A To Z – History And Hi-Way Market

Challenge2017   Letter H

About 125 years ago, just at the turn of the 20th Century, in the heyday of Ontario manufacturing, Kitchener was not yet a city.  It was still a town, a booming, industrial town, full of Germanic Mennonites and Pennsylvania Dutch, called Berlin.

A bit over a mile (a long way in those days) north of ‘City Hall’, toward Waterloo our Twin City, two companies were established, and two buildings were erected. The nearest was Kaufman Footwear, making slippers, shoes and boots.  A square, three-storey structure went up.  Over the next 50 years, three more additions produced a plant a half a block wide and a city block long, right where the main street crossed the old highway.  At its height, it employed hundreds of men (and later women).

I applied for a job as a lab assistant in 1965, when I first came here, but was turned down. I worked for Kaufman for two years, 25 years later, after they’d moved storage and most of the manufacturing to a new plant at the edge of town.

Another block further north, a rubber company was formed. This was the plant I retired from.  It began as Merchant’s Rubber, then became Dominion Rubber, then Uniroyal bought it, and later amalgamated to become Goodrich/Uniroyal, though it never produced tires.

The asshole brother-in-law worked there for almost 25 years. After he left, I joined it as Becker’s Lay-Tech, then it became Perstorp Components, and finally, Collins and Aikman drove it and its sister plant down the street where my brother worked for Dominion Textile in 1965/66, into bankruptcy.  During its Uniroyal heyday, there were 3600 people working around three shifts.  It didn’t grow as neatly as Kaufman.  Over 50 years there were 13 ‘buildings’ which became another half-block wide X block-long X 4-storey plant.

A mile further north, in the open fields and meadows between the two cities, dozens – hundreds – of stout little homes were built to house all the men who walked or biked to work at these plants. The wife was born in a sturdy brick house, three doors north of the imaginary boundary of Waterloo.

This neighborhood was once called the North Ward, home to the blue-collar families who worked in these factories. The North Ward is slipping away.  The area is called Mid-Town now, and it’s the up-and-coming place for young professionals to move to.

Of course, not everyone in the subdivision could be a mindless plant drone. Her father built a barber shop a block and a half from the Uniroyal plant, and raised 9 kids by cutting hair for men going to or from work.

Two nearby young brothers tried plant work, but found they were more interested in installing and adjusting machinery, so they started a millwrighting/rigging firm in their dad’s garage, to service the two firms. Years later they built a facility further out of town than the Kaufman plant.

I worked for them for two years, and the engineer down the hall, was the guy who didn’t hire me at Kaufman. The structure is now the plastics plant where the son works, and they rent warehouse/assembly space at the nearby ex-Kaufman building, where I once cut shoe/boot parts.

The man whose Portuguese wife sent him to work with delicious sandwiches, started providing them for a friend – or two – or more – soon dozens. He quit the company and started his own catering business, eventually stocking the vending machines, and running the three-shift, hot meal cafeteria in the plant he no longer worked at.

The greatest success story was the local grocer. He also couldn’t take the plant work, but had an inspiration.  If it was a mile walk for the men to go to work, it was a lot further trudge, dragging children, to go shopping.

He turned his front living-room into a little ‘corner store’, when such a thing didn’t exist locally, and stocked it with the essentials. GENIUS!  He had a captive audience.  Soon, he expanded the ‘living-room,’ and then added on….and added on again.

Then he had another flash of genius. In the late 1950s, more families owned cars, and the rise of shopping malls was beginning.  In order to get around an hours-of-opening bylaw, a mile outside the city limit, he built Hi-Way Market.  In the days of two-lane highways, you could just drive out to the A & W, and turn left across the road.  Today, it’s two exit ramps and an access road.

This was the Costco/Price Club of its day, 20 years before Costco was born. He erected a huge big barn of a building, as big as any Costco.  Like Costco, he sold everything, and much of it in bulk – canned and boxed goods, produce, meat, bakery, clothing, hardware, electrical.  He had a sit-down lunch bar where both the wife and her brother worked, and a postal, and a banking facility.

There were actually two floors, but much of the upstairs was used for storage and staff/administration. He put a photography department up there, which later went independent, and still exists in town.  Aside from the main-floor diner counter, he tried a slightly upscale restaurant upstairs.  It became famous in the region, as The Charcoal Steakhouse.  It built a fancy new home a block further up the street recently, when the original building was torn down.

