A new way to hitch a ride

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For those unfamiliar with the bird in the above picture, this seemingly benign creature is a Black-Capped Chickadee.  They are tiny in stature and extremely friendly once a level of trust has been developed.  I would spend countless hours as a child sitting outside on our deck with a handful of sunflowers seeds charming these little creatures to land on my hand.  I would marvel at the heat produced by their tiny claws as they gripped my fingers and admire their courage to trust a human feeder.

I became much smarter as time went on and removed the actual bird feeder altogether.  I was the only source of food for these feathered friends and slowly became the Chickadee Whisperer.  These beautiful little birds would jockey for positions on my outstretched hands and graze on the seeds that I willingly provided.  More often than not, I would have to leave my perch to fill the supply of food but they were anxiously fluttering around the deck awaiting my return.

On one particular occasion, I had gone inside to replenish the supply of seeds and had unwittingly left the screen door wide open.  One lone Chickadee flew into the house through the open door and, like a Kamikaze pilot on a suicide mission, thrust itself straight into our living room and landed squarely between the shoulder blades of our long-haired Lhasa Apso, Misty.  She had been sound asleep on the couch but the shock of having a foreign object entangled in her fur was immediate and Misty leapt off the couch to shake the intruder loose.  The more she shook, the stronger the bird held to her hair.

Not knowing which creature was more terrified, I watched Misty go from disbelief to panic in milliseconds.  As Misty began  thrashing like a bull being ridden in a rodeo, the bird held fast.  The movie 8-Seconds had nothing on this bird.  It was going for the World Record and the seconds began to tick on the clock.  Misty, realizing that a mere shaking of her shoulders was unsuccessful, jumped off the couch, taking off like a shot into a full run.  She lapped around the circuit from living room to kitchen to dining room and the chickadee hung on for dear life, riding that poor Lhasa Apso like it was going for Gold in the Olympics.  (I had to stop writing for a moment because I’m laughing too hard to type)

If you’ve ever watched a horse race and really concentrated on the jockey’s hands on the reins and position on the horse – this is what the poor Chickadee looked like riding my dog through the house.  I made vain attempts to catch the dog so we could rectify this unsettling but extremely hilarious chain of events but I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to focus on the task at hand.

After I finally caught up with the dog there was a great deal of panting.  I was panting trying to catch my breath after laughing so hard.  The dog was panting because she was probably moments away from having a stroke, and the bird was even panting – perhaps thinking a few more seconds would have garnered that coveted position in the Guinness Book of World Records.

With a great deal of wrestling, we finally held the dog still long enough to cut the hair in the death-grip of the birds feet and finally took that poor Chickadee back outside to give it the freedom it so rightly deserved.  World record or not, that was one hell of a ride!  After this scene, that could only be described as something from a movie, my mother and I both had to change our pants.  It will live as one of the most cherished memories of my childhood and I think about that rodeo ride every time a Chickadee graces my feeder.

What is your funniest childhood memory?

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…..

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I may not always follow the letter of the law when it comes to my health.  I have been guilty of eating things that are more processed than my hair after it has been freshly dyed.  I have been known to imbibe in some alcoholic beverages which is frowned on….depending on which new study you read.  And I have been culpable of using over-the-counter nasal sprays that wreak havoc on my blood pressure.

Thankfully I am not a hypochondriac and I only take up space in my doctor’s office when I truly have a medical issue or need a prescription refilled.  The moments are few and far between that I will put myself through the painstaking process of arriving considerately early at the office, getting in exceedingly late for my scheduled appointment and then feeling like I am taking up too much of my physician’s time by asking questions.

It took me a while to warm up to my doctor’s “desk-side” manner but I truly appreciate the fact that she does not sugar-coat her curative banter.  I have had my share of real health issues that warranted a trip to the hallowed dominion of her office and I came out wondering if there were a few chapters in her medical books that other doctors had not been privileged enough to read.

I had a severe case of Pneumonia two years ago that could have possibly been diagnosed as a lung infection.  I had been so sick that I purposely subjected myself to a walk-in clinic…..in the middle of the afternoon…….on a Saturday.  After being prescribed a drug that made me feel like I had been chronically licking a tire-iron for a week, I made an appointment to follow up with my doctor.

