Pint Sized

Pint

Always fascinated with the details of English word usage, I recently read a post titled Euphemisms. In it, a young female explained how the seemingly innocent words of many of the nursery rhymes we tell our children, had a much darker meaning when they were first composed.

She apparently had a real vendetta against royalty and religion. Her first story was about “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”, who was Queen “Bloody” Mary, trying to return now-Protestant England to the Catholic Church.  Her garden grew well, because it was fertilized with the corpses of the many that she had tortured and executed.

The writer claimed that “Three Blind Mice” were three noble men(sic) who plotted against Mary. She didn’t have them blinded, or mutilated (their ‘tails’ cut off), merely burned at the stake.  But, in reality, there were only two who plotted, and only one was a noble, the other, an Anglican Bishop.

“Goosey, Goosey, Gander” is about Catholic sympathisers hiding priests from Protestant torture and death squads. The line about grabbing them by their left leg was because priests were identified when they put their left foot forward as they genuflected.

Already cynical, she lost my belief when her mix of fact to fiction became too thin on the “Jack And Jill” story. This is word history, not political history, and something I’ve researched.

She stated that it referred to the execution of Louis XIII and Marie Antoinette. When Louis (not Jack – or even Jacques) was beheaded, he lost his ‘Crown.’  When Marie was guillotined, her head ‘came tumbling after.’  She didn’t explain why English commoners would make up rhymes about French monarchs.

This little rhyme is all about governments getting more tax income by screwing with sizes. It was something citizens were complaining about 400 years ago, and they’re still screwing us today.

A “Jack” was a leather mug, in which inns and taverns served 12 ounces of beer or cheap wine. Taxes were paid on how many ‘Jacks’ were dispensed. Suddenly, by Royal decree, the size of a Jack was reduced to 10 ounces, and taxes on beer and wine went up by 20%.

Crown

Taxes were often paid in ‘Crowns’, silver English coins. Soon both barkeeps and the drinking working man were going bankrupt (broke).  When the Jack fell down, he/it broke his ‘Crown’.

The Gill – or Jill – was a quarter of a pint, the amount of a shot of harder liquor. The Incredible Shrinking Jack trick had worked so well that the government tried it again.  A gallon had been 160 ounces, therefore a quart (quarter gallon) was 40 ounces, a pint was 20….and a quarter-pint Gill, was 5.

The gallon was reduced to 128 ounces, a quart to 32, a pint to 16. The 5 ounce Gill became 4 ounces, the tax on liquor went up 25% with the stroke of a pen, “and Jill came tumbling after.”

A later government restored the gallon/quart, etc. sizes, but the results can still be seen. The UK has ‘Imperial’, 40 ounce quarts, but the US never changed back, keeping their 32 oz. version.  The US has a Fifth (of a 128 oz. gallon = 25.6 oz.) of booze, where Canada insists that it’s a 26er.

When I was but a mere child, dairies delivered 40 oz. quart glass bottles of milk to the house. When glass yielded to cardboard cartons, the international conglomerates who now provided cow juice, did so in 32 oz. American quarts, without changing our cost.

In 1971, when Canada went metric, no-one really knew anything about metric sizes. Containers were now (34oz. approx.) liters.  Cost went up, but uncertainty kept complaints down.  40 oz. glass pop bottles became 1-liter plastic containers – at the same price.

To lull the population into happily accepting metrification, the Canadian government actually solicited poems from citizens, extolling the beauty and benefits of the Metric System. They were disappointed by the low turnout, and definitely did not publish the one that said;

When things go Metric,
Prices rise!
Surprise, surprise,
Surprise, surprise!

The Portuguese lady selling bread at the Market continues to shout, “Three bags for $5.” The old loaves of bread suitable for making trencherman farmers’ sandwiches are now so small that they’re barely big enough to make petit-fours.  The hamburger and hot-dog buns remain the same size, but the bags which used to contain a dozen buns, first slipped to 10, slid to 9, fell to 8, and, hopefully, have bottomed out at a ridiculous 7 per pack.

The only thing that I have as much left in my wallet as I used to, is lint.

Advertisements

Autoprompt – What’s In Your Fridge?

