’19 A To Z Challenge – U

AtoZ2019Letter U

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A USELESS TALE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

O Nostalgia, where is thy sting?

What do I do when a blog-post theme occurs to me while I am having lunch?
Keep munching! A good platter of nachos is like a contract with God Himself. You guys can read my blatherings any time.

Nachos

My Father was a minor performer. Before the advent of radios in automobiles, he used to regale us with ditties and folk-songs on Sunday drives and road trips. I have found most of them on Google, as folk or minstrel songs, but no indication that any of them were ever recorded. He must have received them as oral history.

The other day, as I was dashing through melted cheese and jalapeno rings, I recalled my mother crooning a little ballad to me in the late 1940s. At first, I thought it might have been just something that she had heard Dad sing. My friend, Dr. Google assured me that this had been a real, live song.

I typed in, Down In The Garden Where The Praties Grow.” If you tap, you will see that the title is merely, The Garden Where The Praties Grow. I remember asking my Mother what ‘praties’ were. She explained that this was an Irish term for ‘potatoes.’

I already knew what indignities the skirt-wearing Scots had inflicted on the language. It was no surprise to find that the drunken Irish couldn’t keep their words straight. Mom must have heard it on the primitive radio when she worked in the big city of Detroit. It was recorded in 1930, but the original version must have been written about 1870, with fashion references to Grecian Bend – women’s hunched stature, caused by a huge bustle – and ‘chignon’, a large, then-trendy, braid or bun at the nape of the neck.

I hope that some of you enjoy a bit of entertainment/fashion history. While I claimed that this story is useless, and about nothing, to me it is a fond remembrance of the soft, kind, loving support that my Mother gave to me as a growing child. This post, and the history/musical link, are particularly dedicated to 1Jaded1, who likes when I connect my story to a song.

‘17 A To Z Challenge – T

Challenge2017

letter-t

You just know that a darkness-loving troglodyte like me would be fascinated with being underneath things, and by;

TUNNELS

With tunnels and the like, I am intrigued not merely with the fact that I am under, but what (specifically) is over.

At a place in England, it is necessary for a narrow-boat canal to cross a river. It does so on a multi-arched aqueduct.  It is fascinating to see photos or video of a west-bound river steamer passing directly beneath a south-bound canal boat.

When we had tired of going from Windsor to Detroit, or back, on the big bridge, and driving above ships in the river, I decided to try the tunnel. While it’s a little more distance, back then, the connection to I-75 was quicker and easier.  I never worried about the tunnel collapsing, but it was interesting to think that I might be driving directly under a 1000-foot-long lake freighter.

When we used to go to Niagara Falls, down at the other end of Lake Erie, I took the opportunity to return home via a tunnel under the Welland Canal. It’s possible that I drove under that same freighter from Detroit.

It costs a lot of money to dig a road tunnel, especially through rock. Most of the American Interstate system, at least in the eastern mountains, goes around them.  One exception is I-40, from Knoxville, Tenn. into North Carolina.  There are two tunnels within a few miles – but only if you’re travelling East.  If you’re heading West, at one of the tunnels, the divided highway hangs along the side of the mountain.  Being in the tunnel there, only means that you’re under pine roots and raccoon shit.

Skyline panorama

We came through Pittsburgh one time, following the Interstate down the edge of the river, 30/40 feet higher than the water. I-376 suddenly crosses the river, and plunges into the side of a 150 foot stone cliff on the other side, and doesn’t seem to come up for air until you’re almost into Indiana.

It’s one thing, especially at spaghetti-junction highway interchanges, to be driving underneath other cars or even big transport trucks. On the west side of town, the Conestoga Expressway passes under not only several surface streets, but the main railroad line, so I’ve driven under trains.

To accommodate our new street-railroad system, two of the major, downtown streets have been excavated under the rail line, so I’ve had even more opportunities to drive under trains. A couple of blocks from the daughter’s place, there is an old, shallow underpass, where I’ve often driven under trains.  I try to be sure that, when I drive under something, I can get all the way out the other side.  Despite signs warning of “Low Underpass,” a couple of times a year, THIS happens.

Tunnels

There’s an underpass like this, somewhere in the States, that’s so famous that it has its own website. With a name like ‘elevenfootsix.com’, you can access it and watch live video from a traffic-cam, or access archived footage and photos.

