Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Many Happy Returns

I went down to 411 Seniors' Centre last Wednesday morning, and as I was walking up the stairs to the reception desk on the second floor, our Manager of Client and Volunteer Services was on her way downstairs. It's no great surprise that both of us were using the stairs, because the building was constructed around the same time as the Tower of Babel, and I think they used the same elevator contractor.

What did surprise Amanda is that I was there on a Wednesday! I am her Tuesday morning receptionist, and for me to show up on another day without her knowing about it meant that there must have been a powerful disturbance in the Force. As, indeed, there was.

Now, some of you are aware I was beaned by a set of bedrails at work about four years ago, and to this day, a great many of my marbles remain scattered to distant cosmic confines with ever lessening possibilities of them returning to our planetary system or your reality.

Among the consequences of this little incident are these; I don't read as well as I used to, and have only recently commenced this bit of cerebral thumb twiddling which I like to call th' blog, and making decisions has become very difficult. Another thing that went by the boards is my facility with simple mathematics - ergo, my unexpected visit to 411 Dunsmuir Street.

Y'see, 411 Seniors' Centre Society has volunteer tax counsellors, and I have been a very bad boy.

I fully intended to file my 2007 tax return - I had actually completed it! The result wasn't satisfactory to me, and I was going to do it over, and see if I could come to a better conclusion, but I didn't. In 2008, my entire income was fifteen weeks of a medical EI claim, and should have been simple. I looked at that return too. 2009 was nothing but nothing - again, I did nothing.

The Tall Lady offered to do them for me, but I have rules, and she's not allowed to do my taxes or my ironing (silly rules, perhaps, but still rules). My little buddy, Mad Bad Vlad the Lad tried to do them for me too, but he couldn't decide which corner of the T1 to chew, so he wound up eating most of the form.

Last Wednesday was Jose the Tax Guy's first shift at 411. Amanda had probably promised him an easy day, and I suppose it's what he expected. Then I showed up with my new membership card, my travel mug and three years of bad news. I took up three quarters of his four hour shift (fortunately, there was another counsellor in the next office who does taxes as well). Jose was likely a good deal older at the end of his day than he was at its beginning. My only hope is that he's not gotten any wiser and that he came back to work today.

The final upshot of this (I hope) is that the Receiver General and I can be friends again. He's never said anything mean about me, and I certainly never intended to be rude to him (or her - my interest in government is not what it was either).

Let's just hope that these are the first of many happy returns.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembrance Day

Monday is Remembrance Day. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the Great War officially ended. At the time, it was called the War to End All Wars. Today we call it World War One, and because some people forgot just how bad it was, there was a second one.

Once more, guns fired, bombs fell, and men, women and children died in numbers too horrible to contemplate. Villages, towns and whole cities were reduced to dust and ashes, and, once more, young men lined up, or were called into the lineup, to put their lives at risk for the things they, or somebody else, most dearly believed.

One of them was my mom's kid brother-in-law, James Fasken Green. Uncle Jim and his pals went to Holland. He made the round trip and many of them didn't. I remember him telling stories about his adventure, and the stories all seemed to be missing something. He told us about the countryside and the weather, and he told us about the cheerful Dutch people waving their little flags when the Canadian boys marched by, but I realize now that he never said anything about the war. What he and his friends had seen was, and remained, a private thing. I think that my dad was one of Uncle Jim's heroes.

Alexander MacPherson was born in 1909, before the First World War had even begun, so he was well into his thirties when the second rolled around. He and my mom had two little kids at the beginning of World War Two, and before it was over, they'd have a third. I guess they were optimists.

I don't know if my dad ever tried to enlist, but I suspect that somehow or other, somebody decided that he was Not Needed on the Voyage. He did serve in the militia - Dad's Army, if you like. This was a commitment of one night every week and his alternate weekends. During that time, he would be involved in training exercises or posted on guard duty at different strategically critical locations. While it might not seem like any great contribution, please recall that the Empire of Japan didn't capture the Seaforth Armoury while Alex MacPherson and his wooden Enfield were on the job!

