Double Exposure

A few months ago my father sent me a scan of an old and half forgotten photo of his father; my Grandpa. It was taken by my Grandmother while they vacationed in Canada. Yesterday was their 70th anniversary and It’s been along time since I’ve seen my either of them. I was twelve when he died and though memories from that age can be incredibly vivid, they are also extremely selective. There are only a few times that I can recall, with real clarity, time spent with my Grandpa. General memories run along the lines of his voice, his silhouette and his smell.

He had a gruff, raspy voice after a life time of smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day. I can still hear it echoing around in my head. For some reason, he always called me “Little Rebel”, which I remember being both confused and bemused by. It was made doubly strange by the fact that my entire family came from New Hampshire and that I was a ridiculously good natured, trustworthy kid. But hey, “Little Rebel” it was, and since he was the only one who called me that, thinking about the monicker warms my heart to this day.

This was the man who gave me my first gun. My beloved .22 caliber, single shot Stevens. They were the one who lived too far away to visit easily or frequently and so, through that infrequency, gained a kind of mystique. Plus, as my Father’s Father, that made him all the more impressive to a boy who knew that his Dad could do anything in the world. Grandfathers hold a very special place in the minds of little boys.

There are a few things that stand out in my mind about him. First of all, the cigarettes that eventually killed him. He always had one going and I can’t really picture him with out one screwed into the corner of his mouth. Then, there was the coffee that he always seemed to have a half full mug of. He couldn’t make it through the night with out either. On the few times I spent the weekend with them, I can remember him getting up consistently at two AM and going to the kitchen for a smoke and a coffee. It was something that called him out every night.

When my Dad was kid, his Father started drinking. It got bad. Bad enough for his young, only son to leave home when he was still really just a child and move in with an older sister and brother-in-law, half a country away. My father grew up strong and confident in his own abilities and and moved along in life. Then he got married and I came along, That was something kind of extra special in the extended family. I was the only son of an only son of an only son. The line ended with me… and my father would not take me to his parent’s house. Not until my Grandfather stopped drinking, and you know what? He did.

It took a long time. I only really got to know him when I was somewhere around eight. But I did, and here’s the interesting thing. This man who made my Father’s childhood so awful and so sad at times; this man who had been out of control with drink for so long, I have nothing but tender memories for. When I was with Grandma and Grandpa, I had a wonderful time. He taught me how to shoot, how to identify the different types of steam locomotive and that if you were sharing a house with him over night, you needed to be asleep before he was. Other wise his snoring would keep you up for hours.

I can still see the two of us sitting at the red picnic table in their back yard. The cup of coffee, the open pack of cigarettes, my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a Coke. We’d spend hours there, shooting at targets that he set up on the hill behind the house and talking. I don’t recall what we talked about, but I’m forever glad we had those conversations. He seemed to enjoy them.

The photo my Dad sent is a classic accidental double exposure. Two exposures on the same film. The effect is a ghost image of a man who I knew in such a different way than my Father did. Rather an interesting allegory for the two ways his son and grandson saw him, I think. On some level I believe that my Grandpa was hoping to make amends with his son by being so good to his grand son. From the perspective I have, I’d say that he achieved it. I proudly named my only son after the Grandfather who was so kind to me. The only son of an only son of an only son of an only son.

Thinking about you today, Grandma and Grandpa.

The Six Word Memoir

So, here I type, the selected target of another meme. Nathalie over at Nathalie with an h’s Confessional tapped me for this one. The idea is to write your memoir or epitaph in six words. If you can add an image to go along with it, so much the better.

Then, simply sneak up behind 5 unsuspecting friends and whap them in the back of the head with it. Links need to be provided to the person who whapped you and to the originator of the meme, so they can see how far the thing goes. You can check out the place where it all began for a better explanation of the rules. If all goes well, you shall receive a life time supply of socks! Wait… That’s not actually how this works. Hmm.. I really needed the socks. I’ll have to work that out later.

So… here’s mine. I decided to go the memoir route and had fun with the picture. I’ll take any excuse to mess around in Photoshop. If you can’t quite read what I worked into the image, it says:

“In His Mind, What World Grows?”

Interpret as you wish.

As to the next victims… I hereby whap:

Inmate1972
Prairie Flounder
Progressive Conservative
Damyanti
and, Ladybughugs

My apologies for saddling you all with homework. The good news is that you can ignore it with out fear of your parents finding out on your report card. So, there you are. Have fun with it. It’s actually trickier than I thought it would be, though easier than word problems involving trains and relative speed. Just ask Prairie Flounder.

Cheers!

