Capital Idea

House of Parliament

So another year has come and gone, and once again it was time to drive to Ottawa, to visit the grandson and fiancé for a couple of days – a Capital idea.

We hitched up the team, and loaded the buckboard sport-brute.  Grandma and her minions had made another batch of dill pickles.  There were his and hers presents for birthdays that bracket my recent one.  Included were a home-made spelt-flour, chocolate-mayonnaise cake, and special ginger cookies from a local Dutch market.  His always-thinking-ahead mother had even sent Christmas presents, since they won’t be able to get away then.

SDC11073

SDC11072

Biggest and heaviest among the freight, was a large steel cage for a recently-acquired, white (but not albino) ferret. She is so friendly and playful!!  I took along the digital camera, but the only photos I took were the ferret ones above.  I used it to prove that I had finally mounted on the wall, the rapier that he gave me for Fathers’ Day, two years ago, because I haven’t got around to publishing the Procrastination post yet.  You guys will have to wait another week or two to see that shot.

All in all, a very interesting and satisfying trip. Food of all types, including a Mexican restaurant named ‘Ahora’, where the nachos came with a language lesson.  The word ahora (Spanish a = in/at/to – hora = time) means Now, in English.

We visited two knife shops, and two second-hand bookstores which reminded me of Charles Dickens ‘Old Curiosity Shop’, stuff piled upon stuff in no great amount of order. We went to the Byward Market, a 4-block-square area, right downtown, full of kitschy little shops, eager to separate visitors from their money before the Government got it as taxes.

Just outside, between the Market area and the Houses of Parliament, stands the American Embassy, as big as a Trump hotel, but with all the architectural flair of a shoebox. Just half a block inside the Market, a mere drunken stagger back to the Embassy, is a ‘Gentlemen’s Club.’  Coincidence??  I think not!  Around the corner was a big century-house, turned into another Embassy, not Russian, but with a sign in Cyrillic lettering – Ukraine?  Uzbekistan?  Perhaps the English sign was on another street.

We went back at night to see the Parliament Building all lit up. No-one was passing any stupid legislation, but we saw where they had installed vents to release all the hot air.

I chose a different motel than last year, this one a mile closer to the grandson’s apartment, and $90/night, instead of $130, enabling us to afford to stay two nights instead of one. It was a family-owned independent, and like the Mexican restaurant, came with a lesson, this one a history lesson, rather than language.

Always curious, and looking for blog-fodder, I approached the day-shift male room-clerk. He reminded me of the wife’s ex-doctor. He could throw a pill or a potion or a medical test at a problem, but couldn’t deal with patients.  I believe that the clerk was on the autism spectrum.  He was happy to supply an extra pillow, or an ice-bucket, but not conversation and trivia.  “Qantas. Definitely Qantas.”

I asked, “How old is this place?”
“I don’t know.  I wasn’t here when it was built.”
“Neither was I, but I’m curious.  Have you never asked?”
“It wasn’t on my job application.  I have a customer.  You’ll have to leave.”
“He’s still getting out of his car.  He won’t be here for 5 minutes.  When does the night-shift come on?”
“I have a customer!  Please leave!”

I returned later to talk to the night-clerk, who was both sociable and knowledgeable.

It all started with a mineral hot-spring. The Indians used to soak in it, and believed in its healing properties.  They told the white men, who also used it, and appropriated it.  Around 1900, a white businessman erected a building around it, and turned it into a spa where monied and powerful people came, ‘to take the waters.’

It was quite a way out in the country from little then-Ottawa. In 1928 another businessman built a restaurant nearby, so that the elite had a place to dine after their treatments.  In 1931, when cars were still balky and unreliable, he built a couple of cabins where folks could stay overnight, before returning home in the morning.  Later, he added a couple more, and then another couple.

In 1932 he joined them together into one of the first row motels. In 1956 he added a second, matching row, and in 1973, his son added a third, two-story structure which we stayed in, for a total of 80 units.  The restaurant is still there, although now it’s leased out to chefs whose pretentious menu includes $15 hamburgers and poutine made with French fries cooked in duck fat.

