Paper Or Plastic?

 

That used to be the question when grocery stores asked how you wanted your purchases packed. Now, here in Canada, it could be the question of how you want your change.

In my Funny Money post of about a year ago, I mentioned that Canada was switching over from paper money, to bills made of polymer plastic.  Working from the Hundred, they’ve finally changed all the bills over, down to the Five, which is the smallest Canadian bill printed, since we replaced the One and Two-Dollar bills with coins several year ago.

Often kidded by Americans about our “Monopoly Money”, I thought they, and perhaps other non-Canadians, might like to see the changes.  These are the most recent, non-plastic 20s, 10s and 5s, first the fronts, and the backs.

SDC10603 SDC10605

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the new polymer versions, again, first fronts, then backs, showing the uneven-shaped clear strip, the security strip, and (hopefully) the holograms.  The first thing I found is that they “talk” to your computer/scanner, and refuse to resolve, to prevent color-copier counterfeiting – after the third try, and checking the computer, and then the scanner.  I finally had to use the digital camera, upload to the computer and hope that they publish.

SDC10599  SDC10600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At our income levels, hundred-dollar bills don’t enter the house very often, but thanks to a son who lives at home and doesn’t have to rely on government pensions, and the wife’s stash from selling candles, we have the three most recent iterations of the fifty-dollar bill, the ten-year-old, pure-paper version, the modified version with the security strip, and the new, all-polymer edition, bottom to top.

SDC10606

SDC10608

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite some snide, condescending, redneck comments about our cash, Canada doesn’t even come close to having the most flamboyant bills.  I have some very pretty, and colorful, foreign examples with my coin collection.  Perhaps later I could publish pictures of bills from places where it’s a good thing you’re already wearing sunglasses.

A Very Merry Un-Birthday

That’s what I wish I was having.  I wish that I would have no more real birthdays.  It’s a good thing that I have never mentioned in my blog, the fact that I’m old, and that I’ve never posted “Remember When” stories, never commented on the slow, gradual reduction in abilities, never admitted that I’ve got Alzheimer’s, because I forgot that I’ve done all of the above.

Today I turned 69.  What an ugly number!  If only I could re-enact the Benny Hill skit where he floats through the pub, crooning 21 today, 21 today.  It was the number of beers he had scammed people out of.  I don’t think I ever drank 21 beers in one day, but I’d like to be young enough again, to try.

Ven ve get older, ve get schmarter.  Vell, zome of us does.  If I was all that smart, I wouldn’t have got this old.  Where in Hell did the time go?  I’ve got memories for all the intervening years, but it seems like only yesterday I was 21.

I knew that I had officially passed into old fartitude back in February, when I found that I couldn’t sleep without my socks on.  Even in June, when we threw the blanket off the bed, I still needed my socks.  My normally low blood pressure and slow heartbeat just doesn’t pump enough blood to the extremities any more.  How embarrassing.  What’s next?  Will I have to have BrainRants make up another woobie, for me?

I’m actually happy to have a day that’s all about me; I just don’t need a birthday cake with so many candles, that it can be seen from orbit!  At least I live in green, moist Southern Ontario.  If I lived where Rants is from, they’d be blaming me for the wildfires.

I’ve collected things during my life, car medallions, airplane medallions, book series, coins.  I’ve always been thrilled to get a complete set, but I’m not thrilled to have collected a set of reminders of how long ago some of those things occurred.

As usual, I’ve started this draft long enough ahead of the actual day to give me plenty of time to really work up a good case of “Sorry For Me.”  I’m sure the family will fête me into happiness.  I’ll get to choose a treasured meal menu, and even if the inevitable presents are inexpensive, as I insist, I will have the family fawning over me.

Back in the spring, H. E. Ellis obtained some sensitive, biographical data about me by using the devious ploy of asking nicely.  Like the typical gullible, egotistic male, I gave it to the first pretty female who asked, hoping for a little attention.  She threatened to use it to expose me to the world on this day, unless I sent her a fifty-gallon drum of Canadian Maple Syrup.  Since I’m so poor I can’t even afford to pay attention, that didn’t happen.

She did mention me a while ago, when she told about me adopting Eddy the dog.  Since then, she’s been so busy and important, that she hasn’t even had enough time to push her mother in front of an oncoming bus on the information blog-highway.  I’ll have to check early.  If she’s actually thrown me a birthday party, I need to bring along the big bowl of homemade cinnamon applesauce we just completed, Yum, Yum!!

