My Canadian Earwig Problem, Eh?

Have you ever had something stuck in your head?

I mean truly stuck there for hours or even days?

Welcome to the club.  I’m there.  It’s My Canadian Earwig.

No, I really don’t have a problem with anything Canadian.  I used to listen to a lot of Canadian Radio when I was a wee brat in my childhood and into my teens.  I’m told that people in the bordering areas of the US have a habit of doing that.  When I visited Ann Arbor, Michigan once, I saw a couple TV shows on TVO out of Windsor, Ontario that I rather liked and wished I could see here.

I listened to a few stations there that made it to my own home in the Philadelphia area as a matter of course.  CKLW in Windsor was one, a pop station that was legend in the 60s through the time that Clear Channel conquered and then killed US radio.  I used to get news from the Northern Quebec Service of the CBC as well as their regular English Language external service that morphed into CBC Radio One.  The French Language service on alternate half hours was a challenge but it helped with my own studies in High School French, sadly mostly forgotten.  The CBC Domestic Service on 740AM and 1540AM made it to the house clear as a bell at night.

No, it all started when someone said they were going to go for a trip.  “Take Off”.

You see, we all became Canadian for the summer of 1982.  There was a wacky one-off song called “Take Off” done by the SCTV crew back then.  Everyone was calling each other Hoser and saying Eh – which simply wasn’t done in Philadelphia before then or since.

Maybe Pittsburgh.  I heard that the border to the midwest was somewhere around where they start watching the Steelers and stop following our Eagles.

Iggles, Yo!

Of course I had to put my oar in that water.  I found a video on Youtube with the song on it.  Played it.  Then while laughing, I played it again.  Yes, musical OCD.  I’m waiting for Oscar to start saying “Coo Loo coo coo, coo coo coo coo” any second now.

Now, being a comedy bit, I know that it’s a parody.  I know it’s openly stereotypical.  I know their accent is thicker than some of that good Quebec Maple Syrup folks would bring down from Montreal in big tin cans for the French Toast after it was left in the freezer.

Having visited Canada, I will say they’re more like us than you might understand, and they’ll apologize for that.

Sorry, eh?

I mean, having listened to CBC for news I’ve got an ear for that accent.  Midwestern US is very similar but not exactly the same just like the Chicago accent is not the same as the accent you’ll hear even across the line in Michigan City, Indiana.  But Bob and Doug McKenzie’s was over the top.

Being one of those oddballs who picks up other people’s accent I didn’t realize I was programming myself.

I wanted something different for dinner.  I had some old Gingery Bread in the freezer that was great but it was getting freezer burned.  So I get up from the chair, hit the replay button on that Youtube window, Took Off to the Kitchen to make a beauty meal, eh?  Yep.  French Toast.  Quebec Maple Syrup.  Touch of cinnamon.

“Coo Loo coo coo, coo coo coo coo”

Rack joined me and crunched away on his food as I’m puttering with the plastic spatula on the teflon pan.

Man that was good, eh?  Beauty.

We finished the food and ran into someone.  I was whistling the riff from that song and started talking to them.

“What’s up?”

We were chatting and I realized just what was up.  Yes, fully programmed I had lost what was left of my fragile mind.  Telling him what was going on he got a laugh out of it and said that I really had it down.

Great, I’ve lost my mind and people find it amusing.

Day two.  525AM.  I’m walking South on Wilton Drive.  Sunrise isn’t for another 2 hours or so.

You guessed it, the revenge of the earwig.  “Coo Loo coo coo, coo coo coo coo”  I’m whistling that riff again.

Just give in and enjoy it.  When you have an earwig, the best way I can think to deal with it is just feed it.  Play it out.  Let it go.


You guessed it.  I’m letting my freak flag fly, direct from The Great White North.  I’m looping this track.  You really don’t want to play that song, you’ll be thrown back into the 80’s, and stuck with this in your head.  Don’t do it, you know you don’t!  No, don’t play that song…. Aww you went and done it, eh?

Beauty.

So, crack a Brador if you can find one, or a Molson’s Canadian, cause they’re great beers,eh?  Don’t forget to recycle so the True North Strong and Free can remain clean.

Beauty, eh?

Advertisements

Lifeguard Hut on Fort Lauderdale Beach

It is difficult to think of a more South Florida scene.

Lifeguard Hut.  Beach chair.  Sailboat.  Sand and Surf.

Perhaps if you added a pod of Dolphin or a Manatee?

This is the sort of thing you see when you’re stuck in traffic on A1A on a late weekend afternoon.

The sun blazing, people enjoying some time off from whatever keeps them occupied, and being outside never hurt.  The beach is always busy, people come from far and wide to be right there.  I can honestly say it was one of the reasons why I moved here, although I haven’t put foot to sand since 2006.

