Brown Teeth

When you’re fifteen years old and drinking all day with your best friend, you need a toilet of some sort.

I was in that situation at Botanie Valley, near the village of Lytton, BC. (It’s pronounced “bo-TAN-ny”, by the way. It shouldn’t be confused with botany, the word for the study of plant biology.)

We had been riding dirt bikes all over the valley that afternoon. Beer bottles were a bit tricky to open in 1983 before twist-tops were popular, but thirst forced us to figure out ways on the metal parts of the bikes. Some spillage happened as the bottles had to be upside-down in order to make it work, but we were young and didn’t require as much to get our minds bent, so it was no huge loss.

We managed to avoid being gored by a big black bull somehow, even though when we came face to face with him around a bunch of trees he was snorting in an annoyed way and wasn’t backing off. In my panic, I stalled my bike. With surprising speed, my foot kicked that bike back into power mode and we hauled butt out of there.

Shakira and I were laughing and screaming our way down a hill at full throttle, rejoicing in the hot, hot sun over our escape from the bull, when a chain-link fence appeared in front of us that hadn’t been closed last time we passed through. Our non-lightning reflexes while under the influence of alcohol amazed us both and neither of us hit the wire mesh, but it was only by inches.

Darkness and mosquitoes eventually shut down our riding. Earlier in the daylight, the old wooden outhouse there on her parents’ friends’ remote mountainside property got plenty of use. It was as unappealing as all outhouses were, but not as intimidating as it was in the dark. We were sitting in her parents’ motorhome, drinking and listening to tunes. Tequila sunrises. Slurringly singing the Eagles song by that name, between sips, I said to Shakira, “I need the toilet.”

She said, “Go use the outhouse.”

I said, “Ew, though. It stinks in there.”

She said, “Well, just breathe through your mouth.”

I said, “No, that won’t work. I’ll get brown teeth.”

We laughed till we couldn’t breathe, and eventually I did weave my drunken way through the heaving ground to the outhouse.

And that started what would become an iconic joke between us for the next four decades. Brown teeth! Really, though, picture yourself in an outhouse and breathing through your mouth. It’s like the stink in the air gets trapped in the spaces between your teeth, leaving brown lines in your shallowly breathing grin. That’s what I meant. Not full-on brown TEETH – just the spaces between them.

Well, it was a long time ago, in my wild(er), silly(er), young(er) days.

“Brown teeth of Botanie keep on shinin’…”

(You might say my blogging has gone down the terlit lately…)

Peace, Love, and John Deere

It was the perfect June morning, still spring but on the cusp of summer, the air warm but not yet sweltering. Most mosquitoes used what little sense they had to remain asleep or unborn at that hour, except for the real go-getters eager to fill their beaks. The sun’s rays were fingers that elicited a symphony of scent: wild roses whispered in sweetly perfumed voices of full bloom all down the country lane, wafting out from beneath pine and spruce trees that sang their own songs of toasted aroma. A variety of birds blended in some audible notes of cheer.

And then a woman appeared in faded denim cut-off jeans and a loose pale lilac T-shirt, chugging along on a John Deere lawn tractor. She wasn’t mowing anything. She couldn’t if she wanted to, for the mower assembly was broken. Nothing but rocky asphalt was beneath the tires.

Chugga-lugga-luggin’ at a top speed of five miles per hour, she traversed six acres down the road, vaguely hoping the cop who lived nearby in the other direction wasn’t on duty. His kids are friends with some of her kids, so maybe he’d look the other way and say nothing if he saw her.

But maybe driving a lawn tractor on a public street isn’t a crime in that small community.

She parked the tractor on the grass by the driveway of her neighbour, shut it off, and walked into his garage.

“Helloooo!” she called out.

“Oh, good, you brought it,” said the neighbourhood mechanic.

“Yep, rode it over!” she said.

“Ya didn’t!” said his buddy from the other side of the garage, walking over to look into the yard.

“Oh, you DID!” he added, laughing.

Well, really, she saw no point in hooking up the utility trailer, setting up a ramp to it, and driving the tractor on, when she could save thirty minutes and drive over in five.

“Only at the 108 can we do that, eh!” she said, giggling.

“Annnd I just realized I forgot the cable that fell out of it,” she said.

“I’ll run home and get it,” she called out as she headed swiftly back down the driveway.

Around one corner and then another, she ran into a couple of neighbour guys sitting in lawn chairs. One chuckled, “What’d ya do, drive the tractor down the road and break it, so now you gotta walk home?”

