A little blood on Halloween seems almost redundant

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I used to love carving pumpkins.  I was one of those weirdos hoping to have the most creative pumpkin on the block, so I bought a carving kit and some patterns and locked myself in a room to avoid distraction.

Walls were spattered with stringy pieces of eviscerated pumpkin.  Elongated strings of profuse verbiage slithered under the doorway, assaulting the ears on the other side of the door, and small drops of minor arterial spray infused themselves into the paint on the wall.  But at the end of the painstaking process I achieved success!  The copious amount of band-aids, blood loss and light-headedness were worth the effort.  My pumpkins were the talk of the town.  My then-boyfriend’s children (who I still refer to as my step-children) were even proud to acknowledge the creativity on our front doorstep.

After my first attempt, I became a little less guarded when it came to the carving process and the whole family would get involved.  Where there were originally only two arms covered in pumpkin guts, eight sticky arms reveled in the joy of dissecting the large gourds and separating the seeds from the gooey mess.  Each of us skilfully created our masterpieces and sat back with a smile as the toothy pumpkins returned our stares.

The house would begin to smell of the roasting pumpkin seeds and, after a massive clean up, we would light our pumpkins and snack on the seeds in the darkened living room.  The memories of those nights of laughter and camaraderie are the ones I still hold close.

As Halloween approaches, I am slightly saddened that those years are so far behind me.  I live on a street where no children trick-or-treat so there is no need to create any more scary faces.  Perhaps this year I should take advantage of the fact that my digits are all still intact and drag out the carving tools once again.  I’m sure my dog would like to sit in the dark with me staring at faces like these -

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Happy Halloween everyone!

Are you sure you dialed the right number?

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There is a distinct advantage to having a truly bizarre message on your cell phone or answering machine.  Those few audacious lines can thwart unwanted voice messages and cause callers and telemarketers to rethink the redial.

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I had blogged here about finding the comedic genius that I have since “borrowed” for my outgoing message and how many times I had to call back to get all of the information but my persistence certainly paid off.  I have had many missed callers who have failed to leave a message for me and, since I do not run a business from my phone, I have no qualms leaving things at status quo.

I can discern which callers took the time to listen to every word.  The messages I do receive from people who have never heard the message before generally begin with light giggles and a true appreciation for the silliness the message represents.  I have been encouraged many times to change my voice message but I cannot imagine any other string of words that would amuse me as much as these words.

This is what callers hear when they dial my number:

You have reached the Port Carling Mental Health Hotline.

  • If you are obsessive or compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
  • If you are co-dependant, please ask someone to press 2 for you.
  • If you have multiple personalities, please press 3,4,5 and 6
  • If you are paranoid, we already know who you are and what you want, but stay on the line while we trace your call.
  • If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.
  • If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.

There are extended versions of this message but, sadly, I am only afforded so much time to record my outgoing greeting.  If you ever need a good laugh, call me!

 

Four score and a lesson in compassion

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Was I guilty of ageism?  Perhaps.  But when the senior’s euchre tournament bus tour arrived at the lodge on Sunday, I was genuinely dreading the three days that would follow.  I made an egregious error in judgement.

Admittedly, the tour did not begin well for the 42 participants but the fault was not ours.  A slight hiccup in their agenda had caused them to arrive an hour and a half early and we were thoroughly unprepared for the sudden onset of walkers, luggage and upset elders.  We did our best to scramble and be as accommodating as possible.   I made a witty speech welcoming them on behalf of the owners and staff and my words were met with sullen stares and moderate contempt.  It was a bumpy start.

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(image credit)

Once we regained control our momentum increased and we began getting everyone settled into their rooms.  Betty and Rose reached their three stairs and Betty took the lead.  Once she was at the top, Rose began to follow.  Betty reached for the door frame and found nothing but a handful of air.  As I turned to look behind me, Betty, doing her best impression of a tree being felled in the forest, fell straight backwards and took Rose out, using her as a cushion for the fall.  The two ladies I had escorted to their room had just fallen and couldn’t get up.   Thankfully we got them into an upright and relatively stable position and, after many unqualified examinations, we deemed they were medically stable.

The group’s first dinner was an interesting event.  Still unsure of their surroundings, many uttered complaints that hung in the air like cartoon balloons.  There were threats of husbands being called to retrieve them the following morning and the night was punctuated by another woman being hit in the head by a heartily kicked-open kitchen door.  In the span of six hours, we had potentially concussed three women.

But then something changed.  Over the course of the following 60 hours, attitude and understanding rapidly evolved on both sides.  We understood the nature of their initial frustration and they understood the nature of our good will and hospitality.  By the end of their three night stay, I was calling them all by their first name and I was truly sad to see them climb the stairs to get back on the bus.  There were many hugs and talk of seeing them again next year.  I will admit that I was close to tears saying goodbye to these lovely souls.

Perhaps it was the sideways glances I got from Rose that reminded me so much of my mom.  Maybe it was that bond of parenthood I have been missing since my mom and dad passed.  Whatever the reason, I will be ready and willing to welcome that next bus tour with open arms and use this enlightening experience as a lesson for the future.

Just one nice, looonnnngggg sniff

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I had just about given up on harnessing anything creative today when my dog sat on the floor next to me and rested her face on the window sill.  Almost motionless, she stared intently as a chipmunk ran back and forth across the lawn, each time carrying another acorn to its hiding spot.  Callaway didn’t utter even the slightest whine as she watched the little furry creature passing by about 50 times.