Badger, badger, badger, badger, MUSHROOM, MUSHROOM!

My mind is slightly bent. I don’t know when this happened or how, exactly. I can take an educated guess that the steady diet of Benny Hill, Monty Python and Dr. Demento in my youth had something to do with it, but I also think it was just part of the way I came wired. It can be a tricky thing at times and my outward appearance probably doesn’t help me out when it comes to trying not to confuse/weird-out the locals.

I don’t look very odd, so far as I can tell. I have a normal, short hair cut (quite short in the summer). My usual daily dress is Carhart shorts, t-shirt with a some what odd print on it, a worn, unbuttoned flannel shirt and Teva sandals. Oh… And a hat. If I’m out side, you can just about bank on a baseball hat. The one I have today is from a trip to Hawaii and has a volcano on it. Nothing too odd there.

It’s the silliness that my mind defaults to that makes life interesting for me, and I suppose, for those standing nearby who are paying attention. To put it another way, I’ve never felt the need to partake in recreational drug use because quite honestly, that’s the way my brain works all the time. That, and the fact that I didn’t dare kill off any brain cells. I need all the cells I can get and if I’m going to put any of them in front of a firing squad, I was determined to use high quality alcohol as my weapon of choice. Each to their own. The bottom line is, seeing the world like a “normal” person takes effort for me.

So one morning, as I dragged my bent mind, kicking and screaming to work, I happened upon something that, figuratively speaking, tickled me.

It was a bit of a cardboard box that had once held mushrooms and it was sitting on a short flight of stairs in the alley next to a popular restaurant. Obviously, it had fallen out of a garbage can on the way to the dumpster out back, but it sported a print of two, little blue mushrooms on it and it made me stop and smile. I took a few steps away, stopped, turned around and picked it up. What next?

Lately, the city has been doing its bit to dress up its more forgotten parts. This alley had until recently been graced with a set of rotting wooden stairs that led from the main street, down to the parking lot below. The steps had been ripped out an replaced with nice granite ones, complete with a small flower garden to one side. The gardener in charge of it had gone out of her way to give it a “woodland” feel, complete with moss and bits off rotting logs. Perfect.

I took my little bit of found art and carefully nestled it in behind a log so it just peeked out at a jaunty angle. Just after I took the picture, a man wandered along, saw it and laughed. That made my day. It stayed there for at least three weeks.

A few days ago I noticed that the gardeners had been back to do some more work and that my mushrooms were gone. The very next day (and I’m assuming here) someone from the restaurant had noticed it missing as well. They were kind enough to replace it with another little cardboard cut out mushroom from another box. It’s good to know you’re not alone when it come to odd shaped humor.

I could get into this kind of gardening!

By the way… for those of you who don’t understand the title of this post, here’s the explanation. I’ll take no blame for the earworm. You have been warned.

Brilliant Fool

Last evening as I was playing with Lulu Belle and her squeekie ladybug toy, Action Girl was getting some things done on the computer. By “getting things done”, I naturally mean “having fun poking around the internet”. After a while, I could here her watching some video of some sort and letting out little sounds of bemused glee. When it was done, she gave out one of those warm hearted laughs usually given by parents at children’s performances. Something had tickled her.

“You’ve got to see this!”
“What?”
“I’m not going to ruin it by telling you. It just makes you happy. Come here.”

I made sure Lulu Belle was okay and headed over.

This is what she had found… before you click though, get a cup of coffee. It takes a while to watch the whole thing… and you really should watch the whole thing. Honest

I can’t exactly quantify why… but this is GREAT!

The best thing to do, if you are curious, is to go check out Matt’s web site for the explanation of what this is all about. Personally, he sounds like someone I’d love to hang out with. Although, if he mentions a slide show of his travels, I think I’d have to dive out a window to save my self. It would take months!

Enjoy the weekend!

Valhalla in Salzburg, part III

Now, as I have stated before, I was, repeat WAS a picky eater and though I had a very long “I no eat” list, I was also raised to be polite. I would never have turned away an offer so generously given. Especially since I had already started ingesting it. Besides, it was obvious that it wasn’t going to kill me. After all, the plumber was still alive. I was also, at this point, ¾ in the bag. Something that happens quite infrequently and it no doubt helped with my “Eh. What the hell” attitude.

I took another bite from the pile on my napkin.

*Chew, chew, chew.*

Mountain Man, knowing the normal depth of my pickiness, looked at me quizzically.
“What does it taste like?” he filially added. I pondered this between bites and finally replied, “It’s kind of like… well… It tastes like… boiled, shaved cow’s cheek I guess. Want some?”

