Not just for sports fans

A couple years ago I subscribed to a specialty Cricket TV channel, it did not take me long to realize how time consuming a cricket game is. When I was a kid growing up in St Kitts I was a big cricket fan. I played soccer with passion but because of the lack of local soccer heroes compared to Cricket, it was a lot easier to be a cricket fan.

In my teenage years there were some big cricket matches played in St Kitts. I still remember going to the grounds with great anticipation and sitting in the stands surrounded by equally passionate fans. Two matches I remember because of the participants was a Leeward Island match against Barbados when the ‘greater than life’ Gary Sobers came to St Kitts. He did not perform to his best but it was his presence that captured the imagination, much like a present day Singer/Athlete/Rock Star. Sobers wore his shirt with his collar up, his signature mark and he strutted must like President Obama but with a lot more head emphasis. The other match was against Australia, they made the game seem so easy with great batting technique.

There were also the local St Kitts heroes, Harris, Gilbert, Hector and Hicks come to mind. When they were playing you would follow each ball bowled. If you had to leave home you would try to follow a known route where there were radios along the way and ask for the score as you go by.

Most of the cricket news came to us via the radio and newspaper, but by the time the news paper coverage was printed the games had long finish. Still I would read and reread the commentary and score sheet not wanting to miss a single bit of information.

When the WI team played away from home, in England, Australia or India, it was really hard on me because I would get very little sleep as the games were played out of the local time zone. In the middle of the night I would sneak downstairs so not to wake anyone and listen to the radio broadcast for a couple of hours. I can still remember having some very nervous nail biting times when the WI team was in trouble.

When I left St Kitts, one on the hardest things I had to get use to was not having access to the live broadcast of cricket games. I would scour the local news media IN Toronto for cricket information without success. There was no Internet.

Back in the early 1970’s in Toronto you could travel around for days and not encounter another West Indian and when you did, cricket was the last thing you would want to talk about. There was a local Toronto Caribbean focused newspaper that covered cricket news from the Caribbean but the reports would be weeks old. This was a period of great cricketers in the Caribbean. After a while I lost interest.

A couple months ago I became discouraged with the Specialty TV cricket station coverage of the WI cricket and cancelled it, then I re-subscribed for the South African Tour but spent very little time looking at it. The current WI team is pretty disappointing. So yesterday it was raining and I tuned in to look at the Caribbean T20 tournament. I was again disappointed as they were showing Sri Lanka vs. India replays.

I am done; I think I will live with my memories on ‘da couch’.

 I played multiple sports in Grammar School, football and cricket mainly. I was not exceptionally good at cricket, mostly because of the fear of being hit by the ball. Maybe I was better than I can remember; I can be pretty hard on myself sometimes. Getting hit by a cricket ball can be quite painful. I have lots of proof.

As a cricketer, I focused mostly on bowling, didn’t have a problem hitting other people although I can’t recall hurting anyone.

The school team would practise after school and I would spend most of my time bowling or fielding. When it was my time to practise batting I would find some excuse to avoid doing it. I perfected the art of dodging batting practise.

We played in the St Kitts Cricket League against older men and had fairly good results, although we did not win any championships; ‘It’s the effort that counts’, said the losing team coach; I have actually said that many times to my sons who played competitive soccer. When you are competitive as I was, losing sucks; my kids are older now so I can say that and my grandkids can’t read as yet.

As a player there was a cricket game I particularly remembered fondly. It was Grammar School vs. Rivals Cricket Team (I can be corrected on the name; it was over 40 years ago). This team included 3 or 4 cricketers that played for St Kitts and the Leeward Islands. I recall Hector, Hicks and Benjamin, also very competent tall and lanky Musgrave played with them. The game was so intense, I don’t remember anyone else on their team that day; they may have played with only 4 players.

That day we won the toss and elected to bat first. With the likes of Hicks and Benjamin bowling I don’t think we stood much of a chance of making a big score. Hicks was a big man with lots of power and bowled very fast. Benjamin was not as fast but scary for me nonetheless.

You may recall I hated batting for the fear of being hit and with Hicks bowing I was hoping to be placed last on the score sheet. That way by the time I had to bat both fast bowlers would be tired. As we sat in the pavilion I positioned myself a few benches behind the rest of the guys, my thinking was; out of sight, out of mind.

I am totally serious.

Hicks was in a foul mood that day. Back in the 1960’s the batsmen helmet had not been invented. I can’t say for sure who, but two of our batsmen had to go to the hospital after been struck with the ball. I was moving further and further away from my team mates. At one point I considered sneaking out.

Eventually it was my turn to bad I could not hide any longer. Damn, I thought I was invisible.

Ok, I am Tony Carter, I am from Trafalgar and I don’t plan on having any kids. Now what’s the worst than can happen?

