24 April, 2015

What you should never do in a haunted castle

24 April 2015

R. Linda:

Weasel told me that recently a friend of his bought  an old ruin of a castle in Scotland. The price was very little, and well it should be as 3/4 of the castle walls were nothing but rubble on the ground. However, in the half standing tower I was told one could look over hills and dales and even a lough where the water rippled in the high winds of the Highlands -- and was as black as night. No not Loch Ness, but some other lough, loch, lake. If there be some sea serpent in that lough I have not heard, but it is ominous to look out at the black water, I understand, without getting a shiver up ones spine.

There is one wall and enclosure that is still standing I be told. And that if you got up on the half open tower (where the breeze will blow you about with no mercy) and stand upon the crumbling stone stairs, it be like one is experiencing a hurricane! There be a doorway up there that had been shored up that the new owner broke open to find two rooms inside the wall still intact. Messy, full of bird droppings, leaves, broken stonework, and such, the laddie spent a week clearing it out. He got a friend and they used mortar to restore where they could and basically got the two rooms into some order.

One room was made into a makeshift kitchen (because they had to have their food) and the other a bedroom of sorts. Well, the black lough in the distance and the high winds had so unnerved the other fellow he decided he was going back to Glasgow, he was done. He told the new owner that he felt like he was being watched as he worked, and he felt like something dreadful would happen if he stayed. Besides which, was that as he worked, he had the distinct feeling his ears were being pulled but there was nothing there! The new owner felt none of this and told his friend he understood (which he did not) and this is how the Weas got the call to come take the helper's place.

As you know the Weas be an enthusiastic sort he is and it would be just up his alley to be on top of a ridge looking down at the minions below (of which there were none), a black lake would not be a bother and as you also know, nothing scares the Weasil. I will say many a time the Weasil has frightened the bejayus out of me, but that is neither here nor there.

It came to pass that for two weeks the two laboured on these two rooms and the owner moved in, without electric, without a working water closet, without heat, without much at all but a lovely renaissance style bed and a few family tapestries placed strategically on the old stone walls to shut out what wind they couldn't mortar out.

A large assortment of medieval candle holders were got from somewhere and so at night at least there was a blazing two rooms in the old ruin that could be seen from far far away. At night with the aid of so much light, the owner drew up his plans for renovation. He had to go into Inverness which was some distance south and so he asked Weasil if he would stay at the old place one night to make sure it was secure. Secure from what I have no idea.

But Weasil being a camper and adventurer as you well know, jumped at the opportunity to stay saving him the long drive from the closest village which was some kilometres away. Well, it ended up being a lonely day and into the night the Weas was looking forward to a rainy, windy night of howling winds, and rain lashing the shingled roof above (which he had just finished repairing that very day), and all was ripe for a good nights sleep! Yes, it was, or so he thought.

Well, all happened as Weasil thought it might, the wind howled, the rain lashed, and he slept fitfully until the devil's hour of 3:30 a.m. He was restless and no matter what he couldn't fall back to sleep. He lit one candle and got out his mobile phone, as remote as he was he did have some reception, spotty that it was, but enough he could read his email. When he was done he played a few games on his cell and then bored, he decided to download an app or two. Well, none would download and as he sat cursing, he thought he heard the "woo woo woo" sound that goes without saying that the Weasil was not alone but in the presence of a spirit!

For some unexplained reason, his ears tingled and felt hot. He thought he felt a tug on his left ear but wasn't sure it was some muscle spasm from how he was lying in the bed. I tell ya a muscle spasm in ones ear? Come on, really?

Weas was able to Google for a very short few minutes the history of the place he was lying in by candlelight.

Now legend said that the former occupant of said ruins was a mighty and bloodthirsty warrior knight of the William Wallace era who cut off  mens ears and ate them for breakfast. He drank their blood because he thought it would give him more power and so the tale goes. Neither the new owner nor the Weas would normally be phased by such stories, but late at night, with wind and rain, sleep becoming elusive, and nothing much to do, ones mind might just start to conjure up the memory and that perhaps the stories were true?

What would someone like Weasil do in a case like this? Look at the ghost busting apps to download to his mobile phone, that's what. And that is exactly what the laddie did. He found one app that after several others, downloaded with ease. Now that in itself might tell you spirit was guiding that one app for one ungodly purpose, but Weasil was not thinking, which is usually the case and so he was happy to have the download.