But it is there, 2 miles from my home, and I can get there any time I want. 

Gables Wilton Park Statue – Interior View

I have to say, in my own experiences, the Gables Company have held true to their word.

When we heard that a defunct nursery in the heart of the Wilton Manors Central Business District, right smack dab in the middle of Wilton Drive, was going to be “redeveloped”, we wondered what they were going to do with it and would it “Fit In”.

We were told that they were going to make Wilton Manors home. 

So far, everything I have seen, they have absolutely made Wilton Manors home.  No reservations.

I worked with the local staff in order to use some of their then un-rented commercial space as temporary gallery space for the Island City Art Walk.  They agreed and liked it so much that it was later used as temporary space for events such as the Stonewall Exhibit during the street festivals, space for civic and political functions, and I want to say some temporary commercial space – although don’t quote me on that last one, I could be wrong.

All of the Wilton Drive spaces have finally been rented creating jobs and business opportunities for people here in the city.  There are one or two spots open on NE 21st Drive facing City Hall and Hagen Park, and it will be interesting to see who moves in there.  I’ve heard comments about one thing or another but nothing first hand, and I am looking forward to see what develops.

A while back they started working on the sidewalk.  It had developed stress cracks so they pulled up the concrete.  At the same time, they put up a large circular plinth.  We had fun speculating what would go there for a while.  When it all cured and the sidewalk was put back, it wasn’t empty for long.   Some large decorative pots were placed on the spot.  It was obvious that it was temporary since LED lighting was there and some curious bolts had appeared.

Bolts.  You know, something you’d lash something to in a hurricane?   They were there for the Long Haul, nothing would rip them up.

Then it appeared.  A large art installation.  They were making their home more beautiful.  This was piece of four long tapered columns holding up a large sphere made of metal poles.  All in a deep rust colored finish, it appeared on the plinth, and was lit at night.  Really quite a nice display.

Of course I got involved.  I looked at it thinking there has to be a good angle to get a picture of it.

It taunted me.  Standing along the Drive, there was something in the way.  Either a trash can, the intersection, some part of the building that didn’t quite fit.  I couldn’t figure out just what was the angle.  The electricity wires just irked me and while I am good enough at Photoshop to ‘shop them out, that wasn’t the point.

I had a light bulb moment go off in my head.  How about inside?

Yes.  It worked.  Having a rather good cellphone camera that is as thin as a magazine helped too.  I was able to put it on “Voice Shutter” and yell at it “Capture” as political candidates stood on the corner waving signs at traffic and gaining a few random voters.  I’m sure people were wondering why I was yelling at the statue, but they didn’t ask.

It’s not the kind of picture that you could do with a traditional camera.  The spaces inside are much too small to fit one.  It was just a matter of luck that my camera was thin enough to slide inside and I had the Voice Shutter on it.

But finally, I got my shot.  Now I can clear off those other 40 or 50 pictures that I took before my head cleared!

Oscar 1, Rack 0

When you have more than one pet, hilarity may ensue.

When one of those pets is much more fearful than it should be, it’s bound to go much differently than you might have expected.

I got Oscar many years ago.  He’s my Orange Wing Amazon Parrot, and he’s named Oscar for a reason.  He can be a grouch.

But lately, his personality is starting to blossom.  He’s demanding more attention, and he seems to be more interested in what anyone is doing around the house.

He used to simply sit in his cage and growl.  As in Leave Me Alone, I’m Going To Attack You If You Get Closer growl.

He did have a time where he was somewhat more cuddly but for some reason, he decided that wasn’t for him.

Now he’s deciding that he wants some human contact.

We are adjusting.

He sits in his TV Set sized cage on the room divider in the middle of the house.  I put him there so he can see everything that is going on during the day, and that he can basically sleep in peace at night since the dogs have always stayed in the bedroom overnight without too much running around.

Lately he has been asking to be let out.  Asking as in repeatedly calling “Hello” at an ever increasing volume that approximates the volume of the explosion of Mount Krakatoa.  I’m wondering if there won’t be a visit from the City asking what is that noise and telling me that there have been complaints from someone screaming Hello and laughing repeatedly, but that’s an entirely different story.

Once the door is opened on the cage, Oscar has been content to sit on top and watch the goings on with an occasional foray onto the room divider to clear the top of it of anything that I may have had the temerity of leaving there.  If it is in reach, a parrot will eventually chew on it.  Then they will either knock it off whatever it is sitting on it, poop on it, or sing to it.  Their choice.  Not yours, and it will always happen when you least expect it.

One day, I was sitting in my bouncy chair and I heard a soft movement of air in the house.   That was followed by a loud rattle and thump.

Looking around, I saw one green bird sitting happily on top of the door to the dog’s crate.

Well!  This is new!

