02 December, 2016

That's it blame it on the English

839
02 December 2016

R. Linda:

I was lounging in the family room watching the telly when in come me three boyos. I wasn't paying much attention, they had toys they were each involved in and it seemed a typical evening. We had finished dinner, they had gone to do homework while Tonya and Mam cleaned up the dinner things and I made a few phone calls I hadn't got to during the day. It was the usual way we go about the after dinner routine. Until, I hear all this giggling and look up and at the end of the couch is me youngest, the three year old, mooning me, his head almost between his legs looking back at me, his eyes dancing with mischief.

I was speechless!

"What are you doing young man?" I finally asked him as he pulled up his pants and ran off, the other two tearing by after him.

Tonya happened in and I told her what HER youngest had done and she looked very much like she was trying not to laugh.

"Hum," she said sitting next to me. "The other day when I left the sugar out of the cookie recipe," she began, "was because as I was mixing things, O'Hare had come in and said, "Hey Mom, look at me!" and when I did, he was in the hallway mooning me. I told him to straighten up and he left laughing thinking it was very funny. I was shocked and forgot the sugar and that's the reason there were no cookies that night."

I looked at her like I didn't understand, which I did not and she continued.

"Ok, I got a call two days before the cookie disaster that Guido was mooning his teachers at school. It seems he and O'Hare watched some movie on TV where the young guys were mooning girls from their car." She stopped and sighed as if this was just too much. "Anyway, the two of them thought that was very funny, only Guido put it into practise at a public place. Don't look that way, the principal was amused by it, but we nipped it in the bud. Seems your middle son told your eldest that mooning was "prohibited in public places," but was perfectly all right at home, thus . . . "

"Did you tell O'Hare that wasn't true after the cookie incident?"

"I told him it was funny once but it wouldn't be funny twice."

"Ok, and somehow the wee one picked this new art form up?"

"Must have if he just did it." She giggled to herself as if she thought me being mooned was funny stuff.

"Oi!" I said rolling my eyes. "You need to talk with YOUR youngest and straighten this out before he does it in front of company."

It was then she called all three boyos in, clicked off the TV and had them sit on the floor in a row. She told them their mooning days were over which got a chorus of "aw mom" from them with the youngest intoning a second later just to be part of the crowd.

"I want to know what TV programs you watch from now on. You need an adults permission on what you watch."

Another chorus of  "aw mom" with the youngest getting the hang of it and chiming in at the right time.

"Why do we hafta check wit ya?" Guido said looking puzzled.

"Because you got this mooning idea from the TV." Tonya said as the two older kiddos exchanged confused looks.

"No we dint." Guido said shaking his head.

"No you didn't?" Tonya said her eyebrows raised in surprise. "Then where did you get the idea from?"

"From Grandma." The two eldest sung out.

It was our turn to exchange looks.

"Grandma?"  Tonya asked in disbelief.

"Yup she wuz tellin' us bout when grandpa wuz young an he'd moon da neighbours outta da window." Guido said smuggly and he and O'Hare started chuckling at the thought.

Tonya's lips were pressed together in a line, her eyes narrow as she looked at me. She didn't have to say a word.

I called Mam and she came in. We laid before her what was going on and she shrugged and looking at the row of lads she said, "Ya big Judases'. Ooo-key I wuz tellin' dem sum fomlee stories frum da paa-st an wuz joe-ken wit em aboot yer fahder an I'm a-freed dey got corried awey. Quite a bit corried awey."

Well, this was not expected but there it was. Mam was the culprit. I'd expect such from Tonya's mother but not me own. I didn't know what to say but Tonya did.

"Mom, you are grounded from Irish story telling for a week."

Mam's head snapped in her direction her face an astounded question mark. Tonya wagged a finger at her and she said nothing but bit her lip as she thought about this. It didn't take long before she opened her gob. "Tween't IRISH story tellin' it was English. Da ole man wuz in England at da time of da moonin' incidents of which dere were many. So wot ya mean iz no ENGLISH story tellin'."

We sat there looking at her like WHAT?

The kiddos all voiced yeah no English story telling, the Irish ones were on the table.

Oi!

In the few days that have passed the "big Judases' as she calls them have come forth with many a tale about their Irish grandda. And each time Mam is taken to task for filling the young ones with stories she says, she told them when she was "allowed ta tell da bhyos da English stories." Me Mam and Da lived in England for a total of one month when they first got married. They went there because he worked in Chelsea for a short time before moving back to the emerald isle. I had not heard the mooning stories but I do believe they were true. Me father, Mam told me, knew he was leaving England and had no love for his English neighbours and took a certain delight in mooning them as they walked by. Seems they lived right by the street, they had no small green space so how delightful was that instead of a small garden for his neighbours? I tell ya! Me Da didn't moon during the day, but with a street light at the curb directly across from their front window, he did it at night.

"It weren't clear wot dey would be lookin' at as dey paa-set by, da street lamp weren't dat bright and many a tyme a gent or ladee would move toward da window squintin' dere eyes only to see his behind in da air at dere faces. Ooh da shock when dey realised jus' wot dey were peerin' at." She peeled off in uncontrollable laughter at that memory and it was infectious, I couldn't help myself. We both got a disapproving looking from Tonya.

I have been grounded from asking me mam to relate any "English" stories and have been put in me place by a disapproving American wife. Sigh.

Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

29 November, 2016

The Dogs Get Theirs

838

29 November 2016

R. Linda:

The day before Thanksgiving, we were baking our own pies, the neighbours pies completely gone. I was going to make me famous apple pies, as me Mam made pumpkin and Tonya her pecan. I was the last to bake and discovered to me horror I didn't have enough apples for a whole pie. It was too late to go out and buy some, as the farm stands were closed and the supermarket is an hour away. I decided to make do and realised I had two cans of sweet pitted cherries. Okay then, an apple cherry pie was in order. Never made one before, but what the heck, why not?

I used some of the cherry syrup but kept the spices I use for apple pie therefore, I had no idea what the hell I was doing or what it would taste like. I put it in the oven to bake and it smelled yummy, and I wasn't the only one who thought so, but I didn't know I had a secret pie admirer.

When it was time to take the pie out of the oven, the aroma of cherry apple deliciousness wafted through the abode making me think I'd like a piece just to try it and see if it was edible. Uh huh. I told no one of me plan, and put me wonderful pie on the counter in the kitchen to cool. I had locked my hound in the mud room so there would be no helping me bake. We are also dog-sitting Dragon's hound while she and Big Tony are off to the Bahamas. Why she couldn't leave the dog in Jersey with one of her other kids, I dunno, but actually I do know. Perfect excuse to descend upon me abode when she returns to tell us what a lovely time they had, no cooking, just sitting on a beach, drinking pina coladas and being waited on while we whipped around making a large dinner and would eat it while cutting up turkey for small kiddos, then doing dishes and not getting a moment of relaxation for the entire Thanksgiving holiday. I know her do I not?

I locked her hound up with mine and left the pie to cool. I did notice Dragon's coon hound standing on his hind legs, front paws on the top part of the bottom Dutch door smelling the air, but I laughed because he was latched in and well, that was MY PIE.

I went upstairs, turned on the telly and I heard a doggy commotion like two dogs fighting over something and it sounded closer than where they were. Then I hear my dog at the bottom of the stairs barking and I realise they somehow opened the latch and got out.

MY PIE!

I tore down the stairs and yes indeed there was my dog barking at me trying to tell me something was amiss and something was amiss.

THIS!

AGHHHHHHH!!!!!
That damn hound may not be a Bumpus Hound but he's close. He ate the entire pie almost including the tin and was sitting there with the tin on the floor smiling at me, his eyes glancing down to the "piece" he left me, like see I left ya some. I tell ya if I had a gun he'd be dead. I was pissed and I mean pissed! Here I was worried about ingredients, then congratulating meself on me innovative pie and now I had nothing, nothing to sample! Though he did leave me a crumb the stupid thing.

