April's Real Blog

Monday, September 24, 2007

Remembered Threats Against the TV

Mike is back, so I'm back home. Oh, and despite what many of us were hoping, the reminiscing isn't wrapped up yet:

Formerly little sis. Deanna and I are finally back from our kid-free vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and if Deanna tells you our next vacation to Mexico will be with the kids, don’t believe her. Just because the Hotel Riu Vallarta had a pool set aside just for kids, and activities just for kids and daily excursion trips just for kids doesn’t mean that we should take kids along. After all, if my kids were there, I would not have gotten so much written about Leonard Driscoll and his adventures in my second novel Breaking the Windjammer. There is nothing like sitting on an ocean beach all day long with a laptop to fire the imagination of a novelist trying to understand a sailor’s life and the spectacular need the sailors had for a good sunblock. We also took the Pirate Ship excursion during one of our days there and I discovered that pirates, aside from being a bloodthirsty lot, also had quite a business in selling pirate t-shirts and other paraphernalia. Imagine how authentic my book is going to be, chocked full of these kinds of details.

In the meantime, I was able to get back to doing photo reminiscing with my daughter today, after I convinced her that there was not actually going to be a quiz if she didn’t do it (What were you telling the girl, formerly little sis?), but that she would not get her authentic pirate t-shirt Deanna bought for her, unless she did. There is nothing like a t-shirt with a skull-and-crossbones on it to inspire a young girl to look at old photos.

The violent nature of the pirate life in Mexico reminded me a lot of the more violent aspects of Grampa Jim back during my trip to visit him in Vancouver all those years ago. I told my daughter that Grampa Jim was notorious for threatening to blow up things to get his way, and back in those days I believed he was a demolitions expert in World War II. These days I know he spent his time repairing airplanes in WWII and never saw any action himself, but as an impressionable 6-year-old, when Grampa brings out the dynamite and the plunger with the line, you are inclined to believe him. Why he had that stuff in his garage I still do not know. I do know he kept it in a box labeled “Parenting Equipment.”

In the first picture I am sitting on the floor in front of the television, grasping my knees in fear at the disturbing programming on the television which was known as 1970s Vancouver local kids programmes. It was something with a puppet and a stick. It was terrifying and the picture shows my terror quite clearly. Grampa Jim approached with a book in his mutilated left hand and said, “Hi there, Mike---What do you say we read a book?” I told my daughter I remembered my response clearly. It was, “You want me to say we read a book?” Then my Grampa Jim said, “No. What do you say we read a book?” Then I said, “I think I would say ‘We read a book’ or do you mean in some other kind of language?” Then Grampa Jim said, “No. Not another language. I mean what do you say we read a book?” Then I gave up trying to understand him and said, “I’m watching this horrifying Vancouver kids programme.”

In the next picture, it showed Grampa Jim giving me his response, “You can watch that any day!---How often do you and I read a story?” I told my daughter I remembered my response clearly. It was, “Every day we’ve been here.” I reminded my daughter that just last week I showed her a picture of Grampa Jim reading Lizzie and me a story. She said, “Grampa Jim must have forgot.” I said, “Right, daughter. Every day, a story with Grampa Jim and they were these long books that lasted for hours. “Real Estate Investment for the Elderly” or “So, You’re Thinking about Dying.” It was great to have a break with a television programme, even if it was a scary Vancouver kids’ programme.”

In the next picture, Grampa Jim is in his chair with Lizzie and me and a book cutting off our ability to breathe, as Gramma Marian came up and said, “Well, I see Grampa hasn’t lost his touch!” My daughter said, “That’s Gramma Marian?” I said, “I think so.” My daughter said, “How can you tell?” I said, “She’s carrying her coffee in a coffee cup with tray and not a coffee mug.” My daughter had to concede the point. It was obviously not mom.

In the next picture we see Lizzie and me looking worried as Grampa Jim has a thought balloon going, “Because Grampa just threatened to blow up the T.V.” I remember that sense of worry which continued for most of the rest of my visit. Grampa Jim attaching the dynamite and the plunger to the television, and my protests of “No, Grampa. I don’t want to read the book about early retirement planning again!” Eventually the threats by Grampa won out. After all, I was only 6-years-old and not old enough to realize that Gramma Marian would beat the stuffing out of Grampa Jim if he really blew up the television. These days Grampa Jim is an old man who curses like an airman, because he supposedly has no control over his speech. Back in those days, Grampa Jim was simply the kindly old nutcase, who cursed like an airman and who thought nothing about pulling out dynamite and a plunger to make a point about the importance of reading.

