Author: Sightsnbytes

confessions of an animal rescuer

They called him ‘Old Neddy’ but in his younger days, before his brain started to hurt, he was known as Edward Loch, respected educator and friend to most.

Neddy lived in a rundown shack in a poor village. A rackety barn sat close to the home, its roof crooked from years of snowstorms, wind and rain; and neglect. An old rusty cadillac sunk into the ground behind the house, its windows cracked, seats torn. A remnant from better days before the headaches and the pain.

When the voices started coming, screaming in his head, Neddy moved far from the ones he once loved. He found this place, far from everything. It wasn’t much, but the whistles of the wind, blowing through the cracks in the cement soothed his head, blocked out the voices; or at least some of them.

Neddy was not alone in this place, he found companionship in the numerous cats he took into his care; some dropped off at his home by irresponsible owners, others who came for the food, the shelter and of course the love. The cats were his family, and this family multiplied to the point where Neddy had to make a choice who ate, the cats or Neddy himself. This is where a concerned (nosy) neighbour interveined. She called the police.

When the police arrived at Neddy’s home, they brought volunteers from the local SPCA. Neddy was frustrated at the number of human beings on his property. He had worked hard to avoid contact. People made the voices loud. He came out to greet the people, angry and yelling.

The old man stood on his doorstep, dressed in a tattered three piece suit that was expensive once. His long beard was grey and dirty, his teeth decayed like his life. He was yelling at the police, but when he noticed female volunteers, he straightened up, brushed as much crap from his trousers as possible, and greeted them respectfully.

“I don’t know why you are at my home.” he said, “I don’t break the law, I just want to be left alone, here with my friends.”

Thousands of empty cat food tins littered his lawn, bags of litter and wood chips bagged and piled high around the property, like a garbage fence; stink emitting from the bags, which were surrounded with blue flies, possibly attracted to the rotting cat shit.

The young one asked if she could enter his home, along with her friend and maybe a few police officers. “Only the females. I will let two in, two and one cop.” he said.

Upon entering the home Stella, the younger of the SPCA volunteers gasped and covered her mouth with her mask. The amonia hurt her eyes and her throat. Her associate, Jen also accompanied.

Embarrased by the state of his home, Neddy grabbed a shovel he found leaning on the wall, and proceeded to shovel cat feces towards the walls, clearing a place for the volunteers to walk. “Should have warned me you were coming, I could have cleaned the place up!” he complained, not realizing the place was beyond a quick cleaning.

He offered them a cup of tea, and some bread he had baked himself, in his stove that was also covered with shit.The two declined, thanked him for his kindness, all while holding back the vomit.

Stella and Jen were shocked at the sight of the place. Cat feces covered the small table, both tattered chairs, the couch, even the walls, and the smell was difficult, but the old man breathed perfectly, and acted like everything was normal. Cats hopped on them, lovingly, purring. Some were coughing, most were sick. Kittens popped out behind some, most mutated badly from inbreeding within the home. An old one hissed at the sight of the ladies. “He’s like me, he don’t like people much.” Neddy said.

One of the officers, concerned with Neddy’s living arrangement, asked if he had a bathroom in the home. “That went out months ago” he replied. “I cut a hole in the floor. it works great for me.” he added. Upon further inspection, he was telling the truth. A hole, chopped with an axe, served as his toilet. The smell caused all inside to urge, all except Neddy. He never smelled a thing.

The cats were easily caught. They were put into cages, and brought to the vehicles, where volunteers loaded them inside. Neddy was sobbing now, his world being taken from him. The officer held him back while the volunteers removed the cats from the home. A social worker was on hand, to help the old man. He refused of course. “I don’t need any of you, just my pets.” he said, as he cried loudly.

The officer counted the cats, he saw only 26. The neighbour guessed at least 50. Neddy said the rest would be in the shed, because they didn’t like it inside. He promised to gather the remaining cats, and call the police when he did. He never did.

The cats were all sick, and vets could do nothing for them but end their suffering. We never heard from Neddy again, but we drive past his home from time to time, to make sure he is ok. He still doesn’t like strangers, but waves as we pass; probably hoping we go away. He still has cats, possibly more than he had in the past. The tins still litter the yard, the smell of cat urine still as strong, maybe worst, The roof on the shed has fallen even more, the walls are beginning to give away as well.

