Wednesday, August 19, 2020

ROBBLOG #852- Honk


It was just past eight-fifteen.

The brilliant golden sunlight of a late summer morning danced on the small pond across the yard from my kitchen window.

I grabbed my old blue windbreaker from behind the kitchen door and slipped it on over my head and shoulders as I hurried outside. The zipper had broken months ago and "over my head" was the only way I could get it on. It was like an early morning wrestling match. I just didn't have the heart to pitch it in the bin. Of course, I could have grabbed a hoodie from the hall closet but I was in a hurry. Harriet, Lulu and Mr. George- my Toulouse Geese, would be waiting by the rickety picket fence for our morning walk.

We walked every morning at the same time.
A walk first and then all three would patiently wait for me to pour their morning feed into the three empty bowls that sat next to the old barn door.

A minute later I rounded the corner of the barn opposite the old cherry tree and there they stood. Mr. George was tapping one webbed foot looking indignant and wondering why he should have to delay his summer hike because of a human who obviously didn't value the purpose of a time clock.

"Hey Kids"- I called.
Harriet and Lulu honked a good morning in unison but I could see that Mr. George would take a little longer to warm up this morning due to my tardiness.
I understood how he felt.
Yesterday morning I was barely awake when I had to pull on my wellies at seven thirty to herd the sheep back up the path and into their pen. Someone hadn't closed the gate after letting them into the yard after a cozy night in the barn. That someone wasn't bright-eyed and bushy-tailed yet.

Now, one might think it was me who left the gate wide open- I suppose, however, it was more likely Karl. Karl was the hired hand.
He was probably a little tipsy after spending a few hours in the local pub as he was want to do. He'd perhaps forgotten his late night checks around the yard as he stumbled into the cottage at the edge of the apple orchard.

Sometimes I wondered if Karl understood any of my broken German at all. The past three months, I had insisted he speak to me in his native tongue- mostly. I was preparing for a tour of Germany ending with a wonderful cruise of the Rhine.
I think maybe a tour of England's Cotswolds might have been easier to prepare for!
Maybe next year.

The girls- and Mr. George and I, headed off through the south gate and along the leafy lane.
They honked happily to each other looking up at me now and again expecting me to join in the morning conversation.
I was interested in all the usual barnyard gossip.
I really was  you know.
It was an entirely different world.

The ducks- according to Harriet were being their normal "quacky" selves and interrupted the Toulouse's quiet morning.

Mr. George insisted on quiet in the morning too. According to him, Bobbi the grey mare consistently whinnied at the morning sun and insisted on all that "horsey" singing to welcome the summer morning- much to the chagrin of Mr. George.

Peter the Pig and his girlfriend Brenda kept their pen in a horrendous state and something must be done to rectify the situation. At least according to Lulu.
"It was most distressing" she honked, especially when folks came over for a visit and had a chance to look over the driftwood fence into the pig's pen.
"A regular sty to be sure!" she added as she waddles along.

We had reached a turn in the lane where we headed left into the apple orchard. Harriet and Lulu chomped on a couple of fallen apples while Mr. George strolled over to the stream that cut across the orchard, eventually emptying into Lake Bee just on the other side of the road. He had a quick flap in the warm water and re-joined us as we head back through the orchard, past Karl's Cottage- where it was still very quiet- and into the barn yard.

I grabbed the bag of feed and filled all three Goose Bowls to the brim. All of the Toulouse Geese honked their appreciation- even Mr. George. I headed back to the house for coffee taking one last look over my right shoulder never expecting to see Karl standing at the door to his cottage slurping from a large mug.
I smiled and walked on to my kitchen door.
Soon, the enduring ritual of a country day would control all of the hours ahead.

The country life.
It's the quiet.
The animals.
The clear blue sky and the sparkling waters of Lake Bee and Karl too.

It was the very definition of a bucolic lifestyle and I loved it.
All of it.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

ROBBLOG #851- Sizzle


Hi Kids. Today a short story about Roger and Stan. I dunno why. Just because.

A week ago last Thursday Roger and Stan headed to the local lighting store- Light and Bright,
to buy a new pair of ceiling fixtures. Stan- the half of this pairing with a taste for indoor decor, had wanted new ceiling fixtures for the den for more than a year. Roger on the other hand couldn't care less one way or the other.
This pissed Stan off just a smidge but he dealt with it just as he had always dealt with it- with a modicum of taste and a heavy use of his inside voice.

