Crashing Down … Soaring Up

This week Baziel has filled my guest bedroom.  Last week it was Sarah.  She weighs …  not much.  I asked Baziel about his weight.  Converted from kilograms, he’s 187 pounds.

Why, you ask, have I ventured into this heavy topic?  Yesterday morning Baziel asked me to look in his bedroom.  One side of the mattress was almost on the floor.  (Sigh)

It’s been such a challenge to marry an old bed with a new mattress and support structure.  So far in Belgium, I haven’t seen any boxsprings.  Instead there’s a wooden frame below the mattress that looks like Venetian blinds.

As my deflation deepened, suddenly there was a pause … and an inexplicable smile.  The prevailing wisdom in my head is that I don’t do home repairs.  Just not smart enough in that realm of life.

The smile was followed by investigation.  After Baziel and I pulled off the covers, the mattress and the Venetian blinds, what was clear was that one of the corner metal brackets on the bedframe had separated from the wood.  Lying on the floor were three screws that clearly weren’t up for the job. They were so short!

My angst was short-lived. I headed to the kitchen, where I had a bag of metal pieces ready for recycling. And my memory was right! Sitting in the bottom were four huge wood screws, well rusted in time. I had found them in a drawer.

The screws had a Phillips head … and so had my screwdriver. At first they went in easily but then I really had to crank them into the wood. I gave it all I had and then passed the screwdriver to Baziel. He had a little more oomph than me.

After we were finished, the thought came: we did it. Actually it was mostly me who did it. Bruce the Handyman, totally ready to host his own home repair TV show!

So … I have thoughts about me. That’s nice. What if some of them are absolutely inaccurate? And what does that say about my future?

Stay Tuned


I had set up my new tent in the family room but that’s not the same as staking it down outside.  And I’d better learn how to do that before I fly to Vancouver on Friday.  So after supper yesterday, I got to it in the backyard.  Made a few mistakes but that sounds like me and technology.  I know myself pretty well and I’ve learned to laugh at my foibles (usually).  Finally the tent was up and was being embraced tenderly by the waterproof fly.  Yay for me!

I was about to crawl into the finished product when I heard “Mr. Kerr!” from around the corner of the house.  And striding towards me were five wonderful kids from last year’s Grade 6 class.  I love them all.  I’ll make up names here: Jessica, Darla, Aimee, Dinah and Jeremy … all smiles.  These fine young people had graduated and are now at another school.  I hardly ever see them.

I was thrilled that the kids wanted to visit me and say bon voyage.  I would guess that right now their friends are most important, with adults a distant second.  These Grade 7 human beings are smack dab in the middle of discovering who they are, and that’s a big job.

They wanted to crawl into the tent (which I’ve christened “Ben”).  Okay … come on down!  In a flash, all six of us were crowded into a two-person enclosure.  We laughed and laughed, especially about Aimee, who seemed to be regularly escaping out the second door.  She was a good hider.  The kids chattered on about this and that, and I just sat back and beamed.  What a privilege to be in the same space with them.

After awhile, they wanted a tour of my house and we went inside.  Four of them squeezed onto the couch and whipped through the pages of the book that the class created for me at the end of last year.  “Darla, here’s something else you said to Mr. Kerr!”  Aimee curled up in my red lazy boy chair and poured through kids’ books I’d bought at a recent book fair.  One was called “Hotel Bruce”, a particularly apt title I thought.

Then it was time for the grand tour.  I love the colours of my walls: red, rust brown, yellow, blue, turquoise, green and purple.  I think the kids enjoyed them too.  Jessica played my keyboard in the bedroom.  Kids bounced on the bed.  One ventured behind the shower curtain in my ensuite bath.  In the den, I told them the story of the ancient toy truck I was holding.  When I was five or so, I left the truck outside and a bird pooped on the cab.  “Somebody painted my truck!” I screamed the next morning.  Mom and dad took their time in letting me know what really happened.

In the family room downstairs, Darla started in on her rap lyrics.  Actually, she was pretty good at it.  Jeremy wanted to know more about my ride across Canada and I loved answering his questions.  They all wanted to try my cross country ski machine and managed to schuss along in their sock feet without hurting themselves.  At one point, I looked around to see Dinah rolling on my exercise ball.  Gosh, it was fun!

Aimee, Jeremy and Darla had to get home so Jessica, Dinah and I headed back to the living room where we talked about life and family and goats and bike rides and writing.  Dinah said she wanted to read all my blog posts, which would be a trick since there are 682 of them (soon to be 683!)

Finally the last two walked out my front door and waved goodbye.  “Have a good time, Mr. Kerr.”  I sure will, kids.  I will see my country by bicycle and meet Canadians at every turn.  Plus I’ll often think of those five young’uns crammed into my tent.  Thank you for including me in your lives, dear ones.


Razzed Reunion

I was backing Scarlet out of the garage when my cell phone went off.  It was my old friend Cam.  He’s 68.  We’ve known each other for 52 years.  Cam has always been a jokester.  Actually, so have I.  “Hi Bruce.  I’m at the Belmont Library.”  (BS)  “I passed by the Diner just now.”  (BS)  “I drove around Robin Ridge Drive but I didn’t know how to find you.”  (Supreme BS)

“Cam, you’re in Richmond Hill [near Toronto, 200 kilometres away].”  “No, Bruce.  I’d never lie to you.”  (More of the same)  Back and forth we went, me almost believing he was here in my new village.  “Okay, I’m driving to the library.  I’ll see you in three minutes.”  (He won’t be there.  Sucked in again, Bruce)

Three minutes later, I turned left off Main Street into the library parking lot.  The only car was a souped up jobbie … definitely not Cam.  Darn, he got me one more time.  I whipped out my cell phone and started dialing his number, brow all furrowed.  When through the windshield, what to my wondering eyes should appear but the figure of said Cam Clark.  With a frizzled brain residing in my head, I leapt out of Scarlet and gave my friend a hug.  Gosh, I’m supposed to be the kidder, not the kiddee.

We had a great talk back at my red, blue, yellow, green, teal, purple, reddish brown and cream home.  Just like many, many old times.  I showed him around, including the developed basement.  I was first upstairs again and turned to notice Cam apparently struggling up the steps.  I felt sad.  His life has included tennis prowess, a love for skating and a golf swing almost as erratic as mine.  “Back problems.  No golf.  Still good for cycling, however.”

I’m heading to Toronto on Thursday and hopefully Cam and I will get together on Friday.  I’d love to go for a walk around a tree-shaded lake near his home.  We’ll meander and reminisce and make plans for future adventures.  Fifty-two years is a delightfully long time.