Halloween In A Graveyard

Gravestone

I once got the chance to patrol a graveyard on a Halloween night.  I know, I know!  The excitement!  The prestige!  Where do I go to apply for a keen job like that?  Sadly, the unemployment office.

When an unethical manager had pulled the cube-drone carpet out from underneath me, I had found temporary employment with a security-guard company.  They had placed me at a St. Joseph’s Hospital as a glorified ‘Lollipop Lady’ crossing guard.  I didn’t even get to wear an orange, don’t-run-me-down vest.

The hospital had two, parallel, one-way driveways down one side.  Traffic came in on one, swung around past Receiving and the kitchens, and exited on the other.  Work on water mains had them alternatively dug up for about a week.

We stationed a guard at the front and the back, with portable radios.  If a vehicle came in, the guard at the back held any outgoing traffic until the single lane was clear, and vice versa.  Out of sight of any street traffic, the guard at the back could rest in a lawn chair until called.  We alternated every hour….until the Mother Superior looked out the window, and decided that that wasn’t fair, and decreed that no-one could rest.

It was especially busy late in the morning, because they had a Meals On Wheels program.  Civilian volunteers picked up a few meals each and delivered them.  We wouldn’t want them smashing into each other, and spilling all that delicious hospital food.

As Halloween approached, and I still hadn’t found suitable employment, the scheduler asked me if I would consider patrolling a graveyard, from 6PM till 2AM that night to prevent any vandalism or skullduggery.

The hospital sat in the middle of a long stretch of main road that didn’t have any cross-streets.  The Catholic cemetery behind the hospital (where the doctors buried their mistakes) extended back to the next road.  Two pedestrian-access walkways converged through it in a V, toward the hospital.

Another guard and I followed each other around the block-long legs of the triangle.  It never occurred to us to patrol in opposite directions, to stop and talk, and compare notes occasionally.  All went well for the first couple of hours – until the sun set.

That’s when we discovered that there were no street lights on the adjoining road, no light-posts within the cemetery, and no lights between the hospital and the cemetery.  It was a typical cloudy Halloween night…. it was pitch-black DARK back there, and nobody thought to give us flashlights.

At about 9:30, I had emerged from one of the exits, and was walking toward the other, when I saw three 15/16-year-old males enter ahead of me.  While it was light, I had found a two-foot piece of 1½ inch PVC electrical conduit on the path – a tripping hazard, especially in the dark, so I picked it up, and was carrying it, just in case.

I could hear them walking, and conversing, a hundred feet ahead of me in the Stygian gloom, although I couldn’t make out the words.  Then it got quiet.  Often, that’s not a good thing.  Suddenly, something smacked into the gravestone beside me.  Something whizzed past my ear.  Something struck the grass beside me!  Holy Crap, those little f**kers are throwing things at me.

I ducked behind a nearby gravestone, and the barrage continued.  Something bounced off the gravestone beside me.  I felt around in the dark, and found a pulped crab apple.  CLANG!  That wasn’t a crab apple that hit my cover.  More crab apples, splat, whiz, then, another CLANG off the tombstone next to me.  The moon, through a slight rift in the clouds, revealed a sharp stone, as big as a golf ball.

What in Hell am I going to do??!  We don’t have our traffic-directing radios, and if this keeps up, my fellow-guard is going to walk around the corner any moment, right into the middle of this.

“It’s okay, Bobby.  You can come out now.  We won’t throw anything else at you.”  I’m not Bobby!  “Who the hell are you?”  I’m the security guard who’s supposed to keep you from damaging anything.  Are you idiots??!  Throwing crab apples is dangerous enough, but throwing rocks at someone you can’t see, or identify – in the dark….  You could blind or kill someone!  “Sorry, we didn’t think.”  Said every teenage boy ever, just before he qualified for the Darwin Award.

Patrolling a graveyard on Halloween is an…. interesting task.  Ghosts and ghouls don’t exist, so they’re no problem.  It’s the live ones who cause all the troubles.  😯

Jack O Lantern

Happy Halloween!  Trick or Treat.  😀

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’18 A To Z Challenge – Puppy Love

 

Challenge '18 letter-p

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been proved wrong – again!

