I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW

Hello everyone, everywhere,

Well, what a week. I got new glasses but I’m not quite sure about them. They’re very different from the look I’ve had for a long time: they’re not round. Michelle says they make me look mature. I told Dean, “I’m mature now.” Michelle said, “No you’re not mature, you just look mature.” And then she fed me cookies.  I hope I’ll get some to take home, but Michelle and Dean have banded against me so I may not get any. And about these bloody cats, Barb(ie)….

Anyways, moving on. Had a few days off from music but we’re back on Wednesday, and I can’t wait. Oh yeah by the way I’ve also signed up to get myself back in shape: swimming twice a week and sitting in the steam room. That’s my plan. But I have to walk there and back from home which is about…I don’t know…a thousand yards, or maybe 500. It’s a bit of walk. Michelle’s pooped now, so I’ve got to go.

Tonight may I present a little tale I’d like to call….

FREDERICK SPANDEL HEARS THE CLOCK TICKING

Ladder

What seems to be but another day is not to be. Frederick Spandel is going through the motions that he goes through every day. Nothing special.

He’s a funny little guy. He stands very tall for a man of shorter stature. Frederick has nice eyes (so he’s been told), and a kind, yet scarred old face; a face that has seen a lot of days and nights. First it was just days, then most nights. He’s getting long in the tooth and now he sees it all.

He seems to be a happy fellow. No one is sure, because he keeps to himself.

During a good rain on a dark night, or when the sun comes stretching and dancing like a ballerina, that’s when Frederick seems to smile the most. (And he sways with his ghosts to the music long forgotten, until time brings it home).

To some, being alone is a sad turn of events. To others, it’s like winning the lottery. To most it is only what it is. Frederick Spandel knows all that stuff. Some matters, some, well…the rest is somebody else’s business. (Or so you would suppose).

Today, Frederick Spandel turns 70. Oh, this happy occassion will be shared with family and friends.

Frederick doesn’t care much for folks. He feels he ran out of things to say a long time ago. For the last four or five years, Frederick Spandel hasn’t even make an appearance. Tsk tsk tick tock.

Rather than be with all those happy people, family, (you know what I mean), Frederick would rather be alone, sitting by a lake, listening to the beautiful sounds, watching people from a distance, smiling at them and about them. Odd as he may seem to others, in his mind it all seems right.

Being the different sort of fellow that Frederick Spandel is, he talks to himself with great ease. He finds himself at seventy, a bit eccentric to others perhaps, but to him, his last thought of the day is and always will be…how fragile the light of darkness is in us all.

That’s it.

(NEVER EVER GIVE UP).

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By jamesghutcheson

WELL, WHAT THE HEY?

Hello everyone, everywhere,

This week has been crazy. In one week I’ve managed to see the eye doctor and get a clear bill of health and I’ve just finished a big concert in the park with my band, Soulful Noize.

For the first time in the three years that I’ve been working with Tom Ball, the leader of the band,  I used real drums. I’ve always used electronic drums before, but this venue seemed too big and too important. I needed to feel the real thing again. I pulled it off, but I was very nervous the whole time, and that’s not me. But I did manage to do my job; everything I thought wasn’t there, was there. I shouldn’t second guess myself I guess. Michelle and Dean rode their bikes all the way there; twenty minutes each way. Well done.

I’ve decided  to give you a new picture to look at on my website. This picture was taken at the concert by my friend Don Swift who owns the company that gives me the grips at the end of my sticks. You can see them in my picture. Because of arthritis, over the years my hands have taken a severe beating, and finding these grips has enabled me to get back complete mobility, which is the whole deal if you’re a drummer. It’ll be good on me and it will sound good on you.

And now it’s time, if only for a moment, to close our eyes, and rest.  May I present…

A QUESTION OF HONOUR

Man in Sun

My name is James Sutherland. I was hurt a long time ago. The doctors said my injuries were permanent, so I learned to live with the pain…sorry, live is hardly the feeling.

