What is this thing called love anyway?

I recently met a lady on Facebook who I have not been in contact with since I left St Kitts many moons ago. Our conversation went like this:

Her: Tony do you remember me?

Me: Name sounds familiar but I need me a few minutes to recall.

Her: I am the cousin of so and so your next door neighbour.

Her: I was the girl friend of your brother R.

Me: Oh

Her: But it was You I liked.

Me:  So why were you with my brother?

Her: You use to be TOO SLOW; I could not wait for you.

That was the story of my early life growing up. It took a while but I finally remembered her. I also liked her but I was shy with girls, too shy to tell her.

So what is love all about?

I went to Miss Rogers School at age 4, 56 years ago, just up the road from our house. My sister walked with me, I don’t remember a lot of details but I do recall having my writing slate and a piece of chalk in a bag and my pants held up by over the shoulder straps. I was cool. I recall one day returning from school and there was a lot of commotion around the house. As I approached I saw a Stork flying away, haha, I look at too many kid movies with my kids. Anyway my mom had delivered my baby sister. I recall the midwife (later found out that her name was Nurse May), shushing me. I had a habit of informing the world that I was home.

Yes I love my sister but my recall is about this girl named P. She also went to Miss Rogers nursery school and the moment I saw her I was in love. She had dimples.  She made going to school fun even at that age. I think I was about 12 years old when I realized she was not going to be my girlfriend. I also remember that once I snuck up on her and kissed her. I am not sure which part of her face I got, could have been her nose. She lived between my house on Cardin Avenue and most of the rest of my world to the north so I would pass by her house often enough. We were on a long distance flirting plan; she would be on her veranda sometimes as I walked by.

Of course she was not the only girl on that path, during the same time I fell in love with a least 5 other girls while still loving her. Life was good. It took me a while before I realized that a girl had to agree to be your girlfriend before you can be her boyfriend. Details.

I think I am getting close to love.

My family had lots of chickens while I was growing up, some we kept for laying eggs, we would feed then ‘Layena’ and the other for eating, we fed them ‘Growena’. I Googled the names they are legit.  The laying hens sometimes were the parents of the eating hens but mostly we bought baby chick from a farm in Conaree and raised them for food. One of my jobs as a kid was to process the chicken for consumption. How is that for political correctness? Good, I don’t have to give details.

One of the egg laying chickens were able to hide her eggs until they hatched and she had six baby chicks. Unfortunately this ugly ass duck stepped on the leg of one of the chicks and broke it. Well you know me, I stepped in, fixed up the chicken leg with a match stick and some string, but she walked with a big limp all her life. I grew to love that chicken, there is that word again. I would sit and look at her with her ‘jokey’ walk and laugh, she provided me with hours of pleasure.

There was a problem however; Gimpy would not lay any eggs.  Remember we only had two kinds of chickens, the laying kind and the eating kind. We needed an entertaining category for her.  

Once again I stepped in to save the day.

One of my older brothers wanted to start a bakery, so my dad built a brick oven and purchased all the equipment that went with it. My brother was a baker for a while then left and went to England and that pretty much killed the bakery business. There was an area of the oven where the burning wood was placed to heat the oven. That hole was now empty.  I figured that was a great place for a chicken to lay eggs.

Every morning I would steal another chicken egg and place it in the fire hole and then harvest it as my Gimpy own egg.  As you know parents know and see everything.

One day my mom decided it was time to process Gimpy. I pleaded for her life to no avail. I refused to touch her; she had to find someone else to do the job. Well I grew up in the village there were always guys hanging around the shop too eager to help.  Processing the chickens was a highlight of Saturday morning.

I refused to eat the meat from Gimpy. My mom would cook two chickens at a time and she tried to convince me that the chicken she was serving me that day was from Conaree. I think I cried for a week, I often think about Gimpy.

 Love has no species boundries.

We pretty much had a mini farm in our back yard. Another brother was the pigeon king of St Kitts. After he left for the Virgin Islands, I inherited his birds. In my last blog I wrote about my love for pigeons. We had at least a hundred birds. Again we had two types. The homing ones, that were racers, we bred them for sale and the other kind, the common birds we bred and ate. Quite a delicacy, not much meat though. 

