Frankenstorm

We’re fine!  Thanks for asking.  The whole East side of North America went through the storm of the century, and all I got was this lousy, wet tee-shirt.  One woman in Toronto was struck and killed by wind-blown debris.  A guy in our northern twin city was slightly injured when a large tree crashed down on his house.  A family in town had a large evergreen tree uprooted and neatly deposited lengthways down their in-ground pool.

In the last year, we have had a new roof installed; that was timely.  And we had all new windows and doors put in.  There was a lot of wind and rain out there, but, out there was where it stayed.  While the dregs of the storm may linger for a day or two, it appears the worst is over and the water is starting to drain off, all except my rain-water collection barrels.

I had been using watering cans to take water from the barrels, and pour it around our Mulberry bush (where our weasel pops), the Magnolia bush, and four Rose of Sharon bushes.  It’s been such a dry summer that the wife suggested deep watering, soaking the ground, for better growth next spring.  I had emptied the two single barrels, but, even before this big storm hit, we had had rain about every second day.

The three ganged barrels beside the house just kept refilling.  I finally gave up.  The soil around the bushes is as soaked as it will ever get.  I have a faucet installed on one barrel, so I just hooked up a garden hose, ran the end down near the front sidewalk, and turned the tap.  They refill faster than the hose can drain them, but eventually I will get to disassemble them and invert them for the winter so that ice formation doesn’t damage them.

One that I had inverted blew around between the houses, but nowhere I couldn’t find it.  The young father in the other half of our semi had assembled an eight-foot high wooden *castle tower* play set for his two young daughters.  It had another two-foot high nylon parasol on top, for sun protection.  It’s now lying in his yard.  I may have to volunteer to help him right it.

The son was just thinking of getting ready to leave for his Monday, midnight shift, when his supervisor called to say it had been cancelled.  Day shift worked.  Afternoon shift might have been sent home early, but they worried about overnight.  The winds and rain were picking up.  If they had a power outage, there would be no buses or taxis for workers to get home in the middle of the night.

The gal next door can telecommute for some of her job, so she stayed home Tuesday.  I met her outside, and she gave us a 12-pack of new pint canning jars that someone had given her.  We’re the only people she knows who can anymore.

The area of Southern Ontario between my home town and my current address is one of the most stable, fortunate pieces of real estate to live in, in the whole world.  We don’t get hurricanes, we don’t get tornadoes, we don’t get earthquakes, and we don’t get floods….usually.

Earthquakes occur five hundred miles away, near Montreal, or south of the Great Lake, in Ohio.  We sometimes feel a little edge of a tremblor, but no shaking houses down, or even rattling dishes.  If we hear of two tornadoes in a season, it’s unusual.  They mostly occur a hundred miles south and west, and only knock down small trees, or the occasional cow.

We were driving north several years ago, to visit my parents for the weekend, when we ran into a fierce storm.  Rain so hard I could barely see the road, then we got pounded with hail so big I worried about damage to the car finish.  The wind was howling like a freight-train.  The wife peered out her window and said, “I think I see a funnel cloud.”  I told her, don’t be silly, it couldn’t be, we don’t get tornadoes up here!

When we reached the parents’ place, there was Dad, watching his TV on the weather channel.  He informed us that Live Weather had just reported a small tornado where we had just driven through.  Had we seen anything?  Yikes!  Yes!  My ass getting blown into some farmer’s barn.

The last time I saw a perfect storm this bad, in this area, was back in 1954, when Hurricane Hazel came to visit.  She brought lots of wind, and tons of water.  One of my uncles lived out on the edge of town.  You turned off the highway and crossed the railroad tracks that paralleled the road, to access his property.  Back then, we still had train service.  In fact, that far back, the engines were steam-driven.

A hundred yards past his house there was a large steel culvert under the highway, for rainwater to flow down to the lake.  It just emptied into an earthen ditch.  Years before, there had been a wooden trestle over the large ditch, but it had been replaced by a concrete version, solidly planted on both banks.  With the amount of water flowing, the bridge was still solid, but the two banks had been badly undermined.  When the afternoon train slowly rolled into town, the trestle looked good, but the weight of the engine crushed it, dumping it into the creek.  The engineer and the stoker both died of steam burns, a horrible way to go.