White Lady In The Hood is another lovely lady who has promised to massage my birthday ego, showing off her literary prowess by composing a satirical poem about my aged-ness and antique-itude.  My poetic ability stops right after, “The Moon is Lune.  I’ll see you soon.”  We should all go over there to see what she’s created.  I’ll bring along the applesauce.  Of all the things that have been done to me over the years, some of them legal, I’ve been satyrised, but never satirized.  I hope it feels good.  Do I need to bring along the K-Y too?

I’d be proud to occupy the position of Senior Statesman or Wise, Intelligent Elder Advisor, but I just checked my résumé, and don’t seem to find those abilities listed.  To identify my age with the Arabic numerals 69 is bad enough.  At least I don’t have to use the Roman-numeral letters.  I’m sure that combination spells out some horrible word.

People tell me, “You’re not getting older.  You’re getting better.”  I believe I reached the acme of my abilities some time back.  Now, all I’m getting better at, is getting older.  If you see a big cloud of blue funk hovering around, don’t worry, it’s just me.  It’ll dissipate in a couple of days, and I’ll be back, posting some juvenile collection of humor which proves my real mental age.

The sun officially went over my personal yardarm at about 2:00 AM this morning.  Lying in bed, crying about the inevitable, only gets tears in my ears.  Thanks for coming to my pity party, but it’s time to end all this morbid, morose moping.  Let’s get a Birthday Par-Tay underway.  Envelopes with worshipful cash, gratefully accepted.  Vive L’old grump!

At least next year’s 70 seems like a neater, rounder number.  Bah!  I’m still not looking forward to it.

Gratitude

To show their gratitude for our providing them with decorated Christmas cookies and fruitcake for their family Christmas breakfast, our Chiropractor and his family send us home with an over-abundance of lovely gifts.  One we’ve appreciated for several years is a gift certificate for a local Chinese buffet restaurant, simply named “Kings.”  There is another chain restaurant named “Mandarin”, but the range of choices and quality of food is about the same, only the price is 50% higher.

Husband, son, daughter, grandson – the birthdays all crash down like that Russian meteor, Sept. 21, Oct. 1, Oct. 3, Oct. 6.  We barely catch our breath from blowing out one set of candles, when it starts all over again.  The wife’s birthday is on Feb. 19.  It gives us time to save up our pennies, the ones that are now officially out of circulation.  The four adults do the work on the cookies, so we use the gift certificate to pay ourselves back.  The grandson and his fiancée are old enough to develop their own plans, so the rest of us have an evening out.

Ontario has established a new statutory holiday.  The third Monday in February is now, Family Day.  This year it fell on the 18th.  If we were to go out on a Saturday or Sunday, the prices for the same food are 25% higher, and the crowds are thick.  Had we gone out on the Monday, the prices are better, but the place would still be packed.  We waited till the wife’s birthday on Tuesday.

We don’t tell anyone at the restaurant that it is.  If you’re foolish enough to do that, you get – Clap, Clap – It’s your – Clap, Clap – Birthday – Clap, Clap – You’re real – Clap, Clap – Centered out – Clap, Clap.  You get a chocolate muffin with a candle, they stick a cardboard tiara on your head that makes the one from Burger King look real, and they take a Polaroid for future blackmail.  We did it last year when the son turned 40.  The wife says she’ll admit to it next year, when she turns 65.

Waiting to use the gift certificate till the middle of February serves several purposes.  The hustle-bustle and over-eating of the Christmas/New Year’s season is over.  The son is the only one with a job, but we all need a middle-of-the-winter holiday.  The weight-watch dieting has been back in force long enough to justify a “just-one-time” exemption.  It is the wife’s birthday, and she deserves one night where she doesn’t have to plan/cook a meal, and the daughter doesn’t get left, eating leftovers all alone, while the kids invade their favorite Starbucks for the evening.  It’s another evening like the ones we spent making cookies.  We enjoy a communal meal, laugh, talk, tell lies and jokes and catch up on each other’s lives.

While only able to afford to do this once or twice a year, we’ve developed a bit of a relationship with one white male server.  Even if we’re not seated in his section, he stops over to see us when we pop in.  The son was startled when he showed up at his shop one night, working through the temp agency.  Son was worried that he’d lost his job, but, while stressful, the reason was more prosaic.

Several of his friends had decided to go on a trip to Europe, or Nicaragua, or Newfoundland.  He wished to accompany them but didn’t have the funds for the fare, or the time off, so he signed up for a second job.  He got off work at ten at the restaurant, and went to the son’s shop for an 11 to 7 shift.  He did this for six weeks, to earn enough money….and the other guys couldn’t agree on where or when, and the trip fell apart.  Wisely, he invested it in a restaurant management course.