Well, it’s good to be back from Mexico and I look forward to sharing more experiences with you, as the week progresses.

Michael Patterson
Hey, Mike, how do U know 4 sure there WON'T be a quiz? And if there is, R U sure U wd pass?!?

Poor Dee, it sounds like she musta been v. lonely during that vacation.


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  • At 11:25 AM, Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said…

    Ah, the perils of having an unreliable narrator. Not only was Jim trying to do his clunky best to help a kid bereaved of his bear, he was trying to break through the technological cocoon the boy surrounded himself with and bond with him. Was Mike grateful? Heck, no. That's because the sullen dunce affords himself all the breaks here. REmeber his proud boasts of a childhood filled with fun and adventure in the great outdoors? Every word of it was a lie, including 'and and 'the'. The closest he came to it was watching it on TV, no matter what he's managed to convince himself. I'm as sure of that as I'm sure he'll miss the point about my screen name again.

  • At 1:56 PM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. Of course there is no quiz. This is a simply romp of photographic reminiscence, which happens to be lasting all month and possibly longer.

    Of course, Deanna was not lonely during our vacation. She was with me, and was quite busy fetching drinks and food to me on the beach so my muse would not be interrupted. She was also very handy with the sunburn cream, when I discovered later on my muse should have been interrupted for putting on some sunblock. But what is a little sunburn when you are creating art?

    I see you are still being plagued with comments from the supervillain catfish, spewing the regular Patterson insults which mark the catfish’s usual vitriolic output on your Blog. From a supervillain catfish perspective, I suppose a grandfather threatening to blow up a television is a grandfather “trying to break through the technological cocoon the boy surrounded himself with and bond with him.” Perhaps supervillain catfishes think of explosives as a simply gestures of family love. For Pattersons, the threat of explosive violence usually means someone with some dynamite and a plunger is trying to get their own way. I have learned the lesson from those times, and I pledge never to use explosion threats to get my daughter to read.

    Michael Patterson

  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said…

    Your older brother seems to prove himself us Mister Unreliable Narrator, doesn't he? Thanks to the fact that he's completely off his rocker, he seems to live in his own little world where black is white, up is down and short is long. The problem, of course, is that everything he knows is wrong.

  • At 5:22 PM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. I see your catfish friend has taken to speaking as if he/she/it were a resident of Opposite Land. I am, at the moment, sitting on a rocking chair left in the house by mom and dad, so I know that I am both literally and figuratively speaking "on my rocker" --- a situation no doubt unfamiliar to our Amazon River dweller, who appears to be confused by colours, size and direction. The one thing the little catfish does not seem to be confused about is his/her/its desire to perpetually issue insults in my or my family's direction. However, the day a Patterson takes an insult from an Amazonian catfish seriously, is the day when a Patterson-authored novel doesn't end up as a national bestseller.

    Michael Patterson

  • At 6:04 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    mike, dreadedcandiru2 isn't an actual fish. he's a human who uses "dreadedcandiru2" as his username online. that's all.

    howard, i received yr message that u want me 2 come by around 7 2nite. i'll c u then.


  • At 9:11 PM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. I know that dreadedcandiru2 isn't an actual fish and it’s a human. Most fish do not have internet access. Sometimes it’s better to play along with crazy people.

    Michael Patterson

  • At 9:19 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    mike, it's not like HE believes he's a fish, u goof!


  • At 9:20 PM, Blogger howard said…


    Sorry to be so mysterious, but when I saw that message written to you by lirpA on the window of your old house, I thought it would be best for you to check it out.


    Just Eat Real Elbow Macaroni You
    Love It’s Vibrant Exquisite Sauce

    – lirpA

    That’s a very strange message. I don’t know what to make of it and neither do Beatrice and the girls. I hope you can figure it out.

    Howard Bunt

  • At 9:24 PM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. Now you are just interpreting. I am pretty sure that anyone who would call themselves dreadedcandiru2 has some fish-related issues. It's best not to try and make sense of it though, and avoid making jokes about spawning. You don't want to set him/her/it off.

