Mystery of The Monkees Plastic Ring Iron Cross Solved!!

A savvy friend of mine has solved the mystery of the blue plastic Monkees ring and its proximity to the iron cross in our disgusting basement.  He did so by plugging the words “Monkees” and “Nazi” into the google machine.  Apparently our house was previously owned by Hungarian actor Oscar Beregi Jr. He is seen below on the left, in a scene from either an episode of Hogan’s Heroes or Judgement at Nuremberg, and on the right, in one of The Monkees shows called “The Prince and the Paupers.”

Although I am fascinated to know how he came to be living on the West Coast of Canada in a falling down building with a little old lady who loved books, I feel like we have all the answers we need.

Oscar Collage Real


Mysterious Things Come to Light (With A Shovel)

Because the basement of this place is somewhat akin to unremediated heaps of wet and dry mud, it is ripe for shovel work. So shovel we did.  And let us be frank. There is nothing better than moving wet and dry mud around with a shovel.  The only possible silver lining in this beast of burden activity is to turn up one of the many Rembrandt canvasses rolled up and stashed away to survive the war in Europe, or a rare Dresden figurine, or a blue plastic Monkees ring.

A blue plastic Monkees ring it is.

A quick wash revealed the face of Mickey Something.  I only remember The Monkees from a book my sister had called Button, Button Who’s Got The Button. If I am correct,  and I am certain that I’m not, the book was part of a series in the vein of let’s read about The Monkees being detectives, which itself was a spin-off from a television show, which might have been a spin-off from their music, which was a spin-off/rip-off of The Beatles or even The Partridge Family. Anyways, the book was about The Monkees looking for a button.  Sounds lame. But I digress.  A blue plastic Monkees ring featuring, quite possibly, the lead singer.

This is the kind of thing that gets me all shivery. A buried shitty blue plastic Monkees ring becomes the firmament of any number of narratives (foul or otherwise) starring a teenage girl from the 60s.  Why did she hide it? Were her parents strictly opposed to mop-headed boys?   Perhaps there was no teenaged girl. Perhaps the old lady whose books were left behind loved The Monkees. Perhaps one of them was a piano student of her Aunt in Delaware.  I mean, seriously, how are we to know anything? Perhaps, I said to the man, if we dug over there we’d find something else.

Which we did.

This time it was an Iron Cross. A Real Iron Cross. Not one of those fakey ones you can buy in cheesy headships in towns where there are people who love Nazis and/or war memorabilia and/or Nazi war memorabilia.  I was creeped out for all the regular reasons and thought how much better it would have been if we had found a Victoria Cross – then it would have been a memento of a heroic moment instead of a scary Nazi version of a heroic moment. And then I gave my head a shake.


Medals for valour in any field of battle are innately scary to me because it most likely means that somebody died before their time.  Clearly, I’m not loving war or war medals and I now worry about the juju in this crumbling wreck of a house – i.e… in the end you will be jealous of our highly polished sanded fir floors, but how do we grind out the years of post traumatic stress that might have manifested as a result of whatever events were attached to this Iron Cross.  What grit do you use for that?

Clearly it is time we did a bit of research on this house.  The next time we are here working on it, a visit to the local archives is in order. Perhaps we have inadvertently purchased the lair of a Nazi War Criminal. That, along with the crumbling foundation, would explain the under-market price for the place.

And the big question remains – what exactly is the link between the blue plastic Monkees ring and the real Iron Cross? Beyond the fact that they lay entombed in mud not ten feet from each other for at least forty years I am certain that we can dig up more meaning.  Stay tuned for the solving of The Mystery of the Monkees Ring Iron Cross.

Love Thy Neighbour


My five-year-old daughter has become very good friends with the neighbour’s daughter. They live right by our crumbling wreck. These neighbours are lovely, lovely, lovely.They are also, seemingly, heavily involved with their church and with Jesus and with Jesus’s Dad. Words like “ministry” and “mission” and “pastor” pepper their vocabulary. I don’t normally hang with people who use these kinds of words. I am more comfortable with words like “secular” and words like “there is no God.”  However, my daughter’s clear and blatant love for the daughter of the neighbours has left me little in the way of wiggle room in terms of employing avoidance as a strategy – she has dragged me into the thick of the religiouso crowd here in the coastal town.  While the man spent the week of March Break mucking out the fetid basement, I hung with Christian home-schoolers.