PROLOGUE

When I saw the above autoprompt, I wondered, “Who would want to know what’s in my fridge?” Then I remembered, if we go to a party at someone else’s house and use the washroom, we always nose through the medicine cabinet. Hmm, Rogaine and hemorrhoid cream – he’s got problems at both ends. So yeah, you know you wanna know.

Refrigerator

It is said that, the poor eat calories, the middle class eat nutrition, and the rich eat presentation.

Even when I worked in offices after we were first married, we were still only one short half-step up from being living-under-a-bridge poor, so calories were important. I always wanted to eat – well. Later, when I took off the shirt and tie, and donned the blue-collar to work in manufacturing plants, calories were important. The wife watched a lot of TV cooking shows, and bought and read a lot of cookbooks.

The wife of a couple down the street often complained about her husband’s food wants – meat and potatoes, meat and potatoes, seven nights a week. At our house, it was homemade pizza, perogies and potato pancakes, soups, stews and spaghetti, Chinese food, tacos, stroganoff, goulash, tourtière, schnitzel. One time we had menus for seven weeks in advance, with no duplicates.

To make this dizzying array of global dishes requires quite a varied supply of raw materials. This need explains the wife’s 36 place spice rack, and the 24 spot herb rack, with more in the cupboard, and a few growing fresh, on the back deck. Almost everything we have, because of personal preference, allergies and cooking options, we have multiple versions of.

Starting above the stove is a cupboard full of cooking alcohol – red wine for pasta sauce, white for chicken and turkey dishes, Chinese cooking wine, sake for a couple of Japanese recipes, and brandy to soak Christmas cake in. The only stuff that I drink is the occasional bit of Crème de Menthe on crushed ice, when I’ve overindulged in rich food.

Come the apocalypse, the basement storeroom will feed us for three months. Aside from cookies, crackers and canned goods, we have 12 sizes and shapes of pasta and noodles, 2 brands of tomato sauce, plus marinara and Alfredo sauce.

There are usually about 36 two-liter(2-quart) bottles of Pepsi, and ten or twelve 710ml(20 oz.) six-packs. We keep a 30-pack of bottled water ahead, to replace the one in use under the cats’ feeding stand upstairs, and one or two gallons of distilled, as well as a dozen cans of ginger ale.

There are 4 types of rice – long grain for plain white rice, Basmati rice for body, Jasmine rice for sticky rice dishes, and instant Minute Rice. We have all-purpose flour, cake & pastry flour, bread flour, specially-fine-ground blending flour for thickening soups, sauces and gravy, rye flour for making pumpernickel rolls, and spelt flour, which like rye, is not wheat-based, and suitable for the allergic grandson.

Currently there are 20 pounds of Superior, white potatoes for boiled and mashed, 20 pounds of Russets, which make great French fries and potato salad, and 5 pounds of new baby whites in the ‘beer fridge’ for suet roasting and skin-on salad.

Onions include, cooking, Spanish, sweet white, occasionally a red onion, a bag of perishable Vidalias in the fridge, shallots, which like leeks aren’t quite onions, and green onions, in the upstairs fridge, which I’ll get to next post, after we’ve had dinner.

Poor overworked, under-appreciated beer fridge! No actual beer in it, so BrainRants better give me at least 24 hours warning of any surprise visit. Instead, it has 4 varieties of soft drinks, several flavors of coffee creamers and salad dressings there’s no room for upstairs, three dozen eggs, two more dozen pickled, extra bags and blocks of cheeses, and sour cream and margarine, so we don’t run out upstairs.

Besides the onions and baby potatoes, there’s a cabbage and a half, a large broccoli, an extra lettuce and a multi-pack of romaine. It contains the son’s individual yogurts and rice puddings for work meals – and leftovers….Yum! Yum!

A Yankee society doyenne imperiously informed her Georgia plantation-owning host that, “Up north, we think breeding is everything.” He replied, “We like it down here too, but we got other hobbies.” I’ve never run into another home which revolves quite as much around food as ours does. It has to. It can’t escape the gravity well. We read – a lot. We watch some television, and we allow computers to suck our time and insult our intelligence.

