’19 A To Z Challenge – Q

AtoZ2019letter-q

 

 

 

 

 

 

I once lived next door to a bootlegger.

Now that I’ve put up the attention-grabbing click-bait for the WordPress reader, this post will be about

QUILTS

and a bunch of other things. Wear your hiking shoes. This will be a longer trek than usual.

Mennonite

I live in the middle of Mennonite territory. With no TV, quilting is a way of life, and financial support. When I first came to town, I lived for about a year and a half, in a boarding house, run by a New Order Mennonite woman. She bought it with, “a settlement from my husband.” Like a lady’s age, I never asked if it was through death or divorce.

It was not unusual, especially in the winter, to come home to find the table pushed over to the edge of the huge, old kitchen, and four tiddly women, – her, her mother, and two friends from up the street – a couple of empty, home-made elderberry wine bottles and four crystal sherry glasses, in front of a quilting frame.

My father used to go out for 2 or 3 hours in the evenings, Monday to Friday. Back before TV, my mother made me a quilt, all by herself, with no frame. It kept me warm in bed, in our old, drafty, hard-to-heat house. How I wish I still had it! She also used to take threadbare clothing and bed sheets, tear them in strips, braid them into a ‘rope,’ and sew it together into an oval floor mat, to keep my feet warm on cold mornings.

The old lady’s house was at the bottom of a steep, block-long hill. There was a stop sign, at a one-way street. With the main street easily visible, a short block ahead, surprising numbers of drivers just didn’t stop. We had an accident a week, and a serious accident every month.

My brother rented parking on a tiny driveway on the uphill side. He left to go home one summer Friday afternoon. He had not been gone an hour, when there was a screech, and a huge crash. I looked out my front window, to see a car parked in his spot – upside-down.

The old lady complained about having to rake, and clean leaves out of the eaves trough, from the two stout Maple trees that stood on either side of the front door. I asked why she didn’t have them taken down. She replied, “Have you seen the scars on those trees??! If they weren’t there, one of those cars would be in your bedroom.”

It was a rough section of town back then – drunks, druggies, hookers. A prospering bootlegger lived the other side of the one-way street. One evening he accompanied a good customer out to the sidewalk – just as there was another terrific car crash, only, this time, the upside-down car was deflected his way, and crushed him.

Recently, with the installation of the LRT street railroad, and urban renewal, that old, brick, century-home has been turned into a Pupuseria, an El Salvadoran restaurant serving meat-and-cheese stuffed corn pancakes. I went in one day, to see if it was worth taking the wife to, and got into a conversation with the owner. (Of course I did!)

I mentioned that I had lived across the street, a half-century before, and told him about the bootlegger and his death. A little light went on. When they were moving in, and had to clean out the basement for their own storage, there had been hundreds of empty beer, wine, and liquor bottles.

Quilt 1

But, back to the quilts. The local Mennonites have organized a Mennonite Relief Committee to raise money for less fortunate Mennonites, especially in South America. They have a second-hand, recycling store, but their biggest money-maker is the annual spring quilt auction.

Quilt 3 (2)

Well-to-do people come from all over the world to bid, both in person, and now, online. These quilts draw fabulous prices, especially the winner of the judging contest, which can go for $10,000 or more.

Quilt 2
This year’s featured quilt at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale, Little Brown Church, has been described as a giant puzzle with more than 3,000 pieces.

Quilting

Adoption III

We just accepted three refugees into our home.

Adoption

After parents, Mama Garden Gnome, and Papa Garden Gnome, were killed in a freak riding-mower accident, my son generously offered to take in their orphaned sons.

Poor Larry is still horrified at the sight, and is covering his eyes. Shemp hears their screams, and covers his ears, while Moe thinks that he might throw up from the gore, and is covering his mouth.

The Three Stooges

Please note that these boys are genuine, Purebred Garden Gnomes ©, not to be confused with those grape-flavored, animated impersonators, The Smurfs. Smurfs are aptly named. As an adjective ‘smurf’ means illegal/trouble-making/untrustworthy. As a verb, it means con/scam/bamboozle.

As a noun, a smurf is a money-launderer, particularly one who breaks down large amounts of illicit money, into smaller, un-noticed amounts. The next time you see Papa Smurf – that shiny thing on his vest isn’t a gold button, it’s a Bitcoin pin – deceitful little investment broker. 🙄  Our new foster-sons wouldn’t do anything like that. They are honest and upstanding – in the flower garden.

