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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How cold is it? (c)

Fwd: How Cold Is It?

> How Cold Is It?
> I've concluded my extensive scientific survey on how people are dealing with, or what they've experienced during this cold snap. When asked 'How cold is it?' I have found people to be very resourceful, observant and inventive in their pursuit of internal warmth.
> The following are my observations.
> It's So Cold.....
> Religious leaders are worried. Congregation feels some things said about Hell are not really that bad.
> Hitchhikers are holding up picture of thumb.
> A flasher ran up to old Mrs Ferguson and described himself.
> City Halls approval rating has spiked! From52% to 85% once the wind chill is factored in.
> Teddy bears are being shoved from beds in favor of electric appliances.
> Kids are playing outside only as far as electric cord will go.
> I'm wearing so many clothes that when I slipped on the ice and fell over I had to wait for someone to roll me back home.
> I eat all the wrong foods with the hope of heartburn.
> I'm kissing people with the flu virus with the hope of coming down with a fever.
> My grand kids thought I grew a goatee. Turned out to be frozen drool.
> Groping on city busses is now accepted as long as your wearing woolly mitts.
> Bedbugs promise not to bite as long as you let them cuddle in your jammies
> Smokey the Bear grabbed a box of matches and ran into the forest.
> Silly Putty turned serious!
> P Diddy while visiting our fair city changed his name to Frozen P.
> It's no longer the finger...I got the mitt while driving.
> I went to shower....I got hail.
> Firemen can't get to burning buildings. It seems crowds want to hang around someplace warm.
> I won't drive my grand kids to school any more. I've decided they don't need an education.
> I don't use my seatbelt in the car anymore. Who needs a belt when you're frozen to the seat!
> I've found sitting on a smoldering compost heap is not that bad.
> All the ornaments I've hung on the Christmas Tree have all crowed around the top to get warm from the glow off he star!
> Bob Niles

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fwd: The Not So Merry Christmas

Begin forwarded message:

Subject: The Not So Merry Christmas
From: Bob Niles <>
Date: December 21, 2014 at 12:12:09 PM PST

                                    The Not So Merry Christmas

50 years in the future

"Yes it's in the original box, and some 40 years ago it would have added value. But so many of the Frozen dolls were sold and unopened that they have, unfortunately for you, flooded the market. It's probably not worth what you paid for it. But thank you for coming to the Antiques Road Show today"
I can see it all now! Doll after doll, action figure after action figure, all still hermetically sealed in the box they came in will flood 85% of the antique market in the future. And why is that? Cause they never could get them out of the dang blasted box!
Why you can't even call it a box. It's an environment. Little Elsa is frozen in time and space. All entombed by a blister pack and then tied, taped, and suspended into a winter wonderland. Each arm and leg, neck and torso are painstakingly tied from the back of the plasticized cardboard scene. And each tie is then taped as if to make sure she can't get away. Then the cardboard environment is placed in an equally attractive windowed box that is sealed with far too many pieces of invisible tape
It would be easier to get a guy out of Guantanamo Bay Prison than this doll from that box. A box that has become the prison she's attached to. A box so incased in plastic that it would seem that this toys country of origin (China) is ridding  its self of non recycle-able  plastic by plasticizing everything it exports to a ridiculous degree.
It all starts with the windowed box. And every one of them is different. You push then pull on spots where you think would be an entry point, but your wrong. Flaps are  discovered for access where only an Ikea designer would think to look.
More pushing, pulling and then discover the flaps are covered in invisible tape. You pick away the tape from the three flaps, then discover there's four flaps. It's after you attack the fourth flap with barred nails and flashing teeth that you're made painfully aware that they've taped all the edges too. To the point it's as if they were trying to rid the factory of this invisible tape.       
Success! Windowed box breached. Consider yourself proud for having achieved this level in entering it's plastic domain on the same day and without swearing.
But describing it as a plastic domain isn't entirely correct. It's must be a carbon fiber/plastic domain. Because you can't rip it, or bite your way through it like you could do if it were plastic. You need harden German steel found only in you wife's expensive kitchen knives. These have to be sharpened to an operating rooms edge so to gain entry into this gilded prison.  Plus you have to back up your blade with wire snips and scissors as your tools of the trade to unlock Christmas Day.  
And the physical properties of the carbon fiber/plastic, prison the toy is encased in, change when stabbed. At first you push and push with the blade, careful not bending it too much as to break its point off. You know the tip will break because you've done it to three knives already. Then, once through the plastic it's like a hot knife through butter. And now the stabbing blade is coming directly at the place where you plan on digesting a pound and a half of turkey later that day. But wait, you're  saved! Saved  from a self appendectomy by the carbon fiber/plastic cardboard thats prisoning Elsa. It's now here that the once hot knife through butter scenario changes. Now using the knife to free little Elsa from her plastic cell is like trying to cut tough leather with a dull hammer. Why?
So you now try birthing the toy by pulling it through the hole you've made with the now fourth pointless knife. You yank on her blond hair, head and arms with the two fingers you can fit in the hole. No luck! Elsa is still a prisoner and you're cut up from the carbon fiber/plastic edges, bleeding all over Christmas. It's then you discover little Charlottes toy is wired and tied half a dozen times to the appendectomy saving cardboard.
Now at this point you want to swear. You should swear. You've sworn at less. But your surrounded by children and elderly relatives and dear old mom. So you bite your tongue and smile . And it's through that smile you note that each knot and twist is then blessed with more of the almost invisible tape. To which you then remember Jesus at Christmas by audibly but unknowingly ask him for help.
And so it is with bared teeth, nails and divine help more dang blasted tape is removed.  
Then with the attention of one disarming a bomb you note wire or twine. If she's just tied with twine, you can use scissors to free her from her six anchoring points.
Please note; scissors,not a knife to be used here. Some years ago I used a knife and wound up looking like Jack Nicholson in the movie Chinatown.
If plasticized wire is assessed, you could try twisting it counter clockwise. And if that doesn't work, clockwise. Then repeat. And repeat. Then you swear. You don't care who's in the room at this point.
Help is now required to gain entry into poor little Elsa's toy prison. You ask some relatives kid named Bobby or something to go to the garage and get the wire snips from your toolbox for you. Then after four unsuccessful trips by, 'Are-you-kidding-me!', you pull yourself up with the help of the Christmas Tree which goes quickly from vertical to horizontal.
Snips acquired, and tree righted, you cut the six anchoring points and the left hand off the once treasured Elsa doll.
Now the blond curly haired, seemingly angelic, patiently waiting for her doll, Charlotte, swears. This brings the total to four people with potty mouths today. Myself, the wife when I pulled the tree over, the not so angelic Charlotte and  Are-you-kidding-me' when I yelled at him for not being able to find the snips.
Right handed Elsa is now free. But by this time they have found someone else to carve your turkey, and everyone has abandoned you. The whole bunch of turkey-eating- unbelievers who thought I couldn't free Elsa before dinner, started eating without you. Well I  showed them,...they were right?  Oh well at least that's one freed. Now four more to go.
"Hey! You turkey-eating-unbelievers, do I recycle this carbon fiber/plastic cardboard or just throw it away? Someone?.... Anyone? No really where does it go?.....Are-you-kidding-me that was really rude."

Bob Niles

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fwd: 'Twas that day before Christmas

     'Twas that day before Christmas

'Twas that day before Christmas
As I looked out my house,
"This rain's never ending!" or so said my spouse.

