This Ain’t No Dang Instagram

This is not Instagram, but an incredible simulation!

This past Sunday, with COVID’s permission, we had the entire family over to film another episode of Smitty’s Loose Change.  It was a delayed Easter, and an advance celebration of the great-grandson’s birthday, which is today.  (Oops!  Got my publishing dates mixed up.  It was yesterday.)

The culinary centerpiece was our version of a Black Forest cake.  Everybody eats – everybody helps.  Since the grand-daughter-in-law has come to love the base cake, and since it evades the grandson’s food allergies, she has learned to bake the spelt-flour/dark chocolate/mayonnaise cake.

The wife mixed up the whole-cherry sauce for it.  The grandson whipped the cream, fine-shredded a block of dark chocolate to sprinkle on it, and plated and served to everyone in the living room after dinner, while I wowed the crowd with my fantastic fork-work.

The daughter sent along some food for thought.

The grandson brought two 25 cent coins for my collection, from the East Caribbean States.  Canadian vending machines will reject American quarters because they are the wrong size and weight.  They cannot tell the difference between these and Canadian quarters though, which is how he got two of them in change.

The Grandson’s path from the bus stop to his housing complex, is along a community trail.  He spotted a piece of fluttering paper, and also brought a Nigerian 100 Naira note.  I did my usual money laundering, using warm water and liquid hand soap, getting rid of skin oils, dust, and COVID viruses.  Then I ironed it smooth and flat.  I have African bills from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and South Africa.  This was a welcome addition.

When I told the grandson that I had somehow lost the pictures of the stone cat for my The Year In Photos post, he riffled through his Smart phone, found them from 9 months ago, and emailed them to me again.  No excuses this time.  I claimed that I almost stepped on it, but the owner actually had it up on a porch railing, in the sun, much like a real cat.

At last, the star of the show, the closing act, the birthday boy himself, great-grandson, Rowan.  We thought that he might be getting Italian or Scottish red hair.  In a certain light, it seems that there is a slight, reddish cast to it, but in strong light, it shines a golden brown.  The women took another in, what apparently is going to become a tradition, a photo of four generations of males – me, the son, the grandson, and Rowan – showing how he develops, and the rest of us deteriorate, over the years.  😉

April, and this BEDA act, are rapidly drawing to a close.  Thanx for joining in the fun.  I’m going to slow down to my usual schedule again next week.  I have to!  One of the wheels on my walker has jammed.  😳

The Year In Photos

Inspiration strikes – when Inspiration strikes.  This ‘Year,’ will begin and end on March 1.  Hang onto your seats!  Here we go.  The theme will be Chaos And Confusion.  I’ll be Chaos, if you’ll handle the confusion.

March 1/21 – the monthly Costco visit

COVID masks, COVID masks
COVID all the way
(To the tune of Jingle Bells)

March 8 –

We washed the son’s work jacket…. And his 10 year old flip-phone.
Might be the origin of the term “Clean and Jerk

March 15 –

The wife’s last visit to a Physiotherapist, for a pulled back muscle.
My last cold wait outside – here.

March 22

The neighbors’ version of Groundhog Day.  Canadian weather changes quickly in the spring.

March 29

It’s Ours!  It’s Ours!  It’s Ours!
Paid off a 25-year mortgage in just over 17 years.  Can’t decide how to celebrate – McDonalds for a sundae strains the entertainment budget.

April 5

Here we go round the Mulberry bush
Hardly a bush, this young tree was 6’ – as tall as the Grandson – when we planted it five years ago.  The winter’s snows have all disappeared.  Soon I will have to mow my back yard again.

Week of April 12

The daughter and I got some COVID freedom and fresh air when I drove her to a dental appointment.  During the wait, I rewarded myself with a visit to the second-best French fries outlet – on the other side of town.  Finally open for the season at Easter, in a freestanding ex-Dairy Queen building.

W/O April 19

With a great-grandson on the way, the wife went into nesting mode.  She knitted a 36” X 48” crib blanket.  The checkerboard pattern is ‘Wee Bean,’ for our oncoming wee bean.