At least twice a week, some big-rig, or local delivery truck like the one above, rips the top off and gets stuck. There must be a Ryder truck-rental agency upstream, because every second truck is a (now-damaged) Ryder.  It’s (almost) amusing to watch RVs swoop under it, but peel off roof-mounted canoes or air-conditioning units.

I have finally driven under an airplane. One day, coming around the Expressway, on a sunny, cloudless day, suddenly I was in a shadow, and then out again.  What was that??  Ah….a 20-passenger commuter plane, heading for the local airport.  But it’s mid-afternoon, and the sun is off to the west, so I wasn’t directly under it, merely in its shadow.

All that changed on my most recent drive to Ottawa, to visit the Grandson. The highway goes past a Canadian Forces Airbase, and there were two big military transport planes angling in for a landing, 45° ahead and to my left.  Can I?  Can I?  I hope!

The first one crossed the highway and went to final approach.  A minute later and a mile further east for me, and lower and nearer for the second….VOOOM!  I went right under him!  When a C-16 cargo plane passes 200 feet above you, there’s no mistake.  The sonic vibrations pounded me and the car.  I could see his nose out the passenger side, while his tail was still on my driver’s side.

Small things do indeed amuse small minds. It’s better than being under suspicion, under investigation, under the influence, under arrest, or under a misapprehension.  What things would you admit to being under?   😕

***

By the way:  Happy New Years guys.  The best of good wishes for the coming year, and thanx for your ongoing company and support.  😀

HASH

About a year ago, I published a post titled Leftovers, where I showed and described some of the odd knives I had accumulated over the years. To get rid of leftovers, you chop them up fine, and turn them into hash.  This is a hash of some of the other edged and pointed tools and toys infesting our home.

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The son’s knife made of glass c/w a skull in the butt.

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The skull’s a bit hazy, but then, so is the photographer.

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The wife’s letter openers;
$1.49 Wal-Mart special
steel blade with cast pewter hummingbird/flower handle
antique Victorian sterling silver, which someone ruined by grinding it ‘sharp’
$30 handmade c/w rosewood handles

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My letter opener.  A birthday gift from daughter/grandson.  Miniature Eragon sword.

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A grandson gift.  This letter opener is banded agate stone, with Scottish thistle pommel.  Blurry, as usual.  😳

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The son’s excess work knives.  Numbers 1 and 2 were found in ’empty’ parts cases, returned from customers.  3, 4 and 5, he purchased, #3, at a Detroit knife show, #4 in Toronto, and #5 from Amazon….’cause he doesn’t have enough knives.

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My EDC, (every day carry)  $100 Gerber in nylon/Velcro belt sheath.

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The son’s assault knife, called the “Feral Siamese”.  More of a short sword c/w skull-breaker pommel & formed Kydex sheath.  Needs a big, strong hand/arm.

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The son’s $2000 Katana, which he won for $20.  Shown with Kydex scabbard and the winning ticket.

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The son’s ‘utility’ Katana, called the “2014 TiKat”.  A little less fancy, built by the same maker who produced the blade for the one above.  This one is made of titanium rather than stainless steel – half the weight, with twice the strength and edge-holding, with a snug wooden scabbard.  I really need to get someone else to take these photos.

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A decorative skinner/caper with a cast pewter wolf’s-head counterbalance and wolf scene on the handle.

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My dragon kriss, gift from the daughter.

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A replica German officer’s dagger with cast/moulded metal scabbard.

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One of the son’s titanium belt buckles, this one with a single skull motif.

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Another titanium belt buckle, this one with a dragon surmounting the Earth.

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A matching titanium folding knife and belt buckle combo, this one with multiple, smaller skulls.  (And my hands and camera sneaking in via reflection)
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Not the son’s ‘falling star pendant’,  this one is a Maltese Cross, made of Damascus steel.  A knife with this patterning is awesome.

That’s about all the knife-related stuff we’ve got.  See you again (or you’ll see me) in a couple of days.

Flash Fiction #109

∇∇Riots

PHOTO PROMPT -© Vijaya Sundaram

STONED

What’s all that noise? What’s going on out there?

I heard on the news that a cop shot another black guy! Black Lives Matter’s got the ‘hood’ worked up.  There’s rioting and protests.

Cool! Let’s go up on the roof to watch.

***

Look at them all down there! They just broke into Louie’s deli.  Oh, they set that cop car on fire

Don’t go too near the edge. Those guys are throwing things.

I don’t see or hear any guns, and with rocks, they couldn’t hit an elephant at this distan….