The man took the child out on an excursion on one of the days – which of course meant time for me to continue on the removal of the gross insulation. While acres of pink fiberglass crashed (in a feathery way) on my head, I found myself muttering about evolution, the separation of the church and state, same-sex marriage, having a child out of wedlock, rustling up gay friends to come pee on my property line, bloobitty blah, because of course I am assuming that they are Baptists and I am further assuming that the Baptist faith is not open to evolution, and gay friends urinating on my grass.  And I was getting all het up. “How dare they be all Baptisty!!”  I cried out to the weird thing that fell from the ceiling.

Near the end of the distasteful task of shoving insulation into forty-five jumbo sized garbage bags (contractor grade) – a vague realization coalesced into one of those moments of insight that I so often choose to run from. Peeling away my anger at the neighbours revealed a vexing personal trait (designed to protect my fragile self, yes?  In situations that are bound to become controversial (i.e you are Baptist and I am not), I am polite to the point of self-negation. The middle-child syndrome, they say. The child of the “prone to anger” parent, they say. I say yup to those things, but also that it has a lot to do with my sick desire to be loved.  How much easier to – “Hmmmm, yes… uh-huh…”;  to appear agreeable in the moment and then shit talk it later. Also, I can’t argue my way out of a paper bag. The extent of my belief that there is no God is simply that there is no God. If I had to debate about it I would cut to the chase and immediately employ the weeping technique as the ne plus ultra slam dunk – “There! I’m crying and mumbling unintelligible words with some swear words thrown in for effectiveness. That showed you.”  Did I win?

And as if she were reading my mind, the next day the lovely, possibly Baptist neighbouress, in response to some sort of over-the-top agreeable comment I made, slapped my ass and called me a turd.

She knows me and she still loves me.


Every year I go on vacation with a dear friend.  I take the small willful child along for the ride.  We always have fun.  The dear friend and I thought about extending the annual vacation invite to our partners, but I quickly squashed that idea.  When either myself or the man has even a whiff of a chance to spend time away from the small willful child, there is a palpable excitement that need quickly be extinguished with the reality that the unencumbered one should probably do something to either increase the family fortunes or chip away at the renovation of the house-ish house. So, daughter and I went to a lake and the man went to Work Camp Prison.  He took a prison buddy with him and they spent five days working from dawn til dusk in 30 degree hot weather.

While I kept the daughter from drowning, sunburning and running off into streets willy-nilly, the man and his prison pal saw to the problem of the front part of the house and its slow creep towards the earth from whence it came. This basically entailed digging out the ground beneath the front of the house, ripping out the entire mouldy crumbling wall of the first floor, forming up a concrete half-wall, mixing cement and adding various Dad-prescribed solvents to the home-made concrete, pouring the concrete, rebuilding the entire front wall, adding in our new old door, framing in a future window and replacing the house numbers back onto the plywood facade.  Neither of the prisoners had any prior experience with concrete or concrete forms. When I phoned one night to check in, Prisoner Number One said, “Well,  you know, I’ve never done this before so we’ll see if it goes okay.”  Not words to exactly inspire confidence in the outlay of cash for materials and incarceration-grade steaks.


Love is like that.  I never doubted his ability for one second. Coupled with the fact that Prisoner Number Two was serving time for things related to cabinetry and fine finishing – how could it go wrong.

It didn’t.

They are singularly and collectively amazing.

The evidence:

I love how fortressy and Spanishy it is. Solid. Sturdy. Not sinking. I’m even secretly thrilled with the utilitarian plywood feel.  It’s nothing that I want to hide quite yet.  And that’s a good thing.

Because, on the road trip to the cold lake I saw this:

Clearly, it’s for sale.