Although we had never met – they were perfect strangers, it hurt to see them there in their temporary shelter. They weren’t much older than teenagers, and yet, there they were all bundled up under an assortment of mix and match blankets and towels – sleeping on the sidewalk. Laying beside the young couple on the sidewalk, was a large dog. The dog was all covered up too, with just his head showing.
All three of them were asleep, as I stood and stared at them. They had a cup and a handwritten sign asking for a donation and another cup beside the dog with kibbles, and a small bowl of water. I reached into my pocket but didn’t have any cash on me – just credit cards. I felt guilty as I walked away – heck, these were just children, I thought.
I had come to the city to attend the Crazy8’s Film Info Session at the RIO Theatre on Broadway Avenue, just a few doors down from where the kids and their dog were sleeping. I checked the time – it was at 11:30 AM – and the event was supposed to end at 4:00 PM, so I doubted that I would ever see them again. Their reason for being on the street is probably similar to many of the homeless, but I can’t imagine how their current living condition could be better, than what they were trying to escape. I wanted to stay and wait until they awoke and at least say hello and be a friendly face. I also wanted to meet their dog.
But the information session was crucial, and I needed to get a good seat, so I rushed into the RIO with my buddy Robert Mahe, with whom I recently started a film production company. We met as actors on set in 2008, and have been great friends ever since. We both wanted to produce films and will be using one of my published stories from my website as our first film project.
One hour later…
Although I was really enjoying the session, my mind kept wandering to those kids and their dog, laying on the pavement in the doorway of some building, on a cold and damp October afternoon. I got up and quickly walked outside the to see if they were still there. And they were! So I approached them and said hello. They looked up at me and smiled!
The dog appeared to be their spokesman because he suddenly gave me an evil-looking stare and then started to bark at me! I cautiously stepped back to reassure the dog, but that just seemed to make him angrier!
I asked if I could pet their dog, but now the dog was standing and on full alert! His stare became even scarier and his barking continued – non-stop!
I knew that a barking dog doesn’t mean that it’s vicious – or that it doesn’t like you (unless it’s my dog, Holly). Barking is their way of communicating. But it wasn’t his bark that gave me a bit of a chill. It was his eyes – I’ve never seen eyes like that before in my life! This was definitely, the scariest-looking dog I’ve ever seen.
“I’m sorry that I upset your dog,” I quickly uttered.
The young man politely explained that the barking indicated that the dog wanted me to pet him! And although that sounded somewhat counter-intuitive, their love for that dog was apparent, and it was all the reassurance I needed.
“May I take a video clip of your dog?” I asked.
“Sure!” they cheerfully replied.
I asked them for their dog’s name, and then I softly clapped my hands and said: “Come here, Rambo!”
But Danny, you took me away from my hectic life to read about two homeless kids and their dog? Your stories used to be almost interesting, but now they’re redundant.
Relax, Spanky. And stop picking your nose!
Anyway, I posted this because I told the kids I would post the clip on my Facebook page and gave the boy my card. But it wasn’t until I got home a few hours later that I remembered that my Facebook page isn’t under my full name; I changed it several months ago. The library on Georgia Street is probably where they access computers to view their social media pages, and it bothered me that they might be disappointed when they can’t find my FB page. But my business card also has this website address, so that’s why I’ve written about them and their dog, Rambo – in the faint hope, that they’ll visit my website or email me. I went to a nearby ATM to get some cash and then returned and gave them $20 and wished them well and then walked away. The three of them were huddled together in the blanket, and that’s how I’ll always remember them.
It’s heart-breaking to see kids that young on the street and homeless. And yet, the Little Danny in me admired the fact, that these kids would rather be homeless than be apart. When I was their age, I too made a sacrifice to leave home to be with the one I loved and worked my way through the last year of high school just so I could be with her. There were many days I went to bed hungry, but it was worth it. But here’s the difference: when my girlfriend’s father forbade her from seeing me after we got engaged, she obeyed him, and I never saw her again. I didn’t know it at the time, but her father did me a favor – because his daughter didn’t love me enough to run away with me. I heard that she married a rich guy, which now makes sense.
So in closing, I hope that the kids get to read this and see the video. I also wanted the kids to know that I would have made the same sacrifice for love as they have and that they and their dog will always be my heroes!
And now the sky is crying! Bye, Rambo!
Today’s tune from Danny’s music library (purchased): Positively 4th Street ~ Bob Dylan
Lyrics: Positively 4th Street
You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend
When I was down you just stood there grinning.
You got a lotta nerve to say you’ve got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on the side that’s winning.
You say I let you down you know it’s not like that
If you’re so hurt why then don’t you show it.
You say you’ve lost your faith but that’s not where it’s at
You had no faith to lose and you know it.
I know the reason that you talk behind my back
I used to be among the crowd you’re in with.
Do you take me for such a fool to think I’d make contact
With the one who tries to hide what he don’t know, to begin with.
You see me on the street you always act surprised
You say, “How are you?” “Good luck” but you don’t mean it.
When you know as well as me you’d rather see me paralyzed
Why don’t you just come out once and scream it.
No, I do not feel that good when I see the heartbreaks you embrace
If I was a master thief perhaps I’d rob them.
And I know you’re dissatisfied with your position and your place
Don’t you understand it’s not my problem.
I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment, I could be you.
Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is to see you.
