Interpreting My Dad

Some of my kids used to take my Handycam and record silly videos with it, designed for me to discover later. One such video from several years ago has become famous within my family and among a few friends. In this blog entry, I attempt to interpret the inside jokes that formed the basis of this skit, borne of the various childhood stories and vignettes I’ve told my kids. After you read this, watching the video should make more sense.

It starts out with my daughter, CJ, depicting me as a child saying, “Hey… Hey, Tracy! Broooookennnn chimmmm-neeeeeeey.”

Then CJ switches headwear to denote Tracy and says, “Oh, Christine, you know that makes me scared!”

First off, I never call my sister Tracy, unless I am talking about her to someone else. When I address her, though, it is ALWAYS “Trace”.

Now that we have that cleared up, here is the story on the broken chimney.

When I was four years old, and Tracy was three, we were walking through the back alley from our old house on East 7th Avenue in Vancouver, BC. We were with our dad, heading up toward Victoria Drive, to pick up take-out at Chicken Chalet. On our left, there was a church building with a gym in the back. It had big black letters up high on it that said “GYMNASIUM”. I think that was one of my first big words to read, as I could see it from my back yard, three lots away.

That one evening, we saw that the chimney on the back of the gym was broken. Pale red bricks were smashed and scattered onto the ground. It appeared that a car must have recently crashed into it.

Later that night, after our parents said goodnight to us, my sister and I were talking quietly in our beds. I mentioned the broken chimney. My sister sounded all freaked out as she said, “I don’t like that!”

I didn’t realize it was scary to her. I dropped the subject, but thought about it for awhile.

Then a few moments later, I said, “Hey, Trace…”

“What?” she said.

In an ominous voice, I said, “Brokennnnn chimneeeeeey.”

Suddenly, my sister screamed and started crying. Our dad ran up the stairs and into our room. He picked Tracy up to comfort her. She was crying and crying, all scared. My dad was trying to find out what happened, and through sobs, Tracy said, “Christine said ‘broken chimney!'”

I was afraid that I was going to get spanked, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but giggle a little at the whole thing.

My dad didn’t find it funny in the least. My mom came in and took over on consoling my sister. My dad turned his attention to me, yelling angrily about how it is not okay to scare my sister. He dragged me by the arm as I screamed and begged for him to let me go, down the top flight of stairs, through the hallway, around the corner of the kitchen, down the basement stairs, across the cement floor, past the old wood stove we rarely got to use because it coughed smoke, and into the dark, scary, empty room with flat grey carpet. He pushed me to the floor, slammed the door shut, and left.

As I sat there crying, my dad popped the door open and yelled in, with his Serbian-accented English, “I show YOU how it feels to be scared. You stay here all night. You don’t EVER scare your seester!”

SLAM! And he was gone again.

I sat there in the middle of that rough carpet, cold, alone, and in total darkness, hugging my knees to my chin, hiding my face, crying. It felt like I was there for hours, but it was probably more like fifteen minutes. It was long enough to scare me out of ever wanting to scare my sister again.

I can’t even remember my dad coming in to get me, but how it usually went when I was in trouble – a state I was in all too often – was that he’d leave me alone for awhile and eventually return to talk to me in a calm voice, chastise me in a reasonable manner, explaining why what I did was wrong, sometimes giving advice on what to do next time, and in the end he’d hug me. That hug always made me cry all over again, albeit silently, with relief, and I clung to him.

So, that’s the bit about “broken chimney”. But it got blended in with another story, which resulted in the line, “I put you in dog house, all night, with dead bird”.

I’m not sure where the dog house came from. It might be a reference to our old black and white Sheltie, Toby, for whom my dad built a dog house. Or it might be merely an ad-lib. But the dead bird does have a story.

This was in our new house, the one my dad built for us in Tsawwassen, a suburb of Vancouver. I was around eleven years old. I wanted to wash my feather pillow, so I carefully cut open a seam and unstuffed it. I didn’t want to mess up the house with feathers, so I did it out in the carport, putting most of the feathers into a garbage bag while I laundered the casing, but a few spilled out here and there.

That evening, my dad called me to come downstairs and see something. He pointed at a few clusters of grey and white downy feathers on the ground in the carport. In a sad voice he said, “C’desten…” (That is roughly how he pronounced “Christine”). “Small burd was keel.”

I stifled a laugh. My dad asked what was funny.

“That’s from my pillow, Dad. I unstuffed it to wash it.”

My dad laughed and was relieved. He always loved animals.

It’s just a little story, but it has resulted in something my family and I often say whenever someone uses the word “small”.

One might say, “Would you like a piece of pie?”

The answer might be, “Sure. Just a small piece.

If so, it would follow with the one offering pie saying, “Small burd was keel.”

And the conversation would carry on as if nothing unusual was said.

Then there’s the part in our video where SF is pretending to be my dad driving along, talking about how when he was a kid, they played with sticks and mud. And potatoes. Supposedly he played with, or rather ate, potatoes. All day. ALL DAY.