***

Oooohh, look at all the pretty birdies.  ∅∀∗≅

***

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

The Four Fun Fact Survey Tag

Bible

 

Despite me swearing on a stack of irrelevant Bibles that this is now an award-free site, Cordelia’s Mom found a loophole, and sneaked one in the back door.  We have to be careful about that; folks in Mississippi, and especially North Carolina, get upset about that sort of thing.

She tagged me with, what she and others, call a survey. Tag, I’m IT.  They want four facts about me.  Let’s see….  I’m grumpy (sometimes dopey, often sleepy), I’m old, I’m a dude….   Oh wait, they want fun facts.  Maybe I should just stick with the script.

Four names people call me other than my real name:

In my youth, I was occasionally called ‘Smitty.’ That didn’t last long.  I guess I just don’t look or act like a Smitty, although I’ve begun a new series of random-facts posts, titled Smitty’s Loose Change.

Now that I’m retired, and can be more selective, not having to deal with the madding crowd:
My blog-friends call me Archon.
My kids call me Dad.
My grandson calls me Poppa,
And the cats call me whenever they damn well feel like want food, drink, catnip, litter tray cleaned, skritches, cuddles or naps.

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Four Jobs I’ve Had:

I was a bank clerk for about a year, until I discovered that banks were more regimented and less fun than the Army.
I was a Purchasing Agent/Materials Manager for a series of steel/metal processing firms.
I was a Sales Representative for a package courier company (just a small one, not like UPS or FedEx), and a safety supply company.
I gave up fame and fortune, and parked my brain at the door, for a (more or less) guaranteed 40 hours a week income, and worked cutting leather and nylon in a shoe/boot/slipper plant, and then made auto parts for almost 20 years.

In between, during periods of unemployment, I was a building custodian (janitor) for a couple of companies, and a Security Guard at a couple of hotels and an office building, for a couple more. For those interested, it’s all here, and here.

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once:

I don’t remember ever watching any movie more than once at a theatre. I had a neighbor, who, like many others, boasted that he’d seen ‘Titanic’ eight times. Why??  The boat sinks.  Everybody dies!  Didn’t you get it the first seven times?

Any movie I watch more than once would have to fall into the mindless, action genre – any James Bond movie. I rewatched Diamonds Are Forever the other night – any Lethal Weapon.  I saw one of them (they’re indistinguishable-but fun) about a week ago – any Die Hard, Independence Day, Source Code.  I remembered and watched Tony Randall and Burl Ives in ‘The Brass Bottle’ on YouTube a while back.

Four Books Or Authors I’d Recommend:

I hesitate to recommend any book or author, because I don’t know anyone’s preferences, and they can be startling. I know guys who read Historical Romance, and women who devour blood and guts action novels.

From my own pile of unread books, I could mention Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy (now dead, but still being ghost-written by a couple of authors), Steve Perry and Lee Child.

From the Golden Age of Sci-Fi, I’d recommend Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frederick Pohl, or John Brunner.

From the current Sci-Fi crop, I’d mention Eric Flint, David Weber, Charles Gannon and Travis S. Taylor.

Four Places I’ve Lived:

Having lived a relatively unexciting life, I’ve only resided in three municipalities. I was born and raised in the small (2000-) town of Southampton, Ontario.

Graduating high school, I moved 100 miles east, and lived in the small city of Barrie, ON for a year, until the bank and I parted company.

Since this is where the jobs were, I moved to the city of Kitchener, ON, arriving four days before my 21st birthday.  I’m now closing in on my 72nd birthday, so I’ve been here almost 51 years.  Ignoring the boarding house I started in, the wife and I have lived at only six addresses in our married life – all in Kitchener, none in own twin city, Waterloo.

Four Places I’ve Visited: 

With the wife’s inhalant allergies, we can’t fly, and are limited to places we can drive to. We’re not terribly well-to-do, so we travel very much on the cheap.  Still, we’ve seen a few places up and down the US eastern region.

Travelling with my brother, I was able to visit Tampa, Orlando, Key West and Kissimmee in Florida.
Vacationing with the wife, we’ve reached Richmond and Front Royal, VA, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC (A delicious, historical place!  Go there if you can.)
We went to Ottawa, ON and crossed the bridge to Hull, PQ.
We visited Cordelia’s Mom, in Buffalo for the first time, on our way to see lost blogger, John Erickson in the less-than-tiny village of Fresno, OH.

Using knife shows as an excuse, and shopping as a goal, we’ve also trekked all around metro Detroit. Under CM’s aegis, we are now beginning to do the same with metro Buffalo, with a rewarding side trip out to Batavia, NY.

