Category Archives: Change

Bowlerama

There’s a bowling alley in a strip mall near my house.

Or at least there was.

The strip mall is no longer. It has been devoured by a colossal hole, which will serve as the foundation for a new building. By its scale and scope (not to mention depth), the size of the work crew and the recently mounted cranes now there, I’m guessing an office building or (more likely) a condo.

Lots of condos in this city.

I haven’t done much bowling in my life. A few get-togethers with friends, a birthday party or two. A school trip once – a reward for good behaviour and nice (but not spectacular) grades. Five pins and ten; big balls and small.

I never went to the strip mall, let alone the bowling alley in the strip mall. The street was always seemed too busy to cross, and the strip mall didn’t have a convenience store or coffee place or restaurant. Nothing to entice someone out, say, for a mid-day stroll.

But I always liked the idea of having a bowling alley near me and that it was in the strip mall (a rather odd though innocuous thing to have in the neighbourhood, and therefore not without its own charm), and, admiring it from afar, I thought I might go someday. The hole reminded me of all that and confronted me with the fact that it’s too late for any of it.

Come to think of it, I actually never really ever enjoyed bowling, good grades or no. The lighting, the sound of constant thudding. Those shoes… Not that I begrudge anyone those things. Besides, not liking something is not the same as hating it. Nice enough, but not spectacular. Good to think on.

Then again. My friend lived in a condo that had a bowling alley as one of its amenities. The two are not mutually exclusive. Maybe it’s not too late after all.

This is probably the most time I’ve ever spent talking about bowling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Change, City Life, Entertainment, Friends, Hobbies, Places

The Dogs Fault

Dogs come and dogs go.

Lou, our beloved, slightly deranged 14-year-old dachshund, will leave us soon. His health is poor; his quality of life declining with each passing day.

But this story is about mostly Toby, my aunt’s 4-year-old maltase mix. That’s 28 in dog years, for those of you contemplating the math. 28 to Lou’s 98. Quite the disparity; quite the gap to mind.

Louis and Toby lived together, as brothers, for three glorious days (or maybe the relationship was closer to great old uncle and weird little nephew). My aunt gave Toby to us because she was recovering from an illness and believed she couldn’t handle the all the work a dog entails. Dogs are, admittedly, a lot of work.

We picked Toby up from her house with Lou in tow to make sure they’d get along.

No fights. Lou remained largely indifferent to Toby, much to Toby’s disappointment.

That night, the texts and emails began.

Hello Cindy! How is Toby? Can you send me pictures? I am sure he will be happy with you because you are young and can take him to the park and for walks and things.  

Hello Cindy! Did he cry in the car on the way to your house? I hope he ate all his food.  

Hello Cindy! Did Toby sleep well last night?  

Hello! You took the dogs out walking together! Did Toby have a good time? 

Hello! Did Toby eat his food this morning? How much did he eat?

Hi! Is Toby still OK? How are his eyes?

Hello Cindy!

Hello!

Hello Cindy!

Hi!

Hello, Hello, Hello!

On and on it went. I was inundated. I have never been quite so inundated before, in my life, ever.

Finally, a phone call on the third day: “Auntie, do you want Toby back?”

She came the following afternoon, a stressful trip as I had inadvertently gave her my old house number instead of my new one and she had to stop at more than a few gas stations and ask to use their phones because she doesn’t have cell phone and didn’t have any change in her pocket but then she couldn’t reach me because my cell was acting up and didn’t receive any of her phone calls until, finally and all at once, it did.

But that is another story.

And although Toby seemed to have settled rather nicely into his new life at our place, he was as overjoyed to see my aunt as she was to have him back in her life. Lou, as ever, remained totally unaffected.

End of story.

Except.

A month later my mom told me that Toby had taken ill. Addison’s disease. He needed emergency surgery and will be on various medications for the rest of his life in order to manage this otherwise debilitating condition.

“Your poor auntie,” said my mom. “But lucky you. You see?” It was, to her, all a matter of simple fact and she let it die right then and right there.

Not so for me.

You see? See what? What did that mean, you see?

