Kids’ Play

There’s nothing like the annual Christmas play in elementary school.  Today I got to watch a practice.  How marvelous to see children be children.  I tried to imagine adults doing all the cool stuff I witnessed.  Sometimes the imagining was a stretch.

One young lady has perfected “Bah humbug!”  It wasn’t just her face, which was a contorted mask of fury.  Her whole body got into the act, crouching down in a spasm of scowl.  I just had to applaud.  Sure wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley.

Three elves, two girls and a boy, were doing their conversational thing.  The fellow kept extending his ball of greenery towards the nearest girl.  Mistletoe!  She cringed and backed away from him, fending off the offending amour with her arms.  Then he did it again … and so did she!  Ahh, the battle of the sexes.

And soon there were grandma and grandpa, expecting holiday mail.  At the end of the scene, the darling couple exited the stage with their twin canes, slow and bent over as I hope I never am.  (Good luck on that, Bruce)  How strange to see 10-year-olds hobbling along in pain.  My brain just couldn’t make sense of it.  Good acting.

Next was the mailman, striding onto a long white box which doubled as a slippery sidewalk.  Down she went in a heap, slip-sliding away.  Letters and presents tumbled every whichway.  Pure slapstick fun.

Also, what would a Christmas play be without reindeer?  Eight of them lined up on the box, with antler heads proudly displayed.  Arms were flying in the air and mouths bellowed the good and bad.  What a motley crew … and immensely lovable too.  You should have seen them all hopping off at the end.

My favourite moment was when a young girl was pleading with someone  – I think the mailman.  Hands in prayer position … imploring, begging.  So good.  Soon to be followed by another girl, crying her eyes out, in the best tradition of drama.  Angst always gets me.

I smiled a lot
I clapped
And I wished that more than a few of those kids were mine
Maybe next lifetime

Thumbs Up

I walked into the Belmont Pharmacy today, supposedly for no useful purpose.  Actually I figure saying hi is quite useful.

Suzanne greeted me and we blabbed a bit.  About what I can’t remember.  But I got really excited about something.  In a fit of verticality, I threw my arms into the air.  Unbenounced to me  (Wow.  I don’t know how to spell that word.  Excuse me for a minute while I take a SpellCheck break.)  … …  Now, where was I?  Oh yeah …  Ouch.  Apparently the word doesn’t exist.  All I got back was “undenounced”.  I’m pretty sure that’s not the same.  Okay, let’s try Google  … …  Ah hah!  Unbenownst  →  “without the knowledge of”.

I realize that was a lot of further ado, so let’s cut to the chase.  My right thumb smashed into a plastic sign hanging from the ceiling.   My soul yelped and my thumb gushed red.  Darn blood thinners.  They’ll get you every time.  Quick like a bunny, Suzanne passed me a paper towel.  I love it that Bounty is the quicker picker-upper but I guess I needed three-ply.

Suzanne didn’t have any Bandaids except for those nestled in boxes for sale.  I didn’t want her to break open a package so I headed to the Diner, grasping said digit.  Chrystal saw my scarlet plight and got me a couple of Elastoplasts (I’m an equal opportunity adhesive bandage guy).  Being a righthanded dude, I couldn’t get the paper off so I approached a table of local women and Sue did the deed.  Off to the washroom and soon I was well covered.  I decided not to go with the flow.

That’s enough dramatics, Bruce.  We’re not exactly talking heart surgery here.

Much of the rest of my day was humbling.  I was a whiz at peeing but how does a thumb deprived human get his pants done up again?  Then I was trying on winter boots at Mountain Equipment Co-Op.  I couldn’t shove my insoles down deep but Janique came to the rescue.  She just about had to do up my laces but I managed a loose approximation of the task.

You know, the thumb is an awfully valuable tool out there in the world, not that I was aware of the fact before today.  I was fumbling, again and again.

Somewhere along the way, in a quiet moment of digital repose, a thought crossed my frontal lobe:

What did you learn today, Bruce?
Do you avoid all exultations in the spirit of painfree thumb wholeness?
Or do you throw yourself into the air whenever a deeper spirit moves you?

I vote for the jump-up

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.

Up in the Air

“Some days are diamonds.”  So sang John Denver.  And I had one of those days just before Christmas.  It all happened at Costco.