Four Things I’d Rather Be Doing Right Now:

I find I very much enjoy blogging – composing, posting, reading, commenting, replying. I spend a serious amount of time in front of the computer.  Since I don’t know when you’ll get around to reading this, I don’t know what else I might have drifted off to do.  I have three novels on the go. (Short attention span.)  I read a daily broadsheet, and a tabloid-style newspaper.  I might be doing a crossword in either of them, or wafted my way back to the keyboard to do one online.

Four foods I don’t like:

I tried to act picky as a child, but a Scottish mother, fresh from the Great Depression and World War II soon put an end to that. I have problems with fat and gristle in my mouth.  I will gag and throw up.  I eat things like chicken breasts and the inner medallions of pork chops and steaks.

I’d have starved to death in ancient times, or learned to fight the livestock for beans and turnips. Since getting married, I’ve learned to like sauerkraut, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Four of my favorite foods: 

So many choices – so little space! Anything Tex-Mex….tomato, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, chili powder.  Potato pancakes – filet mignon – thick oatmeal. (I am Scottish after all.)

Four Shows I Watch: 

Being the Most Interesting Man In The World, I don’t always have time to watch TV, but when I do;
I watch the NCIS trio. ‘New Orleans’ is more interesting than ‘LA’, and I could live without either, but the original version is just so valid.
I also watch ‘Castle’, which has now been cancelled, ‘Elementary’, which also seems to have come to an end, and ‘Bones’, which is getting creaky and hokey.

Four Things I’m Looking Forward To This Year:

  1. Still viewing the sod from the green side at the end of the year. It’ll be covered with snow, but…
  2. We’ve purchased our last car; the next one’s on the son. Actually, it’s a Kia Sorento sport-ute, which the wife and daughter don’t have to get down into, and up out of. With reliable transportation, we hope to get to Detroit at least once for a shopping trip, and to Buffalo, for a CM-guided tour of the zoo.
  3. If the value of the Canadian dollar rises a bit more, I’d like to travel to the Washington, DC area, and convince another favorite blogger to grant a short meet and greet, before moving on into the Appalachians for one last commune with nature.
  4. Damn, I’m boring, no aspirations, no inspiration. Anybody got suggestions?

Four Things I’m Always Saying: 

  1. What do I take out of the freezer, to thaw for tomorrow’s supper?
  2. What’s a six-letter word for….
  3. Are we there yet?
  4. I am probably as happy as you, to finally be to the end of this list, but thanx, to those who’ve waded through it, and special thanx to CM for allowing me a chance to humorously rewrite War And Peace.

 

 

Big Adventures In A Small Town

Red Roof  Standard Red Roof

We can always see the ‘same-old’ at home. When most of us go on a trip, we hope to see and experience something new.  The city of Batavia, NY did not disappoint! CHINESE KARAOKE!  Did that catch your attention?  It caught mine.  I’ll explain below.

First of all, there are two Batavias.  The City of Batavia is completely encircled by the Town of Batavia.   On the western edge sits Batavia Downs, a well-known, completely-enclosed, indoor harness racing venue.  Three hotels sit nearby, just past the tollbooths off I-90.

Rich Red Roof  My Red Roof

Justifying my claim that hotels are forever changing names, my Red Roof Inn has had five names. Until two years ago, it was a Travelodge.  Unlike most ‘standard’ Red Roofs, its room doors didn’t empty out into the parking lot and the weather.  Instead, it had a central hall, interior doors, and quieter rooms.  It also had a small bar, and a dining room that was used as a karaoke club.

About five years ago, a developer bought up and paved over acres and acres of property surrounding the race track. Soon, businesses like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Applebee’s, Tops and Target popped up, giving the race fans (or their wives) someplace else leave their money.  Three new hotels went up just north of the Interstate.

Many of the people who work at these new businesses came from somewhere else. Five years ago, the City of Batavia had about 9000 residents.  Nowadays the population is pushing 16,000.  The night clerk, a 22-year resident, is outraged.  There are now two McDonalds, and two Tim Horton’s in her town.

Tim Horton's  Tim Horton’s c/w drive-through

I don’t think she quite believed me when I told her that in Southern Ontario, I could pass two Tim Horton’s on the way to pick up my mail. The son uses a four-lane regional road to drive 9 Kilometers (5+ miles) across town to go to work, and passes 4 Timmies along the way. There are probably another dozen scattered around town.

