Remember the Alamo

Remember the Somme!  Remember D-Day!  Remember Korea!  Remember Iraq!  Remember Afghanistan!  And while you’re at it, remember the brave, selfless members of the Armed Forces who have put themselves in harm’s way, in the past and the present, so that you can peacefully celebrate their bravery and sacrifice.

November 11th is almost upon us.  Here in Canada it is known as Remembrance Day.  In the U.S. it is known as Veterans Day.  Other countries have different names for it, but it’s all the same thing.

Despite the somewhat twisted outlook of some anti-war protesters, this Day, and our reverence and respect for it, and the people it represents, are not an acceptance or celebration of war.  Rather, it is the celebration of the end of one of the largest, deadliest conflicts the world has seen, and an ongoing prayer that we might see the end of all such conflicts.

Some peace-lovers denigrate the military, but even the most devout of pacifists should remember that wolves and coyotes exist.  The peaceful shepherd employs a sheep-dog or two to remind them that they have to get past some hired fangs, to get to the lambs.

I hate war and conflict as much as any peacenik.  I devoutly wish it did not exist.  If you also hate war, good for you.  But remember, and honor, those in the past, and those who continue in the present, to give so much, so that we all may have so much, in peace!

I was going to proceed with Remembrance Day, and Poppy trivia, but that just takes away from the importance of the central theme.  Wear a Poppy, with pride and appreciation.  Attend a cenotaph ceremony, or at least watch one on television.  Hug a Veteran, gently, or salute one, or at least thank one, for going in harm’s way, that we might continue to enjoy our peaceful lifestyle.

Remember the Maine!  Remember Pearl Harbor!  Remember Dieppe!  Remember your safe and happy family.  Remember the cost to our protectors, and their families.  The American Thanksgiving Day is coming, remember to be thankful to those who ensure that we can celebrate it.

Remember to observe two minutes of soberly contemplative silence, Sunday morning at 11:00 AM, and

                                                    SALUTE

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NoMoWriSo

The month of November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  I first ran into it about a year ago as I began blogging.  A lady writer, whose blog I had been reading and commenting on, gave it a try.  I offered to stop bugging her for a month, but she felt she could handle both tasks.

You are expected to produce a short novel of fifty-thousand words, in thirty days, an average of 1667 words per day.  It would be a good idea to get out ahead of that, and produce 2000 words a day at the beginning, to give yourself time at the end for proofreading and editing.

H. E. Ellis has been encouraging me to “write” but the creative muse still hasn’t tasered me.  Perhaps if I come up with a story line, I may try it at a later date.  I’ve published more than twice that amount on this site; it just took me a year to do it, a thousand words at a time.

November is also Movember, when the more testosterone-laden among us, male and female, are urged to grow mustaches as evidence of support for education about, and eradication of, prostate cancer.  Much as I would like to be one of the guys, especially at my enlarged age, I can’t grow a mustache, not unless I shave off the one I already sport, and start all over again.

My father wore a mustache, pretty much all of his life.  I’ve seen photos of him during W.W. II, even before I was born, and he had a mustache then.  Without consciously copying him, I’ve also had a ‘stache since shortly after we were married.  Nothing outlandish, no Fu Manchu, no Mexican gunfighter, and definitely no David Crosby soup-strainer.  I don’t know how guys can stand those things. I hate it when one side of my mouth collapses and follows a bite of sandwich in.

Back in 1965, when I was enrolled in the Adult Education scholastic upgrade course, I didn’t shave for a week.  I came to school on the Monday, and the uptight Accounting professor demanded to know what I thought I was doing.  I explained that I was going to grow in a mustache and a neat VanDyke beard.  Oh no!  You can’t do that!  Shave it off!  It wasn’t till much later that I was appalled at the nerve of this man making judgements on what I could and could not do with my own face.

A couple of years later, after I became a husband and father, I decided to skip the beard, but grow in a mustache.  My wife actually prefers me with a beard, and has encouraged me to grow one on several occasions.  Five years or so after the mustache first appeared, I grew in a big, bushy, Grizzly Adams one, and kept it for over five years.

Many years later, I started riding motorcycles, and the beard came back each winter.  You see it in my Gravatar.  Up here on the frozen tundra, I still rode my bikes nine months a year.  I could put up with the cold, as long as the streets weren’t snowy or iced.  I found that a heavy beard below my full-face helmet kept the cold winds out.

I had three levels of gloves, from thin to insulated thick, because that’s where a motorcyclist feels the cold most.  Snowmobilers often have heaters installed in their handlebars, to keep their hands warm.  Each winter I thought about doing it to my bike, but never got around to it.  As the temperatures plunged, my rides got shorter and shorter, till I was down to just the 15 minute ride to and from work.

One year, December 21 was the last Friday I worked before Christmas.  Since there’d been no snow, I still took the bike.  The coldest day I ever rode was another year when the temperature at 6:30 AM, as I left for the shop, was minus 18 C (0 F.).  The heat dissipation fins on the engine become your best friends when you stop for a red light.

Our son has inherited some of the wife’s Italian genes.  You can’t braid the hair on his back, but he comes well supplied.  I was taking a night, Business Law course the evening he was born.  I went to the hospital after class, and looked in the nursery for my son.  I eliminated all the pink ID slips and scanned the blue ones for one with our name, but couldn’t see one.  As I went down the hall to the wife’s room, I passed this hairy little monster with motorcycle goggles, under a spotlight.  I told the wife I hadn’t seen our cute little child, but had spotted this little Hell’s-Gnome.

