Friday, October 25, 2019

ROBBLOG #806- Memories of Childhood

Have I written about my Gramma Reid before?

I am sure she has been mentioned, if not written about in detail. After all I can't remember all that I've
written in eight hundred blogs. In fact when I go way back and read what I posted years ago, it's like reading the writings of another person.

Anyhoo, my Gramma Reid.
My dad's Mum. Lillian.
She left this world on a cold January day in 1965. She actually froze to death because she fell from her back stoop while hanging out laundry.
My Grandmother hanging out laundry on a cold, clear end of January day.

The oil man topping up the tank found her in the snow and carried her inside. I was walking along the street from school minutes before intending to stop in and say hello but my Mum came rushing along just as I reached Gramma Reid's front sidewalk and urged me to go home.
Home was a block and a bit away.
As I walked along clutching my schoolbooks, my Dad came running up Poughkeepsie Street and barked further orders- "Go home and stay there, your sister and brother are there with Mrs. Dwinnell!"
She was a neighbour and lived next door.
I knew something was up.
I just didn't know what. I knew my Gramma had a ticky heart.
Maybe that was it.

Her husband my Dad's father and my Grandad- Norman, had died two days before Christmas in 1963.
That was tons of fun...
I remember that sad Christmas and the prevailing gloom.
My Gramma was so sad. My Dad was quiet and looked down at the floor a lot.
Fifty years Gramma and Grandad had been married now she'd be alone- without "Shorty" a nickname that was attached to him for most of his life.
Being alone happens to all of us- sooner or later.

My Gramma Reid taught me a lot.
Some things she taught me without saying a word.
I wish she were here this minute.
I have a couple of questions for her and I need her advice. I think she pokes me from the next plane of life from time to time. I hear her voice.
I am a lot like her.

Gramma Reid probably put the "Gay" in Gay for me- even before I knew it.
I wonder if she knew I was different?
I loved to go to her house on any holiday or special day.
Around Hallowe'en, I think of the times I'd walk into her dining room and she'd be there making up individual treat bags for all the kids. She'd have "special bags" set aside for "special" kids- like her grandchildren.
She'd have all these treats in bowls on the walnut dining room table and she'd carefully pick a treat from each bowl and tuck it in a little black and orange Hallowe'en bag with a witch or moon or ghost on the side.
All the time she'd spend doing that every year.
Beside her, on the big hutch with the mirror she'd have a Hallowe'en display. Pumpkins, a black cat or two and other spooky stuff. There was usually a centrepiece on the huge dining room table that sat a dozen or more of us at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I wonder where all those decorative items ended up? I didn't get any spooky figurine as a remembrance of her.

50th Wedding Anniversary. This is how I remember my Grandparents.
Christmas was the same.
I'd look in the dining room to see what special display she'd have on the hutch or on the table. It was Gramma Reid who started me collecting my first Nativity set. I still have several pieces that I remember buying at Woolworth's in downtown Orillia.
The price sticker is still on the bottom of the figurines.
It says:
"Woolworth. 29 cents. Hand-painted in Italy"
I chose one of the kings wearing a robin's egg blue robe and gold crown as well as a couple of shepherds. I don't remember what drew me to these specific figures.
Noticeably missing was the Holy Family but in the seventies I bought a stable and enough pieces to complete the entire set. I display it ever Christmas.
It reminds me of her.

She also bought me a Santa Claus figurine one Christmas.
It stands about 10 inches tall.
Santa has a fuzzy red coat, black plastic boots and belt and a fuzzy, white beard.
That was Christmas 1963 and I still have it in a display cabinet.
The one boot has part of a toe missing. Back in the 80's I sat it on the top of a metal fireplace for a minute while I decorated a tree nearby.
The boot's toe melted quickly.
I love that Santa and it started me collecting Santa's.
I have many and I still add one each year.
Don't get me started on who I am leaving all these memories to once I shuffle away from this mortal coil. I have no idea and some nights it keeps me awake thinking about it.
Lillian and Norman.
Other Holidays were well represented on my Gramma's Table and Hutch including St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter and Thanksgiving.