Our chiropractor has found out about my blogging, and has become a regular follower.  He goes down to his den in the basement, and gets on his computer before clients begin to arrive.  This post will be up early Tuesday morning, when wife, daughter and I have an 11 AM appointment.  I’m using it as another way of expressing the family’s gratitude for facilitating a most enjoyable evening out.  Good morning, Peter.  Let’s talk about comments.

How ‘bout the rest of you?  I’d show gratitude for some comments.

On The Road Again

The wife, daughter and I very much enjoyed the food and the treatment we got at the luncheon in my recent post, Sugar Beets Boredom.  The presentation was to begin at 11:30 AM, with lunch at noon, and done by 1:00, but….the guests couldn’t all be wrangled into the dining room, the speeches ran long, there were more questions than anticipated.

Unfortunately, this was also the day I had to take my daughter an hour up the highway for medical treatment.  We were to be there by 2:20 PM.  Skipping a delicious dessert and coffee, we bailed at 1:15, dropped the wife at home on the way out of town, and headed for the highway.  With a mile left to go, we were stopped at a crossroad by police.

Not only is the International Plowing Match being held right beside the interchange, but today’s the day the Prime Minister is visiting.  We can’t get through!  All we have to do is go a mile and a quarter in the wrong direction, drive up a county road and then back to the on-ramp from the other side.  We made the hospital appointment, barely.  In the city, or out in the country, you still can’t get there from here.

A plowing match!  Yeehaw!  How bucolic.  In Southern Ontario, in late September, what could possibly go wrong??!  Other than eight successive days of rain?  Aside from our handsome Prime Minister, (Nope! I just couldn’t write that, and live with myself.) we had the Queen of the Furrow in a short little skirt and knee-length rubber boots because of mud up to your John Deere’s hubs.  There was a pole climbing contest like a lumberjack meet.  There were dancing tractors, like the Mounties on horseback, only in diesel.  The soft glow on the horizon was from all the red necks.

A week later, the three of us went to the beautiful town of St. Marys, Ontario.  I’m still old-school.  I don’t shower much.  I prefer a nice hot soaking bath.  I’m a macho he-man kind of guy, so I don’t use bubble bath.  I put in fragranced bath gel.  There’s an important difference….to my ego!

We used to be able to buy it by the gallon from the distributor in Mississauga, when we went to the wife’s rheumatologist in Brampton, but they moved the warehouse to Barrie.  There is a candle supply shop in St. Marys which carries the gel, and the wife and daughter wanted to stock up on wicks, tabs, holders and beeswax for candle-making, so off we went.

We drove out to Stratford, and turned left, and that was the first problem.  Stratford is just on the edge of Mennonite country.  Its streets aren’t quite as convoluted as K/W’s, but some still manage to run together at strange angles.  Making left turns at two successive traffic lights just didn’t seem to make sense, so we enjoyed two and a half miles of pastoral scenery in the wrong direction, before I turned around.

We got to the store and home safely.  When I checked Map Quest, for the distance from home to the store (it’s 63 Kilometers!  If you don’t get lost.  Thanks for asking.), it suggested a totally different route which would eliminate driving through Stratford entirely.

Stratford is the hometown of Justin Bieber, and I apologise profusely.  As I said, it’s the edge of the Mennonite Tract, and with the name of Bieber, he didn’t know he had German ancestry.  He claims he has enough native Indian blood to get free gasoline.  He must be huffing it, because even full-blood Indians don’t get it free.

Instead of YouTube and Bieber, I offer you Canada’s first, and still best, Shakespearean Theater and Festival, and the handsome Canadian actor, Paul Gross.  I attended Stratford’s Theater as a youngster in a school group. The main theater opened in 1953.  I saw As You Like It, in the early summer of 1959.  I’ve been to a few plays over the years.  There are now four theaters.  While they concentrate on Shakespeare, they also present plays by other playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw.

Paul Gross played a Dudley Do-Right type Mountie, bureaucratically stranded in Chicago, and assisting the Chicago police department, for three years, in the television series Due North.  He was Canada’s highest-paid TV actor, making two million dollars a year.

After the program was cancelled, he went on to produce and star in a movie called Men With Brooms, about BrainRants’ favorite sport, curling.  About ten years ago, just before my employer fell out from under me, I got a chance for the wife and me to see him on the Shakespeare stage as Hamlet.  Unlike his previous light comedy, he rendered the brooding Dane quite well.

The next time we have to go to get candle supplies or bubble bath bath-gel, I think I’ll take the route Map Quest suggests.  It will take us through the small town of Tavistock, well-known for the Tavistock Cheese makers.  A half a mile above the highway is the tiny crossroads village of Sebastopol.  I’d never heard of it, but apparently it has a huge, famous, Lutheran church.  It’s just down the road from another Mennonite cross-road village called Punky-Doodles Corners, named by a drunken farmer newly arrived two hundred years ago, from Pennsylvania, trying and failing, to sing about Yankee Doodle.