I knew each bird by sight. I knew the parents. Pigeons mate for life, they nest and raise their kids in the same spot. Sometimes you would have odd number of pigeons and some males would be without a mate. They were the trouble makers.

By some freak of nature, one of our male pigeons kept growing. He looked like a half grown chicken. With his weight, it meant he could not fly very well. He became a bully, he would pick fights with the other birds that came close to him. He was also a lady’s man. The unattached female pigeons seem to like his style. He became my favourite pigeon. I loved him.

If you listen to companies that do statistical work when they publish results of a survey they sometimes say; ‘…with a margin of error of 1%’. That way when they are wrong they can point to the 1%. Well Pidge was that 1%. He had 3 families.  A pair of nesting pigeons shared the egg warming duties. The pigeon coop was build with nesting boxes  along one wall, from the ground to the ceiling. Pidge didn’t actually have a Mrs Pidge, he would beat off the male pigeons nesting in the low boxes when it was their time to warm the eggs and take their spot, like a surrogate dad. I loved that bird, unfortunately his time also came. I bawled.

I also love fish, the kind you eat although we also had a pond in the backyard with live gold fish. It was there to drive the ducks crazy. I totally loved looking at them.  Just a little distraction.

There was this guy named Norris that would go out fishing at night and return in the morning with his catch. My mom would send me to Limekiln Bay to buy fish. I always chose the Red Snapper and my mom would fry them. Sometimes we had more than one fish for each kid so my mom would save the extra in the fridge for next day. In addition to being a cake thief as you may remember from my Christmas blog,  I was also a fish thief. I would get up in the middle of the night and have a snack. Yes I love fish, but not as much as I loved my birds.

How many loves can one man have? Later I traded most of my loves for sports.

You are probably wondering about my wife Jo, where does she fit into my life Loves. You may recall we met at work, I was her supervisor. My office was close to the back of the building and was close to the filing system. This was back in the early 1980’s when short skirt was the fashion of the day.

Jo was in the mid 20’s and was quite attractive especially in her short skirts. She would leave her filing to the end of the day and make sure I was in my office when she did it.

We were working with a big company with rules about what you can do or say to your co-worker. I wanted to gawk and tell her what I thought about her but I couldn’t. It was quite frustrating.  I wore glasses,  I would remove them so I could not see very far when she was there, of course I would take the odd peak, you know, pretend to clean the lens and then test them.  Who would not?

This went on for some time, at least a year I would think. I had come close to asking her out a few times, but I just could not pull the trigger, I was in my late twenties. Thank god my brother lived a long way away, he was in California, remember that girl who liked me so she went out with him? This was the perfect situation for that scenario.

Then one day, she looked at me and asked:

Jo: Do you want to go out after work?

I was thinking, I always go out after work, I do have a life, what a silly question.

Me: Why?

Jo: Thought you would like to go for a coffee.

Again I did not get it, I was thinking, isn’t it late to be drinking coffee.

Me: Ok just a quick one.

I was still not making a connection to her nice legs; I often went out with other co-workers.

To make a long story short, yes all this time she was asking me if I liked her legs and the other parts that were ‘accidentally’ exposed. That’s my side of the story.

 I am not quoting her exactly but she has always accused me of having an over active imagination and she claims that she did not do the things I said she did and that I had a dirty mind. It’s clean now. She said she would have reported me if I had tried the things I said I was thinking at the time.  Yeah right.  Like I said it’s my story.

She did say she thought I was really slow.  That word again.

It has been 30 years, I found out she makes nice babies and yes I love her. Sometimes slow pays.

Love is many things I guess.

The only Kittitian Couch Potato in Calgary

It must be a primal trait…

As you probably know we have a dog, a little 15 pounder schnauzer called Panda. We named her Panda because she was black and white at birth. If you know anything about Schnauzers you know they like to bark. Well Panda doesn’t except when someone rings the door bell, which incidentally is how we locate her by ringing the door bell when she is in one of her moods.

We brought Panda from Toronto to Calgary; she is the right size to fit under the plane seat. She actually sat there very quietly for 4 hours all the way to Calgary.

