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Thursday, August 28, 2014

See Sharp or Be Flat. (c)

C Sharp or B Flat

C Sharp or B Flat

Richmonds RCMP have just completed their 'Distracted Drivers Campaign'. You probably saw them stopping cars and handing out tickets. No? Too busy fiddeling with digits in your lap?....Texting? Apparently we have become like a pubescent boy while we're driving. We are all fasinated with staring at our crotches, or any other little distraction other than commandeering a chunk of Detroit steel down the road. And now we're into the 'Being Seen in Richmond' campaign. Educating pedestrians about crosswalk saftey and how to survive crotch staring drivers. Simply remove headphones while crossing the road, dress in the colours of the 80s and make eye contact with the driver.
Eye contact with the driver! Fat chance of that!
Beside the obvious one of your head hitting the steering wheel, there are so many other reasons eye contact either by you or them is seldom possible.
Your only chance of getting eye contact with a driver and cross the road safely is if you're a very attractive female and the driver is a 16yr. old boy with no data plan. And here the driver must be a young male. Older males with a wife in the car would not dare make eye contact with a beautiful girl for fear of instant reprisals from the wife riding shotgun (how do you think it got that name) If its an older male without the wife, don't you make eye contact. They don't need much encouragement to run amuck. And if it's a really old guy try to make eye contact. Jump up and down, blow a whistle, fire a gun, do anything to get his attention. Here you might get eye contact but that doesn't mean he'll see you.
Never, and here I mean never, cross the street in front of a woman putting on make-up while driving. Forget eye contact, they're too busy making contact with their own eyes. They're in the rear view mirror, sun visor mirror or the side mirror (depending on the time of day)making themselves beautiful. It's eyes and cheeks, hair and lips painting and powdering, waiting for he driver behind them to lay on the horn to let them know to go. And they go without looking racing to he next light to put on the other eyelash.
A mom with kids is usually a safe bet to cross in front of a light on. And here again if youre waiting for eye contact don't bother. Moms use traffic lights like Formula 1 drivers use pit stops. They wipe noses, open juice boxes, settle disputes, retrieve toys from the floor, dole out treats, have to turn around and "Look at this!" and become judge and jury as to just who touched who first. And all this is briefly interrupted with the outlying scenery in fluid position then to become fixed again at the next stoplight. Repeat.
If you want to cross the road safely try the musical rule that has gotten me to my ripe old age. C Sharp or B Flat.


Bob Niles


bobby did this

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Green Green Grass of Home. (c)

The Green Green Grass of Home

The Green Green Grass of Home

This is the first year we have gone from yard bags to "green cans". And this is the first week this year that I'm able to fit all my grass cuttings into my two "green cans". Thank-you hot, dry weather!
I have, in weeks past, been able to get the back and front greenery to fit in both cans, but not legally. I took a page from the K-Tel Patty Stacker of the Seventies and fashioned a similar compressing device for the rear end deposits of my lawnmower. What I wound up with was grass that had the density of lead in two neat cans. Oh sure I had to have three friends help me drag each can to the curb, but I wasn't going to buy any more garbage cans.
My Father-in-law has enough garbage and "green cans" to meet his needs but his carport looks like an East Hastings back alley.
Well as it turned out the joke was on me, they didn't want my two cans of yard waste. Something about being too heavy, the bright orange sticker read. So now what do you do with two cans of wet grass, knowing that this week you'll have the same amount, or more,again.
You get creative!
I became like the prisoners from the movie "The Great Escape". I'd fill up my pockets with grass and go for long walks, each step secretly dropping bits of grass around the neighborhood. We'd sometimes go as a family, each with a pocket or two of grass, leaving behind us a green slug trail of unwanted yard trimmings. On occasion we'd get lucky and find an unlocked car and quickly rid ourselves of our burden we call grass.
But all this still wasn't enough, I couldn't keep up. I was like a drug kingpin with too much money, only with grass, I needed new methods to deal with a "growing problem"! I rented a storage locker under a false name and address. I had the grandkids do a craft project and glue the yard clippings into illegal looking plants (unbeknownst to them) and had the police raid my residence. (On a side note, I told the police I had drilled some holes into logs at my Father-in-laws place and hit what looked like "grass" in the wood. They cut up and split his wood pile for him. He phoned to thank me.)
I then tried just leaving the cuttings on the lawn, only to have the dog and the grandkids track it all into the house for my wife to vacuum up. Let's just say I'd rather deal with the police again than listen to my wife go on for two hours about her bad back and how she needs a new vacuum with a big yellow ball on it like her sister has.
But this week was different! All my green-space clippings are gone! The lawn I use to love, water and fertilize, I now despise. I'll never give it another drink or feed it again. My three boxes of plastic yard bags from Costco sit unused and alone. Gone is the time when you only had to walk out and back from the curb on collection day. Oh I guess you could wait outside like Forrest Gump waiting for a school bus with your "green cans" and save a trip, but me? I've got things to do. Cool wet weather's coming, where can I hide grass this Fall?