With out a moment to consider, he reached over and took a few slices off the stack. I have no doubt in my mind that my friend would eat a live trout if presented to him. The guy is like a garbage disposal. For him, this was nothing. Someone had even killed it first and cut into bite sized pieces.

When my napkin was empty and we could see the bottom of our steins, we decided that rather than going up for a fourth pint, it might be a good idea to get some fresh air. Sloppy “Danke Schone”s were given to our plumber and we staggered off on our merry way. First to the facilities and then out to hopefully walk some of this off.

“Beer as sustenance” had some flaws. The first is the rapid deterioration of the fine motor skills. The second is that once you have made your first stop at the loo, you seem to have to go again and again every few minutes. Aren’t kidneys and livers amazing things? All I can recall for certain about the bathroom was just how amazingly full of white tile it was.

Another problem with “beer as food” is that it shuts down the majority of your higher brain functions and instead gives control over to what apparently is a five year old who lives in your head; lying dormant until the opportunity arises. Both Mountain Man and I were wowed by what was, in all honesty, 4×4 plain white tile. Then we were wowed by a stone wall, then were were wowed by streetlights. What was in that beer?

As we wobbled out in to the night, one of us had a brilliant idea. We should call home to the States! We found a phone boot standing out by its self in the center of a little garden. I was first into the booth and managed to get my pre-paid phone card into the slot.

I don’t recall the actual phone conversation I had with my folks back in New Hampshire. It was probably along the lines of “DIS ISH GREAT! WERE HASHING SCHO MUCH FON!” Though the dialogue of the call is forgotten to time, I have been assured by my parents that I seemed to be having a good time, and that the beer breath was palpable through the telephone connection. Though they didn’t approve of drinking to excess, they have both told me that they were cracking up for a good half hour after that call home.

Mountain Man was next and I remember him taking a nonchalant pose in the booth and talking. And talking. AND TALKING. Good Lord! I started to wonder if we had phoned the UN with some new ideas about a solution the Arab-Israeli problem or something. Then, the Hefeweizen started to call again…

I looked around for some place to deal with the issue but there was nothing. The only thing big enough near to hide behind was the phone booth. Even the shrubs in the garden were about knee high.

A quick aside here about my luck. I know my luck well enough to realize that the second I start to do something naughty, a policeman or nun or a Grandparent will come by and see me doing it. I don’t know if it’s karma or what, but that’s the way my luck runs and to say that it makes me a cautious person is an understatement at times. If this were not the case, I might have been “watering” the azaleas at this point, but I know my luck better than that.

As I started to get more and more urgent messages from my bladder, I watched Mountain Man for any sign of getting off the dang phone. None was forthcoming. After a few more minutes of waiting I finally pulled a wrapper out of my pocket, wrote a note on it and pressed it to the glass of the booth for him to read…

I don’t know who “some of us” were, but I can only assume I was referring to the royal “we”. Or possibly, a royal “Wee”.

After the badly needed “Pinkle Pauser”, my friend informed me of an English language movie house. near by. Without hesitation, we were off! By this point, memory starts to fail me. I can recall sitting in the almost empty theater and that the movie was “Wallace and Grommit in A Close Shave” which alone, is a great little movie and quite funny. After a trip to a beer hall and three liters, it’s difficult to stay in your seat because you’re laughing so hard. Again, it’s the five year old taking control.

I don’t remember anything after the movie. Not getting back to the hostel, not the kids staying there, not the stinky bunk room or even how I managed to get into an upper bunk that was mercifully vacant.

Epilogue.

The next morning was a little… tender. We both were moving slowly and painfully, though to our immense pleasure we found lots and lots of very hot, very black coffee in the cafeteria. The hostel was a pit to be sure, but Mountain Man did come through on one point about it. The breakfast was amazing. You ordered it by country preference.

English= toast, yoghurt, weetabix and baked tomato
German/Austrian= cold meat, bread, butter, fruit
Australian= kangaroo and muesli… or something
American=2 eggs, scrambled, toast, homefries, sausage and bottomless black coffee

It was like heaven. We ate slowly and drank enough coffee to power three city blocks. Most of the day was spent café surfing and admiring the passers by. It was a wonderful way to observe a beautiful place like Salzburg. We ate out at a restraint that night. The beer was great, if no tin smaller quantities and the food wasn’t boiled, though it might have come from a cow.

Our train left early the next morning and I slept quite deeply, my last night at Delta House, Salzburg. While Mountain Man had been getting breakfast that painful next morning, I had slipped out to the front desk… and reserved the private double on the top floor. The experience of bunkhouse had loosed me up a good bit, but I still had standards.

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