Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ROBBLOG # 134....

I just don't have the time to do a new blog. I am trying to write a new show for my friend Hank and it's taken up a lot of my time these past few days so in the meantime, re-visit Norma and Henry at the CNE. If you haven't read the story yet, then you'll enjoy it for the first time...

Norma gobbled up the deep fried “ball of butter”.
It took a moment but as she chewed she began to gag.

“I told you so!” You see, Henry considered himself a bit of an expert when it comes to food. He shook his head and laughed out loud. He laughed so loud, his glasses with the gob of white tape on the right earpiece practically fell from his ears.

“Smnut..ump.. U” was all Norma could manage. She spit out the ball. She had chosen a chocolate dipped ball covered in little sugar sprinkles.
“You should have stayed with what you know. The Tiny Tom’s mini-donuts are always a quality product Norma.” Henry was preaching- again. “You know that Norma”.

She could speak clearly now. “Shut the hell up Henry. You always have to be right. What about getting out there in the world and going for the gusto just once! You should learn from me, not make fun of me!”
Still laughing Henry replies- “You mean those disgusting little balls of butter, deep fried in litres of fat? That’s going for the gusto? No thanks Norma! C’mon, I’ll get you a bag of mini donuts.”
“No thank you Henry.”- said Norma quite tersely, “I don’t need to have a bag of donuts- at least not right now.”
“Awww. Tummy not feeling so good?”- Henry chided her.
“Henry, how be we ride the Crazy Mouse and I push you out of your seat when we get to the very top!” Norma was spitting bricks.

“Now look, Norma, we’re at the Ex to have fun, not argue and do damage to one another. I’m sorry for laughing at you. Can we please just friggin’ back up and start to have some fun?”
“Sometimes Henry you are so crass”. Norma spun on her heels and started walking away from the Deep Fried Butter concession stand.
“Look, I’ll buy you a nice lunch at the Food Building. How about a German Sausage and a nice cup of hot java or maybe a freshly-squeezed lemonade.”

Norma stopped and turned to face Henry.
“Very well. That sounds fair Henry. You can buy me lunch and I’ll find us a nice table outside- in the shade.”
“Deal”- Henry says, as they walk towards the Food Building at the west end of the Exhibition Grounds. “Norma, lets take a short cut through the Horse Palace.”
“It’s not a short cut. It’s dark and stinks of cows and poop.”
“Horses”- Henry corrects her.
“Horses Norma. The Cows are at The Farm exhibit at the Better Living Centre.
“Horses then. Whatever. How can a building full of cattle be considered Better Living? Remember Henry when that building had furniture, the Kitten Sweater and interesting exhibits? Now it’s all poop and pigs and chickens!”
“What happened to living that life with gusto?”- chortled Henry.
“Cow shit is not Gusto. It’s just shit!” Norma was getting a little pissed off at Henry- again.
“Why Norma, such crude language from a lady. I think you’re just being nostalgic for what the Ex was years ago. It’s a different fait today in 2010 Norma.”
“Yes I know but it is such a shame that lovely exhibits have taken a back seat to hogs and bovines.”

They turned right and climbed the steps leading into the Horse Palace and the centre ring. One inside they stood for a few moments and watched a bevy of young girls leading their miniature horses through their paces in the show ring. Norma stopped one of the gals outsdie the ring and said-
“Oh your ponies are so cute. Do they sleep in your bedroom with you?”

The young lady pushed her glasses up her nose a bit to get a more in focus look at the person who asked such a silly question.
“No Ma’am”- says the small blonde-haired girl with two pony tails hanging below her red straw cowboy hat, “Nellie here doesn’t sleep in my bedroom nor in the house at all. She has a nice, little apartment in the barn and Nellie is a “miniature horse”- Not a pony!”
The girl walked on.
“Henry did you hear that brass of that little witch. I just asked a simple question and…”
Henry cuts her off- “Norma, you asked a silly freeking question. A question she probably hears 10 times a day. Why would the freekin’ horse sleep with her. I am sure she has a nice little one bedroom apartment in the barn- like she said, with a big screen TV and a nice kitchenette.”
“Oh I hope so Henry. I really hope so.”
“Norma wake up! That little girl was just having you on. The horse would sleep in a stall for Pete’s sake- not a private apartment!”

Norma became silent.

They walked away from the ring, Henry in the lead as they headed for the exit on their left past several rows of horse stalls. Norma wasn’t prepared to let what just happened go. At least not yet!
“Still Henry, I think that little girl was a regular bitch to me.”
As she spoke her right food sunk right into the biggest patch of horse shit imaginable.

“Jeremy Cripes!” she yelled. “Look what happened!!”
Henry turns. “Looks like you stepped in a pile of shit, Norma.”
Henry stifled a smile.
“A big pile of shit you, you- man you!”
Henry took her by the arm and pulled her from the pile of horse pucky.
“It’s not that bad Norma. Look it’s only to the top of your running shoe. You socks haven’t been touched.”
“My brown socks, Henry?”- she asked.
“Yes”- he says wondering why she asked.
“I am not wearing any socks Henry! That’s Horse shit halfway up my leg!”
She was screaming now. Henry looked ahead of him and saw a water hose.
“Never mind sweetheart. Come over here and I’ll hose you down. Just like a miniature pony!”
“That’s not funny!” Norma was serious.
“Look, you have a pair of sandals in your bag there- right?” He pointed to the Zehr’s bag handing from her left arm. “we’ll hose your runners down and they can dry in the sun while we eat.”
“ Ok. Fine.”
“Fine.”- repeated Henry.

Soon, Norma stood in the shower area, where horses- not Norma’s, where bathed before they were taken to the show ring. A few passerby’s giggles. A small boy pointed and cried out to his parents- “Mommy. Daddy. Look at the funny horsey!”
Norma would have gladly rung his little pre-kindergarten neck- with a smile on her face, if she could have gotten away with it.
“Better now?”-Henry asked.
“Yes. I suppose.”
“Your runners will be dry in no time.”

They walked out the west entrance of the Horse Palace. The Food Building was just across the boulevard.
“Norma, you go find a table with a patch of sun to dry your shoes and I’ll be back with the lunch.” Henry ran across to the entrance of the Food Building, glad for the break away from Norma’s negativity.

In a few minutes Henry returned with lunch. Norma had found a table near the stage where buskers were entertaining a crowd. After enjoying part of a German Sausage she slid off the seat of the picnic table to check her runners, drying in the hot August sun.
“How are they”- asked Henry as Norma bent over and ran her fingers along the inside of the white runners..
“Pretty good actually. They are drying quickly.”
“Yes?”- she answered still bent at the waist, "what’s that on your shorts there?”
“All over your butt.”-he was pointing now.
“I dunno… She wiped an index finger across her shorts and raised it to her nose.”

Suddenly, Norma strung a stretch of expletives together at such volume vocally, that the ticket booth attendants at the BMO field across the way could hear!

“It’s Pigeon Shit!”

Then, Norma took a hissy fit, right there on the CNE grounds with thousands of people watching. She wailed with unapologetic Gusto!

Meanwhile, Henry dropped his face to the picnic table and laughed such a hardy, yet silent laugh, that his entire body simply shook and shimmied.
He had no regard for the consequences of his actions but in that moment he knew one thing for certain- he still loved going to the Canadian National Exhibition- especially with Norma.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

ROBLOG # 133 and a bit!

Once again, it's not too late to "Go to the EX". Here’s one man's humble view.

First of all, allow me be as straight as I can about the Canadian National Exhibition.
I still love the CNE.
The people. The Lake Ontario Shoreline.
The Food Building. The horses.
The nostalgia. The flowers- outside.
The “pretty” boys who stroll the grounds- some shirtless.
Some almost shirtless.
Some in very tight, white tee shirts.
I am sure some of the gals do the same- only not topless and anyway, if they did, I surley wouldn’t notice.

However, as much as some things change at the Ex, some things never do- like the prices. One can blow a wad of money. Thank goodness there are ABM’s every few metres or so.
Most things were overpriced.
Two admission tickets cost 16 dollars each.
We got a corporate deal and spent 10 bucks per ticket.
A day pass with rides included sets you back much more.

There may be cheaper parking than 20 dollars but you have to trudge halfway across the EX to find it. We parked under the Direct Energy Centre.
Right inside.
Easy access throughout the day- all for 20 dollars.
A deal!

