told her the cat was still at the vets but he had visiting hours after dark to go visit the cat.

Now me Mam was not born yesterday and she suspected there was nothing much wrong with the cat, but with her husband. She thought he was seeing someone and well he was! His excuse was the cat. Well, seems the other woman be not a cat lover and so the cat suffered, stuck in the carrier, no water, probably little food if any, and then the cat really did get sick. By this time the cat was home, the husband was thrown out of the home, and Mam was for real going to the vets.

Once there the cat was diagnosed with malnutrition and so they looked at her very funny. She sighed, shrugged her shoulders and instead of telling them what she thought, she said, "I be not the trooble, it be you. For eight weeks me old man been bringing the cat ta ya, then visiting the cat here at night."

"Hold on Mrs. O'Sullivan," the vet interrupted her. "We have not seen the cat since last year for exam and shots."

"Oh really," Mam feigned surprise. "So me old man was lyin' about the cat was he?"

"Maybe, he brought the cat to another vet." The man said.

"Oh no, no, he tole me it was YOU who was treatin' his old cat, allowin' em' to come after hours to visit the old thing."

"We don't have visiting hours and we are not open after dark." The vet said looking alarmed.

Well, all this just confirmed what she already had reckoned. As it turned out it be a sad story, she nursed the old man's cat until it succumbed as it was beyond help and very old to have been treated so ill. She got rather attached to the thing and was upset the old man never asked after his cat. At the end she was tempted to be done with everything having to do with the old man and was near to cremating the cat, when she decided instead to give it a proper burial in the back garden. So when I asked her who's ashes were in the urn, and she looked at me askance because she didn't know what I was asking her, we discussed the urn to wit she replied, "Oh dat urn."

"Yeah, he said you made the urn in a ceramics class."

"Oh no, no. Dat was from Rita his old flame. It was a terrible job she did on it. Ye could see her heart weren't in ceramics. It was ugly and it has been in the bedroom closet since we bought the old house. If ye talk to that old slipper tell him it wasn't mine, it was Rita's and his cat's ashes are in it."

"Are they?" I asked.

"Noo, I planted the cat in the garden. But tell em' the cat's in the urn."

"He told me you left it there with someone inside to creep him out. He hasn't looked in it, won't touch it." I said.

"Really? He flatters himself I'd care enough to do sumthin' like dat." Said she. "And he doesn't know me to know who'd be in the urn? Here ye go, me mother was cremated, tell em' the cat and me old mother be in the urn together."

"I can't do that." I said aghast. "Isn't your mother's urn buried?"

"It was last time I looked, but he's so stupid he doesn't seem to realise that. So tell em' wot I tole ye."

And she left the room.

So here I sit, shaking me head, half tempted to do her bidding and creep the old geezer out completely or be honest Gabe and correct his memory of who the original owner of the urn was or just not call him and leave things as they be.

Photo of the "creepy urn" taken by the old fart with shaky hands but you get the idea 
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

06 October, 2016

Reginald's Chair -Your Annual Halloween Tale

06 October 2016

R. Linda:

When I lived in me old antique abode I never really saw any "human ghosts," just the spooky dark cat that would appear at times (mostly in September) and that was pretty much it. Imagine me surprise when buying a house built in the mid 1990s, to find the activity level of the spirit world alive and well inside me doors. Yes, R. Linda, it be rather disconcerting to think one hears voices, sees movement, and gets an overwhelming feeling of dread in a relatively newer home, but that has happened.

I remember the time I slept in the house on me own before we moved and the mattress near about ate me. You remember that? Now I be wondering if that was an accident or . . . demonic plan. The master bedroom is rather a large affair (and the reason we bought the abode) and in it is the antique furnishings we had in the old abode. These antiques have been accused of bringing their former spirit owners to the new house. I have to wonder. There have been nights I have heard (and Tonya too) someone cough and it wasn't us. We both have been awoken on occasion by this sound. At first I thought it was Tonya's mobile phone making a strange noise as it charged over night, but no. We used me own mobile to call it and it does not cough, it vibrates. So we eliminated the phone.

We checked the windows, all are shut well, no draft coming through though when we have a northeaster we can hear the wind howling around the casings yet no draft gets in to make a coughing sound. We thought it was the wood as we have a pine ceiling, the pine coming from the trees that used to grow on the property but were cut down to be used on the inside of the home. Not that either, though the ceiling is very high. On windy nights you can hear the wind lift the roof tiles but that doesn't sound like coughing either.

Then there are the doors that close and open by themselves. You'd find this in older homes where the foundation be not plumb, but our house is not an older home and all seems level. No humps or creaks in the floor, no parting of door frames, no the locks click when the doors are closed and click when opened so how they open and close on their own we have notta clue.

There was the one night I was alone in the house, the wife and kiddos along with me Mam went to Jersey for a long weekend. The dog was going nuts barking and I could see nothing in the blackness outside, but when she was still I could hear someone tramping through the woods on the side of the house. I could see nothing, but there was something or someone outside. That was unnerving especially since we live in a forest.

Add to this, the very next day with daylight shining, a black car came down me long hidden driveway all the way to the back of the property, turned around and sped out. This has happened several times day and night. Because the house cannot be seen from the road and the driveway is long and winding like a road, I was of the mind, these people who drive up to the house think it is a lover's lane of sorts and are looking to park for a make-out session. Who knows? But for a house off the beaten path we do get a lot of traffic where we should have none.

There is a cat here too. Maybe it's the same one from the old abode and came with us. We don't know the answer to that either but we do know it be outside too. There was an evening one of our cats was on the back deck crooning at an imaginary something. There was nothing out there, but our cat WAS looking very distinctly at something that wasn't there. This has happened on three occasions so far.

Last Halloween night at midnight Tonya and I were both awakened to wolves howling outside our bedroom window. We were both unnerved until I said with a mock Transylvanian accent, "Tonyah, the childreen of da night dey sing to you." She was not happy with me. Shortly after THE cough sounded. How we slept that night I don't know.

The meadows behind the house are always filled with mist in the morning, making it look like ghosts had a party and were slow departing the morning sunrise.

Fog rolling in from fields on the left
Oh and at sunset we have bats that fly around the chimney making for a very spooky atmosphere at dusk.

There was the night we were getting ready for bed when an awful stench came in the open windows. We were discussing this when a bellow sounded from outside. It was a bear we are sure. Next morning we found it had ripped up some of our front lawn ferreting out hornet nests. The bird feeder was gone and we still haven't come across it which makes me wonder about beavers after me experience with them and mailboxes. Me Mam be sure it wasn't a bear but a leprechaun followed her over from the old sod. Right. I said to her, "since when do leprechauns tear up the yard and eat hornets?" She thought for a moment and quipped to me, "That be a certain leprechaun, he likes chewin' on wasps because he be his bad self. He be the one makin' things weird around here. He be the tallest leprechaun, be named Reginald." Oh ok that makes perfect sense.

One of our cats has come home with a large piece of his tail missing. That be not because he tangled with some animal, but that self same leprechaun took a bite out of him. Thank you Mam.

Notice the tail
We have one piece of furniture I will tell you about. It is a lovely Edwardian affair that has some history to it. It was passed down from father to son in the O'Sullivan family starting in the Edwardian period across the pond in old Eire. Each son would put it in their room to sit in it to put on socks and shoes I assume. This old thing was me grandfather's and he'd let no one sit in it as long as he was alive. He used to tell me not to sit in it at night because "ole' Reggie will be sitten' in it." When he passed it went to me father who never liked the chair and gave it directly to ME so he skipped a generation of use. This me Mam accused him of putting a curse on himself and well, the way things went with him, losing his mind and all, I have to wonder at that. The old thing was pretty ratty and I reckoned to leave it in me old room at home in Newry, Ireland when I came over to Boston, Mass. I thought I'd seen the last of it, until I got married and after me honeymoon came home to find a large crate from Ireland sitting on me front porch. Well, I was thinking it was some wondrous thing being gifted to us, and was ever eager to open it. Well, imagine me surprise when I found THE chair was sent over the sea to me.

