Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Messy Messenger

Last Thursday was a normal day, as normal a day as we Brills have.

Darlene to work at the hospital, the girls to kindergarten in the morning and then to daycare by bus for the afternoon, and I to the office to deal with a production problem haunting us for a couple of days now.

Thursday night is bowling night, and for the first time this year, we were going to go together and enjoy the night. Darlene had picked her brother up to baby-sit for us. I picked the girls up at daycare, like the end to every normal workday, and home we came. The girls in the house first to put their snow clothes away, and I downstairs to unload my own coat, and pockets from the tools of the day.

A scream came from upstairs. It was Ashley-Rea, my youngest. “Daddy, come quick, there’s a hummingbird in the house!

A hummingbird?” I pondered, “It must be a really big moth.

A couple more shrieks from the girls, so I accelerated my pace. The girls were standing in the hallway looking into the living room, pointing at the picture window.

There was a bird, probably 8 to 10 inches in size, with a very large pointy beak. And this bird was panicked. I was stunned for a few seconds, and tried to figure a plan, while wondering how he got in, and “look at all this bird crap!

So much for bowling.

I propped open the front door, which placed me between he and the door. The trick (as if I need to explain this) is to get behind the bird so flying away from me would move him nearer the open door.

I told the girls to go down stairs in the family room. The bird won’t fly down.

But now I was between the bird and the door and I chased him (her?) instead back to where the bedrooms were. And stupid me, I did not close the bedroom or bathroom doors. Only the guest room is closed to keep the girls from getting those things that have been taken away for past behavior issues.

Down the hall and into the girl’s room he flew. Perched on Alannah’s bed stand, then to Ashley’s, flapping and pooping. I used a towel to try to encourage him back out the door. Finally he flew out – but across the hall into my room. “Geeze”, I thought “Why did I leave that open?” and closed the girls room and the bathroom door behind me as I entered our bedroom.

He was in the back corner. How do I get behind him? Our room is more oddly shaped and from that corner the exit was not apparent. So I approached down the far wall, and he ran under the bed, I chased him from there to the other corner, but then we just went back and forth, and I was getting frustrated!

GET OUT OF MY HOUSE YOU $%*^&@ BIRD!” I screamed.

Finally he flew out the bedroom door, through the living room, out the propped open front door, and onto a perch on the porch.

He sat their looking right at me and the girls through the storm door glass. As if to apologize for the intrusion, but still displeased with the poor welcome he received. He sat and looked at us. He was disappointed in us.

Very odd. But perhaps not as odd as I thought.

When Alannah was born, there was a bird that perched by clinging on to the brick above the window, and peeked into see Alannah in the hospital room, in her newborn bassinet.

When Ashley-Rae was born, there was a bird that routinely came by to peek in through the hospital window to view in the intensive care basinet while she spent 3 months in the neo-natal care unit.

We had always since thought that birds must somehow be the eyes that let those we love who have passed see our lives in their afterlife.

Silly? I don’t know. Perhaps. But now it makes sense to me. I’m a believer.

That night, as we were washing and scrubbing and working to restore our house back to an inhabitable state, cleaning the bird poop and trying to avoid the Avian flue, Darlene’s Mum called.

After she heard the story, she said “Someone in the family is going to die. That is what a bird in your house means.”

Great, I have no time for old-wives-tales. And we went about our business.

Today is Saturday morning. Piles of laundry yet to wash, and we have not even come close to cleaning our own bedroom after my “battle with the bird”. Darlene was asleep in the guest room. I was asleep on the futon downstairs. At around 8:00 am, the phone rang. It had that long distance ring – and I knew that something was wrong.

Then I heard it answered upstairs, and shortly after Alannah came to tell me that “Auntie Ellyn wants to talk to you right now”. I rolled over with the phone, sat up and wiped the sleep out of my eyes.

“Hello Ellyn?”

“Hi Fred”, the voice lacked Ellyn’s normal enthusiasm.

“What’s up?” I started, “oh, wait, I know what’s up. When did it happen?”

My Aunt Sheila had passed away. I had written about my Aunt Sheila in a recent blog “An Autograph from Christmas Past”. She is very important to me. Honestly I am happy for Aunt Sheila. Now she is free.

