Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME





This photo, taken several years ago, epitomizes the diverse culture and beauty of Western Newfoundland.




If this isn't the perfect advertising photo for Yamaha, Polaris, Molson Canadian, and Player's, not to mention her specs and the beautiful Newfoundland scenery in the background, then I don't know what is.

JESSIE TEMPLAR - THE LITTLE SHOP OF FLOWERS

About a month after the Valentine’s Day party, Jessie started to come around. She had been quite smitten by the blond Australian, and had let her emotions get the best of her and bring her down.  The fiasco at the party was a real bummer, as Rose so eloquently put it; sometimes things are just too good to be true.

Today seemed a bit brighter as Jessie, Rose, and Denise rummaged through the Easter decorations. The St. Patrick’s Day d├ęcor had been tossed into a box and put into the storage room until next year. St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t a great day for sales, but the girls liked to decorate, and the store was their home away from home more than a place of work, so at every holiday they decorated, with gusto.

It was a slow morning and the delivery truck hadn’t come on schedule. Denise seemed to be distracted and spoke up. “I wonder where Randall is; he should have been here two hours ago.”

Jessie checked her watch. “Yah, he is a bit late, maybe stuck in traffic or something, or, there’s a problem with the tulips I ordered. Oh, shoot, I hope not, we need those for the Scouts drive this week.”

Jessie’s supplier was Sheridan Nurseries in Mississauga, and she received a shipment every day except Saturday and Sunday. Randall had been the delivery guy since she started working at the store, even before she owned it; she was quite fond of Randall; he was professional, always on time, and she never had any broken product.

Just then, the phone rang. “Hello,” said Rose. She shook her head no, not Randall.

“So how are things going between you two?” Jessie asked Denise.

“Great. He’s really very nice, a gentleman, you know, not many of those guys around. And he does the sweetest things.”

“Oh, yah. Like what kinds of things.”

“Well, the other day we were at Toys-R-Us—he was looking for a toy for his nephew—and there was this kid who wanted his mom to buy him a remote control truck. Well, when Randall saw the look on that little boy’s face after his mother told him she didn’t have the money for that, he went up to her and asked her if he could buy it for him. Do you believe that? I didn’t know what was happening. One minute Randall’s beside me and the next he’s at the cashier with the toy truck and the boy in his arms!”

“Really? And the boy’s mother didn’t think that was weird?” Jessie’s eyes bulged.

“That’s the thing about it, though, she thought it was the kindest act in the world. That’s how charming he is.”

“Wow. That’s… wow.” Jessie didn’t know what to say. “So, he likes kids then?” Jessie shot Denise a smirk.

Denise laughed. “Now, listen here, you, I’m not ready for babies. Not yet, anyway.” They laughed.

“Yah, but it’s good to know, right?” Jessie smiled. Her eyes were bright.

“It’s good to see you smiling again,” Denise said.

When rose was done with the phone order, they concentrated on the decorations and got the store looking Spring-ish and festive. They each had their lunch break and the day went by with business as usual.

Around 4pm the delivery truck finally pulled up right outside the front door. All three girls stopped what they were doing and watched as the driver got out and entered.

“I have an order, should I just bring it in?” he said.

“Our delivery door is out back, you need to pull into the alley behind the dumpsters to the left of the building,” Denise said. She cast a confused glance at Jessie and Rose.

“Where is our regular driver?” Jessie said.

“He called in sick,” he said, as he turned around and walked out the door.

“He was fine this morning,” Denise said. “He’s not answering his phone; it’s not like him, something’s wrong.”

“Rose, could you get the delivery please.” Jessie said.

“Yah, sure, you guys figure it out.” She went to the back door to deal with the delivery guy.

“Something’s not right, Jess.”

“Do you have his work number? Maybe someone can tell us something more.”

“Yes, okay.” Denise rummaged through her purse for her cell phone and speed-dialed Randall’s place of work.