"Get outside, hang the lights round the chimney with care,
Get it done! Hurry up, before Nicholas gets there!"

The children are no help all sleeping in bed,
No visions of sugar plums, but iPads instead.

While Mama dictates I put on a cap
I slip on my boots and a coat with two snaps.

I opened the door and stepped in a puddle.
Then slipped on the lawn and now I see double.
My wife's in the window she doubles and laughs,
I staggered and tumbled, tripped over the trash.

My keys pierce my breast ,as I've fallen you know.
The wind how it blusters then swirls and blows.
My eyes start to water, some would say tear,
I've fallen on Rudolf and other reindeers.
I'm a little old mind you, but lively and quick,
I'm up in a moment all covered in sh...shtuff?

The poop from a beagle had made a large stain.
And I yelled and I shouted and called it bad names.
Dog- gone - it, dang- blasted that dog of the Nixon's!
Uncommon, dumb stupid, ah darn it I'm freezin'.
I hobble to the porch then lean against the wall,
Ah-choo-a, ah-choo-a, I sneeze, almost fall.

"Change to dry clothes! You'll catch a cold and die!"
My wife how she shouted. Her voice how it flys.
So into the house, off trousers and boots,
My coat with two snaps all covered in poop.

And then in a twinkling I knew what to do,
For hanging and dangling of lights from my roof.
I'd wear tightie whities that's all that I'd wear!
Outside on the ladder I just didn't care.

It's only tightie whities on my birthday suit,
As I climbed up the ladder midsts laughter and hoots.
'Twas the neighbor named Floyd who lives just out back.
"Hey Santa!" he said "Where's your clothes and you sack?"

My eyes they were stinging, the rain made them blurry.
My cheeks were like roses, my nose like a cherry.
My fingers were freezing, my toes were so cold.
As I worked from the ladder, hang lights, as I'm told.

The ring of a hook I held tight in my teeth.
My hands worked the cord the lights and the wreath.
I hold tight to the ladder with my face and my belly.
The ladder it shakes! It's my wife and she's yelling.

"Hey chubby! Two lights, both match, you need help?"
And I laughed as yelled "A go #%*%#€ yourself!"
With the blink of an eye I've set the screw head.
Hang green lights together her anger I dread.
She spoke not a word, didn't go berserk.
Then I climbed down the ladder ""I'm finished work!"

Then laying her fist aside of my nose,
It felt rather odd, then my face met my toes.
I then sprang to my feet, gave Floyd a whistle.
We hopped in the car, drove to town ore the trestle.

And I heard her exclaim as we drove out of sight
"Two green lights together, together green lights!"

Bob Niles

PS. #%*%#€ spells bite kids. It's an old ancient spelling.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fwd: The House Special

                                           The House Special                      by Bob Niles

R I N G  R I N G  R I N G
"That's it Gems and Germs last call! You don't have to go home but you can't stay here," Angel shouted as she rang the big brass bell over the bar. "And have a Merry Christmas!"
"IIIIILLL,..havvve another House Special me good lady." Slurred the lone occupant sitting in the corner of the bar.
"Mr. Shepard you've had a few too many already. Let me phone your wife or a taxi to come and pick you up. You should be home with the wife and kids."
"I don't think that's likely to happen anytime soon." he said to Angel as she collected his glass and then wiped his table with a cloth smelling of vinegar.
"Nah one more Angel! One for the road! It's Christmas lets celebrate. It's still early."
"It's Christmas Eve and I've got my family at home waiting for me Mr. Shepard. You know you do as well." Angel zipped up her coat and collected her purse from under the bar. "Come on now, you can catch a cab with me. I'm just three blocks further down King St. than you. Come on,....Please? Come with me."
"Alright! Alright I'm going! But I'm not going with you. I'll walk."
"It's snowing." she pleaded.
"Even better! I'll lie down on the sidewalk every ten feet  and swish my arms and legs and make pictures of you all the way home."
"Whatever" She said as she directed him through the door and turned off the lights behind her. Angel pulled tight on the door once outside and locked the two locks on the left side. She turned to again offer Mr. Shepard her advice and a stabling arm but he was well off down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. She thought about pursuit but considered the night and his ability to stay upright and with her family waiting,...she headed home.

