They called him Ironman, I called him Skinny Arse.

Good Morning peeps. What a time im going through, you may remember at Christmas I hurt my back and was unable to exercise so i took a break, 3 months in fact.

It is hard to do anything physical without having a goal, so when i decided to start running the treadmill again i needed a goal. In high school i did steeplechase races, i recall the trail was 3 miles and i could cover the distance in just over 15 minutes. If you are wondering I would always finish in second place. Skinny Arse continually finished ahead of me. He was tall and skinny but its all relative I weighed 90lbs. You see where im going with this right.

GOAL: To finish ahead of Skinny Arse.

I devised a diabolical plan.The first day on the treadmill i did 1 mile in 15 minutes, the second 13 minutes, by the 5th day i was down to 11 minutes. Here is what I was thinking. If i could bring it down to under 10 minutes, and factor in my age,  i would have an imaginary race and beat the crap out of him. My logic may be twisted but I hate losing.

The 7th day was the big day. We lined up at the start, all in my head of course. The gun went off, GO, the race was on. I was imagined the crowds cheering as I pound the treadmill. Glorious feeling. I was feeling confident. As i was about to breeze by him, i did a dumb thing, i decided to put an imagine of Skinny Arse in my mind. I closed my eye to totally take in the feeling.

Have you ever closed your eyes on a moving treadmill? DON’T.

The race will have to wait until my back stop hurting.

As always,

Dont forget to greet a total stranger today.

Bernie my friend, just a quick note

 I received this text message a couple days after Christmas 2011.

Text: ‘I am having Roti’

Me: ‘Nice’

Text: ‘Guess where I am?’

Me: ‘Roti Shop’

I didn’t think the Roti shop would be open at Christmas, I was being a smart ass, a few days before I had been to the local West Indian restaurant and there was a sign on the door which said ‘back on January 16’. So why would it be different in Toronto.

That text came in at the same time as I was relaxing on ‘da Couch’ and thinking about being on the beach in St Kitts. I was not thinking about being there but about the time I spent there as a kid. The last time I was on a ST Kitts beach I had to wear sandals, my feet was so sensitive to the sand.

Text: ‘Ingrid’s’.

Ok, now he had my attention, that’s my sister.

At Christmas I generally call my sisters in Toronto, I have 3 of them there. This year I had decided not to call any of them expecting they would call me. Well you guessed it; I did not get a single call. They were all waiting for me to call them. I was not upset; I don’t like talking on the phone anyway. I prefer to text.

But still why didn’t they call? How would you feel? Oh well, I’ll try it again next year.

About 3 years after we moved to Calgary, ’ Bernie the Texter’  and his family moved to Ontario from Calgary.

I met ‘Bernie the Texter’ the first year I was in Calgary. We started working at a big communication company on the same day.  He were both Business Analyst but working with different software products. Before I came to Calgary, I owned a software consulting company for a number of years. Starting a new job in a big company, in a different city, thousands of miles away from home was quite stressful; I had to learn new systems, new office etiquette but the biggest challenge was getting the cobwebs out of my brain, trying to get use to 9 to 5.

Bernie saw I was struggling to get up to speed so he encouraged me. One day I asked him in a moment of weakness, what he thought my best strength was and without hesitating he said, ‘you have seen it all’, referring to business software. I was feeling vulnerable that day; men don’t ask questions like that, right.

You meet some people in life and you just click with them.  He is one of those people. Bernie is from Saskatchewan who has travelled to other faraway places. He was intrigued that I was from St Kitts so he was continually asking me about it. We talked about cricket a lot, the dude made a cricket bat for his son. He started to take his son to see cricket, went to England and stayed a whole day at the cricket ground looking at a game. I didn’t think people still do that.

One day the subject turned to food and I was telling him about some of my favorites dishes like ‘salted cod fish’.  That was quite funny looking at his face.

Bernie then told me a story about the old days in Saskatchewan, when after a major storm the rest of Canada began donating food and other necessities to the communities. The good folks in Newfoundland sent out lots of boxes of Salted Cod. Well as you know Saskatchewan is in the middle of the Canadian Prairie, very far from the ocean. The people there had never had salted cod so they started to fix their leaky roofs with them.  I was thinking I had heard a similar story before.

Ok, one of us will probably get in trouble for that story. Come to think of it, it is probably a backward Newfie joke. A Canadian thing, insider joke.

