Summer Haze

July 20, 2010

It is hot. It is very, very hot in Ontario. In fact, it was at one point yesterday  NINETY ONE degrees warmer than it was at one point during the Winter in Saskatchewan. That is so many degrees, I feel the need to repeat it for emphasis. NINETY ONE.

The Mushroom has had to buy sandals. The Mushroom has never worn sandals. The Mushroom wears converse in the summer, and Doc Martens in the winter. This is due to  The Mushrooms Famous Fear of Feet. She is, however, on the fast track to 40, so it is high time she considered a form of shoe that is not designed for a teenager – specifically, a teenager in 1992, which is when she actually was one.

They – the sandals – are those weird types that have a sticky bit in between your toes. I imagine these to be incredibly uncomfortable, unless you are, of course, a goat, and then they would work perfectly. Otherwise, surely, the wearer just spends all their time going, ‘Aaagh. I’ve got something…in between…my toes… Oh, it’s my shoe.’, in much the same way as anyone wearing a thong must spend their day going, ‘Aaagh. I’ve got something…up…my arse.’ Apparently, thongs are designed so that people can’t see your underwear. In my view, if you’re wearing clothes that show your underwear, you might as well go the whole hog and go commando.

They are very pretty, and have a black flowery pattern that snakes up the foot like a tattoo. They were not cheap. They also fly off her feet the moment she tries to walk in them.

“How do you walk in flip flops?” she asked my Dad.

“You start wearing them before you are 35.” he replied.

“No, seriously,” she said, as she hopped to the other side of the garden to retrieve them. “Are you supposed to, like, grip them with your toes? Cos then you’d just walk like you were constipated. You can’t walk nicely and be gripping your footwear with your toes.”

My Dad was bored by now.

It was very very hot.

Now, I’ve never taken any drugs (apart from the time I allegedly pretended to have cancer when in fact I’d eaten one of my Dad’s arthritis pills which looked almost exactly like a Whiskas Dentabit(, so I would be grateful if any ‘edgy’ readers could enlighten me on to what might have been the chemical catalyst for this:

 It is a Monday morning.

 It is sunny.

 There is a lady holding two silk scarves and wearing only her underwear dancing on the balcony and singing a song that goes a bit like this:

“Oh SUN! I love you SUN! You are very BRILLIANT! Like a SUN!” 

It might not have gone like this. But it was about the sun, anyway.

Is it:

a) A lot of marijuana

b) Acid

c) Sunstroke

Or is it none of the above, but just good ol’ fashioned sun worship, and I should stop being such a stick-in-the-mud and get on up there and wave my paws about like it’s Woodstock all over again? Because if so, it’s too hot, and I can’t be arsed.


The Pedigree Returns

July 17, 2010

“Hey! HEY! It’s Zee! Looking good, girl!”

Fucking Cave Troll.

It is always interesting, after an absence of a year, to return and discover whether or not a place, or people, have changed. A lot can happen in a year. One can find oneself. One can have an epiphany. One could forsake all earthly goods and become a Buddhist monk just outside Nottingham. One can move to Saskatchewan. And one could spend a whole year not realising that I am NOT CALLED ZEE and I AM A BOY.

We are back with The Mushroom and The Baby and also The Cave Troll and The Hippy. They live in a different house. I think The Hippy has started taking acid. But more of this later.

The ROAD TRIP only took five days, but I feel many years older, hence the radio silence. Quite frankly, I needed at least a week just to stop shaking and to lick my coat seventy two times each day just to rid myself of the smell of stale KFC. My Dad, when away from the watchful, loving, gimletty eyed glare of the Food Nazi, adopts the dietary habits of a rather fat 17 year old boy, and by Day 4 just the sight of that benign bespectacled gentleman with his red apron made me feel a bit poorly.

“I’m off to buy a Bucket, Zeebs. Back in a bit.”

A bucket? A BUCKET? Personally, I would argue that one should never buy a ‘bucket’ of food. It can only go ill. 

Unless one is a horse.


Northern Ontario is interesting. I’m not being sarcastic, either; you cross the border from Saskatchewan into Manitoba,and it goes: land land land sky sky sky, ooh, a tractor; then, about two days later, you cross the border from Manitoba into Ontario, and it goes land land land sky sky sky, oooooh, trees and hills and lakes and STUFF. I’m a fan.

 Tell you what I’m not a fan of, though.  Bears.

All through Northern Ontario, there are signs up by the roads about the bears. ‘Beware of the Bears’, one says. Fair enough. I will. Thankyou. I will, indeed, beware of the bear.  ‘Please do not feed the Bears’ says another. This I take issue with; as a sign, not as a sentiment; because feeding the bears is clearly INSANE.

Who in their right mind would willingly feed a bear? What are they thinking? ‘Oh, hello! There’s a bear. A big old brown grizzly bear. Excellent. He looks almost exactly like my stuffed toy bear at home. Ergo, I will give him this sandwich and all will be well and he will not, based on his resemblance to my stuffed toy bear at home, eat off my arm at all. ‘

I cannot think of any other type of toy that gets people confused like this when they encounter the real thing. I have yet to witness, for example, anyone trying to pick up a real life cement mixer and making a ‘vroom VROOOM’ sound, or trying to feed a house, or give a cup of tea to an octopus or any of the other things The Baby tends to do, presumably because they know to do so REALLY would be a) weird and b) dangerous. Yet the people who drive through Northern Ontario seem to need to be reminded, approximately every hundred yards, NOT to give the bears bits of their cheese cake.

