Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Un Autre Faux Pas (#201)

What binds us as humans? What, more than anything else, promotes a sense of fellowship?

Oo! Oo! I know! Pick me, teacher! Pick me!

Go ahead, Frankie.

Why, it’s shared experience, of course. We all know what’s it like to be angry, sad, joyful, scared, excited and embarrassed. Especially embarrassed. We can relate to each other in a more meaningful fashion because we’ve all experienced similar feelings. Especially embarrassment. I mean, everybody says or does something dumb once in a while, don’t they?

Longtime readers may recall the story of my Grade 10 French teacher’s buttocks finding their way into my hand. Tres embarrassment la, I must say.

And perhaps you remember the day I was Christmas shopping and my elbow was assaulted by a woman’s bosom. Not my fault of course, but still a tad embarrassing.

Well, I did it again. And it involved a woman again. Well, a girl/woman, of 18. And it sort of related to body parts (but not naughty bits this time, thank goodness).

Son #2 was having a few friends over one evening a couple of weeks ago. They were gathered in the basement wreck room. Sounds of high hilarity and video game crashes and explosions prevented anyone but me from hearing the knock on the front door.

I got up to answer, expecting one of #2's urchin friends. Instead, I saw nothing, nobody. For a second. Then, in the deepening evening gloom, I saw a pretty young woman kneeling - actually, on her knees but leaning backwards, sitting on the backs of her calves - and smiling up at me. I didn’t recognize her but figured she must be one of #2's friends or a friend of a friend.

I smiled down at her. Obviously, she was expecting someone she knew to answer the door and was preparing to play a little joke on them.

“Hi. Is Son #2 home?” Only she called him “Jake,” which is his name.

About then Devon, one of Jake’s buds, arrived from the wreck room. I guess someone else heard the knock, after all.

“Hi April,” he said.

“Hi Dev.”

“Well,” I grinned and held the door open. “Come on in. And no need to crawl.”

“Actually, I have to.” Without a lapse in her smile, she tossed her head to indicate behind her. “I had to leave my chair at the end of the driveway.”

I peered and could just make out her wheelchair behind my car. Since I rented the large dumpster, there was no room between my car and the lawn to negotiate her chair closer to the house.

I stood aside, laughing ruefully and shaking my head at my dunce-osity, as April set her hands on the ground, then lifted and swung her knees into the front hall. Laughing off my apology and rocking forward on her hands and knees, she made her way along the hall. I asked if she needed help with the stairs and she cheerfully refused. It seemed she had no use of her legs below the knees. But there was nothing wrong with the rest of her and her confident good nature was a balm to my embarrassment.

But sheesh. I mean, holy mackerel. What a maroon.

Muttering to myself, I walked to the end of the drive and carried her chair closer to the front door. I didn't want to leave it so close to the street. Darn thing was heavy. Jake or one of his buds could carry it back for her when she needed it. I recalled him mentioning a friend named April from time to time, but he’d never talked of her disability.

Later, when the kids had gone home, I asked him why he’d never mentioned it before. He shrugged, saying it never occurred to him. It was no big deal. April was just April.

Which, of course, is exactly right.

April is April and Frank is Frank and faux pas (pases?) happen to everybody.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Everything Old Is New Again (#200)


The blog spiffication of which I wrote last time, waaaaaaaaay back in July, is just one of several renovation projects I have on the go. After a couple of decades of neglect, I’m having work done on my house. Soon, the leaking windows and skylight will be replaced. The stinky old, stained carpeting should be history by mid-winter, replaced by hardwood flooring.

As we speak, there is a large dumpster occupying most of my driveway and it’s nearly full of junk from the basement, garage and yard. I have a new back deck upon which my barbeque no longer lists at an alarming angle and a new front door that actually closes!

Pretty heady stuff, indeed.

However, one must be careful when caught up in the euphoria of change. A new this and a spiffified that could lead to regarding everything elderly with a critical eye. It’s a good job I rarely look in mirrors.

Where Was I?

Just came back from a longish visit at the family cottage with Hilary and Ben. At various times we were joined by sisters Lisa and Theresa, Lisa’s husband, Ches, their dog, their oldest boy Nathaniel and his girlfriend and Theresa’s two 10-week-old kittens. Two and sometimes a third raccoon were nightly visitors.

Theresa volunteers as a wildlife rehabilitator who specializes in orphaned raccoons, squirrels and occasionally, birds. Two of the nightly visitors are recently released young raccoons which were originally found living under Hilary’s deck some months ago. The third one, who appears somewhat older though not yet full grown, seems to be hanging around with them. We’re augmenting their feeding in hopes of fattening them up enough to have a chance of surviving winter. Without a mother’s teaching, the odds may be long. We’re hoping though, that the newcomer has learned a few survival tricks it can pass on to the youngsters.

Hilary took scads of pics and will no doubt be showing and writing about them soon at her blog. I’ll give you folks who aren’t regular visitors there (you should be!) a heads-up when they appear.

Good News & Bad News

I started this column a few years ago and distributed it solely via email which is how most of you still read it. Then I decided to post it on my blog as well and some folks read it there instead. I’ve hinted periodically that it’s quite time consuming having to format it separately. It’s possible that the hinting had a whiny note to it.

So...continuing in the spirit of change, I’ve decided to no longer send out the emailed version. However, I’ll continue to email notification of a new blog post and include the link, making it easy for most of you to visit. I know that some of you receive and read the column at your work computer and can’t visit the blog from there because of surfing restrictions. Apparently, the New Improved Blogger, to which I upgraded during the spiffication process, will allow me to automatically email the column to a select number of recipients. As of this writing, I have no idea how many or how to make it work. But I promise to find out soon. If you are among those who’d prefer to receive it that way, please drop me a line. (Donna, I know you’re one of ‘em.)

I think it very likely that I’ll write more frequently because of this decision. (That’s both the good and bad news.) It will be so much easier to compose and format only once.

Off Again

As I write this, I’m preparing to leave again for the cottage tomorrow. (Writing while the washing machine is running counts as multi-tasking.) This time, Ben and I will be accompanied by Son #2 and one of his buddies. Here in southern Ontario, we’re enduring our first prolonged heat wave of the summer, with daily temperatures in the 90s F and humidex readings well over 100F. It will be good to jump off the dock into the cool, refreshing waters of the lake.

So please forgive me if I don’t reply to your emails or comments for a few days. Hope all of you are enjoying a fine summer. (Or winter for you Oddsies and that Brazil nut.)

PS to fellow Bloggers: You might notice that I changed the name of my blog to match that of my emailed column. Those of you kind enough to add me to your blog rolls may want to reflect that change. If you're a techno-dweeb like me and avoid that sort of thing as much as possible, nevermind. The web address will remain the same.