I am sure that's the reason I do the same all year through. Our dining room hutch and table always reflect the season with bunnies, hearts, autumn leaves, pumpkins and more displayed.
In a way I am honouring my Gramma Reid's memory.
It keeps her close and I thank her for all she taught me whether she was aware of the lessons or not.

Even today a charcoal photograph of her- and her brother, looks down upon the dining room table from a ornate golden frame hung on the wall near our hutch.

It makes me feel warm and fuzzy...

Monday, October 21, 2019

ROBBLOG #805- Fah Lah?

Okay. Enough.

Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Fucked up Federal Election and
Hallowe'en (if you're reading this prior to October 31st).

I've had enough. Did you know I practically got thrown in jail while casting my vote on
Auchinachie Street.
Pronounced "Otch in notch ee" you say?
Not on our Island.
It's Oh-hann-a key"!

Anyhoo- A privilege you say?
Only if you can get past the old poussy-faces at the polling station.
My Aunt Mable used to use that term.
Poussy. It fits.
Look, I can't go into detail since Elections Canada has a hot rod shoved up their ass about election protocol and I don't want to be thrown into a Cuban jail.
I think that's how it works.
Canadians who trifle with Elections Canada rules get sent to Cuban jails. I think the People's Party or was it the Communist Party who told me that?
There are double standards in this country and I got caught in the middle.
Onto other happy thoughts- like Christmas.

Just a day or two ago- I thought I'd take a ride and soon Miss Fanny Bright was seated by my side. 
I digress.
That's a partial lyric from Jingle Bells.
Centre Rob.
Centre yourself.
That polling station lady can't hurt you anymore. You have the Liberals on your side. Maybe the NDP- if I had of voted for them.
A day or two ago I purchased my first two Christmas Magazines. Well, you have to buy in October or you miss the entire season. If you wait until December, you'll be buying the spring edition.
What the F**K is it with magazines and their printing dates anyway??

I love Christmas and I love browsing through Christmas Magazines.
I start early- in October.
I always have.
Who am I hurting?- which by the way I asked at that polling station earlier.
I think she thought I was Russian.

I get early ideas for the Holidays when I read my magazines.
I plan decor.
I look for items in stores that mimic what I see in the mags.
I bought Canadian House and Home and my favourite British mag- English Home.
You see, I really want to live in a thatched cottage in the Cotswolds.
I am still dreaming of not only a White Christmas but my cozy, Cotswold cottage.
However, if I tried to live in the UK, they'd exit me- as well as Brexit.
Obexit they'd call it.

Anyhoo, I enjoy peering through the pages and drinking in the holiday decorations and mood.
It's never too early.
Whatever gets you through the year-
or the possibility of a jail term.

I hope you'll all bake me Christmas cakes with files in them.
Actually, a key would be better.
I am no good with tools...

Monday, October 14, 2019

ROBBLOG #804- Dancing in The Street 'cause I Gotta Pee

Holy Pissoir Batman!

I cannot believe it!
I have been to Paris many times- not Paris Ontario which is lovely too, minus the Eiffel Tower, I mean Paris, France.
No, no, no.
Check that.
Men, Pee on the streets of Paris. They always have but the intelligent politicians of Paris decided decades ago to place Pissoirs on many Paris Streets.

"A Pissoir is a structure that provides support and screening of urinals in a public space. It is a French Invention common in Europe."
That's what Wikipedia says.

It is there to help prevent French Men from urinating up against building, trees and motor cars.
What is it with men peeing in public?
I expect it's because they can just reach in their pants, pull out a plum, pee and say "What a good boy am I!"
It's a dirty habit.
To my vast international knowledge, I expected that pissoirs could only be found in France- specifically Paris as well as elsewhere in Europe.

