One TV Town

People in New York City could watch “network” television shortly after W. W. II, in 1947.  TV came to my little town at the edge of the universe in 1955.  Back then, television signals were taken from the air by metal aerials, and relied on line-of-sight and broadcaster strength, generally not much more than 35 or 40 miles.  Living back of beyond, we were well over 100 miles from Detroit, Buffalo or Toronto.

A foresighted businessman in Wingham, Ontario, about 40 miles south, wanted to get out ahead of the rest of the pack.  He already owned and ran a little AM radio station, and could see the coming profits from television.  He applied for the rights to channel 8, which was supposed to go to Buffalo.  He had to get on the air before the Americans were ready.  Normally a year or more job, he swung some deals, and started broadcasting at 6 PM, November 18, 1955, just over three months from his original application.

Wingham wasn’t much bigger than my stagecoach-stop town.  They bragged that they were the world’s tiniest town to have a TV station.  Like our down-the-road neighbor, they were a farm-based town.  The stock report on the new station didn’t include any NYSE, or NASDAQ info, rather, how many hogs were sold, how many cows were slaughtered, and the cost of hay and straw for cattle feed.

Early programming included an hour daily show for women, titled M’Lady, two Country and Western weekly shows, one called Circle 8 Ranch, playing off the channel number, and two half-hour religious shows Sunday mornings.  Initial scheduling had only 30 hours of broadcast per week.

My family joined the TV-watching elite in August, 1957.  By then, the bank manager, several of the local merchants, and the guy who made a small fortune in mining, had TVs.  Dad’s wages from one of the factories was the same as everyone else’s, but, he also received a small government check for wartime disability, he got a small honorarium for organizing the weekly party at the Legion, and Mom had just begun a part-time job.

We all, but especially my brother and I, were mesmerized by this new piece of entertainment.  We watched all kinds of things that we would describe as crap today, simply because they were the only things on.  We’d have watched the test pattern; in fact I did several times, talking to the Indian Chief with the feathered head-dress, and trying to hypnotise myself with the “telescopic sight” graphic.

By 1957, the schedule had expanded a little, but there was still a lot of that test pattern time.  In a way, I was exposed to some of the best entertainment, simply because the station was desperate to put something, anything, on the air.  No Saturday morning cartoons, so then, and after school, they showed all the 1930s’ movie serials.  I was able to watch Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Johnny Weissmuller Tarzans, as well as The Three Stooges, and The Marx Brothers.

All of these were shown in black and white.  Movies had graduated to color, but TV’s color days were still in the future.  All these old serials and movies had been shot in black and white, and suited the B&W format perfectly.  I got to see Laurel and Hardy make fools of each other, a house fall on and a train run away with Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd dangle from a tower clock hand.  I watched The Dead End Kids on TV, who had become The Bowery Boys, when I went to the theater.

Censorship was not a problem.  If it had been shown in theaters, it showed on my TV.  W. C. Fields said I was “My little chickadee”, although he also said, “I love kids.  I had two for breakfast,” and Mae West issued an invitation to “Come on up and see me some time.”  “Goodness had nothing to do with it!”

The ‘40s and ‘50s were the heyday of the western, the oater.  I saw Roy Rogers, and The Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry, who went on to own several radio stations and a TV station in California, as well as the Anaheim Angels baseball team from 1961 to 1997.  I also got to see dozens (hundreds?) of episodes of The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, Wild Bill Hickock and Hopalong Cassidy.  And you guys wonder why I’m odd!

My little one-horse television station broadcast at about one candle-power for years.  Their broadcast tower got situated at the top of the only local hill, and our aerial perched on top of a steel pipe which poked above our roof, and had to be “aimed” at Wingham.

They operated as an independent station for a while, and later became a CBC affiliate, but their operating budget didn’t allow for the importation of improving, expanding American network shows.  One of the things I won in my Rewards Of Radio post, was because I could name the first female police TV detective.

Several other callers got through to the station before I did, and every one of them guessed Angie Dickinson as Policewoman.  I knew that it was Anne Francis, as Honey West, ten years earlier. The DJ congratulated me, and said that I must have watched the show as a youngster.  Not in my One-TV town, I got my knowledge about that, from my other major source of information, MAD Magazine.