W/O April 26

Step on a crack – Break your Mother’s back
I’ll set you straight.
A visit to our Chiropractor.  Just another on the long list of our medical specialists.

W/O May 3

Our magnolia bush.  Its blossoms only last a couple of days, but it’s gorgeous while it lasts.  Usually it is completely covered in blooms, but a late-April freeze and snowstorm delayed/killed about half the flowers.

W/O May 10

A shopping trip past the new Google building, erected on the bones of my old auto-parts plant.

W/O May 17

Took the wife and daughter to Podiatrist, in a renovated Century-house.
At least the COVID wait outside was getting warmer.

W/O May 24

A visit to the daughter, held up by the new LRT Street Railway.  It sure holds up a lot of non-PC, car traffic, while it transports a half-dozen eco-friendly hipsters.

W/O May 31

When I finally get past that damned street railroad, this is the daughter’s single-level, handicap townhouse apartment.

W/O June 7

She doesn’t rub me the wrong way.
The ‘Happy Ending’ at our massage therapist is loosened computer-shoulders.
Dolly Parton once said that it cost a lot of money, to look that cheap.
It is fortunate that it’s my retirement benefits package which pays so much, to keep us in good physical shape.

W/O June 14

A free, origami Lotus blossom, picked up at our Multicultural festival, before COVID struck.  It represents peace and tranquility – I need all I can get.

W/O June 21

A trip to our out-of-town Vet, past 1920s Commemorative ‘Pioneer Tower,’ to recall the 1820s arrival of Pennsylvania Dutch/ German immigrants

W/O June 28

The best French fry wagon in town.  Sure looks permanent, for a trailer.  Hello delicious.  Goodbye diet – and I found a new little knife.  See Look Sharp

W/O July 1

To celebrate Canada Day on July 1, the son adopted an immigrant.  It crawled over the remains of Trump’s wall, shouting, “To Hell with Dia de los Muertos, I’m here for the Maple syrup.”

W/O July 8

The replacement building at the nearby Farmers’ Market for the wooden structure that burned, five years ago.

W/O July 15

The nearby branch of the city library.  With up to 5000 total books per day located, moved and curbside delivered, these folks were local heroes, getting me and many others through the lockdown.

W/O July 22

My 1952 print dictionary, which I am giving up for digital.  2000 pages for $20.00 – purchased at a country schoolyard flea-market in 1972, in Mar Ontario – population 4.

July 25

The wife and I finally got our second COVID vaccination.  That’s one infection you don’t need to worry about contracting from me.

W/O Aug. 5

 

Ex-Public Utilities Commission building which handled the 20th Century electrification of Kitchener, and eventually   became the Grandson’s Starbucks.

W/O Aug. 12
*

A lovely, hand-made glass flower that the daughter gave us.  I stuck it in a planter on the back deck.  Storm winds turned it slightly.  The neighbors worried that we’d installed a security camera – facing them.

W/O Aug. 19

I helped the grandson pick up a new chair for his mother, and almost stepped on this cat.
(It was a carved stone cat which we both thought was real  The photo may be added later…. if I can just find it.)  😛

W/O Aug. 26

Perhaps the most boring week of my life – not that I’m complaining.  At my age, boring is good.  The most exciting thing that happened was my newspaper got delivered.

W/O Sept 14


I discovered that my Lilac bush was growing crab-apples, which I could make crab-apple jelly with.

W/O Sept 21

I did it! I lasted long enough to celebrate my 77th birthday.  We voted in a Federal election the day before.  I did not get the present of a new Prime Minister – one who wasn’t a spoiled trust-fund baby.

W/O Oct 11

Canadian Thanksgiving.  COVID restrictions on group size had been relaxed, and all of us had had two vaccine shots.  We were all able to gather for a family meal, with the GREAT-grandson (above) as the honored guest.

W/O Nov. 8

COVID19 is going down for the count.  The Americans let vaccinated Canadians into the country – but the Canadian bureaucrats insisted on a $200 test to get back into Canada. Soon, Galleria and Boulevard Mall, soon.

