2017 A To Z Challenge – B

Challenge2017

When I sieved out the following list of B-word prompts, I was struck by how many of them could apply to me.  Rather than choosing only one, here are some random thoughts about a few of them.

Bibliophile
blood
baggage
belief
bold
books
beach
barn
blog

Letter B

My home town is halfway up the East coast of Lake Huron, in Ontario. It has 3 miles of lovely warm, soft, white sand beach.  It has become a vacation haven, and tourism is a large part of its financial wellbeing.

The town to the south gets only 1 mile of shoreline. The tiny tourist village to the north sits in the center of 10 miles of sandy shore.  Access to the water is good, and the swimming is wonderful but, in both cases, the sand barely reaches above the water level, and their beaches are flat, hard and damp.

My mother constantly read to me as a child, and I learned to read quite young. I became a bibliophile, a lover of books.  I am also a logophile, a lover of words, but all the wonderful words are in the wonderful books, so we’ll discuss that later.

Ray Bradbury said, “Libraries raised me.” My tiny little town had a tiny little library, about the size of a medium house.  It was only open two days a week.  The volunteer librarian was a former teacher.  It was here that I learned early, the value of linguistic precision.

The fine for late books was 2 cents, biweekly.  The intent was for 2 cents, per book, for each of the 2 weekly open days.  I stood beside a man who went and got a dictionary to show the librarian that ‘biweekly’ also meant ‘every two weeks.’  He would pay 2 cents, but not the 8 cents that she demanded.

A local man became a mining engineer. He located an ore field in Northern Ontario, staked a claim, and sold the rights to a mining firm which would extract the minerals.  With the initial payout and ongoing royalties, he retired early, as the town’s richest resident.

He and his wife were great readers, but they never had children. When his wife died, and he was facing his own mortality, he donated a large portion of his fortune to the municipality, to be used to build a library in memorial to his wife.  We got a fairly large (for a small town) new library, right beside the Town Hall.  His bequest bought lots more books, and an annuity paid for hired staff.

When I moved 100 miles to Kitchener for employment, it was easy to pack my luggage. I had very little.  I also had to pack my baggage – my propensity for procrastination, my learning disorders, my neurological syndrome which causes poor physical control and lousy short-term memory, as well as my autistic-type inability to read social cues, and make and hold friends.

I am more methodical, determined, and tenacious; I would never be described as bold. Having survived an interesting, if not terribly thrilling life, now in the twilight of my years, I can put these thoughts and remembrances down, and publish them in my blog.   😀

 

WOW #9

Donald Trump

A comedian once claimed that Michael Jackson was the punch line to every joke.
“Why did the chicken cross the road?”
“Michael Jackson!”

Mikey is no longer with us, but we do have Donald Trump to replace him. Dictionary.com usually doesn’t give a reason for the inclusion of any particular Word of the Day, often making me wonder about words like, stravage, portmanteau and middlescence.

Recently though, they’ve been blaming it on Trump. They admitted that paralogize was chosen because of his tendency to draw incorrect conclusions from the facts available.  More recently they blamed him and his political team’s ALTERNATIVE FACTS for the resurrection of;

newspeak

Definitions for newspeak (sometimes initial capital letter)
an official or semi-official style of writing or saying one thing in the guise of its opposite, especially in order to serve a political or ideological cause while pretending to be objective, as in referring to “increased taxation” as “revenue enhancement.”

Origin of newspeak

Newspeak was coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984, which was published in 1949.

They gave no attribution, but Trump must be on their minds because, with paralogize there were whiffler, bonzer and juggernaut, and between paralogize and newspeak, there have been scapegrace, malfeasance, pedagogy, muckraker and troglodyte.

As Jay Leno said about the re-election of George W. Bush, with Trump at the helm of the Ship of State, we have at least four, and perhaps eight more years, of the jokes (and insults) writing themselves.

😳

 

You Want It, We Got It

Junk

The wife and I are Mr. and Mrs. Just-In-Case. Over the years, if there’s been some small, inexpensive thing that could make our lives easier, we’ve purchased it.  As I bitched about in my ‘Autumn Housecleaning’ post, the problem is that we never get rid of things we no longer use.

Living as we have, in the same houses for decades, we have accumulated the greatest collection of ‘stuff’, some of it fairly non-standard.  We lived for a couple of years beside a single mother with two young daughters.  She acquired a long-term boyfriend who was there for more than just the free sex.  Whenever he tried to clean up, fix up or paint up, she never had any/the right tools, so she would tell him to go next door, and ask Archon if he might borrow something.