Even as I write this, the clouds to the west, behind me, have broken, and sun is streaming in the window, making it difficult to see the computer screen.  I’m going to go look out the back windows.  If I see a rainbow, I’ll know the worst is over.  The storm really didn’t bring us much trouble.  We are very fortunate.  I just hope that all my good blog-friends were as safe and lucky.

Harvest Moon

It’s all about food and drink, one way or another.  Well, perhaps not all, but much of what we do involves sustaining ourselves with caloric and fluid intake.  Working is obvious, driving to and from work, shopping, all work toward filling us up.

We could say that things like blogging are just to satisfy our creative and social needs, but even there, KayJai posts about what she does at work, Hotspur blogs about what he sees and does on the way to work, and produces three books about his experiences, which he hopes to sell, to make money to buy food and drink.  I don’t feel guilty that so much of my stuff revolves around food and drink.

It’s that time of year again, harvest time.  Many of the things we like to have to eat are ripe, and plentiful.  The wife and I have been at it again, actually three times in the last two weeks.  We’ve been canning again, and again, and again.

I looked up the concept of canning in the dictionary.  Many people only understand the term *can* to refer to a metal container, but the word goes back to Old Norse, and means any type of vessel, so we “can”, in glass jars.

I remember helping my mother can, lo these many years ago.  Back then, she melted paraffin wax and poured it on the top of foodstuffs she was preserving.  Some people cut lengths of string and hung them on the sides of the jars, so that they could use them to pull the wax off the top.  We just used a knife to pry the wax off, and then a standard lid for refrigerator storage.

First the wife and I went up to the farmers market and bought a half a bushel of Roma tomatoes, to make homemade salsa with.   As we were buying the half bushel bag, there was another woman who was getting a bushel and a half to also make salsa with.  The wife asked her if she ran a restaurant, but the answer was no, it was just for the family and gifts for friends.  I’m glad our family is small and we don’t have many friends.

I do a lot of fetching and toting, but the wife is stuck with the old-school chopping and preparation.  De-seeding a half bushel so that we had just the flesh, took her most of an afternoon.  Then there were the onions and peppers to chop up.  I peeled the onions, but she did the rest.  By the time we were finished, we had 21 pints of glorious homemade salsa to garnish my beloved Tex-Mex dishes for a year.  We will be making quesadillas for supper this Saturday, but I’ve already had some on another platter of nachos on Monday.  Delicious!!  We saved the skins and ran them through a manual apple-saucer, and used the residue to make an exquisite home-style tomato soup.

We also bought a half a bushel of cucumbers carefully chosen for size, to make some dill pickles with.  We preserve dill pickles in a variety of shapes/styles, for different uses, and still have certain ones left from last year.  We bottle a few whole dills, some dill halves, a lot of quartered dills, some dill slices, for hamburgers and sandwiches, and dill chunks.  These are cut off the ends of cucumbers a little too long to fit in pint jars, or ones with bad spots.

A quart of chunks, run through a Magic Bullet food-processor and drained, yields a pint of dill relish, which the wife and son prefer to sweet relish for hot dogs.  You can also mix it 50/50 with mayonnaise, some lemon juice and a few drops of Tabasco sauce to produce a great tartar sauce for fish, or home-made falafel patties.  We put down 18 pints of dill quarters, and four more quarts of chunks.

As a special treat, we have come to love crab-apple jelly, especially on croissants for Sunday brunch.  The taste is exquisite, but it’s fairly expensive, because tiny crab-apples require more labor to harvest.  The daughter lived on a street where there were four apple trees on the boulevard, alongside a church parking lot.  We picked our own for several years.  We went back last year, and the city had widened the road, taking down the trees.

The daughter found a house backing the community trail near her place, which had two trees beside the trail.  The owner told her she could have all the apples she wanted.  We made a big batch of crab-apple jelly last year.  We went back this year and found that the home-owner had removed the trees.  She must eat it a lot faster than the wife and I.  We still have enough left, but the daughter is out.  She paid the bucks and bought a six-quart basket at the farmers’ market and gave them, along with a bag of beet sugar to us, for us to make her a batch.