W/O Nov. 15

Spring has sprung – Fall has fell – and there’s 6 inches of Partly Cloudy on my Canadian deck.  I published this photo a few years ago, but it’s become ritual with this home-owner.  This year’s version is indistinguishable.

W/O Nov. 22

Those who do not learn from the mistakes of history, are doomed to repeat them.
George Santayana

Dec. 2

The relaxation of COVID19 restaurant restrictions allowed us to go to Red Lobster to celebrate our 54th wedding anniversary.

W/O Dec. 5

And the lion shall lie down with the lamb
With our three cats and two dogs, our Vet wonders if they get along with each other.

W/O Dec. 12

Two weeks ago, I took two quarters from a pay phone slot.  Last week I found a dime in a change-counter machine overflow.  This week I found 61 pennies, because the machines are now set to eject them.  15 of them were American – which went in our We’ll get to Detroit for a weekend shopping after COVID, fund.

W/O Dec. 25

At a COVID-permitted family Christmas gathering, I found some strange man holding my GREAT-grandson Rowan back, to keep him from lunging at the camera.

W/O Jan. 3

Well, here’s another fine year we’ve got ourselves into. (Laurel and Hardy – here’s another fine mess) Survive, or submit, it’s up to us to make the best of it.

W/O Jan. 10

We don’t have enough knives in this house, so we adopted yet another, which came back to the son’s plant in an ‘empty’ shipping container.

W/O Jan. 17

To get our third COVID (booster) shot, we had to go downtown, to the recently-ex Regional Municipal Building.  Are more COVID and booster shots still in the future??  Will this never end?

Jan. 31

I think I can.  I think I can.
I thought I could.  I thought I could.
Slow and steady wins the race.
After ten+ years, I published 1500 posts.

W/O Feb. 19

COVID restrictions relaxed – again, just in time to book a reservation to celebrate the wife’s 73rd birthday.  Dining was at half capacity.  Our timing was perfect.  Everyone else found out about it, and the NEXT DAY you couldn’t get a table at gunpoint.  😯

March 1/22

*

So we end the year right where we began it – at Costco – only a little closer to free food samples again.

Thanx for strolling through a year in my life – lotsa good readin’, if ya like pitchers.  I will be purveying prose on Friday.  C U then.  😀

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things

I give all credit for the idea of this post to the late journalist Sydney J. Harris, who would occasionally include something he called “Things I Learned While Looking Up Other Things” in his syndicated column.

This is a post about words and phrases. These are my building blocks, so they’re something I’m always interested in.  You understand the sometimes frustrating task of trying to find the correct word or phrase.

Occasionally, I’ll read or type words that I may understand in the context in which I’m seeing or using them, but will suddenly realize that I’m not certain where the words or phrases originated.

In this amazing Computer Age, I can afford a few minutes of distraction to investigate them further.

Right off the bat — As expected, the phrase “right off the bat,” meaning “immediately; at once; without delay” is a sports metaphor that has been traced back to the late 1880s with that usage. I just made the assumption that the sport was baseball—and it probably is—but some suggest that it may have originated with cricket (as baseball did).

Nitpicker — The word nitpicker means someone who finds faults, however small or unimportant, everywhere they look. We all know someone like that. If we don’t, it’s probably us. The word itself is relatively new, from about 1950 or so. It comes from the idea of picking nits (or lice eggs) out of someone’s hair. A nitpicker is as meticulous about finding faults as a literal nitpicker should be at finding each louse egg. Yes, it’s kind of a disgusting word origin, which is why nitpicker has negative connotations.

Top-notch — We know that top-notch means “excellent” or “of the highest quality.” But, what are its origins? It seems that no one really knows. It first appeared suddenly in its current usage in the mid-19th century. It has been suggested that it originated from one of several tossing games imported from Scotland that required a player to throw a weighted object over a horizontal bar. The best score would be when the bar was in the “top notch,” naturally. This sounds reasonable, but it’s really just a guess. Other guesses have it relating to logging, with the best lumberjacks able to cut from the highest notches, or some such thing. Another had something to do with candles and courting, but that’s been mostly debunked. Bottom line: we don’t know.