    Michael Patterson

  • At 2:18 AM, Anonymous Michael Patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. You may remember that I led my daughter to her bedroom, where she showed me her stuffed animals Rags, Ditzy, Woggy, and Blue Bell. And of course her remote control, whom she calls Buttons, which her child psychologist gave her to help her with her recurring nightmare about being burned while she is sleeping. She can use Buttons to change her dreams, if she doesn’t like it. Well, even though my daughter was fully dressed, she decided to crawl under her covers and go to bed. She curled up with her stuffed rabbit, and shoved her curly-haired doll to the side and kept Buttons in her hand.

    I got into her bed and lay down beside her to continue my story about Gramma Marian and our trip to Vancouver.” My daughter tried to pretend she was sleeping. I said to her, “Daughter. You don’t fool me. It’s the middle of the day, and you don’t snore.” Then my daughter picked up her Buttons remote, pointed it at me and pressed the buttons several times, as if that would work.

    I launched into my story about the pictures I had to show her. I said, “Two weeks was a long visit. Eventually we started to get on each other’s nerves. Mom was on Grandpa Jim’s case about his smoking and things got tense.” My daughter said, “Grampa Jim.” I said, “Did I say Grandpa again?” My daughter said, “Yes. If two weeks was a long visit, how would 4 weeks of looking at photos be?” I said, “Daughter. You better get used to looking at photos. Our family is going to be doing that for a long time.” My daughter sighed the deep sigh of Patterson resignation.

    So I pulled the first picture out of my pocket to show her. It was of Gramma Marian putting a red sweater over her blue shirt. Mom was wearing blue too, and she said to Gramma Marian, “Do you have to wear blue all the time, mom? ---And why don’t you change your hair?” My daughter laughed and laughed. I said, “What’s so funny?” She said, “Gramma Elly never changes her hair and she wears the same colours all the time. Gramma Marian is just like Gramma Elly.” I said, “That is a very good comparison, but do not ever let mom hear you say that.” My daughter said, “Why?” I said, “Mom likes to think she is different from Gramma Marian.”

    Then I showed my daughter the next picture. In it is Grampa Jim in the background chain-smoking, which is how I most remembered him. Gramma Marian is holding her coffee cup, which is how I most remembered her. Mom has her hand over her mouth and is not saying anything, which is how I wish I remembered her. Gramma Marian said, “We’ve always been sorry you didn’t finish university before getting married, Elly…” My daughter said, “Why would they be sorry?” I said, “Because Gramma Marian and Grampa Jim paid for mom to go to university and she quit after a few months to start working to save some money.” My daughter said, “You mean, Gramma Elly kept her school money?” I said, “Yes.” My daughter said, “No wonder Gramma Marian was mad. They gave Gramma Elly money to go to school and she kept it and didn’t go to school. That’s like stealing.” I said, “No, it’s not stealing.” My daughter said, “If you gave me money to buy something for school, and I kept it instead, what would you think?” I said, “I would think there was going to be a young lady who was going to be very sorry.” My daughter said, “Oh!”

    In the next picture there was mom sitting in front of two silhouettes, one of Grampa Jim with either a cigarette or a tongue hanging out of his mouth. The other was of Gramma Marian walking away. Mom has a thought balloon written on the picture saying, “I wondered how long it would take before we resumed our old parent-daughter roles…” My daughter said, “What does that mean?” I said, “Mom and Gramma Marian and Grampa Jim all had things they were mad about with each other. Mom didn’t like the way Gramma Marian looked. Gramma Marian was mad mom did not use her university money for university. Grampa Jim was mad because he just was, most of the time, particularly when he smoked. Whenever we visited, they would be nice for awhile, so mom would agree to come back. Then mom would start picking at them about things.” My daughter said, “The same way she does now.” I said, “Exactly. Just like today, except Gramma Marian is dead.”

    My daughter said, “When you get old and I come to visit you, are you going to show me photos?” I said, “What do you mean?” My daughter said, “Because Gramma Elly and Gramma Marian did what they used to do. What we are used to doing, is what we did today. We looked at old pictures.” I said, “Maybe. You never know.” My daughter said, “I don’t want to ever get old.” I said, “You don’t have anything to worry about, then daughter. You are going to stay young forever.” My daughter pointed her Buttons at me, and clicked the buttons a few more times.

    More tomorrow, formerly little sis.

    Michael Patterson


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