If we’re not shopping for food, or storing food away, or cooking food, or eating food, we’re concealing evidence tucking leftover food away, often in the fridge upstairs. Come back next time, when I finally get around to describing its interior, and explain why we had to reinforce the kitchen floor.   🙄

#488

The Night Before Christmas

Angry Santa

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Xmas and all though the house,
The whole God-damned family was drunk as a souse.
Grandma and Grandpa were singing a song,
And the kid was in bed, pulling his dong.

Ma home from the cat house, and Pa out on bail,
Had just settled down for a nice piece of tail,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutter, and fell on my ass.
The moon blushing down on the new-fallen snow
Gave a nice wholesome lustre to the objects below.

When there to my old blood-shot eyes did appear
A rusty old sleigh, and eight mangy reindeer.
With a ruddy old driver, holding his dick,
I knew in a flash the old bastard was ‘Nick.’

Slower than snails his eight reindeer came,
And he swore and he bitched as he called them by name.
“Now Prancer, now Dancer, up on the walls:
Quick damn it, quick, or I’ll cut off your balls!”

Then up on the roof he scrambled and fell,
He came down the chimney like a bat out of Hell.
He staggered and stumbled as he ran out the door,
Tripped over his bag, and fell flat on the floor.

But I heard him exclaim, as he rode out of sight:
“Piss on you all – What a Hell of a night!”

***

A little girl is in line to see Santa. When it’s
her turn, she climbs up on Santa’s lap. Santa
asks, “What would you like Santa to bring you for
Christmas?”

The little girl replies, ” I want a Barbie and
G.I. Joe.”

Santa looks at the little girl for a moment and
says, “I thought Barbie comes with Ken”.

“No”, said the little girl, “She comes with
GI Joe, she fakes it with Ken.”

 

Just a little serving of Holiday Cheer.  Are you getting into the Spirit?  Or just into the spirits??  I’m sitting here, having a few with my big fat neighbor, Round John Virgin.  He has a pair of pet caribou – a male he calls Bruce The Moose, as well as Bruce’s mate, Olive, the other reindeer.  Be sure to take a big bag of ‘Bah, Humbug’ with you.  You’ll need it when you’re wrapping those last presents.  😯

Something For Nothing

Damn, am I ever a cheap-ass old skinflint.  The lessons of childhood were well learned and, now in old age, not easily forgotten or ignored.

I was born just as the rationing of the Second World War was ending, to parents who had lived through the Great Depression of the ‘30s, with a mother who was Scottish.  You know how copper wire was invented??  Two Scotsmen, fighting over a penny!

Most of the men in my hometown worked at one of the four factories.  Most of the women stayed home to care for the kids.  My mother became an exception, but, most families had just about the same income.  Sure, there were merchants, and real estate and insurance brokers.  The preachers at six Protestant churches did better than most of their flock.

We weren’t dirt-poor, as many other families in town were, because my mother practiced some basic birth control.  We only had two kids in our family.  On one of the paper routes I had, there were two families, living side-by-side in two shack-y houses, much smaller than ours.  One house had seven kids and five dogs.  The one next door had seven dogs and five kids.  There’s not a lot of disposable income left after feeding and clothing a mob like that.

I’ve written that I keep my eye open in places where people might drop money.  The hundred-dollar bill I picked up at a Meijer store was an exception, but I find bits of money all the time.  I had to take a bus the other day, to pick up the car from a repair garage.  The bill for the car was almost $350, but I was thrilled to pick up 20 cents off the floor of the bus.  A bill like that only happens every six months or a year, but I find money all the time.  By the next time the car needs to go in, I will have found a good chunk of what the next bill will be.

I am not exactly embarrassed, but still somewhat surreptitious about checking payphone coin returns.  It’s really interesting how many times people try to place a call, get no answer, and rush away without retrieving their quarter.  About coins lying in coin-return slots of pop machines, or snack vending machines – I can’t be the only one who notices them, but I’m often the first to notice them.

I don’t walk or bike-ride as much as I used to, but still pick up any beer bottles or cans that I see.  Not only do I clean the neighborhood, but I make a dime apiece refund on them.  Liquor and wine bottles are also worth 10 cents each, but, with the usual bureaucratic genius, you buy them at the Liquor Control Board store, but have to take them back to the Beer Store for refund.