Thrilled to the nines the Weasil set up his new ghost proggie as he called it, and settled back in his cushy sheets and goose down comforter to track the ghost. The app came with sound effects I might add and those did unnerve our Weasil to which he turned that off and let the ghost warning which was a pong sound be the only one besides that of the howling wind and rain outside to invade his delicate hearing.

He didn't have long to wait, for within a minute a PONG sounded and on the small phone screen there appeared a ghost floating across the screen and disappearing though the opposite wall. I would think that would raise the hairs on ones neck if the sound accompanied it. Now when you pointed your phone to the right the image on the screen of a square box room would zoom to the right and at first nothing. But when Weas zoomed to the left, BINGO, a loud PONG sounded and there coming out of the wall was a ghosty. Yes, and Weasil was thrilled. He tracked the image as it floated up to his ceiling and down to the left and then to the right, and as the rain and wind howled the Weasil's attention was rapt on the image, his eye lit up with a satisfaction that yes there was a ghost in his room!

For about thirty minutes the Weasil was thus occupied until another pong sounded and a second ghost came into the room. Well, this was wonderful to be able to track not one but two ghosts and to speculate who the second might be? An earless victim of the first ghosty? He thought so until the third, and the fourth and the fifth ghosty drifted in and well the Weasil after ten minutes was surrounded by too many ghosts to count!

The novelty had worn way off as the wind and rain got stronger, the pong sounds more frequent and the Weasil was steadily losing his nerve and virb as the spiritual visitors increased. Another five minutes and the Weasil had enough, but instead of shutting the programme off, he went into the other room and closed the door. Fumbling with his phone he got the torch app to come on and finding a candle or two or three lit those, yet the storm sounds permeated the kitchen area too making him feel very uneasy and as he had not mortared that room, the wind came blasting through (which made the relighting and repositioning of candles a real challenge, not to mention that splashes of rain came with the wind making for a rather damp Weasil).

Stupid is as stupid does and he flicked on the ghost app and the four corners of the  kitchen flashed up but it was ghostless. Feeling better, the laddie took some cold mutton from the ice chest and some left over wine and made himself 'a feel better repast'. After the second bite though, a pong sounded from his phone he left across the room. Weasil froze and debated as he sat not chewing, food getting soggy in his chops, whether he should cross the room and take a peek.

Usually nothing frightens the Weasil as I said before, but this situation did for some reason. Curiosity getting the best of the  laddie, he began slowly chewing and finding it hard to swallow from the lump in his throat, BUT the Weasil rose and walked unsteadily towards his mobile. He looked down and floating behind him was a rather large ghost. Was this THE ghost, the one that cut off ears, ate them and washed them down with his victim's blood? Holy ghosties Batman, but Weasil was outta there like he'd be launched off a missile pad. Candles left burning, sanny half eaten, wine on the table, wind and rain splashing in and no Weasil in sight.

Weasil told me later that the Google history on the castle, placed the victims being relieved of their ears in the bedroom and the eater of the ears would wait to be served in what he and his friend were using as a kitchen. Explains a lot he said.

The next day when the owner arrived he found the wind had blown over the candlesticks, the rain put the fire out and mice had eaten the left food. He was perplexed as to what happened to the Weasil, and realising the Weasil's vehicle was not at the footpath entrance, that something must have spooked the Weasil for him to take flight and almost burn down the man's new abode.

Well, Weasil has yet to tell his friend the truth because he says he's embarrassed. That's a first in my book because as we know from experience nothing embarrasses that lad.

I asked him if he was going back there, he told me no way Jose. That he'd rather be lashed to the main mast of Captain Jack's ship in a raging monsoon. Could it be the Weasil be really afraid of the spirit world? Who knew?

Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved

18 April, 2015

The Delights of Watching WOLF HALL with the Dragon

18 April 2015

R. Linda:

Fiona mentioned Wolf Hall which is a new series on PBS from England. Now I will say with Dragon in me house, we do look at a lot of public telly and not because we are intellectual British freaks, but because we are forced more or less by the New Jersey Dragon and the fact local tv be our only other option.

