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My Back Pages - August

I'm slipping. Only four books this month. I've adopted a slower pace in August, at times going several days without reading. Nevertheless those four books bring my year-to-date total to 39 books. I'm sure I can read 11 books over the next four months to reach my projected yearly total of 50.

So, August. I read two David Baldacci thrillers. Absolute Power about an immoral President. And Total Control about the ability of computers as well as the U.S's finances. Both, early works by Baldacci, were excellent,

I read Burning Bright by Nick Petrie. At the beginning main character Peter Ash reads like a poor man's Jack Reacher. A loner, former military type who wanders here and there taking on difficult cases. But it was a great page-turner.

Finally, on the recommendation of Peter at the cottage I read A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It's about a Russian aristocrat sentenced to life, not in prison, but to the attic of a fancy hotel. The concept here as explain…

What's That Smell?

Bob and Henry were archeologists and were on the verge of the discovery of their lives. On the uninhabited island of StickMyFinger Innit they were about to become the first explorers of a giant cave. Who knew what dangers lurked below. Certainly not Bob and Henry.

The two archeologists prepared to descend into the earth's core. They loaded their backs with their equipment and set off.

Almost immediately they were overcome by a powerful smell. It was as if some giant animal had crawled into the cave and died. And the deeper they went the worse the stench became.

Finally Bob turned to Henry and gasped "I don't know if I can go on Henry. That stench is nearly making me unconscious."

"Stench?" said Henry. "I thought it was my asthma!"

The Two Word Tuesday prompt this week was miasma/stench.

To My Amazing Wife on Her Birthday

No need to be concerned
Like they say
It's only a number

And while it may sound trite
It's true
You just get better every day

I am constantly amazed
How such a beautiful, intelligent and poised woman
Can at times be such a little girl

In those time you are so full of wonder, awe and merriment
Be it bunnies in the backyard
Or a family of your duckling friends in the lake at the cottage

It's part of your allure
The depth of caring for all things
But wait, there's more

Your sense of humour knocks me out
And you are never more beautiful
Than when you laugh uncontrollably...usually at your own jokes!

On the serious side
I have observed the tenderness and care you display
In family relationships

You are an amazing daughter to your mother
A loving mother to your son
And a caring aunt to your nephew

Not to mention a devoted wife
Who puts up with my shit
And every day demonstrates her deep love for me

You have changed me
For the better
Because I've learned to give my love …

Ode To Ignorance

"I can't pronounce it let alone put it in a sentence"
Said dufus of lachrymose and so hence
He went back into his teepee
Where he started to get weepy
So decided to do a rain dance

This week's Two Word Tuesday prompt is lachrymose/weepy. And that dufus is one weird weepy guy, don't you think?

What's In A Name (2)

Last week I told you a little story about Convivial, a little girl who made a lot of friends. What I didn't tell you was that she had a little brother named Dack. He had a last name that he didn't like to use: Dick. Dack Dick didn't make many friends. In fact the little boys and girls sniggered at him and his name. That's an interesting word: sniggered. There are many synonyms but I think my favourite is belittle. It really conveys a sense of ridicule which is what the little boys and girls were doing. They were ridiculing poor Dack.

Now Dack wasn't the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer. Another reason the boys and girls would ridicule him. At school he was an average student, pulling down Bs and the odd C. He was content. His parents were content and his sister Convivial was content.

One day in English class the teacher hosted a little game of "What's That Mean?".  She'd mention a word and the class would have to guess another word that meant…

What's In A Name?

When she was born she was such a little bundle of joy that her mother called her Convivial. And the name stuck. And as she grew older Convivial easily made and amassed friends. In fact, birthday parties became almost unmanageable. It was a good thing she was born in August because her birthday celebrations were moved from the backyard to a nearby park just to contain all the guests.

School was another matter entirely. There wasn't a lunch table big enough in the cafeteria to contain all her little buddies. And the school bus? They had to lay on several so that her friends could follow her and ensure she got home safely.