A few years back we parked along the lakeshore and it took us 25 minutes to walk to the gate- which used to be where the Casino is located in the “old” Ontario Government Building. Now the entrance from the west is further east- at the old “Horticultural Building” or as I like to refer to it as the “Lead a Whore to Culture Building!”.
Is that bad?
I’ve called it that for years and years.
So, now you’re inside the gates and you’re hungry.
Ah- the Food Building!
Our favourite German place that has been there for years in the very same spot is Schwartzwald Haus.
This year, schnitzel on a bum was $7.50.
Add a drink for $3.50.
Multiply that by two.

We wanted ice cream at one point during the day. We saw two gals sitting at an ice cream booth. No one was lined up. It was a hot day. No wonder they weren’t busy.
$5.75 each for a cone.
We said- “no thanks!”
Yikes again!
Another place had hand-scooped ice cream sundaes at $9.92- plus taxes.
Holy Dairy Farm Batman!

A bottle of water was $3.00 everywhere- except at a Pizza Pizza it was $2.49. Who knows if the $2.49 was taxed or not! These days I don’t know what’s taxable and what isn’t.
“How much, please?”- is all I ask.
We did buy 2 DVD movies-not Blu Ray, for 5 bucks each. That’s all we bought.

What did we get for free? Let me tell you.
A CNE Programme.
A Rice Krispie Square in a little foil package which I threw it in the trash about 10 minutes later.
A CD from an acapella group - “The Essentials”, who perform the Variety Stage at 2 and 5 PM every day of the Exhibition. I talked to Thom one of the group’s members and he gave me a CD to play on Swisssh Radio- absolutely free! I have already programmed several of their songs. Look at their website details on http://www.swisssh.ca/
If you go to the Ex, take in their show at the “Variety Stage” located just outside the west entrance to the Food Building.
Nice stage but the seating was on benches placed on huge, dusty bits of gravel. Take a 30 degree day. Add the dust from patron’s feet. Sit on a hard bench and start sweating in the midday sun.
Gotta love the EX...but the show was free!

People are asking- “Was it worth it?” No one used to ask that question back in the 60’s and 70’s. Today everyone asks that question of someone who has been to the CNE.
The answer?
If you want some nostaligia without

a) The Horse Show
b) Aquarama
c) Huge horticultural displays
d) A model home
e) The Shell Tower
f) The Derby Racers
g) The Flyer
h) Laugh in the Dark
i) Honey Dew
then the Ex is for you.

It still is a great place to watch people and have them watch you right back.
There are some neat things to do- all FREE, like taking in the outdoor Canadian Armed Forces display compete with Outpost and military hospital.
The Bandshell is free. That’s where Amy Sky has performed already and Debbie Reynolds will on September 2nd.

MANA Cirque Fantaisiste outside the “Allstream Centre”- formerly the Automotive Building. You have to stay late though- the show starts at 10PM.
The “Harmonicats” at the Courtyard Stage in the Direct Energy Centre.
See k d lang’s Wedding Dress, the very dress she performed in years ago at the Juno Awards.
Anne Murray’s guitars.
One of Hank Snow’s sequined costumes.
A Terri Clark costume.
Barbra Streisand’s shoes and Elvis’ gold jacket.
The showdogs are there again this year too. Always a treat, as is the ice show “Rock on Ice”.
A caution from a couple of years ago. If you are in shorts, a tight-whitey T Shirt and thongs on your feet, be advised the Ricoh Coliseum gets chilly with all that ice in there.
It’s “headlight” weather!!

Of course you can “shop ‘till you drop” or run out of cash- whichever comes first.
Did I mention there are ABM’s everywhere?

So pick a day before Labour Day. Remember the Air Show is Labour Day Weekend and it gets “stupid busy” at the Exhibition Grounds.

Have a good time. Take your own cold drinks to save some cash and just “Go to the Ex”!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

ROBBLOG #132 W E E K E N D Edition

Pull the blankets up over your head and prepare to be terrified all weekend long, after you read this curious blog!


Aliens visit me in the middle of the night.

I am sure they do. Are you surprised?
Sometimes they even suck me up through the stratosphere as they take me to their spaceship- hovering above the earth, where they perform medical experiments and things of that nature. I know this to be true because I find little marks on my arms or a scratch on the top of my head. That’s where they insert the probe- right through the top of my head. The probe is hooked up to this big machine that goes “ping”.

I have always known that I am one of the few who get swept away, up into the sky to a spaceship flown by spacemen. When you stop and think about it, when J.C. ascended into Heaven, it was most likely a beam from a hovering spaceship that sucked him right up out of sight. As you’ve heard, the disciples and those seated on the ground enjoying an afternoon picnic of sliced meats fresh bread, olives and red wine, believe he was taken to Heaven by his Dad.
Maybe yes.
Maybe no.

Up to now I have kept this knowledge of my alien space adventures to myself. That is until I watched a movie the other night called “The Fourth Kind”. You see there are several types of Alien adventures. The last being the “Fourth Kind”- being abducted and taken up into a spacecraft for experimental purposes.
This movie sent chills up and down my spine but somehow I feel a part of something much bigger than I had imagined. Now, I won’t give the movie’s plot away but here’s a story that will help you understand.

It’s 8:01 on a Saturday Morning at Joe and Martha’s house.

“Good morning Martha”, bellowed Joe as he bounded down the stairs, through the front hall and around the corner into the kitchen, “So how’s the coffee? What a great day, eh? Look at that sunshine!”

Martha stared straight ahead, her coffee cup pressing against her lips, although she didn’t take a sip.

“What do you want to do today Martha?”

Not a sound.
Just silence.
Joe poured the hot java into his cup as he watched the robins outside the window, foraging for worms in the rock garden.

“Martha, how about we head down to the farmer’s market and then go to lunch at 'Etc.'
You liked that restaurant when we were there last month- didn’t you? Hmmm? Martha…”
He turns and sees her sitting there, quietly at the kitchen table. Coffee mug held tight to her lips. She still didn’t drink.

“Martha, Honey, hello?”- he speaks to her with a comedy lilt to his voice.
“What’s up? Cat’s got your tongue this fine morning?”

She takes the cup from her lips, turns towards Joe, looks up at him directly in his eyes and says-
“No. Aliens.”

Joe drops his cup.
“Not again”- Joe answers with a heavy sigh.
“Yup. Afraid so Sweetheart.”

“What was it this time Martha Dear- internal medicine?”

“No Joe. This time- a probe. Right through here”- she points to the top of her head. “And another here”, she turns her right shoulder so Joe can see the mark of the probe’s prick. He reaches out to touch it.

“That’s a big one! Yes Dear, that’s a fair size hole there in that shoulder of yours.”
He circles the wound with his index finger- “Just what the fuck would they be looking for in your damned shoulder?”

“Dunno.”- says Martha as she raises her coffee cup and takes a big gulp. “I mean it’s one thing to take your temperature, tie you in stirrups and attach wires to your nether regions but sticking a probe into my right shoulder...well, it’s just not fun anymore Joe.”
“I can imagine. What time did you leave?”

“Oh they were here right on time. Three thirty-three.”

“Sorry Darling, I must have slept right through it. Beam of light and the whirring sound too. Very sorry, Darling”

“Never mind Joe. I was going to scream out but I know how groggy you feel the next day after you’ve had your sleep patterns disturbed.”

“Thank you for that Dear, but no fear, I didn’t hear a thing.”
He pauses.
“I do remember having this dream that Rossano Brazzi had locked me in a porta potty and wouldn’t let me out no matter how much I yelled and pounded on the door.”

“Oh you poor, poor Darling. You see, I shouldn’t have let you watch South Pacific on television last night. You know you always get terrible nightmares after watching that film.”
“Good Gosh, I know. It’s just that I love the music so much and Mitzi Gaynor she has such lovely…”

“Now Joe, Darling. You promised me you would keep your little sexual fantasies to yourself- didn’t you?”

“Sorry Love. It’s just that she’s so damn terrific, you know?”

Martha nods her head in agreement.

“But this thing with Rossano. It was just so strange.”

“Was he nude Dear when he closed the door and locked you in the potty?”

“Yes. I am afraid he was.”

“Was it one of those blue plastic porta potties or one of those fancy orange plastic models with the little mirror, the sink and vanity table?”


“Oh. I see.”- she sighs heavily, “At least nobody probed and pulled at your body parts Joe Dear. That’s something at least.”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

He pauses and looks back towards the window.

“You know what Martha?”

She takes another sip of her coffee and sets the cup down on the table in front of her.
“Uh-huh. What?”

“That Rossano guy has one hell of a big schlong!”

“That’s nice Dear…”
She gets up and steps towards a drawer to the right of the sink. She pulls it open and grabs a tin box.
“Joe, put a bandage on this hole in my shoulder, will you?”

