Friday, March 28, 2008

Deja Vu

Elizabeth encountered an incident earlier this week, this moved her sufficiently to want to write something about it. This is her story.

Remember Bob

He shook my hand firmly, holding it tight. Then he wouldn’t let go. This was my first impression that something was wrong. His blue eyes stared at me intently and I got a little uncomfortable. He was a good foot taller and perhaps a 100 pounds more. What did he want? I panicked a little. Let go of my hand, I pleaded mentally. Which finally, he did.

“Nice to meet you Bob,” I stammered. Quickly I grabbed the door handle to my new home and disappeared into the apartment. “Eric! ERIC!!” I had been here less than 24 hours and already something seemed wrong.

Bob is our neighbor. He lives alone. Eric has known him for a little time and proceeded to tell me that Bob has Alzheimers. This is more noticeable when you study him a little. With time, we have become accustomed to his routine; Price is Right from 11 to noon, then he’s promptly out the door for his daily walk through town. Bob cuts a very striking figure, quite tall with a shock of the whitest hair. When he walks his hands are clasped behind his back, and an ever increasing stoop. He waves and smiles at strangers. Bob is a harmless creature as he putters along, inquisitively looking in through store windows.

Once in a while, he pops into the local hotel for a beer. Sometimes, we would see him doing what Eric has termed his chicken dance on the street. He is a happy go lucky guy, a real character. I wish I could dance with such abandon. On two occasions that I know of, Bob returned home with a black eye and a couple of cuts to his face. Who would do such a thing to this innocent man?

Bob has a family, but you would hardly know it. They give him a dutiful gift on his birthday, also at Christmas. It ends there. Even so, he doesn’t seem lonely. He has his daily walks and the people on the street.

3 years ago I was filling out Christmas cards and had some left over. I filled one out for Bob and put it under his door. He told the whole building that he got a card. He was so happy. Our neighbors let us know. He never said a word to us. This has become a tradition now. When we move, Bob will always get a Christmas card.


I was in one of the local confectionaries yesterday getting a couple of lottery tickets. The cashier suddenly stiffened and said, “Oh, that guy always gives me the creeps.” I looked at her quizzically and she motioned to the window. Bob was looking in, and then he left.

“Oh no, no, no”, I said. “That’s Bob. He has Alzheimer’s. He’s harmless.”

She stared at me. Relieved, she said, “Thank you so much for telling me. Now it makes sense. Thank you.”

I remembered the first time I shook hands with Bob, now this cashier getting upset. It occurred to me, how many others?
Just how many Bobs are out there suffering Alzheimer’s, giving people the wrong impression? Even more, how many of us recognize it for what it is?


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I'm fresh out of words. This was today at 5pm. Is there no end.. Grrrr


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chocolate Treasure

My first clue should have been when I saw her eating powdered chocolate off a teaspoon. The wife likes to start her day with a hot chocolate, her morning routine also includes a taste or more, while she waits for the kettle to boil. Myself, my world doesn’t start to turn until I have my cup of tea and I would never suck on the teabag whilst I was waiting!

Strange trends people have in order to get their day going.

Thinking of chocolate, isn’t it funny how peoples tastes change over the years. I can distinctly remember loving milk chocolate most of my life. The one exception of course being my love of “Black Magic” chocolates. Then as I got older my tastes leaned even more to darker chocolate, eventually I made the switch complete, now milk chocolate was too sweet and sickly for my taste buds. Even later I started to get selective as to what kind of dark chocolate I preferred. The best in my mind is “Belgian dark chocolate” beyond any doubt. There is something about the taste of Belgian chocolate, that really makes one slow right down and savior every small morsel. I used to buy bars of imported Belgian a dozen at a time, whenever the store had them in. One day for some inexplicable reason the store stopped selling them. To say I was upset about that is putting it mildly. Shortly afterwards, Black Magic disappeared from the store shelves, my misery was complete!