When I went to work, Jo would get up a little early in the morning and take her for a walk. Jo and I always fight about how many times per day we have to take her out. I suspect she had a bladder problem from going out so often. In the winter time we just let her out in the backyard, which leaves quite a mess to clean up in the spring. Well I am at home now, I don’t take her out too early, I let her tell me when she wants to go out. When it is really cold, she sometimes stay in bed until midday.

To get Panda to do things we bribe her with a cookie. She loves her doggie cookies. Jo has gotten in the habit of giving her a cookie for going outside on her own. Panda is a little silly that way. She needs to go outside but she expects a cookie after. It is like she is doing us a favour. We dispense these cookies on the kitchen floor, she seems to prefer it that way.

In the last couple of weeks she has gone through a change. She has determined that if we are going to give her a cookie after going outside on her own, why not give her one before she goes outside on her own.  I am telling you it’s the truth. It goes like this. I work in the kitchen, so she would mosey on downstairs from sleeping in her $150 bed, someone actually bought it as a gift, stand in the kitchen and look at the cupboard where the cookies are stored.

Well you know me right, I am from St Kitts and dogs belong outside, so why would I let a dog that lives in total comfort tell me what to do. Normally I would get up and head to the back door and she would follow me. No not anymore. She is not budging, she wants her cookie first. Ok so first I thought ill just wait, how long can she hold it. I have time. She was thinking the same thing. There was a show down. After a while she starts to smell her butt. Damn what should I do. I already waited for about 10 minutes, then she starts to stretch, not a good sign. That can only mean one thing. OK OK she wins. I gave her the cookie. She ate it then runs to the back door, bitch.

The next day the same game and the same result. She can really hold it, after the second day I am thinking maybe tomorrow ill refuse to budge and see what happens. Then I decided maybe not, damn I am defeated again by a 15 pound dog. She obviously is aware that humans don’t like dogs crapping in their house.

Panda is quite interesting. She has a boy friend called Nick, an 80 lbs German Sheppard that lives a few houses down. They can play forever. Then a little dog goes by and she growls at it. I tried to analyze if she chooses a particular type of dog to pick a fight with, but nothing makes sense so I came to the conclusion that it must be astrological like humans, or maybe smell, that’s ‘human like’ also.

She does not fight but she pretends she wants to. I should walk away one day when she growls at a big dog and see what she does.

This need to control and to conflict is also a human trait. Growing up in The Village in St Kitts, there were always a lot of opportunities for me to fight. The family I was closest to at a very young age were the Lanns. My friend Willy’s mom would always share a piece of bread with me. Not sure why but her bread tasted better than the bread from home. Anyway Willy and I would scuffle sometimes. Can’t remember why, but we would always make up.  Maybe we were training for dealing with conflicts in the future.

Behind the Lanns’ home was the Byrons’ who have a son named Larry. I don’t know why, but we had a thing going, could have been astrological or smell. I had a great relationship with his brothers, sisters and his parents, but not Larry.

Larry and I were the same age and at the time the same body mass. I must admit he was a better fighter, but I hated to lose. There is an alley just above our house and a little bit south of the Byron’s house where we would meet to play marbles and play cricket or football which always ended in a fight with him. I ate a lot of dirt. I could not tell my mom so I would wash up under the water pipe before I went home.

Conflicts with Larry escalated when we got the age of liking girls. There was one particular girl, no names please, that we fought over. First she was his girl than I took her away so we fought and he would do the same and we fought again. This went on for a while before a bigger boy from outside the village came and took her away.  In hindsight, it still can’t think of a good reason for these fights. Primal instinct?

 There were guys up and down Cardin Avenue and thru the alleys that would pick fights with me. Having an older brother that no one wanted to fight with helped, plus my dad was a little scary, it was good to know that I had someone looking out for me when I got in over my head.

At an early age I learned that running away was a smart thing.  Maybe that’s what Panda would do if confronted, plus she had Nick.