I wish that my kids could have got to see some of the stuff I watched as I was growing up.  It was a bit less brittle and stressful, and more idyllic and innocent.  Writing up one of these “remember when” posts is always like waving a double-edged sword.  On the one side, I get a lovely wave of nostalgia, especially if I can share it with you, my friends and readers.  On the other, I end up feeling old, about seven different ways.  Now, let’s discuss some of the shit that you watched as a kid.

By the time even the earliest of you get to read this, the son and I will be on our way to Detroit for the weekend.  Please comment anyway, and I will reply Sunday night/Monday, as well as relate all the gory details.    🙂

Police Dog

I am not particularly impressed by police officers.  They do a tough job, and I respect them for that, but I’ve been exposed to cops all my life.  I’ve seen the good, and the bad.  “To Serve and Protect” doesn’t thrill me any more than “To Serve God.”  There’s always at least one who’s anxious to get into the sacramental wine, or forbidden fruit-of-the-loom underwear.

For years, in my youth, my home town only had one policeman.  After they ceded the little park/lake to my boys club, that expanded to a chief, and two constables.  Tough enough in the winter, but busy in the summer with tourists.  For a couple of summers, my brother volunteered for Friday and Saturday-night ride-alongs.

Once upon a time, you could throw a drunk in jail and set him free in the morning when he sobered up.  Then it became necessary to have someone to check on him.  After he retired, my Dad took that job.  He’d get a call, pack a book, a sandwich and a thermos of coffee, and be gone all night.

My brother-in-law wanted to become something political.  In his mid-twenties he took some training and became a justice of the peace, because that gave him exposure and contacts.  Our town already had two JPs, both real estate agents in their fifties, who didn’t want to be awakened at 2 AM, to sign a warrant for some drunk.  The town five miles away had one JP, just as sleepy and grumpy.

Sister and B.I.L. liked to go out and party with the movers and shakers.  From 12 to 16 I was drafted to babysit their five kids, Friday and/or Saturday nights.  They often partied till after sun-up, but it wasn’t unusual for them to return earlier than that, accompanied by police – our town cop, the one from down the road, an Ontario Provincial Policeman who patrolled local highways, the R.C.M.P. officer who was responsible for the attached Indian reservation, and later, Indian police.  I’ve been in rooms with up to five on-duty officers, drinking coffee, beer or whiskey, waiting for paperwork to be signed.

In a small town, at the ass-end of nowhere, most officers were older, and sedate.  The young Mountie, however, was sharp, and aggressive.  I was walking home from high school one June day, when I heard a hot-rod.  Car-crazy, I knew that sound.  It turned off the highway, and proceeded up the street I was walking on.  At a time when a policeman could just pull you over and give you a ticket for excess noise, this thing howled!

In 1962, this was a ’52 Ford convertible, loaded with paint, chrome and muscle.  Bbrraapp, half a block and 30 MPH in first gear.  It zipped past me, and I recognized my unfavorite Mountie driving.  Bbrraapp, past the elementary school, five minutes before closing bell, at 50 MPH in second gear, in a 30 zone.  Bbrraapp, into third gear and still accelerating as he went up the hill towards the B.I.L.’s house.

Sure enough, when I got there ten minutes later, he was waiting to show off the new toy he’d bought.  I mentioned the amount of noise he produced, and told him that I’d seen him doing 50 in second gear, in a school zone.  Instantly, he went all lawyer on me.  How did I know it was 50 in second??  It could have been 30 in first!  Because I already saw and heard you do 30 in first.  I’m just pointing out that someone other than me might have seen the same thing, and lodge a complaint, especially in a school zone.

A month later, just as school vacation was starting, he showed up one night for a warrant.  While others did things in the kitchen, he joined me in the living room.  Out of the blue, and purely coincidentally, he wondered if my friends and I might like to party.  If I just told him what we liked, he could get it for us, beer, wine, liquor, grass, pills, just name it.