It took three days of on-and-off labor, but we finally bottled 17 half-pint jars of this ambrosia.  So crystal clear you can read a paper through the bottles, but with a deep golden/claret color.  If you are lucky enough to find it in a store, each of those little jars would cost about $3, but if you ever spot any, it could be worth the money.  Of course, the store-bought stuff isn’t nearly as good as our home-made product.

I think that’s it for produce this year.  Next stop is to start accumulating ingredients for home-made Christmas cake.  Gotta stop typing now.  It’s snack time!  You coming?

Motor City Madness – Part 3

Coming Unscrewed

We were up early Sunday morning, if you can call nine AM early.  It is for us, but we had things to do and money to spend.  I went down to the office to check us out.  It was a peaceful morning, no beer party, no hookers, no trolling queers.  There’s a Denny’s just down the road, so we planned to have breakfast there.

Michigan is catching up with the rest of North America.  No longer is the Denny’s half smoking, and half drifting smoke, hak, hak!  We got a nice table near the back window and a pleasant, mature waitress who came from Ireland years ago.  Prices at this Denny’s are about half of what the captive Denny’s attached to Days Inns in Niagara Falls charge.

I was reminded of my post titled Lazy and Incompetent, when I found that Denny’s now has pancake balls.  They’re like Tim Hortons Timbits, small balls of thick pancake mix, deep-fried.  These are for people too busy or lazy to actually cut up pancakes.  Just stir some butter and syrup into their serving bowl, and spoon them into your mouth.

As we were waiting for our order, we looked out into the parking lot and spied a large young Negro woman getting out of a Jeep.  She was wearing (?) a micro-mini dress which barely covered her assets.  This was like two hundred pounds of potatoes in a hundred pound Spanx bag.  She leaned back into the Jeep to retrieve something and I saw everything but her appendix scar.  Then she tugged the dress down again….in the front.  The entire room watched as she sashayed to the front door.

After breakfast, we went up to the big Meijer store.  The grandson and I sold our rolled coins to Customer Service.  The wife found some correctly sized pullovers, cheap, in four nice colors.  We also brought back some liquid coffee creamers in flavors not yet available locally.  I’m looking forward to hot chocolate with some Crème Brulée added, but, we came for beet sugar.

There were only fifteen four-pound bags of Peninsular brand sugar, the kind we usually buy, on the shelf, so the grandson bought it, for use at his place.  The wife and I took six five-pound bags of the Meijer brand for ourselves.  They would have put out more Peninsular, later in the day, but we didn’t plan on going back.  This means we hauled back a total of ninety pounds of sugar to Canada.  That’s just about the weight of the fiancée who didn’t come with us.  She might have had to walk home.

The grandson discovered that, by using self-checkouts, we could pour in and get rid of most of the rest of our pocketfuls of loose change.  I still need five State quarters to fill my set.  I had hoped to get one or more on the trip, but, by having exact change for almost every purchase, we never got any new coins.

Then we went to the Gibraltar Trade Center, across from the motel.  Over 200 vendors in an arena-sized building, we wandered for a couple of hours, and ended by getting some good quality food at the surprisingly diverse food court.

The first thing we bought was some sandalwood musk-oil to add to my manly bath gel.  Our daughter is fascinated by things Egyptian.  The surprise second item purchased, was a solid gold scarab beetle pendant with semi-precious scales for the head, thorax and wings.  It has an ankh molded on its belly.

A middle-aged female (wo)manned this jewelry sales counter.  The owner must have been desperate.  I wouldn’t have let her supervise a Japanese snake race.  When we decided to buy the item, she didn’t know what the price was.  She phoned the owner, who told her that all the items are sold by weight, at today’s gold price.  She couldn’t figure that out, so he walked her through it.  The price came to $232.45, and we proffered our MasterCard.