Me cursing and moaning brought out the women of the house who with one look were up to speed on what happened. No explanation needed, no none. Mam corralled the hounds put them back in the mud room shutting the bottom and top of the door this time. Tonya threw the remains in the bin and both offered to make me tea. I didn't want tea, I wanted the hide of a certain coon hound nailed to me wall.

"He has good taste," Tonya said trying to soothe me and that statement didn't help.

"It is all your mother's fault." I railed.

Well, there was no calming me down, they left for the sanctity of the room furtherest from the kitchen  where they didn't have to hear me half ranting, half crying, ok not crying exactly just jumping around like a who knows what madder than a lunatic being dragged to the asylum. Whatever. I made another pie, not so much cherry syrup and I put it in the oven AGAIN. It didn't look like the first one, I don't know what I did different in me anger, but I must have done something another way. It didn't smell as sumptuous as the first and well, I didn't taste it that night (yes, it survived cooling). I had hid all the pies in the upper cabinet so the Dragon hound couldn't get at them.

Me pie didn't taste as good as I thought it might. I think I was the only one that ate it. And I will say every bite I took did not go unnoticed. That hound's eyes followed me fork from pie plate to mouth and back again. He started whining when I'd get to the crust. Yes, he knew I was going to eat the whole thing without him. He did it to me, so there, I did the same to him and enjoyed every minute of it even if I didn't think the pie tasted that good.

That will learn me, I mean him.

Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

28 November, 2016

Mam and the divorced women's club

837
28 November 2016

R. Linda:

Oh turkey day came and went and leftovers are gone, so sad. I could live on turkey dinners for a very long time, but I enjoyed the day even if it came with somewhat of a price to those around me.

Two days before Thanksgiving, me old neighbours dropped in for our annual coffee and pie catching up. Mrs. Neighbour bakes 30 pies and she can't remember why she does, but every year she has left over pies for months! One way of getting rid of at least two is the annual catching up. I think that is a great excuse she has, I love her pies so I hope she continues this strange pie baking next year and the year after that.

So we had eaten a good amount of the pies and were sitting back chatting and sipping joe when me very own gray haired, apple cheeked Mam remembered she needed a few more mini-pumpkins for Thanksgiving dinner, and if she did not get them that day, there would be none to be had. She excused herself and went out trailing coat and purse but was right back in again when she announced she was blocked in by our neighbours ride.

Well, here take my keys and use my car, be easier than us all playing musical cars, Mr. Neighbour said with a jolly laugh.

"Are ye sure?" Asks Mam, he was and so off she went.

She told us later, she pulled into the farm stand down the road, got out, picked out the mini-pumpkins and went to the counter to check out. There were about 10 other ladies there doing their shopping, when one of them says to her, "Is that your BMW 7 Series?"

Well, me Mam was flummoxed to say the least, as she did not expect the question and having once owned a BMW (not a 7 series) she automatically said, "Yes."

"I love that model, way expensive." Says the woman.

"Yes, yes it is." Mam answers regretting she opened her mouth.

"If you don't mind me asking how much did that cost you?" The woman probed much to Mam's chagrin.

"It was free," came out of her mouth, then as an after thought, "divorce."

The woman's mouth was a wide 'O' in surprise and admiration.

"High five to YOU!" The woman says holding her hand up.

Mam slapped hers in kind and then to more of her surprise, the woman behind the counter says, "Hey high five here, way to go!"

And Mam slapped her hand and as she turned to go (after paying for her precious pumpkins), she is met with a row of women all waiting to high five her as she went out the door! They said something about starting a divorced women's club and having Mam as president. I tell ya! The woman can't stay out of trouble.

So with a smug smile she got into HER BMW 7 Series and came home with that story. Thought I'd share the start of trouble brewing.

Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

16 November, 2016

Death By Sandwich Board

836
16 November 2016

R. Linda:

At home, the youngest brought home the first cold of the season. He has been (for two weeks), a snotty, coughing, irritable mess. He's never been a whiner, but he has bought that art to another dimension in his illness. We started affectionately referring to him as our little 'crabapple'. To which he took exception. No, he did not like that at all, and took the crankiness up a notch to screaming at us every time one of us would solicitously ask if he needed anything. A resounding and loud froggy "NO, LEAVE ME LONE!" would be thrown our way and we'd run from the ear shattering renouncement.

In short time, the eldest child came down with the same ailment, but alas, he has handled it well, but O'Hare is our resident whiner, so if he was whining more we didn't notice. It was a matter of time before one of the three adults in the house came down with this pre-winter cold and guess who it was? Yes, that's right this guy. The only one of the three who neglected his flu shot. Yes indeed, I feel like the Russian army walked over me. Me back aches, me chest hurts, me nose drips, and oh the coughing. Let me not forget the ferocious headache as well that makes loud yelling and whining from others almost intolerable.

Add to this predicament of mine, that I be pulling double shifts at work. One of me co-workers had a bad auto accident and is out for a few weeks, which leaves me to fill in for him. So while he is home recuperating, I have dragged meself into work being careful to stifle me sneezes, and cover me coughing fits by going out to the back stairwell where they echo resoundingly, and basically surviving on won ton soup, thanks to Ms. Jaio. Oh yes, she is still around, though she does not work in me department she checks in on me and seeing me slumped over me desk, me phone ringing and me not answering, she took charge like an ad hoc secretary. God bless Ms. Jaio!

Recently, I was told to get the story on a bridge closing in Portsmouth. It seems the people who live in New Hampshire and work in Maine, and vice versa, went to work one morning and crossed the bridge, finding upon their return to go home, the bridge was closed and they were stranded. No notice, no nothing and to add insult to injury it wasn't a day gone by that the middle of the bridge was removed so there was no hope of it reopening. Quandary for sure. There are other bridges, but they are a distance anyway you slice it, so this no notice was a thorn for sure. I went to find out why the sudden closing, and what was to be done.

I was feeling quite lousy, Ms. Jaio noticed this state of mine, and offered to go with me. We got meself in me motor and she drove to Portsmouth. The day in me part of NH was mild, in the low 60s, so I had only me suit jacket. I hadn't thought about the coastal weather at all. The wind was up to gusts that could almost knock you over, so by the time I got me story I was chilled to the bone as most of me investigation and interviews were conducted outside in the chilly wind.

In addition to feeling dreadful, I was very hungry. Ms. Jaio suggested we go to the British pub I know of to redeem the disaster of the Brit Beer Company (see 02 November 2016ACK!!! Americans and British food not a good combination. It took some convincing as I could still taste that awful Kielbasa, but redemption along with Ms. Jaio's suggestion that it would be a hearty meal that was much needed by yours truly's body was just the thing. There I ordered sausages with Colman's mustard, and then bangers and mash, the real bangers this time with real mash and homemade gravy! It was a sniffling feast it was. I topped it with a shandy as I had to drive and the barman made it light for me. I did spend extra time to be sure any alcohol would wear off before I hit the road. Ms. Jaio would have driven, but highway driving is not her forte' so . . .

Beforehand, we could not find a parking space and got probably the last one in the parking garage. I had us on the upper level, so feeling poorly the six flights of stairs down (no elevator on that side) almost felled me by the time I reached the bottom. Therefore, I asked Ms. Jaio (since I was feeling shaky), if she would mind fetching the motor and I'd meet her at the pub doorstep. Off she went as I paid the tab. The pub is three flights up, so I had lurched the three flights down to a small hallway. I thought to wait inside but the door has glass you cannot see out, so no choice but wait on the stoop. I opened the door to a giant gust of wind that had me hair standing straight up, as I battled me way out to the street. It was freaking cold by that time, and the wind was lifting me jacket up so the cold wind was up around me ribcage, it blew up me pant legs and well, I was miserable cold! I sat on the stair huddled waiting. Behind me was a sandwich board that read, "beer tour" and the thought of cold beer made me colder. I couldn't stand being buffeted by the wind and cold, so I got up to settle as best I could in the doorway above me. It was just as I got into the doorway, hoping no one came out because they would not see me standing there, and I'd be a greasy spot on the wall should they open said heavy door. I needn't have worried about THAT because no sooner had I left me first perch on the step a violent gust of wind came up and lifted the heavy sandwich board and threw it where I had been sitting. Yes, I'd have been flat as a pancake, covered in bits of skin and blood if I hadn't got up when I did!