Readers of this blog will remember my original Moonshine in the Maritimes posting from November 8, 2016 – a blog that was both painful to write and impossible for me to complete a final chapter.
But all of that changed this morning, and now my heart is racing, and my legs are shaking, and I can’t believe how excited I am! And now, the final chapter is pulsing through my body – from my brain to my heart – and from my heart to my brain. There’s so much that I want to say…
It’s currently Thursday, March 2, 2017, and I am leaving to go to the Promenade in White Rock to do my walk. Walking helps me think, and I need to put all of these highly-charged emotions into words, sentences, and paragraphs. And it has to be believable because frankly, it is – but I’ll leave it to you – and your judgment to decide for yourself.
But don’t ask me to re-publish the original blog – I deleted it one night when I was deep in a depressed state – missing my cousin Ruthie and feeling sorry for myself. Isn’t that why we cry? We’re hurt and feeling sorry for ourselves – wondering how our lives will ever be the same without our loved one.
So, my story will resume on the morning of November 12, 2016, just before we said goodbye to my cousin Ruthie and witnessed her passing while holding her in our arms. That moment changed my life forever, but it left me with more questions than answers. But now I know for sure, that Ruthie is still with me – just like my Ma and Grandma Puffer are – and now I have proof!
Stay tuned kiddies, fasten your seatbelts and stand behind the sneeze guard – the ride is about to enter the dark tunnel, and you’re trying frantically to get out before the ghouls and goblins appear from the shadows.
The Last Chapter
Sunday, November 6, 2016
The trip to Moncton to visit my cousin Ruth had been planned for early Summer 2016 but I had a few medical issues that I was dealing with, so it wasn’t until that Sunday, that I booked my flight to Moncton.
Ruth, or Ruthie as her friends and family called her, is my first cousin on my Mom’s (Puffer) side. Her Mom and mine were sisters. We were never very close because Ruthie was ten years older than me, but we always seemed to have a connection. My earliest memory of her was when she came to stay with us for a weekend visit; I was probably seven or eight years old at the time. And she was the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen in my life. At the time, I was hopelessly in love with Annette Funicello the Mouseketeer, on the Mickey Mouse Club Show on TV.
Annette Funicello – Mouseketeer
Annette Funicello 1942 – 2013
But Ruthie became her replacement, and I was now hopelessly in love, with a much older girl – who probably hardly knew I existed. And that’s how little Danny first fell in love and began to dream and believe in the impossible. Because sometimes, impossible dreams do come true!
Later in life, I would sometimes see Ruthie at weddings or funerals, but I never spoke to her as an adult until we saw each other one night, at her brother Terry’s house in Bramalea, Ontario in the 70’s. It was a family get-together, and I was there with my parents and was in my twenties, and Ruthie and her husband Mike were standing in the kitchen with a crowd of people, laughing and enjoying themselves. I told her that I had had a life-long crush on her – and still did. She giggled and then hugged me and gave me a kiss on the lips. I have never forgotten that moment – and how excited she made me feel. I also remember telling Mike, her husband, how lucky he was to have her as his wife. I never saw either of them again until I saw Ruthie at my Dad’s funeral in 2001. She and her sister Patty and Patty’s husband came to the funeral together – and we sat and talked for quite a while about our lives and loves. Once again, I told Ruthie that I still had my boyhood crush on her!
A few years later, on the week that my youngest brother Randy was getting married, my cousin Patty’s husband passed away. And although I had only met him once – at my Dad’s funeral – he was a Newfie, and my family and I liked him. So on the day after Randy’s wedding, I went to the funeral home in MisterandMissesAuga to pay my respects. Most of the Walkers were there, but as I scanned the room, I couldn’t find my Ruthie. I was standing at the coffin with Patti, and she gave me a white rose, which she explained meant ‘goodbye.’ It’s why I dislike white roses – because some goodbyes are forever and are often accompanied by a broken heart. It’s also why I’ve always been frugal in saying goodbye – to loved ones. But as I turned to walk away from the casket, I saw her!
My heart started thumping as I quickly made my way across the room to where my Ruthie was standing. She had been talking with a couple of her lady friends and gave a shriek when she saw me. And then she introduced me to her friends.
Ruthie:This is my cousin Danny. He used to wack off while fantasizing about me.
My face turned a scarlet red, and I became tongue-tied. What could I possibly say in reply to that embarrassing introduction? But without missing a beat, I shrugged my shoulders, turned to walk away and waved, saying…
Me:And I still do!
And then I quickly ran outside to my car and drove back to my hotel in Toronto. We never hugged or kissed, and it was another secret that I had planned to take to my grave. But instead, I’m sharing it with you because I know that you can keep a secret. Promise!?
I was on a plane home to Vancouver the next morning, still shuddering with embarrassment at Ruthie’s introduction. But it made me smile and chuckle all the way home. And it’s making me grin again this morning, as I write about it. I mean, how did she ever find out about my secret fantasy?
Several years later, in June ’07 or ’08, I learned that my Ruthie was now living in Moncton. I gave her a call and told her that I was planning a trip to visit my buddies Bill, Scotty and General and asked if she would like to get together. A few weeks later I was staying at Junior’s place in Moncton. I had set his father up in business years ago and then hired his son, Allan, as one of my District Managers for Western Canada. HIs nickname was Junior, and he was now married and living in Moncton and had invited me to spend a few days with him and his wife, Jennifer.
