Flash Fiction #159

Mammon

PHOTO PROMPT ©Jill Wisoff

 

MAMMON INC.

Buddy Bob was railing about politicians, and how they interfere with our lives, especially financially – laws, rulings, regulations, taxes, duties, levies, tariffs – control our every move, and milk us dry.

I told him that he was right – in a way – but it all started here.  Politicians are just the mouthpiece, the head of the ventriloquist’s dummy.  This is corporate America, the center of the real power behind the throne.

You don’t think Donald Trump got elected on his intellect and wit.  Those aren’t telephone lines coming from those castles; they’re marionette strings, pulled by the puppet-masters.  Speak Donald!  Dance Donald!

***

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

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Cool Cats

sdc10369

Another post about cats, in the shameless pursuit of blog-stats – but first….let me tell you about my dog. My dog eats peanuts.

It started innocently enough, with a handful of peanuts, for me – and a forlorn, mooching dog in front of me. ‘Offer him one.  He’s a carnivore.  He won’t take it.’ But he did, and another, and another….  Now it’s a daily ritual – he gets 8 or 9 peanuts, and I get to read my newspaper in peace.

The wife decided to cut off his soft dog-food, and feed him only hard kibble, to help clean his teeth. He has allergies to grass.  I give him an antihistamine a day, to cut down on his scratching and licking.  I used to put them in his soft food – now what??  Put a dab of peanut butter on the end of a kitchen knife, embed the pill in it, and scrape it off against his front teeth.  Schlurp, schlurp!

Dogs will come when you call them. And they’ll be happy.
Cats will have someone take a message and maybe get back to you.

sdc10385

I should paint a yellow line down my spine, not ‘cuz I’m chicken, but because this guy has taken to walking on my back (and Shimoniac’s). Like the peanuts, it also started innocently.  I stopped and knelt on a step, just below the half-landing, going upstairs, to pet and skritch him.  Somehow he oozed around the corner, up a couple of steps, and walked through the railing, onto my back.

I don’t know if he’s petting me, like I pet him, or establishing dominance. Now, whenever I go to the basement storage room, he jumps up on the freezer to get ruffled, and walks all over my back.

An exposed back is not safe! The day he leapt from the landing as I bent over at the bottom of the stairs to put my boots on, was….interesting.  I often kneel when I clean out the litter tray in the basement.  To have him pounce is not unusual.  To have him do it, just as I stand up, has him clinging to my shirt.

Then one night I did it with no shirt on, That required almost a whole tube of antiseptic cream, and sleeping on my stomach for a couple of days.

Matthew & Tonka

If I walk past this needy big fellow on a table or TV stand, he often reaches out to pull me in. He’s the most trusting, and loving of my cats.  When we snuggle (almost every evening as I read), he licks my moustache and eyebrows, and rubs his face against my glass frames.  He lies on the back of my chair and licks/grooms my hair.

Picture 163

Our little female has helped herself to some of my chocolate milk a number of times, when it’s sitting on the end table beside my chair, minding its own business.  She’s lost a lot of teeth, so liquid nourishment is good for her.  A couple of Christmases, she’s also sampled eggnog.

I’ve left out one of my cats, and I have lots more interesting information about cats, but you’re already looking at me the way I look at Jehovah’s Witnesses, when they come to call, so I’ll just end with a bit of feline humor.  Have a chuckle or two at the expense of cat owners/lovers, and come back soon.

Signs that your cat is the owner and you are the pet:

  1. You get up as many times as they demand to be let in and out of the room.
  2. You feed them tiny pieces of food, which you go through the trouble of cutting up, whenever they stare at your plate of food.
  3. You run the faucet for them whenever they feel like playing with water (never mind the fact they have a filtered water fountain).
  4. You hold them for however long they desire to stare out of the window (usually 5+ minutes).
  5. You let them redesign the household any way they want. (Books on the floor instead of shelves? OK!)
  6. You feed them treats whenever they forlornly play with their empty interactive treat toy.
  7. You get up to play with them whenever they pounce on you, even if you are in the middle of writing an important email/blog/essay, etc.
  8. You let them choose the side of the bed they want to sleep on first and sleep on whatever space they designate to you.

If more than four of these are true, you are the pet.   😆

 

DIZZY – MY HEAD IS SPINNING

Grammar Nazi

Oh dear, gentle readers, the decline and fall of proper English usage continues apace. There are more people who know less about the language, and prove it, by writing and publishing their errors.