I looked at that board lying flat on the sidewalk, splinters of wood scattered here and there. I forced meself to go lift it so I could put it inside the doorway so no one else would be felled by it. Only it was heavy and in me weakened condition I couldn't get it lifted. I had a coughing spasm and moved back to the doorway as pedestrians came by STEPPING OVER the dead sandwich board. No one and I mean no one bothered to try to right it. By the time Ms. Jaio got to me (there was a line to get out of the parking garage), I was a mess of cold and worse remorse (for the sandy board's end), but thankful I was not injured or dead!

It has been a weekend and a few days since this happened. I be home today still feeling the chill from the sea breeze and damp of the water. Turns out the bridge was no longer safe and more so than first thought leading to instant shut down. They are building another bridge and it is started so there is hope for the commuters of both states. As for me, I smile in memory of the good fare that has made me have faith that someone in America knows the art of bangers and mash, but there is a bit of me that morns that sandwich board which looked probably to passerbys like an old drunk passed out on the sidewalk. It did look like too much beer tour to be sure. I wonder if it is still there, sigh.

Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

08 November, 2016

Civic Lesson But More Like Family Time

835
08 November 2016

R. Linda:

SOOO . . . voted. 

Turnout was light in the rural sticks I inhabit in New Hampshire. This be me first time voting in this little place. There is no common or green. There is no village of little shops and civil war monuments. There is no meeting house or great town hall. No, there is a crossroads and at the top is an old colonial house with a sign on one side says town hall and on the other library. Next to that is another old colonial house. Across from that is the small elementary school that only goes to grade 5. If you look across the road there is a church and across from that two small cape homes and that's the town centre. 

The kiddos had the day off so the town could vote. I don't think there are more than 250 people live here. No wonder turnout seemed light! That's because it was, we are light on population. 

Dragon told the wife where she lives on the Jersey shore it was like a ghost town. Hardly anyone voting. Could be they didn't like the choices and simply stayed home?

I heard Manchester had lines. Wait was maybe 15 minutes but it moved constantly. People in and out as quick as they could colour in the dot. 

Where I used to live which actually had a village green, you'd go to the high school (which was usually in session), check in, get your ballot and vote in a curtained booth. Then you'd hand the ballot over to one of the two people manning the ballot box and off you go. 

But not today Berta, not today. Today was entirely a different process. You go to the empty school and outside is one democratic candidate holding her own sign with one supporter holding another. They greet you sweetly, hope you will vote for her and you have a small chat which warms you to her and her one supporter. Not like me former polling place where you made your way inside between dozens of teenagers who were making fun of the voters and screaming democrats on one side of the walk and republicans on the other (seemed like hundreds of these sign toters) and you were glad to get inside to more teenagers and lines to vote. NO nothing like that this time. I checked in, I got introduced to the polling workers at the tables, I was given my license back with a paper ballot and onward to the voting booth I did go, eldest child in tow (in this state you can bring the young one with you). I voted, and as I did I told the eldest kiddo why I was voting for this person and not for that person and down the list I went. We took a pic of him and me ballot (also legal in our state).



As soon as I was done we went to another table where we were marked off as having voted and while the marking was being done we were introduced to the selectmen of the town and small chats like, "Oh you bought so and so's place. How you like living here?" Then once the small talk is done, you shuffle to the left and hand your folded ballot to the one gent who is manning the voting box and he smiles and gives you or in me case me kiddo an I VOTED sticker and then you have to walk passed another table of selectman and do the same with introductions and small talk about chickens and grumpy neighbours you haven't met yet but live next to, and you meet the local policeman (the only one we have) who shows you pictures of his kids and grandkids, but you aren't done yet. You move off into the hallway where there is a church lady taking donations for the town anniversary and Boy Scouts. More small talk and how wonderful an experience it is for the kiddo here to witness his dad excising his civic right etc. As you finish with that you try to stroll towards the door where your neighbours you've never met or seen before are stopped to ask if you are going to the town supper next week. And oh isn't the food fine and they hope to see you there. And then after that you might make it out the door after you hold it open for a few elderly stragglers who also give you a chat up as they thank you for being doorman and commenting on the young one learning about the voting process. You get out the door and think you are done but you aren't yet. The woman running for office who wanted your vote is looking at you in anticipation that she hopes you voted for her, and when you say yes, you did, she shakes your hand and thanks you and mentions she'll be dropping by for coffee one day. Oh goody you think as you get to your car and pile in heaving a sigh its over. But it isn't. As you pull out you better wave as you go by because everyone is waving at you. 

The one drawback was there was no free coffee and baked goods. That would have been perfect for a stroll about the polling booths and chatting with everyone in creation. Actually, popcorn would have been better it was like being in a reality show and slowly meandering about like you had all the time in the world. Actually, I kind of liked it, hell I did like it. Next time I will bring a box of joe and some donuts and stick around a little longer. Maybe by then I'll have met the grumpy neighbour and have stories to tell about the chickens and the rabbits. I must have met 20 of the 250 residents of me small town and thinking they all be fine upstanding New Englanders. But wait -- are they? I've been told New England natives are cold, standoffish and if you weren't born here, you are an outsider. Now I found that true of me old town, the one with the scenic village green and the huge high school and  known for it's "snobbery." On hindsight, most of the people that live there are not New Englanders, much of the population of now 5,000 are all out-of-staters. I now live in a town where the snobs wouldn't want to live because there is "nothing" out here. The natives are true natives and kind, friendly and no hint of snobbery. I hope no one from the old town discovers me new town because I like it just the way it is -- snob-free and like family. I hope too this election will go smoothly no matter who wins and we can continue to appreciate one another no matter who we are or where we are from.  

Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

03 November, 2016

The New Bobcat In Town

834
03 November 2016

R. Linda:

OMG -- me cat be gathering fame or infamy across me rural little town that can't even boast a village green. We be that remote! With property spread out and no one close to anyone else, its a miracle me cat has garnered fame or as the case seems to be, ill-repute throughout the place.

It started two weeks ago when we had a bit of a rainy spate and having two cats who (you will remember) brought a flying squirrel into our basement, where they let it die after probably a good game of You Catch It Then I'll Kill It, But No We Aren't Eating It, It's A Present For Gabe. As I told you, the dead carcass must have been in the basement a very long time because when we came upon it, it was stiff and very dead. As I further told you, this led to a bad case of fleas in the basement which it cost me mucho amounts of money (5 visits) to get the fleas exterminated. Needless to say, both cats where banished to the outside so where they went at night to sleep we did not know. We did take into consideration both of them are badarse felines and very capable of taking care of themselves.

We were more fearful of the coyote pack that has migrated back into our forest getting the cats for a late night snack. See below:

The bad boys of the back woods
But the two miscreants had spent the summer carefree outside and now would not come in to save their lives. Well, we crossed our fingers and hoped the coyote pack would soon vacate the premises, but they are still here and so are the cats. They must have found safe places to bunker down be all we can think.

Anyway two weeks ago it was rainy for a few days and very chilly. I heard a cat scream sometime in the wee hours and did get up and look out the window. It was too dark to see anything and no further sound did I hear.

That morning upon awakening, O'Hare came in crying that Chester (our tiger cat) had his tail in two pieces. You will remember the picture on the blog of Chester's tail being devoid of hair from something getting him? Well, this time he was pretty much devoid of his tail. It had been sliced in two being held on by a blood vessel that we quickly wrapped and hauled his arse to the vets.