But that bird? That bird was there to warn us. To tell us. To deliver a message.

I am a rational man, known to be practical, and honestly I am not one given to superstition or old wives tales. But now, after the birds watching my two girls, and popping by the odd time, I think birds really are somehow, in a way we can’t comprehend, the messengers between this life and the next.

We were not home when the bird came to call. So he let himself in, and he waited for us. I was not too kind to our messenger guest, and now I regret that tremendously. I promise he was not hurt, but he was well aware he was not welcome.

If he did come on such a mission, I only wish he wouldn’t have pooped all over my house.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nicotine Dreams

Darlene and I have quit smoking.

You might say “big deal, people do it every day.”

True, but we really enjoyed smoking. Not the act of smoking – the leisure of smoking.

So we are both wearing the patch. Step one of the patch gives you enough nicotine for ten cigarettes a day. It is slowly dispersed into your body throughout the course of the day. And night. While you’re sleeping, the nicotine is running through your veins.

I think nicotine is an underrated hallucinogen. Because last night I had these two dreams.

In the first, I am at my Mom's place in Florida, with my wife and kids, and other members of my family. My Mum lives in a simple apartment in Pensacola, very nice, on a golf course, but simple. But in my dream, my Mum lived in a million dollar condo, with a water-fountain at the covered entrance – marble. And inside the fountain (of course an angel floating above the pool and peeing water in – now that’s art!), was my Mums … answering machine.

Now this is relevant because – while the rest of family was playing in the games and billiards room near downstairs bar on the 2nd bottom level – I am outside fixing it, because as my Mum (and all my non-IT friends) say, “well dear, you do computers … this should be simple for you”.

The problem seems to be that instead of playing her standard greeting that I have heard a million times, it is playing random clips from Eddie Murphy’s RAW comedy album. And she is not an Eddie Murphy fan. So, this was unacceptable.

I dug, I moved things, I traced wires, and found a wireless adaptor base station and an iPod hooked into her answering machine. And the iPod play-list was set to … well, RAW. So I guess a computer guy can fix an answering machine after all.

But before I could get a thank you, my second dream began.

Darlene and I are driving through the southeast country side I grew up in Georgia. But where, I did not know. As we approached a stately looking property, she told me to close my eyes. I did. She turned into a drive way lane. My eyes stayed closed.

She said “this is so beautiful, keep your eyes closed!” I did.

Okay open them now”, in a sweet singing voice I truly don’t hear often enough anymore.

We were at the front entrance to the main building of the Augusta National Golf Course. And she had made me miss the beautiful drive down Magnolia lane – the famous entry way to the Augusta National Golf Course.

A young man came and took our car to park it. A pretty young woman met us and escorted us through the building. Amazingly, I knew the way and it seemed so familiar. Darlene said, “I knew you haven’t been here for a while so I thought we would visit.”


Out the back we went, and came out by the number 1 tee by Butlers Cabin. I was in awe of all the amazing sites and artifacts that are The National.

Freddy, Darlene!” came a southern gentleman voice – it was Sam Snead. Somehow he had arisen from the afterlife to attend this event.

Over here Mister Brill. We’re a waiting for ya’s”. Our caddy had our things lined up. Clubs, shoes, balls, tees, a card, gloves, sweaters, and slacks. A whole wardrobe. So we changed.

As we approached the tee to tee off, I was getting “ahh”s and “ooh”s for my bright red persimmon woods (which I really have and play with). I stood behind the tee and looked down the first fairway – the “Olive Tea” hole it read on the sign by the tee. I took a couple of practice swings, and they felt great! I could hardly wait to tee off.

A mere for-mality Mr. Brill”, said an elderly gentleman in the common Georgian twang. “We need your tourn-a-ment card before you pro-ceed sir.

Tournament card?

Yes, mailed to your house several weeks ago. We have record it was received and signed for”.

You do?”

Look in your wallet, Honey” said my wife, annoyed with my ineptness. The gallery giggled.

Where is my wallet?

It was not in my pants,
It was not in my locker.
It was not in my Jeep.

I don’t have my wallet!

Then you sir, are an imposter”. And with that two security guards whisked me from the tee box, through the building, and as we started back down magnolia lane … me and the two guards … the alarm radio came on and informed that it was going to be “a partly cloudy day in Windsor, with a high of minus 2 celcius”.