The note on it said, "Sonny boy, here be yer grandda's chair and his before him, and his before him, and well ye know how it goes, old Reggie's favourite chair. Yer father has no use fer it here so we have shipped it to you there for you to hand down to your sonny boy if yer ever blessed to have one of those. If it be daughters then give it to yer daughter's husband. All our love, yer old Mam and Da."

You don't know how unhappy Tonya was to see that shabby thing. She was all for taking it to the dump and she had a point. BUT I could see the worth in the wreck and said to her we'd have it reupholstered one day, to which I was told that would cost a lot of money. I didn't think so, so I stuck it in me office and used it to put files on and pretty much forgot about it until we moved here. That was when Tonya told me it wasn't coming with us.

"That shoddy thing has been in me family for too many years to count. I can't not keep it. I will move it and get it redone." I said to her dubious look.

And so I finally did after me Mam discovered it down in the cellar where I had covertly moved it. You know out of sight, out of mind.

Here take a look:

Looks better than it was
I had a good tax return for a change and so I took The Chair to an upholsterer who happened to be a Brit. He told me as soon as he saw it, "they don't make em' like that anymore." I had to sigh, no, no they don't and I knew me wife thought it an ugly thing and she really wasn't happy I was having it redone, but she was hoping me Mam would like it so much she'd put it out of sight in HER room. That be the reason I took me little grey haired, apple cheeked Mam with me. I didn't tell her why, I just said I was no good at these sorts of things and so . . .

Well, it didn't take long, as soon as the upholsterer pulled out the array of fabrics she was on them like a bear on honey. She found a rather fetching burgundy she thought would go with the burgundy rug in me room and I was thinking good, because from me eyesight it didn't look burgundy it looked RED. Tonya would never allow the clashing of colour so I agreed and that was that and off we went until the call the chair was ready.

Well, I will say I was more surprised than anyone when I saw that chair. It is quite beautiful. The man bolstered the framework, cleaned it up, stuffed it so when you sat down you didn't sink into a hole full of springs, and well the fabric was a wow.

"Wot's it worth now ye tink?" Me Mam asked.

"Many a fine pound," said he and threw out a figure which astounded us.

Silence from us both as we exchanged looks. After the man went away well paid for his art, we stood looking at the chair in me office where it was temporarily deposited.

"If ye don't want it I'll take it," Mam said almost drooling.

"I dunno, it looks pretty fine to me. Depends on Tonya and so if she says no way, I'll give it up to ya." I said hoping that didn't happen. I sat in the chair, and oh the comfort.

Well, the wife, when she saw the refinished product and learned how much it was now worth, was all about it being in our room and guess what it matches the burgundy rug, so that's that. Here take a look:

Chair complete  
That night with chair firmly placed in our room we went to bed. It must have been 3:30 a.m. when we were both awakened by a noise we could not pinpoint. We lay their silent for a bit holding hands, when the sound of someone saying "ahhhh" came. Both of us sat bolt upright in our bed, Tonya grabbing onto me arm as we looked in the direction of the sound. It wasn't from the usual side where the cough always occurred, it was coming from the chair. For a moment what we THOUGHT we saw was a dark figure seated in the chair, one leg crossed over the other with a top hat on. Then it faded!

"OH MY GOD WHAT WAS THAT?" Tonya shouted loud enough to wake the entire house as she jumped out of bed.

I switched on the light right away and nothing, notta thing in the room but us two upset people.

"Wot be goin' on in ere'," me Mam came in as she got her bathrobe on, kiddos behind her rubbing their eyes.

We told her what happened once we got the boyos back in their beds. She looked at the chair and then with a wistfulness I hadn't heard in her voice ever she said, "Oh dat be Mr O'Sullivan, Reginald the first owner of THE chair. He has been tellin' ya fer months he wants his chair and now here it be, all done up so fine fer the old gent. He won't be coughing to gain yer attentions now will he? He's got his chair."

Tonya and I stood mute. What was there to say to that? Finally I stuttered out, "Did this Reginald happen to wear a top hat?"

"Oh fer sure he did, was quite the dandy accordin' ta yer old grandda." Mam said still looking dreamily at the chair. "He used ta cough when he wanted sumthin', now he's got his chair, ya did good there Gabriel."

Since that night we have heard no coughing, though on occasion we think we hear someone settling into the chair. Tonya said she saw a tall man with top hat almost reclining in the chair, legs on hassock all set and then he faded out. This creeps her out as you might wonder it would. As for me, I've seen no more dark shapes, but I do hear the sounds of someone sitting in that chair. I now think I should have had me Mam take the chair since she gets all dreamy of Reggie when she speaks of him. I asked her how she knew old Reg was a handsome devil of a dandy.

"Well, from yer grandfather mostly. He told me all kinds of stories about Reginald and how his luck changed after leading a scandalous life. He was found tied to that chair dead one night."

I sat up suddenly attentive.

"He owed a great deal of money and ruined some landowner's daughter. The man came lookin' fer him one stormy night and surprised Reginald who was full of the drink. Then he tied him to the chair, YOUR chair and strangled the life out of him in revenge for his daughter's ruination. Took what money Reggie had and was found out several weeks later and was hanged."


"Then why is he so happy to get in that chair if that's what happened to him?" I asked stymied.

"Because as ye know spirits tend to stick close to the last earthly place they were before they passed on. For Reggie it was your chair."

"STOP saying MY CHAIR." I demanded.

"All the phenomena you been hearin' was old Reginald looking fer his chair, openen' and closin' doors, coughing to git yer attention, takin' a chunk outta da cat's tail, trampin' through the woods at night, all dat he was doin' cause he was missin' his chair. He kept it up until you got it done up and back."

"You really think that?" I was incredulous. "Next you're going to say that was him and not the wind flying around the rooftop? Was he the one driving all those cars up and down the driveway too?

"Well, it be yer chair and yer both sittin' in it," said she and cup of tea and herself disappeared upstairs leaving me to feel chills up and down me spine.

"THANKS MA!" I yelled after her. "I'll sleep well tonight thank you very much," I muttered more to meself and that's what happened. I have not had a good nights sleep since Reggie got his chair recovered. Oi!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

14 September, 2016

Not Me Cup Of Tea

14 September 2016

R. Linda:

Well, well, well live and learn something about human nature, mine. I have to preface this piece because I am not necessarily knocking beautiful women of the supermodel kind, but in a way I have experienced something that doesn't often happen to the working joe like me. I also know I be not cut out for the social life of the upper crust Bostonian set.

Here it is, last weekend I was invited to a rather magnificent splash of a party in Boston. I am liked by one of the paper's executives, a mover and shaker in Boston. He lives on swanky Beacon Hill across from the park and has three big homes, one on the Vineyard, one in Aspen, and one in Malibu. I ran into him at the wharf about a week ago. I asked him how he was and he's a talker he is, and he proceeded to tell me his latest adventures in Abu Dabi and about his side trip to New Zealand. Then he said he was having a bash at one of the big Boston hotels and why didn't I bring the wife and come enjoy. Well, I was taken aback. He then said it was formal and it give me wife an opportunity to dress to the nines as all women like that. OK, Tonya is not one of those women, but he was nice for asking and I wasn't about to debate the issue.