I put on my jock strap, my pads and strolled out to the pitch. Rustom the other batsman came to meet me and was giving me words of encouragement as we walked to my funeral. It is amazing how you turn to Prayer when you sense danger. As Rustom talked I prayed; I needed a plan.

As I settled in to face Hicks, my prayers were answered, a plan came to me. When he bowled I plan to back off, not offering any defence and I would be bowled out, after all not much was expected of me. It’s that simple, I managed a smile. It’s amazing how simple life can be with a plan.

The first ball Hicks bowled was way outside and still I backed away, not smart, I thought, I may have tipped my hand or maybe he did not notice, so I’ll stick to my plan. The next ball, Hicks must have figured out my strategy as he bowled the ball at me and hit me right in my manhood.

The world stopped.

Ouch, I went down and was unable to counts the stars, they were going by so fast. I considered staying down, but that would look bad, I considered retiring hurt, but then I remembered, Hicks and I were going to have a long competitive sports history especially in soccer. I could not give in that easy.

I am not sure how long I stayed down, seemed like a life time and as the stars began to slow down I repeated in my mind;

I am Tony Carter from Trafalgar and I don’t have on planning any kids.

I got up, bushed myself off, pretended that my ‘@***$‘didn’t hurt and settled in. The next ball be bowled, I may have closed my eyes as I drove it past him to the boundary. At that moment I realize the answer to my prayers was not to run, but always face your fears. That day I grew up as a batsman. I had not made more than 20 runs in a game and was quite content with that achievement until that day.

After my mishap, I batted for the rest of the day making 63. I frustrated the hell out of the opposition. Hector, one of my cricket heroes was not impressed with me. He was the wicketkeeper so we had lots of time to exchange stories about not having kids.

It was my finest day in cricket. After that game I was recommended to the selectors to try out for a U17 Regional team to compete against a visiting Australian U17 Team; I was not asked, thank god for I had heard about a kid name Gary Gilmour that bowled faster than Hicks. Sometime you have to realize your limits.

I am still Tony Carter from Trafalgar and I have 4 healthy children.

The only Kittitian Couch potato in Calgary

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Nature boy

 We had two glorious days of hot sunny weather this past weekend which we thoroughly enjoyed with the grand kids.  Julie my daughter went away for a softball tournament which meant we got to keep them for an extra day.  I would have been a great time to finish the veranda, but the stones aren’t here as yet.  So it was chilling time.

We spent some time at a park not too far from here along the river bank.  It’s one of the points were the locals launch their floating devices and ‘cruise’ the river.  You only go in one direction with the strong current of the Bow River, so ‘cruise’ may be optimistic. The kids totally enjoyed the outing.

There are lots of tall trees in the park which attracted my attention.  It is interesting how different Calgary vegetation looks in the summer compared to the winter.  In the winter months the place looks rusty.  Calgary is very hilly, and where we live we can see the Olympic hill where lots of the events in the 1988 winter games were held.  We can also see for quite a way westward toward the Rocky Mountains and the vegetation looks depressing in the winter.  By contrast the summer is green, lively and full of flowers everywhere.

I probably described most of Canada to some extent, except that the Calgary differences are more pronounced.  Alberta is part of the Canadian Prairie which is generally described as a region of flat, gently sloping, or hilly land covered chiefly by tall grasses and not many trees. I imagine most of the trees are planted by the locals.

I grew up in the lush greenness of St Kitts and spent a great deal of my life in Toronto where the vegetation stays healthy looking for longer periods of the year.  I love nature, the trees, the birds, even the ants and I can spend an entire day just ‘being in it’, vegetating.  A perfect vacation day is sitting by a nice water source, with lots of trees and lots of wild life, friendly ones.

 I don’t recall any special fondness for trees or plants as I was growing up other than I liked to climb them.  In St Kitts there are a great many beautiful trees and you can’t help but admire them as you go by.

 If you are lucky enough to notice them.

In the back yard of the house I grew up in there were two huge mango trees that were the focus of countless hours of climbing.  We also had a coconut tree, which you did not want to climb because of the Jack Spaniard (wasps) that nested amongst the coconuts.  There was a local guy who seemed immune to the wasp’s sting that we would pay to go get the nuts.

We also had a banana tree at one time and a bunch of pea’s bushes, we would use the pea leaves to whiten our teeth, and the peas were good eating raw, although we had to be careful there were often worms in the shells.

Just a sec, when you are a couch potato random thoughts enter your head, you can’t always control them.

Before I go on I must tell you a little story that just flashed across my mind as I think about our back yard.  My family raised our own chickens for food.  Sometimes we would buy the baby chickens from the nursery in Conaree St Kitts. There were also always a few ducklings and baby turkeys in the box.