The daughter watches when she’s out on her power wheel chair, as does the grandson.  I recently cleaned off the shelf I use in the basement to store them.  More than a year’s accumulation yielded $8.00.  I’ll add it into the fund to buy more American cash from the bank, towards our next trip south.

The supermarket a mile to my north has been selling the Toronto Sun newspaper as a loss-leader for 4 or 5 years.  $1.50 paper for 50 cents Monday to Thursday and $1 on Friday.  Recently that went to a buck, every day.  If we’re out for a doctor’s appointment or other shopping, it’s well worth stopping in.  If we’re not, does it cost 50 cents in gas to save on the paper?

The head-office of the store three blocks to the south used to give cash rebates to charities who collected cash-register receipts.  About a year ago, with great fanfare, they stopped, cutting off Boy Scouts, the Library, and seniors square-dance groups, but quietly continued for selected groups, including the Humane Society.

About once a week, I put a harness on the dog, and walk him over to pick up a paper.  I tie him to the outer of two garbage containers on one side of the entrance, and check inside it.  People often exit the store, and immediately throw away their receipt.  Then I check the one right beside the door, and enter the store.  I check under, and in the return chute of the coin-counting machine in the entryway.  Coins often drop and roll just under.  One day I got 40 pennies that were fed in too fast.

I buy my paper at the newspaper/cigarette/lottery kiosk at the front.  Cash register amounts can be significant, but these customers are often in a hurry.  I check for receipts in the waste-paper basket where dead lotto tickets are thrown.  On my way out, I often go through the opposite doors, and check the big garbage pail over there.  On my walk today, I brought home $245 worth of receipts….and another beer bottle.

Then the daughter phoned.  They have a Blu-Ray player on sale.  Would I go over and pick up the last one in stock?  By the time I got home, I had picked up another $250 worth of receipts.  The rebate is 1/5th of 1%, so that’s one can of food for an abandoned cat.  I have a wad of several thousand dollars worth, which we’ll turn in at the pet-food store, the next time we go in.

We have five rain-barrels from which we water shrubs and flowers, when we have a hot, dry spell in the summer.  The cost of 250 gallons of water from the hose is probably pennies, even if Canada doesn’t officially have pennies anymore, but there’s more nutrients, and less harmful chlorine in rainwater – usually.  A local woman also waters her plants from rain barrels, but had all her pretty flowers die.  Turns out, her busy-body neighbor was worried about mosquitoes breeding, so she poured in chlorine bleach.  Toting the water around gives me something to fill my time, and some exercise to keep me (relatively) strong and limber.

Ever Stranger – Part 3

The work on the Marathon oil refinery, five miles up the highway, is almost complete.  There are only two big earth/stone moving trucks still parked in the motel lot, as well as a Ryder rental box-truck guarding a tarp-covered pile that turned out to be carpeting and underlay.  There was a car with Texas plates, and a Mercedes Sprinter van with Mexican plates, but they seemed to be just tourists.

After a Saturday morning and afternoon spent checking out guns and knives, the kid and I took another nap.  Both our sleep schedules were way off.  We left the motel again about 7 PM to go to the Outback for supper.  As we climbed into the car, the son mentioned that he could smell something burning.  His senses aren’t as old and feeble as mine.  Even notified, I didn’t detect anything.  After supper we drove up to a Wal-Mart and found some flavors of coffee creamers that the wife wanted.

We got back to our room just in time for the 11 o’clock news, and the lead story was about how a 162,000 gallon tank at the refinery had exploded and burned at 6:30.  That’s what the son smelled.  The refinery has its own fire department, and, with help from the city, they confined it to the one tank, and put it out in 90 minutes.  The tank wasn’t near where the work was being done, so that didn’t cause it, and was far enough back from I-75 that the highway was not closed.  The tunnel was closed for a security exercise Sunday morning from six until ten, but we planned on taking the bridge anyway.

I’m a little more used to “the Michigan way” than the son, but there are still things that intrigue me, for example, The Fifth Third Bank.  I can understand a First National, or a Third State Bank, but what in Hell is a Fifth Third Bank??!  Something that astounded the son was store clerks – helpful store clerks – knowledgeable store clerks.

