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OMG The Horror!

It has taken me some time to write about this. Partly out of humiliation and partly because I gag every time I think about it.

There were a lot of changes in my household this spring. I realized I was coming up to a rather large number on the birthday scale next year and had better do something to get into better shape before I completely fell apart. I started walking every day in March and by the end of April had worked my way up to 5 miles a day. Along with actually moving physically I started back on my healthier eating plan. That means lots of veggies, fruit and chicken.

He-Who made some changes as well. Not exercise or eating healthy…don’t be ridiculous! That won’t happen until we find a diet that is developed around the consumption of Fresh Cut French Fries. For some reason…it may have had something to do with my Banjo Boy post, or the comments that resulted…he decided to find a new banjo teacher and start lessons again. He went faithfully for several weeks and practised every day. That is until the banjo injuries surfaced. He sounded like Ringo Starr at the end of Helter Skelter, “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” Ok, maybe it was more like this…

Then came the bruising of his arm because he didn’t have an arm rest on the banjo. Professionals were consulted and arrangements were made to have an armrest installed by the only person qualified in the GTA.  That would be Grant MacNeil at the Twelfth Fret Guitar Shop in downtown Toronto. Unfortunately, Grant was only available on Saturday, when He-Who was not. That left me, always the encouraging spouse, to make the trek into Toronto with He-Who’s prized possession. I’m not a fan of tackling the “Big City” at the best of times, but to be responsible for a musical instrument that was worth more than I am, seemed to be a tranquillizer-worthy-task. Promises were made. He-Who was to put it in the case and Grant was to take it out and put it back in so that I never had to actually touch the banjo.  All I had to do was pick out the arm rest that matched. I did not want that added responsibility but eventually agreed.  On my way home I planned to run some errands and pick up a few groceries. There was a sale at the place where I purchase my frozen chicken breasts — M & Ms — and it was a good opportunity to stock up.

boneless-chicken-breasts

I was one hot mess by the time I got to the Twelfth Fret. There is no air in my car and as you know we have had some bitchin’ hot weather this year. My anxiety over having custody of the banjo just added to my level of sweat. Grant made the whole procedure relatively painless. It took very little time and it wasn’t long before the banjo was in its case and laying across my back seat, headed homeward. I stopped only to purchase three boxes of frozen chicken breasts on my way home.  I made sure I locked up my car like a vault while I ran inside the M & M store. I threw the chicken in the trunk and drove the final couple of kilometres without incident.  When I got home I carefully got the banjo inside, up the stairs, and laid it on one of the love seats in the living room. I collapsed on the couch watching the banjo like it was going to make a run for it. I swear at least one tear of relief slid down my cheek.

That was Saturday. On Thursday I went for my walk and came home to jump in the shower. I was feeling pretty good when I wrapped myself in a towel and walked out to the kitchen to prepare some chicken. I like to cook several pieces at a time to make it worth while turning on the oven and so I have a supply on hand already cooked. It helps me to not be tempted to have something less healthy. There I stood wrapped in a towel, with another on my head, searching in the freezer for my chicken. I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t there! What the hell!? I just bought some…the light bulb went on.

“Oh My God! Oh My God! Oh My God!” was all I could get out for the first several seconds. He-Who sauntered up to see if he could be of assistance. I just screamed at him, “Oh My God! O My God! Go out to my car right now and see if the chicken is still in the trunk!” Poor He-Who. He ran like that few seconds was going to save everything. He ran right back in carrying the bag with three boxes of not frozen chicken through the house and into the kitchen. I had smelled it as soon as he opened the door. It dripped all through the house and ended up in the sink. Do I have to explain to any one of you how gross three boxes of rotten chicken is? There are 8-12 pieces in each box, which means 24-36 pieces of dead chicken flesh were stinking up my house and dripping in my sink. By the time I was finished disinfecting the floors and the kitchen and the sink I know my face looked much the same as those rotting pieces of chicken. I gagged through the whole thing and was in a panic about what to do with the evidence. There is no way it was staying at the same address I was at. I wrapped it in plastic bag after plastic bag until I ran out of plastic bags. He-Who drove, I was in the passenger seat and the smell was in the trunk. I was sure I was going to pass out. We had to get rid of it. Someplace that would have collection the next morning, someplace that would not scare patrons from going inside to eat, SOME PLACE WE NEVER GO.  We finally found a spot and like thieves in the night, He-Who stopped right in front of it. It wasn’t looking good for me getting out of the car so he gallantly got out and grabbed the offending package from the trunk. As he approached the garbage can a man in shorts, no shirt, riding a bicycle pulled up to him and started talking. There he stood, literally holding the bag, talking to this strange man for what seemed like a lengthy period of time. I was about to have a stroke and probably puke all over the car. The man finally moved on and my He-Who dropped the bag in the bin and got back in the car. I stared at him and asked what the hell was all the socializing all about. I kid you not, this is what he said, “He asked me where the Aren’t We Naughty store was. I didn’t know so we were taking about where it might be.” I looked him in the eye and pointed to where the local sex toy shop is. It might have been the ashen colour of my skin or the gagging but he didn’t asked me how I knew where it was.

