I Do

Wedding rings

I guess I could put this post under ‘Old Stuff ’.  The wife is 65, and I’ve had her for over 47 years but, discretion being the better part of waking up tomorrow without a pillow over my face, I’ll just recount the fateful day.

I was raised as a Christmas/Easter kind of Baptist.  Churches and religion meant little to me.  The wife was raised in a strict Catholic family, but like two older sisters before her, had started ‘questioning’, and soon also left “The Church.”

We had met at an Adult Education retraining course in February, and hit it off right away.  We were thinking of waiting till we both graduated and had jobs.  We spoke of waiting till Sept. 21 the following year – not only my birthday, but also her parents’ anniversary.

I got out, and got a job, and she would soon follow.  We saw no point in waiting.  I told my Mom that we planned to just go to City Hall, but she insisted that we both should have a day to remember.  We talked the Anglican minister in my home town into marrying us.  The guest list was only about 25 people.  All the ‘Good Catholics’ in her family boycotted, although the two ex-Catholic sisters and their husbands showed up.

We chose Dec. 2, 1967, as a mutually agreeable date.  My sister was living directly across the street from Mom and Dad, in the ex-Presbyterian Manse, which had a huge living room/drawing room combo.  She and Mom cooked like crazy, and that’s where the reception was held.

The wedding ceremony was held after the regular 11 AM service, once the minister shooed the parishioners home.  We had bought a wedding license at City Hall, but the church issued another one, so we are twice married.  Perhaps that’s why it’s lasted so long.

The brunch reception started around 1 PM.  We gave the camera to my brother to take a few pictures for posterity.  He quickly got loaded at the open bar.  He remembered to take the shots; it’s just that people have the tops of their heads cut off, or one arm.

Long before the internet, and without phoning ahead, I had hoped to get us to Niagara Falls for a bit of a honeymoon.  About four o’clock, Mom strongly suggested that we get underway.  A freezing rain storm had blown in off Lake Huron.

I checked the car over before we left.  There was some soap on the windows that was easily removed, but no tin cans dragging from strings at the back.  We took the highway south, out of town, and turned off onto the secondary road that headed easterly towards The Falls.  Within a mile we were sliding off the crown of the road on a half-inch of ice.

Do we continue slowly, hugging the gravel shoulder, or take a different route??!  I elected to turn around.  Just as we got back to the main highway, a sander/salter truck rolled past.  Follow Him!!!  He went 30 miles southwest, down the lakeshore, and then turned southeast.

At some point, we began to notice a smell, a definite aroma.  I stopped and raised the hood.  One or more of ‘my friends’ had jammed three small whitefish between the engine block and the exhaust manifold.  Heated up with 30 miles of driving, the hot exhaust was cooking the fish, and burning off the fish-oil.  I managed to remove them with very few burns, but the smell lingered with the car for a week or more.

All plans definitely out the window, the best we could hope for were roads not too icy to prevent us from at least getting back to Kitchener.  Such was not to be.  As the freezing rain abated, it changed to wet, slippery, clingy snow.  The Ontario Works truck ahead stopped seasoning the road, and put his plow blade down and pushed the accumulating white stuff back.

We followed him to the small town of Listowel, which was barely bigger than my stage-coach stop burg.  We hoped that he would continue on through, towards Kitchener, but, just at the outskirts of town, he pulled into his home base, apparently done for the day, or at least his shift.  Now where??!

The town of Listowel was known only for The Blue Barn Inn, a motel with a couple of dozen rooms, an in-house restaurant with food famous for miles, and an entertainment room where B-acts and wannabes played.  Could we get a room?  Since no-one else drove in over the ice, there were rooms to spare.

After settling in the room, we now wondered about supper.  What little we had eaten, was 7 hours ago.  I went downstairs to the dining room and asked if I could get something to take back to the room.  On Sunday nights there was no a la carte – service was only from a giant buffet.

