Monday, November 26, 2007

Mist & Mystery

This particular blog, will mark the one hundredth post I will have made since I started blogging this last January. To celebrate that milestone for me I decided that something a little special was in order. To that effect I have put together a true story taken from my life, a couple of segments of which I did post in part quite a while ago. Today I will post the whole story, now that a few missing pieces have finally fallen into place completing the picture.

This is about the most personel thing that I have written to date, other than the earlier ~ “Eyes of a Child” autobiographical series of posts. So forgive me if it is a little lengthy.

Mist & Mystery


The yellow haze hung in the air like an impending disaster. Above the haze even larger volumes of stormy clouds swirled around tenaciously. Slowly at first the drizzle came down, the kind they call Scotch mist. It saturates the clothing in a very short time and leaves you standing there freezing to the bone. From the edges of the undergrowth rose a cold damp mist that enshrouds and clings to everything. Visibility was at a minimum, making one feel like they were trapped inside some endless void or a drain, much like a drowned rat.

Slowly out of the murky depths emerged a figure, a small slight woman holding the hand of a child. Hunched over against the cold and wet breeze she peered looking for something. Gradually, slowly, like ghostly apparitions, headstones emerged from the mist. Still my mother and I moved on seeking now we can presume, a particular grave. ~ I was four years old.

That is all I can remember about that visit other than eventually we arrived at a headstone. Then we just stood there in the cold misty rain, and my mother adding a warming tear or two.

That was the only visit I ever made to what I found out years later, was my fathers grave. Came the war, evacuations and I just forgot the road back.

At the time of my fathers death, I was a baby of two, with a brother one year old and my mother was six months pregnant with my youngest brother.

As a child growing up it’s not too difficult to notice that other kids have a dad, yet I did not. Whenever I brought up the question I was always told he had died in an accident at a steel mill.

I was ten years old when my mother remarried.

As time passed my stepfather changed from being the nice okay person we had come to know. He became instead quite hateful and spiteful with us kids, with beatings and saying terrible things about how our real father had died, thus creating doubts & mystery that stayed in my mind. Consequently I never did reach any good relationship level with this new man in our life. Instead, I left home at age 17 and never lived there again.

In 1969 my step-father died, so I flew home from Canada for his funeral, but only for my mothers sake.

I might add that even then I was filled with bitterness towards that figure laying in the coffin. It came as no surprise, when I couldn’t shed a tear at the funeral. It took many years for me to come to terms with all that happened and eventually reach a state of forgiveness. ~ Surprisingly, it was only then that I shed a tear for this man.

Before I left England to come back home, I remember my mother calling me into the sitting room. She said that she had something to show me that she thought I should see now, it was something she had kept hidden from us all of our life. Carefully she reached up and took down a sizeable picture that had hung on the walls all those years. Taking the frame apart she removed the picture and revealed yet another picture hidden behind the original.

With misty tears clouding her eyes she handed it to me. It was a fading picture of my biological father hidden behind the other picture.
I was almost 37 yrs old at that time. It had been hanging on that wall all those years! yet she had never spoken a word about it.
Up to that point in time, I had never seen a picture of my father before not ever! Now being an adult, I can understand her doing that rather than having to dispose of it, in light of her getting remarried.

Because of the advent of her death, I have that picture today. Pretty strange no matter how you want to look at it, for I never suspected. ~ Even after all these years I am still amazed. ~

Years later, 2007

Recently at the age of 74, I received a very pleasant surprise. It was an email from my niece in England. In her mail she asked me for some help because she was doing some research into our ancestry/family tree.
It is amazing really what turns up once you get started into something like that. With the documentation we have put together, there is information that goes as far back as six generations.
Of course what seems so ironical is, I had already been writing about our family history myself, there were however many gaps and unanswered questions.

All of this had of course raised the spectra of the doubts of my fathers death, the product of the seeds, sown so long ago in my mind by my stepfather. Doing this research then prompted the possibility of a death certificate for my father? My hopes were slim but we set out to determine that possibility.

For a few days while I waited for more news I was thinking, it was almost like this ancestry thing was just meant to happen, for in doing so it opened that door that had been closed for far too long on unanswered questions.

Later I heard from my relative that after much difficulty, she finally had the document. I waited expectantly for a copy to arrive in my mailbox.

Trembling, I opened my mailbox and there it was, his death certificate. With bated breath I magnified the copy so I could read what it said.

“Cause of death: ~ Coal Gas poisoning ~ Suicide.