She walked over to the desk and pushed the card through the slide-reader, and told us it hadn’t gone through.  I mentioned that it was a chip-card, and chip-cards don’t scan when swiped.  She walked around to the other side of the desk and pulled it through the reader.  Since she’s now facing in the opposite direction, the magnetic strip, which was on the inside, is now on the outside.  It didn’t go through.  She reversed grip on the card, and tried yet another time, and claimed it didn’t go through.

She phoned up and bothered the owner again, who probably said the reader might not work, but she stated it as a certainty.  There was a “white” ATM not twenty feet away.  We walked over and took a $200 advance against the credit card, and paid the balance out-of-pocket.  The ATM fee was $3, and my bank charged another $2, for out-of-country use, plus instant interest on a cash advance.

Two days after we got home, the wife was checking the on-line bank statement, and there was the $232.45 charge.  It did go through, at least one of her many tries.  If it goes through as a chip-card, we have to input a PIN number.  If it goes through as a swipe, we have to sign and authorize the charge, and receive a copy of the machine tape.  Neither of these things occurred.

The wife called the bank’s 800 number and spoke to a nice man in the Anti-Fraud department, even though this was probably just incompetence, not intentional fraud.  She downloaded a complaint form, filled it out, I signed it, and she faxed it, and a copy of the bill-of-sale showing payment in cash, to the bank.  We had the money back in our account within three working days.

If my readership doesn’t drop off drastically from on-line sleeping sickness, I plan to eventually post about our triumphant return.  Now there’s talk of the son and I going back for the spring show.

One, Two, Three….Lovely

Oyez!  Oyez!  Oyez!

Attend, that ye may know that the ever-magnificent Archon, and his always-awesome, if slightly soporific blog-site, The Archon’s Den, have been the worthy and justified recipients of yet another iteration of the Lovely Blog Award.

This time I have Rick, over at www.roderickdavidson.wordpress.com to thank for this well-deserved honor.  Rick was born in Quebec, but later moved to the United States.  With two strikes like that against him, it’s a good thing that he’s a Hell of an author.  He provided me with training to be a proof-reader and editor.  It’s not that he planned to.  It’s just that I was fool enough to think I already knew how.

The fact that this award may have been hastily handed off, like a live hand-grenade, in no way reduces the grandeur of the awardee and his site.  Unless you just got here from BlogSpot, you probably know the rules of this game.  I’m supposed to thank the person who tossed this thing on my front porch.  In case you didn’t notice the wording above, Thanks, Rick, or as I say, Thanx.  I’m supposed to provide a link back to his website.  I took the technological shortcut but, Done, and Done!

I’m supposed to give five facts about me and forward the award to five more unsuspecting bloggers with better things to do than respond to my detritus.  My regular readers already know more about me than my proctologist….ew, ew, ew!  Let’s see what else I can reveal that won’t bring on police action or restraining orders.

  1. I am right-handed.  That may not seem like much of a revelation.  90% of the population is, but creative people, like many of my readers, tend toward being left-handed.  How about it, do you want to admit which way you swing?  No!  Not like that.
  2. I was a golf pro.  I knew shit about golf.  I gave no instruction, and I sure as Hell wasn’t paid like one, but for about four months, the summer I was 19, I was on the books at a Country Club as the pro.  It ruined my chances at a successful tour as an amateur.  No, it didn’t!  I’ll include a little more detail in a later post.
  3. The small town I was born and raised in had the widest main street in Canada.  Well, that’s what I was told when I was young.  I’ve since found a couple that are equal, but none wider.  Since the main street in my town wasn’t the highway, when it was laid out, instead of being 66 feet wide, it got to be 100.  There was room for angle parking on both sides, a lane of traffic in both directions, and still enough room to park transport trucks in the middle, for delivery to stores.  That was necessary because the alleys that ran behind them were barely wide enough for horse-drawn wagons.  It was nice to drive downtown, see a parking space on the other side, and just swing across and nose into it.
  4. A young man and his family moved to town just as I started high school.  We quickly became best friends, and thick as thieves, although we never got caught.  Despite my exposure to summer tourists from the big cities, he helped me become a bit more urbane, and less a dorky small-town kid.  After four years of school with him, my Dad revealed that his father and mine had discussed trading houses, and towns.  My Dad drove a half-hour to work at an RCA Victor plant, and felt he could cut out the commute.  It was well that they made the move before we actually traded.  Product lines and profitability changed, and Dad soon got another job in town.
  5. I used to love roller-skating.  I still would except for age, strength, balance and breakability, that, and the fact that it’s pretty much officially dead.  It used to cycle about every fifteen years.  It would be popular for five years, then it would die back again.  Inline skates seem to have driven the last nail in the coffin, at least in this area.  I just saw an advertisement on a Boston TV station for a roller rink.