Back to the Karaoke…. Through the summer and fall, groups of Chinese couples arrive in the USA, possibly landing in LA, or San Francisco.  They are flown to Las Vegas for a couple of days, then flown on up to a regional airport just north of Batavia.  A Chinese driver picks them up with a Mercedes Sprinter van, and installs them at the Red Roof.  The next day they are driven 60 miles to Niagara Falls.

There are always two groups, one a day ahead of the other, filling 10 to 15 rooms. A local DJ offers Chinese Karaoke on Saturday night, in the dining room.  First they belt out the lyrics to Chinese songs, but quickly change over to modern North American pop songs, which they attempt to sing phonetically.  It’s amusing.  Most of them can’t speak a word of English.

On Sunday morning, the drunk who couldn’t speak English, is hung-over, but loudly spewing O Solé Mio phonetically in Italian into the parking lot at 6 AM. I knew that Japanese are renowned for taking lots of pictures.  These people took photos and videos of everything, including two crab-apple trees, and the crab-apples on the ground by the entrance.

Because regional airports are favored by folks like smugglers and terrorists, there was a significant Homeland Security building right across the street, and the county sheriff’s office was just beyond the neighboring hotel. Unlike our trip two years ago, to the ‘hood’ in Detroit, this time there was no need for armed security patrols.

The telephone booking clerk told me that I was getting ‘just a plain room’, so we took along the Koolatron – only to find a refrigerator in the room. We took food for breakfasts – to be told that the hotel provided a hot breakfast – eggs, sausage, cereal, bagels, bread, juice and fruit.

One of the non-Chinese diners stopped the night-clerk and asked her if she remembered a Sorel Boot plant out where new plaza now sits. I cut parts for Sorel Boots for the hometown Kaufman Footwear, until they went bankrupt, and I had to find a new job in ’85.  I didn’t know they had a plant in Batavia.  I guess it got torn down and paved over.

The City of Batavia has some old and interesting buildings, which I took photos of. (So there, you Chinese tourists!)  If you’d like to come back in about a week, I’m going to post a mostly photo-blog.

This trip was enjoyable, entertaining and educational for me. I hope you got a little from it also.

Invasion Force

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Look out USA, you’re under assault. The Meet-The-Blogger Tour went very well last year, beginning with Cordelia’s Mom, in Buffalo. She even invited us back. This year, the son booked a week of holidays early in October, and we’re going to spend a couple of days getting to know Buffalo, and CM, better.

We’ll tell the border guards that we’re jelly-bean salesmen, on our way to a sales conference. One look at our waistlines, and they’ll probably tell us to stop sampling the merchandise.

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Last year, CM sent us home with some ‘Buffalo’ merchandise, so I asked her if there were any Kitchener-area items that we could bring with us. I was thinking of Oktoberfest sausage, sauerkraut and sweet German mustard, but none of those agree with her digestion.

Football

There is a penalty to be paid for not having any interest in sports. We had planned this trip for the weekend of Oct. 3rd and 4th. I even told CM that we would be staying at a Red Roof Inn a bit closer than the one we used last year. Two weeks before launch date, I called to confirm a room, and found that high school/college/NFL football is in full swing.

I dialled 1-800-rent-me-a-room RedRoof, and the booking clerk told me that all three of the Buffalo area inns were fully booked. She managed to find me a room out in Batavia. I thought it was a further 30/35 mile drive, but on checking, I realize it’s almost 50. The clerk, who claims to live just over in Dayton, Ohio, pronounced it batt-uh-VEE-uh. There’s no sense trying Super 8, or Scottish Inns. If Red Roof is full, they’re all full.

I should have remembered. Years ago, on our way home from Charleston, SC, in October, I missed a turnoff and a Red Roof tucked away off the Interstate, just west of Pittsburgh. “Oh well, we’ll just go up to the next exit and pay a bit more.” We drove another 7 hours, through Pennsylvania and into New York. I must have stopped at 40 hotels/motels, before we got one of the last two rooms in a motel just west of Buffalo that wasn’t even officially open, at 1:30 in the morning.

I jokingly asked if CM had any suggestions for two unchaperoned males. She apparently has no knowledge of strip clubs or bars, but sent me links to Niagara Falls, the Buffalo zoo, and the Art Museum. Larry Lowbrow and his kid, Bart, were looking for something more like large bookstores, both new and used. We could get lost for a day at a decent mall, but none of us could find a Buffalo equivalent to Detroit’s Gibraltar Trade Center.