As long as people abandon there pets, there are people like Neddy, hurting from what he believes the world did to him, happy to take the helpless creatures inside his home, and love them.

This is an all too real situation. Seniors dealing with mental disorders, living in conditions like this. This is a people problem. Cats and dogs not being cared for properly, not spayed or neutered, and abandoned are also a people problem, one that SPCA’s across the world struggle to control. Please help. Get your pet spayed or neutered. Help your local pet rescue when you can.

My wife and I are part of a wonderful organization whose main goal is to save abandoned pets. The Southwest Coast SPCA rescued and rehomed 366 unwanted cats last year. We also ran Trap Neuter Release Programs in feral cat colonies, and offer a low cost Spay Neuter program to low income families. Programs like those cost money, as vet fees are quite high in our area. We get by mostly on donations and fundraisers, but thanks to Covid-19 lockdown procedures, we could not hold our usual fundraisers. If you would like to help our organization you can donate through etransfers. Our email address is swcspca@hotmail.com. If you would rather help animal rescue in your area, visit or email the organization and ask how you can help.

thanks for reading

Ted.

I am back…sort of

After months of not being able to log in or have access to my posts, I finally had time to tinker with my wordpress and here I am, back, ready to start scaring you with my outlandish stories.

The first story I will tell you is of the sci-fi nature.

Imagine you wake up in a hospital. You are alone, no doctors, no nurses anywhere. That’s right, this is the Newfoundland and Labrador Health Care System. Joking. on with the story….

You leave the room and begin to wander around the hospital. You notice it is chilly then also notice you are wearing one of those flimsy hospital gowns with the ass out. There is no heat in the place, and most of the lights aren’t functioning. (I begin to think Budget cuts!!)

You do see bodies, all dead, laid in piles in abandoned rooms. There are signs everywhere, warning of something called ‘social distancing’, whatever the hell that is. You call out, and the only thing you hear back is the echo of your own voice.

The silence is deafening. You start to remember things, little things, like laying on a bed, everyone around you, all the people you love, all praying you come out of the coma. Nobody here now, too bad, you are definitely out of the coma, but you wonder where you really are.

You find a door and go outside. Nothing. No cars moving, but they are there, parked on either side of the road, Garbage is strewn everywhere, buildings look dark, no lights anywhere. More signs about this social distancing. What the hell?

You decide to try to find someone, maybe find out what the hell is going on. You imagine zombies walking up and down the street. That would not be so hard to believe at this point, You walk up to a house, knock on the door. Kids in the house peer out the window at you. They are wearing masks. Someone is coming to the door. A man. He points up the street, and yells at you to mask up and get lost. What the hell? ‘Mask Up?’ What is that you wonder. He tosses you a cheap looking mask. You take it, reluctantly

You begin to think the world has suffered some kind of nuclear disaster. That is the only thing that makes sense to you. That must be it. You put the mask on, and continue your search for something that makes sense.

You see a billboard on the ground, fallen. On it there is a picture of a man with a large head, and bad hair. The slogan says “We won the election” It looks like someone has hauled it down and desecrated the thing with spray paint. You pass by a church. The place is abandoned, the door left ajar, and swinging back and forth, creaking.

Finally, you see a line up of people, all wearing masks. Walking towards you. They have signs they are waving. They are yelling something. “We took the needle, now we are doomed!” the crowd repeated the last part…”We are Doomed, We are doomed!” They continued their chant as they walked past me, like nobody noticed me standing there, in my hospital gown with the ass out. They are old, or look that way. They look like old people with kids bodies. What the hell. I decide to follow, distantly.

The crowd approaches a few more people, again kids with old faces. They too are chanting something about the needle. The crowd joins with the others, chanting loudly, some cussing, some not. I keep my distance, but by now I have to know what the hell is going on.