"And I suppose you're locking up too! Accused Mr. Shepard as he passed another establishment.
"Well I was going to but if you'd like I could open and we could go in. I'm sure it would be okay,... I  know the owner quite well. He wouldn't mind, especially tonight." The young man pushed the door open and hit a few lights to to pull back some of the darkness. "What do you need?"
"Well that's more like it! Give me the House Special my good man. And make it snappy! I'm suppose to be home by now, it's Christmas Eve, and well I should be home I guess,...I'll sit right there." Mr. Shepard pointed, and then sat where he pointed on a bench under the light. "What is the House Speciality anyway........? What did you say your name was? You look very familiar to me."
The young man looked almost boyish. He took off his coat and just dropped it on the floor.
"I didn't tell you my name. It's John, John Shepard."
"Shepard? That's my name too! Who'd of thought two Shepard's on Christmas Eve. Say if it wasn't snowing maybe we could look for a bright star."
They both shared a easy laugh at the irony of their meeting.
"First name's Haust. Got teased in school as the Lost Shepard. Haust Shepard- Lost Shepard,....rhymes?
"Kids will be kids." Said John as he took a bench across from him. "So you want the House Special do ya?"
"Sure do!" Haust said rubbing his hands together. "I got cut off form your competition around the corner there."
"Yes it does seem we're always battling each other for people walking through our doors. So are we celebrating something or trying to drown it tonight? You must be celebrating! It's Christmas Eve!"
"You're not a very good bartender are you John?"
"Didn't say I was."
"You never ask a guy why he's here, he's just here away from what he wants to be away from." He doesn't need to be reminded of perhaps the hurt or loss or how abandon he might feel. Maybe it's been a bad year,...couple of recent months he's gone through of pain like he's never known. A gift given and then snatched away!"
"My bad! Sorry...... It's just you asked for the House Special and you know its always done unique to each patron, depending on their needs for that day Haust Shepard. You've had it before."
"Don't call me that cause all I hear is lost Shepard! And I am a lost Shepard. I had the perfect flock. My wife, son, daughter-in-law and their new precious lamb, granddaughter Sophia Morgan. And now I'm alone,..I've lost them all."
"Where's that drink John I'm hurting here. This House Special  had better be pretty good! I need a shot of something for the pain. And then something for loss and sorrow maybe one for guilt. Oh ya and then two more shots for the fear of my tomorrow. You don't want my tomorrows John. Waking up in an empty quiet house that creaks and moans for yesterday. Bearing another 90 hr. day of what use to be, what could of been."
"Where'd you go John!? Are you even listening to me?"
"I'm here Haust. Im listening. I'm just warming up this coffee in the microwave for you. It got a bit cool, been sitting for a while."
"Coffee!? You didn't hear a word I said, did you John? And turn on some lights in here! No! ....Come to think of it turn them all off. Turn my light out too. What's the use in another day. There all gone John. We lost little Sparkle, our Sophia Morgan to some sick ba#%*rd from down the block. You never know who these people are John! After that my son and daughter-in-law moved away, and then soon  divorced. The wife took sick, I say because of what she went through,....died the third of this month. Yippee it's Christmas."
John returned from the shadows with steaming coffee. "Take it" he said as he held it in his little hands in front of Haust. "There is no drink that can ever get you through that Haust. And someday I hope you'll realize it, before your light dims completely. But you do need our House Speciality."
"And that is.....? I've been waiting,....what's the House Specialty John?"
"Don't you remember this houses specialty? Do you know where you are Haust?"
"Ya, your bar or Inn or whatever other kind of place this is that will give a guy a drink on Christmas Eve. You know John you must be as bad as me not to be home tonight with family. What's your story?"
"Oh I have no story and my family is here. Don't get me wrong I use to have a story. I got shot up real bad in Vietnam, and because of that I guess you could say I lost my wife there too. Hospital machines, drugs and anger filled up the better part of five years."
"I thought you said your family was here! Yer confusing my muttered mind John. Probably the drink. Speaking of which,..give me that House Special will ya.......gettin sleepy.
"I can't give you the House Special Haust you've already had it. You accepted it, received it and experienced it. You really enjoyed it."
"Sounding kind of New Age-y John. Or like some special bottled water commercial that's going to change my life if I only drink, accept it receive it experience it. Spoooooky Living water from a spring that renews life. Let's charge $10 for a bottle and make them believe, accept, receive and experience a whole new life."
"Absolutely right Haust Shepard. I guess it's fair to say that the House Special is Springs of Living Water. But it can't be bottled. Soul satisfying Living Water. And it's free for the taking! It's got something for the pain, a little somethin for the loss, a shot for sorrow and two for guilt. And the fear of tomorrow? That tomorrow I didn't have for five years, and your 90 hour tomorrow's? GONE! Just receive, believe, all things are possible when you believe Haust Shepard."
"Alright, alright,...a l r I g h t, I receive, ...I  accept,   I   b e l i  e  v   e    I re-".........  ..
Haust slowly peeled opened his eyes and with some effort opened and closed his mouth twice with his tongue making a clicking sound. The room was well known to him from a time not so long ago. A happy, easy time when life didn't hurt. But the BELLS! The bells hurt! The bells of Christmas Morn. Like they were next door. Hang on! They were next door.
He could remember a bar or....? It was all a blur. Where am I? He knew this room, this isn't the room he was in last night. Where was John and his coat with all the holes. He'd forgotten about all the holes. Then,  ...quiet, the bells had stopped. Now singing! He peeked through the second door of the room he was in and it opened to a small  forgotten sanctuary full of people singing joyous Christmas Carols lead by a long forgotten friend. Forgotten family.
"Too much noise and haunting memories for me!" said Haust, and left through the door, the door that he said he would never darken again.
As he reached for his keys to open the door to his painful world he found a note in his pocket. 'Merry Christmas Haust Shepard' it read. He inserted his key in the lock, opened the door and sat down at the kitchen table just off the back door. Dirty dishes, empty bottles and unread newspapers were piled high all around him. The clock in the living room bonged once which meant it was noon. "Merry Christmas Haust." he mocked. On the back of the note was Dan Burrs phone number, email and cell phone number where he could be reached. Dan Burr, the long forgotten face leading Christmas Carols. Then written at the bottom was 'You and I are family Haust! Please contact me.'
How had he found his way back to his old parsonage? Why did he use his old keys to get back in? And the dream? It was a dream right? The dream of his little brother John as a bartender, or,.... a Shepard? Why didn't he know it was his brother? His head was starting to clear. The House Special? It was not a drink it was ....?  John was just a kid when he went off to Vietnam. Came back all shot up and brain dead, hooked up to machines for five years. Springs of Living Waters hymn? How did that go? 'I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame, and nothing satisfying there I found; but to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came, where springs of living water did abound. His favorite song when he lead Dans flock before his brother died. It was his flock but when his brother died a part of him died too. Two Shepards were lost that day. And then last night, two Shepards looking for that bright star. One guiding the other.
The phone just about jumped off the wall as it exploded into the silence that encircled him. Haust didn't want to but did grab it just to shut it up. "Hello?" questioned Haust.
"Is this Haust? Haust Shepard?"
"Merry Christmas Haust! It's Dan, Dan Burr."
"Im the pastor now at your Dads,...well I guess your old church too. You I guess used your old key and broke to the parsonage in last night. You were pretty banged up and doing a lot of talking to yourself. You fell asleep in the mud room so I placed a blanket over you and let you sleep. I checked on you several times through the night and this morning. And then after the Christmas Morning Service I went to check on you, and you were gone. You were pretty beat up, or maybe you had fallen,....I was worried you had hit your head. You wouldn't go to the hospital."
"Anyway I'm glad I got a hold of you. You were rambling on last night Haust, in and out of what did and didn't make sense. But what was clear is that decision you made last night Haust. You re-dedicated your life to the Lord. You wanted His House Special and you received. That loss, sorrow, guilt and fear thats haunted you has been lifted Haust. He had his brand on you and he would never let you go. That cross you knelt at so long ago has His House Specialty flowing to quench that part in your life that has become so dry. You will thirst no more Haust Shepard! That thirst for what was, or could of been that you tried to drown in alcohol was never satisfied. Now again you will drink that Living Water, His House Special!.........Haust?"
"Are you hearing what I'm saying? Do you know what this means?"
"Ya,.....I'm just a little sick right now, but I know what your saying. What I decided, it's just I've got to lay down. I'll be in touch later,...okay?"
"Promise?......You're not that lost Shepard now! You've found your way back."
"Ya Dan I know. Just, must lay down. And thank you for what you did last night. Merry Christmas."

Some months later

R I N G  R I N G  R I N G
"That's it Gems and Germs last call! You don't have to go home but you can't stay here." Angel shouted as she rang the big brass bell over the bar.
"Nah one more Angel, one for the road!" Haust mimicked his old self as he entered the bar. "Anyone looking like they need a ride home Angel? Maybe a shot of my  'House Special?" Pastor Haust asked looking to expand his congregation.

Bob Niles

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fwd: Old Man Gordon

This was a story I wrote last Christmas that many (both) of you may like to read again. 
Thank you and a very Merry Christmas to you all (both).
Next week I'm sharing with you a new Christmas story about one lost shepherd. A story about they that are hurting and lost during a time of Christmas celebration. Hope you'll enjoy it and take it to heart.