The Federal Government is responsible for the well-being of Indigenous Peoples. Some are brought to Ottawa for medical treatment.  This now includes tests, drugs, surgery and physiotherapy, but many of them still believe in the healing powers of the Manitou’s hot springs.  When we were there, there were 16 units housing Cree and Inuit from as far away as Nunavut, in the Northwest Territories.

Even including an hour each way in the worst traffic in Canada, in Toronto, it was well worth the trip, which totalled 1200 Km/825 Mi. over three days. The grandson who does not own a car, and his magic smart-phone, skillfully guided us around the town.  I’m sure we’ll go again next fall, if not before.

Invasion USA

chuck-norris

Recently Chuck Norris the wife and I executed a quick little raid into American territory for cultural observation and retail therapy.

We were barely outside the city limits, when trouble first arose.  It wasn’t long before there was a knock-down, drag-out, cursing and swearing, screaming and yelling, hair pullin’, eye-gougin’ match going on over in the passenger seat, between the wife, and Ethel, the snotty GPS.

The last little village we went through before getting on the Superhighway, was Roseville, ON. Our destination, north of Detroit, was Roseville, MI.  When the wife tried to enter that, Ethel insisted, “You’re already there.” The wife finally punched Ethel in the button that read ‘Change State or Province.’  Suddenly, Ethel knew all about Roseville….California.  No! No!  No!  I finally suggested adding the Michigan ZIP-code, and the fight ended with no serious injuries.

The Windsor/Detroit crossing is the most heavily-used border point between Canada and the US, and the one we’ve been using for years. Security is strict.  Since we were going well north of Detroit, we chose to cross from Sarnia, to Port Huron, MI, and work our way south.  Between a less-busy crossing, and the passage of 15 years since 9/11, it was quick, easy and almost informal.

Our border guard was a young, white male, who wasn’t suffering from testosterone poisoning from listening to Donald Trump speeches. When the wife volunteered that we were staying three days, he replied, “I don’t care how long you stay, as long as it’s not more than six months.”  When he found that we were going to strew cash into the economy, we got waved through before The Donald could collect enough Mexican pesetas to erect his wall.

Hotels/motels and restaurants cluster around Interstate exits. The better ones are usually right up front, while the Eats Diners huddle a little further back.  Right across from my Red Roof Inn, was a Days Inn, while the Victorian Inn was half a block south.

Red Roof

While searching for a Taco Bell, on the next main road over, and a block north, we drove past the Alibi Inn….because apparently the name Divorce Depot was already taken.  They oughta warn a fellow about things like that.  Trying to drive a car while giggling hysterically, looks a lot like DUI.

We went to a Wal-Mart to get some work jeans for Shimoniac, in his ‘big and tall’ size that Ontario Wal-Marts no longer carry. The first one we tried was down towards Eminem’s Eight Mile, surrounded by ‘houses made of ticky-tack, and they all look just the same,’ occupied mostly by melanin-rich folks.

It wasn’t dirty, but had the feel of dowdy, and unkempt.  In the Men’s Wear section, there were shelves and shelves of jeans.  Regular fit, Boot cut, Relaxed fit, Carpenter style and Flex-waist were all inter-mixed in the same piles, as well as waist sizes from 28 to 48, and inseams from 30 to 48.  After 20 minutes of frustrated searching, we managed to find one pair.

We then drove north and west to another Wal-Mart. Soon the homes were $500,000+, with gated drives and manicured lawns.  The area mall shone like Xanadu.  I’m surprised that we were allowed in, and disappointed that they didn’t have valet parking and shuttles to the shops.

This store gleamed. In the Men’s Wear section, all the styles were carefully kept separate, and sizes ran from smallest at the top, to largest on the bottom.  They have a much-different clientele.  It took only 30 seconds to find another pair of jeans, leaving the wife time to peruse the ladies’ sweaters.

You know you’re having an interesting vacation when you look out your motel window in the morning to see a State Trooper putting his steel battering-ram door opener back into the Police sport-ute.  He didn’t have to use it.  A local woman rented a room for a couple of visitors.  They partied too rowdy.  Instead of calling the front desk, who would have had to call the Police anyway, the outraged neighbors called the cops themselves.

While I was gabbing with a room-clerk, a young man came in to get another keycard. “I didn’t mean to pull the door all the way closed.”  Fortunately, he didn’t do it while dressed only in his Calvin Kleins, ‘cause she wanted ID.

