I live in Albert County, a mostly rural part of New Brunswick. For years this part of the world has been known for its country charm and colorful inhabitants. The people of Albert County are some of the
nicest folks you'll ever run across, although some are still quite set in their ways. Change sometimes comes hardest to those who are used to the way it has always been. There are prejudices and cruelties here, but then, these sentiments abound throughout this vast planet of ours, so we aren't that different from most.
I met a man who I think Is Albert County. His name is Ken, and he’s well known in these parts. Ken is a kind soul who doesn't blink to help out a neighbor or friend when in need. A little rough around the edges, he is definitely set in his ways and in his thinking. Ken will always be best remembered by me as 'the man with a thousand sayings'.
Once while I was going through a particularly gruesome week at work, I asked Ken if he'd been busy. "Busy? I'm busier than a dog in a field full of stumps!" he replied. With that he flew off to another job, and I ticked off another Kenny-ism I had never heard before.
Now I'm not saying that all of his great pearls of wisdom are actually his own creation. I'm sure like most people; Ken heard a lot of them over the years and adopted some as his favorite, much like the rest of us. I dare say that you may even adopt these same sayings asyour own if they indeed spark your interest.
So what exactly is a 'saying' anyway? In my interpretation it's simply a short statement, often made in a derogatory way to express a particular ideal or realism of the speaker. For example "He was tighter then the bark on a tree!" Another Kenny-ism meaning that the person in question was very frugal with his money... to the extreme. We've probably all heard some of these at one time or another. Happy as a clam; Clean as a whistle; Sharp as a tack; Meaner then a junkyard dog!
For the most part the saying in question is usually a play on words. Sharp as a tack, for instance, doesn't mean sharp at all, but rather very smart or intelligent. And the word smart, used in a certain way, could mean something entirely different, as in, "Well you look very sharp in that new suit."
I'm not sure where all these pearls come from. Who was the first person, or group to say "Wow! That is so cool!" This one word has stood the test of time for decades and was most likely started in the days of flower power and the 'hippie' generation of the 60's and 70's. It evolved from one generation to another with the addition of other expletives tacked on to the end, like 'dude' or 'man', but this one word has also changed in spelling and meaning. At some point someone decided to add their distinctive mark to this expression and spelled it 'Kewl'. Its meaning is the same, and is used in the same context, but with a difference in spelling and sometimes pronunciation. Variations on this word might also be chill, cold, ice, etc. All individual, and meaning something different. If someone is getting 'hot around the collar' you might say something like "Chill, dude!" Hot can also mean cool as in, "she's the hottest dancer here." Confused? Well you should be.
From the most Eastern point of land in North America to the most Western point, different people have individual terms and sayings for nearly every situation including;
Appetite: 'I don't know who was more stuffed, me, or the bird.'
Baking: 'Too many cooks spoil the broth.'
Cash flow: 'I haven't got a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of.'
Death: 'Yep! He bought The Farm.'
Energy: 'His get up and go...got up and went.'
Financing: 'If you look after the pennies then the dollars will look after themselves.'
Guilt: 'I feel lower then a snake's belly in a wheel rut.'
Honesty: 'His word is his seal.'
Insanity: 'He's crazier then a bed bug.' (I'm still not sure what this means)
Jubilation: 'I was tickled pink!'
Laughter: 'I laughed so hard, I nearly split a gut.'
Money: 'If you have a lot, you spend a lot. If you have a little, you spend it all!'
Nature: 'What follows two straight days of rain? Monday!'
Pregnancy: 'I think she has a bun in the oven.'
Thirsty: 'I was dryer then a popcorn burp in a dust storm.' (The word burp is sometimes substituted for another form of gaseous emission)
Weather: 'Red sky in the morning, Sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight.'
Now these are but a few and nearly all have variations to the same theme. I suppose its human nature to embellish the truth, to enhance the tale telling. Is someone actually as strong as an ox, or hungry enough to eat a horse? I'm sure nobody is actually as dumb as a post, but then, why is a post dumb? Does it mean that the person in question can't speak, as in 'deaf and dumb' or, has the meaning, like so many other sayings passed on for generations, somehow changed to mean something different?
Regardless of origin all sayings have one thing in common. If they're catchy enough to get the attention of the listener, then they are probably destined to become popular and used. Through time the theme may change, the context and even the spelling and construction may be altered, but the general idea will still be there for someone else to discover, use and improve.
So if you're 'Dressed to the nines' and figure you'll 'Kill some time' at the local 'Slurp and burp' try not to get 'Between a rock and a hard place' with that cute bartender. 'Time heals all wounds' and 'There's no place like home.'
