Saturday, September 28, 2013

Murphy has a penchant for precise pooping

If Murphy the Wonder Dog were a person, he would likely be considered eccentric, maybe even a little touched in the mind.
But because he is a dog, he can be considered goofy, playful and, well, who am I kidding he is an odd little hound.
I saw the oddness of the mutt early on and have often wondered what he is thinking and why he does the thing he does.
Murphy has a rather unique personality and it shines through on many occasions. First off, he has little-dog syndrome, but that is to be expected from a beast of only 17 pounds.
He knows he is a big dog trapped in a little dog's body, so whenever he sees other dogs, big or small, he acts tough by growling, barking and acting aggressive – much like most little dogs do.
The fact is he is not tough enough fight his way out of a fog bank, let alone take on another dog, but because he is size challenged, he must put on a good show.
But there is nothing strange about little dogs trying to act big, so what makes Murph the Surf so unusual. 
Where do I begin?
When he was a few months old, he pooped on my son's acoustic guitar. Odd you say? Well you haven't heard anything yet.
He did not just make a boom-boom on the guitar, he walked backwards part way onto the neck of the guitar to, um, er, make a deposit.
I have never seen a dog do that before – ever.
And his penchant for precisely placing poops in precarious places did not end there. Not by a long shot. He is now five years old and just the other day he backed up a cement meridian as far as he could to um, er, make a deposit.
He was basically doing a handstand on his front legs to get his butt as high as possible before pulling the trigger.
He has backed into a thicket of weeds so dense he had to force his way in,  he has balanced on three legs so he could make his deposit atop some ferns, climbed on top of a rock the size of a medicine ball and in general he finds the weirdest places in the world to do his business.
He is a strange little dog, but he is good for a laugh.
He also hates the wind. Even a slight breeze freaks him out and he is reluctant to go outside, but put him in a car and he sticks his head out the window at 60 miles per hour, happy as a dog can be.
Unlike most dogs, he won't eat everything you place in front of him. He will sniff it and think about it, and on occasion he won't even eat it. Unheard of in the canine kingdom.
He will turn his nose up (literally) to a new type of dog food, but then he will eat a half rotted mouse the cat left in the back yard.
We took him to the salmon run a couple years ago and he dove into a large rotted spawner like it was his last meal.
The closer I got the faster he ate. A few minutes later he was recycling the rotted fish meal all over the woodland trail, but still seemed as happy as can be.
Yes, Murphy the Wonder Dog is a strange little animal, but he greets me every time I come home and no matter how bad my day was or how grumpy I am, he is always glad to see me.
Which is why most people have a dog, even if they are weird.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Yikers - my daughter is in high school

I wanted to do the clothes shopping myself, but my daughter would have none of it.
Instead, she dragged her mom to every mall in the Valley looking for the perfect clothes to wear to school.
Personally, I would be happy to see her decked out in a nice big burlap sack. Cut out a hole for her head and arms and send her off to school.
"Dad, what is burlap anyway?” she asked.
"Burlap is the latest in fashion,” I replied. "It is all the rage in Europe right now. You could be a trend setter, honey. The first to break out this new fashion style here.”
She went online (stupid Interweb) and saw what a burlap sack actually was and no matter how much I praised it as Euro-chic, she did not buy into it.
I would prefer she head off to school with a big, ugly piece of cloth wrapped around her. Perhaps a big floppy hat that covers her face as well.
Instead, she walked out the door every bit the pretty young woman she is – darn it.
My wife makes sure our daughter dresses modestly, with none of the three Bs showing – boobs, butt or belly.
And for the most part my daughter complies with little fuss, even though some of her classmates are dressed differently.
"But their mom's let them dress that way,” is occasionally her plea.
"Well, I'm not their mom. If I were, they wouldn't be dressing that way either,” replied my unflappable spouse who is a big proponent of modesty  in young ladies.
It was a lot easier for me to see my boys grow up than my girl.
At her elementary school graduation, it hit like a Mike Tyson sucker punch that she will now be going to the big school, a school full of teenage boys. Yikes.
I remembered what some of my classmates were like as teenage boys and I immediately wanted to ship her off to an all-girl boarding school somewhere in the Arctic circle where there is virtually no chance of boys being around.
I know that is not realistic, but I still wanted to do it.
I worried about my boys when they went into high school, but for different reasons. With them I was more concerned about their grades, who their friends were, who their teachers were and other things a typical parent thinks about.
I thought about those with my daughter as well, but in the back of my mind   (actually it was screaming its head off in the front of my mind) was: building full of teenage boys with raging harmones.
If I recall, teenage boys only think of a few things: girls, girls and more often than not, girls.
To be fair, they also think about sports (to impress the girls), cars (to take the girls out in) and how they look (see to impress the girls.)
Personally, I was never a 'dog' in or after high school. Jumping from girl to girl was just never my style, but I knew many guys who were the eptiome of a man-whore and would chase anything with breasts.
Those are the type of young men who concern me. OK, they all concern me, but those ones concern me the most.
My daughter has a good head on her shoulders and is a smart, confident person, but I am a dad and that gives me the right to worry about my little girl. And that is a right I choose to exercise – a lot.
I cannot force her to wear a burlap sack, forsake all makeup and look as frumpy as possible, but when a boy does come over, I can sit there in my martial arts uniform, sharpening a 10-inch hunting knife and muttering to myself about how much I miss all my old pals in prison.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I have seen fear and it is a spider

