Beggar Charlie

Thursday, October 16, 2014

People's Couch

I think I would agree that Canadian television has improved. When I was a child, all we really had was Hockey Night In Canada and Wayne And Shuster specials. Both were awful.

Now, there's Corner Gas and Trailer Park Boys. One, about a small town in Saskatchewan and the other, a trailer park in Nova Scotia. Okay, they're silly but better than Wayne and Shuster.

But far and away the best show is People's Couch. This little show from Toronto has cameras set up in people's home and taped them watching television. Yes. A show about watching television.

So why do I like this show? It taught me something.

I remember a movie, the monster tears open the side of a building and there's a family watching television, they're so glued to the tv that they don't notice the monster or the hero fighting it.

And that was my view of myself. A slightly vacant, staring with dead eyes at the screen, person who should be doing something.

So what does People's Couch teach? That people are engaged while watching tv. Their eyes are full of twinkling interest as they lean forward, they laugh, they smile. They engage with each other. And forget the idea that they're not aware of their surroundings.

Also, one older lady and her husband were watching a show where a gay guy tries to commit suicide after not being able to change, like his psychiatrist wanted him to. The lady comments that gays are the bravest people because everyone was against them. Now where, if not television, would she have got that information?

So knowing now that my idea of myself was skewed, that I'm not a blob in front of the tv makes me feel better and I wonder how I missed it. Now I'm a proud couch potato.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Syndrome Syndrome

I've had a joke for many years. Whenever I'm asked about something that went on that for some reason I didn't know about, I say I don't know because I have Schultz Syndrome. You remember Sargeant Schultz, don't you? He was a character on Hogan's Heroes and whenever Hogan or one of his boys did something that would embarrass the Germans if they knew about it, Schultz would say, in his guilt. "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing." Thereby he wasn't responsible for what went on.

So I'm joking right. But I'm finding that young people have no idea who Schultz is. They take it seriously. 'Really, I've never heard of that. Is it like ADD?" Or some such comment. Then others accuse me of being an idiot when I explain it, it seems I have to also explain it's a joke.

I mean, there is a Peter Pan Syndrome, right? For real. Thought up by a genuine psychologist. In fact, these days, there's a syndrome for everything.

My sister isn't fooled. Once someone asked if her grandson had a reading syndrome because he never reads books. A reading syndrome? No, he's just a kid who doesn't like to read. There have no doubt been thousands of kids throughout history who didn't like to read. A lot who didn't like school, too, without having a syndrome.

Back to my joke. It's also a statement about how so many normal things are considered syndromes now-a-days. So I've thought up a new syndrome, called Syndrome Syndrome, it's the need for people to find and explain everything by way of a syndrome.

Or, the inability to see one's annoying behaviour as an extension of their annoying personality. And I think we all have it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Enjoy Yourself

I love it when it's early in the morning. The first light is coming up. People are starting to stir outside. However, I also like the night and used to refer to myself as a night owl.

As a child, I was often awake far into the night, watching the trees across the street sway in the wind. I thought it was great to be awake when everyone else was asleep. My parents didn't.

And then, the daytime is a great time, too. It's time to go out and about and get some things done, like shopping for food or any other chore you need to do. And chores needn't be onerous. They are great ways to get out and maybe take a break in a cafe.

So my problem is I don't really want to sleep because I like all parts of the day. But then, I like to sleep when I have to.

This is not really as confusing as it sounds and I bet there are a lot of people like me out there.

So I'm meandering again. I'm looking forward to this day, it's going to be a nice one. Sunny, like my favorite days in White Rock were. But then, I like snow, too and it's getting close to the time when snow is going to be coming down.

It's funny how location can change your mind. I White Rock, BC, I loved the snow coming down. It was so beautiful. In Ottawa, people gripe about the snow and the trouble it causes. But when I visit Smith Falls in winter, everything is like it was in White Rock. The same feelings are there about winter's beauty.

That's because all is slower paced in Smith Falls.

So as long as I enjoy everything right now, I may as well get to it. Cheers. You guys enjoy yourselves, too.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Shopping Adventure

I love 'mini-adventures' as much as I love 'mini-vacations'. When I was young, I used to read all about trekking and canoeing and such and plan to go 'someday'. I never went on a big adventure although I did go up to Algonquin Park for a couple of months in the eighties.

I enjoyed these times but because of my knee, I won't be able to go again.

So I do like going about Ottawa to different places and seeing what I can see.

Today I thought I would go up to Parliament Hill but then decided to go in the opposite direction. I rarely go that way and thought I would like to go to the health food store and see if I could find Garden Burgers, which are supposed to be healthy and  low calorie.

I found all kinds of amazing foods. Pancake mixes that were quite inexpensive, and muffin mixes that were low calorie. But the best thing I found was their meat section. They had bison steaks and bison burgers. Yum. Yum. I love bison meat. And it's not any more expensive than at the meat market.