“Yes, hello, I’m trying to get ahold of Randall. Our delivery guy just informed us that he called in sick. I’m his girlfriend and I’m worried something has happened to him since he is not answering his cell phone. Can you tell me anything, please?”

There was a long silence as Denise listened to the person on the other end of the conversation. Denise nodded several times and shot Jessie a few worried looks.

“Alright, thank you so much for your help.”

“Randall’s in the hospital.”

“What? Oh, my, what happened?”

“They don’t really know. Apparently, he was in early, reviewed his schedule, loaded his truck, and then started the day. A few hours later, he called the office, and the lady on the phone said he was babbling incoherently. She got his location from the truck’s GPS signal and sent someone out to check on him. When the guy got there he was passed out in the back of his truck, barely breathing. The guy couldn’t bring him to and called an ambulance. He’s at Scarborough Hospital.”

Denise’s face turned an awful shade of grey and Jessie thought for a moment she was going to faint. Jessie pulled her in close in a bear hug trying to comfort her.

“Okay, I’ll drive you, Rose can handle things here. Just sit for a moment, try not to panic.”

Denise sat and took a deep breath. Jessie went to the back to tell Rose what was going on. Minutes later they were on the 401 driving to Scarborough with rush hour traffic just beginning. An hour and half later, they entered Scarborough General and inquired at reception.

“Denise!”

Denise turned at the sound of her name. It was Lou, Randall’s sister.

“Oh, Lou, what’s going on? I’ve been so worried, I couldn’t get ahold of him all day, then the delivery guy comes and tells us he’s sick.” Denise rambled on and told Lou about what the lady at Sheridan had said.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t have your cell number and I couldn’t think of what the flower shop was called. I just got here myself, traffic’s a bitch. They haven’t told me anything yet, they are still doing tests.”

“Whatever it was, it came on fast.” Denise said. “I stayed at this place last night and I left him in perfect health this morning. I don’t understand.”

Lou led the girls to the waiting area and they sat and waited, speculated.

“I’ll go get us some tea. It’ll help calm our nerves,” Jessie said. She was about to get up when the sound of sliding doors got her attention. When she turned around a doctor was coming out, flipping through the chart in his hand.

“Mrs. Priddle?” he said.

“Yes.” Lou stood up to greet the doctor and they all circled him with a slew of questions.

The doctor put his hand up and they quieted. “He’s stable. He was barely breathing when he came in so right now he’s breathing through a ventilator. We’re still waiting on test results. You cannot see him at this time. What I need right now is information: What kind of job does he have? Was he ill this morning? How’s his health? Does he have a medical condition?

Jessie, Denise, and Lou answered as best they could. When the doctor finished entering notes, he went back through the sliding doors. Jessie went to get the tea as Denise and Lou sat silently.

Back at The Little Shop of Flowers, Rose was quite busy with customers, phone orders, and putting away the delivery. Closing time came quickly and she was glad to finally lock the door and turn on the florescent CLOSED sign. She had to rearrange things in the fridge in order to store the tulips. She was just putting the last of the tulips in the fridge when she felt a sharp pain in her forearm. When she looked down at her arm, a brown colored spider scrambled into the bunch of tulips she still held.  The scream to awake the dead came as the tulips fell to the floor. She jumped back away from them and headed for the nearest chair.

“Oh, my Lord! Sweet chili peppers! Where the heck are you, you disgusting, vile, beast!” Rose stood on the chair with her eyes glued to the flowers. Nothing moved. She remained still while the bite on her arm throbbed.  She waited. Five minutes—nothing. Ten minutes—nothing. Fifteen minutes—movement. It came out, slowly at first, then it made its way across the floor to the heater. Rose slowly took a small glass jar and made her way toward it.

“Gotcha!”

Rose managed to get the jar over it before it reached the heater. She took the cover and slipped it under the jar. She screwed on the lid and placed it on the counter. As she looked at the eight-legged monster, goose bumps formed on her body and the hair on the back of her head stood on end. Then everything went black as she fell to the floor.

