Saturday, July 31, 2010

ROBBLOG #115 W E E K E N D Edition

Do you get tired of talking to people busily “texting” away to someone else- maybe someone more important or interesting than you, while you are trying to have a normal conversation?

It bugs the Hell out of me and I would simply rather not talk until they put the blasted thing away.
I have never “texted” once in my life.
E-mailed, yes.
I do that many times a day.
Sometimes for business.
Sometimes for pleasure- keeping up with family and friends.

The other evening, while we walking Kiki and Missy, we came upon a young lad, standing on the grassy patch at the edge of the road on Peter Street North. He stood beneath a street lamp. Now, I would have trouble reading a book with large print beneath a street light but there he was standing there- texting.
It was dark.
It was humid.
It was late in the evening but he had to stop and message someone.
Perhaps he was fairly new at texting because many young folks I see walk, chew gum, spit and text at the same time. The darkness of the evening must have caused him to stand stationary while he sent an important blurb.

Yesterday, it seemed like every second person at Couchiching Park was walking “zombie-like” while their eyes were steadily fixed to their Blackberry, IPhone or Koodo.
Is Koodo a phone or a service?
How important “texting” has become and we require it to keep Canada strong and free- and informed, I guess.
Perhaps this is what they said- or a texted.

Person1: Hey. Where R U?

Person2: At the Park.

Person1: Why?

Person2: Dunno

Person1: What R U doing?

Person2: Sitting.

Person1: Alone?

Person 2: Yes.

Person1: Why?

Person2: Why?

Person1: Yes, Why? Where is George.

Person2: Dunno.

Person1: What?

Person2: Long story.

Person 1: What R U doing now?

Person 2: Looking at Midway.

Person 1: Zipper there?

Person2: Yup. Kid just puked before.

Person 1: Ich.

Person2: Yup

Person1: I’ll meet U.

Person2: OK

Person 1: Where R U?

Person 2: At Monument.

Person 1: Champlain?

Person2: Yes.

Person1: Where are U?

Person2: Sitting on steps at Monument.

Person1: Champlain?

Person2: Yes.

Person1: I C U.

Person1: I C U 2

Person 2: Should I move to U.

Person1: OK

Person2: Be there in sec

Person1: OK.

…and that is why we need “texting”. To keep people informed!

Have a great Civic Holiday Weekend!

Friday, July 30, 2010

ROBBLOG # 114

Age is just a number.

It’s all in one’s mind.
Never grow up and your body will be in consort with your brain and keep you looking young and Botox free!

From what I have been told, I am so far keeping ahead of old man time. This must be something special in my genes- or at least in my “summer shorts”.
Hah. Hah.

I have come to terms with being 59- my 60th year as I said in yesterday’s blog.
This gossipy tid-bit regarding age. I read that Tom Selleck- whom I met twice in Hawaii in the 80’s and yes he is large and handsome in person, is 65 years old.
My Gawd! How did that happen? He doesn’t look a day over 35 on Magnum!

Wait!

Magnum was 30 some years ago. How can that be? Magnum P.I. ended its run- not cancelled says Mr. Selleck, in 1988. He still looks very good- for his age, as they say. So, Tom has good genes too, not to mention a chest and a few other accoutrements I won’t get into on this particular blog.

I don’t really know why some of us look our age and more, while others look perennially young. You know what it’s like when you chance to meet someone for the first time. You are introduced and a few minutes later you discover they are let’s say- 57 years old. You look at their face and with your inside voice you say- “Yah, I believe 57.”
With others you say- with an inside gasp- “They’re 57? Gee, I would have thought early 60’s.”
That one would hurt if the 57 year old knew you had placed them in the 60 something category. After all you just met. A quick evaluation.
Then with others- like the always youthful and tanned actor George Hamilton, you exclaim- “God, they don’t look a day over 45!”
You see, a good tan hides many keys to age- like liver spots.
Yes skin cancer can result but an overall tan gives the impression of vigour and good health.
Especially an “overall” tan!
That will be a discussion for another Blog!

Did you know, if you look fab-u-luss in a tan, a yellow shirt and tight, white shorts, nobody cares about your age. You are just too gorgeous for anyone to think about your chronological age. Of course if you have a wad of hundred dollar bills bursting out of the pocket of your white, pleated shorts, a Rolls parked at the curb and a beach house in Malibu, the age discussion is even less liable to arise.

Is there a magic potion- besides Botox and surgery?
Possibly.
It could be just thinking young.
Never growing up- like Peter Pan or quite simply it’s the luck of the draw.

In conclusion as Peter said- “I won’t grow up. I won’t!”

I think Peter said that as he stamped his feet on the swampy bog after being chased by Captain Hook which can keep a young man fit in so many ways.
The foremost reason being chased by an old man (you may enter the words “Catholic Priest” here as well) sporting long hair (bald), wearing a hat with a peacock feather (a mitre covered in gold sequins) stuck in the brim and waving a sword (crucifix) around in one arm while lunging forward with a (jewel-encrusted sceptre) dastardly “hook” on the other.
That could keep most any lad young forever- not to mention totally fit and Protestant!
I know it would keep me young- if not totally fit, if I were a resident of Never- Never Land or the Vatican.
I’d just Run. Run. Run as fast as I could counting my rosary beads as I dashed!

Of, course if Captain Cook (I am going to be chastised for this- or the Priest) was a Tom Selleck look-a-like, I would have to re-think my course of action and my haste.
I am so bad.
But I look Gooooood!

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

ROBBLOG # 113

59 years ago today I fought my first fight in this world. It would be the first of many.

I made my way into the world on a hot, sultry July afternoon- around 3ish.
I don’t remember the exact moment but my Mum has told me how hot it was that July day- repeatedly, for most of these past 59 years.
She says it was – “Damn hot!”
I think the heat in the 50’s seemed much hotter than today’s 30 degrees.

On that July day, the attending Doctor was Dr. Green. His house and office still stand on the southwest corner of Neywash Street and Peter Street North. It has an Ontario designation for Heritage. I remember going to Dr. Green as a lad. My Dad would even take him fishing on Lake Simcoe- summer and winter. That’s where we lived, on Lake Simcoe looking over at the Narrows. I would imagine fishing was a great stress reliever.
Never could see the purpose in it myself.
Golf either for that matter- except for the de-stressing.

Actually, I’m not sure if family doctors became stressed in the 50’s or 60’s. Certainly their time schedules shouldn’t have been as busy as today’s modern family physicians. At least I wouldn’t expect they were. After all Dr. Green had the spare time to fish.

It’s hard to believe I stand on the cusp of “60”. I know I am just 59 but if I were to pass unexpectedly this year, they’d plaster the phrase “in his 60th year” all over my obituary and death notice.
Morbid?
Maybe somewhat.
However, it’s reality.

How have I coped with the years? Better read my book. I hope to see that published within this next year.
Health-wise, I’m feeling good. No major problems. I was dealing with some skin cancer last year but it’s gone now and I am extra careful when in the sun. Grateful too, that it disappeared with a topical drug. Something new.

I still have my hair which manages to bleach out to a “summer blonde” just as it did when I was a kid. Some of that blonde is “gray” too. I have to be upfront about that.

I do not have a “pot belly”.

I have some lines on my face, the worst being those freeking “puppet” lines around the mouth that make me look a little bit like Pinocchio, the wooden puppet or Charlie McCarthy at the very least.
Otherwise, things are good.

I wouldn’t say no to a shot of Botox if someone offered a shot- free.

