Flash Fiction #133

Financial

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

THE REAL COST OF LIVING

We recently returned from the vet’s with the wife’s favorite cat – $200 dollars, and no guarantee the medicine would cure it. Then she had to go into hospital for knee-replacement surgery.  You could say that she doesn’t need surgery, but, to her, gardening is as important as eating.

The bill for the last oil change said that the year-old car’s brakes need work. The cost of gasoline and electricity are mounting.  The yearly ‘cost-of-living’ increase on my pension was 97cents/month.  I feel the financial walls closing in.

Will we survive this retirement tunnel, or finish, begging on the street?

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Cat Blog – AKA: Views And Likes, Come To Daddy

They say that, after a while, people and their pets begin to look alike. I don’t know about looking like my pets, but I know that I/we have begun to act like our cats, and the cats, sadly, have become like humans.

Experts say that cats don’t talk to each other the way people do. They have many different meows and other sounds to express wants, needs and feelings.  Two or more cats may make sequential sounds, but it’s not conversation.

I can make a low-pitched rumble in the back of my throat that sounds very much like purring. For reasons not known to me, it is called ‘vocal fry.’  About 30% of people do it at the end of words in normal speech.  The Kardashian females are especially noted for it.  When a cat purrs at me, I can purr back, and we’re both contented.

Cat Blog

When the son comes home in the morning, Mica jumps into his lap, digs his claws into tough denim pants, and demands his whapping and scratching. If son is distracted by food, drink or newspaper, Mica soon yowls to remind him that attention is missing.  The son says he’s learned to read and time these outbursts.  Just as the cat opens his mouth, the son meows loudly at him.  He says the look of confusion is precious.  Wait, what??! I was gonna say that.

I have some mild allergies that sometimes make me sneeze – never once, always at least twice, usually three, occasionally four, at least twice, five in a row. If Mica is in the room, or awake and able to hear me, after each and every sneeze, he lightly meows.  The recovering Catholic wife insists that he is blessing me.  As if I needed blessing, or the cat is authorized to do it.  I think he’s just telling me to keep the noise down, to protect his sensitive ears.

Each of our cats has a different time and place where they demand attention. With Tonka, it’s often as I recline my easy chair for my afternoon nap.  Suddenly I have the equivalent of an 18-pound building block on my chest, wanting to snuggle in – try to breathe, try to breathe.  No wonder superstitious mediaeval peasants thought that cats ‘sucked the life out of babies.’  It’s known as positional asphyxia.

Cat Day

In the winter, the air in the house is so dry that we got half-inch-long sparks off doorknobs, so we installed a humidifier in the hall, outside the bedrooms. It had push-button controls on the upper surface.

As we accumulated cats, we found that they will jump up, and pad around on a humidifier, even when it’s running.  Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a cat-induced, speed #10, oncoming tornado is a real adventure.

We eventually bought a new humidifier, with touch-screen controls at a 45° angle on the front edge. When cats jump down from something, they slide their front paws over the front edge….  And here comes the tornado again!  We’ve gone two winters now without running it.  A few electric sparks are not as much of a shock as that.

Cat Scratch Fever

All of my cats demand attention at certain times, but Contessa (my little ‘Missy’), is the one who hangs out in the computer room with me while I’m working, or trying to.  She’s also the one with the sharpest claws.  My arms finally reached the point shown above, before I learned to use peripheral vision to notice her coming.  I saw a blog-post the other day.  All it was, was a photo of an arm, scratched worse than mine, with the caption, “Why yes, I do own a cat.  Why do you ask?”

Now, a gentle paw slap as she tries to grab, my attention and my arm, is enough to make her sit back on the floor. Most females don’t want my hands anywhere near them, but when she’s in a ‘pet me’ mood, she demands them all over her.  After 5 long years, she’s even finally taken to lying on her side on the floor at my feet, so that I can rub her tummy – a sign of trust.

Other trust signs are the long, slow, two-eyed blink, and lifting their tail and showing you their butt. They have to trust you enough to take their eyes off you, and the exposed rump not only means that they’re temporarily defenceless, but there are scent glands, which we can’t smell, but which they use to identify themselves to others.

Cat Decision

catacomb – beauty salon for felines
catalyst – cat’s inclination after too much catnip
or – a feline who really makes things happen

catatonic – party fare for cats substituting milk for gin
catechism – manual for turning your doubting tomcat into a true believer
catsup – dinner party for fat cats (catered, of course)
catamaran – a cruise boat for kitties
catastrophe
– four felines and a decorated Christmas tree
catapult – what felines apparently use to get into your lap….when you least expect it
Catalan – a Spanish gato
catamount – wherever your kitty climbs up, to sleep
catfish – be sure to put the lid back on the aquarium

yin_yang_cats

Oh G.O.D.!

