Archive for July 4, 2014

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4 July 2014

As I approached the group, sitting in a circle at the park,  Shaggy was barking.  I patted her on the head, then she settled down.

Wolf said, “Shaggy, will you pick a place then lie down.”

Mariah handed me a folded newspaper to sit on. Jacques said, “Before you sit down could you hand me the Food Basics flyer. I’m going shopping this afternoon. They have my favorite paper towels on sale. A pack of four is usually five dollars, but they have it for a dollar off. That’s a good price.

Mariah said, “Could you hand me the Metro flyer. That’s where I shop. It’s the closest to my place.”

I asked, “Anybody else? I’ve got Rexall Pharmacy here. Nobody interested? how about Loblaw’s Superstore? Going once, going twice. No takers?”

Mariah said, “I guess not. Everybody else has their shopping in order.

“I got a new futon this morning. Not new from a store, but one of my neighbors bought it for her daughter when she was planning to visit, but she never came. It’s still in the original packaging, just a bit dirty from dragging it along the sidewalk. It’s the first new bed I’ve had. Charlies brother broke my cot. I’ve been sleeping on an air mattress. This is going to be so nice. I can’t wait to try it out.

“Another neighbor said, ‘If you don’t want it, I’ll give my son a call. He can probably sell it for about two hundred and fifty.’ I said, ‘No, I really want it. I just have to figure out how to get it up the stairs to my place. Between my Charlie, the neighbor and me we managed to get it up to my place.’

I asked, “How is Joy? I haven’t seen her since last week?”

“She’s not doing so well. She’s got some kind of rash on her back. She’s afraid that it’s chicken pox. I gave her some calamine lotion. She’s going to try that before gong to a doctor.

I asked, “How’s everything going ,Wolf?”

“It’s okay. I’ve had a few beer. My entire life revolves around my panning spot in the morning, then coming here to have a beer with my friends, then going home again. I’ve traveled the country when I was younger, but now, this is it. Shaggy is a hundred years old in dog years, and I’ve got no socks. I’ve had to hide my groceries and any valuables in different places around my apartment, because I have to leave the door unlocked.”

I asked, “Didn’t you just get a new electronic device to open and lock your door?”

“I don’t even want to go there. Yes, I had an electronic key for two days, then I lost it. That’s how stupid I am.”

Mariah asked, “When was Shaggy born?”

Wolf replied, “I don’t know when her actual birthday is. She’s between thirteen and fourteen years old. I took her to the river this morning, that’s why she has her ball with her. It floats. She just walked into the water a few feet, then plopped down. I’d throw her ball a short distance and she’d bring it back. When she was younger I’d throw it half way across and she’d tear after it.” Shaggy lay with the ball near mouth. Jacques teased her by reaching for the ball. She’d growl, bark then grab the ball in her mouth.

I asked Wolf, “How is Germany doing in the World Cup?”

“Haven’t you been listening? The game is on right now, it started at a quarter to twelve,  between Germany and France. Jacques and I are at war.”

Danny, who was Shakes’ former roommate, came walking up the grass. He’s been away for the past three months. I stood up and shook his hand, “Hi, Danny. I’m so sorry to hear about Shakes.”

“I was only supposed to be away for a few days, but our Chief asked me to stay to help settle some tribal business. Then I stayed with my daughter for a while.

“I had a small smudging ceremony at Shakes’ panning spot this morning and I’ll have another after the funeral.  He told me, before I left, that he didn’t have much longer to live. He told me what he wanted done at his funeral, but I guess he didn’t tell his daughters. Fran has made arrangements to have some kind of tribute for him at the Shepherd, sometime Monday. I want to have a talk with her because Shakes had hundreds of friends in the downtown area, people who have seen him everyday for the past fifteen years, even government people. It would have been better to have a ceremony at one of the funeral homes nearby. I know that they’ve done that for other homeless people. I even told her that the tribal council would cover costs. Just because a member doesn’t live on the reserve, doesn’t mean that he’s been abandoned by the tribe.

I said, “I have to go now, Danny, but I’ll see you at the funeral on Monday.”

Everybody said, “Bye, Dennis.” I waved goodbye.

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4 July 2014

“Good morning, Chuck, how is your day going so far?”

“Before this, it wasn’t worth a damn. I was talking to Ghyslain earlier. I hate that guy. I told you he was away for a while. I thought it was prison, but he had a heart attack and has been in hospital. He also spent some time with his sister in Sherbrooke. His doctor told him that he has to quit smoking. He doesn’t drink, but he uses drugs. He said, ‘I can’t quit smoking. I’ve tried and I just can’t do it.’ I said to him, ‘You got two choices. You quit, or you die. Take your pick.’ I know it’s hard to quit smoking, I still crave a cigarette after six years.

“The best thing to do is to start walking, eat raw vegetables. Don’t stop until you’ve broken your addiction. You’re never really cured, but after a while it becomes more tolerable.”

I asked, “Do you have any plans for the weekend?”

“I’ve got a wedding to attend on Saturday. My grand-nephew is getting married. I’d even forgotten his name. I phoned his family at 11:30 last night to gen his name and the name of his bride-to be. I hadn’t  received a formal invitation, so I had nothing to go by. I wasn’t even sure of the time. I thought it was at 11:00;  it turns out that it’s at 2:30.  I’d already arranged for the wheelchair taxi service  to pick me up at nine. That would have gotten me there too early. I switched the pick up time to 1:00. It’s out of their normal range so I’ll have to pay an extra ten bucks, each trip. It should be a fun time. That side of the family really knows how to party.

“There was an incident that happened yesterday. You’ve seen the woman who picks up cigarette butts. She’s crazy as a loon. I get along well with her, she’s harmless. She found a half full bottle of water in the trash barrel. She proceeded to the bus shelter, took her clothes off and started washing herself. Some teenage boys started pushing her around, but some homeless guys came to her aid. The police were called and they took her away.  I’ve known for years that she should be locked up for her own protection; not in a police cell, but somewhere she can be supervised and her medical needs can be administered.”

I agree, Chuck.” I said, “There aren’t enough facilities for people with a mental illness.

Chuck said, “The city has no trouble spending millions to refurbish a baseball stadium, but when it comes to taking care of the mentally ill or the homeless, there’s no money.”

“I have to go now Chuck. Enjoy the wedding. I’ll see you Monday.”

“See you then.”

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