I should have felt something at the news, maybe bitterness, even anger? Yet I couldn’t find an angry bone in my body for this man, the man who could have been a father.

With a lump in my throat I tried to swallow, tears trickling down my cheeks. Finally at last. ~ Closure. ~

It was a cool wet miserable day outside, which kind of jogged my memory because of all the things that had been going on. I stood at the window peering through the misty rain. I remembered a visit to a cemetery as a four year old child so long ago.

I thought about that now cold, wet, worn headstone and found myself adding a warming tear of my own. ~

Eric Valentine Aug 25/07 ©


Thursday, November 22, 2007

It Happened

Finally, after suffering through two days of cold windy rainy weather, the temperature's plunged. Overnight the temp’s went down to -10c and very sneakily the rain turned to snow and ice pellets. We woke up this morning to a token covering of the white stuff.

For good measure snow & ice covered the truck to the point, we couldn’t get the doors to open for a while at least. It sure was a cold blustery wind blowing, ~ even the poor birds were puffing up in an attempt to keep dry and warm.

Woody Woodpecker, a regular visiter.

Today the feeders went down in a hurry I can tell you, even these two little Juncos, were looking at each other as if to say. ”What happened!” Today then was quite a busy day in the bird eatery dep’t! More cold weather is on the way.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

#5 Sequel

Cutting a long story short we ended up walking almost half the 18 miles and getting a ride on the back of an old flatbed style coal lorry (truck) the rest of the way. Well you can imagine the look on the sergeants face when we rolled in, wearing the Queens uniform and totally covered in coal dust! The rest of that episode is too, too sad.

You have to realize that we guys were just very young army ‘Nig Nogs’ ~ that is raw recruits. ~ So upon finding out that the last bus had already left, there was a momentary fit of panic set in. Learning army discipline will do strange things like that to you in the beginning. The discipline is designed to have every man act as one upon command, the premise being that one day that same discipline may save your life. So it was that we set off for camp the minute we realized we could end up in trouble. ~ (Late & marked AWOL) Grrrrr perish the thought!

It’s not much fun when you are hoofing hell bent for leather down a country road in uniform, certainly working up a sweat in a hurry. There are no lights in the country & no stars for the sky was overcast. So you just follow the road hoping for the best, that something will come along so we can hitch a ride. It was just our good luck that this lorry came down the road and pulled over. “Running late are you lads, need a lift?” the driver shouted out. Quickly we gathered around the cab hoping we would fit in there, but no luck.

Take it or leave it, we had to climb on the back and hang on to the rail that ran behind the cab. Straight away we were covered in coal dust, it was all over our hands. Then looking down with a groan, saw it was all over our uniforms from climbing aboard. Not much we can do about that now I guess. I for one was just hoping that as the truck went down the highway the wind would take most of it off, but not much luck for it just kicked up more coal dust.
We went along and keeping an eye on the time, breathed a sigh of relief as it looked like we would make it in time after all.

When one goes out in their off duty time you have to sign out at the guardhouse as you leave camp. So when we arrived back, there was no way we could sneak in for we had to sign in again on our return. Being as it’s that late in the evening too, more reason we would be seen by the sergeant and we were.

In the British Army the well known (music hall) saying was “laddie,” so when those who wield power want you, that’s when you hear that well known phrase ringing from the heavens! ~
Tonight was no exception when the sergeant laid eyes on us, “miserable manky miscreants” his words, “Where the hell have you been & what the fr***en hell happened you miserable little men.” ~ More of his soft fatherly renderings.

He then proceeded to verbally berate you downwards till you shrink down to about two inches in height, I am sure that at that point he would have loved to raise his boot and stomp on us like some small irritating bugs.

The end result to all of the verbal rampage is, we got put on report and the following day got sentenced to 7 days confined to barracks. That also means working cookhouse duties, usually spud bashing (peeling taters) ~ ever figure out just how many potatoes a camp full of soldiers can eat? You don’t really want to know my friend.

So that was the memorable end to an even more memorable 18th birthday, one I certainly can‘t forget.

There are many stories in the life of a soldier, this has been one of them.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Meme for friends

I have been meme’d by my friend Swen. Meme is a new term for me and I am not really familiar with it.

