You never know quite when you will become a stalker…

I wander into my favourite coffee shop and scan the room for a good place to sit.  I am planning to write a short story for the Weekly Writing Challenge at WordPress.com: Person, Place, and Thing and I need a good spot from which to observe the other patrons.  The cafe is crowded, but I find a small table wedged in between the self-service coffee bar and a wall; it’s a bit cramped and not really a great spot but there isn’t much else to choose from.  I dump my backpack and purse on the table then go grab my coffee.

When I return to my table I start to scan for a likely prospect… a person… any person.  I suddenly realize that the only direction I can see is across the room directly in front of me. Rats. Well, there is an older gentleman sitting at one of the café tables. I focus on him consciously trying to ‘hone’ my powers of observation. The table is ‘pub style’ so tall enough you could stand at it, made of dark wood and sans table cloth. He’s perched on a high backed chair that looks kind of like a bar stool.  One of his legs is dangling and the other is bent at the knee, his heel hooked on to the chair rung.  His coat is half on and half off the back of the stool and he has elbow on the table and one arm slung over the back of the chair. Overall he looks pretty relaxed and is chatting with someone I can’t see as they are blocked by the corner of the wall that runs beside my table.  He has a large ‘walrus’ style mustache,  well-trimmed and snowy white,  his skin is tanned and a bit lined – it looks like he might spend a lot of time out of doors.  He’s got a white plastic spoon in his hand, the kind they provide in fast food places. I think he must have used it to stir his coffee as there doesn’t appear to be any food on the table.  He puts the spoon in his mouth when he isn’t talking, almost as if he has to keep his mouth busy to prevent him interrupting the other person.  So far i feel I am observing accurately – I am reluctant to pull out pen and paper as I feel this would make my observation too obvious and that would be rude.  so instead I run my eyes over him committing every detail I can to memory.

He’s dressed casually like many other people in the coffee shop:  faded blue shirt, white T shirt peeping out at the neck, blue jeans, and running shoes.  Nothing really outstanding if I’m dead honest.  Well, there is that mustache. Oh, and now I see he has very clear blue eyes.  Piercing blue eyes.  Oh wait, he’s realized I’m staring at him and is staring back. Shit!  Without thinking how odd it will look, I quickly lean back so I am partially hidden by the self-service bar.  I wait a few seconds, pretending to be engrossed in the enamel on the self-service-bar: there are lots of finger prints and coffee drips… gross.  Eventually I relax and ease myself properly back into my chair.  He has turned in his chair and is now fully facing his friend, but glances at me out of the corner of his eye.  I gaze innocently at my coffee and wait.  After a few more minutes I glance up and he’s relaxed a bit more, elbows on the table and is laughing at something his friend has said. He seems comfortable; who could his conversation mate be?   He’s tapping the spoon on the table and jiggling the foot that’s resting on the chair rung.  I wonder what they are discussing… who is his friend? Is it a friend? Maybe it’s a sibling or a coworker or… who knows? I can’t see the person he’s talking to so I lean forward to get a look at them and my movement draws his attention. His face turns towards me and in the split second before I can think I duck back behind the self-service counter. This is when I start to realize that I’m behaving a bit like a stalker. My face gets very hot and I’m sure that at any moment he is going to aggressively question me as to my motive. What do I do now? The mature thing would be to go speak to him, tell him what I’m doing and apologize for making him uncomfortable.  Of course I’m not going to do that… talk about awkward! But I clearly can’t sit here playing some sort of demented peek-a-boo game with this stranger… I sit for a few more seconds then rapidly gulp down my coffee and grab my backpack.  Hopefully I can make a graceful exit.  I lurch to my feet, knocking my chair over and, head down, make a bee line for the door.  My eyes do a quick sweep of the suddenly quiet coffee shop and the last thing I see before I head out the door is my ‘subject’, hands splayed on the table, head turned towards me, brow furrowed and eyes wide with surprise and his friend (a younger man – maybe his son?) watching me with an identical expression on his face.  I wonder what kind of an impression I have made on them today.  I don’t know that I’m cut out for these Daily Post Challenges…

