Perplexing percentages

My friend Sarah and I went to the LCBO yesterday and we made a fun discovery – chocolate flavoured vodka! Not only did this vodka entice us but it advertised they are “dedicated to protecting the environment and cutting down on unnecessary waste”!

Two girls who love chocolate and environmentally friendly companies, along with the temptation of a sip of vodka – we grabbed up that little bottle of 360 Double Chocolate Vodka and headed toward the cash register. Sarah said, with the special twinkle in her eye that appears each time she is feeling mischievous, “We will do our best to help this company to protect the environment – I know I will not be unnecessarily wasting this vodka!”

As Sarah backed the car out of the parking lot I asked her to take me to the grocery store. We needed to purchase the ingredients to make the drink Sarah had sampled on New Years Eve – chocolate milk and chocolate ice cream.

I decided to go with the frozen yogurt – we wouldn’t consume the container with a mere drink each and I would enjoy the frozen yogurt on its own at a later time. Sarah thought that was a great idea and she assured me the taste of the Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate vodka shake would not be affected.

I noticed something odd – the Beatrice 1% chocolate milk advertised 1% fat content while Chapman’s Dutch Chocolate yogurt advertised 97% fat-free. I asked Sarah, “Doesn’t that mean the yogurt has 3% fat?” Sarah shook her head in agreement.

I was reminded of the reports I had to file when we had government funding for our charity. We were obligated to file our monthly reports with various forms of percentages. For example I could report that during the previous month we had a 27% success rate in helping our clients find housing and on another report sheet I could fill in 73% of our clientele remained unhoused. In the manner the numbers are used the smaller or larger number are chosen for effectiveness. I pondered the effectiveness of this disparity in dairy product percentages.

At the Windsor apartment – our temporary home away from home – I spooned out a good clump of chocolate yogurt, added a good pour of chocolate milk and topped off the Magic Bullet individual shaker cup with a precious ounce of the chocolate flavoured vodka. I served Sarah her shake first which she held on to as I duplicated the process for my drink.

My shake blended I held my cup up to Sarah’s and said, “Homogenized whole milk is 3.5% fat and these shakes dairy products total 4% fat.” Sarah giggled and said, “I’m not sure about that. Wouldn’t the 1%, when added to the 3% decrease the overall percentage?” I love when Sarah shows off how smart she is – I replied, “I guess you would be right, and the percentage would be lowered yet by the addition of the 35% alcohol content vodka.”

Sarah smiled her coy smile and said, “Drink up sister!”

 

WILL TOMORROW EVER COME

Such a moving story. Everyone should read this!!

The Writers Desk

I lay in the hospital bed at Columbia Presbyterian in New York. It is ten thirty pm., and the nurses continue to give me enemas to clean out my colon. I can barely walk at this point and tell the nurse this is the last one. I feel like my legs won’t last another trip to the bathroom. The enemas stop and I am left with my thoughts about tomorrow morning. Will it be the last morning for me, will I never see my children again or my family for that matter. I left instructions with my husband and my sisters, they were trying to encourage me but with tears in their eyes. My children were four, nine and eleven. They needed me. I was only thirty nine and Cancer was my enemy. I prayed again that night to my God, please let me make it through this nightmare and…

View original post 473 more words

Original sin

One of these packages of Sponge Toffee was handed to me today and it took me back to a time when I thought I was innocent. I recalled my original sin, stealing one of these from a variety store. Another young girl from the new school had challenged me to do it, and I was stupid enough to follow her lead.

I was telling this story to our volunteer food bank lady at our homeless shelter today when the truth dawned on me. This was not my original sin at all! Nope, I was only 5 when I broke into a neighbours house to steal the cookies in her beautiful cookie jar. Instead I found a fist full of money! More dollars and coins than made any sense to me. In her kitchen cupboards I finally located a box of store bought cookies. I was disappointed as my mom, when finances allowed her to access the ingredients, baked sweet confections for her babes.