So doing as all good bloggers do I googled the definition of the word meme. The following excerpts are what I thought were of interest: ~ ~

Richard Dawkins coined the term meme, which first came into popular use with the publication of his book The Selfish Gene in 1976. Dawkins based the word on a shortening of the Greek "mimeme" (something imitated), making it sound similar to "gene". ~ Memes do not always get copied perfectly, and might indeed become refined, combined or otherwise modified with other ideas, resulting in new memes. These memes may themselves prove more (or less) efficient replicators than their predecessors, thus providing a framework for an hypothesis of cultural evolution, analogous to the theory of biological evolution based on genes."

"A short story written in 1876 by Mark Twain, Literary Nightmare, describes his encounter with a jingle so "catchy" that it plays over and over in his mind until he finally sings it out loud and infects others (also known as an earworm).”

I took my first hint from the ‘Meme’ posted by Swen, in it he said, ”I will endeavour to mirror his 7 randoms, find something as close as possible to his.” Meaning the person who had meme'd Swen.

Therefore I took the implied meaning of meme to mean, ~ imitate or mimic. ~ Talk about information overload, but it can sometimes prove at best, a little interesting. So here then after much dallying around is my attempt at a meme.

1. I was born in an age when most all kids were named after a parent or some relative, distant or otherwise. You only got one first name, for in England middle names were not given at that time. My distinction is, I am the first Eric so named anywhere in the family tree that I am aware of, as a child I hated it for I wanted it to be spelled as Erik.

2. On the subject of white/gray and we are talking of hair. White/gray hair doesn’t seem to run in my family as it does with some. Therefore if I live long enough to break that distinction, I possibly could live to be a 100, hopefully before it all falls out.

3. In the course of my lifetime thus far, I believe I have driven just about every type of vehicle imaginable and in many different parts of the world. I have driven on both sides of the road depending on the country ~ I’ve also been known to drive across country up hill & down dale. ~ My most memorable drive was to drive a ‘Tank’, (23 MPH) surely not the fleetest of foot, down the ‘Autobahn’ when I was in Germany many years ago.

4. Fortunately I have not had a benign incident in my life, however I too am on corticosteroid medication for the rest of my life due to my COPD.

5. I was in the army at age 17. It was during one of my training periods at a Tank firing range camp well out into the wilderness of the moors, I celebrated my 18th birthday. To that end then a few buddies & myself went into the nearest town by local bus that afternoon, the idea was to look around have a beer or two and try not to get into any mischief. Well wouldn’t you know it, unknown to us at the time, the last bus back to camp left at 9pm, without us of course. It was only by a fluke that we discovered that and then realized we didn’t have a heck of a lot of time to get back to camp, curfew was at midnight! ~ Cutting a long story short we ended up walking almost half the 18 miles and getting a ride on the back of an old flatbed style coal lorry (truck) the rest of the way. Well you can imagine the look on the sergeants face when we rolled in, wearing the Queens uniform and totally covered in coal dust! The rest of that episode is too, too sad.

6. I have to say that most all birds are my favorite, we are fortunate where we live to have built up a bird haven that is visited year round with such a wide variety of our fine feathered flock. I have to relate though that at this point, the Raven has to be a favorite of mine. Raven happens to be the handle that my wife uses when online at the few places she visits. It was while we were online together that we met and of course, many stories later here we are. That Raven was the greatest catch of my life. Nowadays the wife & I spend many a romantic moment watching our feathered friends.

7. You would think that after serving in the army for 8 years and having family in the military over the years, that I would have a tale to tell, sadly I have no stories to relate really. ~ My great & grandfather were in the army & uncles were in the navy, all served through the first & second world wars. Luckily all but one survived and came home, but vastly changed men from when they left, but who in those days wasn’t. The one lost soul was an Uncle Harold who disappeared at sea in the merchant marine.

Here are the rules which you must abide by if you are tagged/meme‘d.

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 3 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

I am tagging: Augs Casa Shades of Twilight Elli

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Last Friday I got roared.

Thank you so much Zirelda for that honor. ~

Shameless says : Those people I've given this award to are encouraged to post it on their own blogs; list three things they believe are necessary for good, powerful writing; and then pass the award on to the five blogs they want to honour, who in turn pass it on to five others, etc etc. Let's send a roar through the blogosphere! The image above can be copied and pasted onto other blogs. Also, a small size of the award for sidebars can be found over at the writing circle site.

Like Zirelda, I too am not really sure what constitutes good powerful writing. 1. I do like stories that grab me early into the book. 2. Good descriptive writing creates the image that puts me in the midst of the action. 3. A story from the heart will always stir the right emotions inside of me, causing me to reach for the tissues.