She laughed, “No, the mower assembly has a broken cable, so I brought it down to Barry to fix. But I forgot the cable, so I gotta go grab it.”

I guess not a lot of people drive their lawn tractors on our roads, as when she returned a few minutes later with the cable in her hands, another neighbour called out from her front steps with a laugh in her voice, “Did you just ride by on your tractor?”

She laughed and said, “Yes, I did. I felt like the guy in that Adam Sandler movie, Waterboy, who rides his lawn tractor to town.”

Amidst more exchanged words and a few giggles, she showed the cable she’d just fetched, bid her neighbour a good day, and carried on.

After dropping off the cable, she ran home, did a few chores in the house, and an hour and forty dollars later, her tractor was ready. She ran down to retrieve it and buzzed on back home, dropping the mower into action when she reached her own acre of grass.

As she mowed, she wrote books in her mind. Some of the chapters might end up in print. Some might just be descriptive narratives like this here – mindless stories that are easier to recount than events that happened twenty and more years ago.

Oh, and no cops saw her, by the way. In fact, no vehicles drove by at all. Aside from a few fumes from the tractor, nothing polluted the fresh blue air that day, and for a rare twenty-four hours, all was well in her world.

From The Just Sayin’ Department: Towels

When you grab a clean towel from a shelf in readiment for a bath or shower, always shake the towel free from its folded (or whatever semblance of folding it is in) state before resting it in its wait for drying duty. Give it a shake and inspect it for insects or spiders. After your bath or shower, before employing the towel, check it once more for insects or spiders.

Just sayin’.

Seriously, though. This is especially important if you dry your laundry outdoors.

Friendship Like This

im-just-going-to-come-right-out-and-say-it-23327841.png

O, to have a friend with whom sweet fellowship is shared,

Whose love is real and unretractable

Who sees my flaws and doesn’t try to fix them

Who can tell me he hates me but we know it’s a lie

Who laughs with – not at – me

Who lets me spoil him and doesn’t expect or demand

Unselfish love.

So rare a love.

The kind that lasts forever.

Hang on to those friends with love.

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love) these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Patrick McManus – Great Writer Now Gone

I just found out that a year ago, in April of 2018, Patrick McManus died.

My heart tightened as I read about him no longer being on this earth.

He was right up there with the best of the best, as far as wordsmiths go, and yet most people, when asked by me if they’ve read his writing, have never heard of him.

Pat’s collections of short stories are mostly outdoor humour – things to do with hunting, fishing, camping, and other adventures. That right there is interesting to me, but with his humour and writing style, he could have set his stories on such distasteful (to me) topics as football or politics and caught my attention, as long as he spun them with his classy but crazy humour and smooth word choices.

“He was a gentleman and a scholar and a wordsmith,” the article below says of Pat.

I wish I knew him in person. I wrote to him once, in the mid 1990s, and he wrote back to me. What an encouragement that was!

Here is a link to an article someone wrote about Pat:

Patrick McManus Dies at Age 84

Misophonia and fun sounds

Seeing how nobody is likely to read this, I feel free to say that I really enjoy listening to the likes of Sh*ttyflute and Rec0rder Mast3r from Youtube. I find those sounds to be fun and even hilarious. It is not uncommon for me to listen to them in my car when I’m driving alone, but it’s more fun with family members. Some of my kids join me in finding them funny. Some find them annoying and do all they can to make me stop.

I’m talking about covers of known songs that are done so crappily on recorders or “flutes”, they’re GOOD. At least, to my ears.

Yet I can’t handle the sounds of certain computer fans, the Nintendo Wii when it gets left on, the BluRay DVD player being left on, the high pitch of an old TV even after it’s shut off (I have had to unplug them to make the noise stop), and various other noises.

It’s called misophonia and I don’t know what to do about it.

I hear everything that I don’t want to hear. One way to block it out is with loud music, and that’s not always practical. Earplugs help, but then I can’t hear the things I need to hear. Walking alone in a forest is a great escape, but I can’t do that all day.

As I type this blog entry, a couple of my kids are in the living room with some “crappy flute” songs coming out of the TV. It is actually relaxing to me. Why is that? I don’t know.

Here’s a very short favorite: just the startup sound of Windows XP. What a random thing to cover. That cracks me up!


PTB!

When you are in a grocery store and you see something on the shelf that doesn’t fit in with the other items around it, if you are with someone, point at the item, and with amusement say “PTB!”

