A Christmas Rescue

Published without the authorized permission of the Waterloo Region Record – but with the best of intentions.  Credit Record staff – Robert Williams

The snow is piling up, burying our car deeper and deeper into the snowbank.

Deb Dooling-Westover pulls out her crackers, cream cheese, and roasted red pepper jelly, and offers some to her husband, Mark Westover.  In the back seat, a hitchhiker takes a few for himself.  He’s on his way to Listowel for his daughter’s first Christmas, with a bagful of toys and a few spare clothes, but his taxi ha long turned around and left him on Line 86, just outside Wallenstein.  The back seat of the Westovers’ car is his only chance at warmth for the night.

The car is not moving.  The snowbank has made sure of that, and the trio are settling in for a long, cold night.  Snowplows can’t get to them, and there’s no way in or out of this country road. The Westovers – Deb, 63, and Mark, 71 – and their hitchhiker – a young man of about 30, are trapped.

They’re talking, but their eyes dart nervously at the fuel gauge, that’s slowly ticking lower.  The snow is piling up the windows, and they’re equally worried that someone may come piling in behind them.  It’s Christmas Eve, and a winter storm bringing heavy snow and wind gusts of 100 km/h has shut down much of the Province on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

On this rural road, 30 kilometres north of Kitchener, it feels as if nothing and nobody is around you.  It’s a vast rural area. Dotted with Mennonite farms and sprawling fields.  The Westovers are on their way from Ayr, to spend Christmas with friends in Wingham.

They spent the morning checking the weather, to make sure that the roads were still open when they left, just before noon.  The farther they drove, the worse the conditions got.  Eventually, on a long stretch of farmland between Wallenstein and Macton, there is no going any further.

There are a few other cars stuck in this area.  As the winds pick up and blow the snow in blankets across the farm fields and over the road, it gets harder to make them out.  Each car is an island, and the snow is gobbling them up.

After a few hours sitting inside the car, Deb looks out of the snow-covered window and rubs her eyes to make sure she’s not hallucinating.  A man with a pair of snowshoes has emerged from the snowbank.  He knocks on the side of the car, and she opens it up to him.

“Do you have food and water?” he asks.
“Well, we don’t have a lot of food, but we have some water and Diet Coke in the cooler.” she tells him.  “My car is behind my husband’s.  I only have a quarter tank of gas.”

The Westovers had filled their two cars with presents, and they were hoping to do some work on Deb’s fuel tank, once they got to their friends’ house.  She had been following Mark the whole drive, but both of their cars were now stuck in the huge snowdrift.
“Don’t worry.” he says. “I have lots of gas.  I’ll come back for you later.”

An hour goes by.  It’s dark now.  With the wind-chill, it feels like -27 C.  The snow continues to fall, and the wind is howling.  A roar starts up behind them, and Deb jumps out of the car to see approaching blue and red lights.  Their man in the snowshoes has returned, this time with a tractor.

He gets Deb back into her car, pulls it out, and then pulls out Mark and the hitchhiker.  By this point he has already pulled out some of the other cars as well.  Once they’re all safely back on the road, he asks the occupants of all the cars – about six in total – to follow him about a kilometer down the road, and up a long driveway, where they all stop at a farmhouse.

The group walks into the house to find the man’s wife peeling carrots in the kitchen, with two young boys bouncing around the house.  They are a modern Mennonite family, and the farmhouse is equipped with power, heating, and a functioning telephone.

“I’ve never spent any time with a Mennonite family, or been inside a (Mennonite) house before.” Deb said later.  “And I have to tell you, these are the most beautiful people I’ve ever met.”  Deb joins the woman in the kitchen, helping to peel carrots.  Then she watches as she puts potatoes through a food processor, throws them into boiling water, and mixes them with cream and butter to make mashed potatoes.  Then she begins cooking summer sausage, as more people start piling into the farmhouse – there’s about a dozen of them now.

The family has some table extensions, and by the time dinner is served, it’s a feast for nearly 16 people, each with a spot around the ‘harvest table.’  They say a silent prayer, and dinner begins.
“I was literally crying.” says Deb.  “It was the most unbelievable thing I had ever seen in my life.  There we were, thinking that we were going to freeze to death.  We really thought we were going to die.  And now we were all seated around this table, warm, and having dinner at this farmhouse.”

