Friday, April 27, 2007

A Sign Of The Times

The little town sits nestled between the hills; surrounded by a wealth of flora that nature endows. Trees, forests and fields of green, here and there a fast running stream. A small town like any other, situated anywhere in North America. Still but an unobtrusive place, bordering on two highways, dividing East and West, North and South.

This place although small, still has a few surprising revelations. I have never seen so many churches clustered around such a small populace. This town is what I like to term ‘industrially challenged’ for jobs are about zero! Until more recent developments took place, one of the most beautiful places here was the cemetery. That sounds crazy I know, but that place really was well thought out with the end result being a thing of beauty, a paradise of a resting place. The whole area is laid out with small rippling hills and trees and shade, a place to take your breath away.

We have an old guy who lives alone in the upstairs apartment. His name is Bob. I think his most striking feature is his thick tawny snow white hair and talkative nature. The guy is a real happy go lucky character and he‘s quite harmless. He’s 74 yrs old, bordering on the edge of Alzheimer’s and hasn’t an apparent care in the World. ~

It's not that he doesn't have any family for he does. They just don't seem to want to bother with him or are afraid to take any responsibility for Bob. As a result he never gets family visits or company, other than at Xmas and his birthday. Then it's just the dutiful visit with an equally dutiful gift.
I have watched him with his gifts and the way he shows them off. He’s almost like a child in his excitement, it is sad really. His gifts usually consist of some socks, maybe a pair of jeans, sometimes a cheaper winter jacket, or slippers.

It's almost as if that because of his Alzheimer’s, Bob has forgotten he even has any family and it seems they choose to forget him. Sadly this kind of treatment of older folks doesn't seem that unusual anymore these days. A sign of the times.

I know he really gets pretty lonely ocassionally, but he always greets cheerfully anyone he bumps into and then launches into a story, given half a chance.

He doesn’t remember peoples names or the fact he already told you that same story a hundred times before. It’s a shame really, but regardless I take the time to listen to him.

Because we live in a small town in the midst of nowhere, Bob is therefore, a town character pretty well known by everybody who’s ever walked down main-street. A real coffin dodger teetering on the edge with one foot in the box! If you will!

His daily routine is so fixed, you can set your clock by him each time you see him go by. He likes to watch “Price is Right” on TV at 11am and one minute after the program finishes you can see him headed down the street.

He has a variety of interests, that are usually dictated by what day of the week it is. He has days for doing shopping and another for when he does laundry.

He rarely passes a local store without popping his head in and has a jovial greeting for everyone in there.

One thing he never misses though is his visit to the local hotel for a few beers each day. On most occasions, you can tell if he’s had one too many, 4pm you will usually see him headed towards home. Most people turn and watch him doing his version of the chicken dance, as he skips boisterously, merrily singing and dancing down the street, some folks even cheer him on, that really makes him incorrigible, and not a care in the World.

A happy man really isn’t quite the term for Bob, but that’s him and who can knock him for that! ~

Way to go there Buddy!! ~


Tuesday, April 24, 2007


A slight breeze drifts along the edge of the membranes in your nose and attacks the back of the throat. Another fit of sneezing and coughing ensues. More retching of the mucus from the depths of your insides, taking place once more for what seems like the one millionth time and that in just a matter of the last few hours! The irony of this is the COPD factor, that's why I have to wear a cannula to deliver the much needed oxygen. One can hardly get away from the air intake that triggers so easily all the adverse reactions to the slightest movement of the air.

Finally the small breeze outside moves the clouds along a little. These same clouds that have been obscuring the sun now for the last couple of days. The resulting humidity has wrecked havoc with the sinuses making breathing quite a chore as one struggles with being short of breath. Finally the clouds move further along and the sun eventually reveals itself. The ensuing brightness bounces off the white sides of the house next door. The eyes start to pour torrents and the resulting glare of light once again starts another set of reactions with the membranes driving you crazy with the intolerant searing spasms and once again another round of coughing, sneezing and retching takes place.

Oh the miseries of the flu, day six and no end in sight. But of course this is supposed to be the eleven day flu! The way it’s going, I might just fool it and get it stretched into day twelve! Oh what I’d give for a decent nights sleep!



Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rudolph The Red Nose !!

