Homeward! Bound?

zoes tale

What books I can’t get for free from the Library, I pay half-price for at the book-exchange stall at the St. Jacob’s Farmers’ Market, or reluctantly buy at full retail from the Chapters Bookstore nearby. Also, a few trickle down from the son, Shimoniac.  One of the ways I enticed him to accompany me on the recent Buffalo/Batavia trip, was to guarantee him a visit to both a large bookstore and/or second-hand book exchange.

Everything is relative. Cordelia’s Mom informed me that the large second-hand bookstore I found online in Buffalo, was just outside the University, and dealt with buying and reselling text-books. The Galleria Mall she led us to, listed ‘Bookstores – 3’ online, if you consider Hallmark Cards a bookstore.

A second was a Christian bookstore, more interested in selling Bibles, rosaries and Holy Water pendants than Sci-Fi or Romance. The last was a New Age-y thing with books on Yoga, weight loss, DIY, and Chicken Soup for the Confused Psyche.  We spent a couple of hours people-watching, and then headed to Batavia, where I assured him there was a Barnes and Noble store.

After our Sunday photographic downtown tour, we allowed Ethel, the GPS, to lead us three miles out of town to 1 College Road. This turned out to be the main administration building of the Genesee State College.  The store might have been run by Barnes and Noble, but it was identified simply as ‘Campus Bookstore’, slightly bigger than a Volkswagen van, full of more textbooks, and closed on Sunday.

“Never fear!” I said.  “I know where there’s a giant Barnes and Noble in Buffalo, as big as the huge Chapters we recently visited in Toronto’s Eaton’s Center.”  (Grump, grump, grump muttered the son.  I’ll bet.)

The next day, after checking out, we headed back to Buffalo. Since ‘I knew where I was going,’ the son hadn’t turned Ethel back on.  There was a post with two curved arrows to the right as we approached Niagara Falls Boulevard.  I drove over it, expecting to take the far ramp down, to go south.  There is no far ramp.

The following is for CM, and any others familiar with Buffalo, to tell her how lost I was, and where.  The rest of you can skip it and just read “Lost, lost, lost, blah, blah, blah.”

A mile and a quarter down I-90, to Colvin – north a mile and a quarter till I encountered a main cross-street, Ellicott Creek Rd. – a mile and a quarter back to Niagara Falls Blvd. and there was The Grapevine, our restaurant of two days ago – south a mile and a quarter, till I was back where I should have been. Moses wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  I only went 5 useless miles out of my way.

I found the Barnes and Noble, and parked in a handicap spot right in front, because my arthritic hip was bothering me – and then hobbled a 100 yards around the corner to where they put the entrance. The son spent a glorious hour and a half, picking up almost as much ink as if he’d got a tattoo, while I lazed in an easy chair in front of their indoor gas campfire.  Finally sated, but without actually purchasing one book, we headed home.

Back up the Boulevard we went, toward I-90. Again, there were two arrows, one curved, and one L-shaped.  I didn’t want to get caught as I had coming in.  The son was desperately trying to find the GPS.  Just as I decided to merge right, the son yelled, “Take the ramp!”  I did – and off we went in the wrong direction – again.  More ‘Lost, lost, blah, blah.’

The last exit back dumped right into the University of Buffalo. After navigating parking lots and ring road, we finally won free to a surface street.  The son said, “We’re on Maple Road.”  Well, Maple Rd. Is where the Red Roof is that we should have stayed at. “I know where we are.  We’re lost, but we’re making good time.”

Continuing onward, the son said, “We must be getting near civilization. There’s a Taco Bell.  At least we won’t starve to death.”  (As if!)  Ethel the GPS had finally recovered her satellites, and her voice, but I beat her to it.  “Turn right on Sheridan Drive.” I know! I followed the turbo-charged soccer-momobile here last year.  This takes us back to CM’s place.

Soon, we’re back to the Boulevard, and heading for I-90. Another wasted 5 miles.  Moses’ ass, and mine, are getting tired.  Finally facing toward Canada, we head home.  Near Grand Island, the highway runs across the top of a dam.  Suddenly, the light goes on.  This is the entrance to the fabled Erie Canal.

I paid a dollar toll to get onto the island, and another to take the bridge over the gorge. I pulled up to the Canadian Customs booth – and that’s when the trouble started.

I misjudged my approach, and when I went to hand out our passports, I couldn’t reach by two feet. The young Border Guard could have stepped out of his booth, but instead insisted, “Get out of the car!”, which I was happy to do, because I needed to ease my right hip again.  Immediately, I was ordered to, “Get back in your car!”  “Okay, as soon as I can move.”

What the son saw, but I didn’t, was the Free Safety behind the adjacent booth suddenly head toward us with his hand on his Glock. Once the car door was closed, things calmed down – a bit.  Now the Inquisition started.