Around the table, the different groups recount their stories.  Each talk about watching the weather advisories, checking to make sure the roads were open, and eventually finding themselves stuck in the snowdrift with no way out.  But something still doesn’t add up.  How did this man know to come and get them?

One of the women at the table speaks up.  While she was waiting in her car, she noticed a name on a nearby mailbox.  She called her son in Listowel, and he started calling every number in the area with that last name.  Eventually he got through to their rescuer, who threw on his snowshoes and headed into the storm to see if he could find them.

Not wanting any unnecessary attention, the family has asked to keep their name private.  “I don’t want any honors or glory.” the man told The Record.  “It’s just the Lord’s glory and we did our Christian duty.”  After dinner is over, the family leads Deb and Mark to a spare bedroom to hunker down for the night.  It’s cold in the room, but thick blankets keep them warm.  The rest of the travellers are spread out around the house, sleeping on makeshift beds and couches.

In the morning, Deb runs out to the car to grab some peameal bacon she had purchased on Christmas morning.  Many of the others do the same, bringing in what food they can contribute to the feast.  Like the night before, they cook up a big meal, each sitting around the table to enjoy a Christmas breakfast.  When the meal is finished, they clean up together, and start getting back in their cars, each bound to family and friends.

None of them know each other.  After they say their goodbyes and wish each other luck for the journeys ahead, all they’re left with is a handful of first names and memories of faces, warmth and a reminder of good people when tragedy strikes.

The Westovers’ Wingham friend said that they did their final checks, but I guess they were just in for an adventure.  They eventually reached their final destination.  The gifts that they had piled in their cars made it to the friends and family they had planned to see.  As they sat around the Christmas dinner table, they told the story of a snowy country road, and a man on snowshoes who appeared out of nowhere, and took them to safety in a farmhouse with his family.

Deb said, “I have to tell you, it was the most beautiful Christmas ever.”

😀  😀

Un/Covered

A Mennonite bonnet, a Muslim hijab: Why do many of us feel differently about them?

A Toronto, Muslim, assimilation-assisting group recently brought an assortment of hijabs, niqabs, and burkas, and installed them beside bonnets, caps and snoods, in the local Mennonite Museum, as a prompt for debate and discussion, with the above question.

As with so many other things, each of these sets is far more than what it merely appears to be, women’s head-coverings.  Each of them is representative – a sort of visual shorthand – of an entire subculture.  Here in Canada, we have had 200 years to accustom ourselves to what Mennonites are, peaceful, law-abiding and reserved.

Sadly, after 50 years of immigration, the same cannot be said of all Muslims.  There is no Mennonite jihad – a drive to force the world to obey its tenets.  There is no published agenda to establish a Mennonite Caliphate.  Mennonites don’t put people in cages and drown them, or throw them off tall buildings, or burn them alive, or blow their heads off with explosive cord.

In many people’s minds, these actions and attitudes are represented – at least condoned – by these head coverings.  If you come to Canada to be Canadian, don’t continue to wave the bullfighter’s red cape that reinforces the Us and Them stance, and expect to be accepted.

Like many Muslim women, Conservative Amish and Mennonite women wear an bonnet in obedience to the Biblical commands given in 1 Tim. 2:9-15, 1 Peter 3:1-6, and Titus 2:3-5 that a Christian woman should be discreet, chaste, modest, sober-minded, in subjection, (Emphasis mine) meek and quiet, and shamefaced.

A local Mennonite lady took offence at the printed statement that such headwear was a symbol of oppression.  Her Op-Ed letter read, “I read with interest the article by the female columnist.  I am a Mennonite woman who wears a head covering, and I was disappointed the real reason we wear them was not explained.  Mennonites are Bible-believing Christians, and we believe the head-covering is a God-ordained requirement for a Christian woman.

I find it offensive that the Mennonite head covering is seen as a symbol of oppression.  There may be some such cases, but I am convinced that the majority of Mennonite women feel very secure and protected, and not oppressed.

In society, it is perfectly acceptable for businesses to have people with different levels of authority, from CEOs, down to janitors.  A business functions best this way and we believe that a marriage also functions best when we follow God’s pattern for it.  This is for the man to have the leadership role, and the woman to be his helpmeet.  My head covering is a symbol of that headship order.  I find it unfortunate that the Mennonite woman’s head covering is so misunderstood.”