“Rose! Rose!” Alex was gently shaking Rose, trying to wake her. Her face was pale and she was barely breathing. He called an ambulance and waited.

As the doctor was informing the girls of Randall’s current condition, Jessie’s phone rang. “Hi, Rose, how are things? Have you closed shop yet?”

“Jess, it’s me, Alex. I just showed up—Rose and I had a date tonight. Jess, I found her passed out on the floor. She’s got a huge bite on her arm and she’s got a big spider in a jar on the counter—she must have caught it before she passed out. I called an ambulance.”

“Oh, shit,” Jessie said, “is she alright?” Jessie grabbed Denise’s arm. She got the group’s attention and they listened as Jess spoke into the phone.

“She’s barely breathing. It must have just happened.”

“Alex, I’m at Scarborough Hospital. I’m here with Denise. Randall is here. He collapsed earlier this morning. The doctor is saying that they found bite marks on the back of his neck. Alex, that spider could be the key. I’ll meet you at Brampton Civic. Bring that jar with you. Take care of our girl.”

“I will, and I’ll lock up, don’t worry.” Alex assured Jessie he would take care of Rose.

Jessie hung up and turned to the doctor. “Rose got bit by a spider and she caught the thing before she collapsed. Alex got there just in time. The ambulance is on the way.”

“Rose?” the doctor said.

Jessie and Denise explained.

“Did he say what kind of spider it was?” the doctor said.

“No, but he is bringing it to the hospital with him.” Jessie said.

“Okay, I’ll get in touch with them and I’ll let you know what I find out.” He seemed hopeful and hurried back through the sliding doors.

“A spider bite, could it be?” Denise looked at Jessie.

“That would explain a lot.” Lou said.

“So, will you be okay here while I head up to see Rose?” Jessie sighed. “What a mess.”

Lou and Denise told Jessie to go, while they waited there.

Later that night, in that quiet time after midnight, Alex and Rose witnessed the doctor administering the antidote.

The spider was identified as a Hobo spider, indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. Jessie knew that Sheridan Nurseries ordered from a company in Abbotsford, BC. The spider must have caught a ride with the shipment of tulips. Randall was bitten, but he probably didn’t think anything of it, and got weaker as time went on. Luckily, he was able to call for help, before passing out.

“All we can do now is wait,” the doctor said. He took Rose’s vitals and checked the IV before leaving the room.   

Jessie eyed the bandage on Rose’s arm. She wondered how Randall was.

“I’ll be back in a minute—I’m going to call Denise to see how Randall is doing.”

Alex nodded.

When Jessie came back into the room she relayed the news to Alex. The antidote had been given to him and they were waiting. Randall was worse than Rose, he had been exposed longer.

“Alex, if you hadn’t shown up when you did, Rose would be using the ventilator, too.”

“I know, I know.” He took a deep breath and got up to stretch his legs.

“I’m going to close my eyes for a bit.” Jessie sat in one of the two recliners and pulled a blanket up to her chin.

Alex held Rose’s hand and gently hummed the tune that was playing when they first met at the Valentine party.

When Jessie awoke, Rose and Alex were gazing in each other’s eyes. “Oh, get a room, will ya?” Jessie joked. She got up and looked down at Rose; her color had returned to normal. However, she was a bit flushed.

“How ya feeling?”

“My arm feels like it’s burning right off,” she said.

“I’ll get the doctor.”

“The nurse is gone to find him,” Alex said.

Jessie’s phone rang. She put Denise on speaker and she and Alex were delighted to hear that Randall’s vitals were back to normal and he was off the ventilator. The antidote was working. It was only a matter of time before he awoke, too.


Two weeks later, Lou had a dinner party and welcomed the whole gang. Rose and Randall had made a full recovery, although the scars hadn’t fully healed, and probably wouldn’t for some time. Both Randall and Rose were compensated for their pain and suffering from Exemplar Horticulture, the company who had supplied the poisonous tulips. The incident was unprecedented and a more strict process would be undertaken to ensure that nothing like that would ever happen again. And Jessie had closed the store for a few days and had the entire place fumigated, just to make sure. 