He never actually said any of that, but the tone was about right for his basic manner. Impatient. Gruff. And he did talk about potatoes a lot. We’d be eating potatoes at dinner, and my dad would say, “I loooooove potatoes.” Just like that. Elongating the word “love”. So, that image comes to mind for me whenever we have potatoes, and I’ve told my family about it a time or two.

Then there was my dad’s frequent use of swearing in Serbian so my sister and I would not know what he was saying (though, as with most kids whose parents have a different language, my sister and I became adept at using those strings of words, and believe me, Serbian swearing is long, detailed, melodious, but nasty in interpretation.) SF made up some foreign-sounding words, but they sure weren’t Serbian. She doesn’t know how to sound Serbian, having not grown up with my dad, but her attempt sure made me laugh.

And the mention SF made of my dad saying “my old country, Yugoslavia”, yes, that was something he’d often say. “The old country” was how he referred to it.

It cracked me up that SF would pretend to be my dad turning on the radio and finding a song from Yugoslavia. That wouldn’t actually happen because:

  1. The only time I’ve ever heard Yugoslavian music on the radio was on Vancouver’s CJVB, a cosmopolitan station in the 70s, during the Saturday afternoon “Serbian Hour”, which I think was more like two hours, but whatever…
  2. My dad would not be driving while listening to that because he was usually drinking by that time on a Saturday.

Still, it made for good humour, and I also love how SF made up those strange words that don’t sound anything remotely like Serbian.

Lastly, there’s the segment at the end, where CJ is pretending to be my sister, saying, “Oh, Dad, stop singing!”

I think that part is twisted out of a story I often told that involved me, not my sister. One time, in my late teens, I was involved in a book. I sat in my room reading on my bed, and my dad barged in drunk on a Saturday afternoon (I know it was a Saturday afternoon, because it was daytime, and his only drinking times were Friday night and Saturday afternoon – one or the other each week, but rarely both consecutively) rambling on about something. I have no idea what it was, for I was engrossed in my book.

I kept asking my dad, politely, to please be quiet so I could read.

My dad would say, “Oh, sorry. OK.”

He’d walk away, only to return a minute later, picking up right where he left off.

I got exasperated, closed my book, carried it with me to the living room, and sat on the couch to read. He followed me, talking the whole way.

“Hey, Dad, I’m really trying to read here. Can we talk about this another time?”

And again, he’d say, “Oh, of course. Sorry.”

He’d walk away, and return again, starting up the talk, over and over. It was maddening. He was sufficiently drunk that I decided it was safe to get firm with him and say, “DAD! STOP TALKING!”

My dad was not the kind of person one would order around when he was sober, but when he was drinking, he was a whole different man.

That very last scene in the video, where CJ is back to her role of me, with blue swim goggles (not sure why the goggles, but I guess to differentiate from my sister, although we both swam a lot in our childhood), cracks me up every time as I can still hear “my dad” singing in the background: “Da doyyyyy… drrrrron ta daaaaa…”

Now, if you’ve not seen the video, and you want to, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjCI9LvYXys

I can’t resist finishing this with Paul Harvey’s line – hear it in his voice, if you know it:

“And now you know… the rest… of the story.”

Advertisements

Slow My Thoughts Down

Is there a drug, a food, an exercise, a process, or anything that can cause my mind to slow down? I’ve always got overlapping thoughts that cascade so thickly that it is a struggle to hear – really hear – the things people are saying to me. I hate that. I want to focus better.

And please don’t suggest cannabis. I have tried it and it intensifies the mess.

Giving Up

Maybe it is time for me to give up on writing a book.

I can relate to my great-great-grandmother-in-law, in how she must have felt before she kicked the stool out of the way and hung herself.

She had been asked to do the arrangements for a wedding – a big task, yes, but by itself not death-worthy. It was, however, the final rock to send her over the edge of a stress mountain.

I often think of that scenario when I find myself in positions of having too much to do and too little time to do it efficiently and effectively. There are demands being made of me by others who COULD be helping, compounded by the frustration I feel from the expectations of others who don’t really know me but who think I SHOULD be doing more.

The thing about people expecting me to do more is particularly irksome, but I can control it, to some degree, by avoiding contact with them.

What I am talking about is the writing of my supposed book.

I say “supposed”, because although it has been looming over my head for the past few years, it still has not materialized. I have pages of notes and a few chapter drafts, but no complete manuscript.

I am at a point where I am wondering if I should just give it up.

“You have such a talent for writing and an important story to tell,” they say.

That sounds like a compliment on the surface, but the way it lands on my ears is more like a sledge-hammer to the side of my head.

Really? More? I am supposed to do MORE?

I have seven children. That is not common or easy. Few people can I consult for advice and even fewer are willing to help.

I never set out to have a large family, but that is what happened. Whether people can accept it or not, my kids are my number one priority.

Even sitting here on my couch writing this blog entry on my laptop is a luxury, but the kids are all occupied at the moment, none of them asking me questions, none of them asking me for help, none of them trying to tell me something, and so I am taking this quiet time to write out the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for the past few days.

(No sooner did I finish that paragraph than one of my kids ran up to me to remind me that they left their iPad charger at someone’s house a 25 minute drive away. So I sent a text to find out if the road is decent enough to drive there to pick it up. Yeah, this time of year, where I live, snow and ice can make roads dangerous.)