Diary Of an Orphan
The water leaked from my eyes and made snake trails down my dusty face, just to fall from my cheek onto the mud floor of my house, in silence.
Grand Mother is dead.
She passed from here to there sometime last night. She wasn’t sick like the others. She was just old. She was just tired.
My Mother, Father, and Brother…the others…are all dead. They had the sickness and they left me a long time ago. I hope I don’t get the sickness.
Grand Mother has looked after me for so long now…but she has left me too.
Now I am all alone. My belly is sore again. When I eat my belly feels good and is not so sore, but now it is sore again, and I am so afraid.
Like the water from my eyes fading into the dirt of the floor, they have all disappeared.
Today a nice lady arrived to my house to talk to me. She said that I could go with her to the mission and get some food for my sore belly. I don’t know what a mission is, but I like food for my belly and I said I would go with her.
She is a nice lady and she smells like clean sweet grass growing in the fields.
We left the village and took the dirt road that leads to nowhere. It was a very long trip, and when we came over the last hill I saw a place in the distance. It was all wavy from the heat of the road but it became clear as we got closer.
There was a big building in the center of this village. It had two sticks on the very top of the roof, and they were white. The nice lady who brought me here said she was teacher, and the big building was called church. She said a man named God lived there, and that someday I would meet Him. It was a fine house.
Teacher brought me to another building where there were lots of boys and girls my size. The floor was different then my home. It was made of wood. And there was food for my belly, and my belly told me it was going to stop the pain. That night I slept in peace, and did not dare to dream.
I awoke in a strange place, and was very scared. I could see the sunlight just peaking under the door, and then I remembered everything. I was safe. I was near God’s House and today I would meet Him, and see Teacher, and the other children who were here with me also greeting this new day.
After some good food, which made my belly quiet, I went to the house called school, where Teacher was to be. I liked this place and I had a warm feeling in my heart. It felt like when I hurt my toe on a sharp rock, and I went to Grand Mother, and she held me and talked softly to me and said I would be safe. This was safe, and warm, and even if Teacher was not Grand Mother, it felt the same, and I was happy for this place.
Today I went to God’s House. He was not there but his friend who looked after God’s house was there, and he said welcome. He said that God was always in His House, even if we could not see him. He said God would always love me no matter what. I thought of Grand Mother. I could not see her but I knew she was there, and that she would always love me too. I think God and Grand Mother are a lot alike, and that makes me feel warm inside.
Long, long ago in a veldt upon the great plain there was a very wise and old beast. His flowing mane was thick with age and colored with the silver of wisdom…and he was sad. He roamed the vastness of the veldt and all creatures in his path were in awe. His power and might were legend, and his foes were few, and yet…he was sad.
One day when the sun was laying down for her much needed sleep, and the night was beginning to wake, the Mother came to the beast and asked “Why are you so sad Lord Lion, for I have made you king of all the beasts in your world?”
And Lord Lion looked up to the Mother and said, “Mother. You have made me strong so I may defeat my enemies. You have given me eyes that see in the night and strength to hunt and kill and eat. Wherever I go your creatures bow to me, but none will lay down with me.”
At this Lord Lion looked up to the night’s cloudy light and with a mighty roar let loose a single great tear. The Mother seeing this felt sadness for Lord Lion and swept up that single tear and flung it to the heavens saying, “Let this tear be a star and this day be a symbol that no man, nor beast, may be sad this night of holy nights.”
At this the clouded sky did clear and all the stars in the heavens did shine down upon the veldt. Long grasses turned golden and all manner of beasts arrived to join Lord Lion, in love and with no fear, and all were in awe of the Mother who gives all life.
And together with all the beasts Lord Lion felt his heart soften and knew this special time would come again, one special night when all would be safe, and could lie down together.
Tonight, look up to the heavens. Gather your loved ones near and think of Lord Lion, a star, and a tear.
The letters swirl and roam inside my head, swimming there, quite content to be just random letters. I will mold and shape them into words, and sometimes they resist my orderly way, and prefer the randomness and chaos they were born into. They whisper and niggle and tease me into action, sometimes very late at night. I try to surrender to their roaring, only to be met by resistance. And when at last they are shackled into words, and then sentences, and then paragraphs, still they whisper to me to change the order I have chosen for them. Sometimes the letters win, but eventually both of us are content. The whispering subsides, and the chaos is quelled, at least until the next roar starts up again.
My African Dream
I had a dream the other night, and this is what I saw.
