Me and Daniel

Me and Daniel
Me and my then 8 year old son, 20 years ago.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Lucky Numbers

October 3, 2001
10:49 pm

I was reading in Rosie O'Donnell's magazine about how to discover your lucky number. Okay, it goes like birthday is 07/28/ would add it all together, and come up with.....1,995?.....what? I must be doing it wrong!  Okay, maybe you don't add the whole year, maybe just the last two digits of I do that I come up with.....95...then I'm supposed to add those two digits together, and I get.....14....then I add those and come up with 5.
So. My lucky number is 5 I guess....??
It doesn't make any sense. How is 5 lucky for me? God, maybe I did it wrong...
....hmmm......why is everyone so hung up on lucky numbers anyway?
Why not lucky words? I'd rather have a lucky word than a lucky number. It would make the lottery a little more interesting! If the 'winning words' were, like, 'almost/crazy/retribution/any/dormitory/elsewhere.....and the bonus word is: bonus'.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Queen's Car

I've been so negligent of this blog lately...many things have happened in the last six months or doesn't matter what, the point is that I'm back to posting.
I'll start off with an old journal entry from about 12 or 13 years ago. It's the story of how my mother, brother and I ALMOST saw the Queen!....a not quite brush with greatness...hope you enjoy it!

  October 7, 2002

Today I almost saw the Queen. I'm speaking about the Queen of England. The old woman on the twenty....the one whose portrait hangs in post offices across the land... Yes yes. THAT Queen. She of stern expressions and giant yellow hats.

Here is the tale exactly as I remember it happening, and it was just today, so I'd say my recall is pretty accurate. 
 My brother had to go in to Vancouver to get his boat license renewed...he needs this for work, but that's of no consequence to this tale,
 Our mother is in town, so he said, why don't the three of us, him and me and our mother go to Vancouver and make a day of it. Show Mom around and whatnot. We were vaguely aware that the Queen was in Vancouver. Or was going to be in Vancouver. We weren't sure which, but we barely thought about that the whole way in to the city.
We were to learn that catching a glimpse of the Queen is pretty much an exercise in futility. They keep her well hidden from the peons it seems. 

We arrived in Vancouver after heavy stop and go traffic, and, as usual, it was a shit show from the get-go.
You know. Regarding the traffic, the parking, the bikes....the traffic.
We're not used to having to pay for parking, and it really struck us that it's unfair to ask us to pay, just to be able to leave the car outside in front of a building....what do they want us to do? Bring it in?

                   We spent an inordinate amount of time searching for a suitable, and available, space. We fought the hoards of other cars, bicycle messengers popping out of nowhere just in time to cut us off, and street people displaying signs
...('travelling, out of gas, anything helps. thank you. god bless.')(Does this ever work for any of them? I guess it must or they wouldn't keep doing it)
It seems like we spent more time looking for a parking space than it took us to drive in from the Valley.

Finally my brother decided on the two dollar underground parking that was within walking distance of the Government of Canada building that he needed to be in to do the whole renewal of launch operator license.
At long last, with the parking complete, he made his way along the sidewalk, and into the appropriate building.

Mother and I waited for him in a kitschy little coffee shop called 'Death by Chocolate'. We were sipping our coffee and trying to make up our minds as to which decadent chocolate concoction we would die by, when we noticed a small crowd forming on the sidewalk outside.

All at once a very expensive looking navy blue Lincoln pulled up to the curb, right in front of the coffee/chocolate shop. Up to that moment I'd never seen a more posh car. It looked like it was made of velvet. Another one pulled in right behind the first one. And then another. All together seven navy blue velvet Lincolns were parked right in front of 'Death by Chocolate'.

With the Lincolns came a heavy police presence, and a septet of spit and polish chauffeurs.
Suddenly it dawned on me. I said, "Mom! I think these are the Queen's cars!"

She looked at me like I had nine heads.

"The Queen's cars?! Oh I don't think so! Why would the Queen be here?"

"She is in Vancouver right now. Logic says that at any given time she has to be somewhere....Oh my GOD Mom! Look at that one!"

Another car had pulled up and parked in front of the long line of Lincolns, and this one looked like it was made of gold. It made the navy blue velvet cars look like $89.00 beaters.
It was like something out of a fairy was car porn.