I had hoped to meet Cordelia, the inspiration who got CM into the blogosphere, but she’s transitioning from self-employed to a cube-drone, and won’t be available, dashing my hope for a father/son/mother/daughter blogger lunch. CM has threatened promised to try to bring along one of her other gorgeous, intelligent daughters. All I have to offer is a lumpen and surly son. She thought about asking her husband to join us, but apparently he’s the reason she doesn’t find me all that much of a Grumpy Old Dude.

CM has located a great restaurant for our lunch meeting, this year Italian, instead of last year’s Greek. If the border guards possess a bit of humor and pity, food and drink will be consumed, pictures will be taken for later online display, much conversation, socialization and frivolity will ensue, and themes for future blogs, both CM’s and mine, will occur.

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Last year, the wife and I took along a stuffed lamb, for identification. CM should recognize me, if not son Shimoniac. Since he is big enough to be known as The Bear, I felt we could take along the wife’s McDonalds Coca-Cola Bear, who is so cool that he has his own stuffed teddy bear. 😎

If this blogsite is quiet for a couple of days, you’ll know we’re in jail Buffalo….BattuhVEEuh??!

Psychotic Relations

Straitjacket

Some families are a little more tightly wrapped than others.  Even the best of families though, have a member or two who aren’t let out in public without a leash, or a minder.  Jimmy Carter had beer-drinking Billy.  George W. makes Jeb Bush seem like Mensa material.  These are the folks that we can look at (and snicker) and think of Jeff Foxworthy’s line.  “Compared to them, why, we’s dang near royalty.”

The recent publication of my Sunny Disposition Flash Fiction reminded me of the couple who inspired it.  In my family, it was my sister – half-sister actually.  My Our Mom moved to Detroit, and got married and gave birth.  Mom’s husband cheated on her, and when his daughter was born, abandoned them both.

I never met the man, so it’s hard to judge the nature/nurture ratio of her psychoses, but the totals were impressive.  They started when Mom took a divorce settlement, moved 200 miles back to small-town Ontario, and bought a house for them to live in.

By age 8 and 9, she was accusing Mom of “hiding her away from her Father,” despite the fact that her ‘loving father ‘ stood outside the house one day while she was at school, after his most recent girlfriend had dumped him, but didn’t have the nerve to knock on the door.  He knew where she was, but didn’t care.

It was strange that, when Mom remarried, she didn’t resent the new husband.  In fact she treated her stepfather better all her life than she did her real mother.  Then Mom gave birth to me, and three years later, my brother.  Soon the oft-repeated line was, “Wasn’t I enough?!  Why’d you have to have them?”

After my brother’s birth, a sickly child, requiring a lot of care and personal time, the new mantra became, “Those damned boys!  Those damned boys!”  Interesting language for a 13-year-old girl, in the 1940s.

Always headstrong, and constantly craving attention, she acquired a 21-year-old boyfriend and told Mom that, if she wasn’t allowed to marry, she’d just get pregnant and elope.  As the least of several evils, she was allowed to say “I do” a month before her 16th birthday.

She pumped out five children and a miscarriage in eight years.  The last, a 13 pound, 8 ounce Butterball baby boy fortunately sterilized her.  Children having children??!  She was far too immature, insecure and needy to raise kids.  She was manic/depressive back before ‘bipolar’ became the politically-correct description, and her co-dependent husband wasn’t much better.

“Up”, and drinking and having fun, and then, sometimes within an hour, one or both of them would crash, and they’d be fighting like two cats in a sack.  Both of them often sported bruises, cuts or scrapes.  She had to put four brands of Lite beer in the beer-fridge.  They were having too many ‘lost’ weekends.  She failed one suicide attempt.  After about 12 years of a WWE marriage, they moved into a house directly across the street from my parents – a blessing, and a curse.

One or another of the children would run across the road and yell,  “Grandma, come quick, Daddy’s killing Mommy!”  (Or Mommy’s killing Daddy – however the wind happened to be blowing that day.)  Mother would trudge across, and separate the combatants.

One night, the seven all sat down to dinner.  One of the adults(?) said, “The sky is blue,” the other said, “Fuck you,” and the screaming and yelling started.  He said something objectionable, and she tossed the contents of a water glass at him.

He threw a plate of meatloaf and potatoes at her.  She threw the gravy boat at him.   He threw the bread basket at her.  She threw….he threw….she threw….  The kids wisely scattered.  The oldest daughter came running across for the referee.  “Grandma, they’re wrecking the house!”