Since Hector was a pup* — Meaning “for a long time.” I can’t say this is exactly a regional colloquialism, although I heard it the first (and only) time from some guy in South Carolina. He said that it was something his dad always said, and, in the context it was used, the meaning was obvious.  Best guess, according to Internet sources, is that it is referring to the Trojan War hero Hector, since the phrase originated during a time when people were more well-versed in the classics. And that was, indeed, a long time ago.

Hemming and hawing — The phrase means to hesitate to give a definite answer. It dates back to the 1400s and is echoic in nature. A more modern interpretation would be “um-ing and er-ing” probably, with “um” and “er” being common filler sounds in hesitant speech. I always assumed it had something to do with either sewing or sailing. I was mistaken.

Gamut — I used the word “gamut,” knowing that its definition meant the complete range or scope of something. My actual sentence began “our entertainment choices run the gamut from …” But, where did the word “gamut” come from? It turns out that gamut originally meant “lowest note in the medieval musical scale” and it was a contraction of Medieval Latin gamma ut, from gamma, the Greek letter indicating a note below A, plus ut (later called do (as in “do re mi”), the low note on the six-note musical scale. So the word gamut was originally all about music, but later morphed into meaning “the whole musical scale,” or, figuratively, “the entire range or scale” of anything. Its first usage in this manner can be traced to the 1620s.

Honeymoon — The word and concept of the honeymoon owes more than a little to alcohol (as do some weddings: but, I digress—). The medieval tradition of drinking honeyed wine for a full moon cycle after a wedding was supposed to ensure a fruitful union between the new bride and groom. I guess Champagne is a modern-day analogue to honey wine.

Throwback — It means a person or thing that is similar to something of an earlier type or time. It was already in use with more or less the current definition in the mid-19th century. It is a combination of the verb “throw” and the adverb “back.” I can’t find a more pithy origin story for the word, even apocryphal stories that have been debunked. I was sure it would have its origin in the sport of fishing.

Venting your spleen — This particular idiom means “to express your anger.” From medieval times until the 19th century, the spleen—an organ in the body near the stomach—was thought to be the source of the “humors” that caused the emotion of anger. This is a colorful and archaic phrase. I contracted hepatitis as a 12-year-old.  (My mother called it jaundice, because I turned a lovely yellow/orange color from all the excess bile in my system.  I couldn’t keep food or drink down for two weeks, and lost 20 pounds – not a good thing on a skinny, stick-thin kid.)  But, I digress— anyway, my spleen was swollen while I had jaundice. I don’t recall being angry, but I did throw up a lot.

One to grow on — I thought an origin for this idiom would be easy to find, but it remains mostly a mystery.  When you had a birthday, it was a tradition to receive your birthday spanking by your friends or family, with the flat of the hand or with a paddle or belt. One person on-line said the birthday person would be “lightly paddled.” They didn’t live anywhere near me. Anyway, you’d get one swat for each year of your age, and then one extra swat, called the “one to grow on.” It’s like the baker’s dozen of birthday-themed beatings. I still don’t know the origins. Here’s one guess: you say something “grows on” you to mean that you become accustomed to it. Is the birthday punishment tradition meant for you to get used to pain because that’s all adulthood has to offer you in the future? That’s a little bleak, but it will serve as a placeholder until someone can offer me a better explanation.

* * * * *

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things = TILWROT
Remember that!  
As a lover of words, I know I’ll keep collecting these. Plus, I’ll keep posting them, I’m sure.

*Actually…. My Mother used to say, “Since ‘Towser’ was a pup.”  Now I’m off to research ‘Towser.’  Lord knows what I’ll find.

 

Flash Fiction #246

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER

I never thought I’d say, ‘I wanna go back to work.’