As I got older I avoided physical fights. I had a friend name Bubba that was a really good fighter. We travelled together and being with him made me safe. I recalled once a team of us went up to Springfield pasture to play cricket. The pitch there was a little better than the one we played on normally. That day Bubba was not with us. A cousin of mine, again no names, was upset at me because I stole his girlfriend, primal instinct. Back then it was all talk and no action. Anyway he had a friend that lived close to Springfield who was going by on his bicycle and saw us and rushed to get my cousin. He was aware of my conflict with my cousin. They were both weight lifters. I was a scrawny 80 pounder. To make a long story short, he ‘bang’ me up really good.

A few days later we went back this time Bubba went with us. I had broadcasted that we would be there and my cousin simply could not resist, he showed up.  Let’s move on.

Bubba and I became very close as time went on, by now I was in Grammar School, he went to Senior School across the field, we would walk home together and he would sometimes come to my football games. There was a certain young lady whose boyfriend was my teammate in Grammar School.  She saw Bubba and liked him. I did what I could to help him out. That certain teammate and I were mortal enemies, he was from a competing village, New Town. I just had to say that.

One day, Bubba, the girl and I were walking home after a football practice. We had stayed back in the park so they could be together. We did not realize that my team mate was watching us. He was a couple years older than we were. When we got to the Boys School gate, he jumped Bubba. I told the girl to go home. Bubba then proceeded to put a’ lickin’ on him. As I stood there looking at them, I could see a policeman coming toward us. I shouted at them to stop and tried to separate them but they were really into it. My early instinct was to run, but I could not leave my friend.

The policeman ‘arrested’ both of them and put them on the ‘bench’ at the police station. I had to go get Bubba’s dad, it was not a happy ending.

After that incident I don’t recall ever having another scuffle, except with my siblings, I had become a lot more humble as I was in Grammar School now and expected to act a certain way, having to wear socks and shoes and be a gentleman.

I had not lost my competitive spirit however, always wanted to be first.

When I was little, pre teen, like most kids I did not care what I looked like, dirty feet, dirty face, I read recently that eating dirt is good for your immune system. One of the ‘styles’ then was holes in your pants. Mine was always in the bum area. That would always piss my dad off.

When I got to high school that had to change, so I started wearing my brother’s clothes, he really took great care of his clothes. Yeah, we would fight, I was bigger. After school I would go home and change into my best casual clothes or his and go gallivanting.

My primal instincts were always getting me in trouble, sometime I could not run away.

I was an excellent cyclist, got that from my dad. I have three older brothers and one of them told me that my dad would have all three of them on his bike as he rode around the village.

I had a friend GH, that lived a little east in the Fort Lands area. He was 4 or 5 years older than me and we both liked a certain girl, actually I liked her and she liked him was more like it, so I had to find a way to show her I was the better choice, had a better gene.  I imagine it’s like what peacocks do, display their colourful feathers and strut around. Of course we don’t have feathers so it was the next best thing, a bicycle race. I kept challenging him, ‘just one more time’, he would always win, but as I hated to lose so I would challenging him again. He was probably enjoying beating the crap out of me.

 I recall one day we started the race about where Southwell lived on St Johnston Ave heading downhill. The finish line was at the end of the avenue by the tennis club.  As usual he was ahead of me, we had just gotten to the big drain area where the road took a dip then uphill. He was a bicycle wheel ahead of me. Oh, I forgot to mention, he had a racing bike with the bent handle bars and I had my old man’s bike that I sometimes rode to school. But I was catching up. I was going to depend on my stamina, I could go forever.

He saw me gaining and as I got close enough he cut me off, he denied it. Great spill, probably died, I am bleeding all over, my nice pants torn, that was the worst part. My bike frame is bent. I got myself together and dragged myself home. My mom didn’t say a word, she just patched me up, took my best afterschool pants, I only had one nice pair really and she began to sew them.

Later on I was sitting on the front steps eating bread and cheese, all patched up when my dad came home. I put on my sulky face expecting sympathy. He did not ask me what happened; my guess is that someone had already told him. He just looked at me and said, ‘’you better win next time”.

GH never raced me again, I was glad too, that was one of my most difficult life challenges and oh yes I never got the girl, she preferred older boys. All of that for nothing.

