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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Telegraph, Telefax or Tell-a-Kid (cartoon)

Telegraph, Telefax or Tell-a-Kid

Telegraph, Telefax and Tell-a-Kid
(are 3 poor ways to communicate)

Talking to a four year old on the phone is about as productive as teaching the family dog seven words. And then after his moderate verbal skills are achieved go on to teach it to laugh and say in audible mumblings. Then give that dog a phone in the shape of a ball and ask it to hold it to its ear all the while waving a doggie treat in front of its face. Then open the front door of the house, start the car, and say 'here boy get in the car!' The last thing that dog will want to do is talk to that ball.
My granddaughter who is in India for a three week vacation is that dog. The very same child that sits in my lap four breakfasts a week and watches George the monkey with me. The same child that has something to say all the time! She and I are 'Buddy's'!
Charlotte (my granddaughter) and her mom have lived with us all her life in a suite in our basement. I love that little girl so much. We spend many hours together and I know, or thought I knew, she loved me very much too. That was until I talked to her on the phone from India.
Now in her defense the modern phone, the all new one they came out with this week, has become almost everything but a phone to a child. Children don't use phones to talk to people they share interests with....other children, they use phones as a source of entertainment.
Phones are magical things to a four year old. One minute they're games, then music, then dancing picture books and then they can become a TV.
"Here hold this to your ear.... it's grandpa.......say something.....anything!" pleads the parent while trying to matin the phones proximity to the child's ear because if she sees it's the magic rectangle all she wants to do is see what's on the screen. Oh sure you could use speaker phone but if the magic phone is on, and here it's any 4yr. old, all they want to do is play hair salon, or dress up princess on the device. So you have to keep it at their ear so they hopefully won't know that it's the magic phone. It would probably blow their little mind if they knew that it had the capability to do boring things like having to listen .... then respond.
"I miss you. Are you having fun?" Silence. "What was the plane ride like?"....Silence.."Is it hot?".....Silence..."What are you going to do today?"..........Silence......"Do you know it's supper time here and your just getting up"...................(here boy get in the car.) I tell my not so magical black rectangle that might as well be a block of wood.
"Grandpa guess what." followed by laughter then something about perhaps flying baby horses, then maybe something about a kid named Dora then more laughing. Then the phone drops,...she recognizes the phone as the plaything it is,... and then there's demands by he parent, tears, concessions made, tears stop,....."Say something to grandpa...anything" the parent pleads. "Grandpa guess what."
"What.....what........ .......what!"
"Daddy can I play hair salon? I'm all done." she whispers into the phone perhaps thinking that if said quietly into the phone it won't reach all the way to Canada.
This was my first momentous phone call to India and all I get is 'Grandpa guess what'. This from a child whom I can't shut up, that talks all the time even when no one is in the room. A child that began verbal communication at a very young age ahead of other kids her age. And then when I do guess 'WHAT' three times, I get dumped for an app. And they say verbal communication is dead.
Maybe I should of made a movie of myself at a beauty salon having my hair washed, cut, coloured, dried and then I try on silly hats and different mustaches and beards. Then jumped up and down and lite my pants on fire to try and fit into her attention span long enough to get verbal communication of some kind.
When I was a kid we would almost have to dress up in our Sunday finest to use the phone. We would have to sit at the phone, because of the cord, and carry ourselves in an adult manner. I loved using the phone because using the phone proved that I was more important than my other brothers because I knew people who could also use a phone.
As a kid if the home ever got a long distant phone call the whole house had to come to a stand still, and silence reined, because it was probably news somebody had died. Phone calls were important!
My 90 yr. old mom will almost break a hip trying to get to the phone still to this day. "It might be important." she maintains as she agrees to answer another questionnaire over the phone.
Now it's been almost two weeks since my last phone call to India to try and communicate with my granddaughter. Two quiet weeks of no sticky messes or toys all over the floor. Fourteen days with nobody to ask me 'Guess what'. A fortnight of no crying, wanting, needing, have to have or things that aren't fair. One half of one month watching what I want on TV and not having Mac-n-cheese every day for lunch. And after all this time, after all the things I don't have to clean up, or do or decide, answer, or justify my decisions,.... if all she said to me was 'Grandpa guess what' it would be the best thing I've heard in two weeks.
For after a period of time it's not what they say, it's just that they're there. There, being in a movement of time with you. In a moment where pouring out your heart, telling them how much they're missed is not the right thing to do. You want them to have the best time possible. You don't want them missing home, with all it's familiar comforts and tired old you. You just want to hear that personality on the other end of the line having fun. Being themselves. And then you know all is right in your world.
'Here boy get in the car!' And she's off. That's not what she heard or saw but it had the same effect. I hang up my block of wood and smile she's having the time of her life.

Bob Niles

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Better Buy a Brita......