It’s nice that the company arranged working remotely from home by computer, but, I want to go to the break room for a mug of the world’s worst coffee, or ruin my diet with a donut or cake – ‘cause it’s always someone’s birthday.  I miss the office gossip, politics, and resident weirdo.  I miss the water-cooler sports discussions, even if I hate sports.  I even miss breathe-on-you, Lecherous Lennie’s tales of barroom conquests – all the little things that used to irk me.

This “NEW NORMAL” is getting old, fast.

***

Want to join the Friday Fictioneers fun??  Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Flash Fiction #239

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS

He tried to raise his head from the floor, but someone had turned the gravity up.  He’d just lie here and ask Whatzizname, the jock, for assistance.  Whatzizname??!  What was his name?  This was silly.  He just got a bank statement….  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday dear…. Jerry.  Yeah, that was it – Jerry.

He vaguely recalled a frat-party that included beer-pong and tequila shooters.  He also remembered some nice man…. Dad – telling him to concentrate on his university studies, and not attend such bashes.  Right, Dad – when the bleeding in his eyes cleared up.

***

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

***

I credit 1950s/60s comedian, Shelly Berman with the inspiration for this cautionary tale.  Click here if you’d like to hear some classic comedy about The Morning After The Night Before.

Happy Birthday 75

Birthday Cake 75

Click below to hear

Swedish chef happy birthday

Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthdayyy dear Archon
Happy Birthday to me!

Happy or not, at my age, I’ll take any birthday that I can get. I almost can’t believe it. I’ve been hanging around this planet, making a pest of myself for ¾ of a century. I’ve seen Century 21 Real Estate become a reality. A 75th birthday is something special to be celebrated. Not everyone gets to do it. I don’t plan to repeat the feat, although a recent study proved that people born later in the year have a better chance of living to be 100.

I felt that an extra, out-of-normal-sequence post was justified. All contributions gratefully accepted. Cash and checks (cheques) would be nice, but I will happily settle for visits, views, likes and comments.

Dad & Danny
Early August 1960, Detroit (Ferndale) MI
I am the handsome one on the left, not quite 6.
The sulky one on the right is my 3-year-old brother.
I’ve come a long way, Baby.

For those who may not have seen it, HERE is a further explanation of how I got here.

Tombstone 2

Canadian Slang That Confuses Americans

Caesar

Caesar

Be careful if you order a Caesar from an American bartender; you might wind up with a salad. A Bloody Mary is the closest equivalent for our friends south of the border, but it’s just not the same.

Canadian tuxedo

A blue denim jacket when worn with a pair of blue jeans? That’s a Canadian tuxedo and we’re proud of it! Even our American friends love it: remember Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears at the 2001 American Music Awards?

Freezies

Freeze pops? We call ’em freezies! Which one is your favourite? Blue, red, orange, purple…

KD

Canadians love Kraft Dinner — so much so that we’ve shortened the only-in-Canada mac-and-cheese to two letters that will mystify Americans who don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

Parkade

Only in Canada is a parking garage called a parkade. Now to remember where we parked…

Hydro bill

Americans pay their utility bills or electric bills, Canadians pay hydro bills. And that hydro bill can be expensive, because Canadian cities have some of the worst winters.

Toboggan

Americans like to go sledding in the winter, but Canadians will always prefer tobogganing.

Timbit

The Tim Hortons’ Timbit has become utterly ingrained in Canadian culture. In the U.S.? Not so much. For our American friends: it’s a doughnut hole!

Tap

Americans turn on the faucet, but a Canadian gets water out of the tap.

Serviette

Why use a napkin when you can use something as fancy-sounding as a serviette?

Pencil Crayons

Pencil crayons

Pencil crayons are a distinctly Canadian term for coloured pencils.

Dart

Canadian slang for a cigarette, as in, “I’m heading out behind the dumpster to go have a dart.”

Dinged

In the U.S., cars get dinged. In Canada, it’s our wallets, as in, “I got dinged 90 bucks for that speeding ticket.”

Elastics

Rubber bands? In Canada we call them elastics.

Gong show

To Americans, “Gong Show” is an intentionally awful talent show hosted by a heavily disguised (and proudly Canadian!) Mike Myers. For us, the term “gong show” (sometimes shortened to “gonger”) is slang for anything that goes off the rails, a wild, crazy or just plain chaotic event.