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I was given the good news that the intensely strong medication had its desired effect and my lungs sounded relatively normal.  During the course of my regaling her with my intermittent trips to the office while sick with Pneumonia she casually expressed a few primitive medical terms, obviously from the book that only she received in med school.

The first archaic phrase was uttered and I was called an “idiot”.  This is a much shorter version of the 19th Century diagnosis that was identified as a “profound intellectual disability”.

Approaching with caution, I summoned up the courage to then mention the truthful number of times I had been to the office, and out in public, during my illness and I was then diagnosed as “stupid”.  I have since examined an alternate medical journal a little more closely and found that analysis of my symptoms to be defined as Fecal Encephalopathy which, roughly translated, means “shit for brains”.

I have always held on to the hope that my doctor has remained on the cutting edge of technology, that she is one of the few rural doctors that truly has her finger on the pulse of modern medicine.  What I had not prepared myself for was the fact that she was reverting back to honest medicine and just calling a spade a spade.

The things that make us laugh the most

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toaster oven

“I do love my toaster oven though.  That’s what you need down there – heat up the meat and then toast your bun.” ~ SN

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That innocuous statement may seem like the least funny line you could ever imagine, confusing even if you have no context of conversation to be able to attach to that simple phrase.  But last night, that innocent message took a turn down an interesting path and led us on a journey of uncontrollable laughter in the wee hours of the morning.

What started as a discussion about a late-night kitchen raid slowly morphed into something much more amusing after I texted the above line.  It seemed to hover in cyberspace, not realizing it was soon to become the cause of a 45 minute fit of muscle spasms and tears of epic comical proportion.

He broke first.  I didn’t initially see the humour in it but, as he texted it back to me over and over and continued to laugh, I could swear I heard the faint echo of his laughter in my head.  Eventually I began to giggle because thinking of him finding such a sincere comment so funny made that comment start to seem funny to me too.  Soon the two of us had fallen over the brink and we, in our separate houses in the darkness of the early morning, laughed like idiots for almost an hour.

My ribs ached, my stomach muscles felt like they had begun to seize and my sleeve was soaked with tears that would not stop staining my cheeks and my pillowcase.  But at the end of suffering through the side effects of our mutual breakdown, I felt wonderful.  That silly string of words had made us both laugh harder than either of us have laughed in years.  It made us temporarily blind to all of the life outside of that moment, allowing us to truly enjoy an escape from reality that will forever be a memory we will both treasure.

Sometimes the things that aren’t funny really do make us laugh the most.  And if you can share that laughter with the right person, for a brief period of time, the rest of the world ceases to exist.

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They do walk among us

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Stealthily, they weave among the crowds, always maintaining their position slightly below the radar to avoid drawing attention to themselves.   They seamlessly blend into their surroundings, appropriately smiling and nodding when they deem a response is necessary, but never actively participate in the live conversation swirling around them.  They are the oblivious – they are the relatively small number of people who just – don’t – get it.

By any standards, they would most likely maintain a moderate intelligence quotient, function well at a full-time job and perhaps even procreate to pass the torch of their DNA on to the latest members of the human gene pool.  However, in what may well be a fleeting moment of idiocy, they lose their grasp on true logic.

There are websites dedicated to this phenomenon and the stories are, not only hilarious but, astounding.  One of my true favorites, which may be a complete fallacy, or not, is a group of friends walking along a beach when one friend cries out “look at that dead bird” and his friend looks up in the sky and says, “where?”.   They do walk among us.

This post was not inspired by the nameless, faceless many who have undoubtedly experienced this factual anomaly, but by a phone call to a radio station in Fargo, ND that I had long since forgotten, until now.   If this whole call was fabricated, congratulations to the people who thought up this gem.   If was an actual call (and apparently it was authenticated as an actual call) this woman truly believes she has the answer to a safety issue for drivers.  Please be advised Fargo, ND – she walks among you. (although her name may have been changed to protect the idiot)

After being ignored by local television stations and newspapers, a woman took her cause to her local radio station.  In a very decisive and articulate argument, she was very concerned and somewhat shocked that the government transportation agencies would choose such heavily trafficked areas to post the standard issue deer crossing signs.  She firmly believes that, after obtaining their passing grades from primary school, the deer would have the wherewithal to comprehend the meaning of the sign and change their crossing patterns to coincide with the location of said signs.

