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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

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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.

Make Believe Flowers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

He showed up  in the evening
when his wife was fast asleep
with a bouquet of flowers
that were only make believe

He gave them to his lover
and she put them in a vase
she knew he didn’t love her
she could see it in his face

Then one day she asked him
to leave his wife for her
he laughed in her face
said it would just create a stir

She said if you cannot chose between us
then you must be on your way
she couldn’t believe he left her
and she begged for him to stay

This sad story of a love gone astray is my entry into this weeks’ Friday Fictioneers.

 

Getting to where we are part 1

When I was 16 I graduated from High School. I didn’t do well, but High School was such a nightmare for me, I was not going back there, in fact, I had no plans to ever go back to any school; and I did everything I could not to go back.

My first job was a student job in my community. We used chainsaws to clear land for a playground. Although the other kids were using the chainsaws, my dad made me promise I wouldn’t touch one. I thought it was because he thought I would hurt myself, but that wasn’t the reason. When I asked him why he said this, his reply was that I was too good to be a pulp cutter like him.

My dad worked at any job he could find. He didn’t have a lot of education, or confidence in himself. That being said, he was (and still is) a very hard worker. I remember Dad coming home from working in the woods all day, his clothing wet and filled with mud and balsam, and him being beat out from the hard work. God I wanted to be just like him.

After this job, and a lot of preaching, my parents talked me guilted me into returning to school, this time at a local community college to do an accounting course. Did I mention I have always sucked at math?

At 16 years of age, I was the youngest student in the Clerk Accounting class. I was young and green, especially around girls. I felt like a kid (because I was) in the class. I did horrible on the tests, mainly due to my lack of math skills, the other reason was my overall hate for school in general.

One day the teacher called me into his office. He said my writing was atrocious. Well, I was so proud. No teacher ever praised my work like that. In fact, back in high school, I was actually asked to print, as my writing was unreadable.

I had to go home and brag to my parents and friends about the wonderful compliment the teacher gave me. My buddy heard me bragging and suggested I check out the dictionary, to see what the word meant. He didn’t think it sounded like much of a compliment at all.

I shouldn’t have looked in the damn book.

a·tro·cious

ADJECTIVE

of a very poor quality; extremely bad or unpleasant.

Well, maybe my writing skills had not improved. Upon realizing this, I lost all interest in my future as an accountant. Even so, I had to do a work term at a local building supply company. What a nightmare. They didn’t trust me because I looked so young. I only just turned 17, duh.

I sat in a cold office all day staring at an old ledger. I wasn’t allowed to mark in it, just stare at the numbers. I was so bored. I could not imagine doing this for a living, even if it paid well. After two weeks, I was ready to quit. I went home to talk plead to mom and dad, I had to get out of there.

My dad’s advice was to never give up. “You are working in a warm place with a roof over your head. I have never been that lucky. Stick it out, don’t give up, think of how hard I have to work.”

Once the work term was done, it was back to class. The only thing I was now interested was the bookkeeping class next door…all girls. I did so poorly in accounting, I got another call to the teacher’s office.

“Ted, you are not going to pass this program. We don’t want you to quit. Instead, we want to put you in the bookkeeping course. You can earn a certificate in bookkeeping, maybe make a few buck doing taxes or something.”

I didn’t hear anything past “we want to put you in the bookkeeping course”. The rest was just’ blah blah blah’. I was overjoyed. For once, I wanted to come to class. I was the only guy in the class, and unfortunately, the youngest person in the class. No matter, it was me and a crowd of girls.

I didn’t get the bookkeeping certificate either. I sucked in math bad enough, I couldn’t even achieve a certificate. The program ended after the grad. I may not have graduated from the program, but I did meet friends I still stay in contact with to this day.

Well, after that I knew school wasn’t for me. I applied for jobs but without an education besides a high school diploma with a 50% average, the jobs were not plentiful. Most of my friends were now heading for Toronto, where there were plenty of jobs. I had no desire to leave home, I knew where I wanted to work, if only I could convince my parents.

 

 

 

5 cats + 3 dogs + 2 birds + two crazy people = One Happy Family

Everyone warned me, but I didn’t listen. “Don’t get involved with the SPCA, you will end up with a house full of animals” they said. I didn’t listen, I knew better. Hell, I already had plenty of pets…Two dogs (Boots and Marley), Two cats (Chance and Misty), and Two budgies (Kiwi and Angel), perfect group of pets.