I walked in feeling light and left the same way.  It’s such a mystery why this happens.  Mostly my life has been heavy lately, crying and crying for my wife Jody.  But then …

I walked over to the photo department, hoping to bug my friend Tara.  But she wasn’t working that day.  Instead I said hi to Melissa, a woman I hadn’t met before.  I was carrying my trusty chocolate waffle cone, and licking copious amounts of the good stuff.  Suddenly, with no thought involved, I threw the cone into the air,  I watched it peak at maybe twelve feet and come plummeting down … into my right hand.  Nice catch.  Part of the cone shattered and the ice cream flowed down my hand.  Another employee got a paper towel and offered me the use of their sink.  I just stood there, though, marvelling at what had happened.  I’m not interested in knowing why I did it.  I’m just happy that I did.  As for Melissa, she seemed fascinated with the moment.

Earlier I had been sitting at the snack bar, enjoying a hot dog and Diet Coke.  A woman sat at the next table, with her three young granddaughters.  After a few minutes of conversation,  I asked the older girls if they’d heard of the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  They said yes.  “Would you like me to recite it to you?”  Yes again.  I told them that I had learned to recite it really fast.  “Fast or slow?”  “Fast.”  And so I launched into Santa’s story.  My record is one minute and twenty-eight seconds.  The girls’ faces were full of antonishment, but nowhere near as much as grandma’s.  After a rip-roarin’ “And to all a good night”, it was smiles all around.  I’ve said the poem to thousands of kids and they always loved Speedy Twas.

Sooner rather than later, it was time to leave my blessed Costco.  There was a woman sitting at the front, collecting money for the Salvation Army, I think.  I made a contribution and got talking to her.  From out of the blue, a question poured from my mouth:  “Would you like to sing ‘O Canada’?”   She said yes.  So we serenaded the incoming and outgoing shoppers with our national anthem.  As I remember, no one smiled … except us!

And then it was off into the twilight, humming along.  An hour of ease and fun.  Would that all my days be so.


Donna and Pete

During the summer of 2012, Jody and I spent two weeks visiting her brother Lance, our sister-in-law Nona, and their three boys – Jaxon, Jagger and Jace. They live in the village of Longview, Alberta, in the foothills of the Rockies southwest of Calgary.

We had a great time, camping in the Kananaskis, hiking in the mountains, sitting around watching TV, and talking at exquisite length to people we love.  I wanted to spend some time on my own as well, and so dipsydoodled around Longview to see what’s what and who’s where.

I wandered into a gift shop on Main St., and was thoroughly welcomed by the woman behind the counter.  She was Donna.  We just fell into conversation as if we’d been bosom buddies since the beginning of time.  We talked Alberta and we talked art, since she was selling originals and prints done by a local artist, Bernie Brown.  I ended up buying a drawing that showed a medicine man in mid-dance, but that wasn’t the important thing.  Donna was important.  She glowed.  It didn’t matter the topic – she breathed life into every word, and the wrinkles by her eyes got a workout.  Other folks came into the store and she lighted up with them as well, drawing out their humanity and humour with ease.  Then she’d chat with me some more. Ahhh.  I went back to visit her two more times.  Such a pleasure.

One day, Jody and I were walking along a residential street when along comes a gentleman dressed up cowboy, complete with a ten-gallon hat.  He was smiling at us from way back.  And then we to him.  He was Pete.  As we got near each other, I noticed that he had a large pink price tag on the toe of one boot.  After a few minutes of good-natured Easterner razzing on Pete’s part (and a similar repartee from Jody and me), I decided to broach the footwear topic.  “Oh, that.  Still haven’t decided if I want to keep these boots so I left the sticker right where it was, for an easy return if need be.”  We laughed. He laughed.  Pete became an instant friend.

Later in the week, I was sitting on the front deck of a bar on Main St., having an orange juice (or some reasonable facsimile), when I spied Pete strolling along on the sidewalk across the street.  He spotted me too, and started waving madly.  I naturally waved back, and yelled “Hi, Pete”.  Neither he nor I was remotely troubled by the looks we received from the other sunning patrons.  Truly, who cares?

The following week, having found out where Pete lived, I knocked on his front door.  How did he respond to the unscheduled visitor?  “Come on in.” (Big smile)  He was preparing supper and listening to the day’s rodeo on the radio.  Sure, he wanted to hear the results of the bull riding and the bronco busting, but he kept me and our conversation front and centre in his brain. So very much like himself.

So .. friends around every corner?  I think so.  Just gotta say “Hi”.