The motel leaves a printed sheet, reminding guests to flip the ‘privacy’ switch on the inside of the door, so that no-one can enter, even with a keycard. While doing my usual wandering around, I found a keycard which someone had dropped just outside their door while entering.  I turned it in at the office.

At the wife’s suggestion, we ate supper the first night at Taco Bell. Michigan stores offer nachos Bel Grande that Ontario outlets don’t have.  We followed that with Cracker Barrel, and then The Outback, finishing off the last morning with brunch at Denny’s.

The Cracker Barrel wasn’t really busy, but in our section, the Negro waitress stood around talking to a Negro friend, while the white waitress took orders, delivered food, and cleaned tables. When she finally rushed over to serve us, she apologised for taking so much time.

The wife assured her that we were in no hurry, “You’re busy.”  We had till closing time, and told her to take her time.  You could just see the stress flow away.  “Not a lot of people are like that.”  We each got two corn-meal biscuits.  I, of course, ate both of mine.  The wife ate one.  When the bill arrived, I asked for a bag to take the biscuit home in.  When she returned, the bag held three more fresh biscuits, “So that you’ll both have two for breakfast, and there’ll be no fight.”  Quid Pro Quo!

Finally, well-fed and happy, we headed our mule-train loaded with beet sugar and new clothes back towards the land of maple syrup, socialized medicine and good manners. I’m sorry if that offends any Americans.  Please accept my apology….and come back soon.   😉

 

Flash Fiction #68

Chivalry

CHIVALRY

It was a dark and stormy night when Sir Lilliput, King Arthur’s smallest knight requested shelter at the country inn, though he admitted “I fear I have no coin to pay.”

Being a dwarf, he’d had the blacksmith forge a child-sized suit of armor, but was too small for a charger. Instead, he saddled and rode a huge Flemish Mastiff.

A regular customer asked why the innkeeper fed him and his mount, and complained that he always demanded cash on the barrelhead of them.

“Look at the weather outside. I wouldn’t send a Knight out on a dog like that.”

***

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

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Four

Day 2/Part 1 – Forgetful Follies and Awful Aftermath

Since it was the son, Shimoniac, who was originally to accompany me on the Blogger Safari/Pilgrimage, I had not informed the wife about the lollipops I’d obtained, and forgotten to give to Cordelia’s Mom.  After we were in our motel room, I admitted my senile oversight, and we slept on what to do to correct the problem.

The next morning, the wife said that she felt well enough to drive back across town, to deliver them to CM’s house.  With a little help from Ethel GPS, and the knowledge I had obtained during yesterday’s high-speed chase, we made it safely.  I called her private cell phone because I didn’t have her work number, to tell her what we planned to do, but had to leave a voice-mail.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a guy. Men and women do things differently, as CM noted in a recent post.  I was just going to present the suckers in the plain white paper bag that the Mennonite vendor had put them in.

Walmart

 

 

 

The wife was horrified! Soon, we were in a WalMart, buying a small gift bag, and a Thank You card, and rainbow colored tissue paper.  The wife did all the social stuff, and soon had a pretty little package, almost as nice as the one CM had given us the day before, while I dragged my club around, bopping the occasional sabre-toothed tiger or woolly mammoth.

Judy's Manor

 

 

 

 

Using my Stalker Senses, I soon had us at the front door of CM’s modest little suburban cottage.  The turbo-charged soccer-mom van from yesterday was in the driveway, but I didn’t know how she commuted to work.  I pushed the doorbell, but heard neither a ding-dong, (Oh! – He was outside.) nor any movement.  I carefully placed the package between the doors, and headed for the car.

Suddenly, the front door flew open, and Tasmanian Niceness Devil came swirling out to meet us. She comes home for lunch each day to let new puppy, Cody out.  She’d called the motel, but we’d already left, and she just hoped to be there when we arrived.  The woman makes me tired just watching her.  She gets more done by nine AM, than I procrastinate all day.

We had another lovely get-together, which was sadly cut short because she had to get back to work, and we had a long way to go, and a short time to get there, and needed to be on the road. CM directed us on how to reach the Interstate, by telling us to go down her street for “a couple of blocks, and turn right on Delaware Road.  It’ll take you right to the up-ramp.”