This last week has not been the greatest for the wife went down with the flu! It really took almost five days for her to get on top of it, but now she seems to have turned the corner. Home made chicken soup really works wonders!
Things weren’t that hunky dory for yours truly either. I really had to try and be especially careful because of my COPD. In addition because of the risk of the germ factor, I had to miss rehab this week too. I dosed myself up with cold FX to try to forestall the now inevitable. Although it’s pretty difficult when you are together in a small apt’ and sleep in the same bed, even though we put distance between ourselves even there!

Well it seems like all those precautions were totally wasted! Today it is my turn and down I came with a bang! I have been trying to catch up to my nose ever since, it runs so fast!

You can imagine that in addition to all the misery that you go through with the flu; I have to have this cannula stuck in my nose to deliver the oxygen that I need. Boy, things can sure get tricky.

A bonus we discovered also from this, the bathroom is not the only place you use toilet paper!! It is softer and easily transported around with you, besides “Royale” make nice ornaments scattered around the apartment!

Ah Well! If all goes well five days to go and I get to miss rehab again. ;((


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Tree That Wasn‘t!

My wife is going to kill me one of these days, for most times those happenings invariably involve her or perhaps something that we did! It’s true that we do have a lot of fun with each other, mostly we just hang loose!
Maybe anyone reading this could get the impression that we are a right pair of yahoo’s. When in reality we just take life as it comes, I think that’s why we get along so well.

This has been a somewhat weird but also difficult kind of week! Twice a week I attend a rehab at the local hospital, believe me it isn’t that easy. Fortunately we do get these little ‘happenings’ occasionally that make life worthwhile

Last week we went to the rehab clinic and went through my exercise routines. The fun actually started when we were ready to come home. As the final leg of my days workout, I have to walk to the door of the hospital which is down about a mile long corridor from the gym. Of course when I arrive in the reception area I am SOB (short of breath) for a short while and have to sit and regroup.
My ever faithful honey meanwhile just has to have a nosey around.

Over in the corner there was this sizeable tree? It looked like a tree and was about seven ft tall standing in this nice big urn.
It did look a bit like a weeping willow except it had dark green leaves/fronds that were hanging down like the weeping willow tree.
Elizabeth’s curiosity got the better of her and was aroused by a sign on the urn that said: ‘Please Don’t Water’.

Being a wanna be gardener, she was intrigued by what kind of tree would not need water?! She went over there and started to feel and tug at the drooping leaves? That was when a handful came away in her hand and she yelped! oop’s !! Dropping the evidence into the urn, even though little bits were still hanging from her. She scooted back over to me and tried wiping the green frond clingy bits off on my jacket! I said shoo!! I don’t’ want that stuff on me!!

Looking furtively about her to make sure nobody had witnessed the crime, she said are you ready to go? Grabbing my oxygen, we quickly made a bee-line out of there!!

Of course the Tree was imitation as she certainly found out. That’s my honey!


Monday, April 16, 2007

As Time Goes By

Have you ever had one or two of those days when everything is absolutely dead? I guess most people have at one time or another. This weekend has been one of those times.

Yesterday once again the weather was not the greatest, another sprinkle of snow had fallen, so much for the ground hog! It’s been eight weeks already since that pesky critter went into hiding! Grrrrrrrr. Back to yesterday, being the day it was nobody really felt like going anywhere. So at first we said, that just to get out of the house we can go local for milk and a dozen eggs.

By the time I had got myself ready though, the sun had come out and things looked decidedly better. We decided then, I really didn’t want to sit in all day so off we went for a nice drive.

That was when we ended up at the wife’s favorite ‘humungous’ grocery store! Even so; we went into the store for a look around, saying we didn’t really need anything except the exercise. Well an hour later and being somewhat lighter in the cookie jar we got out of there! This is what we ended up with:

3lb carrots
Garlic 5 pack
Romaine lettuce
3lb onions
Small Rutabaga (unbelievable @ $1.79)
Croutons (3 boxes)
Brown Sugar (for muffins)
2lb tomato’s on the vine.
Less salt OXO (2)
Kraft salad dressing (3 cheese ranch)
Windsor Salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Aylmer tomato’s (2)
Apple juice (2)
Raisins (for muffins)
Shredded wheat
Garlic powder
Cheddar cheese (old)
Salsa X-chunk
Whole wheat bread
Veal cutlets

Total = $72.19

Do you see milk and eggs anywhere there? !!

Can you believe we went all over that store and forgot the only two things we went out for!!

We had snow over night again! And this morning Elizabeth woke up full of a cold! Now that, really finishes the weekend off in fine style!!