                                                Old Man Gordon

"911 what's your emergency?"
" The neighbour next door has fallen off a ladder on to the sidewalk! 6580 Elm Crescent. He's in and out of consciousness, knows where he is.............He's 85! .......He was hanging Christmas lights. Same old single string of lights he hangs every year.......His name? Ah, Gordon, Mr Gordon. Don't know his first name never did. Lived in the same neighbourhood all my life never new his first name. Just Old Man Gordon. ........He's  having trouble breathing! Hurry! ........Yes I'll wait."
That was six weeks ago in early December when Mr. Gordon was taken to the hospital. He died two weeks later, just before Christmas, due to complications because of  his advanced age and failing health. Doctor said he would of died right on the sidewalk had I not seen him fall and and called 911. Big deal. Three extra weeks of life, barely conscious, alone in a hospital at Christmas. And your only visitor is a man that has know him all of 58 yrs.,  and only by Old Man Gordon.
In my defense, he never took to anyone. He and his wife stayed alone. My Mom said they never got over the tradgety of their young son dying. And after his wife died he was barely seen at all. Outside of cutting his lawn, the only time he was seen was going for groceries, to church and to put up his, 'every year the same', Christmas decor.
One old energy sucking, fire starting string of 14 multi coloured lights that he hung just over the front door. And in the yard, year after year he placed the first Christmas, manger scene. Ever since I was a boy, he set up and arranged his plywood Christmas scene. And year after year it got more and more faded, chipped and warped. He just let it age. Never bothered to refresh the paint or nail the pieces that were separating from his Biblical characters that were parting like the Red Sea.
And as long as I can remember the Baby Jesus was not even part of the scene. It was just three wise men, a shepherd, one cows, one sheep, a camel, Joseph and Mary. All looking at the ground!
As kids we would always find something to place on the ground that was drawing their attention. An old bike, a wheelbarrow, a basketball, my sisters Barbie, or one time a baby snowman. Us kids all got a good laugh as to what had drawn this collection of plywood people to 'Old Man Gordons' yard.
It became tradition for kids in the neighbourhood to carry on the sinning we had started as kids. Old Man Gordon just left there whatever we left there. If he had of removed the baby snowman we would of replaced it with something just as stupid.
And then about ten years ago  Mary never made it out to the front yard to look at an old red lawn mower the kids had dragged there. Now it was just a bunch of faded, warped guys and farm critters hanging out in the front yard. Could of been any front yard in Alberta. (sorry Alberta I couldn't spell the province on your right)
At the funeral I had mentioned that very fact to Old Man Gordons  ( who's real name was Lloyd Arthur Gordon) sister. She clasped my hand and with a pained smile thanked me for my help tomorrow.
It was early that next day I had walked over to find a car in Mr. Gordon's drive. It was Myrtles ( Mr. Gordon's sister) car. I had promised her to help clear out her brothers house and yard.
We started on the carport and yard. She had rented a large dumpster to clear away a life of  living. Memory after memory, item after item, garbage after more garbage started to fill the giant bin.
Carport complete, I started with the plywood guy-fest in the front yard. It fell apart in my hands! The camels head ripped off. Joseph's staff crumbled into tiny pieces. A sheep with no legs, and ancient men of wisdom, minus heads, and gifts we're all cast into a dumpster of Mr.Gordon's life.
This is how I'm going out too I said to Myrtle as I sipped my coffee in the carport. We had stopped for a break in what was going to be a long day.
My house is filled with so much of my stuff that I should throw out, but,  just don't. She shook her head in agreement and accused us all of the same crime.
This was followed by a long uncomfortable pause, broken only by lips vibrating over the top of hot coffee.
" Why did he never replace the Baby Jesus in his Christmas scene?" I asked. (to fill the carport with something other than silence)
She turned and bent her index finger several times and said "Follow me."
She opened an old screen door and then even an older back door, that both had something to screech about. Then she picked her way down a cluttered hallway of books and papers. We passed rooms filled with his old belongings and now forgotten memories. Ben-gay, old carpet and cat urine filled my nose. I didn't even know he had a cat! Now I'm thinking a dead cat! Is this what I'm going to become? An old man with a cat, in a stinky house.
"Watch your first step down the stairs here. The basement  is where he spent most of his time. His wife Effie had the main floor for her needs and Lloyd kept to the basement, even after she died ten years ago."
Each stair mentioned its age as I tread carefully down a steep incline, all the while thinking, I'm going to have to carry Myrtle back up this ladder disguised as a staircase.
"Let me get the lights." Myrtle said from somewhere in the dim.
Before she could say 'There we go.' out jumped a  four ft. tall artificial Christmas tree, electrified in bright happy splendor. Kneeling to the right side of the tree was our long lost Mary from the front yard. And placed at her knees just under the tree was Baby Jesus. Both beautifully painted and cared for. Our once faded Mary, all tattered and torn, now shone with what looked like a new purple cape and beige dress. She'd dyed her hair and got new head gear too. All thanks to a new coat of paint and glue. The Baby Jesus whom I'd never seen, but was neighbourhood  legend to have been, was as if brand new. Both Mary and her baby lovingly cared for by an old man who seemed to care about nothing.
What...Why said my face and hands as I tried to make sense of such a loving well cared for scene.
"Effie and Gordons baby was taken from them at a very young age." Myrtle started. "He died a crib death in his first year. After that, Lloyd was never the same. It was to be their only child. It was that next Christmas he removed Baby Jesus from the front yard."
" If I can't have my baby, God can't have his." I blindly stated.
"Not in any way!" Myrtle pointed out. "It was more ...., God, I know you're taking care of my only child in Heaven, so I will care for yours here on earth. And then when his Mary died, he vowed the same thing again, for his Mary. I'll promise to take care of yours, and you take care of mine."
A tear that was cleverly disguised, and past off to my allergy  of cats, was wiped away with the back of my hand. I choked back an out of place chuckle and marveled at the love he must of had for his only child. And again silence filled a space we both shared.
I thought the moments silence was appropriate.  
It was after some time, and several failed attempts, that  Myrtle and I got out of the basement, and then back to ridding the neighbourhood of the memory of a man nobody knew. A man that cared for nothing here on earth. Someone I felt sorry for, because he had died alone in a hospital. But, I now know he is where he always wanted to be, holding his only child and wife together forever.
When we die our families and friends treat us as Mr. Gordon treated Mary and Baby Jesus. They take our cardboard cut outs (pictures) and place them in books held with high esteem. Displays of our lives, that are so cared for that  if the house were to catch fire, they would be the one thing that would make it out safe. We guard and hold strong to that memory, knowing with certainty that God is now taking good care of them in heaven.
I asked Myrtle if I could keep Mary, Baby Jesus, Sparky ( the string of Christmas lights) and the stray cat, that I named Gordon. She, I guess also allergic to cats, clasped my hand and mentioned that her brother would of liked that.
 There was one more thing I took of Mr. Gordon's. A film reel marked Christmas 1963-1969. It was most of the 60s documented by Mr. Gordon of the neighborhood kids trying to fill the void in their Nativity scene. He and his wife would film from a darkened room in his home, but, because of suppressed laughter, it had the appearance of a film produced from a quarter horse from in front of a grocery store. Jerky film, narrated  through clenched teeth, trying to hold back an open faced laugh. He knew all of us kids names and every year wished his boy David could of been part of the shenanigans.
Old Man Gordon remembered  His only Son every Christmas and kept Him in his heart all year long.

Gordon Niles   January 30, 1924 - December 20, 1996

Bob Niles

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fwd: Dear Santa

Begin forwarded message:

   Dear Santa

 Dear Santa,

 Hope you and Mrs. Clause and all the elves are doing fine.

 I don't know if you remember me, it's been a few years since I've written. Actually it's been over forty years, and I feel a little sheepish of getting in contact now.

Oh it's nothing you did, or said that was the reason that I stopped writing to you, it was something that happened within me. I stopped seeing Christmas for what it was, and started looking at it for what I could get or what it would cost.

 As a child I would see all the joy and happiness that the season brought. Grandpas, grandmas, aunts and uncles, family friends, all stopped by to celebrate Christmas with us. Christmas Trees and lights, decorations, presents, crackling fires and Christmas music filled the house with joy and excitement. 

Mom's Christmas baking and the roasted turkey with stuffing smothered in gravy was all my Dad talked about for weeks ahead of the big day. This all topped off with pumpkin pie, all served up on a table not big enough to seat everyone present.