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Little did I know my wife was such an animal lover. We fostered a litter of three kittens for the Southwest Coast SPCA, and of course one was so cute, “We HAVE to keep him” she said. now we have 2 dogs, 3 cats and two budgies. We name this one Milo.

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We fostered two little orange kittens who were found in a mud puddle, abandoned by their mother. My wife has to bottle feed the smallest one. He comes down with kitty flu three times, almost dies each time. Of course he isn’t going anywhere, he is my wife’s baby. she names him JJ.

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2 dogs, 4 cats, 2 budgies.

We get a call. there is another litter of kittens looking for ‘TEMPORARY’ home…what a joke. one of the three ‘melts’ my wife’s heart. “What would you like for Christmas dear?” I ask. “Cider” she responds. “Cider, like the beverage? ” I ask, foolishly, “No, Cider the kitten” she says. I should have known.

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2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 budgies.

FIVE CATS? What the hell?

My oldest cat, Misty passed away in March, she was 13. This little cat was terrified of most  people and animals, and spent her entire life in the basement. She came from a terrible home where she was kept in a box away from everyone. My heart was broke.

2 dogs, 4 cats, 2 budgies. Our numbers are going down.

I should have learned to keep my mouth shut.

Three more little kittens come in for fostering. They are so cute. One of them claims ME! She sits on my shoulders everywhere I go. This one is on me. I call her Mia.

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2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 budgies.

Now you are thinking we must be out of our minds. You are correct.

Someone called to say they had 15 Husky Sheppard Mixed puppies, only 6 weeks old. The owner turned them in to the SPCA. Of course one of them finds her way into my arms. I fall in love immediately.

This time the wife says “We can’t keep her, unless we both fall for her” We agree to foster her, and she finds her way into our hearts. Of course she stays.

When she came into our lives. she was a charcoal colour, now, she is beige. Whatever she is, she sure is cute. The vet estimates she will grow to around 65-70 lbs. lots to love.

 

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so now, 5 cats 3 dogs and 2 parakeets. we are done. Ava is a piece of work, spends most of her time driving the other pets crazy. And of course I love her. our crazy family.

If you have lots of room in your heart for love, why not offer to foster a rescue? You won’t be sorry….just ask me.

Rushing Waters

Hilda complained as Wilbur recited words from his newest novel, Rushing Waters.

“..As the cold water passed across the rocks…”.

“Now Wilbur, stop this, you know what my bladder is like, I need to pee now!” complained Wilbur’s wife Hilda.

“…steam formed above the river. As the melting snow seeped into the riverside, it ran..”

“I CAN’T WAIT NO LONGER. PULL OVER!” Hilda screamed.

“..down the ditch, washing away everything in it’s path, even some lady taking a pee.”

Wilbur watched as his nagging wife was washed down the river.

“This really is Thanksgiving” he said, as he drove home.

dales-waterfall
PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson (Many thanks for the gracious loan of your photo.

This chilly tale is my entry into this weeks’ Friday Fictioneers. hope you like it. A big Happy Thanksgiving to our American Neighbours.

PDG Pretty Darn Good

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PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Philip Donald Gabriel (or PDG as everyone called him) was quite the case. Nothing bothered him. Not losing his leg in a sawmill accident, not losing his job, not even losing his wife to his former boss. When asked how he was doing, his reaction was always the same: PDG…Pretty Darn Good.

One night, after a few too many beer, PDG ended up coming home with his wooden leg missing. Once he sobered up, PDG looked everywhere for his missing leg, without much luck.

When asked how he was doing, his response is changed to NTG…Not Too Good.

This little tale of the missing limb is brought to you via Friday Fictioneers. hope you enjoyed reading it.

Humans 1 – Nons 1

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

For centuries, alien visitors known as the Nons (or Non-Humans) attempted to live amongst humans, but something in human DNA caused the aliens a painful death.

After years of research, a discovery was made. The cure was so simple: one part Human DNA, one part Non DNA.

How will we convince them to take it? asked a Non.

“Humans hate being sick” said the other Non. “They take meds for colds, so when we tell the world of the  Swine Flu, people everywhere will demand the shot.

And thus, the H1N1 flu vaccine was administered to half the Earth’s population.

This little conspiracy theory of the H1N1 flu shot is my entry into this weeks’ Friday Fictioneers.

This story has been banging around in my head for quite some time, I was just waiting for the right photo prompt to show up. I hope you enjoy it.