There we told our tale of the coyote but the vet said it wasn't a coyote it was chopped not chomped. She said her scenario be what most cats will do and she's seen before. That would be they crawl up into the engine of a just used car or truck in this case, to keep warm. But someone must have come back out and turned the truck on and the fan cut the tail in half. Gory I know. Come to find the fire chief lives down the way and he said, he thought he saw our car run from his truck that morning he had a fire call. His truck is a 2005 and still has the metal fan in the engine. So there you have it, our Chester be a Bob now.

Chester none too happy after tail docking
 But the story does not end there, no it does not and I wish it did. Yesterday we took Chester AKA Bob to the vets for stitches removal. He's just fine he is and we were told he could resume his outdoor life today. Okay good because he's made life in the house almost intolerable he wants out. This morning he was let out and it wasn't twenty minutes later, me Mam gets on her Facebook Page and sees no less than 14 posts WITH pictures of a bobcat seen roaming the neighbourhood. Well, it turns out that was no bobcat that's our Chester. So she laughs thinking it funny until she sees a post that says, "Calvin is got his gun and he's going to hunt that thing." Laughing stopped and her fingers flew to the keyboard to say that was no bobcat just Chester who lost his tail. Well instant posts asking how that happened, but she had no time for that, she asked if anyone knew where Chester was last seen and for heaven's sakes alive someone stop Calvin from shooting our cat!

Bob, I mean Chester was last seen three houses away which was over a mile. Mam hopped in her car and drove down to the neighbour's house and they both set to calling and looking for him. No luck. Meanwhile Calvin is out in the woods hunting OUR CAT that he thinks is a wild bobcat. Mam jumps in her motor and drives home in a right tizzy. And there lounging on the back deck be Chester AKA Bob the terror of the township.

Here he is leaving, he be a big cat.

When the fur grows back he will look like what everyone mistakes him for
When we first moved into the house, the former owners daughter came by to pick up a box they forgot. She told me there was a bobcat kit sitting next to the pond and the picture she showed me was our very own Chester. Well, life will be interesting I surmise, and maybe short for Chester AKA Bob. Me Mam was busy getting the word out and comes to find not 1/2 mile in the other direction there is the real thing taking up residence under someones front porch. Oi!

I do believe Chester has used up five of his nine lives, so we can only hope he survives the new look.

Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

02 November, 2016

ACK!!! Americans and British food not a good combination

833
02 November 2016

R. Linda:

Britannia is ripped in the wind but Americans rip her too
Maybe you think me harsh, but truly I was beside meself on Halloween. We have (for the past few years) made Halloween an excuse to take the day off and go out to lunch. This year me Mam said she craved someone else making bangers and mash and could we go to that sweet little Brit place up in Temple? Well, they only be open at night so we couldn't do that. However, there be the British Beer Company located an hour away, so I suggested we go there. I had been to the one in Portsmouth and it was decent except for the cottage pie they masquerade as shepherds pie. But no trouble, the beer selection is excellent and well there was this other opened closer to us, so plans were made and off we went.

We got there and me Mam had never seen the place so she was pointing out the Brit and American flags and how the place looked not like a British pub but an American enterprise trying to masquerade as one. Well, yes it did indeed look that way but to the American eye, it looked British!

So in we went and me Mam said how the layout was so American but the pub area was very Brit looking if only the fireplace worked and there was a dog or two lounging in front of it. Ugh, I was like Mam you be in America, they aren't Brits so they don't know but this is as close as you will get, so lets just sit and enjoy the lunch.

I ordered a Fullers London Porter which was excellent by the way. We ordered pastry puff sausages with English mustard as a starter. I had said we shouldn't if we were all ordering bangers and mash we should forgo the sausage and try something else. But no, the ladies and the one young gent (me youngest) wanted the sausages.

Well, the sausages came. They were two large sausages in a pastry puff dough, and the mustard was not Colman's but what looked like IRISH whole grain mustard, but I was not sure it wasn't some American concoction made to look that way. It didn't have the bite I was expecting and that saddened me. But even worse the sausage tasted very off. The pastry was good, so I had another bite without the mustard and thought the sausage tasted familiar, but no, couldn't be.

I looked at me Mam who looked at me, her face squashed into a "what am I eating?" expression that wasn't a good one. She swallowed and said as Irish as she could be, "Dat wuz wot? It taste at first goud, den turns bad, den da offal."

"The good, the bad and the offal, yes indeed Mam." I shook me head at her.

"It's Kielbasa Mom," Tonya said with a smile.

"Kielbasa? The Polish sausage?" She asked stunned.

"Yes, that's what it tastes and looks like to me." Tonya answered taking another bite.

I bit me lip watching her and both me Mam and meself pushed the plate toward Tonya and at the same time told her it was all hers.

"Really, you don't want it?" She looked startled.

No, we really really did not want it. While she ate away Mam and I looked at the menu choosing chicken tenders with American fries for the wee one.

"Ooh wots dis?" Me Mam said pointing at the shepherds pie. "It says beef, wot shepherd do ye knoo that herds cows?"

"A rover herds cattle, not a shepherd." Tonya said feeding the polish sausage to the boyo who was enjoying it because he was hungry. Otherwise, I don't think he would have.

"We knoo dat Tonya," Mam said tsking at the menu. "ooh luckie here Gobriel, the bangers and mash cooms wit bubble and squeak."

That made me smile, ok then. I be a lover of bubble and squeak so when the waitress came I ignored the question about the kielbasa that was zooming around me brain and ordered up the bangers and mash with bubble and squeak.

I should have taken a picture of the bangers and mash, but I was horrified I was and didn't think to do that. But I can describe it for you.

A bowl (yes a large bowl) came and was placed before Tonya, Mam and meself. In it was three kielbasa sliced in half with a dab of mash and gravy underneath and all around the kielbasa being passed off as English sausage was fried onion rings (WHAT?), melon rolls of sweet potato (WHAT?),  and sliced carrots. Fried onion rings REALLY? HONEST? TRULY? WHAT -- WHAT WHAT???

Bangers and mash me arse, bubble and squeak me arse! What the hell was this? I took a tentative bite and was reward with the aftertaste of Polish sausage. I take exception when the sausage I expect, that be advertised as British, is Polish and foreign to the dish, and the bubble and squeak I protest should not look like a fall garden medley! Oi, oi, oi, oi, oi, oi.

 I couldn't eat it I be sorry to say, because I be not a fan of kielbasa. Mam was disappointed and when the waitress came by to ask how everything was, well, Mam spoke right up and told her. Tony's eyes were big as me Mam told the woman in no uncertain terms that Kielbasa be not a British sausage and bubble and squeak does not EVER have fried onion rings on top. Further that the restaurant shouldn't advertise itself as British if they don't know the first thing about British food.

Okay fair enough British person. The waitress listened, no word was uttered and then when Mam huffed to silence she said, "American clientele think British food needs a little zip and that's what we've done. Being Americans are our biggest customers we cater to their tastes."

"BUT," me Mam said waving a finger in the air, "wot aboot da occasional authentic Brit who cooms in expecting a good, hardy British meal and be served dis?" She pushed the almost untouched dish towards the waitress.

"Dunno." The woman said. "I can get you something else?"

"Oh like da shepherds pie dat has no lamb in it. It's not beef dats a cottage pie." Mam quipped.

"Lamb is expensive and most Americans won't eat it." The woman countered nicely.

"Den call it wot it be, cottage or meat pie." Mam spoke up.

"IF there's nothing else?" The woman asked and seeing there was not, she left us to it.

Tonya smiled at Mam and said, "You ARE becoming very American. We are very vocal."

Me Mam looked at her like she was out of her of head.

So the end result be Mam and meself had hardly anything but a nibble of Polish food and that was that. Never again.

"I have to wonder," said Tonya, "if that Thai restaurant we like actually serves Thai food or like this one, what they think Americans will like."

Mam shrugged and I shook me head and looked down at the dish of Polish American fare when the waitress came back and asked if we wanted dessert.