As long as you’re moving, they leave you alone, but stop to even hitch up your pants, and one would coalesce out of the ether, and ask if they could help, and if you needed help, they provided it.  In Ontario, you’d have to go out the back, to the dumpster, to grab one having a smoke break, and even then (s)he wouldn’t know where your desired item was and would be too lazy busy to find someone who did.

When the wife and I first started visiting Detroit, the Denny’s we liked to breakfast at was a smoking establishment.  A couple of years later they would ask, “Smoking, or non?”  Not that it really mattered.  Unless you got the table furthest to the back, the smoke still drifted.  Recently they, and other restaurants, possibly led by Tim Hortons, have become smoke free.

Based on a dearth of butt-orphans, it seems fewer Michiganders are smoking, and I didn’t hear much about drinking and driving.  It still surprised the son to see both cigarettes and booze sold openly in grocery stores and pharmacies.  Makes sense to me, smokes, snacks, mix, liquor – all in the same place.  Up here in the nanny-state of Ontario, cigarettes can’t even be openly displayed.  All the stores must hide them behind cardboard blinds.  We used to confuse American tourists by selling beer at places called Brewers Retail.  Truth in advertising finally forced a name change to The Beer Store.  Anything stronger than beer must be purchased at Liquor Control Board outlets.  No grocery stores, no drugstores, and definitely no party stores.  We need to be protected from our baser urges.

Calling all BrainRants!  Attention!  Bacon!  Bacon!  Bacon!  We discovered the nearest Tim Hortons to the motel, just this side of the Outback.  Tim’s in Canada is advertising thicker bacon on their sandwiches, so I assume Our American Cousin is doing the same.

Whether influenced by that or not, Denny’s has introduced a new “Bacon Menu.”  They’ve added a Bacon Slam that has not previously been available, as well as Bacon everything.  They offer a bacon-flavored milkshake, a bacon sundae, and salty-bacon brownies.

I recently took the wife and daughter to a new store which allows purchases of individual units of both Keurig and Tassimo coffee pods.  They have a spot at the back where you can brew up a sample before you buy it.  There are a variety of creamers available, to add.  They have the plain creamer, as well as toffee, hazelnut and raspberry.  There, proudly sitting beside the rest, is bacon coffee flavoring.

Bacon Flavouring

 

 

 

 

 

 

If, ten years ago, Rants had bought stock in bacon and sriracha, today he’d own the world, instead of having to plot to take it over with one tank and his computer.  The computer is the more dangerous.

As we waited for our Denny’s breakfast, there was a family with a 9-year old boy, a 12-year old girl, and a 15-year old boy.  In the lobby there was one of those cash siphons where you put in a dollar bill, and try to get out a stuffed toy by manipulating a three-prong grabber.  The oldest boy mooched a buck from his dad and walked over.  I didn’t pay much attention, but thirty seconds later, back he came and handed his little brother a stuffed dog.

Dad gave him another dollar, and he walked back to the no-arm bandit.  I didn’t even have time to turn and watch him, and he returned and gave his sister a cute stuffed cat.  Dad handed him another bill, and this time I watched carefully.  Before I even got a crick in my neck, he had another plush toy which thrilled his mother.  A fourth attempt brought them nothing, but I’ve seen kids fool with these things for hours, and get nothing but carpal tunnel.  Three in quick succession is fantastic.

We’re going to hit the flea market/food court, and then head back across the river for home.  Stay tuned on this same batty channel.

Children Of A Lesser….God!

My headstrong sister married extremely young.  Threatening my mother that, if not allowed to wed, she’d just go get pregnant, she had not had her 16th birthday when she said “I Do”.  Small, like my mother, she was just five feet tall, and barely a hundred pounds.  She immediately started popping out babies, dropping five kids in under eight years, the last of which was a 13 pound, 9 ounce Butterball that solved her fertility problem.  It also set a record for the largest baby ever delivered in the local hospital, a record that stood for twenty years, until an Indian woman, twice her size, had one 14 lb., 1 oz.

Her kids came, boy, girl, girl, girl, boy.  She came to know and be friends with another local girl who got married about the same time, but at a more reasonable age.  She also had five kids, at just about the same times my sister did, but she had boy, boy, boy, boy, boy!  In a fit of creative imagination, she named them Derek, Douglas, David, Duane and Darcy.

