Archive for December, 2010

I’ve already had a few people ask “Is so-and-so me?” The answer is NO. Each character is a compilation. For example…Aunty Kat is actually based on numerous aunts, my grandmother, and a teacher I had in high school. And the same goes for everyone else! 🙂



“So you like mom’s designer tree?”  Ryan, the baby brother, poked mom in the ribs. They had all gathered in the front room and were staring at an artificial tree in the corner next to a large, bay window which overlooked the hillside and the frozen lake across the highway.

“Oh stop it. The real ones just make a mess.”

“Yeah, well whatever happened to Christmas ornaments that are red and green? All peach and pastels now.”

“Oh, be quiet. I like it.” Mom was getting annoyed. “Sara likes it too, don’t you?”

“Yeah, well it’s different.” She HATED it. She rarely agreed with her brothers, but in this case it looked like something the Golden Girls would have put together.

“See?” Ryan poked her again. He had started losing his hair. He was still good-looking though. Mom had always said he got his looks from HER side of the family. She always said Sara looked like Aunty Kat.  Aunty Kat was over two-hundred pounds and had two chins and badly-dyed platinum hair.

Ned poked his head around the kitchen corner. “I’m goin’.”

“You’re not staying for supper?”


“I’m making borscht.”

“Then I’m for sure not staying.”

Ned got a sneaky look on his face then motioned with his hand quickly for Sara to follow him. She grinned and quietly slipped out the front door then followed Ned’s lean frame up the hill towards the shed.

“How long’s it been since you had a toke?” he smiled as he shut the door to the shed and pulled a joint out from his pack of smokes.

“Quite a while.”

“Seen Kat and Wes yet?”

“No, mom says they’re in town doing some shopping.”

“She’s fuckin’ huge.”

“Oh yeah?”

“He still cracks me up though. Says to mom yesterday that the only person he wants to spend Christmas with is Lucky.”

“Who the Hell is lucky?”

“His damn dog.”

Sara inhaled. It was like fresh peapods. She closed her eyes letting the long-lost sensation tickle through her tissue.

“Good stuff, eh?”

“Yeah. So, when is Tiffany coming up?”

“As soon as her lazy bitch-of-a-mom brings her.”

“I take it you two are not on friendly terms.”

“You could say that. So, you ever hear from Blake?”


“Mom sends him e-mails you know.”


“She always leaves her e-mail open. I seen a couple messages from him.”

“Why the Hell is she in contact with him?”

“You know she always liked him.”

“Yeah? Well, I’m her daughter, and he’s an asshole.”

“Yeah. Well, you can have the rest of this,” he mumbled as he handed her the rest of the joint. “I’m takin’ off before Fat Kat gets back. She fuckin’ drives me nuts.”

“OK…well, see you tomorrow.”

“Yep.  And dad is crazier than a bat now, so have fun.”


“Well, I asked your mom when your flight was leaving so that I could say a little prayer to keep you safe.  And Jesus answered my prayers because here you are!” Aunty Kat had squeezed herself in next to Sara on the loveseat near the designer tree.  She had managed to corner her after supper for a “girl-to-girl” chat. Her hair was still coiled up in a bouffant and a sweater with snowmen on it stretched across her massive bosom and belly. She smelled like borsht and roses.

“Your cousin Selina used to have hair like yours when she was in grade four. Of course she’s let her bangs grow out now. She always had such lovely hair. Well, yours is nice too…LUCKY!  Lucky! Stop that! You stop that!”  The foul-smelling pug was attacking one of the prune-coloured cushions in the front room.

“Wesley! WESLEY! Would you come here and do something about this dog!” She screeched at full volume.

A tall, bald man of seventy appeared at the bottom of the stairs that led down to the family room wearing a Texas-sized belt buckle.

“What now woman? Just give him a smack on the behind. LUCKY!  You stop that!” The dog started raping the cushion. Sara finally stood and snatched the cushion from the dog’s crotch. It growled at her then ran downstairs.

“I just don’t know what to do about that dog. He is so stubborn. I pray so much for Jesus to give me patience, but honestly Sara, sometimes I just want to leave him on the side of the road. But then I realize he is one of God’s creatures and God loves all creatures great and small.”

Mom had avoided the “girls’ chat” by insisting on doing the dishes by herself.  Ryan had left right after supper to do some Christmas shopping. Dad was down in Kelowna picking up Uncle Joe and “his friend” at the airport. Sara was stuck. There was no escape from Fat Kat’s clutches. Aunty Kat burped quietly before continuing one of her famous one-way conversations.