Hang a Larry or Roger

Where an American in a car’s passenger seat would tell the driver to take a left, a Canadian would say to hang a Larry (or a Roger for a right turn).

Homo milk

Every Canadian knows that this is short for homogenized milk.  Evangelical American Christians need not worry.

Housecoat

The item of clothing Americans refer to as a bathrobe or (if they’re classy) a dressing gown is known to Canadians by its true name: the housecoat.

Chinook

An American might recognize the word as referring to a species of salmon or a type of Canadian military helicopter, but only a true Canadian knows a Chinook is an unseasonably warm wind that rises over the Rockies and heats up as it descends.

Champagne birthday

Americans are often surprised to learn that a champagne birthday refers to the date when you celebrate the birthday that equates to the date of your birth, such as celebrating your 28th birthday on the 28th of May.

Toque

A knit hat. Worn by everyone in winter and by hipsters over the summer.

Stag

A bachelor party. The female equivalent: stagette.

Keener

A brown-noser.

The letter Z

Americans pronounce it zee. Canadians pronounce it zed, much to the detriment of the “Alphabet Song.”

Knapsack

A backpack.

Washroom

Americans call it the ‘men’s room’ or ‘ladies’ room.’

Eavestroughs

Rain gutters. Our term sounds way cooler, eh?

Garburator

A garbage disposal unit found beneath a kitchen sink.

Runners

Any kind of athletic footwear.

Mickey

A 13-ounce (give or take) bottle of hard alcohol.

Gitch or gotch

A very classy term for men’s underwear.

Chocolate bar

Americans call it a candy bar, which seems weird. To us, gummy worms are candy, ya know?

Processed cheese

American Cheese. Make your own joke here.

Humidex

Measurement used to gauge the combined effect of heat and humidity.

Two-four

A case of 24 beers. Cans or bottles: your choice!

Klick

Slang term for ‘kilometer.’

Chesterfield

A couch or sofa.

Kerfuffle

A scuffle or commotion, typically resulting from conflicting views.

Deke

To physically outmaneuver an opponent. Typically in hockey.

Pogie

Derived from slang from our Scottish friends, “pogie” means being on welfare or social assistance.

Molson muscle

A beer belly.

Head’r

To leave. Head out. Duck out. Get out of there. “The meatloaf was superb, mom, but we’ve gotta head’r.”

Snowbird

Typically, this means a retired Canadian who travels south for the winter. Usually to tacky parts of Florida or Arizona.

Rotten Ronnie’s / McDicks

Terms of ‘endearment’ for McDonald’s.

Booze can

An after-hours bar. They’re typically illegal, so shhhhh. Don’t tell your American friends.

Thongs

No, we’re not talking g-strings. Thongs are the casual style of footwear that you wear to the beach, the pool or the gym’s communal showers. Might still be known as flip-flops.

Give’r!

To really, truly go for it. All out. Pedal to the metal.

Loonie and toonie

The perfectly reasonable-sounding names of our one and two-dollar coins.

Soaker or booter

When you step in a puddle or snow bank and the water penetrates your poor unsuspecting shoes.

Double-double

A coffee with two milk and two sugar. Often ordered at Tim Horton’s.

If any of these confuse any Americans, don’t feel badly. Some of them are age-specific, or regional, and confuse the rest of us Canucks, too.

’18 A To Z Challenge – L

 

Challenge '18letter-l

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anything worth doing is….worth overdoing.
If you’re like the wife and I, when you reach our age, you’ll have too much of everything – except money.

The wife’s adopted totem is the

LADYBUG

which is why she used to blog under the pseudonym, GranmaLadybug.

We (she) have ladybugs of all sorts and sizes.  On the metallic whiteboard in the kitchen, where we write shopping lists and notes, she has 12 little-fingernail size magnetic ladybugs, along with a 1½ inch plastic one.  On the side of the filing cabinet in the computer room, there are 6 thumb-nail sized magnets.