Shortly after he moved to Ontario I happened to be in Toronto and as usual whenever I show up my family plans a spontaneous party, yea I know an oxymoron, so I invited Bernie. I had fun observing ‘Bernie the Texter’ mixing with my family, the boy was in heaven, at one point he looked at me and asked, ‘how do you guys understand each other?’ We tend to have our own personal conversation all at the same time with each other, while trying to out decibel the other, can be chaotic. That’s what happen when there you have 12 siblings.

 ‘Bernie the Texter’ was right at home.

Today is family day (wrote this a few weeks ago), I had just read that Albertans work 7 ½ days a year more than other people in the industrial world and we spend fewer days with our love ones compared to other Canadians.

So it was against that backdrop that I started to reflect on Bernie’s text. He and his family, wife and two kids and his parents were at my sister’s house eating Roti at Christmas, after that same family neglected to call me.

Did I mention he feels totally at home with my family?

I won’t say he stole my family from me, that would be mean, but what would you say?

So Bernie, I just thought I’d write to you.

Last Thursday I went for a walk on the +15 just like we use to do in the past and I could not help but think of you.  The last time we did this walk around the city there was construction on the south side by Penny Lane, we had to get off the warm +15 and go outside for a few blocks then back inside. I remember it was a cold day and you almost froze your butt. I knew that we had to go outside before I left the office so I was prepared.  

In hindsight I wished you had frozen your butt that day.

Anyway they finish the construction on the south side by Penny Lane so now I can walk around the city unencumbered. On Thursday I did just that, took me 45 or 50 minutes. In the old days it would take us 25 minutes because you walk so fast, that would piss me off. I would tell you that I am from the Caribbean and I don’t walk fast. You didn’t care, so I had to keep up.

Now it’s so relaxing without you.

As you know I have a new job thanks to your great reference. I also used Mark as a reference, he is great and we stay in touch. I’m hoping to see him soon, just have to wait for Apple to release a new product so he can come downtown, he is an Apple junkie. In the past I would use Ashok as a reference, but I’ve had so many jobs in the last 6 years, maybe he is tired of giving references. To be honest he never emails me unless it’s a follow up to my email. Ashok and I had lunch about two years ago and I have not heard from him since. Do you think it’s because I have not initiated contact? If I find myself looking for a job again I may ask Danielle instead for a reference, she is such a nice person with great dimples, love having lunch with her, very pleasing to the eyes.

Yes I tend to stay in touch with people I like, so if you feel you are special in any way and think you are my only friend, don’t.

It’s hard making good friends here in Calgary. I work with really young and highly educated people and they have not yet gotten to know me. They probably feel threatened that they can’t keep up with me. Haha, good one. Maybe they don’t like old people like you do. Except for Keith he is from a previous job, two jobs after you and me. We had lunch the other day, Keith and I think alike but different so we understand each other. He is also a lot younger.

Jo has lots of friends but I like my own, I don’t really hang out with middle age people; sweet, probably get cussed by some of her friends.

 In any case if you are wondering why I am throwing out all those names, just wanted you to know that you are not the only friend I have.

Just remembered something, as I was walking in the +15 last Thursday, this guy stops me and said hi and asked ‘if I was in contact with the old gang’. I said absolutely, mentioned all the names above and threw in a couple others. He looked confused; occurred to me he obviously didn’t know what I was talking about. After he left I recalled he was a soccer parent from one of my son’s team.

Oh well they say that the first thing that goes as you age is your memory. Hope I don’t ever forget you, but you never know, things happen.

I am not sure why I started to write to you, maybe I miss you, maybe I miss my sisters in Toronto, maybe I miss my kids, who knows. Jo and l will be going to Saskatoon at the end of April; perhaps you can hook us up with your family.

Do you think they would know how to cook Roti? If not they can cook one of your favorite meals just for me, I promise to text you and tell you what I’m eating, pictures included, just because…..

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

Me, the Procrastinator

This morning as usual I drove Jo to work. Normally we do not communicate except when she says ‘kiss kiss’ then ‘bye’. For the most part I am on automatic pilot, it is 5:30 in the morning. If she has to talk like this morning my response is a shake of the head or a grunt if I am pissed about something.