The line stops at a clinic. Red Cross vehicles everywhere. There is a line up. People who look somewhat normal, albeit pale faces, are entering a building. Suddenly the once peaceful but chanting lineup turn into a violent mob. They began swinging their signs, knocking people down. “We got the needle, we are doomed” they chanted, as they pushed their way into the building. The mob were quickly escorted out, as armed guards pushed each person out the door, threatening them with a hand gun. The man himself didn’t look so good, again, he resembled a young man, but with a drawn and craggy, wrinkled face. He looks at me, as if I have some sort of disease. He then points his gun at me, the confused man in the hospital gown with the ass out. I try to run, but that damn gown. Frigging cold too. He doesnt take long to catch me, but longer than it should have taken him. He puts on gloves and hauls me inside.

COVID-19 VACCINES MANDATORY IN ST JOHN’S NEWFOUNDLAND

TO BE CONTINUED……

Rick

Its funny how things stick with you for your entire life, especially the bad things. What someone thinks is humerous can be particularily damaging for a child, I should know.

Rick was my Physical Education teacher in high school. He was one of those Alpha Males I always hated. He was loved by everyone else, so it seemed at the time.

I always hated Gym, and basically any sort of sport. Now I enjoy watching the odd hockey game, but as for actually playing the game, I will pass.

Back in high school, I was particularily awkward. Since my mom was a teacher, she home schooled me prior to me entering school. Because of this, I did not do Kindergarten or grade one. That meant I catapaulted right into the second grade, at  7 years of age.

Through all my years in school, I was 2 years younger than everyone else. When my classmates were gaining interest in girls, I was still too young to even want a girlfriend. I was shy and bashful, especially around the ladies.

Each week, we had a two hour gym class on Friday afternoon. I remember this week Rick announced we would be playing softball. The whole class was excited, and I could have vomited.

Without confidence or any kind of hand eye coordination, I was the last thing anyone wanted on their team, so I was never picked on a team, and teams ended up flipping a coin to see whose team I played on. If that wasn’t embarassing enough, wait until you hear what the teacher did.

I was happy to sit on the bleachers and watch my classmates enjoy themselves, but the gym teacher, in all his psychotic glory, forced me out on the field. When I was at bat, he got everyone to come infield. He got my friend, who was pitching, to come within two feet of me. Just when he was going to toss the ball, Rick stopped him, and asked another student to run to the gym and get something…a Volleyball!

Rick got my friend to pitch a volleyball at me rather than the softball. Everyone, including a few girls I had secret crushes on, laughed. I dropped the bat, and walked back to the  bleachers with my head down.

Thanks to that moment, I never gained much confidence. This little stunt, which Rick actually brought up at our first class reunion, ruined me in school. It was bad enough getting bullied by my classmates, but when the teacher does it, it is even worst,

It took me 30 years to regain my confidence. Now, because of people like Rick (there were others), I am finally a strong person. I have risen above the childishness of those people.

I have always advocated against bullying. This is Why

got it made

Seen an old friend today. James and I were good friends back in the early 80’s. we worked together at Canadian Tire. James got fired for sleeping on the job. Literally. He was found sleeping in the warehouse. Never kept in contact with him afterwards.

I seen James today at Subway. He and his wife were ‘all chat’. I asked how he was, if he was working, (you know, small talk), while I waited for my order. He said “never worked since Canadian Tire. Think I hurt my back working so hard there.” I am thinking ‘for crying out loud, that was 1981, this is 2020 and the only job you had was that one???’

“You are some lucky” he said. “Your own home, a nice car, nice clothes. Wish I had those things”

It is hard not to tell people how you feel sometimes. I wanted to explain to him how after leaving Canadian Tire ( I worked there for three weeks), I worked as a pulp cutter for 20 years, then went back to school several times, and did other jobs until being hired to my current job. I wanted to tell him that I worked for everything I ever had, and I still owe lots.  I wanted to tell James that if he worked, he could have all those things too, but I didn’t. I wanted to tell him that it is not all that ‘easy’, working, paying bills, paying mortgages, paying car loans; but I didn’t. Guys like James wouldn’t understand.

My dumb question of “So, what have you been doing the past 30 years” got me this answer:

“Nothing much, met my wife, had a few kids, rented an apartment. The wife works (on the side) but we are pretty much dependent on welfare.” There you have it.