“Sure Darling.”
He opens the box and chooses a large square bandage. Tearing off the cover he applies it gently to the Alien wound in Martha’s shoulder.
“So what about the farmer’s market and lunch then?”

“Sounds lovely Joe. Let me grab a sweater and I’ll be ready.”

Martha empties the rest of the coffee from her mug into the kitchen sink. She runs a bit of water to wash it all the way down the drain, then, leaves the kitchen, walking along the front hall and up the stairs- out of sight.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


What the hell is it with outlandish “Hand Signals” and drivers who make them up?

Last night Tom and I were at a four way stop in Orillia. First of all these four way stops- in Orillia at least, need to be outlawed. Nobody understands the damn things- especially our Senior population.

A driver must pay attention at these stops. If other vehicles are approaching the intersection, as a driver, you have to remember “who’s on first”!
Whoever (whomever?) is on first, gets to go first. If two vehicles approach at the exact same moment in time- this happens constantly in Orillia by the way, the vehicle on the right proceeds first.

So using hand signals?
Not the variety one uses on a bicycle for left and right turns or slowing down, I mean the “funny” hand gestures a fellow driver makes towards you when you come to an intersection such as a four way stop. So, last night this lady in a van is actually stopped at the intersection before we come to a complete stop. She’s on our right. She should go first. There are no other cars are in sight.

We sit and wait for her to continue through the intersection or at the very least turn left or right. Being as it is the City of Orillia we wouldn’t have been surprised if she had decided to back up away from the intersection or pull a U Turn. One never knows.
It’s Orillia after all!

As we patiently wait our turn, a few seconds go by.

Then, all of a sudden she starts to furiously wave her left hand out the driver’s side window in perhaps what I would describe as a simple circular motion. She does this a few times.
We think- “What the hell?”
Then she makes the circular motion again, only this time she ads a kind of forward overhand motion with her hands like she was shooing rabbits away from her carrot patch.
“Whuck?”- we say.
Then she takes both hand movements and combines them.

First she waves her left hand out the window as if it’s a “go away” forward circular motion.
Are you following this?
I can’t send you to U Tube for the video because there isn’t one!
Then she adds both her right and left hand into the translation.

We just sit on our side of the intersection watching and wondering.

The second movement is a forward sweeping motion as before but this time with two hands. So, we have this forward kind of “go away” motion using both left and right hands as well as a “sweeping away” motion as she throws her hands away from her chest towards her dashboard and van window. She really is trying her best to make us understand. Of course, it would have been easier for her to just yell out the window telling us what she expected us to do.

We looked back and forth at one another and I said-
“I guess she wants us to go through!”
Tom agrees.
So we do-
We are smiling broadly as we pass by her white van.
Ok, we are laughing out loud at this point because her hand movements were quite funny and way over the top.

With this type of hand communication, how were we to know she wasn’t about to change her mind an instant. She may have driven through the intersection bumping into us leaving a fair-sized dent in the side of the van. We looked back, once we were safely through the intersection, to see her van still pausing for a few moments more.
Then, it appeared that she drove through the intersection.
Now we understood.
That was the “forward over hand” motion was all about. It meant-
“I am going through!”

That would mean the first hand movements, the “circular go away motion” was what we just accomplished! We drove through the intersection to the other side just like the chicken who crossed the road.
Thank goodness we didn’t lay an egg on that one.

In hindsight, we probably saved a lot of time since another car hadn’t approached the four way stop along with us or the entire process could have become quite involved- and lengthy.

Advice: Avoid four way stops if you are in a hurry or have difficulty deciphering hand signals.

Have a good one!

Monday, August 23, 2010


I am either too lazy or just don't have a thing to say (they'll never, ever believe that says Tom!) so just have a look at yesterday's post so help yourself to the archives-

I had lunch at the Casino yesterday.

In between delicious bites, there was a discussion regarding certain jobs where it would not be prudent to arrive late. ~ahem~

A Firefighter.
“Oh Ma’am. I am so sorry that your house burned down. Perhaps if I had of waited until after the fire was safely under control to purchase my large “double-double” at Tim’s instead of stopping by on the way here to fight the fire! I am truly sorry. Do you think you’ll rebuild?”

A Police Officer.
“Now, Mrs Smith, I can understand that you are a little upset with me and some of the boys here but in our defence we sure didn’t think that finishing another chapter of the current selection in our “Book of the Month” club over at the station, would make that much difference. We can see that it has and we are eternally sorry that the house intruder shot your husband in the leg. If it ever happens again, rest-assured we’ll answer the 911 call first and finish the chapter second! Do you think Mr Smith will ever be able to downhill ski again?”

A Pilot.
“Ladies and Gentlemen Captain Jones here. It is unfortunate that so many of you will miss your connecting flights today. I especially would like to apologize to those of you who will have to stay “in transit” at the lounge at London Heathrow for more than 27 hours as you wait for your next connection to Zambubbia in Eastern Africa and your “once in a lifetime conference” on the future of the earth. I realize you will not be able to shower or sleep in a proper bed- and may miss the conference all together. Please accept my deepest regrets. In hindsight, I realize I should have bought my Lotto 649 ticket yesterday and not on my way to the airport this afternoon.”

A Funeral Director.
“My dear Mrs. White. How can I ever make this up to you and your husband- the late Mr. White? I am sure having your husband decomposing in bed right next to you for two nights in a row was a most unpleasant experience. I only wish there had of been someone available from “Caring Ways Funeral Home” to retrieve your husband’s body and place it in the cooler at the morgue. Unfortunately, our annual Funeral Director’s Association had planned this years camping trip over the day when your husband passed so suddenly. We had planned to be back earlier but the fish were biting and, well…You have my deepest condolences concerning our tardiness. If I may? Might I make a tiny suggestion? If this were to happen again between you and a future husband, might I suggest one of you use the couch downstairs until you are able to make the necessary arrangements. I would also like to present to you this 100 dollar gift certificate from Zellers towards the purchase of a pair of new sheets.”

A Surgeon.
“Mr. Brown. Can you hear me? It’s Doctor Black. I know you feel quite drugged up right now and that is most unfortshunate. ~raising his voice~ Mr. Brown, you see, when I knew I would be a tad late, I directed the nurses here in OR to continue injecting you with the anesthetic drug in order to keep the entire lower regionssh of your torso completely numb in preparation for your shurgery this afternoon. I am quite shure you think of me as the “anti-Christ” at thish moment but I assure you it is the drug making you believe that!
~ raising his voice louder and keeping his face within a couple of inches of Mr. Brown~
In future, I will make it shtandard policy to only shoot 9 holes and not 18 in the few hours leading up to a surgery as important as yoursh. You shee Doctor Green – your anaesthesiologist, was thissh close ~demonstrates with his fingers~ to his best handicap ever and we didn’t feel we should russsh him through the final three. Of courshe, the half dozen rounds of  Russian “vodka” shooters could have been saved for another time but taking this all into consideration, I really don’t feel that “drunk” although you may believe I look quite intoxicated. ~ hiccup~ please accept my dearest and sweetest apologies. Now shcalpel pleassh nurse!”

You see, I believe we should all endeavour to be on time. I rest my case.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


First off kids, today is “My Tom’s” Birthday. A very, very Happy Birthday to him.

He still has a hop, skip and a jump to go to reach my age. Trouble is, he will never catch up to me. Ever!
I am in my “60th year”. God, I can't believe I typed that!! It looks so old! Actually, I’m still 59 but here I am facing 60- with a stellar heart and more lines on my face than the 401, only eleven short months from now.

Enough about me! It’s Tom’s day and I’ll have him open some gifts and birthday cards- including two from Berlin. He’ll take some phone calls, receive greetings as well as a visit or two from well-wishers.

Yesterday- in advance of Mr. T’s Birthdate we raced to Toronto to see Dancap’s production of Roger’s and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”. It has been getting rave reviews from all sorts of those in the know within the Toronto media.
We almost missed the curtain, however.
For your information, weekend traffic slowdowns are becoming the norm on Sunday mornings along Hwy 11 and 400 to Toronto. This is the second time this summer we have been caught sitting still on the asphalt before noon!
Several times we were barely moving.