He insisted we attend and I told him I had a wee bit of a cold and was on antibiotics. He looked at me a moment and said, "Gabe, you're up in New Hampshire right?"

"I am." I replied with a cough.

"Look you could do me a huge favour. My Porsche is being fixed by a friend of mine in Hollis. If I have him drive the car over to your place, would you drive it to the party and I will send you home after ward in my limo if that's all right?"

Hells yes! Porsche? ME ME ME I WANNA DRIVE IT!

Having made the deal, and gotten the particulars I was on cloud nine. So I take meself home and tell the wife she be invited to a society shindig and she is not excited but deflated. Me Mam on the other hand, was thinking what a great opportunity this was for me to "netwerk da hell outda dem high and mighties." Of course she would think that so the wife looked defeated as well and shrugged and said she hadn't a thing to wear that would be appropriate.

"Err look," Mam says, "we'll go tuo dat Davie's Bridal or whatever ye call it and git ye sumthin' grand we will."

"We will?" Tonya said looking at me terrified because me Mam's idea of grand is Victorian lace down to the ankles with old ladies shoes. Not exactly Tonya's style.

I looked amused (I couldn't help it) and shrugged.

"Gabe, don't you think he's using you to get his car down there?" Tonya mused.

"Not really, the fella that has it could drive it down but he thought I might enjoy the ride." I mused back.

"Yeah, well it seems suspicious to me."

"No, we talked about the Porsche and I said wistfully I wish I could drive one. I think he's being nice be all. Besides we have cart blanche at the party and are being driven home in a limo."


It was the very next day me Mam carted the wife off to the bridal store. I was looking at me cheque book in dread because those dresses do not come cheap (which was a discussion I had with them both before they left).

"Look err' sunny buy, if yer wants Tonya to standout she needs a good dress."

And that was that.

"But hey Gabe, you get to drive a Porsche." Tonya said not without a tinge of malice in her voice, and off they went.

I have a tuxedo thanks in part to me friendship with the Weasil who insisted he buy me one for one of his adventures out. So at least I didn't have to shell out a rental, only hoped it still fit and it did.

Well, the dress was bought, and you'll be happy to know it was not a Victorian number, but a chic salmon coloured hug her body you won't miss her dress. Oh yeah, complete with sparkly heels. I was glad me Mam does not know who Harry Winston is, or I could see her flying down there with Tonya in tow for a shitload of diamonds to enhance the un-enhanceable. That dress needed nothing to make it more spectacular than it was.

The dress
The Porsche and another one arrived at me door. The fella told me it was a breeze to drive and gave me some instructions on the motor and all it could do. Seems he owns four -- must be nice.

"Your boss said you never drove one before. Well, here you are," he said handing me the keys.

"Is there more to this?" I whispered. "Me wife thinks somethings up."

"Oh no," he laughed. "He does kind things for people he likes. No worries. Have fun and don't smash it." He left laughing.

That last left me with a hole in the pit of me stomach filled with dread. What if I did that? Holy cow I was now having second thoughts and there she was coming down the steps dressed to the nines, and he pulling away! What to do? I told meself to snap out of it and get meself going.

The goddess and I got in and after a moment of being impressed, I put the lovely wonder in gear and we eased on down the road like two fat cats that do this all the time.

Now instead of dreading the drive that I might ruin a perfectly good hairdo and an expensive motor, I was dreading the end of the drive. I could have driven that baby all night and the next day happy as a clam. But we arrived at the swanky hotel. Of course, the lady was let out first and she moved up to the doors and realised I was not with her. She turned around to find me still sitting in the motor of dreams, the valet tugging at me door to get me out. I know, I was being a jerk about that car but . . .

After a few minutes I departed the wonder mobile and started up to the front door where the wife was patiently waiting and a lot of fancy dressed people were milling about when suddenly the world stopped and this blond with suntan and black dress slashed to the navel, slit up to her waist comes model walking in me direction. She hands me a card and tells me in a husky, sexy voice to give her a ring. THAT NEVER HAPPENS TO MOI! I stood there with me mouth agape looking the jackarse I'm sure when the car's owner comes up to me and says, "It's the car."

Well, of course it was. He told me it happens all the time. I knew in the past he dated supermodels of which there were plenty at the party. We were sitting at his table and for some reason I had the honour of sitting next to him. He asked me about the car and we talked Porsche for about an hour before it turned to me exciting encounter outside the hotel.

"Never happened to me before." I mused.

"Gabe, let me tell you before I married I thought it was great to have a supermodel on my arm. But you know they are gold diggers, all about the money. They see the car, the well fitting tux, and bam they are right there. The foreign ones are the worse. They are groomed from very young to look for the wealthy American and go for it."

"Really?" I said looking around at some of the vivacious lookers working the room.

"Really. My wife I met at a convenience store out west. I stopped in after a jog to buy a cold drink and there she was a fellow jogger doing the same thing. We struck up a conversation about jogging and made a date to meet the next day. We did, she had no idea who I was and I was smitten. Told her that night I'd like to take her out. She said fine she'd be ready. I went to pick her up and there she was dressed in shorts and a tank top. I said I was going to take her to a nice place for dinner. She said, she was hoping I would take her for a sunset jog. Hell, I did! She was leaving for Boston the next day so I offered to drive her to the airport. I kissed her goodbye and then got my stuff from the rental, hopped in my private plane and made it to Boston before she landed. She was surprised to see me at the gate, and her face was all lit up, and that smile, I knew she was the one and proposed right then and there. I told her who I was, and she didn't care. It was refreshing after the super gold diggers. We've been together for 25 years and still as happy as the day we met."

I realised this guy be not fake or a user. He genuinely likes good people and told me he counts me as one. I also realised why he said that. After being at the party for two hours, I witnessed some behaviour I can't abide. Lots of flirting, married or not, propositions, drinking, and one-upmanship to the extreme. No wonder he likes me, I must be very refreshing since I don't partake in any of those things. Tonya and I left after much feasting and dancing to the promised waiting limo. It was rather nice to not have to drive back after a long evening. I will say the wife had a smashing good time in spite of all the suspicions she had thrown me way.

Perhaps she was right I was being used as the sane table-mate because everyone else was fake. She caught the supermodel's (who will remain nameless) attempt on scoring a big fish (oh wouldn't she have been disappointed?).

He tells me he's coming up to a reserve here to hunt in the fall and I be invited to go. Afterward, there is a dinner party the wife be invited to at "the club." That means another dress and I need to get a shotgun and hunting clothes. I don't think I can afford the attentions of me boss. So now I have to find a way out of this friendship. One night out with the jet set was enough for Tonya, she does not want to make a habit of it. Me either actually. In thinking it over if I wanted to step into that world or not, I decided not and actually find the Weasil's company (believe it or not) more me thing. I know I will regret ever saying that, but for the moment it's the truth.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

When is a radon system not a radon system?

14 September 2016

R. Linda:

Buying a home usually is not always an easy process. Forget the mortgage company puts you through  hell to have all the necessary paperwork for them to approve your arse for a mortgage, but every time you think you gave them everything but your first born, they ask for something else. Its like what? You need what now? Having been through the mortgage process, it be a lot easier than the radon test and aftermath.

When we bought the house, we had a radon test which is essential in New Hampshire because it is one giant granite rock, we aren't called the granite state for nothing. Granite exudes a toxic gas which when a house is built on granite a system to filter the gas is needed. The radon gas can be in the water as well as the air. We noticed we had a radon filtering system for the water and have had it checked out and it be working as it should. We thought we had a radon mitigating system for the gas because on the property disclosure it said we had one. Imagine our surprise when the radon test came back in with a 7.9 pCi/L We went into the basement looking for that particular system and found it. It be a pipe that filters the gas from the ground and runs up through the roof to the outside. Some systems have a fan to help extract the gas out, but we did not have that system. When we went outside we did not see the exhaust pipe. Both of us thought because of the many roof angles we just couldn't see it.