“Did you know that pugs come from Japan? Or maybe it’s China. I’m not sure. Wesley looked it up in the Witchipedia thing on the computer. Wesley? WESLEY?”


“Is it China or Japan?”

“What are you yapping about woman?”

“You know, pugs!”

“What the heck are you jabbering about? Honestly, you’re losing your mind.”

“Pugs, Wesley! Are they from China or Japan?”

“Why the Heck would I know something like that?”

“Anyway Sara, I thought since you lived there you might know. I just had no idea that pugs would shed so much. I have to carry around one of those sticky lint things in my purse. Oh, sounds like someone is here! Oh, look out the window. I think it’s your dad with Joe and Ting-Tong.”

“It’s Tak-Sin woman!” Wes shouted from the basement.

“Oh! Let’s go stand right at the front door and give them a surprise!” Kat hoisted herself from the loveseat and headed for the front door.  “Come on Sara!  WESLEY!  Joe is here!”

“I have ears woman!”

“Colleen?  Colleen?”

“Yes?” mom shouted from the kitchen.

“Joe and Tak-Tin are here!”

“Oh for Pete’s sake!  It is TAK-SIN!” Uncle Wes growled.

“You behave yourself Wesley!”

The door opened and Uncle Joe’s smiling, bespectacled face appeared. He was wrapped in a Burberry trench coat, and Tak-Sin stood behind him nervously shivering. Aunty Kat ploughed into Joe with hugs and kisses!

“Baby brother! Wow, don’t you look GREAT!  What a nice coat too! And you still have most of your hair! Aren’t you just a dandy! Oh! Tak-Spin! DO YOU REMEMBER ME? I AM KAT!  I AM JOE’S OLDER SISTER!”



Wes appeared at the top of the stairs. “Tone it down, woman! They can hear you in Timbuktu, and the boy speaks English for God’s sake.”

“Wesley! Language!”

“Hello boys.” Wes gave the new arrivals one of his death-grip American handshakes.

“Hey Wes. Well, we’re hardly boys anymore, but thanks anyway. Whoa! Is that my favourite niece?”

“Hi Uncle Joe.” Sara came over and gave him a hug, then hugged the terrified looking Thai man cowering behind him. “Hi Tak-Sin.”

Dad brought in the bags while Joe and Tak-Sin did the hug routine again with mom. Soon enough, everyone had a mug of hot chocolate and was sitting in the front room in the glow of the “designer” tree. Wes took Lucky back to the motor home after he pissed on mom’s antique curio cabinet. Dad, as per usual, escaped downstairs to the hockey game. Kat had squeezed herself in between Joe and Tak-Sin on the couch. Sara sat on the floor leaning up against the chair Colleen was sitting on, and let her mom play with her hair. Sara had always loved mom playing with her hair.

“DO THEY CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN YOUR RELIGION?” Kat set her paw onto Tak-Sin’s skinny knee.

“Um, yeah.” Tak-Sin mumbled shyly.


“Actually, my family is Catholic,” Tak-Sin replied nonchalantly.

Dead silence fell about the room. Everyone suddenly avoided Tak-Sin’s gaze, and he suddenly realized that he must have made some grievous faux-pas. Mom stepped in and veered the conversation away from “Catholics.”

“Well, I thought Ryan would bring Rupa by to say hello. Guess she must have been tired. It was her last day of work today.”

“Is he still with that girl?” Kat scrunched up her double chins.

“Yes, they’re engaged now, you know.”

“Really? Well, don’t tell dad about that when he gets here. You know how he feels about those Asian people…NO OFFENSE TOK-TING…DO YOU UNDERSTAND ‘NO OFFENSE’?” Sara watched Uncle Joe reach his hand behind Aunty Kat and grab onto Tak-Sin’s shoulder as if to say “she’s an ignorant bitch…just let it go.”

“Well, he’s going to have to get used to it, ya know,” Uncle Joe quietly muttered.

 “Thank God mother isn’t around to see it. She was worse than him, ya know.  Mixed marriages are very difficult, I mean, look at poor Sara!”

Sara felt her spine go rigid. She could feel her mom’s fingers press firmly into her shoulders as if to say “she’s an ignorant bitch, just let it go.”

“Actually, Aunty Kat, Blake was English,” Sara calmly said with a smile.

“That’s what I mean. I mean, there are all these cultural differences. Marriage is hard enough. I just hope that Ryan and Rupa learn to get past that and pray together for the Lord’s guidance.”