As I sit here I can see Panda in the kitchen looking at the cupboards, maybe this is the day I will take a stand, I am feeling strong.

The only Kittitian Couch Potato in Calgary.

So I took up writing as a hobby…

My memories of St Kitts are frozen in a time prior to January 1971. From time to time I open the capsule and peek in to recall a little piece of my past, mostly for nostalgic reasons. I go back in time and relive a moment and enjoy the simplicity of it all.  A calm within the chaos of my day.

 Today when I read about St Kitts or see pictures I simply do not recognize it, life there seems complicated, full of cars and other things that are absent from my St Kitts.

I am stuck in this time warp where the days are long and hot and the living is easy.

I left St Kitts with the full intentions of returning home soon after I was able to determine a direction for my life. It did not take long after I immigrated, for me I realize that I really liked Toronto and it was going to be a struggle to leave. A lot of people have criticized me for ‘selling my soul’, not in a serious way of course and for putting up with the struggles that I endured in my early years in Toronto.

Why wouldn’t I just return to paradise? I don’t know how many times I got asked that question even by total strangers who knew nothing about St Kitts.

St Kitts is forever stamped in my DNA, there are some things you simply cannot walk away from. For example during the years I fought to climb the corporate ladder in Toronto, I tried very hard to lose my St Kitts accent (In linguistics, an accent is a manner of pronunciation peculiar to a particular individual, location, or nation).Not because I was ashamed of it, quite to the contrary, but no one could understand what I was saying, except the people from St Kitts. To this day, I have a difficult time pronouncing some simple English words. Seems incredible but I even have difficulty with my own last name, I end up spelling it more often than not, when people ask for it.

As you can well imagine I get laughed at a lot by my family at the dinner table.  My family speak perfect Canadian English, well except for Jo; she struggles with her French Canadian accent. I try not to talk with my mouth full, it’s not only bad manners but, I do say some odd things disguised as English.

For me trying to shake the accent was like trying to remove a cobweb off your fingers, it simply just moves to the other fingers, it is almost impossible. I gave up, now I am quite good with hand signs.

Last week I wrote about one of my more interesting characteristics, my awareness, everyone says I am nosy. I beg to differ. I see and hear things sometimes before they are apparent to others. Jo thinks I should be a detective. One of my good friends thinks I should write a spy novel. Me, I just like being aware.

I am not exactly sure how I got to be this way, I  read detective novels like the Hardy Boys when I was a kid, but I don’t think that could make me the way I am, but who knows. Jo sometimes gets really upset when she is looking at the crime shows on TV and I tell her who the culprit is 2 minutes into the show. They are mostly so obvious.  My family sometimes get really frustrated with me because I would start my sentences in the middle of a thought assuming they are aware of what I am aware of.

As a kid growing up in St Kitts I was the same way, I noticed everything. I was a dreamer. I observed people and animals with great interest. Of course this got me in a lot of trouble at home and at school. I was not the most responsible person. My mom would tell me my inquisitiveness was going to get me in trouble one day; like I could turn it off.

As you may know by now I grew up in my dad rum/grocery shop. I had chores, one being serving in the grocery section of the shop. I was always paired up with my younger brother. He was different than me though, I think he liked the shop. I don’t think I have ever spent a whole hour in the shop at any one time. I didn’t want to hear the shoppers’ stories again; I am not sure why but they took great pleasure in telling me their stories. I had heard them all, several times.

That’s proof that I am not nosy. So there.

Besides I had observed the entire village at one time or another.

I had to get out of the house and go exploring and observing people who were unaware of my presence and also look at birds, mostly pigeons and doves.

When my dad was not home, I could spend what seemed like hours sitting in front of the pigeon coup looking at the way they interacted with each other. We had a least a hundred pigeons and doves. I knew each pigeon’s family trees. I still enjoy the birds, we have nesting pairs that come back each year to our backyard. Back then my dad thought it was a waste of time. Devils time is what he called it.

