Hairstyling

I was walking by the junior kindergarten door on my way to volunteering with the Grade 6’s.  There seemed to be a flurry of activity inside.  I wandered into the comings and goings of short people and saw that the class was having a spa day … hair makeovers and pretty nails.

A 5-year-old hairstylist invited me to take part.  I was ushered to a tiny chair and covered with a tiny plastic apron.  Then the clothes pins.  At least ten of them were artfully placed through my short grey hair.  After much debate, my two stylists declared that I was ready for the world.  Except for the nails.

Across the classroom I floated to the nail salon.  A palette of colours was presented to me by a young esthetician.  “I’ll take pink.”  That would go well with my glasses and fitness tracker.  Soon a brush laden with water-based paint descended towards my digits.  A few minutes later and I was as pretty as punch.

An assistant walked me to the floor fan, where my fingers dried.  Gosh, I looked good.  I really should go the spa more often.

I traipsed over to the Grade 6 classroom, where eyes widened upon my approach.  A couple of guys said, “That looks really good, Mr. Kerr.”  I wasn’t totally convinced of their sincerity, but there were lots of laughs too.

It was time to head home from school.  I was scheduled to visit a 92-year-old resident of a seniors residence with her niece, my friend Pat.  I asked a few 12-year-olds if I should lose the accessories and got a mixed response.  A few said dump it all, some said yes to one and no to the other and a couple of adventurous souls thought I should show her the whole enchilada.  So a full meal deal it was.  Was Thelma going to have a heart attack?  I’d soon find out.

On my way to London, I dropped into the Belmont Diner, my favourite haunt.  It pretty much came down to women laughing and men staring.  Not to be thwarted, I approached a few guys, telling them that they too could look like me.  All of them declined.

I was walking towards the front door of the home when I saw a woman sitting in a wheelchair.  I asked her if I looked good.  She said something fun and positive.  And I went off looking for Pat.  It turns out that the woman was Thelma.  I hadn’t seen her for 45 years.

The three of us sat in the lobby, enjoying coffee and tea (and cookies!).   Residents and staff came by, for some reason looking at my hairstyle.  I got many compliments and smiles.  I told them that it was the latest style from Paris.  I’m sort of a cutting edge guy, you know.

So … no heart attacks and lots of happiness.  I should see my young stylist more often.

Back in Belmont, I had a ticket to a community dinner in my hot little hand.  It was at the arena, at the far south end of town.  I’m at the north end, about a 25 minute walk away.  So again the question was yes or no.  I voted yes.

The walk southward was uneventful, just a few quizzical looks from passersby.  The real test was my entrance to the arena’s meeting room.  There must have been 150 folks chowing down when I walked through the door.  (Actually the door was open).  Immediately there was a mélange of raised heads and icy stares.  A few giggles.  I went over to my friend Rosemary to tell her my story.  She knows me well so I don’t think my coiffure was any big surprise.  Later she told me that several people had come up to her to see if she knew that man.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t disavow all knowledge of the human.

I saw a lot of men with arms crossed as they no doubt contemplated my sanity.  Women don’t seem to cross their arms so much but they too were curious.  I explained myself to my tablemates and really enjoyed heading out on the dance floor to get more baked beans or another glass of orange drink.  Hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Finally, I started visiting the residents of other tables, and the warm-ometer needle gradually rose.  After hearing me yap away about JK kids, I guess the adults realized I was a benign character.

So there’s my adventure.  It could be that a hundred people laughed at me.  Not a bad day’s work.

 

 

A Little Adventure

Why not create moments of oomph in my life?  And why not do it every day?

On Wednesday, I got an idea.  My neighbours Borot and Petra were about to leave on a 12-day Caribbean cruise.  They’d be spending a few days on the road before walking up the gangplank and they were so excited about it all.  Borot told me that they’d be setting off this morning sometime between 5:00 and 6:00.

So I did what any normal human being would do.  I bought a 20-pack of Timbits from my local Tim Hortons coffee shop.  They’re tiny donut balls – majorly yummy.  I went to bed early, setting the alarm for 4:15.  But I was too excited to sleep much.