A tree branch had grown over the driveway where he wanted to park his car. Would I have a saw that he could use to cut it off?  We used to go camping when the kids were young.  How about a small, light bucksaw? Perfect!

Later, he wanted to clear out a lilac bush which had overgrown a fence corner. Did I have a small axe or hatchet that he could cut out the sucker shoots with? See ‘camping’, above.  Weekend after weekend this went on, many requests common, some, not as much.  A circular saw, a hand drill and set of bits, a pipe wrench(?), tape measure, carpenters’ level, (3-foot professional, or foot-long home version?) a pry-bar, (standard crowbar or 8 inch window jimmier?) all quickly, freely provided.

Finally, she wanted to reward him for the things he’d done around her place, by baking him a cake. For this, she wanted a spring-form cake pan.  “Go next door and ask (Mrs.) Archon if they have one.”  If it involves food, ‘Of course we do!’  As I handed it to him, he asked, “Do you guys have everything?”

I guess she didn’t understand the ‘spring-form’ concept. You’re supposed to unlatch the little clip on the side to increase the diameter and have the cake slide out.  Apparently she tried to remove it with a large butcher knife, ruining the non-stick, Teflon coating, and gouging the aluminum pan.  She felt badly, and bought a replacement at a Dollarama store, but it wasn’t the quality that the wife had found.

Loupe

Even now, there are things in our house that I’m sure few other homes contain. The son owns a jewellers’ loupe, that thing that you stick in your eye and hold in place with your eyebrow, which magnifies things 10 times.  He bought it from a local jeweller after he left high school, but can’t remember why.  I’ve used it often over the years to check the detail on some of the coins I’ve acquired.

Mortar and Pestle

Recently, the wife encountered a recipe that called for powdered ginger. We have fresh ginger root, grated ginger and dried, chunk ginger.  We also have a small, powerful little electric ‘thing’ useful for such tasks as grinding coffee.  It would quickly turn the dry chunks into powder, but the wife decided to go a different way.

(To the son) “Call your sister, and ask her if we can borrow her mortar and pestle.  She just bought one that she uses to crush herbs for cooking, home remedies and aromatherapy.”

The son replied, “Why bother her? When she bought the new one, I bought her old one from her.  It’s in my room.”  It now sits in pride of place, below the overstuffed spice rack in the kitchen, groaning under every spice known to man, and a couple only to Martians.  ‘Eat your heart out bland potatoes, Matt Damon.’

Into each life, a little weird must fall. It’s just that it falls a little harder and faster at our house.  😉

Workin’ Like A Dog

sdc10369

A local business was looking for office
help. They put a sign in the window,
stating the following: “Help Wanted.
Must be able to type, must be good with
a computer and must be bilingual. We
are an Equal Opportunity Employer.”

A short time afterwards, a dog trotted
up to the window, saw the sign and went
inside. He looked at the receptionist
and wagged his tail, then walked over
to the sign, looked at it and whined.

Getting the idea, the receptionist got
the office manager. The office manager
looked at the dog and was surprised, to
say the least. However, the dog looked
determined, so he led him into the
office. Inside, the dog jumped up on
the chair and stared at the manager.
The manager said “I can’t hire you.
The sign says you have to be able to
type.” The dog jumped down, went to
the typewriter and proceeded to type
out a perfect letter. He took out
the page and trotted over to the
manager and gave it to him, then jumped
back on the chair. The manager was
stunned, but then told the dog “The sign
says you have to be good with a
computer.”

The dog jumped down again and went to
the computer. The dog proceeded to
enter and execute a perfect program,
that worked flawlessly the first time.
By this time the manager was totally
dumb-founded!

He looked at the dog and said “I realize
that you are a very intelligent dog and
have some interesting abilities.
However, I still can’t give you the
job.” The dog jumped down and went to a
copy of the sign and put his paw on the
sentences that told about being an Equal
Opportunity Employer. The manager said
“Yes, but the sign also says that you
have to be bilingual”.

The dog looked at the manager calmly and
said “Meow”.

***

And now for a ‘real’ funny bilingual joke.

Years ago, Charles DeGaulle of France visited Canada. He is still remembered for his ill-mannered and inflammatory shout from a Quebec City hotel window, of, “Vive le Quebec libre.” (Long live Free Quebec.)

Before he arrived, applications were accepted for a post as his driver, to chauffeur him wherever he went.   Aside from the usual requirements, strength, intelligence, firearms and martial arts abilities, driving and map skills, the successful applicant had to be bilingual.