Last night like other nights for the past week I have not slept well. I have a bit of a cold and I cough which keeps me up. I now have a additional problem as my neck hurts because I have to give up my regular pillow (Pablum) for some big fluffy ones to keep my head upright. Thought I could slip that Pablum reference in without explanation. My regular pillow is a non pillow. It flat and soft and is there because it makes the bed look good. Now you know why I don’t travel, I can’t take it with me. In hotels I don’t use a pillow, and for some reason I have restless nights.

Anyway, this morning we driving along and I asked Jo if she wants to stop for a coffee. I might as well have shot off a cannon. She hits the brakes, ahaha, just some drama, I am driving, she wants to know why I want to buy her coffee.

Me. ‘ I have no reason to rush back home.’

Jo. ‘You never do, you probably just go home and sleep’

Now I am insulted, that’s how much she has been paying attention.

Me. ‘On Tuesdays I go home and prepare my blog post’

Jo. ‘I didn’t know that. Why you are not doing that today?’

That kind of caught me by surprise. Everyone knows that I decided to stop blogging until the New Year. Obviously except Jo. Then I remembered, I added that note to my last blog at the end, just before I posted it, she did not see it.

Jo generally reads my posts on Monday night. Last night I fell asleep by the christmnas tree just after we finished dinner. I am trying to get fat so I can use last years New Year’s resolution. She is my proof reader of sorts. Although she never fixes anything, well I don’t think so. If after she finishes reading she smiles then I know she likes it.

Which is good right? Wrong.

Jo knows me very well, she knows how I think, what I am trying to say even before I say it. So when she reads my post, it is not like she is reading for real, she is hearing my voice, which is not a good thing because she hears what I want to say. She says I make her laugh, it is not on purpose. Sometimes I wonder about her.

About a month ago, I devised a plan to get a different reaction. I needed her to say something different. I decided to write something in my draft that I know is going to piss her off. I wrote, ‘my stupid son, bla bla bla’, I know Jo, she is fiercely loyal and protective of her children. No one bad mouths them.

So I am sitting there while she reads, you know me right, I laugh at myself, so I am cracking up inside as she reads, waiting. There was a second reason for my trickery; I do not know for sure that she reads what I write. For all I know she looks at the computer and think about work. She likes to work. Then after a while she smiles. It could happen like that, right?

Anyway when she was finished my slander story, she just got up and walked away. One of Jo’s best or worst traits is that she does not like to criticise.  Ok, now what do I do with that? I am following her, asking for a reaction, nothing.

This is like our morning drives.

 I got the message; I took the section out and told her. Do you want to know her response?

She smiles, ‘I like it’. Now I can start editing it.

Ok, this morning we are on our way to work and she wants to know why I decided not to write.

Me. ‘just taking a break, have to think about where I go next’

Jo. ‘well I think it’s a mistake’

We go back to our quiet silent drive. We got to her work, ‘kiss kiss’, ‘bye’.

Well it got me thinking, why does she think it’s a mistake? Jo is quite supportive, she does care that I write, she says she sees a difference in me, something about being happy. What does she know.

The truth is I am not a good finisher, a bit of a procrastinator. I have great ideas and would start projects then stop because my next project is more exciting. My brain cannot handle one think at a time. I have no limits to my ideas, just the follow through.

So here I am writing as fast as I can to continue my journey.

Today rather than write a whole story ill just link to an old one, (click to read).

The only Kittitian Couch Potato in Calgary

It was just a phase I went through.

Last Thursday I made some notes outlining my next story covering my early days in Toronto.  On Friday my grandkids came for a sleepover, then my son showed up from University in Saskatoon and we had a great Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. The kids are quite demanding physically so after they left I headed straight to ‘da couch’ for some RNR.

My thoughts drifted and I began to reflect on my childhood. I tried to work on my story I started on Thursday but I kept drifting to my youth and sibling rivalry. I am in the middle of an older sister and a younger brother, a year and a half on either side.  Sibling rivalry is a natural occurrence.

When my older sister and I would get at it, my mom would yell at me, ‘boys don’t fight with girls’.  My sister fought dirty, she used her nails, and I was defenceless.

When  I’d pick on my  brother, of course I could not fight with my younger brother either , I could still hear my mom’s voice, ‘don’t fight with your brother’, while he was beating the crap out of me, of course I had to take the blows.

One of my parents was always around; sometimes I wished they would just disappear for a day so I could have my way.   I think my parents enjoyed seeing me get my butt whooped, probably provided them with great entertainment.  Pay back maybe, I had a potty mouth.