 And as I got older I started looking at Christmas for what it could do for me. All the gifts I wanted, then needed because the other kids at school had all the cool name brands. 

Then years later with a family  I looked at the cost of this one day, over celebrated, commercial holiday. The bills that came in January and stayed till November. The house needing a complete cleaning to impress relatives that we saw but once a year. Lights needing to be hung, fireplace cleaned out, Christmas tree bought, extra groceries, gotta be here for this, gotta go there for that, on and on it went till I was so exhausted I couldn't wait for Christmas to be over. 

 I no longer saw Christmas for what it was because I was too busy looking at what it took to have it. All the costs, the wants, the gotta-haves and the work of celebrating a season that's lost it's reason.

I did not see Christmas again till I saw it through my granddaughters eyes last year. At three she  was excited for Christmas to come, it was all she talked about. Christmas with all the grandpas and grandmas, uncles and aunts and Nana. The decorations and lights, the tree with an "anel" on top. Cookies, and pretty wrapped presents, all to the tune of "Santa Clause is Coming to Town".
This excitement then spread through the house to my wife and I. We couldn't wait to see Christmas come.

 Year after year we just acted on tradition with no real enthusiasm for the coming of December the 25th. But not this year, Christmas was back! Brought by a little child, like the very first Christmas.

 So Santa this year all I  really want for Christmas is just to say thanks. Thanks for the chance to see Christmas again through the eyes of a child. I'm still doing all the things I did in years gone past, but instead of seeing all the things I have to  get done for Christmas, I'm seeing all the things I'm already blessed with. Family, old Christmas decorations, and long remembered traditions. All seen anew because of of the life of one little child.

Bob Niles         

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Old Jingles (c)

Old Jingles

Old Jingles

We all have that singing, dancing, repetitive, now annoying Christmas decoration. We were in the store, and on the shelf was this whimsical very amusing, how does it do that, figurine. And somehow, through the magic of marketing it danced and sang its way into our shopping bag. And now every Christmas we have to live with it's annoying talents for a month.
For us, it's a dog wearing a toque with a big old bell on the end of it. You press it's paw and it starts to dance from side to side ringing that annoying bell. Up and down back and forth he dances singing Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. And it's not adults squeezing it's paw repetitively creating the overheard, worn out, if I hear that stupid dog again I'll go crazy. It's one of our four blessed grandkids!
At first it was fun watching the first grandkid on her first Christmas react to the scary dancing dog. Her eyes would get wide and try to make out exactly what she was seeing. By her second Christmas she would laugh a bit and then turn to hug grandpa or grandma because it made her a bit unsure about her safety. And because grandpas and grandmas are 'hug junkies', we would do it over and over again.
By the third Christmas she played with it like its a hot fire. She would cautiously squeeze the spot on it's paw as if it's hot. Then she'd jump back as it started to dance and sing and laugh her head off.
It was all fun when we only had one grandkid. Then the second granddaughter came along. And at Christmas, when we're introducing her to Jingles (the first granddaughter named him) the first one, who is now four, is burning up two double 'A' batteries playing it over and over..... and did I mention OVER again!
Time and Christmases past and our oldest granddaughter is now eight. Two more grandkids have joined the fold. Twin boys, who are now three. THREE!
This year we removed the batteries from Jingles, and lied. Yes lied. Lied to our own grandkids, that Jingles was broken. I know there must be a special extra hot spot in hell for grandparents who lie to four grandkids. But, I couldn't take another year of Jingles throwing his head back and forth ringing that bell on the end of his toque singing at the top of his voice Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas!
This master, hell bound plan of grandmas and mine lasted but one Sunday visit. The next Sunday, the well schooled eight year old in battery toys, reasoned that it probably needed new batteries.
"Ah,..Too bad grandpa doesn't have any more 'AA' batteries" I lied again. Pour more coals on the fire.
"No worries" Gabriella sang, "I'll get them from another toy."
What! She can't do that can she? I didn't see that coming! I would of removed every battery in the house if I thought she'd grasped that knowledge. Or I would of kidnapped old Jingles and hid him under heavy boxes in the garage. Transplanting batteries! Now I could only hope for a 'AA' rejection between toys.
She went through all the battery toys like my wife at a BOGO shoe sale. Toys flying everywhere. Assessing size, of battery, and if she could live without that toy till stingy old grandpa got around to buying new batteries. Gabriella and Charlotte (now five) both agreed that the 'Little People' castle would still play fine without its two 'AA' batteries.
My only hope was they would put them in old Jingles butt the wrong way. Mix up the positive and negative poles. That's when their dad, who hasn't done anything around here since he was 16, made the girls aware of the laws of polarity. It was at this point I did something that I'm not proud of. Without thinking I said that if Gabriella got it working she could take it home with her.
I have now ruined the boy's Christmas from here on after, for all eternity with this singing blight of a decoration. More coals on my fire.
But my problem is solved. No more Jingles!
So because of the fact my wife was now down one decoration she went out and bought this ever so cute snowman surrounded by kittens that do a squeaky sing song of Frosty the Snowman. The grandkids just love it!

Bob Niles

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Christmas Gone is my Christmas Present (c)

Christmas Gone is my Christmas Present

Christmas Gone is my Christmas Present

As I've aged, I have realized that Christmas doesn't feel like Christmas until it's over.
It's not until after all the baking ingredients are bought, baked and consumed that I find Christmas. Christmas for me happens long after a turkey is stuffed, baked and devoured. It's not until after the gifts are all purchased and given and family has come and gone, that I can find that childhood Christmas peace the seasons about. The gift of peace that became evident because of that first Christmas.