Needless to say, I haven’t been able to even look at chicken since. When ever our paths cross all I see is this. Oh My God, The Horror!

chicken-trump

Google Image

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Banjo Boy

A year has passed. Maybe a little more. I think I can talk about it now…in a calm and reasonable manner. Last year, just before my birthday, HeWho asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Being a woman of a certain age and us being a couple with limited funds, my response was that I really didn’t need anything and that I didn’t think it was necessary that we exchange gifts anymore. My response was accepted valiantly with no argument and he returned his focus to his computer. Our desks are in extremely close proximity to each other. I work from home so I am pretty much on my computer what seems like 24-7 (at least my clients think so). I knew that he was spending an inordinate amount of time on his computer — something, I have to say, I am not comfortable with. I find it disconcerting when he is right there all the time. In fairness, he was doing nothing to disturb me from working. He wears headphones or earbuds to keep the sound to a minimum but occasionally it bleeds out into my ear space. What I heard was banjo music! That should have been my first clue.

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It really didn’t concern me. He had just shipped his banjo out to Kelowna, BC for his grandson Tristan.

Tristan

Tristan

Silly me. You see, HeWho is a lover of music and musical instruments. We have quite a collection of exotic musical instruments on display ranging from a Tamböa to a Djembé. There is even a Didgeridoo. None of them get played, although occasionally they get played with. Stringed instruments, however, seem to be his first love. Several years ago I gave him a Liberty Resonator guitar for Christmas. It was a thing of beauty. He gave it to his grandson, Eric, in Niagara Falls last year.

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Eric

Shortly after shipping the banjo out west to  Tristan in, he started hanging out at the local music store. I didn’t pay much attention as it was my busy time of year, work-wise. As long as he was amusing himself, I didn’t have to. I’m not sure when he actually brought the new guitar into the house. It was snuck in and discovered by me later. Once it was out in the open and he could discuss it there came the little hints. “It really isn’t what I wanted.” “It’s not a very good one.” “I don’t really like it.” Within a week the guitar was returned and replaced with a more expensive model. Fine. (Yes, that is the “fine” that only we women can issue and know that really, it is not fine.)  Now, did I mention how much time was being spent on the computer/internet? It got extremely intense for a while. I was getting really annoyed. Supper would go cold before he would come to the table. It would take him forever to get to something I asked him to do. I confess my patience was wearing thin. Then one day he played a video he wanted me to see.

At the time, it was one of those “That’s nice, dear”, moments and I went back to work. Every day, mention was made of the banjo in the video and stories were told. Every day he would have to remind me, “You know, I showed you the video”. The penny finally dropped…about an hour before the UPS guy showed up at the door.

NEW GUITAR

Oh, yeah. He bought it. The rest of the day went kind of like this…

“Just because I said I didn’t want anything for my birthday didn’t mean that you were supposed to buy yourself something!”

“You just spent a small fortune shipping the banjo you already had out west!”

“Why didn’t you just keep the one you had?”

It went on and on but even I can’t remember the full rant of my rage.  It was weeks before I even found out how much it cost. Of course, once he had it, we also had to get a special case for it. We drove to Aurora to Rickard Banjos to pick up a case. This was probably the first time I actually looked at the new banjo. Dang! It was beautiful. All of the luthiers made a fuss over it. They are really great guys and their work is amazing. But there was no way I was going to confess to HeWho how beautiful I thought his banjo was or how much I enjoyed the visit to Rickard Banjos. After all, I only went so he wouldn’t buy anything else.