Growing up we didn’t have too many store bought toys. My mom would buy us a toy like a fire truck or police car and toy guns on Christmas Eve. I grew up in the 50’s. I had a policy, store bought toys only was suppose to last until the day after New Year’s Day. By then I would have found a way to destroy my toy and was working on my brother’s (one of the reasons he would ‘beat me up’ with my parents’ permission).  I wanted to see what made them work.

Where I lived in Trafalgar my neighbours to the left were quite poor, my neighbours to the right weren’t, and we were literally in the middle. I had friends on both sides.  One of my friends to the right, G, had lots of store bought toys. His family had a caregiver, Mrs H who lived to the left. I don’t think she had children but her sister did. She was a heavy set woman, who happened to be the village news monger and delivered the gossip with great gusto. She was intimidating.

 My friend G and I would play with his Tonka Toys. When he had outgrown his toys he would give them to his caregiver for her family. I must admit I was a little jealous, what kid wouldn’t be.

One day I asked and he gave me one of his Tonka trucks, a nice big yellow truck. I was quite excited and headed off home; I probably would play with it for a few days then open it up. On my way home I saw Miss H walking toward me. I sense some trouble and from the distance I still had some options. I could turn left go around the block and avoid her completely. I could cut through the Bridgewater property and over our back fence and again avoid her completely. I pretty much had the same options by turning right. What to do?

With all those options I select the ‘dumb ass pick’. I walked straight at her and as I was about to go by, I showed her the truck, the devil made me do it.  I think maybe I was being spiteful. She asked me where I got it from and I told her that G gave it to me. That was not what she wanted to hear. She accused me of stealing it so I told her what I thought about her. Remember my potty mouth?

The next few minutes was scripted from hell. She started to shout, the whole village was her audience;

‘Miss Carter, Miss Carter, Miss Carter, you son teef G truck, I see him with me own eyes, he teef it, o lawd he going staight to hell’.

 Repeatedly.

We were still a good fifty yards away from my house. I am sure my mom could hear her loud and clear. Unfortunately my dad was also home. I started to run with Mrs H, the devil’s assistant, behind me shouting at the top of her voice.

My dad was a very proud man, gave us everything he thought we needed so why would I steal, eh.

 I ran into the shop and I started to plead my case, my dad was not interested in my explanations, without saying a word and with his ‘evil dad face’ he simply took the truck and turned it over to Mrs H then escorted me in the back.

I won’t say what happened after that, I don’t remember exactly, but I could not sit for a whole day, he used what was closest at hand, a piece of salt fish tail. I promised never to steal again, although I hadn’t. It was one of those life changing moments.

To make matters worse, the next day I saw Mrs H’s family playing with the truck.

No one can take away my memories, the real toys I grew up with included, homemade catapult, made from guava tree stems, bicycle tube and parts of car tires. Of course my parents did not approve, those things were dangerous. With a catapult in your hand you were like David, you could take down Goliath with one swish.

We also played with a bicycle wheel and a piece of stick used to propel the wheel, there were kids in the Village who could make those things move like the stick was attached to the wheel. 

Having fun with those homemade toys only lasted for so long and as I got older my needs changed. I would go by the Horsford store and see nice cricket bats and shiny balls and footballs and boots in the window. I wanted my own.  I had no money; my dad had ‘beaten the urge to steal out of me’. He didn’t say I could not take from him, so that is what I did. I found ways to divide my parents and conquer; I found ingenious ways to ‘borrow’ money from my dad.  I still don’t know how he did not figure it out, after all my ‘toys’ were not cheap. I would buy a nice cricket bat and shiny ball and he would show me how to protect the bat with linseed oil and never ask me where I got the money to buy them. Parents are complex.

I once made it all the way Antigua on a plane trip with the Cadets when I was about 15. When I returned my dad asked me how much the trip had cost me and offered a refund. I did not have a job.  Again I am not sure where he thought I got the money from. Maybe parents aren’t that smart.

Way back then my parents hired a construction crew for a major construction job on our house that lasted a few months. There were 5 or 6 workers on a daily basis and during the summer I had to pitch in, help with fetching the water for the concrete mixing for example. I remember at the end of the week on Friday afternoon my dad would take out his roll of money and pay the workers. Of course I worked so I would stand there with my hand out.