I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and knew something wasn't right. There was something on my neighbour's house and it was huge.
When I looked over I was stunned to see an arachnid so large it was hauling a cat into its web.
OK, maybe not a cat, but it was one of the biggest, ugliest black spiders I have ever seen in my life.
I stood and watched the beast for a few moments while trying not to wet myself as this monster of prehistoric proportions scurried along its web.
A shiver ran down my spine and I knew what I must do: kill the spider. The question was how. I was about as close to the critter as I planned on getting, so smashing it was out of the question. Besides, I did not have an elephant gun and it had crawled behind a downspout, which I assumed was its lair, making it nearly impossible to smash.
And if I failed in my noble quest to slay the beast with a manual form of attack, it would panic and who knows what havoc it would wreak upon an unsuspecting world.
Then I remembered I had a can of spider killer spray stuff in the garage, so I ran for the canister of death and dispatched my foe with extreme prejudice.
I sprayed half a can at the beast and when its convulsing body hit the ground, I actually heard the impact. 
A co-worker said the multi-legged terror was a cat-faced spider. So I went to the knower of all things worth knowing – Google – and sure enough, there was a picture of the creature in all its hideous glory.
Even seeing a photo of it on a computer monitor gave me the creeps, so you can imagine what coming across one in person did to me.
With the monster dead, I continued to mow my elderly neighbour's lawn and noticed more of the spiders that had strung massive webs between the cedars and the fence.
I am not sure if it is a particularly bad year for these kind of spiders, but it looked like they were having a convention at my neighbour's place, causing me great anxiety.
My fear of spiders is well documented, but I have not always been an arachnid wussy.
I came by my fear of spiders honestly when I was around 11 years old. Until 'the incident' I did not like spiders, but they did not warrant the stark-raving terror that grips me today.
It was during a school camping trip my fear was born when as some friends and myself were running through the woods.
I grew up in the country, so playing among the pines was one of my favourite activities and on this fine spring day I was leading the charge when it happened.
I ran full speed into a huge spider web that wrapped around my entire head like a sticky, silk helmet.
Sitting in the middle of the web was a spider of epic proportions. Upon hitting the web, the spider ended up in my left eye socket before it scurried across my face, over my head and was trying to hide down the back of my shirt.
I began to spin and gyrate like a madman while ripping off my shirt and throwing it to the ground.
But the panic did not end there. I still had the webbing wrapped around my cranium and the feeling of being encased in the fine white string gives me shivers to this day.
My friends, of course, thought this was the funniest thing they had ever seen and offered all the sympathy an 11-year-old boy can conjure up – none whatsoever.
I threw my shirt on the ground and stomped it with a blind fury. I went back to camp and grabbed a new shirt, leaving that one hanging in a tree incase the beast was somehow still alive. My fear of spiders was tattooed into my mind forever.
Even as I write this, I can feel little creepy crawlies scurrying all over my body. Time to think of something more pleasant, like a trip to the dentist.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Maybe an empty nest won't be so bad

It was something my wife and I had not experienced in a long time.
For the first time in 20 years we went to the IPE without children.
The IPE, (the Interior Provincial Exhibition, which technically is the official name,) is also known as the Armstrong Fair.
The fair has been held for more than 100 years and has become a family tradition for many. As usual, my family went to the fair, but this year we didn't all do it at the same time.
The Missus and I took in the fair on opening day, with the young 'uns heading out on the weekend, when all the action is.
The thing I noticed about the drive to the fairgrounds this year was how quiet it was. Nothing but the sound of the road and the wind whistling past, giving the Missus and myself a chance to partake in some adult banter.
The next thing I noticed was how light we could travel. All we had to carry was our jackets in case the earlier rain storm returned.
When the kids were younger, we ventured out with a stroller loaded down like a chuckwagon with diapers, food, extra clothes, juice, water, Cheerios (of course) and a variety of other implements of parenting needed for a day trip with children.
And if you buy anything at the fair then you have to lug that around as well, because despite promises of “Please can I get one? I'll  carry it,” they don't carry it, and the pack mule (aka dad) ends up having another item tied to his back.
No wonder I was always so tired at the end of the day.
The older the kids got, the less stuff I had to carry, but there was still five of us so travelling light was nearly impossible.
And unlike previous trips to the fair, we wandered through the midway without really stopping.
With kids in tow, it was always a debate as to what rides they would go on and 'Can I ride with my friend' and 'I don't want to go on that one' etc.
Age differences usually meant the kids wanted to go on different rides (and I wanted to sneak off to the closest neighbourhood pub.)
But as we strolled through the midway this time, there was no drama, no discussions and no debates. There was just the chatter of the people around us and the non-stop barking of the carnival workers as they try to entice you to 'win' a prize at their booth. Where else could you spend $10 to 'win' a $2 prize?
Going to the IPE sans kids was also more of a leisurely stroll from exhibit to exhibit than the typical race to get through the numerous displays as the next generation's short attention span demanded new input every five seconds. 
I guess at some point in my tale I should start to lament about how much I missed my children, and 'Oooooh how I wish they were little again' and drift back the good ol' days and all the fun we used to have.
This is one of the first tastes of empty nest the Missus and I have experienced in two decades and I have to admit, so far, it is not that bad. 
Let's review: no drama, no need to buy snacks every five minutes so they can make it through to the big feed at dinner time, no big feed at dinner time, no spending half our time in the midway listening to the chaos that is a midway and no rushing through the 'boring' exhibits us older folk enjoy.
I know eventually I will yearn for the days of children buzzing around us and I may even miss the chaos of going to the fair with a load of children in tow, but for now I just enjoyed spending a day at the fair with my bride, just the two of us, like it was oh so long ago.