Tuesday, July 18, 2006


virgin cherry bomb

*****Note: When this was written Michael was our only grandchild until William came along six years later. While Michael seems to be the deep thinker, William is the real sportsman of the family. He likes baseball, soccer and swimming. He does the best monkey imitation I have ever seen. Both boys adore the last addition to the family. Michael got his wish when his sister Sarah was born. Sarah is the happy, bouncy child. She never stops, either talking or singing.

Michael is now a teenager and William is on the verge (12). Sarah is four. We love and enjoy all the grandchildren and their individuality. At this rate they will give me lots to write about for years to come.

An only child, at least for now, Michael changes the size of his family regularly. His desire for a sister has produced anywhere from one to five female siblings at the drop of a hat. Keeping up becomes quite a challenge.

An animal lover of the first order, Michael also has had a pretend dog which he named "Chitid". Don't ask. I don't know where he gets the names. This particular moniker was a great source of amusement for the family until my son actually had a guest register at the hotel in which he worked under the name "Mr. Chitid".

A sometimes farmer, Michael has five farms, only one house though. When we went to Wonderland for the day Michael informed us that the farm was `open' but Jordan, his pretend friend, and his sisters, were looking after the animals. Another time `bad guys' had come and killed all the animals, but, we were told, Michael had called the vet and `they're all better now'. Would that life and death could be so simple.

This past week Michael and his `Mampa' had to take our car in to be fixed. (It's a guy thing, you know.) Well, our little blue Sprint became an 18-wheeler while at the garage. Quite a trick, don't you think? Any time after that, when Jim and Michael went anywhere alone they were truck drivers. Imagine my surprise when on the next trip we went together, I was told to sit in the back because Michael had to help Jim drive. When I refused to fold myself in half to climb into the back seat I was told that was `okay' because now we were on a fire truck and Michael had to work the siren. Since we were leaving Newmarket and heading for Keswick I knew I could not participate in the charade that long. My ears could not stand the undulating sounds emanating from the back seat. I tried, in true adult fashion, to employ logic, in an effort to preserve my sanity.

"Michael, we have reached the fire now. Let's put it out." That didn't work because in Michael's logic, we had not stopped driving. Sometimes reality becomes very convenient for this little person. Once more I tried. (I don't give up easily.) "Michael, if we take too long to reach the fire the house will have burned down."

The response: "That's okay, Mama. The firemen will build a new one this afternoon." The siren continued all the way home.

That trip became almost as bad as the one on July First when we covered the same ground listening to Michael sing his favourite song, "Oh, Can-da-da". Unfortunately, those were also the only words he knew.

This summer we have played a lot of pretend games as well as real ones. We have had sharks, dinosaurs (several types, of which Michael knows the names...I don't know how), any number of different farm animals, farmer and tow truck driver. That was one of my favourites. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Michael said he took his tow truck to jobs in Africa. The remainder of the weekdays were spent on calls around the rest of the world.

I will be very sorry to see these little characters disappear, as we all know they will. I am sure their removal from his everyday life will herald an end to a time when trips to Mama and Mampa's house are the highlight of Michael's summer `baycation'.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Miss Piggy

virgin cherry bomb

A Penny For Your Thoughts

Do you ever do anything on a whim? I do. All the time. Sometimes it works out really well and others....

I really enjoyed the time I spent working as adult liaison between the Ministry of Education and a youth group while we were in the Maritimes. I was never totally sure what those teens would throw at me next, and, they didn't always know what I would do either. We had a lot of fun, partly because they were a really nice bunch of kids and I had a lot of `kid' in me. It was that `kid' that brought on one of my most famous, or should I say infamous, whims.