I stood in an open space upon a golden veldt, the tall grasses scratching at the fabric of my shirt in rhythm to the African night breezes. The setting sun turned the matrix of the sky tempting colors of orange, red, grey and black.
The night sounds begin…slowly. I know this is a dream, for I know I am in my bed, and yet I know that I am in Africa. IS this a dream?
I’m Afraid. I see the eyes around me in the twilight of day. I see the eyes gathering between the grasses sway.
A shadow appears to break from all the rest. It slinks down low advancing on me, parting grasses until I smell his smile…know his guile.
“I am Lord Lion and you will soon be, a tasty dinner….make that a snack… for me”. He purrs/growls, and the sound…it’s like rubbing rocks together under water.
How can I know this is a dream for I can smell the African grasses and feel the heat from his fur?
“Lord Lion”, I say in my bravest voice, while watching him shake the days dust from his fur in a cloud of red/grey.
“I am Man, who is trapped here in a dream and I mean you no harm. Nor any harm to your…” and I look around at the softly glowing eyes around me searching for the right word. “…family”
Lord Lion replied. “Why would you harm me or my family? Surely you know that we are all each other. Without all the pieces of the whole, we are nothing. For you see. To harm me is also to harm you. If I were to eat you now it would be only to silence the grumble in my belly “
With that Lord Lion turned, long bob tail looped to full circle, grasses melding, shape dispelling, black.
The tall grasses scratched on the fabric of my shirt in rhythm of the African night breezes. The Moon, no longer shy stood brave against the African sky.
I pray not to wake, just for a little longer.
Not Waxing Poetic
All hair removal methods have tricked women with their promises of easy, painless removal - the Epilady, scissors, razors, Nair and now...the wax.
My night began as any other normal weeknight. Come home, fix dinner, and play with the kids. I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next few hours:
Maybe I should pull the waxing kit out of the medicine cabinet. So I headed to the site of my demise: the bathroom.
It was one of those 'cold wax' kits. No melting a clump of hot wax, you just rub the strips together in your hand, they get warm and you peel them apart and press them to your leg (or wherever else) and you pull the hair right off.
No muss, no fuss. How hard can it be? I mean, I'm not a genius, but I am mechanically inclined enough to figure this out. (YA THINK!?!)
So I pull one of the thin strips out. Its two strips facing each other stuck together. Instead of rubbing them together, my genius kicks in so I get out the hair dryer and heat it to 1000 degrees.
Cold Wax, yeah, right! I lay the strip across my thigh. Hold the skin around it tight and pull. IT WORKS!
Ok, so it wasn't the best feeling, but it wasn't too bad. I can do this! Hair removal no longer eludes me! I am She-rah, fighter of all wayward body hair and maker of smooth skin extraordinaire.
With my next wax strip I move north. After checking on the kids, I sneak back into the bathroom, for the ultimate hair fighting championship. I drop my panties and place one foot on the toilet. Using the same procedure, I apply the wax strip across the right side of my bikini line, covering the right half of my hoo-ha and stretching down the inside of my butt cheek (it was a long strip). I inhale deeply and brace myself. RRRRRRIIIIIIPPPPPP!
I'm blind!!! Blinded from pain!!!!!.....OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!!!
Vision returning, I notice that I've only managed to pull off half the strip. CRAP! Another deep breath and RIPP! Everything is spinning and spotted. I think I may pass out. I repeat to myself ‘I must stay conscious… I must stay conscious.’
Do I hear crashing drums???? I breathe deep then breathe deep again. OK, back to normal. I want to see my trophy - a wax covered strip, the one that has caused me so much pain, with my hairy pelt sticking to it. I want to revel in the glory that is my triumph over body hair. I hold up the strip. There's no hair on it. Where is the hair??? WHERE IS THE WAX????
Shyly I ease my head down, foot still perched on the toilet. I see the hair. The hair that should be on the strip is not on the strip!! I touch and I am touching wax.
I run my fingers over the most sensitive part of my body, which is now covered in cold wax and matted hair. Then I make the next BIG mistake... remember my foot is still propped upon the toilet? I know I need to do something. So I put my foot down.
Sealed shut! My butt is sealed shut. As I penguin walk around the bathroom trying to figure out what to do next and think to myself 'Please don't let me get the urge to poop. My head may pop off!' What can I do to melt the wax?
Hot water!! Hot water melts wax!!!! I'll run the hottest water I can stand into the bathtub, get in, immerse the wax-covered bits and the wax should melt and I can gently wipe it off, right???? *WRONG!!!!!!!*
I get in the tub - the water is slightly hotter than that used to torture prisoners of war or sterilize surgical equipment - I sit.
