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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Those who are familiar with my professional life know that I defend the downtrodden and, in particular, rescue Damsels in Distress.

By Damsels in Distress, I mean young ladies primarily but not exclusively between the ages of 12 and 29 who have gotten involved with the wrong end of the criminal justice system.

They need assistance. They need legal advice. They need someone to come to their aid when they are being tormented by The Forces of Evil (i.e. police, prosecutors, probation officers, etc.)

courthouse-1(Our local courthouse – Damsel in Distress central!)

And sometimes, they need lunch, bless their little cotton socks.

On more than a few occasions, I have had the opportunity to have them join me when I visit the local cafe (i.e. ‘my office’).

For the first time, two have agreed to grace the pages of my blog.

Two of my favourite Damsels in Distress are BD and JT.

DiD 002a(At my ‘office’: BD – pouting somewhat, and JT – somewhat content)

I have to say right off the bat that neither of these charming young ladies has a criminal record. They were neither convicted nor found guilty of committing any kind of offence whatsoever. They did get into a wee bit of trouble but the matter against them was withdrawn.

Neither are they what I would call ‘regulars’ or ‘frequent flyers’ in our court system.

They are, in short, a couple of sweetie-pies.

DiD 001b(BD perks up after learning she’ll not be at one of Her Majesty’s guest houses)

BD and JT are the kinds of girls who sometimes find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Luckily for them, when something in their lives goes horribly wrong, they can (and do) contact me to help them out.

And it’s absolutely my pleasure to do so!

aa-kendo-kanji-red

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Most loonies with whom I have lunched are, as a general rule, positive, good-natured people.

With one notable exception…

crabby-1

Alyssa Krabbykova [1], the world’s crabbiest girl.

Alyssa is grumpy ALL THE TIME.

She lifts grouchy it to an art form.

Alyssa wakes up crabby. How is that possible? How does one wake up crabby? Nothing has happened yet!

crabby-2

And yet, people still love Alyssa despite her foul mood. Probably because of it.

I think part of it has to do with the fact that she is completely honest. She doesn’t put on the fake smile and the phony friendliness. When you talk with her, you get the genuine article – the Full Frontal Alyssa.

There’s something oddly disarming about that.

Alyssa used to work at my old hangout and office, The Café on Main. I swear, customers would come there, in part, to see if Alyssa would be more bored, impatient, frustrated, grouchy… in other words, even crabbier… than the day before. She rarely disappointed them.

alyssa-skov-2a(A rare shot of Alyssa not being so crabby)

I would like to think that most young ladies in the food service industry try to be pleasant, cheerful, friendly, etc, in order to make the customer happy. Alyssa adopted more of an ‘eat it and beat it’ philosophy. To her, customers were an annoying nuisance standing between her and the end of the day.

I am hoping to have the sincere pleasure of getting together with Alyssa later this week. I haven’t seen her in a while and I am wondering if time has mellowed the girl a bit. I don’t think I need worry. I am sure she will be every bit as crabby as she ever was.

Here’s to things never changing!

I miss you, Alyssa. Things just aren’t the same without your little bitter ray of sunshine.

aa-kendo-kanji-red__________________________________________________________

[1] ‘Krabbykova’ is not her real surname. But it should be.

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Of the loonies with whom I have lunched, occasionally there are loonies who have also made lunch for me.

Near the top of the list is the delightful cook and chef, Jennifer M.

Jennifer-Mason-1s

She and I have known each other lo these many years.

When I first met Jennifer, she and the remarkably grumpy Alyssa Krabbykova (more on her in another blog) worked at my old hang-out and office, The Café on Main when it was located across from the courthouse at which I work.

Jennifer has since moved on to a few other restaurants but we have always managed to keep in touch and, occasionally,  get together… at least for a coffee.

Sometimes, Jennifer and I would go to one of her other restaurants  The Smokin’ Buddha in Port Colborne, for dinner. [1]

Jennifer-Mason-2s

Jennifer is fun and imaginative. She is wonderful at playing ‘what if…?’ But Jennifer is not all fun and games. She can be quite rigid at times and has been known to be rather firm, especially when it comes to my behaviour.

It was Jennifer who instituted The Rules. These were guidelines that set out how I was to conduct myself (or more often NOT conduct myself) when at the café.

We don’t see each other nearly enough but when we do, we always have a great time.

aa-kendo-kanji-red_________________________________________________________

[1] If you are even in the area, you have to check it out!