A lot of the blogs I read vary in substance. One I find most interesting is ~
Newnorth. She writes about a multitude of things and has that ability and approach that keeps you wondering, ‘what’s next’! It’s like being on a carousel, but she does write good from the heart stories.

Leon writes very well and is a combination of so many characters ~ you see he enjoys himself immensely, being quite active in the theatre.
Leon is a busy family man, an avid reader and writes about the many things in his life. Like many he compliments his posts with very good pictures of the workings of his character acting parts.

is another one I consider a dear online friend. He now lives in Germany, but his site with all the different flags complete with an explanation, needs to be seen. I find Swen very interesting, for apart from being a good read he is a very outgoing type of guy, he likes a good joke and even the odd quiz here & there. He travels quite frequently with his family and always comes back & shows very interesting photo’s. I enjoy reading the travel stories he writes.

Tim Is an artist, a very good artist whose work always amazes me when I see it. Tim is a very hard working and conscientious person, an online friend who shines no matter what he does. I have read a lot of his writing and believe me, he is no slouch with the pen ~ such talent.

Pursuance of Truth, by Janice Thompson, an amazingly good poet with a very distinctive style that is unique. For me she is a favorite read.

When the Heart Speaks, by Margie a well known & loved poet on these blogs & World united Bloggers. Margie has taken a sabatical for a little while, but it would be amiss to not include her among my favorite places to read.

Augs Casa is another good blog that I like to visit, my mate is such a happy go lucky family man, a treat to be around when he gets on a roll.

Shades of Twilight, another good Photography blog, such great shots by “Shades” showing life the way it is, another favorite.

So many and such great reading. The World really is, the proverbial oyster.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Will o’ the Wisp

This last few days have been pretty hectic, & as is usually the case, ~ so much effort and too little to show for it all.
It seems that it was just a few short weeks ago that the weather was a balmy 38c, that in itself was crazy for Sept/October.
~ Summer Fall & Winter ~

Seems we missed the fall somewhere along the way, even the leaves for the most part, just rotted on the trees before falling away. Real will-o’-the-wisp weather if you ask me, for after reaching low’s of -3c this last week, today was up again to an unrealistic +13c.
In keeping with the weather, today we went to the park!
So here are a couple or so shots of a will-o’-the-wisp fall season!

Leaves stubbornly hanging on.

Pampas grass? A bright sight, in the cool fall weather.

Hmmmm It's that man again!

Cool clear waters

Cool clear brilliant sky.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Lest We Forget

In" Flanders Field," if you should go,
You'll see the gravestones, row on row
In fields of green and poppies red,
Rest all the boys that we once bred,

And as you stand and listen long,
Perhaps you'll hear, their voice in song.
Remember long, remember sad,
All the boys, that we once had

Remember lives, that they once filled,
But now they rest, in "Flanders Field"
The boys who all went down in song,
Through the mud and blood, to fields beyond.

So each year it's remembrance time,
Remember boys, both yours and mine
Think of the wars, whence they all died,
Take a look at today, was it justified

The "Vets" now, they are just a few,
To forget them all, will just not do.
Young ones, they must not forget,
The men that died, the blood they"Let".

In "Flanders Field" for you should go
To see the graves, stood row on row
Think of the wars, think of the greed,
Ask yourself, is this what we need.

A lesson learned, we hope and pray
So no more wars, least not today
The young ones now, our guardians are
And with some luck, they'll take us far.

In "Flanders Field " if you should go,
To see the graves stood row on row
Think of the boy's who are now a vet,
Make sure that you do "Not Forget "

Eric Valentine Nov 11/93©

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Melancholy Moment

I think that anybody who does blogging has to be familiar with David Santos.

A little while ago I was at David’s blog and read his sad story about a young girl. The following is an excerpt from that story. There is at the moment a protest movement ongoing, in an effort to get somebody to take some responsibility for the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. ~

~ “01.06.1998 – FLAVIA SOUZA BELO, at the age of 10, suffers a severe accident when her hair was sucked by the swimming pool drain in the condominium where she lived with her mother and her 14-year old brother, in the neighborhood of Moema, city of São Paulo, Brazil. Flavia experienced cardio-respiratory arrest and since then she is in a vigil coma, a condition that—according to the doctors—is irreversible.” ~

In thinking about this a few days ago. I wrote this little poem, I think it summarizes the situation as it stands. ~


Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Hairy 24

Monday we went out to the mall, mostly for me to exercise walking. Of course going anywhere, where there are stores can be fatal when we go out. I’m not a compulsive shopper, but the wife does believe in having back-ups. (cough, cough)

Like lots of people who live in these cold and in winter dry wastelands north of the border, (heating season) we do (especially because of my COPD) have a number of toy’s to compensate for all these climatic changes.

