By Dyan Stoochnoff, Associate Publisher; layout by Dustin Lacroix.
This may seem unorthodox but it is one of the advantages of being a small community minded newspaper. We would like to pay special tribute to a wonderful lady that was a large part of the Boundary Creek Times family – Pam Kelly, known best to all as Special K.
Working for a newspaper is not an easy task. When Pat first started with us and was making the transition from being a mill worker to a reporter he didn’t realize how consuming the position could be. No longer did he have evenings or weekends off. No longer could he leave something to be done tomorrow as the deadlines were many and unforgiving. And through this transition it was very obvious that Pam’s love and support kept him sane and on track.
Pam was a genuinely caring person that was always willing to lend a hand. There had been times when she would show up with Pat on paper day to help stuff flyers because Pat had an event to cover that morning or she would sort through the multitude of pictures that Pat would take of a function and pick out the best ones that could be used for the paper. When Pat needed more information to ensure the story he was writing was accurate she would willingly go on the internet and do research for him to save him time so he could continue with his writing.
Her willingness to help was unconditional and many times she would volunteer her time and knowledge for the betterment of the newspaper.
Pam loved holidays, any and all holidays! She took great delight in putting up her decorations and volunteering to help with anything that involved children. She would giggle and say that it gave her the opportunity to be a kid again. Last year was the first time that our newspaper requested letters to Santa and without any thought to the work involved Pam volunteered to respond to every letter we received. The day after the paper containing the letters was published Pat came into the office and said all he heard coming from their computer room was Pam’s delightful giggles as she responded to letter after letter.
But being a reporters’ wife was not without its many sacrifices which she willing made. Whatever Pat’s schedule was to do his job Pam made that her schedule for that day so dinner was ready for when it fit the schedule. Given that most community events were in the evening or during the weekend she was never able to plan a personal weekend with Pat so out of love for him she compromised. Their relationship was unique and it was not uncommon to overhear Pat having a telephone conversation with Pam – “Honey, I forgot I have to cover an event tonight. Why don’t you come and we’ll call it a date.”
When Pat first introduced “Special K” in his “fluff” I was skeptical of what our readers reactions would be. I kept my skepticism to myself. I now bravely admit how wrong I was. Week after week Special K was brought into our lives and our readers looked forward to reading about her most current mishap, her reactions and her follies. Many to this day have no concept of what Pam looked like or that that was her real name but they knew Special K intimately through Pat’s eyes.
We would like to share some exerts from the first introduction of Special K to the last one and some in between.
(Pam was first introduced as Mrs. K, which eventually led to Special K)
We put some blooms in the window boxes of the Times office last week. Brightens the place up a bit and it’s fun watching the tourists strolling by when they realize they are enjoying plastic flowers. They serve the purpose though as the tourists seldom have an ewww, yucky expression on their faces. Mostly it is a little ahha kind of smirk.
Last spring Mrs. K. had a number of polyester petunias out on display in the yard. At about the same time the Kettle River Museum was having its annual season opener which included a plant sale.
I was asked by Tannis Killough if we might have some spare seedlings we would make available at the sale. We took a pass on the opportunity.
This most recent event took place only last weekend; again in Grand Forks. Once again I was outside the locked door of my vehicle while the keys were inside. And once again I would need Special K’s help to get the door unlocked.
But this time I didn’t need to use a cell phone – just a simple knock on the window should suffice. Assuming of course she could be persuaded to unlock the door and let me in; and from the way she was shaking her head that didn’t look too likely.
Special K had dropped me at off at GFSS …. She drove on to the bank ATM downtown to make a deposit. She had to borrow my bank card because she had left hers at home. Fool that I am – I didn’t give it a second thought as I passed her the keys to the van and my bank card.
When I came back to the parking lot ten or fifteen minutes later Special K was waiting for me. Small comfort though — because she wasn’t letting me in.
“Nope” – she said – “I am not opening the door. You will just write about it in the paper.”
“Am I going to find out about it anyway,” I asked?
“Yes, you’ll find out sooner or later, but I am not going to tell you and I am not going to open the door.”
Well it didn’t take long for me to talk my way into the van; and it took only a wee bit more smooth talking to find out that what had happened was financial ruin. It seems she had forgotten that the card she was using wasn’t her own.
Do you know how many chances you get to put in the right PIN number on one of those ATM machines? I do – Special K told me – it’s three times.
“Transaction Cancelled – Please Contact Your Financial Institution,” or something like that was the message she got after her third try.
No such luck that she immediately realized her mistake and tried the correct number. Once again – she got the “Transaction Cancelled” message. She had as good as wiped me right out. I was virtually penniless.