That you shouldn’t give something away unless you are sure you don’t want it back? That fate, it seems, can intervene and undermine even the best of intentions? That Mom Knows Best?

Whatever happened, it’s not the dog’s fault. The dogs are blameless. As far as I know, Toby is doing well (better, at least, then poor Lou), but the medications are expensive and my aunt is not sure how much longer she will be able to afford them.

Still, it’s not his fault. After everything, he is totally without blame, completely without fault and actually there was never a need to exonerate him, ever, was there?

He didn’t do anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Change, Death, Dogs, Family, Pets, Relationships, Time

Big, Little

The hedge encircling our house was a world onto itself, a network of tunnels and hidden places we scurried and hid in like rabbits. It was a refuge, a hideout, our shared headquarters. It went on and on, right around the house and into forever.

That was years ago. Years and years, the kind you can put into groups of five or ten and count on off. Our house, a squat three bedroom bungalow, was at the bottom of a hill, right at the dead end street behind which the train tracks that ran. Not exactly prime real estate, but then I never minded the trains (freight, never passenger), and missed them after we moved away.

Next door was our neighbour the hunter, and his pack of three walker/beagle hounds. Across the street was the family whose kids we feuded with on and off and whose grandmother had a pug. We also feuded (again, on and off) with the next door neighbour’s kids, three girls (but not one for each dog, as I’d assumed. The dogs were their father’s dogs and his alone).

Later, the next door neighbour acquired a chihuahua, which had puppies after he “accidentally” let it out loose in the neighbourhood with my aunt’s chihuahua. There were three or four of them, I could never keep track.

He named one of the tiny dogs Rambo. He never offered my aunt any of the puppies. As mad as she was about it, she still let her dog roam the neighbourhood untethered after the fact so it’s hard to feel indignant on her behalf.

***

I check in from time to time, on the old house, the old neighbourhood, despite myself.

The hedge has been removed, pulled out from the ground, roots and all, and replaced by a sagging wire fence (maybe it wasn’t always sagging…I have just only ever seen it sagging). The space the fence occupies, once enormous, seems so small now as to have been frankly impossible. Perhaps it shrank? Or maybe it just atrophied in memory.

The bungalow – somehow even squattier now and dingy in spots (the once white brick, the once gleaming windows) where I remember it had been pristine – has been split into two (of all things, lengthwise), and has been remade into a rental property with faded patio furniture in the driveway (at last glance, three off-white plastic chairs and an overturned table).

Other things, too, have changed.

The houses up the street have been bought up by the city and are in various stages of being torn down so that the street can be widened and a new, modernized transit system can be put into place – in this case, a light rail transit system and not, as I’d initially assumed, a monorail. Pity.

Some years ago, our next door neighbour died (in his basement), as did the man across the street (in his sleep), although that one is more recent. A coma and then a recovery and then that singular twist of fate that took him out of the picture.

The dogs, naturally, are all dead too. Rambo included.

My aunt gave away her dog soon after she had children. Be it shame or indifference or something more or light banal or benign, she never mentions him. It is as if he never existed, as if none of it ever happened.

Like none of us were ever there at all.

 

 

 

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Filed under Change, Childhood, Death, Dogs, People, THE PAST

Favourite

I have an aunt who would ask me all the time, “Am I your favourite?”

I have a lot of aunts. She wanted, it seems, to stand out distinguished among them.

(Though there are a lot of aunts, they are not interchangeable, but the issue seems to be hers exclusively.)

As time passed, the questioned changed:

“Who’s your favourite?”

And changed again:

“I’m your favourite, right?”

Until, finally:

“Tell them who your favourite is.”

“No,” “Why,” “I don’t know” did not deter her from asking her question, and neither did “Yes.”

“Yes,” as you can see, was what led to further questions until the inevitable “tell them.”

(NOTE: “I don’t have a favourite,” was met with disbelief and scorn, and also the equally predictable demands for a “real” answer. Demands for “the truth.”)

The truth is this: I no longer speak to that aunt. Not anymore than I have to, anyway. Which is to say not a lot. Which is to say not much.

Funny now, looking back on things. Funny the lengths we go through, the trouble and expense, to define something for others on behalf of ourselves.