"Wot kin dey do ta dessert?" Mam said to me so we ordered for the two of us since Tonya and the wee one weren't interested in anything more and why would they be, they ate their Polish lunch and were full.

"We'll have the Sticky Toffee Pudding." I said and off she went to bring us coffee and the dessert which arrived looking sort of like the real thing but there was a lot of it.

"Dats a healthy piece." Me Mam said in wonder.

She lifted her fork to the pudding which was a marble cake topped with caramel sauce and the biggest dollop of ice cream I've ever seen.

"Wots wit da ice cream?" Mam said to me. "We don't serve it dis way back home."

I sighed and took a piece and oh my goodness me, it was not near sticky toffee pudding (cake) well . . . no on. Me Mam always puts dates in her pudding, and it is made in a bundt pan and she drizzles the caramel sauce with brandy mixed in over the top. No ice cream is ever on it but American food is heart attack food most of the time, so why not ice cream?

That was the icing on the top of the cake as they say, we were done with the place. I don't understand this Americanisation of ethnic food, I really do not. That's the joy of eating foreign food it doesn't taste like ordinary everyday fare, the joy be gone, the taste buds are not challenged. Mam be threatening to open her own bistro (God knows where) and preparing authentic dishes for the American palate. I think she'd be out of business in three days time she does that. I tried to tell her its all about the money. So sad.

One good thing, I got me shoes in me size (the big foot size) and I wore them to the ill fated luncheon, they are comfy and I thought to show you. Yeah baby, Star War shoes for yours truly.

Weasil has nothing on me new kicks
Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

29 October, 2016

Aliens in the woods

832
29 October 2016

R. Linda:

It started out innocently enough UNTIL the weather turned from the low 60s and sunny, to pouring down cold rain in the 30s with fierce wind and sleet. I shouldn't blame this on the weather, no I should not, but if I don't I will have to blame it on the Weasil and well . . . me grey haired apple cheeked old Mam.

It all started the night before the great deluge. Yes, I had taken me night blind Mam to a historical or as she says hysterical society meeting earlier in the evening. I had gone home and stopped at the store for eggs so we'd have them for breakfast the following day. And maybe THATS when it all started. I, unlike me wife and mam, don't look to see if the eggs I buy are cracked, I just pick up a carton, pay and go home. Well, after the drop off of me olwan, I stopped, got petrol for the car and the eggs at the convenience store, and home I went.

On the way I was replaying in me head a conversation I had with me Mam on the way to the meet. She told me it was about the possibility that aliens, not Native Americans were the first to step foot on this country's soil. There be a lot of that going on of late, what with the crazy presidential election going on, and well, I was half listening as I think it all nonsense.

"I con see ye aren't buying in, well Gobriel, dats wot I taught too so dat be why I be a goon to da meet ta see wot be wot. I will sort it oout ye con be sure, I'll wade me way true da tick and tin of it."

"Next ting you know Mam, all our food dat lucks weird will be because it be from aliens." And I laughed but she did not. I shook me head in memory.

I went to put the eggs in the fridge, but they wouldn't fit. The top wasn't closed all the way and this I had attributed (at the store) to many a woman looking before purchase to see if they be cracked. Well, imagine me surprise when I saw the problem wasn't that at all, BUT the size of the eggs. But then there was the colour too!


What the heck? 

And I be missing 3 EGGS!
Me quip about alien food groups came back to me as I stood looking at the strange mix of eggs. I was flummoxed I was. But being me I shrugged me shoulders and put the strange mix in the fridge and closed the door, out of sight out of mind right? Well, not so fast, I heard something tumble over after I jammed the eggs on the top shelf. I opened it back up and the two bricks of cheddar cheese had been near crushed to the back where the fridge light was. I went to unjam them to put them on top of the egg carton when I jammed me finger instead really hard and to add insult to injury, cut it on the freaking alien egg carton. Instead of moving the eggs out of the way, I got me fingers in back of the carton and in me trying to reach the second block of cheese I pushed too hard and this be the result.

Yup

Not only did I jam and cut it, but I bruised the bone. Me wife who be trained in CPR bandaged the damaged digit and to "make it fun" (oh right Tonya) she put a Crime Scene band-aid on it. The kiddos laughed at least even if I failed to see the humour in it.

Feeling maligned by me own self, I felt the need to console meself with some chocolate. Now I didn't tell you this, but a friend of mine had been to Hershey, Pennsylvania and brought me back a chocolate bunny that I had hid so when the munchies came I could indulge. Well, imagine me surprise when I saw THIS:

Do you see this? Who would do such a thing?

THIS is what I do every Easter to the boyo's bunnies. BUT who did this to mine? I thought instantly of O'Hare, but he did not look like he'd had chocolate. He gets this dopey smile on his face when he's chocolated up. It had to be me Mam, but she'd tell me it was aliens. Anyway, I was disturbed I was.

I went to pick her up and I couldn't get a word in to ask her about the rabbit ears, no she was busy telling me about Machu Picchu and the Nazca Plains, and all sorts of South American places there were pictographs of aliens proving they exist. Oh boy. I listened to her rattle on until we got into our driveway and she grabbed me and made me stop the motor. 

"Luck, luck wot waz dat?" She pointed out the windscreen.

I looked but could see nothing then suddenly swift movement to me right. I couldn't make it out.

"Oh Gobriel, it be aliens fur sure it be!" She said all scared.

Normally I would have laughed me fool head off, but her fright was contagious and the prior conversation was deadly serious on her part and this all gave me the willies. 

I saw something -- didn't know what, but she saw an ALIEN.
"I taught I seen some long legged creetour (creature) wit . .  . an elongated head." She said in a whisper staring out the window.

Well, this totally creeped me out, I put the motor in gear and drove slowly to the house as she looked out the windows for the 'creetour' she believed was haunting our woods. Me sanity came to me halfway down the drive so I jammed on the brakes and pointed in the thickest part of the wood and said, "OMG! Did ye see dat dere?"

As you might think this really upset her, and I started laughing which got me a good slap on me arm from the flustered alien believer. I had no clue what we saw, it was large enough to be a man, I'll say that, probably a moose for all I know, but she's convinced otherwise.

That night it rained, and it rained but good. The pond that was almost dried up had filled and the shades of fog rolled in as the rain continued all day and into the next. It was amazing we are in a drought and the ground could take just so much water before it started to pond and puddle. 

I was told I bought free range chicken eggs that some of the locals raise and sell at the convenience store, so that mystery was solved, or was it really? Me Mam looked at me with big eyes when Tonya spouted that gem off, as if to say, yeah sure.

When the bridge where the pond flows into a stream flooded, I could not get out to buy supplies we dearly needed. We did not expect to be flooded in but we were rescued. Oh yes we were by the resident alien who seems never to be on his own planet but inhabits mine. Yup me phony baloney (as HE refers to me cell) rang while I was out looking over the flooded bridge. Me Mam answered and as the space station floated overhead, she talked to the alien and he told her he could fly in with supplies in his spacecraft, no problem. 

There I was out shovelling water thinking if I could shovel enough I'd be able to float me motor our the driveway to get food stuffs. This hurt me sore finger mightily I might add. I was sure I'd get arthritis later in life for the shovelling only to be poo-pooed by the wife over it. Anyway, there I was taking a break, leaning on shovel when THIS came splashing down me driveway almost hitting me.

Just what I needed
Yuppers the alien had landed. Weasil has no fear of deep water, high winds, driving in dense fog, blizzards, hail or tornadoes. Nope that's because he be from outer space somewhere and if he can avoid asteroids earth weather be hardly a deterrent. SIGH.

The mystery of the eggs was solved, eventually the bunny ears mystery was too. Seems me Mam did what I do to everyone else's bunny ears to teach me a lesson, she finally admitted to that. The thing in the woods Weasil told me what THAT was, and even provided me a picture as proof. BUT . . . we are talking Weasil here so with a grain of salt believe his "proof positive" or not.