I'm definitely going back to buy some bison meat when I get my next cheque and maybe some pancake mix, too. Now if I could only get low-calorie syrup.

I can't wait for my next adventure.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Inaptitude Test

When I was in my last year of high school, the powers that be decided all the students should take and aptitude test. To see what profession we would find success in and I'm guessing, be happy in.

Imagine my surprise when my aptitude came back for music. I never played an instrument except for a recorder in elementary school. But the results were clear. I should become a musician.

Now, sometimes I'm not too quick on the uptake, so I didn't realize that aptitude tests are largely unreliable. I set out to buy and learn how to play guitar. How exciting. Surely I would be discovered in two weeks and become a millionaire in about a month.

Hah.

What I found was... I'm not the least interested in music. I couldn't stop yawning as my teacher explained sevenths. I'm still not sure what they are. And practice? Why on earth would I do that?

In fact, I learned really quick that it's very hard to play well and if you do want to be good at it, you have to dedicate your life and time to it. There's no such thing as a part-time guitar player.

You have to train your ears so you know what note is being played when you hear a song. Sounds obvious, right? Well, I had thought so little of anything to do with music that I hadn't even considered how much time it takes to be at a professional level.

But it took me years to decide I shouldn't play at all. I sold my guitar here in Ottawa and I hope the person who got it enjoyed it. It's been through a lot.

Advice: don't listen to aptitude tests.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Birthday Trick

A lot of people will tell you that playing tricks on children by adults is cruel. But I also know a  lot of mothers, rather than argue, will tell a lie to their children to make things go smoother.

Once, my brother caught a frog. I wanted to keep it in my room and my mother agreed. I was ecstatic. We got a big metal box and put plastic over it with a rubber band to keep it tight. When I woke up, the frog was gone. For years I wondered how it got away until I figured out that my mother knew I was a heavy sleeper and let me have it in my room so she could come it and take it out and let it go.

When I was a girl in the sixties, my birthday was coming up one year. In a store at the bottom of the hill was a doll. About eighteen inches tall. She was dressed as a cowgirl with a fringed skirt and plastic cowboy boots.

I fell in love with this doll at first sight. I asked my mom to buy it for me. No, she said it cost too much. For my birthday? No, too expensive.

One day I walked by the store and it wasn't in the window anymore. I was heartbroken. I had planned to save the money for her. I told my mom. Someone must have bought it. she said.

On my birthday I was handed a box about eighteen inches long. In it was the doll. My mother had bought it for  me after all. I was ecstatic, thank you, thank you. We never said I love you in my family but thank you was okay.

Now some people I tell have said my mother was cruel to play that kind of trick. I don't know, I remember that birthday above all others.

Friday, August 22, 2014

George Harry Michael McLaughlin

I've always admired my Dad. He had a hard childhood because his mother was very sick and could not take care of him properly and his father drank. On the good side, his father had many sisters (there were thirteen children in his family) and they filled in the gaps.

When my father, Harry, was sixteen, his mother died. He signed up with the Royal Canadian Air Force and went overseas where he met my mother, also in the RCAF.
They married in France and my sister was born there. She is still a dual citizen because once you're born in France, you never lose your citizenship.

At the time, there was much discrimination against women so my mother was discharged from the RCAF. In 1961, my father resigned from military life and we moved to BC. We had come back from France. My brother was born in Ottawa, ON and I was born in Thunder Bay, ON.

In BC Dad began work for Customs and Immigration and worked at Pacific Highway and Douglas Border Crossing. I can still remember his black pants and white shirt that was the uniform of a customs officer at the time. Now it's blue.

He was a great manager and was soon supervisor. I think he liked that as he could put his foot down when people grew unruly.

Take Bill Cosby. A great comedian, we had all his records. But apparently, he's not such a nice guy. Miserable, is what my father said. He met a lot of celebrities when they came through the border to do a gig.

There was one form to sign. Dad went to Bill Cosby. Just sign here and you'll be on your way, he told him. A signature was needed.

My agent signs for me, was the answer.

This went on until Bill Cosby pulled himself up. Do you know who I am? He asked.

I don't care if you're God almighty, you're not going through until you sign this form.

Bill Cosby signed. It's good to have power. Some people can be difficult, not just celebrities. One hippie guy in the sixties took his clothes off and climbed up a tree. He was on LSD. There was no way to get  him down. The officers called and negotiated but to no avail. He wanted to stay up in the tree with his pregnant girlfriend sitting right under him.

Finally the firemen were called and with their ladders, removed him. He was sent back to the USA.

So, my point is, with all the trauma my father suffered, he still became a capable and good man. He always came home. He took us places and let us experience the world.

I've always been happy to know that just because you start out in life in a bad place doesn't mean you have to stay there.

RIP George Harry Michael McLaughlin