This is my 250th blog post for Kosher Samurai! Woohoo! 🙂

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Those who know me will freely attest that I have a ‘thing’ for Oriental girls.

Chinese, Japanese, Korean… you name it, I am completely dippy about them.

I recently had the opportunity to meet a very charming young lady, LingZhi. She goes by the English name ‘Liz.’ [1]

She and I met a month or so ago and have been getting together now and again since then.

(LingZhi has this thing for Blue Morpho butterflies)

LingZhi is what I call a ‘stealth loonie!’ She has the cool, calm ‘normal’ exterior thing going, for sure. But once you get past that, she is a different girl altogether!

I really enjoy her company. She has been in this country a couple of years. Her English is more than OK although she is a bit self-conscious about it. [2]

socks(LingZhi’s socks. I mean, really!)

We do unusual things. For example, about two weeks ago, out of the blue, she asked me if I could teach her how to make mashed potatoes. How do you say ‘no’ to that?  So, off to the grocery store we went. As we were shopping, I tried explaining to her what ‘kosher’ meant but gave up after a few tries. I’ll get around to it eventually, I’m sure.

tea-yixing-pot(LingZhi’s tea with my yixing teapot and cup. Note dead bonsai in background)

LingZhi, knowing my fondness for Chinese green tea, was kind and thoughtful enough to give me some as a Hanukah present.

LingZhi-Cai

Yesterday, she flew back home to China for the holidays.

Hopefully, she will return next month and we can see what kind of trouble we can get into again.

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[1] I personally think that the name ‘Lindsay’ is more closely connected to her real name but what do I know?

[2] Not nearly as self-conscious as I am about my Mandarin. The expression ‘Significant Suckage’ leaps to mind.

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Lellen (not her real name) is a beautiful, charming, funny, vivacious young lady.

Lellen is a triathlete. As I understand it, this involves swimming, running, possibly archery and hand-to-hand combat.

Whatever it entails, Lellen excels at it. She is what is known as a “jock.” Such a crude and unpleasant word for this girl. I prefer ‘athlete’ or more specifically ‘skinny little blonde who can beat the crap out of most guys I know.’

Lellen has her quirks, most definitely. She hates a mess and cannot abide clutter. The first time she was at my house, she took one look at my kitchen and said, “You have GOT to be kidding me!” She proceeded to tidy and organize my kitchen as well as my library shelves. (I have a lot of books). It is a tribute to the sheer strength of her personality that things have remained tidy (more or less) ever since.

She and I share a love of horror novels, specifically those written by Stephen King. She practically went into nerdgasms when she saw my collection of old Stephen King hardcover books.

So here’s to one of the best lunatics it has been my privilege to know. Long may you straighten up the clutter in my life. Long may we enjoy the pleasure of our company. 

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Virtually all the loonies with whom I have lunched [1] get to the rendezvous as a result of a series of correspondences or communications with me during which a mutually agreeable time and place is chosen.

There is one notable exception… Elaine.

Elaine and I seem to appear together through some sort of kharma or alignment of the stars. No planning is involved or even required. We just show up and there we are.

Serendipitous, I think one would have to call our impromptu run-ins.

(But who is the stalker and who is the stalkee?)

Stalking others may call it. Either way, we just happen upon each other with an alarming frequency.

Example 1: After a morning of defending the downtrodden and rescuing damsels in distress, I retire to some local café or other to sit down, decompress and otherwise enjoy some quality time with myself. Chances are that within 15 to 20  minutes, Elaine will arrive, see me ensconced at my usual spot and plonk herself down at my table with a surprised smile and a “fancy meeting you here” on her lips.

Example 2: Court is over, an errand or two have been taken care of and I decide to have a tea or a Diet Coke at some local café or other. I walk in and who should be there but Elaine. “It’s about time you showed up!” she says. “I have to leave for work in half an hour!”

Elaine is a hoot. She is also one of our local librarians. She is also a Presbyterian minister. Each of these can be a positive and even desirable trait in many a person. Elaine seems to have captured a personality trifecta or hat-trick of sorts.

But, like the yin and yang symbol, Elaine has a dark and sinister side. Yes, even this genial, smiling, kindhearted woman has evil lurking in her heart.

Elaine is what I call a ‘knit-wit.’

