The Visitor. A Remembrance Day Story

Every year on this day, I post this story as a reminder of the sacrifice of so many for our freedoms.  I wrote this a few years ago hoping to pay homage to those brave men and women who continue to fight for us every day. 

Lest we forget. 

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The Visitor

I watched as the plane landed with a thunderous roar, the engines coming to an abrupt halt as if the pilot had simply turned the switch to the ‘off’ position.  I stood with my back hard against the biting wind, wondering if I should prepare a salute or simply stand at attention.  I waited for some direction from my superior officer, but none came.  I believe the shock of the arrival and the excitement of having such a prolific visitor come adrift upon our rocky shores had sent us all into a wave of silent awe.

It was November 1942.  The world was engulfed in the biggest conflict known to man, the classic battle between good and evil personified by the leaders of European nations struggling to define the world on their own terms, ignoring the plight and suffering of those they plundered into despair.  Leaders who were so enmeshed in their own agendas they took no notice of the people being tortured and beaten or of children being left to die on the streets with explosions and gunfire rattling their souls, shattering lives and dreams without a second thought.   Our little part of the world seemed so distant and removed from such gross atrocities against humanity, save the work our army was doing to assist our allies.  Our shores were vulnerable and England knew the possibility of oncoming attacks, sending reinforcements to protect our rocky cliffs by setting up battlements to keep constant watch over our ocean.  I say ‘our ocean’ as if we, the country of Newfoundland, could even suggest possessing such a thing.  This living, breathing entity entrusted to us by God to forever protect and nurture, and in return permission to fish her open blue waters.  She bestowed food in abundance to feed our families, nourish a growing country and sustain our people through long harsh winters, all the while, the stars beckoning fishermen to take to their boats and sail beneath their watchful gazes, enrapturing them in the ocean’s song of freedom and peace. The salty water blowing upon our land giving weight to the wet laundry strung out to dry on the tenuous lines, the gale force winds blowing it skyward.  Salt we could taste upon our lips, and feel the sting in our eyes after waiting and watching for our husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles to return home from months at sea.  Our lives hung in limbo, much like the laundry blowing haphazardly across the blue horizon. We were left to protect our waters, land and people with nothing more than a few strong men and the good sense God had granted us to outlast the evil dictators who were waging war against England.  We watched as our men and women departed for lands far out reaching our own, with the ever present knowledge that they may never return.  We applauded their bravery, mocked the suggestions of indignant retreats and prayed for their eventual safe return to Newfoundland’s humble embrace.

The wind blew out like a blast from God as I blindly stood, tears streaming down my face with my hands frozen by my side.  The Botwood air base was abuzz with excitement, people milling about in the cold waiting for the slightest chance of catching a glimpse of his surly expression, most likely with a lit cigar firmly planted between his teeth as ashes trailed his every step.  This was the man who held the fate of England in his hands although promising years of struggle and grief, he never wavered in his belief that we could withstand the loss of lives brought upon us by Hitler’s egocentric views that embraced the inane and contemptible.

The entire world watched as England waged war against the tyranny of this dictator. The population poured passionate and all-encompassing faith into a beloved and respected Prime Minister, believing he could lead the world to victory over the malevolent force spreading across Europe.   I was excited by the prospect of meeting the leader of almighty England, but nervous he may look upon me as subservient.  His stellar military career had ignited my own aspirations of service, however I knew that I was not his equal.  His brilliance was far beyond my capacities and I was quickly daunted by the challenges of such a life during this tumultuous time. It was as if people knew this was an era of change and historic will; nations rose together in allegiance to restore peace, hope and the conviction that all people should live without having to witness death and destruction in their backyards. It was a time where the future seemed uncertain, the constant news of battles and resulting casualties the topic of every radio broadcast, but when he took to the airwaves, we rose in unison to hope the end of such senseless slaughter would soon be upon us.  I recalled hearing the warnings from the Prime Minister years before this terrible outbreak regarding Hitler’s rampant greed for superiority and his assembling of armies in the name of ‘white supremacy’.  Although he was politely ignored, Churchill could see Europe’s demise propelling forward and he was prepared to rally a nation to stand tall and fight.  His inspiring words sprang intense patriotism that only war time mentality could comprehend, and years later as he took his seat as Prime Minister, he became England’s savior as well as our guide into the dark abyss of war.