I turned my chair to have a better view.  Oscar didn’t mind me but he was intent on staying on the door.

Rack was sitting in the crate, craning his neck to see what was going on.  Watching me, then Oscar, he was wary.

Oscar got bored quickly when he realized I wasn’t going to chase him away.  Climbing down the cage after first testing the dog’s mats on top for taste, he stepped down to the floor, then pulled himself into the crate.

I wasn’t going to stop this, but a curious bird and a fearful dog, could make for a volatile mix.

I was able to grab my camera and walk into the living room for a seat on the coffee table.  This needed to be watched since there were many tasty things around for him to get into such as wallboard, woodwork, and fragile things inside the house that also included the dog.

Oscar had placed himself inside the crate as if in greeting.

Yeah, right.  Greeting.  That’s what we will call it.

Rack is a patient dog, but not terribly assertive.  He waited watching Oscar.

Oscar used to preen Lettie when she would allow it.  She didn’t allow it much, and it usually had to wait for when she was asleep and when I was brave enough to put him on the ground. When she woke up, she’d be out of the room in a shot.

Maybe that was what was churning around inside his head when Oscar was inside of the crate.  Go meet this new dog.  Maybe we can preen.

Oscar likes to preen.  If I stand next to his cage, my ear and my hair will get a thorough preening.  He hasn’t gotten too rough yet, and I haven’t ended up with a pierced ear but…

Oh right, Oscar, in the cage.

At this point, my mind was wondering how much longer would this last.

Rack was being approached by Oscar.  He was going to have his leg preened.

Nope.  Just Nope.

45 pounds of black and white fur flew out of that crate and trotted as far away from that feathered beast as quickly as it could.

Oscar remained in the crate alone.  He was probably just looking for a friend but he had ejected Rack thoroughly.

Then he actually laughed.  Some may say that parrots don’t understand human noises, I disagree.  He’s done silly things for his own entertainment and has laughed afterwords.  I think this was one of these times.  He laughed at the fact that he could eject a dog from a crate.

More like shooting fish in a barrel than anything else.

But it has established a pattern.  Oscar has found out that he can crawl into the crate, fly around the room, and visit.  Rack may not like it, but it will make for an interesting story.

After all, how many people can say that their parrot bullied their dog?

Community Policing In Wilton Manors – A Reason Why You Want To Live Here

We’re a small town, only about 12,800 people, give or take a few.  I’m not standing out on the highway with the sign welcoming you here with a sharpie and changing the numbers as people come and go every day.

We’re surrounded by much larger neighbors, Oakland Park to the North, Fort Lauderdale to the South.

I hear stories about one or the other thinking of merging with us or gobbling us up, respectively, from time to time.  Growth is fine, but living in a much larger city can be highly overrated.

We’re diverse.  A mix of different people and cultures here rub shouders, but we all do seem to get along.

That diversity is why I personally think of the place as a Quirky Little Island.  Sometimes the quirks show themselves in some amusing and wonderful ways.

One day we were coming back from a rather excellent meal at an Italian restaurant that specializes in hand prepared ingredients and the kind of food I remember Mom bringing home from South Philly when she went to visit Grandmom.

Coming onto Wilton Drive from the South, we noticed that there was a sign announcing a lane closure.  The first thought was “I hope they get the two lane initiative started – there’s been political gridlock on this too long”.  Then I said it out loud.  Getting unanimous agreement from everyone in the car, some louder than others, saying that it’s overdue that we narrow The Drive to two traffic lanes and increase the parking to support the central business district, we spotted the blockage.

Ok, this was nothing “usual”.  I’m fairly well informed on the goings on here, but this particular street closure was nothing I knew about.  One lane, completely blocked off for the “meat” of Wilton Drive is unusual.  They were overzealous in protecting whoever was supposed to be using the lane, you couldn’t turn into the neighborhood streets “off the Drive” because they blocked even the intersections.

Nobody was using the lane.  It was still early, dinner hour, and it had the air of people yet to come.

Driving the length of the Drive, we found the end of the blockage, near the Rumors Bar and Grill, and scratching our heads, we found our way to the house.

Asking around “online” didn’t help, nobody had heard.

Had it been a festival, the Wilton Manors Development Alliance might have been asked to do an email blast about it, but they got silence as well.

Pulling into our driveway, we went in, full from the meal and the excitement and settled into our easy chairs for a diet of old sitcoms and pre-recorded television on the DVR.  Forgetting about the blockage on the Drive, we rolled out the evening like a warm blanket of domesticity.

Reaching the end of the night, we decided to grab our furry sidekick, Rack the McNab Superdog, and went for our final walk.

We had gotten to the end of our block and looked toward the Drive and there was a police cruiser, sitting in the intersection with lights flashing.  Even a couple blocks away, it was bright enough to dazzle, and the dog didn’t care for it.  He’s fearful and it didn’t surprise me.