I should mention that my mother is a complete nut for the Royals. She has magazines and books and follows all the Royal news that's fit to share. She adores the Queen, thinks Prince Charles is funny looking and cried when Diana died.

When she saw the magical golden car, she gave me a quick glance out of the side of her face as she swiveled in her seat and stood up, clutching her coffee cup, in one fluid motion.
She was out the door before I stood up, which I did forthwith, also still holding my coffee cup. As I hurried out the door to see if I could spot my mom in the crowd. She had already been swallowed by the throng. I heard the waitress behind me, frantic,

"You can't take the mugs outside! Excuse me??! You have to bring the mugs back!"

"Don't worry, you'll get the mugs back. I have to find my mother. She's gone to see the Queen....or try to...look at all these velvet cars!....we'll bring the mugs back."

I fought through the crowd, which had thickened up quite a bit from just a couple minutes before...and I found my mother.
She was taking picture after picture of the Golden Fairy Tale Car...the Royal insignia in place of a license plate...a very official, stern looking man with a wire coming out of his ear was keeping a close watch on her. I guess you can't be too careful when it comes to 65 year old women with cameras. There's no telling what they might do.

I found myself suddenly wrapped up in the excitement of the situation.
'What if the Queen came out right now?!', I thought.
 It would be something to see the woman who I've been seeing my whole life on the money, on tv, hanging in a frame in the school office, giving her annual Christmas address...maybe she was in the same building my brother was in! Maybe he'd already seen her, in the process of getting his launch ticket renewed....(I don't know why I thought that. Maybe the Queen had some sort of hat license to renew?)
God, I was wearing jeans! I wasn't dressed to meet the Queen, I thought.
The thrill of the situation overtook me and I reached a free hand out and let my fingertips dust across the front of the car.
The stern looking man with the wire in his ear said,
"Don't touch the car."
 And to my mother, "Ma'am. That's enough. You're going to have to move back to the sidewalk."

We took that to mean that the Queen was on her way out of wherever it was that she was. We scampered back to the sidewalk like a couple of giddy teens from long ago waiting to see David Cassidy.

I heard the waitress through the crowd,
"Excuse me?! The cups??!"

"The Queen!", my mother blurted out.
 To which the waitress replied, "Oh yeah? Where?"
 "You can have your cups. We don't need them. We're gonna see the Queen!"

The waitress grabbed the cups by the handles in one hand. She was not bowled over by the prospect of seeing the Queen...she made her way back to the cafe with the cups as we held firm to our place on the sidewalk, which we felt sure was the perfect spot to not only get a really good look at the Queen, but maybe even say hello. Just then my brother appeared on the sidewalk beside us, wondering out loud what all the commotion was about.

"It's the Queen!", mother said. She was just about breathless with excitement.

"No way. Really? The actual Queen?"

"No.", I said to him. "It must be an impostor...I think it's Freddy Mercury."

"Freddy Mercury's dead."

"Yeah I know. It's weird."

We stood there with the rest of the crowd, speculating amongst ourselves when we would see Her. Finally, after about twenty minutes, and no Queen, the fairy tale Lincolns, one by one, began to pull away.
They left the curbside just as they had arrived. Without any pomp or circumstance or announcement.

We made our way back to the underground parking, to my brother's 1991 burgandy mini van, disappointed that our eyes had not been laid on Her Majesty.
 While weaving through traffic, making our way to the highway, we passed the Hotel Vancouver.

Being seemingly adhered to the pavement, with traffic moving about an inch an hour, we had more than enough time to notice the same Royal fleet that we had just seen. They were all parked right at the underground entrance, with the Golden car nearest to the entrance.
There was a crowd gathered, official looking suits, some uniforms, a few news crews, and a bunch of RCMP.
The suits were walking in a pack. As if they had something, or someone in the middle of the pack that they were shielding from prying eyes or intruding cameras. Like a herd of elephants protecting their young in the center of a circle made of gigantic, grey, tree trunk legs...

They walked in a clump to the Golden car. At that moment traffic picked up and we were forced to abandon all hope of catching a glimpse of the Queen, although, we were all three pretty certain she had been in the middle of the clump of suits on her way to her car.