She said to get used to it; that was the one we had to take home.  He had been born severely jaundiced, and they put him under an ultra-violet lamp to assist in clearing the toxins.  Ordinary babies just got sleeping masks, to protect their eyes.  With the full head of hair he had, his kept slipping off, so they had to install the biker shades.  With his huge head, the wife had to hold him erect, when his aunt gave him his first haircut at three months of age.

At twelve, his Grade 8 teacher suggested that he shave off his black incipient mustache.  He did, but when he went to high school in the fall, he just let it grow.  By thirteen, he had a better mustache than any of his teachers.  At about twenty, he grew in the Grizzly Adams beard to go with it, and has not looked back in twenty years.

Neither he nor I can do anything for the cause, that we’re not already doing.  So, there you have my twin excuses.  No Mostache growing, no Writing a novel, So what?

Motor City Madness – Part 4

Coming Home

Thank you to those who have had the patience to virtually accompany me on my Detroit trip.  I have a few, hopefully interesting information nuggets to distribute before we load up and head happily, but resignedly home.

In the display of one of the vendors at the knife show, I saw a four-foot *yardstick*.  I have a three-footer at home which is forty years old, from a long extinct local lumber yard.  This one must have been far older than that.  It had an inscription on it that read, “Four feet are better than three” because it was from a small company in Holland, Michigan, which made wooden shoes.  I find no modern reference to the shoe company, although the small city still has a Wooden Shoe Restaurant, a Wooden Shoe Mall, and a Wooden Shoe Greenhouse.  It’s known, of course, as the Tulip City.

It was incorporated in 1867 by a group of Calvinist Dutch, fleeing religious persecution.  What!  Again?!  Do these loving Christians never give it a rest?  This bunch was like our local Mennonites.  These Luddites wanted to keep “The Good Old Days”, and resisted things like vaccinations and fertiliser.  Also known as The Town of Churches, these highly religious folks have 170 of them for a population of 33,500.  Only The Church City, of Charleston, SC has more churches per capita.

As I returned to our room Sunday morning, after checking out, I walked past a cleaner’s cart with a Tim Horton’s cup on it.  Such a common sight in Canada, I almost missed the significance.  I went back to speak to the cleaner, but she was taking a smoke break.  The ladies in the laundry room were only too happy to take a couple of minutes off and talk.  Since we were there, over two years ago, Tim’s has opened at least six new outlets that they knew of.

One is about three miles west on the road in front of the motel, but Tim’s is opening another, just a mile to the east.  It’s supposed to be near the Outback Restaurant we ate at on Friday night, but I wasn’t looking for it then.  It will make it quicker and easier for motel staff to get their daily caffeine ration.  The laundry ladies say that a lot of people are abandoning Drunken Dunkin Donuts.  The buzz is, that both the coffee and the pastries are better.

We used to get our American satellite stations from Buffalo for years.  We got to know the on-air people and had a bit of interest in the closest U.S. city.  Then Shaw Entertainment swallowed my Star Choice, and now our American channels come from Detroit.  We often see ads for Tim’s.

Dunkin Donuts is making a push to get into Canada.  They have 79 outlets in Quebec, but only 2 in Ontario between Montreal and Ottawa, teamed with Burger King and Pizza Hut.  I don’t think Le Clown, in Montreal laps up their slop, but some of the frogs do.

To accommodate the grandson, we took a room with two double beds.  That’s a real crowded comedown for the wife and me, used to a queen-size bed for years.  For the skinny little grandson, he had all the room he needed, and more.  There’s talk of the son and I going back down in the spring.  A bed apiece won’t be bad.  If the GS can come with us, maybe he can bring an air mattress and sleeping bag.  If his gal comes along, they can rent their own room.

Finally, after gassing up, at prices less than Canada, we headed for the border.  The dump off I-75 to the bridge is now smoother also.  We paid our crossing fee, collectible on the American side, no matter which direction you go, and headed over to face Canada Customs.  I pulled into Murphy’s line.  It was the shortest, but, I think a trucker from Georgia drove through in another lane, while we still sat there.  Maybe the guy at the front had had plastic surgery.  Papers got passed out, and back, and more papers out, and back.  Finally it was our turn.  I reported for the wife and me, and let the grandson deal with the woman in the booth on his own.

I told her what we had, including two, one-liter bottles of vodka.  She then asked me what size the bottles were.  If you ask the question, shouldn’t you listen to the answer?  The grandson explained what, and how much he was bringing back, then our queen of security bent down, looked into the back seat, and asked the wife how much she was declaring.  The wife pointed at me, and said, “I’m with him!”

The drive back home along the 401 was quick and smooth.  The grandson got some nice photos, and even a video of the big wind-turbines.  I don’t know if she knows how to embed videos, but perhaps I can persuade the wife to post a story about the trip from her perspective, and include the pictures.

We stopped at the east-bound mate to the west-bound rest area, for a quick pit stop.  There were some heavy clouds overhead, but they were blowing west, faster than the sun was setting.  Suddenly it appeared in a big notch in the clouds, just like a sunrise in a mountain valley.  That shot would rival anything that Edward Hotspur has published.  If she posts, that one will have to be included.

Okay, verbosity has been expended.  Thanks for coming along on the drive with us.  I’ll get on with nattering about something totally different.