Flash Fiction #132

Clutter

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

CREATIVE CLUTTER

A clean desk is the sign of a diseased mind.

Once, he had been embarrassed by his messy work area. Accountants are neat and orderly.  Writers are artists, whose minds must be free to soar.  Their thoughts, words, ideas and concepts eddy and flow to produce prose which will reach out and grab the reader.

Neatness was over-rated. Cleaning was non-productive.  Filing was prosaic.  His system was chronological – newest stuff on top of the pile.  Besides, his Mom was coming over to visit and bring him supper Friday evening.  She’d have his little nook Spic and Span before she left.

***

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

2017 A To Z Challenge – C

Challenge2017

In mining other people’s prompts for this post, I dug up a lot of other options but, for the letter

Letter C

it all came down to one choice. I have to write about CANADA!

Canada 150

This is Canada’s sesquicentennial. That’s just a sesquipedalian word that means we’re 150 years old this year.  We’ve been at this ‘country’ thing for a century and a half.  The Government is so thrilled that it directed the Bank of Canada to issue a new, commemorative $10 bill, which features people and places that even Canadians have never heard of.

Canadian Bill

The US gained its freedom by revolting, a definition still agreed on by much of the world. Canada became independent by asking nicely.

50 years ago, we celebrated our Centennial. I should apologise to the rest of the world, especially the Americans, for Pamela Anderson.  She was declared Canada’s Official Centennial Baby, being born the soonest after the stroke of midnight that began July 1-1967, CANADA Day.

The problem was that she was born out on the Left-Coast, beautiful-bud, British Columbia. The Centennial was already 5 ½ hours old in Newfoundland and the rest of Canada, by the time it dawned on her.  Continually told throughout her childhood that she was Special, as she grew older she decided to inflict it on prove it to other people, by getting into TV/movies.

The best thing that she ever did for Canada was move to California, where she became the bulbous Baywatch bitch. After that was cancelled, she became a born-again vegetarian, and endured a lackluster career of dressing up in lettuce leaves and shoving her boobs and her unfounded, ill-considered opinions into other people’s faces.

Canada Kicks Ass

The wife and I got married as a Centennial project. We were going to leave it until the next year, but saw little reason to wait, so we moved the date up to Dec. 2 – 1967.  We almost caused an evil-minded, judgemental, Catholic sister-in-law to wear out her fingers, counting the months till the birth of our first child.  The daughter fooled her, and saved her fingers, by being born 10 months and 1 day after our wedding.

When we got married, both we and Canada were filled with naive optimism. For proof, you can click on the YouTube link to see and hear.  The French have the stirring, martial, Le Marseillais.  The Americans have the patriotic Star-Spangled Banner, with bombs bursting in air.  We have Canada’s Centennial Song. One little, two little, three Canadians – Weeee love you. Now we are twenty million. That was then.  Now, 50 years later, we are 33 million – perhaps 34 million, if you count the illegal immigrants being welcomed with open arms by the RCMP, as they leak across the border into Manitoba and Quebec, trying to get away from Trumpetopia.

As the wife and I near our 50th wedding anniversary, both we, and the country, are older if no wiser.  Both have become harder and more cynical, especially now as we endure a Care-Bear, second-generation Prime Minister who is spending the country’s, and our children’s, financial future on frivolous, feel-good, social-engineering plots.  When he visits Donald Trump, he’s on his knees, and not to pray.

This too shall pass! We are tough.  We will prevail.  You can tan my hide and make work boots out of me.

Please use your boots to walk back over here in a couple of weeks, to see what indignities I inflict on poor, unsuspecting Letter D.   😯

Canadian Flag

A To Z Challenge – S

april-challenge

UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS

letter-s

I want to discuss my ancestors, but the above title is a lie. Upstairs/Downstairs was a British TV series dealing with the various goings-on of the upper-crust, upper-floor rich folk in a mansion, and the serving class below them, both physically and socially, who provided their every whim and wish.

My forebears didn’t live in no stinkin’ mansion, making tea, and cucumber sandwiches for effete dilettantes.   My folks have been industrious, productive people for hundreds of years.  They were ‘blue-collar’ long before blue collars existed.  A more accurate title might be Manor-House/Mill-house – and never the twain shall meet.