The following week I thought HeWho was feeling sorry for me because I had broken my toe the night before. He wanted to take me into Toronto for a “concert”. The concert turned out to be two guys set up in a really tiny music store playing…you guessed it…banjos. I sat on a really uncomfortable, rickety stool for a couple of hours with my foot throbbing. After it was over I found out that one of the guys was the person who HeWho was signing up for lessons with. And therein lies the rub. You see, HeWho doesn’t actually play. He loves the banjo, the music and the backroom stories the players have to share. He just doesn’t play.

Copy of 2015-12-30 10.09.56

 

Our road trip this winter took us to a rest stop in Virginia. As I got out of the vehicle I heard the banjo music playing and saw the sign. I said, “It looks like we’ve stumbled upon your people.” He grinned from ear to ear.

A year has passed and I am still waiting to hear some banjo music from my Banjo Boy.

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There are a lot of reasons that we load the car full of empty water jugs whenever we trek home to Niagara Falls. We’ve been buying our water from Rainbow Water in the Falls for many years. Of course when we started, we lived in Niagara Falls. In fact, we lived just around the corner from the 8201 Lundy’s Lane location. It is a small family-run business, which we like to support. Jack Ewin, his wife (Inga) and daughter (Sherry) are naturals at customer service and are some of the nicest people we have ever met. One thing they always have for us is a smile, a warm greeting and a kind word. There are other things as well. Things you might not expect.

A few months ago we walked in and there were balloons everywhere.  It seems they are now the go-to-place for all kinds of specialty balloons. It happened to be Valentine’s Day and we were on our way to see Paul’s daughter and grandchildren.  We left the store with some pretty cool helium-filled balloons that Trish and the kids loved.

Another surprise you might happen upon is music. Live music. A jam session!  Any number of people can be there (once there were 14) playing any number of instruments, including banjos, acoustic guitars, mandolins, a bass guitar and a dobro to name just a few. Some of the musicians have been dropping by for years, but the afternoon sessions seem to be picking up steam because on our last visit we ran into a first timer, guitarist Lonz Crawford.

Jack Ewin • Don Scott • Cally Scott • Lonz Cranford

While it’s a lot of fun to listen and enjoy the music, but the real surprise comes when the young lady of the gathering stands up and begins to sing ― she has the voice of an angel and can take my breath away.  Cally Scott has been singing since she was eight.  She was 12-years-old when she first sang in public at her grandmother’s school reunion. Cally says she still follows advice her grandmother gave her that day. “If you get scared, just look up at the sky.” She has no formal training but learned to sing listening to CD’s and practicing with her talented father, Don Scott. Don joins Cally at Rainbow Water, accompanies her on guitar and gets in a few vocals himself.  He’s been entertaining people since he was eight and in 1965, at the ripe old age of 12, opened a concert for Hank Snow. More recently, he’s had guest spots with another local boy, multiple Grammy Award winner Walter Ostenak.

And the music goes even deeper into the proverbial genes: Cally says that both her grandfathers were musical and that her grandmother was also a huge influence.  On this particular visit we were treated to Cally’s vocal stylings of Patsy Cline’s Cry If I Want To, Loretta Lynn’s You Ain’t Woman Enough and two of Leann Rimes songs, Commitment and my favourite, Blue.

Here is the video I took with my phone.

Cally and her Dad share something else besides their love of music. They both have a genetic disorder that leaves them with very little sight. Cally was born with cataracts and the surgery she had for them led her to develop glaucoma. They are both monitored regularly and although the numbers can vary, Don has a slightly higher percentage of vision than his daughter.  Still, neither one of them let it interfere with their music.

Don & Cally Scott

Of course Jack sits in with his guitar when he’s not taking care of customers. Most, however, would rather hang around a bit and enjoy the gathering. My Paul gets tears in his eyes whenever there’s a song being sung. Or, it could be because Jack has his eye on his precious dobro.

Jack Ewin – Owner and Host of Rainbow Water

If you have a thirst for some classic country entertainment, stop by Rainbow Pure R.O. (reverse osmosis) Water at 8201 Lundy’s Lane at Kalar Road in Niagara Falls. This is no ordinary water store. The least you will come away with is some really great water, a warm smile and some friendly conversation. And you might just luck out and hear the voice of an angel. Tell em’ I sent you!

RAINBOW PURE R.O. WATER

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