Ever since John MacRae wrote that little bit of verse in 1918, people have been wearing pressed paper poppies on Remembrance Day. Most of us will wear them out of respect, many out of courtesy, some of us out of habit.

I'll be wearing mine for my Uncle Jim and for my dad.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Monday Morning Social Club

The Tall Lady didn't go to work today, which is really unusual.

I think that she took a day off when her second son was born, but it might only have been the afternoon.

She has been away from work since Thursday because she has an infected cat bite...

You see, she had an honest misunderstanding with our gentle giant Geordie on Hallowe'en. This wasn't their usual misunderstanding - where he mistakes her finger for a Temptation or a Crunchy Cheeto - Geordie had just fallen off of our third floor balcony, and had broken his right leg. The Tall Lady was trying to help, but he didn't want to be touched. So he bit her...really, really hard!

Her finger just kept on swelling and swelling (and swelling!) until she couldn't bend it any more, which meant that she couldn't drive, which meant she couldn't drive to work.

She went to a walk-in clinic on Wednesday afternoon (McMedicine's, I think), and since she couldn't tell them how to fix it, they suggested that she go to the emergency room at Vancouver General Hospital to see if she could consult a physician whose diploma didn't have the word "novelty" printed on it.

The staff at VGH gave her some fine pharmacuticals through an IV (in her formerly good arm), and when those weren't satisfactory, they tried something else the next night and again on the third. Her finger is finally on its way down, along with the nausea and that other complaint.

She'll be back to work tomorrow, but today, she's just going to stay home and read with her little friends...

...all of her little friends.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Return of Wee Geordie

My buddy Geordie came home from the vet's last night. He's had a pretty terrible week, and I've posted a new profile picture on my Facebook wall - it's a dunce cap!

The Tall Lady and I have fostered kittens for over a year now, and each of our eighteen kids has been a treat. Geordie, his brothers, Cole and Blaze and sister Sidney have been among the best tempered and most easy-going of the lot. Geordie is certainly one of the prettiest.

On Hallowe'en, I went out onto our third floor balcony to watch my neighbours finishing up the yard decorations. A couple of our six cats came out to keep me company. Now, I know better than to leave cats on an open balcony - especially kittens, but I was distracted. In fact, I was putting a Michael Myers Hallowe'en mask on a photo of Geordie (for a Facebook profile), and I wasn't watching them as carefully as I should have done. When I went to get everyone in, I only counted five noses.

Geordie had fallen off the balcony railing and landed on our neighbour's patio three floors below, breaking his right femur. With a lot of help and a good deal of human blood spilled, we managed to get him back upstairs and into the evil cat carrier for his trip to Killarney Animal Hospital.

Once he was there, the plan was to put pins in his leg, get him healed, healthy and mobile again. Unfortunately, the femur was badly shattered, and on Tuesday, Geordie's leg was amputated. After he'd spent three more days being a horrible patient, we were commanded to bring him home.

Geordie is currently residing in a great, big kennel in our living room that we call the post-op ward. The other cats don't like the cage very much, and for the moment, they seem not to be too fond of the big, pansy weirdo who lives inside it.

He will have to stay in the kennel for fourteen days, until we take him back to have his stitches taken out. In that time, he's to be confined to his new bed, and isolated from the other cats. There will be no running, no jumping, no rassling and no adventures allowed!

Geordie is really pretty sad about that. As far as he's concerned, he's done his time and paid his debt to society. He misses racing around the apartment with his brothers and sister, getting into all of the places he knows he's not allowed and doing all of the things he shouldn't do. He even misses his grouchy, old aunts!

His appetite is all that it should be, he's good about taking his meds and he's becoming really adept at rolling on his three remaining wheels. He's strong, alert, good-natured and gentle with his wound. He's our big, handsome Geordie, and he's ready to come all the way home and be as spoiled as he deserves.

I think that he's forgiven me for the accident - maybe I should do the same.