I asked him how he would “just get it.”  Oh, he’d just impound it from some guy he caught, and “forget” to log the evidence.  The guy would be released.  What’s he gonna do, complain??  At 17, I didn’t party like that, and not with a group.  If I had accepted his offer, he’d have had something to hold over me.  My previous comment about noise, speeding and dangerous driving was never mentioned.  I think he was disappointed when I graciously declined.

I wasn’t out to get him, or any advantage, and never mentioned the occurrence to anyone but him.  About seven years later, I was reading an article in the Readers’ Digest, about the R.C.M.P. cleaning up the Mob and the drug traffic in Montreal.  Guess whose name was given as the head of the Montreal narcotics squad.  They shoulda heard him comin’ in that noisy hot-rod.

Don’t Be Sad

The Toronto Sun has a regular columnist who writes about a variety of issues.  When he writes about politics or social concerns, he is as clear as crystal.  Occasionally though, he strays off the well-traveled road, and into the religious minefield, where his work immediately resembles Beijing smog.

Several years ago, he wrote of being Jewish.  Six months later, he claimed that he was Catholic.  When called on it by several readers, he “explained” that his family had Jewish ancestry, but he had converted to Catholicism.  Oh good, just what we need, another gung-ho turncoat.

He quickly learned the Catholic method of the straw-man argument, to belittle those who did not agree with him.  Call them names; assign a definition, then make fun of them, to justify making himself feel better.

Just before Christmas, he took a swing at committed atheists.  He called them the most unhappy, lugubrious, neurotic special-interest group he’d ever encountered.  Then he corrected his accusation, and listed feminists and socialists first, truly an all-you-can-offend-buffet bigot.

He has decided to call atheists, Sads.  They must be sad; it’s an atheist’s nightmare, Christmas coming just two weeks after Pope Whasshisname was named Time’s Man of the Year.  He is convinced, that atheists are convinced, that the world is a dark, hateful place, where everyone is against you.

It’s sad that he doesn’t see, that atheists enjoy the commerce and conviviality of the season, without the need for a supernatural crutch.  He says they don’t grasp irony, but it’s ironic that atheists don’t care that the Pope received this honor. (?)  It’s much like Clay Aiken winning the American Idol crown, nobody with a three-digit IQ, and a life of their own, really gives a damn.

People in the past have sent him “misspelt emails” and they really should learn to master the apostrophe.  He’s a master at turning the subject from criticism to punctuation.  He’s heard the one about God being like the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny, that Hitler was a Christian, that Jesus didn’t exist, bad things happen to good people, and more wars have been fought in the name of religion than anything else – blah, blah, blah.  Doesn’t sound like blah, blah, blah to me, and many others.  It sounds serious.

He has dismissed these claims in, not one, but three, books; not “dealt with”, dismissed!  Yet Hitler was a Catholic, bad things do happen to good people, prayers are unanswered, and religious wars are still fought.  He wants critics to come up with something new, and challenging; religion is a game to be won, to him.  How about admitting to, and dealing with the old problems first?

It apparently makes him feel good to think that those who disagree with him feel bad.  Not exactly a loving Christian outlook, but then, he’s not exactly loving – or loved.  He admits that Easter is more theologically significant, that Christ probably wasn’t born late in December, and that the whole thing has been clumsily commercialized and secularized, but says he cherishes and believes in it because the show supports his “faith.”  That’s it fella, don’t let reality get in the way.

He would be sad to admit that Atheists quietly, happily, productively, co-operatively, are getting on with their lives, and making of them, as much as they can, without a vague promise of a second chance on the other side of the great divide.  He speaks of “all that is the pure, sparkling joy of the season, gloriously plump with giving, loving, forgiving, enjoying, rethinking and celebrating,” but then denies that they are available to any but his Good Christian compatriots.

He thinks nothing of launching attacks like this, but, should anyone have the temerity to express different thoughts, he falls back on another “Definition” defense – Religism.  This is defined as an attack on any or all organized religions, but, in his case, simply means somebody said he might be wrong in his heart and head.