So much history! So much local commerce emerged from the wife’s neighborhood.  The Kaufman plant is now a preppy downtown condo, and my C&A plant had a tiara added and is home to a bunch of Google gremlins.

Jeep goiing up

And so, the ugly duckling has become a swan.    😉

Google Building

 

The Queen’s English

Queen

The Queen’s English.
Yes, I’ve heard that about her!  😆

If only more of the English people would speak the English language. Some of them think that, if a word is good enough to be said once, it should be slightly changed and said twice.  Sometimes this doubling-up is done to emphasize the meaning, but I am sure that sometimes it is done just to confuse those who don’t speak the local dialect.

It has brought us a bunch of word-pairs like; holus-bolus, okie-dokie, hurdy-gurdy, hunky-dory, hurly-burly, lovey-dovey, argy-bargy, hinky-dinky, rinky-dinky, hanky-panky, razzle-dazzle, willy-nilly, fuzzy-wuzzy, namby-pamby, itsy-bitsy, (t)eensy-weensy, (t)eeny-weeny, higgledy-piggledy, mumbo-jumbo, roly-poly, and tittle-tattle.

Cuckoo Clock

Why ‘Tock-Tick’ does not sound right, to your ear

Have you ever wondered why we say tick-tock, not tock-tick, or ding-dong, not dong-ding; King Kong, not Kong King?  It turns out that it is one of the unwritten rules of English that native speakers know, without even knowing.

The rule, explains a BBC article, is; “If there are three words, then the order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words, then the first is I, and the second is either A or O.”  Mish-mash, chit-chat, dilly-dally, shilly-shally, tip top, hip-hop, flip-flop, Tic Tac, sing-song, ding-dong, King Kong, ping-pong.

There’s another unwritten rule at work in the name Little Red Riding Hood, says the article. Articles in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion, size, age, color, origin, material, purpose, noun.  So, you can have a lovely, little, old, rectangular, green, French, silver, whittling knife.  If you tamper with that word order in the slightest, you sound like a maniac.

That explains why we say “little green men”, and not “green little men,” but “Big Bad Wolf” sounds like a gross violation of the “opinion (bad)- size (big)- noun (wolf) order. It isn’t though, if you recall the first rule about the I-A-O order.

That rule seems inviolable. “All four of a horse’s feet make exactly the same sound, but we always say clip-clop, never clop-clip.”  This rule even has a technical name, if you care to know about it – the rule of ablaut reduplication – but then life is simpler knowing that we know the rule, without knowing it.

Play it by ear.
If a word sequence sounds wrong, it probably is wrong.

2017 A To Z Challenge – Gastronomy

Challenge2017  Letter G

Don’t confuse the title of this post with Astronomy. That’s the study of heavenly bodies.  This will be about the study of my body.  It’s far from heavenly, but it has its own gravitation field, and can cause eclipses.

For the first half of my working career, eating and weight gain were no big deal. My office jobs were so sedentary that I didn’t require great numbers of calories.  With two kids to raise, there wasn’t a lot of spare cash available for French fries, junk food or soft drinks, and the wife had not yet become the great cook that she would be a bit later in life.  Although I did manage to go from a stick-thin kid of 135 pounds, to a solid, well-built man of 185, and stayed that way for years.

All that changed when I left the offices, parked my brain at the door, and went to work in the plants. Suddenly, the jobs were so physical that I needed and consumed 3000/3500 calories a day.  The kids grew up, and there was enough cash for the occasional fast food treat, and the wife was described by her brother, a professional chef, as a better cook than him.

185 lbs. crept to 190, then 195, then to 200. I’m a good eater.  The greeter at the grocery end of Wal-Mart says, “Welcome back Archon. It’s always nice to see you.  Two more visits and I can retire to Florida.”  The wife learns 5 new recipes, and I gain 5 new pounds.  Now I’m 205 lbs., and I can see retirement looming, but not my toes.  Changes have to be made!

The wife says that we’re getting older, and the chance of weak bones is increasing, so drink chocolate milk and eat cheese every day. I’m okay if I stay upstairs, in the computer room, but if I go downstairs in the evening, I’m wrestled to the ground by a toasted bagel – or some potato chips that were on sale – or cookies and hot chocolate.  It’s always something.

I have lots of will power. What I need is some won’t power.  The wife thinks I’m obsessive, because I weigh myself every day.  Seven years into retirement, I’ve passed 210, and occasionally 215.  217!  218!  The day I saw 220, I – not ‘panicked’ – but something has to be done.  Something other than letting the white beard grow back in, and buying a Santa suit.