A costume dance had been planned to encourage new membership for one of the group's posts. The theme was to come as the person you most admired. I had not intended to `dress up' but at the last moment I changed my mind. I had no idea what to wear since I do not keep costumes around the house, at least not in my size, and I did not have time to go rent one. Then, I remembered someone that would be very easy for me to impersonate. I had the proper figure--Rubeneseque, the proper dress, a straight purple evening gown, long, white evening gloves and a string of pearls. All I really needed was a blonde wig. Since I had also been helping the drama teacher at the local high school I approached him with my idea and asked if he could loan me a platinum blonde wig. After he stopped laughing he found an old mannequin's wig that was too dishevelled to use any more. Only one step left. I needed a `nose job'. Taking an empty toilet paper roll, I cut it in half and then covered the piece with pink lining material. Black Magic Marker provided the nostrils. Now, how to attach it? Using Crazy Glue did not appeal so I used fishing line which I threaded through the sides, to tie at the back of my head, under the platinum locks. My costume was complete, a little sleazy due to the wig, but complete.

The night of the dance I approached the school gym by a back door, checked my gown (it was a little snug), adjusted my toilet roll nose and bravely marched through just as my idol, Miss Piggy, would do. Twirling my pearls, patting my curls, I strutted around the outer edges of the darkened dance floor. I guess you could say I made quite an entrance. People stopped in their tracks whether walking or dancing, conversation ceased except for the question, "Who in the heck is that?" My children knew but they were sworn to secrecy or face the consequences.

I was sure some of the older girls were about my height and I hoped there was no way to be certain if the dress was `artificially' padded. I knew that if I could avoid talking I would fool them for a little while. (Anyone that has known me at all is aware that the not talking was the hardest part). There was only one other thing that could give me away. I have a very distinctive laugh. Unfortunately for me one of the older boys, guessing correctly, approached me from behind and tickled me. Of course, once the secret was out everyone said they knew all the time it was me because in their minds I was the only one crazy enough to pick that character. It gave me great pleasure to note that one young man, whom I knew to be very unhappy at the time, was laughing uproariously.

Since Miss Piggy was such a great success with the younger half of the group I decided to bring her out of the closet a couple of months later at the seniors' Provincial Conference. This would involve teens that would not have been at the dance so I knew she would be a complete surprise. I enlisted the aid of a six-foot five, skinny blond 18 year-old. Gary was to be my Kermit for a duet of `Tea for Two' during the Gong Show to be staged on the Saturday night. He was a great sport with a good sense of humour so I knew he would not object to creating a few laughs. Did I say a few? Can you imagine how we must have looked? I was only 5'4", and as I pointed out, pleasantly plump. Gary was dressed entirely in green, only adding to his height, with a green balaclava and homemade green, felt, webbed feet worn over his shoes.

No one was to be told anything about our act so only the name of the song and the fact that it was a duet was to appear on the programme. Contestants were to appear backstage just before they were to go on. We were standing in the wings when we were first spotted by the “gongers” on stage. They had a very difficult time controlling their mirth and due to stage fright so did I. Then I noticed one of the girls frantically waving at me to get back. I didn't know what she was trying to tell me. Her arms were waving wildly from the stage and she was trying to convey some message just as my partner, Gary, was about to go on stage. Then I heard this loud guffaw to my right, in the corridor leading to backstage. I was horrified! My husband, whom I had not seen for the three months he was on a military course in Kingston had come home three days early. Knowing I was at the conference he had come to surprise me. Since he was by now sitting on the floor in gales of laughter I was not the only one surprised.

Rita knew that Jim had been away and she had been trying to warn me of his arrival. I don't know. I think it turned out better this way. We certainly livened up the conference. Our surprises were the talk of the weekend. Jim still likes to tell how he came home to Miss Piggy.

Miss Piggy would return again. Twice more in fact, one time being at an International Conference in Boston but...that's a story for another day.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


virgin cherry bombDogs
This is a picture of my beloved dog Tara. She is my buddy and my friend. You will find out more about her further down in the article. She is so black she hardly shows up but it gives you an idea of what she looks like.