When I began blogging, lo these many (4) years ago, I had to click to get my output Spellchecked. Now, I don’t even have my fingers raised from the keys, before that dreaded wavy red underline tells me I’ve Miss Spelled mispilled somehow erred – which would be great, if the program actually spelled the correct word.

When I enter text into a translation program, it even tells me that my foreign language words are not spelled ‘correctly’ in English. GrammarCheck is just as bad.  It’s more powerful now, but the code-writers could have used GrammarCheck themselves.

I wrote ‘The Beatles – Let It Be’, and was ‘corrected’ to – let it is.  I typed ‘lay it down’ – and was ‘corrected’ to lie it down.  It wanted me to revise one line to – ‘any idea we were coming had’.  That program may have been upgraded by a Squarehead Kraut, because only the Germans the verb at the end of the sentence put.

Other official, commercial headshakers include:
MSN’s headline that –Seattle sets record four loudest stadium.
a Wikipedia photo, captioned ‘The Chicago L’  It’s an elevated train, Loser!
a crossword puzzle where the clue ‘Classic Chevy’ – equaled ‘TBird’, apparently built by Henry and Edsel Chevrolet.

it hardens back to a time – Only between your ears. I harken (or hearken) back to archaic usage.

beer-swaling hockey nuts – So many illiterate, bladder-emptying jokes…they’re swilling.

Rule could effect record company profits – What is the affect of incorrect usage?

I could really careless about a number – I couldn’t care less about your careless misusage.

She clamored up the stairs – making a lot of noise, as she clambered up the stairs.

Bare with me a while, seems to be an invitation to a party I can’t bear to miss.

warned of their want to cross the road – I want them to know that the correct word is wont. (not won’t)

the couple had a relationship, but only plutonic – Wow, that’s out of this world.

sense you left….your English doesn’t make any since

I’d bend over back words – Like ‘Asshole’? That’s a ‘back word’ for backwards writers.

Toe-headed people like me – More like ass-headed. tow-headed = sandy-colored hair.

I studied Shakespeare and Julia’s Cesar – You just want to pound your head, or a teacher’s.

eats chutes and leaves – Without understanding the joke – or Botany.

a bowl haircut, like Moe from the Three Stugges – A fourth stugge stooge wrote this crap.

a quilt made from old flower sacks – Filled with roses and crysanth krisan more roses. Does anybody besides me remember when flour came in sacks?

They’re being terrorists shouldn’t bother anyone. – Their being a professional writer, should!

a tee-shirt bearing her mid drift – I bear a mid-drift; she was baring her midriff.

did the ice-bucket challenge with a pale of cold milk – Well, a pail of it is white.

Farmers’ Market vendors sell beefstake tomatoes – To vampire killers?

A butcher sells male and peamale bacon

caught in the straight-jacket of social expectations – Go strait to the dictionary!

came to blows with eatchother – Please note the spacebar below

Gourmet salad dressings – tomatow and bealTomato, mixed with things like cranberry and mango. What in Hell is beal?

He wasn’t aloud to carry a gun – He had to keep quiet about what he was allowed to carry

He wrecked havoc – I hate it when someone wrecks my havoc. I just get the detritus and debris randomly distributed, only to find some OCD has wreaked order and neatness with a broom.

The hooker lifted her short skirt to display her wears – But she wears none, so bewares, don’t get caught unawares, in the warehouse, among the softwares and hardwares.

So I od not have to mention it again – It’s odd that they don’t know the correct word is ought.

Ball your eyes out – I would bawl, but at least it’s better than eyeing your balls out.

They’re just etching out a living – There’s no need for eking a living, when you can make etchings.

I’ll leave you with the tale of a reader who reached my site, riding on the search term “Archron, Ohio.” He may have found me, but he’ll never find Akron.

 

What’s Finally In Your Fridge?

Open fridge

When last we left our husky hero, he was grazing his way through Kansas the basement storeroom. Now is time for him to finally reveal What Evil Lurks In The Heart Of AMANA. Boowahaha….hack, hack!? Stand back! I don’t want anyone crushed when I open this door.

Poor refrigerator, it seems to go in cycles, always busy, but there are days when you can open the door and get an echo. A week later, if I threw a cup of water at it, all but a few drops would splash back on the floor, it’s so jammed with leftovers put-asides. ‘Leftovers’ has a poor connotation; these are intentional, and good.

As downstairs, almost everything in the upstairs fridge comes in multiple versions. There are two 2-liter jugs of iced tea. The three of us drink more than one per day, so there’s always another one chilling. There’s my morning orange juice, but because the wife’s allergic, she has serially gone through cranberry juice, apple juice, the iced tea, and now is drinking mango juice.