Bob Niles


bobby did this

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ask a Silly Question Get a Silly Answer. Then it's the Drunks Turn (c)

Ask a Silly Question Get a Silly Answer. then it's the Drunks turn

Ask a Silly Question Get a Silly Answer. Then it's the Drunks Turn.

Why is that people standing in cue for groceries, bathrooms on airplanes or every other place else on earth want to start a conversation with a total stranger? And how do they begin a conversation? They ask really stupid questions.
"So, do you have a cat?" She asks as we happen to make eye contact in the grocery line up
Now what would make her think I have a cat? Is it that my black jacket is covered in Tinkers white hair? Or is it my my tee-shirt has a huge graphic of a house cat? All subtle clues. Or is it the 25 lb. sack of Meow Mix with an equally weighted box of stinky pee absorbing cat litter? Hard to say how Einstein came up with the hypothesis of me owning a cat.
And due to the fact I hate people being presumptuous about my private business I respond by saying "No! I'm on a new Hollywood diet of high energy cat food. It's called the 'Minimizing my Mass Mith Meow Mix'. Sorry 'With, Meow Mix' " I correct myself. "It's meaty center is surrounded by a crunchy outside that supplies antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Which," I raise my finger in authority and smile, "supplies me with healthy teeth and bones, a strong immune system. Just look how sleek my hair looks. (I read the bag before I bought it). "And you'll notice that I get the Indoor Formula for the less active, to keep me slim and healthy." I informed her as I suck in the graphic of my cat.
"Oh." she responds as she looks for the nearest exit.
"Yes"I say, "just a bowl in the morning and one at night with a saucer of milk. Then,...? (I'm trying to think what to say next) A late night walk! I never wanted to go out after dinner before I was on this diet, but not now. I'm always ready for a late night prowl."
"Fascinating." she mumbled.
"And the kitty litter?" I continue "Well let's just say I'm suppose to keep track of,... well you know. It's all scientific and to do with what's being absorbed and what's being digested and what's left behind."
I continue on as the line inches ahead. It's certainly not fast enough for some, but I'm starting to enjoy it. I go on about what I've lost and how much better I feel....blah blah blah and then my mouth goes on but my mind is off and reminded of a similar instance from a TV talk show personality who was breast feeding on an airplane. All subdued of course. But, a guy waiting in line for the mile high outhouse looks down at her and asks "Is that yer kid?"
"No! I'm breast feeding all the kids on the airplane. Ya got one that needs some suckling?" she responded.
That hit me as being funny, and never forgot it. Which brings me back to my tall tale all because of another dumb question. "........and I've never been so happy and healthy!" I end, my all but for the exception of her two words, soliloquy.
"Fascinating." she again replies."Oh look it looks like its your turn at the check-out!" she almost excitedly points out to hopefully move me along quicker.
I bag up all my telling tales of my unorthodox Hollywood diet and strange stool sampling saver or the fact that I might own a cat, as she starts to unload her buggy of its contents. At which,..the guy behind her ( who was for sure drunk) tapped her on the elbow and slurred an assumption that she was single by saying "I,..I,..BET yer SIngle! Are you shingle?"
Oh no, this can't be good! I'm starting to move a little faster with my bags now.
"You think I'm single!"
"That'ss what she shed" he slurred.
"Why do you think that? Is it my one stick of butter? Half a dozen eggs? Half pound of bacon? Is it my four bags of........."
"Naw it's cuse you ugly!" he interrupted.
Now I'm running out the door as it starts to get loud and the manager is called to the check-out I'd just left. That was my fun for the day.
I never use to be but now I'm more of a 'ask a stupid question get a stupid answer' kind of guy. People just say stuff to fill silence. Silence which I love! Silence is golden! (as goes the song) But so many of us need to talk, ask silly questions to start a verbal interaction. They make an assumption from what they see or hear about you in public and start up a conversation thinking they know you.
What! Maybe all the cat stuff was for my dear deceased aunts cat that I had to take in during this very troubled time. Nobody looks down in a cart filled with Meow Mix and kitty litter and asks if your dear aunt died. Why don't they assume that?
The late actor Jimmy Stewart told of a story how he was once had stopped at a corner with a man out walking a dog. He asked the man if his dog bites. Oh no said the man, gentle as a lamb. Jimmy reached down to pet the dog at it about took his arm off. 'I thought you said your dog didn't bite!' he hollered at the man while pinned to the ground. 'I did' he said 'that's not my dog.'
He should of just kept quiet rather than assuming that was that mans dog.
I say if you're going to ask a question to someone you don't know, make sure you know the answer before you ask. Just like the drunk, two shoppers behind me. Oh, and be prepared. You might be surprised the answer you get. Cause in his case with the help of a Coach purse...truth hurts!