Weas did save me from shovelling water that just came rolling back in anyway. He had a boot full of groceries and would as always take no payment if I let him stay the night (which I did). Actually, several nights and as always he was the hero for saving us and solving the mystery of what was out in the woods. We now put on our hunter orange to venture outside or, now that the water has all but disappeared, drive like a bat out of hell out the driveway. Our Scottish MacGyver discovered this and took a photo of it at night when he went out to "hunt" the alien. 

According to Weasil we have a bear hunting for us
Believe what you will, we hear shuffling and heavy sounds in the woods at night. Especially in the sandy culvert by the bridge. If Weasil is to be believed this big guy be hunting humans who Weasil thinks the bear thinks are aliens.

Thanks Mam for this!

Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

17 October, 2016

First there was Hillary and David, then Drew and Jonathan, but it was Chip and Joanna I wanted to make a dream come true . . . I think

831
17 October 2016

R. Linda:

Tonya and I were featured on Love or List It. Yes, we were thinking our abode was too small and we needed to move, at least that was Tonya who thought that. I was of the mind, that if we busted out the porch we could build an extra room there and we could live very happily. Somehow, we got on the show (I suspect me old neighbour turned our names in telling the show's producer that there was this nice young couple who he didn't want to see in divorce court over staying or leaving the cozy abode up in the woods).

Imagine me surprise as I be leaving me house for a cup of well needed joe with me wife following me out the door telling me in no uncertain terms the merits of house hunting, and me throwing over me shoulder the equal merits of staying put and building an addition, when there standing next to me motor is David Visentin and Hillary Farr watching us banter.

Both Tonya and I stopped our yammering as Hillary moved forward to shake me hand and say, "Gabe, I can make it so you will love your home." And then David extending his saying, "Gabe, believe me you will thank me when I find you a house that will fill all your needs and you will want to leave this hovel."

Next thing we are all sitting in me parked car in the front of me "hovel." Tonya and I in the backseat and David and Hillary in the front, all of us with a glass of wine.

"I can assure you Gabe, I can find you a home that meets your criteria guaranteed. You'll be saying LIST IT." David said to me.

"And I can assure you Gabe, I can make your home exactly what you want and you'll have Tonya here saying, I LOVE IT!" Hillary challenged.

"Now down to basics, what price range are we looking?" David asked Tonya.

"Uh . . . uh . . . lets say $250,000." Tonya said not sure.

"$250,000? Your house is worth $250,000 -- just," David said as if his feathers were ruffled, "you might as well stay. Have some more wine."

"Ok, $350,000," Tonya said taking a sip as I made a face like WHAT???

"And how much do I have to work with?" Hillary said all smiles to me.

"$25,000."

"WHAT?" She near screamed at me. "David gets $350,000 and for renovation I get a measly $25,000? Now Gabriel if you want me to do all the things you have on this list," (list produced like Santa's role call of good and naughty children) "I can't possibly do it on that amount. Can you do better?"

I was embarrassed as the TV camera pushed in through the open window for a closeup of me face.

"Uh . . . $11,000 more." I squeaked shrugging me shoulders and making a "well I tried" face to the camera then took a healthy gulp of the wine.

"Still at $36,000 that doesn't give me much leeway. But I can guarantee you will have the nicest closet in town." Hillary said, pouring us more wine.

"Closet?" Tonya and I both croaked mid sip of wine.

"I can see the foundation is rotted out from here which means new joists and sills, and since we don't have the money to fix THAT, we can put a few rocks to bolster the foundation, and well we will have to move the toilet, sink and bathtub to make room for the closet, but unfortunately we won't have any money in the budget to fix the holes that will be left in the floor, OR to put in a small water closet to replace the bath we take out for the closet space. Add to that your roof is sagging and needs replacement. Can't do that either." Hillary explained to our incredulous looks.

"But . . . but we wanted an addition not all that other stuff." Tonya said in a little voice.

"No downstairs bathroom?" I muttered startled I'd be losing a bathroom and gaining a . . . closet!

"Well guys, you gave David a good figure and my budget is like miniscule. So yes, I have just enough to do the closet you wanted." Hillary said, in a no nonsense voice ignoring the question.

Tonya and I looked at each other mouthing the word 'closet' which we did want in the new addition that was to be an extra bedroom.

"What about the addition?" I piped up trying again one last time.

"No can do, not enough money in the budget YOU gave me." Hillary said adamantly. "But the closet will be out of this world."

"Ok we are out of here," I said as Tonya opened her side since mine was blocked by cameras and sound equipment. We rushed out as Hillary and David did the same in the front seat and chased us inside our abode. We got there first and locked the door. I cracked open a window and yelled we were done, they could pack it up and go home now. I drew the blinds shut all the windows and made sure the doors were locked.

"You know they were trying to get us to drink the wine so we'd be more accommodating with the budgets. Notice they never touched theirs?" Tonya said as I nodded, wow the tricksters those two were. I looked out the window and the Love Or List It crew were outside the abode for three days before they finally left, Hillary shouting last chance for that fabulous closet and holding up a bottle of wine and two glasses at us. But we were not budging. We were done, or so we thought. We had just opened the blinds and unlocked the doors when there was a knock at the front door.

I foolishly opened it find these two men as tall as meself and as skinny as meself smiling at me. One had on a business suit which reminded me of me when I go to work and the other was in a flannel shirt and jeans, which reminded me of me when I be home lazying around.

"Hi, I'm Drew Scott," the one in the business suit said extending his hand to me, "and this is my brother Jonathan. We are the Property Brothers and we heard of your dilemma and are here to help. I can show you homes in your neighbourhood that will maximise the space you want and my brother can renovate your home for sale."

I stood there with me jaw almost on the ground. Here we go again. Hells no, I thought but the wife pushed me from the doorway where she gushed over these two twinees as if I did not exist. Before I knew what was happening, Jonathan was inside me abode with a metal measuring tape saying things like, "This post is holding the entire house up, it needs to go. If I take that post down you will be able to see from one end of the house to the other . . . maybe."

"But what's going to hold up me house?" I stammered, but he ignored me and went to the back door and measured again.

"This door needs to go, if we put French doors in more natural light will come through and that's a perk for a potential buyer."

"Potential buyer?" I muttered confused.

Next thing I know I am being piled into the back of a car and driven to a mansion where Drew told us to come right in and take a look around. He explained the amenities of the house, indoor pool, marble floors, granite counter tops, wood panelling, gourmet kitchen, patio with outdoor kitchen, a hundred bathrooms, one for every room, a master bedroom with closets that could be bedrooms in their own right, views of mountains and perfectly landscaped yard. This could all be  yours, we are told.

"How much," the wife drooled.

"$3.5 million," Drew said.

"We . . . we . . . don't have that kind of money," I choked out.

"Well, I can make your house look like THIS." Jonathan said with a big smile.

"You . . . you . . . can?" The wife looked adoringly at him, her hands in prayer pose.

"How . . . how . . . much?" I choked out again.

"How much you got?" Jonathan said and that was it for me.

"Tonya," I said aside in a whisper, "forget this lets just up and leave for Waco, Texas." I looked at her knowingly and she got it.

"Yes," she whispered back, "Joanna and Chip Gains. We can buy a broken down old fixer upper and Chip and Joanna can make it look like THIS." She gestured to our surroundings.

I cleared me throat and announced that there was a bald eagle flying around the back view did the Scott brothers see it? It was just magnificent.

"No," they said looking in that direction, and then walking over to what they called an infinity window to look more closely. That's when Tonya and I snuck out and ran, yes ran all the way home. We packed up the kiddos, me Mam and what we needed and are on our way to Waco to buy a piece of crap house so we can be on Fixer Upper.