You have never before seen such a sociable child. People would stop her in the street and say to her "My, oh my, you're convivial." To which she'd reply "Why yes I am.' And, thought these people, arrogant as well.

This week's Two Word Tuesday prompt its convivial/sociable. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be too convivial.

My Back Pages - July

Five books this month. Not bad considering I spent the month lazing at the cottage. It brings my yearly total to 35 books.
I began the month with Money For Nothing, an interesting history of the music video industry by Saul Austerlitz who takes things back to the Beatles. It must have been a Beatles month because the next book was a history of the influence of black Americans on popular music called How The Beatles Destroyed Rock and Roll. Elijah Wald's premise is the music was never more popular than when it was performed by white artists.
The next book was Dreaming the Beatles by Rolling Stone columnist Robert Sheffield. In a humorous series of essays Sheffield explains why the Beatles are still important to music and culture nearly 50 years after they broke up. I really enjoyed this one.
Now don't laugh but get the title of the next book I read. Gimme A Show! 50 Years on th Rock and Rollercoaster: An Unauthorized Biography of James Pankow, Trombonist with Chicago. I don…

Befuddled Bob

It was getting worse. The store-bought milk was piling up in the oven. And the fridge was full of toothpaste and shampoo.

Bob and Betty had lived a long and loving life together. They'd been married for 63 years and then last year Betty died. Breast cancer. But she went quickly and for that Bob was grateful.

But since Betty's death Bob turned into a different person. He was alone now. Had no one for companionship or to help with the little things and provide for him. He cooked his own meals. When he remembered to do so.

He had become very forgetful since Betty's death. He'd stopped shaving for example. The children remarked upon it. But of course they had busy lives of their own and didn't have much time to look after their addled father. Think of that song The Cat's In the Cradle" and you'll kind of get the idea.

And so Bob spent most of his days in a daze, if you'll pardon the pun. And for some reason there was no toothpaste or shampoo in the ba…

The Cereal Singer

Little Tommy led a charmed life. An only child he had it made. Pretty much anything he wanted, he got. He loved his parents and was thankful for all they did for him.

So thankful, in fact, that Tommy and his parents went to church every Sunday to thank God for all the good things in their lives. Little Tommy's favourite part of the service was when they sang hymns. Tommy was a good singer for someone so young and he wailed and wailed, his face raised to the ceiling and heaven above.

Tommy knew his parents were very religious because when they got home from church every Sunday they would retreat to the bedroom to pray. Tommy knew this because every once and awhile he'd hear his mother exclaim "Oh God, oh God, Oh God."

Left to his own devices, little Tommy would fix himself some breakfast and reflect on his pitch perfect wailing. In fact, he often continued to sing the hymns he had just sung in church. His favourite breakfast was a new cereal called Pocs. It didn'…

Alone Again, Naturally

Week two of the "great strength of our marriage contest" whereby I spend each week at the cottage Maryse and I have rented while Maryse spends Monday to Thursday in the city working. Don't tell her I said this but I'm lonely. I miss her. And I'm left to my own devices. No not the inflatable doll. I mean I have to do things for myself like wake myself up in the morning, prepare my own meals and so on.

This morning I was up at 5:30. I prepared breakfast, ate it, did the dishes, had my shower, got dressed and drove the garbage down the road to the dump. All before 9am. And all without having somebody tell me to do it. Pretty amazing, eh?

There's no cell service here and no network television. I make do with Netflix and You Tube. Catching up on some classic movies. I watched Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction the other night and Spike Jonze's Adaptation with Nicholas Cage the next night. I should have said classic 90s movies.

My meals are pretty pedestrian…

Sounds

We gathered in the dark. After an evening of several libations with new friends we boarded the pontoon boat for a short trip across the lake. The only sound, apart from our conversation and laughter, and the low speed chugging of the motor, was the call of several loons.

It was our first day at the cottage and the rain had finally let up after falling for most of the day. We were lucky. The fireworks began at 10pm sharp. Mayhem would have ensued if the pyrotechnics had have been cancelled.

I'd never witnessed fireworks on the water before. They exploded noisily in the air but their reflection below was silent.