While there, Ruthie and I got together and went out-on-the-town and partied until the early morning hours. She came out to the couch where I was sleeping at about 5:00 am and suggested that I should probably leave before her daughter’s family wake up (they lived in the upper part of the duplex). I was supposed to come back later to meet her daughter, but I time didn’t allow, and I returned to Vancouver, the next day.
But that night that we spent out-on-the-town, was like a first date and I learned so much about Ruthie… and our family’s history. We never spoke again until after my Mom’s funeral in September 2010, a year after my cancer treatments had ended. And it was at my Ma’s funeral that my family learned that I had cancer. I hadn’t told anyone about my cancer because I was afraid that they’d tell my Mom. And my Ma’s health was too fragile to withstand the news. View Danny’s Cancer, Story
After Mom’s funeral, I returned to Vancouver and called Ruthie in Moncton. News of my throat cancer had already reached her from the family grapevine but she still seemed surprised when I told her. It had been less than a year, since my last treatment and I wasn’t sure about my future. I was still clinging to the belief that I was in the “40% Group” that survives my type of cancer – but I was also a realist, and needed to have some basis in fact, to continue believing that I would survive. And Ruthie was just the medicine I needed!
Ruthie had battled three different cancers over a 42 year period – and survived! In fact, while I was going through my treatments in 2009, Ruthie had a part of her lung removed (lung cancer). Years earlier, she had both breasts removed. She was such a positive voice – and her words of encouragement were just what I needed to help me in my own battle.
Nobody knows when it happened – but everyone knew that it had snowed during the night. It’s an excellent example of the legal term ‘circumstantial evidence’ – although you didn’t see it actually snowing during the night – when you awoke and looked out the window – you accepted it as a ‘fact.’
But it seldom snows in Vancouver. At least not like it has in the past three days! In Seattle, yesterday was the second largest snowfall ever recorded in the past seventy years! I’ve used my snowblower four times in the past two days – and now another five to six centimeters of snow this morning!
I’ve been waiting for the ‘right’ time to resume my writing. I can’t remember a year in my life when I had more hurt and disappointment than the past year (2016). Usually, I bounce right back from setbacks but lately, I’ve found it takes much longer. Life can sometimes seem to be like trying to put toothpaste back into its tube or feathers back into a pillow.
I recently returned from Montreal, where I had attended a meeting of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Measurement Steering Committee – Person-Centred-Perspective. Our committee’s five-year term ends in March 2017 but the mandate of CPAC has just been renewed for another five years by the Government of Canada. I am hoping to be invited to serve as a patient advocate on one of the new committees.
So, now that I am back at the keyboard – and anxious to reveal all of my ‘uppers and downers’ of last year – where should I begin?
Although I have been writing a blog (a journal of my stories) for several years, they haven’t always been with the same web-hosting company. I have changed hosting companies several times but a few years ago, during the transition to the new site, I lost a blog that I had initially posted as a 3-part series titled My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn (April 2012).
Well, today I was going through some files on my old desktop computer and found it hidden in an archive folder titled My Holly.
Now I’m not very superstitious, but it’s interesting to note, that I will be traveling to Toronto, Ontario next month on the same day as that magical trip I took there several years ago. So what better way of celebrating an anniversary than to re-post the series again!
So if you’ve already read this story – you might want to refresh your memory. If you haven’t read this series – well, hold on to your toupee – things are going to get weird!
My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn – Part 1 of 3 (Originally published April 2012)
Last night, during a deep and peaceful sleep, I suddenly awoke to the most bizarre sight ever. I sat upright on my bed and began hugging my pillow in terror. There on my bed was
But first, let me give you a little background.
My Holly Golightly
Holly Golightly is a Coton de Tulear. I named her after the character Audrey Hepburn played in the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (my favorite actress and movie).
Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn)
Audrey and my dog Holly have two things in common – they both have beautiful eyes, and they both have a magical connection to me.
But Danny, Audrey Hepburn passed away several years ago – and Holly, your dog, is just a dog. What magical connection could you possibly have with either?
Patience, dear reader – patience!
A few years ago, I spent a month in the Land of Toronto – on a highly-classified and very secret mission. The organization that contracted me cannot be named – I signed a non-disclosure agreement – and I am, if nothing else, a man of my word. Let’s just say they have a significant influence on global entertainment matters.
I rented a furnished condo in the downtown (Yonge St & College St) area under the assumed name of I.P. Knightly. The condo building was very secure – with a security guard stationed at the front door – 24/7.
I also chose the condo because the Metropolitan Toronto Police Headquarters is right next door. I scanned the surrounding area and noticed the SWAT snipers on the rooftops of adjacent buildings. Naturally, there was a Donut Shop on the same block. However, I have already mentioned too much – so I’ll just get to the part about the Audrey Hepburn and Holly Golightly connection.
About two weeks into my mission, I decided to take a day off. I had been working long hours in a very dangerous part of the city known as Yorkville. It is a corridor of trendy boutiques, galleries, and restaurants – where the rich and famous would gather to shop, dine and giggle. But these people don’t live in the city – they come from the surrounding suburbs such as Mr. and Mrs. Auga, Niagara Falls And Sometimes It Doesn’t, Union and NonUnion Ville, Dorothy Hamil-ton, Bow Man Ville, and Oshawa (birthplace of the Kardashian Sisters). But I wasn’t going to spend my day off in Yorkville – I needed a change – some place different.