Among the condiments we have regular ketchup and my Hot and Spicy ketchup, yellow mustard, and Dijon. (We can’t afford Grey Poupon.) There’s sweet relish, and dill, the wife’s mayonnaise and my Miracle Whip, white vinegar and malt, soya sauce and Tamari, which is spicy like soya, but with less caramel for lighter colored foods and less burning when cooked. .

The shelves are jammed with lemon juice, lime juice for Tex-Mex, coconut oil, Indian ghee, which is a clarified cooking butter, HP sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, hot chili-garlic sauce, Tabasco sauce and Chipotle Tabasco, sandwich spread, Sriracha, chili sauce, salad dressings, chopped garlic, shredded garlic and shredded ginger, maple syrup, stuffed olives, sliced pizza olives, and two different Diana sauces.

We stock store-bought sweet pickles and gherkins, and homemade dill pickles in snacking quarters, and slices for burgers and sandwiches. The wife likes artichoke hearts, the liquid from which she sometimes uses as a salad dressing, adding a dash of lemon juice and salt, and we keep both margarine and butter for cooking and spreading.

There’s 4 kinds of fruit in the fruit drawer, and 6 different vegetables in the vegetable drawer, including zucchini, which the wife fries with olive oil & garlic salt and tops with shredded cheese. Milk includes 3% homo, my chocolate milk, the wife’s non-dairy Coffee-Rich cooking substitute, and buttermilk to make pancakes and waffles. The son and I eat regular sour cream, while the wife uses the more expensive, lactose-free.

CHEESE! Oh Dear Lord, cheese! We always had cheese, but now that we’re getting older, the wife ensures that there’s lots of cheese to assist my chocolate milk to fight off osteoporosis.

Fasten your seat belt! – The son’s cheddar cheese-string sticks, the wife’s mozzarella sticks, Kraft Singles sandwich slices, Havarti slices, a bag of shredded TexMex, a bag of grated Parmesan for pasta and homemade Caesar dressing. In blocks, we have smoked Parmesan for special dishes, Emmenthaler, the son’s Gruyere, cheddar, the wife’s goat-milk Kashkaval, which she puts on the fried zucchini, Monterey Jack, occasionally mozzarella, which I take from the freezer, to thaw for lasagna, pizza or French onion soup, and Edam, for family-gathering hors d’oeuvres. Oh, and don’t forget the flavored cream cheese spread, the jar of Cheeze-Whiz, and the jar of salsa con queso, which I dollop on my nachos.

Behind the leftovers on the top shelf, hide two or three flavors of homemade jam – red currant from our own bush, strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry, or spiced peach. Tired of putting it on toast? Mix a little boiling water, and they make excellent pancake/waffle toppings. Up there are also horseradish, beet relish, which is 50/50 horseradish and grated, cooked beets, and goes great on ham, pickled ginger, and a soup can full of salvaged bacon fat that we use to fry French toast, or make a roux for gravy.

The son works midnights, and doesn’t take the evening meal with us. He eats at 4:00 AM. The wife and I prepare a recipe that was set up when we had two healthy teenagers. Now she and I take what we want, and fill a Ziploc container for the son. Sometimes he has two or three ahead in the fridge.

Tupperware

Occasionally we pack some up for the daughter, especially tomato-based dishes, because her son is allergic to them, for days when her mobility disability keeps her from cooking. Thank the heavens for microwaves. Tupperware was handy but expensive. Now Ziploc and Glad containers are here. If you melt one a bit, it’s quick and cheap to replace.

After we’ve supplied the son and daughter, anything left goes in smaller amounts for future lunches. No longer just sandwiches – unless you want one. We freeze fresh bread, and never put out more than half a loaf. That top shelf is crowded with little containers of chili, won-ton soup, curried chicken and hamburger stroganoff.

I had to install a light fixture above the sink with three hi-intensity halogen bulbs. The one in the fridge was always so obscured by all the food that you couldn’t see in. Thanx for reading our obesity diary. You must’ve wanted to; you showed up.   😆

***

On an unrelated note; I recently ran into a woman who’s even more of a Grammar Nazi than me. She warns her online friends that, if they send her a message like the last line above, but spelled ‘You must of wanted to’, she’ll unfriend them on Facebook.   😳

#489

Oleo Olio

Margarine

I never know where the next inspiration for a post will come from, especially my “Remember When” stories.  I am old enough, and was born in a small enough town, far enough off the beaten path, that I remember how things were, long before most of my readers were born.  I occasionally write about The Good Old Days, hopefully interesting and amusing a few good folk….