I guess I’ll never find out how Darlene shot.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

When Does Christmas Become Unorthodox?

It is January 21, and all of our Christmas decorations are still up.

Where is the line drawn that distinguishes faux pas from unacceptable? If we have already crossed that line, I will keep them up outside until the weather is a bit more conducive to getting on a ladder and untying and unclipping the decorations. But there is still this bloody Santa hung prominently on our front face of the house.

Santa has to go.

Red ribbons are still flapping in the breeze.

We had our first real snowfall last Friday. If not for that snow, they would have been down yesterday. We almost turned the lights back on Friday night so we could take pictures.

I am a believer that come January 2nd, Christmas is over and the decorations must come down. But this year, the day after new years we were back to work. And the day after that I got very sick with a bronchial infection. Then the next week, Darlene had a trial procedure done for her back that left her in a state where she was not supposed to bend over or lift her arms above her head.

And then it snowed on Friday.

Faux pas or not, we just have not had the chance.

Laziness? Yes, there is probably an argument there as well. But we try to dismiss it by falling back on our excuses.

So Christmas continues at the Brill house.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It’s Only Russell

Originally written November 10, 2002

This story is a favourite in my household, and it is an absolutely true account of a dream I had one fall night in 2002. My family was much younger then. I hope you enjoy it.

I had a dream last night.

The funny thing about dreams is that we always recognize the people, but never where we live in the dream. We always live someplace else. Some place we have never seen before.

In my dream, it seemed to be about 10 years in the future. Our house was a beautiful stone manor with a huge window in the front of the house looking into the living room and the open kitchen behind it.

My daughter Alannah and I were out in the front yard up by the road. My in-laws were in the house with my wife Darlene and my other daughter Ashley-Rae.

As Alannah and I were working away on something, an old beat up pickup truck appeared over the horizon of the country road. It flew into our drive way and down the long laneway back to the house.

Alannah and I just looked at each other.

A tall gangly cowboy type jumped out of the truck, and ran into the side door of my house.

You better get up there Dad”, Alannah said, concern showing on her oversized baby face. It’s funny. Alannah is one and a half years old as I write this. In the dream she is 11. She is tall girl, but she had the same baby face and head that she does now.

I ran up the front yard to the front door, all the while watching through the window as this tall lanky guy made his way to my wife. They meet in the kitchen and embrace in a very bawdy deep tongue kissing session.

I reached the door where Dar’s dad Glen is waiting for me. “It’s only Russell, Fred”, he said, as though I would say “oh, well then that’s ok.” I side stepped Glen on my way to the kitchen. I passed Dar’s mom Joan, who repeated “Fred! It’s only Russell!” I looked at Joan like she was nuts. Funny, she looked at me like I was over-reacting.

I asked, “Is Russell her cousin?

No” she said in a questioning way, “He’s … he’s just Russell.” as if the answer were self-apparent.

By now Russell and Dar were on the floor, still making out. Russell is on top of her. I grabbed him by a belt loop and tossed him off of my wife. Darlene looked at me as if to say …”it’s only Russell, what’s your problem?

I kicked this Russell fellow in the butt, each shot sending him closer and closer to the door. With each kick, he is looking at me wondering why I am upset. Finally I kicked him right through the screen door and out into the driveway. He got up quickly, brushed the dust off his aching bum, and jumped in his pickup truck and drove off as hastily as he pulled in.

Alannah stands at the side of the drive way looking as stunned as I felt.

Just then, I could hear Darlene in the distance starting to scream at me because … “it was only Russell!

But it wasn’t Darlene at all.

It was my little baby daughter Ashley-Rae starting to cry in the basinet at the end of my bed. And she woke me out of my dream.

I have asked my wife and all her family who Russell is. Of course, they all deny his existence.

But I know better.

But I must say, I really liked the house and the property we lived on in my dream. I liked it very much. Perhaps one day I will find that house and we will live there. Then, ten years from now, when Alannah and I are working out in the front by the road, and a pickup truck pulls into the drive way, I will simply turn to Alannah and re-assure her.

It’s only Russell”, I will say. “I wonder what took him so long.

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