I was walking on Bloor Street, just west of Yonge, when suddenly I noticed the ghostly image of a beautiful woman – and she appeared to be staring at me. I took off my mirrored sunglasses and began rubbing my eyes. Was I having a drug flashback from the ‘60’s? Nope, there she was – as real as real could be. As our eyes met, she waved for me to come closer – but I stood there – frozen in fear. She smiled, and it was at that moment that I became sure of her identity – it was Holly Golightly – the character I had worshiped since the ’60’s!
And there she was – about to open the door to a store. As she entered the store, she briefly turned and looked at me. Her eyes seemed to be telling me to follow her. I quickly glanced at the sign above the shop window – Tiffany & Co. Could this be possible?
I entered the store and was immediately captured by a beautiful scent of perfume – coming from this mysterious woman. No, it couldn’t be Audrey Hepburn – heck, she died several years ago. Who was this woman?
She stopped at the elevator and turned to see if I was still following – I was. We entered the elevator together – and then the door closed. Neither of us reached for the “floor buttons” – we just quietly looked at each other. She smiled. My body started to shake and tremble with an excitement I hadn’t felt since my first day of High School. Who was this woman? She pressed the 3rd Floor button – and then continued to smile at me. I took a couple of steps closer to her – close enough to hear and feel her breathing. But before I could say anything, the elevator door opened. The mysterious woman then motioned for me to follow her. I was in shock – she appeared to be Holly Golightly – but how could this be possible? Who was this woman?
She was standing by a glass display case – with an assortment of rings. She looked at me and pointed at one ring in particular. “This one,” she whispered. And then she vanished. My heart stopped – and so did the time. I just stood there – numb and in shock.
“Would you like to try it on?’, asked a salesclerk.
“Yes,” I replied, “but first tell me who that lady was!”
“What lady?” he answered.
To be continued
My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn – Part 2 of 3 (Originally published April 24, 2012)
“The lady that was…. that was just… ” I stuttered, “she was just here … a few seconds ago!”
“I am very sorry sir, but I’m the only sales clerk working on this floor today” he replied. “Are you feeling alright? Would you like me to bring you a glass of water?”
He appeared to be genuinely concerned. I knew (based on my many years of sales experience) that I was dealing with a real professional. He was well-dressed – Brooks Brother suit and patent leather shoes – probably from an exclusive haberdashery in Yorkville. He also appeared to be “edgy” and somewhat “needy”, as most salespeople paid on a “commission basis” tend to be.
“No thanks. Maybe I’ll just try on the ring.”
The ring was very unusual – it was flexible, comprising of many small, interlocking-silver chains. Inside the ring was a small plate with the inscription “T&Co.”
Danny’s Tiffany Ring
The salesclerk carefully took the ring from the display case and gently handed it to me. He then stood back (as per the Tiffany & Co. protocol) and allowed me to try on the ring. He began smiling – which was his way of telling me that he knew he was dealing with a customer from a foreign land.
“Forgive me for asking, but you don’t appear to be from the Land of Toronto – are you here for a visit?” he asked.
My body stiffened – questions began “racing” through my mind. How did he know I was an outsider? Was it because I had licked my finger several times, before trying on the ring? Or was it the “Eagles – Hell Freezes Over Tour” t-shirt that I was wearing? (Torontonians are die-hard fans of Hank Snow, and rock ‘n roll hasn’t gone over there yet).
“Yes,” I answered, “I’m from Rochester, New York – on a bus charter to see the CN Tower and Ontario Place.” I felt a bit guilty for lying – but only for about 3 seconds.
“I’ll take the ring,” I told him. “Don’t bother to wrap it; I’m going to wear it.”
Later that afternoon I returned to the condo. As I walked through the lobby towards the elevator, I noticed one of the doors closing – I shouted – “Please wait for me!” The door suddenly stopped and then opened. I was surprised to see that the elevator was empty. “Hmmm, must be high tech voice-sensors” I muttered to myself. I pressed the 33rd-floor button and waited as the elevator started moving.
Suddenly I felt someone’s presence behind me – I quickly turned – and there she was – Holly Golightly – or Audrey Hepburn – or her ghost! She stared at my hand – and when she saw the ring, her eyes started to twinkle. She held out her hand – and the ring that Fred had given her (from the Cracker Jack box) suddenly and miraculously changed and became identical to the ring I had just purchased. Our eyes met, and it was at that moment that I noticed the tears running down her cheeks. And before I could say anything – she vanished!
As I left the elevator, I noticed a couple leaving their condo and walking down the corridor towards the elevator. With them was a small white, shaggy dog – who started running to me. It had the most beautiful eyes, and it was very friendly. I introduced myself to the couple (using my alias) and asked them what their dog’s name was and what breed. They told me it was a Coton de Tulear, and his name was Buddy. The woman reached into her purse and wrote the name of the breeder on a piece of paper.
“Are you in town long?” they asked.
“No, I will be leaving in a week or two” I replied.
“Maybe you can join us for dinner or drinks?” they shouted as they entered the elevator. Buddy, the dog, turned and stared at me – with the same sad expression as the Holly Golightly mysterious woman I had just seen (or hadn’t?) in the elevator.
There was something oddly familiar about that dog – but I wasn’t sure what it was.