Once on the 401 East, we had planned to drive along Avenue Road, travelling south to University- but being short on time we opted to scoot across the 407 to Yonge Street and park at the Finch TTC Station. We took the Subway to Queen and made a mad dash along Queen West to University. We arrived at the Box Office with 12 minutes to spare.
We remained calm.
We had opted to purchase tickets at the box office instead of buying them before we left Orillia- in case we were delayed.
It was a good thing and took the pressure off having to forfeit a pair of hundred dollar tickets. Our bums were in our Row T, main floor, centre seats at 6 minutes to curtain. There were still tons of people being seated- after us, including a few “Lisa’s” who were shown to their seats as the overture began.
A term devised- by us, to salute a friend of ours who is always late- 99% of the time anyway. When we see someone late for the theatre of some other function we say- “Look at the Lisa’s!”

The show was terrific. A few things I would have done differently as a director- but the music from the 26 piece- mostly Toronto based, orchestra would have been enough. Seeing the actors sing and dance was a plus! The sets were sparse but well done. Lighting really helped set the stage. This is the Broadway production that earned 7 Tony’s.

One unusual piece of casting I just couldn’t wrap my heard around was the young man who portrayed Lt. Joe Cable- Anderson Davis. He was so young and fresh. He looked about 14. A terrific voice but his youthful, good looks and trim, pubescent body gave the impression his “love interest” Liat was about 11.
He was very trim, his skin was lily-white and if there was even the suggestion of body hair- I missed it. I’ve never seen a younger Cable in any production of South Pacific. Even both movie versions of this Rogers and Hammerstein classic had a “more butch” Joe Cable.

One surprising bit of choreography saw the male chorus- the SeaBees, dancing hand in hand and arm in arm during “Nothing Like a Dame”.
It was fun.
Well, what else would thosepoor boys do on an island where only the officers were allowed to keep company with the female nurses.

Then actor Chad Jennings- who subbed for the actor usually portraying Luther Billis, got a little “down and cool” and a bit “yo yo yo” with hand and body language which seemed out of place for the 1940’s. Maybe the director- Bartlett Sher, wanted to bring South Pacific into the new millenium. I personally would have nixed it.

The show runs into September. Google “Dancap”- the same company that brought you “Jersey Boys”- which closed Saturday after 2 years, for tickets and information.

One last bit.
I was at Starry Night on Saturday– after we listened to Steph Dunn at 16 Front for an hour or so. We are exceedingly lucky here in Orillia to have an arts district such as Peter Street South and some shops along Mississaga. I would like to see banners hanging from the lampposts that say “The Arts District”. Maybe next year citizens can paint banners specifically for this street with the words “Arts District” on each. For Starry Night I would suggest strings of white mini lights strung everywhere with a bistro in the centre of the street. The gold “star” balloons were a nice touch but when we arrrived they were all hugging the parking meters- not floating in the air.
The rain may have dampened some spirits- and some balloons, however after 6 years I would suggest “tarting” up the street a bit. After all you are all artists! The community would get it!

Oh yes, we bought a sketch by Xavier Fernandes. His quaint studio is on the second floor above what used to be United Cigar. The stairs to the second level are along Peter Street South. Drop by his studio. No appointment necessary but you might just have to try a few times to catch him there in person. Such is the life of an artist!

Have a great day!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ROBBLOG #128.2 W E E K E N D Edition

The Ex is open!

Does that mean summer is coming to an…
I can’t say it.
I know the EX is on through Labour Day but don’t ask me to say summer is…

The Grand Dame of the Lake Ontario shoreline-The Canadian National Exhibition, just keeps plugging along. I love the CNE.
I always have.
The CNE is where I saw my first Colour Television.
I saw Frank Sinatra there.
Anne Murray- the first time- in the pouring rain.
Bob Hope.
Uncle Bobby at the CFTO all glass studio.

The Ex is also the place where the radio bug hit me- hard.
In the early 60’s, I stood and watched the guys and gals at many Toronto Stations “live” at the EX- although, the “ladies” were mostly there just for “T & A appeal”. Very seldom did you hear a female voice on radio in the 60’s- especially on commercial radio.

1050 CHUM was always just inside the Princess Gate. It was the CHUM Satellite Station. Live entertainment- like Bobby Curtola, and the CHUM DJ’s as The Chumingbirds.
See the picture above and the tiny black and white image towards the bottom of the page.

CKEY 590 and the Good Guys were further along the boulevard in the CKEY Circus Wagon. The ID- “CKEY HitLine”, was heard before a song was played from the top 25 of the 40 or 50 songs on their chart

CFGM, a country music station was there. Didn’t take much notice actually. I wasn’t into country except for the occasional “country-type” song that CHUM played from their Moose Parade in the early days.. The “Moose Parade” was a country chart of 5 songs featured on the legendary CHUM Chart.

CFRB 1010- Ontario’s Authoritative Newsvoice- they aren’t any more by the way, was at the Salada Tea Room directly behind the CNE Bandshell.

I don’t remember ever speaking with any of the announcers. I was just too shy and after all a small town boy like me, considered them to be “big stars”.

These days you are lucky to see a Radio Station at the Ex actually broadcasting. Usually they are just there with their signs, station giveaways and monitors playing the sound of the announcer and music from back at the studio. AM740- Zoomer Radio from Moses Znaimer, is there year after year. I remember seeing something called Zed 103 last year. Betcha they say “Zee”. Maybe even CHFI was there in an RV.

This year I would bet you’ll see VINYL out of Hamilton on location as well as Toronto LGBT station- PROUD FM. Proud FM is presenting Debbie Reynolds at the Bandshell on September 2nd. Abba-Dabba-Dabba…..

I actually e-mailed the Media Department at the EX more than a week ago saying I would air CNE Radio spots in exchange for free admission to the grounds. I explained what Swisssh Radio was all about. I mentioned my broadcasting background and my interest in watching those early “hit” stations at the CNE- as I mentioned above. No answer yet.
Some media department, huh? Maybe they’re just cheap!
Doesn’t matter.

I’ll be at the EX again this year. It’s a fun day with a lot of walking and unhealthy snacking but it’s also a stress- reliever!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting the Canadian National Exhibition.

1. Always take a lot of money although ABM’s abound. Before two people step inside the actual CNE boundaries, it can run you about 50 dollars. At least 20 dollars for parking and 14 bucks each for admission.

2. The grounds are somewhat smaller. The area near the Dufferin Gates is the western boundary. The old Ontario Government Building (The Casino) and the Medieval Times are outside the Ex perimeters- at least they were last year.

3. Don’t lose your wallet or purse. Keep it on a long, heavy chain and secure it in your back pocket. That’s what my Dad always told me to do!

4. Make sure you save a few bucks for an Ice Cream Waffle. The Original Ice Cream Waffles are there every year on the midway. Same waffle but cheap “no name” ice cream. Just have one for your memory’s sake!

5. Look for that huge Canadian Red Maple Leaf Flag flying on that tall pole along the Lakeshore.

6. Every year Tom and I head for the Food Building for great sausages or Schnitzel on a bun. Schwartzwaldhaus, I believe, is the name of the booth.

7. Wash your hands-a lot!

8. Usually the cleanest washrooms I have found are in the Ricoh Building opposite the Coliseum entrance.

9. Vacuum Cleaners, Victorian Antiques, Vending Machines, Variety Shows and Vomit can all be found at the EX. Sorry about mentioning “vomit”. That happens only on the midway, so if you stay clear of the midway, you’ll be fine!

10. Most importantly- just have fun!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Hold onto your panties girls, this blog could be a bumpy ride!

You’re all familiar with Mr. Hugh Jackman, star of Broadway’s “Boy from Oz”, television’s Tony Awards and a ton of movies, many showing Mr. Jackman in various states of undress and duress.

Here comes the bumpy part girls…
I am afraid at this particular moment in time, I am about to add more duress to Hugh’s life.

Yesterday, I wrote about my fear of snakes- no matter how small. I told you I would gladly jump into the safe arms of a passerby, if I happened to come upon a cute, little slithery, green thing while walking along a path. Yes, I know snakes are not all bad, it’s just that those of us who can’t stand the little critters like to think they’re bad. It makes it easier for us to dislike them- like thinking Lima beans are poisonous.

Jumping “willy-nilly” into someone’s arms when coming upon a snake- boa or grass, can have its positive points. Take the time I jumped right into Hugh Jackman’s bulging arms.

Did you just have a picture, flash through your mind?
I did.
I must apologize.
I was just having you on.
I have never, ever jumped into Mr. Jackman’s brawny arms. Quite frankly, the opportunity has never presented itself.

This “yarn” I started to spin a couple of lines above, allows me to segue into another story- of sorts.
This time a true story.
First of all, Mr. Hugh Jackman if you are reading this Blog- may I call you Hugh?
Nevermind, I will until I hear differently.
Hugh, I feel I must come clean.
I must tell you this Hugh, although, it may break your big, robust Australian heart.
However, you’ll recover. I know you will.
“There’s other fish and stalkers in the sea Bruce!”