The aforementioned new series had me mildly intrigued as to what it was. The adverts for it never showed anything but a black screen with two voices or one talking. And what they or he was saying I couldn't fathom. Anyway, that was enough for me to deem it cheesy most like, but for the New Jersey Dragon, that was enough to be a gotta watch it kinda show!

Since I now live in the far boonies of New Hampshire, we get almost no telly reception and we do pay through the nose for the privilege of having a little tv, and mostly the stations we get are all local. Yes, can you imagine tuning in to the local news for the price of hogs and chickens for the week? And the advertising be just as bad with used car salesmen pitching how great one would look in their PRE OWNED PINTO! For joy, I tell ya one hasn't lived until one lives in the New Hampshire sticks. Who knew?

Where I used to live (which was closer to a college town and things like supermarkets were only five miles away, and having Internet and wireless was the way of things), I was living the high life and didn't know it. Now, I live in rural New Hampshire where everyone rides a horse to the general store (no supermarkets out this way, no indeed) and owns a truck, guns, and a bob house. It be an entirely new way of living in the past that I be somewhat gobsmacked people do and seem to like. The cable company proposed free underground cable lines to hook me little town up for Internet and tv, but the folks said NO. As a result, no Internet, no cable tv. They're idea of relaxing be to sit around the fireplace and talk! Have you ever heard of such nonsense?

Me kiddos thumbs twitch because there is no PlayStation of Halo, or whatever it was that they used to play on their now useless I Pads. Me wife has taken up knitting which if you know me wife, seems like the last thing in the world she'd think to take up. Me mam watches paint dry and I well, I pace the floorboards bored out of me skull!

So PBS be the only saving grace from Boston that has some kind of thinking going into it, even if after every 20 minutes they stop the programming to prod the viewer into a donation to keep the good stuff coming!

Therefore, we are now watching more frequently PBS than anything else since we own no hogs or chickens. Oh one more thing, the weather, oh you'll like this, there is a local weatherman who talks like he's from the hills of Tennessee who has viewers call in. The calls are all very stupid as his viewers will ask crazy stuff like, "Can I put the hogs out tomorrie while I go down ta da generel store fur a few of dem pickles cum up frum Rhode Ilynn?" Yup and then there is the poor sod like meself who calls in and says, "Please what's the weather?" And the answer is, "Look out the winder and you'll find out!" Uh duh.

Being driven to madness in New Hampshire, as I say, we took to the PBS station not at all minding the 20 minute interruption for donation begging. And they do a good job of us calling in with our credit cards ready, because they tell us, "If we don't make our quota, all these wonderful programmes you are currently enjoying will be gone." Yup, gone and we will be looking at the farm report or worse a black screen without anyone talking!

Back to Wolf Hall. There we were and on it came and well if you watch it, it is not about Wolfie's family at all (oh drat no bad arse happenings and flying bullets and speeding car chases), but a lot of non-action with lots of ponderous dialogue. And if  you are an American good luck understanding what you are watching. I tell ya! The Dragon made the 20 minute pause for donations a dream come true because she'd watch five minutes of the show and pause it to ask me and mam, "WHO'S THAT? What relation is he to that guy, you know the one that keeps doffing his cap?" And me fav question, "When is Thomas Cromwell going to become Oliver Cromwell and ride havoc over the Irish and burn the monks?" Oi, oi, oi!

The Dragon-in-law knows nothing of British history. The only British history she does know is the American Revolution and the burning of the White House in 1814 during the War of 1812. That's the extent of her knowledge, so watching Henry the 8th and Thomas Cromwell is way out of her league. That she's heard of Oliver (no direct relation to Thomas) be a wee bit of a miracle, though when I was asked to explain Oliver's connection if any to Thomas, the telly was paused for a good 45 minutes until she resumed and I left to tear out me hair.

"Thomas's sister married this old geezer (no names needed because she wouldn't know the name anyway) and they had a son and his name was Oliver and sometime in his life he took the name Cromwell probably because it was better known then the one he had. But he isn't a son of Thomas Cromwell."

"Then who's Rafe and Richard and who's the Jeffrey guy?" Dragon throws at me.

"Rafe is Ralph and he like Richard are wards of Cromwell's. Rafe isn't a Cromwell, but Richard's father died and he has no other family so he asked Thomas if he could take the Cromwell name and I don't know who Richard was or if he's fictional, but you saw Cromwell say yes. And Jeffrey be the true son of Thomas Cromwell. Ugh!"