From an early age I have been a great lover of canines. Having had a plethora of dogs through the years I feel a little like an expert on the species. Have you ever noticed that, just like humans, each dog has their own distinct personality? Every dog we ever had was as unique as the proverbial snowflake. Let me give you some examples.
Peppy, my daughter's first dog was from a litter with a pure-bred black, cocker spaniel mother, and we later learned sired by a big black labrador. Thinking we had a spaniel puppy we had his tail bobbed, as you are supposed to for this breed. Peppy never grew larger than a cocker spaniel but he had the voice of a Great Dane and a Labrador's coat. He loved my daughter to distraction and became a great companion and protector of her. We lived at the end of a cul-de-sac, on the edge of a ravine, so it was quite common for the dogs to run loose on the property. We were all outside one day when my husband decided to take our daughter to the store. As he started to back the car out he saw a black blur go past him as Peppy leaped through his open window and landed on the back seat beside our daughter. We learned that there was no way she was going anywhere without him.

Another time my husband was lying on the floor playing with Sheryl, who had just learned to pretend to cry. Before we knew what was happening, the dog had leaped onto my husband's chest and snarled at him, his teeth inches from my husband's throat. Annoyed at the dog for interrupting the game, my daughter smacked him on the nose and shoved him off. Confused, the dog slithered to the corner.

Sheryl and Peppy shared everything. If she had an ice cream cone, either Peppy had his own or she gave him half of hers. When she discovered a love of pepperoni, Peppy got half.

Our little girl was the love of Peppy's life and he demonstrated that over and over. One time while we were visiting relatives Sheryl's ball rolled into the street. Before I could stop her she darted out to retrieve it. The dog saw the oncoming car, ran into the road and shoved Sheryl out of the way. Thankfully, both were safe.

Just before I had our second child an edict came down from the apartment building's superintendent that dogs were no longer allowed in the building. That caused quite a dilemma for us and all the other owners. The choice was to move or get rid of the dog. Finally my husband's parents agreed to take Peppy to live with them so that the two would not be parted completely. What a sad day that was. We timed things so that the dog left as our baby son came home, hoping that would give our daughter another focus. She has never been sure that a dog for a brother was a fair trade.

When we first moved to Germany my children were constantly begging to have a dog, any dog as long as it had four legs and a tail. Finally I succumbed and we bought a full-grown Airedale from a German man who assured us the animal was wonderful with children and very obedient. I should have known. Robbie, alias the dog from hell, led us around by the nose and very nearly cost us a fortune. We later found out Robbie had had five previous owners whom he visited every chance he got, and believe me he made the most of every opportunity to escape. Searching for Robbie became a way of life for us for awhile. Then we became the ones being hunted, for this dear animal had very expensive tastes, mainly for poultry.

In Germany at that time, if you or your animal killed a chicken you were liable for that chicken and all the eggs it might be expected to produce in a lifetime. Well, Robbie had killed five chickens and two geese when the locals started looking for his owners. Finally he was traced to our neighbourhood and the Bergermeister (or mayor) asked my landlord (his cousin) if he knew who owned the dog. Since Robbie had been missing for several days at this point Erich said with complete honesty that he had not seen the dog around. We never did learn what happened to Robbie but the chickens stopped disappearing shortly after this.

Then there was Tasha. `Little Tasha broken ear' we called her as a pup. One ear stood up and the other lay down on her head. Tasha was my son's dog, or so he says. I think she was mine. Part German Shepherd and part kangaroo (she loved to jump around) Tasha had a great personality. She was extremely empathetic. If someone was sick she would stay by their side constantly. If you were unhappy she would lay her head in your lap in commiseration. She loved to play chase in the house, but had a hard time stopping on the hardwood floors. This usually resulted in her sliding down the long hallway on her bottom until she was stopped by the carpeting in the spare room. Did I mention that she was a coward? She was afraid of thunder, afraid of heights and afraid of people. This great big dog would run if anyone challenged her. She would bark at the door at anyone who came near but if they opened the door and walked in she would run and hide. We had this beautiful creature in our lives for nine years before she died. She was a gentle dog and loved us all.