To be continued
My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn – Part 3 of 3 (Originally published April 26, 2012)
“Why not join us for drinks sometime?” they shouted as they entered the elevator. Buddy, the dog, turned and stared at me – with the same sad expression as the Holly Golightly mysterious woman I had just seen (or hadn’t?) in the elevator. There was something oddly familiar about that dog – but I wasn’t sure what it was.
I saw Buddy several times before leaving the Land of Toronto – he was such a friendly and lovable dog. Being with him made me miss having a dog – Beau (my Pomeranian) had passed away the year before, and I was still grieving his loss. However, I decided that if I was to ever get another dog, it would be a Coton de Tulear – just like Buddy.
Fast forward to the next year. I returned to the Land of Ontario to house sit for Linda (my sister) and Brian at their home in Ajax. They were vacationing in the Land of the Free and had tickets to attend a live taping of the Jerry Springer Show. Each day I would visit with my Mom at the Parkway Retirement Home in Pickering – and we would faithfully and eagerly watch the Jerry Springer Show in the hopes of seeing Linda and Brian in the audience. Although we never actually saw them in the audience, we were pretty certain that we heard my sister’s distinctive voice screaming of “Jerrrrreeeee – Jerrrrreeeee!”
One day while visiting my Mom – we were talking about Beau (who was named after my Mom) and how much I missed him. We were watching television and the Wheel of Fortuneshow had just ended (my Mom’s favourite program). We flipped through the channels – when suddenly – there she was! No, not my sister, silly! It was Audrey Hepburn (Holly Golightly) being featured on the Biography channel. I went numb with excitement and could barely speak. “Mom, that’s my favourite actress of all time” I explained. I then told her about my visit to the Tiffany & Co. store in Toronto and buying a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ring. I didn’t mention the Holly Golightly/Audrey Hepburn sightings – she wouldn’t have believed me – in fact, who would?
But seeing Holly Golightly/Audrey Hepburn reminded me of that dog Buddy – and that was the connection! They both had dark and mysterious eyes. I quickly checked my address book and found the listing for Buddy’s breeder. It was long distance – a western Ontario area code. I dialed the number and a man answered. I asked him if he had any pups available and he indicated that he had just one left – and it was a 4 month-old female. I told him that I was very interested and would it be possible to go there the next day to see the dog? He agreed and then proceeded to give me directions to his farm – it was in the Land of the Mennonites (which explains his rather odd accent).
Early the next morning I headed out on the “401” – which at that time of the morning, was a continuous 50 mile traffic jam. I finally reached the breeder’s farm and saw the pup. She was beautiful – and had eyes just like Buddy! The breeder told me that she was the last in the litter – and had an issue with her hip – but she was otherwise healthy. The kennel was a building beside the barn – the dog had never been in a house. I paid for the dog and as soon as I got her in the car, I called her by her new name “Holly Golightly”. A few days later we were on our way back to Vancouver – with Holly in a soft pet carrier, under the seat in front of me. She never made a sound and despite being confined for several hours – she didn’t “mess” the carrier.
But Danny, what about that mysterious Holly Golightly/Audrey Hepburn woman or ghost?
Well, it’s like this….
Not long after getting Holly, I saw another Audrey Hepburn movie “Two For The Road” for the first time – and was “crushed” by the character she played. She was having an affair – and not being faithful is the one thing that neither Fred or I would ever be able to forgive – regardless of how much we loved her. It shattered my attraction for Holly Golightly although I am sure that Audrey Hepburn was in fact, a beautiful woman/person – and nothing like the character(s) she played.
As for Tiffany & Co. – it lost it’s wow factor for me when I learned that Newt Gingrich had a $500,000 line of credit there. I haven’t worn my Tiffany & Co. ring since.
But Danny, what about the terror you mentioned in Part 1?
Well as I stated, I was in a deep and peaceful sleep when suddenly I awoke – frozen in terror. The TV in my room was on (I always leave it on during the night – it helps me sleep) and Holly was awake and staring at me. At first it was the music – and then I saw the TV screen – it was the scene in the movie where Holly Golightly is on the outside of Fred’s bedroom window in Breakfast at Tiffany’s! What are the odds? Spooky!!!
And at the same time, my dog Holly Golightly was staring at me – with the saddest expression – as if she was trying to say “Don’t give up the dream”. I got up from the bed and went to the dresser and got my Tiffany & Co. ring. Holly watched as I put it on my finger – and then she laid her head back down and went to sleep. And as I laid there beside her I thought about the mysterious woman from that day, five years ago, on the elevator at Tiffany & Co. in the Land of Toronto.
Hopefully, Fred will never see that Two For The Road movie…… it would probably break his heart too!
NOTE! – The part about the Jerry Springer Show is not true – my sister Linda would never watch that show… but my brother Freddy might…… I’m just sayin’……
Holly Golightly hiding behind Danny at sister Linda’s place in Ajax, Ontario (2007)
UPDATE: March 14th – I’ll be wearing the ring when I visit Toronto in April – and who knows? Maybe I’ll see her ghost again…
Okay, so maybe I haven’t hugged you (yet). But here are a few of the reasons why I hug people, dogs, cats, horses, cows and even the rare, elusive, flying squirrel that I sometimes see in my backyard (although not so much since I stopped mixing Scotch with Orange Juice).