In a moment in which she seems irretrievably misguided, and there were several, she had not only convinced herself but tried to convince the world at large that the deer would heed the wishes of the transportation agency and only cross at the location of the signs.  Since she has been involved in three vehicular incidents with these highly educated creatures, her argument to move the deer crossing signs closer to a school zone frightens me immensely.   How many children will she hit before the government has to relocate the school children crossing signs to a near-by freeway?

Please listen to the following and weigh in…..do you think this call is real and, if so, has she changed her name and moved to a state where the deer are just as clueless as she is?

You wear what you eat…

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My friend Sandra passed away tragically in May of 2003.  It was such an extreme shock to get the phone call that she never made it home from her vacation in England.  She had been infected with the Streptococcus bacteria that rapidly turned into the Flesh Eating Disease.  In a few short hours after getting on the plane to return home, she was gone.

Her laugh still echoes in my head sometimes.  She had a wonderful sense of humor, a biting wit that matched well with mine and she was just fun to be around.  We both loved to cook and there were many food experiments done in our kitchen when we shared an apartment in Halifax.  We enjoyed cooking together so much that we eventually started a small catering business.

Recipes were followed or created, heavenly smells wafted under our door into the hallway and many bites were nibbled in order to perfect those recipes.  As we noshed on the fruits of our labor, scattered bits of food would inevitably fall onto Sandra’s chest.  She was a well-endowed woman and she always referred to her cleavage as the “continental divide” because everything would end up there eventually.

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As I was making my coffee this morning, I casually looked down at the sweatshirt I am wearing and noticed the stain directly at the entrance of MY continental divide.  I heard Sandra’s laugh before my laugh passed my lips.

Some memories will always find their way back to the present and those are the ones you never want to forget.

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Learning to laugh at yourself

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I hope you will all indulge me this week.  March 7th looms and I would like to keep as many happy memories as I can at the forefront of my brain.  Since my mom can no longer comment on what I post, her ethereal embarrassment shall be something that will hopefully make us all smile a little.  Some of my best memories are of the funniest times in my life – the memories that made me laugh until I cried and that same laughter that made my mom wet herself.  This is one of the memories I love.

We have always been a family with pets.  Dogs have been a strong presence in our lives and in the early 1980’s mom and I would walk the dogs down the back road that was close to our house.  On one of our walks, our Golden Retriever, Brandy, decided to take it upon himself to walk our Lhasa Apso, Misty.  He took her extra-long leash in his mouth and proudly sauntered down the road, not looking back.   Only mom and I could see the leash wrapped around Misty’s body and, when there was no slack left in the long leash, Brandy dragged Misty down the road backwards for about half a kilometer.  That moment wasn’t just funny, it was absolutely hysterical and mom and I laughed so hard she peed her pants.

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Now, in the 80’s velour was all the rage.  Mom sported many matching leisure suits.  They were comfortable, they were stylish, and they were surprisingly absorbent.  But the variation in color could not hide the fact that my mom had peed her pants.  After we collected ourselves, we made our way back to the house.  We had a crowd of friends over and, knowing that, Mom was in stealth mode, maneuvering out of anyone’s peripheral to sneak in the back door and head for the laundry room in our basement.

She quickly changed her outfit and headed back up to the living room, thinking she had averted humiliation.  What she had NOT counted on, was that her traitor of a daughter had already broadcast the episode to anyone who would listen and had even thrown in some play-by-play action in slow motion.  Not only was I laughing but everyone in the room joined in, even my mom.

That day I learned one of the greatest lessons she ever taught me, even if by accident – if you can’t laugh at yourself, you will miss a great deal of enjoyment in your life.

 

 

Willie, may the odds be ever in your favor

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Superbowl Sunday has arrived!  The culmination of seventeen glorious weeks of watching the pigskin, followed by Playoffs and now it’s time for the Big Show!!  Even the groundhogs get a reprieve this year and get to watch the game in the comfort of their burrows without being dragged into the daylight until tomorrow.

Ah, Groundhog Day – that magical morning when we put our faith in an abundantly nourished, rotund mass of fur to predict the arrival of Spring.  This over-sized rodent is depended upon to prognosticate to the best of his ability and tell us, by virtue of seeing or not seeing his shadow, when we can expect the return of Spring.