Well, you guessed it, there is no exhaust pipe. At the closing when asking about the gas filtration, the former owner assured us it was there, but was not a system with the fan that sucks the gas up and probably for a minimal fee of a few hundred dollars I could have one installed. He lived in the house for 11 years and never had a problem said he, plus he had 10 kiddos and all healthy (for now maybe).

I wasn't taking any chances with me own three kiddos, so thinking the fan was all we needed I called a radon instillation firm. Out came a very nice guy who upon looking at the outside of the house, informed me there was no exhaust pipe. Maybe, he said, it was hooked up to the water exhaust? Yet, he didn't think so, but he said he's seen some strange radon systems in his career and wouldn't put it passed the builder to have done something like that.

Well, no the gas filtration was not hooked up to the water filtration. As a matter of fact, one was on one side of the house, the other at the other end. He went over to the pipe that came out of the ground to find it was not even hooked up to anything. Just a pipe in the ground that was cut to look like it had  gone into the ceiling. What the heck? Upon further inspection of the attic, no exhaust pipe from floor to roof was to be had. Except for a dead squirrel on sticky paper that the former owner never removed. Ugh!

Fake pipe - notice the top is attached to nothing
After removing the squirrel I realised I had to have a whole system put in. So that's what is being done as I write this. Am I happy? No, but I be doing the right thing, because if I have to ever sell, at least the radon test will pass. Hopefully, that won't happen, but at least I will have a healthier environment for me family and they come first.

I thought something be up with the former owner. Me wife even said he seemed sketchy to her and we have, since moving in almost 2 years ago, are finding this to be true. Everything the building inspection found wanting, at the closing the former owner said he had fixed. Come to find he fixed nothing and what he did do were minimally inexpensive temporary fixes. Already I have replaced three chimney flues when the chimney sweep informed me I had in the fireplace the wrong liner for a wood stove. Then he told me I had the wrong liner for the furnace and neither was up to code. I had this replaced and wood stove removed. If I didn't replace the one in the fireplace we could have burnt the house down. Seems the flues were never cleaned in the eleven years the FO (former owner) lived here.

You know about the flying squirrel problem (which he assured me was non-existent), it took a professional wildlife company to come in to rid us of the varmints. Sticky paper was not the solution and what a miserable way to die. At least we killed none, just blocked them from their entry portals.

The house was constructed from steel beams, not wood as the builder owned a steel mill. The FO told us the house was really sturdy as a result. Now we used to live in a colonial cape that was built all post and beam in 1779, and talk about sturdy, that house may have had wavy, creaky floors (which we fixed) but you couldn't hear anyone in another room, and when you walked the house didn't shake. Not so with this 1996 gem, you do a load of wash on the first floor and the entire house shakes when it reaches spin cycle. We joked about it that we are about to blast off into space, but in truth it isn't reassuring that eventually the whole pile of sticks won't fall down on top of us. We replaced the washer for a quieter, non agitator model and still you can feel a slight rumble under your feet when it gets to spin mode. At least I don't hear me Mam shouting, "Get ready fur Scotty ta beam us all oop!"

So owning this house has been a money pit trip and then some. The grounds are lovely, not as woodsy as the old house which was surrounded by woods. This one has fields and such and a pond one can see from the house instead of walking into the woods to find it. The pond is filled with koi and absolutely serene to look out on while sipping a cup of joe. It be quieter and more remote and very rural compared to where we were. That town has grown and become more pedestrian and we wanted small town USA and are happy for the most part, though most people thought the town we came from just as rural. I just wish this house didn't have so many things I have to have installed or fixed. Yes, I be complaining a thousand + dollars later but it works!

The real thing
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

11 September, 2016

A fox hunt, a work of sabotage, and the sale of a "dog"

11 September 2016

R. Linda:

I don't know that I believe him, but recently Wolfie went to Scotland where some shooting of clay pigeons took place. He told me it was at a friend's estate, where he stayed. His daughter who lives in on the grounds had wanted to see him. She likes to shoot clay pigeons and so a party was got up and out of the scenes of Downton Abbey they all hiked to a back lawn (one of many I assume) and there they had flasks of fine scotch whiskey and baskets of luxurious eats with a lot of good hearted ribbing, followed by many laughs and of course the shooting of clay disks.

The idea of a "hunt" came up by one lady in the party and at first it was treated as a jest but later it was taken seriously by the horsey set among them, and a walking hunt changed to a fox hunt since it is the season. There is a ban on hunting the real thing in Scotland I believe, so that is why they were going to do the old soaking of a rag in fox scent, move it about the countryside and then fool the dogs to thinking it's the real thing. Sporting I suppose but I commiserate with those dogs not to find anything in the thickets but an old rag that's been dragged across country.

So since it is Autumn, the Master of the Hounds and Whipper-in would have their black Barbour jackets on instead of the pink, and everyone else was required to dress informal. I never knew there was a formal and informal dress to a hunt. But this informal dressing means a rat-catcher (tweed riding jacket usually with leather patches at the elbow) with a coloured stock or tie of black or brown, and brown or, black boots with a black Barbour jacket if you are not going tweeds, being the acceptable wear and oh the flask of whiskey to go along with the look.

Top is a riding "pink", middle is black riding jacket and bottom is tweed rat catcher
Another landowner was at the shoot and suggested a bit of a challenge:  Half the riders would leave from his manor and the other half at the estate they were shooting on. Whoever found the faux fox first, would host a dinner for all the next day. His group was calling themselves the Saboteurs (hum, does that mean they were to sabotage the other group?), and the other was called the Scots Alliance (which was odd considering a few of them were Irish). Now that's a politically charged name if there was one! I'd have gone beyond Scotland for a name and suggested Farage's Independents or Nigel's Irish Immigrants, but then that's me -- funny man.

So the day came and Wolfie was in a wee bit of quandary as he had mahoganies (for the uninitiated, those are black riding boots with mahogany or brown tops), and so while most of him was dressed in white shirt, black tie, black jacket, black helmet, black gloves, tan jodhpurs, and Stubben spurs, the boots were leading to a fashion faux pas among the horsey set. I asked him, did you run out and buy another pair? No, said he, he made do with his host's offer to borrow a pair of his blacks as they have the same size boot. OMG I said, that was close! Yup can't have that can we? Geez Marie!

So you know what I be talking about, Mahogany boots on left, blacks on right
Bright and early, everyone dressed informally (excuse me I have to chuckle up me sleeve) they mount  the 18 hand hunters and are being served from silver trays food and drink before they canter off after a phantom fox. The end of munch time is signalled by the arrival of the barking hounds who are all excited to get out there and lead the merry chase. What a bucolic scene eh? I can see it all in one of Frank Bennett's painting. That's because I be looking at one of those hanging on me wall.

The rules are these (bet you didn't think fox hunting had rules):

RULE 1 - At all costs avoid the Scottish Angus cattle -- go around. I wondered why and then realised that the cattle have long horns and boy that could hurt if one is poked in the butt as they dash through, or worse if one falls from said tall horse into cow manure, well so much for the fancy clothes.

RULE 2 - If you encounter a gate and your tall horse refuses to step over, you may dismount and open said gate, but for God's sake close it after you, so there will not be any escaping of cattle, sheep or whatever grazer is hiding in the bushes.