In my younger days after finishing school, I applied for a job as a candy maker. During the interview, the boss asked me the strangest thing I thought. He said ”Let me see your hands,” that’s when he told me I had candy makers hands. I was young and impressionable, so was pleased with what he said even if I didn’t understand the reasoning. I stayed a candy maker for five years. In that time I got to learn from some of the best in the business. John Grensevic (sp) was my first tutor. He used to formulate the varying flavors of candies, recognizing that there was a difference in tastes from European and those of North America, which still exists today.

Elizabeth sat down, I could see she was munching something.
“I hope you don’t mind, I had a piece of chocolate.”
“From the fridge?” I asked, for I kept more than one brand in there.
“Yes” said she, a smile lighting her face, a mischievous look in her eye.
“Not the Belgian chocolate I hope,”
“Uh oh” she uttered.
I went to the fridge to check the damage. I tried to explain that I wasn’t a chocolate hog, except I could no longer get any more of that Belgian kind anymore.
Nowadays I eat Aero bars, dark chocolate of course and the wife is a confirmed chocoholic, so much for my stash!

There is just one piece of “Holy Grail” left to me that she is not keen on, and that doesn’t last an hour when I have one.
My all time favorite is imported from England. Fry’s Cream is dark chocolate with a mint fondant filling, simply scrumptious.

So I know it is Easter, and the hunt is on! But never mind giving me an egg, I will enjoy my Fry’s Cream and Aero bars!

Elizabeth just came home from the grocery store. Her purchases included six containers of Nestle triple chocolate Sundae!

I rest my case…. Happy Easter everyone!

Footnote: All chocolate tastes better after being in the fridge a short time ~ trust me.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

The McGonagle

A St. Patrick’s Day Fairytale

The greenhouse was suddenly illuminated by consecutive flashes of lightening. An ominous roll of thunder followed, almost jolting the tray out of the hands of the leprechaun. Carefully he made his way from the bench, in the pouring rain, taking the precious cargo inside. While the thunderstorm raged outdoors, he gently went about his task. Gradually the storm passes and like he, fades into the night.
She sat there gazing around the room. It wasn’t a bad room really, of course if you wanted more light and sunshine you had to lean over a little. Looking over at the books on the shelf unit, she wished she could read. Instead, all she ever did was sit here and have the occasional drink of water.

In addition to not being able to read, she couldn’t walk either and didn‘t even have a proper name. You see she was not a human, but just a simple little tree plant sitting in a nice blue pot on a coffee table.

Often she pined for another plant to talk to when human’s weren’t about, but these humans were so busy with their life, that thought never occurred to them. It was in those moments that she would get a little sad and it might be imagined, shed a small tear perhaps.
It was at one such moment, when McGonagle the Leprechaun appeared on the scene. “Don’t cry little one, don’t you remember what I said to you when you were just a small seed?” Tree plant waved her leaves a little, thinking that she understood what the wee man was saying.
He refreshed her memory by carrying on, “Remember when you and all the other little seeds were laid out in my tray?”

“We little people have special powers, just in case you didn’t know. At certain times of the year like St Patrick’s Day, we are always around even though the big people don’t see or hear us, how else would we ever get anything done. We little people also like to talk and can get carried away a little I might add, but that’s beside the point.”

“Now where were we. Hmmmm Yes the tray! Didn’t I tell ye that I would take the tray to a special place and the magic rain would fall down on you?”
Tree plant mumbled something, tailing off. Not hearing her he carried on, “At that time I told you too that the magic rain would fall on you, giving you the power to make a wish. You would be able to wish and grow into whatever your little heart desired! But choose wisely I said.”

“But, but”, Tree plant stammered, wondering at the same time if any of this was real. Was this really happening?

Often she had sat there and mused over where she had come from, and why a tree plant? Vaguely she could recall a sense of being, and occasionally hearing voices. Wishing at that point, to be like one of those talking people even though she had not yet seen a human. The ladies as she found out later, sounded very nice and so interested in how the plants were coming along. Yes! She wanted to be one of them!
All this had seemed strange to the tree plant for she could not envision anything at that point yet. The tree plant had felt and sensed things, although everything around her was dark, even moist and wet. It was only after that gestation period that she finally emerged one day from the dark into a brilliant light and her small green shoot poked out of the soil.