I would also be vain enough to get a tug and pull her and there. Not just for vanity but to take that “tired look” away.
There’s the semi-drooping lids.
The small bags under my eyes that give the impression that I am just packing for a quick overnight stay.
Then, there’s the attractive liver spots on the backs of my hands. My tan covers them up in the summer but come the sunless, godless, winter months- Egads!
I have even noticed some colourful veins starting to appear on my legs- like little roadmaps in a forest of brown hair.

I exercise when I can.
I Walk.
Rollerblade and Bike.
I love all of that. I just miss it in the winter months, for as much as I was born right here in Orillia at Soldiers Memorial- yes I am a “true” Orillian, I believe I should have been delivered into this world in a warm tropical country- not Canada.
I have never forgiven Mum and Dad for that. What were they thinking? Orillia?
At least I can boast that I have a summer Birthday not a January or February date. What’s the birthstone for those months- an ice cube and an ice cycle?

So, today on this the 59th Anniversary of my “auspicious” birth- in my mind only, I can say I am happy with my life. I can truthfully say my waist size is smaller than it was through most of my high school years too!
I have a special person in my life- Tom, whom I love with all my heart. We have been together for 25 years.
We were married 4 years ago but we consider that to be 25 years ago. We just made it legal- when the government finally let us.

I love our pets Kiki and Missy. A big part of my life. Kiki- our yellow lab celebrated 14 years this past Sunday. We should share a cake today!

So I will be celebrating today and quietly musing over what the year ahead will bring.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ROBBLOG # 112

I was sitting on my verandah yesterday reading a book, when a black bird and a robin came to the birdbath, just a few feet away.

This happens all the time. We’re used to the birds and in turn, they are used to us. However, as it turns out, the black bird was just a baby. After she splashed about in the cool water for a minute or two her mother flew onto the grass near the Austrian Pine Tree.

It was shady where she stood, waiting for the baby to swoop down and take the food from her beak. She squawked several times, each time gradually louder than the time before. She had to make herself heard over the splashing of the water.
Finally, the baby bird responded and flew quickly to her side.

It was the perfect opportunity for the robin to take a turn at the communal bathtub. She had waited patiently in the hot July sun, sitting on the grass at the base of the birdbath.
Her patience was rewarded.
As the baby black bird heeded her mother’s call, the robin hopped up to the birdbath and splashed about in the refreshing water.

It’s really a pleasure to watch the wildlife enjoying our yard- including the squirrels- Blackie and Bushy and their family, the morning doves, cardinals, finches and blue jays who populate the feeders on the north side of the house.

Sometimes, we seem to be able to understand what they say to each other…

A robust robin with bright red breast was sitting next to a navy blue-blackbird on the edge of a pretty birdbath, in a garden bursting with an ocean of colouful summer blooms.

“Doris, you really don’t mind watching Archie and Evelyn for a couple of hours do you?”- says the Robin.
“Oh no- of course not Verna.”- Doris- the black bird, chirped in quickly, “This is such a lovely garden. I could spend the entire day here and want for nothing more. Besides your kids never give me even the slightest nod of trouble. True angels, that’s what those two are. Why, just look at them splashing about in that lawn sprinkler over there!”

“Yes, they’re learning to love summer. I haven’t the heart to tell them how brutal the winters can be!”- adds Verna.

“Now Verna,”- says Doris, tapping the Robin’s wind left wing gently, with her own- “There’s plenty of time to tell them about snow and cold. Let them enjoy being young birds first of all. Summer will end soon enough.”

Verna looks longingly at her brood splashing about in the water sprinkler, just across the lawn from where they sit watching, tightly gripping the birdbath’s edge.
“Yes Doris, you are so right as usual.”
She turns from her children and looks at Doris in the beak-
“Well, if you’re sure you don’t mind.”
Doris nods assuredly.
“Now don’t let Archie stay in that sprinkler too long. His feathers get so waterlogged he can barely fly. And Evelyn- my goodness, she always forgets there could be cats lurking about.”

“In this garden? Haven’t seen any Verna. Funny though, she’s not afraid of the yellow dog over there?”.

Doris turns her head to look at the gentle lab laying in the shade of the verandah.
“What? You mean Kiki?- as the humans call her, Oh for pete’s sake that beautiful girl wouldn’t hurt a flea Doris. I heard the humans singing to her the other day. I gather it was her fourteenth birthday!”

“You don’t say Verna! Well, she looks marvellous!”

“Doesn’t she though!” chirped Verna in total agreement as she checks her reflection in the still waters of the birdbath, gently splashing some water onto her neck to smooth a ruffled feather.

“Well I must fly then.”

“By the way”- says Doris, “Just where are you off to?”

Verna throws her head back and laughs.- “Oh I’m joining a Robin friend for lunch along the shore of the lake, near the park.”

“Sounds lovely!”- says Doris smiling broadly.

“I am sure it will be.” Then, Verna quickly adds- “I also have to pick up some sticks, fly by the creek bed to see if the mud is still damp and then…”

“And then!”- screams Doris. “Are you…?”

“Pregnant? Again? Yes. I am!”- tweets Verna flapping her wings with glee!

Doris twitters uncontrollably!

“Now Doris hush you hear? Roger doesn’t know yet. I plan to tell him tonight during dinner near the Rose of Sharon.”
“Oh my! Fancy-smancy! The Rose of Sharon! I don’t know how you Robins do it. One nest a year is enough for this gal!”

They twitter again- excitedly!

“Well, I am off! Thanks again Doris. You’re a true friend.”

“Don’t mention it Hun. The kids and I will have a good time too. I might teach them how to do the Swan Dive.”

“Oh, you! Just be careful. I don’t want to come back and find a broken feather or two!”

“Everything will be just hunky dory. Now swoosh!”- Doris smiles, flapping her wings vigorously…and Be Safe!”

“I will! Thanks again!” shouts Verna as she flies across the yard in the late morning light, floating effortlessly to the top of the red maple and eventually- out of sight .

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ROBBLOG # 111

For cripes sake.
What is it with municipal politicians and the political process?
City Council in Orillia has taken a month off.
The agenda was heavy with “stuff” Monday night.

Like…
I mean stop the presses!

Car dealers in Orillia are actually parking their cars on municipal right-of-ways?
~Gasp~
That’s what Archie in the comic book would say!
For cripes sakes when haven’t they parked on the roads?

I remember at my Grandfather’s funeral on the day after Boxing Day, adults in my family had to ask Mr. Thor to move his blessed cars from the street in front of my Grandparent’s house- on Front Street South, just so funeral guests could get into the house or park within walking distance. It was a snowy day.
The house still stands at 217 Front Street South. See for yourself. It looks pretty much the same. Vehicles everywhere- cars, trucks and vans scattered along the street from the corner of Front Street South and Atherley Road to Poughkeepsie Street.
When I travel that route to see my Mum- who lives a couple of blocks further along, I have to manoeuvre over pot holes large enough to swallow a certain councillor’s head. While doing this you have to keep your eyes on salespeople and the car-buying public who simply step out into traffic. Sometimes they use Elmer’s rules and look left-right-left but not always.

There’s the Maintenance Service center on the West side of the street which is divided from the new Car Sales lot on the East side by Front Street South. Usually the street resembles a continuation of the parking lots along each side of the street, rather than a city thoroughfare.

I also need to mention the “Speedway” that has existed- since the days that I lived at home in the last century, from the corner of Front Street South and Cochrane Street, along Cochrane Street to West Street South where “the boys” at Thor’s test their cars at speeds certainly well over those designated on City Streets. Sometimes it’s an OPP Police car being serviced and driven by a serviceguy that speeds towards West Street

“Hey buddy! Where’s the donut fire?”