Among other things, “favourite” means “chosen”, “preferred”, and “cherished.”

No longer speaking to my aunt is my choice, it is my preference and something I have come to cherish.

My favourite.

 

 

 

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Filed under Change, Family, Relationships, THE PAST, Words

General Improvements

  1. A system of pneumatic tubes.
  2. Better snacks (healthy or otherwise).
  3. Gobstoppers!
  4. More dogs.
  5. A little less blame and a lot more slack.
  6. Keep it to 90 minutes or less.
  7. Make it optional…informed, but optional.
  8. Fire him already.
  9. Polish it.
  10. Yes to no.
  11. Unlimited dipping sauce.
  12. No time limits despite expiration dates.
  13. Your face.
  14. Still more dogs.
  15. SMOOTH LINES.
  16. Better coffee.
  17. Let it play out first.
  18. Just ignore it sometimes.
  19. Portable numbing agents.
  20. A cat or two. Or three.
  21. To the left, to the left.
  22. Now goes to 11!
  23. Prioritize those odd numbers.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Dogs, Entertainment, Food, Movies, Thrift, Time

Frequency

If it wasn’t for the radio, I’d never be introduced to new music (new and new to me “new”).

What is this a sign of? Advancing age? The times?

If I am listening to the radio, I am likely in the car (the stations are pre-set from the previous owner so I just mash at them till I find something that I like or don’t dislike). Or I’m at the office. Or someone else’s office, the doctor’s, say, or the dentist’s.

But offices tend towards Top 40, which to the untrained ear (mine) sound like one long indistinguishable song with commercials jammed in at prescribed intervals.

Or they play “oldies,” the criteria for which are becoming increasingly arbitrary with time (like 50’s “Oldies”, 90s “Throwbacks”?). No help there, not for the uninitiated.

At my previous office, they played talk radio and podcasts. Even less help there. For all I know, they’re playing such things still. No music. No new (or “new”) music.

As for me, I will continue to experience new music as it comes, one song at a time, one car ride at any given time…

Unless I hook up the Bluetooth – which of course I will – with my playlist of exactly 8 songs, circa 2003.

 

 

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Filed under Change, Jobs, Music, Pop Culture, Transportation

Things I Learned Last Week

  1. Dried out grapefruit is still grapefruit, but not great grapefruit.
  2. Semi-identical twins!
  3. Sometimes the weather really is all there is to talk about.
  4. If you put a dinosaur on it, I will buy it.
  5. More lemon water please!
  6. Take care of your cast iron and it will take care of you.
  7. Beware the jerks (but no need to fret over them).
  8. I like asking nicely until I don’t.
  9. My dog is DRAMATIC.
  10. Nothing like bad advice to put the rest of the day into perspective.
  11. Spicy beef patties or nothing at all.
  12. It’s good to be present, if not always available.
  13. Talents come in all shapes and sizes and, occasionally, smells.
  14. How to read the imperfect novel (still learning that one).
  15. Less brains doesn’t mean more heart.
  16. I hate “Actually.”
  17. Odd numbers please me.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Books, Change, Communications, Dogs, Food, Hobbies

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Because my driver’s licence expires in a month or so, the librarian at my local branch was only willing to renew my library card up to the expiry date on my licence.

Her reasoning eludes me still. Something about me needing to be the person I had to be, while also proving it via means beyond my own, personal power. Real means. State means. Government issued and approved.

I was told I could come back to that branch when I renew my licence – new expiry date in hand – in order to, finally, renew my library card for the full year.

Cost of renewal of library card: $0.

Cost of renewal of driver’s licence: $90 (plus a new photo, a new take on my face, to go with the new card I will be issued).

These two things are related and they are not. It seems to be that I am getting a free library card with my driver’s licence fee AND that I am getting a free driver’s licence with the $90 renewal of my library card.

Both these things are equally true, if not equally valid. The privilege of going to the library is having the power to drive and the privilege of driving is exercising the power, your power, to go to the library.

Either way, you pay.

As you should, or should at least expect to.

Either way.