Better Buy a Brita......or......Move the Pump Further From the Outhouse

"Honey! What are you doing?" she shouts out the back widow. "The men are here to install the water meter in the front yard."
"I'm digging a hole,(pant puff wheeze) and I know, I already talked to them!" I attempt to shout back but with very little breath to do so.
"Be a dear and dig a few holes along the fence for my begonias would you." ( not bothering to ask why I'm digging a hole in the yard) "Oh and my sisters coming to stay with us for a few days. Her and Dereck are at it again."
Well now I've got a second use for this hole if the whole outhouse think doesn't work. But I'm sure it'll be okay with the city. I'm saving water! I'm building a no-flush toilet. And by building this structure I can do something I want to do without paying the government to do so. The government always has their hands in my pockets! And now with the water meter measuring every flush, they now have their hands in my pockets even when their around my shoes on the bathroom floor!
It must be my dad coming through that makes me the miser that I tend to be at times. I could hear his voice every time I told the kids to 'Shut the door! I'm not paying to warm the world ya know!' 'Hey princess you've been in the shower ten minutes now!' Or the all so popular 'When you leave a room, shut off the lights!' 'Only three squares of toilet paper are needed to....' well you know he rest.
I think all dads are, or become a little crazy when it comes to paying utilities.
My ex-father-in-law would go in the bathroom, leave the light off, and take a bath with the use of a flashlight. He would run the tub or 30 sec. Then he'd get in and squeak around for awhile...drain...another 30 sec. of running water, followed by more squeaking around on the bottom of the tub.
I'm not that crazy yet, but I catch myself, now that I pay for water by the volume used, doing some pretty weird things. For example when I pour a glass of water I'm always pour too much, because I like my glass half full, I pour what I don't drink into the dogs water bowl. I now only use two ice cubes in a drink instead of the four cubes I used when I was living the high life. No longer is the courtesy flush rule used during the use of three squares of toilet paper (if you know what I mean). And if there's left-over coffee in the pot.....? I pour it in the dogs water bowl. He's never been so active!
Habit after habit that I had developed as a child in the use of H2O is going down the drain! Water was abundant as a child of the sixties. I could brush my teeth and run the water the whole time doing so. I could lather, rinse, repeat, then lather again, rinse, apply conditioner, rinse and not feel guilty. Now the wife and I ( I've got her on the program too) walk around with our hair looking like we were on the episode of Seinfeld when they put in the low flow shower heads! We are looking to maybe follow the old bumper stickers advice of 'Save water shower with a friend'! And as ecologically sound as that may appear my buddy Jim didn't want anything to do with it.
It was the first couple of weeks on the water meter that were the toughest. I did things, devised ways, and brought into practice, as household law, ways to limit the wanted waste of the once endless supply of running water.
1. Never wash the car until the neighbors have gone out for the day, then use their hose.
2. If by luck the neighbors should leave you in charge of their house when on holidays, (because last time they did their cat died and all their patio furniture was stolen, but it's actually at your sisters.) all bodily functions and personal hygiene is carried out at their domain.
3. Have a key cut for the Husky gas station washroom at No. 3 Rd. and Blundell.
4. Try at least three new public washroom every week.
5. Eat more cheese and less fiber. Learn to accept constipation as the norm.
6. Dig a hole in the backyard deep enough to for an outhouse and then one more for a well to use for household water.
7. Buy a Brita. (maybe this should be 6 and 6 should be 7).
8. Clean out and repair the reservoir you built three years ago. (it became a mosquito pond that then resulted in killing many of the birds in the neighborhood so you buried it)
9. Every time you leave McDonalds fill your drink cup with ice to bring home as free water to brush your teeth with.
10. Bathtub water is to be used for at least two baths and then dirty dishes are done in remaining water with three extra squirts of Mr Bubble. (do not dry the dishes with the bath towels as body hair has been found in my Orange Pekoe Tea).
As I mentioned that was what I tried to adhere to the first couple of weeks on the water meter. I had successfully dug the two holes (and the begonia holes) to the required depth, and we're operational. All ten of my by-laws had been achieved and practiced. And I don't know if it was the hospital stay (should of brought the Brita first!), or angry neighbors, gas station management or the constipation complicated with all the scratching from mosquito bites but I've pretty much given up on my manifesto. I'm back to the way it was, but being much more aware of how much I use.
Most of us born here grew up taking for granted our endless supply of fresh clean water. It's funny how a valve and a meter buried in the ground becomes such an education as to how to effectively use this precious resource.
"Honey are you in there? The lights not on. Are you in there with the flashlight taking a squeaky bath? Sis needs in to put on her makeup...she's going out on a date." the wife taps and asks the bathroom door.
I squeak down and turn off the flashlight. Two cups, two saucers and assorted cutlery shift about my feet in my inch and a half bubble bath. No ones going to rob me of my soak!

Bob Niles

Better Buy a Brita......cartoon

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Hate Glasses!

I Hate Glasses!