I watched in wonder as the man of whom I had been inspired emerged from the plane, the propellers slowing as the engines died.  He stood, his long trench billowing about his ankles and lit his cigar surreptitiously beside the plane’s engines.  I smiled as I watched, seeing the horrified looks from my superiors at Churchill’s disregard for such trivialities as an impending explosion from a lighter in proximity to the plane’s fuselage.  They hurriedly escorted him away from the danger zone and into a path leading directly to where I was standing.  The smile must have still been securely glued upon my face as he approached and smiled back at me.  His hat had almost succumbed to a violent gust of wind and he forcefully replaced it upon his head.  He looked me up and down as if inspecting my presence in such a desolate and isolated place and said loudly, “Hello, Sergeant!  So, how do you like it up here in Newfoundland?”  I was momentarily stunned staring into his bright blue eyes and the energy and warmth behind them tempted a reply from my gaping frozen lips. “Fine, sir” I sputtered, “I like it fine.”

KJ

 

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Top Ten List of: Shit I Did When You Weren’t Looking

I haven’t done a Top Ten list in quite some time. I thought today would be a great day for one.
10. Ran a 10mile race. Maybe you were looking since I told everyone about it, but some people were still surprised I actually ran a race and still lived to tell about it, so not everyone is as in the loop as you.   

Me running, and not dying. Yet. 
9. Snuck a garden gnome in my garden and he is still there! Now that you know, DON’T TOUCH HIM. HE STAYS.

8. Texted my friend and gave her shit for missing my birthday but discovered she did leave a message that FB deleted so really, I looked like an asshole for being an asshole.

Actual conversation.  She still likes me…I think. 
7. Watched the beginning of a movie and the end without watching the middle which is usually a vital part of the whole thing. In this case, it really wasn’t. Now, I think if I watch the first forty five minutes and the last half hour of any movie, I should be good. No need for all the junk that happens mid-way. It’s just the whole plot, I mean really, who needs that?

Part of the movie I missed, but I don’t think it’s that important, right?


6. Told a first-time runner and neighbour there was going to be band playing during the race, which two years ago there was I swear, but this time there wasn’t and now he’s all “THERE WAS NO BAND! WHERE WAS THE BAND?! I WAS LOOKING FOR THE BAND!” for the entire duration of the race. In my defence, YOU WERE LISTENING TO SOME ON YOUR IPOD SO THERE WAS YOUR BAND. MOVE ON. Gawd, I can’t be right about everything….kinda. By the way, if my garden gnome goes missing in the next 48 hours I’M LOOKING AT YOU!!

5. Since Hubby has returned to work, I actually did two loads of laundry. Dried. Folded. Put away. I don’t want to brag, but I think I did a better job at it. *Hubby, if you are reading this, feel free to try to best me on this one. Seriously. I know you THINK you’re good at laundry, but uh, my folding technique rocks! Okay, if you really want to try to beat me at this one task, I’ll let you try….I’M A GIVER.

4. I submitted two job applications for freelance work that were epic examples of my wit and humour and pithy prose to which the reply was *crickets* Nothing. OKAY, IF YOU REALLY THINK MY PITCH FOR A HANGOVER SUPPLEMENT WASN’T AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF INTELLIGENT STORY-TELLING, ESPECIALLY THE PART ABOUT GRANDPA’S DART TOURNAMENT FIASCO, THEN GO AHEAD AND HIRE SOMEBODY ELSE. Gawd.  

3. I’ve decided that being a responsible adult is overrated and better suited for everyone else, but me. In future refer all important tasks to an adult who will take requests, demands and questions seriously instead of answering with “I know you are, but what am I?”  