I don’t think that there’s much misunderstanding.  This just an updated version of The Scarlet Letter.  I feel badly for her.  I respect her – just not her beliefs.  From an objective, external viewpoint, this has all the hallmarks of an abusive relationship.  She might be accepting, even happy, with the order of things in her (religious) life, but probably because she’s undergone the Stockholm Syndrome conditioning..  She may have been convinced, or convinced herself, that this mind-set is valid.


Only children’s bonnets may be bright and gay.
Those of mature women must be plain and drab.

Even if it were, like the displays of burkas, etc. just flaunt the I’m-better-than-you, Holier-Than-Thou belief, she’s setting up another Us vs. Them situation, and doing neither group much good.

***

I Am Crabby

What better treat to sweeten up a Grumpy Old Dude like me, than some lovely Crab-Apple jelly?

As an occasional treat, on nights that I post a blog, I have come to like a couple of Costco croissants, warmed in the toaster-oven, with crab-apple jelly and a mug of hot chocolate.

Several times in the course of our marriage, I have helped the wife make a batch of crab-apple jelly.  She initiates it, organises it, and gives directions, while I do most of the donkey-work, since I am so admirably qualified.  With a little luck, and some greed, I often get all or most of a batch.  It’s okay.  The wife prefers strawberry or red currant.  With some self-control and rationing, a batch lasts me several years

Crab-apple jelly is almost impossible to find in a grocery store, and when you do, it’s three or four times as expensive, because of shortage of crab-apples, and extra labor.  Near where the daughter once lived was a Mennonite church.  On the boulevard of the side street, they had planted four crab-apple trees.  At harvest time I just went over and picked enough.  A couple of years later I returned, to find that the city had widened the street, and destroyed the trees.

The home the daughter moved to, backs onto a community trail.  A block away, one house whose property also edged the trail, didn’t have a back fence – but they did have a crab-apple tree.  The owner graciously allowed me to harvest all I wanted – because then, he didn’t have to pick them all up.  A couple of years later I returned…. to find that the Region had widened and paved the trail, and removed the tree.

An occasional Mennonite at the Farmers’ Market MIGHT have a few six-quart baskets of crab-apples, if you get there at the right time, (I only had four baskets, and I sold the last one an hour ago.) but I might as well be paying for black truffles.  Two women offer jams and jellies of many flavors.  The wife bought a jar of red currant – which included some of the little twigs that the currants grow on.  I passed on their apple jelly.

Another man also offered a wide variety, including crab-apple jelly – at a merely outrageous price.  Real crab-apple jelly should be so clear, that you could read a newspaper through its red/gold beauty.  This stuff was more apple sludge, full of unfiltered apple fiber.

This is the cost of old age – having to live in the big city, close to all the medical support.  I’ll bet if I lived in my small home-town, I’d know someone with a crab-apple tree or two.  How about you??  Do you have a particular treat that you like?  Is it readily available?

***

Chapter 2

Almost 20 years ago, when we first moved in, at the back of my property were a spruce tree, and a lilac bush, for added privacy and noise attenuation.  Back then they were barely as tall as the six-foot sound-berm.  Now they both tower 15/20 feet.

This summer, I was mowing the lawn, and stopped to catch my breath and look at the lilac…. and I lost my breath again.  There were crab-apples growing on my lilacWTF!!  Close inspection (the lawn can wait) showed that two of the lilac’s trunks (?) were actually a crab-apple tree.  This is the first year that it has produced fruit, so I’d never previously noticed that the two were intertwined.

How did it get there??  A squirrel burying an apple??  Some idiot in the neighborhood puts out peanuts for them.  We find peanuts buried in our planters and flower beds – along with dead flowers from the digging.

I’ll be discussing Theology with Saint Peter before this tree matures.  There are only half a dozen bunches of apples this year.  I couldn’t get six quarts/liters.  I will do well to get six cups this fall, but the wife says that she/we can make a mini-batch of one or two jars for me.  I’ll still be grumpy – just better fed.  😀  😎

’19 A To Z Challenge – Q

AtoZ2019letter-q

 

 

 

 

 

 

I once lived next door to a bootlegger.

Now that I’ve put up the attention-grabbing click-bait for the WordPress reader, this post will be about

QUILTS

and a bunch of other things. Wear your hiking shoes. This will be a longer trek than usual.

Mennonite

I live in the middle of Mennonite territory. With no TV, quilting is a way of life, and financial support. When I first came to town, I lived for about a year and a half, in a boarding house, run by a New Order Mennonite woman. She bought it with, “a settlement from my husband.” Like a lady’s age, I never asked if it was through death or divorce.