Candle In The Windy Park

I didn’t look far enough ahead, and my, blog-every-two-days schedule, fell on its ass again.  We couldn’t wait till Saturday to go to the Mennonite market, because the daughter and I were busy, so we went on Thursday.  I might have tried to get a post ready on Friday, but the wife and I were busy getting ready for Saturday.  If you’re confused and whirled in circles by that paragraph, you have some idea what I felt like.

Another couple of blocks past the daughter’s place from the big park where the Multicultural Festival was held, is another, smaller, neighborhood park.  Since the smallest, pedestrian-only entrance is off Cherry Street, some bureaucrat named it Cherry Park.  It’s been two weeks since the big festival, and cherries are just coming into season, so the neighborhood association schedules a local cherry-festival get-together at this time each year.

There are things for adults and kids, but again, commerce is the unifying force.  There are two or three food suppliers, bouncy castles, a Latin-American band, and a municipal employee handing out information about seniors’ services available from the city.  Beyond that, there are a couple of dozen purveyors’ booths.  There were two offering temporary tattoos, one with roses made from wood, a palm reader, and a woman knitting and selling all her knitted items.

The daughter and one of her friends like to attend.  Between them and the wife they put out a mixed offering.  The daughter has her artisanal yarns, and shawls, scarves and crocheted cat-toy mice, made from them.  She takes along her spinning wheel to give demonstrations and entice customers.  She and the girlfriend make up cell-phone charms, bracelets, necklaces and earrings from beads, wire and yarn.  The wife makes the same kind of thing but puts the beads at the ends of fancy yarn to make bookmarks she calls book-thongs.  Lay it in a paperback, with the beads at each end, and close the book.  The grandson still has a few pieces of primitive pottery, from his course last year.

The thing the daughter believes draws the most customers, is the wife’s hand-made beeswax candles.  She concentrates on tea-lights, both in the plastic cup, and refills for those who already have enough cups, as well as votives.

There are two honey vendors at the farmers’ market.  We buy honey from one, but get beeswax from the other, to make candles from.  While the first has good honey, when he melts the wax down, he does so at too high a temperature, and *chars* the wax.

The grandson is allergic to all grasses.  Sugarcane is just an overgrown grass, and he is sensitive to cane sugar.  We used to be able to obtain reasonably cheap and available beet sugar in town, but a tariff changed several years ago.  Since then, we have used our trips to metro Detroit to stock up on white, brown and icing beet sugar.  Michigan has a large beet sugar industry.  Unless it says cane sugar, you know it’s beet.  Sugar beet growth and processing used to be big here in town a century ago, but times and crops change.

The grandson also sweetens some things with honey.  Both of the honey vendors offer honey sticks, like thin drinking straws filled with different types of honey, and sealed.  On our most recent trip, the better honey guy offered orange-blossom sticks.  There’s not a lot of citrus grown in southern Ontario.  The wife says he means from mock-orange bushes.  They have an orange smell and impart the taste.

As previously noted on one of my posts, when something creative is happening, my portion of it is usually getting things out, cleaning things up and putting things away.  While the wife poured about fifty candles, I ran down to the basement storeroom and back at least a dozen times.  If we don’t use our heads, I use my feet.  My diet is still lounging on the couch, but he gave me a big thumbs-up.

The wife had a nasty nasal infection about a year ago.  It affected nerves, and almost wiped out her sense of taste and smell.  They have come back a little bit, and we hope for more, but, for someone who relies on them for cooking, this is a devastating loss.  She used to be able to tell when pasta was cooked.  She now relies on me to smell or taste things.

We were well into the candle-making when I remarked the entire house had been imbued with the smell of honey.  “Oh really,” she said.  “I can’t smell any of it.”  The sweet smell of honey was so thick that I could have toasted a piece of bread, and just waved it though the air to pick up the taste.  It doesn’t last until the next day, but it does help make the work more pleasant.

While socially enjoyable, the daughter did not have a great commercial day.  A couple of people watched her spin, and took her card with her email address, saying that they would contact her about specialty yarn.  Of the few things that sold, the wife’s candles were at the top.

Next weekend the friend wants to have the daughter join her at a display at the anti-violence fair, back over at the big park.  Neither of us has ever been there, but I guess I get another day of set-up, take-down and schlepping.  First, a hundred-mile Tuesday round-trip, so the daughter can get her anti-pain med-infusion.  She should be in better shape to handle it.  If I find it interesting, I’ll post a story about it.  It’s been a big day.  Now that this blog is up, I need some rest.  Till then!