I had gone home and sat in a kitchen chair gobbling up the store bought cookies. My mom came into the room and snatched the box of treats out of my hand. “Where did you get these?” She demanded, and I obediently told her about the break in, the cookies I found in the cupboard and my final accomplishment of the acquisition of much needed funds.

My mom was in shock and took the money from me. She scolded me that I was a criminal and she was ashamed of me. Hearing that broke the little tiny heart in my chest. I thought I’d never recover from such a scolding.

Many years later, as a woman in my 30’s and a mom myself, I told my mom how I remembered when I stole the neighbours money. My mom laughed and said, “You don’t know the half of it. I couldn’t very well tell the lady one of my kids was a burglar so I kept the money and never said a word.”

I laughed so hard I almost peed. My poor mom, so mortified by the actions of one of her little brats that she was forced to become a partner in the crime! I asked if she recalled what she did with the money. Mom told me, “Well, I probably spent it on groceries!” I mused on this for a moment and said, “Perhaps you bought the ingredients to bake your own fantastic cookies!” Mom said, “You remember my baking?” I smiled at her and answered her, “I remember much more. Do your recall how you made us chicken and dumplings every Sunday after church?”

My mom nodded her head, her eyes glistening with tears. She said, “I would never have thought you kids would have remembered my cooking. You were taken away from me when you were all so young.” I said, “Us kids never forgot the love you put into the meals you made for us. The three oldest of us have talked often about our memories of the food you placed before us.”

Love is like that, isn’t it?

When I almost died from sex

I became frantic as the legs of the bed, all four one after another began to gallop like a wild stallion. At least that is what I thought a wild stallion must gallop like. Cul-a-lump, cul-a-lump, cul-a-lump, lump, lump and on and on that stallion raced. My hands clung to the sides of my mattress as I desperately prayed to survive the earthquake above me. Silently, I plead “Oh God, please don’t let me die from sex!”

Then it happened, the scream of horror escaped from me. I lay drenched in panicked sweat fear enveloping me like a cold, black cape of death. A face appeared from the top bunk of the bed demanding, “What the hell is wrong with you? Do you want us to get caught?” I couldn’t do more than stare at the angry face of the teen boy, while agile as a cat the older foster sister Lolita leapt to the painted green hardwood floor.

I’m still amazed that Lolita could leap, as though inhuman, off the top bunk. Lolita sneered her best sneer, wrinkled her oversized nose and hissed, “You’re a virgin loser. At least the boys want to do me.” I turned away and held back a desire to hug the now still wall. The top bunk hadn’t fallen to crush me to death. Thankful, I closed my 13 year old eyes and ignored Lolita and her latest ride as they sucked on each others faces, their goodnight, or maybe goodbye kiss.

Two piece hot pink tutu

Another death, a foster sister. I don’t have any photos of Carissa and so I represent her with a beautiful flower from my garden.

I’ll always remember first meeting 6 year old Carissa. She was a tiny stick shaped child, a pretty face surrounded by long blond hair. I recall her wearing a bright pink two piece bathing suit with a mini tutu skirted bottom. I’d wondered, when I first saw the bathing suit, that her mother had thought it was respectable for her small girl to flounce around the yard dressed in so little. Life with the nuns had been strict and I was not accustomed to such lack of modesty.

Carissa had been an okay kid. Not too much trouble to anyone. She did have some difficulty hiding her resentment of some, no, most of the other foster children. She had difficulty sharing her natural mother and natural father with these children of strangers. I’d always thought Carissa was rather normal and had not wasted time being angry with her, nor did I waste any time chewing it around in my mind. She was what she was, and, more importantly she was just a little kid who hadn’t been offered a choice or an opinion.

It still amazes me that the Children’s Aid had sardined 9 children and two adults into a three bedroom home in a lower middle class neighbourhood in Windsor, Ontario. This was prior to the foster parents puchasing the hotel and cottages in Oxley, Ontario.

I never did find out if he molested his own daughter Carissa, although he did threaten to do so when I refused to get into his bed. Instead he had taken Carissa and another younger foster girl, Denise into his bedroom for the night. His wife was in hospital at the time, having her rectum operated on, for reasons she hadn’t made very clear to us. Probably, simply a case of hemmorroids.