Occasionally I would get attached to some of the chicks, yes they had personalities. There was this one baby chicken a few days old that got stepped on by an older chicken and broke her leg.  I did a bit of doctoring (match string and string) on the leg hoping to fix it. We bonded, I even gave her a name, and I called her ‘chicken’.  My surgery did her no good; she always walked with a limp.

We ate chicken on the weekends.  One of my chores was to, hmmm, how do I say this politically correctly, ‘ring the neck’ of the chickens.  Not something I enjoyed, it had to be done; besides this was back in the 60’s and quite acceptable.  Well you guessed it, it was ‘chicken’s’ turn to get, you know…

I bawled like a baby, someone else had to, you know…; I’ll leave it at that. I am not sure why that thought popped into my head, crazy stuff.

Anyway, plants.

One of my favourite summer plants is the ‘jump up and kiss me’ (Pansy?).  Some of our neighbours in St Kitts grew them. That memory must have been planted in my sub conscious because when I stared planting in Toronto, I planted Pansies. I don’t think they grow in Calgary, I have never seen them in the plant nursery. In Toronto I had gotten quite fond of the spring season when it was time to plant.

We moved in Calgary at the end of June, it was too late to plant for that season. There were no plants on the property of the house we moved into. The adjoining neighbours had planted trees along the property lines so we had no place to plant trees except away from the fence which we did not want to do. Our only other choice was to create the rock garden, we have lots of rocks.

We went to the nursery and purchased some plants and shrubs. The smart think would have been to learn about rock gardens first. I have since purchased a book and the first thing I read was:

“It is tempting, when shopping at the nursery, to select a wide variety of plants. Resist this temptation! Succumbing to it will lead to a hodge-podge, rather than a unified look. For the sake of your design, stick to a theme. Also, too many different kinds of plants will make the space look too busy. 

I did not have a plan for the garden in mind except plants that creep along the ground, can grow on rocks, not too tall and local.  So I purchased two of many types. Good strategy eh. So now the garden is growing and I have to balance the growth, remove some plants and move others.

When we bought most of the plants and shrubs they were quite tiny. Bigger plants can be quite costly and I did not want to invest too much money initially. The winter is harsh and some of the plants don’t make it. Besides it takes forever for some plants to grow here.  Trees can take forever, one of the reasons we stayed away from trees.

I am not your typical gardener. I hate plants dying, I take it very personal.  Well that is what Jo says. On a daily basis I select an area of the garden and groom it.  Jo sometimes helps and when she finds a ‘dying’ plant she removes it. I hate that. As for me, I want to give the ‘dead’ plants another season to ‘come back’.  Of course Jo quick draw method always starts a fight and by now you already know who wins.

Not so fast, I always recover the discarded ones when Jo is not looking and replant them. When I have success I gloat, when I don’t no one is the wiser.

The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary.
 

 

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Culture or what?

I drove Jo to work on Monday morning and the host on the radio was talking about the Calgary Stampede which ended the day before:

 6 horses dead.

Midway collapse, injuring 10 kids.

Attendance down 41,000 from last year…

But all in all it was a success.

Last week some guy called the same radio station and was talking about the increase in divorce proceedings that traditionally follow the Stampede and the rise in STD testing by the Calgary Health Board.

Media stuff.

The Stampede is about real cowboys and cowgirls from all over the world competing in different rodeo disciplines for prizes.

 The Stampede is a local festival that starts with a Stampede Parade and last for 10 days where the cowboys and cowgirls compete and where for the regular folk getting drunk is not only acceptable but encouraged.

Where some women who should not, squeeze their body into last years’ Daisy Dukes, just because.

The Stampede is billed as the ‘Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’. 

CALGARIANS LOVE THE STAMPEDE.

You are probably wondering what do I really think about the Stampede.

A little bit about the city first.

Calgary is probably the largest city in North America, area wise and a relatively small population; most of the people work in the city core.

On week day mornings the trains and buses head for the city starting at around 5 am full of sleepy people. The train and buses going in the opposite direction are empty. 

Around noon in Calgary is like someone disturbs an ant’s nest, people moving about in every direction. One of Calgary’s nice features is the +15. Most of the buildings in the core are joined on the second floor so you can get around without having to go outside. Nice place to hang out and look at the people.

The Bow River runs through the center of the city and when the weather is fine the entire downtown population head for the boardwalk along the river for lunch, walking, running, biking and sunning. 

Three things about Calgarians you should know; they are very tall, they work hard and they play hard.

By 1:30pm everyone disappears back into the office towers.  Sometime between then and 7pm the city empties. The trains and busses all head in the suburbs taking the folks home.  Result; a ghost town.

Yes, I like Calgary Stampede spirit.