On the bright side we didn’t do a lot more shopping that afternoon – saved me some money.
……There was lots of laughter and chuckling at such oddities of life such as pork and bean soup when all of a sudden Special K says, “Oh I feel a fluff coming on.”
I looked over to the counter see if the Melissa had heard this comment and sure enough she had. She was looking at me with one eyebrow raised seeming to ask if I had just heard what she had just heard.
Special K was quickly twigging on to all this and she asked what was going on? I clued her in that she may have just told Melissa that she was about to pass gas. I guess being raised in Boston Special K hadn’t heard the word used that way before.
They say you shouldn’t listen to the news just before you go to bed. It sets you up for all sorts of anxiety and stress at a time of the day when your mind and body are trying to achieve the exact opposite. What applies to the news is also valid for notes too.
When Special K came to bed the other night I woke up enough to mutter good night. That was my intention anyhow, but she mentioned that she’d left me a note on my desk. That’s when I made my mistake.
“What did it say?” I asked.
I should have said thank you dear and rolled over and fallen back asleep with fond memories of the last little note she’d left on my desk. It was kind of mushy and the last bit was written in some kind of code that I couldn’t decipher – nothing but a bunch of X’s and O’s on the bottom-line. Yeah that was a good note – she’d reminded me she loved me and found me an important part of her life. Always a handy kind of note to receive.
And that’s the note I should have gone back to sleep thinking about. Instead I asked what the new note said and she broke the news to me that the hot water tank wasn’t working.
That set me up for a restless sleep through the balance of the night.
You see I am not one to dive right in and be the handyman kind of guy. … I was prepared to guess that the same element had gone out again (… last time said it needed to be flushed out and I hadn’t done that yet)… but Special K had to ask the logical question. Did I test it? She loves it when she’s right!
So I phoned around until I found a friend who had actually retained something from his shop class. The same element had indeed burnt out again. I just love it when I’m right!
It took a trip to Boundary Tool Rental to get a wrench … But hot water was soon again flowing and all was right with the world. Now all I have to do is to remember to not allow myself to be distracted when trying to fall asleep. Next time I won’t be so eager to know stuff that I don’t need to know when I don’t need to know it. It’ll keep.
The other day I was standing there talking with Special K. I wasn’t really paying attention. The conversation lagged or maybe we just got bored with each other. – but in fact I really, really, really should have been paying attention because my loving wife – who must have been thinking herself that the conversation was over (or maybe she was bored with me) –- but she reached over and picked up the remote. When the TV had last been turned off, the sound had been turned way, way up – so when she hit the ON button I got an earful! She said she thought I was going to jump right out of my shoes. She laughed, she laughed a lot.
“I know what a bunny is but what’s a lapin?” asked Special K who was pointing to a candy bar that was embellished with a loud, eye-catching Easter scene.
The candy factory had done a special run for the season, pouring the chocolate into molds shaped like a tall, long eared rabbit.
She must have forgotten we were in Canada – lapin is the French word for bunny.
The other night Special K and I went on a house-cleaning date.
It wasn’t necessarily something we’d been looking forward to. Planning for the exciting event had actually started a day or two before when it was agreed we’d change the sheets.
She’d said she wanted to do it and so I piped right up and volunteered to give her a hand.
But we didn’t jump up and get to it right then. In fact, when it came time for me to head off to bed later I reminded her that we had wanted to change the sheets and I offered to get it over with right then if she was willing.
She wasn’t willing though and I was told we’d do it the next day.
Now that’s the kind of attitude a man really appreciates in a woman. We men often complain that women are forever changing their minds about stuff– but there’s really nothing wrong with irresolution though. In cases like this there’s at least a 50 per cent chance of having the most recent decision being one I could live with. And let’s face it – no matter what the decision I’ll be living with it anyway and it sure beats the alternative.
Anyhow I was tired and ready for bed – so there was no argument from me about putting off the chore. The next day I walked past the bedroom door and noticed that the sheets had been changed. Wooohooooo! I don’t need to help. Bonus! But then I started feeling a bit guilty. I had offered to help after all. But it was her fault – she had changed her mind again. Obviously she was to blame. She’d made her own bed so to speak.
I finally caught up with her taking clothes from the dryer and folding them.
That‘s when I went stupid and thought all that was needed was to give Special K a quick kiss on the cheek and an acknowledgement about the bed. “I thought we were going to do the bed together honey,” I piped up. That’s all I asked – but that’s all it took.