He would take great pleasure reminding me that he fed, clothed and gave me a bed to sleep.  Maybe parents just have to do things their way, a control thing.

I must admit that as a youngster I was not the easiest child to deal with. Being the 11th of 13 children, I think my parents were tired of raising kids so I got away with things my older brothers hadn’t.  I never in my wildest imaginations thought I would be a parent, else I probably would have been a better child.

Today if you ask my friends who knew me when I was a kid, they would not admit to knowing that side of me.  I saved my dark side for my siblings and parents only. I was a model citizen to my friends, except, you know there is always an exception, when I was not doing really well in a ball game I would take my equipment and go home, ownership had its privileges. 

I was in my later teens when I stopped fighting with my siblings, even my potty mouth went away.  It turns out I was not that bad kid after all, a small part of my life journey, just a phase I went through. Oh and I believe that I am a great parent, ask my kids. Yes I am a little controlling, learned that from my dad.

Despite all that, my dad sacrificed to get me through Grammar School. Maybe he saw the potential in me.

 I was in my second year in Toronto when I started to find myself.  Next week I will continue my journey.  I think.

The only Kittitian Couch Potato in Calgary.

Who said being a couch potato is a bad thing?

People have been asking how I ended up on ‘da couch’, so I thought I would let you in on my secret.

 My family moved to Calgary about 5 years ago.  Jo’s job was transferred here. She works for a big oil company and me being self employed I figure I’d take a chance and start over.  I have a very short attention span and changes are easy for me, besides I figured what’s the worst that can happen.

Moving here had its drawbacks as I worked with my eldest daughter in Toronto.  She had left home a few years before and I did not see her that often, you know what kids are like.  As a parent you never feel like your job is complete so to be close to her I helped her get a job with one of my customers.  I also worked there and for the next 5 years we started most work days with a little chit chat and coffee. Nice eh.

I must say that I had gotten a little lazy at that job, (short attention span,) and needed to revive my career, so off to Calgary we go, as you can imagine my daughter was not happy.

Toronto has a board based economy, some manufacturing, wholesale and distribution and what not.  By contrast, Calgary’s economy is based on oil and gas for the most part.  I tried to restart my consulting business but soon found out that the oil and gas references were completely different to what I was accustomed to.  The industry has its own unique language.  My job for the most part is asking questions, documenting the answers and recommending solutions.  I needed a dictionary to survive. 

I had to rethink my situation; I had to find an eastern based company.  The big telecommunication giants would be a nice fit.  I was quite fortunate to find a job with Bell Canada. The group I worked with sold and supported CRM solutions.  After two years on the job I was ‘packaged’.  The entire business group was sold a year later.

 I then found a job with a smaller software company working with the same product I worked with at Bell.  I lasted 6 months, during the summer the drive was tolerable but as soon as it started snowing I found it to be too much, I resigned.

Shortly after I found another job with another telecomm giant, TELUS, again working in the same type of product, a natural fit. After one year the company shut down the entire group and I was again ‘packaged’.

Three jobs in four and a half years, it was quite draining.

It was the end of January 2010 I found myself on ‘da couch’ asking myself ‘what do I do now?

 With no job and no good prospects I thought I could change my life, again.

I started writing as a distraction from my situation, posting my thoughts on FB.

 About a year earlier one of my sons’ friends introduced me to Facebook.  When I asked her what to do with it she said, ‘talk to your friends’.  Ok, what friends?  She added me and I added my other kids and a couple of friends from Toronto, about 10 people.

At first I wrote to try and stay alert; my plan was to write about growing up in St Kitts which required me to lie on ‘da couch’ and reflect.  I have been away for 40 years.  I started writing about my school days, from kindergarten and worked my way up to the Grammar school.  In between I wrote about other stuff like mangoes and jumbies, check my earlier posts.  My daughter though I had lost it.

From the feedback, I was beginning to think maybe I can write stories that people want to read.

What was my biggest challenge to overcome? Knowing that people are actually reading what you wrote. I was afraid of being judged harshly.

A few months into it, I was up to 50 people on my FB but I didn’t know anyone else, I hit the proverbial wall.  My cousin Keeth France told me to just add people randomly to increase my readership and he also encouraged me to keep writing.  The more people I added the more showed up as ‘people you may know’ on FB.  What a concept.

I mentioned that I sometimes write about mangoes, I had help as Keeth’s wife egged me on by posting lovely pictures of mangoes on Facebook.