It was not unusual, especially in the winter, to come home to find the table pushed over to the edge of the huge, old kitchen, and four tiddly women, – her, her mother, and two friends from up the street – a couple of empty, home-made elderberry wine bottles and four crystal sherry glasses, in front of a quilting frame.

My father used to go out for 2 or 3 hours in the evenings, Monday to Friday. Back before TV, my mother made me a quilt, all by herself, with no frame. It kept me warm in bed, in our old, drafty, hard-to-heat house. How I wish I still had it! She also used to take threadbare clothing and bed sheets, tear them in strips, braid them into a ‘rope,’ and sew it together into an oval floor mat, to keep my feet warm on cold mornings.

The old lady’s house was at the bottom of a steep, block-long hill. There was a stop sign, at a one-way street. With the main street easily visible, a short block ahead, surprising numbers of drivers just didn’t stop. We had an accident a week, and a serious accident every month.

My brother rented parking on a tiny driveway on the uphill side. He left to go home one summer Friday afternoon. He had not been gone an hour, when there was a screech, and a huge crash. I looked out my front window, to see a car parked in his spot – upside-down.

The old lady complained about having to rake, and clean leaves out of the eaves trough, from the two stout Maple trees that stood on either side of the front door. I asked why she didn’t have them taken down. She replied, “Have you seen the scars on those trees??! If they weren’t there, one of those cars would be in your bedroom.”

It was a rough section of town back then – drunks, druggies, hookers. A prospering bootlegger lived the other side of the one-way street. One evening he accompanied a good customer out to the sidewalk – just as there was another terrific car crash, only, this time, the upside-down car was deflected his way, and crushed him.

Recently, with the installation of the LRT street railroad, and urban renewal, that old, brick, century-home has been turned into a Pupuseria, an El Salvadoran restaurant serving meat-and-cheese stuffed corn pancakes. I went in one day, to see if it was worth taking the wife to, and got into a conversation with the owner. (Of course I did!)

I mentioned that I had lived across the street, a half-century before, and told him about the bootlegger and his death. A little light went on. When they were moving in, and had to clean out the basement for their own storage, there had been hundreds of empty beer, wine, and liquor bottles.

Quilt 1

But, back to the quilts. The local Mennonites have organized a Mennonite Relief Committee to raise money for less fortunate Mennonites, especially in South America. They have a second-hand, recycling store, but their biggest money-maker is the annual spring quilt auction.

Quilt 3 (2)

Well-to-do people come from all over the world to bid, both in person, and now, online. These quilts draw fabulous prices, especially the winner of the judging contest, which can go for $10,000 or more.

Quilt 2
This year’s featured quilt at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale, Little Brown Church, has been described as a giant puzzle with more than 3,000 pieces.

Quilting

Smitty’s Loose Change #11

Smitty's Loose Change

Mad Men

BecelCeleb

Marketers/advertisers are experts at using images and words which make you believe that their products have qualities and abilities that they really don’t. Becel is a well-known brand of margarine. An Ontario food chain has named their house brand, Celeb, an inspired, but possibly illegal, turn of phrase.

They originally packed and sold it in yellow and white containers, virtually indistinguishable from the Becel, but when I went to download a photo, all I can find is the Blue, President’s Choice packaging. I suspect a restraining order.

Vertuo

Already the owner of a Keurig coffee-maker, the wife was convinced to buy a Nespresso coffee-maker. The model name is Vertuo. I believe that the name is supposed to make you think of ‘virtue’ – goodness, righteousness, excellence, admirable quality – for the machine, and perhaps ‘virtuous’ for the buyer – possessing the above qualities.

It also suggests ‘virtuoso’ – a person who has special knowledge or skill in a field. It even piggybacks on the Save The Planet/Eco movement, ‘vert/verde’ – meaning green. When I looked up the translation meaning of this Spanish word, I found that it means ‘spill.’ They’ve called their coffee-making machine a spill. 😆

IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS

Mennonite

These are two excerpts from local marriage counselors who deal with Mennonites. They are greatly concerned with that ‘Go forth and multiply’ thing. These young folks were having trouble.

Now, talking to anyone, especially shy, withdrawn Mennonites, about the mechanics of sex, can be daunting. The first counselor finally elicited a detailed account. The young husband achieved an erection, and inserted it into his wife…. and left it there, until it went flaccid.