In winter it can get pretty dry here without the use of a humidifier. Ours just needs a new filter this time around.

Monday the day started off in a real hairy fashion. First the missus & I had a lively discussion about the filter as opposed to buying another machine that goes without filters. ~ That’s when the toaster decided to go on strike and refused to toast, oh boy! ~ Elizabeth’s eyes just lit up like a beacon! ~ Ours is a nice cream color, (she says antiquated old white! ~ Bah humbug! ) the wife now would like a black one. Another item to the list, all this and I hadn’t even left my chair yet to find out why it conked out. (I was thinking about the kettle incident!)

We arrived at the mall to walk ~ ahem ~ Elizabeth was off like a shot looking for the aisle with humidifiers, after finally catching up to her, we looked over what was available, we’re not impressed. ~ We were still discussing the filter, when we turned into the toaster aisle. There was a couple already there examining the toasters, and as we approached you could hear them voicing opinions on stainless steel verses black. She it seems, is leaning towards the black one.
That’s when we see…… the nice looking black toaster that the guy was holding in his hands. ~ He spotted us watching him, I guess we had made it pretty obvious, and with a smile he said’ you want this one don’t you?” I chuckled, this guy was a smart cookie alright.

He & his wife had not decided yet what they wanted, so I tried pointing out another store to him, where they had some great stuff, but he wasn’t falling for that either, or putting the toaster down! ~ When we came back a little later they and the toaster were gone.

We did find the aisle that held the filters & even got so far as finding what we needed, but the wife was adamant, she wanted a new filter-less machine.

So more stubborn resistance on my part, and sulks that would bring a fountain to tears on the part of the wife. That was the end of that store and so off we went to another favorite place to shop. Forgotten now it seems was the primary reason for coming out, re: walking exercise! Oh well, walking around a store can be deemed a workout in more ways than one. ~

When we got home with the new machine………… Well it was said that it wouldn’t hurt none to have a backup just in case……We never did get the toaster that the guy was holding, oh well there is always another day.

A number of times during this summer we have experienced a few minor problems with the fridge….. Uh Oh!………. Yesterday in line with all the other hairy goings on, the fridge decided it wanted to be a freezer,…. by freezing the eggs……… At this point it might be understandable then, that there were definite grounds for the gnashing of teeth! ….. C’est la vie……

This morning, after sleeping on an otherwise crazy day Monday, we rose bright eyed & bushy tailed. Elizabeth, all nice and cheery starts to prepare the breakfast. Going to the fridge…….. Surprise! ~
The fridge is once more a fridge again, not being able to compete with the freezer, and the eggs were just fine. Lo and behold, forgetting that the toaster was broken she flipped bread in and pressed the lever down, … The toaster, deciding that it wasn’t going to be replaced, considered it too had better work again, which it did! ~ The wife still in a shocked state served breakfast and forgot my eggs! Then on hearing my yelp! realized she had given me the wrong plate. Still the toaster worked! So today was going to be a fine day after all.

Later Elizabeth sat there deep in thought, then suddenly broke into excited chatter. She had started off by saying that she felt a little guilty over the humidifier, after all we had one that is still ok………. I said don’t be silly, we can always use a back-up…… Yikes! ………Did I say that? She burst out laughing at me. She then went on to point out that with all the savings, offers, adjustments and not having to buy a replacement filter, the new machine wasn’t that expensive anyway!.. Boy! Talk about cost justification.

I said to Elizabeth, ‘be careful what you say around me, you might end up in my blog !’ ~ More chuckles! ~

As you can tell by now, we tease the hell out of each other and have a lot of fun doing it.

A Hairy 24 will do that to you.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Just a Great Day Feeling

Up bright & early today. Already we have had the usual groups of birds drop in for a bite. Red Cardinal, Blue Jays, and even for the first time together. A group made up of the Nuthatch, a few Red Breasted Nuthatch's and surprisingly a Black-capped chickadee all on the feeder at the same time. I give up trying to get a picture of that, it's almost as if they know, for the minute I'm ready with the camera they take off!

This was quite the site a couple of days ago. ~ That's a whole lotta Pumpkin Pie!