Say ‘Yes’ and see what happens next

goats

Another migrated blog from November 14/2010

OK, so goats shouldn’t really be in the house.  Most people know that without having to experience it but some of us (OK, me) do need to try things before they say they don’t like it, you know?  My mom always made me have one bite of something new because I couldn’t say I didn’t like it until I had tasted it.  She was right – that’s how I discovered how delicious Brussel sprouts are (I’m serious – most favourite vegetable of all time).  We need new experiences – it’s how we learn.  I even went so far as to decide on summer vacation one year, that for an entire week I would not say NO to any opportunity that came my way. Seriously, would not say No… it wasn’t in my vocabulary.  So what happened?  I drove (OK, probably not the right word) a boat on the ocean; I raided crab traps in American waters (illegal on two counts: 1) not my traps and 2) crossed the american border illegally!);  I got a massage and a manicure, bought some outrageously expensive clothing; I went to a really cool house party in down town Vancouver, I participated in a drive by minting (involved a speeding mini-cooper, a bag of scotch mints and some rowdies at a bus stop). These were all new experiences that I would normally have said ‘No” to.  Me pilot a boat?  I had no boating experience, didn’t know port from starboard, didn’t know (till I figured it out) that you don’t let waves slap the boat broadside – that’s how you ‘swamp’ the boat. I learned, after robbing the traps, how to boil and eat crab. I also learned that crabs WILL pinch you if you get your finger in their ‘faces’ and that it really, really does hurt.  I also discovered that when cleaning a crab, pulling the carapace off is best done gently if you want to avoid exploding crab guts all over someones nice house. I also found that treating myself to expensive clothing while on vacation is a luxurious thing :).  And remembering the Drive-By-Minting has kept a smile on my face for over 10 years now.

So what has keeping the goats in the house taught me?  Well, a baby goat is really only helpless and wobbly for about 24 hours.  After that, it can pretty much get out of anything you put it in.  They pee every 5 and a half seconds (or so it seems) and while they can be trained to do their morning pee outside, or, for that matter, to pee outside anytime you put them out there,  they pretty much will pee anytime, anywhere without too much forethought.  Goats pee does not smell good.  Goats climb. They will be found in your laundry basket on top of your newly laundered clothes. They will climb on your couch (remember the pee statement from earlier? yeah)  They will chew (not eat, mind you, but ‘feel’ with their mouths) anything they can get their lips on – just to see how it feels.  BUT, baby goats are the most adorable thing.  It is comforting to sit with a baby goat in your lap, it’s little chin nestled on your chest, giving little grunts of happiness, while you are watching tv.  It is rewarding to see a cold almost lifeless kid rescued from the barn slowly revive under your hand – taking deeper breaths and slowly realizing there is an active world around it. The little girl in me loves blowing their fur dry and putting a collar on them (I stopped just short of the bows on their ears 🙂 ).   It is also extremely satisfying to have them run to greet you when you come back into the room after you have been out of the room for all of 5 minutes – they seem to be bleating ‘it’s you! it’s you! look, you’re back!’.

So, no, goats – un-housebroken  smelly, loud demanding goats probably shouldn’t be in the house.  Tomorrow Rita and Chaos and Chuck (new goat that needed a boost) will go out to the ‘bottle’ pen that Don built in the barn.  It makes sense.  It’s a good idea.  But I know that Rita is going to miss the Tudors on Tuesday night…

And while I know they won’t appreciate the comparison – my kids are not house broken (per se), are frequently smelly, loud and demanding… perhaps they need a pen in the barn? no, no I go to far.  🙂

A Very Bleak Poem

moved over from my facebook blog from November 20, 2010

Many of you may know that I recently lost my dad to cancer.  while I was burrowing through some documents on the computer I found this poem I wrote while my cousin Judy was in the hospital dying of breast cancer.  At the same time this was happening, I found out later that my friend Krista’s mom was losing her battle with cancer as well.  Anyway, this poem reflects my state of mind at the time and frankly, also captures my feelings about this period when dad was dying.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I tidy the kitchen

& hang the tea towels up,

I am not dying.

I gather up my son & his toys

And hustle him into his bath.

He is so full of life.

He splashes through his bath

And chats about the miracle of water going

Down

the

Drain.