A couple of blocks down the street, it was crossed by another narrow, ordinary, residential street, at an odd 60 degree angle, rather than 90, proving that not just Kitchener has strangely laid out roads. I couldn’t see a street sign, but, it seemed hardly the type of road to feed an Interstate onramp.  A ‘couple of blocks’ further on, I could see a big, six-lane road – that must be the one. Sure enough, I turned right on Delaware Ave, and a half-mile later, I sat at a traffic light at the base of the Throughway ramp – waiting for the traffic coming up Delaware Road, where I could have been, if I’d just paid attention.

We’d had toast and juice for breakfast, but now it was approaching 2 PM, and we needed to shake out the kinks, and consume some protein. We did this at a service center at Angola, a small town west of Buffalo.  Here, deep troughs were dug, about a quarter-mile apart, for the east-bound, and west-bound Interstate traffic.

Buffalo Rest Center

Angola Travel PlazaAngola Travel Plaza 3Angola Travel Plaza 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The single service area perches on the top of the hill in the middle. There are parking areas on either side, and enclosed overhead pedestrian walkways out to the center.  I have encountered only one other such middle-located service center.  It’s on the Florida Turnpike, just north of Miami.  People can pass through the buildings, but barricades keep the toll-paying automobiles moving in the correct directions.

It’s another 4 to 5 hours of driving to our next motel, so I’ll relate the details of that in the next segment.  🙂

 

Little Snowflake

About 25 years ago, the wife and I went to our first knife show.  It was in Detroit.  I had found out about it from a knifemakers’ magazine I had subscribed to.  Raising the kids, we had not been on many trips, for many years.  We had driven seven hours to vacation at a lake where the brother-in-law liked to fish.  We took a one-year-old and a four-year-old to Niagara Falls, as my parents had taken my brother and me, and we drove a hundred miles each way, every month to visit my parents.

We had not been away by ourselves, and had not been out of the country for over twenty years.  I reminded MasterCard of that fact, the month we got a charge for a J.C.Penny store in Buffalo.  We could afford a weekend away, and needed it.

There might have been online map sites, but back that far, we hadn’t even bought a dial-up connection.  High-speed internet was still only a gleam in my computer’s eye.  I relied on tour-books and maps from CAA.  That’s AAA, with a Maple Leaf on it.  I found a cheap motel a quarter-mile from the expensive hotel where the knife show was being held, right across I-94 from the airport.  While I assured the wife that there were 5 or 6 hotels/motels within a stone’s throw, she insisted that I phone in a reservation.  I told the clerk we’d arrive around 8 or 9 PM.

The show back then was held near the end of February.  I got off work Friday at 3 PM, loaded the wife and luggage into the car and headed for the bank, to get American cash.  We exited the bank on a clear, and still sunny day.  Just as I got into the car, one little snowflake hit my nose.

Soon we were zipping along Highway 401, Ontario’s answer to Interstates.  It started to cloud over and a bit more snow fell.  Thirty miles along there was a clot of cars by the center median.  I buzzed past at 110 Km/h (70 MPH) and realized there were two stuck in the snow, one of them upside-down.  Perhaps I should slow down a bit, first to 100, then to 90, as the snow got more serious.

We were listening to local radio stations for weather reports as we moved.  I had just passed London, ON when the radio report said that the Ontario Provincial Police had closed the 401 “at London.”  90 Km/h became 80, and then 70!  The snow thickened, and the traffic thinned out.  Soon I could see no other vehicles in either direction, speed down to 60, then 50.  See other vehicles?  I could barely see the edge of the road.

As we crept along, debating what to do, finally I saw a big-rig slowly overtaking me.  He’s got more lights and a better angle on the road, so I slowed down and let him pass me.  It was a Verspeeten Transport truck, from back where the car was upside-down.  With his headlights, and him breaking trail for me, we’re back to moving at 65/70.  I followed him for miles and miles.  We’ve had a soft spot for Verspeeten ever since, and always look for them.

Near an overpass, a car was way down in a deep ditch.  We both stopped and checked it out, but the driver must have climbed the hill to the crossroad.  The trucker told me he had to turn off at Chatham, and I would be on my own, but time and distance had broken the storm.  The snow was abating.