Hugh, simply put, there is someone else. I know we’ve had a good 3 or 4 year run- me, being the lascivious older man. You, being the young, lean, strong dancer/actor/Aussie hunk. But Hugh someone else is appearing on my horizon and he’s stealing my thumping heart away as the weeks go by.
His name?
What’s in a name big guy?....
It won’t change anything….
Do you really need his name, Hugh?.....

~pause~ and ~sigh~

Well, alright. Just because you are you-
It’s Alexander Skarsgard!
6 foot 4 inches of Swedish Machismo.
He is Eric on the Vampire Series “True Blood” on HBO Canada, Hugh.

I hear you asking me Hugh- “Yum?”
You ask- “Is he more “yum” than me Rob?”
Dear, sweet, dumb, wonderful Hugh. It’s why I was so taken with you all these years.
No Hugh, “yum”, is what I would expect Eric to say as he “supped and slurped”, his pale, pink lips pressed hard against the purple-blue veins in my neck, draining me of the rich, red, warm liquid of life from deep inside me- but only to the very brink of being turned into one of “them”- the undead.

How romantic Hugh.

You must admit it’s slightly better than you and that Aussie actress- Sheila something or other, who stared in that movie “Australia” you filmed back home. You know Hugh, the one who makes those most awful movies especially the film where she rolled around naked with Mr. Tom Cruise- I think she was married to him at the time, in a film no one understands to this day!

Now Hugh, that movie where you looked like a wolfman with a 50’s hairdo was good but you were no Eric. The naked scene of you in that big glass tub made me “tingle” but your thigh was always in the way and that made me sad.
Very sad indeed.


Now, no tears Hugh. It’s been fun.
Be a big boy.
In fact Hugh, it’s been really wonderful.
Really, really wonderful.
I mean that Hugh…but times change.
Aussie’s come and go. Vampire men are here to stay- for a few centuries at least.

Don’t feel too bad about that Hugh. Two Aussies made it into the “True Blood” show.
You were probably just out of town with that “handsome” partner of yours you refer to as “your agent”.
Your dirty little secret is safe with me Hugh. You’ve always known that! So, you missed the “auditions” for True Blood.

So what!

Yes, you would have been a natural Vamp but there’s no use sobbing over spilled blood, Hugh. Life will go on and someday you will slip out of your mediocre movie roles and get back up on that gigantic Broadway stage and “hoof” your way to the stars!

So, goodbye Hugh, for now at least. Just turn and walk away from me and please- don’t turn back for a final look. Oh…and Hugh, tell Sheila “what’s her name” I said hello, will you?

~time marches on~

Now Eric- I mean Alexander. Perhaps, may I just call you Alex?
What’s your sign you huge, 6 foot so much, tree trunk of a man…

I told you to hold onto your panties- didn’t I?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Have you ever been a CEO of a company- Chief Executive Officer?

I guess I am a CEO at Swisssh the Website as well as Swisssh Radio- only because there are no other employees around the massive Swisssh Radio Complex, located high above the Orillia skyline.

Yes Sir. I am the chief cook and bottle washer- although there aren’t usually that many bottles to be washed around Swisssh, since we are a communications company- not a brewery. Holding the “CCABW” position isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that’s there’s no room for advancement.

Now being a real CEO, of a “real” company is something that is being run up the flagpole in front of me these days, like a freshly pulled garden carrot dangled in front of a cute little rabbit.
Hard to resist but there’s always a price- isn’t there?
Farmer McGregor in the case of the rabbit and money in the case of a wannabe CEO.
There’s more to come on that topic, once a resolution is reached.
Please do not adjust your Blog reading.

Back to the Swisssh Radio Complex…

I really have all the latest gadgets here at the gigantic Swisssh Radio complex. For instance, there is a leather chair in the control room that gently vibrates to soothe my aching back. There is a problem, however. I can’t have the microphone “live” when the chair is switched on because the mic picks up the noise of the vibrations.
Not a good thing.
A friend at another sprawling broadcast centre not far from Orillia, told me recently that he has to refrain from recording when the washing machine kicks into its major spin cycle. He says, assuredly, that some cycles are quieter allowing recording to continue but a major spin makes it quite impossible to proceed!
They can put a man on the moon but…..

I do an occasional bit of dusting around the control room now and then, being especially careful when dusting or vacuuming around wires. Believe me, there are a mess of wires twisting across the carpet beneath the control room desk- like dozens of snakes slithering back and forth. It’s like being in an Indiana Jones movie.

By the way, hate snakes- just like Indie. A cute, little, harmless, green grass snake can make me scream like a schoolgirl on cough syrup laced with codeine, when it crosses my path- even while bicycling. It’s much worse if I am walking along a path and one slithers past. I shiver and shake and squeal like that guy in the movie Deliverance.
Not quite like that, but you get the general idea.
No mental pictures here please!

I get so un-nerved, I jump into the arms of any stranger who happens to be strolling past. Sometimes, it’s quite embarrassing- even for a CCABW!

So, here I am in my little world of Net Radio and a host Website, entertaining throngs- at least 15-20, people daily!
Maybe more.
What’s in a number?

Look, I’m not complaining. Before Marconi threw a few tubes together in a box and punched some small holes in the front, radio was yelling out an upper storey window at the neighbour’s house- just to share news and gossip. It was singing- guitar in hand, at the top of your lungs, hoping that someone would hear and applaud. The audience grew larger on cold winter nights when sound travelled farther over the frozen earth.

Meanwhile, I have a nice desk. Three microphones. Three computers. A few thousand songs. A licence to broadcast those songs from SOCAN- and of course my vibrating, leather CEO chair.

Ah, it doesn’t get any finer than this…

Monday, August 16, 2010


I’m sure Jesus Christ was a nice guy.

He liked to party- especially at weddings.

He hung around with a bunch of guys- within his own age group, in a hot, dry, country, wearing only sandals and light cotton “shifts” flitting here and there across the countryside, having “picnics” in the shade of Olive trees, frolicking on the beach, having long talks about the future as well as hanging around- occasionally, with women.
Make that just one woman, by the name of Mary Magdeline. Actually, a Jewish family of the era would not be too happy at the thought of a 30 something year old man- who was unmarried, spending an inordinate amount of time just “hanging with the guys”.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

He got a charge out of raising the dead and then spending a few days tucked away with the born-again dead man, asking not to be disturbed. It was said the man was young, had died before his time and was a bit of a “looker” too. Maybe even- “pretty”!

He enjoyed making friends and strangers feel inferior by performing little feats of magic such as walking on water. This trick of the eye- a miracle no doubt in biblical times, may have been performed in a shallow lake where a sandbar had been created by the gusty winds blowing across the water- since a huge storm was brewing.

He loved to “provide” for huge throngs of people and had a knack for turning water into wine. 31 was a great year! He also could work wonders with a couple of loaves of Wonder Bread and some seafood from the local fishmongers.

Theologians and lay people alike have written articles and stories about Christ over the centuries. Whether you believe any or all of them is purely a matter of “faith”.

However, I always find it interesting when I read something for the first time about the mortal man Jesus, who was born of Mary, the young lady who conceived him free of any interference in the act of lovemaking by a male sex organ.
It’s called “immaculate conception”.
In this case- “the” immaculate conception- meaning without “sin” is the actual physical act referred to as sin- which is dirtier than a groundhog’s butt.

Conception by this “immaculate” method hasn’t happened very often these past couple of centuries. Maybe once. Maybe twice. Perhaps not at all- except for the first time, if you believe what you are told to believe. After all, that is what a Christian is taught.
You have to be carefully taught.
The fact is, just one I.C. has received all the press over time.

So, I happened to read about the Muslim faith and discovered that they too believe a man called Jesus walked on the earth in long ago Galilee. However, they don’t hold him in quite as high esteem as Christians.
They don’t believe he was the “son” of God.
They do, however, extol his virtues as a profit.
Fortunately for this belief in Jesus, God swept down to earth and saved him from death and took him to Heaven on high. Apparently, Judas just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and was executed instead- so this story goes.

If this were true- and it has just as much of a chance of being so as the Christian religion, the Christian’s would need to find another I.C. or re-jig a few things.
The cross would be useless.
The “Crucifix” would have no place in the Catholic Religion- not to mention The “Saviour’s” suffering for mankind.
Then there’s the “Divinity”- the coming back to life after the resurrection-
The Baptists and the “born again’s” would be without fervour. Their high regard for being re-newed would fizzle since there would be no example to follow.
Of course, if we were to step closer to present day, the Mormons would have you believe that Jesus appeared to a fellow in Utah- that would be the second coming- and as a result a new book and religion was born.