Frequently, she was put out in the rain in the nice blue pot she lived in now, rain was so good for her growth. Since then she had been moved staying with different people, until one day she arrived here, where she lives now.
Looking at the Leprechaun, tree plant, now over the shock of meeting him, finally found her voice. “Mr wee man,” “Yes me darling” The McGonagle said, “what seems to be troubling you, that brings you to tears and so sad too?”

“Well Mr wee man”

“McGonagle!, me name’s McGonagle!” the Leprechaun exclaimed.

“Mr McGonagle” said tree plant, “What I’d like to know is, why didn’t I get my wish that you said I could make, because of the magic rain falling on me?”

“But you did!” retorted the leprechaun, a big smile all over his face. You see he was delighted that tree plant had finally found her voice and was talking to him. Tree plant shook her leaves, trying to understand what McGonagle had just said.
“But I didn’t, for I wished to be like the human lady, instead here I am a tree plant stuck in a blue pot! I don’t even have a name,” her indignant leaves jumping around quite vigorously.

“There, there“, McGonagle said, “I will try to explain some more” the leprechaun squirmed a little trying to think how he was to handle this. “Remember when I said you could wish to be whatever you want? Mmmm. Well that’s not quite exactly what was meant, young lady. You have to remember that you were a seed and seeds grow into plants or flowers hmmm, all them other things that seeds grow into.”
“So what was really meant was you could choose what kind of plant or flower you would grow into.” This was getting kind of complicated he could see.

“So when you wished to be like one of them I believe you said, then that’s how you did grow, a tree plant but having grown with the shape of a woman, you can see that if you look in a mirror. After all, humans come from a different place.”

Tree plant felt sadness and disappointment at the news, it showed in the tremor in her voice. The leprechaun was right of course, and the way he explained it, how could she have thought otherwise? Now tree plant finally understood, I mean how can a seed grow into a human? Their seeds are different altogether.

“Oh”, tree plant uttered sadly “ Now I think I understand, but you still said anything” McGonagle squirmed a little more, “I really am sorry for misleading you tree plant” he said. “ I dare say we leprechauns do exaggerate and don’t always tell the whole truth of things.” Tree plant shook again and gasped! McGonagle quickly continued, “But you are the prettiest tree plant that I have ever seen, you are in fact, unique! Because you are so special it occurred to me that your name should be something that has meaning. So I will call you Aislinn! The name is actually a Gaelic word that means dream or vision. As legend has it, it is also a poem about Ireland represented as a beautiful girl in peril. How does that sound?”

Now tree plant was really trembling, this time with excitement. Just fancy a name! Aislinn. She liked the sound of that. “Oh thank you, thank you Mr McGonagle, that is wonderful, now I am happy again”. The Leprechaun smiled in relief, whew! I’m glad that’s resolved, he thought, leaning back and drawing on his pipe.

“As a special surprise for you Aislinn, I think you are going to have some company fairly soon.” Then with a twitch of his nose, a little green shoot popped out of the soil, quite close to Aislinn! The tree plant squealed in delight. Aislinn was so happy to have company and would never be alone again.

Eric Valentine March 14/08 ©


Friday, March 14, 2008

Waning Days

Just a reminder of the aftermath of the storm we had last Saturday.

A couple of days ago we had a very hard frost, providing for some good shots. It was interesting to notice the stars in the skies above the trees. ~ These then are we hope the last waning days of winter, temps today are now up to the plus 5/6 side, can't argue with that. Have a great weekend everyone. (clickable thumbnails)

A shot of the frost covered trees, notice the 'Big Dipper' over the trees

Somewhere under the snow, is my parking spot! No! That is not a 'Johnny on the Spot!' Just the outdoor storage.