Nonetheless, I liked Northern Ontario, so much so I popped out of the motel room in Kenora to have a little look. I didn’t go far, just the hotel car park. I enjoyed stretching my legs.  My Dad was less impressed, especially as he was in the bath when he spotted me out of the window and had to leg it to the carpark to fetch me, but I don’t think anyone noticed the naked Yorkshireman with a cat under his arm. If they did, they didn’t say anything.

Kenora is beautiful. Thunder Bay, our next stop, was, however, to quote my Dad, ‘ a bit pikey’. I didn’t get to to look around the carpark there, though, although I did manage to jump out of the holdall I was being carried into the hotel in just as my Dad was walking through reception, but he frigging caught me mid leap and stuffed me up his t-shirt, so no adventures in Thunder Bay for me.  Just for the record, I do not like being put in a holdall. By Day 3, the holdall was also beginning to smell of KFC. It was a damaging experience for me.

I need, thus, to work through some issues as a result of the journey, and I feel the best way for me to do this is to do some lying down. In the sun. By a pond. This is not the time to discover that The Cave Troll and The Hippy’s new neighbour have a cat. He is black too. He has a head shaped almost exactly like a mallet. He is called ‘Baby’.

If one gets a cat, a cat with a head shaped exactly like a mallet, one would think to oneself, hmm, what shall I call him? ‘Reggie’, after the Kray brother? ‘Jaws’? No, I shall call him ‘Baby’ cos that is what springs to mind when one sees a black, mallet-headed cat.

He is not nice. I would go as far as to say that he is, in fact, a bit of a bastard.

He doesn’t like the heat, though, so whilst it’s 27 degrees I think I might just have a little rest on the grass. I think I deserve that…

In my excitement about my ROAD TRIP, I completely forgot two notable factors:

a) I have never ridden in a car before for longer than three hours and…

b) …I frigging HATE IT.

I probably would have hated it less had the Jeep not been so comically full of the bits of plastic crap that belong to The Baby. It’s not nice when you’re trying to get comfy and have a nap amidst the noise a frigging Cherokee* makes to find yourself squashed up against a Circus Train, or to find that a wrongly placed paw pressed on any one of its myriad of buttons will begin one of its many different up-tempo Circus Style tunes. Oh, and there’s no off button on it. I’ve been told to ‘Roll up, ROOOOLLLL UUUUPP!’ all the way to Manitoba.  Fun times.

 *”NNNNNRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.’ There aren’t even any gear changes cos it’s an automatic and the road is just one big straight line anyway (Oh, need to clarify; Cherokee as in, Jeep Cherokee, not Cherokee as in, First Nations. I don’t know if the latter like to make a specific noise, but if they do, it’s probably not ‘NNNNRRRRR’ ).

We left The Basement Suite at dawn. It was quite moving, actually, to leave Saskatchewan as the sun was rising. It was the Prairies at its most beautiful. And it got me thinking; this wasn’t a bad year. An odd year, a challenging one, an interesting one, but not a bad one.

I had more time to think about this in the car, as I couldn’t sleep, obviously, and looking out the window got a bit old because on Leg One of ROAD TRIP, it is, just, Prairie. For nine hours.

 I realised that there were quite a few things about the year that warranted a mention, and their own farewell.

The land. It never ends. The sky goes on forever.

The fields upon fields of wheat (could be barley. Could be corn. Could be granola. Don’t know. Am a cat), with rough lines of dirt drawn through them as roads.

The seven months of winter, the brutality that it is and the fact that generations of people have coped with it, year after year after year, and continue to make the Prairie their home.

Goodbye to the Moose, the Buffalo, the Cougars, the Owls, the Eagles, the gophers, the big yappity Hybrid dogs and Volvo Cat (Discovery: Volvo Cat is two cats. They look exactly the same, but there are either two of them or my Dad has been putting something funny in my Iams).

The dust.

The tap water that is so full of salt it actually looks like milk.

Lovely Brian, one of my favourite folk ever, his giant cats and the nice micey toys he brings.

Enthusiastic Teacher, his penchant for gangsta rap and his lovely fiancée who tickled my ears.

The Seagulls, and I hope they realize where they are and bugger off back to Grimsby quite soon.

The sound of snow mobiles and quads, and random neighbours asking my Dad to go hunting, or curling, or ice-skating.

The people who know their own history; who know who their ancestors were, and when they came here, and why.

The Evangelists.

The Basement, with its one, small window and its permanent aroma of cat wee.

 Wayne FM, its love for Men At Work and its claim that you can buy ‘anything you want’ at the Lloyd Mall.

Lovely, lovely Mr Wilson, who reminded me what it is to play.

And with that I breathe a long, feline, introspective sigh. It’s odd how you feel a sense of loyalty to a place only once you’re leaving it.

Officially we are, of course, still on the Prairies, just somewhere else on the Prairies. The Prairies are frigging big. And samey. The place we left looks like this:

The place we arrived in, nine hours later, looks like this:

Uncanny, isn’t it? This place, though, has a Wheat and Beef festival, but that’s in October. I’m sorry I’ll miss that.

Tomorrow, we drive to Ontario. Ontario is where we will be living. Ontario is, however, about the size of Europe. It might be bigger, actually. Don’t know. Anyhoo, it’s a long drive – longer, if you’re stuck next to a musical, plastic circus truck.