Yesterday, the scale read 209.8, but my blood pressure was 136/78. The diastolic is still low, but I need to do something about the systolic – like lose some more weight.  I don’t want to be the guy in the Christmas song – round John Virgin.  If I was the victim of a shooting, the chalk outline would be a circle.

Thanx for reading the whine I had with my cheese. I’ll see you around….as long as I’m not quite as round next time.   😳

Fat Man

WOW #14

Wedding Cake Figures

When a couple get married, they march down the aisle, stop at the altar, and sing a hymn – and that’s what the bride is thinking – I’ll alter him.

A woman marries a man, thinking that she will change him – and he doesn’t.
A man marries a woman thinking that she will never change – and she does.

A bigamist is a man who makes the same mistake twice. A husband is a man who only makes that mistake once – although, there are the serial optimists/masochists who keep trying.  They could marry anyone they please – only they never please anyone.

The Word Of the Week is

TROTHPLIGHT

Definitions for trothplight

engagement to be married;
betrothal. to betroth.
betrothed.

Origin of trothplight
Trothplight comes from Middle English trouth plight meaning “having plighted troth” or “having pledged one’s faithfulness to another in engagement to marry.” It entered English in the 1300s.

I’ve included trothplight, just as proof that Dictionary.com does include old and odd words as click-bait.  We have lots of words in the English language that we still use and are a thousand years old.  This one though, is archaic.  It’s not commonly used any more.  It’s the kind of word found now only in the historical romance books that the wife (and the son) read.

The rigid moral and social rules and expectations that gave rise to the action and the word, no longer exist. Today’s equivalent would be, ‘shack up’, or, ‘let’s live together.’  I find it interesting, and perhaps ironic, that the word contains ‘plight,’ which comes from the same basis as ‘pledge’, but it also means

plight
noun
1.a condition, state, or situation, especially an unfavorable or unfortunate one:
to find oneself in a sorry plight.

Since the advent of Women’s Rights, more and more women are saying that they don’t need a man.
Since the advent of online porn, more and more men are saying that they don’t need the aggravation a woman.

The above light-hearted, satirical comedy has been brought to you by a Happily Married Man, who has only made one marriage mistake in almost 50 years – unless you talk to my wife.   😯

 

Ode To Contessa

 

SDC10926

Contessa – my little one – my Missy – my Lady Cat – my gravatar partner – the one who happily, excitedly, ran to greet me each day as I left the bedroom – has died, and I cried like a baby!

It was not unexpected, but it was no less painful. A retired breeder, she was with us just over 5 years.  She was 16 years old, but many Bengals live to be 20.  She was supposed to be the wife’s cat, but she adopted me and kept me in line just like she did the dog.

A couple of years ago, she developed some sneezing, coughing and wheezing. It was feline asthma.  The vet warned that, when we lost her, it would probably be to breathing problems.  Month by month, the coughing grew more common.

About a month ago, she caught a head cold. Nose was stuffed up and runny.  From February last year, to her vet appointment this year, she dropped from 8 pounds, to seven.  Whether because she felt poorly, or just couldn’t smell her soft food, she stopped eating.  By the time we got her to the vet again, she was down to 5 pounds.

SDC10169

He gave us some antibiotic, and some high-calorie food. We got the medicine in, but not the food.  When Bengals stop eating, it’s almost impossible to break the cycle.  They will starve themselves.  She spent a week in the computer room, taking the occasional sip of water.  She finally came out and collapsed on the carpet in front of the bathroom door.  The end seemed inevitable.

As I sat in the living-room, reading, I suddenly realized that she’d dragged herself downstairs and was on the floor at my feet. I like to think that she wanted to be near me at the end.  Minute by minute, her breaths became shallower.  I hoped that she would quietly, painlessly drift off.

I had called the daughter and asked what to do with her when she passed. Daughter said that, as soon as I was sure she was gone, to seal her in a plastic bag and put her in the freezer, until a decision could be made – burial with a marker in the back flower garden, or cremated, and her ashes returned?

I’d had a long, hard day with the wife in the hospital for a knee replacement. I left a plastic bag and a note for the son.  I tried to go to bed at my usual 5:00 A.M., but I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t leave the problem to the unsuspecting son.  Besides, if she wanted to be with me, the least I could do is be there for her at the end.