Now, the only thing worse than having your nether regions glued together, is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of the tub, in scalding hot water. I soon discover the hot water doesn't melt the Cold Wax. So, now I'm stuck to the bottom of the tub as though I had cemented myself to the porcelain!!! God bless the man who had convinced me a few months ago to have a phone put in the bathroom!!!!!
I call my friend, thinking surely she has waxed before and, maybe, just maybe she has some secret of how to get me undone. It's a very good conversation starter 'So, my butt and hoo-ha are glued together to the bottom of the tub!'
There is a slight pause. She doesn't know any secret tricks for removal but she does try to hide her laughter from me. She wants to know exactly where the wax is located, 'are we talking cheeks or hole or hoo-ha?'
She's laughing out loud by now... I can hear her. I give her the rundown and she suggests I call the number on the side of the box.
YEAH!!!! RIGHT!!!! I should be the joke of someone else's night.
While we go through the various solutions, I drain the tub. I resort to trying to scrape the wax off with a razor. Nothing feels better than having your girlie goodies covered in hot wax, glued shut, stuck to the tub in super hot water and then dry-shaving the sticky wax off!!!!
By now my brain is not working. Dignity has taken a major hike and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need Post Traumatic Stress counseling for this event.
My friend is still talking with me when I finally see my saving grace. The lotion they give you to remove the excess wax. What do I really have to lose at this point? I rub some on and OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!
The scream probably woke the kids and scared the dickens out of my friend. Its sooo painful, but I really don't care. 'IT WORKS!!!! It works!!!!'
I get a hearty congratulation from my friend and she hangs up. I successfully remove the remainder of the wax and then notice to my grief and despair. THE HAIR IS STILL THERE. ALL OF IT!
So I recklessly shave it off. Heck, I'm numb by now. Nothing hurts. I could have amputated my own leg at this point.
Next week I'm going to try hair color!
I sat alone at the side of the road on a clump of dried out… something, with the sweat trickling down my cheek and dropping into the bone dry sand between my legs, disappearing without a trace. I stared at the steam rising from the hood of my rental car, and escaping around the wheels in gentle wisps, dispersed by the light breeze then blowing toward the red glow of the setting sun. I hadn’t seen another soul in two hours, and the sounds of the night seemed to fill my entire being.
I could hear the night sounds start as the sun laid her sleepy head upon the distant pillow of the horizon and then quickly sank into its dark downy depths. That’s when I heard another noise. Not a cricket noise. Not a night bird noise. Not the last sigh of steam escaping from my overheated car. It was a very low noise. It was a ‘raise the hair on the back of your neck’ noise.
A low rumble just to my left and down from the road. My insane mind said it was a toad. The rest of me SCREAMED to go! GO!
As I leaped to my feet with eyes as wide as they could get I thought of the most crazy things.
Did I remember to lock the chalet door?
Did I remember to call my dentist to cancel my Friday’s appointment?
Can I reach the car in time?
And there she stood. Her spots and fur afire, glowing from the cast of the moon just peaking out from beyond the distant hills.
I slowly stretched towards the car and even my shadow begged me to make haste lest we all perish! And then that great moon shrouded cat lowered her ears and with coal black eyes, gave a low rumble and made her way towards the open plain…towards the rising moon, towards my life from then until now. I’ll never know why I was spared. I’ll never forget my savior.
Long Ago Memories
I sat alone on that ancient tree, long ago felled by some unseen hand. There, lying beside the wheel tracks of a once upon a time road, now grass grown between the furrows. A road that is nearly invisible. And here I rest upon this wooden skeleton.
The smells of pine needles and moss, of decaying leaves and the very earth itself fill my mind and transport me to days of long ago. I can feel the weak autumn sun on my face, just like I did back then. In the background sounds of leaves rustling, and the brook gurgling, and the not so faint roar of water over the old abandon damn, there is another sound. There is a youthful sound.
At once the sound is memory…and then it morphs to reality. The sound…
...The sound of bike chain on bent metal frame. I hear the voices of youth calling in that same tone, in that same desperate tone.
“Hey you guys!! Wait for me!”
As I look up the road from which I had just traveled, I see the first glint of sun on spoke’s wheel. With feet held high off the pedals the young boy masterfully avoiding the deep puddles and the muddy ruts, my revelry is broken, as one after another, they descend on my solitude.
I pack up my things and leave this place.
I leave them to build their own memories. I leave them to live their lives and mold their dreams, and perhaps someday to see and smell their long ago memories.