And I can see someone saying I should have taken this time to work on my book instead of venting on WordPress.

No, this here is quick and mindless.

Like sudden vomiting.

Working on my book, however, requires deep thought, more akin to preparing a gourmet meal on a wood cook stove. Ingredients must be bought and measured. Careful attention must be given to the fire. And nobody can interrupt me, lest I miscalculate a measure, miss an important ingredient, or burn the results.

I deactivated my Facebook account. That thing depresses me. A huge pile of potential communicators who are supposedly friends, but most of them just want a quick fix. I can understand that, to a degree, because I myself am usually too busy to get into much depth, but still it discourages me to post a question or a thought and have very little feedback. Like, why bother? Might as well write on WordPress, where it is more to be expected that there will be little to no intercommunication.

And that leads me back to the topic of writing my supposed book. How satisfying will it be to complete a book, and not know what others are thinking or feeling when they read it?

But how can I write that book if my focus is on my children’s needs?

And with my own ability to concentrate being poor at best (two of my kids have ADHD, and two are diagnosed as being in the Autism Spectrum – surely they got some of that from me, though I have no such official diagnoses – and, yes, I did undergo testing), I can only work on a book when everyone is asleep or out.

I even built a shed in hopes I could write in it, but my kids interrupt me in there, too. The thing is, though: they need me more than the book needs to be written.

Oh yeah, and I failed to mention that my youngest three children are almost always home. We homeschool. It’s more in the direction of unschooling, but still, my point is that they aren’t away for several hours a day. And don’t try to convince me otherwise. I have long been against public schooling and so this is my choice.

And I haven’t even touched on the chronic pain with which I live. There is no cure. All I can do is suffer through it. Some days are better than others, and on those days, I get a lot more physical tasks done.

I don’t really want to hang myself, because I think of how it would affect my children. But the pressure sure becomes a lot sometimes, and where can I go to escape it?

Schooling

I learned a few things in school, but not from the paid teachers.

One of the worst things I learned was from my fellow inmates. It was that only the utterly beautiful people are appreciated.

If you are not physically beautiful and/or athletic, you are outcast.

This lesson continues to be reinforced by social media.

The beautiful and the athletic receive encouragement, and if they are celebrities, all the more are they adored.

The truth-sayers, the story-tellers, the ones who long to show an ugly world what true beauty is, are scorned.

It is hard to unlearn lessons that were learned the hard way.

We live in a dark day.

Some thoughts on “Christmas”

​The accouterments and the heathen history of “Christmas” trouble me. That they exist takes away from the soul-saving news. That Christianity has been slapped onto heathen celebrations and then peeled off by a God-hating society seems to me to be part of Satan’s scheme to further confuse people and seal their destruction.

However, as the psalmist states, which I believe applies to every day, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” 

Because Jesus lives, we have reason to anticipate that the best is yet to come, despite often dark and overwhelming circumstances.

God loves us, came to reconcile us to Him, and we will soon be with Him. Thanks, honour, and glory be to Him forever. ♡

Ephesians 2:

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

At Calvary

As I carried a cup of tea from the kitchen to my digital piano, gentle rays of sunset landed on my hymnal, beckoning me to take this photo. It seems to me that such moments are a fleeting taste of heaven, where the undying light of our Lord Jesus will illuminate all as we sing His praises so lovingly.

I began to play “At Calvary”, a hymn I have always rendered in a slow, gentle manner, but which until tonight had not worked through my fingertips in years. As I read the words I’d sung so many times, really read them, by the second verse I stopped playing, overcome by emotion. I took a sip of tea and read on, but couldn’t swallow for tears.

“It’s about me,” I thought. “Oh, how this song is about me. How did I not see this before?”

I thought about the hour I first believed, back in 1987, reliving my conversion from doomed sinner to saved saint. I finally swallowed my tea and thanked the Lord out loud. 

1. Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.

Refrain:

Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

2. By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.

Refrain

3. Now I’ve given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary!

Refrain

4. Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!

Refrain

Writing With A Pen

For me, there is something therapeutic about picking up a ball-point pen and watching the letters form on a fresh page, especially those first words in a new notebook. The word “sacred” comes to mind.

Whether I write via ink or through the wonders of electronic transmission, getting the words out is the main thing. Still, something about pen and paper beckons to me. Perhaps it is the relative simplicity, where no electricity or electronics are involved, giving more of a sense of creating something from my mind and connecting to the result.

bursting-heart-pen

I read an article today on the subject of writing by hand. I find it to be inspiring. Here it is.

The Simple Joy of Writing by Hand

 

Please Don’t Say “Clearly”

When I am reading someone’s writing about or listening to someone talking about Scripture, and the word “clearly” is used, unless it is in the context of explaining something about 1 Corinthians 13:12, I automatically become wary of the information being offered.

They will say something like “We see clearly in God’s Word that this means such and such…”, but rarely do they explain how that clarity was achieved for them.

When “clearly” crops up like that, my thought is, “Them’s brainwashin’ words.”

If you really feel something is that clear, then show your evidence and let the recipient judge the level of clarity according to their own perception.