The counselor suggested that he withdraw it, and re-insert it, forcefully, rapidly, a number of times. At their next monthly counseling session, both of them offered profuse thanks.

Suspecting sterility, the second counselor went directly to having the husband go to a clinic to provide a semen sample. He came out of the washroom with the sample vial full of a yellow liquid. 😳 He had been urinating inside his wife, thinking that that was how to impregnate her.

***

Our writing is never finished, only temporarily abandoned. We write, because one life is not enough for us.

***

Mighty Carlin Has Struck Out

I recently won another argument with George Carlin. It wasn’t hard. He’s been dead for a couple of years. He liked to riff on English usage, and the Catholic Church. The two topics came together when he wanted to talk about priests taking a vow of celibacy. “No they don’t!” he insisted, “Celibacy only means that you’re not married. They take a vow of chastity.”

No they don’t!! I don’t know how the ex-Catholic thought that the Church had got it wrong all these years. They don’t care if a priest screws everything in the parish, including the goat. That’s all covered by the Ten Commandments, and can be fixed with a quick confession. The Hierarchy is only concerned that there are no legal heirs left behind who might have a claim on any estate, which they feel belongs to them. Archon – 2
Carlin – 0

 

The Saddest Funny Story

Sad Emoji

We recently had to attend a funeral service for one of the wife’s sisters. That was only the beginning of the sadness. A nephew of the wife’s sat down opposite us, and related his sad tale.

For about five years, he’s been fighting a neuropathy, a neurological syndrome which has been causing increasing pain in his extremities. First his hands, then his feet, became agonizingly sore. He was up to gobbling eight Oxycodone tablets a day, just to keep the pain level down to a 2.

He married a New Order Mennonite girl who increasingly involved him and the kids in their church. There had been a two-day weekend Salvation Convention. The church brought in speakers to lecture on different sins, and what to do to get rid of them.

After one seminar session, the moderator paired each attendee off with another church member who they were not particularly close to. They were to go to small tables, where each one would confess his/her sins to the other, who would then pray for them and forgive them. Then the process would reverse.

He said that he hunched over the table and told the other man about all his sins. The farmer devoutly prayed for him, and told him that he was forgiven. He said that he suddenly realized that he could no longer feel the continuous pain in his hands and feet. He called the pastor over and told him this, and the whole room had a Glory, Halleluiah, Praise-The-Lord, prayer session of thanks. God had cured him.

I manfully tried not to smirk, and wondered if his posture had kinked, or un-kinked, a spot on his spine, or if the power of suggestion had caused a psychosomatic (perhaps temporary) cure. He might even provide the possibility of a God-answered-prayer miracle. I was all ears!

He continued his tale. He can now not feel anything with his hands. His legs are numb from the knees down. When he had to call an ambulance for his wife’s apparent heart attack, he stood outside for ten minutes, in a foot of February snow in his bare feet. This condition is dangerous, especially for him, because he works in HVAC. This is like leprosy, or diabetes. If he cuts or burns himself and doesn’t notice it, he may have to have an amputation, if infection sets in.

This is the normal, worsening progression of the disease. GOD didn’t cure him, but he believes that happened. I just sat there in stunned disbelief, thinking that it was his belief that was stunned.
What’s the problem with a comfortable delusion?
There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Where’d He Go?

Huether

View of the North-East corner, across King Street, the main drag.

Some people come here to shit and stink
And scratch their itchy balls
But I come here to sit and think
And write upon the walls

Do pay toilets even exist anymore? The last one I was in, the graffiti read

Here I sit, broken-hearted
Paid to shit, but only farted
Yesterday, I took a chance
Saved a dime, but shit my pants.

One day, when the grandson was in 7th Grade, he put up his hand. The teacher knew what he wanted, but what he said was, “I have to go cogitate.” Now, ‘cogitate’ is not a word which often falls from the mouths of 7th Graders. She thought that he said he was constipated, and sent a note home for the daughter to check his digestion.

Where do I do my thinking? Well, I do most of it at home, some of it even in the bathroom. Once a month though, I save a dime (because it’s free) and do my thinking at a Sunday brunch meeting of the local Free Thinkers.

The meetings are normally held up in our twin city, Waterloo, Ontario, in the Huether Hotel, two feet below the basement level, in the old malt room, which once held a large vat for beer brewing. Click above, if you’d like more details, or enter ‘image Huether Hotel’ into the Bing search engine. It’s historically famous enough to have its own Wikipedia page. She’s a utilitarian old queen, built to provide food, drink and lodging to horse-drawn travellers, long before hipsters needed pretty and comfortable.