Poor honey, she’s been wearing her nose out on a case of tissues all day. On top of that, with me having COPD I have to be very careful I don’t go down, it could get serious! That would really be bad news!

~ Come on in May, lets have some summer! ~


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Reflections Part 2

We were sitting bird watching one day when a couple of new faces showed up. This sent me scurrying to the computer to look them up for I wasn’t sure what kind of bird they were. That just shows how well I knew my birds but I was getting better. It turned out that we now had the common grackles and a purple finch or two. The finch was quite pretty with his purple vest and even the grackle was handsome dressed all in black. About this time I should mention that we also had three pairs of ground doves. Once in a while they would perch on the tree with the goldfinches, but mostly you had to look at the ground to see them foraging around, a thing I could overlook sometimes. Just like the juncos.

TV time again. Today I was watching a baseball game, shucks another loss, can’t seem to get any luck with the idiot box. At times I wonder why we bother with the cable TV for there never seems to be anything decent on and the news can be so depressing.

It was time for the leaves to change as we approached fall, and it was about this time that we got our latest new family members in the form of some nuthatches and three downy woodpeckers. I was a little surprised, because I had given up hope of ever seeing them in our back garden. This was because earlier we had put out a suet feeder and had no action, but here they were.
Even now, late in the year and already started into winter, we still have the woodpeckers, nuthatches and the black capped chickadees. Surprisingly, we still have an abundance of goldfinches. I thought they would have migrated south by now however; their coats seem to have changed and they look like they now sport a winter coat. Of course this would be so nice if they stay for the winter months. Unfortunately, the appearances of the blue jays are now getting more and more scarce and we had the one visit with the mystery birds. The closest we could find was that they sure looked like brown thrashers, but we haven’t determined that at this point.

In the political spectrum politicians jockeying for position, for it seems that their concerns lean more towards their own ambitions and personal agenda’s, rather than the welfare of the country and its peoples best interests. Everybody is blaming everyone else for the woes of the World. Often I wonder, just who is running the country, or even, are they?

I cast my thoughts and eyes back to the window, it was so much more simple to just enjoy the pleasures of nature. Some of the birds seem to be so tame that at times, they keep coming right up to the window and looking in on us, almost as if they are telling us the feeders are getting low again. I thought just how lucky we were to have this so available, and at the same time, thinking of the poor devils in the trouble torn countries, so many dead or injured, too many homeless, and no food or water. It is so sad. I guess that’s when I started thinking more of the simple wonders of nature and the apparent destructive actions of mere man.

Strange really when one thinks of it; there is always lots of talk of technology and progress, with man forever coming up with new ideas to make life easier for people.
Yet it would really seem more like, forever making things much worse overall in the world, in regard to the environment and wildlife in general.
Oh how wonderful it must have been to live in a world before pollution and damage to the ozone layer.

True, one cannot stay forever mired in the past. Yet at the same time, look where technology has taken us so far today. We seem to be always in a downward spiral, as we fumble with ideas of how to correct the damage
man has done this far.

It’s hard to believe that for a world that has existed and survived disasters for millions of years, it has only taken man about two hundred years to bring us to the stage we are at now.

With global warming, ice caps and glaziers melting, changes in the weather patterns which translates into more severe storms, creating devastation around the world, such as we have never seen before. In truth, the very survival of the human race now seems threatened.

There is so much that we as a race of people need to learn from nature. The wildlife, even the lifestyle and teachings of the North American Indian and other ancient peoples, but in particular for me, the birds. Perhaps it is already too late for this phase of world history. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that it isn’t so.

I turned my attention back to the window and the birds. Life is so much simpler this way.


Saturday, April 14, 2007


Have you ever just been sitting there in your favorite chair, feeling a little beat after a tiring day? Of course you have. I was doing just that today, and in those kind of moments my mind usually just takes off. I sat there lazily staring out of the window, with the TV on in the background, and the more I stared the more the thoughts just hit me.

It was such a simple thing really, a few birds were chattering away on the feeder and others, just flew in gathered a seed then took off again. These were the black capped chickadee’s, always very polite and orderly with each other. The thought crossed my mind that it’s such a pity some people couldn‘t take a leaf out of their book and learn something. I sat there reflecting on the past summer and all the wonders that mother nature had brought to our door or window, for our enjoyment free of charge. Such a variety of birds. Now that I think of it, far more than I have ever seen in my life before in one place and yet they all got along so wonderfully well in perfect harmony.