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Every so often the chippie would pause for a rest, choosing to stop about 10 feet from my living room window.  This intrigued Callaway even more.  Pushing her nose up to the screen, she took deep breaths with the hope of getting just a tiny hint of Eau de Chippie.

I knew the writer in me had begun to take over for the pet owner when I realized her behavior reminded me of Hannibal Lecter displaying his highly acute sense of smell to Agent Starling from behind his glass partition.  There’s hope yet for finishing my novel….I just need to pay more attention to my dog!

 

 

When someone says “get stuffed”, it’s not always a bad thing

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There’s a lot to be said for the joy the holidays bring – or any celebration, for that matter.  Whether it be a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas or a reunion – the ease of the conversation, the steady flow of wine, the melodic sound of laughter and the joy of being with a close-knit group of people is unequalled.  There is an undefined comfort level that allows us to become absorbed in the festivities that surround us. The fact that we can gorge ourselves and have an excuse to eat everything in sight with only a few fleeting moments of guilt is sublime.

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The molecules change in the room when family and friends get together for a holiday celebration.  There is something intrinsically sacred about holidays and the memories that are created within those moments. Time has a way of strategically obliterating those precious seconds as it marches on at a frantic pace, but our memories have a way of stopping that clock, if only for a few moments.

Holidays are a portal.  They can freeze time and create a vortex that allows us to travel back and relive certain periods in our lives.  The memories wrap themselves around us like a blanket and soothe us with the warmth of the times that engaged us and truly breathed life into our lives.

Although many holidays have passed and are collecting dust in the books of my hallowed history, watching my brother “float” his dinner in gravy brings back a rush of nostalgia, and that, to me, is what the holidays are truly about.  Personal moments that, to any other person would mean nothing but, to me, define my holiday experience.

Our Canadian Thanksgiving begins today and this evening I will spend time with family and friends enjoying a concert by Victoria Banks.  She is currently living in Nashville but is home for Thanksgiving weekend with her family.  The one glaring item that will be missing this Thanksgiving is my mom.  This weekend will be another “first” after her passing in March.  I know she will be with us in spirit tonight and especially during the making of my brother’s always spectacular turkey dinner.  Undoubtedly, she will be looking over his shoulder, whispering secrets into his ear, so he can make her stuffing just the way she used to.

Embrace your family, enjoy the moments and get stuffed with those memories.

Of portents and hints, and frogs behind Chintz

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I should have expected something strange to happen after finally getting my mind back into the creepy place where it likes to linger when I write fiction.  I crossed back into that dark place in this blog post and felt a sense of relief knowing that I could still find refuge in the shady corners of my brain.  Perhaps that energy drew the unexpected visitor to my window.

The overcast sky left the early evening completely devoid of light.  The dense bushes and large overhanging trees did everything in their power to make sure no illumination was cast on my little house in the woods.  From my nest on the couch, a slight movement diverted my attention from the television.  In the ambient light given off by the TV, three discernible fingers were visible between the window frame and the cloth blind.

Although startled by the movement, I quickly ascertained, by the size of those little digits, that I would not find myself in harm’s way.  I lifted the blind to get a better look at my late night visitor.  This little tree frog spent several minutes jockeying for a higher vantage point on my window.  I don’t think he was too appreciative of my flash blinding him every few seconds and the sudden burst of light seemed to make him lose his grip.  He slid down to the bottom of the window and hung there for a while.  I’m not sure which of us lost interest first but he left and I immediately Googled “frog on a window”.

My little visitor is a symbol of transition, transformation and cleansing.  I had already begun to formulate a plan in regards to making myself a writing schedule and changing some things in my life.  Cutting out the mindless hours I spend in front of a TV would be a great start.  Getting back to my healthier way of eating will be a close second.

It’s time to feel better and put my brain energy to good use creating ideas instead of digesting other’s ideas.  Thank you little froggy.  Next time, pull up a chair and stay a while!

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How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

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There is a myriad number of things I have seen on Facebook.  Most are mindless, time-filling, nonsensical things that I waste too many of my spare moments looking at, but every so often I come upon a sign or saying that really strikes a chord deep within me.

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

~Satchel Paige

It was a simple question but those words really resonated with me.  Sometimes I forget the number of my authentic chronological age.   I have honestly never felt that my time on this Earth truly reflects the age I feel I am on a daily basis.  I have always thought that I have an old soul but I have a young energy.  Time strings us along, giving us a sense of comfort as we grow older and we are more comfortable in our own skin.  But time does not have to make us feel any older than we want to be.  Wisdom does not always come with age, wisdom comes with understanding and acceptance.

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Too often we are classified by our age.  The year on our birth certificate does not have to define how we must act or how we should feel about ourselves.  Age really is a state of mind.  I will never define or categorize myself by the number of times the Earth has orbited the sun since I was born.  Nor will I let the stray grey hairs that peek out from under my Garnier Nutrisse #535 hair color affect how I live my life because of the number of years I have been alive.

When we are told as children to act our age but what does that really mean?   How can you behave as a number?  To prove my point, Yoko Ono said it perfectly, “Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90 – time is a concept that humans created.”

How old would you be if you had to pick a number?