The job was given to Angus MacKinnon, of Nova Scotia, who fluently spoke both English….and Scottish/Canadian Gaelic.

***

WOW #8

Dictionary

DUDGEON

Definitions for dudgeon
a feeling of offense or resentment;
anger:
We left in high dudgeon.

Origin of dudgeon
1565-1575
Dudgeon entered English in the 1560s and is of uncertain origin.

I’ve always liked this word, and was happy to see it pop up. It harks back to a gentler, classier, more mannerly age, where you could show your utter loss of patience with a person or a social situation without throwing a snit, or a dismissive, valley-girl, “Whatever…” The last person to stalk off in high dudgeon may have been Scarlet O’Hara.

I remembered that, in the next town, there was a family named Dudgeon, so I looked the name up.

Last name: Dudgeon

This interesting surname has two distinct possible origins. First it may be the patronymic form of the male given name Dodge, a pet form of Roger. Hrothgar was an Anglo-Saxon name deriving from the elements “hroth” meaning fame and “gar” a spear, Roger, becoming a favourite form from the time of the Domesday Book of 1086 onward. It may also come from the obsolete word “dudgeon”, a wood used in making the handles of knives and daggers etc. and would have been an occupational surname for a turner or cutler. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 14th Century, (see below). In the modern idiom the name is found as Dodgen, Dodgeon, Dodgin and Dudgeon. Read more: http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Dudgeon#ixzz4ZTie2NV6

It’s fascinating, (at least it is for me) to see the development of this name from Hrothgar, to Roger, to Dodge, to Dudgeon. It was also another reminder to me, not to rely on only one source of reference.

Dictionary.com claims the word entered the English language in the 1560s, and the origin is uncertain. SurnameDB on the other hand, makes it a couple of centuries – as much as 500 years, older, and gives the meaning as a type of wood used to make knife handles.

I’d like to believe the ‘knife-making’ origin for this word, because, a thousand years ago things weren’t quite as classy and restrained. People who were in a high dudgeon (nobody’s ever in a low dudgeon) tended to take care of their own problems, often with a dagger, without calling in the Federal Commission On Political Correctness, because their little feelings were hurt.

Just ‘cause I like you, here’s a link to look at some of the Art-type Daggers I’ve seen at knife shows.

Thanx for stopping in. I’ll have more words later.   😀

Oh, Rats!

Rat

I smell a rat…. if only I could get my cats to do the same.

In our utility room, which is stuffed to the gills with various types of food – bags of dog, and cat kibble, potato chips, egg noodles, dried peas and beans, and individual packets of hot chocolate powder began developing holes.

Oh-oh, we have a mouse.  There were two things wrong with that assumption.  It wasn’t a, and it wasn’t mouse.  A suddenly-turned-on light eventually revealed a scuttling little fur ball that definitely was a rat.

How do rats get into your house?? I don’t know about yours, but mine has a flexible, 3-inch tube, from the bottom of a window well, down to the furnace, to provide air for combustion.  It’s supposed to have a steel-wire grate in it, but rats have teeth and jaws that can chew a hole in the side of a Buick.

Rat Trap 1

Food was moved, and placed in Tupperware, Rubbermaid, and Zip-Loc containers, and an unused steel canister set. Boxes of cereal went back into plastic store bags and got hung from water pipes on the ceiling, so that they couldn’t be reached.  A large plastic tote box was purchased, to safeguard my nachos.  I went to a hardware store to purchase a rat trap, thinking I’d get one like the  super-sized mouse trap, above.

Rat Trap 2

They’re not sold around here anymore. What I got, for $12, was a plastic, Hungry, Hungry Hippos kind of thing.  I baited it with peanut butter and oatmeal flakes.  Neither rats nor mice particularly like cheese.  After a week of no results, I went to a different chain store, and got one for $6 that was more like I had in mind, and safer/easier to set.

Rat Trap 3

After a week of two traps, the newer one yielded a body. I think it was a female, but I didn’t spread her little legs to find out.  A week later the Tonka Toy trap snagged an adolescent.  (Oh goody!  If they’re breeding, I’ll never get rid of them all.)

Two more weeks passed. We knew there was still at least one more, because we could hear scratching as we sat quietly reading.  At last the new trap caught another supposed female, but the next day, as I entered the storage room, I saw a larger male shinny up a water pipe, and disappear behind the fibreglass insulation.