Me, James Sutherland. Caught in this life’s turmoil. I look in the mirror and the face that looks back at me looks the same, except I feel…you know…different. And I’ll probably feel different for the rest of my life.

Reflection is for those fortunate enough to have memories. You see, mine were taken. It was a trade-off.  Made the deal. So now, new memories.

Those who choose to keep me at arm’s length: you lose. And it makes me smile even more.

James Sutherland has built a dream and taken it on a journey, one step at a time. Break me down with pain? Sure, why not. Shun me because I am m what I am? Big deal. But forget I matter? Who decided that? I may be cold but I have been given gifts to share.

Oh no, I have no money. But I play music, and when it’s good, so am I, and then so are you. (It’s true). You have no idea of the insanity this journey has tried to make me endure.

The sun is shining, the leaves are golden brown, and the wind always sings the same four words to me.  Will you get it?

That’s all.

(NEVER EVER GIVE UP).

By jamesghutcheson

A NECESSARY STATEMENT

Hello everyone, everywhere,

I hope you all have been well. It looks like Fall is upon us. I’m quite excited because this Sunday we’re doing our big show on the main stage ay Bower Ponds in Red Deer for the Scotia Bank AIDS Walk for Life. We’ll start at about 11 a.m.

What I really want to talk about tonight…I’ve been writing these ‘Until we meet again’ statements for quite some time, and as crazy and funny as they are, I feel that I have run the gamut on them for awhile. I think it’s a summer thing and that’s where I’m going to leave it. I have come back to writing again with a real ferocity so Michelle and I want to deal with that, and only that. So with that said…

Now it’s time to close our eyes and our thoughts, if only for a moment…and rest. That’s it.

And now I would like to present tonight’s feature called…

IF ONLY FOR A MOMENT

Sad_Crying_Clown_Girl_by_kerrylincoln

A lonely man and a lonely woman slowly pass each other on a busy street.

He starts to turn his head, and she tries to look in his direction. But at the last second she lets her fear take over and gazes the other way.

They both know that they have probably done the wrong thing, yet they keep walking.

She thinks, I’ve kept that candle in the window so long that the light has gone out, leaving it and me only cold.

He thinks, I wear my loneliness like a trophy. There have been so many stages of it that I have just become used to it winning.

It’s a Saturday afternoon. Downtown. Big city. Anywhere. So many people hurrying to somewhere…nowhere. But the complexity of this situation calls for more than that.

Which brings us back to him and her.

Oh these busy streets, (and you know they are), as people scurry here and there. The shops are alive with the orchestra of cash registers and credit cards.

He thinks, If I retrace my steps, perhaps I might see her again.

She thinks, Should I hurry along, or should I mill about? But if he does come back, what then?

Why does it always happen that when you are in your good clothes, the wind always blows downtown dust?

Fall. A time for layering and the incredible light show. The changing of the guard as the trees recoil and beckon winter’s inevitable arrival.

She thinks, What a silly girl. You almost made contact. Then what? I mean, really. Then what!

He thinks, If I had been more dapper…yes, it’s probably for the best.

And then they both think….if only for a moment…Lonely no more.

That’s all.

(NEVER EVER GIVE UP)

By jamesghutcheson

ANOTHER CUP OF TEA

Hello everyone, everywhere,

This past week I’ve been back in the studio. We’re getting ready for an outdoor concert on September 20 at 11 a.m. at Bower Ponds in Red Deer. We were asked to be the headline act at the AIDS March. Last year they only had 75 people out, so I hope they have more this time. And there’s a barbeque as well.  Dean and Michelle are coming for the free lunch. (Good one). We’re hoping it’s going to be a great time with great tunes. I invite everyone to come out and see us.

Other than that…my eyes are getting better so I started writing again. This piece that I’m presenting tonight is called The Loss. I hope you enjoy the story.