I digress.

Then at City Council the mind-boggling decision of what to do with Hillcrest School?
Oh Dear.
Another toughie!
Pass the Tylenol.

A Community Neighbourhood group has been represented at council, sent to petitions to council and more.
During Monday’s Council Meeting the ADHOC Committee basically said-
“Yes, let’s have a park- shall we?”
“Good! Yeah!”- thought the committee members in attendance.
Then council also added…

Look, I am just “fooling around” here. This is for entertainment value only, just like saying that one of the councillors has a big head, when in reality- most of them do. The following is NOT what was said in reality of course. I just made it up!

~ahem~

Then council also added-

"However a bunch of right of right of centre Christian Churchgoers- who really don’t have a denomination, want to turn the building into a big old church with huge videotrons, a light show, microphones, dancing tribal boys and more. They want to park 300 cars! Oh yes, they don’t want to pay any taxes either."
“Hey”- says one councillor speaking up the adjacent councillor’s ass, “That sounds real good. The wife likes cars, videotrons and dancing boys!”

Blah! Blah! Blah!
The council contemplates.
This Neighbourhood group is really getting to be quite the bother, they think.
Quite the B O T H E R !

Then, one audience member at the council meeting was perhaps heard to say to another- who was annoyed at being annoyed :

“A Bother? Worse than Swartz’s Council Hi-Jinks TV Show?”- you say?

“Ummm. That’s Council Hi-Lights!”

“Oh, sorry. But worse than Hi-Lights? Really?”- he put forward the question again both acknowledging and correcting his mistake.

“Y’sir. Much more worse. They are a big pain in the patootie”- says the annoyed spectator. He continues-

“Looks like this here heathen group is trying to block the work of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.”

“Not the holy family!!”- the other annoyed participant suggests.

“Hell no! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it’s an architectural firm from Mexico City. They won the bid! From what I hear’d they even built huge churches in developing countries from the brown stuff that elephants leave behind on the ground.”

“Elephant dung?”

“Yup. You got it. All natural construction!”

“Yuh don’t say!”- says the first one.

“I do,” says the second really annoyed spectator.
Then they started to talk about the Blue Jays...

Just another special night at council as they “surf” the big wave to the end of their term.

I say toss them all out and start again- only this time let’s vote in some women and Gay men! Minorities too.
Wait, Women and Gay Men are minorities!

I believe Mississaga Street would look simply divine in various shades of pink!

Monday, July 26, 2010

ROBBLOG # 110

I Am My Father’s Son.

Dan Hill sang those words from his heart at the Orillia Opera House Sunday evening. There was some "hurt" in his lyrics. Some remorse. Confusion. Anger. Then joy.
He wrote a book- using the same title, about his Father.
It seemed to be a cleansing.

It was a wonderfully warm concert- extremely emotional at times. I found my eyes moist more than a couple of times. Tears trickled down my cheeks. It was a journey through Dan’s collection of hits both new and old-
Can’t We Try.
Sometimes When We Touch.
There's more on his latest CD or vinyl- if you so choose. http://www.danhill.com/

He shared thoughts of his father and read from his book. Personal enough to be read out loud to a person or two- but the entire Opera House is another matter altogether. He held us tight in his grip. We listened and understood. Dan Hill is a man who waited a lifetime to hear his father say simply- he had misjudged him.
It was a moment he will not soon forget.
The same can be said for those in attendance at Hill’s Concert.
It was a concert that only could have been better if it had been staged outdoors under the stars and the full moon. I don’t know why but at various times during the concert I found myself looking up longing to see the stars. If only the Opera House roof were re-tractable.

I too discovered I Am My Father’s Son.
Not during Dan’s concert- although chords struck home. No, with me it’s been a gradual process. As I get older I see, feel and hear a lot of my Dad in me.
I look at my hands and see my Dad.
I may notice the way I stand. Familiar. Like Dad.
Things I say. Short-tempered at times.
Opinions I make.
Moods I am in.
I had to wait until a few days before my Dad passed to hear him say- “I Love You.”
It was during some special one-on-one time my Dad had with all of us while he was still coherent and feeling as well as could be expected. The words “I Love You” may have been something I heard more as a kid but certainly something I never heard in my teen years or as I moved through 20’s, 30’s or my 40’s. In written form the words may have been expressed on a birthday card or written on Christmas Tag, on a gift, under the tree. It would be attached to something he had gone out and bought me on his own.

I have a Christmas card he sent to his parents during the war. It was simply signed-
“Your son, Walter”.

I remember one summer I was suffering from an extended bout of depression. I had had some problems in my twenties but the worst time of all came as I was nearing 30. I had to take medication and the Doctor had told my parents that I shouldn’t be left on my own. I didn’t live at home at that time but the Doctor told me in no uncertain terms-
“Rob, either you have someone with you all the time or you go into the hospital. Decide now.”
I decided to go home. Eventually, I stayed with my cousin for a while. I can never thank her enough for all she did for me.

While still at my parents, I stole away to the privacy of my car- a Volkswagen Bug, parked in their backyard. I extended the seat back and started to read a book. I’m not sure how long I had been reclining on the front seat reading but all of a sudden my Dad came up to the window to check on me. I guess he noticed I was missing.
He scared the shit out of me!
He had every right. Again, instructions were I was not to be left on my own. Not that I was going to do anything in the way of harming myself.
I never did get to that point. Thank Goodness!

I had just chose to grab a bit of privacy there in the backyard- in my car. I was relaxed for the first time in a long time and I was just enjoying some space and time, knowing I was finally going to be looked after.
I was finally not having to deal with the problem alone.
I wasn’t trying to hide the problem. This was in reality “stage one”.
Of course, the bigger problem I was hiding was that I was a “Gay” man- but one step at a time. I had to be comfortable with that myself first. The “Gay” thing would eventually be addressed- in the months to come- and be a life-changing experience.

By the way, after I made that decision I never suffered from extended periods of depression. There were “tid-bits” of time where I felt a little low but never the extended emotional rollercoaster that I suffered that summer or in the years leading up to that time.

Today, there is great comfort in seeing my Dad in me.
I would like to tell him-
“Look Dad. Look what you left behind. I Am My Father’s Son.”
He knows.
Like Dan Hill- neither of us could be more pleased.
Have a good one.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

ROBBLOG #109 W E E K E N D Edition

Dear Readers,

While driving home from a road trip last weekend, I saw a truck turn onto a dusty driveway  approaching a man standing on his front porch- wearing only a pair of black shorts and what appeared to be "army boots". The following story came to mind in that moment, explaining what he was doing standing there in the first place.

Elmer stood half-naked on his front porch, his sweaty barrel-chest glistening in the late morning sunshine.
He had pulled on a pair of black cotton shorts- the one’s with the big hole in the ass, slid bare-footed into his scuffed up army boots and grabbed a brewskie and stepped outdoors onto his porch.
“Nothing like a summer morning.”- he said as he slapped his ample stomach. “Still hard as a rock!”

From the crab apple tree in the front yard came the sound of birds- happily singing. On the dirt road 50 metres from where he stood- farmer tan and all, huge trucks carrying gravel from pit 39, thundered along. The sheer weight of the trucks on the road caused the dishes in the kitchen cupboards of his trailer home to click and clunk in unison.