Many years later, while talking to me about the molestation of me in the foster home the investigating cop diverted his thoughts to Carissa. He told me he had always had a thing for her, since she had entered high school. I had suppressed, with difficulty, the urge to tell him what a pervert I thought he was.

The cop is about my age, and 5 years between him and Carissa would not normally be a big deal, however, he was talking about his attraction to a 14 year old girl entering grade 9 while he, at age 19 or so, had already graduated and gone on to post secondary school.

The cop, his eyes glazing over and unaware of my discomfort, told me another story of Carissa. He said the foster father had taken up with a teacher in the small nearby town and the foster mother had learned of his disgracing of her. While she didn’t care at all about his secret behaviours, including the molesting of the children, she did take great umbrage with his public display of his lack of devotion to her.

Carissa, intent on vindicating her mother had driven over to the teacher’s house in a rage. She’d proceeded to smash every window, at least all those in her reach! The teacher had pressed charges and the cop told me he had been mortified at the idea of laying criminal charges against the girl of his dreams. I had laughed so hard and had almost fallen off my chair in the police interview room.

The cop had literally pouted, causing me to laugh all the more. He had insisted I “calm down”. I asked him if he had slapped the cuffs on Carissa, and if she had resisted. I know that man wanted to jump up from his reclined office chair to slap me, but the image in my mind had been far too hilarous not to put into words!

Instead, through pursed and very angry lips he said the foster father had replaced all the windows in the house and had ended his affair with the teacher. Everyone satisfied, he had not been obligated to proceed with an arrest of Carissa.

I have often thought how I would have loved to have watched Carissa eke out some revenge on those windows! Not that her mother deserved it, for she is an evil woman, but simply because I can imagine every ounce of hate that girl had buried inside of herself for most of her life erupting from her.

I think, for the rest of my life I will imagine Carissa in a super hero costume, a two piece hot pink tutu, blasting villians with hot pink flaming thunderbolts!

Cold Case of the Dirty Snow

* Please note I have changed the names of those written of here. The story otherwise is fact and truth.

45 years later and I remember the boy in the wall.

It was February 1972 and the foster father was renovating what had been the hotel’s kitchen. His plan was to remodel the old kitchen into a games room with pool tables and pinball machines. He knew the camping children would be happy to pay to play. He was business savvy enough to know the children’s parents would finance the absence of their kids to enable them to enjoy adult activities. Camping kids would eventually rename the hotel with the games room “The Big House”.

I would silently chuckle years later when dealing with cops and Children’s Aid social workers, all expounding their beliefs Paolo, the foster father, was a “simple man, unable to hatch or carry out schemes or crimes.”

Paolo was an amazingly brilliant man who co-owned, with two of his brothers, a carpentry and house building business. He had in short order, soon after locating the hotel and cottages, sold his shares in another hotel on Ouellette Avenue, sold his home on Mercer Street and sold an apartment building he owned, all in Windsor. Paolo told us at the dinner table of the Jewish family, the ones who were reputed to own most of Ouellette Avenue. He proudly said he had their finances in his pocket.

Paolo enjoyed his dinner conversations where he would play himself up as a “Made Man” with the Mafia. Was he? I never fully believed him, but it was very disconcerting when the local cops would drop in for a beer with their “best buddy”. How he earned their camaraderie was another question that remains unanswered.

Paolo was able to convince his newlywed brother Elias and his wife Jennie to help finance the operation. The plan was for them to move into the hotel. He also convinced his wife’s brother Bill to invest his savings and move in. It wasn’t too long before Bill, Elias, Jennie and the baby Terry gave up the dream and moved out and back to their own lives. Elias and a third brother had bought out Paolo’s shares in the family owned carpentry business.