The house is now quiet from its annual Christmas Day celebration. The fancy nut and chocolate dishes are left with a small array of what once was. The baking that earlier slid from overladen platters is evident only from crumbs on the many dessert plates scattered and hidden around the room. Punch glasses in varying degrees of half empty and half filled compete with dessert plates for position. The kitchen is filled with dirty plates, cups and bowls that we only use for fancy occasions. It's a special kind of mess, thats all around the house that's only at Christmas.
"Let's leave all this cleanup till tomorrow and go to bed." The wife directs as she tops the stairs. "You coming?" She asks, more out of courtesy than a need to know.
"No" I'm just going to drain the last of the coffee from this pot and enjoy the lights on the tree for a while." I respond, knowing she can't hear me anyway behind the bathroom door.
I turn off the little orange light on the Mr. Coffee maker as the upstairs goes dark leaving only the Christmas tree to guide my way back to my old favorite chair.
Oh look, I can see the floor under the tree again. For weeks it's had a condition where colorful boxes and bags would appear at it's base, blocking floor access. And by doing so, any way of watering the now fire hazard that's been in the house for three weeks.
Tomorrow,...I'll water it tomorrow, I think to myself as my butt is halfway down, in motion, beyond the point of I'll stand up and do it now before I forget. But it's today! I see only three numbers on the digital display of some gadget around the TV. I was expecting four. I try to convince myself it's still Christmas Day. I never changed that thing, whatever it is, on the TV stand to Standard Time. Then I remember I never have. Some magical thing happens and it does it on its own. Wish the stove could do that.
Christmas is over. Done, complete, finished. That was a short two months. From Halloween till now, almost two months of everything and nothing but Christmas. I guess I'm glad it's over. Maybe I can breath again? That was a lot of work to get to this moment! All the 'they need, they want, they gotta have or it's not good enough', is done.
I exhale at the thought, blowing across the top of my coffee as I take the first sip. As I focus on the level of coffee in my mug I see a reflection of Christmas tree lights in the coffee. It's just me and the tree now. I don't know how I'm going to break it to him that he's now trash. The now highly decorated, illuminated but poorly irrigated, fire hazard will soon be striped of all it's illumination, man made bobbles and bangles. Soon to be tossed aside and then dumped in a yet unknown location. It's once proud eight foot splendor has started to become a needle dripping, unloved eyesore.
Pondering on which neighbors are away on holidays, and would enjoy an eight foot fir horizontal on their front lawn upon their return, I'm visually drawn to a childhood memory. Back in the tree behind the 20,000 or more bright LED lights, hidden by plastic ornaments from China and Korea is my childhood Christmas memory. A glass ornament of a choir boy holding a hymn book, mouth open eyes closed, singing Pop Goes the Weasel. Well probably not, but as a kid it was fun to think that he was. He was with two other singers back then. The first boy band. From Germany, and hand painted.
They originally had been my grandmothers which would make the last remaining member of the group about 100 yrs. old. Which would make him old enough to be in the Rolling Stones. Nothing says Christmas like a little glass figurine of Mick Jagger hanging in the tree.
As a kid I would lay under the Christmas tree and enjoy the colored lights, ornaments and the smell that the tree held. It smelt like the little cardboard tree dad had around the rear view mirror in the car.
Ornaments would sparkle under the colored lights and compete with tinsel to see who could outshine the other. Christmas carols would play on the big stereo HiFi. A source of pride for my Dad. He would brag about that it was big enough to bury him in. All these sights and sounds then combined with the heavenly smell of Mom's Christmas baking and that little cardboard tree smell. Both together, creating an outdoor cinnamon kind of aroma.
My problems were too few to worry, which is the luxury of the young. I had needs and wants that money could still buy. My whole life was ahead of me and it looked exciting and good. It was a time, that as a kid I could lay under a Christmas tree without someone dialing 911. Just lie there in peace and be hypnotized by the sights, sounds and smells of home comfort.
I take another sip of coffee and wish for more sugar. My little singing old choirboy is looking straight at me through,...I was going to say lights and ornaments, but time, seems more correct. He looks across the time that's been my life. From my youth filled with happy Christmas memories with all the family there. To what my life's become 55 yrs. later.
My Dads gone now, but we didn't bury him in the HiFi. We wished we had of when we were try to get rid of the thing though. My Mom can still bake but infrequently is her main dish now. And me, I only lay under the tree to water it now. Which if not done in a speedy manner scares the wife.
I've married, twice, and am now happily into my 25th year with my second wife. We share three wonderful children and four even better grandkids. We've worked together to build a family we're proud of. I'm lucky to have lived long enough to where money can't buy me what I want anymore. And all my problems I thought were a problem are in my pine scented rear view mirror.
The furnace kicks in and reminds me to turn down the thermostat before I make it to bed. My coffee's cooled to where gulps replace sips. And my shoulders relax as I breath deep the satisfaction of another happy family Christmas.
Was all the work and effort worth it? Yes it was! All through my life. Thank you Mom and Dad. You made memories that will last more than your life times. It's was your solid foundation that you set for me, so that I can build on for my family. The one my wife and I are forming, that's being enjoyed and remembered by my kids, and their kids. We're building on solid rock, sitting strong in these stormy times.
Ahhhh I breath out and reach over to squeeze the wife's hand...Oh ya.
All is right in my world little choirboy. Even though outside my door trouble, hate, disease, and wars abound. I'm at peace. Bethlehem peace. An inner peace, found only because of that night so long ago. A comforting peace, that spans throughout all time. An all encompassing peace to surround the grandchildren. One to shelter and comfort their fears of wars, disease and home grown terror. A peace that's anchored by strong roots in my humble home. Now reminded by an old, still precious, almost hidden symbol. One that was once celebrated at the forefront of our family Christmas tree. So much like the real meaning of Christmas for most of us. It's still there. Once you get past all the glitz and noise of the season. Down deep behind the lights, ornaments, presents and other distractions. So precious, still valued,...that quiet kind of Christmas peace.

Bob Niles

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Grandpa!...I Want That for Christmas (c)

Grandpa!..I Want That for Christmas!

Grandpa!...I Want That for Christmas!

It's starrrr--ted, the whole Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus multi cultural onslaught of advertising we've all come to expect at this time of year. A season bombed with every imaginable product to make it all happy and bright. Magazines, television billboards, bus stop shelters and every newspaper are heavily pregnant with gift ideas for every person you ever knew. And my granddaughter wants it all.
She has learned, through my wife, 'Ask and You Shall Receive'.
Now she knows better than to try that tactic out on mom and dad. They, as most parents do, give the kid the reality check and let them know 'You Don't Always Get what You Ask For'. And, to be fair to my wife, when our kids were growing up that rule applied too. But then God invented grandchildren for retail suppliers. And they with their wants, and gotta haves, fill the retail hoppers to overflowing at this time of year.
And you're welcome! On behalf of my wife and her gold Visa card may this time of year carry you through the leaner months ahead in 2015.
Me? I have little to do with getting out there in the trenches for the hand to hand charge card transactions. All the lining up before dawn in single line formation out side the business you're about to invade. Not my style.
I'm the spy kind of guy. More of a James Bond. I find out what information that grandchild posses in regards to their wants. I find out what makes them happy. Their desires. Sometimes I'll play the game of double agent and steer the kid into what they want because the wife bought it when it was on sale in July.
Mine is not an easy life at this time of year. Me being a spy, is not all the glamor filled Casino Royale nights one would expect being a spy. No, my days are filled in front of a TV with a forty pound child standing squirming and jumping on my lap. Preschool television to the point of brain dead boredom, then shockingly interrupted by Dora the Explorer socks to the groin. This is usually accompanied by 'Grandpa!..I want that or Christmas!'
The number of jumps on my swimsuit area determines how well the gift is liked. One, being I'd play with it until the next gift is in front of me. Two, being I'd play with it as much as the box it came in. And Three, being I like it enough to take it home from grandma and grandpas. And if there is ever a Four it's because I'm either gone numb in the once treasured swimsuit area or it's an iPad commercial.
This is the torture I must go through to get the little boogie eating, lap stomping, I need a drink (well so do I!) Beefaroni gulping, cartoon watching, I want everything kinda kid to express to me, what they want, so I can tell grandma what to buy. Sean Connery never had it this rough!
The whole 'Grandpa!..I want that for Christmas' starts about two days after her birthday in July. I soon tire of all her over information and do the old 'If you ask for one more thing you will never get anything'. To which she responds in quick fashion to,.. 'Gabriella (the other granddaughter) would like that for Christmas'. So now we're on to Gabriella would like that! Gabriella would love that!
Apparently Gabriella would like to have a under garment to handle bladder control because 'Hey we all Pee' as the commercial says.
"Why would Gabriella want underpants ( and here I'm assuming without a 'Barbie' on them) that these old ladies are wearing." I ask.
"Well they're dancing and having a good time and Gabriella likes to do both of those things." she reasons.
The conversations I have and punishment I take just to narrow down the gift field is brutal. If she could only write like Gabriella and make a Christmas list all this lap dancing she does could stop.(????)
But then my spy days would end. No more deciphering drawings for gift ideas or listening in on toy cell phone conversations. Me, following her around toy stores seeing what she shows an interest in. Or the hours in front of the bright lights of a television made to watch the very commercials I avoid like the plague when I'm watching TV on my own.
Maybe I like being a spy. Maybe I don't want to turn in the remote and drink box. I like the interaction had in getting inside their little heads to see what makes them tick.
Oh sure they lie and give misinformation. 'No! No! I don't have to go to the bathroom!"
I won't get fooled by that one again!
Suddenly I'm brought back to the now, and the present. The present she wants from this commercial. "Grandpa! Granda! I want that for Christmas!" Its a two jump, no three before I can stop her. So I'm shaken, not stirred by a remote T-Rex dinosaur whose eyes can change color when angry. It's a strong contender to be under the tree this year. It's it's fourth strong showing with two weeks to go before cutoff, and shopping begins. Then there'll be no more Grandpa I want this! Or I want that, it'll all be over. Mission complete.
The wife, little Miss Money Penny will refer to me as The Man with the Golden Card and start her mission using my intelligence as her guide. She approaches her buying for the grandkids as The World is Not Enough. And then come January and the bills I just give them to her and say its For Your Eyes Only. That bill in that envelope is A View to a Kill and a License to a Kill if seen by me. It scares The Living Daylights out of me.
She blames me, letting her go on her own! Me, Dr. No, is suppose to be there to hold her back.
Me? I blame that little cute boogie eating, lap stomping, I need a drink, Beefaroni gulping, cartoon watching I want everything kind of kid! And the fact that we are lucky enough to be grandparents we can Never Say Never Again.