Allow me to elucidate. To some people, knitting is merely a pleasurable pass-time. To others, it is a practical hobby… something by which to while away the hours and end up with a scarf or some socks at the end. With Elaine, knitting is something altogether different. A consuming passion, an obsession, a driving force in her life. Her idea of a good time is driving for 90 minutes to Toronto to look at yarn. [2]

(Zombie sock yarn)

At lunch, she will pull out a freshly-knit pair of socks and breathlessly ask, “Aren’t these GREAT??” She’ll describe in surprising detail where and how she picked out the yarn, what pattern she chose and why, the number of knitting needles used, the various problems she ran into and challenges she had to overcome to produce these incredibly fantastic, amazing, magnificent socks!

“Yes. They’re lovely. Really!” I reply with bound enthusiasm.

She can sometimes tell when I am not as ‘into’ the knitting thing as I ought to be. My muted response occasionally tips her off.

“Oh, what do you know?” she says, dismissing me out of hand.

Another thing about Elaine… her fixation on Barbie.

Yes, THE Barbie. The Mattel doll loved by little girls since she first strutted into the national consciousness in the late 50s. For a while, Elaine carried a Barbie doll or two in her shoulder bag. She was knitting a series of outfits for the leggy gal pal and was always displaying the latest in the series of teeny haute couture. In fact, these dolls were so much a fixture of our lunches that we started referring to them (collectively and interchangeably) as Café Barbie.

The ‘Barbie Phase’ culminated in an all-out Barbie Photo Shoot at Elaine’s house with me as costume crew and general stage hand and Elaine’s husband acting as stage manager and lighting designer/key grip. You had to be there. It took hours but in the end, Elaine had a digital camera filled with images of her Barbie line of designer fashion outfits which she gleefully shared on her Facebook page. Needless to say, Ed and I were whelmed.

Despite these eccentricities (some may call them character flaws), Elaine remains chipper, effervescent, even bubbly. Her laugh is infectious. Her cheerfulness is almost tangible. She is quick with a corny joke and proficient at the pun. She is gentle and kind and funny as all get out.

(My stalker. Or stalkee)

Just don’t mention ‘knitting’ within earshot. You’ve been warned!

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[1] Just to let you know that I am perfectly aware of the grammatically correct form of this phrase.

[2] What’s wrong with the yarn sold locally? Beats me.

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Sweet Lord in Heaven, what would my life be without Tracy Charles in it?

(Tracy up north at the cottage in Parry Sound, Ontario)

Certainly a lot more dull, I can tell you that right now!

I live vicariously through Tracy. For such a normal looking girl, Tracy is The Extreme.

(Tracy and her dear friend, Shakira, in Morrocco)

Remember the 1996 movie Twister where the Bill Paxton character brings his girlfriend (Jamie Gertz) along chasing tornadoes and they end up at the farmhouse for lunch and she asks, “Why do you call him The Extreme?” The Philip Seymour Hoffman character explains, “Because he… is The Extreme!”

(Running down a zip line in Montego Bay, Jamaica)

That’s basically how I explain why I think of Tracy as “The Extreme”… because she… is The Extreme!

(Tracy making friends and influencing people in Cuba)

Tracy travels. Often. To a LOT of places!

But The Extreme is not content simply to visit these far flung joints. She has to go all out!

(Hang gliding in the Andes Mountains)

I swear, I get scared and exhausted just seeing her photos and videos and reading about what she’s doing next! The girl is a high octane adreniline machine.

(Repelling down a canyon river in South America)

The girl has boundless energy and an unbridled enthusiasm for trying something new, for taking risks.

(Rent a car? Hell, no! Tracy zips around  Baños, Ecuador, in a flippin’ go cart!)

Tracy is no mere adreneline junkie. She is a woman who has had her share of tragedy in her life and she has learned that you need to squeeze every drop of enjoyment from life. Never go to your grave thinking, “I wish I had done that!”

(Note the bad-ass barbed wire pattern on the helmet!)

So here’s to you, Tracy. You are an inspiration to me and all who know you.

Can’t wait until you get back from your present trip so we can talk more about it.

Until then, enjoy life to the fullest. If anyone has earned it, sweetie, it’s you!

(Tracy straddling the equator, being in two hemispheres at the same time!)

You’re the best. You are… The Extreme! [1]

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[1] At the time of this posting, Tracy is in the Amazon jungle, home to over 2.5 million insect species!

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