Uncle Joe took one of his long, deep breaths. That only meant one thing with Uncle Joe…someone was gonna get it!

“Kat, Rupa was born in this country. She’s never even BEEN to India. And what are you talking about? You married some yank from Texas! Sara did not get a divorce because of CULTURAL differences, she got divorced because her HUSBAND couldn’t keep his fly shut.”

Kat set her chubby paw on Joe’s shoulder. “Honey, you just don’t understand. You’ve never been married. Oops…I think I need to use the little girl’s room.” Kat grunted herself to her feet, and then waddled her way down the hall to the bathroom.

“Can you believe her, Colleen? Honestly, some people never change,” Joe whispered as soon as he heard the bathroom door click shut. Mom rolled her eyes and made the international gesture for “she’s as nutty as a royal nut-bar” with her index finger at the right side of her head.

A crash suddenly broke the tension as dad raced up the family room stairs, knocking over an umbrella stand in his rush.

“Oh no! It’s real bad this time…”

“Herb!  Your pants!  We have guests!” Mom shouted as Herb’s full frame appeared, pants already unbuttoned and creeping their way down toward his knees, bow-leggedly running towards the bathroom.

“Hon? There’s someone…”

“AAAAAH!!!” Kat’s shriek was heard all the way to Timbuktu.

 “Well, next time LOCK THE DOOR!” Everyone watched as Herb raced back down the hall and up the stairs, now with his underpants halfway to his knees, and a shit dribble running down his left thigh.

“Sorry!” he hollered as he raced up the stairs.

“Oh honestly!” mom shouted.

“COULD SOMEBODY PLEASE COME AND SHUT THE DOOR?” Aunty Kat’s voice echoed through the house.

Colleen rushed off and the rest of them burst into laughter. Tears were spilling down Uncle Joe’s face by the time mom was back.

“You guys!  Stop it!  That’s not nice…” but Colleen couldn’t contain herself either and tried choking back her cackles. Kat soon reappeared and sheepishly scowled at everyone’s amusement.

“You are all a bunch of immature kids!” she scolded.

“You get a good look at Herb’s dick, or was it the other way around?” Joe teased his sister. Everyone cracked up again, and Kat looked at her brother and shouted “You…you are a PERVERT!” She then stomped down the hall and headed straight out the front door. They looked out the window as she waddled down to the motor home bawling.


“Sir, either put your bag in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you or I will have to remove it from the aircraft.”

Cranky,old cow.  At least run a brush through your hair. Sara watched as the Korean man stood in the aisle helplessly looking at the overflowing overhead compartment and the too-small-space under his seat.

Why had she chosen the cheaper ticket? Singapore Airlines had only been 2000 yen more. After her last flight on Air Crap-A-Duh four years ago, when they had no record of her ever having requested a vegetarian meal and a mother with a baby was told “this isn’t a bar” when asking  a stewardess to warm up a bottle of milk, she’d sworn she’d never fly with them again. In fact, she was so angry that she became a member of

“Sir, do I need to remove your bag from the aircraft?”


“Your bag!  You can’t just leave it there!”

“I don’ know!”


“Yes, little.”

“Just a sec…KEIKO? KEIKO? Can you speak Chinese?”

Sara popped a Xanax into her mouth.

“I’ll pay you for one of those.” The older Indian guy sitting next to her smiled and chuckled. Sara handed him a pill.

“Knock yourself out.”

“I remember the days when they handed out roses to all the women on each flight,” he smiled through his thick moustache.

“Gone are those days.”

“You’re telling me. “

She hated being forced into conversation with seatmates on a plane. Generally, flights from Tokyo were filled with Japanese passengers who were (A) too shy to speak with a foreigner or (B) had an English vocabulary consisting of the words “no”, “I don’t know” and “sexy.”  She invested ten minutes of her time with the stranger sitting next to her explaining that she worked for a publishing company in Tokyo as an English editor, had lived there for three years, was divorced, and NO, was not interested in meeting up for a drink in Vancouver.

Already dying for a smoke, she had four gin and tonics to make the flight more bearable, and then passed out watching an old episode of Corner Gas on in-flight entertainment.


Mom’s hair was long, and she had finally gotten a dye-job too. She looked much better than the last time Sara had seen her when she’d gotten one of those, short perms that so many “women-of-a-certain-age” like to get because it is “comfortable” and you “barely have to do anything with it in the morning.”

Unfortunately, Dad’s pot-belly had gotten even bigger.

“Hey there!”  Hugs and kisses.

“What on Earth have you done to your hair?” Mom reached out and touched her short bangs.