Monday, 2 February 2015

Odd and Ends

I have an idea for an app that will read all of your emails out loud in the voice of Gilbert Gottfried. I settled on him when it struck me that the voice of Morgan Freeman is over done. I bet even Morgan Freeman is sick of the sound of his own voice...infact, Morgan Freeman is my first subscriber.
I saw this woman on tv wearing a dress that had a big stupid belt that looked like a row of books, and I thought....."'s the matter with you?"...and then she said,
"I'm a scarf collector?" 
She said it in that way where everything said sounds like a question.
.......oh. sorry. I mean...."sounds like a question?"....
She set women back two hundred years.
 Who collects scarves??? And why are they on tv talking about it? Aren't there more interesting collections we could be hearing about than scarves??
I think that one of the most despicable things about first world countries is eating contests.
 Way to sock it to Calcutta!

Speaking of Calcutta, this is a recipe I'd like to try one day:

Beet Patties
~ some grated beets with most of the moisture squeezed out...there will still be some moisture, but the beets should be as dry as is humanly possible..I mean, short of doing something like...say...putting them in the dryer...just squeeze them vigorously between some paper towels and they should be fine.

Mix together:
~ 2 eggs
~ sprinkle of oats
~ some coconut oil
~ a bit of olive oil
~ feta cheese...put quite a lot of this in....unless you want these to be vegan
~ some sliced up fresh basil

 Mix it all up together and then add the dried, grated beets...get in there with your hands and moosh it all together. (Your hands and fingers will turn purple so don't make these if you're going to be doing something serious and important later on....something for which purple fingers will be frowned on.)

Fry the patties...(before this step you need to ball up portions of the beet mixture, and flatten the balls to form into patties) a little olive oil for a few minutes on each side. They should stay together. If they do fall apart you can turn it into ground beet stew.

Willie Nelson looks like if Pippi Longstocking was an old man.

This is what I just heard on t.v.:

"Tomorrow on City to decorate a long narrow room."

...come on people! It's time we moved beyond this drivel! least that's what I keep telling myself.
Then I start thinking about how it actually is that the long narrow room is decorated...and I find myself wondering about what would happen if I ever found myself in a long narrow room with absolutely no idea about where to put the blacklight doodled butterfly poster, or if the couch should go along one of the short walls, or one of the long walls....just how long do the long walls have to be to qualify as a long narrow room... And what about wallpaper? Is that ever okay in any long narrow room? ....I'll never know these things now because I've missed that episode thinking it would be meaningless spittle..
...or, I should say, I'm planning to miss that episode.(?)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Reggie, The Tattered Cat

On January 20th I had an unexpected visitor show up at the door. He was bedraggled, encrusted and painfully thin. He looked me dead in the eye and said,
"Man, thank god you're here. I need help. I've been wandering for days...weeks maybe. Please...I barely know who I am anymore."
At least that's what I imagine he would say, could he talk. Reggie is mute. He is also a cat. Probably the original
'Tattered Cat.'
I have never seen a cat in worse condition than this little waif. Luckily I am stocked with cat supplies and a large cat shaped hollow in my innards. 
Of course, I don't know if his name is Reggie....that's just a guess. 
Whatever his name, he's been roaming and neglected for a long time, that's obvious in his condition. He is so thin and weak that he wobbled when he walked...his balance is improving slowly. His fur is patchy and dull, and in places it's matted to his dried out, flaky skin. 
Over the last five days he's spent most of his time eating and sleeping. The poor guy. I doubt that anyone is looking for him. He seems as if he's been wandering, unattended in life since the beginning of time.
 In spite of it all, he has a definite feisty spirit and a will to play. He already has a favourite toy, a small blue, plush mouse that seems made for his flimsy grip. I don't think that Reggie is very old, I just think that he's had a long stretch of bad luck. 
He's going to see the vet next week. I don't know how long it takes a cat to recover from severe malnutrition, but I do know that I have the time to see him through this, if he has the time to recover.

I only wish Reggie could tell his story. What happened to him? How long has he been on his own, without care? Was he deliberately abandoned, or did he run away from a bad situation? 
You  know, I'm not even sure if he's a boy. What I am sure of is that his level of gratitude is off the charts. He tells me every day how thankful he is to have a place to hang out and recover. He is a member of one of those 'other nations' though, so he speaks through unbalanced butts of the head on my legs, silent meows, and roaringly loud purrs. As I write this he is fast asleep on the back of the couch, snoring contentedly, and hopefully, if his nation has the capacity, dreaming of better days to come.