“Ethel”- he screamed, “Get the hell out here and enjoy this wonderful day Jesus has given us. Christ woman, you’ll sleep your life away!”
“Elmer!” The voice came from inside the turquoise blue, alcan-sided, 14 foot wide trailer. “Why don’t you just pull your butt cheeks over that huge cake-hole of yours and swallow your big mouth!”
It was “the wife” hollering from the bedroom at one end of the trailer.
“Damn it Ethel, Ruben will be here any minute!”
“Just keep your freekin’ pants on you redneck bastard. I got to put a brush through my hair and slip into my housecoat!”

Here Missus don’t you go being all neked under that thing. I know your game woman. You’ll let the front door slip open and Ruben can see all God gave you.”
“Yah- and what?”
“Damn it woman. You are one holy mother of a slut! He is my brother ya know! ”
“Elmer if you ever want to climb into my bed again, you’ll know it’s about time to zip it!”

“She-at!” Elmer mumbled softly. “Always get beat by a woman just because she’s a-holdin’ that patch of forbidden fruit.”
He turns his head to the left and spits an early morning gob, just as a hardy gust of wind rushes around the corner of his trailer home, lobbing the spittle back all over his chest.
“She-at! Cripes. Holy Mary!”
“What you saying out there Elmer. It better not be about me!”
“It isn’t, so just calm yourself Ethel!
He mumbles again- “Damn woman got ears like a cat and is slimy as a snake.”

As Elmer looks out over his little garden of Eden, a rusty, red pickup comes into view. He watches as it turns into the drive throwing clouds of dust skyward as it approaches the trailer.
“Well I’ll be damned. Hey Ethel! It’s Ruben. My brother. Damned if the old weiner-wacker ain’t early!”
“I’ll be there in a sec Elmer! Keep your hat on!”

Elmer jumps down the three steps from the porch and yells to the advancing pickup-
“Hey Rueben, ya wanna beer you old F’er you!”
From the cab of the truck Rueben yells back-
“For Christ sakes you big fat dick-eater, let me park this thing first!”
“Hah, hah, hah!” Elmer slaps his bare chest. “It’s good to see ya again- ya old fart! How’d you’d like a piece of this huh?” Arms outstretched, Elmer displays his half-naked, sweat-soaked body.
“Not if you were the Goddamned Pope himself you dirty old geezer of a brother!”

The truck comes to an abrupt stop in a cloud of sandy smoke and Rueben steps out.
He’s wearing an undershirt up top- more grey than white. It’s tucked into a pair of skin tight black jeans with holes in both knees. His massive, unwashed feet are strapped into a pair of brown leather sandals. Although his gut is nowhere close to the size of Elmer’s, it forces the front of the undershirt to strain just a bit where he tried to tuck it neatly into his jeans.

“You old corn-holer. I cain’t belive you made it!” barks Elmer as he slaps a big palm right square against Rueben’s shoulder. “How ‘bout that beer now?”
“Holy Mother of God almighty, give a guy a second. I’ve been driving since 5 o’clock this morning and I need to take a dump so bad- I kin taste it!”
“Well you best go out back, behind the trailer, cause Ethel plugged that commode up solid the day before yesterday and we still cain’t get a plumber to rooter-root the damn thing out!”
“What am I supposed to do? Hang my big ole ass out next to a tree?”
“Ain’t you just the big girly-boy, since ya moved down east to the city. Hell, just prop your ass up against that big old oak tree over yonder by the stone fence and let loose. Or have ya gotten to citified to be a country boy agin? ”
“Christ you are really a back woods asshole- ain’t ya…”

Suddenly Ethel stumbles out the front door with her housecoat hanging half open. Her tits swinging this way and that.
“Why Ruben Cartwight. Look at you, you big hunk of man you. C’mere and give your sister-in-law a big old dirty hug.”
She throws her arms open wide, releasing the front of the housecoat entirely.
“Now look at yourself Ethel”- Elmer shakes his head in disgust. “We get some company and you come off looking for all Heaven and Hell like a two bit tart. Cover those things up!”
“Elmer- just shut the hell up and let me give old Rueben here a Dalrymple welcome.”
“Shit. That’s okay Elmer. Calm yourself down bro. Don’t bother me a bit. Hell, I seen worse than that every night in the city. Come on Ethel, let me hug those big titties of yours.” He runs up the steps to where Ethel is standing on the porch.
“See Elmer. We all ain’t prudes!”- she says as she starts hugging Rueben’s neck and kissing him square on the lips.
They hug and kiss roughly and at great length- much to Elmer’s chagrin.

Elmer climbs up the steps-
“Now just let that man be Ethel. He’s gotta take a dump real fast.”
“I suppose you gone and telled him I choked the toilet the other night.”- she says angrily as she peaks around Rueben’s big shoulders.
“I did- ‘cause you did. That’s a fact!”
“Well that’s a little private and ya didn’t need to go spreadin’ that to our guest you big, fat arse of a man!”
“Now. Now. Now!”- says Rueben holding his hands up in the air to stop the fight. “I ain’t a total city-slicker yet. Noe, just give me a roll of toilet paper and I’ll be back in a second.”

Ethel disappears into the trailer for a few seconds and brings back a small roll of tissue.

“This is all I got Rueben. That old cuss-bucket there was supposed to ride me into town yesterday so I could shop a bit. But, he’d just rather sit and rotate his big, cow ass on that hammock over yonder.”
“I got no time to discuss the pros and cons of your relationship, just give me a few minutes. Nature is a-calling real fast!”

Ethel sat down on the edge of the verandah, dangling her legs- which hadn’t seen a razor’s edge in months, over the side. She clutches her housecoat tight around her chest as she looks up at Elmer- who’s standing just beside her, his arms folded across his bear chest.
“I jist don’t know how you expect me to hold my head up around here if you got to tell our guests that I plugged the G.D. toilet. What a moron you are Elmer!”
“Takes one to know one you c….”
“Now, you lookee here Elmer. I have had jist about enough of your put downs. Now go put on a clean shirt…”
“I ain’t got a clean shirt woman. You didn’t do the laundry like you said you would.”
“Then go and give yourself a quick wash up and leave it at that. Honestly. You men are all as helpless as a bear with a pinecone stuck up its ass!”
“Ain’t you just the little lady. You eat with that mouth?”

Elmer disappeared inside.

Ethel lit a Player’s Plain and began to contemplate life sitting there on the front porch, her feet swinging joyfully in the morning breeze. She thought about the warmth of Rueben’s body as she had hugged him close. She smiled a bit just thinking it over again and again. Every once in a while she’d scratch her left side and smile cheerfully as the smoke drifted past her head into the hot summer air.

As for Rueben, he found an appropriate bush next to the stone fence where he squatted and counted out 8 single sheets left on the role of tissue.
“She-at!”
He groaned and smiled broadly.
“Man it’s good to be home again!”