Mom said that, by the time she got there, the tornado had blown itself out.  He was sulking in the living room.  She was leaning against the dining room wall, trying to catch her breath, and surveying the wreckage.

There was ketchup on the 10-foot, white ceiling.  There was mustard on the hardwood floor.  There was bread tangled in the chandelier.  There was butter on the outside wall, and peanut butter on the inside wall.  Pickled beets were in the floor vent, and broken glass and dishes were everywhere.

As often happens with tornadoes, there was an undamaged jar of Cheeze-Whiz, inexplicably still sitting on the table.  My half(wit)-sister dourly looked at it, and surveyed the chaos.  “Well, you might as well join the rest of them,” and threw it against the kitchen door-frame.  “Now, we can clean up!”

And so, a 100 word Flash Fiction was born unto me – the normal one.  Don’t you feel superior now?

#461

Leftovers

In my recent My First Time post, I showed pictures of a little three-finger skinner knife I won.  My chiropractor also has an interest in knives, especially the expensive Art Knives.  I let him read my Knives Illustrated magazines after I am finished with them.

He also regularly reads my posts, so I knew that he had seen the photos of the knife, but the next time we went to see him, I took along the knife and sheath for him to handle.  When I went to put it back in the night-table drawer it came out of, I took a close look, and realized how many odd knives I had tucked away over the years.

SDC10789

This is a hunter/skinner made by Queen Cutlery of Titusville PA.  Knowing of my interest in knives, my Father picked this out at random at a flea market in Florida one winter.

SDC10790

Walking through a small park one day, I came upon this cheap Pakistani dagger just lying on the ground with no-one anywhere near.  Ensuring that there was no blood on it, indicating that it wasn’t involved in a crime, I picked it up and brought it home.

SDC10791

This is the little kitchen/paring knife that the wife purchased at the Fall Knife Show in Detroit about two years ago.  It came with the sheath, which hides in the drawer, but it resides in the knife block.  Its blade is made of 5100 tool steel – the alloy that many ball bearings are made from.  This one started as a 1 inch diameter ball.  The extra-thick handle which helps the wife’s weak grip is Rosewood, and the belly of the blade makes cutting easier.

SDC10792

SDC10793

This knife is Japanese-made for the North American tourist trade.  The brass handle is molded to show Indians hunting wolves from a canoe with a bow and arrow on one side, and a white explorer shooting moose on the other.  Heavy as original sin, I wouldn’t want to carry it in a pocket, and it won’t take or hold an edge any better than the piece of Paki crap above.

SDC10794

This was sold as an ‘Airport Knife’ after 9/11.  Made from rigid thermoplastic, it will not set off metal detectors.  It has a flat ‘grind’ on one side only.  One edge is plain, while the other has serrations.  The circle at the haft has thumb-ridges to prevent slipping and increase control.   While not razor-sharp, it will inflict a lot of damage.

SDC10795

This is a bartender’s knife, with a bottle opener, a lid pryer, a corkscrew, and a small blade for opening boxes and cutting seals and corks.

SDC10796

This is a small two-blade, advertising, pen knife.  While this type of knife holds no interest for me, I have seen people’s collections with hundreds of brands on these things.

SDC10797

This is a trick knife.  You can’t open it unless you know the secret.  The blade has no thumb nick.  Where the blade joins the handle, there is a small indent and a ball bearing.  The blade closes as far as you see in the photo, then you invert it and squeeze it closed.  The ball bearing rolls into the slot and locks the blade closed.  Even if you can grasp it tightly enough, it will not release.  Turn it up the other way and squeeze again, and it pops open.

SDC10798

This is a small box-cutter type knife.  I should have photographed it next to a ruler, to show size.  It’s about as big as your little finger.  It has a plastic snap at the end of its lanyard, indicating it may have come on a carry-bag or piece of luggage, but after 9/11 it can’t fly on airplanes, even though it’s dangerous only to creatures smaller than a bumblebee.  I think someone disconnected it and dropped it.  I found it on a floor.

SDC10799

This is the smallest knife I own – even though it’s the wife’s.  She got it at a Detroit knife show about five years ago, the first time we took the grandson with us.  I was smart enough to photograph this one beside a ruler, and the Queen hunter, to show size, about an inch long, closed, with a chain and ring for wallet or key chain.   This one is factory made.  Some makers build miniatures, both straight knives and folders like this.  They can be made from scrap pieces, but the amount of labor is at least as much as with a full-sized knife.  They can cost as much as their big brothers, so there’s a small market for small knives.