The little timer in the laundry room is a 2-inch ladybug.  We have a 2-inch fabric one that is supposed to be a pin-cushion, but sits on a display shelf with other curios.  There’s a 3 inch wooden one, stuck to the fridge, and a 4 inch stained glass one on the wall above the computer.

I found a 3 inch plastic child’s toy one in a mall parking lot.  When you squeeze it, it lights up, and we hung a 4 inch framed cross-stitch version beside the kitchen whiteboard.  She has three sets of ladybug earrings, and a ladybug pendant necklace, some ladybug stickers, and a ladybug stamp that she adds to birthday cards and personal notes.

The grandson and fiancée bought her a wooden step-stool with painted ladybugs all over it.  She set up my new computer so that I click on an icon labeled Archon to fire it up, but she’s not fooling me.  There’s a ladybug above my name.  There used to be a 6 inch ladybug whirligig in the garden, but after years of exposure to plastic-destroying ultra-violet radiation, the madly spinning wings have disintegrated.

Aside from being cute, ladybugs are useful.  They eat things like aphids, which suck the sap out of the gardener-wife’s pretty flowers.  Until recently, all local ladybugs were a good solid red color.  Like the Asian zebra mussels which now infest the Great Lakes, and the Asian carp in the Chicago River, that we’re trying to keep out of the Great Lakes, we now have Asian ladybugs.  They’re more Crayola crayon orange.  If one should happen to land on you, they can give a nasty little bite.

When President Kennedy was assassinated, Texan VP, Lyndon Johnson took over, and we found that his wife was known as ‘Ladybird.’  I thought nothing of that cute name, but recently found that, especially in the Southern United States, it means the same as ‘Ladybug.’  In the heat of the South, they must grow them big, to call them ‘birds.’

I recently took an online IQ test.  I only scored 133, disappointingly below the 140 level needed to get me into Mensa.  Ahhh….I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group who would accept me as a member.  One of the ‘questions’ was a picture with the black outline of a Victorian woman in a bustled dress with a parasol.  Beside it was the black outline of a crow, or raven.  This represented….?  A: mammal, B: reptile, C: bird, D: insect.  Hmmm…a lady, and a bird.  I picked D: insect, because I speak a little Redneck.

I hope I haven’t bugged you with my Babylon babbling.  I hope to see you here again, soon.  😀

Offerings To Propitiate The Gods

Gods Our genial host, just back from an anger management class

Not that the lovely couple who we went to visit were actual Gods, but they had long since achieved that status with me.  Hell, anyone who doesn’t complain about my presence is nice.  Those who have the occasional kind word for or about me are saints.  And those who invite me into their home for an extended visit, are surely Gods.  Since we had to drive 500 miles of paved highways to meet them, they truly are The Gods Of Asphalt.

SDC10018A FEW of the son’s collection of skulls

3-D printers have become affordable for the average geek.  A son-in-law of the daughter’s friend acquired one, and started fooling around learning its secrets.  First, my son was given the larger, softball-sized skull.  It’s thermo-optic.  If sufficiently warmed, it changes from grey to white.  Later, the golf ball-sized, darker grey one was added.  They are all low-density plastic, and float like corks.

SDC10015

SDC10014

The son’s two skulls at the back – the two Voodoo, “Impeach Trump” skulls, going to DC, in front

My limited etiquette knowledge only told me that a Hostess gift was good manners – and one for the host might also be a good idea.  Our handsome host instructed me not to spend much money, and assured me that it was our presence that they valued, not presents.  Still…. a few gewgaws to demonstrate Canadian my twisted culture.

One of the pair collects skulls, like my son does.  I obtained another couple of the smaller ones.  I leave it to you to guess which one is the blood-thirsty spouse.

SDC10010

SDC10011Amethyst is supposed to foster peace and tranquility.  After adding skulls to the home of a skull-collector, and an ex-tank-driver, I felt that we needed all the tranquility we could get.  Since our host is Plus-sized, and his diminutive bride has trouble seeing over a garden hose, I brought a large chunk, and a smaller piece.

