There Is A Canadian In My Garden – A Serial Novella

A fictional story just for fun and inspired by the US Homestead Act, 1862. Canada was chosen since it is my nearest international neighbor, and is in no way meant to reflect Canada, its policies or its people. My grandfather immigrated from Canada so it is close to my heart πŸ™‚

There is a man in my garden. When I saw him early this morning at sunrise I didn’t think too much about it — maybe he was looking for his lost dog, after all. But then he took a shovel and started digging, and now I had a problem.

I stepped out on the porch and demanded, “Hey there, what are you doing?”

I startled him. He stopped his shoveling and looked at me. “I am from Canada,” he said by way of explanation.

“What are you talking about? ” I asked. And then I noticed his tent in my backyard. He had a tent pitched square in my backyard. Behind the tent, he’d parked his car, and a woman (his wife?) and a young child were building a fire near my cedar tree.

“Just what in the heck are you doing?” I asked again.

“I’m digging an outhouse,” he said. “At least until I get my house built.”

“Again, what are you talking about?”

“I’m from Canada,” he said again, and extracted a parchment from his pocket. In fact, it was a deed issued by the government of Canada, entitling one “Joseph Pickens” to my land. It even listed my specific address. “I was given this land by the Canadian government, and it is legally mine.”

“Are you nuts?? I live here. This is my house. You are on my property. Take your family and get off! And don’t put your tent or your car on my lawn again!”

“But I am from Canada. This is my land.” He was a mixture of bemused and increasingly indignant.

Now, I’d had enough. I was a fit and muscular man, and I used these muscles to my advantage: I grabbed Joseph Pickens by the collar, walked him to the street and threw him to the ground. “Now try coming on my property again,” I said, standing over him. If I’d been a gorilla, I would have beat my chest, but I am a human so instead towered over him with my hands on my hips. Later, I’d realize I was wearing only a half-open bathrobe and a pair of pajamas (not exactly befitting my stance and posture at that particular moment).

His wife and child had now gotten into the car and tore through my yard toward Joseph Pickens. I jumped back to avoid getting run over, and the car screeched to a halt. Joseph picked himself up from the ground, shook a fist at me, and cried, “This isn’t over. You’ll see. The Canadian government gave me this land!” With that, he leapt in the passenger seat, slammed the door shut, his wife stomped on the accelerator and just like that they were gone.

But the shovel, tent and the fire remained.

Convinced I was hallucinating, I none-the-less walked to the tent, pulled it from its stakes and threw it into the street atop the shovel. I doused the fire with the hose, hardly believing the start I was having to my day.

My neighbors appeared on their porches. “What is going on?” Beth Crosby from across the street called.

“Some crazy dude from Canada said this was his land. He had a campsite in my backyard and everything.” This sparked some laughter, and my mood lightened a little.

Beth Crosby said she’d organize a Neighborhood Watch meeting. “There are too many crazies running around,” she said. β€œIt’d be good for all of us neighbors to get together again.”

I thought this bizarre scene — where I clearly was not hallucinating but just as clearly the man and his wife were on drugs — was over.

But I was wrong…

Copyright 2017, All rights reserved.


There Is A Canadian In My Garden – A Serial Novella

An old dog is a good appetite suppressant

Our 11 year old lab T is flat out old.  Not on-the verge-of-death-not-knowing-where-he-is kind of old, but unpleasantly old.  For example, he used to lay at Wife M’s feet, his legs tucked beneath him, his head resting on one paw, lifting his head alertly if anything caught his attention but otherwise silent and still.  Now, he lays at Wife M’s feet, his four legs splayed out on either side, his head plopped on the ground, smacking his lips with an occassional belch that seems to come from an unspeakably deep place in his digestive system.  The entire display is quite unpleasant, and kills my appetite for breakfast πŸ™‚

An old dog is a good appetite suppressant

Oh my gosh, hilarious — just called the wrong number but person had the same name. Led to a humorous exchange :)

What are the odds??   I called the wrong number, the person sounded a little different so I said, “Kris?”  

Yes, she said.  

How are you? I asked.  

Doing okay.  

Did you make it through the hurricane okay?  

Long pause.  Hurricane?  

Yes, you are in Florida aren’t you?  


Kris Day?  

No, this is Kris (forgot).  

I had the wrong number (wrong area code)!  We exhanged a good laugh, talked about what the odds are of calling someone with the wrong number with the same name.  It gave me a good chuckle and a fun interaction with a stranger early in the day.  I love things like that in life!

Oh my gosh, hilarious — just called the wrong number but person had the same name. Led to a humorous exchange :)

“Travels” by Michael Crichton notes: his time as a resident

Before he was the author of Jurrasic Park, Crichton was a doctor. The first few chapters include (often humorous) stories about his residency.  In his first rotation, he is in the neurology department, which they refer to as a museum since it is mostly patients with neuroses who can never be cured and seem mostly on display for medical students to observe.  The chief resident seems like a prick, a well-dressed sadist with a pressed neck tie who takes glee in pricking patients with a needle he carries.  Crichton is responsible for drawing blood each morning, a task he must get used to and takes time to do on time.  One patient insists on taking his own blood (he is an addict), and takes the blood from an unconscious man as well.