He ended our conversation by telling me how he cannot wait for ten more years. I was dumb enough to ask why.

“Retirement, Man nretirement! I can’t wait to retire!” he said. “Imagine when we retire, we will be making the same money” he added. I wish he didn’t.

Retire from what? I wanted to ask. You worked for a month when you were 17 years old. You never did a tap your entire life, other than make a few babies who I am quite sure are using the system the same way you do. What he doesn’t realize is that by ‘retiring’ from social services, he will stand to lose lots. Things like his free drug card, his income (is it called income if you never worked to get it?) will be lower? Its no good to burst his bubble, let him retire. I for one do not want to wish away my years looking for an easy life.

Thats All in this rant.

Oh, he asked if me and my wife could have him and his wife up for a few drinks sometime… I wanted to say, ‘Yes, in 30 years’ but I didn’t.

kicking the habit

Susan tried everything to quit smoking. She tried hypnosis, acupuncture, medications, even tried going cold turkey. She always ended up smoking again. On one occassion, she vowed to only smoke when she drank, but then realized she was buying bottle after bottle of wine, just so she could have that cigarette. When she did manage to quit for short times, she gained a ton of weight, or got so cranky, her husband ended up buying her cigarettes.

Then one day she quit. Never smoked again, never craved, never gained any weight, never drank wine, and never got cranky.

She died.

This little tale of addictions and cravings is brought to you by the folks at Friday Fictioneers. Thanks for reading. Oh, and find a better way to quit smoking than the method Susan used.

image
PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Remembering…cars

As I sit here going through the list of classic cars available on Kijiji, I want to cry. The prices for those old cars are outrageous!

I was 17 and my cousin had a garage where he repaired and painted cars. His parking lot was always full of beautiful automobiles, and I was a poor kid who wanted all of them,  but couldn’t afford even the lowest priced cars.

I remember once this guy brought up his 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The ten year old car had gone through a tough time, its paint ruined by sea gull shit. The engine was strong though, as the car spent its Sunday afternoons at the local drag strip, blowing away many of the cars it raced.

I was happy when my cousin asked me to help him work on the car. I did most of the masking tape, but also helped with sanding. The car had beautiful lines, and was easy to sand down. With all the salt used here on the island, ten years did lots of damage to the car’s body, so we used plenty of filler to make it look new again.

When the car was painted, it was beautiful. I remember when the owner came to pick it up. “Selling ‘er now!” he said. “Looking to get at least $3000!” How expensive I thought. The car is probably worth over $100,000 these days, but getting $3000 back then was as difficult for me then as getting the hundred thousand now.

Sometimes deals came by. I actually picked up a 1968 Pontiac Beaumont for $350. The car was rusted on the outside, but you should have seen the inside! The older couple who owned the car since it was new covered everything in plastic. Of course, being 17 years old and not knowing any better, I stripped away the clear plastic, revealing a pristine interior.

We fixed the car up in our spare time. The body received an odd colour my cousin made from mixing several different paint colours together. it was a shitty lime green, but I didn’t care, hell, this was my first car after all.

My cousin had several cars, all of them ‘deals’ he found around town. This was the early Eighties, and everyone wanted those new ‘K’ cars Chrysler were making. People were selling off the muscle cars in favour of ‘fuel efficient’ cars.  The nicest car he ever had was a 1974 Ford Gran Torino. The car was painted a tan gold metallic, a job my cousin did himself. He had Cragar rims and fat tires on the back, and ran via a 351 V8 he  resurrected from an old Mustang he found at the dump. Man was it cool.

He also owned a 1967 Chevy Van. The van sat on a short wheel base, and was flanked by an amazing two tone paint job he did himself. I remember one funny story involving the van. My cousin just bought four huge tires and rims from a guy and called me to help put them on the van. He was so excited to drive the van decked out with the new rubber, he forgot to tighten the lug nuts on one of the wheels.

We were heading down the steepest hill in our community when suddenly we were passed by a huge tire wrapped around a very shiny chrome rim. “What stupid idiot would roll such a nice tire down the hill, almost hitting my van?” he asked, moments before the van tilted to one side and came to a screeching halt, sparks and brake parts flying everywhere!