Instead of subjecting Rack to the excitement, Kevin went up to the Drive and stuck his oar in the water to see what happened while I walked a block off the Drive on the usual route.  Whatever was going on had the benefit of giving us less traffic, and that is always welcome in a town with few sidewalks.

When Kevin caught up with us, I heard the story.

There was a Pet Costume party that ended at Rumors Bar.  Of All Things, right?  This would have been fun to visit since Rack would have loved the chance to socialize with all the dogs.

That wasn’t the whole of it.  See, this is Wilton Manors, not New York or Los Angeles where you are hearing horror stories of militarized police forces.  We’re lucky enough to have a police chief, Chief O’Connell on the Wilton Manors Police Department who understands that in order to have a truly safe city, the community must be involved.  To involve the community, the officers must engage the community and make contact in a supportive way in order to enhance life here in the city.

I would have expected a grumbly or growly encounter with the Fort Lauderdale PD had they been involved, in fact the story I tell is a bit of a stereotype where once there was a FLPD Cruiser that charged through Wilton Drive in the middle of a street closure and festival lights and sirens blazing.  Everyone cleared out.  We happened to be in the right place to see where they were going.  Dunkin Donuts.  Yes, Fort Lauderdale PD officers saw fit to interrupt a street festival to get donuts. 

In Wilton Manors, the opposite effect happened.  The officers were enjoying the show.  When Kevin asked what was going on, the two female officers immediately told that it was a Pet Parade, and that it was a wonderful thing.  The only thing that they wanted to do was to go see the judging of the costumes, which they couldn’t do from their posts.  The conversation went on about how beautiful the pets were and how creative some of the costumes were, and that it was a wonderful thing that happened here.  They also said you just couldn’t do that sort of thing in some of the other towns around. 

Nice to be in a quirky place that isn’t “uptight”, right?

I’ve been stopped from time to time by officers in Wilton Manors while out and about.  Even at my first walk of the day, as much as two hours before sunrise, I’ve had conversations with officers about things – always light and pleasant.  Always it was in the spirit of engaging the public, being friendly, and offering some bit of news or trivia about how things are going on here in the town.

I would say that while this place has its detractors, they’re all welcome to stay where they are.  It’s nice to live in a city where much more goes right than goes wrong, and the worst thing that I have heard about was a dog’s costume wardrobe malfunction. 

It’s a bear to keep those costumes clean, isn’t it?

A Homeless Man Knocks On A Woman’s Door

A homeless man knocks on a woman’s door, looking for help…

“Think you could spare a few bucks? maybe some food?”

The woman thinks to herself for a few seconds, then says,

“You could do some handy work around here, I’d be glad to give you $30 if you paint my porch. There’s some green paint and a brush right around the corner there, have at it.”

He thanks her, and heads towards the bucket. She returns inside and resumes her knitting.

After about an hour, she gets up to check on his progress, and sees no man, or a freshly painted porch.

Just then, she hears a knocking again at her door, and goes to open it.

She is greeted by the same man, green paint splattered on his clothes and in his beard, a wide grin on his face.

“All done ma’am. and by the way, it’s a Cadillac, not a Porsche.”

Billy The Tree

Billy the Tree

Billy the tree aces his SATs at Forest High and ends up with a full college scholarship. The day arrives for him to move halfway across the state. The older trees wish him luck, and they make him promise to write. They wave and cheer as he packs his trunk and leaves.

He arrives at his college and after a few days of partying with humans he decides that he never wants to see his boring old forest again.

The first letter arrives from home and he ignores it. He trims his leaves into a rough approximation of a human hairstyle. Another letter arrives and goes on the pile. He buys low-slung jeans and an Abercrombie hoodie. Another letter arrives. Billy spends half his savings on an Xbox and practices Call of Duty and Madden in order to better fit in. Another letter. Billy takes up smoking, despite the dangers.

He feels a little weak and notices that his leaves are browning at the edges, but he puts it down to all the Jaeger and cheap beer.

A few other trees in class try to talk to him but he ignores them in favor of his exciting new human friends. He laughs at their bird’s nests and old tire swings and their lousy topiary. He makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with them.

But Billy feels tired all the time! His leaves start to fall off. His knots ache and his branches begin to twist in on themselves. His bark feels loose and starts to slough off at the slightest touch. He’s dry, tinder dry. He drops a cigarette and damn near burns his twig-and-berries off. His human friends have no idea how to help and abandon him in his dorm.

After a few days he’s little more than a dry, cracked trunk surrounded by kindling and rotting bark. His roommate brings his mail and dumps it on his desk. He reaches out and opens his latest letter from home.

“Billy,” it says, “YOU’VE FORGOTTEN YOUR ROOTS!”