When I write I don’t always continue a story theme, my thoughts stray, I blame it on the comfortable couch.  Now I write at night between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. using a small writing book.  Not sure why, it’s the only time I seem to be able to.  When I write I scribble really fast and more often than not I can’t reread it but I know what I wrote so I can rewrite it later.  I write sometimes in sentences or sometimes in point form or sometimes using doodle art.  Probably need to change that if I want to be a successful writer.  I don’t write stories, I write lots of random ideas then cut and paste them together.  How did we survive before ‘cut and paste’?

The stories started getting longer and from some of the comments I received it was obvious that FB was not the right place to write, so I created a blog and here I am.

It’s like being in writing school all the time though.

Here I am in 2010 on ‘da couch’ thinking about my life in 1971, reflecting on my life before that. Got it?

Now I can continue.

In my last post I wrote about my early days in Toronto.  My first year there was quite painful and I spent a lot of my quiet time thinking about St Kitts.  Holidays were especially hard without my St Kitts family and friends, but I always had my memories.

Easter in St Kitts was the time when people flew kites.  My brothers were really good at making kites. On the Saturday before Easter Sunday we would ‘launch’ the kites.  I am sure there was a competition for whose kite would go the highest and stay up the longest.  We would take what we thought was the best kite, someone would take it across the alley, my brother would say go and the kite would soar.  Once we got the kite really high in the sky we would sling shot the line over the electric wires and tie the line to the house.  If it did not rain the kites would stay up until next day.  My brother Charlie was a kite flying master.  His kites flew the highest and stayed up the longest.

One of the fun things was when the kite string would break, the entire village, well us kids, would chase it into Buckley’s cane field and often all the way down to Camps fields shouting ‘kite bus, kite bus’. The goal was to gather (steal) the string.  Kite string was in limited supply.  Good times.

Sometimes I would reflect on my last year working in St Kitts.  I worked as a teacher at the Old Hospital School. It was not a very good experience mainly because I was not very good at it.  The kids were not much younger than I was and I think I got the worst bunch of kids in the school in terms of lack of discipline. One kid in particular, the late Pip, would go out of his way to make sure my day was as bad as possible.  In the classroom he just totally ignored me, simply refused to participate.  He lived a stone’s throw away from me and he was my brother’s best friend. When we were out of the classroom, he would constantly tease me and run away.  Of course because of our teacher/student relationship I was not able to beat him up.  We met several years later at the Toronto Caribana and we had some good laugh about it.

My most favourite recollections however were about my football playing days.  I was very fortunate to play football at the highest level in St Kitts.  I played with a team that was assembled in Grammar School.  We won the national championship, stayed together helped by an old friend Mikoyan, moved as a group to Santos and carried on the winning tradition.

The fan support for our team was quite incredible.  At some games the field would be surrounded by fans, I am guessing maybe 200 or 300 people cheering us on.  I played against some of the top players on the island at a young age.  There were some great players that would have been able to play in the world ‘big leagues’, players like Shine, Tudor, Nelon, Hicks and others.  For the most part I fared pretty well.  My biggest strength was that I hated to lose.  

Of all the opponents I faced, Sam Condor (Deputy PM, St Kitts/Nevis) was probably the most difficult to play against.  He talked a lot during the game; he would find ways to knock you off your game, like kicking your ankles on purpose.  I remember once I went up to get the ball and he removed my legs from under me, I came crashing down.  It was all in good fun, I think.

A game against Sam would start days before the actual game day.  A bunch of guys would come together and argue Trafalgar style about the upcoming game.  We would meet by the Old Grammar school field or on the corner of St. Johnston and Cayon or in front of Carl Brazier house.  Sam talked a good game, but he could never win these verbal sparring.  He was on my turf.

I recalled Sam liked being in the village; he was not a villager.  Quite often my buddy Junior and I would drift off to go to our nightly gathering at the corner of Cayon and Forth Street.  When we returned, Sam would still be in the Village.  Sometimes at night when I went to bed, I could hear him still arguing about football, sometimes politics or chatting about economic courses he was taking at the London School of Economics, ( I think, may have been another school.)  Sam had a very strong voice, in the night air I could not tell exactly where he was.  Often his was the last voice I heard before I went off to sleep.  No comment.