Friday, July 23, 2010

ROBBLOG #108

After yesterday’s RobBlog on The Desiderata it would appear that I have no further need to complain or rag on about stuff.
I should be happy.
I should avoid loud-mouths that are vexations to the way I feel.
I wonder if I am a vexation to any person?
Um, let me think about that.
Yes.
Yes, I am sure I am.
Oh well, deal with it.
I am proud of my station in life- and I don’t mean Swisssh Radio. I am proud and I don’t care who knows.
If you want to bitch, get your own blog!
I could go on and on.
However, today is another day and I am here to entertain you fine readers.
Here goes.
Things I have noticed:

The past few years Swisssh the Website and Swisssh Radio have helped promote Canada Day activities in Orillia. In fact the former committee even advertised with Swisssh.
Yes, they spent real money. Then, because of it’s non-profit status, I gave a bit extra. I produced some vignettes about Canada for Swisssh Radio to air on behalf of the Orillia Canada Day Committee. I made sure tons of info was posted on the website. Then, after the Happy Birthday hoopla and fireworks become a gentle memory, a thank you was usually published in the local media by the committee- read Packet. The ad recognized those who had gone the extra mile! Both years Swisssh was omitted from the list. Now, this year with a new committee in place, Swisssh wasn’t approached for any promotion whatsoever and therefore no info appeared on the radio station or website. I did notice that in the Packet “thank you ad”- published Thursday, a local business had been omitted.
However, a special notation and apology was printed.
How nice…

Things I have noticed:

There are three local events happening this weekend in Orillia. All three are featured on the website and on Swisssh Radio. None enquired as to advertising rates on Swisssh, yet all are heavily promoted in local print media. Maybe terrestrial radio too. I’m not sure. I don’t listen to “local” terrestrial broadcasts.
I am terrible.
Just terrible- aren’t I?
To be fair two of the three have offered tickets to events. At least they bettered Mariposa Folk. Nothing was offered there, even though I was bombarded with press releases for months. Someone told me I must have missed the “Media e-mail” granting tickets.
You would think someone might have reminded me.

Things I have noticed:

A female Anglican priest gave a dog and his master, a biscuit at communion.
Bad girl! Baaaad girl!
I mean the Priest.
A communion wafer to a canine?
How dare you Madam.
How dare you!
One parishioner was outraged and wrote a letter to the head honcho of the church, crying blasphemy. He even told the church that he knew that Jesus would not be amused.
How the fuck does he know?
For a “mortal man” who seemed to enjoy playing practical jokes on friends- like walking on water, turning H20 into red wine, feeding thousands with a loaf and two fishes and ascending up into the clouds, I think he would have said-
“Ahhh. Isn’t that cute? Good doggie. Jesus cares.”
Maybe Christ had a puppy as a child. I don’t know. I’ve never heard. There is some info on his life missing- the teen party years especially.
Hey, maybe this parishioner knows if Jesus liked puppies, since he seems to have a pretty good handle on “what Jesus thinks.”
Now, if I was the Priest, I would much rather the dog who ate the communion biscuit sit in one of my pews than the “vexation to the spirit” who complained…you should have read what I called him in the first draft of this Blog!
I can’t help but think that if the “priest” had of been a “manly man” and not a “gentle lady” there would have been no complaint brought forward to the head honcho. This gentle man probably gives huge sums of money to his church yearly to have a voice and make judgements- judge not, less ye be judged, not to mention reserving his place in heaven. For everyone knows that is why people give money to churches, to make it into Heaven- Level two.

Things I have Noticed:

A local environmentalist is always worried about the environment. That’s why this person is an environmentalist. Apparently, this person is even running for City Council. There could be fireworks- although I am sure they will be banned from Council as they were from Victoria Day!
Lord, help us if this person gets a seat on council.
For the past few days, the smell of hot roofing tar has been wafting through the neighbourhood. It is so strong, windows and doors have to be kept closed because of the offensive odour which permeates the house. The dogs are lethargic and are staying in the house. We have headaches. Neighbours complain to each other. This local “greener” could spit from home to the YMCA building- where the tarring is being done, yet the disgusting smell lingers from 8 in the morning and hangs around all day. What must the lungs of the workers be like after working with hot tar day in and out?
Maybe we should ask the “what Jesus would say” man.

Things I have Noticed:

A radio sales man- this is a man who works in the broadcast industry, told me that my net radio station- Swisssh, is taking listeners away from his stations which are terrestrial but also stream on the net. I also gather that he believes I am taking away advertising dollars which he could have in his pocket to pay his employees the 10 bucks an hour they so richly deserve.
Honestly, he couldn’t be more wrong. I barely make a penny off either the Website or Swisssh Radio.
I don’t have a thousand listeners either.
Then, why do I do it you ask?
I don’t know. I have no answer for you.
I don’t know what to say.
Maybe I should ask that Parishioner what Jesus would say…
Have a great day!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

ROBBLOG #107

The Blog printed here today has a special message. It is not however, a message I have written but one that was written by someone else- someone who wrote it for his own eyes. It is a message I believe in and I find it remarkable that one person was able to write something so compelling and beautiful.

Over the ages there have been many poems written that elicit a wide range of emotions. “In Flanders Fields” comes to mind. How difficult it is to recite- or listen, to that poem each autumn during Remembrance Day services.

The remarkable piece of prose- of which I write, was recorded in 1971 by Les Crane. The prose was rather unknown yet Crane recorded it- spoken word, with a chorus and music. It was called The Desiderata. It became a hit recording.

The original author, Max Ehrmann, was an attorney- turned “philosopher-poet”. It is said he wrote it simply for himself yet it has continued to inspire all who read it. The text, basically unknown in the author's lifetime, was written in 1927. On the cusp of the year 1959, a minister found the poem and added it to a collection of devotional prose he was compiling for his congregation. It was at that time- apparently mistakenly, The Desiderata was thought to have originated in the 1600’s. Further investigation found that it was written in 1927 by Ehrmann.
I play the song on Swisssh Radio. Each time it airs, I stop whatever I am doing and listen to its message of hope, love and good will. I believe the poem offers more- without malice or judgement, in its 33 lines, than most of today’s religious texts.

The message is not necessarily a religious one but a spiritual one. Spiritual on a level that all people and cultures can appreciate and understand- “Life is good despite all the nastiness in our world.”
May I present to you- The Desiderata.
(The Desiderata is copyrighted by Bell & Son Publishing. NYC, NY.)


The Desiderata
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble,
it's a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ROBBLOG # 106


I’m thinking about theatre again.
Are you surprised?

I haven’t had a teensie, tiny thing to do with theatre since I directed “A Christmas Carol” back on December 20th. I needed a break. Five shows last year. Two I both produced and wrote. Then I did one for Sunshine City Theatre last fall (MASH) and MAT back in February 2009 (Out of Sight. Out of Murder).

Although I have not stomped the boards, I have been writing. One show I wrote last summer is still simmering. I had a read-through a year ago with an actor that I really had written the part for. After having some time to think it over and digest the amount of dialogue memorization required, she bowed out.
That’s Okay.
It happens in theatre .
So I sat on the script. Put it on the shelf. Costs money to produce a show anyway.

Then Hank- that friend of mine, has told me he might be doing another Christmas Show in December. He wants to call it- “A Hankmuss Carol”. You can well imagine what famous story he would like to borrow script ideas from. Hank can be such a “scrooge” when it comes to spending money on a “new” script. We’ll see how it goes. I have a new idea for a Hank Christmas Show. Then again, last year’s show could simply be done again. Tweek it a bit with a new cast and some new “gags”. Apparently, according to Hank’s Mother, I can take my time and think about it until the Canadian National Exhibition is finished it’s run come September.

Back to the script I wrote last year. I asked another actor to do a read-through. We got together and did a reading. We decided to work on the script and will get back together again with a few extra bodies present to see what they think of the script as parts of it are read by the two of us- in character. I need to see and feel a spark and I haven’t as of yet. Maybe the next read through.

I also had an idea to do a show that featured some characters I created. Dame Clare Voyant from the Swisssh Site would be one. Then, there’s the Story Lady, although I borrowed the name from a radio show of long ago. It must be Public Domain by now. The Story Lady appears on the Swisssh site too. There would also be a couple of characters who just happen to be a “pair of fairies” in the forest like in William Shakespeare’s “A Mid-summer Night’s Dream”.
Think what you like!
These two “fairies” would contemplate life.
I would introduce the show, link the vignettes together and do some monologues. The show would be presented in a format of vignettes that would fade to black, possibly linked together by some simple songs and music.