The Wiki article doesn’t include the information that further, recent excavations for our new street railroad, found a tunnel which completely crossed under the main street, to surface in what used to be a saddlery and buggy rental building. It is thought that Al Capone’s boys quietly loaded beer out its back door during Prohibition, un-noticed by local police at the micro-brewery across the street.

Huether 2

Management makes a somewhat specious claim, with the very existence of their 1842 Café, even though the place wasn’t built until 1855, as evidenced by the inscribed lintel stone in the malt room doorway.

Huether 1881 Parsell

View of the South-East corner across King St., from an 1881 print. The plain brewery section at the rear has been demolished, and replaced by a bowling alley.

Much work has been done in recent years, to bring the building up to modern safety codes. The old mixes very nicely with the new. A quarter of the old malt room is now taken up by an enclosed stairway, to provide a second exit from the basement, in case of fire.

Huether 3

A print of a slightly newer, and safer, version. Fire escapes have been added.

Your resident nosy old coot had a look at the landing at the bottom of the stairs, and found a table with a dozen 1972 Presbyterian Book Of Praise. I guess if they host the atheistic Free Thinkers, it’s only fair that they allow an occasional Christian prayer meeting.

Huether 6

Like me, they celebrate their antique status, using it for marketing ambience. I’ve got another plate of leftover lasagna, as a prize for any of my fellow hayseed hicks who can identify all of these old tools, most of which are still in use by nearby Mennonites.

Huether 4

I don’t give a shit. I think that I’ll keep attending these meetings. I hope that you enjoyed the tour. Seeya again, soon. 😀

Huether 5

A cabinet full of Heuther trivia and memorabilia, built into a hole in the stone wall, where the big malt tank used to be drained to the brew tanks.

On The Ball

Selectric

The wife and I are not ‘Retro,’ we’re just old fogies.

It’s not that we’re technophobic. Lord knows, we embrace technology to the limits of our non-Electronic Age brains. In our house, there are 2 PCs, a laptop, 2 tablets, 3 Kindles, 2 Kobos, 2 Smart Phones, and a Smart TV that’s smarter than both of us together. Still, sometimes we like to relive The Good Old Days, in The Good Old Ways.

The QWERTY keyboard was originally developed when early typists got faster than the rudimentary machines, and jammed letter strikers against the platen. It put the usual letters in unusual places, to slow typists down, and prevent jamming. It was touted by its proponents as, “More efficient,” a lie with a bit of truth in it.  It reduced the words per minute typed, but almost eliminated having to stop and unjam the machine, resulting in more total words typed at the end of the day.

The development of the electric typewriter smoothed out the jamming problem somewhat, and also eliminated the need to manually move the heavy carriage with the left hand/arm.

Selectric Ball

In 1961, IBM re-invented the wheel – actually, a ball. They produced the Selectric, a typewriter with no keys to jam. Instead, it had a little ball with all the characters on it. The smart machine rotated the ball – nicknamed a ‘Golf Ball’ – to the right position before smacking it against the paper. Different balls, with different fonts could be quickly snapped in and out.

Several models, with different features were developed, including one with a rudimentary 40-character memory. If a typist noticed a mistake while typing, (s)he could hit a special ‘Hold’ key, back up in the memory, change the error, and free the machine to continue.  There was no more heavy carriage to move back and forth. Instead, the ball and ribbon moved smoothly and quietly across the platen. This was the precursor to the computer word-processor.

Sadly, because of that, they didn’t last long, and soon became extinct – but not before over 2,000,000 of them were sold. The wife worked on one, in one of the offices where she was employed. She loved it. Recently, she had a couple of typing projects – recipe cards, and knitting patterns – where a computer and printer just didn’t work out well.

She found one offered for sale on Facebook Market. The woman wanted $40 for it. I asked where I had to go to pick it up. She’s had me drive 10/15 kilometers locally, for other items. This one, she said, was in Oshawa, the other side of Toronto. I told her that it would cost another $40 in gas, to drive there and back. Without any other offers on it, the price reduced to $35.

Driving completely across metro-Toronto, on Highway 401, is not the worst traffic in North America, but it’s definitely in the top 10. When I checked the location with a map program, the actual mileage (Canadian kilometrage) wasn’t all that high, but the program warned that, at the time that I checked, based on current traffic conditions, estimated trip time is 2 hours and 8 minutes.