And now it’s time to close our thoughts, if only for a moment…and rest. Until we meet again at Biff and Faye Onladonski’s Home of the High School Football Boys’ Annual Eat As Much Chili As You Can in Two Minutes and Elderlies’ Poetry Reading Bazzaar. We have only one microphone so we’ll be expecting you elderlies to be belting out those words of yours. Thanks go out to Brenda and Vern Kalopps for the barn. Yeah, sorry about your brother, Brenda. Come home soon. Remember our motto: If you get tired of watching the slurping, farting, and burping (as if you could)–the elderlies will be spewing off some nonsense, so enjoy. You’ll find us easy on Shuckmycorn Crossing and Idontshuck Road. If you’re going down Baxter and you see Cecil Brown crossing the street, let him cross. That’s it.

THE LOSS

boythrowingplane

Leaves are changing. Are you?

George Simmerdown wanted only to play with his cardboard glider plane–the glider plane his grandpa made for him.

George was nine; kind of round, you know, kind of chubby. He had one tooth missing but that never stopped him from smiling. Red hair and freckles. He was either Irish or Scottish; could have been just mad–who knows?

His grandfather had died a couple of years back. He had lived just out of town by the woods. George liked to go there to remember his grandpa, but mostly to fly his cardboard glider.

Usually George was alone, but one day some boys came, passing right by him. Odd. Their intent was to hide in the woods and scare animals by yelling and running. George did not care for these boys very much. He knew that when a bunch of young boys got together there were good’uns and bad’uns. George felt not so good about these three.

What once seemed endless was finally put to rest. (The noise). George could feel the quiet. He thought of those idiots bothering those poor animals. That thought lasted the length you could see your breath in the winter cold.

Then out of the woods they came again, running at George. George stood there as if frozen to that spot, with the wind and his cardboard glider. The boys pushed George down into a hole and laughed. One of them took George’s glider and threw it at a tree. It crumpled up real bad.

George picked himself up out of the hole, and as he walked over and picked up his crumpled glider, he looked at the kid who threw it, and the kid seemed more than pleased with what he had done. For one moment George thought to himself, what would Grandpa have done.

Finally George turned and smiled, and popped that kid right in the schnozz.  The kid cried–his nose was bleeding–and his two henchmen ran away.

Exit…foolishness.

That day at least: Reality-1, Selfish ignorance-0.

As George started his way home, he looked back at the woods and his grandfather’s old house, and he knew that they were all good memories. But today…today he felt the loss. Welcome to life, George.

That’s all.

(NEVER EVER GIVE UP)

By jamesghutcheson

IT’S BEEN QUITE A WEEK

Michelle’s really tired today so I can’t push her too hard on this blog but I will say that my eyes are finally better. Pretty much.

Last week I gave you a story that was two years old. Because of my eyes, I have given you another one of my earliest projects. I think you’ll enjoy this one. Read it to your kids, read it to yourself, and have a great day. That’s it.

And now it’s time to close our eyes and our thoughts…if only for a moment…and rest. Until we meet again at Felix and Fern Snotright’s Home of Javelin Tossing for Mothers and Kids Between the Ages of Nine and Twelve and Nature Walk for Elderlies with Allergies. We provide a whistle and we ask folks to pair up. Luckily for us Ben Benniticky is letting us use his mustard field. Thanks Ben, some of the folks needed the facilities. You were still in Chicago. Sorry about the window and you might want to get a plumber when you get home.

Don’t forget our motto folks: If one of you oldsters succumbs to the mustard field or gets hit by a javelin, your buddy blows the whistle. We’re easy to find on the corner of Showerdownanddropthosegatts Road and Iwillshowerbutiwontdropmygatts Crescent. Once there was and then there wasn’t. That’s it.