The cooks had worked all day to prepare for the usual huge crowd, and the ice storm had prevented almost all of them from showing up.  When the host found out that we were newly-weds, stranded there, he asked for a couple of dollars, and told me to take as much food and drink as I could carry on a cafeteria tray.  We remembered the place with nostalgic fondness for years, but, about 30 years later, it burned to the ground.

Very little of the day was as we had hoped or planned, and none of it elegant or impressive like a Hawaiian location wedding/honeymoon. It was an adventure, where all eventually turned out well, and set a sort of pattern for the marriage.  If we could survive this, we could survive each other.  We’ve passed 47 years, and are heading for the Golden 50.

Even as a second marriage for my Mom, and a war-delayed first for my Dad, they celebrated their 60th anniversary just before they died.  While we increasingly complain about aches and pains, and various medical problems, I think we’re strong and healthy enough to reach that mark also!     😀

#467

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The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Three

 

Bison

 

 

 

 

Day 1 – Beautiful Buffalo

Okay, I wrote the above, and the computer didn’t explode, so, on with the post.

With five hours of sleep, and adrenalin coursing through my veins, I was awake to greet the son as he got home from work at 7:15 AM. By 8 o’clock, I had much of our supplies loaded in the car, when the alarm woke the wife.

With this head start, and only a little chivvying on my part, the wife was beautiful enough to leave by ten to 10, instead of my feared ten after.  We took along little snippy Miss GPS, who the wife has named Ethel.  We had three choices to cross the Niagara River, to get to Buffalo.  I had decided on the furthest south, at Fort Erie, even though it meant turning back north on the American side.

Ethel said, “Turn here, to cross at Lewiston.” I said no.  RECALCULATING!  She said, “Turn here, to cross at Niagara Falls.”  I said no.  RECALCULATING!  We pulled into the duty-free, and phoned the son, to tell him we had safely reached the border.

We called Cordelia’s Mom, and told her we were about to cross over. She said she would pick up her mother-in-law, and meet us at the restaurant.  It was just past noon.  We crossed the Peace Bridge, and Miss GPS ordered that I “turn left on David Street”, only, I couldn’t see David St.  The impatient guy behind me honked, and the wife insisted that we proceed, even if it was in the wrong direction.  It was!  RECALCULATING!

We went down to the next exit and reversed direction. Now, Ethel was happy.  She quickly got us to the restaurant.  We had just parked when a silver sport-ute came careening in off the street at high speed, on two wheels, one woman driving, and an older lady passenger desperately clinging to the door handle.

Sure enough, it was CM, who came breezing out of her vehicle like a little whirlwind of happy, helpful good humor.  I don’t know where such a small person packs all that personality.  She soon led us astray into a lovely Greek eatery.

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Since the lunch crowd soon emptied out, the staff was happy (enough) to ignore us, while we had an almost two-hour meet and greet. The time just flew by.  She comprises such an enthralling Presence, that it compounded and concentrated my senility.  I’m sure that I forgot at least half of the things I wanted to say, and ask.

Hoping to get some Nestle Italian Sweet Crème Coffee Mate, which is not available in Ontario, I had asked CM to keep an eye out for it as she did her own shopping, to tell me where to go to buy it.

Then I compounded my sins, by asking her to look for the Goya hot sauce that Madame Weebles had been so kind to send. While not yet totally consumed, it won’t last forever.  We can’t find it in the Detroit area but, since it’s bottled just outside NYC, I thought it might be stocked in Buffalo.  It was, YAY!

Then I had the effrontery to ask CM if she would purchase these items, to save me the running around, and I would repay her.  The nerve of some people’s kids!  She did – at two different stores.  It’s not my good looks; it must have been my glib tongue keyboard.

She carried a stuffed Teddy bear, and we had a stuffed Lamb, as identification. She showed us a good time, but nobody took any clothes off.  With what she claims is ‘Buffalo’ hospitality, first she treated us to a lovely lunch.  I got suspicious when she hauled out a gift bag.

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In it were the Coffee Mate and the Ancho Sauce, but she had also added a box of ‘Buffalo’ sponge candy, and a bottle of Buffalo Wing sauce. When I asked her “How much do I owe you?”, she insisted that these were all presents.