Fishing Boat

So a girl brings her new fiancé home to meet her parents. Boy looks like a hipster (scarf, big bushy beard, etc.) Understandably, her father would like to know the boy better and so he takes him to his study for a private conversation.
Dad: “So, John. What do you do for a living?”
Fiancé: “Well, I’m an artist.”
D: “So you’re doing well?”
F: “I paint, and God provides me with all I need to live.”
So the dad is a bit confused.
D: “And what will you do when you marry my daughter? Will your art provide for the two of you?”
F: “I will paint, and God will provide for us.”
D: “And when you have kids?”
F: “I will paint, and God will provide for my family.”

The dad nods and walks out of the study. Outside, his daughter is anxiously waiting for him. Daughter: “So, daddy? What’d you think of him? He’s great, isn’t he?” “Well, sweetie,” says the father, “I don’t like his job choice. But, on the other hand, I LOVE what he calls me!”

***

A young guy from North Dakota moves to Florida and goes to a big “everything under one roof” store looking for a job.

The Manager says, “Do you have any sales experience?” The young guy says “Yeah. I was a vacuum salesman back in North Dakota.” Well, the boss was unsure, but he liked the kid and figured he’d give him a shot, so he gave him the job. “You start tomorrow. I’ll come down after we close and see how you did.” His first day on the job was rough, but he got through it.

After the store was locked up, the boss came down to the sales floor. “How many customers bought something from you today?” The kid frowns and looks at the floor and mutters, “One”. The boss says “Just one? Our sales people average sales to 25 to 30 customers a day. This is gonna have to change very soon if you’d like to continue your employment here. We have very strict standards for our sales force here in Florida. One sale a day might have been acceptable in North Dakota, but you’re not on the farm anymore, son.”

The kid took his beating, but continued to look at his shoes, so the boss felt kinda bad for chewing him out on his first day. He asked (sarcastically), “So, how much was your one sale for?” The kid looks up at his boss and says “$124,548.88″. The boss, astonished, says $124,548.88??? What the heck did you sell?”

The kid says, “Well, first, I sold him some new fish hooks. Then I sold him a new fishing rod to go with his new hooks. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine Chris Craft.

Then he said he didn’t think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him that 4×4 Chevrolet Suburban.” The boss said “A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and a SUV???” The kid said “No, the guy came in here to buy tampons for his wife, and I said, ‘Bro, your weekend’s a mess, you should go fishing.

 

 

 

WOW #13

Grumpy Old Dude

Okay, I don’t mind when Dictionary.com gives Donald Trump a hard time. He deserves it.  I take strong exception, though, when they start to insult me.  This week, they chose the word:

Cantankerous

Definitions for cantankerous disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish: a cantankerous, argumentative man.

Origin of cantankerous

1765-1775

Cantankerous seems as apt in sound and meaning as honk or boom. One earlier spelling of the word is contankerous, which suggests its development from Middle English contak, conteke “quarrel, disagreement,” from which are formed contecker, contekour “one who causes dissension.” An unattested adjective conteckerous, contakerous could have been formed on the models of traitorous or rancorous or contentious. Cantankerous entered English in the 18th century.

* Standards

I don’t feel that it’s nice for them to describe me as difficult to deal with, or contentious. I am easily pleased. I will happily accept perfection. I also think that it was unnecessary to claim that I am peevish. I may have a few (okay, a bunch of) pet peeves. I have raised them from kittens, until now, they can eat raw meat.

The son works a midnight shift, driving to work late in the evening, and coming home early in the morning, on nearly abandoned streets. When he occasionally has to accompany me somewhere during the day, and watches me pilot through volume of traffic, and the vehicular antics of Kitchener’s ‘So, You Think You Can Drive,’ he has been known to declare, “I hate people!”

I don’t hate everybody. I don’t know everybody. I certainly don’t hate anyone who comes to this site and reads my screeds, so you guys are all safe.

Thor

2017 A To Z Challenge – E

Challenge2017

I know that, according to my own, self-imposed schedule, I should have had a post composed and ready to publish today, about the letter

Letter E

Just about the time the daily A to Z Challenge bloggers were posting their offerings for the letter E, I contracted a case of 48-hour flu. By the time I got back to the computer, it was too late to acquire a list of possible theme words.  Between the virus-induced mental incapacitation and the lack of inspiration, nothing got written.

The situation was made worse by bureaucracy. One of the drive motors on the daughter’s power wheelchair seized, and Murphy worked overtime to ensure clerical catastrophe.  What should have been a (bad enough) two weeks inconvenience, has become more than three months of dragged-on denial of service, before the Provincial disability office finally decided that it’s too expensive to repair a 13-year-old chair.