There was one roller-rink in this city when I first arrived.  The city transit even had special buses from and to city hall, for skaters.  It was a bus driver who gave me my first E. E. “Doc” Smith science fiction book, and added his name to my roster.  Three more new rinks were built, and enjoyed the five-year frolic.  One of them is now a furniture store, one is a dance club, and the third is an auction warehouse.  Never a good skater, it was nonetheless my moves on the floor which helped convince my girlfriend to become my wife.

I don’t think that I’ll name five more bloggers to rope into this publishing Ponzi-scheme.  I’ve just about reached my saturation point for reading blogs.  Occasionally I try, and like, a blog I haven’t previously read, and add it to my list, but, at 30 to 40 posts a day to read, I’ve about run out of time and strength.

Pretty much any of the blog sites I frequent deserve a little recognition and pat on the back, I’m just not sure who wishes to be bothered with one.  If I’ve commented on your site, or even just *liked* you, and you’d like a pretty decoration for your wall, feel free to drop by and pick one up and spread the joy.

Last minute change of mind!  If anyone deserves this kind of recognition, it’s the erudite and entertaining John Erickson, over at his new blog www.windycitywonderer.wordpress.com   Welcome to the wolf pack John.  Feel free to howl!

Motor City Madness – Pt. 2

Being There

When we checked into our motel, it didn’t take long to find that the shortage of rooms was not caused by college football.  The desk clerk told me that the refinery and storage area ten miles up the highway was having a lot of work done and there were a couple of hundred workers, spread out over the nearby motels.  I knew the refinery.  We pass it every time we come down.  There’s one fifty-foot spherical tank.  It used to be painted white, with stitches on it, to represent Detroit Tigers baseball.  Now it’s brown, with seams, sponsored by the Detroit Pistons basketball team.

The boys had moved in and made themselves at home.  There were five big ten-ton earth mover trucks parked mostly out of the way.  All except for one guy, who managed to neatly back his rig sideways into a little area for five cars.  One room had a barbeque outside on the grass.

When I went down to the office on Saturday morning, there were five of them having bottled beer for breakfast.  Down the balcony, someone, or -ones, had constructed a fairly large web of empty beer cans.  I don’t know how they got them to hang together.  That might have been a Friday night construction.  They weren’t loud and rowdy, and at least they didn’t empty the ice machine.

When I went to the office there was a young female hanging on the balcony rail.  The thought that went through my head was, Sex in a motel room.  But everybody has sex in motel rooms.  Maybe someone was getting small bills to pay her off.  I thought I might get propositioned.  I did!  Just not by her.  As I headed down the stairs I saw a young slender Negro male *wandering*.  It caught my attention.  If motel guests aren’t in their rooms, they’re going somewhere definite.  This kid was loitering.

When I came back up, he was loitering in the opposite direction, away from my room, and said something to me.  Thick lips, he spoke quietly and quickly.  I didn’t catch the question.  The second try I heard him ask me if I was in room 251.  That was the direction he was facing, but not me.  I told him, no!  “Are you sure you’re not in 251?”  “No, my room’s down here.”  As I started to walk away, he sidled closer.  “Can I ask you something?  Are you straight?”  Yes sweetie, and I even brought my wife to prove it.  The next day I told the clerk, and she said, “Oh, that’s why he hangs around.  I thought he was dealing drugs.”  No fuss, no complaints, there’s no reason to call the cops.