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She asked where we were staying, and I told her at a Red Roof Inn, but way out by the airport. She refused to let me rely on Ethel GPS, and insisted that she would lead me, fifteen miles, and most of an hour, there and back, out of her way, across town – if I could keep up.  With her responsible for where I was going, I had a chance to look around and discover where I was.  That will be important, later.

She led me right to our motel, with a quick, unintended stop at the Bob Evans out front, and did everything except book me in. We gabbed for a few more minutes, and I effusively thanked her for her many kindnesses and generosity.  The wife says that she confided that she was somewhat relieved that I had brought her along, instead of son Shimoniac, The Bear.

I shook her tiny hand and, with tears in my eyes, sadly waved goodbye, as she drove away. Still all misty, I turned back to look at my car – and THE LOLLIPOPS, which are the very center of this tale, still in the back seat.  She had told her mother-in-law about the candy, and a couple of blocks away, MIL asked, “But where are the Lollipops??”

What will she do about them?? What will Archon do about them??  Will we return to Ontario –eventually – and mail them to her?  Will I just say to Hell with the diet (again), and eat them?  Tune in next week to find out.

My only complaint is that she says she does not find me as grumpy in person as I seem on my blog site. I don’t know how that can possibly be.  I see that she has started referring to me, the World’s Champion Grumpy Old Dude as G.O.D. – not to be confused with God.  I have more power, authority, and ill temper.

***

I have a poll for my readers.  There are several more of these episodes.  Would you prefer to be bored all at once, sequentially, or would you rather have me insert the occasional rant?

Winter Vacation – Finale

When we checked into the motel on the Friday, one of the first things the son did, was try to open the top dresser drawer.  Perhaps he had a sudden urge to read the Gideons’ Bible.  The front of the drawer just came right off in his hand.

With sleep schedules now totally confounded, the son was asleep shortly after 11 PM Saturday night, while I was still lurking around outside, reading newspapers and doing crossword puzzles in the vending room, and gabbing with the security guard.

Son was up at 7:30, and went over to the office to get yet another tea, while I “slept in” till 8 AM.  Just as he quietly eased the door open at 7:45, the maintenance man fired up the snow blower, right outside the unit.

The son’s OCD shows differently from mine.  Now that we were both awake (Speak for yourself, son and heir.), things should “be done”, we should pack immediately and vacate the premises.  I made toast juice and pills, washing dishes and final packing, last till almost 9.  We visited the office, finalized all paperwork, and offered many thanks to Connie, to be spread among all the nice desk clerks.

The car is loaded; we’re ready to go, and it’s just 9:10.  Finally, the son asks the question he should have thought about before.  What time is this County-Line Trade Center open?  I had hoped that it was at 9 AM, like the Gibraltar Trade Center.  The reason we stayed up here, was to try something new.  I had used the Google Maps overhead view to find that it was an ell-shaped building, about half as big as Gibraltar.

We drove a mile in five minutes and pulled into the parking lot.  There was one snowed-in car, and a half-ton with a plow blade clearing the lot. One wing of the ell is a furniture resale store and a dental office.  The Trade Center is only half as big as I’d hoped and imagined.  The sign on the door says opening is at 10.  We drove back down to last night’s McDonalds, and parked at the back, trying not to get plowed in by the guy clearing their lot.

Finally we drove back up, and the plow jockey unlocked the door, and let a couple of vendors enter.  With no booths open, I got into a conversation with one, about socialized medicine, Obamacare, and a second international bridge, while the son prowled this tiny little microcosm.  One unopen booth shows Saturday hours of noon to 5, and Sunday from 1 till five.  On a Superbowl Sunday, after a significant snowfall, this is not going to get much better.

The Gibraltar center is full of kitsch, “As seen on TV.”  This County-Line place also has lots of stuff seen on TV – if you used to watch Sanford and Son.  The food service area looks like where Sly Stallone got rat burgers in Demolition Man.  There are signs on the doors which say, “All hoods must be removed before entering.” and, “We will provide security escort to your vehicle, but we will not carry merchandise.”