New rules say that, since she doesn’t need it all the time, she can’t have a new one.  Now she has to break in a new case worker, and jump through all the hoops to find an acceptable handicap scooter, for which the Government will (eventually) pay monthly rent.  Winter cabin fever was bad enough.  Now, the nice summer weather is here, and she still can’t get outside and be independent.

Besides the afternoon-long, hour drive up the highway and back, for her anti-pain treatment, this means that I have taken her shopping several times, to the Farmers’ Market, twice to her dentist, once to the next city to pick up cheap, bulk, dog and cat food, and each week to a counselling forum which helps her deal with the physical and emotional problems of having her loving, supportive son 500 kilometers away.

Eighteen months after being told that the wait time would be 12 months, the wife was finally contacted by her orthopedic surgeon, (the same guy who installed my artificial shoulder ten years ago) and was told that her first knee replacement, the right, was a go.  This required two trips to the hospital to fluff their paperwork.  The first was a mere two hours, the second, an extended, four hour clerical comedy show.  At least it’s finally going ahead.  On June 27th, Hobble-Along Cassidy meets Dr. Stabby McStab-Stab in a dance to the death.

All of this means that, instead of having time to write my usual, knife-sharp, crystal-clear, diamond-hard posts which inform and entertain you, you are being afflicted with this whiny, apologetic, idiosyncratic, fogbank collection of Excuses, for my E contribution.

Thanx for your sympathy, and I hope to see you in a couple of weeks with something a little more solid, for the fabulous letter F.

WOW #12

The Word Of this Week is

green-collar

Definitions for green-collar

noting or pertaining to workers, jobs, or businesses that are involved in protecting the environment or solving environmental problems.

a green-collar worker. Also, green collar.

Origin of green-collar

1990-1995

Green-collar entered English in the early 1990s. It’s based on the model of blue-collar and white-collar, with the green element coming from the sense “environmentally sound or beneficial.”

See also; boondoggle, porkbarreling, social engineering, featherbedding,

While most of the words in the English language are hundreds, or thousands of years old, it is interesting to see technology cause the invention of new ones within our lifetimes.

I am all for green energy, and saving the planet – BUT….let the politicians get their hands on it, and we’re all fu….bar-ed.  About 5 years ago, I wrote of having to pay for the privilege of being one of the first users in Ontario to have a time-of-usage, smart electrical meter installed.

Ontario was having brown-outs. We were right at the edge, between generation capacity and usage.  We were told not to do laundry, or run our dishwashers during the day.  Wait till night-time, when industrial usage goes down, pay less per KwH, and Conserve, Conserve, Conserve!

We conserved….and the total income of Ontario Hydro went down, and the big bosses’ pay and bonuses were in jeopardy, so they raised the rates. With higher rates, we learned to use even less….and the total income dropped, so they raised the rates again, and ended the time-of-use difference.

A couple of nuclear stations, and hydro plants like Niagara were being upgraded. With reduced cash flow, soon a large debt built up.  The bosses added a ‘debt reduction charge’ to our bills.  I pay an extra $10/mo.  It was ‘temporary,’ like that 100-year-old temporary Income Tax.  5 years later, the debt is retired, but still we pay.  To cover the costs of their own inefficiency, the bosses added a ‘power distribution charge’ to our bills.  I pay another, extra $30/mo. whether electricity flows, or not, as owners of cottages and cabins which are closed-up for six months have found.

Wind Turbine

Desperate to look like they were solving a problem, the Provincial Government signed 25 year contracts for Green Energy. The wind turbines and fields full of solar panels that I also wrote about 5 years ago, were just the beginning.

Since then, the Government has forced the towers into dozens of locations where they are not wanted – and may be dangerous. Often placed so close to housing subdivisions or farm buildings that, if they fell, they’d just miss houses or barns, they continue to grind on.  They produce ground-conducted sub-sonic vibrations which cause headaches, nausea, and vertigo in many people and animals.

Ignoring the wasteful bureaucratic administration costs, nukes can produce power at about 4 cents/KwH. Water can do it for about 5 cents.  Solar and wind power costs us almost 25 cents/KwH.  The nukes and Niagara are back, running at increased capacity.  We are now awash in a sea of abundant electricity.  Having learned to conserve, we now have so much unused electric power that we sell off the excess, including the expensive green, to Quebec and the US for 3.5 cents/KwH!

In the last ten years, the cost of electricity in Ontario has risen by 50%, bankrupting or closing many small businesses, and causing larger ones to move where power is cheaper. It was a strong deciding factor which caused the closing of my last employer.  Gee, thanks politicians – not!

Going Green may be the way to save the planet, but if it’s happening near you, keep one hand on your wallet, and the other on your ballot. Keep the Pols away from it.  I know that private corporations have to make money, but too many Governments waste, lose or just throw our money away.