During Stampede the downtown of Calgary come alive, a completely different city. You can pretty much walk around in the morning and get a free Stampede Breakfast somewhere.  Pancakes, sausages and eggs are the standard and the locals are very friendly with everyone wearing a cowboy hat and boots and ‘yahooing’ at total strangers.

 You can’t help but feel like an extra in a Western Movie.

Oh and woman in Daisy Dukes are everywhere.

Most of the big companies have tents and special Stampede parties and the lunch hour sometime never end with everyone ‘yahooing’.

And women in Daisy Dukes are everywhere. 

The parties go on into the nights and;

Happy women in their Daisy Dukes are everywhere.

In 2009 Jo and I attended the last day of festivities at the Stampede grounds; the finals of the Chuck Wagon races and the closing show. I must admit I just could not get into the spirit; I tried. I even bought and wore my first ever pair of jeans, just for the occasion. My kids thought I had lost it. Maybe it was the baseball cap I was wearing that ruined it for me. You really can’t say ‘yahoo’ wearing a baseball cap, no one takes you serious.

Yes, the Stampede is about real cowboys and cowgirls competing in different rodeo disciplines for prizes, REALLY.

Calgarians love their Stampede and make no excuses for their behaviour.

Is that what CULTURE is?

By contrast, Kittitians love their carnival.

I remember as a teenager growing up in St Kitts, on the crack of dawn on Boxing Day my friends and I would anxiously wait for first sound of the Steel Pan. Because the band would be far away the sound would fade in and out with the wind. Like a ghost calling for you. Once we determine where the sound was coming from, we would be off to join the street dancing, jamming, to the beautiful sound of the Steel Pan.

Women in short shorts and skimpy tops are everywhere.

Some men with their refreshment fuels in hand, it was acceptable and encouraged.

 If you were lucky you would be able to find to a woman in tight shorts and skimpy top and attach yourself to her, front to back, locking hips and rotating them in sync to the music, we call it ‘wuking up’ ; of course you would be grinning from ear to ear as your jealous pals look on in envy.

 In those days the band was not carried on the back of a truck, so when there was a dip in the road everyone would run so that the band could make it back up the incline.  Ha! Ha!, I can close my eyes and still enjoy that experience. 

Sometimes when the band cleared the incline someone else would be attach hip to hip to ‘your’ woman, now you are the one green with envy. You didn’t want to have your girlfriend with you in these situations.

I recall sometime in the 60’s  a local cricket hero slash calypsonian, composed a song to match the ‘wuking up’ that went like this:

“123 roll back let me see,

This is how the Kittitians dance,

Young and old back we must roll,

and let the Garat (Antiguan) bounce go to France”

It was quite a hit in the entire region.

I also remember the clashing of the Steel Pan bands. The bands were regional for example the Boston Tigers, the king of all bands, was from the village, yeah, me to. When two bands from different regions met (I think it was pre arranged) there would be fights.  When the bands separated it was inevitable that someone would be hurt, probably the settling of some score.

That was the beginning of a 7 day long carnival that included a parade and featured clowns, masquerades , moco jumbies, clowns on stilts and my favourite, men dressed and acting like bulls, parading around the town, filling the week long holiday that ended with final street dance, called ‘last lap’ on New Year’s day.

The day after New Year’s Day you felt a sense of emptiness knowing you have to wait for 12 months to relive that experience.

For the most part the tradition still continues today.

I wonder what a Calgarian would think looking at the carnival.

MUST BE A CULTURE THING.

The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary.

You can take the man from the country but you can’t take the country out of the man.

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Who is in charge anyway

This summer we have only had one three day period with continuously good weather here in Calgary. Last week started out with a lot of promise weather wise, great time to get work done around the house. It started out great, we began work on the balcony and then all hell broke loose; rain, strong wind, hail, cold, typical Calgary.

So now the week is finished and we were unable to complete the stuff we had planned, unfortunately the work was started and has to be completed, otherwise we could put it off until next summer.

When Jo and I work together we are not very good at following the script; which can complicate things. We started out the week with plans to strip the balcony of the old paint and repaint it.  Simple, right? 

As is generally the case when we work, we start to ‘talk’ which is never a good thing; we fight a little, expand the project a little, disagree a lot, make changes, then have to compromise, meaning I agree with her. In between we nap a lot. When we get up we have to remind ourselves where we were. A lot of ‘I said then you said’, quite often we have to start over.

Agreeing on the paint color for example took two days and this was after we had purchased the paint.

When we were planning the move to Calgary from Toronto five years ago, Jo came out here for 3 days and looked at a bunch of houses with a real estate agent. I stayed home with the kids. Good excuse eh.   Once we had agreed on 3 houses (thank god for the internet), I flew out so we can make a decision. We could not decide which to purchase, the one I liked or the one Jo favoured, so we ask the agent for his opinion. He recommended the house we purchased mainly because of the green space; a life style thing; That was the agent reason; this house was also his listing. I won’t tell you if it was my choice house.