Well, that was what I thought until I was rudely awakened by the wife asking me "WHO IS JOANNA? WHAT IS SHIPLAP? IS THAT HER LAST NAME?" I had been pleading with Joanna Gaines to fix up me fixer upper in me sleep. "Look at all the shiplap, pull-ese Joanna!" I pointed out to Joanna before I was shaken awake. I blinked realising I was in me new home, no fixer upper needed, what was I thinking, or more correctly dreaming? Yes, I had hotter than hell tacos last night and as you know THIS be  what happens when spicy food influences me dreams.

Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

07 October, 2016

The Urn In The Closet

830
07 October 2016

R. Linda:

When me Mam divorced me Da, she moved out of the old abode to come here to live with us. In their bedroom for more years than I can remember, there was this bronze urn that at one time had nothing but Irish pennies in it. I was told it was me Da's, given to him by an old flame before he met and married me Mam. Me Mam never used it, but me Da put pennies in it for a few years and then it stood at the top of the closet empty all these years out of sight out of mind, my mind in particular.

When me Mam moved she left the urn where it was because why would she want it? So I get this phone call from across the pond, it is me Da and he wants to know what for she left him an urn and who be inside it. Further, it has for the past almost two years since she left, been creeping him out.

I at first had no idea what he was talking about. Urn? I don't remember an urn. And why should I? I was never frequenting their closet so like I said, out of sight out of mind and really I didn't know where it came from in the first place. I told him I had no clue what he was going on about and then I wondered if it was HIS cat's ashes Mam had put in an urn.

He had a cat, and that cat he put in the cat carrier one day and told me Mam the cat was sick he was going to the vets. Well, seems the cat was sick a lot and everyday he would take the cat in the carrier, to the vets. Then one day he told her the cat was still at the vets but he had visiting hours after dark to go visit the cat.

Now me Mam was not born yesterday and she suspected there was nothing much wrong with the cat, but with her husband. She thought he was seeing someone and well he was! His excuse was the cat. Well, seems the other woman be not a cat lover and so the cat suffered, stuck in the carrier, no water, probably little food if any, and then the cat really did get sick. By this time the cat was home, the husband was thrown out of the home, and Mam was for real going to the vets.

Once there the cat was diagnosed with malnutrition and so they looked at her very funny. She sighed, shrugged her shoulders and instead of telling them what she thought, she said, "I be not the trooble, it be you. For eight weeks me old man been bringing the cat ta ya, then visiting the cat here at night."

"Hold on Mrs. O'Sullivan," the vet interrupted her. "We have not seen the cat since last year for exam and shots."

"Oh really," Mam feigned surprise. "So me old man was lyin' about the cat was he?"

"Maybe, he brought the cat to another vet." The man said.

"Oh no, no, he tole me it was YOU who was treatin' his old cat, allowin' em' to come after hours to visit the old thing."

"We don't have visiting hours and we are not open after dark." The vet said looking alarmed.

Well, all this just confirmed what she already had reckoned. As it turned out it be a sad story, she nursed the old man's cat until it succumbed as it was beyond help and very old to have been treated so ill. She got rather attached to the thing and was upset the old man never asked after his cat. At the end she was tempted to be done with everything having to do with the old man and was near to cremating the cat, when she decided instead to give it a proper burial in the back garden. So when I asked her who's ashes were in the urn, and she looked at me askance because she didn't know what I was asking her, we discussed the urn to wit she replied, "Oh dat urn."

"Yeah, he said you made the urn in a ceramics class."

"Oh no, no. Dat was from Rita his old flame. It was a terrible job she did on it. Ye could see her heart weren't in ceramics. It was ugly and it has been in the bedroom closet since we bought the old house. If ye talk to that old slipper tell him it wasn't mine, it was Rita's and his cat's ashes are in it."

"Are they?" I asked.

"Noo, I planted the cat in the garden. But tell em' the cat's in the urn."

"He told me you left it there with someone inside to creep him out. He hasn't looked in it, won't touch it." I said.

"Really? He flatters himself I'd care enough to do sumthin' like dat." Said she. "And he doesn't know me to know who'd be in the urn? Here ye go, me mother was cremated, tell em' the cat and me old mother be in the urn together."

"I can't do that." I said aghast. "Isn't your mother's urn buried?"

"It was last time I looked, but he's so stupid he doesn't seem to realise that. So tell em' wot I tole ye."

And she left the room.

So here I sit, shaking me head, half tempted to do her bidding and creep the old geezer out completely or be honest Gabe and correct his memory of who the original owner of the urn was or just not call him and leave things as they be.

Photo of the "creepy urn" taken by the old fart with shaky hands but you get the idea 
Gabe
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

06 October, 2016

Reginald's Chair -Your Annual Halloween Tale

829
06 October 2016

R. Linda:

When I lived in me old antique abode I never really saw any "human ghosts," just the spooky dark cat that would appear at times (mostly in September) and that was pretty much it. Imagine me surprise when buying a house built in the mid 1990s, to find the activity level of the spirit world alive and well inside me doors. Yes, R. Linda, it be rather disconcerting to think one hears voices, sees movement, and gets an overwhelming feeling of dread in a relatively newer home, but that has happened.

I remember the time I slept in the house on me own before we moved and the mattress near about ate me. You remember that? Now I be wondering if that was an accident or . . . demonic plan. The master bedroom is rather a large affair (and the reason we bought the abode) and in it is the antique furnishings we had in the old abode. These antiques have been accused of bringing their former spirit owners to the new house. I have to wonder. There have been nights I have heard (and Tonya too) someone cough and it wasn't us. We both have been awoken on occasion by this sound. At first I thought it was Tonya's mobile phone making a strange noise as it charged over night, but no. We used me own mobile to call it and it does not cough, it vibrates. So we eliminated the phone.

We checked the windows, all are shut well, no draft coming through though when we have a northeaster we can hear the wind howling around the casings yet no draft gets in to make a coughing sound. We thought it was the wood as we have a pine ceiling, the pine coming from the trees that used to grow on the property but were cut down to be used on the inside of the home. Not that either, though the ceiling is very high. On windy nights you can hear the wind lift the roof tiles but that doesn't sound like coughing either.

Then there are the doors that close and open by themselves. You'd find this in older homes where the foundation be not plumb, but our house is not an older home and all seems level. No humps or creaks in the floor, no parting of door frames, no the locks click when the doors are closed and click when opened so how they open and close on their own we have notta clue.

There was the one night I was alone in the house, the wife and kiddos along with me Mam went to Jersey for a long weekend. The dog was going nuts barking and I could see nothing in the blackness outside, but when she was still I could hear someone tramping through the woods on the side of the house. I could see nothing, but there was something or someone outside. That was unnerving especially since we live in a forest.

Add to this, the very next day with daylight shining, a black car came down me long hidden driveway all the way to the back of the property, turned around and sped out. This has happened several times day and night. Because the house cannot be seen from the road and the driveway is long and winding like a road, I was of the mind, these people who drive up to the house think it is a lover's lane of sorts and are looking to park for a make-out session. Who knows? But for a house off the beaten path we do get a lot of traffic where we should have none.

There is a cat here too. Maybe it's the same one from the old abode and came with us. We don't know the answer to that either but we do know it be outside too. There was an evening one of our cats was on the back deck crooning at an imaginary something. There was nothing out there, but our cat WAS looking very distinctly at something that wasn't there. This has happened on three occasions so far.

Last Halloween night at midnight Tonya and I were both awakened to wolves howling outside our bedroom window. We were both unnerved until I said with a mock Transylvanian accent, "Tonyah, the childreen of da night dey sing to you." She was not happy with me. Shortly after THE cough sounded. How we slept that night I don't know.

The meadows behind the house are always filled with mist in the morning, making it look like ghosts had a party and were slow departing the morning sunrise.

Fog rolling in from fields on the left
Oh and at sunset we have bats that fly around the chimney making for a very spooky atmosphere at dusk.