I told the wife, that when our Wheaten/Schnauzer/Poodle–cross cur was gone, we would not get another dog.  I explained a thousand times that we are too old, too weak, that we didn’t have the strength, the stamina, the patience….most of all, the money, to buy a purebred, non-allergenic puppy.

Puppies Parents

Our two new little handfuls, with their black Daddy, and white Momma.

By ‘we’, of course, I meant ‘me.’  Suddenly, one day, while I was composing a previous A-To-Z post, she called to me to “come see something on my laptop.”  Halfway down the stairs, I saw the picture of Mom and Dad Scotty Terriers.  Before I could even protest, she shifted to more photos of a bundle of the cutest puppies.  Ohhh, no fair!

Scottish Terriers are usually black, but some of them are white, and a few of them are brindle, which is white, with blonde/gold highlights.  Mom was white.  Dad was black, and the puppies were some of each.  Could we just go to look at them??  They were only a 2 ½ hour drive away.  I’m doomed – doomed I tell you.

Puppies

Aren’t the two new Scottish terrors Terriers cute??

We brought the son – and his checkbook – along.  They valiantly held out, but we all knew that we had not come just to look.  The wife picked the little black female, above.  Then came the hard sell.  Unlike the previous litter, this time the breeder was having trouble getting rid of the males.  If we would also take a male, she would give us a screwing deal on both dogs.

The wife launched a piteous appeal to his heartstrings, to get the son to further loosen his purse-strings.  When he finally bowed to the inevitable, we became a two-dog family.  Happy birthday, Mothers’ Day, Arbor Day, Thanksgiving, anniversary, Christmas, and Leonard Nimoy’s bris.

The next day, we got a panicked phone call.  “Is something wrong??”  Well….  Another couple had come to look at the puppies, and she was attaching ribbons to ours, to assure that we got the ones we’d picked out.  The male the wife had chosen, the only brindle one in the litter – had turned out to be a female??!  Would we accept any other male?  We chose the happy, chubby white male, as a Mini-Me.

We named the male, Duff, a Gaelic word that means ‘black.’  We called the little female, Guin, a Welsh term which means ‘white.’  So, our black dog is White, and our white dog is Black.  At least we’re not out Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog, as Norma Tanega did, back in the mid-60s.

No Chew

Here’s a liter of IRONY!

Plug

I only hope that the male pulled that plug from the socket, before he chewed it off.

At just over six months old, they recently got their first trim.  We had to be vetted by our new groomer.  She was recommended by the wife’s hairdresser.  The woman came to the house to see the dogs in their ‘native environment,’ before she would accept us as clients.  I feel so 90210. 😯 Oh Yeah!  We’ve got two new puppies.  Be thankful that you’re only stuck with me.  At least I’m house-trained.  😉

Puppers

They’ve gone from being a mere handful, to being A Real handful.

Because I Wrote About It

Margarine

Because I wrote about it, because I slipped it into several posts, because I even had a post titled “Oleo Olio”, I felt that I should set the record straight, and honor a local almost-hero.  The following is a reprint of an article in the Waterloo Region Record about margarine in Canada.  It is presented without their knowledge or permission, so, if I suddenly open a Patreon account for bail and lawyers, I hope that you will contribute generously.

THE MAN WHO MADE MARGARINE “SAFE”

Kitchener’s William Daum Euler championed butter substitute

Psst!  Want to buy some margarine?  Seventy years ago, that wasn’t a simple question.

As Canadians celebrate the legalization of marijuana this month, they may be forgetting that, just a few generations ago, this country was having a fierce debate about another controlled substance – that’s right, margarine.

Banned in Canada between 1886 and 1948, the oil-based butter substitute was once labelled a serious public health risk.  Its opponents vilified it, calling the spread a “compound of the most villainous character, which is often poisonous,” according to W.H.Heick, who wrote a book on the subject back in 1991.

Many people may remember mixing color packets into their margarine, since Ontario law used to require margarine only be sold in its natural white state.  But they may not know it was a tenacious politician from Waterloo Region who led the campaign to finally legalize it after the Second World War.

Margarine has had a complicated history since it was first created by French chemist Hippolyte Mėge-Mouriės in 1868, by churning beef tallow with milk.  Dairy producers, concerned about a cheaper, longer-lasting alternative to butter, lobbied hard to have it banned.