RULE 3 - When you do ride through said gate you shout at the top of your lungs, GATE PLEASE! to the next rider or wave your arm at them to let them know the gate will need closing. And you best hope they close it! Or YOU will be responsible for wandering livestock shitting all over estate lawns in the vicinity -- clean up is a bitch!

RULE 4 - IF you are at the open gate be ready to hold it open for the Field Master or Huntsman. You must wait for someone to close the gate in order to remount your high horse (yes, we are still on gate etiquette duty) before moving along. Knife and string in your pocket (according to the rules) is ESSENTIAL! I have to wonder what string will do to hold a gate closed against large Angus cows.

RULE 5 - Please do not get in the way of, nor hold up vehicular traffic. Let them go first OR you might find yourself being peeled off the pavement with horse long gone down the road. Walking back is a longgg journey especially when one is sore from being tossed off a tall horse!

RULE 6 - IF you come upon cattle in a field go AROUND them do not stampede through fences and open gates with them. The reason is self explanatory.

RULE 7 - Do not gallop down wet grassy hills or you may lose your life if your big horse takes a tumble on the wet turf with you head first over and well you can imagine the rest. BUT DO keep to the edge of newly sown fields of young grass and hope the landowner doesn't catch you! Bird shot hurts.

RULE 8 - If you should cause damage to a fence, gate or jump, you MUST report it to the Field Master and have your cheque book ready.

RULE 9 - Last rule and probably the most important: Have a good insurance policy because you could suffer catastrophic injury or worse (we don't have to name worse, you know what that is), to cover not only your neck, but damage to fence, property, horse (if it isn't yours), and delivery of your sorry self to casualty by ambulance or worse hearse to funeral home.

Good luck cowboy!

So this he tells me laughing the whole time and I be thinking, "Wolfie, you risk taker, are you crazy or do you just like to look handsome on a tall horse? That beside the point, and off they all go.

Courtesy Christopher Pledger for the Telegraph
The hounds start baying and that means they have picked up scent! Well, seems the hounds from the other estate also picked up the scent and off that group went as well. There was the sound of thunderous pounding of hooves, the hunt bugle sounding, riders taking fences and all getting over in one piece. So far so good, as they pick up speed, the hounds barking furiously they are on the scent still. Then something strange happens, one group of fox hunters rides right passed the other both going in opposite directions! What oh? Right? Or Tally ho, I don't know -- hey that rhymes, but I digress. Wolfie realising something be up pulls his big tall black horse to a stop as does his daughter. They exchange looks and looked behind them at the backs of the retreating Saboteurs. Oh yeah, you guessed it, the Saboteurs had lived up to their name and sabotaged the hunt. They turned around and rode after them, the only two of the Scots Alliance who realised the truth.

Which way? Courtesy BBC
Gaining on the retreating riders they saw ahead of them a swampy, moor-ish area and knowing that area well, Wolfie signals daughter and pulls off in another direction going around the swamp. As they move up a crested hill, they look down at scattered horsemen stopped up to their horses bellies in bog water. The only ones that weren't were the gent who challenged the Alliance. His group thought to take a shortcut through the moor without being aware of the water hidden under the debris of vegetation. He was on the other side berating them as they started moving their animals back the way they came. He was red in the face cursing them as Wolfie and daughter sat their steads and laughed.

Without any adieu Wolfie and daughter made it to the place both pack of dogs and hound masters were waiting. No one else was there. Their group they were told was in the countryside and probably would arrive in half an hour, the Saboteurs, same thing. Have gained the rag and acknowledged the winners of the bet, Wolfie and daughter headed back, but realised the town road was just beyond the field and so rode onto that to follow it home.

Now here's the crux of his story. As they are making their way down the road there is a wildlife refuge of sorts. A man was out in the middle of the dirt road in a quandary, a wild African dog had got loose because some hunt rider had opened his gate not knowing it was the dog's compound, and then made the cardinal sin of not closing it. Thus, wild dog out and about (or aboot as they say in Scotland).

Wolfie offered to let the man know if they saw it and off they pulled on down the road. Now here is where it gets dicey, as the two are approaching a lane that leads off to the village, a rather large dog with strange markings comes bounding over and jumping at the horses. Wolfie said, it was not acting aggressively, but like it was happy to see them.

"I wonder what kind of dog that is," quips his daughter controlling her horse who was trotting and then walking as dog came near and then backed off.

"That dog is the African dog," Wolfie instructed having lived in South Africa he knew what they looked like.

"Yes, I see it now," says daughter, "it looks like a hyena."

Meanwhile, happy dog is thrilled to be in their company and was trotting alongside, tongue lolling out with occasional adoring glances at the humans it had adopted.

"Should we turn round and hope it follows us back to it's owner?" Daughter says rather worried the carnivorous thing doesn't turn suddenly hungry.

"I should think not," Wolfie says focusing on the dog's mouth and sharp teeth.

It was then a passing motorist slowed down and with a bemused smile shouted to Wolfie, "Hey mate, what kind of dog is that?"

Not missing a beat and flashing a spotless white grin, Wolfie replied, "Why that's a digeroo took first place in new breed at Westminster three years ago."

"He's quite something," responds the motorist. "you looking to sell him?"

That gave the Wolf pause, he looked at daughter who shook her head, her eyes beginning to bug out of her head.

"Sure!" Wolfie says much to her chagrin. "I'll give him to you cheap as he's worth quite a bit, and seeing I have six more at home, how does 2000£ go by you? Do it on the cheap since I have no papers with me and will not sell him with."

"SOLD!" The man shouts and stops the car and peels out 2000£ notes and with extraordinary ease shooes the so-called digeroo into the back of his motor and drives off a happy man with a grinning digeroo.

"Da, you didn't just do that!" Shouts the incredulous daughter. "WHAT IF . . . what if . . ." She couldn't get the horror out of her mouth to form words.

"Be fine," says Wolfie, "I am leaving tonight so . . . no harm no foul. Besides on my way to airport I will leave the man who's animal it is an explanation of who has him and the 2000£. That make you feel better?"

"Not really," she muttered thinking about it all.

He did as he said, or so he says, and on his daughter checking the news reports everyday, there is no story on said wild dog eating it's new owner. She sits in dread before the telly she tells her father. He, is very cavalier and says having had experience with said wild dogs, once domesticated they are like all others and this one, was particularly happy to be in human company. Defends his action by further saying, "dog" will have a better life not being caged. Ok Wolfie, let us hope "dog" does not revert to past behaviour and goes on a feeding rampage in London or wherever he has motored off to. I tell ya!

I ask ya, does this NOT look UNUSUAL to you?
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

07 September, 2016

Weasil's Fancy New Kicks

07 September 2016

R. Linda:

It came to me attention recently, that the young whippersnapper (one Weasil by name), has a remarkable sense of fashion. Uh, maybe I need to change that to an extraordinarily odd sense of fashion showmanship. Whatever you want to call it, it is indeed bizarre what the Weasil wears that passes as the latest in men's accessories.

I will give you an example. Just the other day, I was fired an email from the young laddie that in his travels abroad he discovered the perfect pair of shoes. Further, that he did not buy them at the time because he was having a bad day and wasn't in the mood, BUT on hindsight and leaving the area, he realised those shoes were just the thing and he had to have them. Now this would have been all right if he was on his own, but no the wife and mother-in-law were travelling with him. The place he found the shoes was not one of their favourites (and if truth be known, they had been glad to leave it), so turning back just for a pair of shoes would cause dissension in an already stressful trip. The Weasil reckoned he could do without and probably find them online so onward with the holiday did he and they proceed UNTIL one evening in a large city with Internet, the young whippersnapper got online (having a bad fetish developed over those shoes) to find they were not online anywhere in the world, which meant one thing -- he had to go back!

