About storysoupenterprises

Sally Wotton explores the connections between the playful and profound.

Good Neighbours

Summer is here! And those who sleep through the winter have joined us humans, especially in Toronto. I wrote and performed the following monologue a few years ago to offer our every-day summer experience from a Canadian, furry perspective.

Good Neighbours

We haven’t always lived out here in this ole Manitoba maple, you know. Nope, we used to live in a big house, me and the wife and kids. It was grand – natural brick walls, cathedral ceiling and exposed beams, a realtor’s dream. It was a loft apartment in ‘

move-in condition’ – after a little DIY to make the front entrance more stately. And the neighbours – you just don’t find folks like that anymore.

I remember when me and Mildred and the kids first moved in; it was Canada Day and the humidex was off the charts. Berty and Osmond and Nell were just little then and so restless, what with the heat. None of our family is exactly light on our feet, but not a murmur of complaint from downstairs. In fact, we’d just settled in when those folks, Humes their name was, slid open the little connecting doorway between their apartment below and ours above and one of them stuck her head in, looked a bit startled, but said, “Ohhh your masks are darling” and left. Mil, who is a bit on the formal side, thought we didn’t really know each other well enough for personal comments, but they made up for it. They came back with, would you believe, a fancy wire welcome basket. Now me and Mil are no strangers to the best seafood and fish to swim in a saltchuck but I’m telling you that Digby chicken was the best ever. We had to laugh though, at their playful sense of humour. They put our bit of fish in this enormous basket and when we helped ourselves the lid slammed shut so fast that, once, Herbie almost got his fingers pinched!  They played this game eleven times before finally conceding to us – such fun.

It was so hot, one afternoon Mr. Hume popped up with a worried expression and a big basin of water. He said, ‘We don’t want you guys to expire up here’.  Sweet. And it wasn’t easy for them to keep coming up like that.  They had to haul in a ladder to place under the little door for every visit. We wanted to reciprocate in some way but you know it’s hard to entertain when you work nights.

Then, as if they hadn’t already done enough, they gave a party in our honour – the kids were thrilled. Mrs Hume slid open the door and left a gorgeous platter of fish and brewis with a side order of flipper pie and topped off with a butter tart. When we came to receive this feast we found the other neighbours standing around the ladder sipping ice wine. They waved and oohed and aahed and we watched each other for a while but just as I had worked out how we could properly join the festivities and started to step through they closed the door. Not much of a party really but then as Mil said later, ‘They obviously aren’t as used to socializing as we are and it’s the thought that counts’.

So we were very quiet for the next two days to show our appreciation for their hospitality. We were so quiet they may have thought we’d moved out. Suddenly, to our surprise, Mr Hume was standing at our front entrance, on a tall ladder, hammering a piece of copper sheeting right over the doorway! Well, we were stunned. Mil thought Mr. Hume must be suffering from beaver fever.

It didn’t take us long though to put two and two together – the Humes wanted to make sure there would be no drafts whipping into our place come winter. Now I don’t know how those folks make their living but it’s a fair guess that it’s not in construction. Do you know there was no way to open that copper door they installed? I thought whoooa – there’s food gathering to do and the kids need to get out to play and Mil is far too social to just stay at home, so I said to Mil, “You go knock on the connecting door and explain the situation to them”. She tapped gently at first then a little harder and in the end we were all banging on the door but no response.

However, the next evening at about dusk there was Mr. Hume on the big ladder prying off the new copper door. I knew he wouldn’t let us down, but he did the funniest thing when we went out for the evening. He called out a number as each of us appeared.  I must admit when I came out last and heard him say, “number five”, with a kind of flourish, I felt a little self-conscious. But we smiled and went about our nightly business.

We got back home in the wee hours and, as usual, we were beat. We went straight for the entrance … it was gone! We thought we must be so tired we’re disoriented so we walked round and round the roof. There was some wet paint we hadn’t seen before, but no doorway. Finally, we gave up the search and climbed down. That’s when young Nell, spotted this state of the art maple tree with a clear available for occupancy look about it. So here we are snug as a batch of poutine in a wanigan.

Ohh and the Humes – they still live in the big old house. I think they miss us. In fact, it’s most likely they are responsible for the weekly grocery delivery – comes in a big plastic bin with a full range of muckymuck. Mil and I had to laugh though; they’re still playing their games. This food bin has a twist locked lid to challenge us. That’s our Humes, bless em.

But, no worries – It only takes a minute to undo the lock.

 

 

 

 

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Spring Is Here!

Spring has arrived! So here is one of my favourite new life stories written by Craig Boly, Roman Catholic priest, theologian and writer.

Once upon a time, life began for twin boys in their mother’s womb. The spark of life glowed until it caught fire with the formation of their embryonic brains. With their simple brains came feeling, and with feeling a sense of surroundings, of each other, of self.

 When they perceived the life of each other, they knew that life was good and they laughed and rejoiced, the one saying,” Lucky are we to have been conceived, and to have this world.” And the other chimed, “Blessed be the Mother who gave us this life and each other.”

 Each budded and grew arms and fingers, lean legs and stubby toes. They stretched their lungs, churned and turned in their new found world. They explored their world, and in it found the life cord which gave them life from the precious Mother’s blood. So they said, “How great is the love of the Mother, that she shared all that she has with us.” And they were pleased and satisfied with their lot.

 Weeks passed into months, and with the advent of each new month they noticed a change in each other, and each began to see changes in himself. “We are changing,” said the one. “What can it mean?” “It means,” said the other, “That we are drawing near to birth.”

 An unsettling chill crept over the two, and they both feared, for they knew that birth meant leaving all their world behind. Said the one, “Were it up to me, I would live here forever.” “But mightn’t there be a life after birth?” asked one. “How can there be life after birth?” cried the other.” Do we not shed our life cord and also the blood tissues? And have you ever talked to one who has been born? Has anyone reentered the womb after birth? No!” He fell into despair and in his despair he moaned, “If the purpose of conception and all our growth is that it must be ended in birth, then truly our life is absurd.” Resigned to despair the one stabbed the darkness with his unseeing eyes, and as he clutched his precious life cord to his chest, said, “If all this is so and life is absurd, then there really can be no Mother.”

 “But there is a Mother.” protested the other. “Who else gave us our nourishment and our world?”

 “We get our own nourishment and our world has always been here. And if there is a Mother, where is she? Have you ever seen her? Does she ever talk to you? No! We invented the Mother because it satisfied a need in us. It made us feel secure and happy.”

 Thus while one raved and despaired, the other resigned himself to birth, and placed his trust in the hands of the Mother. Hours ached into days and days fell into weeks and it came time. Both knew their birth was at hand, and both feared what they did not know. As the one was the first to be conceived, so he was the first to be born, the other following after.

 They cried as they were born into the light. And coughed out fluid and gasped in the dry air. And when they were sure they had been born, they opened their eyes for the first time, and found themselves cradled in the warm love of the Mother. They lay open-mouthed, awe-struck before the one they could only hope to know.

Winter Holiday

 (From We The Storytellers, 2013)

A number of years ago when my husband Ernest and I were consumed with our fledgling careers and our son Chris was young, we all felt the need for a holiday – at least a few days to stop, relax and have fun – to enjoy laughter and one another’s company. Ernest and I both worked from home so we were always at work. We thought it would be good for Christopher to experience another country but in addition to the fact that we couldn’t afford to travel, it was February, the middle of the school year and, as always, the middle of work deadlines. It was a particularly rotten February and we were feeling trapped in our apartment. One morning the radio was playing a catchy Jamaican number and when it ended, the program host, who had visited Jamaica, began to laud it as a haven for the weary and playground for all. Christopher said, “Let’s go!” First, we all laughed. Then we stopped, thought, and creative imagination kicked in. “Lets have a Jamaican week-end . . . in Toronto.”

Christopher, then eight years old said,

“What will we do in Jamaica? Is the food good? Is it hot there? Can I take all my stuff?”

With these questions and others in mind we made a trip to the library for illustrated books of Jamaica, and a visit to the travel agent for brochures. We borrowed some recipes, complete with where to get the ingredients, and some reggae recordings from a Jamaican friend.  Ernest rummaged around in the storage room and found a sun lamp saying,

“If we’ve got to do this we may as well come back with a tan.”

Finally, and most important, we covered all our windows with orange, yellow and red tissue paper. We couldn’t see the snow and ice outside, but the light came streaming through in brilliant colors. Then we boosted the heat and turned off the phone ready to relax, read and play. We forced ourselves to stop our busyness for just a few days, to have child-like fun and to be refreshingly unproductive. We came “home” as relaxed as unstrung puppets but energized and ready to tackle the rest of winter.