Saturday, March 21, 2015

CAVENDISH, PEI



If you are planning a summer vacation this year but aren't sure of where to go, then perhaps you should try the quaint province of PEI.

A few years ago, my son and I visited Cavendish, along with my cousin and her family. We stayed at the wonderful Swept Away Cottages on the north shore, which had all we needed for a fantastic stay including a fire pit and propane barbecue. It was like a home away from home as it had everything you could possibly need. The hot tub and swimming pool were great, as well as the play area for kids. 

We visited Shining Waters Family Fun Park, Sandspit Amusement Park, The Haunted House, and Avonlea Village. So many restaurants to choose from as well as lobster dinners. And the boardwalk had so many great stores with a great assortment of local crafts and just down the street was an internet cafe. 

The red sand beach was amazing, and at the white sand beach it was like we were down south somewhere because it was so beautiful that day and the place was crowded. 

We had a great vacation with lots to do and so much to see.



































Friday, March 20, 2015

FROM A BOY TO A MAN

Last week my son had his braces removed after 2 and half years. The results were amazing, although his teeth were not bad to begin with. He smiled so much that day that by the end of it his jaws were sore.

After the orthodontist removed the braces and cleaned his teeth, he took numerous pictures for the file. We all sat there in awe as we studied each photo. I had to choke back the tears as I looked at the pictures that were taken in the very beginning. It wasn’t the sight of his straight pearly whites that got me going, but the change in his physical appearance.

When we got home, he went to his room to share the news with his friends via cell; I poured myself some tea and sat on the sofa wondering where those 2 and half years went and how he got so damn big.

He was soon to be 12 when the metal went into his mouth. There were no signs of puberty at the time. His voice was as girly as ever, his hair was kept longer, and he was a little chunky. He stayed close to me and was still depending on me for love and support. Somewhere in those 2 and half years he turned into a young man. His voice has deepened, his hair is kept neat and short, and he is slimmer, and taller than I am. Facial hair is being shaved off (I don’t know when that started happening), his chest has broadened, his shoulders have widened, and he is more responsible, mature, and private – he closes his bedroom door, but I can hear him in there talking to girls. He doesn’t cling to me anymore, but still depends on me for love and support, although not in the same way.
  
“Mom, take me to the mall. Ma, get me a drink. Ma, where’s my allowance?” This is my love and support. Gone are the days when I sat on the floor with him playing Little People farm house.  Gone are the days when we went shopping to the mall and eating french fries at Zellers restaurant. Gone are the days when I read to him while he snuggled close to me under the blankets before going to sleep.

Not only was he a good child, but he was a good baby as well: very pleasant, rarely cranky, never unmanageable. Perhaps I was lucky, perhaps all those psychology books I read made a difference, perhaps it was because I just loved him so damn much that he grew to be an intelligent, wonderful, loving, kind-hearted, fun, loyal individual, with a great sense of humor and respect for others. (Yes, he has my bad qualities too, but there is more good than bad.) I know that he will continue to grow into a respectable, hard-working, successful person because I’ve seen how he copes, how he adapts, and how he conquers the difficult things in his life.

I miss that baby who wrapped his little arms around my neck. I miss that toddler who always woke up happy after an afternoon nap. I miss that pre-schooler who loved Play-doh, Boohbahs, and Treehouse. I miss that little boy who took my hand while crossing the street. All I have left of those times are photos and memories. Where did the time go? I ask myself, but as soon as I look at my son, I realize where it went, and I wouldn’t wish that time back for the world.