My father’s name (and mine) was Smith.  His progenitors originally were productive German artisans named Schmied.  Over many years, the name changed to Schmidt, and was carried to the newly-born United States of America by a Hessian mercenary, paid by the British.  After another hundred years, it got Anglicized to Smith.

Smith is a proud name, and a proud profession. It originally meant, one who produces, makes or manufactures something. Then the language changed so that it meant, a worker in metal.  Finally, the meaning narrowed to just the blacksmith, who pounds hot iron and steel.

I like to think of myself as a wordsmith.  I received blacksmith training in my high school shop class.  (Yes, I lived that far out in the sticks, and back in the mists of time.)  Blacksmith is making a comeback, both through the custom knife and sword makers, and artisans who supply millennial hipsters with hand-made gate latches, coat-racks, porch rails and coffee tables.

My mother’s side of the family supplied the name Stewart.  This is a Scottish name from the English word steward, meaning, one who takes take of something.  The spelling of this name also slipped a bit, to Stuart, and a branch of the clan became the Royal Stuarts, ruling, and ‘taking care of’, Scotland.

Before he emigrated from Glasgow to Canada, my maternal grandfather became the ‘Keeper of the Tartans’ at the fabric mill where he worked. He was the steward of the patterns of the plaids which clothed a good portion of the country.

letter-s-super

All in all, I think maybe this is the S that I should have chosen for this post.  I’m impressed with my family history.  How about you?  😎

Sassin’ The Sassenach

Union Jack

The grandson, ‘Thorn Smith’, has finished his three-year welding apprentice course, and is now licensed to work anywhere in Canada.  He recently accompanied his fiancé to Ottawa, ON (545 Km – 340 Mi. – 5 ½ hour drive) so that she could attend university there.

Before they each take this big life-step, they decided that they should see a bit of the world first. He saved money from his placement employment, and she from her job as a Starbucks barista, and they flew to London, England for a week.

One of the big attractions was a chance to see the new Harry Potter play, ‘The Cursed Child.’ On the day that tickets were released, they crouched over their computer, waiting for the floodgates to open.  When it happened, they quickly found that the system would respond to PCs, but not to their Apple.  In the slightly less than an hour that it took them to physically move to where there was an available PC, ALL TICKETS for the entire run were sold out.

Still, money had been saved, and plane tickets had been bought, so off they went. A tiny, unexpected payment from a retirement fund allowed us to gift them with £100 in ten-pound notes, because vacations are always costly, and London is said to be expensive.

SDC10989

Aside from the missed play, they enjoyed all the touristy London things – London Bridge, Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye Ferris Wheel, Curry In A Hurry, and fish and chips.

Even before the Brexit from the E.U. England had not accepted Euro notes or coins, especially after (relatively) recently having switched over to decimal coinage. The grandson brought me back a complete set of coins.  They descend from the bi-metal 2-Pound, to the single, round-Pound, heptagonal 50-pence and 20-pence, quarter-sized 10-pence, dime-sized 5-pence, 50-cent-sized copper 2-pence, and a copper penny.

Around the edge of the 2-Pound coin is inscribed, “On The Shoulders Of Giants”, a reference to Sir Isaac Newton. Around the 1-Pound coin’s edge is, “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” the royal Stuart and a Scottish motto, meaning, “No-one attacks me with impunity.”

SDC11006

SDC11018

Not knowing that I had one, he also brought me back a 5-Pound note. Different from mine, I find that British notes are now not only color-coded, but size-coded, as well; the smaller the denomination, the smaller the bill.

SDC11011

SDC11014

I also have a Scottish 1-Pound note, and a British Armed Services 1-Pound Scrip bill not to be used anywhere but, or even removed from, Armed Forces bases. I have a surprising number of items like that, Russian Rubles and Kopeks, Cuban Pesos.

Ten pounds

There’s a lot of separation going on over there. Britain has left the E.U.  Scotland wants to separate from England, and may independently rejoin it.  They are allowed to print their own money.  Ireland wants little to do with either, and also prints up their own greenbacks.

When grandson and fiancé were first driven to Ottawa to take possession of their apartment, they found a Starbucks, literally visible from their front window. When they drove over for a caffeine-break, her mother got the first coffee, and stepped back to wait.