2. According to viable sources, licking the top of a beer bottle will not dissuade other people from drinking from it. It just induces future licking of bottles and glasses until everyone is drinking from everyone else’s drinks, which really is kinda gross when you think about it. Next time, I’m switching the beer for…EWWW, NO I WASN’T GOING TO SAY PEE. UGH. THAT’S DISGUSTING. WHAT KIND OF PERSON DO YOU THINK I AM? BESIDES, DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO PEE IN A BEER BOTTLE?! You need a good *urinary device if you’re a woman, to pull that shit off…don’t ask me how I know that. (*medical terminology for a funnel or aid to guide the stream in the right direction. WHAT?! DO YOU KNOW HOW NARROW THE NECK OF A BEER BOTTLE IS??!! It takes precision and timing and…never mind. )

1. People in the ‘hood with pools: If you see a random rubber ducky in there, his name is Sid. No, I don’t know how he could have gotten in there, but don’t scare him. He likes to float around. Just sayin’…..

Looks just like Sid!!

The Unrelenting Echoes of Summer

The ‘hood battles are raging and the summer days are stretching onwards and upwards. No one is immune to the reaching fingertips of ire and impatience emanating from cranky neighbours who refuse to admit their age is getting the better of them. If one is to listen to them, the kids are running amok flailing wildly among heathens and hoodlums destined to dethrone the king of badness. Nothing good happens past nine- thirty peeps, and children left to pillage and plunder the village into the abyss of indifference and permissive dismissal are future adults destined for the Presidency of an American nation. Alas how are we to survive the madness?!Calm down, peeps.

The children are children playing in the backyards of responsible professional adults paying their taxes, abiding the laws of society and contributing to the well-being of community and ‘hood alike.

There is no crime here, only that of youth being restless and young on summer nights that have magically become windless and warm. The days where summer seems to last forever, where any kid of any age can dream of digging for buried treasure, swim in the depths of a backyard pool and savour the taste of s’mores and burnt marshmallows on a backyard campfire. Tents, giggles, sleeping bags, practical jokes, stolen garden gnomes (oh, my poor Norman where art thou?) all a big part of childhood and growing up in a safe environment surrounded by loving parents and committed neighbours to raising a generation of well-adjusted, educated, intelligent, compassionate and community minded young people.

That’s what my idea of a neighbourhood is.

Watching out for each other against the rallies of the occasional late-night thievery, lost dogs, wayward cats, and kids out past the boundaries of the park at the end of the street. Local spring clean-ups, bottle drives for hockey trips, Mummering Christmases, barbeques and the fence raising- shed building- deck erecting- construction that brings friends and neighbours together.

We connect to support each other in times of confusion and debt reduction, lost jobs, raised taxes, sky-high grocery bills and illness and heart attacks and even the death of someone’s parent or relative. It’s what they mean when a neighbourhood becomes a small village.

We become each other’s indirect relative.

A communal leaning post.

Friends. Allies. Fellow compatriots in a world where we embrace differences and stand up for the underdog. Where we denounce bullies, raise up kindness and understanding and assist at all costs.

It’s in the DNA of every Newfoundlander to have this innate sense of community; to feel responsible for each other because, hey, don’t I know yer father? At least, that’s what I was led to believe.

Let’s see more of that. Community. Fellowship. Understanding.

AND FUN.

Hey kids! Your loudness behooves me!

The kids running around playing spotlight after dark, the fires in the backyard pits, the barbeques, the late night dog walking, the chatting…

There is no room for fear of being loud or obnoxious. The sounds of laughter and squealing from children should be a sign of a healthy happy environment fraught with joy and the unending bounds of childhood activity.

It should be lauded as the epitome of strength of home and family; not sullied as unnecessary and appalling.

As the summer progresses, let the children play in the streets and wreak havoc in the backyards. Soon enough they will be grown and gone and our yards will echo with their lost squeals of fun-fueled delight from summers past. Youth is fleeting.

Let’s not wish it away.

 What?! I can’t hear you! Whispering sucks. 

 

 

All Hail Friday

Fridays are a day where normally, everyone is rejoicing in the weekend to come. Those of us fortunate enough not to have to work weekends or shift work, look forward to the last day of the week when we can kick off our shoes and sit back and enjoy a bit of respite from the hassles of working life.
Then the Universe sticks its nose in just to keep it interesting.

Relax?! YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!  

Friday’s dilemmas: Traffic snarls for daughter who has issues with drivers cutting her off and one lane detours then an awesome morning spent at the hospital for an appointment….which is ALWAYS a joyful experience.