Now, consider the members of the Jewish faith who can’t get their collective heads around the first coming- let alone the second!

Then the Jehovah’s who let their faithful die based on a biblical passage regarding blood from another’s body entering their own. I wonder what Christ would think of that?
Too bad there wasn’t a passage about “not” knocking on people’s doors at all hours of the day.

Gosh, I’m feeling a bit light-headed with all this.

I am overcome this day- are you?

Sunday, August 15, 2010


My Brother Scott turns 50 today!
Here are 50 things you need to know about him.

1. He’s smart.

2. He has a temper- sometimes.

3. He stands up for the little guy.

4. He reminds me of my Dad.

5. He misses Dad everyday.

6. He’s the youngest of three. My sister is the middle child. You can figure out where

that puts me!

7. His birthday is the same day Elvis died.

8. He used to ride a motorcycle.

9. He had a motorcycle accident.

10. He doesn’t ride a motorcycle anymore.

11. He doesn’t smoke.

12. He doesn’t drink.

13. He can’t speak French.

14. He can’t sing- at least I don’t remember hearing him try.

15. His entire face “lights up” when he laughs.

16. He’s not tall.

17. He had blonde hair as a kid.

18. Today his hair is….

19. He was born the summer we moved from the shores of Lake Simcoe in to town.

20. He was 3 1/3 years old when his Grandfather Norman Reid died. He probably doesn’t remember his Grandad Reid. It was Christmas 1963 when Grandad passed on.

21. He was four and ½ when his Grandmother Lillian Reid (nee Watson) passed in January 1965. They both loved him. I remember all the attention he got. Another grandson in the Reid family to carry the name onwards. What was not to like?

22. He never knew his Grandfather Bruce Bartley.

23. He did know Lottie Bartley though. She passed when he was 25.

24. He can build things- like theatrical sets.

25. He knows trains.

26. He loves model railroading and builds towns and cities around them.

27. He loves going to the CNE.

28. He used to rollerskate when we all skated in Orillia and Barrie in the early 80’s.

29. Last time he skated- last year, he could still skate- but he sweat a lot.

30. He has a lovely partner Deb- who keeps him hopping or at least filling rubber balls with water.

31. He has a canine companion “Rufus” who worships the ground he “barks” on.

32. He’s a salesman. He sells granite, mostly for the memory of those who have passed on. He’s good at it.

33. He’s an Uncle and a Great Uncle too. He’s also a “great” uncle!

34. He enjoys travelling to Niagara Falls.

35. He has been on a cruise out of Miami to the Caribbean.

36. He went to the Bahamas- once. He would never go back- would you?

37. He cares for his Mum.

38. He cuts her grass.

39. He tales her places and to appointments.

40. He puts a rose every now and then on Dad’s niche at St. James/St. Andrews.

41. He attends Remembrance Day services every year to honour Dad’s place in World War II.

42. He helped Mum buy a brick at the Legion in Dad’s Memory.

43. He’s tried to talk sense into Mum’s sister- Aunt Wilma, a few times. To no avail.

44. He got his sister Lynn a job where he is employed.

45. He once lived in a wonderful, old farmhouse in the country in Oro-Mendonte. We celebrated Christmas there one year. It was fun- yet emotional, remember Scott?

46. I was once having problems in a relationship when I lived in Toronto. I had no vehicle at the time. I needed my family. He drove down to the city to bring me back home along with my cherished Red Setter “Samantha”. I will always be grateful.

47. Scott tried living in the city for a few years when Tom and I lived in Mississauga. He was miserable. He moved back home. He is a homeboy at heart and there’s nothing wrong with that!

48. I don’t think he ever thought he would be 50! His Mother never thought she’d have three children over 50, let alone one!

49. He may not know it but he is still the baby of the family and his mother worries and keeps an eye on him to this very day.

50. He has a Brother and a Brother-in-Law who love him and wish him only the best each and every day of his life both today and all the days and weeks and years to come!

Friday, August 13, 2010

ROBBLOG #123 W E E K E N D Edition

Dear Readers:

I don't know why I've been writing so many "tales" lately. Short Stories about
robins, skunks, corn, small town meetings and more. So, I beg your indulgence once again. May I present a story about Binoculars and Cocoa.

“I don’t know what the Hell is going on over there Harrison!”- Pearl says as she presses the binoculars tight against her brown eyes. “Maybe they’re worshipping some idol or watching True Blood or, or, or- something.”

“Why the hairy old balls are you saying that Pearl?- asks Harrison as sets his book down on the table next to his easy chair, folds his arms across his chest and waits to hear her explanation.

Pearl is still standing at the window trying to hide behind the drapery.
“Good Lord! I think they’re reading from some book while they’re standing in a circle.” She gasps! “Harrison they’re lighting candles!”

“Pearl! How do you know it’s not the Bible or the yellow pages?”- cries Harrison.

“Honestly Harrison, if you’re not going to be serious and take what I am trying to tell you in a serious vein then maybe you should just head on out to the kitchen and make yourself a nice hot cup of cocoa and think about going to bed.” Pearl meant it. She turns back towards the window.
“I mean it Honey! Something funny is going on over there at that house. It’s like the Amittyville Horror! Something funny. I know it! ”

“Are they laughing too as well as acting strange?”- he chuckled softly and picked up his book again.

“Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants”- she takes the binoculars away from her face and turns to look at Harrison sitting in his Lazy Boy with a cushion tucked between his right thigh and the arm of the chair. “Just get out of that damn chair and step over here to this window and have a look for yourself. Then tell me I’m nuts. Tell me I’m making all this up.”

“Pearl.” Harrison spoke firmly. “I am not going to get up out of this chair and join you at that window to snoop on the neighbours. So don’t even ask me. You are truly strange at times. Truly strange.”

“How in the Hobbs of Holy old Hell are you going to find out what I am talking about if you won’t step over to this window. Just leave that G.D. book alone for five minutes and have a look?”

Harrison slams the book closed, looks over at Pearl. He stares her straight in the eyes for what seems like five minutes and says- “Pearl, I am not getting out of my favourite chair to walk over there and stare at the neighbours through those field glasses just to make up a bunch of supernatural crap about what they may- or may not be doing. So just leave me alone.”

Pearl squishes her eyelids closed. Her shoulders are touching her ears. She curls her hands into small fists. She is silent as she fumes.
Harrison watches her and breaks the silence.

“Now just look at you Pearl. Look at you. You’re a walking advertisement for stress, standing there all tensed up. Now just take a deep breath and lower those two things you call shoulders- and breathe for God’s Sake.”

“You know what Harrison?” Pearl asks as she opens her eyes. “I don’t need anybody to hit me over the head with a metal shovel to make me realize just what is going on over there.”

She motions with her head towards the window and throws the binoculars down on the couch.
They bounce against a cushion and almost spring onto the floor.

“I know what I see and what I see is straight out of the devil’s handbook. Mark my words!”
She stands firmly at the window, hands on hips, her full lips pushing out, away from her mouth.
“Or, it could just be they are browsing through the yellow pages- by candle light, because they are renovating and some rooms in their house are without power.”- Harrison adds briskly.

“Oh, very clever Harrison. You have no knowledge of what I am telling you. Maybe if you put that stupid book down now and again and watch a documentary on the supernatural, you might just learn something really valuable! But, oh no! You sit there night after night reading those biographies. Just what in the Hell can someone learn about life from those kind of books?”

Harrison leans forward ready to spit bricks.
“I’ll tell you Missy exactly what I learn from my books.”

“Well, what?”

“I learn that people like you are like many people I read about in my books. Dumb as a post!”
He sits back in his chair, quite pleased with himself and begins to read.

Pearl stamps her feet and speaks loudly, practically yelling at Harrison.
“Ooooh! Sometimes you make me so mad, I could spit. I’m telling you for the last time. There is something spooky going on over there at that house and I intend to find out what it is whether you are with me or not. Do you hear me?”
She grabs her binoculars from the couch and goes back to the window.

“Look. Pearl. Sweetheart. You can think what you like about the neighbours. They can burn effigies. Light candles. Prick their fingers for blood, drip it into a glass and feed it to their friends for all I care, just please shut up about it. Let me read my book and I’ll let you spy on our neighours in peace.”