“Is that how they wear it in Japan?” Dad laughed.

“No, I just wanted something different. Have you been waiting long?”

“Oh no. Just thirty minutes. Is that all you have for a coat? It’s cold outside ya know. Guess you don’t get winter over there like you do here.”

They grabbed her luggage and headed outside. It wasn’t that cold. Dad threw her bags into the back of the Subaru, then handed mom the keys and took off in a trot back to the terminal.

“Where’s he going?”

“Honestly, he has to use the restroom about twenty times a day. Just get in.”

“So he’s not doing so well?”

“No, he is fine. It is all in his head. They took out the colostomy bag and say he is totally back to normal. But it is all psychological. Honestly, it just drives everyone nuts.”

Ten minutes later dad was back and they were on the road. Sara sat in the front seat. For as long as Sara could remember, mom always insisted on sitting in the back. Mom hated dad’s driving.

“Yeah, it is just awful. I just feel it coming and I have to go. I messed myself a couple times, so uh, eh…” As was his habit, dad cut off mid-sentence and finished the conversation in his head.

“So are you hungry?” mom asked from the back.

“No. I had something on the plane.”

“Oh! There’s a real good place on the way that has these herb, fo-ko-shu buns. They’re real good. You want one of those?”

“It’s focaccia,” mom corrected from the rear seat.

“I KNOW what it is!”

“Then why did you say ‘fo-ko-shu’ if you know?”

“She knows what I mean!”

“Well, I’m not hungry,” Sara cheerily interjected.

The forty minute drive seemed like a year. She hadn’t been able to finish even half a cigarette on the quick walk from the terminal to the Subaru. She was barely even listening to mom chattering from the back.

“…so I said, ‘you know Kat, we always love having him over but last time he was here Ryan’s digital camera went missing. I’m not saying Landon stole it, but ya’ know that girlfriend of his? She’s a shifty one. Anyway, she’s all ticked off at me now.” The Bell Family Gossip Report continued for the rest of the drive home.

“Sorry about that,” dad mumbled.

“About what?” Sara asked.

“Herb! Oh honestly, open the window. Phew!”

“Sorry, it’s just, uh, after the surgery…phew! That IS bad!”

Sara pulled her turtle-neck up over her nose.

The car veered left at the familiar driveway snaking up the hill on Goose Lake Road. As they turned the second bend a mammoth motor home came into view.

“What’s that?”

“Yeah. Wes and Kat,” dad mumbled.

“They brought their motor home?”

“You know Wes. Said he wasn’t coming unless he could bring the beast. It’s a good thing though, because their dog is a little terror,” mom explained.

“Just plain stupid, those two. They paid more for gas to bring that darned thing up here than it would have cost to fly. Plus, can’t shovel the snow around the thing,” Herb grumbled as he revved the engine to make it up the final and third turn.

“Hon, whatever. If that is what’s going to keep Wes in a good mood, then fine.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Oh, looks like Ned’s here. That’s his new truck.”


“Yeah. A real lemon.” Herb explained pointing to a rather ordinary-looking, black pickup.

The garage door opened. Half of the garage was piled to the ceiling with boxes labelled in dad’s writing with such varying descriptions as “Sharon Rose Glassware” and “Old Fisher Price.”

They went in through the basement door and into the family room. The pool table was stacked with more boxes and a jumble of teacups and saucers, old toys, Hotwheel cars and junk mail. Ned was at the computer.

“Hey.” His one and only greeting.

“Hey little brother!” Sara hugged him and he gave her his traditional pat on the back.

“What the Hell did you do to your hair?”

Welcome to thebluebells

OK, so you are here and thanks for coming!  If you want to know more about this project, click on “about thebluebells” above.

thebluebells was inspired be my own wack-a-doodle family and friends. My journalism professor in college always said to me “write what you know.” After 15 years I discovered that I really didn’t know anything…but I did know people. The same professor also said “writing is meant to be read” which I couldn’t agree with more. But having already tried the route of getting an agent and publisher with something I wrote years ago, I decided this time to just put it out there and see what happens! So, this is an experiment in a way. I know…people have already said “but everyone and their dog has a blog and they are hoping they will be discovered, and blah, de-blah-de blah.” Well, I stronly disagree. I have a dog and he certainly does not have a blog.

Each week I will post a new chapter. Feel free to leave comments, and if you like what you read…tell your friends and loved ones about thebluebells. If you are feeling extremely generous, post a link on your own blog, mugbook, twatter, or whatever. Thanks for the support and I do truly hope you enjoy the book. 🙂