There was the night we were getting ready for bed when an awful stench came in the open windows. We were discussing this when a bellow sounded from outside. It was a bear we are sure. Next morning we found it had ripped up some of our front lawn ferreting out hornet nests. The bird feeder was gone and we still haven't come across it which makes me wonder about beavers after me experience with them and mailboxes. Me Mam be sure it wasn't a bear but a leprechaun followed her over from the old sod. Right. I said to her, "since when do leprechauns tear up the yard and eat hornets?" She thought for a moment and quipped to me, "That be a certain leprechaun, he likes chewin' on wasps because he be his bad self. He be the one makin' things weird around here. He be the tallest leprechaun, be named Reginald." Oh ok that makes perfect sense.

One of our cats has come home with a large piece of his tail missing. That be not because he tangled with some animal, but that self same leprechaun took a bite out of him. Thank you Mam.

Notice the tail
We have one piece of furniture I will tell you about. It is a lovely Edwardian affair that has some history to it. It was passed down from father to son in the O'Sullivan family starting in the Edwardian period across the pond in old Eire. Each son would put it in their room to sit in it to put on socks and shoes I assume. This old thing was me grandfather's and he'd let no one sit in it as long as he was alive. He used to tell me not to sit in it at night because "ole' Reggie will be sitten' in it." When he passed it went to me father who never liked the chair and gave it directly to ME so he skipped a generation of use. This me Mam accused him of putting a curse on himself and well, the way things went with him, losing his mind and all, I have to wonder at that. The old thing was pretty ratty and I reckoned to leave it in me old room at home in Newry, Ireland when I came over to Boston, Mass. I thought I'd seen the last of it, until I got married and after me honeymoon came home to find a large crate from Ireland sitting on me front porch. Well, I was thinking it was some wondrous thing being gifted to us, and was ever eager to open it. Well, imagine me surprise when I found THE chair was sent over the sea to me.

The note on it said, "Sonny boy, here be yer grandda's chair and his before him, and his before him, and well ye know how it goes, old Reggie's favourite chair. Yer father has no use fer it here so we have shipped it to you there for you to hand down to your sonny boy if yer ever blessed to have one of those. If it be daughters then give it to yer daughter's husband. All our love, yer old Mam and Da."

You don't know how unhappy Tonya was to see that shabby thing. She was all for taking it to the dump and she had a point. BUT I could see the worth in the wreck and said to her we'd have it reupholstered one day, to which I was told that would cost a lot of money. I didn't think so, so I stuck it in me office and used it to put files on and pretty much forgot about it until we moved here. That was when Tonya told me it wasn't coming with us.

"That shoddy thing has been in me family for too many years to count. I can't not keep it. I will move it and get it redone." I said to her dubious look.

And so I finally did after me Mam discovered it down in the cellar where I had covertly moved it. You know out of sight, out of mind.

Here take a look:

Looks better than it was
I had a good tax return for a change and so I took The Chair to an upholsterer who happened to be a Brit. He told me as soon as he saw it, "they don't make em' like that anymore." I had to sigh, no, no they don't and I knew me wife thought it an ugly thing and she really wasn't happy I was having it redone, but she was hoping me Mam would like it so much she'd put it out of sight in HER room. That be the reason I took me little grey haired, apple cheeked Mam with me. I didn't tell her why, I just said I was no good at these sorts of things and so . . .

Well, it didn't take long, as soon as the upholsterer pulled out the array of fabrics she was on them like a bear on honey. She found a rather fetching burgundy she thought would go with the burgundy rug in me room and I was thinking good, because from me eyesight it didn't look burgundy it looked RED. Tonya would never allow the clashing of colour so I agreed and that was that and off we went until the call the chair was ready.

Well, I will say I was more surprised than anyone when I saw that chair. It is quite beautiful. The man bolstered the framework, cleaned it up, stuffed it so when you sat down you didn't sink into a hole full of springs, and well the fabric was a wow.

"Wot's it worth now ye tink?" Me Mam asked.

"Many a fine pound," said he and threw out a figure which astounded us.

Silence from us both as we exchanged looks. After the man went away well paid for his art, we stood looking at the chair in me office where it was temporarily deposited.

"If ye don't want it I'll take it," Mam said almost drooling.

"I dunno, it looks pretty fine to me. Depends on Tonya and so if she says no way, I'll give it up to ya." I said hoping that didn't happen. I sat in the chair, and oh the comfort.

Well, the wife, when she saw the refinished product and learned how much it was now worth, was all about it being in our room and guess what it matches the burgundy rug, so that's that. Here take a look:

Chair complete  
That night with chair firmly placed in our room we went to bed. It must have been 3:30 a.m. when we were both awakened by a noise we could not pinpoint. We lay their silent for a bit holding hands, when the sound of someone saying "ahhhh" came. Both of us sat bolt upright in our bed, Tonya grabbing onto me arm as we looked in the direction of the sound. It wasn't from the usual side where the cough always occurred, it was coming from the chair. For a moment what we THOUGHT we saw was a dark figure seated in the chair, one leg crossed over the other with a top hat on. Then it faded!

"OH MY GOD WHAT WAS THAT?" Tonya shouted loud enough to wake the entire house as she jumped out of bed.

I switched on the light right away and nothing, notta thing in the room but us two upset people.

"Wot be goin' on in ere'," me Mam came in as she got her bathrobe on, kiddos behind her rubbing their eyes.

We told her what happened once we got the boyos back in their beds. She looked at the chair and then with a wistfulness I hadn't heard in her voice ever she said, "Oh dat be Mr O'Sullivan, Reginald the first owner of THE chair. He has been tellin' ya fer months he wants his chair and now here it be, all done up so fine fer the old gent. He won't be coughing to gain yer attentions now will he? He's got his chair."

Tonya and I stood mute. What was there to say to that? Finally I stuttered out, "Did this Reginald happen to wear a top hat?"

"Oh fer sure he did, was quite the dandy accordin' ta yer old grandda." Mam said still looking dreamily at the chair. "He used ta cough when he wanted sumthin', now he's got his chair, ya did good there Gabriel."

Since that night we have heard no coughing, though on occasion we think we hear someone settling into the chair. Tonya said she saw a tall man with top hat almost reclining in the chair, legs on hassock all set and then he faded out. This creeps her out as you might wonder it would. As for me, I've seen no more dark shapes, but I do hear the sounds of someone sitting in that chair. I now think I should have had me Mam take the chair since she gets all dreamy of Reggie when she speaks of him. I asked her how she knew old Reg was a handsome devil of a dandy.

"Well, from yer grandfather mostly. He told me all kinds of stories about Reginald and how his luck changed after leading a scandalous life. He was found tied to that chair dead one night."

I sat up suddenly attentive.

"He owed a great deal of money and ruined some landowner's daughter. The man came lookin' fer him one stormy night and surprised Reginald who was full of the drink. Then he tied him to the chair, YOUR chair and strangled the life out of him in revenge for his daughter's ruination. Took what money Reggie had and was found out several weeks later and was hanged."

I was speechless. MY CHAIR, MURDERED IN MY CHAIR?

"Then why is he so happy to get in that chair if that's what happened to him?" I asked stymied.

"Because as ye know spirits tend to stick close to the last earthly place they were before they passed on. For Reggie it was your chair."

"STOP saying MY CHAIR." I demanded.

"All the phenomena you been hearin' was old Reginald looking fer his chair, openen' and closin' doors, coughing to git yer attention, takin' a chunk outta da cat's tail, trampin' through the woods at night, all dat he was doin' cause he was missin' his chair. He kept it up until you got it done up and back."

"You really think that?" I was incredulous. "Next you're going to say that was him and not the wind flying around the rooftop? Was he the one driving all those cars up and down the driveway too?

"Well, it be yer chair and yer both sittin' in it," said she and cup of tea and herself disappeared upstairs leaving me to feel chills up and down me spine.

"THANKS MA!" I yelled after her. "I'll sleep well tonight thank you very much," I muttered more to meself and that's what happened. I have not had a good nights sleep since Reggie got his chair recovered. Oi!

Gabe
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