When he finally pulled off, I continued.  Just as we passed the Chatham interchange, the new radio station announced that the O.P.P. had closed the highway, “at Chatham.”  Dead-of-night dark, no other traffic and over a foot of snow on the road, we ventured onward.  More than another hour of driving till we reached the outskirts of Windsor, at the border.

Just as we pulled off the highway, onto city streets, the radio told us that the plows were going out to clear the road, and the highway had been closed at Windsor, till they were finished.  It was the fastest we ever crossed the border.  Two drivers from Windsor and I wanted to cross the Ambassador Bridge, and the border guards were happy for the business.

When we got to the Detroit side, the snow had stopped, and the Americans had cleared most of it away – except on the traffic signs.  This had been a wet, clingy snow, and every sign was coated.  I managed to get onto I-94, and headed towards the airport.  My little CAA map gave me no idea of scale.

I had no idea how big metro-Detroit was.  I drove and drove and had no idea where I was.  I finally pulled off I-94 on an exit that seemed to go only into a Ford plant.  I booted a street-sign to knock the snow off it, and checked my map.  I was still only ¾ of the way to the motel.  Back on the road, I soon found where I was supposed to be.

The huge snowstorm had closed the airport.  There were hundreds of stranded passengers.  I pulled into the motel, and went in to register.  I wound up at the end of a row of 9 or 10 people.  Each one in turn would approach the counter and ask if they could get a room for the night.  The clerk would tell each one in turn that they were full up, and there were no rooms available.  And yet the next in line would step up, and ask the same dumb question, and get the same resigned answer.

Finally, it was my turn.  I stepped forward and noted the look on the clerk’s face.  Oh no, not another one!  I pulled a piece of paper from my pocket and placed it in front of her.  “My name is “John Smith”.  I have a reservation.  This is my confirmation number.”  And the face lit up, finally someone she could help, who wouldn’t bitch.  The wife couldn’t resist an, “I told you so.” about phoning in the reservation.

I checked the registration form later.  I officially checked in at 12:07 AM.  The estimated 8 or 9 PM arrival time was considerably delayed.  Our hoped-for 3 to 4 hour drive had taken over eight hours.  One little snowflake on my nose before we started was fun.  It was when he brought a couple of trillion of his friends, and ganged up on me that things got a little hairy.

Free Sex

A Dog Named “Sex”

Everybody who has a dog calls him something boring, like Rover or Fido.  I call my dog Sex

Now, Sex has been very embarrassing to me.  When I went to City Hall to renew his licence, I told the clerk I would like to have a licence for Sex.  He said, “I’d like to have one too.”  Then I said, “But this is for a dog.”  He said he didn’t care what she looked like.  Then I said, “You don’t understand.  I’ve had Sex since I was nine years old.”  He said I must have been quite a kid.

When I got married and went on my honeymoon, I took the dog with me.  I told the motel clerk that I wanted a room for the wife and me, and a special room for Sex.  He told me that every room in the place was for sex.  I said, “You don’t understand, Sex keeps me awake at night.”  The clerk replied, “Me too.”

One day I entered Sex in a contest, but, before the competition began, the stupid dog ran away.  Another contestant asked me why I was just standing there and looking around.  I told him I planned to have Sex in the contest.  He told me I should have sold my own tickets.  “But you don’t understand,” I said, “I had hoped to have Sex on TV.”  He called me a show-off.

When my wife and I separated, we went to court to fight over custody of the dog.  I said, “Your Honor, I had Sex before I was married.”  He said, “Me too.”  Then I told him that after I was married, Sex left me.  He said, “Me too.”

Last night Sex ran off again.  I spent hours looking all over town for him.  A cop came up to me and asked, “What are you doing in this alley at 4 in the morning?”  I told him I was looking for Sex.

My case comes up next Friday.

The Three Stages Of Sex In A Man’s Life

Tri-Weekly

Try Weekly

Try, Weakly

Three Kinds Of Sex

House Sex

When you’re newly married, and have sex all over the house, in every room.

Bedroom Sex

After you’ve been married for a while, you just have sex in the bedroom.

Hall Sex

After you’ve been married for many, many years, you just pass each other in the hall and say “Fuck You.”

Thank you for coming reading this.  If you sex maniacs can get the topic off your minds, I’ll be back in a couple of days.

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.