It had started out with three families of robins who would wake us up in the early morning with their songs, closely followed with the songs of a pair of cardinals. At this time the trees were just in bloom with a new mantle of fresh green leaves to herald the spring and summer, also accompanied by the early flowers already in the gardens.

As the season moved along, we would be joined first by one species of bird and then another, at different times some would arrive and others would move on. By the end of the Summer we would eventually end up with visits from a whole variety which included a Baltimore oriole. I get a chuckle when I think of the first time we had a visit from him. We didn’t know what he was till we looked it up on the internet; then we started phoning around frantically trying to find a feeder for him. Eventually we ended up driving 16 kilometers to a store and $15 later we were on our way home. As it happens we had a feeder out for the hummingbirds, and this is what the oriole tried to drink from the first time we spotted him. It was the beautiful sound of his singing that caught my attention at first for I had not heard one before and sadly even his stay was just for a short time, until he made another appearance later in the season. The real surprise for me was when an indigo bunting made a one time only appearance. He was such a brilliant color of blue, so pretty and so unexpected too. The hummingbirds too were always a treat as they hovered at the feeder, sometimes perching on the bird rest to drink then they were gone so fast.

I glanced momentarily towards the TV, and sighed. Another bombing had taken place somewhere in the middle east, with many dead and injured, also a few more shootings had happened in the big city here, in what almost seems like a daily ritual nowadays. Yet the pundits would have one believe that the crime rate was in decline. Sometimes I really think they get their stat’s from a flea market!

I looked out the window again because a blue jay was squawking his head off, which gave me a chuckle and a light moments break from the humdrum world of TV. It wasn’t very long before we had the first American goldfinch’s arriving, for we had already got the Niger feeder out there. Once again, such beautiful birds and such vibrant colors!

Where we live is just a small apartment building in a typical small town away from the big city. At the back of the building is a very small quiet expanse of greenbelt that runs the length of the building, with grass, a few mature trees and a small hedge on the back of the property line. This is more than enough to give us a decent amount of privacy, where we can also enjoy the countryside and the joys of nature.

It seems such a shame really, that in order to slow down and appreciate the simple pleasures of life, one has to get older. I guess when people are younger and still in the workforce, they are busy trying to make a living and having good times. Understandably it’s relatively easy not to notice such treasures of nature and they can just slip by you. Such a waste when you think about it at my stage of life. Gee, I must be getting old!

To Be cont'd tomorrow.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Old & The New ~ Poetry

No man was ever yet a great poet,
Without being at the same time a profound philosopher.
For poetry is the blossom and the fragrance
Of all human knowledge,
Human thoughts, human passions, emotions, language. "

Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



"You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;
I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.
As the peach-blossom flows down stream
and is gone into the unknown,
I have a world apart that is not among men."

- Li Po 701 - 762


Roads not yet glistening, rain slight,
Broken clouds darken after thinning away.
Where they drift, purple cliffs blacken.
And beyond -- white birds blaze in flight.

Sounds of cold-river rain grown familiar,
Autumn sun casts moist shadows. Below
Our brushwood gate, out to dry at the village
Mill: hulled rice, half-wet and fragrant

by Tu Fu 712 - 770


This is a piece I wrote and finished recently. If anyone read in earlier poetry entries, what I wrote about the Eagles in B.C. and the Hancock Wildlife Channel. Then you will know what this poem is about.

I’m Missing You

Empty nest! oh empty nest!
Nest now so full, of nothingness.
Yet how such magic do you still hold.
To capture Worldwide - so many hearts.

For as if in answer to a memory, so dear -
Eaglet swoops in, scattering my concentration.
Pen in hand, I pause to wipe a happy tear -
For bringing again - that excitement sensation!

Oh precious nest, woven with dreams,
Once more I close my eyes and see -
The parents at home with eaglets two!
Everlasting memories, safe in that Tree.

Eric Valentine March 5/07©

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Have you ever had a time when days that are supposed to be okay - Aren’t!

This last couple of days have been those kind. We have now got over the Macdonald glasses incident, though I still get a chuckle thinking of it.

Thursday we started out to go to COPD rehab at the local hospital. As usual Elizabeth takes care of us getting out of here on time. That means that we have everything, ~ most important, the portable oxygen tank is secure, all is in place.