Bob Niles

Thursday, August 7, 2014

So Much More Than Skittles and Carrots (c)

So Much More Than Skittles and Carrots

So Much More Than Skittles and Carrots

"Would you like a carrot lady?" asked my three year old granddaughter as she tried to squeeze her head through the fence. She was talking to my neighbor behind me, old Mrs. Sharp.
We called her old Mrs. Sharp ever since we moved into our house 24 yrs. ago. She lived alone in the small white bungalow. Her two boys were grown-up and had moved to another part of the country and her husband was in a care home. She puttered around in her small garden at that time growing leeks and carrots to probably, ....give her something to past the time.
My own children would accept carrots from her when they were my granddaughters age. She would sell them baby carrots for two Skittles a piece. This was a price my kids had placed on the root vegetable all those years ago. A price that had never gone up, on either party's side.
She would reach through the six foot tall privacy fence that had alternating planks. One on her side and one on mine, all tightly spaced together. You had to stand on an angle to the fence to reach through the alternating boards. She would in a broken barley audible voice ask them if they wanted to trade candy for carrots today. And if the child had no candy? She would always say 'You can pay me later', but with little interest in ever collecting her pay.
She never ate the candy, but pretended to. Her bony arthritic hand reaching to her mouth faking her intentions to enjoy her pay. She would then palm the candies into her right sweater pocket telling the child how good they tasted.
In a fair turn though, the kids hardly ever ate the carrots. They'd munch off the pointy end a bite or two then place it in a pocket or leave it in the grass.
The sound of a hoe hitting a stone or her humming an old church hymn was the only way we knew she was out there. I think most times she was just there to hear the children play. If they were out playing she was out gardening. She was kind of like an elderly guardian angel it seemed. Just listening and peeping, enjoying their laughter, and games, and mostly unseen.
She knew their names and ages but couldn't keep straight the birthdays. She would never remember the month or day and would tease the kids when they would correct her. 'Oh you've already had your birthday you're just trying to trick your parents into another one!' she'd say.
As the years past the kids stopped coming to the fence. Play in the backyard was replaced by video games, shopping malls and the opposite sex.
Old Mrs. Sharp was still there though. As if waiting on them to come out and play.
Through the year I'd stop the lawn mower and keep her current to the kids life. She took interest and would ask questions on how they were doing.
She could not believe how old they had gotten and how so quickly it happened. But that's pretty much how life happens.
So it was with great pride that I had my three year old granddaughter stand at the fence and ask if she, old Mrs. Sharp would like some carrots, which I had grown in my garden. She had long stopped gardening and was sitting in the shade at the back of her house. She took forever to get up and make it to the fence. No words were spoken as her elderly tired hands reached for the carrots. In exchange she handed my granddaughter a peppermint which she recognized from her own grandmother as tasting like medicine. She took the candy but placed it in her jacket.
It was later that year she past on from natural causes the paper had said. She had outlived a husband, one son and a grandchild.
I never knew. She never said a thing in all those years. I had figured the husband would of past but she made it clear the husband in the care home was out of bounds years before.
It's amazing what a fence will let out and keep in. It has the power to keep in sorrows that have no bounds which can't be boxed. Pain and loneliness are contained just behind a six foot fence, mirrored by four long rows of carrots. A fence raised to protect youth at play and at the same time punish the elderly from knowing.
A fence, a limited vertical and linear barrier that stops worlds from crossing into one another. Lives lived in close proximity that at times touch but yet remain so far apart.
A fence that can't contain the sounds of laughter and play of little children. A fence unable to stop the joy of an elderly lady watching the excitement of youth. A fence that limits the touch of the tired arthritic bony fingers from eager, always reaching fingers of the young.
Digging, planting, watering and weeding followed by an early harvest to offer up a baby vegetable for which in return she received an unwanted candy.
She told me little of her life in all those years, and I learned not to ask. She preferred to remain with her own secrets and sorrows behind that fence.
I think she was reaching out for so much more, but, she used the fence as, or it became her locked wall. A wall that was unlocked with only a baby carrot as the key.

Bob Niles