Life drips from him;

Sparkles on his lashes like diamonds,

Dances in his laughter.

I put him in his pajamas; we count: one leg, two leg.

Pull the covers up to his chin

Kiss his warm peach cheek

Breathe his sweet baby smell.

The smell of life.

I brush my own teeth,

Wash my own face,

Pay scant attention to the water going

Down

the

Drain.

I put my pajamas on

I do not count: One leg, two leg

I pull the covers up to my chin.

I am not dying.

I think of Judy lying in the hospital bed

Machines monitoring her last days

Coaxing life to stay just a little longer.

She once had life dancing in her laughter,

Sparkling on her lashes like diamonds

Now it escapes in coughs

She spits it out

And watches the miracle of it

Going

Down

the

Drain.

compulsive behaviour embraced.

another relocated blog…

When I am at work there is frequently this little voice in the back of my head saying “If I were at home right now I could…” and then when I have an extra day off, because I’m not used to having free time I find myself cleaning.. just cleaning. and that’s boring. Why is it that I am never happy where I am doing what I am doing? So this morning I thought – ok, I’ll clean the kitchen, finish the laundry, change from my giant messy purse to my little efficient purse, sweep the living room (hardwood is not all it’s cracked up to be I tell you..)… and damnit I’m cleaning again. So I marched myself out to my rock garden – looks good but a few small weeds creeping in.. so I get down on my hands and knees and pull the little weeds out. there are also some stray long grasses around the rocks so I move the rocks and dig up the grasses.. and damnit! Now I’m cleaning outside!

I get up and relocate to the garden swing. I sit swinging slowly and looking about.. raspberries are looking ripe. go in the house and get a plastic container. Go back out and pick raspberries.. beautiful red raspberries, smelling wonderful in the sunshine. I realize that the canes are getting overgrown – some of the third year canes are not fruit bearing this year so perhaps I should trim those back.. go get my hand pruners and gardening gloves. Clip the old canes at the base, throw them out onto the grass. when I’ve worked my way through I go back, haul the canes to the compost pile… pick up the container of raspberries – and it hits me : Damnit! I’m cleaning up the raspberry garden!! what the hell is wrong with me? why is everything I do tidying? It doesn’t seem to get me anywhere – the house is NEVER clean… what the hell! what has happened to my life???

So back to the porch I go. Maybe I need to reflect on things. I sit on the top step looking at my rock garden. Notice that the solar light isn’t straight. Get up to fix it… look at the solar lights in the other gardens.. they need to be adjusted as well.. Damnit! I”m tidying up the solar lights now!!!

Finally i go out to the barn. Lucy the donkey greets me – she’s always on the lookout for a carrot or an apple. this time I recognize the behaviour before it even starts. With a resigned sigh I grab the donkey’s shedding blade and a lead and tie her up to the fence. No point in trying to stop myself: I begin tidying up the donkey.

Animals – why…

Another blog moved over from my facebook page from April 2010.  

well, this morning Cinder was still waddling about with an obviously full load of kittens inside. No excitement during the night so I’m glad I didn’t go crawling around the garage at midnight trying to see if there were babies… but tonight I haven’t seen her at all. Mind you, there is a freaking blizzard out there and if she has any sense (and I’m not sure she does) she’ll be cozied up somewhere kittens or not. I think about how harsh life is on a farm and how many animal babies we’ve had in our house warming them up from the winter.. there was one goat kid that we warmed in the oven to keep it’s body temperature up. I put a towel in our largest roasting pan and stuck the kid in the pan and into the oven with the door open. It didn’t help that Don kept strolling by making useful comments like “Best get used to it kid!” or “Throw some garlic and onions in!”. How crude. How could you even consider that when you look into the babies big dark eyes?