Eleven o’clock – we can’t go home yet.  What do we do??  The son’s paying for the gas; let’s drive 25 miles and go to Gibraltar.  We stopped at a nearby Meijer’s gas bar to fill up.  “Let’s go into the store.”  The son found and bought two big bags of Chili-Cheese potato chips the Meijer’s on the other side of town didn’t carry, and I located and bought two large bottles of McIllhenny’s Chipotle Tabasco Sauce the other store also didn’t have, for the daughter.

Right across the street was a small health food store.  Between it and its larger parent two miles down the road, I found most of the items the big GNC stores didn’t carry, for the niece.  Touchdown, Yay!

The kid and I spent several hours touring Gibraltar, its yummy food court and the gun and knife show they had on the display side.  While I got to caress a Beretta 92 pistol, similar to Rants’ military version, the son found that he likes shotguns.

I got rid of another small pocketful of change to an old veteran, collecting to support other vets, down on their luck.  I saw at least two “girly” guns, one a little .22 caliber varmint plinker for a 12 to 18 year old, the other, a more serious, semi-military style .308, shoot-a-moose, or a trespasser, rifle.  Both were done in camouflage finish – if you were hiding behind Sailor Moon, the darlingest pink and black daubs and lines.

About 3, we decided to head home.  Plows and volume of traffic finally had the roads down to bare and damp.  Since we’d driven south, we decided to cross back, over the bridge.  The same factors which kept people out of the Trade Center, kept them off the bridge.  I again was able to get into a Customs line with only one car ahead of me.

When I was allowed to roll forward, the window of the booth slid open, and I was greeted by a female customs officer.  Not unheard of, but not common on the Canadian side of the Windsor/Detroit crossings.  She smiled at me and said, “Hello/Bonjour.”  “Bonjour,” I replied, “now I know I’m truly back in Canada.”

“Pardon me; could you please pass me a serviette?  I appear to have spilled my poutine.”  Every Canadian knows exactly what that sentence means, but I may have to translate it for my American readers.

A couple of questions for me, and a couple for the son, and we were soon on our way home.  I coulda brought that beautiful Beretta back, and no-one but me would have been any the wiser.  The son called the wife, now that Canadian cell phone towers would carry my Canadian cell phone plan.  We told her we were on our way, and three hours later, we were ordering pizza, after covering 870 Km./555 Mi. over a very enjoyable three-day weekend.  Thanx for reading along with us.    😀

Motor City Madness – Part 3

Coming Unscrewed

We were up early Sunday morning, if you can call nine AM early.  It is for us, but we had things to do and money to spend.  I went down to the office to check us out.  It was a peaceful morning, no beer party, no hookers, no trolling queers.  There’s a Denny’s just down the road, so we planned to have breakfast there.

Michigan is catching up with the rest of North America.  No longer is the Denny’s half smoking, and half drifting smoke, hak, hak!  We got a nice table near the back window and a pleasant, mature waitress who came from Ireland years ago.  Prices at this Denny’s are about half of what the captive Denny’s attached to Days Inns in Niagara Falls charge.

I was reminded of my post titled Lazy and Incompetent, when I found that Denny’s now has pancake balls.  They’re like Tim Hortons Timbits, small balls of thick pancake mix, deep-fried.  These are for people too busy or lazy to actually cut up pancakes.  Just stir some butter and syrup into their serving bowl, and spoon them into your mouth.

As we were waiting for our order, we looked out into the parking lot and spied a large young Negro woman getting out of a Jeep.  She was wearing (?) a micro-mini dress which barely covered her assets.  This was like two hundred pounds of potatoes in a hundred pound Spanx bag.  She leaned back into the Jeep to retrieve something and I saw everything but her appendix scar.  Then she tugged the dress down again….in the front.  The entire room watched as she sashayed to the front door.

After breakfast, we went up to the big Meijer store.  The grandson and I sold our rolled coins to Customer Service.  The wife found some correctly sized pullovers, cheap, in four nice colors.  We also brought back some liquid coffee creamers in flavors not yet available locally.  I’m looking forward to hot chocolate with some Crème Brulée added, but, we came for beet sugar.