….So, the other day I wanted to put some margarine on a piece of toast.  I laid my left hand over the plastic tub, casually ran my thumb under the edge of the lid, and it popped right off.  We take packaging so much for granted, and have become so used to it.  Those lids can’t be taken off by grasping them firmly, and pulling straight.  The harder you grasp, the tighter they seal.  For as soft and fragile as they are, they would have had our ancestors of even a hundred years ago, looking for an axe or saw.

When the lid came off the first time, it was a two-handed, thumbs-working-in-opposite-directions move, because there was a sheet of plastic welded to the rim of the tub.  Squeeze bottles of salad dressing have plastic, heat-sealed over the lid, but even after you use a crowbar or flame thrower to remove that, you still have to twist off the cap.  Beneath that is yet another layer of plastic and cardboard that has to be removed.

When I was a lad….yeah, yeah, we know, grandpa – peanut butter came in too-easily-broken, glass jars.  You twisted off the cap, and dug into the peanut butter.  Actually, you probably got a knife and stirred it, because the non-homogenized stuff separated like milk, with the oil on top.  Nowadays, there’s another little cardboard and Mylar manhole cover under the cap – all these because some fool in Chicago wanted to get away with poisoning his wife with tainted Tylenol.  Back then, the boxes and bottles in the stores just opened up.  The cops caught him though.

Anyway, back to the margarine!  You thought you could distract me, eh??  Margarine was developed in the 1800s, in the midst of the Industrial Revolution.  Some years ago, when the elimination of CFCs was the cause du jour, I saw a woman on television who declaimed that, “If we could develop margarine, as a safe alternative to butter, we can develop a safe alternative to CFCs.”  The only problem with that is that it’s not true.  It wasn’t developed as a safe anything!

The first “margarine” was beef tallow, mixed with something like Worcestershire Sauce, horrible to eat, but it provided sufficient calories to prevent mine, mill and factory workers from fainting from hunger.  It gave the industrial barons the maximum labor for the minimum cost, sweethearts those guys.  History also has shown that the saturated fats in early margarine were as dangerous to health as butter, so the busy-body bitch was wrong, twice.

Here in Canada, the Milk Marketing Board, which was one small step less powerful than the American NRA, almost strangled margarine in its infancy.  They got a law passed that said margarine could not be marketed if it looked like butter, in every Province except Quebec, where they march to the tune of their own beret-wearing, red-wine-soaked piper.

They tried to market Marg in colors ranging from Kool-Aid orange, to cranberry red, but mostly just white.  I remember, as a kid, getting pound blocks of fish-belly-white stuff in cardboard boxes, indistinguishable from lard, except there was included a small paper envelope.  You tore the envelope open, sprinkled the colored powder on the block and stirred like hell in a bowl, till you got the familiar yellow.

Blue Bonnet came out with a plastic bag, similar to bagged milk.  On the inside of one of the flat sides was a little plastic ampule of liquid colorant.  You pinched it to burst it internally, then kneaded and mixed, kneaded and mixed, till it turned that golden buttery yellow.

I don’t know why we didn’t just eat the damned stuff white.  I guess this is where the self-psychology kicks in again.  I know I probably lose more calories and weight from body-heat loss in the summer than the winter.  In the winter, when it’s snowy and blowy outside, I wear underwear, socks, flannel track-pants, heavy tee-shirt and slippers – and the furnace has the house at 73 F.  In the summer, when it’s bright and sunny, I wear underwear, maybe socks, perhaps shorts, possibly a threadbare shirt, and slippers only if I have to go outside or down to the concrete basement floor – and the A/C has the house to 72 F.

In the mid-80s, the consuming public finally pried Milk’s thumbs off Margarine’s throat, and at last we could buy it in yellow.  The little frogs in Quebec had been making it like that for years, and they wanted to market it to the rest of Canada.

Initially, one pound tubs were not worth their while.  It was shipped in plastic bulk containers, like glass or metal baking dishes, 8 X 12 X 2 – five-pound trays, or 9 X 13 X3 – ten-pounders, with tight-fitting, snap-down flat lids.  (Sizes in inches for the metric crowd.  Americans, feel free to ignore the inevitable, and the rest of the world.)  Spatula or spoon it out into a serving dish.  Once empty and washed, they were handy nesting storage containers.  Years later, the wife and I still use them to protect those lovely Christmas cookies.

Soon, other Canadian, and American suppliers provided the easily-opened one-pound tubs, and I could have toast and margarine and peanut butter at the flick of a thumb.  And I will burn off those calories, because I’m sitting here typing this, wearing only a smile.