Why’d you go to the States?
To visit some friends, and do a bit of shopping.
How long were you gone?
(He’s got it on the computer screen in front of him.)  Two days.
Where are you from?
Kitchener.
How much are you bringing back?
For both of us, about $75 US, no alcohol, no tobacco.
Then what did you buy?
Some clothes, some food.
Where do your friends live?
In Tonawanda.
Where did you stay?
Out in Batavia.  It was the nearest place that wasn’t full of football fans.
Do you have a receipt?
Why yes officer, right here beside me.
So you two brothers just went over for a visit?
We are not brothers.  We are father and son.
Have you ever had any trouble getting into the States?
No, officer.
Are you known by any other names?
(Other than Stupid, or Asshole??)  No sir.

He looked across the car at the son and asked for a drivers’ licence, for proof of address, which we passed out, and he examined thoroughly. We just sat there, grinning like the rubes we are.  I asked, “Which name set you off?”  “I can’t tell you that.” But it was the son’s licence he asked for.  Like the TSA No-Fly list, it’s probable that someone with the same name is wanted for something.  We may have this problem in any future trips, but now we are warned.

Now he can step out of the booth, to return all the documents.  No “Thank you, have a nice day sir.” Just, “Okay, away you go.”  Surly enough to be an American.  Did Tim Horton’s refuse to serve you?  Well, we’re back in the Land of the Bland and the Home of the Subservient.

I Would Appreciate It….

….if you would read this blog….and comment on it….and tell your friends about it.  Hello??!  Is anybody out there?  Is this mike keyboard on?

Every blogger appreciates getting comments and feedback from their posts.  We all want to know that we’ve reached someone, gave them some new information, or a new way of looking at something.  Clicking *like* tells them that we’ve read the post, and felt it was good/interesting/worthy, but, stopping to make a comment tells a blogger that we’ve been more intimately involved with their thoughts.  Whether it’s just a little throwaway joke, or a deeply philosophical review of a complex subject, writers like to know that they’ve affected someone.  The more comments they get, the more connected they feel to their readers, and the happier they are.

There’s a new spate of blog awards making the rounds.  One of my newer Best Blog Buddies, Nicole, over at www.nmnphx.wordpress.com, despite being busier than usual, both at work, and just with life in general, has had four different blog awards lobbed at her in the last week.  After reserving one free minute to take a deep breath, she has managed to deal with all of them.  As usual, the terms of all of them are that, if you receive it, you must scatter copies of it, like flower petals in the wind.

She and I have been making free with comments on each other’s posts.  I have appreciated seeing her bright words below my prosaic posts.  Apparently she has felt much the same about my inane pigeon droppings responses.  So much so in fact, that she has deemed me worthy of the prestigious Reader Appreciation Award.  This award is bestowed upon blog visitors who are regular and reasonably intelligent commenters.  Well, I got one out of the two nailed.  I’m working to be sure I have my brain in motion, before I engage my mouth.

At least all I have to do for this award is appreciate it.  None of this telling you seven, or ten, or the square root of 144 things about myself.  I’ve already listed so much stuff about me that even I’m surprised.  Aside from blogging, the last new thing that happened to me is still carved into the cave wall.  I am supposed to pass this award on to five to ten visitors to my blog who make me feel good by regularly commenting.  Five to ten sounds like a prison sentence, and I’ve already got my five hardened criminals blog-friends picked out and will notify them as I post this.  If the following folks don’t feel any sillier than I do, feel free to mosey on over to the Archon’s Corral and pick up a pretty little picture to hang on your blog wall.

I want everyone to know that I really appreciate the comments, the following, and the support of;

The delightful, and only slightly profane, KayJai at www.kayjai.wordpress.com

Ted, the IT genius, hiding behind a rock at www.sightsnbytes.wordpress.com

Repairing a wall with one hand as she holds a loaded Glock in the other, it’s http://whiteladyinthehood.wordpress.com

The gently opinionated neighborhood axe-murderess Madame Weebles at www.fearnoweebles.wordpress.com

And Canada’s native son from the land of the midnight sun, www.theharemsmaster.wordpress.com

There are a few more that I could mention, but I’m too damned lazy right now.  There’s more exciting Olympics to get back to.  If you feel your name should have been included but don’t see it, please don’t be offended.  These blog awards come around more often than door-to-door driveway sealers.  The next time I get swatted with one, I’ll list some different names.  BrainRants comes to mind, but his comments have fallen off a bit because he’s busy saving the world from power-point presentations.  After he gets back I’ll see if I can find a logo that features a tank, or at least an M9 Beretta handgun.

How you please yourself or your significant other, in the privacy of your own home is your own business, but if you want to please a bunch of bloggers, wash your hands and leave a few nice comments.  We’d all appreciate it.