The house is fine although it has one feature that I just did not like; stones on the front of the house mounted vertically. Over the years I have gotten use to looking at them or maybe I just don’t see them anymore.

Ok, 5 years later during the paint stripping task on the balcony, we started ‘talking’ and the damn stones came up.

Jo’s idea.

She wants to place the same type of stones at the base of the balcony, to ‘round things out’.

We argued, why more of he stones I dislike!

My sons agreed with me; although I think they were thinking that they would have to help if I lost.

Of course the boys left, they saw the writing on the wall.

Men joke that women are always right. It is not a joke, they are.

 So off we went to the building store in the rain, we purchased the stones;  there is a 21days delivery wait  so we have time to prepare the area; framing, vapour barrier, wire mesh, concrete, then the stones. Yikes.

Can I swear now? If I was back in Trafalgar Village in St. Kitts I would not ask for permission.

Hmmm OK.

We finally finished the first coat of paint on Sunday afternoon, one week after the expected date, now we have to wait 24 hours for the second coat.

Did I mention that vacation time is fast approaching?  We have expanded the initial 2 day project to god knows how long and we still have to think about vacation. Calgary summer is so short.

If we could only learn to keep our mouths shut.

Jo has gone back to work. I have to focus on the second coat of paint. Its raining again and it is cold, so guess what I am doing.

BACK TO THE COUCH.

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Whats with the DNA thing

When does your DNA gets coded with the marker of a specific piece of geography that you proudly identify  as being part of you; this is regardless of how long you are away from it. Both my dad and mom moved to St Kitts as teenagers from Anguilla and Nevis and I don’t recall them ever making the trip home to their native land, yet they were always proud Anguillan and Nevisian, not Kittitian. Me I was born in ST Kitts, I spent 19 years there and 40 in Canada, yet when asked, I am instinctively Kittitian, down to my accent.

It has to be natures’ way of making us feel that we belong somewhere.  But what is the cut-off age?

I have nieces and nephews that left St Kitts at a young age; to them St Kitts is a point of interest, where their parents are from. They probably can’t remember enough of ST Kitts to be able to indentify with it.  

I think if I had moved away from St Kitts right after my 13th birthday, I would still be instinctively Kittitian, because I have such fond memories of being there at that age.

This week I was going to graduate from the Village School by the pasture and move on to the Grammar School but then I would be missing some of my best memories. If you are confused, you have to go back and read one of my previous jousting to understand.

I look at Keeth’s drive about pictures and I remember how families looked out for each other. I said to Vernon Manners that I liked St Kitts the way it was, what I liked was the freedom and security we felt in our villages. Where I grew up, lower Cardin Avenue, on the east side and a St Kitts block away was the most affluent neighbourhood (Fort lands) on the Island. On the west side there was Trafalgar where for most kids shoes were a privilege. Although I sometimes ventured off on the east side I mostly stayed on the west side.

 Most of my friends were from Trafalgar. I recall that when I left home in the morning to go to school I would leave through the shop where my dad could see me off(I had to look a certain way) then double back, take off my shoes in the garage where my dad could not see me and slip off to school, to fit in. Well one day, I was playing on The Pasture, if you remember at the south end there was a bit of an incline and some bushes; the ball we were playing with ended up in the bushes and I took off to retrieve it. When I got there I accidentally stepped on a broken COKE bottle that pretty much cut my foot off. To this day I am not sure who it was, but a good neighbour saw what happened rushed in lifted me (while  holding my bleeding hanging foot in place) and took me to my mom who happened to me at the Millionaire Street shop, then with her in tow,  rushed me to the OLD hospital where I received 24 stitches. So must for ambulances. To this day I still have the huge scar on my foot and occasionally have some reminder pain.

Not too long after that, my Brother Robert and I were running behind a pickup truck, joy riding on St Johnston Ave and pissing the driver off. When we got home a few minutes later, my dad was waiting for us. Some big mouth neighbour saw us and reported us. We were punished. Haha, I won’t tell you what we did to retaliate. When you see Robert, ask him. We were good village boys.

I could not leave without a little banter about Limekilm (Is it 2 words?) Bay. By 13 I could no longer swim naked, did until 10 maybe, even the girls. haha. Getting to the Bay was quite often a challenge. The ground was not solid because of the many hurricanes that destroyed the pathways, so we would have to navigate our way down to the shore. Leaving was a completely different matter.

