Quantum Hamsters and Other Pet Anomalies by Hermine Robinson

It was my wife, Esme, who suggested we get a pet for our children. “It will teach them responsibility,” she said. “Sounds good,” I replied. However, I was not actually paying attention when she bro…

Many Thanks to Literally Stories for publishing my short story, check it out at the link below.
Source: Quantum Hamsters and Other Pet Anomalies by Hermine Robinson
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New Year Resolutions

I started my resolutions a day early, hoping to catch the new year unaware.  January 1, 2015 was waiting for me of course, not fooled by such transparent tricks.

It is like setting the alarm clock 15 minutes ahead and expecting myself to fall for that ruse instead of hitting the snooze button twice and ending up 5 minutes behind.  Like trying to tickle myself, it can’t be done.

So, New Year’s Day 2015 slammed me hard, probably as revenge for treating it like it was stupid.  Of all “tomorrows” January 1 has a reputation to uphold, an attitude. The mission of January 1st is to see if it can break that New Year’s resolution right off the bat.

It didn’t matter that I cut up a boat load of vegetables on December 31 and placed it strategically at the front of the fridge beside a vat of low-fat yogurt dip.  New Year’s Day had me shoving aside broccoli florets and celery sticks in favour of the left over cheese platter and crackers. Who knows what evil mind voodoo convinced me that “wasting” party leftovers like high fructose punch, ripple chips and full fat onion dip was a far greater crime than putting off a resolution to eat healthier in 2015.

Wouldn’t it be better to start the year with a purge and rid the house of chocolate and wine in the best way possible, by consuming the whole lot on New Year’s Day in a glorious binge? Tomorrow I will do better.

Except, there is no such thing as ‘tomorrow’ for resolutions, only guilty ‘todays’.  January 1 is a bitch because it drives home the futility of hoping for success without action. A New Year’s resolution is a pipe dream without a plan, a destination without the journey to make it worthwhile. And that goes for any change I want to make; promises to myself to exercise, to write daily, submit more and spend time working on the blog.

The truth is, I really don’t believe in New Years Resolutions and I don’t make them any more.

I haven’t given up on starting things a day early though, that’s because today is ALWAYS the day to start. Tomorrow never comes.

Saved by the Ark

The houseboat we lived in when I was very young.

The houseboat we lived in when I was very young.

My mother recorded the events of my early childhood in a journal titled To My Daughter. It includes our brush with death in January 1963, when I was only one and a half years old.

Our family lived on a houseboat on a canal in Utrecht, in The Netherlands. My mother described our home as an ‘Ark’, not because we had three pets – a dog, a hamster and a lizard – but to distinguish our houseboat from the barge-style houseboats that also lined the canal. Our ‘ark’ had a keel and could navigate on the waterways.

During the winter of 1962-63, the temperatures in Holland dipped to -20 C. The waterways froze and comparisons were made to the deadly winters of 1929 and 1890. It was widely believed our canal was frozen solid to the bottom, but that was not the case. When the Waterways Authority opened a sluice downstream, the water drained away, leaving a gap.

At 10:30 in the morning my mother heard a sound like thunder, followed by an earsplitting crack. As the sound rose to a crescendo, my mother wondered if we were being bombed and her first instinct was to hide under the bed. She grabbed me, but it was too late, the ark tipped sideways, we fell to the floor and I slipped out of Mom’s grasp, leaving her holding nothing but my pants as I slid away across the bedroom. The sound of breaking glass and chaos in the kitchen drowned out the noise coming from outside, and then – just as quickly as it tipped – our houseboat returned to horizontal.

Mom knew I was okay because I screamed my head off, and crawled back to her under my own power. She picked me up and we climbed over the mess in the bedroom to check on our dog, Pito, who howled in the kitchen, where he was trapped in a tangle of chairs.

Most of the furniture on the ark was either built in, or secured to the floor. The hamster cage and lizard terrarium were askew, but upright, saved by ledges built onto the shelves. After checking on the pets, my mother looked outside. Huge chunks of ice, the size of cars, tilted against the banks of the canal. Our ark had shifted away from shore but thanks to its design, it floated upright in the small amount of muddy water that remained in the canal.

Others were not so lucky. Four people died that day. The barge-style houseboats with their flat bottoms did not fare well when the ice collapsed – many of them capsized – the death toll would have been higher, except that it was a weekday, and most homeowners were at work.

I do not remember the day the ice collapsed, but I am grateful my mother kept alive the story of how we survived the winter of 1963, all thanks to our ark.

Vertigo

I am not afraid of heights, except for that unsettled feeling I have on a bridge when I look down and wonder what it would be like to jump.

I am not that person who gets lost or turned around and can’t find their way out, although there are times I wonder why I am here.

I feel painful pressure in my ear, the kind associated with air flight, except I am firmly attached to the ground.

I stand up too fast and fall down, stand up, fall down again; I stay down, just for a while, so I can marvel at the spinning lights.

I remember when I knew the cause of this sensation; too many rides on the carousel, too many drinks at the party.

I refuse to succumb to the fear that every headache is caused by an undiagnosed brain tumour, but the germ of the idea, like a tumour still grows.

I feel old, and suffer the vertigo of age, unbalanced just a little by the journey to the tipping point between life and death.

Jeans

For those of you who don’t know; I attend a free fall writing group on Friday mornings at the Alexandra Writing Center here in Calgary, and sometimes the work produced there makes it onto the FreeFallFriday’s blog. These are my offerings from March 21; reposted here for your reading enjoyment.

Free Fall Friday Fragments

Jeans, jeans, jeans, what do I know about Jeans? I know that my parents could never afford to buy them for me when I was young, and even though I was the oldest child in my family, and the only girl, I somehow always ended up with a lot of hand-me-down pants of the ‘awkward immigrant kind.’

You know the ones —  pants that were made of wool, or polyester, or double-knit polyester, with elastic waistbands and a seam sewn down the front. Usually these were passed down to me by older girls in my parents social circle that consisted mainly of other Dutch Canadians. Landed immigrants all of us, and not a single fashion maven in the bunch.

When I was finally able to earn my own money, babysitting for friends and neighbours at rock-bottom rates, I did not make enough to afford designer jeans, not even close, so I bought the…

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