I would be remiss to not mention how the Children’s Aid Society latched on to the scheme presented to them by Paolo. The Children’s Aid, he told them could use funds meant to be spent on activities for the foster children, to ease the financial burdens on other foster families, thus enabling them to purchase campers and pay rental fees for summer camping. Paolo was brilliant, and certainly he was a man who could both conceive and bring to fruition his evil schemes and crimes.

Paolo also had at his disposal the thousands of dollars per month earnings from the dozen or more foster children in his care. The children, a free workforce as groundskeepers, housekeepers and maids for the rental cottages assured his financial success.

It continues to amaze me how the professionals were adept at protecting one of their own. That’s what it was though, protection of their perceived “normal citizen” from the horrible foster children.

As foster children we had already been schooled on our place and our failings to the community. Foster children were, after all, “damaged goods”, “children who emerged from hellish conditions thoroughly affected”, “blemished and mostly nonredeemable souls”, and, “children who should be at all times grateful ANYONE would want them.”

A much smaller kitchen and laundry room had been installed in the original front offices of the hotel. For a short time prior to that one of those rooms had served as a bedroom for Bill.

As work on the old kitchen had gotten underway I’d been dismayed to learn the beautiful copper top counters were being ripped out. Yvette, Paolo’s wife didn’t want the counters saying they would be too hard to keep clean. I still recall looking at her with amazement and my words of response, “I don’t know what difference that would make to you. You don’t do any of the housework anyway.” Yvette had glared her usual face at me while Paolo had chuckled.

Yvette’s youngest sister was the hired help. Yvette had explained to me that Jasmin had been herself a wayward soul, accumulating children and no decent man would now look at her. I liked Jasmin and thought she was a classy, beautiful and, like me, a completely overworked servant to the dame Yvette.

I had my faith in God renewed one day when Jasmin announced her parents had financed a house for her and her children! Yvette was livid when she learned, money she had perceived to be part of her inheritance had been spent on her youngest sister. I was elated and did nothing to hide my great pleasure in Yvette’s wailing and misery!

It was late, past my bedtime, and I’d crept downstairs and tiptoed into the old kitchen, for a last look at the counters. I will be completely honest here and also tell of my own financial crimes in that household, a secondary reason for sneaking down to the first floor!

During the first month after taking possession of the house the children were corralled and brought down to the basement. The rooms had been used as storage and housed mounds of aged commercial dishes, cups, bowls, serving platters, cutlery, cooking pots, utensils and other miscellaneous hotel kitchen items. Yvette told us our task was to clean out the rooms. Everything was to go out to the temporary dumpster Paolo had rented. Our reward, Yvette told us, was we could keep any “treasures” we found.

I was elated to find a small dark green metal box. A key was in the lock and I opened it to find another key taped inside. I slipped the loose key into my jeans pocket and rushed over to the small pile of goodies I had found. Yvette stopped me, demanding to see the box. After examining it she said, “I’m keeping that.” I was upset and reminded her of her promise we could keep any treasures we found. Yvette sneered at me and said, “I didn’t mean anything of quality.” I watched her walk away, her nose high in the air as I gently fingered the second key in my pocket.

Yvette’s greed would be her undoing. She had taken her prize into the back office where they checked in and out the campers. Yvette proudly told Paolo she had found a moneybox, complete with key.

For more than a year it had been my great pleasure to be blackmailed over any truth or lie the other children could come up with. Their payment, always the same, I was to rob the moneybox and turn the proceeds over to them. I loved it, every moment of it. My plan was a brilliant as any Paolo could have conceived!

I never kept any of the money. The only money I used came from the parents whose children I babysat. Yvette knew my earnings exactly and pained over every penny I spent trying to prove my guilt. In her obsession to catch me, and to my utter amusement, she failed to notice the funds continually spent by the other children!

Certainly, it was ritualistic for me to rob the moneybox, however on that one night I truly had wanted a sad and long last look at the mesmerizing copper counters. I don’t recall seeing the counters though. I was too shocked at another sight before me.

A boy was inside a partially covered wall, his eyes pleading with me to help. His mouth was gagged shut and his hands were trussed tight to his sides, bound with some sort of fabric strips.