Editor’s Note: Danny doesn’t drink alcohol very often – he just likes taking shots at Scotch drinkers).
I have found that people who don’t like hugging are usually the kind of individuals that I have nothing in common. It’s proven to be an efficient and reliable ‘friend filter’.
It’s a good way of checking to see if the person that you’re hugging is wearing body armour or a concealed gun.
It’s sometimes needed and can feel more sincere and meaningful than other means of greeting friends and family.
It’s the perfect thing to do to that cop who has just pulled you over for speeding. The cop will still give you the ticket, but there’s a good chance that he’ll want to be your friend on Facebook.
However, you might not agree with my rationale – so let’s look at what the science experts are saying about ‘hugging.’ The following is a (paste and copy) of an article I read in the Vega One newsletter this morning. It gives the scientific argument for hugging, and it’s quite compelling – so here it is – read it and start hugging!
Both romantic and platonic touch can be very healthy. Cuddling releases all the feel-good hormones we know and love: dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. All of these increase our sense of well-being and happiness, and today we’re going to highlight the main touch hormone: oxytocin.
Your New Favorite “O”: Oxytocin
Hugging and cuddling initiates the release of the hormone oxytocin – which is linked to social bonding (especially between mother and child). But it also has other health benefits.
Here are the top four benefits of oxytocin:
Oxytocin helps to reduce our blood pressure and stress levels—almost instantaneously.
Oxytocin is anti-inflammatory
Oxytocin brings us closer to those we know and love.
Oxytocin enhances your overall well-being—beyond just a five-second hug.
In the majority of research, it appears that these benefits happen when you are familiar and trust the person you are touching. Hugging a stranger is likely not to have the same healthy benefits.
Ways to Get Your Cuddle in:
Hug a friend!
Next time you see a good friend or family member, give them a good, solid hug. You’ll both feel more connected.
Find a cat café
Can’t have a pet in your apartment? Cat Cafés are popping up around the world. Why NOT sip a cappuccino while you pet a furry friend?
Volunteer at a pet shelter
Besides granting immediate, unconditional love, cuddling with a furry friend is bound to make you feel good. Most pet shelters are in need of long-term volunteers. Committing to walking, socializing and caring for pets until they are adopted helps everyone out.
Get a massage
Not only will getting a massage make your sore muscles feel better, but the massage can also stimulate the release of oxytocin.
Take a warm bath
Don’t feel like being social? Pour yourself a hot bath and let yourself relax. Give yourself a shoulder massage. Phew—feeling better already!
So now that I’ve given you proof – beyond a reasonable doubt – that hugging will not only brighten your spirits – it’s free, and there aren’t any calories. So why are you still sitting there? Get up and run out into the street and hug the first passer-by that you meet!
This morning during breakfast, I was watching a news program and almost choked on my beer. Luckily, I have a PVR and was able to rewind the program to verify that what I thought I saw had actually happened.
It seems this family in Melbourne, Australia were trying to auction their house at a cool $2,060,000 but despite numerous prospective buyers touring the 5 bedroom home, there hadn’t been a single offer.
But during the house tour, a daughter of one of the buyers fell in love with Tiffany – the homeowner’s cat. So her parents decided that they would submit an offer of $2,200,000 with the condition that Tiffany be included in the sale. That’s right, they were offering $140,000 more than the list price – just to get Tiffany the cat for their daughter!
Tiffany the $140,000 Cat
And then I spilled the beer all over my Fruit Loops when the reporter announced that the sellers had accepted the deal, despite the fact that the cat was owned by their 19-year-old son, who had bought the cat in the first place!
But it gets even weirder – because the sellers decided to give their son $25,000 for the cat, while keeping the other $115,000 as additional profit!
I jumped off the chair, yelling and screaming obscenities at the TV screen and spilling beer and Fruit Loops all over my dog Holly Golightly, who had been sleeping on the floor by my feet.
My semi-sober mind began racing in overdrive, trying to make sense of this outrageous news. Here are some of the questions that raced through my mind:
If nobody wanted to buy the house at $2,060,000 – why wouldn’t the buyer just offer the list price – with the condition that Tiffany the cat be included in the sale?
Was Tiffany the cat named after my favourite movie ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s‘?
Isn’t paying $140,000 for a cat a bit excessive?
Most pet owners consider their pets as family members – and most people would never consider selling a child or other family member (in-laws being the only exception).
Isn’t selling your son’s beloved pet some kind of sin?
Isn’t not giving your son the entire $140,000 some kind of sin?
Which of these people are worse – the buyers for their heartless conditional offer? Or the cold-hearted-reptilian sellers?
Am I the only person who thinks that beer and Fruit Loops are a wonderful and healthy combination?
Please feel free to add your comments or answers to these questions.
Great White Shark Scientific name: Carcharodon carcharias
The crowd of onlookers grew by the minute and it was only a matter of minutes before the Great White Shark made her first appearance to the Pacific Northwest in more than five years. Some were convinced that she had died long ago but they had shown up anyway – in the faint hope that maybe a miracle would prove them wrong.
She was first spotted and tagged on the shores of the Bedford Basin by an avid fisherman by the name of Garth Smith. He and his wife Donna spent many months caring for this beautiful creature – but alas, all good things must come to an end. I was with them on the day they said their goodbyes – but of course, the great beast had no way of knowing why it’s caregivers were leaving her. I’m not sure but I think I saw a tear in one of its eyes.