"I am NOT going back there, but if you two want to I will stay here until you return." The mother-in-law, one Barbara but as Weasil calls her, Babbra stated in no uncertain terms.

"I DO NOT want to go back there either, I just want to get off this continent and go somewhere where  we won't be subject to snide remarks and no one understanding English." Amanda (the wife) interjected with some force I will say.

But Weasil was dead set on those hopper covers and informed them it was his fashion mission to go back to the place and get himself not one, but two pairs of the glorious must-have shoes. It was not without resentment and heavy sighs the ladies told him to do what he would and off to the spa they did go, leaving the Weasil on the phony baloney (phone as we call it) to make the necessary arrangements to go back to that dreadful place to pick up the golden prize (at least in his mind anyway).

It took the Weasil not a day, not three days, but two weeks to travel backward in time because he had avoided the rainy season but going back had entered full into it. There was mud he slogged through, fog so thick you could cut it with a knife and find yourself hacking for days just to get a peephole. There was of course the bloody language he did not speak and "they" didn't speak his either, so made for a lot of crazy sign language which took the Weasil near 250 kilometres our of his way of the sacred destination. Yup all those things made for a very wet and annoyed Weasil, but even more annoyed if not downright angry were the two ladies he left behind who waited, and waited, and waited with no word from the Weasil. At first they were worried, then they got nervous, then they got aggravated until anger took them over that he did not have the decency to at least communicate by carrier pigeon! I tell ya, women, sheesh.

I mean, how many mud spas, oily massages, facials and pampering can two women endure? Not to mention all that good food with heavy sauces and gravies, exotic fruits and veggies all in caramelised juices, not to mention chocolate, it was after all one of the countries of the cocoa bean. SIGH

Unbeknown to the ladies, the Weasil had found the road to the village of the must-have shoes covered in mudslide. His guides took him around to the other side of the mountain, yes R. Linda the village was on a mountaintop, and there he waited for climbing equipment to arrive with pack animals. Three days later with another downpour of cold rain, Weasil's shoe expedition started up the first muddy slope to the top. Mules lost footing and would slide by the Weasil after a shout out in the countries language to "watch out mule in backslide!" Finally after day one of a bone chilling night spent on the first slope (or as the Weasil fondly referred to it, Base Camp 1) the Weasil was ever ready to carry on to the next of six slippery slopes to the kingdom of the sought after shores.

And here I thought women had a shoe fetish, not so, Weasil can match them shoe for shoe he can. I won't bore you with the muddy, slimy details of the climb, just know the Weasil finally made it to the top, tears in his eyes only to find it was Sunday and the shoe store was closed. Oh what to do?

Wait around was the normal option, or break-in would be a second Weasil option, but no, it was a small place and that second option came not without its consequences. So nothing for it but to wait a day and hope Monday wasn't some kind of Yak holiday. It wasn't, that's the good news, the bad news is the cobbler had sold that pair of fantastical shoes the day before Sunday. To who, the Weasil wanted to know. Now I know what you are probably thinking, that the crazy Weasil would accost some other tourist for those sensational hopper covers, but that is not what happened. The cobbler could see murder in the eye of the slighted Weasil and suggested if Weasil had the time, he'd create another pair special made for the Weasil feet. Well, this was news and good news, hell yes, the Weasil said and slammed his muddy hoppers up on the man's workbench for measuring.

As with all things Weasil, the bad news is it took the cobbler three days to fashion not one, but four pair of the fashionable luxuries for the feet of the Weasil.

Meanwhile, back at Casa Unquieto the two lady companions of the Weasil were disgusted and tired of feasting (because they both put on a good 2.14 stone to be exact). No longer caring for the welfare of said hubby/son-in-law, they booked a flight to LAX. There they'd check into a fat farm for a week and then fly home with or without the Weasil and his new shoes.

Finally, having foot gold on his feet the happier than happy Weasil (there's a scary thought), marched around the shop to every floor mirror to catch every angle of his new hopper covers. Satisfied, he had the cobbler pack all four pairs of custom made shoes like the world had never seen, and off to slide down the mountainside with his guides and mules to the foot of civilisation (or something near to it).

It took him three weeks where it would have been one, to get to the Casa Unquieto. There he found the ladies gone with the wind long ago, but they left him a note of where they had gone off to. Immediately upon receipt of said note, the Weasil booked a plane keeping eyes, fingers, legs, and whatever else he could cross, crossed the weather would hold and he could fly out to Los Angeles. For once he was in luck and he left the country of extraordinary shoes, chocolate, heavy sauces and gravies and was on U.S. soil only to find the ladies had left yet again. They didn't wait the week they sweated off some of the fat, they decided THAT was too much like work so they flew off to sunny Scotland. Wait a minute, something is wrong with that. Let me fix it, not sunny Scotland, rainy Scotland. Yes, Weasil enjoyed about five hours of sunshine at the airport before departing for almost the same weather he left behind in shoe country.

Once on his native soil he hoofed it up to his estate where he found his two ladies sitting at tea in front of a palatial window, rain pounding on the panes, munching strawberry jam filled scones as he walked in wearing, you know what, and instead of the reaction he thought he'd get, they both stood up in terrified wonder of what on earth had got hold of his feet! Once he got them settled down and took the hopper covers off to demonstrate they were not rabid animals attached to his body, they unslung a heap of Spanish on him that he could not and to this day still does not understand. They had how many weeks in shoe country? A lot. And besides the feasting, facials, massages, swimming in the indoor heated pool, had picked up the language to a degree they spoke it fluently. Yes, they did.

Weasil told me he can't get a word of English out of either one of them. They look at each other and say, "quien no sabe" and laugh. They are more than angry at him and the one English phrase they get after the Spanish words, el tonto is: for THOSE ugly things we were left. Oh boy. And the Weasil, in his mixed-up mind thinks tonto means the Johnny Depp character in The Lone Ranger movie. Uh, not so Weasil tonto.

"Well, Kemosabe," he said to me (me thinking of the quien no sabe the ladies say to each other having gone straight over the Weasil head), "I have me the worldies bestest shoes evah!" And I will say they are remarkably unique. Yup they are and no I won't be getting a pair anytime soon. See below for the lovely articles that the Weasil sports and he has four pairs of them! Hey, but that's nothing after the hell he says he went through to get them. I dunno.

Jazzy right? Ya gotta be crazy!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

04 September, 2016

"Tell her to speak English please."

04 September 2016

R. Linda:

Since me Mam moved in with us, when Dragon comes to visit she is having a very hard time understanding not only me Irish accent (which has American inflections creeping in, so I be not as hard to understand as I first was), but with me dear old gray haired, apple cheeked Mam. Dragon is in a quandary over me Mam's accent. I be told when I be in the room with me Mam, any American inflections to me accent disappear like smoke and she is once again sitting with "foreigners" who don't speak English.

Oh yeah, that's what she complains loudly about the house. I, for one could very well take a mind to me speech and make it easier for her, but me heart won't let me. As far as me Mam be concerned, she grew up in Ireland, born and raised, and with the little time she has spent in America, she has not been exposed (language-wise) to any inflections of Americanisms in her spoken word. Yes indeed, she be a daughter of Ireland and will so remain. I get it, but Dragon does not. She be of the mind (like Donald Trump) if you live here speak the language. The problem IS me Mam does speak the language only with an Irish accent! And when I inform Dragon that she is the one with the accent she makes like she doesn't understand a word I say.