There were only fifteen four-pound bags of Peninsular brand sugar, the kind we usually buy, on the shelf, so the grandson bought it, for use at his place.  The wife and I took six five-pound bags of the Meijer brand for ourselves.  They would have put out more Peninsular, later in the day, but we didn’t plan on going back.  This means we hauled back a total of ninety pounds of sugar to Canada.  That’s just about the weight of the fiancée who didn’t come with us.  She might have had to walk home.

The grandson discovered that, by using self-checkouts, we could pour in and get rid of most of the rest of our pocketfuls of loose change.  I still need five State quarters to fill my set.  I had hoped to get one or more on the trip, but, by having exact change for almost every purchase, we never got any new coins.

Then we went to the Gibraltar Trade Center, across from the motel.  Over 200 vendors in an arena-sized building, we wandered for a couple of hours, and ended by getting some good quality food at the surprisingly diverse food court.

The first thing we bought was some sandalwood musk-oil to add to my manly bath gel.  Our daughter is fascinated by things Egyptian.  The surprise second item purchased, was a solid gold scarab beetle pendant with semi-precious scales for the head, thorax and wings.  It has an ankh molded on its belly.

A middle-aged female (wo)manned this jewelry sales counter.  The owner must have been desperate.  I wouldn’t have let her supervise a Japanese snake race.  When we decided to buy the item, she didn’t know what the price was.  She phoned the owner, who told her that all the items are sold by weight, at today’s gold price.  She couldn’t figure that out, so he walked her through it.  The price came to $232.45, and we proffered our MasterCard.

She walked over to the desk and pushed the card through the slide-reader, and told us it hadn’t gone through.  I mentioned that it was a chip-card, and chip-cards don’t scan when swiped.  She walked around to the other side of the desk and pulled it through the reader.  Since she’s now facing in the opposite direction, the magnetic strip, which was on the inside, is now on the outside.  It didn’t go through.  She reversed grip on the card, and tried yet another time, and claimed it didn’t go through.

She phoned up and bothered the owner again, who probably said the reader might not work, but she stated it as a certainty.  There was a “white” ATM not twenty feet away.  We walked over and took a $200 advance against the credit card, and paid the balance out-of-pocket.  The ATM fee was $3, and my bank charged another $2, for out-of-country use, plus instant interest on a cash advance.

Two days after we got home, the wife was checking the on-line bank statement, and there was the $232.45 charge.  It did go through, at least one of her many tries.  If it goes through as a chip-card, we have to input a PIN number.  If it goes through as a swipe, we have to sign and authorize the charge, and receive a copy of the machine tape.  Neither of these things occurred.

The wife called the bank’s 800 number and spoke to a nice man in the Anti-Fraud department, even though this was probably just incompetence, not intentional fraud.  She downloaded a complaint form, filled it out, I signed it, and she faxed it, and a copy of the bill-of-sale showing payment in cash, to the bank.  We had the money back in our account within three working days.

If my readership doesn’t drop off drastically from on-line sleeping sickness, I plan to eventually post about our triumphant return.  Now there’s talk of the son and I going back for the spring show.

Trippin’

Last Friday, as the sun disappeared south of the equator for the winter, I wished that I could follow it.  On that day, I reached my best-before-date of 68 years old.  The decrepitude is decreeping up on me.

I was allowed to choose a supper menu for my actual birthday meal, and decided on chicken schnitzel with fries and gravy.  We have schnitzel about once a month, but it’s usually pork schnitzel, purchased over at Eurofoods.  Chicken is a bit more labor to prepare, but nice to have once in a while.  Saturday night, when the son’s taste buds were more awake, we had bacon-wrapped filets with baked potatoes and fried zucchini.