While I did my tour of duty in the shop, oftentimes my dad would be in the far end serving alcohol. He knew my game plan was to get away as soon as he turned his back, so he would try to not turn his back on me and for two reason, I would often help myself to some money, my compensation and I would often disappear, leaving my brother to do all the work. I had several techniques for my disappearing act, but mostly as soon as he turned his back, I was gone. Sometimes if I was feeling bold, when I saw a big enough opening, I would jump over the counter and bolt, but it was a lot easier to slip out the back door. The timing had to be perfect as I would have to not be serving someone and he had to turn his back for at least 5 seconds. The direction I took would determine what I did with my free time.

Serving people in the shop took away from my happy time.

One of my getaway paths was going over the back fence. There was a family that lived in the back of us that was not our best neighbour, I think the family name was Wilson. We were always in conflict because our chickens would fly over the fence and eat her garden. I studied her so I always knew when she away. Sometimes I had no choice; I would jump the fence run across her yard as fast as I could, without trampling the vegetables in her garden and to avoid being seen by her. I would be on St Johnston Ave before my dad turned around again.

 If she was at home, I had alternative routes, like the Bridgewater yard, just another fence but a little more challenging to get over. Once I was in the clear I had several options to find a place for my observations.

 I could just sit on the side walk in front of the Bridgewater’s property and play in the drain and count the two cars, a little joke, that would go by; I knew the cars by the sound of the engine. There weren’t that many cars and I need to be able to tell my dad’s car from a distance so I could hide. He hated me being idle.

There was always the fire hydrant by Springer’s house or the one by the Southwells’ house, good places to look at people; there were some fine ladies in the neighbourhood.  I would sometimes visit the empty lot just east of the Southwell’s. I had to time my presence there so that no one was around. My interest was a big mango tree in the yard next to the vacant lot. I would use stones to get the mangoes.  Fred Thompson and his family lived in that house at one time.  All the while I would be looking to see who was looking at me, just in case I broke something, I had an escape route planned out. There was a rarely used alley way across the road, right next to were the Ross family  lived,  that led up to Infirmary road. I had to use it on a few occasions. I was a fast runner and I tended to travel alone.

 I was mischievous.

Across the street and to the right another big mango tree, can’t remember the name of the people that  lived in that house, a white family, it didn’t bother the lady that we picked her mangoes, less for them to clean up I think, that house was just south of the Village School pasture. She was an interesting woman, she would come to the fence and we would chat, I can’t remember about what exactly though.

To the east of that house was vacant house that looked over Bradshaw property, that house was haunted. I broke the glass in the window once with a catapult, it didn’t bother the ghost I don’t think.

There are some great homes in the neighbourhood. I would sometimes imagine what it would be like to live in one the houses in the area. The house I grew up in was just as big, but these houses had great big fences with well manicured lawns and nice yards. There is one house that apparently has 99 windows, never actually counted them though, although I did make several attempts.

Sometimes I would walk by Mr. Bradshaw home; he always had a guard at his gate so I could not stop and peek into his world, a little frustrating. If I was luckily he would be leaving home or returning and I would wave at him. I had a dream that one day he would stop and we would have a chat.  I don’t think he ever waved back though, he probably nodded on occasion and he always looked so stern. He had a lot on his mind I guess, a whole big lazy island to manage. My St Kitts.

Once I got past his home I would run as fast as I could for there were always boys playing in The Garden area wanting to fight with the Village boys. They had to catch me first.

From my start point after escaping the shop, if I went in the other direction and if I had friends with me, we would race boats in the gutter. There is a big water drain down the road that we use to race Popsicle sticks. Actually I don’t think there was any Popsicle sticks, just sticks that we would used as boats. We were very creative and would sometimes make paper boats with a sailing mast made with a piece of paper and the spine from a coconut tree leaf. We would race the ‘boats’ from St Johnston Ave, down the big drain, past the children home on Cardin Ave and to Limekiln Bay.

I had to pay attention to who saw me; the people in the village were all aware of my life style and would report my sightings to my parents who were not impressed with me playing in the dirty gutters, which made it even more exciting.

The possibilities were endless. After a while my dad didn’t seem to notice I was gone or he just gave up on me, I was a good kid compared to the brothers before me. He knew I had to come home at some point to eat and time for a lecture. My advantage was that I knew his schedule; he got up early, worked, slept, worked then slept again, so I’d time my return accordingly.