Now some might think it strange that a man could not only befriend a Great White Shark – let alone keep it in captivity – but I not only witnessed this myself – I actually adopted her.
But now I too, had to face the fact that I could no longer care for this great and faithful friend. She was almost 25 years old and the poor thing was finding it difficult to function.
I wish that I could say that she had a long life and it was now time to let her go but she was like family to me and I couldn’t be brave (or cruel) enough to say goodbye.
And although it’s been five years since I last had her on the road, I have put a new battery, alternator and several other parts and she is looking almost as good as the day I bought her from my good friend Garth.
She’s going to the Day Spa tomorrow for a complete interior & exterior cleaning.
On January 1st, I’ll be getting the special Collector license plates for her.
Oh, and the crowd I mentioned earlier? They’re lining both sides of my imagination and screaming ‘BRAVO!’
Dedicated to Garth & Donna Smith – Best Friends Forever!
And here are some photos that I took of her today…
Great White Shark Scientific name: ’90 Coupe de Ville
The Great White Shark Scientific name: ’90 Coupe de Ville
Great White Shark Scientific name: ’90 Coupe de Ville
Great White Shark Scientific name: ’90 Coupe de Ville
Great White Shark Scientific name: ’90 Coupe de Ville
Long May You Run Sweetheart, Long May You Run!!!!
Update: Sad to say that I sold the Shark in December 2014 – but she went to a good home in the Valley.
Last Wednesday we said our goodbyes to a legendary hero and warrior and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I first wrote a blog post about Doug Aikins in February when he was rushed to the hospital emergency department http://www.danielstandrews.com/2014/02/21/and-the-gold-medal-goes-to/ . Joy W. a very close friend of Doug and the owner of the dogs that Doug took to the Cancer Centre had sent me an email advising that Doug’s cancer had returned and he was in a lot of pain. I drove to the hospital that same day and visited with him in the emergency department. Although he was in a lot of pain, he still managed to smile when he saw me and we shook hands. Doug told me that he had a kidney removed 3 years ago and had hoped that he was cancer-free but that dream was shattered when they told him that he now had bone cancer. His dear wife had passed 1 1/2 years ago and as though that wasn’t enough pain and heartache, Joy’s dog Captain who had been visiting the Cancer Centre with either Doug or Joy for over 8 years had passed with bone cancer last year. Doug told me that he hoped that he would have another 5 years but then he smiled and said that if not, at least he, his wife and Captain would be together again.
Over the next several weeks Doug’s condition worsened and he was moved from the Palliative Care Floor at Surrey Memorial Hospital to the Laural Place Hospice across the street. I continued to visit Doug up until he was no longer to able to remain awake during my visits. The last thing I told him was that everyone at the Cancer Centre missed him very much and sent their love and hugs. We shook hands and I left his room. On the drive home the sky started to cry.
A week or so later, Joy sent word that Doug had passed. I cried at the news. And so did a couple of hundred other people whose lives were touched by this gentle giant of a man. And so did Sam and Mikey, the dogs that Doug loved so much.
At Doug’s funeral service, there seated in the aisle was Sam and another dog, whose name I can’t remember. Here are the photos I took of them:
Dogs at Doug’s funeral (and Doug’s volunteer smock hanging)
Sam and his little buddy
And as I was leaving the funeral home, I thought of the funeral I’d attended for the 12-year-old girl who was killed in early 2009. She was from the First Nation and it was a traditional funeral – which I found to be very moving. On my way out of that funeral service I heard the distraught scream of her mother. “Look, there she is!” she cried, while pointing to the sky. And there in the sky, circling high above us was a lone Bald Eagle. Soon everyone was staring at the Eagle – which I was told was her spirit showing us that she was now free. ‘What a wonderful moment’, I thought.
And so as I walked to my car in the parking lot, I glanced skyward…
Regular readers of this blog know that Holly is one of the loves of my life. She is 7 years old, very smart but at times stubborn. Yesterday, her stubborness almost led to tragedy.
I had just returned from the States in the early afternoon and was getting Holly ready to go to the groomer, which is several blocks away. Normally, I put a body harness on Holly and either walk her to Gail’s place or if the weather is bad, I’ll take her in the car. But I was running late so I quickly picked Holly up and took her to the car without her harness or leash. I should mention that she hates going in the car – she is actually very scared of any vehicle and I’m not sure why.
Anyway, I got to Gail’s house and opened the back door of the car to pick up Holly but before I could grab her, she jumped out onto the driveway and started to run down the street – in the opposite direction to how I always take her. I started yelling at her to come back but she only paused for a second, turned and looked at me and then continued running down the middle of the road. I continued to yell while running but my throat was getting raw and I was quickly exhausted from the run. At the end of the block was a main street and she didn’t stop to look both ways (what dog would?) as she turned right and that’s when I lost sight of her. When I got to the corner I couldn’t see her on the road but some people standing on the next corner down the street started to wave their arms at me and began excitedly pointing down the next street. I was shaking with terror at the thought of Holly being run over by a car. I could see vehicles stopping two blocks ahead and I was desperately screaming with what little voice I had left. My throat was getting so raw it started to bleed – I could taste the blood in my mouth. A teenager down the street came out of her house – hearing the screaming and started to chase after Holly. Two men on the next block quickly saw the commotion and tried to stop Holly but she turned left and continued running down the street where we live. One of the men on that corner started shouting “She’s almost at 40th Avenue!”
