Star Spangled Boner

Image result for Canadian Barbie

A lot of people ask me the difference between Canadians and Americans. Well, first the facts: our country’s larger, our population’s smaller, Canadian men liked wearing clogs in the ’70s and we’ve never considered testing the viscosity of spray cheese in space a worthwhile scientific endeavour.

I noticed while working abroad that colleagues soon began substituting American with North American in conversation. Such gestures are certainly appreciated but only serve to remind Canadians that while Americans have fifty states, we have only one: self-consciousness. Every Canadian feels guilty knowing their new co-workers are constantly bricking it lest they should inadvertently refer to us as American, a situation which can only ever lead to our greatest export: the apology. We’re famous for apologizing – we even apologize for it. I recognize that, even close up, we look and sound like our U.S. counterparts to most people. The differences are subtle, even to us sometimes. It is, however, my belief that the best way to differentiate between our two cultures is to study America’s greatest cultural icon: Barbie.

America has Malibu Barbie who likes strolling along the beach with the ocean breeze in her hair… Canada has Seal Hunt Barbie who is a crack shot.

Malibu Barbie drives a Dream Camper Van with built-in kitchen and fold-out tent… Ice Road Trucker Barbie cooks roadkill under the hood and homeschools three kids in her sleeper cab.

Prom Queen Barbie comes with her very own makeup and accessories table… Lumberjack Barbie’s sporting a Leafs toque in her wedding photos.

American Barbie hails from Wisconsin, studied in New York and now lives with her parents and younger sisters in California… Canadian Barbie was taken into care after her parents became addicted to online bingo and were caught trying to sell their own kidneys on ebay.

American Barbie dates long-term boyfriend, Ken… Canadian Barbie’s best friend is an orphaned bear cub whose mother was shot dead by two tourists up from Oregon for the weekend.

American Barbie is cosmopolitan and culturally sensitive… Yukon Barbie saw her first Sikh last week and asked him for three wishes.

American Barbie is a role model for her millions of followers on the internet… Canadian Barbie is completely unaware that a video of her bathing in what she thought was a secluded watering hole has placed her in Pornhub’s Top Ten.

Vegetarian Barbie only buys food from locally sourced producers… Marijuana Farm Barbie patrols the perimeter of her property in a JLTV.

American Barbie spent a fun-filled New Year’s Eve with Ken in Times Square… Canadian Barbie pointed out Ursa Major in the night sky to her orphaned bear cub – and apologized.

(re-posted to commemorate American Independence Day)

Game of Cones

I have a dog whose name is Spark

Who sometimes takes me to the park

Where we enjoy an evening stroll

I feed the ducks; he’s on patrol.

An old pro, Spark knows all the tricks

From playing dead to fetching sticks

His latest one involves a scheme

Which bags him loads of free ice cream.

He’ll spy a toddler on his own

Who’s struggling with a waffle cone

One far too big for little hands

And all the balance that demands.

Spark uses charm and big, brown eyes

To get him closer to the prize

Then as he nears these little ones

That’s when he grabs the cone and runs.

I’m deeply saddened by each theft

And every howl from the bereft

Whose double-scoops of lemon lime

Perpetuate this life of crime.

The mothers round on Spark and curse

So I make sure they’re reimbursed

Which throws the whole plan in reverse

For he was taught to steal a purse…

Bad Hare Day

This guy chillin with his dog in London : funny

Every evening after dinner my dogs, Gizmo and Spark, take me for a walk. On our way to the park the pair regularly drops in on our elderly neighbours who, in most cases, once had dogs of their own. One in particular, Old Ed, is especially fond of Gizmo who himself is knocking on 17 years. The two have a bond and Ed discusses everything with his loyal friend, from his time in the National Service to the state of the NHS.

During one visit in particular we had time to spare and happily sat down to watch Crime Watch UK, one of Ed’s favourite TV programmes. Ed is 89 years old but not without his faculties and he considers it his civic duty to keep watch over the neighbourhood.