For decades, they succeeded, convincing law makers it was unsafe and unhealthy for consumers – and bad for their rural economy.  William D. Euler, a Liberal senator and former mayor of Kitchener, had the support of urban organizations like churches, unions and Boards of Trade, as he went to war for margarine.

As part owner of the Kitchener Daily Record, he pushed for editorials supporting the end of the ban.  In 1947, he introduced repeal legislation, and was met with fierce resistance from the dairy lobby.  He wrote letters to newspapers across Canada, pushing his position.  Polls suggested that half the country was behind him – and he leaned on women, veterans, and hospitals for support.

Many Canadians were already using and cooking with margarine, bought on the black market.  Often it was smuggled in from the Dominion of Newfoundland, where it was made from whale, seal and fish oil, by the Newfoundland Butter Company.

Newfoundland, which was still a British colony then, was busy churning out bootleg margarine at about half the price of butter.  Euler, who became the first chancellor of Waterloo Lutheran University, used legalization of margarine as a key bargaining chip in the negotiations with Newfoundland to enter into Confederation.

In November 1947, he got helped by a butter price increase, from 53 to 66 cents a pound, which only reinforced his campaign for a more affordable alternative.  In newspaper pages, town halls, and on Parliament Hill, the debate raged.  Senator James Murdoch accused the butter lobby of using “Communist tactics.”

“The wishes of 150,000 producers of milk had to give way to the desires of 13 Million consumers,” Heick wrote in his book, “A Propensity to Protect Butter – Margarine and the Rise of Urban Culture in Canada.”  The fight went to the Supreme Court, which struck down the ban, and left the control of margarine to the Provinces.  By this point, a poll suggested 68% of Canadians supported legalization – a shift in opinion owed in large part to Euler’s public relations campaign.

Ontario didn’t repeal its Oleomargarine Act until 1995, which made it illegal for companies to make or sell margarine that was colored yellow.  Quebec didn’t follow suit until 2008.  Margarine finally had equal footing with butter, at least in the eyes of the law.  And consumers had a senator from Kitchener to thank for it.

***

What??!  Businessmen would lie, and politicians would support them, for financial gain?  Tell me it ain’t so!  FAKE NEWS!  FAKE NEWS!  You can butter me up by stopping back again soon.  🙂

7 Of 9’s 4th Of 30 Challenge

Another Challenge

Star Trek

That title’s a vague, old, Star Trek, Voyager reference, and it’s still not the fourth, it’s merely number four, on a thirty-day list that I’m chaotically crashing through.

  1. What you wear to bed

This list creator is seriously disturbed.  You could be, too.  There is not enough vodka or qualified psychiatrists in the world, to erase the mental picture of me, rolling out of the old fart sack.  For a while, I dated only blind women.

When I first got married, I slept in the nude, because – you know – sex could break out.  My wife informed me that, when it came to sex, I was self-sufficient, so I took the problem in hand.  Sex did occur a couple of times, and soon we had a couple of kids in the house, one of them female.  I couldn’t go looking for my BVDs in the dark when one of them had a bad dream, or go wandering down the hall with my dangly bits….uh, dangling.

I took to going to bed in my undershorts, and continued for decades.  Never know when you’ll have to run outside to escape a fire.  The house is 72/73 F, summer and winter, although we have an electric mattress warmer to keep us cozy in the winter.

When my doctor confirmed the diagnosis of an enlarged prostate, she prescribed a medication that will shrink it, and keep it shrunk.  Without any explanation, she asked me if I wanted Cialis.  That’s like offering a dog a driver’s licence.  Erectile dysfunction didn’t seem to be the problem, so I said no.

After doing some research, I discovered that drugs like Viagra and Cialis were originally developed to increase blood flow.  When test subjects were asked if they experienced any side-effects, many of the men replied, ’Uh, yeah.  I don’t roll out of bed anymore.’ and a lucrative secondary market was discovered.

The maintenance dose of Cialis that I was offered is supposed to increase blood flow, to help the medication work, so I quickly said, yes.  As I neared 70, my normal low blood pressure and slow heart rate were no longer enough to keep my feet warm enough to sleep at night, even with the Cialis.  Perhaps at my next doctor’s appointment, I’ll ask for a higher dosage level.