After a morning shower, I brewed a cup of coffee, grabbed the Timbits, pulled on my winter coat, toque and mitts and sat down on the porch at 4:55.  I couldn’t wait for Petra’s garage door to start climbing.  I was ready to rush over with a Fare Thee Well present.

5:15.  Not a peep from two houses down.  Oh well.  The coffee’s good.  5:30.  The coffee’s cold so I rushed inside to the microwave, somehow believing that I could hear the garage door from my kitchen.  5:33.  Local human being bursts onto his porch, cup in hand.  Walks down the street.  Sees that there aren’t any lights on in Borot’s home.  Gosh, they better start showering soon.

5:45.  Nyet.  Those Timbits start looking good.  Then a possibility hits me: my friends left before 5:00.  Strangely, though I felt a twinge of disappointment at the prospect, I was almost giddily happy.  I’d never sat on my porch at this hour, watching pinkness grow in the east.  I was on a heroic quest but it didn’t seem to matter whether the result was produced.  The journey was lovely.

6:10.  Silence everywhere.  I imagined Petra and Borot zipping down the highway.  I thought of the Grade 6 kids I’d be visiting this afternoon.  I bet they like Timbits.  Twenty-seven children … twenty donut balls.  Oh, we’ll figure something out.

And we did.  Three kids were away.  A couple who were there didn’t want a donut.  The rest lined up in front of me and almost everyone thanked me for their little sphere of pleasure.  Two Timbits were left.  What if all three kids come back tomorrow?  Ahh, we’ll handle that too.

It was a fun day.  Here’s to many more.

 

And I’d Do It Again

It doesn’t make sense to head to Toronto at 5:15 in the afternoon to see a bonfire for two hours and then drive home.  It’s two-and-a-half hours each way, counting the ferry trip to Toronto Island.  But since when is making sense the way to go?

I’ve been to three brunch and concert afternoons at the island church this winter.  Marvelous food, sweet sounds and a bunch of friendly people.  Someone thought I should come on down for the humungous bonfire on March 21 and who am I to disagree?  There are about 800 residents on the island.  These fine locals save up their Christmas trees for the big evening in March.  I stepped off the ferry and followed the train of people and trees to the beach.  And there, past the bushes, was the glow.

As I got closer, embers rose forty feet above me.  Eventually, maybe 200 treegoers circled the flames.  The wind swirled, blowing the sparks this way and that.  Lake Ontario lapped onshore a few metres away.  And beyond the bursts of white and orange, all was dark.  Folks sipped their favourite beverage and chatted away.  Away from the fire, it was darn cold.  A young woman did wonders with a shining, multicoloured hoop.  A well-dressed band beat their drums for the twentieth year or more.  Gosh, it was fun.

I got back to Scarlet at 11:15, savouring the festivities.  I almost felt like an island resident.  A smooth two hours on Highway 401 and I’d be cozy in my bed.  The traffic was light and I was zipping along at 110 kph.  All was well … until Guelph.  Sideways snow jolted me and soon the car ahead was dimming, despite its emergency flashers.  A few kilometres later I could barely see it and 110 was now 20.  Plus I was gaining on the fellow.

As the margins of my world disappeared in whiteness, I imagined getting schmucked by a semi-trailer.  I was scared.  If that car wasn’t out front, I’d have no idea where to go.  “Okay, Bruce, get off this road.  You need to stay alive.”  I could just make out the sign for an off-ramp and I edged to the right.  Here it is, I think.  I could feel the slope of the road bending but were it not for those yellow diamond reflecting signs, I’d have launched into No Man’s Land.  Thank you, dear Ministry of Transportation.  I’d never noticed those suckers before but I’ll watch for them from now on.

I spent an hour at a Tim Horton’s coffee shop, sipping a brew and watching my heartbeat descend.  What exactly was I doing here?  Well, having fun … and there’s lots more of that to come.

Slime

It was Thursday afternoon, just before the kids headed home.  I heard “Let’s show Mr. Kerr” and here came two girls to reveal the contents of a margarine tub.  I’ll call them Jessica and Claire.  In the hollow of the container was a mass of green goop.