I spill coffee down the front of my dress. Not so bad if it’s the end of the day, but at 9am it’s a bit of a piss-off.

Daughter baffles medical community following an appointment fraught with questions and little answers and left to figure shit out on her own. THANKS MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS FOR MAKING MY DAUGHTER AN ANOMOLY. HUGS!

Son receives a letter on his report card foreign to any of us who know and love him and are left wandering the streets yelling “WHY?!!!!!!!”  

The Universe is currently sitting back with a beer and pizza watching the games that have only just begun….

Daughter #1 has returned to work after the obligatory five days of mourning and wearing the same black clothes for a week. We all await the next round with bated breath and wine at the ready.  

I set out a plan of buying more wine for the long weekend ahead that is sure to have something akin to cleaning, arguing, laundry, in-fighting and heated discussions about the lives of the children/adults currently residing in our house. I plan on being sober only 10% of the time with some witty repartee ready for those occasions somebody actually asks my opinion.  

The new floor in our new bathroom that took months to renovate no longer heats up. The thermostat looks like this: —————– I’m under the impression it is DEEP in THOUGHT. Or it has decided to take a summer vacation. Maybe it’s shocked that we still require heat in July. Here’s a tip, Therm-O-Stat – WE LIVE IN NEWFOUNDLAND. IT DOESN’T GET ANY WARMER THAN THIS. NOW GET TO WORK!  

The 95 year old hip that occupies this soon-to-be 51 year old body enjoys the daily reminders that I can’t move to the left without the pain akin to getting a door slammed on my thumb times one thousand…with a Trump speech blaring in the background. And a hive of bees stinging my butt. I could go on, but you get the idea…it HURTS.  

 

Is it possible for a coffee stain to get darker as the day goes on? Because now it just looks like somebody smeared poop on the front of me. VERY ATTRACTIVE.

The Universe just polished off its first six-pack and opened another for the evening show…

 

 

Ma plan 

 

 

18th Birthday Story – Rock Star Edition 

Today is my son Kyle’s 18th birthday. A milestone in any young person’s life, I thought I would re-post this story in honour of him. AND, for purely motherly love and embarrassment, because nothing says HAPPY BIRTHDAY better than an awkward story about when you were 3years old.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KID!!!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here is a special story about the first time my son learned to speak. It’s all very dramatic and tears at your heart strings so get out your tissues…okay, it’s actually an embarrassing tale of music and Walmart, but still. It was traumatic for one of us. Maybe two of us. The innocent lady who witnessed my child’s descent into the debauchery and the morally deficient world of rock music and was probably scarred for life and myself, who led him there.

Once upon a time, in a land called Grand Falls Winsor, lived a nice little family with a mother, a father two daughters and a young son. They all lived happily in their house playing and frolicking in the meadows. ( okay, there were technically no meadows in GFW. AND we don’t frolic as a rule. Only on very special occasions like Christmas, or when some of us are really drunk. No pointing any fingers, just sayin’. ) Anyway, the boy, who was three years old, had not begun to speak any language intelligible to any human life form. The mother, being very concerned, took said young boy to a Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist was a young woman of very good bearing and simply stated “There is nothing wrong with the boy. He will speak when he’s ready. Go home and rest your head, lady” 

So, the despairing mother took her young boy home and after a lengthy car ride listening to the young son speak something akin to the Cantonese and Ancient Tibetan Mongloid tongue , wearily escorted young child into the house. It was during this phase in the young mother’s life that she began experimenting with music. Music she adored when she was young and single and had somehow lost in the day-to-day tedium of Barney and Caillou episodes (it should be noted here that Caillou was seen as an evil child full of whininess and annoying shit that led the mother to bouts of anxiety and desperate pleas of “LET’S ALL GO OUTSIDE AND GET SOME FRESH AIR BEFORE MA HEAD EXPLODES!” ) Yeah.