I have not spoken to Sam in 40 years.  Just recently someone posted a YouTube clip of Sam giving a speech at the Christina sinking Memorial.  He started by saying his wife could not make it to the gathering. I asked a friend of mine who Sam had married.  Then it all made sense, Sam was not in the Village late at night trying to drive me crazy and to knock me off my game, his interest was my neighbour, his wife, a few houses up the road. He was trying to impress her.

My buddy Junior told me recently that Sam still has good football skills at his age, he plays a good mid field for some ‘old mans team’, maybe there is still a game in our future, I’ll probably let him win.

To this day I still dream about those great times, Jo tells me she sometimes can look at my facial expression and know what I am thinking about.  Ya right.

When Christmas came around that first year in Toronto, it must have been one of the really low points in my entire life; I can’t even begin to describe it.  I remember it snowed on Christmas day and I went for a walk.  I can actually still remember what winter smelled like back then, quite refreshing.  Today the air is dirty.

There I was walking around in the snow and bawling and singing Christmas carols, cussing myself for making the decision to leave home.  It’s a good thing no one was close enough to hear me.

 Later that day we went to my late uncle Roland’s home, Mother Gwen is a great cook.  

Some things you never forget.

The Only Kittitian Couch Potato in Calgary

I forgot to say ‘Thank you dad’

Sept 1, 2010

When your youngest kid leaves home life is never the same. It is the closing of one of life’s big chapters.

A couple of weeks ago I was unable to write because my son started to pack,  preparing to leave home to go off to university in another province. I went into slow down mode, anything to delay the inevitable, I was missing him already. Well it happened on Sept 1st, he left at 7am to make a long 7hrs drive to Saskatoon. I am happy to report that he got there safely, only took 5.5 hours, although with a busted windshield, courtesy of good old Alberta rocks.

 If you follow my writing you may also recall that I sacrifice a lot of sleep by getting up at 5am to drive Jo to work.

This morning my plan was to speed off to downtown Calgary as I drove Jo to work, then back, wake D, make him a BIG breakfast, have a man to man talk, slip him a few bucks, give him a big hug, say something profound, god knows there are enough inspirational quotes on Facebook, and stand in the driveway with my camera snapping lots of pictures as he drove away. I once saw that scene in a movie and as you know life imitate art.              

As you know plans sometimes don’t go as you expect them to. For starters, Jo had her own plan, she love to hug and kiss. The night before she and D had a 15 minutes hugging session so I figure that is it for them. Jo is the opposite of me. She does the hands off approach with the kids; she lets them come to her when they need her, so I was sure they were finished.

I must tell you a secret about D. He has a three alarms wake up system. First his radio alarm goes off (beep beep beep), this can be up to 15 minutes before actual get up time, then his phone starts to play some annoying music, finally Jo or I go into him room, turn his lights on and make sure he sits up.

This morning Jo goes into his room and wakes him up, trying to mess up my plan, practically lifts him out of bed with a bear hug and slobbering all over the poor boy. He mumbled something to her and crashed back onto his bed. Just one alarm, no harm done I am thinking, my plans are still in place.

I rushed Jo off to work, sped back home, practically jumped out of the car while I was parking, phew. I walked into the house and D is dressed and is ready to leave. Damn, looks like he can’t wait to get out of here.

Me, ‘had breakfast?’

D, ‘yes’, I was only gone for 35 minutes.

Me, ‘what did you have?

D, ‘food’, I bet he didn’t eat, I looked in the sink, no dishes. Why was he so anxious?

This is not going really well; need to get the plan back on track. Keep in mind my goal is to slow down the inevitable. I had to think fast, he is ready to go.

Me, ‘want to do another walk through to make sure you didn’t miss anything?’

D, ‘No, if you find anything you can mail it’.

 I can tell he is getting annoyed, I am sure he too was anxious.

D, ‘Big hug’

 He does manual work in the summer so he is very strong, he grabs me and lay this hug on me, it hurt a little.

D, ‘I am going to miss you, although you are such a pain in the ass.’

Of course I can’t say anything; I am ready to bawl, so I resort to hand gestures.

He simply walks away, me in tow, jumps into his car and drove away. I stood here for a minute, watch the car disappear and walk back into the house staring at the ground. Felt like someone punched me in the stomach.

Silver lining…I saved myself some money.

My granddaughter in Toronto call her blanket, Blanky, K here in Calgary calls hers a Buc and I have ‘da couch’ so that’s where I went to reflect on D.