 

Andy reminded me that I was not without an insensitive streak – he says that one time at a petting zoo I kept picking up a lamb and pointing out the tastiest cuts… and that I apparently tried to smuggle it out and take it home for dinner. I have no recollection of this – I’m sure he must be mistaken. He was with me the night we brought Squiggy home..the piglet that was supposed to be a pot bellied pig, yet grew to be absolutely huge. We picked him up at a local farm and put him in a cardboard box, the kind that fruit comes in from BC. I was putting him into the backseat when the farmer we got him from said “lady, I don’t recommend that -the box isn’t water proof and pig smell is real hard to get out of the upohlstery.” Andy and I considered for a moment. It seemed cruel to put this wee animal in the trunk, but I didn’t relish the idea of having manure on my seat. The pig solved the problem by promptly emptying it’s bladder… the resulting aroma was enough to eliminate the back seat as a possibility. So we put the pig in it’s box in the trunk, then Andy got in the back seat and opened the pass through from the back seat to the trunk so we could see the piggy. It was barely a 10 minute drive home, but in that 10 minutes Squiggy managed to break out of his box and start running laps around the trunk. Andy was beside himself – thought this was the funniest thing ever – but apparently Squiggy hadn’t emptied ALL of his insides and promptly a new and familiar pig smell was reeking through the car. We got home in record time and as the car was rolling to a stop we both leaped out. Don ambled over from the garage “what’s happening?” he asked. He didn’t know about the pig. Without saying anything I popped the trunk release and went to the back and fished the hot and panicked pig out of the trunk. “oh.” he said. “it’s a pig”. At this point there might have been a long silence while we all digested the truth of this but frankly the pig was screaming it’s head off.. apparently it wasn’t happy about me holding it up in a strange yard in front of strange people after a strange ride in the trunk. Don reached over and said some thing that might have been “it’s ok little guy” but I never got to double check that. As he reached for the pig, the pig had apparently reached his own limit and he chomped Don right on the hand. Making my exit as quickly as possible and throwing apologies over my shoulder as I went, “I’m sorry he bit you, he’s upset – he’s had a difficult evening” I took Squiggy into the barn to get him settled into his new home. He loved the pile of fresh clean straw and was quite enthusiastic about his food, but he also was intrigued by the grunting coming from the next pen. We had, at this time, another pig named Cyrano – he was a wild boar and a rather nasty one at that. He was almost at slaughter weight so wouldn’t be around for much longer, but Squiggy didn’t know that. Hearing a familiar ‘language’ he was captivated – who knows what sultry lures the wild boar was enticing him with? But I knew immediately that if I wasn’t careful, Squigward would end up wild boar food.

 

The next day, we took squiggy out for a walk in our yard. Have you ever seen the movie Crazy Farm with Chevy chase and his Irish Setter? The one that shows up from time to time running in the distance? Well that was squiggy. The pig took off and we couldn’t catch him. Andy tried valiantly to catch the wee thing but ended up running himself ragged so Finally we just sat on the porch and watched.. from time to time we’d hear his little squeal and the pig would zip by, north to south… then a few minutes later he’d zip by again, east to west… then south to north.. then west to east. Eventually we lost sight of him completely and I figured our squiggy was gone. Later I went to check one more time in the barn and that’s when I heard some happy little grunts coming from the chicken pen… yep. he had climbed in through the chicken door and was chatting with the chickens. I opened the coop door and he strolled out and right into his pen like nothing had ever happened.

 

That evening Andy and I went in to feed Squiggy and see how he was doing and before you could say ‘holy cow!’ he zipped out of his pen and squeezed through the boards into the wild boar pen. Panic ensued. Andy started yelling at me to get the pig out but the wild boar was not an animal I wanted to tangle with. We watched in horror as Squiggy went from happy ‘how do you do?’ pig to “oh my god he’s going to eat me!’ pig. They raced around the pen and squiggy, by dint of his diminuative size, managed to keep well out of the boars way. The boar, however, was bound and determined to catch that pig and was slowly corralling Squiggy into the corner. Just as it seemed all was lost, Squiggy made a mad dive for the same hole he got into the pen through and popped out into the entry way. He was so freaked out he just let us pick him up and didn’t squeal even once. We put him back in his pen and I can honestly say he did not go near that boar again.

 

Well, it’s time for bed. I was just looking out the window into the storm and could see the warm glow of the heat lamps we leave on in the barns for the chickens. it seemed cozy enough..but I am glad I’m warm inside in my home. I hope that where ever animals are – coyotes, skunks, deer, rabbits – that they are tucked in somewhere out of the cold…