These petroleum workers are a specialized bunch, and come from all over the eastern United States. I saw licence plates from Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Florida.  There was also a three-man paramedic crew.  They serve the entire five-mile square city of Taylor.  Like firemen, they’re on duty 24 hours, but don’t have a firehouse to sleep in.  While I was talking to one, the alarm went off and the ambulance and supervisor car quickly disappeared.

The day clerk has worked there for 26 years, and recognized the wife and me, as she does most of her long-time repeat customers.  We went a mile up the road to an Outback restaurant for supper.  They have traded their little flying saucer pagers for rectangular ones like TV remotes.  The booking clerk told me the wait could be as much as an hour, but we got buzzed in, in about twenty minutes.  The grandson liked the Blooming Onion so much, we ordered a second, and he took the leftover home to share….a little bit with his fiancée.  The next morning we made a picnic lunch and headed for the knife show.

The spring knife shows we’ve attended have been in the Rock Financial Center.  Rock recently sold out, and it is now known simply as the Suburban Display Center.  It has five huge halls.  The spring knife show is always in conjunction with a guns and ammo show.  The two groups split the cost, guns at the front, knives in the back.  For one admission, we get two shows.  Even the wife likes to look at some of the old blunderbusses.

The fall show is held by itself in a Knights of Columbus hall, about half the size of the back end at The Rock.  There were 20/25 displays, only one of whom was an actual maker.  The rest were either collectors or purveyors, with one knifemaker’s-supplies vendor thrown in.  Collectors and purveyors are essentially the same.  They both buy knives as cheaply as they can, and hopefully sell them at a profit.  The purveyor does it as a business, to support himself.  The collector only sells when he has reached his monetary investment limit.  He will sell older knives, to be able to afford to buy more, newer knives.

Custom knife makers laughingly call these shows “Rusty jackknife shows”, because of the presence of a lot of cheap factory-made folders.  The grandson saw a good-looking folder and tried to open the blade, only to find it jammed, justifying the epithet.  He did get a new, nice looking, aluminum handled knife for work for $5.  One seller had a box of knives with a hand-printed sign that read:  Any knife in the box for $5 $4 $3 $2 3 for $5.

The wife picked up a tiny cute folder, about two inches long, as a letter opener, for $1.  She also bought a rosewood handled paring knife for $50.  It’s only 6 inches long for good leverage.  The handles are extra thick for better grip with her weak hands.  The blade has a belly, for easy cutting and is made of 52100 type steel.  This is what they make ball bearings from.  It will take and keep a fine edge, but needs to have a slight coating of vegetable oil after each use.

It was a low-stress show, with a low turn-out, and all of the vendors being older folks, willing to take the time to answer all questions and socialize with us.  As usual, I didn’t buy a knife, but, not as usual, I was finished and ready to leave while the wife and grandspawn were still inside, gabbing up a storm.

Tomorrow we go shopping.

P.S.

The ever-busy H E Ellis has a great project going on over at her site.  She’s trying to raise money, and some smiles, for all cancer patients, and one little girl patient in particular.  Drop by her blog at www.heellisgoa.com and sign up to help.

Killing Brain Cells

….uh, whuh wuz I talkin’ about?

Oh yeah,….I left the house today!  Big Mistake!

I was reminded again (and again, and again) why I am the curmudgeonly loner I am.  Present erudite blogosphere company excepted, the rest of humanity is a seething mass of dumbf**ks, fighting to get to the bottom of the gene pool.  Perhaps I should cut them a little slack, through poor planning, I caused some of my own problem.

I had to go to the dentist today.  Relax!  My fangs are still sharp.  I just needed a little cleaning so that I don’t cause an infection when I bite someone.  The appointment wasn’t until 2 PM.  I had a bit of shopping to do at a couple of stores.  I should have sat and read the paper, and shopped after the dentist, but I was a bit antsy.  Assuming that there would be the inevitable delays at both stores, I left the house just before one.  Bad move!

Apparently Murphy was taking a holiday.  I walked into Eurofoods, took number 28 from the bingo machine…and the clerk said, “Number 28.”  Got some sliced ham and sliced Havarti cheese for the wife’s lunch, walked over to an empty checkout, and was out of the store in three minutes.