Snide comments went around town that someone had ripped up a baby-names book and one page, the one with names that started with D, had blown into her yard.  At least her name didn’t start with D.  She’s a piker compared to Mother Kardashian.  Starting with her own K-name, Kris, she had girls with the famous lawyer, and named them Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kremlin and Katarrh.  Then she married Bruce Jenner, and inflicted Kylie and Kendall on the world.  Come on woman, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet.

My sister was far too self-involved, and far too young to be a good mother.  She wanted to be an Earth-mother, hippie, party-girl.  The kids soon learned to rely on themselves and each other.  With next to no supervision, especially early in the day, things happened which made the rest of us wonder how they ever lived to grow up.

When the two younger girls were about 6 and 5, they each drank about a cup of Javex.  Off to the hospital to have stomachs pumped and charcoal treatment.  Too young to explain why they drank Javex, it was thought that partly full glasses of liquor and beer from last night’s party, that they saw adults drinking from, might have been the impetus.  That could explain getting past the smell and horrid taste.

A year later, the younger one, now all of six, decided to drink another cup of Javex again.  One would think that the memory of getting a stomach pumped would stay with even the dumbest child, but apparently not.  Because of all the pregnancies, the sister had constipation problems.  One day she went to the pharmacy and got a 36-piece block of chocolate-coated Ex-Lax.  To keep it out of children’s hands, she stood on a chair, climbed onto the kitchen counter and put it on the eight-foot-high top shelf.  Little jugs have big ears….and keen sight.  The next day, the same pair of tiny geniuses, pulled out four drawers, like stairs, climbed the shelves like a ladder, and ate 18 pieces of Ex-Lax each.  Warm up the stomach-pump again Doc, we’ll be there in a minute!

The rear entrance went down seven steps from the kitchen to a coat-closet landing, then out the back door to a tiny porch, and down two more stairs.  The porch had no railing and five kids and three dogs often just jumped off.  In the days of home delivery of milk in glass bottles, that’s where the empties were left.  It was not unusual to have a pile of broken glass beneath the porch edge.  One day, the oldest daughter, all of about 10, came skipping out and bounced off the porch, catching the toes of both feet on the edge.  Down she went, knees-first into a pool of broken glass.  The doctor put in almost 100 stitches in the two legs, and marveled that no ligaments were severed and the niece would still walk.

With great planning and forethought the sister often realized at 4:45 P.M. that she had nothing for supper.  She would pile the kids in the car and race downtown to get something from the store.  She always put my oldest nephew in the back seat, behind her.  They lived in the company house, off the back of the employee parking lot.  Always an aggressive driver, she would race the hundred yards to the highway, which she had a clear view of.  If there were no cars close, she would hang a hard right, at up to 30 MPH.

Before seatbelts, the problem was that the back left door on the junker they drove, would not latch.  The lock button had to be pushed to ensure the door stayed closed.  At least three times she forgot to lock it, and at least three times, the door popped open and the 8/9 year-old nephew flew out, rolling across in front of oncoming highway traffic, and ended up in the ditch on the far side of the road.  She’d stop, pick him up, brush dust off, stick him back in the car, and do the same thing six months later.

Two things my sister never did were, keep booze away from the kids, and take the keys out of her car.  For a while, after he got his licence, the older nephew would knock some back and, in a feat of good planning, he would borrow his mother’s car.  One time, he made it almost a block down the side road before a power pole jumped out in front of him, and he totalled both it and the car.  He walked home, fell asleep and didn’t remember when his mom asked him where her car was.

Another time, he was a couple of miles down the beach road when he and a carload of friends fell into a ditch and hit a concrete culvert, totalling a second car.  A year later, almost 19, and at least sober, he took a bunch of friends for a ride.  Travelling way too fast on a twisty road, he pulled out to pass a car he thought was going too slow.  At his speed, he’d have made it, except for the guy who pulled out of a driveway ahead, on his left, and headed straight toward him.  They both swerved toward the same shallow ditch, and the head-on collision didn’t block the highway.  It did, however, break both thumbs of the Air Canada pilot in the other car.

I’ve blogged about a cartoon character named Joe Bfytzplk, who had a permanent little cloud over his head.  These kids and their exploits (?) were almost enough to get me to believe in guardian angels.