One day, while playing her music very loudly, she noticed her young son sitting very attentively. The daughters, heard the rendition of Bryan Adams’ “I Wanna Be Your Underwear” and asked repeatedly to hear the ‘underwear song’. Mother was happy to appease her young daughters as she found this tune particularly humorous, obliged…often. After the young daughters had ventured off to school, the mother took young son to Walmart for a bit of shopping in the afternoon. The son, being very sleepy and ready for his nap at that time, was readily dosing in the cart and humming a tune the mother recognized as Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”…Joan rocks. The mother, knowing the son was unable to speak, allowed the son to sing the song at will, while all the Walmart staff looked on adoringly saying how cute the little boy was singing to his mother. Yeah.

As the mother approached the checkout line, she noticed a woman behind her who seemed particularly taken with the young boy. She was smiling and cooing to the child as the mother flung her intended purchases on the conveyer belt. Knowing the young boy was securely occupied, the mother paid close attention to her groceries when suddenly she heard a most familiar sound. “I WANNA BE!” being sung behind her. She went swiftly over to her son. Could it be? Was that him? Had the spell of the Cantonese speak been broken and replaced with the x-rated lyrics of an old Bryan Adams song? The lady who had been occupying and smiling at the young boy thought the boy to be speaking to her. So, she replied “What do you want to be?” The mother, knowing the son was merely repeating the words to a raunchy song, attempted to intervene by pointing to a random balloon and distracting the boy. Alas, the boy could not be sidetracked. Again, he sang out “I WANNA BE!!“. Full of fear for the next line, the mother hurriedly began to throw her groceries onto the belt all the while, the nice lady said again, “What do you want to be?” and leaned closer to hear the boy. The young boy looked innocently up at the woman, his sparkling blue eyes dancing with joy as he sang, quite in tune I must say, “YOUR UNDERWEAR”.  

The lady, aghast and shocked by what she had just heard, recoiled in horror and glared at the young mother. Washed with embarrassment, and stifling a laugh, the mother simply retorted “Oh, it’s a song his father taught him” and pushed the cart out of the store, praising the child for his speech and promising to teach him more ‘appropriate’ songs. Like more Joan Jett, whose song son repeatedly sang henceforth as “I hate myself for lubbing you….” yeah. 

The son, now thirteen and three quarters has had a varied singing career. I have been called regarding his poor song choices including the popular titles “My Humps” by the Black ‘Eyed Peas, “I like Big Butts” and the infamous “Save a Horse Ride A Cowboy” which I am totally not responsible for. That last one was definitely Hubby’s country music influence. I did teach son how to do an awesome rendition of Blue Rodeo’s Bad Timing when he was four. I wish I had recorded it. 

Brought to you today in honour of son’s 18th birthday, and to all the women and men who care for their children everyday unconditionally, allow them to sing dirty rock songs to stranger and endure endless episodes of Caillou all in the name of love. 

Speaking and not singing. So proud!

I’m Drivin’ Here!! 

Summer has finally hit the rock with warmer winds and the penchant to sit out in the sun void of any common sense and sunblock. Everyone returns to work on Tuesday after a long weekend with red skin and a hangover. Ahhhh, summer.With that, drivers seemed to be imminently scarred from the rays of the sun with forgetfulness and ignorance, aka, signal lights have gone mysteriously missing and cutting others off then driving like grandma-without-a-license is the new fad. Apparently, my daughter says I have road rage and I should take anger management classes, just because I swore a bit today while trying to turn into Tim’s and people had the nerve to DRIVE WITHOUT LETTING ME TURN!! COME ON I NEED COFFEE HERE!!! Gawd….

I think people should be reminded how to drive with a bit of grace, dignity and an air of panache. Like driving with the windows down whilst listening to a classic Manilow tune! Or driving that convertible that can only be taken out a few times a year and whip around the city with hair flying and eyes closed! AND, of course turn down any street and park on the wrong side of the road while one figures out that dang cell-phone thingy the daughter left! Please! Just don’t cut me off then look at me in shock and horror that I am presenting you with an offer to go in another direction. At least I’m smiling sweetly while I do that. AND, DON’T DRIVE BY THE COFFEE SHOP WHEN I’M TRYING TO TURN!  
Aside from the brutal driving, I am content with the sun, tolerating the wind and am unhappy with the clouds that seem to descend once I get home from work. I long for a full day of sun in multiple succession, not just a day here and there.