I drove across the street to the grocery store.  I should have been suspicious.  I got a parking spot right up front without the handicap sticker.  When I went inside, I thought maybe somebody was giving away free money on television.  I could have bowled down almost any aisle.  I got my stuff and got in line behind one woman, with three items.  Paid for my junk and walked to the car….and it’s 1:10.  The dentist is five minutes away.  What am I going to do for three-quarters of an hour?

Not anticipating a long wait, I didn’t bring a newspaper along.  I could just feel the brain-power draining.  By the time I left, I’m sure I was down 50 IQ points.  I read a copy of People magazine.  I should have read the National Geographic under it.  I joke about my “Seinfeld” blogs being about *nothing.*  This piece of tripe was 112 pages about even less.  People whose names I didn’t know.  People whose names I don’t want to know.  There’s a soap actor named Texas Battle!?  Just call him Alamo and get it over with.

Miley Cyrus and Elle Fanning, kids younger than BrainRants’ wristwatch, with more followers and more money than God.  People wore clothing, and said things.  Wow!  That goes on outside my door every day.  Housewives Of New Jersey??!  Four pages about *celebrities* whose only claim to fame is fewer brains and even less talent than the Kardashians.

Then I got called in for my cleaning.  Does every dentist’s office in North America have that TV set suspended over your head like Damocles’ Sword?  And then the tech hunches over you to work, and you can’t see half of it anyway.  She asked me if I wanted to change the channel.  I wanted to turn it off, but she said she could only turn it down.

I watched the Dr. Oz show, and if I never see it again, it will be three days too soon.  He had on Jenny McCarthy.  I said I’d watch the stripper slut.  The cleaner looked up and said, “Isn’t she a porn star too?”  I have no knowledge about that.  That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

A single mother, (what a surprise.) she spoke of her autistic young son.  He was having seizures.  She had heard of a group of Mormon women who would come to your house, if you had enough money and power, and pray the illness away.  She called.  They came.  They prayed.  The seizures stopped.  Seems miraculous, but straightforward.

Then she began discussing her health, and the health of her son with Doc Ooze Oz.  She told of having her son tested, and finding high levels of arsenic.  She spoke of changing their diet and cleansing the bodies, but she still gave credit for the son’s magical recovery to the mumbo-jumbo Mormon moms.  I think that, like many in the entertainment field, she believes too strongly in too many things.  She startled even the good Doctor, by claiming she takes 35 to 40 Vitamin pills a day.

Next up was a mother of two, who drinks 9 or 10 cups of coffee a day.  She says that when she goes to bed, she can’t fall asleep for an hour or two, and always feels tired the next day, so she drinks the coffee to keep her going.  Here’s a suggestion.  Drop the coffee. Get to sleep sooner.  Wake up rested.  Don’t need the coffee.  And for my next trick, I’ll invent cold fusion.  It’s not rocket surgery.

So what did Dr. Oz recommend?  Well, he told her to cut out the coffee.  Okay so far.  And replace it with an Energy Drink, like Red Bull or Five Hour.  Are you crazy Doc?  Why don’t you just admit that you’re being bribed?  One cup of regular coffee has about 63 mg. of caffeine.  One serving of energy drink can contain up to 450 mg. of caffeine, plus high levels of sugar for some nice weight gain.  One energy drink equals more than 7 cups of coffee.  How is she going to sleep?  How will her husband sleep, with her vibrating in the bed beside him?  How do you sleep after handing out advice like this?  And the all-women audience clapped and cheered.  Sheep!  Unthinking sheep, I tell you.

I was so happy when my cleaning was finished, and I could get away from one of the worst examples of why I don’t watch day-time TV.

Motor City Madness – Pt. 1

Getting There

The Canadian government has recently changed regulations about the dollar value of merchandise that Canadians may bring back from trips to the USA.  The amount for a *day-trip* has increased slightly, but the amount for a two-day stay has increased substantially.  I’m not sure how stringent Customs officials are about the 48 hour interval.  It used to be that you could cross into the States at 4:00 PM, and leave at 2 o’clock, two days later, and no-one said much.  Now, it may make a difference.