"So who were the two little girls and that young woman who died, I am assuming his daughter and his granddaughters?" She asked figuring the pause button which I was hoping she'd un-pause, but no, she's on to something else.

"That was his wife and his daughters." Said I to her horrified expression at hearing that.

"WHAT? Was he a dirty old man or what? Making like he's a pious soul when filled with sedition and impure thoughts!" She throws out and un-pauses and we are back at it for all of two seconds she pauses again and says, "Sweating sickness?"

I made like I knew NOTHING about that, because I be not a historian  or a doctor, I just wanted to watch the show.  So yes, I left her with the misconception that was all fiction. I just couldn't do it. I could not get into a discussion that I knew she'd not believe anyway.

This went on and on and it got to be where I found getting up and dialing the station to make a donation the only way to shut her gob. I did it the first time because I was living in fear that I would be forced to watch Tennessee Bob's weather programme and the local yokel programming of rounding up sheep with border collies, how to perfect your turkey calling abilities, how to skin a snake or worse, tune into Betty's Improv Cooking Show where in the one and only episode I actually watched, Betty waited for her daughters to go off to the school house so she could go out and make short work of the pet rabbit and prepare it for that nights supper. The whole thing I thought a joke until the little girls came home and raved about the stew and then because Betty's a good Christian woman and couldn't tell a lie, she fessed up they were all chowing down on Rupert Rabbit, well, it was a bit loud all the screaming and shouting going on that I actually had to get up to turn down the sound before I finally clicked off.

I know it be all bizarre but I tell ya I honestly had no idea moving from me former abode to the boonies would make such a difference in me lifestyle. So yes, over the course of what three episodes of Wolf Hall? I have donated most of me salary just to be too busy to answer Dragon's crazy questions.

Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved

17 April, 2015

Don't order the whole milk unless you want to be driven to distraction

17 April 2015

R. Linda:

What is it? The day is gloomy with soft rain and everyone gets grouchy? Or, is it me, feeling good, happy outlook on the world, and just too happy for people around me? I don't get it. Just because it is rainy, overcast and generally soggy, is that an excuse to take it out on moi?

I came down to me family and everyone was bustling around. The kiddos were getting their snacks for school, Tonya was feeding the wee one, me mam was cooking eggs, bacon and making toast. The Dragon was holding her head as if she had toothache (her regular posture at breakfast), half awake looking at her coffee as if reading tea leaves, and there was I, happy to be alive and looking forward to me brekkie and ready to go off for a lovely day of work in Boston.

So I ask you, just because I was happy to be alive, is that any reason the gloomy among us must pick on me?

As soon as I sat down, the Dragon moaned because me knee hit her in her rather large thigh and it was a gentle rub not a whack, so why she gave me that dirty look and mumbled I should be more mindful of me elders, I haven't a clue. You'd think with the amount of meat on that thigh she'd feel nothing as I gently slid onto the stool next to her. Gees the woman!

Then me mam turned from piling the bacon on a tray when the dog did a speedy clamp of teeth and steal of a piece hanging off the edge of the tray, and swish she was gone, me mam hollering after her that she would beat the dog's rump she does that again and then she turned to me and hollered at me for not watching the dog. I was like what? I did not know it was me job to be on dog duty.

"Why don't you feed the dog and the cat, Gabe?" Me wife asked in an annoyed voice.

I got off me rumpus and fed both animals, even got the fresh water in their bowls and then gently and making sure not to touch the Dragon, I sat back down to sip the coffee me wife slammed down in front of me. You'd think she'd be grateful I did her job and fed the animals. But nooo!

Somehow I got through breakfast and out the door and since I did not want to be in a houseful of grumpy people, I decided to get me second cup of joe at Dunken' Donuts. Big mistake. I had me wee son strapped in the back car seat (since I was talked into dropping him off at daycare because Tonya was running late, which is fine if your name is Tonya, but if it's Gabe and you are running late it doesn't matter for some unknown reason). So there I was pulling in and I ordered me a large black coffee and a whole milk for the wee laddie to keep him occupied and not falling to sleep.

So I pull up and this old hen says, "White milk or chocolate milk?"