I was quite a good swimmer at 13, after many years of practicing in the shallow end, my older brother thought it was in my best interest to cut me loose from a tractor tire tube several meters from the shore line. I swam back to the shore, which was quite an achievement, like the right of passage. From that day, I lost all my fears for the water. I would swim out in the Bay with my friends, like Larry Byron who could swim like a fish, until I could see the houses over the trees. If was years after when I saw a National Geographic film that shows all the animals that live in the ocean that I realize how dangerous it was doing the things I did. Hahaha, ignorance is bliss. During the summer, sometimes I would go to the Bay in the morning, go home for lunch then back to the Bay until the sun was about to disappear. Quite a day

On the south side of the Bay on the hill overlooking the bay, sea grapes grew, we would pick those in the summer. Sometimes for adventure we would walk along the road by the old Fort Thomas hotel on the way to where the Fisherman’s Warf restaurant is located. We often stopped an admired the women playing tennis at the tennis club. OK lets forget that I said that.  As we continued, there was an almond tree overhanging this high fence. I think the tree belong to the folks that built the hotel.  We would throw rocks and the almonds would fall to the ground. If you like almond nuts, that’s not the best part of the fruit (?), it’s the juicy outside, yummy. We were like bees going from tree to another in the afternoon sun.

After a while we would continue along the road to an open area where the Fisherman’s Warf Restaurant now sits. At some point it was a garden, there was a fence and a gate along the road also a bench to sit and look at the water.  At the bottom of the grassy area of the park there where rocks where we would sit and often fished for eel. I am not sure if I ever caught any but it was the experience. It was a great spot overlooking the harbour. On Sundays after Sunday school, we would go to that area and hang out. 

Also between my house and The Pasture there were 5 mango trees that I was intimately familiar with. You know that people with mango trees do not like to share. Still got my fair share though, given the chance I may have been a great baseball pitcher; I was very accurate at hitting the ripe mangoes with rocks.

One of my chores was to work in the shop; most of the people in the village at some point came to the shop. I got to know them personally, I could go anywhere in the village and be safe, everyone looked out for each other. We are part of the Village Family. My life was content. I was free to go about my life without a care in the world. Compare that to my kid’s life in Toronto, it was the Garden of Eden.  I think that is what made me a Kittitian.

Ok, time to move on, I can do this for days, no telling where it would end. There are so many stories, maybe one day ill write a book.

the only Kittitians couch potato in Calgary.

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I was once an actor

Jo is at home this week on vacation and it only means one thing, house maintenance work. When we purchased the house we live in, it was fairly new and just recently painted so there was very little to do.

Now 5 years later, there has to be maintenance. They say keep your house in good shape, you never know when it’s time to sell. I am not sure exactly who said it but it makes sense.

One of the first things to do was to replace the front steps; I think the builder had a deal on cheap wood. Like most of the neighbours’ ours is rotten. We hired two guys to replace them about a month ago, now we have to finish and paint the veranda.

If anyone is interested there is a real opportunity here, replacing front step. I’d say there are 2000 homes easily. They are all different though.

We started making a list of things to do some time ago and it is growing daily. Do you see a problem? If you have been following my musings you know I am a couch potato, which does not mix well with chores.

My thing is to hire people to do the fixings.

 Just last weekend we had a leak in the dishwasher, so we pulled it apart and found the water hose had a gash in it. My first reaction was to call the place where we purchased it and to sue the plumber who installed it for incompetence. Jo reminded me that we installed it. See what I mean? We fixed it for $14, saved a couple hundred bucks. Oh well.

Jo likes to do things and she is pretty good so I go along, plus I don’t have a job. The house we owned in Toronto was over 50 years old when we sold it. We learned a few things. It’s the time that bothers me.

Now I know why great artistic people go off and hide. Haha, I can dream.

The first job this week is the veranda and the steps. The veranda is painted green and Jo wants to paint it white and we have to strip the many layers of paint first. To do that we have to use chemicals which I am totally not in favour of; I needed a good enough argument to convince Jo to forgo the stripping which is also an all day job. I went to my thinking place.

 I devised a plan while I was relaxing on the couch on Sunday.

Me, “Jo, I think we should paint the veranda green, no need to change the colour”.

Jo, “I was thinking about it also while you were relaxing on your couch and I was cleaning the kitchen floor and I agree with you”.

Wow that was easy. No paint stripping, more time for the couch.

Me, “so since there is no need to strip the paint with that chemical, we can return it”

Jo, “oh i see where you are going with this, stripping the paint and painting the veranda are two separate tasks on the list, not related, first we strip the paint”.

Hmmm now what do I say? I should have looked at the list first. I hope it rains. I need another plan.

Monday morning and Jo gets up early, puts her coverall on and started ‘laying’ on the chemical.

You may remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that Jo is a really GOOD handy person and I am a GREAT assistant. I didn’t think she read it. I had sneaked onto the laptop and pressed the ‘like’ button on the story.

I got up, got dressed made a quick breakfast then reported to the work site. Jo immediately started telling me to do things.