 

 

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Filed under Books, Change, City Life, Transportation

Open Secrets, Vol. 14

  • MIGHTY RHINOPITHECUS
  • Good Bones vs. Bad Teeth
  • So don’t do it.
  • “Authentic” is a slippery slope, my friend.
  • Lucky Numbers: 8, 73, 31, 5, 10578974, 2.
  • The shortest month with the longest days.
  • TAWNY FROGMOUTHS.
  • Never mind minding the odds.
  • Predict tomorrow.
  • Open Concept vs. Closed Mind
  • “Chewsday.”
  • Spiderman —> Spidermen —> Spidermens
  • Tough call. But impossible?
  • SAIGA ANTELOPES.
  • Nuts to that.
  • Cold Tea vs. Hot Take
  • Sketchy, shady people everywhere!
  • Omens: black cats, cracked mirrors, overcast brows, sour beer, mismatched CrocsTM.
  • She gets it.
  • Bad dubs ruin lives.
  • ANY NUDIBRANCH.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Birds, Change, Fashion, People, Science, Secrets, THE FUTURE

The Day The Sun Exploded, Astounding Helmet To An Incredible Degree (All Things Considered)

I don’t even know if his name was really “Helmet” but I remember that’s what people called him because of the way he cut his hair (or maybe it was just the way his hair was cut. He may not have had all that much to do with it. I remember my own parents subjecting me to Very Bad Haircuts from the ages of 2 to 13).

Eighth grade English class. Middle school reading, writing and that catch-all “comprehension” (whatever that means, and however so measured).

Helmet wasn’t a nice guy, and he wasn’t a jerk. He was mostly background, a personality that would pop up now and then to make himself heard. He stood stooped and gangly, a redhead with freckles and shirts short at the hem and long in the sleeves, each partially chewed. Uneven eyes set above a restrained nose and a wide mouth with overlarge, slightly hanging teeth. Jeans, mostly. Brown shoes.

The reading was Lord of the Flies, and Helmet was dismissive.

“Who cares what’ll happen to those boys? Humans will go on forever.” Such was Helmet’s very precise, very exacting logic. What, in the grand scheme of things, was one island population – one that’s anyway not even all that populated and populated with an unruly group of miscellaneous British children besides?

“Until the sun explodes,” someone added. I want to say it was Jean, but it was probably Paul, whose one aim that semester was to seem wise beyond his years.

“What?” Helmet blinked, peeling himself away from his spot along the wall. “What?”

“Super nova,” I said. “It’ll go super nova.”

What?” The idea slowly embedded itself in the soft tissues of Helmet’s head, creating a neural pathway where there had not been one before. “The sun…is going to explode?” No one had ever told him.

“Red giant,” I said. “And then -”

“Everybody who’s not dead yet dies,” Paul, definitely Paul, added hastily, so eager to get ahead of the point he missed it entirely. “Everything dies.”

“No! Really?” Helmet gasped. “Really. For sure?”

“Helmet. The sun will explode one day. It’s going to go out and become a black hole and the heat and light of our universe will be gone,” said was our teacher, Mr. E, who was also mostly background, but who somehow found the energy to pipe up every now and then to move the class along. Such was his dedication, and the limits of his particular skill set as an educator.

Helmet gaped. “No…”

“It won’t happen, not for a long, long time,” said Mr. E.

“How long?” Helmet asked, time suddenly very much a factor now that forever was off the table.

“Billions of years. At least.”

Helmet didn’t answer at first. “Oh.”

“Why don’t you ask Mr. D,” suggested Mr. E. Mr. D was our science teacher.

But Helmet was beyond science at that point. Beyond the stars themselves, the universe – no, life itself now cold, pointless. A sow’s head on a pike, staring with dead eyes into the nothingness beyond.

Or maybe…perhaps not.

“Where’s your summary?” asked Mr. E, tired now, wanting only to collect everyone’s homework and declare the class over (and only five minutes early this time).

“Yeah…I didn’t read the book,” Helmet replied. He shook his head as if to clear it. Tugged at a sleeve, rubbed it thoughtfully against his chin.

Grinned.

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Change, Education, People, School, Science, THE PAST