So Dragon took me aside (yes she be here AGAIN) and tried to reckon with me to get me Mam to try to be American. Like that's going to happen. I, in turn, tried me damnedest to explain it wasn't that simple to drop one accent for another unless you were a linguist trained for such things. It went in one ear and out the other. She wouldn't have it, certainly we both (me and Mam) could be more generous when we speak so the American ear can halfway understand what on God's little acre we are talking about, otherwise, what was the need to even be in the same room? Indeed, I wanted so much to opt for not being in the same room ever, but the wife would be upset and three people already upset didn't need a fourth in the mix.

I told Dragon privately, I would try to translate me Mam's words the best I could. So that was that until, yesterday when Dragon comes into the kitchen where both me and Mam had got up early enough to have our breakfast in peace without the Dragon.

Dragon threw a good morning to us, we back, well me Mam with "good morrow," instead of "good morning," the Irish greeting that has been around for hundreds of years. And I sighed, Dragon sighed and went to look out the window. She was checking the dawn weather and murmured something about it looked like rain coming.

Me Mam, not really thinking just wanting to be sociable says to us, "Oh ay, dere be a chunce (chance)  of light rain 3% an' a chance of torrential rain 97%."

Eeeyup! Said it just like that to which an exasperated Dragon turned around and looked at me, like WTF? I shrugged, like there was nothing to be done about it. And then it started to rain.

"I tole ye," mutters me Mam, "prolly clare (clear) oop on the morrow." And seeing the furrowed brow on the Dragon and thinking it was because of the weather adds, "when it gits dockah (darker) ye won't notice da bod (bad) weathah (weather) so mooch (much). At least da buyos (boys) hovent (haven't) any skewl (school). Be a goud (good) day fer da buyos ta stoody (study) dere skewl werk."

I put me hands in me face at Dragon's sour look. She poured herself some coffee and me Mam thinking Dragon not sociable first thing in the morning, decided to talk it up. I tell ya!

"Da rain will green oop da groahus (grass)," she rattles on, "git da sneaks (snakes) back in da wooods (woods) an' da buyos won't feel so bone rubble (vulnerable) goin' oout (out) in da yad (yard)."

Seeing this bought more silent so she went on.

"Got Kerry Gould (Gold) buttah." She inched the butter dish towards Dragon. "I bought a taub (tub) of it."

The Dragon made no move to make herself some toast, no just sat there staring at us both as she sipped her hot coffee, as if it was all a bad dream.

This further threw me Mam into conversation of the Irish kind.

"Do ye wan' a sue-flay?" Me Mam asked Dragon who looked at me and I translated souffle.

"No thank you." Dragon said slowly pronouncing each word as a hint me Mam might try the same.

"Gabe's vather (father) uoosed (used) ta like dem. Only he liked em' bootery (buttery) an' I tried to tell em' he woz (was) cryzee (crazy) dey were made only to poof (puff). One day I kooked (cooked) em' won (one) wit (with) booble goom (bubble gum) in it." And she started laughing at the memory as Dragon's eyes got big over the rim of her coffeecup. "He taught (though) it were mogic (magic) da middle grew and grew and grew!" Another outburst of laughter which I admit made me chuckle because I remember that scene from childhood.

"Da (the) colah (color) woz off an' he's (his) face an' ee' said jus' befur (before) it boost (burst), it were da strangest sue flay he'd ever taw (saw)." And into gales of of laughter her and I at the memory of me Da's face dripping exploded bubble gum. You had to be there. It was the last shuffle he ever requested. She never made another and told me later how much she hated making them so I knew she was toying with the Dragon who would never request one now for fear of what might be hiding inside.

Me Mam wasn't looking at Dragon's horrified look but out the window. She got up and said as she left the room, "Dat chunce of rain weirdly low roight (right) now, apart from the drizzle and slanty rain." And off she went leaving the Dragon in consternation of just what she meant by that.

I hightailed it out of the kitchen meself as I wanted no more complaints on me Mam who (and I knew it though Dragon did not) had overheard the accent conversation the night before and made sure she was on her most Irishness as much as she could be just to rattle the Dragon's cage.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

27 August, 2016

Of Birthdays, Grandpas, CNN, & Weasil Email One Liners

27 August 2016

R. Linda:

We went to a birthday party yesterday. The couple's twin sons were turning 3 and they, being friends of our youngest, we were invited to the festivities. Now living with the couple is the wife's parents. The father is fifteen years older than his wife and is up in age. He is hard of hearing and one must repeat several times what one is trying to convey. He refuses to wear a hearing aid, so having a conversation of pleasantries can become quite a bit frustrating to say the least. He also disappears into his room to read without a bye your bye and then reappears as if he never left. His young "chicken" as he calls his wife Margaret, waits on him hand and foot she does. She is ever devoted and he is a lucky man to have her.

There were the family and four groups of friends who had young 3 year olds besides ourselves, and a few teenagers, so at times it was chaotic with so many young children screaming and scampering about the place. Sometimes we had to shout to be heard and this shouting at our young ones to tone it down got rather sketchy when the old man would think we were shouting at him.

"Be quiet? I never said a word, what do you mean be quiet? Do I know you?" He'd point at one of us and we'd smile and gently shout we weren't addressing him but that rather rowdy 3 year old over there banging on the table with a heavy toy making lots of dings in the wood.

Well, we finally got to the cake. It was a delightful affair decked out in rainbow coloured sprinkles with a monkey (Curious George?) on the side and banana decorations strewn here and there.

Back of Monkey Cake

Monkey Cake

It was as we were all taking our first mouthful of cake that Gramps came out of his room. He saw his wife at table and said, "Margaret I needs changing."

Well, it wasn't hard to figure changing of what. And off they went. I tell ya it wasn't made better when  one of the teenagers said to another that the monkey's head looked like a lump of Gramp's s--t. This got the older kids into hysterical laughter, while we adults tried to ignore it all. I don't know how we all made it through cake but the kiddies (all of them), went outside with the teens for a wet game of Super Soaker.

Somehow us older kids got into a conversation on the presidential race.

"Is Trump looking to lose?" Our host asked. "Everyday he comes out with some outlandish statement that makes his poll numbers go down and it happens so often, I have to wonder if he knows he can't win, so he just says what he feels like because he knows he will lose."

This began a discussion on Trumps ego and what choice did we all have? It will be Hillary or the Green Party and if all else fails, a move to Canada.

I did not know my 10 year old had come in from the super soaking to dry off and heard the adults discussion. He stepped up and announced that if Trump wins, he is applying for citizenship to Norway. I had no clue he felt so strongly about the election.

Meanwhile, Mildred, one of the parents of a precocious three year old said to Allison, the mother of another one, that she really needed to go on a diet, but couldn't stop stress eating each time CNN came on.

I joined in because I too, have that tendency and told the ladies my stress food of choice was ice cream, and that CNN has a tendency like no other news programme for me to run for the cold stuff or worse the chips AND the cold stuff.

"Oh yeah me too!" Allison said shovelling a piece of birthday cake in her mouth. "I get particularly in need of gelato when CNN has the presidential race coverage. I can't wait for it all to be over so I can go on a diet and move to Canada."

Of course we chuckled and Allison being overheard there was laughter behind us. More adults joined in and I was reminded of Weasil's new emails. First it was the "We're all gonna die" emails he's fire at me at each presidential candidate mention (see Weasil's Email Terrors - 28 May 2016).  Now, he's moved on to terrorism and natural disasters. I got an email that said, "Well Gabbie, dere goes me trip to Paris!" followed by "Jeez Gabbie, dere goes me trip to Turkey!" followed by "Holy Moly Gabbie, dere goes me trip to Belgium!" and then, "Jeezums! Dere goes me trip to Italy!"