Horrified, I asked Paolo what the hell he thought he was doing. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me through the massive hotel lobby/dining room then through the chandeliered smaller dining room.

Standing at the bottom of the stairs he pushed me to go up. He’d hissed he was just scaring the boy as punishment and warned me to mind my business.

There was no telephone on the second floor to call the police and I was too frightened to go back down the stairs.

I didn’t sleep that night and I never did see that boy again. At breakfast the next morning Yvette announced the boy had run away as Paolo crunched away at his breakfast never looking up from his plate. After washing up the dishes I’d gone to look at the wall and saw it was completely covered over. The wallboard was puttied, sanded and painted. Paolo would have had to stay up all night to complete the task.

I looked out the windows at the driveway in hopes of seeing the boys footprints in the dirty snow and saw nothing.

Twenty years later, in 1992 I was in a Police interview room with a Constable of the Colchester Township Police. Paolo had been arrested on numerous charges of child molestation and the Constable wanted to hear my story, if I had one.

During my interview I’d told him of the numerous times I’d been sexually abused. I told him about the anal rape and how Paolo’s wife had helped pin me down. She was fully aware of the actions of her husband. She was a willing participant.

I also told the constable about the boy in the wall. I was disappointed but not surprised when he suggested it had merely been a dream or nightmare.

I’d demanded the Roman Catholic Children’s Aid let me read my file. Initially they denied me access telling the constable my file was protected under adoption laws. I clarified I had not been adopted and the police told them they could not refuse. They did ultimately turn over my file, minus all medical records, for me to read.

In the file I read a report by a worker that I thought should substantiate my story. At the least, I hoped, the constable would acknowledge the information gave my story sufficient credibility to warrant his investigation.

The Children’s Aid worker had written five adolescent children had run away from the foster home. The first had been a boy in February, 1972!

I’d excitedly told the constable of the entry. He replied he wasn’t about to rip open walls based solely on an alleged memory of a foster child with mental health issues, and a Children’s Aid note of a child who had run away.

I asked the Constable, “Does it ever end? Does the day ever arrive that our words as foster children can be perceived as possible truth? Will foster children ever be regarded as worthy people?” Not surprisingly, the Constable had nothing to say.

What kind of legal system do we have when a cop has the authority to decide whether or not to investigate a reported crime? Sadly, that is exactly how it is, it truly is up to the cop to decide if a crime may or may not have been committed.

I was the second of the five runaways. I’d snuck out a second story window in the middle of the night five months later in July, 1972.

Witnessing the terrified boy shaking with fear I knew he was certain of being buried alive in the wall. I will never forget his eyes pleading with me for help. Feeling threatened and unable to do anything I’d crept away to my bedroom. I was convinced from that moment on Paolo was going to make me his next murder victim.

Regardless of how many times I have told this story, the wall remains intact.

45 years later and I remember the boy in the wall.

 

Frazzled discards

“Would you look at that?” I asked my husband.

Barry looked at me, rather than looking at where my finger was pointing as he answered my question with a question, “Look at what?” I’ve grown rather fond of this game we play with each other. We keep each other on our respective toes!

Barry chuckled and then turned his head to look at what had attracted my attention. Seeing the rake he said, “That is sad. It looks as though someone was in the act of cleaning up and something took them away from their job.” I nodded and said, “That thought makes me feel sad.”

My spirit lightened and I said, “I envision a prankster planting a rake in a somewhat frazzled mix of human and nature discards.” Barry looked at me, seeming rather puzzled and asked, “To what end?”

I laughed and answered, “The prankster would hope another would be clumsy enough to step on the rake and bop themselves in their forehead.” Barry, obviously not satisfied with my response, said, “That would be mean.” I replied, as matter of factly as I possibly could, “Yes, but I’d rather attach an image of a rake bopping a forehead than a person taken from their tasks.”

Barry pulled me close and hugged me saying, “Your friend just lost someone so dear to her. I understand.” Isn’t that the best part of long-term partnering? We don’t always have to explain our train of thought to be understood.

© Zora Zebic 2016