A Protestant New York minister played this game recently.  He raised such a fuss that he was allowed to be on The View, where he railed to Liz Hasselbek that a bookstore had a shelf label on The Bible, showing it as “fiction!”  After his televised furor, he admitted that “it might have been a simple clerical error.”

The Sun columnist is a sad, shrivelled soul!  It is sad that he gains so much twisted happiness in spewing his bigoted hatred, and taking so much joy in his belief in the imagined pain and suffering of others he deems unworthy.  It is sad that he is not unique, and that there are so many more judgmental, condemnatory Christians like him.

I, on the other hand, would be very happy if you drop lots of likes and comments in the collection plate.

 

BTW, FYI – Lugubrious means mournful, dismal, gloomy, sorrowful or melancholy, especially in an affected, exaggerated, or unrelieved manner.  Sounding pompous doesn’t make you right.

Location, Location, Location!

I live in the best place in the world!!  You may love the place you were born, or the place you’re living now.  You may hate either, or both.  Doesn’t matter!  I live in the best place in the world.  There is no perfect place, but mine is the best compromise.  I live in the center of Southern Ontario, Canada.

I live within an hour’s drive of three of the nicest of the Great lakes, hundreds of miles of white sand beaches and cool (but not cold) water.  Some, near the bigger cities can be contaminated, but if you’re willing to drive a bit, it’s worth the trip.  All the tourist traps and the natural magnificence of Niagara Falls are but an afternoon’s trip away.

If you don’t like the big lakes and the big crowds, there are dozens of little lakes where you can put up a cottage and go fishing.  They’re a bit reedier, muddier or rockier, but often so small they’re like a warm jet-spa.

The land ranges from pool-table-flat, to hills tall enough to ski on in the winter and keep the eyes interested in the summer.  Mountains are magnificent, but they block out the sky.  The land is covered with some of the most fertile soil in the world.  Sadly, urban sprawl is eating a lot of it up, but a huge selection of meat and vegetables are locally grown, and fairly cheaply.

My city called itself “The Biggest Small Town in the World”, almost 50 years ago when I arrived.  It’s grown a lot, but it still has a small town feel.  It’s big enough to be interesting, without being so big it’s dehumanizing.  We have a concert hall, with a local symphony.  Acts like Roger Whittaker, Brad Paisley, Jeff Dunham, Cats and Rent have come to town.  If you want more than that, Toronto is only an hour’s drive away.

We have two Universities and a widely renowned Community College.  The Kids Museum morphed into themuseum (allonewordnocapital), still with stuff to interest kids, but with added paintings and sculpture, plus defunct equipment telling the tale of vanishing local manufacturing.  The house where J. M. Schneider, who founded the meat packing business lived, is preserved, and can be toured.  Doon Pioneer Village, on the outskirts, used to highlight the 1870s, Mennonite heritage, but has moved up 50 years, and now showcases life in the early 20th century as Doon Heritage Crossroads.

The weather too is varied enough to be interesting, but almost never vicious.  We have four distinct seasons.  Johnny Carson was dismayed when he moved from New York to Los Angeles.  He found they only had two seasons out west, wildfire and mudslide.  When the temps went from warm to warmer, the city crews took in the green plastic plants, and put out the brown plastic plants.

In the summer, our temperature usually ranges from mid-70s F. to high-80s F., with just enough humidity in the air to be comfortable.  Places like Arizona are great for people with asthma and other breathing problems, but are so dry the skin flakes off your face, as readings soar over 100 F.  Places like Georgia have slightly lower temps, but moisture levels so high, even healthy folk have trouble drawing a breath.

In the winter, readings usually hover about 10 degrees below freezing, not like western Canada, where it can plunge to minus 30 or 40, and the wind whistling across the prairies can make it feel like -50 or worse.  It can get hot in the summer, and cold and snowy in the winter, but not for long.  The area is so unexciting that even the weather gets bored, and moves on.

We generally get just enough rain in the warm months to feed the crops, not cascading off the mountains and washing us into North Dakota.  Kitchener is near enough to the Great Lakes that they moderate our temperatures, but far enough away that we are not inundated with snow.  We get enough to provide spring watering for farmers but not so much that we have to exit buildings from second, or third, floor windows.