"Whole milk," says I with a smile at her grumpy face.

"White or chocolate?" She near takes me head off.

"Whole milk." Says I.

"White or CHOCOLATE!" She loses it and shouts.

"WHITE," I shouted back followed by, "duh!"

I sat there mumbling I didn't know whole milk and chocolate were the same. It just seemed dumb, I said whole milk so naturally I assumed white milk not chocolate. If I had said CHOCOLATE then chocolate! I was befuddled with this I was.

The woman shoved the whole WHITE milk at me and I pay her and she shoves the change at me, nearly making me drop it and the WHOLE WHITE MILK.

"Jayus," I say shaking me head at her.

She stood there looking mean and I noticed I was not being served me cup of joe so I remind her by saying, "And the coffee?"

She reluctantly gets the cup and hands it off to me and I grab hold and instantly the hot stuff is flowing under the top (which she I believe on purpose didn't press down) and there I am in me suit getting coffee stains all over me AND burning me manly unit to boot! I looked at her aghast.

"Move it along." She says with a snarl.

I quickly got the hot coffee in me cup holder to keep from further spillage and burnt skin. I did move it along because I was miffed at being treated like a criminal for not knowing that whole milk came in chocolate which I didn't ask for. I mean really, if I wanted chocolate milk, I, like anyone else would have said, one chocolate milk please, but if I say one whole milk, don't you think I'd get the white milk? Apparently not!

I was going to pull around and go inside and have it out with her and her manager if there was one. But then I remembered I had the wee one in the backseat and was already late for work. Gees! I tell ya.

Hopefully, the rest of me day won't be this ugly. I can hope anyway.

Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved

07 April, 2015

A way to save your sanity sometimes makes you lose it

07 April 2015

R. Linda:

You remember the story of the missing fav jacket (see The Story of the jacket gone missing - 23 November 2008), well I reversed the angst to the person who deserved it after she has got rid of a lot of me fav old and comfy clothes on the sly.

As you know the Dragon lady be still with us and as you also know, she drives me to distraction and after distraction I drink . . . a lot. When that happens she usually gets the upper hand on me so I promised meself I wouldn't let her get to me. I have found a myriad of things to keep me out of her sight and occupied elsewhere and occupied so well I forget she's in the same abode.

One of me little jobs as I call them was cleaning out the boys mudroom closet last week. As with kiddos it was pretty disorganised and it held a zillion toys instead of coats. I boxed the toys, stuck them in the trunk of me car for transport to the transfer (dump) station to put in the "free for the picking" section. I also got rid of coats that were worn or too small and those many pairs of snow pants and old boots zapped in the trunk of me car. I got all that to the transfer station without incident and no one the wiser.

The mudroom closets looks like it did when we first moved in . . . empty. No one has noticed because the coats and boots in use are usually lying on the sofa or a chair in the living room. With such a clean closet I decided to move the collection of coats my wife has accumulated through the years that jam the front hallway closet so I can't even put one coat of mine or a guests inside it.

The wife had gone to work, the kiddos were all in school, me mam had gone shopping, and I had the day off. I had originally decided to enjoy me day doing absolutely bloody nothing. BUT the Dragon was home and roaming the lair so I decided to get busy to keep me mind from exploding. I knew it would be no more than seconds of her seeing me relaxing that she wouldn't be wagging her tongue at how lazy I be.

So I went to the hall closet and started moving half of the zillions of coats the wife had hanging there.  Now there were two or three of her coats I had used as packing material (you know the drill when in a rush and out of bubble wrap one takes what is handy) and well those three coats were so wrinkled and full of lint I decided to put them in a plastic bin and transport them to the transfer station only not to the free picking section, to the DUMP section.

I  spent half a day sorting her stuff out, rematching the glove collection that went along with the coats. Anything that didn't match or looked ratty I chucked in the plastic bin. You know those old rabbit fur lined gloves that once wet are useless, yeah lots of those. Then I started on the scarfs and hats, and in the bin they went, me thinking they looked beat to hell and furthermore haven't been worn once since I've known her. I also tossed some boots that I figured the heels were out of style, and why wait for the style to come back when I know she'd just go out and buy new ones! So out those went into the bin.