Game of chess, my brother would be totally pissed at me. I think I was allergic to shop work.

This need to day dream and to obverse and to be aware of my surroundings at all times, followed me through school and into my adult life. One of my early passions as a kid was reading. I read everything I could get my hands on. I would walk around picking up pieces of paper on the street and reading them. I also liked ‘soft porn’, like Harold Robbins and Jackie what’s her name. I read at nights with a flash light under the sheets when my parents were asleep. On Friday and Saturday nights I would read way past midnight and into the early morning.

I think at a very young age I also wanted to write about how I saw the world. If someone had encouraged me, I would probably be a great writer today. That’s funny.  I also like to tell stories. I got that from my dad, he was a great story teller. Recently in a earlier blog I wrote a story that he told us about how he met my mom. My older brother read it and immediately told me it was not true. If you want to know the truth here goes.

Both my parents unknown to each other would go downtown and buy goods, travel to the country villages and sell the goods. This was back in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. My mom on foot and my dad on his bicycle. Of course my mom could not go very far, her territory was Cayon and Monkey hill.  As the real story goes, one day he met her at the bottom of the big hill in Cayon, she was too tired to make it up the hill. He took her suitcase with goods, put it on his bike and climbed the hill with her. They then joined forces.

Enough of them, I had a terrible time writing essays and short stories in junior and high school. My teachers were more interested in my improper use of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, sentence structures, conjugation, participle, present and past. Me, I just wanted to write my stories, I just needed an editor. I would barely get a passing grade because I did not follow the rules. The teachers were right. I can still see Mr. Sutton’s face trying to explain to me what I did wrong with my sentences. I just wanted to write, the other stuff got in the way. Today I wish I had paid more attention.

When my kids were small I would tell them bed time stories. I was not impressed with the stories in the books, probably because I was too old to enjoy them, so I would pretend to read a book, while making up my own story with the kids as the main characters. They were totally impressed, today my daughter still remembers some of the stories.

I recently found myself unemployed and I decided to try my hand at writing. My life long passion, so I started writing about my life and sometimes about my My St Kitts.

I am home alone all day so I do have the time. In my neighbourhood there are so many distractions, for example, I can’t seem to tune out my neighbours’ garage doors opening and closing, I look outside every time hoping to see something that is not there; the dog next door is always barking, sometimes it is the noise of my neighbour enjoying his hot tub, they are teachers so they are home in the summer, he talks a lot, his poor wife can’t get a word in. I prefer not to listen. The kids playing a block away screaming, enjoying life.  Just everyday noises, I can’t shut them out. Just some of my excuses.

I am totally aware of my surroundings even when I don’t want to be.  I just have to find a way to turn it off, whatever IT is.

The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary.

Am I nosy or what!

Our house in Calgary, has this room in the front and partially over the garage facing the street, called a Bonus room. I am not exactly sure where the name came from but it is widely used in Calgary. At first I figured it was a different word for ‘the den’ and it may very well be but some houses have a bonus room and a den.

Our Bonus room has a TV, ‘da couch’, and some other entertainment gadgets. As you can expect we spend a lot of time there. It is a little odd because people tend to eat occasionally in their den which in our case is on the second floor with the bedrooms. We don’t spend any time on the first floor except to use the kitchen. In Toronto we did the complete opposite we lived on the second floor and in the kitchen.

There is a big window in the bonus room and when we first moved here I would look out the window every time I heard a car stop or a garage door open. I am cursed with a keen sense of awareness. I notice everything. I can now tell which neighbour drove up by the distinct sounds of the car engines.

Yes my family thinks I am weird, except when my awareness serves a purpose, like last winter in the middle of -35C temperature spell I heard a car pulled up two houses down and across the street. The door opened and closed and people were shouting goodbyes. Nothing odd about that, except about 10 minutes before that I was looking outside and I saw the neighbour who lives in that house drive away. So who just pulled up?

Of course I got up to see, who would not. There was this young lady with a suitcase ringing the doorbell. I know there is no one home, the lady lives alone. A couple years ago she moved there with a husband, then the following year he moved out. Well I assumed that, his car just stopped coming home. No one around here talk to each other.