For twenty minutes the loons had company as the revellers cheered and clapped and the pontoon drivers sounded their horns. We laughed at the solar-powered boat whose horn bleated like a sheep.

The manly toots of the rest of the boats responded to its call. Or perhaps derided it. The loons were silent.


This week's prompt from Tara at Two Word Tuesday is fireworks/mayhem. …

My Back Pages - June

Six books in June raised my yearly total to 30 as I hit the mid-point of the year. I'd say I'm well on track to hit the 50 I estimated for myself for 2017.
As ever my reads were an eclectic bunch beginning with a change of pace called The Road to Jonestown about the charismatic Jim Jones and his followers known as the Peoples Temple. This book by Jeff Guinn was somewhat of a disturbing read. Interestingly the man responsible for the event that gave rise to the phrase "don't drink the kool-aid" didn't even use kool-aid as part of his poisonous mixture but some other fruit drink. Who knew?
My next two books were written by two of my favourite writers Jo Nesbo and Dennis Lehane. Nesbo's 11th instalment in his Harry Hole series The Thirst and Lehane's Since We Fell were both suspenseful reads.
A friend of mine loaned me 8 or 9 books in June and I started reading actual books as opposed to Kindle books on my iPad.
So, having had my fill of novels I switch…

Fearless

This week's Two Word Tuesday prompt is fearless. And I'm lazy. And this is a great song. So there.

Tales From The Supermarket

Bob and Brenda worked in the supermarket. They weren't check-out clerks. And they weren't stock-boys. Brenda sure wasn't. And they weren't employees who worked in the fish section or the deli. No. They were on the shelves.

They hadn't been on the shelves very long but in that short time they'd developed a considerably close friendship.

The chatted all day when the store was busy and at night when the store was closed. They talked about everything. The talked about what raw products they came from. The talked about their manufacturing processes. And they talked about the long routes in semi-trailers that brought them to this store.

Oddly enough the one thing they never made clear to one another was just what product each of them was.

One day when Brenda was commenting on their friendship she told Bob she was grateful for their amity. "Are you Tea?" said Bob, pekoe-ing her way. "I thought I was Tea". You're coffee!"

This week's Tw…

My Back Pages - May

In May I read four books. My yearly total now stands at 23. The Ottawa Senators two playoff series, first with the Rangers and then with the Penguins ate into my reading time as did binge watchIng six seasons of VEEP, one of the funniest series I've ever seen.

I started out the month with two Rex Stout mysteries, Over My Dead Body followed by Where There's a Will, numbers seven and eight in the Nero Wolfe canon. Satisfying reads as always.

Then I moved on to Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman. This was an interesting look at Letterman. I never knew the fella had, according to Zinoman, so many insecurities. I always preferred Letterman over Leno so I enjoyed this account and went all the way with five stars.

I concluded the month with Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I saw the video version was running on Netflix but wanted to read the book before I watched it. I read the 10th anniversary version of the book on Kindle complete with audio excerpts. It was …

Blowing Up

I wasn't going to write a post this week but then I thought that might have provoked a conniption amongst my two or three followers. And if that were to happen I might have had a tantrum.

This week's prompt from Two Word Tuesday is conniption/tantrum. Could you tell?


Double Word Score

Did you ever use the wrong word, thinking it meant something else. Come on now I'm sure I'm not the only one this has happened to.

But I'm damn good at Scrabble. And I don't even have to check the dictionary. When challenged I just speak confidently in a loud voice "Yeah, that's a word, it means..." It's what I do when playing with my wife, especially, who is Francophone and deigns to play in both official languages.

See what I just did there? I misused "deigns". I should have said "who forces me to let her create French AND English words". Now just how do I, an Anglophone, challenge those French words. Well I just have to say I love her and I trust her. She wouldn't cheat. Not like me.