We are not subject to monsoons, or tsunamis.  The tail end of an occasional hurricane blows this far north and inland, like last fall’s Superstorm, but rarely causes much damage.  We do experience the infrequent tornado.  I once drove within a quarter-mile of one, on my way to visit my parents.  It snapped a few tree branches off and swirled a couple of wheat fields, but wasn’t at all like the half-mile-wide, twenty-mile-long swaths that march though Kansas.

We get the occasional temblor from Montreal, or Ohio, if they’re fracking for natural gas.  Just enough to rattle dishes, but no real earthquakes of our own.

We manage to find all kinds of things to bitch about area politics and politicians, because it’s a game we don’t want to miss.  Compared to other spots on the globe, local politics is bland and boring.  We don’t have oppressive regimes like Cuba, Iran, North Korea or China.  We are caught at the edge of the World meltdown, but our Pols still guide us better than the 23-party, can’t-get-a-decision-made, coalition in Italy, or the fiscal ineptitude of Ireland or Greece.

We escape the polarization of the U.S.A., probably because most far-out opinions are not expressed, and are ignored, not fought about, when they are.  While we appreciate America being the world’s policeman, our tiny, under-supplied Army leaves us money to provide health care for our citizens.  This is socialism, not Communism.  If it’s good enough for the Swedes, it’s good enough for us.

Religiously and morally, it’s pretty much live and let live.  Jews, Muslims, Christians and Shintoists all live in the same communities.  No-one wants to force their beliefs onto others or drive non-believers from town.  Of course, we all hate the Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially when they ignore the Do Not Ring Bell sign early Saturday morning, when we’re trying to sleep off Friday night.

Abortion and gay marriage are both permitted, although it’s more like just ignored.  There are those who are disturbed by both, but there are others, just as numerous, for whom the removal would be just as disturbing.

All in all, I live in Goldilocks-land, not too hot, not too cold, not too bland, not too exciting, a bit of everything, but not too much of anything.  Come and visit us when you can.  Keep Ontario green; bring money.

There’s No Excuse

To save everyone’s time, post this list near your desk or workspace, and everybody can just take a number.

 

TABLE OF EXCUSES

 

  1.  That’s the way we’ve always done it.
  2. I didn’t know you were in a hurry for it.
  3. That’s not in my department.
  4. No-one told me to go ahead with it.
  5. I’m waiting for an OK on it.
  6. That’s his job – not mine!
  7. Wait till the boss comes back and ask him.
  8. I forgot.
  9. I didn’t think it was that important.
  10. I’m so busy I just didn’t get around to it.
  11. I thought I told you.
  12. I wasn’t hired to do that

 

NOT KIDDING AROUND

 

Dear Doctor;

 

I wish to apply for a Vasectomy operation to endure my sterility.  The reasons for this are numerous, and after being married for 7 years and having 7 children, I have come to the conclusion that most of the methods of contraception amd are absolutely useless.

After I got married, I was told to use the rhythm method.  Despite trying the Tango, and the Samba, my wife became pregnant, and I suffered a hernia while doing the Cha-Cha.  Apart from the obvious deficiencies, where in the Hell can you get a dance band at 5 o’clock in the morning?

Another doctor suggested that we use the “Safe Period” after this, but at the time we were living with the in-laws, and we had to wait for three weeks for the house to be empty for a “Skag Safe Period.”  Needless to say, this didn’t work either.

A lady of several years experience informed us that if we made love while breast feeding it would be all right.  It’s hardly Jack Daniels, but I did end up with silky hair, a clear skin, and my wife pregnant again.

Another old wives tale was if my wife jumped up and down after intercourse it would prevent pregnancy.  After the constant breast feeding from our earlier attempts, if my wife were to jump up and down, she would finish up with two black eyes and eventually knock herself unconcuous.

I asked a pharmacist about the sheath.  He demonstrated how easy it was to use, so I bought a packet.  My wife became pregnant again, which didn’t surprise me.  I fail to see how stretching a rubber over a thumb, as the pharmacist showed me, can prevent pregnancy.