Once again she turns from the window. She drops the binoculars to her side. Her mouth is wide open. She wants to speak but the words just won’t come. Harrison looks over the top of his book at Pearl standing there at the window as if in some kind of trance.
“Pearl?”- says Harrison. “What is it Honey?”

She doesn’t answer.

“Pearl, Honey. What is it? What did you see?”

Pearl is starring straight ahead into thin air. In another moment she blinks her eyes, slowly looks across the living room at Harrison sitting there in his Lazy Boy and says-
“Well Harrison.”- Pearl slowly draws circles with the toe of her right shoe in the nap of her freshly vacuumed rug, “I guess you wouldn’t be interested in knowing that our nice neighbours are prancing about- in the buff, in their backyard.”

“What?” –Harrison says with a surprised tone.

“You heard me Harrison. I said dancing. In the buff.”- she smiles broadly as she raises her voice an octave or two.

“So what do you have to say to that, Dear?”- she speaks even louder only with a more cutting, sarcastic tone, most unbecoming for the Head of the Sunday School Committee at St. John of the Lake Church.

“I heard you Pearl. For Lord’s Sake, the whole neighbourhood can hear you now.”

Pearl has a smug look about her as she invites him to step to the window with a sweep of her right hand. She holds the binoculars by their strap, dangling from the bony fingers of her left hand.

“Pearl, if I get up out of this chair, it had better be as you say or I’ll take those binoculars and throw them into the trash faster than a weed can grow in a pile of sheep manure!”

“How romantic Harrison. Now are you going to look or not?”

“Pearl Van de Camp. Sometimes you go too far!” Harrison’s face is not a happy one.
Harrison gets out of his chair, grabs the dangling glasses from Pearl’s hand and steps to the window. Pressing the eyepiece firmly to his face, he turns and looks out the window into the night.
After a few minutes, still pressing the glasses to his eyes he says- “Pearl, I don’t see a gosh darn thing out here. The lights are on at the neighbours and there is no one standing naked in the yard.
What in Hell were you looking at? Pearl? Pearl?”
He turns from the window. Pearl is nowhere to be seen.

“Pearl!”- he calls out. ‘Pearl!”

In a moment, Pearl’s voice comes from another room in the house.
She yells out- “What? I’m in the kitchen making hot cocoa.”
She continues- “How about a nice slice of cherry pie to go along with the hot chocolate? I just made it this morning Dear.”

Harrison walks into the kitchen frustrated as Hell.

“Pearl, one minute you’re blabbering on about the neighbours and now you’re suzy homemaker and you slicing up cherry pie?”

“”What was that Dear. Blabbering about who?”

“You know, starring out the windows with those binoculars of yours.”

“Oh those”- says Pearl with a slight smile breaking on her lips, “Now just have a seat at the table.”

Harrison does.
“Geeze. Women.”- he says, shaking his head

Pearl places a mug of hot cocoa on the table in front of him, along with a huge piece of cherry pie served on one of her favourite antique china plates. She looks into Harrison’s face and almost laughs out loud at the two dark circles around his eyes. A bit of shoe polish rubbed onto the rims of the eyepieces. That’s all it took.

“Like you said Harrison”, she was thinking out loud, “I am truly strange.”

She started to laugh louder now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Have you tried driving from Orillia North to Orillia South recently? In a calm manner?

Is there any street where there’s not some form of construction? A few days ago I detoured into the West End to bypass the construction and traffic. I turned down Patrick past Victoria Park. Along Mississaga Street heading East. Right onto Wyandotte Street. Along Wyandotte to Barrie Road- and there I came to a stop! A crane was lifting huge steel beams from off a transport truck onto the construction site of a new apartment complex. Cars were lined up in every direction- side streets included.

Later, I needed to get back to the north side of Mississaga. I pushed the “imaginary” lift off button on the Swissshmobile’s dash- but nothing happened.
There was no lift off.
I was still street-bound. I clutched the Swisssmobile’s steering wheel, pressed firmly on the gas and I was off- slowly.

I took a chance that the construction zone at Colborne and the condition of the road, was passable.
It was.
I slipped by City Centre along Andrews Street South and across Colborne. Then, along beside the Library construction site at Mississaga Street West and Andrew, along Mary to Albert Street North. I had white knuckles by the time I arrived at my Chiropractor’s.
No wonder my blood pressure was a tad high!

I am already thinking about tomorrow’s route. I need to get to Memorial Avenue- somehow.
I need to be calm. I need to get good test results. It’s a test I can’t study for.
I’m having my blood pressure checked again, this time by my family physician. The same tests I failed two weeks ago- 4 times out of a possible 5!
If I fail- there’s the chance that I have a little medical condition called “High Blood Pressure” or Hypertension.

I’ve been reading up on it- just in case. Of course with high blood pressure there’s a concern regarding heart disease. Isn’t High Blood Press the “silent killer” because it just lurks around and isn’t detected unless you pressure is checked?

I read that Hypertension is one of the main risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. In Canada, it has been estimated that 20% of men and 19% of women have high blood pressure. Many are not aware of the problem. Of those who are, less than one-third receive adequate treatment to control their blood pressure.

So, on that happy note: Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and people who have abnormally high pressure in their arteries are far more likely than others to die prematurely of heart disease.

And I was worried about construction…

UPDATE: What me worry? Three tests. Passed them all with flying colours- or at least reasonable numbers. The top Number was 141 on Wednesday. 149 two weeks ago. Now today it's 121.
Dunno. But I'll still keep an eye on it and have the Blood Pressure checked once a month.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I know this "stinks" but there's no new Blog today, so I'm afraid you'll either have to read this one again or scroll down and check the archives for a Blog you missed!

We've had a few skunks visiting the neighbourhood these past weeks...

The evening seemed to be cooling down a little as Adam sat on a comfy wicker chair on his verandah, facing a row of Germundy trees and the open fields to the south. The home he shares with his husband Jim is an 1882 Farmhouse painted white, with deep red- almost burgundy, trim. It sits only a kilometre from the Pacific Ocean, in a secluded bend in the road. Jim and Adam decided to move to Salt Spring Island two years ago when the prospect of another winter in Ontario had sent shivers up both their spines in mid-August.

The day had been tremendously hot. The humidity was relentless and hung without remorse in the thick, moisture-laden air. As the sun was close to setting in the western sky, Adam watched some birds flit about in the trees and wondered if they felt the heat too. He took a sip of his lemonade and held the cold glass up to his forehead.

Still- he thought, this is much better than those years they lived in Central Ontario, where summer heat and humidity turned into winter snow and freezing cold. He shivered in the heat at the thought of winter. Tires that gripped winter roads, icy walkways, snow-clogged streets and highways. No sir. This was better. Infinitely better. No question.
Suddenly, as he took another sip of lemonade he heard a voice say-

“Well, hello there!”

He looked along the verandah to his left.
There was nothing.
He looked to the doorway that led into the family room to his right.
Not a soul.
Didn’t sound like Jim’s usual Baritone, he thought.

“Jim! Did you call me?”- he glanced towards the open door at the end of the verandah, calling out in a rather raised voice.
Jim answered.
“Nope. I’m trying to get these bills for the barn remodelling figured out. I don’t need to talk to a soul right now.”
“Sorry Dear!”- Adam replied. “It won’t happen again. Carry on!”

He sits his glass of cold lemonade down on the table and lays his head against the back of the chair and listens to the birds.
He may have dozed for a bit.

What seemed like a few seconds later. The voice once more…
“Hello. Can I speak with you?”

“What? Who is it? Where are you?”- Adam asked hesitantly. It was definitely a smallish voice but clear and well-spoken.

“Down here.”-said the little voice.

“Down where?”

“Down here”- the voice answered Adam once more.
Adam looked to the verandah floor, where about a foot from his chair, there stood a small skunk!

“Oh my God! You’re a…a…a”. He stuttered.

“Skunk?”- said the skunk. “Yes. I get that a lot! Believe me.

Adam had pulled his tanned, beach-thonged, pedicured toes off the floor- “Oh please, please don’t spray me- or my furniture.”- Adam pleaded, “especially, not my furniture. It’s new this year and I love it so!”

“Oh Good Gosh” snickered the skunk waving one of his front paws in an ‘aw shucks don’t worry about me motion’. “Not that I wouldn’t like to spray you, you understand- it’s in my nature- but I won’t. Don’t worry. Now relax. I know this is a little unusual. Now in turn you won’t spray me will you?”

Adam was confused-“Ah….spray?….you?. You are afraid I might spray…ummm. You?”