Perhaps recognising new customers, the female manager approached to welcome and ask how things were. The mother said that her daughter worked at a Starbucks in Kitchener, and would be looking for a position in Ottawa.

“She’s an experienced barista??! I’m short-handed and hiring.  Have her manager email me, and I’ll have a job for her as soon as she’s available.”  Going to class and working part-time will be busy, but they’ll have income until he finds a decent job.  I love it when a plan comes together.

[Hopefully, the grandson is reading this on his Smart-Phone. Thanx for all your past help.  We miss you already.  Good luck, and keep in touch.]   😀

Attack

Arrow

I was recently assaulted. It’s my own inattentive fault.  I was blithely, blindly blundering around the blogosphere, trying to catch up on my reading and commenting, when I discovered that Cordelia’s Mom had used a trebuchet to launch another Versatile Blogger award over Niagara Falls at me.

versatileblogger113

I am always happy for any attention that doesn’t involve blue uniforms and arrest or search warrants. I hate to have to keep wiping my hard drive.  I sincerely thank CM for getting this award to me before Trump gets elected and puts up that big wall between us.

As usual, there’s a whole buncha rules.

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

As usual, G.O.D.’s (Grumpy Old Dude) rules supersede any silly WordPress rules, so I’m just gonna do whatever I want – but you already knew that, din’t ya??

I thanked CM for this honor, because, as a rule, I’m commonly courteous, even when I’m ignoring the rules. Secondly, I linked to CM’s beauteous blogsite (Quick, check above. I did link didn’t I? I didn’t have an[other] Alzheimer’s moment, did I?) because I’m not commonly courteous; I’m outstandingly courteous.

Next comes the sh….stuff I plan to ignore, nominations.

For various reasons, some bloggers don’t want to be bothered with blog awards, so for them, I won’t nominate them. For the other bloggers who get a kick out of a bit of recognition, there are still many to spread the joy. My not nominating anyone only means that the Universe will die the entropy death one second later.

Now comes the hardest part. Rule #5 says I have to tell the person who nominated me (i.e. Cordelia’s Mom), seven things about myself. That actually means to tell any readers. Between reading each other’s posts, comments and replies, emails, and even a couple of personal meet-and-greets, CM knows pretty much everything about me except the first name of my parole officer – (Herbert, BTW).  I’ll try.

  1. Recent insight has revealed that my lifelong lonership, my lack of friends, may stem from my thundering need for freedom and independence. That may have something to do with my Scottish ancestry. If you can show me a different, better way, I may adopt it, but I will not blindly, unquestioningly, believe and follow, whether religion, politics, sports, automakers or Kardashians, simply to ‘fit in.’ After almost 50 years of marriage, the wife still occasionally says something like, “I’ve tried to change him, but he’s just stubborn.”
  2. I do odd things with containers. Small bottles, like medicines or spice jars, I open with one hand – the left. I hold them against my palm with the third and fourth fingers, and either flip lids, or wind off screw-tops with my thumb and forefinger. I can usually put the lids back on that way too. Could I be on America’s Got Talent?
  3. Larger containers I often open by holding the top with my left hand, and turning the jar/bottle underneath it on a counter with my right. I (almost) never have a lid go flying away, to land on the cat hair floor. Can I now expect a home visit from a traveling psychologist?
  4. I couldn’t juggle if you held a gun to my head but, when moving an object from one hand to the other, I often throw/toss it – left to right, right to left – it’s only a foot or so. Exceptions include sharp knives, open drink containers, and cats. S6300243
  5. I’m not quite OCD about it, but I often count things. There are 14 steps in each stair flight in the house. When going downstairs with an armload of groceries, I’m never surprised to find that there’s another step, or almost as bad, I go to step down one more time, and there isn’t. When watering a cat from a faucet, I don’t look at a clock, I count the ticks. 60 clicks? – He’s done!
  6. Despite my singularity-ness, I truly, honestly care about people, especially the little people, the underdogs. Sadly, my physical and fiscal limitations often restrict what I can do to help others. The only folks I hate are liars, bullies and assholes. They cut into my charity work by about 90%!
  7. CM was the first fellow-blogger I had a real, live meet-and-greet with, even as I was on my way to rescue yet another blogger, lost in the wilds of Ohio, as Paul Curran recently was in Ottawa. We repeated the feat, each with a change of partners. I note that she’s hatching plots to get even more bloggers together. I hope she’s still keeping me in mind (probably ‘way back at the back).