Wednesday, 24 December 2014



(Sometime in 1994 - November 23, 2014)

Pearly was my beautiful Ragdoll cat. She was born sometime in 1994, and adopted by our family in 2001 when she was seven years old. I had doubts at the time about adopting such an 'old' cat, but her personality made it impossible for us to walk away and leave her languishing in her SPCA cage. 

The day we walked into the pet store and headed for the SPCA corner we had no intention of bringing a feline into our family. We were killing time, as they say, waiting for something that has been lost to the sands of appointment or something I think. At any rate, the SPCA corner was a place to get a glimpse of dogs and cats, puppies and kittens, all waiting for forever homes.

That day there were a few grown cats, a lot of kittens, and one black dog that seemed to have springs instead of legs. He was in a fenced in area in a corner of the room, and would jump straight up about four feet in the air, and he did this continuously. 
Pearly sat in her cage and stared down at him like he was some kind of a freak.
When my oldest son put his face next to her cage to get a good look at her, she walked over to him, put a white paw through the bars and flipped his glasses up. 
When I came to look at this spectacle she broke her gaze at my son and locked eyes with me. 
Her meow was soft and sweet, not at all yowly or horrid. 
She explained to us, in her native tongue, that she was meant to be a part of our family, (at least that's what I imagined her to be saying) and we had no choice but to immediately fall in love with her.

We adopted her on the spot.

(Pearl in her later years)

Pearly was pretty much the boss of the two dogs who were already a part of the family when she came. She would chase them away from food that she wanted for herself, or force them to leave cozy beds when she decided she wanted to take a nap. 
At 20 pounds she was a pretty big cat, but still, the dogs were a border collie/lab cross and a ridgeback/pitbull cross...they outweighed her by a lot. It was her confidence and attitude that made them move. 

In the thirteen years that I knew her, Pearly exhibited that confidence and self assurance always. 
When I'd have guests over to the house she would sit at the table, on a chair, and get in on the conversation. She would softly meow and look around at each person.
If people were in the living room sitting on the couch, she would pick someone that she especially wanted to get to know, and place a large yet delicate white paw on their cheek and hold it there while staring into their eyes.
I often heard, from laughing, startled people, "What's up with your cat?"
She was persuasive and always managed to get what she wanted, which was usually a pat, a kind word, or a piece of cake!

The years went on and eventually the kids moved out, the dogs passsed, and it was just me and Pearly. 
She would greet me at the door every evening when I came in from work. She was eager to tell me about her day and would do so in the soft voice she always had.
She learned to walk on a harness and enjoyed outings on days without rain. 

As these fairly recent years passed, she became more and more needy, and would wait for me outside the bathroom door, and sleep curled up on my back at night. She hated to be alone.
She loved to be held like a baby. I could carry her around on her back all day long and she'd purr and purr, occasionally reaching a soft paw up to touch my face. 
She was an easy creature to love. 
In the end, all the trips to the vet just confirmed one thing...unfortunately there is no cure for being a twenty year old cat. If such a cure existed she would still be here, waiting at the bathroom door, getting in on the conversation and causing a sensation on her harness.

Pets give us so much in return for what we give them. 
For the first time in years I am totally petless, which is a situation I need to remedy soon.
I would love another Ragdoll, even though I can't replace my Pearl.
 I'll just have to take a trip down to the SPCA and see who's there waiting with a soft meow and a friendly paw.

(Pearl gazing at her face in her water bowl two days before she died.)

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Favourite favourites...

I finally decided to get in on posting my favourite books!
Of course, now that it's no longer a 'thing' that people are doing, I suppose I'm a little late with it.
Either that or I'm super early with the next 'list-a-thon'.  Either way, if you guys enjoy reading lists of other people's favourite things as much as I're in for a treat!
Of course, I know some people think that it's just as exciting to read someones shopping list....and if that's the case, come back next Wednesday when I'll be posting the one where my grandson wrote 'candy' in crayon at the bottom of the list, just below crazy glue, batteries, nail polish remover and vodka.
Until then, I hope you enjoy this list.