They might not know what you mean, so you will need to explain the following, about which I originally mused aloud to one of my children many years ago:

I can just imagine a kid carrying that box of chocolates around as their mom shops.

The kid asks, “Mom, can I get this?”

In an irritated voice, the mom says, “No! Put that back!”

The child says, “But I don’t know where it goes.”

The mom says in an even more irritated voice, “Just put it right there,” pointing at a blank spot between the dish soap and the Windex.

The child with sufficient common sense might realize that is not the correct spot and balk at the command.

The mom, in the most irritated voice she has left, says, “Ugh!” as she grabs the chocolates and tosses them on the shelf.

Since then, I’ve told variants of that story to all seven of my children, and even to a few friends outside the family, whenever we see something that is out of place on a grocery shelf.

“Put that back!” in a mock irritated voice is often shortened to a mere “PTB” in a smiling voice.

A PTB comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be a can of Pringles in the toilet paper section. It might be a bag of chewy banana candies sitting by the bleach. It’s possibly a jar of Bick’s pickles beside the motor oil. It could even be a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup in with the scented jar candles (though I don’t know if anyone would realistically want to carry a can of that soup around for any length of time, so it could be assumed it was a small child too young to realize what it was).

I draw the line, however, at seeing cold items in a warm section. If time and energy permit, I will usher a carton of cashew milk to its proper refrigerator, and if a container of Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Crunch should appear in an inappropriate location and isn’t melted, I would more than likely have to add it to my cart for purchase. Waste not, want not.

Next time you are in a store and you see something out of place, think of my little story. If you can, please take a picture and send it to me.

Below is a photo of a PTB I saw yesterday at a local grocery store. 🙂

Happy shopping!

See the PTB? It’s a stuffed animal among toilet cleaning supplies.

You Don’t Say Bob Dylan Can’t Sing

One evening in the mid 1990s, I was sitting around the living room at X’s parents’ old place in Ladner, BC. We were listening to Bob Dylan on X’s dad’s awesome stereo system.

X’s dad, Pete, exclaimed, “Bob Dylan is the best harmonica player! Eh? Ya know? Man, he’s good. Ya gotta love him!”

I said, “Oh, he’s OK. About average. Naomi’s been doing pretty good on her harmonica and she’s only three,” I said, gesturing toward my little girl.

Pete got ultra-ruffled and he defended his musical hero in a long tirade. X and I kinda rolled our eyes at each other in amusement.

OK, that is the part of the story that starts the song, but there are two other tales to tell.

The earliest bit hearkens back to 1986, when X and I were in the back seat of his parents’ Toyota Camry, driving down a road in Point Roberts, Washington, having just left his Nana’s place – that is, his mom’s mom. X’s mom was in the passenger seat, and Pete was driving.

X and I each had a can of soda pop. After I drank the last sip of mine, I tossed the empty can out the window. X’s dad slammed on the brakes, screeched to a halt, zoomed the car backwards, and angrily ordered me to get out and pick up that can.

Hey, I was 19 and stupid, but he didn’t need to freak. Fine, I got out, picked it up, and never littered again.

Then there’s story number three, which was the day after the harmonica incident. All it entails is that X told me his dad really hates it when people spit in the sink. I’d just spat in the kitchen sink but washed it down the drain with running water immediately. Still, X said, “You’d better not let my dad see you doing that.”

“Ya don’t spit into the sink,” I said.

That got me thinking of Jim Croce’s song “Don’t Mess Around With Jim”, the chorus of which says,

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape,

You don’t spit into the wind,

You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger,

And you don’t mess around with Jim,

Ba doot dooda-da deet deet’n dee-dee dee…”

Long being a fan of putting my own silly words to sections of songs, I started playing with it. X, who rarely laughed at anything I did, actually got in on the humour and was cracking up right along with me.

“You don’t say Bob Dylan can’t play harmonica,” I began.

“You don’t spit into the sink,

You don’t throw pop cans out an open window,

And you don’t mess around with Pete.”

That didn’t have the correct amount of beats, so we changed the first line to “You don’t say Bob Dylan can’t sing”, which isn’t historically accurate, but now you know…

(And read this part in the voice of Paul Harvey)…

The rest of the story.

Written upon peer pressure by my buddy, Shakira B. O’Neil (not her real name), who not only taught this song to her son who is now a history professor, but has also been peer-pressuring me into going to the Bob Dylan concert in Kelowna, BC, this coming summer. Maybe I’ll go, and tell Bob about the song.