I put clothes back on and went and sat beside her, occasionally stroking her. I couldn’t read.  I couldn’t think.  I alternated between the chair, and pacing the floor, cursing Fate and the Universe, and crying.  It seemed each breath was a little shallower than the last.  At one point she raised her head to look at me.  I want to believe that she was making sure that I was still with her and was comforted.  Then she sank back down and I thought that had been her last breath.  A couple of minutes later, she shook her ears and moved her head.

Around 6:00 AM, she seemed to spasm. Her front legs didn’t work, but she used her hindquarters to scoot a couple of feet across the floor.  I was afraid that she was in distress.  I rushed upstairs to the computer.  Our vet is 15 miles away, and doesn’t open till eight, but there’s an animal hospital a mile down the road which opens at 7:30.  I could take her there as soon as the son gets home with the car, to have them end any pain.

Around 6:20, she rear-leg drove herself over into a corner, behind a scratching post. Cats want to die alone, with dignity.  She managed to flip herself over onto her chest and tummy.  She lowered her face, her mouth and nose into the carpet, and….

I lay beside her, gently touching and stroking her, and crying my eyes out. When the son got home, we bagged and froze her.  Next week, when the wife can walk, we’ll take her to our vet’s.  The price for a job-lot cremation is $25.  A single-animal cremation, with her ashes returned is $200.  The son says he’ll split the cost.  We’ve done it for the others.  Honor says that we shall do it for her.

I don’t know how such a small, little lady managed to occupy such a large part of our hearts and lives. She was definitely part of our weird family.  Like any human relative or friend, she will be sorely missed, and never forgotten.  I/we thank you, my regal little Countess.  Be at peace!

SDC11016

***

I composed this post later in the morning that it happened, to help myself deal with her passing. Thank you for reading my very personal tale of loss.  I’ll be back soon with something a bit more up-beat.   🙂

2017 A To Z Challenge – F

Challenge2017

I’ve been caught – found out – laid bare. It gives me no solace to know that I am but one member of a large enough group who are also exposed, that there is a word to describe and identify them.  For the letter

Letter F

I am skipping the WOW, and using the A To Z Challenge to present the latest, and most applicable word, Forgettery

Definitions for forgettery

a faculty or facility for forgetting; faulty memory:
a witness with a very convenient forgettery.

Origin of forgettery

1860-1865

Forgettery is a humorous formation based on forget and (the pronunciation of) memory. The phenomenon is very common in ordinary life, such as that panicky moment when you cannot recall the name of your dinner partner or where you parked the car in the mall parking lot. It is a little surprising that such a useful term entered English only in the 19th century.

My life has been one long series of Forget-Me-Nots. One of my ways of ensuring that I remember something is to repeat, repeat, repeat!  One scientific study said, 35 times – and it’s mine.  It’s a good thing that I like to read.  I scanned school texts over and over….and over.  I understood the concepts, but you only get marks if you remember to write them down.

I describe my situation as ‘Trigger-Memory.’ It’s a long trail of the equivalent of a string tied around the finger.  My days are full of reminders.  A sour cream tub lid, wedged into the top of my boot on the shoe rack means there’s a plate of leftovers to be taken to the daughter.  An empty pill bottle sends me to the pharmacy.  An empty cat-food tin on the end of the counter has me bringing more up when I go downstairs for some Pepsi.

Out of sight, out of mind – or, as the Chinese translate, ‘When you’re blind, you’re also crazy.” If I don’t see it, I forget it. My office desk was always a bit of a mess, because I dared not put anything away until I’d successfully dealt with it.  Lists, notes, memos, reminders – thank (insert the name of your favorite real or imaginary deity here) for electronics.  Now it’s all on the computer….if I can just remember where I cached that file.

Have you ever walked into a room, and wondered why you did? I’ve walked into rooms, and had to look around to remember which room I’d walked into.  Use it, or lose it. As much as for my Asperger-type inability to make and hold friends, my lack may be because I forget people as soon as they walk out the door, and people get upset if you do that.

Once upon a time, I forgot to pick something up, probably food for a special meal. I got from the wife, that expression that every marriage gets at least once.  “If you loved me….you would have remembered.”  I pointed out that the forgetting had impacted me even worse than her.  If I can’t remember for myself, I sure won’t remember for her, no matter how much I love her.

Would she say, ‘If you loved me, you’d be an Optical Surgeon, and make lots of money?’ With the tremor in my hands, somebody would lose an eye.

If I forget to read your posts for a week, (or a month) or forget to leave a comment, please forgive me. I’ll remember eventually, probably triggering my memory when I’m looking up another odd word, like syzygy….now what does that mean, again?   😳

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