Then, a few days ago while walking along a Victoria Street- here on Vancouver Island,  I come upon this structure on the street in Downtown Victoria:

I thought "What a nice green fence!" but why is there a logo of a man on the side. I walked in to investigate and around the corner I saw this:

Obviously not a pot in which to plant peonies but a pot to piss in!
I couldn't believe it. I took a photo.
Imagine, peeing on the street in Victoria, in Canada!
I have never seen this before. Here's what I've seen in other countries:

Here's a Pissoir in Paris, or below that a convenient, manly-looking street urinal in London.
Hmmm, I don't think so. Pizza Hut must love that parked across the street and just where does the "pee" go?

A Pissoir has it's place I guess and with dogs and men peeing willy-nilly from their willies I suppose it's a terrific idea. This Victoria Pissoir was a bright green not unlike the Paris Pissoirs. If you look at the picture, you can see where a gentleman pissing can quite easily look out between the lime-green slats and watch the world go by on a busy street corner all the while pissing to his heart's content. 

There's no roof on this Pissoirs which allows Jesus easy viewing as he watches grown men pee all the way down from Heaven. One walks from the outside of a Pissoirs to the inside via a swirl that resembles a swirl in a cinnamon bun.
That's kinda fun.
I don't know if one can wash one's hands. I didn't check that out. Maybe the silver box on the wall to the right contains wet naps.

The Paris Pissoirs are rather nice and are in keeping with architecture of the City of Lights. The photo that shows the London urinal above is new to me. I have never seen one of these contraptions on a London street. Doesn't it look like it's just sitting there on the sidewalk and maybe the urine just rolls out from underneath the structure into a curb-side gutter.
In Paris you smell the pee on some streets. In London I don;t believe I have.

Now, as for women, I am sorry gals, there is no Pissoir for you and in this day that is well past the manifesto of Women's Lib. There is nothing that I know of that allows you to sit and pee on a busy city street. If I were you, I'd started making signs and arrange a pee protest as soon as possible.
"Equal Urination for Women!"
Pissoirs for Lady Pee!"
"Let Me Pee where I Will!"

Maybe a federal debate in Parliament is not out of the question or a huge, one day march on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Give us our Pissoirs!! Give us our Pissoirs!! Give us our Pissoirs!!
I mean this is perhaps as important as pipes for oil.

I dunno. I could be wrong.
I'm no politician just a concerned citizen who has to pee now and then.

Friday, October 11, 2019

ROBBLOG #803- Turkey Day

Thanksgiving My Dears!

I am sure it was just August yesterday...
Now, when we walk our Island neighbourhood there are pumpkins at doorways.
Colourful Mum pots on  front steps.
Some people add stalks of corn and bales of straw.
Here on the Island Palm Trees are still green as are laurels and magnolias, arbutus trees and more.
Thanksgiving looks different here and I would hazard to say never, ever white like parts of Alberta and especially Manitoba have found this weekend.
I mean they don't call it Winterpeg for nothing- do they?

Canadian Geese are flapping their wings overhead leading me to believe I am still in Orillia, Ontario for a brief moment. The geese are here all year round as are robins.
Sometimes- when it's a quiet morning you can hear the "swoosh" of Geese wings as they pass overhead "honking" directions to each other as they search for the nearest- and safest,  patch of lawn or shoreline.

Flower gardens are put to bed.
Not all. The Dahlias and anemones are done.
Geraniums are still flowering and plants such as Camellia and Oregon Grape are setting buds for January. Winter blooming rhododendrons and heather are waiting to give us winter bloom.
Autumn and "Winter" on the island is much much different than elsewhere in Canada. It's our Mediterranean climate. Ponds and fountains are still active. Muskoka Chairs, lawn ornaments and garden gnomes used to be stored away in advance of winter days. Here they remain in the garden or on our front patio. Tidying up the yard is a chore I never looked forward to back east and now I can enjoy sitting in morning sunshine in my favourite yellow Muskoka Chair all the year round.

This Thanksgiving the aroma of turkey and ham, pumpkin pie and roasting apples are wafting from the kitchen.
I like that word.
Our fireplaces are blazing during cooler, Island nights. I love a fire. It's the centre piece of a room.