No nominations – no list of worthy bloggers??! I’m done here.  Insert thunderous applause!

Hurt Feelings

*Crying

The problem is world-wide, but North America in particular has turned into a bunch of whimpering, whining, wimpy, wussy, wieners. I’m all for being respectful, and not intentionally hurting feelings, but more and more, within any larger group, is a smaller sect, driven by the usual ego and insecurity, who make an industry out of being offended.

Quebec flag

In Quebec, Canada, there are actually provincial government agents – Language Police – who drive the streets with notebook, dictionaries, and tape measures, to assure that theirs isn’t bigger than ours.  Signs of all kinds in stores and shops are examined.  The French language must come first and be shown above any others.  English is the most censored and censured.  All non-French lettering must be less than ¾ the size of the French.

Indian

In the past, in the USA, the whites were contemptuous of the Native Americans. Over the years, things have improved greatly.  It’s not perfect.  Nothing is.  At least now, whites aren’t giving Indians smallpox-infected blankets.  Within the Indigenous community, rather than accepting that sports teams’ names like Washington Redskins are now a show of respect and acceptance for a different kind of warrior, there are strident ‘Native American’ voices insisting that these names be changed.  If you want insult, how ‘bout The Washington Lawyers, or -Congressmen?

Confederate flag

Last year there was a big fooferaw about the display of a version of the CSA flag on State properties. South Carolina was forced to remove it from the Capital Building.  While the ancestors of the white citizens may have owned Negro slaves, the flag is a symbol of White resisting White, cultural independence, in a political situation, having little to do with slavery, in the modern day.

Still – down it came. The goofy little, long-rerunning show, The Dukes of Hazzard, has now been removed from the airwaves, because the car – the real star of the show – is named The General Lee, after a Confederate leader, and displays the Rebel flag.

Ion Wall Design

My city, Kitchener Ontario, used to be known as Berlin. It still has a strong Germanic population and feel.  In 1916, in an effort to not offend surrounding non-Germans, it changed its name.  Recently the Twin Cities have been pushing the infrastructure, in an effort to imitate some of the bigger cities.

Among other things, we are installing a street-railroad, down the length of an already overcrowded main artery. A non-German design engineer has been hired to produce design themes for stops, including the one shown above, across from the coming new train/bus station.

Scarcely had the artist’s drawing hit the internet, than there were howls of complaint. “How dare he produce a design with a Nazi Swastika in it??!” Don’t you see it?  It’s as plain as the nose on your easily offended face.

These all remind me of the story of the little old lady who phoned the police, to see if they could do anything about the guy in the apartment across from hers, who wandered around in the nude. The Police detective carefully looked out her window and said, “I don’t see anybody nude.”  She replied, “You have to go into the bathroom and stand on the toilet and use these binoculars.”  😳

This really is a First World problem. Too bad we can’t still use Australia as a penal colony.  We don’t hear this kind of entitled shit coming from down there.  I’d like to see how much complaining we’d get if these easily-offended butt-wipes were scrabbling to survive with subsistence farming.  ‘Take a pill and get over yourself.  Life’s a bitch.  Don’t be another!’

CANADA D’Eh?

Canadian Flag

July 1 is CANADA DAY!

In celebration, I slept in till after noon….wait, that’s my regular schedule.  In any case, it took me a while to get my mind firing on all three cylinders, steal research the following fascinating information about my great country, and get it out to all my foreign followers.

ARE THE STEREOTYPES ABOUT CANADA TRUE?

It’s always winter here

False. There is, almost always, a stretch of several weeks between the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the start of curling season when it is warm enough for mosquitoes to thrive. This is when we go camping. In fact, according to Environment Canada the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada was on July 5, 1937, when it reached 45 C in Midale and Yellowgrass, Sask. You know where else it reaches 45 C? The Sahara desert. Saskatchewan: the Morocco of the North.

We say “eh” after every sentence

False.  A lot of sentences end with “Stanley Cup,” “puck,” or “sorry.”