I know me.  I know what I’d do in such a situation.  I reached in and scooped out the greenness.  It rolled over my fingers and started a descent between them.  So cool.  I just stared at the flow while the girls watched my every move.  Some of the concoction plummeted back into the tub but much of it stuck to my fingers.  I believe Jessica and Claire were looking at my face more than my digits.  Joy bubbled from within.

I found out that Jessica was the author of this masterpiece.  Apparently it’s Borax, glue and God knows what.  I asked her politely, “Would you be willing to make me some overnight?”  She smiled and said yes.  Excellent.  I’d have my own special supply in time for the week of March Break (no school).

Claire and Jessica giggled their way out of the portable and I was left with “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.  I was sure I’d see them tomorrow.

Last day of school.  I showed up for the afternoon fun day.  As soon as I opened the portable’s door and hung up my coat, Claire and Jessica traipsed over, margarine tub in hand.  I took off the lid … and there was first class slime of a delicate turquoise hue.  Into my hands it went, and it also journeyed to my heart.  Soon we were off to the various adventures which resided in some classroom or another.  My goop sat contented on the shelf.  Two hours later, we returned to the Grade 6 class.  I picked up the slime, lifted it into the air with two hands, and let it sink so gracefully into the well-positioned tub three feet below.  It was a move deserving of an Olympic gold medal.

Claire came over and I casually mentioned how delicious the goop tasted, especially on toast.  Her face collapsed and her eyes grew exponentially.  I assured her immediately that I did no such thing … face back to normal.

At the every end of the day, Tiffany, the Grade 6 teacher, has the kids do “Shout Outs”, praise for cool stuff that a kid saw another student do.  I shouted out Jessica: “Thank you for the slime.”

***

And on to today.  I love walking the twenty minutes to the Belmont Diner for breakfast.  A sneaky little voice told me to put the slime tub in a plastic bag and carry it along.  So I did.  There I am sitting at the horseshoe-shaped lunch counter demonstrating my goop abilities to the variety of human beings sitting around.  I think at least one person was impressed.  The rest?  Well, most of them kept their thoughts to themselves.

Now I glance over at the end table to see my turquoise friend cozy inside its Celeb margarine tub.  Just two buddies hanging out.  Who knows what horizons we’ll explore tomorrow.

Reading to You

Hello young kids.  I sat in a rocking chair this morning as five waves of you came my way.  And to each of your classes, from Kindergarten to Grade 3, I read Stanley at School.  You sat on the carpet.  You laughed.  You got scared.  Some of you were silent.  Others gasped and squealed.  It was fun finding out what Stanley had up his sleeve.

Every day, Stanley the dog watched all the children in his neighborhood walk down his street and into their school, where they stayed until the afternoon.  And every day he got more and more curious.  “What did the kids do in that school all day?”  His dog friends at the park didn’t know any more than he did.  So they decided to find out, and together they made their way to the bottom of the stairs in front of the school.  And that’s when Stanley got an idea.  A big idea.  A bold idea!  An idea so daring, it made his fur stand up.  “Why don’t we go inside?”

And so they did.  I turned on my various voices, and I think you liked it.  A doggie whisper of wonder.  A nervous little mutt afraid to walk through the human doors.  A faceless custodian yelling “Bad dogs!”  A soothing principal cooing “There, there, there” as she petted canine heads.

You and I discovered that dogs really run well in school and that kids’ lunches are downright delicious, right down to the last pickle.  You guessed if the next page would be good stuff or bad.  You told me how the story would end.  And most of your eyes were very wide indeed.

I had fun.  I think you did too.  And isn’t that just the best?

Up In The Air

It’s quite possible that I’m a strange person.  For instance, I keep testing gravity.

I was lifting weights at Wellington Fitness yesterday.  My dear friend Karisa works there and today her boyfriend Nick was working out.  She’s so much in love with her man and today I got to meet him.  He seems like a fine fellow.  Later, I told Karisa that I hope their love continues to blossom and that they grow old together.