Smurfs are Smurfs in every country except Germany. In Germany, they are called ‘Strumpfs,’ which means ‘stockings.’ I found that out one day, as I was pursuing The Last of The Mohicans. The pioneer explorers of the dense northern New York forests were known as leather-stockings – lederstrumpfs, in German. They used animal hide – usually deer skin – to make tough coverings for their legs, to protect from rattlesnakes, broken branches, brambles, briars, and poison ivy and sumac. There’s none of that in our gardens.

Adoption 2
(There are some Stooge sets that are so garish, even the son won’t buy them.)

A Humor Test—See How You Do

Divorces………………..Not yet….
Children………………….2
Surgeries………………..I didn’t know there was going to be a test. I didn’t study. Let’s see…. Tonsils, hernia, shoulder, same eye twice…. Makes 5 – so far, with one little laser touch-up to come.
Piercings………………..1, an ear stud, that a dog pulled out, and has now grown over
Tattoos………………….0 – chicken-shit procrastinating
Shot a gun………………yes – Hell Yes, rifles, shotguns, pistols – May I have some more please?
Quit a job………………..yes, 18 months after I didn’t get my 3-month probationary raise
Ever been on TV………..no – well, maybe CCTV, but I was never identified. I’ve been mentioned on radio several times.
Been in a fist fight……No! Getting in a fist-fight just proves how stupid, unprepared, drunk, and/or testosterone-fuelled you are.
Hit a deer………………..No. I fed a few deer that almost climbed into the back seat of the car, in a Provincial Park.
Watched someone give birth……..I barely showed up for the conception. That’s someone else’s job.
Watched someone die……not quite – recently visited a sister-in-law in a hospice – she died the next day.
Ridden in an ambulance……….yes, the day I fell off my motorcycle and smashed my shoulder
Visited Las Vegas……no – I’m poor, and Canadian. I’ve visited Niagara Falls, it’s kinda Vegas-Lite
Sang karaoke………….no – I don’t frequent bars, especially karaoke bars.
Rode a Jet Ski…………no – I was young and stupid daring before jet skis were invented. I have walked on water with 2 large Styrofoam ‘boots.’ I’ve run an 8-foot hydroplane boat up and down a river. I’ve helmed a 22-foot catamaran for 5 minutes in calm, lake water, and piloted a 4-seater plane for 15 minutes, managing to keep it in a clear sky. I’ve also piloted several snowmobiles, both in virgin snow, and on hard-packed trails.
Ice skating……………..yes, of course. This is Canada. We’re born with skates on.
Surfing…………………… yes and no – Never with a surfboard, but I’ve body-surfed 8-foot rollers coming in off Lake Huron after a big storm.
Ridden on a motorcycle…………yes, a dozen or more, both as a passenger, and as the rider, including 5 of my own.
Stayed in a hospital…… yes – The visit after I fell off my motorcycle and had my bionic shoulder installed.   It was supposed to be a quick three-day stay. I was trying to man through the pain, but my wife and daughter both urged me to use the pain-pump, because they thought that it held Demerol. It didn’t! It was morphine sulphate, which lowered my normally low blood pressure even farther. After three days on my back, I crawled out of the bed to get dressed, and sank to the floor. I was sentenced to another three days, while they subjected me to every test to find out why.
Ridden in back of police car ……………no – I have voluntarily entered police cars, both in the front, and the back, but was always allowed to walk away. One night, I sat in the back with a cat-and-dog (him/her) team, giving a report about a theft from a car in a hotel parking structure. I was offered a beer from a six-pack on the floor in the front.

Now u know everything – or as much as I’m willing to fabricate admit.

Copy & paste, then change with your own answers.

This was interesting, nosy, and a better way to get to know a blogger on a personal basis than most of the other lists. This is more like an eye test after my second eye operation. If it was a test to find the humor in it, then I have failed. C’mon, have a go! I’m particularly interested in the responses to ‘Ridden in the back of a police car.’   🙄

 

An Irish 911 Call

St. Patricks

An Irish woman was cleaning her husband’s rifle, and it accidently went off and shot him.

Irish woman: It’s me fooken husband, I’ve accidently shot him, I’ve fooken killed him.
Operator: Please calm down ma’am. First make sure that he is actually dead.
‘Click’ BANG
Irish woman: Okay, I’ve taken care of that. What next?

***

Paddy thought his new girlfriend might be ‘The One,’ but after snooping through her underwear drawer, and finding a nurse’s outfit, a French maid’s outfit, and a policewoman’s uniform – he decided that, if she can’t hold down a job, she’s not for him.

***

Paddy and Murphy are on a holiday, and are running out of money. They see a sign that reads, “Challenge! Spend 10 minutes in a room with a million flies, and win £200.”

Murphy goes in first, and spends 1 minute in the room, before running out yelling, “Fuck that! I couldn’t do it. Them flies was in my mouth, and I couldn’t breathe. You’ll never do it Paddy.”