We take walks with our schnauzer Koko- not to see the colour change in the leaves because there's not much colour here except for brown and yellow. However, a long walk on sunny Cowichan Valley day is lovely.

There may be a morning visit- not too early,  to the Duncan Farmer's Market an outdoor, year-round Market for a special Jack-O-Lantern that will be carved with care and placed in a front window or on a veranda railing come Hallowe'en at the end of this month.

Elsewhere across this magnificent country friends, families and neighours gather to wish the best of the season and are "thankful" for whatever small pleasures are found in this world today.

There's thoughts of loved ones who are no longer sharing our table but always sharing and holding a special place in our heart.

Here's to a great Holiday.

A Happy, Joyous Thanksgiving.
Just being together.
Good times.
Smiles and
Hearty Laughter.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

ROBBLOG #802- Radio Times


That's what I was paid on the 15th and 30th of each month at the first radio station where I was employed. CKMP 1230.
Not much.Cripes!
I know it was back in 1972 but cripes anyway!
I even bought a new car on that salary. A Volkswagen Beetle.
Clementine in colour.
That's orange.
It was actually a Super Beetle.
I was going to buy a regular Beetle for $1999.00 but for a couple of hundred dollars more I could get one of the new Super Beetles with curved dash and two-speed fan.
I was told there was one coming across the Atlantic on a ship and it could be mine if I wanted it.
I did.
I saw it the day it was delivered to the dealer in Orillia, Ontario.
It was covered in a thick, pasty, whitish wax to protect the finish from the salt water on the crossing
over from Germany. The dealership- Ruff Motors, took a couple of days to clean it up and get it ready for me.
I loved that Beetle.

Today, I am thinking about that meager pay today as I record "talk breaks" for Swisssh Radio. Swisssh is a station I have operated on the web for 13 years come March 2020. As if one station wasn't enough, I started another station- Starlite, in 2012.

I wish I got $142.50 today for running these online stations but I don't get a dime.
I do it for Love.
In fact it costs me about $250 a year for the servers to enable Starlite and Swisssh to broadcast to the world and then another yearly cheque paid to SOCAN for the rights to play music.
Who doesn't have to pay out money to buy supplies for a hobby? That's how I look at it.
These days it's a hobby.
It's a part of me I am not prepared to get rid of- yet.
That may happen one day and when it does it will happen suddenly and without warning.

A Cart Machine. Cart 403 would be a cart number of a commercial
I never thought that in the early days of my radio career at stations such as CKPM, CFOR, CHAY FM or CHOO that I'd be doing this radio thing from a studio in my home- but I am.
Nobody knew what was ahead with the world wide web or streaming.
Gosh we used basic stuff back then.
A microphone.
Records- those vinyl things in both 45 rpm and 33 rpm speeds.
A cart machine- it looked like an 8 track before 8 tracks were invented, that allowed us to play commercials and jingles. Sometimes we'd record the music onto these carts so as not to wear out the vinyl on the records. It extended the shelf life of the 45.
Our station logs were all figured out by hand and brain in those days by someone who worked in a department called "traffic". They would plot commercial breaks, news and weather reports as well as anything special that happened throughout the broadcast day.
They were the unsung heroes working on the station logs days in advance of broadcast.

It wasn't until the 90's the radio changed.
I had changed.
I left radio in the 80's all together. When I returned it was all computerized.
The  microphone was still there but now all the music, jingles and commercials were safely stored inside a computer. Station logs were generated by computers.
Announcers were replaced by computers- something we call voice-tracking.
I use VTKing to run Swisssh Radio.
It may sound like I am there- in person, however I'm not.
I can broadcast "live" on Swisssh but I don't too often.
I can sit in my studio for an hour or two and record more than 50 talk breaks and then have my computer programme to insert the breaks throughout the day. It works like a charm really and on the air it sounds professional and as if I was right there in the minute behind the microphone.
It may be cheating but it is what it is.
Maybe one day I'll do a live "show" for an hour or two each day. If I commit I need to be sure.
So far, I am not ready to commit to that.

Who knows?
Maybe for $142.50 twice a month, I'd think about it.