He spends several weeks in psychiatry and is assigned to a young seductress who he tries heroically to feel comfortable with. There is a humorous exchange with his mentor in the ward, who tries to get Crichton comfortable with the fact that he can admit on a secret level he wants to “fuck” the girl, but that he must not.  Crichton, who is young but married to his high school sweetheart and believes very strongly that doctors should not exploit their authority by sleeping with patients, resists the woman.  But she seduces him in another way: he is convinced she will be okay, when in fact she is manipulative and uses her high IQ to her advantage.  She will need more therapy, and when he tells her this on his last day with her she storms off and he never sees her again.

He spends time in the maternity ward, where in the 1960s it is the rage to give to-do women an amnesiac drug (one where it doesn’t reduce the pain, but they’ll not remember it later).  He is disturbed by all the women laying on rubber sheets who are writing and screaming in pain, referring to it as Dante’s Hell.  Another area has the unwed mothers, who aren’t treated well by the nurses (in judgement), but he is moved by them and feels like it is more natural than the other section where the women writhe in drug-induced states. He hates this ward, and is glad that it is now closed.

He had a woman approach him and greet him once, and it took him a few moments to recognize her.  He pointed out to the reader that as a doctor you see soooo many patients it is difficult to remember or recognize them out of context. 

He mentions the story of a patient who came in with spot on his lungs.  They recommended surgery and the patient agreed, but then backed out last minute saying he need time to review the paperwork.  The same thing happened the next day. For a week this continued.  Finally, a visiting somewhat famous and blustery doctor more or less forced the patient to have the surgery.  The spot turned out to be benign, but the patient didn’t trust or believe them and killed himself two days later, convinced he had terminal cancer.

Finally, he brings up the story that there was a statistical fluke where they got a lot of heart attack patients at once.  He spent time talking to them, and asked why they had a heart attack, and almost to a person they blamed something they’d done or something in their life, such as cheating on their wife or stressing about an upcoming event.  It made him reflect on how much of diseases are related to the mental state, and in some ways by telling patients to leave it to doctors they are doing damage by essentially telling the patient they have no control.  Over the years, he has come to believe that all diseases are caused by something we do (i.e. we are to blame as an individual), primarily because he wants to believe that he has control and therefore will take responsibility for his heatlh. 

Link To Book

“Travels” by Michael Crichton notes: his time as a resident

Wife M and I entered New Yorker Caption contest together :)

Every week I look at the New Yorker caption contest, and if the drawing looks interesting I’ll submit something, but if I can’t think of anything after a few minutes I skip it (no need for stress). This week’s drawing looked fun so wife M and I put something together. Actually, I had a small germ of an idea but she took it and ran with it and put the polish on it. Two weeks ago my caption was in the top 100 (out of 5000 or so). It’s fun!

Wife M and I entered New Yorker Caption contest together :)

Our dogs are great at following commands – as long as we give them certain commands at certain times

Our dogs are well-trained – as long we issue them the right commands.  There are certain commands (“Stay,” “Fetch”) that are doomed to failure.  But there are some (“lay down”) they are great at, as long as we issue them while they are already in the act of doing them.  Otherwise, we are screwed.  I am sure there are great dog gratiners out there.  But we aren’t some of them πŸ™‚

Our dogs are great at following commands – as long as we give them certain commands at certain times

Funny cartoon in the doctor’s office

There was a funny cartoon next to the lab at the doctor’s office today, presumably to distract us with a chuckle from the needles that are lurking in the lab (although needles don’t bother me , personally). In the cartoon, two doctors are standing back as a patient waves an apple at them.  “Careful!”, the one doctor is crying out.  “He has an apple.”  A funny play on,”An Apple a day keeps a doctor a way.”  

Funny cartoon in the doctor’s office

Don’t get the point of a motorcycle given todays’s laws

Yesterday was a hot day by Seattle standards – 90 degrees and brightly sunny.  And I saw a motorcycle go by our house where the rider was doing everything right for safety – he had one of those ultra thick motorcycle outfits on, gloves, and a helmet with a dark visor.  But I have to ask myself – what is the point?  

When I rode on my cousin’s motorcycle, I loved the feeling of the wind in my hair, the sun on my face.  But when you are doing everything right and wear the protective gear, all those benefits are gone.  Plus between my house and the city there are limited carpool lanes and the road is one big parking lot because of heavy traffic, so there is no carpool benefit to riding the motorcycle. And the gas benefit? Our Prius gets 55MPH to the gallon, so I can’t imagine the trade-off to a motorcycle would be that astronomical. Seems like with motorcycles in Seattle today, you have none of the fun but all the risk. 

I’d love to see the movie Easy Rider filmed in 2000s Seattle.  I could see the one-word review now: “Snoozer.”A rebel wrapped in a thick outfit and a dark-visored helmet while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic hardly seems that romantic or rebellious πŸ™‚ 

Don’t get the point of a motorcycle given todays’s laws