Paddy says, “No sweat Murph. Get me in there.”

So, Paddy goes into the room and spends the full 10 minutes in there, and then comes out….

Murphy says, “Fucking Hell, Paddy! How did you do it?”

Paddy says, “Easy! I shit in one corner, and sat in the other.”

***

Paddy and Murphy are at the airport, waiting for a flight.
Paddy says, “I wish I brought the TV.”
Murphy says, “Why, are ya bored?”
Paddy responds, “No, the passports are sitting on it.”

***

An Irishman went to the liquor store yesterday on his bike

He bought a bottle of whiskey and put it in the bicycle basket. As he was about to leave, he thought to himself that if he fell off the bicycle, the bottle would break, so he drank all the whiskey before he cycled home. It turned out to be a good decision because he fell off his bike seven times on the way home. Imagine what would’ve happened to the bottle.

***

Paddy is painting his lounge. His wife walks in and can’t believe the good job that he’s doing, but the sweat is just dripping off him.
She says, ”Why are you wearing a leather jacket, and a parker?”
He replies, “Helloooo… Read the fuckin’ tin. It says for better coverage, put two coats on.”

***

I was in an Irish couple’s home trying to fix their Internet connection. The husband called out to his wife in the other room for the computer password. “Start with a capital S, then 123,” she shouted back.

We tried S123 several times, but it didn’t work. So we called the wife in. As she input the password, she muttered, “I really don’t know what’s so difficult about typing Start123.”

***

 

What’s the difference between an Irish wedding, and an Irish wake?
One less drunk.

 

Good Manners

Smart Phone

Hey you! With the cell phone! – Put that damned thing down in public. I don’t want to sound old, but…. I think the more ‘I’ and ‘me’ we become, the ruder and more disrespectful we become. We’re so full of ourselves that there isn’t much space left for consideration for others.

The bottom line is that unless someone is giving out their credit card information (in which case I need them to speak slowly and enunciate clearly so I can write it down), I don’t want to hear their phone conversations when I’m in a public place.

A person should be able to sit with themselves quietly for a few minutes, without having a phone. You might be surprised at how satisfying it is to be silent, or to be mindful of yourself. There are few enough phone-free zones left in the world – saunas, bathrooms, airplanes. With all the sonic and electronic pollution today, I think that we should work at creating more bubbles of silence – blessed silence.

I know I’m hopelessly old fashioned and not a big believer in multi-tasking, but I still feel that when a person is driving a car, that is all they should actually be doing:  driving the car.  They should not be texting, putting on eye-liner, eating their dinner, or stirring their coffee.  Yes, all of those things can be important, but they aren’t important enough to risk someone’s life in a car accident – theirs, or mine.  They just aren’t.

And at the risk of stating the obvious, I firmly believe that personal business should actually be kept personal.  I don’t believe that social media is the appropriate setting for family conflicts, neighborhood feuds, failing marriages, or imploding friendships.  We all tend to say (or write) things that we shouldn’t in those situations, so why make it worse by doing so in front of the whole world?  These days, privacy seems to be little more than a quaint idea, but I truly believe that not every single detail of our lives needs to be shared. 👿

 

She Blinded Me With Science

Scalpel

I just hired a guy to stab me in the eye!  😯

It all started so innocently.  I visited my Optometrist for my yearly checkup.  I rather like it when a good-looking woman stares deeply into my eyes…. just not when she uses a quarter of a million dollars worth of equipment that looks like it escaped from a nuclear power station.

I have developed a film over both retinas, like a crinkly sheet of Saran, which blurs my vision a bit.  Worse, it contracts, and lifts the retina, changing the focus depth, especially at the fovea – the most sensitive part.  It’s only going to slowly get worse.

Suddenly, I had a referral to an Optical Surgeon in the Eye Clinic of St. Joseph’s Hospital portion of the University of London (Ontario), a 90 minute drive away.  There is a local surgeon who does this operation here, at St. Mary’s Hospital, but both my Optometrist, and my Ophthalmologist swear that the London facility, and my ‘new guy’, are the best in Canada.

We drove down for an examination and consultation – and I have seen the light – in all intensities, and from all angles.  It is important that I maintain my sight as long as possible.  The wife retains her driver’s licence, just in case, but her vision is worse than mine.  The Optometrist says that she is still a way from having it suspended for vision – and that scares the Hell out of me.  There are people out there, still driving, with vision worse than the wife’s??!  It may explain the plethora of accident-strewn intersections in this town.