Horse-Drawn History

I’ve done a few “Remember When” posts about growing up Oh-so-long-ago, and in a small town at the end of the universe.  I’ve written a post about the development of roads, and if I don’t get my numbering mixed up, it will already be published.  What I haven’t put together is the horse and buggy combination.  Anyone want to go for a wagon ride?

I’m still a long way from being a suave, sophisticated, city-dweller, but, as a kid, I was far more urban than rural.  I don’t know if my little town helped make me so, or if I was just of that bent, and lucky to be born where I was.  When I got old enough to visit the next little town down the road, I was quite dismissive.

Our town had all the interesting, up-scale social amenities that they didn’t.  We had a movie theater, a bowling alley, and a pool-room.  They had none of these.  They did have a United Co-op farm supply store, and a Western Tire store, even back here in the east, not even a real Canadian Tire store.

Back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, it was not unusual to see horses pulling wagons around their town.  Local farmers hauling hay, bringing milk to the dairy, or stopping in to that Co-op store to pick up seed or fertilizer.  My town was not exempt from horse and wagon combos though.

When I was a kid, we still got milk delivered to the house by horse and wagon.  I don’t remember seeing milk taken to the little dairy in my town by horse; it was picked up by truck from farmers who set it by the side of the road in five-gallon pails.  It sat out in the winter cold and summer heat until it got back to the dairy.  Thank God for Pasteurization.

This was all back when every little town had its own little dairy, before the economies of volume caused all the milk in North America to be controlled by a dairy-products company in Italy named Parmalat.

The milk guy delivered right to the door.  If it sat on the porch in the winter, it froze, and expanded.   Milk wasn’t homogenized, so an inch or two of cream would raise the cardboard cap out of the glass bottle.  The frozen cream would have to be cut off and saved, or it would melt and run off.

Later, the delivery schedule changed, and the wagon didn’t arrive till just after lunch.  Sometimes I would ask my Mom for a nickel to get a half-pint of chocolate milk.  The deposit on the glass bottle was another nickel.  We could have paid it once, and just kept exchanging bottles, but it was far more fun to climb into the delivery wagon and ride a couple of blocks while I sipped it finished.  Then I’d walk back home.

Townie boy learned a little about driving horses.  “Gee” meant turn right, “”haw” meant turn left.  I’ll leave “giddy up” and “whoa” to your imagination.  “Gee” was a crossword puzzle solution to the clue, “right to a horse,” last week.

We didn’t have an electric refrigerator for a number of years.  We had an icebox, which sat in a shed, attached to the back of the house.  Every couple of days in the summer we put a twenty-five pound block of ice in a top compartment.  The ice would melt, so there was a hole bored in the floor, where the melt water ran out.

Each winter, a businessman and his assistants would go to a small cove of Lake Huron, and cut blocks of ice out by hand, using large human-powered saws.  When the cove refroze, they would come back for another harvest, and another, until they filled a barn-like warehouse.  The ice was covered by a thick layer of fine sawdust, which reduced thawing during the summer.

The ice was delivered to most homes in town by horse and wagon.  Their blocks were about fifty pounds, and had to be hacked in half with a trowel-like hand-tool with a toothed edge.  I would often run out and grab a large sliver of ice, and suck on it like a no-cost Popsicle.  Occasionally I got to ride along for a couple of blocks, as I did with the milkman.  It takes a village to raise a child.  Since I was almost the only child in my neighborhood, these village men protected, entertained and educated me before I went to school.

The third horse and wagon for many years was the garbage-man’s.  The town’s work-crew was small and, immediately after WW II, trucks, and the money to buy them was scarce.  The garbage-man seemed ancient to a small child, but he was probably in his fifties.  He and his patient horse would make the rounds, and he would dump loose garbage from metal cans into the wagon.

When the wagon was full, he would take it to the south edge of town, about a half-mile from the lakeshore.  He would have the horse back the wagon into an open area, and then pry up the loose boards which formed the bottom of the wagon, and stand them on edge, dumping the garbage.

About the time the old man, and his horse, retired, and town employees using a truck took over, a real estate developer wanted space to build more cottages for the burgeoning tourist trade.  Suddenly all the garbage was compacted with a bulldozer and covered with clean fill, and the site was sold.  I wonder how many of the cottage-owners know what’s under their summer palaces.

Horses and wagons….as Benzeknees’ quiz proved a while ago, I am older than dirt.  At least this tale of long ago and far away didn’t contain any dinosaurs or woolly mammoths.  Be careful as you walk away from the wagon.  Don’t step in that stuff!