Of course he was the idiot.

Last time I spoke to him, he was driving a little shitbox called a Pontiac Wave. My how times change. Hope he has his lugs tightened.

 

 

 

Bears and Berry picking

Went berry picking the other day. It was just me and thousands of raspberry stalks, all thorny and stabby. The place was dead quiet when suddenly I heard chatter from at least a few people.

“Oh NO!” I thought, “My berry picking patch is ruined. a crowd will stomp down all the bushes, causing the ripe berries to fall to the ground.”

I headed towards the voices, only to discover they were both coming from the same person, a very old man, chattering loudly to himself. I went over to talk to him.

“Anyone else picking berries besides me and you?” I asked.

“Nope” he replied, and went on talking to himself.

“Um, Sir, who are you talking to?” I asked, almost afraid of his answer.

“Nobody” he said.

Just when I was about to high tail it out of the area, in fears the guy was insane, he went on to say:

“I ain’t talking to nobody. There’s nobody here but you and me. When I am alone, I talk loudly so if there is a bear around, he will think someone else is here and maybe chase them. I figure I have a 50% chance he will go after the other guy.”

I guess he did have some logic, albeit a bit insane.

“Gangway!’ he yelled, as he ran past me.

I began running as well. “Who we running from?” I asked.

“The bear” he said, “he is coming behind us!”

“So” I said smartassedly, “You logic didn’t work. The bear didn’t chase the other guy, he chased you!” I said.

“Nope, my logic makes perfect sense. The bear IS chasing the other guy, which happens to be you!” He said this as he ran to the left, leaving the bear hot on my heels.

I got out ok that day, but I learned a valuable lesson. Never try to figure out logic, and never interupt people who talk  to themselves.

 

 

 

 

“Sit

Cajun Dogs…Get your Cajun dogs

it was around 8 or 9 years ago when I was attending a community studies program at a local college. I had just met my now wife, and we were members of a group working on a fundraising project.

Our group decided to do a BBQ to raise money for victims of a recent flood. All the supplies were donated, all we needed was to provide the BBQ and fuel. I had an older BBQ and decided to loan it for the cause.

I had asked a friend of mine with a truck to deliver my BBQ to the site. Unknown to me, he failed to tether the thing in the back of his truck, and ended up losing the ‘Q on the highway. When we started the thing up, we had flames going everywhere.

Here we were with a lineup of hungry customers, and no way to control the fire other than turning off the gas. We had over 30 weiners on the grill, all blackened from the flames.

At first we figured we cut our losses and go home, but given the need for funds by community members, I came up with a plan.

“Cajun Dogs, Get you Cajun Dogs” I chanted. The crowded parking lot suddenly got even busier, as a bus load of kids from a remote community hauled into the lot. Kids got out and began running towards us.

“Wow, we never even heard of a cajun dog before” expressed one kid, as he bit into the burned weiner. The buns were even more charred. Soon, everyone on the bus and even some of the other people were lined up for our unique food.

We cleared $1500 after the sale ended. Of course my BBQ was trash, but we managed to help the community, and I ended up with a funny story to tell my friends.

Pine Beer and Bikers

a few years ago, my friends and I found out what Americans were made of. This story began in my basement, and with our home made beer recipe. This was the summer that the beer companies all went on strike, therefore, no beer on the island except some Old Milwaukee crap imported from the states, not the strong, hardy beer we Newfoundlanders are used to drinking.

On this particular weekend, we decided to make our own beer. All the stores were closed, and we needed a brewing bucket. My friend said that his mom worked at a local school, and she should have plenty of plastic 5 gallon buckets lying around. When he showed up at the house, he had a white plastic bucket under his arm. The bucket’s label read “5 Gallons of Pine Sol.”

Before we had a chance to ask him if he had cleaned the bucket, the guys began the beer making process. I later asked him about it, and he replied, “How much cleaner can you be than Pine Sol?” Hey, we were thirsty for some beer, so what is the worst than can happen? It is funny how that answer to that question always comes back to haunt you.