A whole month passed, with nothing on the trap line, only scratching from the basement. I moved the traps from time to time, especially near the boxes of cornmeal muffin mix that were chewed into.  I changed the bait to moist cat food – and back to peanut butter and oats.  Finally, another dead rat, but this one seemed to be another female.  Still, the rustling and scratching continued.  That male is a canny old rat.

We considered rat poison, but with 4 cats in the house, our vet discouraged us. The son told me about a DIY glue trap.  Apparently Gorilla Glue makes a super-sticky duct tape.  You can stick together a broken car bumper, and drive 75 MPH – in the rain.  Put some, sticky side up, on a piece of cardboard, place near food and hope the rat steps on it.

I don’t have Gorilla duct tape, but I do have a roll of no-sided tape that followed me home from the auto plant.  It’s pure adhesive on a roll of waxed paper.  Stick it to something like cardboard, peel the wax paper, and there’s nothing left but sticky.  I put two layers on a shoe box lid.

Mica

When I went downstairs to place it, Mica, my Fred Astaire cat, followed me down and jumped up on the freezer to demand his usual petting and skritching. While I was doing that, the dog walked in, and suddenly began barking and lunging under the shelving unit.  He crawled in and continued barking.

As I looked, I saw the rat sneak through a hole into a plastic crate, with the dog in loud pursuit. What to do?  What to do?….Throw something, and try to kill the rat….Can’t be a jar, or I’ll be cleaning up glass shards and pickled beet juice for weeks….A can! What can??  A can of soup?  Too small!  Chunky soup – the cans are twice as big and heavy.

I grabbed a large can, and watched as the rat leaked through a hole on the other side of the plastic crate. The fat little f**ker eased under a storage cabinet on casters, popped out the other side, and headed for the shelves on the other side of the room.

I flung the soup can at him, and caught him below the shoulder blades. Apparently the can wasn’t heavy enough, or I didn’t fling it hard enough.  Hurt, but possibly not damaged, he changed direction and scuttled into the corner behind the water softener and refrigerator….

….and all the while, my cat sat serenely on the freezer, calmly watching the rat disappear. We may have to have a discussion about the fine points of his contract.  It’s been two weeks since I added the glue trap to the two others and found that the son had lost a bag of Oreos.  Who knew??  Next he’ll be down there makin’ S’mores.

Google says that a rat can live for 2 to 5 years. This Chubby Cheese-me-off could outlive me.  Have any of you had mice or rats that you couldn’t get rid of?  Any suggestions – or sympathy?   😛

P.S.

The cats occasionally climb the shelves, and get onto the air ducts above the rec-room suspended ceiling, and play chase.  Two weeks after the above, I was quietly reading, and a chase began in the basement.

Who’s chasing who today?  Contessa’s upstairs.  Zorra’s in my lap.  Tonka’s sleeping on the couch.  Mica’s redeeming himself by chasing the rat!  Go Mica, go!  Two days later I heard faint scratching on one side of the ceiling, but nothing since, and I find no further evidence of any more food broken into.  I cross my fingers (and toes, and even my eyes) and hope.

A To Z Challenge – A

 

Challenge2017

Another year – another Challenge.  Is it April again, already??  I guess I have to start with

Letter A

I was thinking about doing a series about animals from A to Z, Ants to Zebras, but I discovered that, if it didn’t involve gravy or barbecue sauce, I didn’t really know much about animals.

I also considered a themed series about rock groups, from AC/DC, to ZZ Top, but when I got to the bottom, with the Top, I decided that the post would be about Assholes.

On the old WKRP In Cincinnati TV show, the character of Les Nessman had to do the sports reporting without knowing anything about sports.  He insisted on calling the golfer Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Chai Chai Rod-rig-weez.

When ZZ Top was still tooling around the airwaves in their Eliminator, whether through honest ignorance, or just an attempt to prove the ‘We’re Canadian, Eh’, a local asshole DJ always introduced them as Zed Zed Top.  American is a ‘foreign language’, just as much as Spanish is.  Learn to use it and pronounce it correctly!

Despite every other radio DJ making it sound like ‘Jamaica,’ a recently promoted female announcer missed the apostrophe, and the double entendre joke, and introduced Led Zeppelin’s song, D’yermaker, as ‘dyer maker.’   The Mr. Big candy bar ads used to claim, “When you’re this big, they call you Mr.”  When you’re this clueless, they call you Mr. Asshole.

Now you know my ABCs will be coming at you for another year. 😳