Anyway, it was -35C, windy and this person was stranded. I told Jo and she immediately put on her biggest coat and ran across the road to engage the kid. Not soon enough, she was frozen, shaking, red face. Jo invited her into our house. Her story, she was a Japanese exchange student, spoke very little English meeting up with another student who was boarding in that house. They were on their way to the north to see the Northern Lights before going home. The other student had been staying there in our neighbour’s house for a couple months now. I somehow missed that in my neighbourhood surveillance. I think 5 more minutes in that weather; god knows what would have happened to her.

Last weekend I was looking out the window and I saw a strange dog sitting on the driveway across the road. I won’t go into too much detail, Jo went out and fed it (yellow lab, huge teeth) and kept its company, you know how St Kitts people are afraid of dogs, right. Pretty soon other neighbours got involved; one lady told us that the dog has been around since Thursday. She was ‘living’ in the backyard of the house attached to the driveway. This particular house has been abandoned because the occupant had turned it into a marijuana grow-op. Anyway it turned out a neighbour a couple of streets over had adopted the dog  on the previous Wednesday and he got out of the house and ran away.

I am nosy a bit, but it is not my intention to snoop, I am just aware of all the moving parts. Two nights ago my son who is home from school was sitting on the couch waiting for his brother to pick him up. I was teasing him about his girl friend who is in Saskatoon a few minutes earlier and he was not happy with me at that moment. He decided to ignore me, so I went on the computer and read soccer news, when I heard a car pulled up. Do you know the cars today are very quite compared to just 10 years ago.

Me to son, ‘your brother is outside.’

Son, ‘no he is not, why don’t you mind your business.’

Me. ‘well you can wait until he text you or you can just go’

Of course he is right so he is not going to simply look out the window. Then the text comes in.

Son, ‘no wonder I don’t bring my friends here, you are too nosy.’

Awareness has its downside.

If you are wondering, yes this is the same son that left me bawling on the driveway last September as he drove away on a six hour trip in his brand new car, to his new home in Saskatoon where he attends school. You may recall that I had tried to bribe him to stay home with that car. The rules were if you stay at home; when you graduate you leave home debt free. We live 15 minutes from the top university in the province. Instead he chooses to go away. He still has free tuition but other than that he is in his own.

He came home for the Christmas break, will all his earthly belongings except his 34in TV which he took with him back in September, leaving an ugly bracket on the wall in his bedroom.

He had given me his Christmas wish list which included, a bathroom shelving unit, a mirror, a portable heater, oh and whatever else we had in mind for him. One of the gifts we gave him last Christmas was a subscription to XM radio for his car, he reminded us that it was due for renewal.  J’s department, she did not see his needs as ‘proper’ Christmas gifts. I protested, guess who won.

Soon after he got here I asked him if he was planning on applying at the University of Calgary next spring after he had complained about some minor imperfection with the University of Saskatoon. It was a test. He quickly put that thought to rest, he likes where he is. Subject is closed.

Despite the little spat we had, it was a nice visit, he is now a man, why else would he need shelving for his bathroom. Six months ago he was not aware that there is shelving in the bathroom; he left everything in the sink. I was wondering what would be a nice ritual to commemorate his arrival to manhood. If we lived in a third world country I would be cutting off a body part like an ear.  He said cash would do it.

Where I grew up it was expected that when you get to be 17 or 18 years old, you would leave home. Quite often it was a financial decision but in my case, we did not have the leave, we all choose to when it was our turn. I can’t imagine what that must have done to my parents. My dad was such a great provider and protector; we must have broken his heart one at a time.

I have come to terms with his need to be away, not like I had a choice. When he drove away this time I waved goodbye and stood with pride, we have raised a fine human. No bawling, just a little tear, his license place was totally covered in mud.

He said he may come back for reading week, somehow I doubt it and perhaps he may even find a summer job there.

He texted me at 8:20pm last night, it read, ‘six hours flat’. This time I did not engage in a long texting conversation, I simply texted back, ‘kool’.

Life as I knew it has changed.

The only Kittitian Couch Potato in Calgary