Neither the wife or I is much for early morning starts, but I gently pushed, and got her ready to leave about 11:00 AM.  The grandson wanted to attend his first period instruction in welding, and would be back to his house and ready to go by then.  It all worked out.  There we were, newly minted passports in hand and dumb grins on our faces.  And off we went.

Highway 401 in Ontario stretches 900 kilometers across the bottom of Southern Ontario, much like the Interstate highways in the US.  Between London and Chatham, there is a rest area which is about the half-way point of our drive, so it was time to stop in for a quick lunch.  There used to be just a McDonalds here, but it has been rebuilt, bigger, nicer, almost.  It now boasts a deli/burger outlet called The Market.  There is a combination KFC/Taco Bell, the ubiquitous Tim Hortons and an A&W.

It’s a given that prices at these places will be higher than usual.  It’s a captive market.  Take it or leave it, although with four choices, it shouldn’t be too bad.  The wife was in the mood for some greasy KFC chicken, and wandered over to peruse the menu.  The choices were restricted, and the prices were about three times those of a normal outlet.  We all settled for A&W.

I dropped my sunglasses in the washroom and saw something skate across the floor.  I thought it was just a lens that I could pop back in, but found I’d broken half the left arm off.  I had to drive with them hanging off my nose until Sunday, when I could buy a new pair.

From Chatham to Windsor, there were thirty miles of wind farms, giant three-bladed windmills.  Some so close to the road it seemed as if we were driving right under them, but just far enough back that, if one fell over, it would not quite reach the road.  Hundreds of others were scattered back, on both sides of the road, as far as the eye could see.

I also noticed a couple of farms where crops had been replaced on several fields with solar panels.  Farmers used to make money growing wheat, corn or soybeans.  Now they support their families by growing electricity.

As we got off the end of Highway 401 on the east side of Windsor, the road used to lead through a residential area with lots of traffic and stoplights.  It’s still under construction, but there is now a bypass road which takes you to the golden mile section, close to the Ambassador Bridge.  Oh so quick and easy!

I did some study on the bridge after we got home.  The exits on the Detroit side were restricted and confusing.  One time I got on the wrong road, and wound up right in downtown Detroit.  Ours were the only white faces, and the well tanned ones didn’t look all that friendly.

I would have thought that the bridge was owned by various levels of government.  I was amazed to find that it is owned by a single man.  He’s married, but he’s still only one guy.  He’s a billionaire, SURPRISE! He’s a Palestinian immigrant who started and grew a trucking business into a huge success.

When he purchased the bridge from the government, he signed an agreement to improve the access lanes to the various highways by a certain date.  To get onto I-75 took a mile on surface streets, through four stop signs and four traffic lights.  Despite pressure, he waffled and wavered, literally for years.  He was served with requests for completion dates, but sent lawyers to court with all kinds of excuses and delays.

Finally somebody’s patience ran out and he was served with a writ to appear in court personally.  He still had no answer but wasn’t worried.  What are they going to do to a billionaire?  Throw him in jail??!  He met a hard-assed judge who did exactly that.  He went to the slammer for contempt of court for failure to obey writs.  He only served one day before his lawyers got him out with a promise to begin construction ASAP, but he got the message.

Like the Windsor side, construction is still proceeding, but the lanes to the various highways are easy to access, and signage is clear.  There has been a new ramp to I-75 constructed.  You just come off the bridge and instantly you’re heading south.  See above, oh so quick and easy, finally.

Our motel was about twenty miles down I-75.  There was construction on the highway which necessitated getting off on a detour, and then back on.  Fortunately, it was at the off-ramp one past our exit.  Just as traffic started to back up, we got off.  I hope I haven’t bored you too much with the tale of a drive.  We had a wonderful weekend.  I’ll post some of the details later.

P.S.

The fabulous author, H E Ellis has greatly honored me be publishing my short, fractured fairy tale about the Hare and the Tortoise, over on her site www.heellisgoa.com  I would be thrilled if you would pop over there to read it.  Push the *like* button a few times, and leave some glowing comments to salve my ego.