My wife was then supplied with a coil, and after several unsuccessful attempts to fit it, we realized that we had one with a left-hand thread, and my wife is definitely a right-hand screw.

The diaphragm, or “Dutch Cap” came next.  We were very hopeful about this method, and it didn’t interfere with our sex life at all.  Alas, it gave my wife a number of headaches.  Even though we got the largest size available, it was just too tight across her forehead.

Finally, and in desperation, we tried the pill.  At first it kept falling out.  Then we realized we were doing it wrong.   My wife started putting it between her knees, thus preventing me from getting anywhere near her at all.

You must appreciate my problem.  If this operation is not a success, we will have to resort to oral sex, and just sitting around, talking about it, can never be a substitute for the real thing.

 

Yours hopefully

John Smith

 

CORPORATE IMPROVEMENT

 

To:  ALL EMPLOYEES

From:  PERSONNEL  DEPARTMENT

As a result of new “effective management programming” and a declining work load, management must, of necessity, take steps to reduce our work force.

Arrangements have been developed which appear to be the most equitable, under the circumstances.

Under the plan, older employees will be placed on retirement, thus permitting the retention of younger workers, who represent the future of the company.

Therefore, a program to phase out older personnel, by the end of the year, via early retirement, will be placed into effect immediately.  This programme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged Personnel Early)

Employees who are RAPEd, will be given an opportunity to seek other jobs within the company, provided that, while being RAPEd, they request a review of their employment records, before actual retirement takes place.  This phase of the operation is called SCREW. (Survey of Capabilities of Retired Early Workers)

All employees who have been RAPEd and SCREWed, may also apply for a final review.  This will be called SHAFT. (Study of Higher Authority Following Termination)

“Effective Management Programming” dictates that employees may be RAPEd once, and SCREWed twice, but may get the SHAFT as many times as the company deems appropriate.

I Got The Word

Small things amuse small minds; therefore, back when I was doing two crossword puzzles a day, I was intrigued by the number of times that a word would show up in both puzzles on the same day.  Different clues, of course, “He’ll give you a lift.” and, “Elevator guy,” would both yield “Otis.”

When I began also doing an online puzzle, it actually tripled the chances that any two would share a word.  I’ve never had a golden day where all three agreed; when the third clue might have been, “He’ll cause you ups and downs.”  I did have one interesting 3 X 2, silver-medal day, where A and B shared a word, B and C shared a word, and C and A shared a word.

So it was fascinating the other day, in my reading, to encounter, within an hour, in two different books, two different place-names both beginning with “Rh,” Rhyolite, Nevada, and Rhododendron, Oregon.  Rhyolite came from a 2007, Clive Cussler book, and refers to a now-ghost mining town.  “Rhyolite” is a volcanic form of granite, from which they mined gold.

The other was from the 2000, fourth book of Lee Child’s, Jack Reacher series.  Either they’re getting better, or they’re growing on me, and I’m learning to ignore the errors.  “Rhododendron”, of course, is a showy pink/purple flower, and the town of the same name in Oregon is in a region known for flower cultivation.  It’s not far from Puyallup, Washington, where growers used to supply daffodils for Johnny Carson’s Tonight show.

A grade three teacher read her charges a story which contained the word frugal.  I like to use the word frugal to describe myself.  It has a softer, more elegant ring than cheap-ass, tight, or stingy.  When asked, she explained that it meant saving (which it doesn’t) and, to get some alone-teacher time, she suggested that the class all write a little story including the word.

Little Johnny wrote an heroic tale of a brave knight, who frugalled the fair maiden, imprisoned in the castle tower.  He may have a future in porn.

I once asked Dictionary.com’s crossword solver about Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki raft’s construction, and got the following back:

Try these answers for ‘Kon-Tiki material’

ConfidenceMatching Answer

95% BALSA

43% INCAS

19% SUEDE

19% NYLON

19% ADOBE

19% DENIM

19% CORAL

19% SERGE

19% SATIN

19% SLATE

I don’t know how many dead Incas it would take to float across the Pacific.  A raft made out of serge, or denim would be utilitarian.  One made of nylon might be waterproof.  One constructed of satin would be gorgeous, just gorgeous – if you were floating your way to a gay wedding.  Suede would be for the sensible shoes, if it were a lesbian wedding.