SDC10800

This is a railway spike knife, and a spike like the one it was made from.  They are sold as paperweights/letter openers, because the percentage of carbon in the steel is so low that, like the crap above, they won’t take or hold an edge.  These weren’t hidden in the drawer.  I keep them out on display.  I have several other knives on display but….perhaps another day.

#452

Morons

Did you hear about the moron who:

Ran through a screen door, and strained himself?

Wrapped his watch in cellophane to keep the ticks out of his pocket?

Took his knees apart to see if there was any beer left in the joints?

Took a bottle of whiskey to bed so that he could sleep tight?

Cut off his fingers so that he could write shorthand?

Watered his garden with whiskey so that he could grow stewed tomatoes?

Took a ladder to a bar so that he could get as high as he wanted?

Thought a mushroom was a place to neck in?

Sewed his fingers together so that he could wear mitts?

Ate gunpowder so that his hair would grow in short bangs?

Sat at the corner with two pieces of bread, waiting for the traffic jam?

Cut a hole in his rug so that he could see the floor show?

Saluted the refrigerator because he heard it was General Electric?

Slept on his stomach so that the Japanese couldn’t bomb his naval base?

Takes a yardstick to bed to see how long he sleeps?

Took a bicycle to bed so that he wouldn’t walk in his sleep?

Moved into the city because he heard the country was at war?

Sat up all night studying for a blood test?

Went to a lumber yard looking for the draft board?

Put his head out the window so that the wind would blow his nose?

Stayed up all night wondering where the sun went when it went down? It finally dawned on him!

Met a girl in a revolving door and has been going around with her ever since?

Took milk and sugar to watch TV because he heard they were showing a serial?

Took his nose apart to see what made it run?

Was so modest he went into the closet to change his mind?

Cut off his hand so he could play the piano by ear?

Killed his mother and father so that he could go to the orphans’ picnic?

Went to the Navy Yard to see a blood vessel?

Backed out of the bus because he heard someone was going to pinch his seat?

Sent six kids to bed and set the alarm for 3 because only three wanted to get up?

Put crumbs in his shoes to feed his pigeon toes?

Wouldn’t talk about crude oil because it wasn’t refined?

Thought he was dying so he went into the living room?

Stayed up all night trying to put a diaper on a cigarette butt?

Went to the hospital and had a chair put beside his bed for rigor mortis to set in?

Was arrested for not having a little moron? (more on)

Jumped off a tall building to show the crowd he had guts?

Typed emails to his girlfriend slowly because he knew she couldn’t read fast?

Went to the Post Office to pick up a letter, and when asked for his name he said he didn’t have to give it because it was already on the envelope?

Went to the lumber yard to see the Board of Education?

Went to the closet to change his mind but couldn’t find a clean one?

Poked out his eyes when he went on a blind date?

Ate five pennies and then asked people if they saw any change in him?

Wanted to know how many wheels a football coach had?

Cut off his left arm so that he could be all right?

Put his chin on the curb so that he could keep his mind out of the gutter?

Didn’t pay when he boarded the bus because his name was Crime, and “Crime doesn’t pay”?

Went to bed on his wedding night with all his clothes on because he’d been told he’d be going to town by midnight?

**

The Italian Who Went to Detroit

(Please read with Italian accent)

One day Ima gonna Detroit to bigga hotel. Inna morning, I go down to eat breakfast. I tella di waitress I want two pissis toast. She brings me only one piss! I tella her I wanna two piss. She say go to the toilet. I say you no unnerstan, I wanna two piss on my plate. She say you better no piss onna plate, you sonna ma bitch. I don’t even know di lady, an she call me sonna ma bitch.

Later I go out to eat at the bigga restaurant. The waitress bring me a spoon anna knife, but no fock. I tella her I wanna fock. She say evvybody wanna fock. I tell her you no unnerstan, I wanna fock on di table. She say you better no fock onna table, you sonna ma bitch.

So I go back to my room inna hotel and there is no shits onna my bed. I call di manager an tell him I wanna shit. He tells me to go to the toilet. I say, you no unnerstan, I wanna shit on my bed. He say you better no shit onna bed, you sonna ma bitch.

I go to da checkout, an di man at di desk say “Peace on You.” I say piss on you too, you sonna ma bitch. I gonna back to Italy.