One of the words I've misused up until now is temerity. I used it when I thought someone was timid. I thought temerity meant something like frightened. Who knew? Turns out it means bold or impertinent. A synonym is cheek. No, trust me. I do…

The Latest on Canada/U.S. High-Level Trade Talks

Your esteemed political observer knows why President Pen Pal (all those Executive Orders) has been acting so irrationally. Stick with me here. He wants to rewrite NAFTA with Canada. He almost came so far as to get rid of the deal altogether. He fired the head of the FBI. Many people think , the cynical among you,  that it was because Big Jim was getting too close to the relationship between Russia and the Trump administration. That wasn’t it at all.
Hold your breath. *coughs wildly* Sorry, that’s some good stuff. What I was inhaling, yeah. You see Canada is set to legalize marijuana. We have companies cultivating the plants right now. And there are pot shops already operating in every major city. And some not so major. Canadians hold Prime Minister Trudeau, who promised the legislation as part of his party’selection platform, in extremely high esteem. They don’t call his party Libera for nothing.
Now think about it. How else to explain Donald’s steadfast desire first to tweak, then t…

The Fuss Is On Us

There once were two lads who did scuffle Over a pretty girl. Their feathers she did ruffle She caused fists to fly She had no idea why But it resulted in a three-way... Kerfuffle.
The prompt from Two Word Tuesday is kerfuffle/fuss this week.


The Story of Baby Dinger

Betsy and Bob Dinger were always the object of snide remarks because they had a lot of children. An even twelve - six boys and six girls. Their neighbours said they must have been strong believers in equality and fervent practicing Catholics.

Others said they could run two hockey or basketball teams. Or one soccer or baseball team. And as the children grew that's exactly what Betsy and Bob Dinger did. Although they favoured fielding a baseball team as several of their children were great hitters and were capable of knocking a few family namesakes out of the park - that is to say dingers.

Then one day the unexpected happened. Although after twelve children I guess it shouldn't be unexpected. Betsy was pregnant with child number thirteen.

Dave Dinger, Doug Dinger, Donald Dinger, Dick Dinger, Ducky Dinger, Duane Dinger and their sisters Diane Dinger, Dahlia Dinger, Dakota Dinger, Daisy Dinger, Debbie Dinger and Donna Dinger were going to have a brother or sister.

As summer turne…

My Back Pages - April

I managed to read five books last month raising my year-to-date total to 19 books, pretty much on track towards my estimated 50 books this year.

I started out with a Tom Wolfe novel originally released in the late 90s, A Man In Full. I think this was referenced in something I read in March and I decided to try it out. Taking place in 1990s Atlanta it was an interesting read about business, real estate development and inter-racial relations. I enjoyed it and rated it 4 stars.

Next up was number 21 in the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly, The Wrong Side of Goodbye. In it Harry is charged with hunting down an heir to a an elderly multi-millionaire on his private eye ticket while investigating a series of home invasion rapes for the San Fernando Police Department. A busy man? Yes, but of course he solves both cases with a little help from his half-brother the Lincoln Lawyer. A good read and another 4 stars.

The third book I read this month was Emily Schultz's new novel, Men Wal…

I Put A Spell On You

You might say Samantha was the poster child for empty-nest syndrome. She and her husband Darren had raised three lovely children all of whom had left home over the last several years. Darren still worked so Samantha was left alone in the house all day a prisoner really of her own imagination.

She tried to keep active. Since there were just the two of them there wasn't much need for housework.  She kept things tidy but it didn't require much effort or time. So she filled her days with volunteering and yoga several times a week. And she was always home in time to prepare a nice dinner for Darren.

One day, as she was surfing the net between yoga classes and work at the animal shelter she came across an ad for a pastime she thought might be interesting. Cooking classes. All that was required on her part, oddly enough,  was a dark cloak and a pointy hat. That didn't seem like much for all the friendship and learning that was promised in the ad. Although she was sort of mystifi…

Not Your Father's OCD

She tsk tsked when she emptied the dishwasher. Turns out he hadn't loaded it properly. Not only that but last time he emptied it he apparently emptied it the wrong way. Now how could there be a wrong way to empty the dishwasher you might ask. Well, I'll tell you.