To be truthful, I am looking for something that would be absolutely fabulous, without a lot of “new” writing- only stage direction. Again, something that would “spark” on the stage and allow me to work with 4 or 5 of my favourite actor friends. Firstly, I need to get some stage direction and ideas down on paper- I’ll call my secretary- but for the most part many of the “vignettes” I have already written over the past few years.

Wow! That would be easy I hear you say!
It would appear that way but anything transferred to stage from a script needs tweaking and re-writes. I may scribble some things down in the next few days and run it up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes!

Hmmmm. Do you think that maybe I am finally getting bored and need a new challenge?
Impossible!
What with Swisssh the Website,
Swisssh Radio,
This Blog,
Looking after my hubbie, cutting grass-
Not to mention trying to publish a book-
I am anything but bored!

Have a good one!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ROBBLOG # 105

A mathematical quiz- if you will.

What’s the significance of 1461 days.
If you’re thinking it’s the number of days Conrad Black has spent in a Florida Jail before getting bail- you would be incorrect.
It’s actually the number of days that Swisssh The Website has been online.
Whaaaat? You say breathlessly. It’s been 4 years?
Yes.
One thousand, four hundred and sixty one days ago today, Swisssh the Website went online. Oh, I had big aspirations. I wanted a website that was to be read by thousands of people each week. I wanted Swisssh to have a readership so high advertisers would beg me for space to sell their wares.
Did that happen?
Not really.
Over the years, I did get a few thousand pages “viewed” each month but as for advertisers clamouring to place an ad- that didn’t quite materialize in the way I had envisioned.
I know there were even some readers that thought it was a “Gay” website. I could understand that with a name like “Swisssh”. Poor Swisssh. Yes, there was some Gay content on it but on the other hand there was information on Church Bake Sales and political stuff too and yet the site wasn’t branded a religious or overtly political site.
What’s in a name, eh?

Today most groups and organizations willingly pay for advertising space in newspapers, yet hesitate to spend money with a website. Most consider that it should be free. I don’t know why exactly. Swisssh The Website does have a server to pay and a domain name to keep active.
The name?
It was actually a dream I had. At the time I was writing for Jennifer Jaensch on her site called Artsbeat Huronia. She too was having difficulty getting theatrical and arts-related organizations to buy memberships.
I wanted a website of my own.
So, in a series of dreams over a few nights the name “Swisssh” kept coming up. You don’t have to hit me over the head with a baseball bat- I used the name Swisssh.
A website was born with a Martini Glass- olive and all, in the logo.
Swisssh was the sound that “crushed ice” makes when stirred in a Martini glass.
That was it. Nothing else. Plus it was kind of catchy sounding.

Originally it was- Swisssh- An Arts, Muckraking and Entertainment Website.
I love that word “Muckraking”.
Time moved on and the website changed. Back in January of this year I shortened the site to just one page from four pages. I don't use the words “Arts or Entertainment”. I moved the Swisssh Radio Page to prominence and the site now opens with information exclusively pertaining to Swisssh Radio.
All the other “info” can now be found under Community “Posted” Notes. The balance of the site-Muckraking, is made up of various columnists from Krista Storey to Deanna to Dame Clare Voyant to recent additions such as Bertha Gooddamn- our Political Columnist and a strange little bit of writing from “The Story Lady”.

Then in February 2010, I removed my RobBlog from Swisssh- although occasionally I reprint a blog on Swisssh and call it ROBBLOG Xtra. I started this new site on BlogSpot, mostly for my Blog . This site also includes Garage Door Player info, Dame Clare and a letters section.

So, the future?
I do need a site where listeners can easily “pick up” the Swisssh Stream and listen to Swisssh Radio. However, many people do that through iTunes, Windows Media,
Shout cast, World Stations, Receiva.com and others.

I still need a website for community info to be posted but quite frankly sometimes I wonder why I bother. One plus to the “blogspot site” is it’s just me.
I can be frank.
I can write about what I want.
Whereas with Swisssh, I kept things at a certain level of “taste” since it was an open site for the community plus there were advertisers.

Now, going into this fourth year there may be changes ahead. One significant change may involve only using this Blogspot Website. It’s free.
Yup, it doesn’t cost me a nickel.

Swisssh Radio may or may not continue this fall. For now I believe it will. Swisssh Radio takes up little of my time each day to operate and only occasionally does something “technical happen” that raises my stress levels. I usually call my friend Charles and say- “Help!”. For the most part, Swisssh Radio needs very little “hands on” care. It’s really pretty self-sufficient. That’s a good thing. That being said, Swisssh Radio was off-air for almost 2 1/2 hours this morning. Human error!!

But this Blog is all about Swisssh the Website. Swisssh has taken on a persona of its own and I do respect that. It will be difficult when I have to let it go.
I don’t even want to think about that day.

So, may I just take a few words and say Happy Birthday Swisssh the Website. This is the first year that I am letting the anniversary pass quietly by. There is a “happy Birthday” announcement on the site and of course this blog.
But that is all.


Thank You for reading “Swisssh The Website” for the past four years- and now this Blog. Overall, I have had a good time and appreciate the feedback. You can e-mail me anytime at swisssh@rogers.com

Monday, July 19, 2010

ROBBLOG # 104

What a weekend. Quite frankly- “I’m Pooped! Worn out”

A parade.
A reunion
A road trip.
Lilies in a Hayfield.

It was a nice Scottish Festival Parade. Great bands- especially the Federal Naval Reserve Band. Guess Harper hasn’t cut the funding there- unlike cutting the Census, money allocated to the ARTS and of course the Toronto Pride Parade that draws over a million people in one day- just ne’er a Conservative or a “born again”.

The young navy man in his dress whites with the French accent- we called him “Henri”, sitting on the back of that convertible certainly gave the march a dash of- je ne sais quoi.
Nothing like a “man” in uniform!

I heard a lot of people say the Canada Day Parade sucked in comparison.
Bands were lacking to celebrate Orillia’s Birthday as well as Canada’s. I submit to the committee that they need to work on that. I think both parades are “too Conservative” and each need a smattering of Liberal Red, NDP Orange and Green Party Green. A Pride Rainbow wouldn’t hurt a bit either!
The Masses Band tattoo at the park was moving as usual. Great to hear Jim Foster’s voice again as M.C.
From the massed bands marching we had to scoot to a Radio Reunion in Coboconk- just on Balsam Lake. I dragged Tom along with me. In 1982 and 1983- yes I’m that old, I worked for CHOO Country Radio 1400 in Durham- with studio’s in Ajax. For some reason it was a close family working at CHOO and although many came before me and many after, my two years at CHOO were both remarkable as well as memorable. Many good people passed through the doors at CHOO Radio. It was good to see a few I had worked with.
Some I could recognize.
Most importantly, they recognized me.
Remember, it has been 27 years!

Laughs, a BBQ, hugs, catching up and lots of- “Do you remember when…”
I never ever had a high school reunion to go to, so this was it for me.
Lil Bolton and Dave Hughes said I looked the same as I did 27 years ago.
How kind!
Hmmm. I have pictures from 1982. Can you find me below?
I think it was the nicest thing anyone could have said to me at a reunion. Of course, I returned the compliment.