“Oh Sweet thing, you are just too easy!” The little guy smacked a hairy rear leg and chuckled aloud. “Settle down Adam. I know you can’t spray me.”

“You know my name?” Adam asked.

“Yes. Why of course I do”- says the skunk. “But do you know mine?”

“No.” Adam was quick to apologize. “I don’t, I’m afraid. You have the upper hand.”

“Well, it’s Kenny.”

“Kenny?” he replied nervously. “Is that so? Just Kenny, eh?”

“Just Kenny” –said the Skunk.

Adam was keeping his eyes firmly planted on the little fellow. The skunk was jet black in colour with the absolute whitest stripe down his back that Adam had ever seen on a skunk. Not that he had seen that many.
“You are very handsome, Kenny.”- Adam offered the compliment to the skunk. “You have a very thick coat for this time of the year, being so hot and all.”

“Well thank you!” said the skunk, his voice rising an octave as he spoke.” I don’t often get those types of comments from a human. That’s nice. Usually I catch people off-guard and they run in the opposite direction- Hands flailing all over the place, screaming “Help!” at the top of their lungs. Funny bunch you human creatures!”

“Yes. Well, I suppose we are to skunks.”

“Oh heavens, you folks are strange to most of us out there!” Kenny pointed with a right paw to the open fields beyond. “Say, do you mind if I have a seat? My back legs are absolutely killing me. Bit of arthritis. You wouldn’t have some low-dose aspirin about? Nevermind, I can wait until I get home.”

Adam mumbled- “Low-dose aspirin. You take low-dose aspirin?”

“Oh yes!” Kenny answered quickly. “Every now and then. You see, I don’t like to shove a whole bunch of chemicals into my body.” Kenny crossed his front paws in a relaxed gesture. “So, do you mind?”

“Mind?”- Adam said. Then he understood. “Oh sit. You want to sit. Yes. Yes, be my guest. Please. Don’t you need a lift up?”

“No thank you. I am used to this. Why I can jump up on top of a 6 foot high trash can and flip open the lid in seconds. Getting on this wicker chair is skunk’s play!”

Adam was surprised. He laughed. “Did you know we have that same expression only we say- child’s play!”

Kenny climbed up, situated himself and crossed his legs before answering, “Yes Adam, I am aware that you also have a saying similar in intent to our Skunk-libs. I believe you humans heard our voices out in the field years ago and without knowing where it came, from stole it and made the “saying” your own. No big deal!”

“It isn’t?” Adam was quiet for a minute. “Well that’s good I expect.”

“Yes. I suppose so,.” says Kenny, curiously watching Adam. “Now to the point of my appearing here on your verandah Adam- unannounced as it is….”

“Oh Dear, excuse my manners, may I offer you a drink?”

“Kenny was amused. “A drink? Why, yes of course. That would be lovely. Whatever you’re having Adam Dear.”

Adam picked up the pitcher, smiled and said- “Lemonade OK?”

“Peachy!” says Kenny. He continues. “Now Adam, I know this is highly unusual but Krista and I...”

“Krista?”- says Adam as he leans forward in his chair?

“Oh, I’m very sorry. I am getting ahead of myself. Krista is my wife.

“Of course”- Adam says as he settles back, “Why not? Krista is your wife.”

“Oh now, look handsome- you ae quite handsme you know, for a human."

Adam blushed a bit.

" I hope this is not too much for you to take in. Krista did warn me of the dangers of talking to humans.” He looks up, straight into Adam’s face. “Are you sure you are all right. Shall I continue?”

Adam passes him a glass of lemonade. The ice tinkles loudly in the glass as Adam’s hand shakes- just ever so slightly.
“Yes. Yes. Me? Oh, I’m fine. Continue please!”

“Thank you.” Kenny is still not too sure about how Adam is handling this talking to humans thing but nonetheless he continues-
“You see, Krista and I would like to know if you boys are finished with the renovations to the barn because we would like to move back home- if that’s convenient for both of you, of course.”

“Convenient. Well- uh- yes. I. Uh.” Adam gets to the point.

“You live in our barn?”

“Oh yes. Oh Dear, I hope that’s not going to be a problem now that I’ve let the possum out of the bag?”- wondered Kenny.

“Possum out of the…” Adam couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Yes Possum.”-says Kenny. “Oh, darn, another of those little sayings that you humans think is attributed to your language. Now, just what is it you say? Not possums but...”

He thinks, tapping a small “finger” against his forehead.

“English can be so confusing at times. Oh I know. Cat! You say Cat! Don’t let the “cat” out of the bag. What a strange tribe you can be.” He chuckles and as he does he squints his eyes.

“Yes, that’s it. Cat of out the bag!” Adam continues. “By the way your English is quite good. I don’t speak skunk.”

Kenny smiled politely.

“Now, Kenny to your question. Where abouts do you live in the barn?”

“Oh, Dear Adam. Not actually in, you see we live under the floor in the southwest corner. It’s so warm and cozy. As a matter of fact we were building a new fireplace just as you started doing your work.”

“You were building a fireplace?” Adam could scarcely believe the conversation he was having- with a skunk no less- albeit a very charming and mannerly one.”

“Oh yes. Just a little one mind you. Krista had the entire living room re-done over last winter and she so wanted a fireplace to be the focal point.”

“Yes, well I can understand that.”- Adam adds. “ …and you want to move back? Were did you go? And why doesn’t it smell in the barn. I don’t mean to be cruel but…”

“Dear Adam. No. No. No. That is quite all right. The barn doesn’t “smell” as you put it so elegantly, because Krista and I don’t believe in keeping an untidy burrow. We keep quite clean and as you know- cleanliness is next to the log.”

“Cleanliness is…” Adam definitely could not grasp this one.

Kenny began to explain- “Cleanliness. Next to the log. The pond is next to the log. For bathing? Cleanliness is next to the log.”

“Oh my. Yes. And why not Kenny?” adds Adam.

“’Yes, why not.” Kenny sips more lemonade and answers Adam’s other question.

“When you started fixing the barn, the noise and dust got to be a little much- Krista is “with skunk” you know.”

“Of course she is!”- Adam reaches over and without thinking, pats Kenny’s little black paw.

“And when is she due?”

“Oh, any day now. You see that’s why Krista wanted to be at home- before the “kits” arrive and that is why we thought we would just come right out and ask you. We had lived down by the old oak stump by the big rock during the renovations to your barn. Do you know the place?”

“Yes. Yes. I do.”

Adam kept nodding and clasped his hands together several times. Well, Kenny, I’m glad you came up to the house to ask and I believe I can speak for Jim too, when I say that you may move back in as soon as you like. We are all finished with your barn! I mean our barn”.
He chuckles and turned a bit red in the cheeks.

“Hurrah!” –says Kenny with glee, almost spilling his lemonade.’ That is fabulous news Adam! Krista will be terribly, terribly pleased. I must go tell her skunk-suite!”

“Uh- “skunk- suite’? -says Adam but before Kenny could answer he blurts out- “Tout suite! Right away!”

Kenny set his lemonade glass down on the tray. Reaching over, he shook Adam’s hand, then, scrambled down off the chair. Just before he shuffled down the steps he turned and said-
“Adam, it’s been a delight talking to you. Please come down and see the “kits” when they arrive.”

“I’ll do that Kenny. Both Jim and I will. Thanks.” He waves as Kenny heads down the steps and runs across the lawn and into the field towards the big rock and the old oak.

“My, my, just Imagine. I am a regular Doctor Doolittle. Talking to the animals. The evening was still hot and Adam leaned back in his wicker chair once again and dozed.

“Adam. Adam!” It was Jim’s voice. “Wake up. I’m finished and we came in a thousand bucks under our budget!”

“Budget. What??” Adam’s mouth was dry.

“The budget for the barn reno. We saved a thousand!”

“Oh, yes, great. Say, did you hear voices out here just a few minutes ago?” Adam was about to explain when Jim says-

“The only thing I heard was a bunch of snoring. Now, come on in. Let’s get dinner started. I’m a hungry man!”

“Coming Honey!”

Adam stood, yawned and finished the bit of lemonade left in his glass. As he picked up the tray he noticed a second glass- with just an ice cube left in the bottom, sitting next to the lemonade pitcher. He began to shake- just a little.

“Jim!” he called looking towards the open door, “Did you come out here on the verandah and have some lemonade as I was dozing?”

“Lemonade? No! I had some iced tea instead as I worked on the reno stuff. Why?”

“Nevermind!” says Adam as he looks down at the tray once more.

There, sitting right next to the lemonade pitcher was a second glass, with just a single ice cube inside.