The boy was born not that long ago, where did the time go?

At an early age he showed signs of having a curious mind, we nicknamed him ‘Engineer’, wishful thinking at the time, seems like he was listening.

Jo and I went in Toronto last week and before we left Calgary we went shopping for groceries so he can practise cooking. Didn’t happen, he ate out; I hope he does not think that life will be like that, he has very limited resources.

He is just not ready to leave home.

D was very young when he showed interest in soccer. He hates losing. During the competitive soccer years we moved around from club to club quite a bit, often times I would place him on ‘not so likely to win’ teams to teach him humility. I forgot to notify him of my intentions. He was the kind of player you did not want to play against, he is rough and mean on the field, taking on the tough players on the other teams and would be the player to get the goal when it was needed. He was fun to watch.

As is the case with his age group, he is technology savvy, has had a computer since he was 5 or 6. He can also fix his own car, worked at Wal-Mart auto center and Minit Lube after taking some mechanic courses in high school. He likes money and is prepared to work for it.  His first job was at the Hangar in Toronto operating the scoreboard for winter indoor soccer. I think he was 13 and making about $12/hr. He did that for a couple of winters and spent all his money on Nintendo games. It was also a job for me as I would spent 4 or 5 nights at the facility waiting for him, good thing I love soccer.

He has spent the last 3 years building and maintaining a golf course in Calgary.

Moving to Alberta has provided him with some experiences that he probably would not have been exposed to in Toronto, simply through association, like guns. He has become interested in guns. He will be going to Manitoba with his roommate for the long weekend to hunt. He claims he is hunting for his winter food. I think they are just going target practise. His friend lives on a farm.

Golf is probably the most played sport in Calgary so he plays 4 or 5 times a week. He has done sky diving, mountain biking, he skateboard very well. He only plays soccer casually with his friends, which is a little disappointing.

When we first moved to Calgary, he was not very happy. I thought I was going to lose my son. He would spend most of his days in his room sleeping; sometimes he would come out and skateboard for hours. That was his life. We came to Calgary at the end of June so he had no time to make school friends. Down the street from us there are two black families. Both have boys D’s age. It took a couple of weeks but he did connect with them. One of the boys got jealous that the other boy was spending too much time with D so he stopped talking to him and got his friend to do the same. So by the end of July he was back to being alone. It was pathetic.

At 20, D is quite the young man; handsome, well mannered, has lots of friends and loves life. We will miss having him around; I will be seeing him at Christmas and maybe thanksgiving.

I am so proud of him; I think maybe I should tell him.

Thinking about D reminds me of my good bye with my dad when I left St Kitts. I grew up quite privileged with lots of love, not unlike my kids. I had been working for a couple of years before leaving St Kitts, so I had saved some money. I applied to come to Canada without telling my dad although I am sure I told my mom. My dad was very protective, damn sounds like me, he would have tried to talk me out of it. It was only after I had received my visa that I informed him.

I recall my  ‘d day’ very well. I was having breakfast when my dad came by and ask me to come see him when I was finished.

I was expecting a lecture. The following may not be verbatim but close enough.

Dad: ‘how much did you pay for the plane ticket?’

Me: $999, (i don’t remember the amount, sounds like a good number for this purpose).

I am thinking great, he was going to refund me, more money to spend.

Dad: ‘how much money you have in your pocket?’

Me: $999, (not correct either, that number I remember very well but I won’t say, it was embarrassing).

Getting closer, I was getting excited, more money.

Dad: ‘so what do you plan to do when you get to Canada?’

Me: ‘Going to school’.

That is what he wanted to hear, here comes the money for sure, he had his hands in his pocket, a good sign.

Dad: ‘when you finish school you come home and i’ll give you all your money back’

Bummer, he went on to tell me what I great life I could have in St Kitts and how we could expand the business, he would get me started, provide me with everything I wanted. He was quite sincere. My life got in the way.

 We did the bear hug thing, shook shake and then said good bye. A friend drove me to the airport.

That was the last conversation I had with my dad in person, almost 40 years ago.

Thank you Dad for everything you have ever done for me, you would be proud to know that I raised my kids the way you raised me, except for the BELT part.

The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary.

PS, So you know Dad, I kept some of my old bad selfish habits, I still hide mangoes from my family and eat some of the plantain as I fry them, that way I get the most, I think it is important to maintain some of your history.

Rewriting History