THE FIRST KISS—A LITTLE MAN’S TALE

kids-running-silhouette

Hi everybody! I’m Jonny Littleman Huggins, I’m 11, and this is my tale. Lean in you guys—this is a good one, least ways I think it is. In the summer of 1965 my friends and I ventured in to the unknown. Hold on, you’ve got to meet the boys or it wouldn’t be fun.

There’s Mrs. Brown’s boys (they are so funny!), well anyway darn it, there’s Barry n’ Larry, the twins who are 10 and Desmond who’s pushing 12. “Butterball” Orkstrom is 11, and as the grownups say, he has issues—but he can spit farther than any kid on Foster Avenue. Windy Star is 11 and is always getting bugged about his name. He just smiles and says, “My mom shouldn’t drink Jack Daniels before she thinks of baby names.” (Well what do you say to that?) And last but not least at 11½ we present Fidgety Freddy Klump. His motto is “We aims to please.” (He gets that from his older brother—sheesh we don’t even know what that means!)

We are not like any other bunch of kids—we are called—“The SLICK ONES.” (Well what do you say to that?) Okay folk,s now you know the players (ha ha I saw that on The Avengers—great show). Anyways when I think of the plan that I want to tell the guys, I almost start to “elasperate”—that’s what I’m thinking! The MEETING was set for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ‘cause my show’s on at 8 and I have to be in bed by 9 p.m. prompt.

The boys and the bugs start coming in the yard. Oh ya did I mention it was July and my shorts were always stickin’ to my butt? (Ha ha—I think I said BUTT! Holy smackeroobee. We all go into the Clubhouse (garage) and sit in a circle, you know, like when you’re camping and sitting by the fire. I know, not everyone can go camping—money, disabled, no one to take you (that sucks). So just before I starting talking to the boys I want to tell you guys who can’t sit by the fire at the lake: if you close your eyes tight, and you just feel the sound of the water, it carries over you like a mist of cold wet fairy dust. It makes you smile, don’t it? And the trees in the moonlight seem to call to you, with the help of the wind, and if you dream hard, they call your name.

There you guys, that’s it. E’cept the fire, sorry I forgot. If you look into the dark night and the stars are dancing all around and stuff—and if you’re warm—then you just sat at a fire. (Well what do you say to that?)

Okay, okay, I know—get on with it! Sheesh, I’m trying! “Now you guys want to know why I called a meeting—well…you probly don’t. So the plan…okay you guys, no laughing…this is cereal as a doughnut—I mean this is serious! All right this is it, and no nose pickin’ or farting while I tell you. We are all here because, well, most of us are going on 12 and—jeepers—we never kissed a GIRL! Whoever can get a kiss from Elsie Bowerstone gets his picture on the wall of the Clubhouse.”

So here we are in a circle, looking at each other. There’s Mrs. Brown’s boys, Barry ‘n Larry and Desmond. (He’s kind of goofy but he does the best burps I ever heard—he’s a killer!) Then there’s Windy Star—he’s got a mop of blond hair, those big blue eyes—the girls love them. (I don’t get it, I got eyes too). Butterball Orkstrom is present too. He is a real card (six of diamonds—man oh man, I’m a riot!) And as usual Fidgety Freddy Klump was telling everyone his older brother’s pick up lines, and as usual, we all laughed and still we never got it.

The seven of us sat around and I started. “All right you guys, this is it. How ‘bout we all go to Else one at a time and find out what it would take to get a kiss.” (I think I’m blushing).

Butterball Orkstrom says, “I could spit for her.”

Fidgety Freddy Klump says, “Don’t use your best stuff right away. At least that’s what my brother keeps telling me. I’m going to use his lines on Elsie. She’ll melt—you boogers.”

Windy Star says, “I’ll dazzle her with my eyes.” (Again I’m thinking, what’s up with the  eyes? We all got eyes. E’cept Barry Brown’s—his glasses are so thick we can hardly find them).