Last year my post about this auspicious day focused more on the history and process of Willie’s predilection for weather.  This year I thought I would look at things from the perspective of poor Wiarton Willie (the Canadian version of Punxsutawney Phil).  First, he is rudely roused from his winter-long slumber to come out of his burrow and predict something even educated meteorologists cannot agree on.  Second, when he finally does make his appearance, he is greeted by a bemused but somewhat urgent crowd as they try to keep themselves warm enough to endure the period-costumed pomp and circumstance.

I am inclined to guess that Willie’s urge to get back into his cave has nothing to do with seeing his shadow.  I don’t know about you but, if I awoke to large crowd focused solely on me, I would be in one Hell of a hurry to bury myself back under my nest of blankets, shadow or not.  I feel somewhat sorry for Willie.  After being forced from his snug home out into an artic-like morning, the New England Patriots are probably not the only ones with deflated balls.

Given the success rate of these whiskered weather forecasters, the only prediction I would really take to heart is perhaps Willie’s prophecy about Superbowl 49.  Enjoy the game Willie and good luck with the madding crowd on Monday!

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Retail therapy and really sore ribs

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I knew it was going to be a fun day twenty minutes after we got in the car.  Driving through town with my girlfriends, we passed a minivan with the hood up blocking the entire windshield.  It wouldn’t have been such an odd site but the van was still driving along the other side of the road.  And that is how the day’s adventures began.

Even though we live in a very small area, we rarely get to see each other.  So the four of us banded together and hit the highway for a day of shopping, drinks and much laughter.   There is a palpable energy in the air when this particular pod of women gets together.  We are so anxious to catch everyone up on what has been going on that we talk over each other quite a bit but when “K” starting telling a tale from the retail job she has, the three of us stopped to listen to her story about the underwear sniffer.  This man habitually frequents her store to spend precious moments skulking through the ladies under garment section, stopping occasionally to bury his nose in the latest design of Fruit of the Loom.  Super creepy, but for some reason it made us laugh hysterically.

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We got to our favorite store and shopped like it was our job.  We filled the back of the SUV with our new treasures and decided it was time for lunch and a glass of wine.  The laughter continued over lunch and the man seated at the table behind us took great interest in our group.  He was completely harmless, a regular at the restaurant, but he certainly seemed eager to join in the fun.  He regaled us with a few tales of his own and, before he left, presented us with a Tim Horton’s gift card.   It was such a sweet gesture and we enjoyed some coffee and sweets on the ride home.

As the adventure was coming to an end, we were gathered in the parking lot where we had met earlier that morning.  It is routine to see what everyone else bought and as the cloth and yarn were being passed, a precious item (valued at $1.99) hit the pavement and broke.  The sound of ceramic shattering coupled with a slow-motion “oooooohhhhh nooooooooooo” made us burst into gales of laughter.  Here we were – four women in our 40’s and 50’s coming completely unglued in the Walmart parking lot.  Walmart shoppers were doing their absolute best to get as far away from us as possible.  Sideways glances were noticed but ignored by all four of us.  Our main goal was to not pee our pants in the middle of a busy parking lot.

Once I was able to breathe again, I wiped the tears from my eyes and collected myself.  This was the day I have needed for a long time.  This day, full of laughter and old friends was literally what my doctor had ordered for me to get me out of my funk.  And the icing on the cake of this day was finding out where NOT to shop for underwear!

Walken in a Winter Wonderland

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I have admittedly been in a bit of a funk lately.  The holidays seem to be approaching at the speed of the new Maglev train in Japan and I have been trying to avoid the thought of them.

And then I saw it…..the ad for the live production of Peter Pan starring none other than Christopher Walken as Captain Hook.

captain hook

If you are a fan of Walken, as I am, you know how great he is to watch and to imitate.  His disconnected thoughts and speech patterns make for great entertainment.  I am not dismissing his awesome talent as an actor or a dancer, but Mr. Walken does make great fodder for TV show hosts and actors to share their impressions of him.

or this one…

(wait for 1:51 on this one)

I’m sure the performance will be great.  He is, after all, a professional and a very talented one at that.  But this is live TV.  There is no room for error.  There will be no Director yelling “cut” and doing a retake of the scene.  I’m sure it will be flawless.  But in the back of my mind, I will be longing for that moment….that one little hiccup that will create a slight deviation in the programming and where the nuance of Christopher Walken will fill the void.

The minutes are ticking by slowly as I wait for the fun to begin.  Live television…Christopher Walken…..these are my Pennies from Heaven.