I was standing at the front desk, so very happy that she’s happy.  I was drinking my protein powder from a shaker cup.  Without apparent thought, I threw the cup way high into the air, close to the ceiling.  The toss wasn’t as straight up as I’d hoped, and I rushed forward to make the catch.  It was a glancing blow and then a smash on the floor.  Vanilla goo flowed freely.

For a bit I just stared.  Did I really do that?  Apparently so.  The puddle was immense and Karisa found me some paper towels.  I soaked and wiped and soaked some more.  And then Brandon showed up with a mop.  I was happy, not embarrassed or guilty.  Nothing in my cognitive system had planned it out.  I just … threw.

Many years ago, when I was teaching at St. Mary Choir School, I must have been similarly happy.  I was standing in the staff room talking with Marg, after consuming a precious liquid in my favourite mug.  Same story.  The mug soared.  The mug broke.  I stared.  And somehow it was all okay.

Then there was the time in Costco when I was also flying high.  I was slurping my chocolate waffle cone while talking to a couple of employees in the vision department.  Up went the cone, sadly nowhere near the store’s high ceiling.  It did a flip in the air.  I reached out my right hand.  Plop … ice cream end down.  It should have been on the Plays of the Week.  Oh, what a good boy was I.

Guess my eye-hand co-ordination has faded over the years.  But it’s okay.  I was volunteering yesterday afternoon at South Dorchester School and Tiffany asked me if I would like a water bottle.  She had one extra.  And it has a holey insert for shaking.  Nice.

Fun

It’s always been a word I enjoy.  Decades ago, I came up with a test for human beings.  Once I had talked to them a couple of times, I wondered whether I’d like them to be my friend.  The test was simple and totally unscientific.  Do they ever use the word “fun”?  It’s often proved to be accurate.

I’m in Ann Arbor, Michigan, watching Canada’s Brooke Henderson play in the LPGA tournament.  After so many years, we finally have a golf hero to cheer for.  Yay!  Brooke sits in tenth place right now, with two more rounds on the weekend.  I’m thrilled to be here.

I’m staying at the Red Roof Inn and get a free breakfast every morning at the nearby Big Boy restaurant.  Breakie out in the world means reading the sports section of the newspaper, in this case The Detroit News.  It’s so much fun.  (Hmm.  There’s that word.  Guess I’ll be friends with me.)

Happily, the Detroit paper has two articles about the tournament – the Volvik Championship being held at the Travis Pointe Country Club.  I was expecting to hear about players’ assessment of their golf games, and the challenge of the course (such as really fast greens).  There was some of that, but I was taken with quotes from three of the four golfers who were featured.

Ariya Jutanugarn (from Thailand):

“I’m really happy with it and I really enjoy playing golf right now.  So I’m not thinking about I’m going to win, I’m going to lose.  I just have fun and keep playing good.”

Marina Alex (from the USA):

“I’m just going to enjoy it and have fun.  Going to just work on all aspects of my game so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and see where that leaves me.”

Jennifer Song (from the USA):

“I just want to take one day at a time, one shot at a time and just see how things go.  I just want to have fun out here.”

Well, well.  Sounds pretty cool to me.  May we all have fun.

 

Friday The Thirteenth

In Southwestern Ontario, whenever that date shows up, it means thousands of bikers (as in motorcyclists) show up in the town of Port Dover on the north shore of Lake Erie.  Yesterday police estimated that 100,000 visitors were roaming the streets.

When I pulled into the parking lot of Wimpy’s Diner in St. Thomas, the place was crammed with bikes.  I felt myself contract.  My past experience, however, told me there was nothing to fear – I’d had many fine conversations with the leather-clad set.

Into Wimpy’s I strolled.  I paused at a table of eight.  They looked at me, probably wondering if I was a decent guy.  “Where are you folks riding today?”  One fellow smiled big.  “Some port,” he replied.  Lots of laughing and then I moved to my regular table.

The restaurant was packed with roadies, most dressed in leather jackets.  A guy in front of me was sporting a cool t-shirt …   Hmm.  Yesterday I memorized the words, expecting to write you about it.  Today the words are gone.  Phrases that included “biker” and “leather”.  I’m disappointed.  Where has my memory gone?  Oh well.