Today we were running a little close to the wire because we had been laughing ourselves silly at a couple of things that went clunk! and bonk! These were items that fell out of the fridge, just as we were ready to leave. Still laughing all the way down the hallway, I make it out to the truck. Then just as we are ready to roll, we suddenly hear this hissing sound! (We glanced around and determined that it wasn’t really a rattlesnake). Quickly detecting that there was something not right with the oxygen tank set up! We find the problem, and after resetting the fitting on the bottle, are soon under way. We often have these moments at our place for Elizabeth (Calamity) can be a little clumsy?! It does provide for so much merriment! Believe me.

As we arrived at the rehab Fred gave us a nod, a smile on his face, hi Fred! I’m thinking he is remembering the glasses thing too! All went well considering at rehab. Except once when she went to use the oximeter on me after a workout. The oximeter measures your pulse and the level of your blood oxygen. I couldn’t understand why I showed a pulse reading of only 30bpm, then we noticed we had the finger clip on my finger upside down! More raucous laughter from the peanut gallery!

Graciously we exit the gym still sniggering, and headed for the cafeteria for lunch. The wife ordering the burger special and I, just some fries and a tea. Shortly, a lady from rehab came and sat by us with the same meal special, asking as she did, “How’s the burger?” Elizabeth replied “Hmmm It‘s pretty good.“

We were walking down the hall on the way out. Elizabeth suddenly said to me, “That has to be the worst burger I ever had in my life!” I spluttered and cracked up laughing, so loud it turned peoples heads our way! “I thought you said,” I started to say; “I know what I said” the wife growled at me. “What did you expect me to say? I wasn’t going to spoil her meal before she started! Now she won’t ever believe anything I recommend in the future!"

Every day a coconut ~


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Happy Daze!

My wife is always trying to save a buck, she gets more like her mother all the time!

Take today for instance. I had an appointment at the hospital, so she dropped me off at the entrance and went to park the truck. Opting this time for the meter parking instead of the regular parking lot. There were no instructions on the meters so she tossed in a loony .(Cdn Dollar coin) For that the meter registered just 15 minutes. In disbelief she now decided to move the truck to the $5 all day parking lot which we normally use.

After my appointment we drove to the mall, where she offered to treat me to lunch. Big smile, for she surprises me like that sometimes.

My pet name for Elizabeth is Barnacle Betty. Getting her to use her own money is like prying Barnacles off a rock!! Something that I blurted out one time, when I was teasing her about paying. It has stuck ever since! Off we go to McDonalds in the local Walmart (Good old Barnacle Betty said she had coupons) Once in the store we spotted a fellow rehab patient Fred sitting in the restaurant, a real likeable guy. Elizabeth who really isn’t too keen on sitting with anyone today, looks at me. Whispering to me as we approach Fred, to do the idle chit chat thing, that she will go do some shopping for a bit until the coast is clear.

I say cheerio to Fred, head to the washroom and then retrace my tracks to back to the restaurant. My dear wife having seen that the coast was clear is now at the cash parting with her money. Meanwhile, espying me from a distance, Fred comes back and cheerfully sits down with me! You should have seen Elizabeth’s face when she turned around. Oh well you can‘t win them all! We eat, chat and half a cold meal later we finish. Once more Elizabeth decides to leave us, again for a short while to do a little more looking while we drink our coffee. She dumps our tray in the garbage on the way out.

15 minutes later she returns complaining about forgetting her reading glasses on the table, she‘s always missplacing them. There's nothing on the table. We all look at the garbage.Uh, oh! Calamity! (Hence her second nickname 'Calamity' followed closely by 'Disaster' ~ But that's another story!)
Fred graciously offers to retrieve them. Barnacle Betty politely refuses and explains to Fred that they came from the dollar store, and apparently she has trouble distinguishing glasses from french fry boxes. She will buy another pair. That’s my honey!! She then proceeds to make a huge lettered 8x11 page re-write list as I dictate, what is on her small grocery pad. She’s mumbling, "I’m going to look retarded if anyone sees this list" At the bottom of the list we each add 6 numbers that we had picked for the lottery that night.

At the grocery store, I wait in the truck. Apparently she had to ask the clerk to fill out the lotto numbers sheet for her, because of the predicament over the glasses. He did and cheerfully said, "If you win, you will buy me a coffee?". She smiling, "I’ll do more than that for you" and then realized with horror what she had said bolted! ~ Hightailing it to the truck. ~

My honey so beautiful, but she can be so absentminded, at times!! LOL ~