‘get the broom’

‘get the tape’

‘get the hose’

‘get a rubber band and tie my hair back’

A little strange I thought. She was not even smiling, but I kept doing what she asked, after all she is doing the hard work. Then she said;

‘Make me some coffee’

Aha, she never asks me to make coffee. I drink coffee but I don’t like the taste of it, so I would not know how to make a good cup. Busted; I went to the kitchen, turned on the radio and sat and listened for half an hour, I went on strike.

When I returned to the job site, she confessed that she was messing with me. I get it, for now.

We worked for another 4 hours trying to strip the paint, I helped a lot, while I chatted with a neighbour, then it started to rain and hail, some really nasty weather.

Jo went off for a nap so I did what I do best, headed for my couch.

 I began to reflect on my teenage years.

 In the fourth form in Grammar school I found myself as part of the cast of the high school annual play. I don’t think I volunteered so how I ended up participating is a mystery.

Anyway that year the play was Julius Caesar. I was recruited to be a sentry to protect the castle. How hard can that be, eh.

At first I thought my job was to just stand there and be cute, I’m good at that, with my sentry hat and a pretend sword. Then I found out that I had to fight with the sword. Ok, I can do that.

A couple days before the play we had to go for a rehearsal. One of the ‘actors’ was unable to perform his part so I was given his role. I was first to get to rehearsal; I always believe you get points for being early. Not this time.

Now in addition to being a Sentry I had to be the Messenger and actually open my mouth on stage.

If you read my earlier posts you may recall;

 I am an introvert;

 As a teenager I stuttered badly;

And would be totally out of my element having to speak aloud in front of people.

I recall having a single line that went something like this (I looked it up):

“Prepare you generals, the enemy comes on in gallant show; the bloody sign of battle is hung out, and something to be done immediately

Now who talks like that? I am from Trafalgar Village where we founded the great art of using the ‘f’ word in slang, can be quite poetic on the right lips.

Ok so what do I have to lose?

I repeated the line over and over until I thought I had it right. Then some more times.

Next day, show time and it’s my turn to deliver.

Of course I could not remember the line. What happens when you are stressed? I’ll tell you what happens, your instincts show up on cue. I am from Trafalgar Village.

All I remember is the audience in uncontrollable laughter;

I must have done really well.

EXCEPT THE LINE IS NOT FUNNY.

Later a friend told me what I said, I won’t repeat it here but it contained a couple of poetic ‘f’ words and I urged the generals not to fight like cowards.

In my next scene, as a sentry protecting the castle, I tripped and fell as I entered the stage, my opponent touched me on the head with his sword to show capture; of course as I said I am from The Village, we don’t go down that easily, so I attempted to get up; I was supposed to be dead so he nudged me on the head again, this time he whispered to me to stay down.

Of course another round of laughter;

I was a star.

Suffice to say it was my last acting role.

I was once an actor.

The weather sucks again today, couch time.

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I want to be a writer

When I started writing on FB you may recall I did it for therapy, trying to reconnect with my past and at the same time getting use to having people read what I write when I write for pleasure.

Quite intimidating as I am a bit of an introvert.
I would like to a serious writer, but can I really do it….

In High School my lowest test scores were in English, literature and languages. Test scores mid 50’s.

By contrast my best grades were in Geography and History with test scores in the 70 and low 80, I did quite well. I have always been a dreamer, I would travel to far away places (geography) and into the past (history) in my head during math and English classes. This would probably help to explain the high and low grades.

What I did for a living….

Until recently when I was involuntarily retired (temporarily) to being the only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary, I had been a Senior Business Analyst for a long time.

Later I will explain how I was able to achieve that level of expertise.

My job included understanding business requirements during discovery interviews, documenting my findings and recommending business solutions from small to fairly large companies. My biggest challenge in most situations was listening. I have a ‘TUNING OUT problem. I have a very active inner voice that comes out to play at the wrong time.

I hope my potential boss does not read this, of course I would deny I wrote it.

I have extensive understanding of business processes; I have seen just about everything, thank god there are only so many ways to process an invoice. Over time I develop the skill of framing processes into images, DOODLING. During the interview phase I would draw pictures with notations and then later ‘decode’ them into short sentences.

Worked for me; it is quite efficient way to do things and I was pretty good at it. This skill may not apply to my current endeavour however.

The future….

Now I am learning to write in a way that people would want to read, understand and find interesting.

I know what you are thinking, ‘take a writing course idiot’,

OK! Maybe I will.

In the past I have registered in at least 10 courses in various subjects, attended the first class and never returned. Remember the TUNING OUT problem? Probably ADD (please don’t repeat).

I have quite a challenge ahead of me. Wish me luck, maybe I can be an inspiration to others. I’ll point you to my blog next week.