There was so much laughing at those tables, and it wasn’t gossiping.  Just a rollicking good time.  And it was great to see so many women.  So much for the stereotype of bikers being male, loud and violent.  I wanted to be included in their clan but unfortunately I have neither the wardrobe nor the steed.  That’s okay.

Driving various roads throughout the morning, I came upon many flows of motorcycles.  Zipping over the asphalt with their friends.  Good for them.  We all need family.  I’ll just have to create my own version of togetherness.

On The Rails Again

Well, not quite.  It’s 10:16 am and my train for Toronto leaves at 11:00.  I’m an early bird in the London Via Rail station and wireless is working.  It’s a two-hour trip and I’ve decided to sit at the window with my laptop on top of my lap, and just record what I see and what I think about it.  Sort of stream-of-consciousness.  I bet it’ll be fun!

Only about ten passengers waiting and it looks like all of us are attached to our electronics.  No meditators in sight.  Outside, it’s a sunny day with some fresh snow.  Should be a February wonderland as we float over the fields and through the woods.  See you in an hour or so.

***

Okay, it’s me again.  We’re rolling across farmlands lightly dusted with brilliant snow, just east of London.  The flags are flapping madly … guess that will mean major wind chill between the towers of downtown Toronto.  My search for deer has begun.  Hope springs eternal.

***

I think of Jody’s words:  “I am all trees, Bruce.  I welcome you everywhere.”  And here’s a woodlot with bare branches reaching to the sky.  All trees.  My wife.  I can see through the lot to the field beyond.  I love vertical things.  They remind me of Spirit.

***

The train’s whistle seems far away.  Takes me back to my childhood, sitting on the porch of grandpa’s farm, listening to his stories, while a steam locomotive crosses right to left a couple of miles over the fields.  How easily I slip into the past.

***

We’re stopped in Woodstock.  Three old railway cars painted orange are on a siding, welcoming visitors to the city.  Murals include rolling fields, an ancient locomotive, and animals wearing sunglasses peering out from their train windows.  Very cool.

***

Now it’s a tunnel feeling.  The land is sloping upwards on either side of the tracks.  My nearby horizon is filled with the silhouettes of deciduous trees and sumac bushes.  Sculptures against the sky.

***

A Brantford residential street floats by.  Some fine old homes, large and small, facing the daily schedule of trains.  Do the residents become oblivious to the noise?  How well would I deal with transient eyes evaluating my porch and yard?

***

Now we’re parked at the station.  A high metal freight car sits to my left.  Suddenly my train starts reversing madly!  Faster and faster.  My mind knows that this isn’t happening but my heart’s not convinced.  Finally the track to the left is clear as the freight train pulls ahead.

***

I yearn to write about wildlife spotted but alas, nary a wolf or chipmunk so far.  The truth wins.  Maybe there’ll be no outside creatures on this trip.  A huge part of me wants to see life out there.  But you can’t always get what you want (so says Mick).

***

A highway parallels us.  The cars are going faster than the train.  I want it to be the other way around.  I want to come first!  But another part of me is welcoming the way it is.  I wonder how many facets of me there really are.

***

There’s a field of yellow school buses.  Just think of all the kids those vehicles have transported over the years.  And so many of those children are now adults.  So many stories in those lives.

***

Now we’re in an industrial park.  Big trucks backed up against loading docks.  A huge pile of broken concrete slabs.  Rectangular buildings that all look the same.  And a tall rectangular smokestack that looks like it’s from a science fiction movie.  No human beings in sight.

***

Onwards from Oakville to Toronto.  I pass lots of backyards full of kids’ toys, a few covered swimming pools, back porches for talking.  Here’s a schoolyard with remnants of snowmen.  Parking lots full to the brim.  An American flag draped over the railing of a deck.  Now fancy condos, more vertical than horizontal.  A sleeping golf course drizzled with snow.  Back to industrial and pastel graffitis, such as “Loser Shop”.  Huge earthmoving machines with their massive buckets … and I realize I don’t even know what to call them.  Steam shovels?  Front end loaders?  Clearly, I would be left far behind in any construction conversations.