When he loaded it he placed the knives in the back right hand corner of the cutlery rack. He placed the forks at the left front and the spoons in the empty spaces in between. Wrong she said. The knives go at the front left. The forks at the back left and the spoons on the right. Now if that wasn't enough to magnify his faults in loading the dishwasher, she barred him from loading it in the future in addition to emptying it.

Turns out he unloaded the cutlery first, then the middle drawer with glasses and finally the bottom drawer with plates and bowls which for her was wrong. She redoubled her criticism barring him from unloading the dishwasher. The proper way she said was the bottom drawer of plates first, then t…

That's My Name Don't Wear It Out

As a baby she was colicky. She cried for hours on end. The middle of the night. The middle of the day. It didn't matter. She always, always cried. She was a very unpleasant baby. And so her mother named her Shirley but often called her by her apropos nickname, Surly.

And surly she was. She had few manners. Rarely said please and thank-you. Had a habit of talking back.

By the time she started school she was no better. She was a handful for the teachers. She made few friends. She rarely paid attention. And when her mother asked her what she learned at school on any given day, she barked "nothing". And that was that.

So Surly was surly right into her high school years. But one day she met a boy. She saw him on the other side of the cafeteria. He was handsome. Unlike Surly he was surrounded by other students and they were all chatting and laughing, social skills Surly didn't possess. Then he walked by. Their eyes met. He said hi. Surly said the first thing that came to …

I Do

It was noon. The sun shone brightly in the sky. Birds chirped merrily in the trees. The sounds of traffic drifted up from the street. George picked up his keys and headed for the apartment door. This was a special day. Perhaps the most special day of his life to date. Today was the day he would ask Georgina to marry him. Georgina was his girlfriend. French. From France.

He'd covered all the bases. He'd bought the ring, a bouquet of flowers and a set of knee pads. If she said "no" at least they'd have a good laugh over the knee pads. If she said yes they'd remember him down on his knees this day forever.

He grabbed everything, locked the apartment door and descended the stairs. The restaurant was nearby so he decided to walk. As he waited on the corner for the light to change he thought of spending the rest of his life with Georgina. Not that he was being presumptuous but he had a good sense she felt the same way too. He was sure it was kismet. And besides wi…

10

10? Yes 10!  Not that my blog looks anything like Bo Derek - well, except for today. And Bo Derek graces my blog in her iconic role because nonamedufus turns 10 today. That's right. It was 10 years ago this month when I first waded into the blogosphere. I started out using the blog to update family and close friends on my battle with cancer. I'm happy to say that 10 years later not only is my blog still here but so am I.
Some of my friends weren't so lucky. And I can think of three blogging buddies in particular who passed on. Donnie Kingery of Beyond Left Field from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Sandie Bigler, otherwise known as Quirkyloon I miss you guys a lot. Gone too soon as they say.

But I keep on keeping on. Over 3,000 posts. Over 1,150,000 page views - that's a lot of visitors.

But blogging just isn't the same as it used to be. At the height of my popularity as a humour blogger I'd generate 20-30 comments per post. Now I can count my commenters on one hand…

My Back Pages

I made it through three books in March. Doesn't sound like much but two of them were quite lengthy.

I started out with #22 in the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan series True Faith and Allegiance. Written by Mark Greaney. At over 700 pages it took a while to get through but it was in the true Clancy still and elicited a 5 star rating.

Next up was one of the most entertaining and informative books I've read in some time. Richard Ben Cramer's What It takes: The Way to the Whitehouse is a comprehensive, in-depth look at the 1988 American election. His sweeping study covers contenders George Bush, Robert Dole, Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart, Joe Biden and Dick Gephardt, among others. Referred to as a cross between Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson, Cramer's research here is exhaustive. At over 1000 pages if you'e a political junkie like I am you want this on your bookshelf. Another 5 star rating.