ALSO, who thought up the bright idea to have graduations, convocations and proms all in the span of one month?! Those of us geniuses with multiple childadults who are about-to-be-employed-and-eat-all-of-my-food-without-replacing-it-including-my-FAVOURITE-COFFEE-THAT-I-NEED-TO-EXIST-ON-THIS-CLIMATE-CHANGING-TRUMP-VOMIT-INDUCING-PLANET, DO NOT THANK YOU FOR THAT.  

Just saying.

Despite all of the above whining, I am content. I go to Bootcamp that has me dizzy with new exercises that are combined with other exercises that have me doing multiple things all at once. The bicep-tricep-dip-with-a-downward-dog-push-up-frogjump is my favourite so far. I’m gonna wait while you try that sucker out…

See?

Awesome. I’m often glad I can’t see EXACTLY what exercises Coach has printed on the whiteboards at each station. I’m tempted to rewrite what’s there when it’s my turn and watch the ladies who follow me figure that shit out.  

IF you see me with a marker anywhere near those whiteboards, consider yourself warned.

Also, I am hanging out with Hubby who is doing very well and the childadults-who–eat- all-of-the-food and whine about working.  

Awwww…SUCK IT UP KIDS.

Enjoy the sun, warmth and the impending rain that will happen because Newfoundland.

I’ll be over here drinking wine and watching another door blow off my house. Cheers! 

 

Turkey Talk

Convocations have occurred with some fanfare and very little drama (thank Gawwwwd) and now, the final epic graduation of son will take place to end the graduation year ceremoniously, thus. Or something traditional and ceremonial like that….

His grad date and Mommy spontaneously dropped by to shake my hand and meet the mother of the young man who will accompany her first born on her graduation. I’m hoping I made a good impression what with the clean laundry littering the floor, Mags barking madly, Hubby chillin’ on the couch eating his snack and watching hockey news and me still in my stinky running clothes. WHO DOESN’T WANT TO MEET SOMEBODY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THAT SWEET MESS?! She was sweet and then the turkey talk happened. Literal, turkey talk. Son and grad date will have pics taken at someone’s cabin or farm or something naturalistic like that. I went into a semi-conscious state when the question of ‘so what are your plans for that day’ was asked. I wasn’t aware I was to have PLANS. Like, real PLANS?!! Then on to the discussion, well really more of a statement than discussion, of having pictures taken where there was a wharf and water and oh yeah, could be turkeys wandering about. BECAUSE GRAD PICTURES AREN’T GRAD PICTURES WITHOUT A RANDOM TURKEY IN THE BACKGROUND. That’s how it’s done, people.  

If I get trampled on by a rafter of turkeys (I looked it up…a group of turkeys is a ‘rafter’. Now you can amaze your friends with your trivia and expert knowledge of turkeys. I DO RESEARCH! You. Are. Welcome) I want that escapade into awesomeness documented for future generations to peruse and envy. “Oh, yeah look at Grandma run from that wacked out turkey! HE LOOKS PISSED!”


It will be framed and hung in the most auspicious place in the house. The bathroom.

I’m still waiting for warm weather to appear, but the gods of Spring/Summer refuse to cooperate, so here we are freezing in our capris and sandals hoping for some temps above freezing to save our tulips and budding trees. Plants are defiant and trying to come to life despite the cold air and billowing winds. It’s dismal. All this while I sit in front of the fire and see that other parts of Southern Ontario are under a heat wave and have HEAT warnings. ACTUAL HEAT WARNINGS. “I’m just dying from this heat” said one lady on the news. “I have to jump in a pool to cool off” OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE, SHUT UP! And I think I may have hurled my wine glass at her. The dog looked scared and ran off. I may have frightened Hubby who suggested we go for a walk. THEN WE LOOKED AT REAL ESTATE IN MY HOME TOWN…which was so eye-opening. What’s with all the dark-stained moldings?

I don’t understand.

Also, EVERYBODY HAS A POOL!! WHY CAN’T I HAVE A POOL?!

Because I live in Newfoundland and have the fire going in the middle of June. That’s why.  

But, I still want a pool in my backyard and a cornfield in the park around the corner. 

 I CAN DREAM….