I’m not too sure I’d like an ocean-going raft constructed of slate, coral or adobe.  A guy in my hometown constructed a 30 foot sailboat out of concrete, but I’d be afraid of getting an unguided tour of Jim Wheeler’s submarine with the screen doors.

I just got the word about the next knife show in Detroit.  Some conversation I overheard last spring made me check the website.  Apparently there is some conflict with another knife show, and a large show needing the entire hall in March.

After recently publishing the tale of our first trip down, in a blizzard, I find that the spring(?) show has been moved back to Feb. 1 – 2.  Get a little work done on the car, and we should be all set.  Since we need to travel to Detroit on the Friday evening, the son wouldn’t have the car to get to work.  He could bus in and back, but decided to request the night off.

The wife is suffering some internal problems which make her not want to be too far from a washroom, and doesn’t get to see the specialist till June, so she has decided to stay home, and the son and I are going together.  I have already booked a room at a Red Roof motel north of the tunnel, instead of the one south of the bridge, that we’ve been using for years.  Two days after I confirmed the reservation, I got the email word from Red Roof, that, if I’d waited till Jan. 15 to book, they’re having a 30% off sale.  Some times it just doesn’t pay to be prepared.   😦

It’s near a different Trade Center/flea market we’ve never been to, and is closer to the show venue.  I’m already researching where the nearest Meijer store, WalMart, and Outback restaurant is.  I’ve got addresses written down, and this time, Miss Smarty-Pants GPS just might earn her keep.

There’ll be another episode of The Continuing Adventures of Archon (With his trusty sidekick, Shimoniac) when we get back.

Mom’s Shortbreads

At the behest of the illustrious BrainRants, GranmaLadybug has graciously consented to divulge the recipe for The Scottish shortbreads we make at Christmastime, along with some tips and hints she’s learned over the years.  Rants, and anyone else who wishes to, can add this to their cookbook.  Happy baking, and eating.

1 pound best quality butter (salted)

1 1/3 cups icing sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour

Knead everything together until butter & icing sugar has infused the flour.

Archon’s mom taught me how to make the shortbreads by putting everything on her kitchen table. She put out the flour first, then the sugar and topped it with the butter. She kneaded it together; adding flour a little at a time as she kneaded the dough, until it showed cracks at the edge.

Her philosophy was that the heat of your hand melted the butter & sugar, and was absorbed by the flour.

I started mixing my shortbread in a large shallow bowl by hand, but when I started with arthritis in my hands, this step was done with a KitchenAid mixer.  Usually over-mixing cookies is a no-no.  This recipe only improves with over mixing, but only use a heavy-duty, slow mixer, not the smaller, faster, egg-beater style.

Pat the dough out (small amounts at a time) using the heat of your hand to smooth the dough out to about ½ inch. (DO NOT rush this step. Just use the heat of your hand to do this, and a light touch.)

You can use a wooden board, or your counter top. I use a marble board for this step.

Use a thin metal blade to get your cookie off the board onto your cookie sheet. If the dough is sticking, gradually add more flour to the dough.  If you have to use too much flour on the board you can get a floury taste to the cookie.

Now to bake:  Heat oven to 275°F (using a slow oven helps to meld the flour, sugar & butter.) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes with your oven rack in the middle of the oven.  The cookie should show a lightly browned bottom.  Most recipes say not to brown, but to us the resulting cookies have a pasty taste to them.

Mom’s always had a brown bottom, and they were so rich they made you want more.

We store the cookies in a metal tin, and they are guaranteed to go with tea, coffee, hot chocolate or just on their own.

This guarantee is not valid if you changed the amounts, rolled the dough out, used old decrepit cookie sheets…….etc.  I once shared a recipe with a neighbour.  Her cookies did not turn out because she used the bottom oven rack and really abused cookie sheets.

The quality of your utensils, and attention to detail is what will get you the best results.

Oh I forgot, you have to also infuse the cookie with a lot of love……………..tks Mom.