Anyway, we mixed all the ingredients in the bucket, which smelled like Pine Sol. The boys noticed the strong smell, but guessed that the alcohol would probably dissolve any odors anyway. When all the ingredients were mixed, we sealed the bucket, being sure to cut a small hole in the cover of the bucket, and attaching a balloon to the hole. This allows air to circulate but not leave the bucket.

The weekend of the Shallaroo was just two weeks away, giving us time to bottle the beer and allowing it to ferment just right. (The Shallaroo was a local music festival celebrated in the Codroy Valley area of the province. The festival featured many local entertainers and a few from the mainland.) On Friday evening, the guys came up to the house, and together with the big plastic bucket of beer and about 6 dozen empty beer bottles that we painstakingly washed out, we began bottling our beer. One of the boys could not resist a drink of the warm ale, and with that, he almost threw up. “Tastes like pine air fresheners, the kind I have hanging from my rear view mirror in the truck” He said.

We began to worry. Here it was, just two weeks before the festival, and our beer tastes like pine air freshener. Like the brave Newfies we were, we said the hell with it, kept bottling the stuff, and stored the bottled ale in the refrigerator. (These were the days prior to my meeting my fiance, and beer was a staple in my fridge on numerous occasions.) One of the guys said “If we are ever out of beer, we will always have this stuff to drink”

We had a few parties at the house afterwards, but we always managed to stay clear of that beer, choosing instead to drink Whiskey or rum. One of my friends, who was either braver than us, or dumber, chose to drink the Pine beer we made. In no time at all, he was caught holding his stomach, crying out that he seen a bear under my step, only to find that it was just a garbage bag. He was hallucinating seeing wild animals that turned out to be household items. We blamed the beer.

On the day before the festival, the guys came to the house with their trucks, and loaded the alcohol we bought into large coolers and of course, the pine beer; anxious to get the weekend started. When we got to the Codroy Valley festival fields, we found a great site and began unpacking our gear. When our tents were set up, we opened our coolers, and carefully avoiding the horrible pine beer, we started drinking.

Just then, a gang of bikers came up along the road to the field where the festival was being held. One of them came over, saying that he was from Michigan. He bragged about all the Canadian beer they had. One of the guys informed us that the strike was over, and liquor stores began stocking our fine ale once again. Under their arms they carried each a six pack of beer. One of the bikers asked whether they could store their beer in our coolers, because they didn’t enjoy the thought of drinking warm beer on such a hot day. We reluctantly agreed to their offer.

Well, we didn’t actually agree to their offer, instead, we had our own agenda. I had an interesting idea. How about we store their beer, but we give them our beer, the Pine beer. “How will they know the difference?”  “They probably never drank LaBatts beer anyway, maybe they will think it does taste like Pine Sol.”

As the night went on, the music played loud, and the entire field was filled with partyers, drinking and whooping it up loudly. Around 2 am, we could hear our biker friends in the site next to us, they were carrying on like they were insane. Several of them were heard in the woods vomiting loudly, but they kept drinking anyway.

The next morning, we were greeted by four very big guys, dressed completely in leather, with skulls and crossbones on the backs of their jackets. The biggest guy was as green as a cabbage, and with that, he said “We have to hand it to you Newfies. We noticed you guys drinking all night, we only drank about six beer each, and yet, you guys are perfectly healthy this morning, and we are running around like we drank poison.”

“We learned a valuable lesson today” said one of the bikers. “Your beer tastes nothing like our beer, but it leaves a fresh taste in your mouth and it kicks like a bull”, “We plan on buying more to bring to our friends in the states” they said.

We never told them that they drank beer brewed in plastic Pine Sol buckets. They probably did drink poison.

gram’s soup

I had a dream last night that I was eating a bowl of soup at my grandmothers. Gram always made the best soup. Well actually, everything she cooked was delicious. For whatever reason, her soup was always my favourite. Maybe it was because she only used vegetables from her garden, maybe it was because the chicken or the beef came from their farm. I actually believe it was because she made it with love, her secret ingredient.

The dream was so vivid, I could almost smell the soup as I lay there in my bed. Even though my grandmother passed away in 2012, I thought for a minute I was actually in her kitchen. I miss you Gram.