Bob Niles (007)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pumpkins, Electoral Signs and Christmas Trees (c)

Pumpkins, Electoral Signs and Christmas Trees

Pumpkins, Electoral Signs and Christmas Trees
(from treasures to trash in one night)

After Halloween pumpkins look ridiculous hanging around the front yard. Their once broad grin and bright triangular eyes melt into themselves which give the appearance of a sixties movie star in need of a facelift.
And the same is said of our now past electoral signs of our hopeful candidates and our soon to be Happy New Year Christmas Trees. After the event has past the very next day they become trash. Get them out of the house, get them out of the yard, the wife doesn't want to see them anymore!
A lot of time and trouble was spent picking the right pumpkin, candidate and tree. And all were held in high esteem until Halloween was over, the candidate you chose failed and a new year begun.
To rid yourself of a pumpkin you just drop it into the new handy-dandy two wheeled green bin and TA -DAH it's gone. The dead tree that was once held in high esteem and was sung about is back on the car roof two weeks later. It's off to the firemen who kill it some more by chopping and or burning it. But the election sign is not so easily trashed, nor should it be. It can be used for many projects that concern or interest you. Or they can be shaped and formed to make a statement in the community.
My Dad for example, back in the day when election signs were plywood, would support the candidate with party colours closest to our house colour. He didn't care what the party stood for he just wanted the plywood to build a crappy shed and fence that unfortunately both matched in colour and vertical stability.
Today's election signs are made from cardboard and plastic that have no shed or fence building qualities. Why a big gust of hot air would send them flying! Makes you wonder how they made it through the campaigning.
So one has to get creative to recycle and reuse this free windfall. Such as,...turning the sign around in your front yard and painting 'FOR SALE' on it. Very popular choice in Richmond. Or you could collect them and trade them with your friends. "I'll trade you four Bill McNulty's for a Brodie, two Dang's and a Steves."
You could also cut and glue two dimensional artificial trees from them and replace the real trees they cut down in Minoru Park. It would better match the artificial turf on the fields than the real trees they plan on planting. And if they get sick you just repaint them instead of destroying them.
Why not have the school kids make snow geese from them and flood their school fields with them so the real grass eating, pooh fouling field fowls can't.
Use the back of the sign to write your appraisal of city hall completely in your native tongue (it's legal for now) with a rating from 1-10 at the bottom. Place the sign on the lawn at city hall and let them figure out if it's good or bad or the price of a dozen hot wings downtown.
Be sure to save a least one election sign of the person you elected as mayor. Then after a period of time (sometimes short, sometimes a little longer) when they screw up an issue you hold dear, paint over all the sign except for their smiling face. Then again completely in your own tongue write 'I put this guy in city hall and all I got was this crumby sign!'

Bob Niles

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hello? Hello? Excuse me... (c)

In Canada we celebrate Remembrance Day ( for our soldiers who have fallen in service ) which now seems to be in the way of Christmas.



"Excuse me......Hello?....Excuse there,....yes you, ah, Santa...........Oh no, no problem, I guess you couldn't hear me cause of you ringing them bells.........Oh and a Merry Christmas to you too! And a Happy New Year. I was just wondering, could I just get around you there?......Oh yes it is quite a big job, LOL as the kids say.......Could I just step past you there?............Yes it is very crowded with all this Christmas display....very pretty. ......where has the year gone eh? Well you know there's just about two months left in the year so we're really only 10 months into the year..........Yes, yes so much to do before the 'Big Day'.....If you could just stop ringing for a moment, I need to get around you....well yes if you could just step aside that would be great!.......Yes of course be careful, don't want to break anything with only 2 months before your big night.......Yes, it's right behind you there that I need....No, no not the Christmas decoration.....Yes, that's it the box with all the poppies, I want to purchase one..... Well, maybe that's best, why don't I just hand you the money, there seems to be too much Christmas in the way of me and my poppy..... .....Thank-you......Yes I do wear it proud.....It's on November11th, Remembrance Day,......Great! You'll be there. Good for you! But, maybe next year, and here don't take this personal, it's okay if you and Christmas don't hit town till the 12th. I hope this doesn't put me on the bad list? I mean I love Christmas, but if you could just wait, hold off all the Christmas noise till we have our moment of silence to remember the fallen. They that paid the ultimate price, to be remembered.....Greatly appreciated! RINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRINGRIN RINGRINGRINGRINGRIN

Bob Niles

bobby did this

Friday, October 24, 2014

God Keep Our Land....(c)

God Keep Our Land....

God Keep Our Land...

Our Capital's still,...on Ottawa's hill,
We pause, breathe deep, our blood runs chilled.
Fear has crossed our borders, has soiled our home
It's now landed here, and far it roams.

Our children now captive of terrible fears,
The freedom of youth might now disappear.
Checkpoints and guards will now come the norm,
To block an apocalypse that blows on this storm.

A storm that stretches across many lands,
That tries to unstable the strong that take stand.
But 'On Guard' we remain, 'Glorious and Free'
Our Canada,... this we promise Thee.

For it takes more than cowards, who take by surprise,
They that are Canada, the strong, free and wise.
Don't bring us your fear, your misguided thinking,
The youth that you've poisoned, with your misguided thinking.

For united we'll stand! Can't break us apart!
Attack us at home, we'll unite with one heart!
For we're stronger when threatened, together we'll be,
A north that runs true, runs strong and runs free.