The best, darkest, amethyst now comes from Brazil, because most of the good stuff has been removed from mines just north of Lake Superior, in Ontario.  The daughter visited an online friend up there, a couple of winters ago.  She had just returned from a saved-for summer trip before we set out.  It is possible to walk the shores and occasionally find a good piece that a retreating glacier dug up, so these pieces were from both us, and from her.

SDC10007In return for throwing me a fabulous online birthday party, I once promised our hostess a 55-gallon drum of fresh, pure, Canadian maple syrup.  Of course, like most promises that men make to women, I wasn’t able to delivery anything that big.  Still, since our hosts had been so sweet to us, I felt compelled to bring along 2 liters (half a gallon for the non-metric Americans) of freshly-squeezed, Mennonite Maple Juice for them.  If you hear of an IHOP or Denny’s in the DC area going bankrupt, it’s because they aren’t going out for Sunday brunch till this is gone.

Actually, years of residence in New Hampshire has made her a bit of a syrup snob.  Like Florida has laws that translate, “Don’t f**k with the citrus, especially oranges.” Vermont also has strict rules against messing with the maples.  She would have requested some Maple syrup; but felt that it might be illegal to export.  Nobody asked me about maple syrup at the border, and she was thrilled to get the real stuff, cooking everyone blueberry pancakes the first morning.

SDC10650I told this little old guy that it was really important to me, and go out and squeeze his Maplest tree for my kind hosts.  He said that he would be happy to….  or maybe it was, ‘crazy English’…. something like that.  Coming up soon, a post about all the great stuff we brought back – aside from treasured memories, and happy hearts.

spacehounds-of-ipc

Since I have re-read them all over the last two years, and because our host is a great classic Sci-Fi fan, I offered him copies of every E.E. (Doc) Smith book that I possess, 24 out of the 25 that he wrote. Always a fan of Robert A. Heinlein’s works, I felt that he might appreciate obtaining copies of the seminal Space-Opera novels written by Heinlein’s mentor.

While I regard them as inexpensive paperbacks, many printed before he was born, he recognised their rarity, difficulty of obtaining, and the fact that they were collector’s items.  I usually don’t mind being kissed, just not by him.  Their value to me is that someone who really appreciates them, now possesses them. He said that he didn’t even know what order to read them in….and then found that I had obsessively boxed them up in chronological order.

Our deepest, sincere thanks to BrainRants and H E Ellis, two of the Titans of the blogosphere.

Fun With Lawyers

Lawyer

THIS IS WHY PEOPLE HATE ATTORNEYS

These are from a book called “Disorder in the Court” and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm and straight-faced while the exchanges were taking place.

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?

WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

______________________________ ______

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?

WITNESS: No, I just lie there.

______________________________ ______

ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?

WITNESS: July 18th.

ATTORNEY: What year?

WITNESS: Every year.

______________________________ _______

ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?

WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.

ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?

WITNESS: Forty-five years.

______________________________ _ _________

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his

sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?

WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

______________________________ ______

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?

WITNESS: He’s 20, very close to your IQ.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?

WITNESS: Are you shitting me?

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?

WITNESS: Yes.

ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?

WITNESS: Getting laid.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?

WITNESS: Yes.

ATTORNEY: How many were boys?

WITNESS: None.

ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?

WITNESS: Your Honor, I need a different attorney. Can I get a

new attorney?

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?

WITNESS: By death.

ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

WITNESS: Take a guess.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?

WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.

ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I’m going with male.

______________________________ _______

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant

to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?

WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

______________________________ ________

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you

performed on dead people?

WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: ALL of your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school

did you attend?

WITNESS: Oral.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?

WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM.

ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?

WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.

______________________________ ___________

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?

______________________________ ________

ATTORNEY: Just what did you do to prevent the accident?

WITNESS: I closed my eyes and screamed as loud as I could.

____________________________ __________

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you

check for a pulse?

WITNESS: No.

ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?

WITNESS: No.

ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?

WITNESS: No.

ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you

began the autopsy?

WITNESS: No.

ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?

WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive,

nevertheless?

WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and

practicing law.

***