The Brown Boys stick together, you know like some brothers do. So Desmond Brown speaks up and says, “The three of us are going to ask Elsie to dinner.”

(Great, I say, laughing to myself. THEY don’t have no money. None of us do). Well if I’m not Jonny Littleman Huggins, I tell you guys and you too, I’ll get that kiss. I got my own plan—shh, it’s a secret.

The next day we all meet at the Clubhouse. (You know it’s my dad’s garage, but I’m going to stop saying that. It takes away from the magic—no, that not it—MYSTIQUE—that’s it. So anyway, we pick straws to see who goes first, and of course who is first but Fidgety Freddy Klump. Next are the Brown boys, Barry n’ Larry and Desmond. After them, the sunshine boy Windy Star, with oh ya, his mop of hair, and don’t get me started on the eyes again. He says he’s going to smile and wink a lot. I’ll tell you, I liked this girl named Betty and so one day I was at the park and she was there. So I started winking (more bad advice from Freddy’s older brother), ‘cause Betty came over to me and said, “Why Jonny Littleman Huggins—have you got dirt in your eye? Cause you keep moving it up and down.” (So you see folks, ha ha—Windy doesn’t have a chance ‘cause winking don’t work!) Windy is followed by (oh boy, this is a laugh), you guessed it, Butterball Orkstrom. I don’t know what he is up to, but I’m almost peeing myself thinking about it. (Oops I said ‘peeing’! Yipe! Yukka rukka flatsky. Well what do you say to that?)

All right, it’s on. Elsie Bowerston—remember folks, she’s almost a grownup–she’s 13.

Fidgety Freddie Klump wipes off his shoes and goes over his lines. I wish I could hear him, what a dope. So off he goes and we’re, of course, mocking him all the way. (That was the way you did it in 1965 if you were 11 or something).

Elsie Bowerstone was a delight. (That’s what we say). She was tall, about 5 feet, maybe 5’2”. Long brown hair and oh boy, here we go again, “nice eyes”—sheesh. Yup I’d say she was a delight. Fidgety Freddy sidles up to her. (I heard that on Gunsmoke—that show is a zinger).

Anyway he walks up to her (we’re not mocking him now, we’re just staring) and he says, (so we heard later from Elsie), “Hey babe, what do you say we mellow for awhile and then…heh heh—(now what did my brother say?)–Oh ya, we could lock lips.”

Elsie Bowerstone looks at Freddy, kinda shuffles and says, “Freddy Klump, I don’t lock lip,s as you say, with a fast talker like you. Nice try, but I won’t be kissing you. Thank you though.” (I told you she was a delight).

Fidgety Freddy turns to Elsie and says (of course trying to save face), “I like my women a little older, don’t you know?” And with that he smiles and struts away. We decide that we would all meet up later on Foster Avenue and see if anybody got that wonderful, all-fulfilling (I got that from Mannix—he’s cool, man)—KISS. (My God, she’s in grade 8 and we’re only in grade 6 ‘cept for Desmond—he’s happily failing grade 7).

Next we have Mrs. Brown’s boys heading down the street towards the Zero Ice Cream Store. (Their first plan didn’t turn out so good—they wanted to take her to dinner, but as I told you guys they don’t have any money! Lunkheads). Their new plan is to buy Elsie a banana split ‘cause they borrowed $1.85 from their dad, Mr. Brown. As they get close, they all three see Elsie with her friend Heather. Heather is nice—she is East Indian. When her parents were waiting for her to be born they wanted to give her a North American name. Their only close neighbour was a drunken Scotsman named Angus who said to her parents, “I counted six rocks in the garden—and it’s Saturday—so I’m sure it’s got to be a little lassie. I’d call that new’un Heather.”

“Yes for sure, you are right Angus”, said Heather’s mom Radeemah.

“Well”, spit out Angus, or so the story goes, “one more drink and I’ll be calling her Heather for sure!”

Her dad Seth said, “That is it then. It is done. I thank you Angus.”