It was great seeing Brian Belfry again. He was the CHOO morning man. I remember there were times in the production studio at CHOO, where Brian and I would get laughing so hard we would almost “wet” ourselves.
I know.
We were two grown men but we giggled, tee-hee’d and guffawed like little schoolgirls.
Saturday at Balsam Lake at Lil Bolton’s cottage- time stood still.
We were silly all over again.
It felt so good.
I can’t say how much of a good time I had. It may never happen again but I’ll not soon forget the afternoon.
Tom even said he had a good time and he didn’t know anyone to begin with. That changed after the first hour or so.

After resting up Saturday night, Sunday morning it was an excursion to Port Perry and Orono. We had friends Lisa and Cathy with us as well as Kiki- our yellow lab and Missy our Mini-schnauzer. We had planned the day for a month. We packed ourselves into the Swissshmobile and headed south east.
At Port Perry we ate at Haugen’s. A famous chicken place that has been serving up good chicken since “Jesus was a choirboy”. Actually, since 1954- according to the sign.

Then, we headed further east to Orono (just off Hwy 115/35) and “We’re in the Hayfield Now”. That’s a huge Daylily Farm owned by friends Henry and Murray. People come from all over to see the lilies in full blossom. It is breathtaking. Remember too, each bloom only lasts one day!
Unbelievable!
Next weekend is the summer “Open Garden” but we had to go this past weekend.
What good fortune because the Lilies have reached their peak. We have purchased many of Henry’s Lilies over the past few years. In fact back in June we made the trip to pick up the plants we had ordered from this year’s catalogue. Several are sold out already and they won’t become available for another few growing seasons. You have to order early when their catalogue comes out. It’s like owning a “limited edition”, at least until more grow “In the Hayfield”.

Henry’s former partner and “spouse”- Douglas, passed away suddenly 12 years ago and with the help of family and friends Henry surged ahead learning more and more about the lilies- since it began as Douglas’s passion.
Now, with someone new in his life- Murray, they work shoulder to shoulder. Henry’s Mum is usually there as well, lending her expertise. Oh Betsy too- her pooch. Betsy knows her way around the sprawling farmstead too and dashing up and down the rows of lilies like a seasoned pro!
How did “We’re in the Hayfield Now” get its name?
Originally, the lilies were grown behind the old farmhouse. However, as the business expanded they took over a neighbouring field and one day one of the guys exclaimed- “Guess we’re in the Hayfield now!” and the name stuck.

It made for a wonderful “Road Trip” and we couldn’t have enjoyed it more.
Oh yes, we bought more lilies. It was just too tempting.
Both Lisa and Cathy started a collection too.

I must mention here that purchasing daylilies is not an inexpensive proposition. Most start at 15 dollars per plant with a top price of 50 bucks for a beautiful plant called “Mavis Folemsbee”- which we purchased.
Henry says Mavis is a nice lady who lives in Niagara Falls.
Most plants have memorable monikers such as Patience My Love- which we also have, Scarlett Summer, Sylvia Hinz, Jerusalem, Voulez Vous Danser? and Moon Over Hayfield.

Take a tour of the “We’re In the Hayfield Now” website: http://www.hayfield.ca/

I better get digging some holes for the new arrivals.
Have a great day!

Friday, July 16, 2010

ROBBLOG W E E K E N D Edition #103

Letters to Famous People and their “imagined” replies.

Dear Mr. Stephen Harper,
Prime Minister of Canada.
You Suck
Sincerely
Rob

Dear Rob,
At what?
It would appear that a large portion of your e-mail didn’t make its way to
the PMO and is likely lost in cyber-space.
Regards,
The PMO

Dear Mr. Ignatieff,
You know, you are very handsome and in your younger days must have been quite a “goer”.
Sincerely,
Rob

Dear Rob,
Thank you for your very supportive e-mail. Yes, when I was younger I did go everywhere. I trekked through forests, mountain-climbed, biked, sailed and flew around the world. I know I can count on your support in the next Federal Election.
Sincerely,
Mikey

Dear Stephen Moyer (Bill on True Blood- The Series),
You suck!
Yours truly,
Rob

Dear Rob,
Thank You!
Steve.

Mr. Stephen Harper,
Prime Minister of Canada,
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
At everything!
Yours truly,
Rob.

Dear Rob,
Thank you for your recent e-mail. Here in the PMO we take great delight in reading letters and e-mail both from faithful Conservatives- as well as the rest of you from coast to coast. Wait. We just lied. Here in the PMO, we really don’t give a tinker’s damn about most Canadians but when you receive an official response such as this, it shows you we care in some small way.
Now, there we go fibbing again.
Actually, we couldn’t care less.Letters from simple folk- such as yourself, do however, give us- the far superior Conservative Race…..Sorry, we mean “Party”… of Canada, a true insight into what Conservative Canadians are thinking and well dare we say it?- the rest of the country too. Although we really don’t care about all the rest of you that much, as we said earlier. We do appreciate your attempt to contact us and look forward to hearing from you again in the future. Yes, like when Hell freezes over even later than that- when Ignatieff gets elected.
Ho! Ho! Hah! Hah!
Sincerely,
Your PMO

Dear Mr. Jack Layton,
Have you ever considered Homosexuality?
Your political fan,
Rob

Dearest Rob,
Yes. Whenever Olivia gets one of her headaches.
~call me!~
Please!
Your “friend”,
Jack

Dear God,
How can you possibly listen to prayers from almost everyone on earth? I am sure you like to hear prayers from the “good” folks down here on your earth- well, maybe not the Baptists so much. To tell you the truth, they can get on our nerves too-especially if they live down the street- always carrying on about Hell and Satan and “dark” things.

The Baptists however, are not quite as bothersome as those Mormons and Jehovah’s who are always prostituting themselves on our doorstep.

Now God, I don’t mean that in a dirty, sexual way- except for the occasional cute pair of Mormon Boys who happen on my verandah on “occasional hot” summer afternoons.

I digress…

I am not judging here, it’s just that some of your flock feel the need to stuff our Canada Post mailboxes with printed paraphernalia. God, now that never happened when we had the “Royal Mail”.

Lord, let’s not even get started on those countries where just the men are out hugging and kissing and setting cars on fire- not to mention stoning the womenfolk, while getting their picture taken by the foreign press. These men seem pretty chummy with each other God and gosh, the women even look like the men- just not as pretty. What does your son’s Mother- Mary, think of those ladies?
Well, I am sure you are one busy Lady and haven’t the time to answer all my questions.

I hope the weather is pleasant enough for you up there in the third Heaven with all your handsome, muscular Angels flitting about. Remember your sunblock when you go out to a “heavenly beach” with the Heavenly Hosts. It must be a difficult job but someone has to do it. Better you than me God.

I probably won’t see you when I pass on, I’ll be taking the elevator “straight down” but maybe you can wave when you see me wiz by.
Your Friend on Your Earth,
Rob

Dearest Rob,
It’s Jack Layton again…
Olivia must be getting one of her headaches. She’s locked herself in the upstairs bath. I hear her yelling “stupid, stupid white guy!” My chances are less than Michael Ignatieff’s chances at becoming Prime Minister, that I’ll get “lucky” tonight. I fear I’ll be on my own with this raging testosterone. I’m not sure what I did wrong this time but I was wondering if I sent a car up for you, could you come down for an evening of “peanuckle” at the Park Plaza?
Your “friend”,
Jacky

Dear Jacky,
Although I am completely humbled by your kind offer- the car, the Park Plaza and all- and really, really appreciate your offer’s length and breadth, I fear that I must say no.
Jack, just sit yourself down with the latest Margaret Attwood novel and a hot cup of Ovaltine. Your testosterone levels will settle soon and you’ll be thanking me in the morning.
Your friend- and nothing more,
Rob

Thursday, July 15, 2010

ROBBLOG # 102

It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Only it was a search for sausages that were embedded with needles- not haystacks.