We’re all very polite

See previous item. Actually, a poll by Angus Reid last year found that 56 per cent of Canadians reported using profanity on a regular or occasional basis, higher than both Brits (51 per cent) and Americans (46 per cent). But are we more profane or are we just less likely to hang up on pollsters? In fact, Canada had 554 murders in 2010, according to Statistics Canada. That’s 1.62 homicides per 100,000, compared to 4.8 in the United States, 13 in Russia, 18 in Mexico and 78 in Honduras, the deadliest country in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

We all play hockey

False. There is a rumour that several people somewhere in the Metro Vancouver region do not play hockey or understand what offside and icing are, and the relentless mocking of neighbours and co-workers has so far failed to convince them to pick up some skates and get with the game. According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, Canada is the hockey-playingest nation in the world, with 572,411 registered hockey players, male and female, which amounts to 1.68 per cent of the population.

We drink a lot of beer

False, it seems. According to statistics compiled by Ranker.com, Canada pulls in at 21st among beer-swilling nations, swigging a meagre 68.3 litres per capita annually. That’s well behind Hungary, at 75.3 litres, and just ahead of Latvia, at 68 litres. Czechs more than double the pitiful tippling of Canadians, downing 158.6 litres of beer per capita per year. Ireland wins silver in the quaffing World Cup, at 131.1 litres per person. Per capita consumption of beer peaked in Canada in 1981, at 99.69 litres, says Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

We hate Americans

Wrong again. We share a language, a culture, a lot of television shows and 8,891 kilometres worth of border across land and water. We have the largest bilateral relationship of any two nations on Earth, and aside from the beer thing and burning down the White House in the War of 1812, we get along quite famously. According to Statistics Canada, they’re our best friends and we, theirs. The federal agency says more than 24.5 million Americans came to Canada to say “hey” in 2010, compared to 4.5 million visitors from other countries, and almost 20 million Canadians went to the U.S. to say “eh,” compared to the 1.4 million Canadians who went to Mexico, our second bestie.

We speak French

Mais oui. Un peu. In the 2006 federal census, 17.8 million Canadians identified themselves as speaking English and 6.8 million as speaking French, while 98,625 said they spoke English and French. Almost 300,000 others said they spoke English and/or French and another language. Overachievers.

Igloo

We live in igloos

We wish, because igloos are very cool, but the truth is that the igloo is the ingenious invention of the Inuit people of the Arctic. While Inuit traditionally used hide tents for their summer homes and sod homes in winter, they also built igloos for shelter when they were out on the land in winter. Igloos are built of blocks of snow stacked one atop the other to form a dome. They’re easy to construct and warm inside, offering fast and secure shelter in one of the harshest climates on Earth.

Modern Inuit – of which there are more than 50,000, according to the 2006 federal census – have settled in permanent communities throughout the North and live in houses like their southern Canadian cousins, but many continue to keep their hunting and fishing traditions alive.

We ride dogsleds

While riding public transit at rush hour can certainly evoke feelings of being at the mercy of a pack of rabid dogs, there are some subtle but important differences.

One: Sled dogs are actually quite well-behaved, or they wouldn’t be sled dogs. They would be dogs who chew shoes and chase Canada Post employees.
Two: Public transit smells bad, and while sled dogs themselves aren’t exactly a breath of fresh air, you do have to be out in the fresh air to be driving a dog sled.
Three: A dog team can run up to 32 kilometres an hour, says the International Federation of Sleddog Sports, while buses at rush hour rarely reach those kinds of speeds.

There are many differences but most importantly, mushing is a rural sport while riding public transit is a predominantly urban sport, and according to the 2006 federal census, of the 31,612,897 residents of Canada in 2006, only 6,262,154 of them lived in rural Canada. The same explanation stands for canoeing, although many Canadian city dwellers do venture outdoors, ignoring their common sense and overcoming childhood memories of summer camp to undertake such foolhardy activities as camping in tents, swimming in non-chlorinated natural formations and kayaking. A survey by Statistics Canada found that in 2004 alone, 13.6 million trips were taken by Canadians to visit national and provincial parks, and 8.2 million trips were taken to go boating, including canoeing and kayaking.

We all wear toques

Much to the chagrin of Canadian fashionistas, this one is true. And when the mercury drops into frostbite territory, many go full-out voyageur and pull the toques down over their ears.

Canada Kicks Ass

#475