I had so much stuff I needed two bins. I got another one and un-crammed the first bin and put the really junky old coats in the first one and the ones I thought I could donate to Goodwill in the second one.  Out into the garage goes the first one and then the second in the trunk.

Of course the next day, Tonya asks "Where's my black rabbit coat?" Mind you the woman hasn't worn that thing in years. Then I hear, "Where is my purple coat?" This from me Mam, and the woman be colour blind and it is really a dark brown coat so half the time I don't know what the hell she's looking for. I said, "I don't know in the closet maybe?"

"It's not here, you threw my good coat out Gabriel!" Me mam accused as Tonya stopped and listened to this exchange.

"Oh no, I put them in the mudroom closet to make room." I said which I did put the remaining three out of zillions that I thought were in good condition. I also did not know that I threw me own grey haired apple cheeked mam's coats too!

"Why'd you do that?" Tonya asked on her way to the mudroom. Before I could open me gob hole she was at the mudroom closet inhaling loudly at the shock. There were the three coats of hers, mine and Dragon's Jon Snow cape and nothing for me mam.

Knowing I was about to be in hot water up to me eyeballs I said, "I likely put them in the basement to make more space, I thought spring might be coming and took the winter coats to the cedar closet."

"What cedar closet we don't have a cedar closet in this house." Tonya said coming towards me. And you know I am thinking GEES I've been caught! Did I put those coats in the trunk or in the garage?

Now when I was growing up me mam always maintained the one year rule - she'd take things out of your closet and save them in the basement for one year. If you never notice they were missing, out they went! Like most men, I get accused of tossing things all the time.

For 20 years I heard about the British Literature books me mam supposedly threw out because me da couldn't find them. One day me sissy walks in with a box of books that her husband found that belonged to me da. Yeah men loose more things than we throw out. Anyway . . . the mad rush of opening every closet in the house and finding not the desired garments but a lot of empty space begged the question where did the kiddo's toys disappear to and where are the snowsuits and boots, hats, gloves, scarfs, you name it it was asked about.

Lucky for me it wasn't trash day until the next afternoon. All I had to do was check the trunk, check the garage, but who is in the garage, but the Dragon, looking for a rag to dust with. And you know me, I be too stubborn to tell the truth that maybe I did toss the purple but really brown coat and the black rabbit to boot!

I tried to sneak in to the garage by crunching meself in half so Dragon couldn't see me on the other side of the car. But I got caught because me phone rang and I popped up in surprise at the sound and she seeing movement turned to catch the popping up and says, "Your friend isn't a weasel, YOU are! What you mean popping up like that? Are you trying to frighten me?" So lost opportunity. Before I can do anything more, the wife and mother are wrapped in shawls and getting in the car that has the one bin in the trunk! Me mam had an appointment and there was nothing I could do.

Yup bin gone to the doctors and all I can think of is please don't stop for anything and pop that trunk. Now I be frantic, well not really, me mam's is her old working coat as she calls it, had it forever, and it comes from a long line of the same coat bought every few years one wears out, the exact same one is bought again. I be thinking of buying her a new one, but then realise they are made in Ireland and that's not gonna fly.

I decided to take a walk in the yard to get away from Dragon so I can think what to do. I need to get in the garage to check the one bin but she's in there reorganising the paint cans. Oi!

About thirty minutes later I return thinking she's out of the garage and she is, BUT the bin is gone! The car though is back! Quick I go to pop the trunk, and I go through the bin and nothing! Neither coat. There is one looks like Tonya's rabbit, it's black but it's not fur. I think maybe I can get the cat to roll on it and get some fur stuck on it and well . . . no. Who wants to be caught in a lie! Even a small one ( and of course it isn't the end of the world in my mind - maybe the end of me life, but not the world just my world).

I go in the basement instead of up the stairs to the kitchen where I be guessing the women are all discussing me and what they will do to me should they get a hold of me. I walk in the basement door and there's the bin! Low and behold, there are both coats! I had such a guilty conscious, I drove meself nearly silly for no good reason. Well, that's not true, I had reason.

I suspect this is one of those common events that others have also fallen prey to. You get tired of tripping over something like a Dragon lady and you end up cleaning closets and taking things that belong to your mam or worse, wife, and say that's it! Out it goes! I be throwing THIS out! and as soon as you do, the spouse asks where it is, so you make up some story. SIGH.

Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved

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.

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