Beggar Charlie

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.


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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sitting In The Rain

Rain, rain, rain. Then more rain. All this week it's going to be raining, lots of drops pouring down. Truly, I don't mind. It's nice to stroll in the rain, watch the clouds rush by way up high in the sky. And sit outside my favourite cafe, La Prep.

I've been going there for years, from before it was owned by the present guy. Just to skip subjects for a moment. I watch movies sometimes when I'm at home and finished my writing stint for the day.

I especially like what they used to call B movies or TV movies. A lot of these are filmed in Ottawa and one, called, Do You Know Me? was filmed partly in White Rock, BC where I grew up.

One day I watched The Boy I Met Online. Part of it was filmed in La Prep. I recognized the old interior that was there when the previous owner had it and excitedly waited for the credits. I wasn't disappointed. They thanked Javid by name.

It's a nice place now but Javid had a few extras. Like a shelf with books you could take home and keep if you wanted and if you wanted to give a book away, you just put it on the shelf and someone would take it and read it. I loved that.

So today, I went there in the rain and sat outside watching it come down. People passed, all in their own heads tucked under their umbrellas. Some wheelchair people scooting past. It's a great way to pass the time for a writer, I can make up stories about the people who pass, guess what their jobs are and what their lives are like.

I just hope that anyone who wants to enjoy a day, has a place like La Prep to sit at and visit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Randy Peterson

Every class needs a Randy Peterson. Before we began grade one, he was a friend of mine. We played together frequently. One day we went down into the ravine close to my house. The ravine was very quiet because all the sound waves went over it, not down into it.

We found a toilet seat. Randy thought we ought to make ourselves a bathroom. We put up bush walls and dug a hole and promised not to look at each other when we used the toilet we had built.

When we finished down in the ravine we went to his house and he gave me a dead mouse. My father threw it out.

But the reason I say that every class needs a Randy Peterson was the fact that whenever our science experiments went wrong, he was the one designated to kill it.

Our seventh grade teacher decided to bring in an incubator and get some fertilized chicken eggs. At certain points in their development he would break open the egg and we would study the fetus.

When we finished the learning, there were some eggs left over, so we let them hatch. One of the chicks got it's leg caught in the wire of the incubator and crippled it's leg. Call Randy Peterson. He took the chick and came back about five minutes later telling the bird was dead and had been disposed of.

He was the only one able to kill an animal. It sounds cruel but the chick would have been at the mercy of the other chicks who were picking and pecking at it. When we sent all the chicks to the farmer, it would have died then from a chicken coop predator.

I've always thought well of Randy that he could take that little task in hand.R

Friday, July 18, 2014

Let's Not Tolerate Intolerance

I know I've ranted about this before but it seems to me all to prevalent to ignore. I'm talking about people who seem to think the way to solve social problems is to deny the 'trouble-people' their rights.

I hear this most frequently about welfare people and petty criminals. Now I don't have any sympathy for criminals but when people talk about 'making them give to society' by forcing them to labor for free on farms, I have to protest.

Why not give good people jobs on farms? Why do they want Canada to be a country where there is slave labour. You can't convince these people that their thoughts are misapplied, they think they'd be benefiting society.

Now as for welfare people, there's always complaints. But it is a RIGHT in Canada to be on welfare if you need it. Let's take a look at a couple of the complaints.

One. "I don't mind paying my taxes for someone who works." Do these people really want a country where people only pay for what they want to? Suppose I don't want to pay for smokers? Don't these people see that any of their arguments could be turned against them? We all pay for each other so no one bears the brunt of the whole bill.

Two. Some of these people are able bodied, why aren't they working. Why should I support them? Well, some people run into trouble and need to be on welfare for a couple of months. And the truth is, a lot of people hate being on welfare and can hardly wait until they get a paying job and don't have to live in poverty anymore.

That's just a couple of rants and I'm glad I could get it off my chest. I just want to say further that the more we accept people even if they're sick, like fetal alcohol syndrome, or just psychologically unable to fend for themselves, the easier it would be to see that they're people, not garbage, and let them have the space to recover from whatever ails them.