I can't really place these in any particular order of preference, since I really like them, even though they do appear in a particular order, (the alternative being a jumbled mess) that order has nothing to do with how much they are loved by me.... I go....
1. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, By Dave Eggers

"These things, these details, stories, whatever, are like the skin shed by snakes, who leave theirs for anyone to see. What does he care where it is, who sees it, this snake and his skin. He leaves it where he molts. Hours, days or months later, we come across a snake's long-shed skin, and we know something of the snake, we know that it's of this approximate girth and that approximate length, but we know very little else. Do we know where the snake is now? What the snake is thinking now? No. By now the snake could be wearing fur; the snake could be selling pencils in Hanoi. The skin is no longer his, he wore it because it grew from him, but then it dried and slipped off and he and everyone could look at it." ~ Dave Eggers;                   A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Dave Eggers is exactly my kind of writer.
 This book, his memoir, is funny, moving, intelligent, real and raw....and, yes, heartbreaking.
The book opens, (after a list of 'Rules and Suggestions for Enjoyment of this Book') with Dave taking care of his mother, who is dying of cancer. He is twenty years old. His parents die within five weeks of each other, and he becomes effectively, a single parent in charge of his seven year old brother Toph.
Okay, I know it doesn't exactly sound like there's a lot of humour in it, but there is. If you love memoirs, or just a good story, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one as much as I did.

2.  Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life, by Trevor Cole

Norman Bray is an ageing dinner theatre actor with an ego as huge as his burgeoning financial and personal problems. He has renounced all responsibility, for just about everything, in the name of his art.
Norman Bray is probably the most self absorbed character I've ever read.
 It's ridiculous how he doesn't seem to grasp the fact his career has faded and the wolves are circling. He is on the brink of financial and personal ruin, and doesn't get it....he performs his life as though it were a stage play.

The book starts like this:

"Watch the man being seated at a table in the middle of the Skelton Arms pub. He has been shown a table to the side, but no, he prefers the one in the middle, so that is where he sits. His name is Norman Bray. You won't have heard of it before, although that fact might surprise him."
~ opening paragraph of Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life.
3. The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

I have been reading this book every few years since I was thirteen years old. It is Oscar Wilde's only novel, the majority of his writing career being padded out with plays, fairy tales and poems. I think everyone is familiar with the story, Dorian Gray retains his beautiful looks and vibrant youth, while every crime and evil deed he does, shows up on the face of his portrait, which he keeps hidden from the world.
The novel was originally published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, in July, 1890. It is tame by today's standards I suppose, but back in 1890-91 it was regarded by most as vile and  immoral.
This reaction prompted Wilde to add a preface to the next edition, which said, in part,

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.
That is all."
You said it Oscar!

4. When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris

I am mad for David Sedaris! I love this book. It's a book of short, short stories, vignettes and slices of life... and most of them are really funny. The ones that aren't really funny, are still just plain funny.

“May I bring you a drink to go with those warm nuts, Mr. Sedaris?" this woman looking after me asked - this as the people in coach were still boarding. The looks they gave me as they passed were the looks I give when the door of a limousine opens. You always expect to see a movie star, or, at the very least, someone better dressed than you, but time and time again it's just a sloppy nobody. Thus the look, which translates to, Fuck you, Sloppy Nobody, for making me turn my head.” 
― David SedarisWhen You Are Engulfed in Flames
5. Diary of a Madman, by Nicolai Gogol

Here's another fantastically ancient book. This story was originally published in 1835. It takes place in the era of Czar Nicholas 1, and chronicles the descent into madness of one civil servant, who believes himself to be the new King of Spain.
It is very funny, and very sad...from a perceived love affair between two dogs, to his strange 'coronation', we catch a glimpse inside the protagonist's ever more wobbly mind.
Here's proof that something written almost 180 years ago is still funny and poignant. 

“April 43rd 2000

Today is the day of great triumph. There is a king of Spain. He has been found at last. That king is me. I only discovered this today. Frankly, it all came to me in a flash.” 
― Nikolai GogolDiary of a Madman and Other Stories
6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

I know, this novel is most often associated with required reading in high school, (at least it used to be) and the book Mark Chapman was reading as he waited for the police after murdering John Lennon. 
My guess is that most of you have read this book at some point in your life, and we've all experienced the confusion of teenage angst, alienation, identity and loss. 

"Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.” 
― J.D. SalingerThe Catcher in the Rye

7. Literary Lapses, by Stephen Leacock

This book of hilarious short stories was originally published in 1910, (okay, I can hear everyones eyes rolling at the fact that this is, yet another book from a past century...I can't help it!....and yes, I've read this one many times too....) and sold at CN Rail stations so commuters would have some light reading on their journeys.
Turns out that Stephen Leacock, the economist, was a genius writer of comedy stories, and he is a Canadian hero. His former home in Orillia, Ontario is a National Historic Site, and well worth visiting if you are a fan. I adore him.

This is from his Literary Lapses story, "How to Live to be 200", about a man, Jiggins, who had, 'the health habit.'

"...In the evenings in his room he used to lift iron bars, cannon-balls, heave dumbbells, and haul himself up to the ceiling with his teeth. You could hear the thumps half a mile.
He liked it.
He spent half the night slinging himself around his room. He said it made his brain clear. When he got his brain perfectly clear, he went to bed and slept. As soon as he woke, he began clearing it again.
Jiggins is dead."
This well known quote is from the story 'Gertrude the Governess':

"Lord Ronald said nothing. He flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse, and rode madly off in all directions."

8. The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence

This is another book that has been part of my life for years.
 Hagar Shipley will do that to you. Hagar is a 90 year old woman, struggling to come to grips with the fact that her family is thinking that the best place for her is a nursing home. As she reminisces about her youth, her marriage and the childhoods of her sons, she does the only reasonable thing that any nonagenarian in her right mind would do....she runs away.

“I can't change what's happened to me in my life, or make what's not occurred take place. But I can't say I like it, or accept it, or believe it's for the best. I don't and never shall, not even if I'm damned for it.” 
― Margaret LaurenceThe Stone Angel

9. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

This is a wonderful novel, with themes of survival, belief and art. 
Pi Patel is immigrating, with his family, (and half of the family's zoo!) from Pondicherry, India, to Winnipeg, Canada. 
Along the way something horrible happens, and Pi is forced into survival mode, doing things he never thought possible, in a situation he couldn't have imagined in a million years.

“Japanese-owned cargo ship Tsimtsum, flying Panamanian flag, sank July 2nd, 1977, in Pacific, four days out of Manila. Am in lifeboat. Pi Patel my name. Have some food, some water, but Bengal tiger a serious problem. Please advise family in Winnipeg, Canada. Any help very much appreciated. Thank you.” 
― Yann MartelLife of Pi
10. The Outsider, by Albert Camus (also sometimes translated as 'The Stranger')

Camus was a French/Algerian journalist, philosopher and author who helped the rise of the philosophy of 'absurdism', which states that there is no 'higher purpose' to life, it just is. Just as I am ignorant of most of the universe, so, most of the universe is ignorant of me. 
The book opens with the words, 

"Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday."
That's my list....of course it could change at any moment, there are so many books I love for so many reasons. 

Hope you all are having the best celebrations, feasts and get-togethers possible this year and everyone makes it through healthy and happy....
.....and, keeping with the theme of favourites, here are two of my all time favourite performers, Barry Gibb and Michael Jackson....I know, who'da thunk it, but never-the-less, here they are singing together for your enjoyment! I hope you enjoy it anyway.
 I once heard someone say that Barry Gibb's voice sounds like ear cancer, so, if you are of that opinion, just don't listen to it. This is, after all, fat, old Barry Gibb..and his voice at this stage had taken on a bit of the oldness, but none of the fatness. None that I can detect anyways. 

Finally, to paraphrase Aldous Huxley, "Be careful on the roads. It's the Christmas season, everyone's liable to be drunk."

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Technology and My Mother

My mother, at the age of 77, has decided to enter the computer age. When I say she's decided to enter the computer age, I mean enter as in walking through the doors of technology for the very first time. She has had no previous experience with, or exposure to, cell phones, computers, smart tv's, or even DVD players. 
Armed only with the knowledge that she wanted to communicate with the outside world in texted words and pictures, she set off to her local 'The Source', and purchased a cell phone, DVD player, smart tv and laptop. She said that I inspired her to engage in such an extravagant spending spree by regaling her with tales of text messages, skyping and instantly received photos. 