Though I will say he had a few zingers for Rio as well, "Wots dis bollocks I should stay home from Brazil because I might get me some Zika? Wots Zika? Or, who be Zika?" Then there was, "Wots da worldie comin' to when yer can't use a petrol station rest room in Rio wit out bein' held ee-uppie?" and finally, "I boughtie Amanda a burkini fer our visit ta da French Rivera and now she can't wear it? Is she to go au naturale?" This last stymied me because neither is Muslem. I asked him what was with the burkini and he said he thought it was the latest in old fashioned bathing attire spurred on by the fashions of Downton Abbey. I tell ya! Then he said he doesn't get the problem because it covers everything up so was the French Rivera full of perverts? I decided to end the conversation there as it was getting way out of hand. But the Weasil wasn't leaving off he wrote, "Wot happened to no touching without dinner and a movie first?" I foolishly wrote back that France was a very liberal nation and that it takes a lot of my energy to talk to him so I was done with the subject. He wrote back three words: "Liberte', egalite, Beyonce!"

So that's been me life of late. Yes indeed. When I am not sending you questionable works of art and leprechauns strapped to electric chairs, I be bedevilled by the rest of the world around me.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

06 August, 2016

No Do Overs! Not Now, Not EVER

06 July 2016

R. Linda:

Well, the day has come, me sainted Mam changed her name back to her maiden which means she had to go to the DMV for a new photo license. She was disappointed about that because she liked the picture she had, but with name change not only do you have to have your picture retaken, you also have to take the eye exam.

Wednesday night I was subject to the complaining about photo and exam. I was then told to wait an hour while she went to fix her hair, put on fresh makeup and then I sat through a fashion show of blouses, jumpers (sweaters), and even one dress suit she likes and looked very familiar. Oi!

"Soo, Gabriel, should I jus wear da red joompah (jumper = sweater) cus' it haz da turtle nick (neck) ta covah (cover) me troat (throat)."

"Mam," says I, "dat joompah be too hot and ye don't need to covah yer troat."

"Ooo-key (ok), if yer tinks (thinks) soo (so)." And off she went to change into another costume. I tell ya.

"I doan't (don't) luck (look) like I did when I wuz (was) tertay (thirty)." She announced coming into the room dressed like Jackie Kennedy going to Dallas. She had on a pink suit with dark blue trim that I had seen in hundreds of photos. All she needed was the pill box hat and gloves.

"'Err, were (where) did ye git (get) dat suit from?" I asked startled.

"Oh from da domedged (damaged) goos (goods) store in dat town next dour (door)." She stood brushing the material down.

"Uh, noo (no)," I said, "dat won (won't) doo (do)." I shook me head as she sighed and left again. I didn't want to know about the "damaged goods" store. It couldn't be THAT suit. I mean isn't that at the Smithsonian or some closet out of sight? No blood stains did I see, so why did she have THAT? I didn't want to go there.

She came back wearing a simple aubergine blouse which made her blond hair shine.

"Dats (thats) more like it," I said. "Off ya pop." I went back to me newspaper.

"Let me give ye a hoag (hug). Tonks (thanks) fer (for) yer 'elp (help)." She said leaning over and bear hugging me.

"Glad ta be a-service." I smiled as she left, still wondering about that pink suit.

The next day I went with her to the DMV. She looked very lovely, the aubergine blouse, the coiffed hair, makeup just so. We had the necessary paperwork in hand, and only had one person ahead. This was a big bruiser of a man. He had a cut off at the arms Harley Davidson sweat shirt that showed his bulging muscles and tattoos that ran the gamut from sexy nude reclining women, to fiery skulls and strange designs.

"Okay Harlan, just stand ova thaugh sos I kin take yer pictuah," the woman behind the counter said in her New England accent to the biker. "Now look inta tha camera." He did, she snapped, we all waited and then up on the screen came the result. It wasn't good. Harlan looked a bit demonic, he smiled at the last moment when he didn't mean to and there for all to see was his upper teeth missing. He had Jack Nicholson eyebrows and a shaved head. It wasn't a good likeness.

"That makes me look like someone ya don't wanna meet in a dark alley." He protested.

"Aw get ova yourself." The DMV lady said. "Be just a minute and you'll be set ta go."

"Mildred, con't we do a retake?" He asked.

"No we con't, no can do, ya have a line behind ya." She said getting the temporary paper license and handing it to him.

He looked behind him and the line was just me Mam and meself. We looked behind us as well and no, no one there. He looked back at Mildred. She shook her head no, her eyes narrowed. He looked forlorn for such a big man as he held the license in his meaty fingers and looked at it. He shrugged and left without another word.

"NEXT!" Mildred called like we were at the other end of the room. Gees!

We handed over Mam's papers, there was a chat about Ireland and Mildred's hubby being of Irish heritage which lended me Mam to ask if she could have her old picture on the new license, but Mildred wouldn't budge on that. Eye exam came and me Mam put on her reading glasses.

"Oh no, no. No readin' glasses." Mildred said.

"Boot (but) I kin (can) see far awey (away) but need me specs fer cloos (close) oop (up). See here," Mam said and read off a poster on the far back wall like it was right up in front of her. I couldn't read that wall, so I was rather taken aback, but said notta word. Then she proceeded to read the letters in the viewer, reading glasses ON and Mildred looked perplexed like this had never happened before.

"O...K." Mildred said looking askance at me Mam, then shrugged and told her to stand in front of the camera. This she did and she didn't hear Mildred say to say cheese because she was talking to me as the camera clicked. She thought the picture was taken but wasn't sure. She looked at me and it was me turn to shrug and nod that yes indeed, her picture was taken.

Mildred clicked on her keyboard and on the big screen was a photo of me Mam. Her mouth open in an 'O' and her lips a bit crooked in a strange palsy way, which had been the beginning of a laugh. It was bloody funny. I started chuckling and got a dirty look for me trouble.

"Oh noo, noo, dat will nevah doo." She said to Mildred shaking her head she was dissatisfied. Well, think of it, she went to all that trouble the night before and then this morning got up extra early to get herself "perfect."

"Fraid it hasta." Mildred said. "No do ova. Like I said to Big Harlan you get what ya get. Gotta move along theah, got otha customers." And she turned around to get the temporary paper license.

Me Mam and I glanced behind us, but there was no line. Mam looked like she was about to cry which is something she never does, but it was her winding up to a string of Irish cuss words that flew over the counter right at Mildred's back. Mildred, God bless her, didn't understand a word of it but she looked at first discontented, then amused as she handed me the paper. I half dragged me Mam out the door keeping the offending license close to me chest where she couldn't see it.

Once in the Saturn she grabbed it and wrinkled her nose at it.

"Woodya, luck at dis! Doan't even luck like me. I sade (said) take it ovah, but dat hag in dere only gives a budy (body) da forced (first) one an' dat be dat! How mooch (much) ye wanna bet me pic appears on AARP magazine? I luck OLD!"

Oi! I drove home trying to say encouraging things like she could change her name again and go for another picture at another DMV. I couldn't soothe the anger she had, so I stopped at a General Store on the way home that has an international biscuit section and bought her a box of Peek Frean Pearls and for meself Orange Pims.

Belgium chocolate with a layer of orange jelly on a biscuit YUM
I knew by Mildred's demeanour there were no second chances and me spouting off would not have helped. I wanted to post the picture but Mam wouldn't let me. She mumbled her offence all yesterday and into today. Of course, I didn't help much by saying (at looking at it) that Halloween came early and time for a lip plumping. Yea-ah not nice of me but she's taking this too far. I even told her Harlan's was way worse than hers, but she said, "Iffin' dats to make me feel bettah (better) hav' another tink on dat sonny buy (boy)!"


Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved