Raccoons

 

 
21 June 2017

Ted was sitting in the rain. A blue tarp covered his lower half, an umbrella hat deflected the water from his face. The look on his face was one of resigned discouragement.

“Good morning, Ted. Are you managing to keep dry?”

“Hi, Dennis. The water is running under my tarp. I’m soaked, but I’m keeping warm.  I haven’t been around for the past few days. My brother and I were helping my mother to get rid of some raccoons — real nasty fuckers. They were tearing a hole under the eves trying to get into the attic. Two of them were snarling and hissing, the third one was easy going. He’d probably been fed regularly by some of the neighbors. We put him in the truck and released him. Did you know that the law states that you aren’t allowed to move them more than a kilometre from where they are caught. I think that they’re afraid that it may cause a spread of rabies. Also, they may have cubs nearby and you don’t want to separate families.

“I have my trapping licence so we baited the trap with cooked bacon and caught the two vicious ones. I must have skinned a hundred raccoons over the years. I made coonskin caps for my sons when they were young.”

I asked, “Have you ever eaten a raccoon?”

“No, they’re scavengers, like rats. They eat road kill. When you cut them open there’s a horrible smell. I have to cover my nose with something when I’m skinning them. It’s different with bears. Most people don’t realize it but bears are mostly vegetarian. Eighty-five per cent of what they eat are berries, roots, insects, larvae, grass and other plants. The West Coast bears are so much larger because they have access to the salmon spawning in the rivers.”

“So,” I asked,  “have you been able to get a larger bed?”

“No, not yet. My mother, who is eighty, promised me a bed but then she said, ‘Maybe I should keep it in case that German girl comes back to visit.’ That German girl visited twenty-seven years ago and hasn’t kept in contact. I said, ‘Okay Mom, whatever you say.’

“I’ve been approved for O.D.S.P.(Ontario Disability Support Program).  I’m also receiving Social Assistance so I won’t get the full amount. I don’t know how much I’ll get, my worker will let me know.

“Did I tell you I got my fishing licence? I had to pay thirty bucks and the season is half over. They discounted me two bucks. Don’t you think they should have charged half price?”

I said, “In winter you could also go ice fishing. Have you ever done that.”

“Yeah, I used to go out with my sons  fishing derbies. They had an area fenced off and holes augered in the ice. It would be about two to three feet thick. We got three holes fairly close to the shore. If you looked into the hole you could see the bottom of the river. You weren’t allowed to bring coolers because they didn’t want any foreign bait introduced to the lake. Also, in a cooler you could hide an award winning fish.  We caught the largest northern pike at twenty-nine pounds and the largest walleye at eleven pounds. We also could have won largest yellow perch but we told the judge to give it to somebody else.

“Do you want to hear something sad? Between my new place and the river is a baseball diamond. In the gravel bed behind home plate, a turtle decided to lay her eggs then left. When I walked past this morning, shit hawks were pecking away at the eggs. I yelled, waved my arms and chased them away. A lot of good that did. They came back as soon as I left. In some areas they create turtle nesting places along rivers and build underpasses out of drainage pipe so they don’t get run over on streets and highways.”

 

 



 
 
 
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Going Fishing

 

 
26 May 2017

“Hi Dennis, I’m in my new place now. It’s huge, about four times the size of my old one. I found one roach, that’s not bad. They have the baseboards and all the cracks caulked. The building has steam heating, you know, with radiators. The problem with that is they have open cold air registers. Bugs can travel from apartment to apartment.

I asked, “Do you have a bed yet?”

“Yeah, but they sent a single bed. I told them I can’t use a single. I haven’t slept in one of those since I was a kid. When you’re used to sleeping outdoors you get used to rolling around from side to side. Maybe it’s to get the circulation going. I’ve already fallen out on the floor a couple of times. And if I have some bitches over… You know what I mean.

“The place is quiet though. The landlord asked me if I minded being on a floor that is mostly elderly people. I said, ‘I just turned sixty. I’m no spring chicken.’

“I read in the newspaper that this weekend people are encouraged to put at the curb any old furniture, even clothes they don’t want. They attach with a sign saying ‘Free’ and anybody can take them. I really need a sofa and a table. I had to leave most of my stuff behind and now I have so much room to fill.

“I got my fishing licence. I hope to go down to where the canal empties into the river. I’ve caught big muskies there. Last year I went with a couple of women and they kept telling me that I didn’t know how to fish. I brought some frozen fish, slit them from asshole to gills, then cut them into six inch chunks. I buried three hooks deep inside and let the bait rest on the bottom of the river. Muskies are scavengers, they feed off the bottom. I waited a while and pulled in a thirty pounder. I think the record weight is sixty-nine pounds. You watch, I’m going to catch a record breaker and you’ll see my picture in the paper. They’ve set size limits for each of the twenty provincial zones so you need to read the regulations before you fish. At some of the northern lakes you’re not allowed to catch a muskie smaller than fifty-four inches or a northern pike smaller than twenty-seven inches; that’s because the larger ones may be spawning. For walleye you’re not allowed to keep anything smaller than eighteen inches.
 

13 June 2017

“Good morning Dennis, I got rid of my worker, a real porker. I saw her Friday and asked if she’d contacted my landlord about the three months rent he owes me, since everyone was evicted due to construction. She said, ‘No, I didn’t call him. He’s your landlord, you call him.’ I said, ‘Alright, give me his phone number, I’ll call him.’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ She thinks that because I’m passive, a nice guy, a pacifist that she can yell at me and treat me like shit. I don’t care that she’s a lesbian, but I want her to be professional. I’ve been really nice to her… I gave her a silver bracelet that I found. She said she wasn’t allowed to accept gifts, but I said, ‘If you don’t tell; I won’t tell.’

“And that stupid single bed she got me. I told her beforehand that I didn’t want it. I said I’d chuck it in the garbage. Well, I’ve tried it, fallen off a couple times. It has a thin mattress; it’s like a toy bed. Three of the screw in legs are smashed, so the mattress is on the floor now. I’m two hundred and sixty pounds. How did she expect that I’d be able to sleep on something that flimsy. Now they want to meet with me to find out why I want to change workers. It isn’t too often that they get requests like that. I won’t say anything bad about her, but I wonder what she told them about me. I guess I’ll just have to wait to find out. Now I have my old worker back.

“I heard a party going on in the park near my building. It was a bunch of native guys, they were all drunk. We shared a few drinks, so I made a few friends. Every ten minutes they wanted to shake hands with me. I guess they’d forgotten who I was. I found a hundred and sixty-two cans in that park. I’m not a bagger, but I bagged those and hid them where nobody would find them. They were hidden so well I had trouble finding them myself, even when I was standing right next to them.

The weather’s getting nice for fishing now. I can’t wait to get out.

 
u



 
 
 
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