Now that she had all the equipment, she wanted my help in setting it all up.
I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I am no technical whizz. I know the basics of what I need to know to do what I do, and not much more. Besides that, there's the fact that I live approximately 3,000 miles from where my mom lives, and so stopping over to help her out with her new equipment is out of the question. 
The most I could do was tell her to call The Source, and get one of the guys to come out and show her what's what with all her new loot. 

"Oh! Will they do that?", she asked. 

"Of course they will, I assured her.

"Well. I guess I should give them a call. I don't know what I did with that phone book! I had it around here. I remember I looked up the number of the beauty salon last week....where did I put that thing?"

While she was lamenting the loss of her yellow pages, I googled the number. 
"Never mind the phone book Mom. The number is 444-3399"

"Oh. How do you know? Do you have my phone book?" She laughed like someone does when they think they're on to you.

"No Mom. I Googled it."

"I've heard of that but it sounds like gobble-d-gook to me. Or google-d-gook."

" I know it sounds like it's a crazy made up word, but soon you'll be googling things too. Give those guys a call and they'll show you everything you need to know. It'll be great Mom! You'll have everything you want to know at your fingertips."

Flash forward a few weeks. 
Mom now had her computer out of the box and sitting on the dining room table, the smart tv was plugged in and showing endless reruns of 'The Golden Girls'.
 The DVD player remained in the box, at the back of her closet, because, as Mom said, "I can't figure that damn thing out!" 
Best of all, I thought, the cell phone had been activated and had already sent out it's maiden text. 

"E. va it is. Me. Thsnk. you eva i will phpnw tomorow."

I was thrilled that mom was expanding her horizons and I looked forward to exchanging pictures and more somewhat cryptic messages.
 I knew it would make her feel closer to all of us here on the other side of the country...that is, it would have made her feel closer to us all if she could remember from day to day, how to turn the cell phone on.
Which brings us to a couple days ago. 

I could hear the frustration in her voice as she explained to me that she must be stupid because she cannot for the life of her remember how to turn her cell phone on. 
I assured her that she wasn't in the least stupid, and as soon as she got into the routine of using her cell phone, it would become second nature.
My first mistake was believing that this would be an easy fix. 

She said, "I turned it on but it went off again right away."

I said, "Yeah, Mom, it's out of power. You have to charge it up."

She said, "So what should I do though? Should I plug it in then?"

"Yes. Mom. Plug it in."

"With that plug in thing? It plugs into the wall?"

"Yeah that one. Hook your phone up to it and plug it into the wall."

"Okay. I'll do that now."


"Okay I'll be right back. Cause I have to go into the kitchen to get it. I'm in the bedroom right now."

"Oh I see."

"I'll go now."



"Eva? Can you hear me?"

"Yes I can Mom."

"Oh good. I put you on speaker phone cause I had to put the phone on the counter. The phone I was talking on? So I could get the charger for the cell phone."

"And do you have it yet Mom?"

"Have what?"

"The charger."

"Oh yeah! I'll get it!"


"Okay. It's plugged in."

"Oh awesome! Okay, now turn it on."


"Turn it on."

"Oh no! I don't think I can turn it on when it's plugged in!"

"Yes you totally can Mom."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes I'm sure Mom."

"Cause I don't want anything to happen."

"Mom! The only thing that will happen is the phone will come on and we want that to happen. So press the button."

"It's the one at the side is it?"

"Yep. That's it. Okay. You're gonna press it down until you feel the phone vibrate."

"Oh! Okay....okay I'm pressing it down."

"Good. Now. Do you see where it says Samsung on the screen?"



"No I don't see that. It did a little something then it quit."

"Okay. Mom? Is the phone still plugged in?"

"Yes it's plugged in."

"And you pressed the button at the side?"

"I'm still pressing it."

"Okay.....Mom? I'm sorry I wasn't more clear. Press it just until the phone vibrates, or buzzes, then let it go."

"Let go of the button?"

"Yes Mom. Just press it down and as soon as you feel the phone buzz....let go of the button."

"OH! Okay......."............
"Okay I let go of the button."

"And what does it say on the screen?"

"Nothing. I think it's off."

It's hard to instruct someone on how to make a peanut butter sandwich when they have never heard of bread.