Angus was so happy he started singing, “Johnny Where’s Yer Trrroosers?” (Well  whatever that’s about). That’s Heather—she’s groovy.

Now the pressure is on Mrs. Brown’s boys. Two girls—(I’d be pukin’) but no, Barry n’ Larry and Desmond walk right up to Elsie and Say, “Me and the boys want to buy you a banana split. We heard you really like them—and we want a kiss on the cheek for doin’ it.”

Elsie smiles and says, “Okay, I will…if you buy Heather one also.” Mrs. Brown’s boys look at each other in shock and say, “We only have money for yours!”

Elsie laughs and says, “Bye boys—no kiss today.” Off go Mrs. Brown’s boys—they just couldn’t believe their bad luck.

Later that afternoon Windy Star makes his way over to Elsie’s house. She lives on Foster Avenue, number 10 or 11—what do you say to that? (Sassy, lassy, kabashi). Windy goes to the front door and rings the bell. Mrs. Bowerstone comes to the door, smiles at Windy (of course) and says, “Can I help you young man?”

Windy looks up with determination and says, “Yes ma’am, I’m here to see Elsie.”

“Oh well then I’ll call her…ELSIE..;.ELSIE…”, the lovely Mrs. Bowerstone says. Elsie comes to the door, smiles and says to Windy, “Who are you again?”

Windy looks a bit dejected and states, “I’m Windy Starr—one of the Slick boys.”

Elsie smiles and says, “Did you say the SLEEK boys?”

“No”, says Windy with some emotion behind it. “I came to ask you for a kiss. There I said it! Now whaddya say?”

Elsie, looking so cool, says to Windy, “You’re cute, so if you will go to The Cave and stay there for two hours, I will come get you and give you a big kiss on the cheek. But also—I’ll give you $8.00 for doing it.”

Windy winks and says, “You’re on Toots.”

Now The Cave is actually a big drainpipe that runs off the end of Foster Avenue, out into the field. (My goodness, could it be any worse?) Off he goes. The time in now 3 p.m. in the hot July sun. Elsie is sitting on her swing in the back yard when, oh no, here he comes—Butterball Orkstrom, strutting into the yard. He looks at Elsie and says, “Els—I came to get me a kiss.”

Elsie laughs and says, “Okay Butterball—if you climb up into my tree and act like a monkey, I’ll kiss you on the cheek.”

Butterball Okstron looks way up the tree, stands there and then starts to perform. Elsie Bowerstone shrieks and says, “Are you spitting on my flowers?”

“Well I’m sure not climbing that tree—no kiss is worth THAT. Bye Elsie.”—and he spits again right on her tree, a real horker, and Butterball leaves happy.

So it is down to me, ha ha—those numbskulls —couldn’t find their butts with both hands in the dark. (Hey I said butts again—skiddley bop bop). MY plan is the best. I walk right up to Elsie who hasn’t quite got over Butterball’s performance yet, but I don’t care. It was now or never. So I just walk over and kiss her. Yup, that’s right you guys—I just kissed her and you know what she said was, “Jonny Littleman Huggins, I guess it might have been worse, but if you ever try that again, I’ll cream ya.”

“Yes”, I say, with the boys all watching and cheering. “I won the bet, but where is Windy?”

He’s coming down Foster Avenue and he doesn’t look happy. When I get to him I say, “Where ya bin?”

Windy replies, “I’ve been sitting in The Cave, boiling for TWO hours, writing on the walls, swatting at mosquitoes, with nothin’ to eat, and starting to smell. She said she was coming for sure but she didn’t—so I finally left.”

I look at Windy and I say, “Are you having a heartbreak?”

Windy sneers and says, “Heartbreak my ass. She owes me 8 bucks.”

Well folks, that was the July of 1965 on Foster Avenue.

(NEVER EVER GIVE UP).

By jamesghutcheson