I thought I knew what the answer was going to be. I thought the only answer available was the bed had been made, so my assistance was no longer needed. …instead of hearing Special K tell me that all is well and I can go back to whatever I want to be doing she says, “There’s still the cat litter and the dishes to put away. Which job do you want?”
I fixed her wagon though. “I’ll do the cat litter,” I told her. Then – just to confuse her – I went straightaway to the kitchen and emptied the dish-rack. It appeared that some honesty and trust issues had crept into our marriage. But I was going to fight fire with fire. I could be just as devious as she.
It didn’t work though. After I put the dishes away I found that she had assumed a comfortable après-chore position in a comfy chair and the cat litter was still waiting to be done.
Special K is off to Boston for a visit with the grandkids.
I thought I was being efficient when I handed her a little pocket notebook a few days before her flight and asked her to write any special instructions she had for me in it rather than risk my not watering the plants on time or something.
Husbands out there – let me give you some advice.
Never hand your wife a notebook and ask her to write instructions in it.
Speaking of events likely to be remembered for years to come there is the homecoming of my dear wife next week.
She’s been off on a holiday visiting our grandkids in Boston for the past month or so.
Some stuff I am not too terribly good at. … problem that came up while she was gone was the door handle on the kitchen door seems to be showing its age. Over the past week the lock seems to be more and more stubborn about unlocking.
So I have two options – the first is to ignore it and hope that it doesn’t fail thereby locking me outside. Or I could just go to the hardware store and buy a new lockset.
But the optics of this option is not good. How am I going to be able to sell this to the wife? That while she was away on holiday I changed the locks on the house – and, by the way honey, “Welcome home!”
I found Special K standing by the freezer the other day with a frozen bag of tortilla shells. She was trying to find out if there was only one or two in the bag. She said if there were two then she’d offer me quesadillas for dinner.
It was my lucky day – there were two in the bag! Putting multiple copies of the paper together this week had kept me pretty tense and distracted so hearing that quesadillas were on the menu was going a long way toward improving my attitude.
So when I awoke the next morning and Special K told me that she was planning to cook spaghetti and garlic toast that night – needless to say I flipped out!
“No you’re not,” I told her. “What happened to my quesadillas?”
We managed to come to an agreement – much as I like spaghetti and garlic toast.
She agreed to put the quesadillas back on the menu and I agreed to quit whining.
Special K and I have a granddaughter who is going to have a baby in a few months so when I saw what looked like baby clothes on Margaret’s table I headed right for that pile of merchandise. She noticed how eager I was to see what was there, and came over to show me something on the whimsical side of the ledger.
What I had taken for baby clothes was actually a pile of miniature girdles with the bottom of the legs sewn shut to make a cute trash container for the car. They had little garter snaps, frilly lace and a bit of poetry attached: “If you have litter in your car, don’t throw it out wherever you are. Make this garter fat and plump, then find a proper place to dump.”
I knew it wouldn’t work for the new baby, but when Margaret insisted I take one for the car I couldn’t refuse. I gave it to Special K – who loved it.
I thought it would be in the car the next time I saw it. Instead Special K put it on her walker. She was impressed with how well the legs worked to hold water bottles – so she had a cup carrier of sorts.
For the next part of the story we must return to the Rock Creek Market where Special K and I were enjoying Riverfest.
At one point I asked if she had any cash because I saw a book I wanted to buy. When she reached for her girdle/cup carrier/spare change purse the frilly little thing came loose and fell to the ground.
And that is the story of how Special K dropped her unmentionables in the middle of the Rock Creek Market.
I recently discovered Welsh poet William Henry Davies – a man who spent much of his life as a hobo and tramp in the United States and the UK.
Now I am not much a poetry reader – but I was intrigued by Wikipedia’s description of Davies principal themes, …I decided to give this guy a read.
I’ve since begun to try to wrap my head around some of his poetry – most of them are short enough that, if I don’t understand them I can go back to the beginning again and again until I finally either figure it out or give up.
But I want to share a few lines from Davies’ autobiography with you – and, especially, with Special K.
“So whenever I enquired as to the origin of a disturbance, the name of Mrs. Kelly was the beginning and the end of it. Mrs. Kelly was not satisfied with a single fight; she occasionally instigated a riot.”
That is an appropriate comment to be made as the Red Sox head into the World Series. My Bostonian wife is known to get a bit emotional when the Red Sox are in a game of such importance.
A beautiful soul has physically left us but there will be many times when something will bring back a memory and we will fondly smile in remembrance.
We hope that Pat, from time to time, will continue to share his many memories of the love of his life – Special K.