Friday for lunch, I made myself another platter of nacho chips.  The son works a midnight shift and is done Saturday morning at 7 AM.  As sometimes happens, the joy of weekend freedom kept him awake.  Instead of going to bed around 10 AM, he was still awake when I finally rolled out about noon.  Since he doesn’t get Tex-Mex as often as I do, he suggested going to Taco Bell for lunch, while we were doing some shopping.  I should have been eating up leftovers to clean out the fridge, but couldn’t resist some face-time with him.

When we got home and admitted what we’d done, the wife asked if I’d forgotten what I’d had for lunch the day before.  I asked her if she’d forgotten what we’d planned for supper on Sunday, when the daughter, grandson and fiancée came over.  The stuff we picked up while we were out was for beef fajitas.  Tex-Mex three days in a row!  Am I happy?  Si, senor!  Muy bueno!

The loot presents I received on Sunday for my birthday included an Esso gift card that I can use for gas this coming weekend, and a Chapters bookstore gift card that will continue to come in handy anytime.  My grandson and his fiancée presented me with a lovely carved letter opener.  When I slid it out of its holder I thought that it was ivory, because I saw off-white, but when I turned it over, I saw amber/honey color, and realized it was banded agate.  The end of the hilt is a Scottish thistle, to commemorate my heritage.

The wife and I got me a coin for my birthday.  Since the Canadian Mint no longer stamps out pennies, they are offering a twenty-dollar, 99.99 fine, silver coin.  It has three Maple leaves as the penny did.  When I ordered it, I thought it was penny-sized, but when it arrived I found that it’s as big as a quarter.

We’re off to metro Detroit for the weekend.  I have to remember to add the “metro”, lest someone think I’m entering the war-zone.  I made a mis-turn one time, and wound up right down-town.  Ours were the only white faces, and none of the well-tanned ones looked too welcoming.  We stay at a motel 20 miles down I-75.  It’s down the street from a big Meijer store, where we plan to do some shopping, and right across the street from the Gibraltar Trade Center, a gigantic flea-market/food-court/display arena, where you can lose an afternoon, and we plan to.

Not that we need one, but the excuse for the trip is a knife show.  We’ve been down for spring shows several times, but this is the first time we’ve come down in the fall.  We’ve never had a problem getting our choice of room type.  It may have to do with college football, but when I reserved the room a week ago, all the ones with king-size beds were taken.  The wife and I have trouble fitting in a standard double after years of a king-size.  I once missed an exit in Pennsylvania, coming home from Charleston, and drove from Pittsburgh, almost to Buffalo, before we found an officially un-open motel with a vacancy at two in the morning, because of college football.

We’ve offered to take the grandson and his fiancée with us.  She politely declined because her job includes weekend work.  If we’d got a king room, we could have got a cot for him.  He’s spent a year out of high school thinking about a career.  He wondered about horticulture, working one summer at a greenhouse, but jobs in that area are scarce (aren’t they everywhere?), the pay is poor, and the work is seasonal.  He currently has a half-day job at a transport depot.

He has decided to go back to school for a year to train for welding.  His schedule will be; walk to school for two hours of class, bus to co-op placement for four hours of training, bus to part-time job for four hours of work, then bus home after a 12/14 hour day.  It’ll be a killer schedule but the job prospects for a welder are fairly good, and the pay is decent too.  His co-op hasn’t kicked in yet and he’s booked the evening off at work.  By the time you read this, we should be on our merry way to the Motor City.

His Mom had to put a rush on his passport.  We provided a copy of our reservation to justify the hurry.  All goes well, he will have picked it up at the local passport office Thursday afternoon.  As partial justification of an earlier claim, we will be taking some orphans back to the U. S. with us.  In just over two years I have accumulated 36 American quarters, 36 dimes, 25 nickels and eight rolls of pennies, for a total of $17.85.  The daughter is sending the grandson with a roll of quarters, six rolls of pennies and a handful of assorted change about half as large as mine.

We’ll wave at Chatham for KayJai as we pass.  We will enjoy the knife show on Saturday, do some shopping, including some beet sugar at Meijer’s Sunday morning, roam the flea market in the afternoon and just generally enjoy the trip and the change of routine and scenery.  Blog to you early next week.