After seeing an ad in one of the local papers, Stan managed to convince Roger to come along to Light and Brite with him to add his opinion regarding the two fixtures Stan was prepared to purchase.
They jumped into their little maroon-coloured Fiat 500 and tore down the street- as best a Fiat 500 can tear, with Roger behind the wheel.

Arriving at Light and Bright's parking lot, Roger wheeled into a convenient space marked "for small cars ONLY" and shut off the engine.

The boys climbed out of the Fiat 500, strapped masks over their ears, mouths and noses and headed for the entrance. Light and Bright was a huge store. Who knew there were so many lights, bulbs and fixtures in the entire world?

Stan loved this store.
Roger not so much.
Stan also loved "Winners".
Roger not so much.
Stan loved spinach.
Roger not so much- especially boiled and slopped on a plate next to mashed potatoes- bleeck.

Once inside Stan dragged Roger down aisle 23 and stopped at shelf number 22A.
On the shelf were the fixtures in dainty little boxes.

"Not much of a fixture..."- Roger commented.

"Like you should know!"- Stan countered. "Look up there Rodge. That's what they look like."
Roger looked to the wall above where the boxes sat on the shelf and saw the shiny fixtures Stan was obsessed about. Make no mistake, Stan was kind of obsessed- like his obsession with  photographs of Hugh Jackman- shirtless.
A story for another time I'm afraid.

"Well, if that's what you came here to buy, get it." Roger's tone was less than supportive.
Stan didn't care.
It usually was.

Stan grabbed two boxes of the fixtures shown above and spun on his heels and headed for the cash.
"Anything else you wanna look at Rodge?"

"Huh?"- Roger says. "I can't hear you through that damn mask plus you're turned away from me. I can't hear you. Just a mumble."

"Look."- Stan turned to face Roger. He was becoming miffed. "We are a country of mumblers now so get used to it Roger. Covid is the way of the world and wearing masks is part of this world."

Roger grimaced and slid past Stan heading for the check outs. Over his right shoulder he yelled-
"All I said was I can't hear you through that mask. I'm not asking for a lecture!"

"Good Grief. 'The Jesus'- give me strength." He followed Roger to the checkouts like a dutiful hubbie.

In a few minutes they were back in the Fiat 500 and on the road to home with a short stop at Tim's for a large triple milk and an iced tea. 
Roger loved iced tea.

Once inside the house Stan set the boxes holding the fixtures on the kitchen counter and sat on a stool to sip his coffee.

Suddenly, Roger- who had plopped himself on the living room couch to nurse his iced tea, came into the kitchen. He took a deep breath-
"Let's get these lights up so I don't have to listen to you whine all day and all night!"

"I wasn't whining Roger, I was sipping my damned Tim Horton's Coffee. That's all!!"

"Whatever. Let's get at it. Grab the step ladder and I'll get the screwdrivers." 

Roger disappeared into the depths of the basement. A few minutes later he returned with the tools. Stan was already in the den with the step stool in position. "Stan, do and turn off the breaker switch will ya? It should say den or small bedroom or office something like that. You should be able to figure it out. Pick one."

"One what?" Stan almost wished he had called an electrician. Roger always got so short with him when they worked on a project together.

Roger grunted. "Funny Stan. Real funny."

Now Stan was becoming irritated but he held his tongue and slipped into the pantry just off the kitchen.
Once inside he opened the cover plate on the breaker panel.
Speaking loudly he called out to Roger-
"Geeze Rodge, this panel should have been marked better when we had that wiring done last spring.
I can barely read the handwriting. I'm not sure what some of it says!"

"Will you just pick one and forget about last spring!" 
Roger was not happy and Stan could hear it in his voice. He was about to reply but decided to hold his reprisal and just make a choice as Roger had directed.
Flick. The breaker clicked off.

"Have you done it?" yelled Roger from the Den.

"Yes, I think so." Stan closed the pantry door and walked back to the den to find Roger on top of the step stool. He had removed the old fixture from the ceiling and was about to take apart the wires.

Roger look down at Stan- "You have it turned off Stan. The breaker that says Den? Did you do what I asked?"

"For fuck sake Roger. Yes. Yes. Yes!!" Stan was raising his voice at this point. "I turned off the goddamned breaker switch. Just once can't you fucking well trust what I am doing? The switch is not on. It's off. Happy? Check it yourself if you don't trust me!"

Roger shrugged his shoulders, ignoring Stan as usual and reached up to untwist the wires that gave juice to the old fixture."


Roger screamed and fell from the step ladder to the floor below, landing at Stan's feet.

Roger's memorial service is the first Tuesday of next month.