Well Said – Poorly Written

Grammar Nazi

Another list of things that went into people’s ears, but not through their brains, before they fell back out onto paper, or the computer screen.

PROS

the power of the social medias medium is singular, media is plural, medias is illiterate, stupid, and lazy

the ship was healing over – It needed a bandage, because Clive Cussler’s ghost writer doesn’t know about ships heeling

thats also okey – That’s not okay, how did they manage to screw that one up -twice?

Causal Elegance Sheets – with a casual name misspelling

The ‘author of several books’, wouldn’t hard a fly – but I am hurt

all and all, it seems – all in all, it seems as if you don’t know English very well.

Served up by my friend Ted, at SightsNBytes, a big slice of lemon morang pie – from the moron who printed the local diner’s menu.

From a teacher, seeking a position to teach other teachers how to teach English as a first language to elementary school students – My withdrawl of the application …  I gibed her that, unless she lives in the Deep South, she should teach it as ‘withdrawal.’  She laughingly replied, “I’m from Georgia, but thanks, I’ll fix that.”

and nary the twain shall meet – Don’t misquote, and never use nary, (none) to mean never.

in which six men were shot and killed in the back while they prayed – What an awkward construction. ‘Killed in the back’, of what, a van? their mosque? How about, ‘shot in the back and killed?’

Francis Bacon, Thomas Sprat and Isaac Newton were one of the first most influential leaders of the Royal Society; – Oh!!?  That’s just painful!

The muezzin’s call to workshop – I don’t worship autocorrect, but I do, proofreading.

‘Ambassador’ Sarah Palin would sure livin’ up Canada’s capital – And I could liven up an editorial meeting by swatting this headline writer with a copy of his own rolled-up newspaper.

wants to put the Genie back in the bottle, and he wishes he had left the bottle uncorked – Janus actually probably wishes that he had left the bottle either corked, or unopened

This plane was an enemies worst – No, an enemy’s worst fear was the single possessive.

Marine commandment condemns nude photosharing – and I’ll bet that the Commandant was pissed, too.

salads galore (greek, ceaser, garden mix) – Render unto Caesar, his salads – and capitalize them!

SNARK – Used as a verb, Dictionary.com cites the word ‘snark’ as a mysterious, imaginary animal.  (Who knew?)  Use it as a noun to refer to rude or sarcastic criticism.
Snark – a mysterious, imaginary animal (a person, place or thing), is a noun.
To use it to rudely or sarcastically criticize, is an action – a verb.  And the people who are supposed to know everything about words, get it exactly upside-down.   😳

AMATEURS

our marry little band of outlaws – If they’re married, our merry little band are in-laws, not outlaws.

beyond the soller system – Somewhere in the solar system, Gene Roddenberry’s ashes are rolling over in orbit.

Canada is the world’s number one air polluter. I could go on and on ad nozium – I could go on and on, ad nauseam, about ‘alternative facts.’  Canada isn’t even in the top ten polluters, oil sands or not!

don’t feel any embracement – You should feel embarrassment that you can’t spell it.

bury the whole sorted mess – This lack of dictionaries is a sordid mess.

in the time of the ancient pharos – Did the word pharaohs look like that when (if) you read it?

a little store bot deli meat – Ya coulda bought a dictionary.

(Poem title) The Word’s He Spoken – The words (s)he got wrong….2 out of 4

milk, eggs, lard, bannans – I go bananas when I see monkeys people who can’t even spell the food they eat.

Some days will just stay in the house – where we’ll study a grammar text

though the exterior belays this – belay that garbage! The word is belies! be lies!

a guy side swapped my Excursion – Single word! Sideswiped

I’ll pay your way once and awhile once in a while, know what you’re talking about

Trump has put a band on immigration – It was the one that played at his inauguration.

I hung around with a cliché of my friends – high school cliques are so cliché.

death from potato salid – Must be homemade. Store-bought salad has properly-spelled labels.

Just bud in front of people – Well, little flower, you’ve discovered another way to hide your butt.

a final preface – for a pre-recorded, live program? For those who wonder, I believe he meant ‘presentation.’ A preface is at the beginning, not item number 5 of an extended-rant blog-post.

from time immortal – The phrase is ‘time immemorial,’ so far back that no-one can remember. Of course ‘time’ is immortal, although a lot of people try to kill time.

Equivalent awareness is actually being shown to your garden to boost becoming up to they typically do with the indoor areas in their home. W! T! F! I know the meaning of every word, but haven’t a clue what this guy was writing about.

CROSSWORDS

Shadowbox = spar This is like sex. It’s the difference between masturbation and intercourse.  It depends on how many people are present.  Shadowbox is one.  Spar is two.