***

The friendly announcer says we’re ten minutes away from Union Station in Toronto.  Time to shut this post down.  Thanks for being here.  It has been fun.

Day Forty-One … Leaving and Laughing

The day before I left Longview, Nona, Lance and I sat down with bins of jewelry, dishes and crystal.  These were items that Jody had bequeathed to the family.  Especially hard were my dear wife’s necklaces, bracelets and rings.  We all gulped and sighed in our sadness, but also smiled to see Jody’s love of bling, of funky shapes and colours.  That’s my wife.  I love you, Jodiette.

Yesterday morning, I hugged all six of my family members and told them that I loved them, starting with Ember outside in the yard.  The doggie was bouncing around, her nose to the wind, but then came over and sat beside me for a short petting.  We’re friends.

Jaxon, Jagger and Jace had located in my car, which was a trick since it’s so full of stuff.  It looked like I was going to have to take them all home with me.  Finally to have kids.  Jace’s hug was very long and sweet.  The boys sat on the lawn and said silly things as I backed Scarlet out of the driveway.  Then they raced after me on the street as we left Highwood Drive.  Such sadness on the leaving but I will be with them all again.

It would be a 9-hour drive to my friends Henry and Louise in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.  Around lunch time (How convenient!) I rolled into Eleanor and Cam’s place east of Lethbridge.  They’re Jody’s aunt and cousin.  I sat on their deck a month ago and enjoyed a Mike’s Pink Hard Lemonade.  A few days ago, I had talked to Cam on the phone and discreetly requested another one of those cool coolers.  And Cam came through for me.  Plus I got to have a delicious home-cooked meal of chicken and corn-on-the-cob.  Gosh, I’ve been treated royally on this trip.

The three of us sure laughed a lot.  Cam started talking about my alleged Buddhist powers.  Apparently I can levitate and travel vast distances in no time at all.  News to me.  In ten days, I’m taking the Greyhound to Massachusetts.  But I went with it, my ego floating high on the possibilities of specialness.  Except the Buddha would say just be ordinary and realize that within each of us resides the extraordinary.

Eleanor told us that she’d seen the Dalai Lama interviewed on TV:

Q:  How is it, sir, that you’ve gained so much knowledge about leading a life?

A:  It’s all bullshit!  (Giggling and bouncing up and down)

To which the three of us collapsed in spasms of mirth.

The road was long but I like driving.  Near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, I drove by a pond whose surface was partially encrusted with white.  And the shoreline was often piled with white.  My mind said “salt” but truly I don’t know.  Driving by that spot was like much of my life:  Normal … Normal … Normal … What the heck is that? … Normal … Normal …

It was about an hour-and-a-half from Moose Jaw to Weyburn.  Two lane road.  Dark.  Tired.  Semi-trailers approaching.  I was some scared but also felt a strange confidence.  I know that Jodiette is always with me.  “I shelter you, Bruce.  I protect you.”  Thank you, my dear.

I got lost in Weyburn but actually that’s one thing I really enjoy in life.  It often means that I get to talk to new people but last night I meanderingly figured it out myself.

Henry plied me with rum drinks and Louise with little cheese and spinach ooverdoovers as we talked about everything and nothing.  Henry brought out a small bottle of liqueur, in the shape of a naked woman.  I was encouraged to rub all the appropriate body parts (knees, elbows …) but naturally I demurred.  But I sure like the feel of smooth glass!  I wasn’t drunk but I was certainly well lubricated.  Henry and I sang “Home On The Range” and I favoured my friends with animal sounds, especially the rooster and chicken.  Oh my, we tittered and gorped.

Henry and Louise are such fine people.  They love each other quadruple oodles and laugh together easily.  It’s another home for me.

Two extremely long days to home.  Tonight I’m in a motel in Eau Claire, Wisconsin – a 12-hour drive from here, plus an hour for the time zone change.  Sounds like a midnight arrival.  Oh well.  More fun.  I’ll see you tomorrow morning