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The wife made me a hand-knit, custom-fit pair of socks, which I wear to bed over my regular socks, and sleep comfortably.  They, and my bikini briefs, are enough to allow me out on my back deck, when the new puppies start rowdying in the morning, ‘cause no-one lives behind me, to see what I wear to bed.  😉

A Perfect One-Liner

Comedy

To my mind there’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist….
….but they’d probably find something

I’m not fat….
….but my 100 meter dash record is about 54 meters

People told me not to smear glue on my hands before going to the firing range….
….but I’m sticking to my guns.

My girlfriend asked me to name all my sexual partners in order….
….I probably should have stopped when I got to her name

Dad, how do stars die?….
….Usually an overdose

Did you know the first French fries weren’t cooked in France?….
….they were cooked in Greece

What’s black and rhymes with snoop?…
….Dr. Dre

My top 3 assumptions when the doorbell rings….
….1 – a murderer
….2 – police telling me my wife and kids were killed in a crash
….3 – delivery of that book on positive thinking I ordered

Why was the archaeologist so depressed?….
….because his life was in ruins

I just saw an Apple store being robbed….
….so the policed called me as an I-witness

These days, the ‘grade’ in ‘Catholic grade school’….
….is a lot like the ‘grade’ in ‘weapons grade uranium.’

I was telling some sheep jokes the other day…
….but none of them laughed, and one ran away saying ‘baa’.

I just burned 2000 calories….
….that’s the last time I leave brownies in the oven while I nap

How do Mexicans feel about Trump’s wall?….
….they’ll get over it

If I died right now….
….my life would be complete

I wonder what Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin tasted like….

It cost me $500 to fly economy class, and what a waste of money….
….I still know nothing about economics

I’m against gay marriage….
….for the same reason I’m against straight marriage.

What gets bigger the more you take from it?….
….the lower class

Flash Fiction #172

Guano

PHOTO PROMPT © Jilly Funell

BIRD BRAIN

Pouter Pigeon

I think that my pouter pigeon would make a great presidential candidate.  He couldn’t be worse than the one we have now.

He could be the bird brain who struts around on his tiny hands feet, with his chest puffed out, thinking that he was God’s gift to all females.  He would be the unending source of incomprehensible tweets.

He’d constantly have Washington, and the world, all aflutter, and produce lots of unintelligible noise and great streams of bullshit guano.  Dab a little cheese sauce on his head, and the average American MAGA voter would elect him in a second.

***

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

Friday Fictioneers

 

Vulcan At The Forge

Gods

My friend BrainRants is paving his back yard with beer cans.

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Actually, he’s only paving a 20 foot diameter fire pit – less the 5 foot diameter central concrete burn area, and he’s using more than just beer cans – but it makes a great story.

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I don’t want to use the word ‘unusual,’ because many may read it and think strange, or weird.  It’s not strange or weird (or maybe that’s just me), it’s just uncommon.  He melts aluminum down in a homemade furnace, and casts 6 inch hexagons.  His input may include discarded patio tables, or salvaged broken storm doors.  Cans often include soft-drinks, but beer cans comprise the bulk of the base stock.  14 cases of mixed cans produce 10 of these tiles.

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He built his own little furnace, in a 5-gallon metal pail, using special, high-heat concrete and chicken wire for support.  He also poured a concrete lid with a breather hole and handles.  A purchased propane burner is inserted through a hole in the side to provide the heat, and crucibles, purchased online, contain the molten aluminum.

SDC10048

He made his own wooden hex replica, and uses it to form wet-sand moulds, into which he pours the hot metal.  This project is nearly complete.  He had 820 hexes when I arrived, including a few bronze ones, and I helped him by staying safely out of his way, drinking beer, while he poured his self-imposed weekly quota of another 20, over two days.

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Here is Vulcan, beginning to pour 5 tiles.

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He’s getting closer, and that stuff is HOT!  Stand well back.  All of this was done in a garage, on a hot, muggy DC August day.  I can think of no better excuse for a couple of cold beers….and another to celebrate a safe, successful conclusion.

Dos Equis