We planned the trip for the middle of the morning, after the get-to-work onslaught, but before the lunch-time rush, and made the 160 Km/100 Miles in 1Hour/40Minutes. We waited till 2:00 o’clock to start back and, aside from some slowdown from the ‘memory of an accident’ we saw on the way there, we got home in 1Hour/40Minutes again. We immediately stopped at Costco, and put $45 of gas in the car.

The wife wanted some proof that the machine worked, but the woman getting rid of it was a young Real Estate agent, charged with disposing of an estate. She was so young that she’d never heard of or seen such a contraption. She plugged it in and turned it on. It hummed. She hit a couple of keys, and it clacked a couple of times.

Since she’d still not had any other offers for it, and since we were coming from so far away, she reduced the price to $20, which she may have quietly pocketed. When we got home, the wife plugged it in and turned it on. It hummed! She tapped a couple of keys…. but the little carriage didn’t move. She sat down and pored over the included owner’s manual – to no avail. A part may be broken/missing.

Mennonite

With the existence of so many Mennonites within a 50 kilometer radius, it is probably easier to locate a Ferrier (one who shoes horses), than to find a local typewriter repair shop. There was one, but the old gentleman who ran it was 83 in 2015, and the website is dormant. The wife has located one in the city of Hamilton. It’s not quite so far away, and in a different direction. It should only cost us $35 for gas – TWICE – once to drop it off, and again when we pick it up, plus the charge for Barney Rubble to fix it.

You may never get a hand-written letter from me – for which you should be thankful. With my essential tremor getting worse, the doctors’ scribbles that I mentioned in my Griffonage post, seem clear and legible, compared to my handwriting. I’ll tell you whether we are successful at this technology resuscitation project, and you may get a hand-typed letter to prove it.

Flash Fiction #188

Lilliput

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD

His grandfather had this house built, over a century ago. It had been a proud mansion, 2-1/2 stories of fieldstone, a mile and a half from town, dwarfing nearby one-story wooden farm houses.

Times changed. Commerce changed. Businesses started up, and workers moved in. The city changed. Steadily it bloated out towards him, into pristine Mennonite farmland.

Now, the house was the last of its kind, on a busy street, a Lilliputian, towered over by apartment buildings. Developers constantly hounded him to sell. He would mourn the loss of his heritage, but it was time to surrender and move on.

Mennonite

***

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

***

Friday Fictioneers

What’s Wrong With A Comfortable Delusion?

What’s Wrong With A Comfortable Delusion??!  Take a look here.

Delusion

Some Christians get upset when others argue against all their unproven assumptions. There’s everything from the ranting and raving, “How dare you disagree?” to a less confrontational, honest request for quiet acceptance of their beliefs and actions.

This morning, I found a YouTube video from The Atheist Experience, with the above title. Then I came down to read the newspaper, and found this article.

Farmer burned down barn, shot at house

Actions a ‘cry for help,’ judge says, sentencing man to 22 months for arson, firearms offences

In a ‘cry for help’, a depressed and guilt-ridden Mennonite farmer set three fires on his property – including one that burned his barn to the ground, killing seven cattle and a horse, causing $400,000 damage. Later he shot five or six times at his house with a .22 caliber rifle, while his wife and two young children were inside.

“It would appear that much of his angst arose from guilt that he felt over pursuing some secular interests that may have been contrary to his religious teachings.”

His lawyer was asked outside court about his secular interests. “He got a phone, as necessary for the operation of his cattle farm. The cell-phone was a Smart Phone, with access to the internet, and he started to retreat to the barn to watch Hollywood movies. So he was watching movies like “Superman” or something. It wasn’t pornography or anything.”

What’s wrong with a little comfortable delusion? Nothing, until it changes to psychopathy, and becomes uncomfortable, both for the deluded person, and the rest of society.

This is not an isolated incident, and it’s not restricted to Christians. The same paper contained an article about a Christian Pakistani woman who has been held in jail for 7 years, much of that in solitary, because a neighbor accused her of blasphemy. The raging mob demanded her execution, and that of the judge who finally freed her.

Don’t be deluded; it can be very dangerous.

Speaking of being deluded…. My contract says that I’ll be back here in a couple of days, I hope, with a new 100-word Flash Fiction.  Don’t let me down.  🙂