Scratch Things

Merry Christmas, really?

Christmas really is a shitty time of the year for so many people and for so many reasons, but I remember when they were magical which makes them feel so much shittier now.

Yesterday I received a letter from Nortel, a goddamn huge Canadian telecommunications corporation, the place where my father was an engineer for two thirds of his life. Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection a few years ago and the first thing they did was fuck the pensioners out of the money that was supposed to be there when they retired.

Over the years they cut and cut my father's pension and cut it again and now that he's dead, and Nortel didn't find out in time, they 'overpaid' him because my dad died right before the machine spat out his payment for November. They want their money back and they're going to get it but not before I fuck with them.

Justin was here when I opened that letter and as my blood boiled and my heart beat hard and fast, he told me to play stupid and incompetent and string them along for a while and make them work for this 'over payment' and I told him he was brilliant and that I was all in.

Six days before Christmas the collections guy decides this is a good time to stick the knife in and twist it so I threw a very sarcastic angry letter back at him, and I know he's just the messenger but I blew a gasket and gave it to him. I dropped that letter in the post office box before I got over my rage and decided not to send it.

Further, the United States government cut my dad's pension for serving in the US Navy in World War Two where he was a control tower operator on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid at Guantanamo Bay (how fucking cool is that?) but I can't be all that mad about that because they're also shafting the young men who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan missing limbs and suffering from PTSD, which my father didn't have to go through. So give the money to the honourable, brave, and injured young men who are fighting your useless wars, America.

Because Nortel cut off my dad's pension, my mother can't afford to live at the SENIORS residence, but I never told her that because she's been through enough. My sister and I slowly talked her into moving to Ottawa and living with my sister and my mother agreed. Justin and I drove here there last week with a few meager treasures she'll have room for and it's heartbreaking. I am grieving for her 'stuff' that holds fond memories and she hasn't said a lot about losing almost everything but I know she must be grieving for the loss of her possessions even though her grief over losing my father is enormous and all consuming. It's too much.

Anyway, now that my mother has moved, I have to empty out the entire apartment pretty much by myself and it's brutal going in there and packing up her treasured memories to give away. I was fired up all damn day because of Nortel's greedy shameless senior officers who didn't have to move out of their mansions and fire Jeeves the butler the day they decided to shaft the widows.

I had to go there today to pack up more things (it's exhausting) and throw away food before it turns green and walks away and at one point, my brother said how fucking horrible and vulture-like he felt taking this stuff away and eating some of it, and I thought about how my parents were horrified about letting anything go to waste as I threw food in the garbage.

I look around that apartment and see my parents everywhere and it's all just so goddamned sad. And I look around at my old house every day where Richard lived and see him everywhere everywhere and it's just so goddamned sad. And it's Christmas and I am trying hard to pretend I can catch some of that magic by forcing myself to decorate and buy presents and maybe bake sweets and find some joy in that, but it's exhausting and forced and fake and futile because there is no being happy.

I set out to buy a turkey yesterday and as I got into the store I walked by walnuts in the shell and thought about how my dad loved assorted nuts in shells at Christmas and I saw him in my mind, sitting on the couch cracking nuts and tears sprung to my eyes and I quickly got that under control because I can't stand for anyone to see my cry in public.

I broke down and cried in the aisle where they sell pudding and fruit in cups because we bought a lot of that for my dad as he was dying - it was almost all he would eat until he couldn't eat anymore. The lemon meringue flavor was the hardest to see because that was his favourite. When I checked out the smiley bag boy wished me a merry Christmas and I forced a smile and said it back to him while my mind said 'ugh, it's so not a merry Christmas and I can't see it ever being a merry Christmas again.'

When I returned to Justin's house my sister-in-law called to make plans with me for Christmas day dinner at her house and we talked about her mother dying in January and Richard dying in June and my dad dying in October and that is a lot of loss for Justin. When my mind isn't thinking about one of them dying, my mind thinks about another one of them dying and the death scenes play out in great detail to the point that I feel as though I am actually there living those moments, and they are as fresh and as clear as the day I lived them.

Before dinner we had our customary rum and then I had another and then I had another even though I risked feeling like crap today but the desire to not feel like crap for a few hours overcame my fear of extreme dehydration and general malaise. And instead of melancholy and cry on someone's shoulder drunkeness, Justin showed me videos of things like some guy hitting a golf ball on a frozen lake and falling through the ice when he missed and fell, and I showed him video of things like a cat slinking sideways down a stairway like liquid and we laughed.

We talked about getting half in the bag on Christmas day and singing karaoke and I asked him for a playlist so I'll know in advance what songs I want to massacre.

Alcohol: the reason for but the answer to all of life's troubles.
Scratch Things

Buddah and spiders

I was raised hardcore Roman Catholic, dragged to church every Sunday without fail, and resented it when I became a teen. When my mother told me she wouldn't be dragging us to church anymore once we reached sixteen years of age, I prayed to God to make my sixteenth birthday come sooner. The day I turned sixteen, I never went back to church on Sunday.

Being a total hypocrite, I got married in the Roman Catholic church, and later on I baptized my son there. When it came time for him to make his first Communion, and later on his Confirmation, he remained home, uncommunionized and unconfirmed while all the other Roman Catholics brought their seven year olds to church, wee little bride girls dressed in white and wee little groom boys dressed in uncomfortable suits.