The street she was headed for is always busy with traffic and I knew that she would be surely hit by a car. At this point I was almost in tears – filled with a terror that I’ve never experienced before. Even when I got the news that I had stage 3 throat cancer and had only a 40% chance of surviving was not as scary as this.
“She just turned right at the bus stop!” one of the men shouted, as I neared that corner. I tried to thank them as I continued half running- half walking, but I had no voice left and tears were streaming down my face. If you are not a dog or pet owner, you might be thinking ‘Man up Danny, it’s only a dog’ but Holly is like a child to me. I’m sorry if that comparison offends you but like I said, most non-pet lovers would never understand or ‘get it’.
The bus stop is right beside my long driveway and I was desperately hoping that she went down the driveway to our home. Our home is not on the street – it is on what is known as a pan handle lot – and the driveway runs between two houses and is situated behind the houses on the street.
When I finally got to my house, Holly was sitting by the front door panting very hard – with a terrified look on her face. I unlocked the door and we went into the house to get her harness and lead. She was so stressed that she had pooped all down her hind legs. She knew that I was angry with her and I was. But I was more mad at myself for being so careless and stupid. I knew that Holly hated going to the groomer as much as she hated going to the vets and that’s why I always put her harness on whenever we leave the house. It was inexcusable that I had not put on her harness. We walked in silence back to the groomer. When we got to Gail’s house, she was really concerned and asked what had happened. I tried to explain but could hardly talk my throat was so sore.
“I saw you park your car in my driveway and then the next thing I saw was you running down the middle of the road!” she said, adding “I am so sorry, but many of the dogs that come for grooming are not happy to be here, but once they’re inside the house, they’re usually okay.” Gail is a professional groomer and you can tell that she loves dogs. She has been Holly’s groomer for several years. As I was leaving her house she mentioned that she would get some water for Holly.
When I drove home I was amazed by the two things that had happened.
How Holly avoided getting hit by a car while running down the middle of the road(s) for several blocks.
How Holly was able to find her way home, even though she had taken a route that we had never walked or driven on before that day!
Three hours later I drove to pick Holly up and she was very happy to see me. When she got into the car, she didn’t hide under the seat as she usually does. She was standing on the console between the front seats, wagging her tail and whimpering something. I had no doubt in my mind that what she was whimpering was “Sorry, Daddy…. please forgive me!” When we got home I gave her a treat and then we hugged each other for a very long time.
Maybe cats aren’t the only ones with 9 lives… if so, Holly and I now have only 8 remaining!
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love animals – particularly dogs. But the first pet that I ever owned wasn’t until my last year of high school in 1968/9. My family had moved to Georgetown that summer, but I decided to stay – because I was in love – hopelessly in love.
I was working part-time at Agnew-Surpass Shoe Store at the shopping centre and figured that I could make enough money to pay the $12.00 per week for a room at Mrs. Simpson’s place. Meals weren’t included, so there were a lot of days that I had little or nothing to eat. Fortunately, my girlfriend’s dad owned a restaurant in town. She worked there as a waitress – after school and on weekends. After finishing work at the shoe store I would walk to the restaurant and get a plate of chips or a hamburger – in exchange for doing the dishes in the kitchen.
My room was actually the basement of Mrs. Simpson’s home. It had a bed, couch, small table and chair, hot plate and an old shower stall. There was a small mirror over the laundry tub, which is where I shaved and brushed my teeth. It wasn’t much but it was my place – and despite the hardship of living alone, with little or no money – I was very happy.
“But Danny, what’s this got to do with getting your first pet?”, you’re asking. Be patient Spanky!
Anyway, my girlfriend and I went to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) in Toronto for the day during that summer. I only remember two things about that day – going on the Ferris wheel and winning a game of Bingo. In those days, the Bingo hall was a popular place – one of the great landmarks of the “Ex”. And what made the place so unique was the huge, floor-to-ceiling cage containing hundreds of colorful budgies. The other prizes were items such as lamps and small appliances. But when I yelled out “BINGO!” and won the game, I remember going directly to the bird cage and choosing a blue budgie. The bird came with a fully-equipped cage and handles on the side for carrying.
On our way home on the Greyhound Bus, I chose a name for the bird – Wally. I always liked the name Wally, probably because I didn’t know anybody with that name, except for Wally Cleaver, the older brother on Leave It To Beaver. It was a cool name and it was always going to be the name of my first pet – regardless of whether it was a dog, cat, bird or gold fish.
I really loved that bird – he was seldom in his cage. And while I was home (as my room had become), Wally would fly around and then land on either my head or shoulder. And even though I could never get Wally to speak – I’m sure there was a meaning to his frequent chirping. Mrs. Simpson really liked Wally and she would often invite both of us upstairs to keep her company watching TV. I’m sure that while I was at school or work, she would be at Wally’s cage, trying to teach him to speak.
I had to part with Wally in August 1970 – but gave him to a good friend – who I know took good care of him. I never had another bird for a pet. But sometimes when I’m in PetsMart, buying food for my dog Holly, I’ll wander over to the bird section. And if there is a blue budgie, I’ll smile and whisper “Hi Wally!”
I haven’t been to the CNE since the summer of ’68 – wonder if they still play Bingo there?