“It’s the old dears we need to look out for,” he said. “They’re soft targets.”

“And who’s looking out for you?” I asked.

“Gizmo.”

Elderly Farmer Standing Leaning On A Wooden Fence Surveying His ...

That evening’s episode included a re-enactment of a homicide which had taken place in the shires. Like all re-enactments, the viewers were first introduced to the characters and setting to make its treatment of the crime less clinical and more personal. The victim in question was an elderly farmer. His last day on earth portrayed him as a hard-working, decent sort who was fair in his dealings with others. The narrator set the scene:

John Brown began his day like any other, checking his crops in the fields. For him, as for every other farmer in the county, rabbits proved a perennial pest because he grew their favourite food: carrots. Every morning, shotgun slung over his shoulder, he’d shoot as many as twenty before breakfast.

“Vermin,” Ed told Gizmo, who hung on his every word although deaf as a post.

After a long day’s work, John Brown drove his tractor into an outbuilding and locked it shut. He then checked on his cows and hens a final time before heading into the farmhouse.

“Cows and chickens make okay intruder alarms but he should have had a few geese as well. They’re the best,” Ed informed me.

“Why’s that?”

“They’re skittish. Geese’ll wake the dead.”

“They haven’t mentioned his family so I’m guessing he might be a widower,” I ventured.

“They didn’t say. But where are the sons?”

“Maybe they didn’t choose that life.”

“It’s the best life for a person,” Ed was staring ahead at nothing in particular. “Fresh air, proper food, hard work…”

File:Age-worn door latch and lock on well-weathered planks ...

The narrator went on to describe what police believe happened next. Apparently, at some point during the night one or more intruders broke into the farmhouse. From what they could gather, the intruder(s) found John Brown’s shotgun by the door. Whether it was because he heard them or not, John Brown came downstairs and was confronted by the intruder(s) who killed him with his own shotgun.

Nothing of value was taken as far as police can tell. John Brown had no known enemies and it’s suspected it might have been a burglary which went horribly wrong.

“Poor bugger,” Ed stroked Gizmo behind the ears. “And by his own gun.”

“Maybe he screwed someone over,” I weighed the evidence. “Maybe he owed them money. Farmers are always juggling massive debts.”

“It wouldn’t be that.”

“Maybe developers wanted the land and he wouldn’t sell.”

“Nope, that’s not it. Keep going.”

“Okay, last one,” I racked my brain. “Maybe he does have a son but they’re estranged and the son came to claim what he believed to be his birthright: the farm or revenge!”

“Not even close,” Ed laughed. “Not even close. It’s obvious; think about it.”

Home - Grimmway Farms

I was flummoxed, but moreover, I was intrigued by his self-assuredness in the matter. I had apparently missed a vital clue which was the clincher. Now watching him savour the moment without any smugness whatsoever I was proud of Ed. He’d seen more in his lifetime than I ever would: The Great Depression, WW2, the draft, rationing, The Cold War and a man on the moon, yet I knew he now felt utterly discarded by those who had come after him. What he’d already forgotten I’d never know; I had gained knowledge whereas Ed’s generation had acquired wisdom.

“Give up?” he grinned, thumbing tobacco into his pipe.

“I’m all out of ideas,” I conceded, happy to be sharing in his big moment.

“It was the rabbits,” he winked. “It just takes a couple of crosshairs.”

Doggone

My dog has died and no one cares
I mention him but this draws stares
And frowns which tell me I’m too old
To mourn a pet, or so I’m told.
Empty corners, bare floor
Room before but now we’ve more
Toys donated, bed gone
No more divots in the lawn.
Coming home, a rusty gate
Announces me and though I wait
No rocket launches down the path
To knock me down and make me laugh.
Quiet mealtimes, no one begs
Or nuzzles gently at my legs
Knowing that, in time, of course I’ll
Slip him the odd, tender morsel.
Day is done, I climb the stair
And reach the top but he’s not there
I pray for sleep – those loving scenes
When he runs to me in my dreams.