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Canada Day in Calgary

The weekend came early; we picked up the grandkids on Wednesday afternoon for Canada Day. Of course we generally keep them only for a day at a time, they wear us out. When they come over we keep them really busy, they help to keep us young, we are so lucky.

When you spend a lot of time in nature you become familiar with some of the creatures you share the earth with. For example there is a nesting pair of Crows with juvenile crows about 100 feet from our house. There are the guys that set off the alarm in the neighbourhood when the Coyotes go by. They are very noisy. There is a family of Magpies but they are very secretive, not sure exactly where they nest. Last year they made a nest about a few meters from my house but a neighbour destroyed the nest. They are early risers and they are very noisy. I do know they are very mischievous; I have seen them taunt the neighbour’s dogs. We have to double bag our garbage. There are a few nesting Robins, they will be gone in a few weeks and of course there are the Sparrows, that nest everywhere. I have some nesting I my air vents, as soon as the babies leave the nest I will block the entrance. Last week we were taking a stroll in the Coulee and saw some a grass snake about a foot long. I am hoping to see others. Nature at its finest.

 On Wednesday evening we were returning from the park when there was a big commotion in our backyard. A couple of Robins were chasing a Crow as the Crow appear to be in hot pursuit of the baby Robin that was probably leaving the nest for the first time. In the commotion the baby fell in my rock garden and went for cover.  I could not help thinking it would have made a great photo story. Where is the camera when you need it? As you can imagine this created lots of excitement for the kids.

Standing around looking at the baby bird we were constantly been attacked by the parents. It was supper time and after much hesitation we decided to leave the baby bird where it fell and monitor the situation. We discussed the dilemma as we ate and came up with the solution to keep the baby bird in a box and feed it.  We found a box and went to get the bird. She was gone; we looked everywhere but could not find her. The parents were still around so we imagine that the baby was close by, perhaps in the neighbour’s yard where her nest was located under the second floor balcony. I felt a sense of relief in that if I don’t know where it was I could move on. The kids kept asking about the bird, I had no answers.

On Thursday morning the neighbour came out to cut the grass in the backyard, after about 15 minutes I suddenly realize that he could kill the baby if it was still in his yard. I decided to go out and talk to him. As I approached the fence a Robin suddenly flew from the ground and started to hover above my head. I went to the place it had been a sure enough the baby Robin was standing there frozen with worms hanging from its beak. I believe it was its defensive posture. I told my neighbour the story and we decided to try and return the baby Robin to the nest. We first netted it and attempted to force it into the nest. Well she was having none of it and attempted to fly away. The parents were quite vocal with their objection. Then something incredible happened. The commotion attracted a Crow that hovered close by; within seconds at least 5 other Robins shows up and immediately attacked the Crow, leaving the parents to focus on the baby, quite remarkable. After several tries we decided to let nature take its course.

In the early afternoon my grandson and Jo went for a nap. My granddaughter asked if we can go find the baby bird. During the entire experience she had been very close to the action. She even tried to catch the bird with her bare hands. This time I brought my camera so I can capture the moment.  We looked for about 5 minutes however we could not find it.  You know how kids are you have to keep them busy, after several suggestions we decided to go to the stream (Calgary 12 miles Coulee, Google it), she calls it ‘the river’, to sail a Styrofoam boat that one of my neighbours had made for the kids. At this time of year the trees and shrub are quite mature and is quite dense, full of wild roses. Oh and it is where the coyotes live. I understand they sleep during the day. The first thing I do whenever I go there is to find a big stick. We made it down the hill to the river, unfortunately the water is just a trickle and unsuitable for ‘boating’, so we found a new game to play, jumping across the stream, she would count to 3 and we would jump.  She only fell in once quite amusing.

One of the intriguing things being at the stream is that you can hear voices but you can’t see anyone because of the dense bush. I keep my stick close.  I am sure it is safe there are always mothers and kids about, without sticks even. I am from St Kitts OK. We stayed about 15 minutes and then we made our way back up to the top of the hill, along the way we encountered a few people taking a stroll along the banks of the stream. My granddaughter was quite happy and expressed herself by holding my hand dancing and singing while she went around me in circles. I laughed so hard I got giddy from spinning around. I had to sit for a few minutes.

My granddaughter is getting to the age where she is beginning to decide if she wants to visit us or not. This week I went to her house for a short visit and she thought I had come to get her without asking so she was quite vocal in her opposition to the idea.  It broke my heart. Today she was so happy it more than made up for the earlier rejection. Hey I am a suck.

Thursday 10:30PM

My daughter came to pick up her kids, they left at 4pm and I immediately went to bed. Just got up and decided to write.

Ill let you know if I encounter the baby bird again.

1/20 of Kittitians in Calgary, but the only couch potato.

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