An afternoon’s worth of tests revealed that this condition in my left eye is actually worse than the right, but, in the right, there is deterioration of the light receptor cells near the fovea, therefore I would get more benefit from having the right eye operated on first.

Facing having someone cut into your body creates enough mental trauma, even when it’s necessary.  I do have a bionic shoulder, and more recently, a hernia patch support.  Thinking about somebody cutting into your eye takes a bit more getting used to.

My lady pharmacist said that I sounded very matter-of-fact, when I told her how the surgeon would open the side of the eye, carefully remove the optical gel, strip off this befuddling film, and put the little 3D puzzle all back together.

Once the decision has been made, I have to accept it.  It’s not something that I look forward to, but I plan on living another 20 years.  I don’t want to have to spend any portion of it unable to read or blog, or housebound because I can’t drive.

Besides, I’ll be unconscious while it’s all happening…. 😯  And then the surgeon casually remarked that, “It’ll be done under local anesthetic.”  SCREECH!  BANG!  WHAT??!  What if I twitch?  They’ll tape and eye-patch the left eye closed, and inject something to immobilize the optical muscles.  They’re going to use one of those things from the movie, A Clockwork Orange, to hold the eye open.

eyes-2

Simulation only.  I probably won’t look anywhere near this calm.

What if my head moves?  They stick it in a padded vice.  Also, I’ll be given a strong sedative, beforehand.  Ahhh, good.  Me and drugs get along real well.  If this is anything like the time they stuck a periscope up my ass, I’ll probably sleep through it all, peacefully.

This is all tentatively scheduled for some time in the New Year.  I’ll keep the less queasy of you informed, while I can still see to type.  If the first one works out as well as we all hope and expect, they’ll do the other side 6 to 8 weeks later.  You can wish me luck if you’d like, but please don’t pray for me.  😀

Click to hear Thomas Dolby tell how it all happened.

White Cane

Alright, Let’s See What’s Left

Lefty

Well, this is

AWKWARD

In this episode of, We Hate You Because You’re Different” we look at ‘handedness’.

  1. lacking skill or dexterity.

Synonyms: clumsy, inept; unskillful, unhandy, inexpert.

Antonyms: deft, adroit, skillful, dexterous; handy.

lacking grace or ease in movement: an awkward gesture;

an awkward dancer.

Synonyms: uncoordinated, graceless, ungainly; gawky; maladroit; clumsy.

Antonyms: graceful.

lacking social graces or manners:

a simple, awkward frontiersman.

Synonyms: gauche, unpolished, unrefined; blundering, oafish; ill-mannered, unmannerly, ill-bred.

Antonyms: gracious; polite, well-mannered, well-bred; smooth, polished, refined. 4.

not well planned or designed for easy or effective use: an awkward instrument;

an awkward method.

Synonyms: unwieldy, cumbersome, unmanageable; inconvenient, difficult, troublesome.

requiring caution; somewhat hazardous:

an awkward turn in the road.

Synonyms: dangerous, risky, unsafe, chancy; perilous, precarious, treacherous.

hard to deal with; difficult; requiring skill, tact, or the like: an awkward situation;

an awkward customer.

embarrassing or inconvenient; caused by lack of social grace:

an awkward moment.

Synonyms: unpleasant, trying, difficult; uncomfortable, ticklish, touchy.

It comes from an Old Norse word that means ‘turned the wrong way,’ always with the implication of somehow being in error.

I backed into this word and its myriad definitions, from ‘maladroit,’ above. There is not a synonym above which is not negative, judgemental, and/or insulting.  The word ‘gauche’ in French, means ‘left.’  The only one that seems to be missing is the opposite for dexter/dexterous, which means right.  Its opposite is ‘sinister.’

Southpaws in today’s modern society are three times as likely to have a home or work-related accident. Everything from can-openers to computer mice are designed for use by right-handed people.  Only British lefties, driving floor-shift cars, gain an advantage.

The antipathy toward left-handed people is still surprisingly strong, and has been going on for millennia. (Most of) the Jews have been brought into the 20th Century on this issue.  Being faced with a lefty can get a Muslim’s panties turban in a knot.  If only we could get the Little Sheet-Head Arabs at least into the 9th.

If you sit with a Muslim, and cross your left leg over your right, pointing your left foot toward him, he is insulted. The Koran is strongly specific, even about which hand you can use to wipe your ass.  It also details what 1200-year out-of-date material you must use to wipe it with.  The modern, educated, observant, Muslim businessman’s washroom is liberally supplied with fresh burdock leaves.

The lengths to which some (religious) people will go, to prevent Us from becoming like Them, can be sadly amusing.  During the Middle Ages – also correctly known as the Dark Ages – Christians didn’t bathe….because Jews did.