Bob Niles

Thursday, October 23, 2014

When Oprah Won't Tell Us Who to Vote For. (c)

When Oprah Won't Tell Us Who to Vote For

When Oprah Won't Tell Us Who to Vote For

Outside of work, I don't make any decisions anymore. I haven't made a decision around the home for, .....well since I've been married. It was somewhere between the ceremony and the reception I lost all chances of ever having a choice again. Having said that, it's also been the best thing that's happened to me. No worries, we've saved money and I can blame the wife when things go wrong. Life's good!
But, every couple of years these doggone civic elections come along and me, myself have to choose the right candidate for the job. And choosing the right man or woman for a civic election is not an easy choice. Oh some years we get lucky and nobody challenges an already elected official, and then you can't make a mistake. You don't have to educate yourself on current and upcoming issues, you just go with the flow. "Well he was the only choice." you say to others when they somehow (and it ain't hard) screw up in office. You are blame free.
But with multiple choices and so many offices to fill its very difficult to make an educated well informed vote. Or even a guess. You have to educate yourself on their campaign promises and ideas like it's one of these speed dates where you meet a whole bunch of hopefuls that stretch truths and exaggerate all their good qualities. A bell rings and they give you all their promises and ideas to fix tomorrow. They have all of three minutes to make you believe that they're the one for you. Then, you listen to a totally different idea and conclusion from the next elected hopeful that visits your table. But unlike dating where you can dump someone after a week, this person lasts for years, and years!
And it's not like most of us are really interested what they have to say with the three minutes you allot them. They're talking on about how they are educated and suited for the job, what's important in their lives and how they will fix city issues and problems. While your watching football over their left shoulder.
And your hopeful elected official is not on TV., there's no campaign money for that. They have to compete with all the other fun distractions in our lives with his or her face is in the local paper. There, lost in a page with other hopefuls a tiny black and white picture represents them in an unnatural smile. One that pains them to look somewhat happy, confident and your next elected official for the office they are running for. Boring! So you tune back into the football game because you couldn't find beach volley ball (the wife's at the mall) or reruns of Bonanza,...anything other than dealing with info. on the people you need info. about to make a wise vote.
Why can't I pay more attention?
Oh they're on the 10 yard line!
It's just that they are saying the same promises and ideas that the last election played. The only difference is the picture beside the ideal plan. Oh!.. No, ..same picture. This guy's been around forever. He gets my vote. He hasn't killed me yet so he must be good.
Commercial. Ding! On to my next speed politician date.
Next picture is of a woman, about my age,.. familiar? Oh my gosh it's the woman next door! The one who's cat fertilizes my roses. Better vote for her. Probably have to put her sign in the yard. I'll make it a big one. They make them out of that plastic cardboard now and I can make a new liner for the granddaughters Guinea pig cage with it after the election.
Next commercial,...Ding! On to the next hopeful.
Graduated UBC blah blah blah. Probably, and is a lot smarter than me. Married,..'explains the look',...lived here for five years,...'long time resident',..four young kids,..'can't vote or him he's too busy at home.'
Moving on and down the list I make life changing decision after life changing decision. Not for me of course, but for them. I decide with but a single check mark whether I want them to represent my vote. And if enough votes from citizens such as myself elect them to office, then this could be a life long endeavor for them, election after election. A life in the public spotlight that some seek to create a long shadow in.
So many commercials!
It was somebody that talked them into it, or they themselves thought that they could make a difference in our community by getting elected. 'Bravo,' I say. I hope you make your mom proud. Cause there's a good chance you can embarrass the whole family. I think it was somebody else that said 'If you want to know your family for public office. Cause if you or Uncle Ted have any skeletons in your closet, be sure to know we will soon know about your bony problems.
Who's this next guy? Too long a beard. next! She's cute. (Said that to myself. Even with the wife at the mall it's a good habit to get into) Not married, a doctor of some kind of 'olgy' looks naturally happy,...yup, she's got my vote. She's a good speed dating politician.
I feverishly work my way through my next choices, all commercial long. Okay they didn't get their three minutes each. Elect me! I couldn't take it anymore. Just be happy I get out and vote knowing full well I could be called for jury duty. Great! That would be another life changing decision I'd have to make. And you know how I make decisions!
And it's a quick's a handoff! He's up...over? No! Blocked at the two yard line. It's third and two to the goal line.
Now it's here in my observational tale that I have to make another decision. Is this Canadian football or American? Three downs or four? I'm a Canadian but I like American football. More decisions! This, among other reasons, is why I wanted beach volleyball. Everybody plays with the same rules. Just like in politics. Right?

Bob Niles

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How I Trained at Age 7 for the Military. (c)

How I Trained at Age 7 for the Military

How I Trained at Age 7 for the Military

I count myself, on all ten fingers, very lucky to have survived the Halloween of my youth. In the years of cold war diplomacy it was, I guess, important for young boys to know the ins and outs of light explosives. And every year around the time of Halloween we were allowed to expand our knowledge on this very topic with the detonation of firecrackers.
I was a 7 yr. old boy in October of 1962 eager to learn the effects of contained gun powder when put to a lit fuse. And the western governments of the known world, thanks to the Bay of Pigs and Russian tensions, were eager to let me.
I believe young kids experimenting and detonating firecrackers were a black-ops program set down by this country's military. Who, were building a fighting force of young children expertly trained in the use of explosives in an urban settings. A force far greater in number and expanding a much larger area than the Hitler youth programs some 20 yrs. before. A mass army of kids stretching from coast to coast to coast. An army with no central command post that could be brought down to destabilize its effectiveness.
We started training every October till about mid November or till your buddy's supply of firecrackers ran out. We would meet every day after school and collectively join ranks with all the other kids. And it was with great imagination we would include fireworks into our after school playtime. We would strike fear into unsuspecting citizens, neighbors, siblings, nosey girls and the occasional household pet. There were no clean precise missions with laser guided smart firecrackers with few casualties. It was total carnage!
The explosive force of your biggest firecracker (Cherry Bomb) or several tied together created a thunderous clap of expanding gasses capable of rendering panic and destruction to anything a young kid puts his mind to.
Firecrackers were glued to paper airplanes where extra distance was achieved in delivering the ordinance. They were blown through drinking straws to practice in tight urban environments. Set in the trunk of a model car, my brother built, with a small bag of gasoline. The resulting explosion looked like a mob hit we saw on the news. We stuck them in tree knot holes, buried them in dirt under my plastic farm animals then went directly to Old MacDonald himself and blew off his left leg.
The possibilities and procedures for explosive detonations were endless. But not the munitions.
Everything we had gotten for Christmas and birthdays were all subject to an explosive destruction. Sometimes we would ask for stuff at Christmas not because we wanted it but thought it would make a great explosion. Dad was so happy when he found out the Barbie House and Yard Play-set he got for me at Christmas exploded into little pieces in late October. Thing was I loved that set! My G.I. Joe used it when he was on furlough.
"Don't play with them in the house!" Was the only rule my parents had when it came to firecrackers. No my parents weren't alcoholics! They were farm people. Accidents of a disfiguring natured were common when they were growing up. Farm machinery is very dangerous, so a firecracker was nothing to them. Why my Dad was hunting with a 22. caliber rifle when he was six (maybe my grandparents drank).
Yes whoever it was in the military who thought of the black-ops training of young kids in light explosives was a genius when it came to military thinking. A nation of trained children in the use of explosives at no cost to the government. But now with the cold war a distant memory firecrackers, and also in many areas fireworks are now banned. "You might hurt yourself." They say. Well DAH! Tell that to my friend Lefty. I told him the fuse was too short.

Bob Niles