Yes, apparently some 78 year old Granny in Toronto recently took her sewing kit along to several of her favourite Loblaws stores. Only instead of catching up on her needlework while she waited for the butcher to grind up a bit of fresh, lean ground pork, she busied herself shoving needles right through the plastic wrapping of a one particular brand of sausage.
What a “prick” of a thing to do.
~ahem~
Pardonez- moi mon anglais!

When Granny should have been at home watching Oprah or Regis and Whomever, she was up and at it early, Metro pass clutched firmly in her hand and a shopping bag hanging loosely from her thin, liver-spotted wrist. Of course, if she had of been home glued to the wide screen watching the Big O or Regis and Whomever tasting Oyster Ice Cream at a the PEI ocean front, she might have been tempted to stick the needles in her eyes instead of a poor, defenceless weiner.
Not sure why I used the word weiner and Regis in the same sentence but it works for me!

She must have had a plan. A map to a few favourite Loblaws tucked into her bag, next to a box of her favourite needles. She set her devious plan in motion and senselessly attacked defenceless sausages who were just waiting quietly to become someone’s BBQ’s sausage dinner- perhaps with a side of Potato salad and mustard pickle.

Now, as far as I have read, nobody fired up the grill to throw a few of Granny’s sausages on top with one of her “special” needles firmly tucked inside but imagine the comments if someone had of munched on a cooked sausage snuggled inside a fresh-baked bun-
“Honey, this sausage has a rather “sharp” taste to it- don’t you think?”
or
“Sweetie, are you sure this is sausage meat and not beef tongue. It has little sharp things in it?”

There is a nasty old joke- and yes I am going to repeat it right here, right now.

“Honey, Honey! My face hurts!”
“Shut up Howard or I’ll stick a needle in your other eye!”

One more?
Certainly.
Now this old funny has nothing to do with needles. It leans more to “nails” but-

“Darling, I keep running round and round in a circle!”
“Oh, shut up Howard, or I’ll nail your other foot to the floor!”

Another one of the same ilk comes to mind.
A final one.
I promise.

There was a young boy- maybe it was Eddie Munster, who was sitting down at the kitchen table for dinner. He saw this pile of “pasta” covered in thick red sauce piled high in a bowl in front of him. He looked to his Mother who was seated at the far end of the table dipping a toasted cheese sandwich- made with Canadian cheese, into a dollop of ketchup she had poured onto the china plate she was eating from.

“Mummy, Mummy. I don’t want to eat this spaghetti!”- cried the little Eddie Munster look-a-like.
“Please. Shut. Up!”- says the Mother, “Or I’ll rip the veins out of your other arm!”
Tuh. Duh!

Now back to the needle-toting Granny.
She was arrested and is safe in the arms of a family member who has promised the court to keep her away from all manner of sausages, needles and other assorted sharp objects.

I can hear it all now as Granny says-
“Listen Dear, I think I’ll just nip down to Loblaws. I have a hankering for some “sharp” cheese.”
“Now, Gran. You know the nice judge said you have to stay around the house until your court date. How about we have a lovely cup of tea and play a nice game of scrabble to pass the time?”
“Oh, sharpen the Hell up, Dear! I’ve got my own game! Go play with yourself!”

Have a great one!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ROBBLOG # 101

It has divided North and South.

It’s called Colborne Street East and West but it has divided North and South.
The cause?
Unavoidable summer construction.

Heat. Dust. Potholes. Detours. Traffic tie-ups.

It’s the Berlin Wall of Orillia dividing one part of our city from another.
Like the Quebec Border that separates Ottawa from Hull.
Like policies that separate Liberals and New Democrats.
Like a street sign that separates the cities of Waterloo and Kitchener
and
Like Oro-Medonte that separates Orillia from dreaded, over-populated, heartless Barrie.
You get the idea.

Orillia has always been divided over North and South. When I was a kid it was the railroad tracks- not construction that divided us.
If you lived in the North Ward- that was considered very good. If you lived south of the railroad tracks and the CN Railway Station- the awful South Ward, that was bad. How Elgin Street and the streets around the waterfront Junkyard were ever considered better than the South end is beyond me.

In reality that area is east- about as far east as one can go in Orillia. So maybe it didn’t count. Anyway, for the most part if you are east of Front Street South in the Sunshine City, it means you had better learn how to swim or walk on water.

The real dividing line in the latter case of the “East Ward”- we don’t use that term of reference in Orillia, would be Mississaga Street East and Mississaga Street West. Living North of that line would be very good.
You would hear people say-
“Oh, you live in the North Ward. ~sigh~ Must be nice up there.”

If you told someone the street name, in general area where you lived in the south end you’d hear-
“Is that anywhere near The White Rose Gas Station or the White Grill or Dwarf Village? Do you have to drive past your street to get to the “First” Hotel in Atherley.”
If you answered “yes” that could be bad.
We Southenders had to get used to the idea that we lived on the wrong side of the tracks.
Like we had no morals.
Or electricity.
Or Christmas.
Or indoor plumbing.
Or bus fare.

I must confess that several neighbours even had “outdoor” privies when I was growing up in the 6o’s in the South Ward. If I were to confess further, I would tell you that as a kid living on Lake Simcoe- just off Forest Avenue and Victoria Crescent, we didn’t have indoor plumbing either. Just one lonely cold water tap hanging over a white, enamel sink. Now living on Victoria Crescent was considered “the boonies” back in the 1950’s. The only plus was living on the lakefront. It seemed to allow you a smidgen of respect.
“You live on the lake. Where?”
“In the south end off Victoria Crescent.”
“Oh, that’s nice. Do you have a big boat?”
“No. Just a small rowboat.”
“ Ohhhh. That must be, uh- nice for you.”

Eventually, in 1960, we moved closer to the North-South line and all of a sudden we had running water and a toilet.
Just no lake.
We did have several dirty factories like Otaco and Door-Oliver Long as well as the Canada Wood Specialty that belched wood dust all day long from its kilns.
We thought we had arrived. We were only a couple of blocks from the tracks and a half dozen blocks from downtown Orillia. We felt like we had raised our station in life at least a notch or two.
Not good enough, however.
As soon as you spoke to a North Warder, you would be put in your place soon enough.
“Do you live in an 1878 Victorian House?”
“No.”
“A tudor style?”
“Nope.”
“Georgian?”
“Uh, no. Our house was built in 1960.”
Unfortunately, the question was posed in 1963.
CN Station Front Street South & "the Tracks" 1991

So having running water and such was just no comparison for a North Ward address like Peter Street North or Matchedash Street North or Maple Drive. Then there was always Bay Street.
Lah-Dee-Dah.

Now, finally after all these years I have a Lah-Dee-Dah North End address. An 1875 Victoria House no less, with huge perennial gardens, white picket fence. Big property, Big Taxes and three bathrooms!
No waiting.
Lah-Dee-Dah indeed!

Now this summer with construction cutting the city in half and no train tracks in sight, Colborne Street is the “new” North-South Divider Line. Not that there’s anything wrong with living south of the Colborne Line, it’s just that most things are indeed better up north.
Suck it up!
As Dame Clare Voyant would say:
“I Mean that-
I really do!”

Look there’s a bright side for you South Ward residents, it clearly gives you something bigger to aspire to- doesn’t it?
Have a good one.