Interesting tree frost shot.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Vent on Wee-venge

It’s been some time now since I have been able to write anything at all. I guess it could be said I have lost all sense of direction; not that I had a specific plan in mind in the first place.

When I started blogging a year ago, not having written before, I stumbled out of the gate and words just tumbled onto the pages daily. I thought at the time, Wow! This isn’t so bad after all. Since then however, I seemed to have covered a multitude of things, sort of like riding a carousel, but now ending up right where I started from and Ye Olde question. ~ What do I write?

Life right now is one big ‘Pandora’s box’, some of the ingredients are known, such as my COPD and this never ending winter season. The lousy new neighbor we have in the apartment overhead; one of the most inconsiderate, ignorant and noisest people that I have ever come in contact with. A stark raving rollicking idiot!

Living below such a person is worse than having to share living quarters with a herd of cattle, at least the cattle are more civilized and will respond to kind gesture.

Tried the civil approach ~ She blamed the Cat! Judging by the amount of noise, it must be a 'Mountain Cat!'

Things just about reached a peak today at one point, when ‘upstairs’ seemingly toppled over some heavy piece of furniture sending it crashing to the floor.

“That’s bloody it!!” I burst out, “ I’ve friggin had it!” Fuming I pondered a course of action. I decided on the broom handle and give em a good rap on the ceiling.

‘What you going to do?’ asked the wife.

“I’m going to give them something to get upset about” I retorted.

‘I think they just went out’ ventured the wife.

“I’m going to rap em anyway” ~ the wife looked at me and smiled.

“Well I’ll get even with their cat then!” I bristled, with the totally useless retort anyway.

At least I ended up with a bit of summit to write about after all.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Feverish

The picture on the TV screen turned a brilliant red and I groaned, I knew what that meant. Relentlessly the text continued to pour out onto the screen, at times moving faster than I could read. I cursed whoever was handling this production of painful information. I wondered at times if it was some sort of sadistic idiot, exacting grim satisfaction from the things that were about to befall us.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome “The Weather channel!” ~

The announcement of yet another storm, the third in just over a week, brought a curse to my lips. Just how long is this frigging winter going to last! This has to be the worst, coldest and the most weird winter that I have encountered in many years. Such prolonged sub zero temperatures and more snow than I can remember in over thirty years around this area. ~

Our first indication that winter had arrived came in November, we are now in our fifth month! Thank God we drive a 4x4, at least we can get around.
Since then it’s been one storm after another and believe me they have been genuine storms. I’ve lost count now of what number this latest one is.

Either nature has a warped sense of humor or else it is being very cruel & sadistic. One hears music hall jokes all the time about this country being the land of the Igloo and lots of snow. This could be true to a point, but if I recall correctly most of the storms we’ve suffered this year have come from south of the border! ~ Hey! What are good neighbors for eh? ~

After that big storm that we had over Xmas, we were left thinking maybe that was the last heavy snowfall of the season. ~ Wrong! After that snow we had a few days of extreme cold, then gradually the temps started to warm up.

The resulting rains over the next week certainly gave thoughts of an early spring, washing away all of the snow that we had laying around.
Wow I thought, green grass and birds out there frolicking around & why not? This is after all a common breading area for a lot of North American birds.

Since then we have had three more of the red screen scenarios, with resulting sub zero temperatures and snow exceeding anything I’ve ever seen all the time I’ve lived here.

In a more serious vein though, I am convinced that we are now the victims of a geographical malfunction, ~ no longer are we located in the southern part of Canada but have been relocated somewhere near the north pole. (On Mars maybe!? )

Only last night we received another 12 inches of the dreaded stuff and now the red screen monster is predicting yet another storm for Friday night..

The ground hog had said an early spring! ~ Tell that to the Easter Bunny sitting here in sub zero temperatures and the sixteen inches of snow in the backyard.. ~ Ask me who I believe! I’m sorely tempted to toss my slipper at the idiot box ~

Time to hit the sack.