He’s at another chapter in his life, as I am in another chapter in mine. His first year at high school has brought on other challenges, such as peer pressure, but I’m sure he’ll make it through. I’ve always helped him solve his problems by giving him several solutions and letting him choose the best way. Pretty soon he’ll be in university, making more difficult choices about his future and living it up at the same time. All I want is for him to be happy and content with his life, with his choices, and have small regrets. And if he tells his own children that he had a happy childhood and that he grew up in a loving and caring home, without criticism and judgment, then I will die a happy mother, knowing that I did at least one thing right in this world.

“Ma! Can we go get Popeye’s?!”  

I finish the last bit of tea in my cup and I wipe the tears from my eyes. 




September 2012






September 2013




Elementary Graduation Day, June, 2014




July 2014






July 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

THE SHADOW OF HIM IN HER EYES


Sometimes, while browsing and perusing blogs, I come across something that really speaks to me: a photograph that captures something familiar from my past, a portrait with eyes that see into my soul, or someone's words that keep me up at night. The following is an example of such. Copied with permission. 







A POEM BY JAMISON



can't look back
at what we were

i still don't understand it

can't think of you
and where we stood

i still can't face it

was i the bad one
the whole time?

did i not give you
every chance to be mine?

could your heart
ever truly turn

from the thought
of her
to the reality
of me?

how could i have
shown you
all i had

and still not see

that you never looked
at me

as any more
than a distraction

of the pain
you left behind



Please visit her site for more provoking prose. Click on any link below.







Tuesday, March 10, 2015

WOULD YOU LIKE COCKROACHES WITH YOUR NOODLES?



I stood in line at the buffet counter at the Ocean’s Fresh Food Market at 410/7 plaza on a Friday night, waiting to get some fried wings for my son. The service was pretty fast even though the line was long. I patiently waited and listened while some customer ahead of me commented on the Friday night crowd. I just smiled. 

When my turn came, I ordered the fried wings and some steamed rice with lemon chicken. While I was waiting for the person to hand me my bag of food, I glanced at some of the pre-packaged food on the counter. My eyes grew wide as I spied a huge cockroach crawling across the plastic wrapping of a package of spring rolls. I stepped back. The lady who had been in front of me was called to claim her bag of food and when she leaned in to grab her food, I put my arm out, “Watch out!” I almost screamed. 

She looked at me and I kind of just “pointed” my eyes in the direction of the cockroach and she gasped. That got the attention of the lady in front of her and she looked at me and I looked at her and I also gave her the “follow my eyes” look. Now, you would think that we would have just walked out of the store, but we didn’t. As a matter of fact, the lady who was in front of me told her daughter to pretend like she didn’t see that! She just took her bag and got in line to pay, so did the lady before her, and so did I.

Now, when I see a cockroach I want to heave. In my opinion, those things are the dirtiest, most disgusting bugs in the insect world. And I regularly spray my home and take preventative measures so that I don’t ever see one of those things climbing in my cupboards.

Everyone knows Chinese have their own way of handling food. I mean, have you seen the meat counter? They don’t care about cockroaches or bugs or bacteria. I have heard about people getting food poisoning after ingesting meat bought at Ocean’s. Also, the meat comes from downtown Toronto… no need to say more. 

But seeing cockroaches in food stores such as this one is not the issue here. The real issue is our incredible knack of looking the other way. In almost every facet of our lives, we have learned to look the other way. We see someone being mistreated, we mind our own business; we see someone litter, we ignore it; we see gross negligence and ignorance everywhere these days, but we have grown immune. We seem to think that if we pretend not to see something then it isn’t there; we are very selective, it’s part of our survival mechanism; we don’t find trouble and, we pray, trouble doesn’t find us.  

Okay, so we saw a cockroach, maybe we’ll eat one in our noodles; the world is not perfect; people are not perfect. I hear this kind of thing all the time and it just sounds like an excuse to me. Yes, I agree we are not perfect, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t strive for perfection, strive for better service, better quality of work, better products, and better quality of life. 

I thought about these things on the drive home and when I got home, I took the bag and threw it in the dumpster. I figure, I have to start somewhere, and after I told my son what happened, he was glad I did what I did.