Saturday, July 16, 2011

Well That's Why I'm Called 'Occasional...'

I am the Dearth Vader of postings, I know...

So the other day my son grandly and bravely announced he'd like to sleep outside on our air mattress.  Not a sleepover with chums or anything - just himself.

Despite my raised eyebrow and inner doubts as to whether he'd actually pull this off (bookies in Vegas were running odds well into the 8 digit-to-one range at this early juncture), I am nothing if not supportive of my kid's adventures so we set things up that afternoon.

I'll interrupt my narrative here by boldly announcing we don't have any of those 'inflate things with your own breath' stuff.  We have technology built in to our mattress that blows things up for us, by sucking in air at the rate of a small jet engine (with attendant noise, eerily similar to that of a large jet engine, with afterburner). 

Mattress inflated and positioned, we were proud of our next step since we actually remembered to place a fitted sheet over the mattress.  This surprised us both since a) we are male and therefore do not usually consider sheet-related issues at any point in our entire lives, content to wallow in filth and un-sheeted beds if needs be, b) we didn't tear the fitted sheet while attempting to fit the sheet cross-ways instead of length-ways on the mattress and scratching our heads in confusion as to how such things actually become 'fitted' when they don't bloody well fit anything, and further how do women actually fold these things so neatly anyway?, and c) I forget what c) was supposed to be. Forgive me.

Anyway, we made the bed, including my son's sleeping bag (or, to use the correct nomenclature - "Fart Sack"), unzipped to create one large blankie.  Perfect.

The hot afternoon promised a nice evening and I assured my brave boy that coyotes or other predators would not come roaming around our home to prey on small children.  We leave those tasks to religious zealots, natural gas salesmen, and other vermin, who all get slapped with the same vigour, you'll be pleased to know.

It was during the dessert course (Jello pudding) of our nutritious evening meal (Krap Dinner) that the predicted announcement was made.  "Dad, I think I'll sleep in my own bed tonight.  I need a good sleep."

Owing to my pressing schedule (sports highlights, card playing, web surfing, snack preparation and consumption etc.) I was unable to disassemble the bedding that particular night (and the next three nights in fact), owing to having completely forgotten about doing so, in classic male Dad tradition.

Later that night, however, I arose to fulfill a certain biological function related to abundantly functional kidneys, when a thought occurred to me and I decided right then and there to test the outdoor sleeping arrangement myself. 

I padded down the stairs all the way to the basement, stumbled outside in the blackness that is 3am, and beheld an inviting sight, perfectly illuminated by the Spiderman nightlight which I had also forgotten to unplug. 
Throwing caution to the wind, along with my bathrobe and glasses, I flung back the sleeping bag and gently lowered my magnificent body onto the soft flannel sheet.

Whereupon my ass plummeted down and onto the concrete of the patio beneath me.  The hot air with which I had filled the damn thing had cooled considerably and the mattress was now about half full, giving it a consistency of a 1980's water bed (and if you never experienced the thrill of a water bed, you were not alive in the 70's and 80's my friend.  Even now I am lurching back into my memories of attempting to have sex while pitching and rolling on the high seas of my old king size monster, my date turning a revolting shade of green in the romantic light of my undulating lava lamp...)  Where was I? Ah yes - outside.

Once I achieved equilibrium of motion by evenly distributing my weight (by assuming a posture of spread-eagled glory not unlike that drawing of the guy in the circle, by Da Vinci), I was actually quite comfortable.  A soft breeze was blowing cool air over me, and the decorative grasses were swaying gently near the side of the deck.  Ahhhh

I was just nodding off to a contented sleep when the first cannon went off.

Our region sports many fruit orchards, and propane cannons are often employed to shoo away hungry birds, and to cause sleeping men to lurch awake, shout "Incoming!" and roll into the flower bed, cowering behind the sheltering firmness of a Day Lily and several shrubs. 

Once I realized what the noise was (the 1812 Overture) I settled down, brushed the dirt off of my knees, and rolled back into bed.  My heart was still syncopating with the cannons but I eventually relaxed, such that I could now hear the mosquitos circling my head. 

"Oh great" I said (those were my exact words I assure you).

Feeling one of the little monsters alight on my head, I misjudged my strength and slapped myself (and the mosquito, presumably) with enough force to raise a welt and scare off neighbourhood birds in my own right.  This smack killed the beast (its dessicated carcass clearly visible on my face the next day), and I was able to return to slumber, albeit with a burning welt on my forehead which later caused co-workers to ask if my wife and I were still on speaking terms...

Thinking my worries were over ("What else was there to go wrong?" I asked myself in a foolish display of deluded thinking) I nodded off, dreaming happy, bug and cannon-free dreams.

Until the neighbour's sprinklers turned on about 3 minutes later, 10 feet from my head.

"Plop on this!" I cried, stumbling up the stairs.

I looked in on my son, sleeping soundly in his bed.

Smart kid.  Good thing he takes after his mother.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"And Vile Odours Crept Across The Land..."

We just got back from a long weekend at a cabin at Beaver Lake, where we enjoyed sunshine, smoke, hideous body aromas, scratching, and lack of anything electronic.  Then we got out of the minivan and unpacked at the lake...

Last year's camping trip saw me make fishing lures out of old fishing line, a stick, and some wire bent into a hook.  This contraption was created for the kids not so much to catch fish but to keep them amused attempting to catch fish (by coating the bottom of the lake with bits of bread and millions of gummy worms) for many hours, which was successful beyond my wildest dreams. 

This year, bait in the form of extraordinarily expensive (real) worms were employed, leading to the following conversation:

"Dad!  I caught something!"
"Bull fish"
"No, Dad.  It's true!  Look!  It's a real fish!"
"Yes - they are called Bull fish sweetheart.  Congratulations!  What are you going to do with it?"
"Can I cut it open and look at the guts?" (my daughter is beginning to exhibit certain gruesome personality characteristics which we'll discuss in a future column, perhaps after a visit with a mental health professional)
"He's a little small don't you think?" (the butt-ugly 'fish' in question was 2 inches in length - massively huge to a ten-year old).
"I think I'll put him in a bowl..." (later, while doing the dishes, I imagined the thoughts of the people checking into the cabin after our departure, using the same bowl for their spinach salad. Despite these delicious thoughts, I cleaned the bowl anyway...)
"Look!  He's barfing out the worm!  Cool!"

My appetite having departed, we spent the rest of our morning contemplating the effects of sunburn on the scales of a fish in a salad bowl, as well as the effects of Off insect repellant being sprayed into the same bowl.  Neither had any noticeable effect (on us either, come to think of it), so we threw the fish back into the lake to tell his comrades of his latest adventure.  His name was Harold, by the way.

I'll have more stories for you once I scrape off the accumulated filth from several days in the wilderness.  In the meantime, I'll enjoy the sound made by enormous sheets of sunburned, red skin being pulled from the top of my scalp and forehead.

Until next time...