I closed out the month with Dennis Lehane's 5th in the Kenzie and Gennaro private det…

Just Don't Poop

Mrs Dufus and I were watching our daily post-dinner fare on the big screen last night when after being bombarded by ads for Robillard Hearing Aids (Hi Julia! - it's a local thing), Chip Reverse Mortgages and Acorn Stair Lifts I turned and remarked "you know, I think only old people watch TV these days". It seems all the ads are aimed at people of my advanced age, and older. Well, except for the local radio ads that pump out formats of millennium musical miss-mash. God I'm old.

And then I reflect on just where I'm at. Let's see, chemo, renal diet, daily weight and blood pressure readings, taking my blood sugar three time a day for my diabetes. hearing aids, endless pills in the morning and at night, etc., etc, etc.

So maybe those ads are targeted at me. Not Mrs D 'cause she's not as old as I am - she keeps reminding me.

It's gotten to the point I've seen those Stair Lift ads so often I can almost recite them from memory. In fact I like to talk…

What's Cooking?

Fidel was not only a gourmet but also a bit of a gourmand. He loved food. And he let everybody know it. In fact, at least once a week he'd host a dinner party and invite friends over to impress them with his mastery in the kitchen but also at the table. This show of largesse was on top of his day job as a renowned chef at one of the city's better restaurants.

But Fidel was all that and more. Not only could he cook up a storm but he always knew what side dishes, desserts and wines best went with his meals.

Of course his friends loved Fidel and felt privileged to be invited to share in his culinary creations.  So impressed, his friends pledged their troth to Fidel, promising never to eat the food of any other chef in the city. And this made Fidel very, very happy.

One week, following a lavish and mouth-watering multi-course dinner and several bottles of appropriately paired wines everyone helped clear away the dishes to make room for dessert and a liqueur.

When one of the diner…

A Scintilla Of A Pun

Peter and Mary met at Bible school. They were in love. Deeply in love. But as in many new relationships Peter wanted to take things to a deeper level - nudge, nudge, wink, wink - but Mary wasn't ready to go there.

"Oh, Peter" she'd say when things would start to get hot and heavy "that would be a sin."

And Peter would back off. "Sin schwin" Peter thought (a good Christian Peter didn't swear and instead took a bicycle's name in vain.) "just when are things gonna change?"

This went on for some time. But Peter was persistent.

Peter would come on at the drive-in but Mary would say "Peter, that would be a sin."

They'd go for walks in the park at night but "Oh, Peter, that would be a sin."

On a deserted beach. Oh, Peter, that would be..."

On the couch when they were alone. "Oh, Peter, that..."

And Peter got the hint. Mary was caving. When she protested but ever so mildly "Wouldn't that b…

The Needle And The Damage Done

That's my right forearm. It's purple. I have a left one the very same. That's some serious bruising. Why? No, Mrs. D. and I didn't trade blows although it kinda looks like it. No, I have the nurses at the Ottawa General Hospital to thank for it.

Every week I have an appointment at the hospital's Medical Day Care Unit for chemotherapy. But while I show up my veins often don't. Maybe they're scared. I would be too after all the poking and prodding. The chemo is intravenous and that means a needle into a vein. More often than not however it takes several attempts to find one.

You know how they say "third time's a charm"? In my case they say fourth or fifth time. And each miss results in a piece of gauze and several strips of tape over the failed attempt. By the time I'm done I've used up a significant portion of the hospital's tape allowance.

Just as an aside, I think nurses as a rule take a special course in tape usage. They're …

The World According to Jean

Canada is blessed with two main all news networks, CTV News Channel and CBC News Network. In my house we have a third called the Jean Network. The Jean Network is a term I've affectionately given our handy man Jean who is doing some work for us around the house. I haven't told him this though.

Jean is a personable guy, sociable might be a better word, very sociable, and informed. He spends all day listening to talk radio while he's working so he's up there on the latest news.

I say news but it started with the weather. We've had a considerable dump of snow lately and the temperature's been extremely cold. How cold? Don't worry. Jean will tell me when he arrives for work each day.

Ans he's the one that told me about the multi-car pileup on the 401 and the even multier (new word alert) car pileup on the Quebec Highway where people actually had to be taken to hospital with frostbite after being rescued from their cars. And I learned from the Jean Network …