My mother must have been appalled that I neglected to Roman Catholicize my son, but she never shared her horror with me. I guess she was at least satisfied that he was baptized so that God knew he existed. Whatever.


I have been studying Buddhism and I'm all down with it because it makes sense to me and I am on board with his teachings. Yesterday, I listened to a Buddhist speak of living in the moment, being mindful of what may be seen as inconsequential or unimportant, taking notice of and appreciating what is often taken for granted.

With that in mind, this morning I noticed a spider spinning a web on my clothesline, and I realized that I hadn't ever really payed much attention to or really watched a spider construct his web for longer than a few seconds. I stood there and watched this spider spinning the hell out of his web for a good fifteen minutes and man, these guys put bees to shame in the busy department. I went out and checked on my spider (yes, he's mine now) during the day to see if he'd caught anything but all he'd trapped was some unidentified fluff. All that hard work still hasn't paid off and damned if I'm not looking for a bug to to fling in his web and feed the little bugger.

I just got back from checking Spidey and noticed a second spider has spun a web but this one? This one looks like it's suspended in thin air in the middle of my yard. I am boggled and agog. There is nothing remotely close by to anchor a web and I have been trying to find the supporting threads and, well, they are invisible. What the what? How in tarnation?

Anyway, I will not be doing laundry until my spiders move on from the clothesline and thin air because I have a new respect for these hardcore industrious little guys, and I don't want to be a homewrecker.

I don't know how long it's been since I posted here and what I come up with after a longish absence is: spiders.

Riveting, I know
Scratch Things

Too much time on my hands...

I have been on the phone dicking around with the 'Microsoft' scammers from India behind the bullshit and I am fucking with them because they came thisclose to scamming my 89 year old father who spent hours on the phone with them but ultimately wasn't able to follow their instructions which would have let them gain access to his computer remotely and wipe him out financially.

So anyway, I am playing the part of this completely computer illiterate numbskull and it's so fun to be jerking their chain.

'Oh no! I have bad stuff on my computer? And you can fix it? Oh, thank goodness!'

They are trying like mad to guide me through their fraud and I'll ask them to repeat what they said, and then I'll say 'YOU'RE BREAKING UP!' and hang up and they'd call me right back. I've told them I'm 'no good at computers' but those good people at Microsoft are trying really hard to fix the bad things that infected my computer!

They were telling me to open up shit and I'd play along and they'd say, 'Now type this into the box.' and I'd be like, 'Oh no! The box closed on me all of a sudden! I hit the X. Should I have hit the big X?' and they'd patiently start over again and then I'd say, 'Oh! Hold on a minute! My cat is fixing to be sick on my carpet!' then I'd hang up and they'd call right back again.

They tell me to open a browser and I say 'What's that?' and they tell me to type an address into the address bar and they're saying 'M like mother' and I say 'Brother?' and then they say 'Now type in .com' and I say 'OK, you mean d like david, o like orange, t like tiger?' and they say, 'No, just type a period.' and I say, 'OK, so I removed all the other stuff and now I just have a period in there. Now what? Press enter? '

They're telling me to press the Windows key together with the R key, and I'm saying, 'What's a Windows key? I have a wavy flag key, and I have a key that looks like a sun on it, oh, and this key that looks like a cell phone tower. I have this other key which...I don't know what that picture is supposed to be...'

If it was me at the other end of the phone, I would be committing suicide but these people have real staying power.

I better go! The phone's ringing again!

Where have I seen this before?

We're trying out new names for the new guy, Liam doesn't fit his personality. We're calling him Juniper lately but I'm not so sure it's right for him either. Robert likes the name Ruckus because that describes what he's inflicting on the house and the other cats living in it. Devastation might be another pick further down the road if this keeps up.

He's definitely working on establishing his position as the alpha male which has caused all the other cats to go into hiding and I hope this is going to end soon because it's as though we're a one cat family right now.

Anyway, it turns out that he is down with this type of thing:

 photo Juniper006_zpsdef09f36.jpg

Which I wasn't quite expecting...

 photo Juniper007_zpsbc3911bb.jpg

He's got the legs of a gazelle...

 photo Juniper004_zps0f7d38c5.jpg

And when he isn't intimidating the cat herd, he's a sweet little easy going cat.

 photo Juniper001_zps3163dc35.jpg
Make Stuff Up

Burlap Covered Box

I crafted this little box today out of a plain old corrugated cardboard box, and I'm using it to store stuff and things.

 photo BurlapCoveredBox006_zpsed5657ec.jpg

I put a really brief quasi-tutorial here for those who are interested.
Scratch Things

Wait, what?

How is it possible that this guy is a street musician, and not some incredibly rich super star with a record deal?

Also, how is it possible that people walking by aren't completely mesmerized and paying any attention to this flawless talent? I would pay good money to see this guy in concert.
Angry duck

So we're having an ice storm...

 photo IceStorm2013001_zps2d9e75c9.jpg

 photo IceStorm2013006_zpse52a3be9.jpg

 photo child_crying-1_zps77136eff.jpg

On the bright side, Robert was removing the solid chunks of cement that the city throws at the end of the driveways, and a Ford 150 with a snow blade attached on the front of his truck went by. He threw it into reverse and then pushed a thousand pounds of compact snow and ice up onto the snowbank, saving Robert at least 2 hours of shoveling and a heart attack.

We stood there stunned as we watched this Christmas miracle unfolding before our very eyes, and were all

 photo child-shocked_zps981790be.jpg