Then there was Toby. A copper-coloured cocker spaniel Toby ruled the roost. Maybe that is why a friend once said that when he died he wanted to come back as one of our dogs. Toby was very possessive. He felt his rightful place was lying across my lap, whether I thought so or not. He was really more of an over-lap dog but very cuddly just the same. He also liked to bounce and play. He would always return the toys I threw, and return them and return them, and return them, and.... It was hard to stop playing with him because `no' in this case, did not seem to be a part of his vocabulary. Toby decided that only certain persons could do certain things for him. To his mind, my husband was the one who fed him so, in the event that the job fell to me, Toby would not eat the food. He waited for my husband. I got to be his `pet'. I was allowed to provide the love and affection, though if he was on my lap and my husband leaned over to kiss me, Toby thougth he should get one too. He never convinced Jim of that but he was always working on it.

For the last eleven years we have had Tara. A black and tan, small German Shepherd. My husband insisted we get her just a few days after Toby’s demise and I was not ready. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, Tara managed to work her way into our lives and into my heart. She is much more than “just a dog” to me. She is my protector, my companion, my safety and my friend.

I have been sick for the last several years and when he goes to work my husband says to the dog, “Tara, you look after Penny”. That dog does not leave my side. She takes her duties very seriously, until either my daughter or Jim arrives. Then she is off duty and goes to her bed.

Tara’s biggest problem is that she is afraid of thunderstorms, fire works or any loud noises and she will jump into the bathtub. That is her sanctuary. It is a serious problem because we have had to sedate her for these occasions.

Tara’s other nemesis is Penny the cat. When my grandson had to give up his cat because his brother has asthma we agreed to take her. The cat had been named after me, which causes some confusion at the vet’s office and for Tara in the beginning. She never knew if Jim was calling me or the cat and neither did I.

One day, Jim was playing tug with Tara and her rope, when out of the blue Penny came flying out of the dining room and landed on Tara’s back, her front paws swiping at the dog. Luckily, Penny does not have front claws so there was little damage but the poor dog was bewildered. Jim and Tara went back to playing and the same thing happened again. That was the end of rope pulling in front of the cat.

Penny, often lay in wait for the dog under the couch and would jump out at her but now that they are both getting older this has stopped. The latest thing is that if Tara barks when someone comes to the door, Penny, who sleeps 23 hours a day, comes tearing out of the bedroom, jumps on the dogs back and starts beating her up. The poor dog does not know what she did wrong.

As you probably can tell, I love my dogs. I cannot imagine my life without one, although Jim says this is the last dog. This is the longest I have had a dog, either because of their sicknesses or accidents and I want her life to go on forever. Tara is my love and I do not want to think what I will do when the day comes that we must say goodbye. Until that day we are going to enjoy each other’s company and just keep on loving.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Put to Sleep

virgin cherry bomb:
This took place thirteen years ago but I thought it was worth posting now since I have had a request for more "Michael" stories. Michael always said that Toby, the cocker spaniel was his brother so you can understand my concern when all this happened.

I had been seriously ill for the past three years. I had no idea how that had affected my little grandson, Michael, until the day we thought we would have to put our seven year old cocker spaniel down. Toby had been having difficulty walking and appeared to be in severe pain. Like his mistress he had been having medical problems for quite awhile.

I was very upset so I asked my son Scott, Michael's father, to prepare him for Toby's demise. I heard him explaining that Toby was very sick and would not be coming home from the Veterinarian's office. I knew that Michael would have a great deal of difficulty with this because he used to refer to the dog as his `brother'.
I went into the bedroom just as Scott had finished telling Michael in order to let them know that my husband and I were leaving to take the dog.
With tears in his eyes Michael looked at me and asked, "But Mamma, you're coming home aren't you?"

To Michael's delight, thanks to new medication, neither the dog nor I needed to be `put to sleep'.