"Honey where are my glasses!?" I accuse and ask the wife hoping she'd seen them and at the same time blame her for moving them and hiding them somewhere.
"Use mine they're on the kitchen counter!"
I hate that, using other peoples glasses. It's that whole washing behind your ears and eyebrows and hair and stuff. Or perhaps they chewed on the ends of them like some sexy librarian? Other people have no problem borrowing your glasses, talking on your cell phone that you've spit all over, and writing with your pencil that you've hungrily ate the eraser and the top two inches off. Not me! No thank you!
"Oh here they are" I lie, to cover my phobia that she doesn't think I shouldn't have because it draws her kisses into question.
I now hunt for my glasses covertly and in silence. I start down the stairs...forget what I'm doing or looking for until my phone jingle buzzes to let me know I have a text. I reach for the phone and then remember what I was doing as I look at the screen. "I need my glasses!"
"You said you found them" shouts the house from somewhere.
Dang too loud, gotta remember she can still hear.
Never in the course of history has humankind been ever so needy of quality visual aids. Because everything you do now has some sort of screen that requires you to have vision equal to that of a young eagle. And my vision started to fail just as everything started requiring video screens. And what's bad about it all is I don't need glasses for most things. So rather than wear them all the time, I leave them all over the house so I can curse and fume for them later.
I only need glasses to read, or if I'm curious about something. I drive without glasses and, as they say, if you don't like the way I drive stay out of the kitchen.
My HD TV without glasses is more of a regular TV on rabbit ears. I can still watch Walter Cronkite every night on the news and keep up with current events. I watch a lot of ME TV, as I remember what all the stars looked like in the 60 and 70s. And now with my memory, as good as it is, they've started writing new shows again.
It's just the new things in my life that trouble me. Everything digital! And everything's digital! I can't make popcorn in the microwave or coffee in the 12 cup drip without hunting the house first. It's hunting,...then stopping trying to remember what I'm doing,..remember,...then hunting some more for the glasses before you forget again!
First thing in the morning and last thing at night I try and adjust the digital thermostat to living and sleeping comfort. So the first thing I say in the morning and the last thing at night to my wife is not 'Good morning honey or good night honey.' it's 'Where are my glasses!?'
This morning I went to the bank to withdraw $100 bucks from the cash machine. Forget my glasses and ask the nice skinhead (or he was wearing a nylon stocking?) man to punch in my password and withdraw $100 dollars for me. But he only gave me $60, saying the machine said that's all I could get before lunch.
After that I went to buy a bag of groceries. It came to $78.54, and now have to use my bank card as my $60 won't cover it. I then realize the nice man back at the bank forgot to give me back my Debit card so I have to use my Visa Card. I have no idea what the little grey box I'm suppose to put my card in wants of me. Why can't I just sign a big blank line like I use to!? (I do a lot of !? !? !? As I get older) Thank goodness the check out girl remembered my number from last time I was there.
On the way home I stop for gas but my card won't work in the pumps! And I don't know why! Well, I do know why, I have no glasses! I try to block the sun from the screen with my head and my hand stuck in a salute to my face as I squint and move my head from side to side trying to get a better angle to read the necessary information.
"Here borrow mine" says the guy on the pump beside me.
Awkward........are people this quick lending their toothbrushes? "Oh silly me! These special sunglasses I have on have a button I just need to push." I lie as I remove them and pretend to push some magical button. "Ah there we go..oops says its rejected. Guess I'm poor. Well gotta go!" So off I drive on gas fumes as fast as I told him my lie and with no idea why my card was rejected.
Hey look it's the nice guy from the bank coming out of the liquor store!
I drive to the next corner and cross four lanes of traffic and a big bump which I guess was the median to another gas station, realizing that they in a pinch will take cash.
Back home I place car keys and hat on expecting hooks right by he back door in the kitchen.
"I'm not sure if he purchased a trip for two to Bora Bora. Let me ask him, he just came through the door." my wife says then places her right hand over the receiver.
I mouth the word 'NO' as I turn my head in a negative fashion as my glasses fall from atop my noggin.
"Yes go ahead and cancel the card blah blah blah blah no I'm sure it wasn't stolen, he's not beat up but he soon will be!" she assures the phone as she makes a slashing motion across her throat and then points at me.
Well, found my glasses, they were under my hat the whole time. Yet another story about getting old you plan to keep to yourself. More and more these crazy stories fill your life with all the old people thing we do.
"Let me get my glasses and a pen to write that down" she says into the phone as she reaches in the mug with the broken handle for a pen then gives me the universal sign to hand over my glasses. Then again.....and again.
I hand her my glasses as a child would hand over candy he was caught with. Hesitant and crying.
" What's your problem? They're mine anyway! Yours are in the bathroom." she's says. "You took mine off the kitchen counter by mistake trying to read a text on your phone! And I had to use yours to.....just you never mind what I had to use yours for."
My mind runs wild with the things my glasses might of been used for in the bathroom. Now I've got to boil them without her seeing! She thinks I don't love her when I boil things after she uses them. My pants vibrate and do a ring buzz as I search for which pocket the phones in. Dang, it's a text! Where did she say she put my glasses? I hate glasses!

Bob Niles